Last weekend, to celebrate the Vel Puja, we were inspired to take the Vel of Lord Murugan on procession through the ashram, and perform a mahabishekam in the Yaga Sala. We hope you enjoy the video of this epic event! Swami Karuna then gave a sweet and uplifting discourse explaining the origins of the puja, and about true, divine love.
A discourse about the Vel, by Swami Karuna
Welcome divine friends to this most beautiful and auspicious day in Skanda Vale. This is the end, and the culmination, of our festivals this summer with the Vel puja. The Vel has gone, garlanded with your love. Isn’t that beautiful? I just wanted to talk to you a bit about this Vel, because it’s a very, very special Vel for Skanda Vale.
Many years ago, Guru’s mother “Mummy” had been told by the astrologers that there was a certain date on which she had to die. She phoned Guru and told him that this event was going to happen, that it had been told by the astrologers. And Guru said “Nevermind Mummy… go and get a Vel made to your height, and bring it to Skanda Vale.”
So she did as Guru suggested, and she had a Vel made in Colombo. She had it made and measured to her height (this was her last trip that she came to Skanda Vale).
You have to imagine this was 1978 – security wasn’t quite such an issue in those days. Mummy was a very formidable lady, who one didn’t cross, unless you really had something to say, because she was very formidable!
A big lady, very powerful – she has an amazing spiritual power – she ran a temple of her own in Sri Lanka, a multi-faith temple, where Guru learned when he was a little boy. And so she was somebody with quite a lot of power, and you didn’t cross her if you knew what was good for you!
So she carried the Vel, and she took it to the airport in Colombo, and she went to the plane and climbed onto the plane (carrying the Vel) and she wouldn’t let anybody touch this Vel. She carried it all the way with her in her seat – she carried it all the way to Heathrow airport. She came down off the plane, went through immigration, and came to customs. And there was a young man at the customs desk. He said “Madam, can I have a look at that Vel?”
She told Guru afterwards, she said “That bloody fool! [laughter] Do you think this old lady is carrying drugs?!” The boy was completely destroyed! So she carried the Vel, and she brought it to Skanda Vale… and the astrologers predictions were proven null and void. Because the Vel was more powerful than their predictions.
The Vel is from Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva gave the Vel to Lord Murugan because he was sent by Lord Shiva to destroy Asuras who were plaguing the world at that time (much like we have now today) And this Vel he gave to Subramanium for the battle with Surapadman.
We like to look at these demons and asuras as being separate entities. But actually they are part of our lower nature. And the Vel festival that we have today (and we celebrate also in Skanda Sashti) is to give you the opportunity to come and ask the Lord to help you overcome your lower nature, so that you can come to know Him.
Discover your own divinity!
Within each one of us is divinity, overlaid with layers and layers of maha maya. Running around thinking that the world we see is reality, and not understanding what the true nature of God is.
God is within each and every single one of us. Don’t let anybody put you down and make you less than what you are. You are divine. Each one of you.
And that is part of our nature – it’s part of the nature of the Universe. That is who God is… God is the whole Universe. That is who He is… and we are part of that. We are the same as everything that’s in this building. We are the same constituents. But it’s all come from God. And that’s who we are, and that’s our journey… to return back to God.
And with the help of these great festivals – coming to the temple to renew our association with God – we take that back with us into the world, to give us strength. Because all around us is temptation, all around us is the world… worshipping maha maya – and they do not understand God.
How often do you see God mentioned in the newspapers or on television? Not very often. Because that’s not what the world wants. The world wants money, money, money! Sex, sex, sex! That’s what it’s all about.
The reality is that which is in you. Love is within you.
And our love is misdirected into accumulating wealth and power – and sensual love with each other. The real love is within. The real love is the love for the divine. And that is what we are all trying to experience. And that’s why we run around in circles looking for that.
But you’ve all come here today because you understand that this is the real love. This is where you really belong… with the Lord. Nowhere else. Take that love with you into the world… so that you can then have a bit of strength, and withstand the pressures of the world. We, as monks and nuns here, are extremely fortunate, because we don’t have to go through all that.
Swami Yogananda… maybe you have heard about him? [Paramahansa Yogananda] There’s a lovely story he told of when he was a boy, he used to go and visit all the saints and sages in Calcutta where he lived.
And there was one prince who had a really big house, and lots of land and servants and everything. He gave it all up to live in one room, because he understood that this was just ridiculous. He couldn’t take all that with him at the end of his life, so he had to discover what was really worthwhile – which is his divinity.
So he locked himself in a room, and he meditated, and he came to know God, and as his power grew everyone came to worship him… well not to worship him, but to come and get a fragment of his knowledge.
And one day, when Swami was there, a young boy said “Oh master, you’re so amazing, you gave up all this wealth to come and live in one room.”
And he said “No, no… you’re the ones doing tapas! You’re living in the world of maha maya. You’ve given up your divine nature in order to run after tinsel and trash. So who’s making renunciation? I’m not! My divine nature is my birth right, and I’m going to grab it! I’m very greedy!”
That’s us! We’re very greedy… that’s why we’re here! And we’re supported by all your love, and everything you bring to help support this community.
Skanda Vale is Skanda Vel – this power. And when Guru came here with the authority of Lord Subramanium, the Lord taught him “This place is Skanda Vel. It’s a place for people of all faiths to come (and no faith).”
For people who want to understand God, who need to have a place of sanctuary… and it’s for all people. We are called the Community of the Many Names of God. That also Lord Murugan gave us, because he said “All names are my names.”
So whenever you see people worshipping, from whatever faith, join them! Because everybody has a different way of worshipping God. So we’re all different… enjoy the difference!
Right… we’re going to take the Vel back to the temple now, to end the puja, and then everybody will have the opportunity to do pradakshina around the gopurum for the end of the festival. And then we’ll feed you all
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