Maha Navratri - a day for battle, Rig Veda 6, 75

In the final battle of Durga, all beings and non-beings joined together in Durga Puja to merge with Durga to defeat Mahishasura. Upon their victory, all beings and non-beings performed a Puja for their weapons. It is customary to recognize that our work, our tools, are potent weapons against wrong, injustice, and other adharma. More, they are the very means by which we may merge with Durga, and manifest Her Avatara.

Durga is the bow of shiva, and also the Asana of the bow; Durga is the tree which withstands the buffalo's wrath, and also the Asana of the tree. And so forth. Being all forms, all energies, a Yogi may learn to freely transition between Dharmas, natures and duties, to accomplish their purpose. This is true Hatha Yoga. To a Yogi, there is no masculine or feminine, nor any caste; all is embodied as one. As Durga.

Yet today is less a day for introspection, and preparation for the sacrifice of the self, and more a day to remember that the yogi trains for war, and battle, that they may make a sacrifice of their enemy's adharma.

Therefore, venerate your weapons, tools, instruments, even pens and pencils, anything which you use for your work - because they are the means by which you subdue hatred, desire and fear, and shall become victorious against injustice, ignorance and evil. What is an painter without their brush? What is a warrior without their knife? Though one cannot kill, both are weapons against hatred.

Consider too your vehicle, your vahana. Not every soldier is carried into battle, but must carry themselves by their own feet. Your work requires different vehicles than the cavalry's horses, or the modern helicopters and tanks. The roofer's ladder, the commuter's car... even the computer's mouse can be as potent as Kroncha, Ganesh's mouse! Examine your armor and learn to trust it, as you would trust your vehicle.

This is why we must use the correct tools, and use the correct tools correctly: just as some weapons are cruel, such as barbed or poisoned arrows, even a pencil can be misused to inspire fear, desire or hatred. This is why we love our vehicles, as we would our own feet. This is why we should all join together, and fight ethically, non-violently, in Satyagraha, against adharma.

Rig Veda 6, 75

See? Barbed arrows dipped in poison already fly at you, falling about you like hair at a barber's. Do not suffer their offense further: hurry into battle, meet your opponent closely, strike your opponent before they kill you. Defend that life your parents gave to you with the strength they gave you to defend it! All those who love you call you into battle, that you may not be dominated or shamed by your opponent's hatred; rush into battle, that you may be victorious, with unwounded body. Even your opponent calls you into battle! Eagerly seek this battle! Trust to your strength and life. Trust to the thickness of your armor to protect you. Trust your horse; it has always been free, like your heart's will. It shall faithfully carry you to meet your enemy. Because of its nature, its love and its duty, it shall not flinch at the opportunity to defend you by trampling and crushing your enemy - do not you hesitate a moment! You are so admirably armed: trust to your weapons to turn the hatred of your opponent to grief and sorrow. Have no doubt: you shall be victorious, and subdue their hatred!

Shrimad Bhagavata Purana - the Rasa Lila

Kamadev in battle
It is easy to forget that this famous story is as much about Krishna and Radha as it is about Kamadev. It is the story of a battle. Kamadev, who was an avatar of Vishnu (quite as much as Krishna), was nearly overcome by pride after conquering Brahma, and all other beings. Kamadev began to think that he was invincible, or matchless. Understanding his danger from Pride, he complained aloud. Upon hearing his own complaint, the thought occurred to Kamadev that he should visit Krishna on the full moon in the autumn: Krishna was a worthy adversary! He would test himself against Krishna: if, there, in the company of all the cowgirls he felt any love, he would know that he could be himself conquered. If not by the cowgirls, than by Krishna, himself - but if he still felt nothing, or caused Krishna to be overcome, then he would know that he must submit to Pride - for doubtlessly then, he must be invincible. Even when pitted against himself. Kamadev was decided: he would battle Krishna and finally know if he was invincible, or matchless.

This is not the first time that Vishnu helped himself. Rama-With-The-Axe helps nearly every other avatar of Vishnu, and frequently, Vishnu's several avatars help each other.

Krishna, becoming aware of Kamadev's vendetta, prepared for battle. Krishna armed himself with Maya, but was inexperienced in the Yoga of Maya: yet he could think of no other way to either defend himself, or overcome Kamadev. His strategy was to conquer Kamadev by making sufficient illusion to cause Kamadev to love him, Krishna! While Kamadev was anticipating Krishna to make him fall in love with the cowgirls, Kamadev would never anticipate that Krishna would become the subject of Kamadev's love! So Krishna, to the limit of his ability in the Yoga of Maya made it seem a perfect night for love: flowers bloomed, the full moon shown, a gentle, cool breeze blew from the banks of the river Yamuna. He then played an enchanting tune on his flute, and beautified himself. He danced there, in the moonlight among the flowers, in the evening breeze. He became quite beautiful, indeed!

Krishna's maya could not be ignored, and soon, all the cowgirls, all the women nearby, were attracted to Krishna, and came running the spot - the cowgirls and women, it must be remembered, are not merely cowgirls, but are embodiments of elements of the Dharma, are in fact elemental components of Vishnu. They are not avatars or manifestations of Vishnu, they are like limbs, or part of Vishnu, having taken the form of people to be near to Vishnu in his manifestation as Krishna.

The women crowded Krishna, and as if in a trance began to dance with him. Krishna was concerned for their safety, this was no place for them: it was to be a battlefield between Krishna and Kamadev! He encouraged them to go home to their families, to their husbands and children and cattle. "Do not be so easily enchanted, leave mundane lusts behind!" But the cowgirls refused to go, indeed they could not, for they were entranced, and trapped by Krishna's Maya. Their very being desired Krishna, and Krishna's victory. As Krishna worried for them, he began to care for them, and lost concentration on the Maya. He became entranced as well, and soon Krishna began to enjoy their company. This reciprocated love caused the cowgirls to develop selfish feelings, even individuality, and tore apart the very being of Vishnu, tearing apart the very existence of every world! As Vishnu began to shatter, and separate into individualities, Krishna teetered on the edge of destruction and defeat. Then he vanished!

To the cowgirls, who remained, it seemed that Krishna was gone. They were distressed beyond words - not only at the defeat, but at the loss of Krishna to them (they were still enchanted by the Maya), and their role in his defeat, when they so desired his victory. They refused to believe that Krishna was actually gone, for if he had been destroyed, they would have also. So they looked all over for Krishna, asking the plants and animals where he was hiding. Then they followed his footprints, and saw Radha's footprints beside him. The thought came to them that Krishna had carried Radha to some hidden place, for the purposes of enjoying her company better. It must be remembered here that Radha is none other than the avatar of Laxmi, Vishnu's wife.

Though Krishna and Kamadev thought they were battling each other, in fact Radha had joined the fight to defend Krishna. Radha had noticed things going very wrong and suspected Kamadev, invisible somewhere, had also been using Maya, taking advantage of Krishna's relative inexperience in the Yoga of Maya. Radha acted immediately and saved Krishna from destruction.

Laxmi was a master of Maya, and so was Radha. So she chose as her weapon Maya, too. And at the moment before his defeat, she wove her own illusions and begged Krishna to carry her wherever he would wish, and do with her whatever he would wish. She enticed Krishna to leave the battlefield, that he might regather himself - both literally, by unifying his dividing individuality, but also in formulating a better strategy against Kamadev.

Krishna was utterly entranced by Radha. This was not only because she was a greater master than even Kamadev, but because of his love for Radha. Krishna-Radha merged in this love, and Vishnu was healed somewhat of his injuries. Vishnu, as Time, held the world still; Radha and Krishna danced in an endless night of joy, for years, hundreds of years, thousands of years, epochs of ages. Radha's love permeated all of Time, all of Vishnu. And the cowgirls, restored through Vishnu's health, danced and celebrated the love of Krishna-Radha with them; in Time, Krishna was healed.

Kamadev now revealed himself, and fired arrow after arrow at Radha! Radha revealed herself as Laxmi, and defended herself against every arrow; dancing with Vishnu, fighting Kamadev, Laxmi was inexhaustible. As Kamadev was about to be overwhelmed by Laxmi, Kamadev remembered his true fight was with Vishnu, and his purpose for the battle. He would not be destroyed without firing at least one more arrow at Krishna! Besides, there was only one who could overcome Laxmi, and that was Vishnu himself. He would confuse Vishnu, and make him fight against Laxmi!

By this last arrow, Krishna was terribly injured; he turned against Laxmi! Krishna saw Radha had used Maya against him, and began to misunderstand that for aggression. Ensnared by Maya, Krishna was so confused. Was Radha his enemy too? No, his love was too real to be obscured by Maya. Krishna loved and trusted her; she was a part of him. So Krishna reasoned Radha believed herself superior to the other cowgirls, and sought to seduce him. Thus, Krishna separated from Radha, and reminded her of her original request. he lifted her onto his shoulder. He was going to teach Radha a lesson - lifting Radha up, he disappeared right under her, letting her fall to the ground. Krishna left the battlefield.

Radha cried out in pain and surprise, but was consoled that her plan had worked. Krishna was safe, for the moment, from Kamadev. She was quickly found by the other cowgirls. Radha explained the situation, and suggested they return to the banks of the river to help Krishna.

They began to cry out to Krishna, reminding him of who he really was by recalling all of Vishnu's names and deeds. They tried to remind Krishna of what was real; by the instruction of Radha, they dispersed all the illusion, all they Maya. Then, dismayed, they wept, thinking Vishnu would never be wholly healed. This stirred Krishna's compassion, and he finally woke from the illusion to understand what had happened. He gathered himself, and reappeared among them.

Krishna was now more beautiful than before; he was not even trying to be beautiful - he actually was more beautiful now. Krishna explained he had been trying to teach Kamadev a lesson, but his own pride blinded him to his inexperience with Maya Yoga. His inexperience made him not really understand beauty. So, when he tried to entice Kamadev, he ended up enticing only himself - the cowgirls - he nearly destroyed himself with Maya, for the cowgirls were a part of himself. In the grip of his own Maya, Krishna mistook his own pride for theirs, and tried to teach them a lesson by disappearing. He forgot they were part of him. As he forgot even Radha was a part of him. He and they each grew more separated by this. Radha had reminded him of what true beauty was, and then Krishna understood his own pride prevented him from mastering Maya. Their efforts to disperse the Maya reflected his own efforts internally to wake from the illusion and defeat his pride, for they were one and the same being.

Krishna, now able to understand, was instructed in Maya Yoga by Radha, and learned to refrain from desire, from emotion - and thus, as a master of Maya, defeated Kamadev: Krishna had conquered himself, and taught himself a lesson - and this inspired the undying love of Kamadev, who was also one and the same as Krishna, quite as much as any of the cowgirls.

Vaman Jayanti and Onam

The major manifestations of Vishnu are tied to a single family line through the ages. Hiranyaksha the Asura, who had been destroyed by Varaha the Boar who manifested Vishnu, had a brother, Hiranyakashipu, also an Asura, who swore vengeance on Vishnu. But Vishnu had no fight with Hiranyakashipu. Yet Vishnu destroyed Hiranyakashipu - he was destroyed by Narasimha, the half man half lion who manifested Vishnu, when he repeatedly threatened his son, Prahlada, and ignored Vishnu's warnings against harming Prahlada. Vishnu would destroy Prahlada's grandson as the Dwarf, Vaman, and Pralada's great-grandson as Krishna. The reason why Vishnu and the family of Hiranyaksha are so tied together is another story, but it suffices to explain that Vishnu had promised to instruct them in the means of destroying desire, hatred, and pride - "destruction" is not "killing," and is a catalyst for positive change. Much as we would destroy a ruined old home to build a new one.

Important to this story, though, is that Prahlada the Asura was very good and righteous, and ruled honorably in his father's place. And Prahlada's son was an even better King than his father. And Prahlada's grandson, Mahabali, perfected the art of governance. It is said there was no criminality in the time of Mahabali, and every being was content with Mahabali's rule. This is interpreted two ways: first, in a literal sense: Mahabali perfectly upheld the Dharma. The second is sarcastic, suggesting the question of how there can be criminality in a state of lawlessness? The riddle is solved by understanding that law without mercy are unjust, that rules without exceptions are wrong: all laws and rules are, as the Buddha Gotama described them, "counterfeit Dharma." As Vishnu instructed as Krishna and the Buddha Gotama, the world needs criminal Dharma. It is senseless pride to believe that any rule or law can be perfected. A state where laws are fulfilled without mercy, and without exception, is as much a lawless state as any anarchy.

Mahabali sought to finish the war of the Asuras and Devas by conquering the Devas - and all the lokas, all the worlds. And he did. And then ruled them in his "perfect" governance. Law was upheld without exception, and there were soon no criminals. To recognize his triumph over criminality, and over every world, Mahabali announced a sacrifice in honor of Vishnu: he would give to anyone who asked him anything that they asked for. Vishnu saw this as a teachable moment about pride.

A dwarf, Vaman (for that is what "Vaman" means, "dwarf"), heard the announced sacrifice and, inspired by the profundity of the moment, manifested Vishnu. The dwarf was not only deformed by his condition, but also a cripple, having been horribly injured early in life, as punishment - representing the injury that Mahabali had done to the Dharma by his strict enforcement - much as a parent who injures their child in punishment has performed their instruction wrongly, and with catastrophic results.

The Dwarf brought himself by small steps to the throne of Mahabali, who, despite the instructions of Vishnu against sympathy (favoring instead compassion) felt sympathy for the Dwarf. Mahabali offered the Dwarf fine clothes and vehicles - these were declined. Mahabali offered the Dwarf gold and jewels - these were declined. All kinds of wealth Mahabali offered the Dwarf - livestock, food, comforts - all of which were declined. At last, Mahabali offers the Dwarf a measure of equality, some of Mahabali's Kingdom. This was a gift that the Dwarf could not refuse! The Dwarf gratefully accepted, but when Mahabali asked the Dwarf how much of the Kingdom the Dwarf wanted, the Dwarf said "not much. One must live within one's means. But a great King like you understands that! Perhaps you might give me all that might be contained within three of my small steps?" This the King agreed to. "Certainly I have conquered enough to share with you as much as you ask!" said Mahabali.

The Dwarf took one step forward, heart filled with Vishnu - and as he strode, suddenly he was healed, and grew in stature: growing to be the size of a giant, his step encompassed the entire world! The former Dwarf then took another step and grew in stature even more: this step encompassed every world! Where would he step next? Mahabali recognized the manifestation of Vishnu and said, "Vishnu, you have nowhere else to step, and I promised you three steps: in my pride, I thought I had enough to satisfy you. All that I have conquered is insufficient, all my righteousness is pretentious. You have humbled me. Stand upon my head, and claim all that is within my being? This last I do not reserve from you, and indeed it is all that I ever had to give." The offer was genuine, and kind, an act of supreme devotion. Vishnu, to fulfill the promise made generations ago, then stepped on Mahabali's head - but since Mahabali had destroyed his own pride, there was nothing to destroy.

Mahabali was liberated from his pride, and in his freedom was grateful to Vishnu. Vishnu was so proud of Mahabali - he had learned the lesson of humility himself!  He had not needed to "break" or "destroy" Mahabali.  All of Mahabali's subjects saw the moment of Mahabali's victory over pride, and were so proud of Mahabali, too!  They desired him as their King forever and ever.

But Mahabali now did not want to rule, and claimed the right of renunciation, and renouncing all the worlds and his Kingdom, to devote himself wholly to Vishnu as a Sannyasi. Yet Vishnu persuaded Mahabali to return to the worlds once every year: he had a duty to his subjects!

So Mahabali does return once every year, on Onam, and give gifts to anyone who desires anything, and gives true justice to those who require it - mercy where it is required, and strict enforcement where it is required. And, of course, to teach the value of humility.

Gary's new book: the Islamic Roots of Democracy in Jamestown

(Two Horses) (Volume 6) Islamic Roots of Democracy in Jamestown
Gary "TwoHorse" Green explores the Islamic roots of Democracy in the Jamestown Colony by examining the evolution of corporate governance and structure which resulted from diplomatic relations between the English and Ottomans and the consequential self-governance of Jamestown. Showing the influence and impact Islam has had and continues to have on American culture and values, Green gives hope for continued interfaith business and diplomatic ventures that will continue to shape a more peaceful and democratic world.


Bhagavata Purana - Samkhya Yoga

This is what Vishnu said to Kapila.

Do you want to be free of love and hatred, the slavery of the senses and their endless torment of desire, to be free of the feelings of "I" and "mine," of self and possessions that rule your life?  Do you want to be free of attraction and revulsion - of all the oppressive emotions that tyrannize and terrorize you?  Do you wish to see beyond the veil of ignorance you have drawn across your eyes?  Do you want to be free of the endless procession of becoming and ending?  Are you yet weary of this prison, of Samsara?

Many Yogas lead to this freedom.  Samkhya Yoga has led to this freedom from ancient times.  In ancient times, it was learned that it is the mind that causes bondage - and liberation.  When the mind becomes attached to the objects off the senses, it becomes embroiled in Prakriti, in unmanifested potentiality: the anticipation of ending and becoming is the basis of the three Gunas, the chains that bind you and torment you.  The three Gunas are Sattva (Brightness, orderliness), Rajas (Confusion, activity), and Tamas (Darkness, chaos).  These three Gunas cannot be balanced, and sooner or later, one Guna comes to dominate, and you become entangled in concepts of this and not this.  This forms the basis of all instinctual reactions of pleasure and pain.  This makes you restless, peaceless, and emotional.  You become bound in the world of Ahamkara, the self, by wrongly understanding something as not-self.

But should you instead turn your mind from the senses, and instead turn your mind inward, you will find Me, Purusha.  Your mind will calm as all impurities fall away from it.  There becomes nothing to avoid or seek.  There is neither this nor not this.  You will understand detachment, Sannyasi.  Understand that even the Atman is "this," and Anatman is "not this."  You will understand detachment makes its own bonds - and loose yourself from them.  You can become free, even from Freedom.

This is the perfection of Bhakti Yoga: the power of realization.  The mind by itself is neither good nor bad, turn it outward to desire the objects of the senses and it binds.  Turn it inward and it unbinds.  For there is nothing there to bind to.  The illusion of the self, the Atman, is the key to your freedom.  Turn your mind to Me, Narayana, and all your obstacles will be broken.

Yet it must be a gradual path: the company of satsang, though, will hasten your progress.  And if you ask who these true Sadhus are, whom you satsang should be composed of, seek those full of compassion.  The sufferings that plague other beings, both physical and mental, do not affect these true Sadhus.  They are kinsmen to all other beings, they have no enemies.  They are always calm, in the face of even the most severest trials.  They are always courageous.  They never waver from the path of Dharma, but perform their duty without hesitation.  They are unattached to all things of the world, they are senseless.  They are ornamented by their honor, their character.  Being with such Sadhus whose only preoccupation and concern is with Me will remove your own attachments, for it is the nature of the mind to be influenced by its environment, and companions.  This is the purpose and use of Satsang: produce the environment and company conducive to your success.

Hear My stories, cheer your heart!  Discover true pleasure, that which makes you seek the nature and cause of joy.  Understand joy, and you will understand the purpose of Bhakti Yoga and all devotion: it is conducive to your success.

Satsang leads to Rati, Pleasure, and Rati leads to Bhakti.  Bhakti lights the darkness, and illuminates the path of freedom.  If you seek freedom, seek Me, seek the source of your Self, illuminate the darkness and see the illusion.  Seek the source of joy.  You will naturally become detached from the world of samsara understanding your senses, and their purpose.  Do not act on illusion, act on logic, and reason.  Even in the midst of illusion, in the mists of Maya, even in your bondage, you will be free!

I am always with my Bhaktis, they see Me everywhere; their senses are filled with Me, understanding Me.  And by such understanding they obtain Moksha, whether they wanted it or not.  They have become deathless.  Even My weapon, the Chakra, the Wheel of Time, the Wheel of Dharma, which grinds all things down, is powerless against these Bhaktis.  To my devotees, I am all things.  Thus they have no fear of anything.  Great and small, gentle and terrible, all that is sensed, are Me.

I am Nirvanatman, the one Free of Freedom, my Bhaktis become Freedom itself.  Beings perform their Duty, their Dharma, in diverse ways.  And those who perform their Duty desire nothing more. To perform their Duty truly, they ignore illusion, and by logic and reason, and become free from all distress.

Durga Puja - learning Hatha Yoga

There is enormous variation in the practice of Durga Puja, but the study, veneration by emulation, and reverence of Durga is central to all.

Just as Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu represent three manifestations of form, and there are many other forms besides these, Shakti is manifested by numerous forces, powers and energies - but principally as the consort of Brahma, half of Shiva, the Ardhangani of Vishnu, the wives of Ganesh, etc. etc.  Durga represents not only the combination of all forces, powers and energies, but the manifestation of their form: she is the combination of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu - as well as Saraswati, Gauri, and Laxmi.  As well as all other beings and non-beings.  She is the union of all, good and evil.

Durga is a word that implies a fortress, a defensible position which is invincible.  She describes Herself as the bending of Shiva's bow, implying the act itself as well as its intention, and all precedent training.  She describes Herself as both father and mother, implying the creative act of not only copulation, but rearing.  She describes Herself as consciousness itself.  She is known as the Buffalo Slayer, the death of Death, the corruptor of Corruption, the end of Endings.  She is known as the All-Woman, the embodiment of femininity.

The reason all beings and non-beings manifested this union Durga was the necessity to defend themselves against destruction and obstruction.  It is difficult to imagine a force countering all Dharma, Adharma and Non-Dharma alike, yet this was Durga's enemy.  Words are important to conception, so the words "perversely unnatural" (what corrupts a thing's nature) and "betrayal" and "sabotage" (counter-duty, counter-loyalty) may be used, as may "de-loving" (not so much hate, nor unloving, but corruptive of love).  "Self-destructive" is also a good term, especially when it is understood that something truly self-destructive will destroy all of its environment with it as well.

Durga's enemy began existence as an Asura, who decided to perpetuate the war between the Devas and the Asuras.  Rambha, the King of the Asuras, had fallen in love with a water buffalo and married her.  Their daughter was called Mahishi, and their son was called Mahishasura, which means "water buffalo asura."

Mahishasura, before beginning his campaign against the Devas, asked Brahma for a gift of invincibility.  But Brahma, finally learning from many previous mistakes of giving similar gifts, instead offered that Mahishasura would only be in danger from being harmed by women.  This was good enough for Mahishasura, as he did not believe any woman could withstand his strength.  Mahishasura then began a terrible campaign, which threatened to destroy Dharma itself.  He knew no restraint, and even hurt himself, knowing that he could not destroy himself (he could only be endangered by a woman).  Things got pretty horrific.

Durga, being the ultimate feminine, (and by nature, the union of all beings, also all women), ultimately killed Mahishasura after a long battle, in which he came to regret his gift from Brahma, regret his war against the Devas, and love Durga, regretting his battle against Her.  More, in the battle, Durga destroyed the self-destructive tendencies of both the Asuras and Devas, bringing an end to their war.

The story relates numerous shape-shifting by both Durga and Mahishasura, all of which recalls progressions of Asanas.  Durga is the bow of shiva, and also the Asana of the bow; Durga is the tree which withstands the buffalo's wrath, and also the Asana of the tree.  And so forth.  Being all forms, all energies, a Yogi may learn to freely transition between Dharmas, natures and duties, to accomplish their purpose.  This is true Hatha Yoga.  To a Yogi, there is no masculine or feminine, nor any caste; all is embodied as one.  As Durga.

Ganesh Chaturthi - the birth of Ganesh

Ganesh Chaturthi falls on the day following Gauri Vratha: it was the day after Gauri was "born" that She created Ganesh, which was the purpose of the practice of Her yoga.  As Gauri is the manifestation of Shiva's love for Shakti, the reflection of every form of Shakti, Ganesh the manifestation of Shakti's love for Shiva, and the reflection of love itself.

The story of Ganesh's birth is remembered, as is the occasion of his marriage to His three wives.

One practice which is not practiced on Ganesh Chaturthi is moon watching: once, the moon had laughed when Ganesh tripped and fell, and for this Ganesh prohibited His students from learning from the moon upon penalty of being falsely believed to be a criminal, and dishonored.  Vishnu, a student of Ganesh, once broke this prohibition, and has ever since in every manifestation been falsely believed to be criminal: for example, Krishna was falsely accused of theft, the Buddha was accused of teaching criminal yoga. If the moon is accidentally meditated on or studied, however, relieve the penalty, students of Ganesh fast and perform difficulties to perfect their practice of Ganesh's yoga during Ganesh Chaturthi: the marriage of Ganesh is re-enacted to manifest Bodhi, Siddhi and Riddhi, justice is restored, obstacles that confront the student and the world are broken down.

Story of Ganesh's Birth

Shiva was out of the house, performing profound devotions to Gauri. It was the day after Gauri was Herself manifested, and had come home to Shiva's house. In an act of love for Shiva, Gauri made a child out of mud and water: this was Ganesh.

After manifesting Ganesh, Gauri took a ritual bath to complete Her devotions - and asked Ganesh to guard her privacy while performing this ritual bath. Shiva returned home during this bath to discover a small child standing at the entrance of his house, denying Him entrance. Shiva asked the squadron of Ganas standing guard at the entrance who the child was, and whether anyone had been permitted into the house while He was gone? The Ganas affirmed they had guarded the house, and they did not know who the child was. Shiva commanded the Ganas to open his house for him - He was weary from his yoga, and needed to rest.  But the small child easily withstood them. The Ganas attempted to use force against the child, but the child resisted them all.

Shiva was angered, and summoned all his armies of Ganas, but Ganesh withstood them all, though they all attacked him at once. Shiva Himself approached Ganesh to attack the child - and though the child fought valiantly for a long time, Shiva eventually struck off Ganesh's head: when Ganesh learned that this was Shiva, the one whom His mother loved, His own father, Ganesh did not resist.

It was at this moment that Gauri heard a disturbance outside, and came to see.  Ganesh was killed! Gauri was enraged at the disrespect Shiva had paid to her devotion, and manifesting Her anger as Shakti, explained the situation to a terrified Shiva: Shakti threatened to destroy the world if Ganesh were not restored to life. But poor Ganesh's head had been destroyed, and he needed a new one. Shiva did not know what to do! Shakti took pity on Shiva, and resumed her form as Gauri. Gauri ordered the Ganas to search the world and bring Her the head of any creature that was sleeping with its head facing north. The entire world was searched in an instant: only one creature was at that moment sleeping in that position. It was an elephant, belonging to Indra, the King of the Gods. So while the elephant slept, a squadron of Ganas cut off its head and brought instantly before Gauri and Shiva. Shiva attached the head of the elephant to Ganesh's neck.

Understanding the nature of the devotion Ganesh represented, Shiva instructed every being to seek Ganesh before undertaking any significant undertaking, for Ganesh had already proven He could present or remove any obstacle. Shiva placed Ganesh, His son, in command of the Ganas - whom He had conquered.

The Marriage of Ganesh

Ganesh would soon have many adventures, and manifest Buddhi, Siddhi and Riddhi - his three wives.  With whom he manifested numerous children, each exemplifying satisfaction.

Ganesh and His brother Karthikeya shared the same mother and father. But because their mother was in the form of a goddess when she gave birth to Karthikeya, Karthikeya was a god - whereas Ganesh, being a manifestation of the devoted love between Shiva and Gauri, was not. Both brothers commanded a great army: Karthikeya commanded the army of gods; Ganesh commanded the Ganas. However, Karthikeya began to think he was superior because he was a god, and had been born first - this was not His reasoning, but by nature of his form as a god, He was naturally prideful. The two were always bickering, and so one day Shiva proposed they hold a sporting contest to determine who was superior. 

Shiva explained to both Ganesh and Karthikeya how He had challenged His own brothers to a race to the ends of the universe when they had a similar dispute: Shiva had burned a pillar of light across all space and time, and challenged Brahma and Vishnu to find the end of it. But by the nature of space and time, the pillar bent back around on itself - and both brothers ended up meeting each other in friendship.  Shiva said, "this race will be different." Shiva introduced them to Riddhi, the fruit of perfect wisdom.  She was in need of a husband.  Shiva told Karthikeya and Ganesh, "whoever can first circle the entirety of space and time as I did will win the race - and Riddhi's love, for their wife."  Riddhi was the fruit of perfect wisdom, and Her love was worth earning!

Ganesh's first wife, Buddhi
Karthikeya mounted on his peacock (Karthikeya rode a giant peacock, as a human might ride a horse) and was off. Ganesh's mount was a normal-sized mouse - and at first Ganesh felt quite disadvantaged, as a mouse is slower than a peacock. But Ganesh understood immediately that this race would not be won by speed. While His brother rushed off, Ganesh sat down and carefully considered things. He realized His father would not have given Him an impossible task. This caused Ganesh to love his father very much, and so Ganesh sought to make Himself worthy of His father's love. So He devoted Himself to the yoga Shiva had taught Him and perfected Wisdom. This act of devotion manifested Buddhi, Wisdom, the beautiful wife of Ganesh.

Ganesh's second wife, Siddhi
Ganesh then wholly devoted Himself to loving Buddhi, and merging with Her, became Buddhi Ganesh.  This love manifested Siddhi, His second Wife. Buddhi Ganesh loved Siddhi very much, and She loved Buddhi Ganesh, in turn.

Ganesh's third wife, Riddhi
Buddhi Ganesh returned to where Shiva and Gauri waited. Shiva saw the change in Ganesh and smiled benignly, "have you given up?  Are you satisfied with your two wives?" "No," said Ganesh as he slowly, deliberately, walked around His father and mother, again and again and again, followed closely by Siddhi, and His mouse. "You exist in all of space and time, you are all of space and time. I am the manifestation of your love, and I love you." Shiva and Gauri awarded Buddhi Ganesh the victory.

When Karthikeya returned, he also clearly perceived Buddhi Ganesh's victory, and the way it was won, Karthikeya acknowledged Buddhi Ganesh as the victor, and celebrated in the happy marriages of Ganesh. The celebration inspired Buddhi Ganesh's contentment and joy, manifesting a third wife, Riddhi, Prosperity. Buddhi Ganesh would have many children, manifesting attributes of contentment and satisfaction.

Gauri Vrata - the birth of Gauri, and her Marriage, and Ganesh

Gauri Vrata is an occasion to manifest Gauri through a personal practice of emulation.  The stories of Gauri's "birth" and marriage are also remembered.

Gauri Vratha is celebrated a day before Ganesh Chaturthi (Ganesh's creation day / birthday): Gauri created Ganesh, and understanding Gauri, perfecting Her manifestation, practicing her Yoga is important to any practices associated with Ganesh.

Consequently, it is a day traditionally set aside for devotions to be made to one's spouse, or for the desiring of a spouse to be known. For those who are married, it is typical to visit in-laws and be served special foods, so they can celebrate the marriage, and to attempt the conception of a child (another reason for this is that, if conceived in India, the child will be born when fresh fruits and vegetables are again available to eat, and disease-spreading insects are fewer).

Seeds are sprouted (typically large seeds, like corn) and the new shoots are meditated upon to help understand the "birth" of Gauri.  A ritualized "goodbye" is said to Parvati: but to say goodbye means saying "hello" so Parvati is welcomed into the home, sometimes in the form of a long-married family member, friend or neighbor. This requires preparing the home as an offering to Parvati, with thorough cleaning, and decoration.  But higher practice would have each individual bid goodbye to their previous manifestation of "Parvati" - "abandoning" the Jnana Yoga instructed by Parvati for a newer practice, the Yoga of Gauri, profound Bhakti Yoga.  The evolution of practice is a natural consequence of its study.  It was by the birth of Gauri that even greater understandings (Bodhi) was (literally) conceived of by Ganesh.

The story of Sati - Parvati - Kali - Gauri
Parvati loved Shiva dearly. She was the manifestation of Sati's devotion. Though Shiva and Parvati had a son and lived eternities happily together, trouble began after Parvati defended Shiva from His enemies in battle: He had been overcome, and out of love She rushed to Shiva’s defense.

But in Her war, by degrees, She became enraged, and quite insane. She began to wear the heads of Her slain enemies about her neck, a skirt made of severed arms, and covered herself in gore; lighting fire to everything, She herself was scorched. She had to become fearsome, that Her enemies would willingly submit to Her, and stop harming Shiva. She began to delight in destruction!

But even after all Her enemies were conquered, She was still so angry. She still delighted in destruction, and gore. She grew paranoid and violent; She saw enemies everywhere! She began to destroy everything! And even hurt Herself! Everyone was terrified of Her.

Because Shiva was the strongest, and Her husband, and She might still love him, and not hurt Him, even listen to Him, Shiva was asked by every living being to restrain Her. Yet Shiva knew She was stronger than Him; Parvati was Shakti. Only She could restrain Herself. But She was destroying everything She cared for, the entire world. So He had to do what could be done.

He approached her, and found She was ready to kill Him, as well - Shiva, Her true love, the one She had just saved! They were two halves of the same being, but in Her insanity, She attacked Shiva. It was a difficult fight: She was well armed, and a trained fighter. At first, He blocked all Her blows. Then, coming close to Her, He held Her in His arms, embracing her with love; in that embrace, Shiva tried to remind Her who He was, who She was, to remind her of love. He bent time and space to imprison Her, and tried to hold Her still for a moment... and for a moment, She would seem to collect Herself - yet the instant He loosened His grip, She would again attack Him. Again he would embrace her, and imprison her - and again, for a moment, she would regain self-control, only to lose it again.

In their battle, She struck Him and hurt Him in so many ways. They strove for what seemed an eternity; it was misery itself. She did not want to hurt Him, and He did not want to hurt Her; neither wanted to strive against the other - but She was not in control of Herself. She was in a rage. After some time Shiva had to accept the fact that war left Parvati utterly insane. Even today, you may know soldiers who do not come back from war the same way they left, or even wholly in their minds; or those whose troubled pasts or childhoods leave them insane and violent. Post-traumatic stress can destroy a person. She had been similarly injured by Her war. She felt no grief at the hurt she caused Shiva, or the world. Shiva was not insane, and so did feel grief. This grief weakened Shiva more and more. Eventually, She was so much stronger than Shiva! Shiva began to weep, and was no longer able to fight.

Her fury grew as Shiva’s weakness became evident: She was relying on Shiva to restrain Her; She had thought Him so strong! She admired His strength, and needed to believe He was invincible! Shiva persisted; but knew that He would be destroyed by Her before much longer. Everyone urged Shiva to kill Her in self-defense - but Shiva knew to do so would be to kill Himself. He was urged to kill Her in self-defense, in defense of the world, even if it destroyed Himself. They shared but one heart. This was the only hope for the world.

Shiva understood what He had to do - but could not bring himself to hurt his love, Parvati. He could not commit suicide, either (which would have destroyed Parvati, since they shared one heart). So, to save the world from Her destruction, Shiva laid down before Her, and permitted Her to kill Him - and thus bring about Her own destruction.

Shiva laid Himself down before Her altar in supreme sacrifice. She gladly accepted the gift. She raised Her sword for the victory blow, and then saw Shiva was weeping like a baby - for Her impending death, grieving for their love. And at that moment, She shared His grief. She threw down all Her weapons and wept with Shiva.

Shiva and Parvati held each other for a long time. She was scorched from battle, even Her hair was singed. Shiva held Her in both hands and smiled, then laughed. She asked what Shiva was laughing at? Shiva pointed at her blackened skin, and in the emotional moment could only say "Kali!" The word encompassed the "black" color of Her skin, the "grief" they both shared, the "one" heart they shared, the "strife" and "war" they had just shared, but it also carried the derogatory connotation of "imperfection," and "ugly."

She looked at herself and saw the filth that covered Her - not only the gore from Her war, but Shiva’s own blood and tears. She saw where She had hurt Herself. She did not laugh. She was horrified, and desired to purify Herself. She was non longer Parvati! She was Kali! Couldn't Shiva make her Parvati again? If Shiva could have given Her that grace, He would have: but no one can escape the consequences of their actions, good or bad. Shiva forgave Her, and urged Her to forgive Herself: She had been out of Her mind and not responsible for Her actions. Everyone - every being, even non-beings like She and Shiva - makes mistakes. But what She had done was necessary, and no mistake. The important thing was to recover, and do better. What was past could not be undone, but the future lay ahead. He loved Her as Sati, He loved Her as Parvati, He loved Her as Kali.

This did not comfort her; She was overcome by regret, and felt too weak to do better. So She wept.  From these tears were borne the Thugs, and all Criminal Yogis, whose Dharma conflicts with their duty.

Shiva tried to comfort Her. She would not be comforted: She felt like she still had enemies to slay. Already, She felt the insanity growing again. Shiva urged her to forgive Her enemies. But She was becoming gripped by insanity again, and could not. She warned Shiva, She would attack Him again. She asked Him to feel no remorse if He hurt her. So She and Shiva began to struggle again, but now Shiva felt no grief. Shiva defended Himself with all His strength, understanding compassion would require Him to harm Kali. His great strength prevented Her aggression from hurting Him - or the world. And woke Her to Her own weakness. Suddenly, she regained self-control again.

When the fit had passed, She understood how the war had wounded Her. She understood at that moment She could no longer be Shiva’s Wife, or His friend, nor be near anything She loved; She could perform no duty. She had no reason to live; She would hurt anything near Her or dear to Her. She vowed She would destroy Herself upon Shiva’s altar, for She had become His enemy, Her own enemy. Death was better than that incurable injury which caused so much distress to Her and those who cared for Her.

Remembering when She had burned herself upon His altar in the form of Sati, Shiva held her close and wept. And as we wept a river of tears, all Her Black was washed away - Kali was washed away! The Black took a hollow form and, possessed of insanity and wrath, tried to hurt Shiva, but was powerless. The hollow Kali then tried to destroy the world, but was powerless. The hollow Kali then fled across every world, in impotent anger and fury. This hollow Kali was Kausiki: hollowness and without form, pure power, without mind, heart or body, a pure selfish malice, devoid of love. No longer His wife, Kausiki left Shiva’s presence. He was glad when Kausiki left.

When Kausiki left, what was left of Kali was Gauri: the body, heart and mind underneath that shell of blackness. All that Black shell had been washed away by tears, and utterly purified! This was pure Shakti, and She was radiant! Kali was no more.

Gauri stood before Shiva; her skin as white as if She had never seen the sun in all Her life. Indeed, She had been there all along, under that Black skin. Behind all that blackness. His wife had forgotten who She truly was: not Kali, not Parvati, not even Sati. But Shiva remembered when he wept. And this grief manifested His understanding of Shakti; Shakti had taken form before Shiva, as Gauri, by this devotion. Now, Shakti was embodied in a more perfected form, as Gauri. Gauri was everything Shakti wanted to become. She embraced Shiva, and at that moment taught Shiva to let go of all the pain He still held in His heart for Sati, Parvati and Kali; when His profound distress from sympathy in Kali's suffering was extinguished, He learned better wisdom.

The story of the Marriage of Gauri

Gauri made herself worthy of Shiva's love through devotional Yoga. For 16 years, she practiced perfectly. Shiva noticed Gauri, and asked Gauri what it was that she desired from his love. She said that she desired nothing less than to be Shiva's Ardhangini, and that Shiva would have no other wife but her. She wanted Shiva to love her as she loved Him, constantly, purely, and solely. She made profound vows. Shiva was touched, and agreed, "I shall have not even the thought of another in my heart but you." Shiva laid his heart bare for Gauri to see, and it was like a mirror: she saw only her own image in it. Gauri was so happy, she knelt down before Shiva, and crying with joy, gave thanks. But Shiva lifted her up, and held her tightly: she was His Ardhangini, half of his being - and should not bow before Him. They rejoiced together for a very long time. "Eternities came and went."

One day, Shiva sat on a rock in Kailasa, and Gauri was sitting beside Him; she was so happy because she was with Him. And then, all of a sudden, everything seemed wrong to Gauri. She actually began to tremble with fear, doubt, anguish. All her strength left her, she grew limp and felt weakness like a poison pushed through her veins by her heart. She saw in Shiva's heart not her own reflection, but the image of another! A beautiful goddess! Oh, Gauri was so jealous! This goddess was beautiful, more beautiful than she ever could be! Young, desirable - and in the same joyous love Gauri had known. This woman was beloved of Shiva! Jealousy became hatred. And because both Shiva and Gauri shared one heart, the poison passed through Shiva's body, and He began to suffer as well.

Beyond time, beyond space, the two sank into misery. Gauri began to doubt that she kept her vows, for why else would Shiva have broken His? She knew though that she had kept every promise. She faded from existence, and Shiva lost his own breath; the two were one, inseparably one. Like fish need water, Shiva could not survive. Shiva sought in every world. Eventually, on a mountaintop, in a world of darkness, the ghost of Gauri sat - no happiness existed in her; she was consumed by desire, aversion, hatred. She had become a spirit.

Shiva took her in His arms, so glad to have found her. He pressed her close to His heart, and she began to breathe again. He asked her, "what had happened? Why had she become so tormented?" He kissed her forehead, her cheeks, her lips, her head; he called out her name over and over again. Gauri! Gauri! But she could not respond, she was consumed by despair. And so Shiva wept. And as his heart began to break, Gauri's own heart felt pain. The pain woke her a little, her spirit form was in agony. She held Shiva closer, and felt life; she began to feel terror - at losing Shiva. Then she remembered that other woman in Shiva's heart - and violently pushed Shiva away from her and in an angry tirade explained how Shiva had been so cruel to her, how He had made her existence meaningless and destroyed her. And she ripped open His chest to lay bare His heart.

But it was her face she saw in the heart. Both she and Shiva now wept. She asked what happened to the other woman who was in His heart, but now was not there? The woman who had taken her place in Shiva's heart?

Shiva stopped weeping a moment. Then, understanding what had happened, smiled. Then He laughed. "Her?" He laughed louder and louder, increasingly relieved - it seemed so cruel to Gauri. The beautiful woman's face was again in Shiva's heart. "Look - it is Parvati. It is your own reflection!" Shiva laughed.

Gauri felt confused, then understood. Then she was embarrassed a moment. But then she too, smiled. In an instant she and Shiva were sitting in Kailasa again, the sun was shining just as before - there was no regret: beyond time, beyond space, it did not matter how long the two had been in misery - they were now happy again. As if they had always been happy. And she saw her beautiful smile in the reflection. In Shiva's heart. And laughed with relief and happiness.

Shiva then made a promise to Gauri, that this would never happen again. "From now on, you and I shall not be Ardhanginis, two bodies with a single heart, but a single united body." They embraced, and in that hug held each other so tightly that the two became one. By devotional Bhakti, they became the half-male, half-female Ardhanarishwara.

Varaha Jayanti - Agni Purana 1.3

Vishnu was next manifested by the form of a boar. The sage Kashyapa and his wife Diti had a son named Hiranyaksha, who became the King of the Asuras. Hiranyaksha, by his righteousness, pleased Brahma so that Brahma granted him any wish: Hiranyaksha wished to be invincible in battle. Hiranyaksha thus went to war with the Devas, and because he was invincible in battle, utterly defeated the Devas and conquered the Devaloka. In the course of his war, he also conquered Varuna, the Ocean.  Hiranyaksha was unstoppable! He became King of every world.

Of all his domains, Hiranyaksha enjoyed most of all the ocean, and came to live in Varuna's palace under the waters. But he also loved the Earth, and so he pulled Her down into the ocean to live with him, causing Her considerable misery.

By now, Brahma understood that, despite his good intentions, he had permitted something terrible to happen by granting this wish. So he led the Devas to Vishnu and asked that Vishnu do something about Hiranyaksha, and his despicable treatment of the Earth. The Devas should be restored to the Devaloka, and the Earth should be brought back from the ocean's depths. Vishnu agreed something should be done. In the form of a boar, Vishnu entered the ocean - and frolicing and playing, swimming in the vast waters.  This attracted the attention of the Earth, who fell in love with Vishnu; she called to him, and this is how Vishnu was able to find the Earth.  He dived down, and lifted Her in his tusks, carrying Her out of the waters.

Hiranyaksha did not know that this boar was Vishnu, and thought it was an ordinary boar coming to steal his love. So he attacked the boar. Soon, it became apparent this was no ordinary boar! As they fought, Hiranyaksha saw the boar's feet were the vedas, his tusks were sacrificial stakes, his teeth offerings, his mouth an altar, his tongue the sacred flame! Too late, he understood: it was Vishnu, in the form of sacrifice itself! Vishnu bent time, and the battle stretched on for a thousand years.  Vishnu wore down the will of Hiranyaksha, tiring him; the more Hiranyaksha fought with Vishnu, the more he admired Vishnu, and became reluctant to keep fighting. Hiranyaksha then at last understood he had done terrible wrong, and regretted that he had asked to be invincible: it was that gift that spurred him to try to conquer every world, and even fight Vishnu. Now, Hiranyaksha's pride was subdued, and he asked Brahma to take back the gift given him, and asked Vishnu to end his shame. Brahma agreed, and Vishnu gored Hiranyaksha with his tusks.

Upon seeing Her champion victorious, the Earth fainted, and began to sink under the ocean again. Once more, Vishnu lifted her up.

The Earth had fallen in love with Vishnu, and Vishnu recognized Her as his Consort; they married, and had a son, Naraka. But the Earth asked Vishnu for two gifts for their child: that he be all powerful, and have a long life. Despite the good intentions, these gifts ultimately led to Naraka becoming evil, like Hiranyaksha, and required both Vishnu (as Krishna) and the Earth (as Satyabhama) to subdue him, as well.

Mahalaxmi Vrata: Sacrificing Home and Work

The intent (Vrata) of action defines when it is fulfilled: the vrtrahatha, for example, is the strike, the blow in a battle that brings final ending to the conflict, restoring justice, and success - the ending of hostilities (that was the intention with which opposition was met with opposition).  It is best understood in this context: a Vrata is an act of abstinence which is conducive to continence. It is the moment when further action may be abstained from without violating duty; as such it is an act of self-restraint, of consciously recognizing there is no need to do more.

This does not mean that action stops: after a battle, Sraddha must be given to friends and enemies alike - it is insufficient to ignite the sacrificial fire and lay the sacrifice upon it, the sacrifice must be consumed.  Words must be finished before it may be said they are "well spoken!" ("Svaha!").  It is insufficient to arrive at the destination to complete the Tirtha, it must be departed from.  But Vrata is the moment when success is assured, and the duty of completing the action is all that remains.

The Laxmi Vrata welcomes Laxmi into a place, into a work; Laxmi would not arrive there if it was not already "Hers."  "Her Home," "Her Work," is presented to Laxmi.  It is a profoundly personal practice, the method of which depends on the Vrata, the purpose, to be achieved.

It is easy to become attached to our home and our work, either thinking it belongs to ourselves, or to those we made for.  This can cause considerable distress.  Sacrificing it is difficult, but the rewards of detachment are numerous.

Begin by reciting the names of Laxmi: this will facilitate your understanding of Laxmi.  Of course, no one knows every manifestation ever made, but focus at first on the ones easiest for you to comprehend and remember. Some remember the radiant Sita... or Radha dancing for an eternity with Krishna.  But others might find it easier to hear Laxmi in their mind as a song, or see Laxmi as a color - or in the very tangible form of precious metals, or their own wallet.

Eventually, you will understand that you can only understand Laxmi in terms of your own personal experience and identity, and will see Laxmi in your own form: your ability to perceive and understand is limited.  Your home and/or work, what you are sacrificing, was yours - and you are giving it up. But it was always Laxmi's, even when it was yours.  Understand that your love of home and work manifested Laxmi, the energy required to give those forms purpose and action.  Their purpose, your purpose, was to bring you closer to understanding Laxmi - and you have succeeded.

Try to understand that Shakti, the energy without form, has already manifested form into motion and action.  Complete the sacrifice: continue your homemaking, your working.

No nuclear strike

Arjuna was reminded of the duties of a warrior. He was told that the Pashupatastra should not be used without sufficient need, for when used, it will harm everything - no being will be safe anywhere. Even the land will become poisoned. Such a weapon certainly must never be used against a weaker enemy, one which can be potentially overcome by more conventional weapons, even at great cost.

Not stupid

Anyone who understands they do not know something or remember something is not stupid, but actually very wise. There is no shame in ignorance. The Vedas were broken in four, and then again, countlessly. "I do not know," "I do not remember" - there is simply too much information for any one person to know, we must explore the limits of our understanding together; even Brahma and Ganesh could not rely on their memories, frenetically writing their notes, and at times collaborating with others who knew more or were more able than even they were! This is living and working together, respecting truth, constantly perfecting and growing; this is friendship. Friendship is the purpose of practice. Eventually, our personal understanding must inevitably improve with time and effort, and we become better. Just as by the persistent efforts of generations our society improves with time as well.

The beginner and the expert face different challenges, and each envies the other. The beginner only notices the expert's skill and experience, thinking that would alleviate their weakness at the unsurmounted obstacle before them; the expert, having broken through that obstacle only to find another of greater magnitude, looks upon the beginner's newness, and remembers when it was easy to learn something new, and the vigor they held before they wearied in exertion. Yet neither the beginner nor the expert has mastered yoga. Yoga is a practice of exertion, of endurance.

The Jnana Yogi envies the physique of the Hatha Yogi, the Hatha Yogi envies the mental power of the Jnana Yogi. Would it not be better for them to love the other's success, and rely on it, like a friend?

This is why success is guaranteed to every Yogi: because they intend to achieve it. And may, despite whatever failings they have, rely on their friends to help them as a vehicle in that success.

Not two, not one

What difference there is between a sunbeam and the sun is seen because of a perceived disparity where none exists. Is there a difference between You and Me, between Left and Right? What difference is there between the one who manifests Vishnu and the one who manifests Shiva? There is not "two," not even "one." For "one" implies there is a difference between "none" and "some," when neither can exist without the other.

I hope it isn't poisonous - Artha Veda 6, 71

Whatever food I eat, whatever I require to sustain me, whether gold, or bloody meat, I hope it was sacrificed rightly. Whether sacrificed rightly or not, my heart is glad, unburdened by doubt. Even poison may taste sweet, so I hope that what sustenance I take and swallow is good to eat. I take hope, and confidence, for Agni accepts and eats all which is presented, whether sacrificed rightly or wrongly, willingly or unwillingly.

Travel by night

To those who lived in ancient times and knew Krishna, there seemed reason for optimism in the new Kali Yuga: for in the Kali Yuga, it was (to them) easier to achieve success. However, though success may be achieved merely by thought, action, and intention, the conditions for performing Yoga have become more difficult, and it is neither easier nor more difficult than it ever has been. True, a star becomes easier to see as the night rises, but though it is difficult to lose our way under such guidance, there are other difficulties to traveling at night which discourage even experienced travelers from wandering in the wilderness without the light of day.

Water which falls from the sky finds its way back to the ocean, and back to the sky - no matter where it lands, whether on a mountain, or in a rushing river. It finds its way to the ocean not by any skill, but because of its nature. Success is guaranteed in every Yuga, though not without difficulty.