India Forum Archives
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Posted by: Anand K Nov 1 2003, 01:54 PM
The description doesn't exactly describe what I ask here, but here goes: The predominant deities in the earliest scriptures were Indra, Varuna, Agni etc, but later on they lost their importance and stature to Shiva, Vishnu , Vinayaka ...any thoughts on why this happened? The vedic gods, were to my knowledge more "godlike"...magnificent, all powerful, make- no-mistakes types...but they lost out to gods like Shiva, Vishnu and avatars and children of gods etc who were more human....Now , the latter were no less grand in scope, but they had very human characteristics and emotions like destructive anger(Thandav), fun( Krishna Leela), honor, shame, fear, doubt and romantic flings....How did this evolution take place? The gods have become so human, yet no less "godlike" and because of this hindus are named after gods(something other religion do not permit AFAIK). Indra's has been demoted to a flirt and a loser who runs to the Trinity or whoever available when Devlok is facing a powerful enemy..... Varuna is almost forgotten, now just a guardian of the south and lord of the waters i believe...Agni has only a passing reference in most cases., It is forbidden to worship Brahma etc etc.....see my point? It seems rather than looking at a realm/paradise where super-duper gods reign, focus of hinduism has shifted to gods with whom they can easily identify with and all...........But how long did the evolution take place and why did this happen at all? I hope I can get a balanced and insightfull discussion here.Thanks.
Posted by: Kaushal Nov 1 2003, 02:57 PM
I have my own explanation for this, though by no means an original one. The original Gods of the Indic Civilization (and this includes the Zoroastrians) were Gods mimicking the forces of nature (Wind, fire, the sea, the Sun, and the planets). Society in those millenia were in awe of the forces of nature and the destruction that nature could wreak on humankind. As science and society developed in the subcontinent, the deities became more complete and human in their attributes and their powers. In this respect the Indic ontology is not very dissimilar to that of the ancient Greeks. In fact the avatars of Vishnu are a story of the evolution of the homo sapien species. One can get an idea of the relative incidence of the dieties in the Rg. The various mandalas of the Rg were written over many centuries. One can make an analysis of the references to various deities in the various mandalas and deduce the evolution of those who were most worshipped at various periods of time. I am not sure whether this has already been done, but i will check around. The closest to this as far as I am aware of is Talageris book which is available on line, but IIRC he has not made this particular analysis. Eventually of course the idea of the Supreme Brahman (not to be confused with Brahma) and the relationship to the Jivatma (the individual soul) is expressed in various forms of Vedanta. I know there are knowledgeable members in this area on our forum, and I trust they will come forward to share thier view of the matter.
Posted by: acharya Nov 4 2003, 06:33 PM
K , you need to go for this
Posted by: acharya Nov 4 2003, 06:37 PM
FAQ's AND ARTICLES FAQ.001: What is Dharma? A.001: Dharma is the foundational framework within which a Hindu householder (as opposed to a Hindu renunciant) operates. The root of the word is dhr, “that which upholds, or maintains.” That is, actions which help nurture or sustain well-being, auspiciousness, order, physical and ritual purity, social stability, and the harmonious functioning of society. But dharma is more than morality, law, or social convention. It is the human social expression of the cosmic law (rita), the order that runs through all things. While the specific expression of dharma is subject to the conditions of time and place, the foundational assumption—that human action should be harmonious with the rhythm and flow of the cosmic order—is considered to be universal. Thus the recognition of the networks of interrelationships between human actions and the unfolding of human destiny is a key insight of dharma. No one is an island unto him/herself. Rights are balanced by responsibilities, and obligations by corresponding privileges. Sources of Dharma The Dharma-Sutras proclaim that the source of dharma is primarily the Veda, but also tradition, the example of learned, righteous and cultured persons, and a recognized legal assembly [Gautama Dharmasutra 1.1, 2, Apastamba Dharma Sutra 2.13.7-9; Baudhayana Dharmasutra 1.5]. Moreover, regional differences and the customs of various countries are to be taken into account [BD 2.1-17]. Historically, dharma was categorized according to sadharana-dharma, action that pertained to all, and vishesha-dharma, the particular duties of individuals. Sadharana and Vishesha Dharma Sadharana-dharma enjoins individuals to act in ways commensurate with non-violence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), non-stealing (asteya), purity (shauca), and sensorial restraint, is considered universally valid, whereas vishesha-dharma is context-specific. As the Manu Smriti (1.85; 1.110) reminds us, the duty specific to an individual (svadharma, or one’s own dharma), varies not only with stage of life, but with caste (jati), family (kula), and country or region (desa). Sadharana-dharma, on the other hand, is not subject to such conditions and mirrors the ethical values that Indian renouncer systems and meditative schools recommend as essential qualities for the spiritual path. Vishesha-dharma was further classified as a) varnashrama dharma which regulated action based on one’s affiliation to one of the four social groups of vedic society, gender, and stage of life; cool.gif stridharma, the duties specific to a woman, whose fulfillment of social, familial, and ritual obligations brought forth relational and societal harmony, and familial auspiciousness; c) rajadharma, the duties incumbent on, and the characteristics expected of, kings, who were expected to manifest dharma through just rule and, d) yatidharma, which governed the life of an ascetic, or renunciant. Textual Authority for Dharma The ultimate authority for dharma is the Vedas which is sruti, or revelation; secondary textual authority lies in the smriti, or tradition, including the Kalpa Sutras (800 – 400 B.C.E.); the Dharma Shastras (200 B.C.E. – 500 C.E); the ithihasa, the Ramayana (500 B.C.E.) and Mahabharata (compiled from 400 B.C.E. – 400 C.E.); and the Puranas. The Kalpa Sutras are of three types: a) the Srauta Sutras, which are highly technical manuals for the performance of public vedic rites, which are more complex and involved than domestic rites; cool.gif the Grihya Sutras, which deal with the correct performance of yajna, to be performed in the home, rules for ritual purity, and for rites of passage (all of which are part of naimittika-karma); c) the Dharma Sutras, which are concerned with ethical behavior and responsible action, emphasize codes of conduct, conventions of jurisprudence, and the rules comprising the societal framework of the four stages of life (ashrama). Later, the Dharma Shastras, important components of the smriti literature, further elaborate on the subject matter covered by the Dharma Sutras. The best known texts of the Dharma Shastras are the Manu Smriti, the Yajnavalkya Smriti, and the Narada Smriti. -- Dr. Rita Dasgupta Sherma, Chair, BDVS, DANAM FAQ.002: Does Hinduism constitute an Area of Knowledge (AOK) or a Way of Knowing (WOK)? A.002: The answer to the question depends on the way we construe the word Hinduism, or, more accurately, the way it is studied. The study of religion can be carried out in two ways: (1) as a study about it, and (2) as a study of it. When we study a religion in a university or high school class on Theory of Knowledge, we study about it: we study about its history, its doctrines, its practices, and so on, without the implication of either being a believer or a follower of it. When, however, a Christian studies Christianity in a seminary, or a Muslim studies Islam in a madarasah, he or she is engaged in a study of Christianity or Islam, as distinguished from a study about it. Hinduism constitutes an Area of Knowledge in the first sense of study (that is, study about) and a Way of Knowing in the second sense of study (that is, study of .) --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.003: Are there Ways of Knowing (WOKs) in Hinduism? A.003: Yes, there are six Ways of Knowing (WOKs) acknowledged within Hinduism, which may also overlap with Ways of Knowing found in other religions and in secular culture. Hindu philosophy is so concerned with Ways of Knowing (WOKs) that this issue has been debated through its history going back a millennium. Many different schools of thought have taken different positions on this point. There is even a Hindu tradition of classifying six (6) Hindu Schools of Philosophy (called ‘Darshana-s’) in terms of the WOKs admitted by them, which is even alluded to in a popular Tamil literary classic, Manimekhalai by Chattanaar (circa 500 CE. ) Western philosophy generally recognizes perception (or empiricism) and inference (or rationalism) as the two main WOKs. The Non-orthodox Schools of Indian Philosophy (Lokaayata or Chervaaka, Buddhism, Jainism) and the six Orthodox Hindu Schools of Philosophy (Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaaya, Mimaansa-Praashaara version and -Bhaata version, Advaita Vedanta), each accepts one or more of the six WOKs as follows: (1) One Non-orthodox school, Lokaayata or Charvaaka, accepts only perception (‘pratyaksha’) as a WOK. (2) An Orthodox school, Vaisheshika in some of its forms, accepts perception (‘pratyaksha’) as well as inference (‘anumaan’) as WOKs. The position is shared by Buddhism, which is one of the three Non-Orthodox Schools of Philosophy (3) A second Orthodox school, Samkhya, additionally accepts verbal testimony (‘shabda’) as a WOK. A third school, Yoga, is similar to Samkya in this respect; (4) A fourth school, Nyaaya, also accepts comparison (‘upmaana’) as another WOK, in addition to the previous three WOKs. An example to illustrate this WOK is in the statement: “A mule is like a horse. From this, we gain the knowledge that the horse looks like the mule.” (5) For various reasons, the fifth school, the Mimaansaa, in its Praabhaakara version, accepts postulation (‘arthaapatti’) as yet another additional WOK, in addition to the previous four; and in its Bhaatta school version, accepts also a sixth WOK called non-cognition (‘anupalabdhi’), treating the absence of knowledge also a form of knowledge (that of its absence.). The latter accepts all six WOKs. An example of postulation is as follows: One does not eat during the day, and yet continues to put on weight, then it can be surmised that he/ she must be eating during the night when every one is not awake. (6) The sixth school, Advaita Vedanta, accepts all the six WOKs. (Here ‘Advaita’ means Non-dual.) The latter six schools constitute the Six Orthodox Schools of Philosophy (‘Darshana-s’) The Way of Knowing of special interest accepted in Hinduism is ‘shabda’, or verbal testimony, which is not accorded this status in other philosophical systems. That Hinduism should admit a plurality of WOKs and debate all of them is typical of Hinduism. Source: D. M. Datta, Six Ways of Knowing (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1932) --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. DANAM lists the six Ways of Knowing (WOKs) and Schools of Philosophy (‘Darshana-s’) in Hinduism (Hindu Dharma) in the following Table A.003-1. FAQ.004: Is the doctrine of Karma a kind or form of Fatalism? A.004: According to the doctrine of Karma, actions performed by us in the past, especially past lives, have a bearing on, and sometimes even determine, outcomes in the present. This sometimes generates the impression that the doctrine of Karma is Fatalistic. Fatalism involves the belief that (1) whatever happens to us is predetermined, and further that (2) it is predetermined by Fate (and not by us.) The doctrine of Karma does not support either of these propositions. According to the standard doctrine of Karma, our past actions are only one of the factors involved in determining the outcomes in the present. The doctrine of Karma classifies Karma into three categories: (1) Sanchita Karma, or the sum-total of our past Karmas; (2) Praarabdha Karma, or that part of this sum-total of our past Karma which accounts for our present birth; and(3) Aagaami or Kriyamaana Karma, or the actions we are going to perform onour initiative (that is, on our own free will or choice) in the present or future. It is clear, therefore, that both past and present karma have a bearing on outcomes in the present, not just the past. Only if past karma alone were to determine outcomes could the system be called deterministic.Moreover, whatever we experience in the present as destined is only a consequence of acts performed by us (and no one else) in the past. It is not the result of some entity called Fate. Even when anything is predetermined in the Hindu scheme of Karma, it is self-determined (and not determined by Fate or Kismet.) A third factor which prevents the doctrine of Karma from being deterministic is the fluid nature of the three kinds of Karma. Example: when one smokes for the first time, it is the present or Kriyamaana Karma; as one keeps on smoking, it goes on becoming Sanchita or a cumulative Karma; and when one finally gets cancer, it has become Praarabdha or Destiny.--Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal,Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.005: What is Pramaana and why is it important? A.005: The word Pramaana is used in three distinct but allied senses in Hinduism: (1) as a source of knowledge; (2) as a means of knowledge; and, (3) as a test of knowledge. An example might help illustrate the semantic distinctions and their interconnection. It is provided by the act of drawing water from a well using a bucket. The well is the source of the water, the bucket is a means of drawing the water, and once the water is drawn, one tests whether it is potable or not. Water obviously stands for knowledge in this example. The most usual sense in which Pramaana is used is as a means of knowledge or Way of Knowing (WOK), especially in the sense of valid knowledge: as a valid means of knowledge. The doctrine of Pramaana is important because it implies a distinction between what is known on the basis of an impression, something known in an unexamined way (‘PraSiddha’), from what is known on the basis of evidence, or after proper investigation ( ‘Pramaana Siddha’). Here PraSidha means “generally-known vague knowledge”. For instance, it is often thought that Hinduism is pessimistic, but this impression is incorrect. One finds that Hinduism is an optimistic religion, once one considers the evidence. The view that Hinduism is pessimistic is merely popular (Prasiddha), the view that it is optimistic is established on the basis of evidence (Pramaana Siddha). One can cite the view, as proof of its optimism, that according to it all human beings are destined to achieve salvation (that in Hinduism is called moksha, ‘liberation’.) --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.006: If Hinduism admits ‘Shabda’ as a means of knowledge, then does it make Hinduism authoritarian or dogmatic? A.006: The danger exists but there are several reasons why it never materializes in Hinduism. One of the reasons is that what we are dealing with is a theory of knowledge. In Hinduism, all such knowledge must end in realization; thus, theory is merely a means, and realization is the end. So the theory is always subject to experimental verification and secondary to it. A parallel from science might help explain the point. Science proceeds by testing hypotheses. In principle, one can hypothesize anything, and one could thus accuse science of random subjectivity on account of its concept of hypothesis. But, the fact that the hypothesis has to be tested prevents such a development. Moreover, not all Hindu Schools of Philosophy always accept Sabda. Non-Hindu Schools of Philosophy with which Hindu Schools have long engaged in debate – such as Buddhism and Jainism – do not subscribe to Sabda, the way Hindu Schools do. Thus, in debating these schools, Hindus had either to rely on reason as distinguished from revelation, or provide reasons for believing in revelation, which could be debated. Moreover, what Sabda or scripture actually means has itself been a source of vigorous and often rigorous debate within Hinduism. Thus, Sabda as a means of Pramaana is perpetually prevented from turning into a form of dogma. --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.007: What happens to the Atma (or Soul, in Christianity) after Liberation (Moksha) when it has a Union with God? Where does it go? A.007: Union with God or salvation (or moksha, liberation, in Hinduism) is of two (2) kinds: (1) Psychological, such as in Bhakti (Devotion), where bonding with God is psychological, but the soul remains distinct from God, becomes purified, and permanently lives in the company of God, in the latter’s abode called Heaven (known as ‘Vishnu-loka’ or ‘Shiva-loka’ or ‘Brahma-loka’). This is similar to the Christian concept. (2) Ontological, such as in Advaita Vedanta, where Atman realizes its identity with Ultimate Reality. Example: When a young girl named Natalie is adopted , her new parents give her new name Stephanie. When she is older (say 18), her adopted parents tell her the pre-adoption name. Now, Stephanie realizes she is really Natalie. But was Stephanie ever really not Natalie? In the dualistic realization, the soul goes to the company of God after death, but remains distinct from God, whereas in monistic realization, it does not go anywhere, because there is nowhere else to go. Where does Stephanie go, when she discovers that she is really Natalie? In the latter case, realization occurs during one’s life (before death), with soul becoming indistinct from the Ultimate Reality. --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM FAQ.008: What is “salvation” in Hinduism? A.008: The word which corresponds to the English word “salvation” within Hinduism is Moksha, or Liberation. In Christianity, one is saved from sin through salvation; hence, one might wish to know what one is liberated from in Hinduism? In Hinduism, one is liberated from rebirth – that is, having to be born again in the cycle of samsaara or rebirths. More significantly, to be liberated from rebirth means to be liberated from the causes which lead to rebirth in samsaara as well as the symptoms of samsaara. Mental conflict, general dissatisfaction with life, etc., are symptoms of samsaara and these symptoms are removed with the disease. The cause of samsaara is spelled out in different nuances in various schools of philosophy (darshana-s) and sects, but its root lies in not being aligned to the Ultimate Reality or God. This lack of alignment makes us imagine that we can achieve lasting happiness in samsaara, while it can only really be achieved through moksha. --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.009: What is the nature of ‘liberation’ (moksha) in Hinduism in relation to the soul of the individual? A.009: One way of describing moksha in Hinduism would be to say that it involves the discovery of the true nature of one’s self or atman. Almost all schools of not just Hindu but also Indian thought might be willing to accept this summary statement, but they diverge in the details involved because of their different conceptions of the true of self. The two main views, however, may be identified in terms of a vocabulary in which atman stands for the individual soul, and Brahman for the Ultimate Reality. According to one view, the atman is identical with Brahman in its true relationship, but has lost sight of this fact through ignorance. Example: While seeing a photograph, one might sometimes not realize that one is looking at one’s own picture, till one realizes this to be the case. One form of Hinduism gives a metaphysical form to this kind of error, upon overcoming which, one realizes one’s identity with Brahman. Note that one loses one’s false identity, which one had earlier, and gains one’s true identity, lost earlier. Hence, there is no question of the self being lost, rather the false self is lost when the knowledge of the true self emerges. According to the second major view, the atman stands for the individual soul, and Brahman stands for God. Liberation consists of discovering the true relationship of atman and Brahman, or that of Man to God. We lose sight of God in the course of our daily living and liberation consists in realizing the utter dependency of the atman on God and in forging a loving relationship with God. --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.010: In Christianity and Judaism, there is a great emphasis on the concept of the individual and on individualism. While the idea of “complete merging with God seems noble”, it also seems sad that one loses ones individuality. Is it not so? A.010: This question is best answered by a counter-question: what happens when the drop of water merges in the ocean? Does it survive the event or not? The drop ceases to exist as a drop, but it continues to exist as the ocean. Not all systems of Hinduism, however, insist on such a merger, and those who do, actually make a bigger claim. The school of Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism) would claim that the question misses a vital point – that the issue is not one of loss of identity but that of gaining one’s true identity. Suppose, in a dream, someone told one that one’s dream-self is not the true self, and in order to find out one’s real self, one must wake up. Now, if someone protested and said: “How can I give up my dream-self, will I not perish if I do so,” then what can one say? It is another version of “everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die.” --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.011: What is the concept of heaven and hell in Hinduism? A.011: Heaven: Hinduism believes in two kinds of heaven: one, written with a small ‘h’, and the other, with a capital ‘H’. In the first case, one goes to heaven (with small h) as a result of performing extra-ordinary good deeds or karma, like giving one’s life in saving other people’s lives in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Because one’s karma is so outstanding, one goes to this wonderful place, called heaven (svarga, in Sanskrit)where one’s soul leads a blissful existence. This is the good news. The bad news is that one has to leave it when one’s stock of good karma is exhausted. One is reborn as an ordinary mortal. The other kind of Heaven (capital H) found in Hinduism is similar to the Abrahamic one. One achieves it by devotion to and through the grace of God, and where one lives permanently in the company of God, which in the Bhakti- (Devotion-) based traditions of Hinduism, is either Vishnu or Shiva, with their Heavenly abodes called Vishnu-loka or Shiva-loka, where loka means realm. Incidentally, the concept of Brahma-loka is no longer in vogue. Hell: Hinduism allows for a hell (with a small ‘h’), called narga in Sanskrit, where one goes as a result of performing bad karma. It might be looked upon as serving a jail-sentence, because once one has atoned for one’s bad Karma in this way, one is released from hell, to be reborn again on earth as an ordinary mortal. Thus, this concept of hell, ‘narga’, in Hinduism is more like ‘purgatory’ in Christianity. Hinduism, by and large, does not believe in ‘eternal damnation’ (of Christian Hell), with a few exceptions, so there is no Eternal Hell in Hinduism. --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.012: Are Veda-s “revealed” knowledge in the sense of the Abrahamic Religions? A.012: The Vedanta which considers the Veda to be eternal “in the sense in which a beginning-less series of like things is”, as the process of periodic creation and dissolution of the universe is also considered eternal in Hinduism. Hence, although in this way, God is also related to revelation in Hinduism, God is not the author of it, as in the Abrahamic religions, only its promulgator. --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.013: What is the point of having religious doctrines? Concepts of Karma, moksha and dukha? A.0013: The doctrines or concepts are meant to convey an insight, just as theories and concepts in science are supposed to tell what is not immediately obvious, as in the well-known equation E = mc2, given by Einstein. Let us take the concepts of karma (see FAQ.003), moksha (liberation, see FAQ.008) and dukha (suffering.) Karma emphasizes the fact that causes take time to ripen into effects, so that the effects of our actions may not be immediately obvious, and that this is something we should keep in mind, when we act. Example: A beer bash produces a hangover not right then, but the next day. And so on. Moksha conveys the idea that a life free from worries and uneasiness may be possible, just as we feel liberated when, say, our old debts which weigh upon us are paid off. Just as the financial worry can be removed by removing its cause, existential worry may be capable of a similar resolution. Dukha emphasizes the fact that even when we are happy, we should not forget that circumstances could change for the worse, a possibility easily overlooked in euphoric moments. --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.014: With the emphasis on Karma, how could the caste system exist for so long? A.014: The popular conception of the caste system as unchanging is misleading. So when one says that one has had the caste system for so long, it creates the impression that things have not changed for so long. But this is not the case. Hindu civilization already had a few, or even many, centuries behind it before some form of what we call the caste system appeared. It was then called the varna system, that could be based on: (1) birth only; (2) birth plus worth; and, (3) worth only, with these strands in tension. In the medieval times, a jati system gained in importance, and in this jati-varna system, the emphasis on birth increased. Finally, the “caste system” as such took its shape under British rule when the present caste categories were reified. So, in a way the caste system reflects the tension between birth and worth or karma. The principle of karma is thus potentially and perpetually subversive of a ‘caste system’ based on birth. --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.015: What, if any, is the difference between God and the consorts? A.015: The situation can be as complicated as in any marriage! Very often the consorts represent the personified aspects of the power of that God. In ‘Vaishnavism’ (in which Vishnu is the Supreme Deity), the consort (Lakshmi) remains in a subordinate position, but in ‘Shaivism’ (in which Shiva is the Supreme Deity), the consort (Paarvati) can become much more important than Shiva, specially in the form known as ‘Shaktism’(in which the Goddess is the Supreme Deity). --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.016: If women and men are considered equal in India, how are they not considered equal in America, if it is the same religion they belong to? A.016: The answer comes in two parts. First, the assumption that the same thing must produce the same effect everywhere. Equality does not mean that an old person must be made to carry the same amount of weight as a young person. Here, equality implies proportionality and not identity. Similarly, religion seeks to obtain the best condition for all concerned and details may vary with the situation. Just because the details may vary with the situation does not necessarily mean that they are right for the question. The situation should be examined on its merits and changed, if necessary. --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.017: Do all souls eventually complete the journey to God? If not, what happens to the soul? A.017: Hinduism as a religion, in general (with a few exceptions), is a religion of soteriological optimism; that is to say, it believes that all souls will be saved. It believes in universal salvation. In this connection, Ramakrishna said: Some get their meal in the morning, some in the afternoon and some in the evening; but none will go without food. This question is also raised by Arjuna in the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, where he is assured by Krishna that while salvation (moksha) may be delayed or get lost in a detour, it cannot be denied to one who seeks it. Thus, it is possible that temporarily a soul may lose its way or feel lost, just as one may lose one’s way in a city, but this is only a temporary state of affairs. --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.018. How many times do souls incarnate? A.018. Souls incarnate as many times as necessary to fulfill each soul’s material and spiritual aspirations. But if one must put a figure on it, it most usually is given as 8.4 million times (which is the number of life-forms, consisting of main species). --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM. FAQ.019. What makes the Ganges river holy? A.019. The answer has to be given at two levels – for the believer and the non-believer. For the non-believer, let us ask the question: Why is the library associated with studiousness? Because, most of the people found there are busy studying. Similarly, the Ganges is holy, because most of the people on its banks have traditionally being associated with practicing holy austerities. Hence, the Ganges is associated with holiness, just as a library is associated with studiousness. This answer probably can be appreciated by both the believer and the non-believer. The believer, however, goes a step further and believes that this association is so strong that some of it can rub off on him/her, either literally or psychologically, by touching Ganges water, having it sprinkled on him/her, or bathing in it on its banks. --Dr. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Religion, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Patron of DANAM.
Posted by: acharya Nov 13 2003, 01:25 PM
India's spiritual heritage by Glen P. Kezwer, Ph.D. Spirituality is an intrinsic part of Indian culture and life. Every Indian home is adorned with a poojaa shrine containing a picture of Lord Krishna, Shri Ganesh, Lord Shiv, the Goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati, or some other deity surrounded by candles and incense and garlanded with a maalaa. It is here that people stop for a praanaam to the devi or devtaa, or to ring a bell and sit with eyes closed and hands folded for a few minutes every day. For the worshipper, this aspect of Indian culture serves as a constant reminder that behind the material forms which constitute our daily world, there is an unchanging consciousness which permeates everything. I myself am not of Indian origin. I was born and raised in Canada, but have spent the greater part of the past twenty years living in India. During this time India has become my home. I have traveled her highways and byways from Kerala and Tamil Nadu to Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. I have traversed this vast land on her railways, buses, taxis and airplanes, as well as her elephants, camels and bullock carts. I have walked the streets of her cities, towns and villages, wandered her fields, climbed her mountains and roamed her forests. I have visited her temples, colleges, universities, cultural institutions, government offices and the homes of countless numbers of her citizens. I have met her politicians, professors, military personnel, business people, housewives, doctors, lawyers, wandering sadhus, coolies, temple poojaries, farmers, pandits, journalists and police officers. I have eaten her food, and been nourished by her wholesome dal, subji and roti. I have experienced the heartfelt hospitality of her people, being welcomed and treated as the Godly guest in the most humble of mud houses and the most magnificent of grand mansions. I have sat in meditation in her majestic temples, lectured in her institutions and universities, and waited in line in her banks, train stations, government offices and petrol stations. I have felt the warmth of her sunshine, been refreshed by her rain and breathed the air of this great and enchanting nation year after year. My experiences in India have been many and diverse. I have been awed by the beauty of the dawning of a new year in a farmer's field south of Delhi. I have been warmed by the first rays of the sun as I sat in a crowded motor rickshaw on a cold winter's morning in Farrukhabad. I have sat on a rough bench in a beautiful garden in Bhind and been dazzled by the heartfelt tales of a venerable freedom-fighter. I watched the delighted look on the faces of Gandhian workers as I spoke of meditation and highest awareness at the Mahatma's ashram in Wardha. I have had similar experiences when speaking to the senior officers at the Sarder Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad, science students at the Gargi College in Delhi, gathered intellectuals at the India International Centre in Delhi. I have felt the power of living the eternal message of the Bhagavad Gita on the battlefield in Kurukshetra. I have shared the devotion of the worshippers of the goddess at the Lakshmi temple in Madurai. And everywhere, in every experience I have known India's unique, essential spirituality. It is built into the very fabric of this nation. Where else could you find a city like Ayodhya which is home to 6,000 temples? In what other country could you find holy communities like Rishikesh and Benares, dedicated to the worship of the highest, where meat and alcohol are not to be found? Where else could you watch the evening news on the national television network, and find the words Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram - Truth, Bliss and Beauty - etched on the screen behind the news reader? In what other country would the name of the national radio network be Aakaashvaani - the Voice of the Heavens? Where else would you find establishments with names such as "Krishna Dry Cleaners", "Laxmi Eye Clinic" and "Ram Silk Store"? Where else would vehicles stop on the highway at a temple to take the blessings of the goddess for a successful journey? And what of Indian names? One commonly meets people with names such as Avadh - indestructible, Pratap - the glory of God, Anand _ indivisible bliss, Preeti - divine love, Amar - immortal, Vaibhav - the grandeur or majesty of the divine, Shanti - supreme peace, Kaanti - the glory of God, and Mohini - the enchanting aspect of the absolute. And these are just some of the countless Indian names which serve as reminders of the divinity residing within each and every human being. Indian currency notes bear the motto Satyamayv jayatay under the national seal. The meaning of these words is "Truth alone prevails", a phrase which brings to one's mind the unique truth which is the underlying reality behind all of material existence. This truth is the essential spiritual message which is India's great gift to the world, and it is this same truth which permeates every aspect of Indian life. Two incidents illustrate what I mean. I was once in the office of the Registrar of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh. I sat there for over an hour and watched as he was constantly harangued by countless lawyers and other applicants pressing him to present their cases to the court as soon as possible. I noticed that throughout it all he maintained an attitude of calmness and fairness to everyone, whereas most people in his position would have become agitated or annoyed. During a break I asked him what the secret was to his easy, unruffled attitude. He smiled, and then indicating a picture of Lord Krishna which was on his desk said, "I know that he is doing everything." On another occasion I had been invited to give a talk at a temple in Bhind, where my main message was that one's true nature is immortal and blissful. After the talk was over I was surprised to find a long line-up of people approaching to come greet me personally. I was deeply moved by this gesture as it clearly showed that to these people it did not matter that I was not Indian; I had spoken of the knowledge of their land and they wanted to respect that. As each person approached I greeted them with the words "jeetay raho", "May you live a long life." It was obvious in that moment that I was seeing my own self in them and they were seeing their own self in me. From times immemorial India's message has been promulgated by her saints, sages, gurus and rishis and transmitted by them to those who were desirous of knowing the truth. The essence of this message is simple: Behind the eyes of every living being on earth there shines a light. This light is one and the same in all beings. This light is immortal, blissful, eternal and indestructible. This is the light of consciousness which makes each and every one of us alive and alert and gives us the power to breathe. It is written in Chapter II, verse 30 of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita that Dayhee nityamavadhyoayam / Dayhay Sarvasya Bhaarat: The spirit which dwells within the body is eternal and indestructible. It dwells in the bodies of all, and is therefore the selfsame spirit in every living human being or creature. This spirit, which can also be called Aatmaa or Self, is the true nature of all. It is indivisible, being one and one alone, and is the unchanging reality behind the changing world which we experience every day through our senses. To know or realize this Self is the quest of every spiritual seeker throughout history, and the means to achieve this loftiest of goals can be found in the spiritual heritage of India. See the original article and beautiful photographs at: Glen Kezwer has been practising and studying meditation for the past twenty years at a meditation institute in northern India. He holds a Ph.D. in physics and is the author of the book Meditation, Oneness and Physics, and the soon-to-be-released The Art of Meditation. Please feel free to contact him via email at glenk@d...
Posted by: nachiketa Feb 12 2004, 12:58 PM
What is a good source for the Mahabharata? I have heard C Rajagopalachari's book is good, though I have not read it. My father used to read us the Mahabharata in Kannada when we were kids. And of course there was the DD serial. These are the only two exposures I have had to the Mahabharata apart from the BhagvadGita. Do members have any other suggestions? Please use this thread to discuss sources, multiple versions/interpretations and other things related to the Mahabharata.
Posted by: Mudy Feb 12 2004, 01:07 PM
Recently bought Mahabharata by Kamala Subramaniam (published by Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan, 900 pages) recommended by book store owner in India. It is easy to follow, all facts are not discussed but it is more in story form. Well writen book. Version by Chicago publication(can't recall name) is very distorted. One can find it in Borders.
Posted by: mitradena Feb 12 2004, 02:14 PM
Kesari Mohan Ganguli has done a complete translation of Mahabharata. This one is the best for a complete overview. Kamala Subramaniam has added her own stories in her book, which are not found in the original by Veda Vyasa. The Amar Chitra Katha 40 vol. comic series of Mahabharata is also very good. It is closer to the original than Rajagopalachari & kamala's translations.
Posted by: k.ram Feb 12 2004, 02:21 PM
Hello, Starting this thread to collate information, and hopefully be informative and will have educational value as well. We have lot of stories (some might call myths) in our rich culture, however, behind everything there is a rich meaning, significance and symbolism. We can collect such information here. To start off, I have a question about Vamana Avathar, the significance and symbolism behind it? Although I am starting off with Dashavataras, the intent is not to restrict just to dasahavataras. We can also explore the genesis of Santhoshi ma, , how ayyappa came about and what it means, etc. Thank you.
Posted by: Sunder Feb 12 2004, 04:02 PM
I assume that the reader knows the basics of Vamana Avatar. Upendra, or Vamana, incarnated as the son of Aditi and Kasyapa Prajapathi. (Lalitha Sahasranamam has it that Vamana was releasef from the thumb of Lalitha, during her battle with Bandasura, but that's a whole different story.) An Avatara Karya (Purpose of manifestation) will usually have dual purpose, Dushta sikshanam (offensive) and Sishta Rakshanam (defensive). The Manifestation of Vishnu as Vamana was to check Maha Bali's ego, and also to reduce Sukracharya's powers. About Sista rakshanam, I am not sure I have examples to state. Maha Bali, with the help of Shukracharya (the guru/perceptor of Asuras) (non-devas), conducted a Research (Yagna). Like the Gita states, a Yagna does not always mean pouring ghee into fire. Sacrifice of a 'Pashu' or animal would mean, killing the animal nature WITHIN you and not slitting the throat of an unsuspecting goat. Thus, Bali had taken an oath to award scholars and other seekers according to their standing and merits. Vamana, our hero, turned up at the Research site in the shape of a dwarf (hence the epithet Vamana.) Bali asked Vamana what he wanted, and Vamana said, "Give me three parts of what I can measure." (Paada, means feet, and also means part.) Thus with one stride Vamana brought under his control all MATTER and MATERIAL aspects - i.e. Pritvi Thatvam (also Microcosm). and with another stride he conquered all CELESTIAL aspects, or macrocosm. (It need not be Physical Strides, it may even be a figure of speech.) With both the Microcosm (Pritvi tatvam) and Macrocosm (Akasha Tatvam) covered, there was nothing left to submit but the third and final frontier.. i.e. the EGO. Once the Ego too was won over, all that remains is Paramatman. This is my understanding - I am not quoting from any book or othe Swamiji's teachings. smile.gif so dont flame me if it does not make sense biggrin.gif
Posted by: Sunder Feb 12 2004, 04:57 PM smile.gif I might have read Rajaji's Mahabaratha over a 1000 times, and heard it in different stages many more times than that. I read and re-read the battle scenes of Soumadattha/Bhurishrivas, Bhagadattha etc with great interest. Rajaji's narration, and attention to detail are really nice. He is quite a natural story-teller, and does not waver from the original path too much to distract the reader. I highly recommend a BOOK version of it to an online version.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Feb 12 2004, 05:01 PM
Rajagopalachari is a good primer for kids and beginners. The text is written in excellent English and coherent narrative. It is fairly truthful to the original. Kamala Subramaniam is a middle level narrative for the more interested/serious reader going into considerable detail. It is written in very simple English and is again largely truthful to the original. I disagree that these do not follow the original closely. They have some of their own quirks, but Kamala clearly outlines where she deviates. I agree that the multi-volume production of Amar Chitra katha is the best amongst those the recent productions. I will recommend this as the first choice for anyone other than Ganguli. Kisari Mohan Ganguli's is a complete translation of the whole text of vyAsa. It is a good translation and does not leave anything out. Any serious reader must peruse this work. Jan Buitenen's translation is the one sponsored by the U of Chicago. It is not completely and reeks of Indological arrogance and presumptions. It deletes sections claiming them to be "corruptions" and occassionally portrays the mighty Aryan kings as petty tribal chiefs. Those who read tamil may try vyAsar virindu.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Feb 12 2004, 05:08 PM
The work by KM Munshi called Krishnavatar also covers the Mahabharata. However, I do not recommend it for the starter or for an immature person. It is full of his own wierd interpretations of History and concoctions. A lot of inflated Aryan vs dasyu stuff in this work: for those who are allergic to this. Hindi TV serial Mahabharat- Bad. It did not closely follow the original. It lacks the diversity of characters in the original. The acting and special effects were bad, tried to cast the whole story as a good vs evil affair, introduces a very Abrahamic world view.
Posted by: nachiketa Feb 12 2004, 05:09 PM
Thank you HH. I am interested in serious perusal and will start looking into Ganguli's translation. Sunder, that was a refreshing interpretation!
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Feb 12 2004, 05:42 PM
As most other Hindu myths the vAmana one too is multifacted in its significance. Sunder has already offered one line of interpretation. However, I shall allude to a totally different one given my angle of looking at such things. Basically all the avatars of viShNu till vAmana are mythological one and are certain way of representing certain astronomical events. The remain 4 are deifications of Aryan heroes rAma the bhArgava, rAmachandra the ikshvAku, kR^iShNa the yadu and siddhArtha the iskhvAku. The matsya motif and the varAha motif basically represent the rise of new constellation at the plane where the celestial equator intersects the ecliptic. The old constellation goes below the plane (the old earth sinking) and the new constellation rises up (the new earth being brought up by viShNu). The plane of the celestial equator is metaphorically alluded to as the "Earth" in the old language of myth that we now do not fully appreciate. This change of the constellations occurs due to precession of the earth's axis as it spins. The kurma/ samudra manthana and nR^isimha motifs directly touch upon this precession of the axis. The churning of the ocean with the mandhAra rod (axis) and the support of the rod by viShNu is a direct pictorial representation of the axial precession. This is an old mythological motif that survives in many cultures. nR^isimha represents the shattering of the old axis by viShNu (the pillar) at the end of the kalpa. Finally the vAmana motif represent the three frames of the axis that represent the 3 steps taken by viShNu to stabilize them. The three steps of viShNu are an old mythological motif also seen in the 3 steps of viDaar, the Germanic deity equivalent to viShNu. The first step is supposed to stabilize the "Earth" That is the band corresponding to the tropical circles around the celestial equator. The second step covered the upper extension of the axis (the sky) and the third step smashed the vicious asura bali to the "nether regions": the lower extension of the axis implanting afresh at the end of the kalpa. For further evidence corroborating this symbolism in the mythology one should refer to the sUktaMs to viShNu by dIrghatamA in the R^ig veda and the praise of the celestial viShNu in the sarga section of brahma purANa.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Feb 12 2004, 06:06 PM
The time of the yuga and precession periods are related, suggesting the clear link between viShNu's incarnations and shifts in the axis: Berossus, the priest of Marduk of the great god of the Babylonians declared in the 3rd century BC that 432000 solar years was the time that had elapsed from the origin of divine kingship to the end of the world. He believed that when 432000 years elapsed from the begining of divine kingship, the planets would conjunct in Capricorn and mark the begining of a world destroying fire. Many western scholars have assumed that this number entered India and was taken up by the paurANic bards for describing the mahAyuga. The period of the mahAyuga comprising of kR^ita, treta, dvapara and kali is 4320000 (10*432000), with each of the 4 yugas respectively having 4, 3, 2 and 1 units of 432000 solar years. The number 432000 is not restricted to the purANas as the mAdhyandina shatapatha brAhmaNa mentions it as the mystic number of the aksharas in the veda. It also mentions 10800 (432000/40) as the number of the bricks in the grand platform of the soma sacrifice or the number of mantras in the R^igveda. The brAhmaNa also mentions the number of stars in dyaus to be 25*432000. The number was also known to the Greeks, as Ptolemy mentions the number 432000 as the totality of the great circle on which he calculated his musical frequencies. Finally it appears much farther afield in the Germanic world in the tale of the end of the world in the Ragnarok. In the final battle between the fiery demons of Surt and the gods lead by Odin, 800 warriors are said to have issued forth from the 540 gates of Odin's palace. Again, the same number (540*800=432000) is seen in the context of the fiery end of the world. The distribution of this motif, like the macranthropic motif suggests that this number emerged in the Indo-European world and was adopted by the Babylonians relatively late rather than what is perceived by the western scholars. This number obviously comes from the precessional year or the time taken for one cycle of precession to complete= 25920 years. 60 degrees of this precessional circle is covered in 4320 years (*100 gives the mahAyuga of the hindus). Thus the combination of decimal and hexagismal measure is seen only in the Indo-European world while the Mesopotamians are purely hexagismal (As seen in dIrghatamas hymn). Importantly the brAhmaNa mentions that the sacrificial platform for the great soma sacrifices (mahAyagnyas) has 10800 lokampR^iNa bricks surrounded by 360 stones symbolizing this link between the solar year and the precessional year.
Posted by: mitradena Feb 13 2004, 09:06 AM
Kisari Mohan Ganguli's translation is online for free here: If you want to purchase it, you can do so from :- But it is expensive!
Posted by: k.ram Feb 13 2004, 09:20 AM
Thank you Sunder and HH. Sunder, I am aware of the story etc, but was trying to get more into significance and symbolism. It helped quite a lot though folks. Thanks again
Posted by: k.ram Feb 13 2004, 09:53 AM
HH, Regarding Narasimha and the pillar, have you been to Ahobilam temple in S. India? Supposedly that is where it happened (killing of of hiranyakashupu). Even now you can see the evidence (yes even of the pillar).
Posted by: Sunder Feb 13 2004, 12:16 PM
Regarding Narasimha and the pillar, have you been to Ahobilam temple in S. India? Supposedly that is where it happened (killing of hiranyakashupu). Even now you can see the evidence (yes even of the pillar).
While this *may* be a possibility in the grand scale of cosmic happenings, I have a few questions, more with an intention to learn than to challenge. If indeed the pillar is a proof of Narasimha's Aavirbhaavam, then Ahobilam temple should have been the court of Hiranyakashipu. Which would mean, during his lifetime, (when his brother hiranyaksha was slain), Varaha murthy too would have come out of Brahma's nose. Was that close to the temple too ? How long has the temple been in existence? Was it acknowledged as the place of Sri Narasimha's aavirbhaava by Parashurama, Rama, and Krishna ? How about recent personalities like Adishankara, Ramakrishna, Ramana, Jayadeva ? Do we have records of them visiting the temple to add credence to the claim? While it feels nice to fix a time and space to the manifestation of the Cosmic Intelligence, it would be great to know if it is supported by Pratyaksha, Anumana or Agamaah.
Posted by: k.ram Feb 18 2004, 02:18 PM
QUOTE (Sunder @ Feb 14 2004, 12:46 AM)
Regarding Narasimha and the pillar, have you been to Ahobilam temple in S. India? Supposedly that is where it happened (killing of hiranyakashupu). Even now you can see the evidence (yes even of the pillar).
While this *may* be a possibility in the grand scale of cosmic happenings, I have a few questions, more with an intention to learn than to challenge. If indeed the pillar is a proof of Narasimha's Aavirbhaavam, then Ahobilam temple should have been the court of Hiranyakashipu. Which would mean, during his lifetime, (when his brother hiranyaksha was slain), Varaha murthy too would have come out of Brahma's nose. Was that close to the temple too ? How long has the temple been in existence? Was it acknowledged as the place of Sri Narasimha's aavirbhaava by Parashurama, Rama, and Krishna ? How about recent personalities like Adishankara, Ramakrishna, Ramana, Jayadeva ? Do we have records of them visiting the temple to add credence to the claim? While it feels nice to fix a time and space to the manifestation of the Cosmic Intelligence, it would be great to know if it is supported by Pratyaksha, Anumana or Agamaah.
Sunder, I am learning too.., so I take no offense to the valid questions you raise. Indeed the first Sri chakra etched by Shankara is in Ahobilam and so is Sudarshana chakra. That is why I am trying to understand as well, as far as how ancient the temple is.
Posted by: k.ram Feb 19 2004, 10:30 AM
About Ahobilam ------------------ AHOBILAM - THE ABODE OF NAVA NARASIMHAS By Sri. K. Devanathan The Himalayas rise high to the Everest in the north while the far south of India shows the deep sea - rather communion of the three oceans. The western region and the eastern region of the Peninsular India, on the other hand, while tapering towards Kanyakumari, exhibit a wide range of mountains known as Western Ghats present wholesome sceneries and adventurous travel both by rail and road, the Eastern Ghats display not only picturesque view but demonstrate divinity as well. The Eastern Ghats are likened to the great serpent Adhisesha basking in the sun with its head (or hood) at Thirumala, its middle at Ahobilam and its tail- end portion at Srisailam - all the three with famous temples on them. The subject we have before us is Ahobilam. Of course, Thirupathi and Srisailam are also frequented pilgrimage centres. Ahobilam because of this special issue. Not only Mahabharatha; but also ancient puranas like Koorma Purana, Padma Purana and Vishnu Purana mention about Ahobilam and its presiding deity Narasimha. In fact, Brahmanda Purana says that this place was once the palace of Hiranyakasipu who was slain by Sriman Narayana manifesting as Narasimha from a pillar there for the sake of his staunch devotee Prahlada. Vagaries of time brought about the destruction of the then existing structures yielding place to nature's creation of the mountain range that preserved the site of incarnation as "Svayam Vyakta Kshetram" of Lord Narasimha. According to Stala Purana, there are two popular legends for the derivation of the word 'Ahobilam'. It is stated that the Devas (Gods), while witnessing the terrific aspect (Ugra Kala), the lord took on in order to tear to pieces Hiranyakasipu sung in His praise as 'Ahobala' (Lo: the strength). Hence this place has come to be known as Ahobilam. In support of this, there is a prapatthi sloka about-Ahobilam that reads:- "Aho Veeryam Aho Souryarn Aho Bahuparakramah Naarasimham Param Daivam Ahobilam Aho Balam. The other version is that because of the great cave, the Ahobila, where Garuda worshipped, did penance and realised the lord, the place itself has come to be called Ahobilam. The Ahobilam 'Kaifiyat' gives support to this legend. (The Ahobilam Kaifiyat forming part of Mackenzie collections gives very valuable information regarding the Ahobilam temples. Kaifiyats - the digests from 'Kaviles' or village registers containing information on the political, social, religious and other conditions of the villages in Deccan were prepared by Pandits and Mussadis working under Col. Mackenzie.) The Ahobilam Kaifiyat is in Telugu and available in the State Archives at Hyderabad (vide "Ahobila Narasimhaswamy temple" - Monograph by P. Sitapati, Commissioner of Archives). As per this record, "On one of the mountains in the Nallamalai hills range, eight amadas from Srisaila Kshetra, Garuda commenced silent penance to obtain a vision of Lord Narasimha who destroyed Hiranyakasipu. The Lord in his grace, after long years of the tapas of Garuda, manifested Himself in the cave of a mountain". "Ten 'Paruvus' to the north-east of the mountain, where Garuda was doing penance, a vision of His manifestation was then granted to Garuda, who after obtaining a sign of the location of the mountain-cave, gladly traveled thither and saw the embodiment of the Sathsvaroopa,' Mahapurusha, Lord Jwalanarasimha - not easily accessible to common people. Garuda then worshipped the Lord and praised him that 'Ahobilam is Mahabalam' (Ahobilam is a great sustainer with strength). The Lord's Divya Mangala Vigraha was worshipped by him with several sthotras- Garuda then considered himself as blessed after a vision of the Lord. This divine place thereafter obtained the deserving name of Ahobilam". "The mountain on which Garuda performed tapas became famous as Garudachala. In the days of yore when truth and dharma prevailed, great heat was observable near the mountain- cave of Ahobila; according to legend when green grass was put in the cave, it would catch fire and smoke would be emitted. Several great Rishis lived there for a time; after sometime with the knowledge that great places would become common Janapadas in the Kali age, they left for northern lands, covering up the Narasimha cave with boulders. Traditionally therefore this place is being called the Narasimha Kshetra. There are thus nine Narasimha places, Nava-Narasimhas; Rishi- installed and worshipping areas: Jwala Ahobila Malola Kroda Karanja Bhargava Yogananda Kshatravata Pavana Nava Moorthayaha. The Nine Narasimhasthalas are :- 1. Jwala Narasimha 2. Ahobila Narasimha 3. Malola Narasimha 4. Kroda Narasimha 5. Karanja Narasimha 6. Bhargava Narasimha 7. Yogananda Narasimha 8. Kshatravata Narasimha and 9. Pavana or holy Narasimha. Before visiting these nine shrines, let us see how we approach the place. Situated in the Nallamalai Hills, Ahobilam is about 24 Kms. from Allagadda Taluk Headquarters, 112 Kms. from Cudappah and 65 Kms. from Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh and can be reached by bus from Hyderabad and also by rail via Kurnool and then by bus from there. Long long ago, the Tamil mystic bard, Thirumangai Azhwar sang that Singavel Kunram (Ahobilam) was accessible to none but Gods. This is partially true even today since the area and the hills are covered with thick vegetation, thorny bushes and forests where leaves rustle and crickets screech. The whole complex is in two parts - one called Eguvu Ahobilam (Upper Ahobilam) with Nava Narasimha shrines and the other called Diguvu Ahobilam (Lower Ahobilam) with a single shrine for Lakshmee Narasimha connected by a road, stretching a distance of about 12.8 Kms. from Lower Ahobilam to Upper Ahobilam. From there, the other shrines are to be reached only by trekking and managing difficult terrain, flowing streams ad slippery rocks. The nature is bounteous there affording plenty of water by way of ponds, brooks and resting places under shades of forest growth. One can witness several cave like rocks on the way. Quite an adventurous trip indeed to be enjoyed, if one has faith, will-power and devotion. Lions dwell in the forest and no wonder the half-lion manifestation that Narasimha took, chose to dwell in similar surroundings. If one can undertake a strenuous traverse of 8 Kms. from Upper Ahobilam, one can see the Ugrasthambham and have a darsan of the Ukkukambamu (pillar) on the mountain said to be the one from which Lord Narasirnha emerged in response to Prahlada's prayers. Now to deal with Nava Narasirnha shrines : - The Sthalapurana of Ahobilam in Sanskrit gives an account of nine forms of Narasimha, worshipped here. They are: - 1. BHARGAVA NARASIMHA SWAMY The Bhargava Narasimha Swamy is situated at a distance of two kilometres from the Lower Ahobilam, on a hill, near the sacred pond, known as 'Bhargava Theertham', where Bhargava Rama performed his penance. Hence the Lord of the temple is known as Bhargava Narasimha Swamy. 2. YOGANANDA NARASIMHA SWAMY This temple is to the south-east of Lower Ahobilam at a distance of 2 kilometres. The popular legend is that after killing Hiranyakasipu, Lord Narasimha taught Prahlada several yogic postures. Therefore, the Lord in this aspect is called Yogananda Narasimha. 3. CHATRAVATA NARASIMHA SWAMY About three kilometres from lower Ahobilam, the image of the deity is installed under a peepal tree, surrounded by thorny bushes. Hence, the Lord is called as Chatravata Narasimha Swamy. 4. AHOBILA NARASIMHA SWAMY The temple, situated on the Upper Ahobilam, at a distance of eight kilometres from the Lower Ahobilam, is the main temple and the earliest of all the nine temples there. The Lord here appears in his fierce aspect, called Ugra Narasimha, who is the presiding deity of the temple and is known as Ahobila Nrisimha Swamy. It is firmly believed the Lord Narasimha was 'Svayambhu' (self-manifest) here. 5. KRODAKARA (VARAHA) NARASIMHA SWAMY The temple of this Lord is one kilometre away from the main temple of Ahobila Nrisimha Swamy on the Upper Ahobilam. The image of the deity has the face of a boar (varaha or kroda) and the Lord is seen along with his Consort, Lakshmi. Hence the Lord of the temple is known as Krodakara (Varaha) Narasimha Swamy here. 6. KARANJA NARASIMHA SWAMY This shrine is situated at a distance of one kilometre from the Upper Ahobilam and one furlong from the road leading to Lower Ahobilam. The image of the deity is installed under a tree, called 'Karanja Vruksham'. Hence this Lord is called Karanja Narasimha Swamy. 7. MALOLA NARASIMHA SWAMY Nearly two kilometres from the main temple of Upper Ahobilam, is the famous shrine of Malola Narasimha Swamy. The deity here appears in 'soumya' (graceful) form. As Lord Narasimha is seen with his consort, Lakshmi, He is known as Malola Narasimha Swamy. The word 'Malola' means beloved to Lakshmi (Ma=Lakshmi, Lola= beloved). It is said that the 'utsavamoorthi' of the Lord appeared to Srimath Adivan Satakopa Jeeyar, the first Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt. Right from the founder, i.e., the first Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt down to the 44th pontiff, Srivan Satakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yatheendra Mahadesika, the present jeeyar, the utsavamoorthi of Malola Narasirnha Swamy is worshipped and it is taken by them whenever they are on religious tours, visiting the villages every year. Recently, the 45th Jeeyar Srivan Satakopa Sri Narayana Yatheendra Mahadesikan has taken over the worship. 8. JWALA NARASIMHA SWAMY The temple of Jwala Nrisimha Swamy, lies higher up the above temple, on a hill called, 'Achalachaya Meru'. This is about four kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple. This place is said to be the actual spot, where the fierce anger of the Lord reached its culmination when he tore Hiranyakasipu. 9. PAVANA NARASIMHA SWAMY Nearby the above temple, is the shrine of Pavana Narasimha, on the banks of the river, Pavana and it is about six kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple. Hence the Lord of the shrine is known as Pavana Narasimha Swamy. In addition to the shrines mentioned above, there is a famous shrine dedicated to God Narasimha Swamy in the Lower Ahobilam, which is popularly known as Prahlada Varada Sannidhi. The other objects of this place are 'Ugra Sthambham' and 'Prahlada Mettu'. (a) UGRA STHAMBHAM At a distance of eight kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple, we can see a cleft of the mountain dividing it into two visible parts. It is a long-held view that from the cleft, the Lord appeared in the form of Narasimha and this cleft is known as 'Ugra Sthambham'. (cool.gif PRAHALADA METTU The small shrine, situated in a cave on the hill, is in between Ugra Sthambham and the Upper Ahobilam. It is dedicated to Prahlada Narashimha Swamy. The image of the Prahlada is installed in a small cave. There are a number of holy 'theerthas' (water ponds) round this place. Of these, Rakthakundam is the most important. It is stated that Lord Narasirnha after killing the demon Hiranyakasipu, washed his hands in this 'theertham' and hence the water is still reddish in appearance. (History of the cult of Narasimha in Andhra Pradesh by Dr. M. Narasimhacharya). LOWER AHOBILAM The temple surrounded by three prakaras in the Lower Ahobilam is dedicated to Prahlada Varada i.e., the Lord whose grace bestows on Prahlada. With Vijayanagar style noticeable in the structure, there are a number of mandapas outside the temple. A shrine dedicated to Sri Venkateswara exists to the south west of this Narasimha temple and lends view to the episode that Lord Venkateswara obtained the blessings of Narasimha just before his marriage with Padmavathi. The Mukha Mandapa there, is now used as the Kalyana Mandapa of Narasimha Swamy. With Lakshmeenarasimha as the presiding Deity, the main temple consists of a sanctum, Mukhamandapam and Rangamandapam with numerous pillars intricately carved and carrying rich sculptures. There are also three smaller shrines for Lakshmi, Andal and Azhwars. In the sanctum are also kept the Utsava idols of Prahlada Varada, Pavana Narasimha and the processional idols of Jwala Narasimha endowed with ten hands and with Sreedevi and Bhoodevi on His either side. A small idol of the first Jeeyar, Sri Adivan Satakopa Swami is also kept before them. What is apparent and observable is Lord Narasimha's posture in three places including the one in a polar of a divine ascetic presenting ascetic order to the first Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt. Both in the Upper and Lower Ahobilam, it is a common sight on the pillars of Lord Narasimha wooing His consort Chenchulakshmi. The Lord chasing Hiranyakasipu in one pillar and bursting forth from another pillar to tear him are very realistic. Thanks to the 44th Jeeyar's efforts as also that of the Endowments Department of A.P. Government, the complex has been renovated, though a lot is desired to be done. It would not be out of place to mention that good resting places, free or paid boarding arrangements (as is done in Thirupathi), provision of enough drinking water and Devasthanam canteens would go a long way to attract more number of pilgrims. The annual uthsavam (Brahmothsava) performed in February every year is a great attraction that lure both the common folk and the religious Pandits to participate in them. Though under the care of the Ahobila Mutt whose Jeeyars are hereditary trustees, co-operation from the public and the government would help improve Ahobilam further. There is a tall Jayasthambham erected in the spacious ground outside the temple walls to mark the victory of Krishnadeva Raya. The Kakatheeya Kings especially Prathapa Rudra had also contributed towards additional structures and maintenance of this Ahobilam complex.
Posted by: k.ram Feb 19 2004, 10:39 AM
QUOTE (k.ram @ Feb 19 2004, 11:00 PM)
The small shrine, situated in a cave on the hill, is in between Ugra Sthambham and the Upper Ahobilam. It is dedicated to Prahlada Narashimha Swamy. The image of the Prahlada is installed in a small cave. There are a number of holy 'theerthas' (water ponds) round this place. Of these, Rakthakundam is the most important. It is stated that Lord Narasirnha after killing the demon Hiranyakasipu, washed his hands in this 'theertham' and hence the water is still reddish in appearance. (History of the cult of Narasimha in Andhra Pradesh by Dr. M. Narasimhacharya).
I have seen these two myself, when I was a kid.
Posted by: manju Feb 19 2004, 03:32 PM
Thanks for the info on AHobilam. It is not too far my place in Karnataka. I will make it a point to visit this place soon. Was so ignorant of all this until now. Thanks to our p'sec education.
Posted by: raj Feb 21 2004, 11:55 AM Not sure if this is posted before but looks like a very good website. It lists the 86 upanishads and other texts.
Posted by: Mudy Feb 21 2004, 01:34 PM
Raj, Good site. specool.gif
Posted by: Praneet N Feb 22 2004, 05:58 AM
I wonder is it possible for India Forum to set up a upload facility for members to upload texts as they find them? It might serve to be a valuable resource for Hindu writings and a way to disemminate information among people who are interested...a separate link to a webpage containing texts, Mp3's, Videos, whatever members can lay their hands on.... Can religious materials be copyrighted? Found a site that has the whole Mahabharat on one page by C Rajagopalachari... There was a site that had links to all these ebooks that are downloadable but seems to have lost the link.... I downloaded the page(1Mb).....converted it to text(~750kb) and have been reading it on my PDA wherever i go...excellent..... MAHABHARATA retold by C. Rajagopalachari (Compiled and edited by Jay Mazo, International Gita Society) RAMAYANA retold by C. Rajagopalachari
Posted by: raj Feb 22 2004, 11:11 AM
I second Praneet's idea. The amount of information available on the net about Hindu scriptures pales in comparison to either Christian or Islamic scriptures . A single place where we can download all the hindu scriptures would be great.
Posted by: Sunder Feb 22 2004, 11:44 AM
QUOTE (raj @ Feb 22 2004, 11:41 PM)
I second Praneet's idea. The amount of information available on the net about Hindu scriptures pales in comparison to either Christian or Islamic scriptures . A single place where we can download all the hindu scriptures would be great.
To Download and store all hinduism related material that is available on the net would be impractical. The Best alternative would be to have a comprehensive LINK to each of the server, with proper link description. I often download a text, read it or translate it to english. There's SO MUCH material on the net now that it's impossible to even maintain a proper TOC.
Posted by: rhytha Feb 22 2004, 11:52 AM
QUOTE (Praneet N @ Feb 22 2004, 06:28 PM)
I wonder is it possible for India Forum to set up a upload facility for members to upload texts as they find them? It might serve to be a valuable resource for Hindu writings and a way to disemminate information among people who are interested...a separate link to a webpage containing texts, Mp3's, Videos, whatever members can lay their hands on.... Can religious materials be copyrighted? Found a site that has the whole Mahabharat on one page by C Rajagopalachari... There was a site that had links to all these ebooks that are downloadable but seems to have lost the link.... I downloaded the page(1Mb).....converted it to text(~750kb) and have been reading it on my PDA wherever i go...excellent..... MAHABHARATA retold by C. Rajagopalachari (Compiled and edited by Jay Mazo, International Gita Society) RAMAYANA retold by C. Rajagopalachari
Ok we will think about it. But a separte website with a directory of links is better with explanations i guess, i can do that, just want make sure plp use it productively smile.gif
Posted by: Karkala Joishy Mar 4 2004, 06:14 PM
QUOTE (nachiketa @ Feb 13 2004, 01:28 AM)
What is a good source for the Mahabharata? I have heard C Rajagopalachari's book is good, though I have not read it. My father used to read us the Mahabharata in Kannada when we were kids. And of course there was the DD serial. These are the only two exposures I have had to the Mahabharata apart from the BhagvadGita. Do members have any other suggestions? Please use this thread to discuss sources, multiple versions/interpretations and other things related to the Mahabharata.
I have read Rajagopalachari's Ramayana and Mahabharata, I loved them both! A definite must-have. I bought a book on the Gita when I went to India last, I need to read that, my next reading project.
Posted by: Gargi Mar 30 2004, 05:09 PM INTRODUCTION If Indian philosophy is studied in British Universities, it is rarely the philosophy department that offers it. (There are honourable exceptions!) A particularly unfortunate consequence of this is that the study of Ancient Philosophy generally focuses exclusively on the history of Greek Philosophy and leaves aside the more ancient history of Indian and the equally ancient history of Chinese philosophy, let alone the more controverted issues surrounding the existence of philosophical thought in ancient Egypt. If early Indian philosophy is addressed in the academic discussion of Ancient Philosophy, it is usually in terms of the possibility that Indian thought may have influenced the development of Greek philosophy. Such an influence certainly could have existed: the Persian Empire included Indians in its Eastern Satrapies and Greeks in the cities on the coast of Asia Minor; the means of transmission clearly existed. Tantalising parallels exist, and in many cases the Indian texts are demonstrably earlier. The passage in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, for example, "As from a fire kindled with wet fuel various [kinds of] smoke issue forth, even so, my dear, the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda ..... aphorisms, elucidation, explanation, sacrifices, oblations in the fire, food, drink, this world, the next world, and all beings are all the breath of this Infinite Reality ...." [B.U. IV, 5, 11] finds an echo in Fragment 67 of Heraclitus of Ephesus: "God is day-night, war-peace, fullness-hunger; He undergoes alteration in the way that fire, when it is mixed with spices is named according to the scent of each of them." Another fascinating parallel is provided by the "Gospel of the Demons." [Ch.U. VIII, 8] The Chandogya Upanisad contains a passage which purports to describe Prajapati's instruction of Indra, Prince of the Gods, and Virocana, Lord of Demons. [VIII.7 ff.] The passage begins with Prajapati's description of the Self: "... free from evil, old age and death, grief, hunger and thirst, its desire is for the true, its intention is the true - one should seek it, try to understand it. One who finds and understands that Self attains every world, every desire ...." [VIII.7.1] Gods and demons (asuras) alike heard his account of the Self. Indra, the King of the Gods and Virocana, the King of the Demons both came independently to Prajapati and for thirty-two years lived the life of brahmacarins, until at last Prajapati asked them what they wanted. They explained they both sought the knowledge of the Self he had described." Prajapati's response is brief and simple: "The person seen in the eye is the Self ... it is immortal, fearless, it is Brahman." [VIII.7.4] The answer is simple and direct, but the two divinities manage to misunderstand it. "What about the person in water or the mirror, who is that?" they ask. "The same is to be perceived in every case. Look at yourself in a vessel of water, and then tell me what you do not understand about the Self." [VIII.7.4 - VIII.8.1] He is not really deceiving them: it is indeed the same Self that is disclosed in the gaze of the person when we look him in the eye and in the image of ourselves we see in the mirror: the gaze that meets me when I look into the mirror is as much a sign of the presence of the Self as is the gaze of the person I meet in the street. The divinities do as he says. They look into the vessel of water. "What do you see?" "Lord, we both see ourselves, complete, a likeness even to the hair and nails." Prajapati is pointing to the Self as the ultimate subject of all experience - when we look someone in the eye, we see the person looking back; the gaze that confronts us is a sign of the presence of Atman as the reality that is the ground of the person's consciousness and subject-hood. The two divinities fail completely to understand him: they ask about the person we see in the mirror, confusing the reflection, the image, the appearance with the reality of which it is the sign. Prajapati tells them to look at their own reflexions and tell him what they see: they tell him correctly that they see an image {pratirupa} of themselves, but show absolutely no sign of awareness of the difference between the image and the Self it points to. Seeing the error his disciples have fallen into, Prajapati tries again: "Do yourselves up, put your best clothes on, make yourselves tidy and look into the vessel of water ..... what do you see?" He is inviting them to discern the difference between the image -that has now changed- and the Self that is beyond all change. They simply compound their original error, telling him "they are both just as we are, all done up, in our best clothes and tidy ...." At first sight the answer Prajapati makes to this is a surprise: "That is the Self, the immortal, the fearless, that is Brahman." Is he lying to them? No. The reality behind the two persons who are speaking to him is the Self; the reality the images in the water point to is the Self. The error arises not from any falsity in what Prajapati says, it arises from his disciples' confused thinking that leads them to misinterpret what he says. Indra and Virocana depart, contented in heart, at peace with themselves, "knowing" the body is the Self. Prajapati is saddened by this. "... they depart not having perceived the Self, not knowing the Self. Whoever follows such a doctrine - whether gods or demons - will perish!" [VIII.8.4] The Demon-Lord is thoroughly at home with the doctrine he has drawn from Prajapati's teaching. He teaches the Asuras that one should serve oneself, seeking to make oneself happy. "The Self is to be worshipped, the Self is to be served. Worshipping the self, serving the Self, he gains both worlds, this and the world beyond."[VIII.8.4] Virocana's teaching is fascinating: if we read exactly what he says, it is true! Prajapati could well have said exactly the same: the disaster is that the Demon Lord thinks the body is the Self, and that belief turns Virocana's teaching into a proclamation of hedonism. "And this is the Gospel of the Demons: they beg garments and ornaments to deck out a corpse and think thereby to attain the world beyond!" [VIII.8.5] The Gospel of the Asuras, is familiar to students of Greek Philosophy: the doctrine that makes the individual's physical pleasure the end and goal of life was expounded by Aristippus, a disciple of Socrates, and by his grandson of the same name. Their school, the Cyrenaic school, ended with the extraordinary figure of Hegesias the Death-Persuader, who lectured in Alexandria in the reign of the Pharaoh Ptolemy Soter. The Death-Persuader taught that physical pleasure is the only purpose and point to life - but the more we experience a given pleasure, the less we enjoy it, the older we become, the less we enjoy physical pleasures, the more we give ourselves up to pleasure the more our health fails. Doomed to increasing frustration, what point, he asked, is there in living? As a result of his teaching, literally thousands committed suicide and the Pharaoh ordered him to silence. The same dialogue in the Chandogya Upanishad contains another passage that has an interesting parallel, this time in Plato. Prajapati says to Indra: "... this body is mortal, always held by death. It is the abode of the Self, which is immortal and incorporeal. The embodied self is the victim of pleasure and pain. So long as one is identified with the body, there is no cessation of pleasure and pain. But neither pleasure nor pain touches one who is not identified with the body." [Chh.U. VIII,12.] This is remarkably similar to the argument Socrates makes in the "Phaedo" that the body is the root of all evil. [Ph.66,c-e]T "And the body fills us with passions and desires and fears, and all sorts of fancies and foolishness, so that, as they say, it makes it impossible for us to think at all. The body and its desires are the only cause of wars and factions and battles .... we are slaves to its service .... and in fact we perceive that if we are ever to know anything absolutely, we must be free of the body and must behold the actual realities with the eye of the souls alone." A central theme of the "Phaedo" is that true philosophy is preparation for death, the rejection of the body and its pleasures in order to know truth. Close as the parallel is, like the multitude of others that could be adduced, it is not so close as to prove any direct textual dependence of the later Greek text on the earlier Indian text. They are parallel, and there could have been an influence: nothing more is certain. It would be interesting to know for certain if there was a direct influence of Indian thought on Greek: it would be interesting, but the existence of such an influence should not be a required condition for our acknowledging the value of early Indian philosophy. THE ORIGINALITY and VALUE of EARLY INDIAN PHILOSOPHY Aristotle says that " ... it is on account of wonder that men now begin to philosophize, and that they originally began to philosophize,..." [Met. 1,2] Like all other non-utilitarian disciplines this first happened "in the places where men first started to have leisure." [Met. 1,1] He is thinking of the wealthy cities on the coast of Asia Minor where the first Greek philosophers lived and taught. Philosophy began when men had leisure to wonder, as did at least the upper classes in the wealthy Greek cities of Asia Minor The sources of Indian philosophy are significantly different. Already in the Rig Veda we find the first impulse to philosophical thinking, especially in the hymns of the Tenth Book. The Hrinyagarbha Hymn, 10.121, if scholars are right in seeing its last stanza as an addition, raises questions as to the identity of the life-giving all-ruler, rather than simply offering praises to a specific god. The Creation Hymn, 10.129, is famous for its doubt: "Whence this creation has arisen - perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not - the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows - or perhaps he does not know." ["The Rig Veda" Tr.Wendy O'Flaherty, Penguin Classics, 1981, pp.25-6] The Creation Hymn expresses a degree of theological doubt that would be surprising in any religious work of the ancient world: in a compendium of hymns used by priests in the sacrificial rites, it is evidence of a quite remarkable degree of religious and intellectual sophistication. The Brahminical tradition of liturgical commentary recorded in two different stages in the Brahmanas and Aranyakas furnishes a second impulse to philosophical reflection and analysis. There are many different aspects to the tradition of liturgical commentary. One however is of crucial importance for the development of the Indian philosophical agenda; namely, the use of the sacrificial Rite, the Yajna, as a cosmogram, onto which the diverse aspects of the cosmos are mapped, in order to derive a basis for interpreting and understanding them. The Rig Veda already offers the concept of Rta, the cosmic order: the Brahmanas and Aranyakas offer speculative attempts to unravel crucial aspects of that order, by using the Sacrifical Rite as an interpretative map. It is in the Brahmanas also that the concept of Brahman is developed, so that the term "Brahman" becomes a cypher for the ultimate essence of being, the final basis of reality. The traditional rites of the Vedic cult involved sacred riddles and ritualised verbal combat. From these developed a whole, complex tradition of combat by means of chains of questions, and formal disputation. The Upanishads contain many interesting examples of the former; the Nyaya Sutra is in part a handbook of the latter. Meditation of different kinds was practiced from a very early period in India. The Upanishads use the term "upasana" to refer to a form of discursive meditation where a particular array of phenomena is viewed mentally through an image drawn from religious thought or practise, which acts as an interpretative catalyst. Other forms of meditation are hinted at in the discussions of the nature of the Self. The data of both kinds of meditation contributed significantly to the development of the philosophical agenda, especially since Indian tradition refused to limit its focus to the normal waking consciousness, and always has addressed dreaming states, dreamless sleep, yogic trance-states and the state of liberated consciousness as well. The initial context of the earliest Indian philosophical writings we possess in the Upanishads, is the relation of Teacher and Disciple and the encounter between rival teachers. From the Upanishads onwards, intellectual and verbal combat has been an essential element, even, as will appear later, a structuring element in Indian philosophical culture. Indian philosophy has religious roots and never lost its religious colouring. In that, it resembles Mediaeval European philosophy more closely than the philosophy of the ancient Greeks. The Brahminical culture was hospitable to philosophical activity, provided it accepted formally the authority of the Vedas. Indeed, if we include all the movements that developped before and in the same period as the classic Greek philosophical schools, we should have to take account not only of the Scriptural Vedanta (the earlier Upanishads,) but also of Samkhya and of unorthodox schools, early Carvaka philosophy, early Jain and Buddhist philosophy, as well as the first stages of political, social and legal theory. Even on the conservative datings of the early Upanishads accepted by most modern scholars, the earliest Upanishadic texts recording philosophical dialogues predate the earliest Greek philosophical texts by two hundred and fifty to three hundred years. It is in these ancient texts, in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and the Chandogya Upanishad that we find evidence of philosophical insights which are crucial to the development of the whole tradition of Indian philosophical analysis, speculation and debate. Here are twelve, chosen not as an exhaustive list, but as a set of useful examples of the kinds of insight that emerged in the earliest period of Indian philosophical activity: continue....
Posted by: Gargi Mar 30 2004, 05:14 PM
continue..... 1. LIBERATING KNOWLEDGE versus MERE INFORMATION When the Divine Rishi Narada approaches the sage Sanatkumara seeking instruction, the sage asks him what he already knows. This is the standard question a Teacher asks of a prospective disciple: discerning the disciple's present state of knowledge and understanding is an essential prerequisite for an adequate programme of learning. Narada answers, listing the (encyclopedic) range of texts and topics he has studied. He then adds a crucial qualification: "But, Lord, with all this, I know only words: I do not know the Self. From men like you I have heard that the one who knows the Self overcomes sorrows. I am one afflicted with sorrows..." [Ch.U. VII. 1. 3] In the Astika tradition of philosophy, Liberation, the radical transformation of conscience that puts an end to bondage and suffering is the ultimate aim of all philosophical enquiry. There is a sharp distinction to be made between knowledge that is mere intellectual furniture, mere information, and the knowledge that transforms consciousness. Ultimately, for the Astika tradition, all truly philosophical knowledge valuable because it can help transform consciousness. This distinction in the significance and role of different modes of knowledge, and the identification of Liberating knowledge as the focus of philosophical enquiry is itself a significant, if controversial, contribution to philosophical anthropology. 2. Use of PHILOLOGICAL ANALYSIS to ENABLE PHILOSOPHICAL INSIGHT There are many examples in the early Upanishads of the use of philological analysis to facilitate the understanding of terms and concepts. Typically the analysis is somewhat imaginatively adventurous, but even the more extravagant examples of analysis - for example, the derivation of "satyam" from "sat" (interpreted as the immortal,) "ti" (interpreted as the mortal) and "yam" (interpreted as that which binds the two together, [Ch.U. VIII, 3, 5] or Uddalaka's derivation of deep sleep ("svapti") from gone ("apita") and his own, ("svam") so that svapti means "gone to his own," - function as mnemonics, as base for meditative reflection, and as an incentive to further etymological investigation. In recent European philosophy, philological analysis has received recognition as playing a significant role in philosophy. 3. Use of EXAMPLE and METAPHOR as ARGUMENTS The use of examples and metaphors as arguments is common throughout the history of Indian philosophy. The Pramana theory of both Nyaya and Vedanta darshanas acknowledges both upamana and anumana (both inference and analogy) as sound sources of knowledge, and the Nyaya Sutra makes a careful distinction between the two. The dialogues of the Upanishads show important early instances of the use of examples as arguments. As part of his instruction to Svetaketu concerning his true Self, his father Uddalaka [Chh.U. VI.13,1-3] says to him: "'Bring me a fruit of yonder banyan tree.' 'Here it is, Lord.' 'Break it.' 'It is broken, Lord.' 'What do you see there?' 'These very tiny seeds, Lord.' 'Break one open.' 'It is broken open, Lord.' 'What do you see there?' 'Nothing, Lord.' His father said: 'From that subtle essence which you do not see there, my dear, grows this whole banyan tree. Believe me, my dear.' 'All that exists has its Self in that which is the subtle essence. That is the Reat. That is the Self. You are that, Svetaketu.'" Uddalaka's teaching technique is skilfull. He involves Svetaketu in a pattern of activity designed to raise questions in the young man's mind: he does not merely talk about the banyan seed or pick one up and point to it; he gets Svetaketu to look at the fruit, to open it up, to extract the seed and then to break open the seed. At that point, when his son's attention is sharply focussed on the broken seed, he points to what Svetaketu does not see, the subtle essence within the seed. He then names and identifies that subtle essence, presenting it as that from which the whole banyan tree grows, as identical with Atman, with the Real, as that which Svetaketu himself truly is. There is no step of deductive inference in this argument. Its power derives not from the logical necessity of valid deductive inference, but from the force of the experience of the nothing-we-can-see within the split banyan seed as an image of the nothing-which-is-nonetheless-the-true-Self-of-all. Equally powerful examples are used by the Royal Sage Ajatasatru when he wishes to explain to Gargya Balaki the way in which awareness withdraws from the outer parts of the body to the space within the heart. "As the spider moves along the thread, or as tiny sparks fly in all directions from a fire, just so come forth from this Atman all organs, all worlds, all gods, all beings..." [B.U.II.1,20] The two examples are significantly different: they actually offer alternative ways of understanding the dependence on Atman of the multiplicity of things that constitute the World. Each example enables a mapping onto an intelligible pattern that grasps the imagination. Each example is a concrete and captivating image that offers access to understanding. A deductive inference leads us to a conclusion that follows logically from the premisses of the argument; the kind of philosophical example at issue here leads to a moment of realisation, an intellectual perception of the nature of what is imaged, by analogy with the nature of what is offered as analogue, example or image. 4. ANALYSIS of STATES and MODES of CONSCIOUSNESS The early Upanishads establish a tradition from which Vedantin philosophical practise has never deviated. Serious attention is paid to the state of dreaming and to the state of deep, dreamless sleep as well as to the waking state. The most famous exposition of the different states of consciousness is in the Mandukya Upanishad, but the dialogue of Prajapati, Indra and Virocana in the Eighth Section of the Chandogya Upanishad and the dialogue of Garya Balaki and King Ajatashatru in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad II,1 provide a much earlier exploration of the theme. The Upanishadic discussions of the states and modes of consciousness explore the epistemology of the different states, physiological concommittants of the different states, the metaphysics of the objects present to cognition in the different states and above all the principle of unity which holds the different states of consciousness and their data together as aspects of a single totality. 5. EXCAVATION of the PURE SUBJECT The discussion of Yajnavalkya with his wife, the philosopher Maitreyi, recorded in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad [B.U. II. 4 & IV. 5] presents the Self as the pure subject, the knower, which cannot be described in terms of any possible array of positive attributes - which would, of course, make it an object of cognition rather than the pure subject. This analysis is of value as marking out one extreme position it is possible to hold. Whether or not Yajnavalkya's account is true, it offers an approach to the analysis of the self that demands philosophical commentary. 6. ANALYSIS of PHYSICAL ASPECTS of CONSCIOUSNESS Several Upanishadic dialogues focus on the physiological aspects of the different states of consciousness. Uddalaka teaches his son Svetaketu the dependence of mental operations on nutrition by getting him to fast from all food save pure water for fifteen days. [Ch.U. VI. 7] On the sixteenth, Uddalaka questions his son about passages of text he has studied: Svetaketu cannot answer. Once he has eaten food, he finds he remembers once more what he could not recall when fasting. King Ajatashatru's teaching of Gargya Balaki [B.U. II. 1, 15 ff.] begins with the King's showing him the different effects of merely speaking to a person who is soundly asleep and touching the sleeper. He then proceeds to offer an account of how, in sleep, consciousness "absorbs the functions of the organs .... and rests in the space in the heart." The account is, of course, speculative, but it is concrete evidence of the seriousness with which the earliest Indian philosophers addressed the problem of analyzing the body's role in the life of consciousness. This is particularly important since the Indian tradition was to produce what is virtually a cybernetic model of mental operations in Nyaya, Saamkhya and Vedanta schools, manas, the mind-organ, being seen as the gate or filter which orders the items of data produced by perception and alows Buddhi, the intellect, to access them. Manas is the data gate and Buddhi the central processing unit in this account. 7. DISTINCTION of SUBSTANCE from CONDITION In the first section of Uddalaka's dialogue with his son Svetaketu, he says: "Just as, my dear, by knowing one lump of clay, all that is made of clay is known, the difference being merely a matter of verbal classification, while the reality is that it is all clay, Just as, my dear,... by one pair of nail scissors all that is made of iron is known, the difference being a matter of verbal classification, while in reality it is all iron ..." [Chh.U. VI.1] The distinction he is making is an important one. He is pointing to what Aristotle would much later call "material causality," the relation of dependence between things made of a particular kind of stuff and that kind of stuff, the relation of dependence that links a silver candlestick with silver, a meerschaum pipe with meerschaum. He is not saying all that exists is made of the same stuff, or even of a given range of kinds of stuff; Uddalaka's claim is that understanding the stuff of which any given thing is made yields understanding of everything else made of the same stuff - understanding of what the various things that exist ultimately are, they are clay, stone, iron, gold, &c. organised into a variety of shapes and forms, and named with a variety of names. Any such account leaves out of consideration many other issues relevant to a complete understanding of what things are - the function, the form, emergent distinctive properties, compound and complex natures, for example. Nonetheless, the insight Uddalaka offers to his son is an important one; he is pointing to one of the fundamental elements in the analysis required in order to understand the nature of things. There are two valuable aspects to the argument Uddalaka presents: he points to identification of the stuff of which things are made as a fundamental issue in understanding those things, and he characterises the distinctions we make amongst the different kinds of things made of the same stuff as a matter of verbal or linguistic classification. On the latter point he is telling only part of the story, and as they stand, his comments on the subject are inadequate and inaccurate. They are nonetheless important, in that they make a distinction which merits serious philosophical examination. While it may not be the case that every distinction between two gold objects is reducible to a matter of verbal classification, but it is nonetheless important to discern whether any of the distinctions are of that kind, i.e. we need to discern what elements of our classification system are merely conceptual or linguistic structures devoid of any sound metaphysical underpinning. 8. ARGUMENT to demonstrate the existence of SOUL In Uddalaka's instruction of Svetaketu, he makes use of a powerful example. "If, my dear, one struck at the root of this tree, it would bleed, but live; if one struck at its middle, it would bleed but live; if one struck the top of it, it would bleed but live. Pervaded by the soul {jiva,} the tree stands firm, drinking in its nourishment again and again ... But if the soul leaves one of its branches, the branch withers .... if it leaves the entire tree, the entire tree withers. .... Bereft of the soul, the body dies; but the soul does not die ..." [Ch.U. VI. 11] The importance of this argument is that it shows what is being talked about when soul-language is used. Uddalaka points to the difference between the living organism, which can survive injury, take nourishment, recover and flourish, and the dead limb, disconnected from the vitalising principle that is the source of the life of the whole. That this life-soul, the jiva, is subsequently identified by Uddalaka with the Atman makes the argument parallel that advanced by Plato in the "Phaedo," which identifies the psyche, the life-soul, with nous, the intellect. 9. Significance of the GAZE In European philosophy attention to the philosophical significance of the gaze as disclosing the presence and existence of the person, the self, the other, is a relatively recent phenomenon. In the teaching of Prajapati already referred to we find what must be the first instance in the history of philosophy of attention to the gaze as a means of realising the presence of the self. "Prajapati said to them, "The person that is seen in the eye, that is the Self. This is the immortal, the fearless," he went on, "This is Brahman." "Lord," they asked, "which is he, the one perceived in water or the one seen in the mirror?" "The same one," Prajapati replied, "is perceived in each case." [Ch.U. VIII. 7, 3-4] The ensuing dialogue makes it quite clear that Prajapati is pointing his disciples to see the person manifest in the gaze, while they are at cross purposes with him, and are looking at the reflection of the body, perhaps thinking there is an actual image of the body in the eye, or of the way we are reflected in the eye of the person standing in front of us. Whatever the specific origin of their misunderstanding, both Indra and Virocana believe that their Teacher is pointing to the body. Prajapati attempts to dispell their misunderstanding by getting them to look at their reflections in a vessel filled with water, and then to dress themselves in all their finery and to look again. He is trying to point to the self that gazes at the reflection and at the reflection of that gaze: initially they both draw the conclusion he is pointing to the body as the self, a conclusion that leads Virocana to preach the Demon Gospel of sensuous hedonism to the Asuras. Indra, realising the body lacks the attributes of the Self Prajapati had described ("... sinless, unaging, immortal, free from sorrow, hunger or thirst, whose desire is the real, whose thought is the real ..." [Ch.U. VIII. 7, 1]) returns to his teacher seeking to correct his false view. Advaitin tradition offers a different interpretation of this passage. Shankara sees Prajapati's initial comment ("... ya eso'ksini puruso drsyat 'esa atmeti" ) as referring to that "which is perceived as the Seer by the Yogins who have withdrawn their eyes and other organs, and are free from impurities ..." [Swami Gambhirananda's tr.] This is frankly a perverse and extravagant interpretation of what Prajapati says, but then that comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with Shankara's practise as a scriptural commentator. There is absolutely nothing in the text to support Shankara's reading; on the contrary, it is in direct conflict with what Prajapati actually says when he accepts that the same person can be seen in water or in a mirror. Shankara produces a convoluted account of Prajapati's subsequent instruction to save him from the charge of dishonesty, an account that is completely unnecessary if we accept the more obvious meaning of the text, that Prajapati is talking about the gaze and not about some insight the Yogin attains, meditating with closed eyes. Concrete evidence against Shankara's reading is provided by a brief parallel passage which occurs in the Satyakama's instruction of Upakosala: "He said: 'The person that is seen in the eye, that is the Self. This is immortal, this is fearless, this is Brahman. That is why, if one drops melted butter or water in the eye, it flows away on both sides." [Chh.U. IV.15,1] It is evident that Satyakama is speaking here of the physical eye, not of some yogic insight. He sees the power of the Self which is manifest in the eye as causing the melted butter or water to flow away, keeping the eyes free from being affected by either. There is no obvious reason to think that Prajapati has something different in mind. 10. NON-ACTION as CAUSE A sophisticated insight into the nature of causality is contained in an unlikely passage of the Chandogya Upanishad. "Now, when the Brahma priest does not break his silence from the start of the Prataranuvaka Shastra to the beginning of the Paridhaniya hymn, they truly sanctify both paths, neither is injured." [Ch.U. IV. 16, 4] This is part of a brief discussion of the role of the Brahma priest, one of the four priests central to the Soma Rite. Each of the other priests has his own specific role to play in the complex sacrificial rituals; the Brahma priest, however, who must be learned in the Vedas, stands watching the rite, ensuring everything is done correctly. If the other priests carry out the Soma Rite correctly, the Brahma priest does nothing; if they make an error he must intercede to correct things in so far as this is possible, but the Rite will remain defective. What is philosophically (rather than theologically or liturgically) interesting in this passage is the author's evident attribution of causal efficacy to the Brahma priest's non-action. The Brahma priest does nothing during the Soma Rite, and his doing nothing "sanctifies both paths." It is clear that non-action can indeed have a significant effect - there are immediately accessible examples: the letter of acceptance my friend does not post when I ask him to, and his not posting it causes me to lose a job; the salt I do not add to the soup, and my not adding it causes it to taste insipid; the wedding I do not attend, and my not attending it causes my fiancee to terminate our engagement. Indeed, we possess a repertoire of expressions (failure, omission, neglect &c.) to denote a variety of modes of significant non-action. 11. The doctrine of MORAL CAUSALITY We find the doctrine of Reincarnation in the early Upanishads. Interestingly, what seems to be its earliest appearance occurs in the dialogue between Gautama Uddalaka, the father of Svetaketu, and King Pravahana. [Ch.U. V. 3ff.] Svetaketu had been unable to answer the King's questions about the fate of human beings after their deaths. Returning home, he recounts the questions to his father, only to find that Gautama Uddalaka too is unable to answer them, and sets off to seek instruction from the King. Pravahana reluctantly agrees to teach him, but tells Gautama that the knowledge he will offer him has never before been known to any Brahmin, it is knowledge known only to the Kshatriya. The knowledge King Pravahana imparts to his unlikely disciple concerns a number of topics, including, interestingly and surprisingly, the meaning of certain details of the rituals the Brahmins perform. An important element in the knowledge he gives him concerns the fate of human beings after death, and the doctrine of Reincarnation. "Those whose conduct here has been good, will rapidly attain a good rebirth - birth as a Brahmin, birth as a Kshatriya, or birth as a Vaisya. But those whose conduct here has been evil will rapidly attain an evil birth - birth as a dog, birth as a pig, or birth as a chandala." [Ch.U. V. 10, 7] The passage goes on to describe continual rebirth as small creature, gnats, flies and suchlike, presumably, which is the fate of those who are guilty of the five terrible sins, (stealing a Brahmin's gold, a Brahmin who drinks wine, adultery with one's guru's wife, killing a Brahmin, consorting with one guilty of any of the other four sins.) Doctrines of this kind, which offer a moral account of reincarnation or rebirth, are familiar in the later history of philosophy. This passage in the Chhandogya Upanishad is interesting as perhaps the oldest such text. It is important as marking the starting point of Indian theorizing of the theme of moral causality. Significantly, the fate of the dead is not presented as depending on the gods, but simple on what they have done. This is equally true of the speculations about the different paths followed by those who were forest-dwelling ascetics and the village-dwellers who have performed meritorious works, sacrifices, public services, acts of charity. The concept of moral causality as it is worked out in the karma doctrine of later Astika and Nastika teaching has its roots in this passage of the Upanishads. The teaching of Pravahana offers one approach to the grounding of morality: it presents a means of interpreting morality as a sound investment policy for one's personal future. The teaching of Pravahana does not in any way constitute a moral theory or even the outlines of one; but it offers an interesting, if, from the point of view of a Western philosopher, a speculative, approach to the integration of conceptions of morality with the mapping of personal existence. 12. APOPHATIC METAPHYSICS Philosophy and theology is generally done in the kataphatic mode, by, that is to say, the construction of systems of statements that are believed to be either true or false. A serious problem arises, however, if a systematic attempt is made to construct an intelligible theoretical account of the transcendent or the transcendental. What is, by definition, beyond all possible understanding, and what is presupposed by all possible understanding, are alike irrefrangibly resistant to theoretical analysis and intelligible explanation. The apophatic tradition established a place for itself in Western philosophy through Plotinus's speculations on the One, and in Christian theology through the work of pseudo-Dionysius and Gregory of Nyssa. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad there are two dialogues in which Yajnavalkya used apophatic discourse to expound the metaphysics of the Self and of Brahman. The first example of apophatic discourse is probably the most famous single saying in the entire Upanishadic corpus; it is Yajnavalkya's characterization of the Self as "neti, neti," (not this, not this.) [B.U. IV. 5, 15] This is, of course, not the whole of Yajnavalkya's teaching; though if it were, he would still have merited a high place amongst philosophers for the directness and originality of his approach. The dialogue takes place as Yajnavalkya is about to retire to the forest. He approaches his wife Maitreyi to discuss the division of his property between her and her co-wife Katyayani. Maitreyi, a woman of truly philosophical temperament, challenges him with a question: will this wealth, she asks, make her immortal? And Yajnavalkya answers her frankly: it will not, with great wealth she can live the life of the rich, but she will still die. Realising this is her last opportunity to ask him anything, and believing her husband possesses the secret of immortality, Maitreyi asks him to reveal it to her. He agrees to do so, telling her, "as I am expounding to you, seek to meditate on it." [IV.5.5] Yajnavalkya's advice to her shows how seriously he takes Maitreyi's question: he is not simply going to offer her an intellectual account, he tells her to meditate on it so she can assimilate, dwell on, live what he is about to disclose to her. "He said: it is not, indeed, for the husband's sake (kamaya) that the husband is dear, but for the sake of the self that the husband is dear ....." [IV.5.6] Whatever is dear, he tells her, wife, sons, wealth, the worlds, the Vedas, beings, the totality, it is dear not for its own sake, but for the sake of the self. "The self, indeed, Maitreyi, is to be seen, heard, reflected on, meditated on, and when the self is indeed seen, heard, reflected on and known, then all this is known." Exactly what this odd passage means is perhaps made a little clearer in what Yajnavalkya says next: "Brahminhood deserts the one who knows Brahminhood in anything other than the self ...... the worlds desert the one who knows the worlds as anything other than the self .... This Brahminhood, this Ksatriyahood, all these worlds, these gods, these Vedas, all these beings, this all, are the self." {IV.5.7} The Self, he seems to be saying, is the totality, everything else is a part or aspect of the Self. Whatever has value for us has value because it is part of the Self, and the person to whom it has value is only capable of valuing it because she too is a part of the Self. The Self is the totality: when the Self is known, everything is known. This is an odd way to talk of the self. The statement that the Self is the Totality is startling. It seems to violate all everyday rules for the use of the term "self." Yajnavalka surely does not mean to imply that the Self is merely the Totality of whatever exists, the aggregate of all the vast variety of things that make up reality. Perhaps he means rather that the Self is one and stands at the root and origin of all existence, so that everything that exists flows from it, expresses the Self and ultimately is a part or aspect of the Self. Perhaps, as Shankara would argue, he means to lead us beyond our relative, conventional understanding to the unconditioned reality of Atman/Brahman, the only reality existing eternally beyond the illusions of everyday consciousness. His discourse continues with a sequence of images: [IV. 5. 8-10] it is impossible, he says, to grasp the "bahyan shabdan" of the drum, the conch, the Vina, unless we grasp the drum and the drummer, the conch and the one who blows it, the Vina and the player. We cannot fully understand the sound produced, the tone, the note of the instrument unless we trace it back to its source in the instrument and the player. We must see the sound precisely as the product of the player's playing the instrument, as the result and expression of the player's action on the instrument if we are to understand it. Hearing the sound alone apart from its source and origin we hear a mere sound; it is the causal pattern, the pattern of action from which it emerges, that gives it significance. Everything, Yajnavalkya tells Maitreyi, the Vedas, the Puranas, the commentaries and discourses, sacrifices and offerings, food and drink, this world and the other, all things have been breathed forth by this Great Being, the Self. He compares this breathing forth to the way in which a fire kindled from damp fuel produces smoke of many kinds. [IV.5.11] Yajnavalkya has already taught Maitreyi that the Self is the Totality, he now teaches her that everything that exists comes from the Self. The Self is the sole source and origin of the whole Universe, even of the Vedas themselves. The dependence of the Vedas on the Self is an important issue; Yajnavalkya is implicitly asserting that Atma-vidya is beyond and above scriptural knowledge and Brahminical learning. The Vedas proceed from - and therefore draw their being and their authority from the Self. The Vedas are at the service of Atma-vidya, not vice-versa. Not only is the Self the source and origin of the whole Universe, it is the point of convergence of all reality. All that is comes from the Self and goes to the Self. As the waters flow to the Ocean as their meeting-place, as all sounds come to the ear, all odours to the nose, as all desires converge in the mind, all knowledge in the heart, as all the Vedas come together in speech, [IV.5.12] ..... as a lump of salt is a homogeneous whole, a taste-mass so is the Self a homogeneous whole, a mass of awareness. {prajnana} [IV.5.13] The images Yajnavalkya uses seem to point to the following conclusions: [a] the Self is the source and point of confluence of all cognition. All knowledge, all experience, all action, all discourse depends on the Self and finds its unity in the Self. [b] the Self is an undifferentiated unity, [c] the distinctive characteristic of the Self is awareness, just as its taste is the distinctive characteristic of salt. What Yajnavalkya has to say next, Maitreyi finds quite beyond comprehension. "Arising from these elements, it vanishes back into them. After death there is no consciousness." Faced with his wife's reaction, Yajnavalkya comments, "I have said nothing baffling. This Self is indeed imperishable, it is by nature indestructible." [IV.5.14] What is it that arises from the elements and vanishes into them? It cannot be the Self, that would simply contradict everything Yajnavalkya has already said. Presumably he expects Maitreyi to understand he is referring to the individual living person, the human individual, Yajnavalkya, Maitreyi, each one of us. The last section of Yajnavalkya's teaching focuses directly on the nature of Atman: all perception of another, all knowledge of another arises only where there is dvaityam iva, duality, as it were. When all has become the Self, what is to be seen and by what means? - what is to be thought of and by what? Who is to be known and by what? Yenedam sarvam vijanati, tam kena vijaniyat? Sa esha neti nety' atma. "How is that to be known by which all is known? This Self is not-this, not-this." The Self is incomprehensible, indestructible, unattached, unfettered, beyond all possibility of suffering and injury. "Now you have been instructed, Maitreyi," says Yajnavalkya, "And this indeed is eternal life. Having said this, he departed to the forest." Poor Maitreyi, we may guess, was left behind in a state of intellectual and emotional confusion. She sought from her husband the words of eternal life, the teaching of immortality - and he has given her precisely that - but the immortality he offers her is an impersonal immortality, the immortality not of Maitreyi, but of the Eternal, immutable Atman, which is not even accessible as object of its own knowledge! Yajnavalkya uses kataphatic discourse to take his philosopher-wife as far as he can towards the intuition of the nature of Atman, the pure subject. At the last moment there is nothing he can tell her or show her, he is driven beyond the limits of descriptive discourse; he can only deny that Atman is identical with any object whatsoever, it is "not this, not this." Another example of apophatic discourse occurs in the second dialogue between Yajnavalkya and the woman philosopher Gargi. This conversation takes place towards the end of a prolonged word-battle in which Yajnavalkya is challenged by a succession of sages, but survives their questions and remains unconquered. Gargi alone, the one woman to face him, pushes him to the limit. In their first encounter she attacks him with a swift succession of questions each of which explores deeper into the ultimate structure of the world. "Yajnavalkya," she said, "if all this is woven like the weft upon water as the warp, on what is water woven like a weft?" "On air, Gargi." "And air, on what is it woven?" "On the sky, Gargi...." [B.U. III. 6] Yajnavalkya answers all her questions, and Gargi turns each of his answers into a new question, until at last she asks what is the warp onto which the World of Hrinyagarbha is woven like the weft. At this point Yajnavalkya evades her question with a warning: "Do not question too much, Gargi," he said, "lest your head fall off ...." He warns her she is at the limits of the knowledge possible even for the most penetrating human intellect. Gargi falls silent, anf Uddalaka takes up the questioning. Uddalaka questions him about the inner controller, and Yajnavalkya offers him an impressively full answer. Gargi now returns to the fray with two questions. "Yajnavalkya, on what warp are woven that which is above heaven and below the earth, which is heaven and earth and everything between them, and which, they say, was, is and will be." Yajnavalkya answers her: it is akasha (space or ether). Gargi now faces him with her second question. "Yajnavalkya, on what warp are woven that which is above heaven and below the earth, which is heaven and earth and everything between them, and which, they say, was, is and will be." And again he answers: it is akasha. "And the warp on which akasha is woven?" Yajnavalkya seems impaled on the horns of a dilemma. Everyone knows the answer is Brahman - but if Yajnavalkya simply answers "Brahman," then he will be overcome, the answer is banal, it offers no challenge to Gargi nor to the assembled Brahmins. It is not enough in the word battle to answer the opponent's question with a correct answer; the answer itself must play a tactical role in the battle, it must grasp for victory, not simply avoid defeat. If, on the other hand, Yajnavalkya attempts to explain Brahman, to offer the Brahmins a theory of the nature of Brahman, he will be greeted with derision. Brahman is above comprehension, beyond understanding, no description can capture the essence of Brahman, language literally fails in the attempt. If Yajnavalkya offers no answer save "Brahman," he will lose because he fails to challenge his opponent, if he offers a definition or an explanation of Brahman he will lose because he has attempted the impossible. Yajnavalkya does neither. He stands at the limit of human understanding and uses apophatic discourse to do what kataphatic cannot. Unable, as every language-user is unable, to tell the assembly what Brahman is, he points to the reality of Brahman by telling them what Brahman is not: "That, Gargi, the knowers of Brahman call the Imperishable. It is neither gross nor subtle, neither long nor short, neither red nor moist; It is neither shadow nor darkness, neither air nor akasha; It has neither taste nor smell, neither eyes nor ears, neither tongue nor mind; It is not radiant, has no life-breath, nor mouth, nor measure, no outside nor inside. It eats nothing, and none eats It ....." Having used apophasis to establish the reality of his knowledge of Brahman, Yajnavalkya proceeds to offer the company a discourse on the dependence of all things on Brahman: "Truly, sun and moon are held in their places under the mighty rule of this Imperishable. Heaven and earth are held in their places under the mighty rule of this Imperishable ... Whoever in this world offers sacrifices, practises austerities, even for millenia, without knowing this Imperishable, discovers all these deeds are perishable.... ... Gargi, this Imperishable is never seen but is the Seer .... is never known but is the Knower. There is no other seer but This One .... no other knower but This One. This Imperishable is the warp on which akasha is woven, Gargi." Yajnavalkya does not abandon positive, rational discourse and take up apophatic discourse instead; he uses apophatic discourse at the one crucial moment where positive description fails, at the moment where he needs to indicate Brahman's transcendence. CONCLUSION The 12 elements identified above are not by any means an exhaustive list, and they are all drawn from the dialogues of two of the earliest Upanishads. It is worth remembering that many other aspects of Indian philosophy also antedate Plato and Aristotle, other Upanishadic texts, the earlier stages of the Samkhya philosophy, the Carvaka materialism, early Jain and Buddhist philosophy, as well as the earliest stages of the social, political and legal thought we find formulated in the later Arthashastra and Dharmashastra. Indian philosophical tradition attained a rich pluralism from a very early period. Perhaps the examples offered are enough to establish that the earliest stages of Indian philosophical thought off much that is subtle, sophisticated and intellectually challenging. It is quite inappropriate that such philosophical insights should be seen as footnotes to the history of Greek thought.
Posted by: Sunder Mar 30 2004, 07:05 PM
"Yajnavalkya," she said, "if all this is woven like the weft upon water as the warp, on what is water woven like a weft?" "On air, Gargi." "And air, on what is it woven?" "On the sky, Gargi...." [B.U. III. 6]
One thing I cannot but notice is the translations people give to the Pancha Maha bhoothas. The five bhootas are Prithvi (Solid Matter), Apah (liquid matter), Tejas (Light, Heat energy etc), Vayu (Force - like big force, small force, electromagnetic force, and gravitational force. Vayu does NOT mean air that we breathe.. It's wihd that moves the air. Ref. Kenopanishad 3rd valli.) Akasham (conventionally "Space"/ether - but I have no idea how to explain this.) At big bang, there existed only a singularity (Akasha). Then came Vayu, that caused IMMENSE energy that caused the matter/antimatter yuddham, and the beautiful dance of the quarks. From this play came intense heat & hence light energy (owing to implosions, and formation of Hydrogen atoms.), Hydrogen is also called Jalaja vayu. This perhaps is what's refered to as WATER or Apah (Hydro=water), which is the basis and foundation of all other elements. From Apah came Prithvi, which is not just SiO2 (Silicon Dioxide), but all matter alike.) Yathah sarvani bhoothani bhavanthyadhi yugagame, yasminscha pralayam yanthi punareva yugakshaye.. (The dissolution of the universe - as opposed to the 'judgement day' theory - is exactly the opposite of Evolution. Prithvi melts back into Apah. Apah goes back into thejas (into the sun?), and Tejas into Vayu, and finally it will be MAHA-LAYAM - One Grand Union.) Thus is Yagyavalkya's explanation that the subtler bhootha is the substratum (matrix) of the grosser bhootha. [the weft & warp translated to Matrix or Grid - i.e. substratum.]
"Do not question too much, Gargi," he said, "lest your head fall off ...."
This does not mean it will fall to the floor severed from the body.. This is an expression to mean, your head will fall in shame. When I say, "Head of department", does not mean there is a head floating around.. Nor does it mean that no one else in the department has a head.. When it comes to translations, most ppl translate the upanishads literally, adding to the confusion that already exists. smile.gif Just my thoughts.. smile.gif
Posted by: Mudy Mar 30 2004, 07:16 PM
Western reseachers have translated Vedic scriptures on verbatim basis, they lacked actual understanding of Vedic philosophy.
Posted by: bgravi Apr 5 2004, 11:12 PM
QUOTE (nachiketa @ Feb 13 2004, 01:28 AM)
What is a good source for the Mahabharata? I have heard C Rajagopalachari's book is good, though I have not read it. My father used to read us the Mahabharata in Kannada when we were kids. And of course there was the DD serial. These are the only two exposures I have had to the Mahabharata apart from the BhagvadGita. Do members have any other suggestions?
If you are interested in kannada version, I found the prose form of Kumaravyasa's mahabharata very good. I have read it and have been amazed by it. Some 5-6 years back, the kannada magazine "Taranga" was publishing mahabharatha as weekly episodes, which was very good too. In english, I have read Rajagopalachari's Mahabharata.
Posted by: Spinster Apr 6 2004, 07:53 AM
great explanations by Sunder and Esquired H ( as usual) about vamana avatar. Notice the contrast of Bali's (Inflated) ego and the small stature of vamana. The story is unique in the the sense that Sukra the acharya of asuras also had huge ego and was in constant (ego ) battle with Brihaspathi. In the vamana story, sukra also gets a black eye when he tries to block the (toyam) water pouring pitcher orifice and Vamana poke the orifice with a dharbah( grass). One of the signs of a great scripture is that it can mold to infinite interpretations, not because of the inadequecy of the language ( as in some scriptures) but because of the universal nature of the message. Perhaps that is the reason our scriptures have stood the test of time. JMHT ( I am always aware this forum is for very learned folk. vihitamavihitaM vaa sarvametatkshamasva ..
Posted by: Sunder Apr 6 2004, 11:16 AM
Thanks Spinster. The interpretations, as you mention are infinite. At the microcosmic and macrocosmic level. I still revel at the incident from Shiva Purana of Brahma & Vishnu. I shall relate the incident here, and then give my thoughts later. It was dark all around, Neither the Sun, nor the moon existed. There was no earth, nor light. Vishnu was in his sleep. There sprung a lotus from his navel. In this Lotus was Brahma. He (Brahma) began to think thus.. Who am I? Where am I? Who created me? Where have I come from? And thus to trace his orgin, he began to descend the stem of the Lotus. He descended so for what seemed like Infinity. Then (after a few incidents) Brahma encounters Vishnu. Vishnu says I AM YOUR CREATOR. Brahma denies this. There is a heated argument between the two on who is superior, when suddenly there is a pillar of fire that appears in the cosmos. Brahma & Visnhu decide to trace the beginning and end of this "Pillar of Fire". They agree that who ever manages to find the head (or feet) of this being will be the victor. Brahma decides to take the shape of a Swan and flied "upwards", while Vishnu takes the form of a Boar and dives below. They go on for infinite years (Anantha koti varsham) without success. Vishnu admits defeat, while Brahma on his way up, encounters a Kethaki flower (Thaazham-pu) and asks it to bear false witness. Thus Brahma claims to have found the head of the being, to claim 15 mins of fame. Eeshwara, Sadha Shiva, a.k.a "Lingodbhava Moorthy", manifests himself, and rewards vishnu for his honesty, while "plucking" away one of Brahma's heads. (Brahma had 5 heads before, and only 4 heads after this incident. There is a Brahma-Shira-Kandeesha temple in Tamil Nadu.) Thus Kethaki flowers are not used in worship of Shiva. The Symbolism behind this Incident is absolutely (literally) mind-blowing.
Posted by: Viren Apr 6 2004, 11:34 AM
There is a Brahma-Shira-Kandeesha temple in Tamil Nadu
I thought there was Shiva's curse related to this episode and there are/were no temples dedicated to Brahma?
Posted by: Sunder Apr 6 2004, 11:59 AM
QUOTE (Viren @ Apr 7 2004, 12:04 AM)
There is a Brahma-Shira-Kandeesha temple in Tamil Nadu
I thought there was Shiva's curse related to this episode and there are/were no temples dedicated to Brahma?
Brahma-Shira-kandeesha is a temple for my Father, Sri Rudra, Shiva, Pashupathi. It means - the Eeshwara who cut off the head of Brahma. Except in Pushkar, there are no temples for Brahma. (But If I have to read Sri Sita Ram Goel ji's 'Hindu temples, what happened to them' before I can say whether there ever existed temples for Brahma or not before the Barbaric pillages.)
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Apr 6 2004, 05:00 PM
There are many variants of the brahma decapitation incident! In one rudra creates bhairava to cut off the 5th head of brahma. Then bhairava goes around with a begging bowl made of the skull of brahma's head. He barges into viShNu's abode where vishvaksena tries to stop him. However, he fights visvaksena and spikes him on to his trident. Thus, he enters viShNu's room with the spiked corpse of his commander on the trident. viShNu then fills the skull bowl with his blood. Having drunk it bhairava is freed from his brahma-hatyA and delighted he returns vishvaksena to life. ......
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Apr 6 2004, 05:08 PM
For those in need of a mythological primer ............... vIrabhadra: He emerged from a fragment of the matted locks of rudra for the killing of prajApati dakSha. He wrought havoc in the midsts of the deva armies and destroyed the demons created by bhR^igu before going on to behead dakSha. He then revived dakSha with a goat's head. kAla bhairava: Created by rudra for the beheading of the 5th head of brahma which was mocking rudra. For this he acquired the pApa of brahmahatyA and had to perform the kApAlika vrata. He moved on to slay vishvaksena, the chief gaNa of viShNu and was finally purified of brahma hatyA after drinking the blood of viShNu. nandikeshvara: The bull-headed chief gaNa of rudra. A great warrior and leader of the armies of rudra in many battles. In the battle against the dakSha he was felled by a blow from the vajra of indra. In the battle against andhakAsura he captured the bhArgava shukra and handed him over to rudra. kShetrapAla: A fierce agent of rudra who emits a fiery meteor from his mouth to counter missiles hurled by the asuras when they do battle against rudra. kIrtimukha: A fierce gaNa created by rudra for the chastisement of rAhu. In his insatiable hunger he ate his own body parts and was reduced to a roving head that devoured asuras. vIraka: A terrible gaNa created by shiva to guard pArvati when he was performing the mahApaashupata vrata to regain his energies after the dalliance with umA. He fought the army of andhaka and wrought havoc in its midst. kumAra: The elder son of rudra, the six-headed god. He was first born for the slaying of demons like mahiSha and tAraka. He led the deva armies in these battles and subsequently was one of the major commanders of rudra's armies. Has numerous gaNas of his own. gaNapati: The younger son of rudra, the elephant headed god. He was created by pArvati as her personal gaNa, but was beheaded in a battle with rudra and the gods and restored with an elephant head. He became one of the major commanders of the gaNas and slew asuras like analasura and sindhUra. bhadrakAli: The wife of vIrabhadra. She led the shakti senA in the daksha battle and destroyed the dakSha army. mahAmAri: The principal female commander of rudra's armies. She lead the pramatha army of shiva along with kumAra in the battle against the demon shankachuDa and the two of them slaughtered the commanders of shankachuDa's army. kAli: The wife of rudra. She lead the forces of the shaktis in the battle against shumbha and nishumbha. In the battle against shankachUDa, kumAra was struck down by the brahmashakti hurled by shankachUDa. She rescued kumAra from the battle lines and brought him back to shiva. Thereafter, when vIrabhadra fell unconcious struck by he missile of shankachUDa she took over the command of the gaNa armies and marched against the asuras. She decimated the asura army and in a fierce battle with shankachuDA struck him down with the mAheshvara missile.
Posted by: Prof. Godbole Apr 6 2004, 05:22 PM
Except in Pushkar, there are no temples for Brahma. (But If I have to read Sri Sita Ram Goel ji's 'Hindu temples, what happened to them' before I can say whether there ever existed temples for Brahma or not before the Barbaric pillages.) Shri. Sunder, There is a temple for Brahma in the town of Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu state. Added later This report from on the recently concluded Mahamaham festival states that Kumbakonam has the only temple to Brahma in India!
Posted by: Sunder Apr 6 2004, 06:18 PM
Thanks Godbole ji, Searching for Brahma temples, I found this site : The form and size of Brahma Temple is much similar to Wisnu Temple. The size of Brahma Temple is 20 x 20 meters square and 23 meters high. Similar to Wisnu Temple, Brahma Temple has one room with one stairway to enter from the east. Inside the room there is four-headed Brahma statue. At the foot of the temple were found a figure of a priest accompanied by other figures in a position of praying. The ornaments exist all four sides of the temple. The foot of the temple is surrounded by an open verandah with balustrade. At the inner side of the balustrade were relieves which tell the continuation of Ramayana story which were inscripted on Ciwa Temple. At the outer side of the balustrade were found figures of priest in the sifting position (praying). Other ornamentals were found at the foot of the temple, similar to that at Ciwa and Wisnu Temple. Relief of Brahma Temple According to Bernet Kempers and Sudiman (1974), it was mentioned that the relief at the balustrade of Brahma Temple contained the continuation of Ramayana story, but it turned out that some sequence of the story did not match, so it was not the actual arrangement of the temple stones when the temple was in restoration. Some of the lost stones (with relief) were found nearby the village, and were returned back to the original arrangement. Some of the scene (1-5 of previous paragraph) which showed apes marching, followed by scenes of the baffle (battle?) between the apes and Rahwana. That battle should ended by the death of the giants (6-12). One of Rahwana's brother, Kumbokarno was woke up, and attacking the apes (6-12). Then Kumbokarno died (8-9), and so was Rahwana (10). After this part of the story, the continuation was found elsewhere. In a short time, Sinta returned to Rama. Then Sinta was denied by Rama because she had been in Rahwana's palace. It was pictured she went into the wood, crossing the Gangga River (1 7). At a meditation site, she delivered a baby. Then she was seen picking up flowers with her child (21). On the relief No. 25, two teenagers were in a battle with a giant. The actual story revealed that indeed the two teenagers were the children of Sinta going to the palace as singers to see their father. At that time there was a celebration. This part was called the celebration relief (30). This story is as a satire expressing the luxury life of priests. At the end of the story, Sinta was called into Rama's palace to proof her purity. More here: HH: Thanks for the blurbs.. I have variations to add & clarifications to make - shall do it a once I get back from Hanuman Chaleesa smile.gif
Posted by: Ravi Apr 6 2004, 06:42 PM
very true. We do not know if they even re-wrote most of our religious texts. I'll try to get a link..i think ppl know about it here. It says how the British re-wrote our religious texts to change our perception. DOon't know how far that is true.
Posted by: Sunder Apr 6 2004, 09:43 PM
QUOTE (Ravi @ Apr 7 2004, 07:12 AM)
very true. We do not know if they even re-wrote most of our religious texts. I'll try to get a link..i think ppl know about it here. It says how the British re-wrote our religious texts to change our perception. DOon't know how far that is true. ca 1650: Robert de Nobili (1577-1656), Portuguese Jesuit missionary noted for fervor and intolerance, arrives in Madurai, declares himself a brahmin, dresses like a Hindu monk and composes Veda-like scripture extolling Jesus. Fr. Thomas Stephens an Englishman and one of the early missionary Jesuit scholars is credited with writing the first book in Konkani. His magnum opus being the "Krista Purana " or "The story of Christ", written in the style of Hindu Folklore. He subsequently also produced his other classic "Doutrina Cristao", a compendium of Christian doctrines in Konkani.
Posted by: Sunder Apr 6 2004, 11:04 PM
QUOTE (Hauma Hamiddha @ Apr 7 2004, 05:38 AM)
For those in need of a mythological primer ............... vIrabhadra: He emerged from a fragment of the matted locks of rudra for the killing of prajApati dakSha. He wrought havoc in the midsts of the deva armies and destroyed the demons created by bhR^igu before going on to behead dakSha. He then revived dakSha with a goat's head. bhadrakAli: The wife of vIrabhadra. She led the shakti senA in the daksha battle and destroyed the dakSha army.
Veera Bhadra and Bhadrakali did destroy Dhaksha Yagna.. My Grandpa used to day that after Daksha Prajapathi was revived with a goats head, he sang the Rudram Chamakam. (like a goat bleating Mae-mae, you have Sancha-MAE, MayaschaMAE.. etc) Dont know if it's true, but it was interesting to listen to... Also, after the revival of Daksha, Shiva/Rudra took Dhakshayani's remains on his shoulder, roaming around. Vishnu had to cut the body to pieces (metaphorically), and each piece fell to earth as a SHAKTHI-STHALAM. Appayya Deekshithar has one verse of his Meenakshi Sundareswara Stotra as below. Athi Pragalbha Veera Bhadra Simha Naadha Garghita, Shruthi Prabheetha Daksha Yaga Bhogi Naga Sadmanaam. Gathi Pradhaya Garjitha'akila Prapancha Shaashine, Sadha Namah Shivayathe Sadha Shivaya Shambhave.
kAla bhairava: Created by rudra for the beheading of the 5th head of brahma which was mocking rudra. For this he acquired the pApa of brahmahatyA and had to perform the kApAlika vrata. He moved on to slay vishvaksena, the chief gaNa of viShNu and was finally purified of brahma hatyA after drinking the blood of viShNu.
Of the same Shloka above goes another Shloka: Sharannishakara Prakaasha Mandha haasa Manjula Dhara-pravaala bhaasa maana vakthra mandala shriye Karasphurath-kapala muktha Vishnu Raktha Paayine, Sadha Namah Shivayathe Sadha Shivaya Shambhave. The story I heard goes that Rudra was not still satisfied after drinking Vishnu's blood (which incidentally was taken from his URU - thigh (?)) Finally it was Annapoorna of Kashi who satisfies Kaalabhairava's hunger. Hence Manikarnika Ghat (I hope I got the Ghat right.)
kumAra: The elder son of rudra, the six-headed god. He was first born for the slaying of demons like mahiSha and tAraka. He led the deva armies in these battles and subsequently was one of the major commanders of rudra's armies. Has numerous gaNas of his own.
Kumara was the Younger Son of Rudra. The elder one being Ganesha.. Thus Ganesha is called Kumaraguru, or Skandhaguru, or Skandhagraja. As MKT sings in Sivakavi : Thumbikkaiyaan Dhayavaal Manam perum, Thambiyai paaduveenooooooo {how can I sing of the younger brother who gets married by the grace of the trunked one.} Also Kumarasambhavam took place to Liquidate Tarakasura, Simhamukha, SooraBadman (in tamil.) His assistant was Indra's son Jayantha (or Veerabahu tevar in tamil). Mahisha was killed by Durga and not Subrahmanya. (Mahishi is sposed to be killed by Swami Aiyappa.)
kAli: The wife of rudra. She lead the forces of the shaktis in the battle against shumbha and nishumbha.
Thought it was Kaushuki devi who lead the army with Kali playing a parallel role. But there is one thing about Kaali.. on WHY she stands on Shiva.. After the famous battle, Kaali (Dark matter?) became so heavy that the universe could not support her.. There was no force that could support her weight. Shiva (Parameshvara), alone was the substratum that could support Kali, hence SHE stands on HIM. [Sadha Shiva = Brahman, Kaali = Shakthi, Maaya.] This concept is beautifully explained in Anandha Lahari...
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Apr 6 2004, 11:46 PM
Kumara was the Younger Son of Rudra. The elder one being Ganesha.. Thus Ganesha is called Kumaraguru, or Skandhaguru, or Skandhagraja.
In the folk tamil tradition kumAra is the younger son of rudra. But in the sanskrit tradition, eg shiva purANa kumAra is the elder son. He actually participates in the war against gaNapati before he was beheaded by shiva. Similarly in folk tamil tradition gaNapati is a brahmachAri, but in sanskrit tradition both are married. gaNapati has two wives: siddhi and buddhi, whereas kumAra has a wife ShaShTi nor devasenA or gajavalli. On the 5th day after dIpAvali an offering of milk is made to a cat. This is supposed to be an offering to the wife of kumAra. Maharashtrians consider kumAra a brahmachAri.
Mahisha was killed by Durga and not Subrahmanya. (Mahishi is sposed to be killed by Swami Aiyappa.)
There is mahisha killed by kumAra. See mahAbhArata. On the 6th day after dIpAvali we utter this itihAsa of kumAra: mahiShaM chAShTabiH padmairvR^taM sa~Nkhye nijaghnivAn | tripAdaM chAyuta shatairjaghAna dashabhirIsvaraH hradodaraM nikharvavaishcha vR^itaM dashabhirIshvaraH | jaghAnAnucharaiH sArdhaM vividhAyudhapANibhiH || tatrAkurvanta vipulaM nAddam vadhyastu shatruShu kumArAnucharA rAjanpUrayanto disho dasha || He then slew mahiSha who was surrounded by 8 padmAs of demons. The god next killed tripada surrounded by a 1000 ayutas of demons. The god then slaughtered hradodara with 10 nikharvas of demons and smashed the demon hordes with various weapons in his hands. Filling the ten quarter the gaNas of kumAra made a loud noise when the enemies were being slaughtered. The mahiSha of the mArkaNDeya purANa was killed by durga.
Posted by: Spinster Apr 7 2004, 06:57 AM
I have not seen a temple exclusively devoted to godess Saraswathi, except in the small town/village of "Basara' ( Note 'Basara' is the Vikruthi of Basha means language). This is on the banks of river Godavari near Nizamabad in AP.
Posted by: rhytha Apr 7 2004, 07:06 AM
After the famous battle, Kaali (Dark matter?) became so heavy that the universe could not support her.. There was no force that could support her weight. Shiva (Parameshvara), alone was the substratum that could support Kali, hence SHE stands on HIM. [Sadha Shiva = Brahman, Kaali = Shakthi, Maaya.]
Wow graduated.gif , then is kali is a "Black hole" is she(it)? and in the same context what can parameshwara be called, time-space, what supports a black hole?
Posted by: rhytha Apr 7 2004, 07:13 AM
QUOTE (Spinster @ Apr 7 2004, 07:27 PM)
I have not seen a temple exclusively devoted to godess Saraswathi, except in the small town/village of "Basara' ( Note 'Basara' is the Vikruthi of Basha means language). This is on the banks of river Godavari near Nizamabad in AP.
i have visited a temple for goddess saraswati in "kootalur" near mayavaram. smile.gif
Posted by: Viren Apr 7 2004, 07:14 AM
QUOTE (Spinster @ Apr 7 2004, 09:57 AM)
I have not seen a temple exclusively devoted to godess Saraswathi, except in the small town/village of "Basara' ( Note 'Basara' is the Vikruthi of Basha means language). This is on the banks of river Godavari near Nizamabad in AP.
Googled to find one in and another in in addition to the one you listed:
Posted by: Sunder Apr 7 2004, 08:13 AM
QUOTE (Viren @ Apr 7 2004, 07:44 PM)
Googled to find one in and another in in addition to the one you listed: Courtesy: Dr. Subhash Kak, Louisiana State University, U.S.A. 1. The ancient temple of Sharada is located in Neelam (Kishanganga) valley just beyond the line of control in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The temple is located in a small village called Shardi near the confluence of Kishanganga and Madhumati rivers. As far as I can gather from my maps, its location seems to be 74.2 E and 34.8 N. It is located northwest of the Wular lake about 40 miles as the crow flies. Another way of getting an idea of its location note that Kishanganga and Vitasta (Jhelum) meet in Muzzafarabad. Shardi and Sopore are about the same distance from Muzzafarabad along two different rivers. 2. It was important not only as a temple to Sharada in her triple form as Sharada, Sarasvati, and Vagdevi, it was also a centre of Kashmirian learning. The main pilgrimage used to be conducted on the 4th shudi of Bhadrapada. Shradha used to be performed by the Madhumati. 3. The famous chronicler Al-Biruni (1130 AD) names Sharada, together with Somnath, Multan, and Thaneshvar, as one of the most important temples of Hindus in north India. In the 16th century, Abul Fazl, the author of Ain- Akbari, similarly describes this as a temple dedicated to Durga which is regarded with great veneration. He adds, "On every eighth tithi of the bright half of the month it begins to shake and produces the most extraordinary effect." 4. If you would like to read details about the temple see pages 279-290 in the second volume of RAJATARANGINI translated by M.A. Stein, who visited the temple in 1892. Stein has extensive notes regarding the temple and his own description of it. 5. It is curious that during the fighting of 1948, the Indian army made no attempt to control this region. I presume this was because the memory of the Sharada temple was not very strong in the minds of the main actors in the drama. Remember the fame of Sharada was so great that the word became synonymous with learning. Also remember that the native script for Kashmiri is a script called Sharada. Some of you would remember the zataks written in it. Sharada is somewhat similar to Devanagari but not identical. PART II: THE SHARADHA SCRIPT Here I summarize current knowledge on the Sharada script: Sharada, like other Indian and southeast Asian scripts, is derived from Brahmi which was in use in India at least as early as 500 BC if not earlier. New theories suggest that Brahmi, in turn, evolved from the ancient Indus (or Sarasvati) script that was in use in India in 2500 BC. The earliest records in Sharada have been dated to about 800 AD. You find them all over northwest India. Incidently, Gurumukhi, the script that was designed by one of the Sikh gurus for Punjabi, used Sharada as its model. The widespread usage of Sharada has been interpreted by scholars to mean that Kashmiri Pandits in ancient times, as now, were fond of travelling outside the valley. The script of the Dogras, called Takari, is also derived from Sharada. PART III: MORE ON THE SHARADA TEMPLE This information is abridged from Stein's account: The temple is approached from the lower slope of the hill in the west by an imposing stone staircase, now half decayed, which leads up in 63 steps to the main entrance of the quadrangular court enclosing the temple. The staircase is about 10 feet wide and rises rather steeply in six flights between two flanking walls of massive construction. The entrance to the court is through a gateway with a double porch of Kashmiri design. The court of the temple forms an oblong accurately oriented and enclosed by a massive wall 6 feet thick. The north side of the enclosure measures 142 feet whereas the east side measures 94 feet and 6 inches. Thus the quadrangle has proportion of 3:2. In the centre of the northern wall is a small recess 3 feet 3 inches square inside which opens by a trefoil arched door towards the interior of the court. This recess contained two ancient lingas. In the centre of the quadrangle is the temple raised on a basement of 24 feet square and 5 feet 3 inches high. The entrance to this inner temple is from the west side and is approached by stairs five and a half feet wide with flanking side walls. The interior of the inner temple is a square of 12 feet and 3 inches and it has no decoration of any kind. The only conspicous object inside is a large slab which measures about 6 by 7 feet with a thickness of about half a foot. This slab is believed to cover a kunda, or spring, in which goddess Sharada appeared to the sage Shandilya. This kund is the object of the special veneration of the pilgrims. The main Sharada temple rises in a prominent and commanding position above the right bank of the Madhumati on the terrace-like foot of a spur which descends from a high pine-clad peak to the east. Immediately below this terrace to the northwest is the spot where the waters of the Madhumati and Kishanganga mingle. The view from the staircase to the outer temple is magnificent. Not only can you see the valleys of Madhumati and the gorge of Kishanganga but also a stream now called Sargan that falls into Kishanganga. The location of the Sharada temple in the village of Shardi is beyond the mountains, immediately surrounding the valley north northwest of Bandipur. It is beyond Lolab valley and beyond Drang so reaching it must take a few days. Although it is only about 35 miles or so from the northern reaches of the Wular, the journey in ancient times must have been carried out entirely on foot. I suppose now it should be possible to complete it rather quickly starting from Bandipur. I am assured by the account that it has a beauty more dramatic than that of Yosemite!
Posted by: Spinster Apr 7 2004, 09:21 AM
Amazing I invoked the name of Saraswathi and I get so much education. Thanks folks. Spinster
Posted by: siddhartha_shukla Apr 7 2004, 11:27 AM
They generally have Saraswati temples in every Saraswati shishu/vidya mandirs.These are schools run by the RSS.There are quite a few of them with some overseas branches also.
Posted by: sridhar k Apr 20 2004, 09:14 PM
Hi All, Some of you might remember me posting in BR a year ago. I really missed these discussions over the last year. When i came back to BR, i found that the mandate of the forum has changed and lot of people not posting there. Felt really sad about it . Thanks to Peregerine, landed here and found some really interesting discussions here. Of late, visited a lot of temples in the Kumbakonam belt before and after the mahamaham. During Mahamaham, couldn't even enter periphery of Kumbakonam. Each one of the temples were mind boggling. Some of you might like to visit them. On account of Mahamaham, most of the temples around Kumbakonam got a facelift, thanks to amma's initiative. Everybody who went to kumbakonam on the mahamaham were raving about the organization of the event and the faclities. Some temples in and around Kumbakonam which i visited and the temples are which are quite old 1. Airavadeswarar temple in Darasuram - Currently maintained by Archeological dept. 2. Chakrapani 3. Sarangapani 4. Kumbeshwarar 5. Uppiliappan 6. Swamimalai - Lord Swaminatha 7. Thiruchatti mutram - 8. Batteswaram - Durgai 9. Thiruvalanchuzhi - Vigneshwara 10. Thiruvidai marudhur 11. Thirubhuvanam - Sarabeshwarar 12. Utthukadu- Kalinga nardhanar temple 13. Srirangam 14. Thiruvanaikaval 15. Samayapuram 16. Brihadeswarar temple - Thanjavur 17. Vaideeshwaran temple 18. Srimushnam - Yagna Varaha swami 19. Sirkali Sattainathar - Where Shiva wears Vishnu has his shirt 20. Thiruvalangadu- Akora Murthy (also a budha stalam) 21. Thiruvarur 22. Thirunageswaram 23. Ayyavadi 24. Nachiar Koil 25. Punnai nallur mariyamman Visited some more, but dont rember them over my head. Will try to write up some info on the chief dieties in each of the temples and their significance in the coming days. If this is not the right thread, i can post in some others. Regards
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha May 4 2004, 10:00 PM
स सूर्याय महेन्द्राय पवनाय स्वयंभुवे | भूतेभ्यश्चाञ्जलिं कृत्वा चकार गमने मतिम ||
Posted by: Gargi May 6 2004, 12:26 PM
Take God's Name and Absolve Your Self By D S Srinivasan In the fifth Skanda of the Bhagavat Purana, Hiranyakashipu asks his son Prahalad, “What is the best thing you have learnt?” Prahalad replies: ‘‘Sravanam Kirtanam vishnum smaranam pada seva-nam archanam vandanam dasyam, sakyam atma samarpanam iti Navalakshana.” — Prahalad describes nine ways to attain salvation: 1. Listening to God’s name and stories about Him. 2. Singing God’s praise and reciting His name 3. Always thinking about God 4. Archana or offering flowers to God 5. To do service at God’s feet 6. To do Namaskars or paying obeisance to God 7. To do service to God 8. To be friendly with God 9. To surrender everything at God’s feet including one’s Self. It is not impossible to do what Prahalad spells out as we have examples of people like Parikshit, Sukha Brahm Maha-rishi, Prahalad, Goddess Mahalakshmi, Hanuman, Arjun and Mahabali who had followed these norms. Ru-kmini, while sending a message to Krishna inviting him to accept her, follows the path shown by Prahalad and starts her message with sravanam and ends with atma samarpanam. Other means to salvation as described in the Narada Bhaktiyoga, Karma Yoga and other texts in our epics and puranas are difficult to follow, more so in today’s fast-paced way of life. The easiest among these is the Nama Sangirthanam or singing God’s praise, to recite God’s name as and when possible to attain salvation. The Dhanur Month is observed in South India as a month for worshipping God and bhajans are recited in the mornings throughout the month. As the month precedes Uttarayana, it is considered to be ‘‘early morning’’ for Dev Log. Andal, one of the 12 alwars, has rendered several poems in praise of God to be recited during the Dhanur month as a means of salvation. The tradition of naming children after the name of God was followed so that when a person calls out to his children, he is reciting some of the Sahasranama of God. Ajamila, the son of a rishi, was following all the practices prescribed for a rishi. One day, as he was travelling through a dense forest, he met a hunter’s daughter who was very pretty. They fell in love and Ajamila spent his entire life with her. He forgot his duty and practices totally and did all that a rishi was not expected to do. He was very attached to his last son, whom he named “Narayana”. When he was about to die he could see Yama’s messengers, and out of sheer fear loudly called out to his last son “Narayana” and died immediately thereafter. Before Yama’s messengers could take him, Lord Vishnu’s messengers came and took him to Vaikuntha, saying that any man who utters God’s name during his last moments, would only go to Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu. This story might have inspired Perialwar, one of the 12 alwars of the south, to render 4,000 exquisite hymns praising the Lord. In one hymn he says “Narayanan annai Nara-gam Pugal”, that the mother of Narayana will never go to hell. Nama Sangirthana is the easiest way to attain salvation. We should continue the practice of naming our children after God so that when we call out to our children, we recite at least some of the Sahasranama of the Lord, which washes away our sins and leads us to salvation.
Posted by: Sunder May 7 2004, 11:57 AM
There is also a audio selection of lectures on Tattvabodha by Swami Paramaarthananda at the following site. I believe he is headquartered in Chennai.
Kaushal, thanks to your link, I have been quite regularly, listening to the speech of Swami Paramaarthananda, and also recommending it to ppl I Know in my "Friday Sahasranamam group" and others.. Yesterday, I sent a mail of appreciation, to the email ID given on the site, but it bounced back sad.gif Would you happen to know how Swami Paramaarthananda (or anyone associated with the site) can be contacted? I See some speeches are as new as 2nd of May. Thus someone MUST be maintaining it regularly.. Any help would be appreciated. Thx, Sunder.
Posted by: sooeydoo May 7 2004, 02:21 PM
Hi I am new to this forum and already love it! In fact, I have been wanting to start something like this for quite long but never managed to create enough popularity of the site. Right now, I am working on a website which I started around a month ago. Though I have quite a few plans for the site, the project right now is to create a Vedanta Online Library (VOL). I see in this thread that already many of you have expressed desire to see such a site where there is a tiny summary/excerpt of the article/news/book etc. on the site and a link directing you to the original article. This is exactly what I am doing. However, since as you know, the volume of work involved is a lot and one person cannot single-handedly compile a library of Hindu stuff on the net, I have been trying to get some support. I request you all to kindly take a peep at the site (which has not yet been publicized due to lack of content), and see the idea which most of you reflect, and please please help me in this venture so that we can together set up a Vedanta Online Library initially and take the site forward! The site is: Please email me at Thank you very much for your support, Sooraj.
Posted by: sridhar k May 7 2004, 05:57 PM
Got it by mail The Concept of 'devotion' with reference Haridasas History of Devotion/Bhakthi The existence of relationship between God and devotee is not of now it is there since the vedic times ie about 5000 years back. This relationship is considered to be devotional. The beginning of bhakthi may be traced in the hymns of the R^igveda where (Rg I, 62.11) "longing prayers are said to touch Indra who is Longing just as a wife with desires gets her husband". This idea is amplified in another hymn (Rg X, 43.1) which says "All my hymns in unison praise Indra: as wifes embrace their husbands so do my thoughts embrace Indra the divine bestrew of gifts. For the sake of a favor they cling to the liberal God (Indra) as wives do their lords (or as a woman) does her handsome lover". In another hymn (Rg VI 45.26), Indra is addressed as a friend and it is said that there is no limit to his friendship and he gives cows to those who want cows, and horses to those who want horses. Even bhakti is traced in Sindhu civilization according to researchers who have traced in Harappa and Mohenjadaro research sites which is very strange. In that research they found big buildings which are identical of temples and concludes that their innovation reveals that they found traces of existence of Shiva idols, Naga devataas, animals, trees, stone idols and these are identified as worshipping deities at that time. Definition Religion in India is more a direct experience than a code of conduct and from an early age different systems or margas (paths) have been prescribed for attaining the goal, variously called liberation, bliss and heaven. However, the different margas were not contradictory and in some respects they supplemented each other; for example proficiency in Jnana-yoga, Raja-yoga and Bhakthi yoga are demanded from the highest sadhakas (devotees). The word bhakthi is derived from the root bhaj by the application of the ktin suffix, which expresses an action, (Panini III, 3, 94) and means among other things service, devotion, attachment, loyalty, worship and homage. The Narada bhakti-sutra states that: According to the son of Parsara (ie Vyasa) bhakti is attachment to worship of God, etc. According to Garga, bhakthi is fondness for hearing the stories of the various sports of Lord; According to Sandilya, bhakti is such attachment to God which is opposed to self; According to Narada bhakti consists of offering all activities to God and inducing a feeling of extreme restless ness and misery at the slightest lapse in rememberance of God; and then the author of Narada-bhakti-sutra adds asty-evam-evam, that is bhakti is exactly as described above. Sri Sankara in his commentary on the Gita (VIII, 19, XIV, 26) says that worship is bhakti (bhajanam bhaktih) and defines ananya bhakti (Gita XI 54) as non-experience of anything other than Vasudeva. In explaining dhyana in the Gita (XIII, 24) Sankara says that meditation is a continuous and unbroken thought; like a line of flowing oil. The great protagonist of bhakti was Sri Ramanuja, to whom meditation (dhyana) and devotion (bhakthi) were interchangeable terms. Commenting on the first aphorism of the Brahmasutra he states: 'Meditation' means steady remembrance that is continuity of steady remembrance, uninterrupted like the flow of oil... steady remembrance of this kind is designated by the word 'devotion' (bhakthi); for this term has the same meaning as upasana (meditation or worship). Thus according to him, continuous meditation or dhyana is bhakthi which is a synonym of upasana. According Sri Madhvacharya bhakti and jnana are practically synonymous terms. In his Anu-vyakhyana (III, 4, p 51) he writes "Jnana being a constituent of bhakti, the latter is often referred to as jnana. Where the aspect of attachment is sought to be emphasized, their fusion is designated by the term bhakti. As mediacy and immediacy are integral parts of knowledge, similarly bhakti is particular kind of jnana. Thus whenever the scriptures speak of jnana as the means of release, bhakti is certainly indented. Sometimes the two are referred to separately". In the same context Sri Madhva declares "By bhakti one attains jnana, which leads to bhakti, when comes perception which again lead to bhakti; then come mukti, which is of the essence of bliss and (in the nature of) an end in itself". The supremacy of bhakti is made clear by Sri Madva in his commentary on the Brahmasutra (III, 2.19) where he observes that the soul's essential nature does not become fully manifested without bhakti. It is this conception of bhakti as propounded by Sri Madhva which formed the basis of the Haridasa Movement or bhakti movement. Haridasas and Bhakti Of the four sadhanas (paths) to liberation or reality ie Karma Marga, Gnana Marga, Yoga Marga and Bhakti marga most of the Karnataka Haridasas has recognised the last one, which was the easiest and most fruitful in their early life. Of all the passions the unappeased hunger of the heart of God, Bhakti is ultimate. Total surrender to the almighty is signal on the path of devotion. Based on the Upanishads, the Puranas and personal experience, the builders of the path of devotion have chosen to reach God by their master-servant mother-child, preceptor-disciple (Guru-Shishya), vatsalya (friendly) and madhura (love) Relationship. Love and devotion lead one to release from the trammels of worldly sufferings. The royal road starts with the directions in Bhagawatha Purana and the Geetha. Liberation is devotion slave. The two scriptures, the Srimad Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavata purana are considered to be one of the basis of the bhakti philosophy of the middle ages. The Gita as is well known is a part of the Mahabharata, while the Bhagavata is an independent work. Haridasas Lineage centered their affections on Vittala of Pandharapur as the patron deity of their order. There is evidence to show that Karnataka had cultural sway over Pandharpur and its neighborhood, where the worship of Vithala developed in ancient times, though the later days, the region passed under the political and cultural hegemony of Maharastra mysticism. Even as late as the time of the great Maharastra saint Janesvara, Vittala of Pandharpur was still spoken of as the deity beloved of the Karnataka Enshrined in Karnataka. The Dasas of Karnataka were thus the first to develop the cult of devotion to Vitthala and make it a living faith and a powerful instrument of mass uplift through the aid of their soul-stirring music and bhajana in the language of their province. Their example was subsequently taken up and carried further by the saints of the neighboring province of Maharashtra like Ramadasa, Tukarama and others. But the essential Features of this cult viz. emphasis laid on true devotion to Vithala and the comparative unimportance of social and caste barriers in the Spiritual realm, are to be found no less passionately voice in the songs of the early Dasas of Karnataka than in those of the Maharashtra saints. The Dasa Kuta may therefore be regarded as the earliest movement of religious devotionalism in the Deccan, and then it spread to other parts of upper India and produced kindred movements. Components of Bhakti Sri Narada-bhakti-sutra defines eleven components of bhakti. They are Guna, Rupa, Puja, Smarana, Sakhya, Kanta, Vatsalya, Madhurya, Atmanivedana, Tanmaya and Virah. Although bhakti is only one; this has been defined based on the liking and interest of the devotees. In the Srimad Bhagavata (II, I.21) it is stated that "being fully practised in meditation one attains bhakti-yoga in a short time", which indicates that bhakti is not a means to an end but the end itself. In the seventh chapter of the Bhagavata (VII, 5.23) the nine components of bhakti are enumerated as shrvana bhakti, kirtana bhakti, smarana bhakti, padasa sevana bhakti, archana bhakti, vandana bhakti, dasya bhakti, sakhya bhakti and atmanivedana bhakti. All Haridasas amazingly versatile compositions are illustrative of the above modes of approach to Paramathma through bhakti. These modes of approach are favored because of the difficulty of Jnana Marga, wherein God is conceived as Nirguna and Nirakara, remote and transcedental. In the 14th verse of Gita, lord Krishna says that the location of both Manas and Buddhi in Paramathma is adequate for the realisation of the Divine. Thus, Bhaktimarga is unique in transcending Karma Marga, Jnana Marga and Yoga marga and the easiest mode of approach to reality. To illustrate the Nine Forms of Bhakti; K Vasudevacharya has drawn a comparative study of Sri Thygaraja and Sri Purandra Dasa with their compositions respectively. It goes like this Comparative Study of Sri Thygaraja and Sri Purandara's Compositions on Nine Forms of Bhakti Nine Forms of Bhakti Sri Purandara Compositions Sri Thygaraja Compositions Shrvanam kathA Shrvana mAdO rAmakathA sudhi kIrtanam harinAma kIrtanE rathadE dhanyudi nAma kIrtanaparadu smaranaM smaranavOde sAlade smaranE sukhamU pAdasEvanaM bIde nInna pAdava srI rAmapAdama archanaM karagaleradu nInnarchisali nAmakusuM va.ndanam SharNu ninage.mbE va.ndanumU raghUna.ndana dAsyaM dAsana madIkO dAsOhaM AtmanIvEdanaM mAtapItaru ninaga.ndE mAridarEnna sw.aMtamani sarOja mUnu sama^rpaNamUjEU sakHyam ya.ndapIko.mbhe athadE..salpamanaya.du Source : K.Vasudevacharya : A Comparative Study of Sri Thygaraja and other Vaggeya Karas- Coimbatore, Sri Purandradasa Souvenir, 1964, 33p. Assumptions of Five Forms of Bhakthi (pancha vidha bhava bhakti kalpane) The components of bhakti has been narrated from narada-bhakti-sutra and Srimad Bhagavata and out of these components or aspects Five forms has been derived in order to explain the nectars of bhakti to elicit more knowledge from the haridasa sahitya. This is called pancha vida bhava. This five division of bhakti is only to excercise and to get more mileage out of it. The five forms of bhakti is : dasya bhava sakhya bhava madhura bhava vatsalya bhava shanta bhava dasya bhava carries the meaning that devotee is servant or God is treated as his holiness, master, swamy, king (dore), sir (dani), leader (odaya) etc. to him. While worshipping Sri Hari these forms are considered. Those who considered Sri Hari as King (odaya) and devotee as servant is called Haridasas. If you go further into the compositions, understanding of Haridasas these aspects can be further divided in to the following types : Ambition to become Haridasas and taking refuge with God for the same knowing much about how haridasas will be eager to join or mingle with other haridasas preaching yourself and others to become haridasas By pure devotion charging to become dasa and considering Bhagavantha (God) as King (odaya) and others are his servants and achieve the goal. sakhya bhava is knowing or have understanding of the knowledge that Sri Hari is utmost/superior and worshipping him in that mind is sakhya (friendly) bhakti bhava. In this form devotee himself considers that God is his friend and always will be with him. At time the devotee will question, punish, rag him (God) thinking that he is his friend and even he will show his anger towards him. But suddenly he will consolidate and comeback to normal. These things has been explained by Haridasas in their compositions very well. The importance of of sakya bhava is realized by the saint, for, he knows for good or evil a man's moral and spiritual outlook is altered by the ineffable influence of his comrade. Friendship is an incalculable enlargement of human responsibility, because it constitutes us, in a measure, as guardians of each other's soul, for there is a fuller and deeper self realization on either side. It is deliverance from bondage, a refuge from pride. The great gifts of the Lord as a comrade, makes the Bhakta recognizes his own deep unworthiness and how his head in unspeakable gratitude. The friendship of the Lord is not checked or foiled by the discovery of faults or blemishes in the Bhaktha, whom he has taken into His life; for the essence of friendship is entirety, a total magnanimity and trust. madhura bhava In this form devotee-bhagavantha are considered to be husband-wife form and worship is called madhura bhakti. The form is called madhura bhava. In this form there is no physical (body) relationship and it is only through atma-paramathma's evolution is madhura bhava. Some of them are considered that the sex which is very existence in man is the basement for this bhava. But only with pure love worshipping with Sri Hari is madhura bhava. In this bhava the devotee will be reach ecstasy when he gets Sri Hari and also suffer heavily when he feels separation with him. From the compositions of Haridasas madhura bhava may be again further divided into five fold to understand better. They are: inclination of Gopikas to see Krishna and invitation to him one seeing him and after his knotty plays; requesting him not to do the same reporting/complaining to Yashoda Gopikas abandonment (viraha) and other seperation assumptions. This form of bhakthi may cease to be sensual prurience of rebellious adolescence and become the true soul's ardor of a Radha to Krishna; then earthly beauty may be seen to be but a tiny, evanescent spray of the Immortal ineffable sea of splendor; the life may be deemed as a travail of the spirit towards fuller and longer realizations, and death not as grisly phantom, but as merciful awakening into a more spacious existence. The Bhaktha seeks the companionship of God all through, and the Paramathma is always a fellow traveler with him. He limps when the pilgrim limps, walks with the Bhakta when he walks, and induces him to move on till the very end. Samsara or family existence is full of sorrow and the individual is committing daily, either through the flesh or mind or the senses, sins of the spirit or of the flesh from which there is no escape except through th bhaktimarga. vatsalya bhava Though there is saying that 'mat^ru devObhava, pit^ru devObhava' devotees will consider God as their child and they consider them selves as mother for the God child. Having such assumption they will flow their vatsalya or parental fondess towards Sri Hari and look after him in that angle. This form is pure love which is equal to mother-child affection. It is this association that binds the two with the tie of blood as in the case of the mother and the child, and the little one is never weaned away from the mother, whose existence and movements are intuitively sense by the child. Like any mother who is considerate for her kid for whatever misdeeds they do when the kid gives smile she will forget everything and gives everything in her life for the welfare. All Haridasas has expressed this form through their songs in praise of Krishna and Yashoda. Haridasas fondness towards mother Yashoda and Krishna can be put into four different ways. They are: Mother Yashoda's fondness towards Krishna Hearing Complaints and knotty plays from Gopikas by Yashoda and Krishna's answer for all those complaints. Praising Yashoda's virtues and Haridasas happy feeling Other assumptions Haridasas have shown their own life that bhaktas do not fly from passions, but they transform them and raise them to a higher level where life is freed from the limitations of sense. The deepest and most intense of early passions of Bhakti for God then attains unlimited satisfaction and the marriage of soul and God is a harmony without discord, freedom without bond, reality without illusion, satisfaction without striving, love without longing, and life without death
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha May 15 2004, 10:56 PM from Japan
Posted by: Kaushal May 16 2004, 05:19 AM
Sunder, Sw. Paramaarthananda comes from a lineage of Sw.Chinmayananda and Sw.Dayananada (of Arsha Vidya fame). I transcribed by hand his lectures on the tattwabodha. They are a model of clarity and precision especially because of his command of English (must be a science graduated.gif). No i dont have his phone number, but as HH says one should be able to get it from Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in pa.
Posted by: k.ram May 16 2004, 05:22 AM
Introduction: WHAT IS AVATARA? We have heard of “Aarohanam” and “Avarohanam” in music. The former means the cadence moving from a low pitch up to a high one; the latter means the cadence coming down from a high pitch to a low one. “Avataara” means the Lord who is in the highest realms of Paramapadam chooses to come “down to earth”. This descent is called “Avataara”. WHO TAKES THESE “AVTAARAS” AND WHO DOES NOT? It is Sriman Narayana who is the “Bhagavan” and none else. Stories of the so called Avataras by lesser deities may be found in Raajasa Puraanas which are less authentic while Taamasa Puraanas are not authentic at all (e.g.) the stories of “Pittukku Mann Sumanthathu” and “Sutta pazham, Sudaatha Pazham” etc. episodes are not vouched by any Saatvika Puraanas and hence should be dismissed as imaginative. WHO IS THIS BHAGAVAN”? Bhagavan has been defined as one who possesses all the six essential qualities of Jnaana (Knowledge), Sakti (Power), Veerya (Valor), Tejas (Brilliance), Bala (Strength) and Aiswarya (Lordship). Ahirbudnya Siva himself says that it is only Sriman Narayana who possesses all these six qualities. WHY SHOULD BHAGAVAN TAKE “AVTAARAS”? Lord Krishna has made it clear in Bhagavad Gita Yadhaa yadhaa hi Dharmasya Glaanir bhavathi Bhaaratha/ Abhyuthaanam Adharmasya Tad Aatmaanam srujaamyaham// Whenever there is a decline in the natural order of the Universe, whenever there is a rise in evil beyond certain limits, I manifest myself” and Paritranaaya Saadhoonaam Vinaasaaya cha Dushkritaam/ Dharma Samsthapanaarthaayaya Sambhavami yugE yugE// To protect the virtuous, to destroy evil and to establish “Dharma’I recreate myself in every Yuga”. CAN HE NOT DO ALL THESE BY REMAINING IN HIS NITYA VIBHOOTHI?WHY SHOULD HE TAKE THE TROUBLE OF “COMING DOWN” TO US? He can do all these without coming down. But, it is to give us the reassurance that He is with the Sadhus by being in their physical proximity that He takes these Avataaras. The concept of Avataara is a distinguishing feature of Hinduism that is not present in any other religion. God's will is supreme. So, whenever He wants, He can take an Avataara. But, the most important of them all are known as “Dasa Avataara” – the 10 Main Avataaras. He can appear in this world as a concrete person and appear to be in flesh and blood though His body is Suddhasatva. and every such manifestation is called an Avatara He `touches down' earth so that we can `take off' to his high heavens. He `demotes' himself to our level so as to `promote' us to his level. He `descends' leaving his high pedestal to help us leave our mundane existence and ‘ascend' unto him. He ‘steps down' so that we may ‘step up'. He humbles himself to teach us realize how humble we really are. He manifests himself in `ridiculous' forms like fish, tortoise, boar, half-lion, dwarf etc to appeal to our `ridiculous perceptions' and help us `sublimate' our lives "The Impersonal Absolute God, descends as it were to the level of our mundane universe and makes his presence felt. The perfect God takes on, it seems, an imperfection in itself to appear as a living being in order to take us imperfect beings on the onward path to perfection. So, whenever an event takes place (as when the son of God appeared on Earth), the people of that time who had the beatific experience of God's proximate presence worshipped Him as God incarnate. These Avataars are the closest approximation to the divinity for us, who cannot see him in ourselves"1 (1: Dr.V.Krishnamoorthi, Retd. Professor,Pilani) He ‘lowers’ himself in order to ‘lift’ us up; He ‘stoops’ to our level so that we might ‘clasp’ his hands. He ‘debases’ himself in an attempt to ‘ennoble’ us. He enters ‘our homes’ to make us feel 'at home.' with him He ‘condescends’ to make us feel ‘worthy’ of him. HOW MANY TIMES HAS HE TAKEN “AVATAARAS’? “Avtaaraa: asankhyeyah” – Avataaras are countless. There is a saying that the Lord Himself has not kept a tab on the number of Avataaras He had taken! Down from the Vedas to Puraanas, as many as 100 + Avataaras have been identified but only 10 as the main Avataaras. WHY NO AVATAARAS SO FAR IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT IN THIS YUGA IS SAID TO BE WORST? For this, we have to look at the length of Yuga reckoning. Kali Yuga 432,000 human years Dwaapara Yuga (Dwa =two) 2 times Kali = 864,000 Treta Yuga (Tre= three) 3 times kali = 1296,000 Krita Yuga (Kri= 4 ) 4times Kaliyuga = 1728,000 Total 4320.000 or 4.32 million = 1 Mahayuga So, there are- 4 Avataaras in Krita (Matsya, Koorma, Varaaha and Nrisimha) 3 Avataaras in Treta Yuga (Vaamana, Parasuraama and Sri Rama) 2 Avataaras in Dwaapara yuga (Balaraama and Krishna) 1 Avataara in Kaliyuga (the apocalyptic Kalki, yet to be) DO THE AVATARAS HAVE ANY BEARING TO THE MODERN THEORY OF EVOLUTION? We cannot say so exactly. But in a way, we may derive a parallel: First, the creatures that live solely in water (Matsya); Then, those that can live in both water and land (amphibian) (Koorma); Then, those that live solely on land (Varaaha); Then Half-lion and Half-man - a stage between Homo sapiens and animals (Tiryaks) (Nara + Simha); Then, Homo sapiens with short stature (Vaamana); Then, the rough and tough and not so civilized human (Parasurama, Rama with the axe) Then, the Perfect example of Civilized human (Sri Rama, Rama with the bow) Then, one with occupational (say, Agricultural) skills (Balarama, Rama with the plough) Then, Superhuman (Sri Krsihna) Then, the apocalyptic (Kalki) WHAT DOES THE LORD GAIN BY THESE AVATAARAS? The only gain is that He enjoys the fun making this earth - His fun place. If you take the entire cosmos, Vedas say that Paramapadam known as Vaikuntam or “Nitya Vibhuthi” is 3/4ths and this Universe “Leela Vibhuthi” is the balance of 1/4th. WHAT IS THIS “LEELA VIBHUTHI”? This is Lord’s playground. Kambar says: “ulagam yaavaiyum,thaan ulavaakalum, Nilai peruthalum, neekalum neengala alagilaa vilaiyattudaiyaan avn padam saran naangale” Bhagavad Ramanuja in his invocatory slokam of his Sri Bashyam says- “ Akhila bhuvana janma sthema Pankhaadhi leele” (Leele means in play) IS THERE ANY CONNECTION BETWEEN ASHTAKSHARAM AND ITS RELATION TO 10 AVATAARAS? Pranavam has 3 letters a., u. and ma = 3 Na+ra+ya+na+ya = 5 Na+ma: = 2 Total =10 WHY 13 SLOKAS FOR 10 AVATAARAS? Azhwars and Avataaras Abinava Dasa avataaram = 10 Andal + Madhurakavi + Amudanaar = 3 Total = 13 "DASAAVATAARA STOTRAM OF SWAMI DESIKA"- INTRODUCTORY SLOKAM– DevO na: Subham AaathanOthu dasadhaa nirvarthayan bhoomikaam RangE dhaamani labda nirbhara rasaih adhyakshithO bhaavukai:/ Yad bhaavEshu pruthak vidhEshu anuguNaan bhaavaan swayam bibhrathee Yad dharmair iha dharmiNi viharathE naanaa kritir naayikaa// 1 MEANING: " May the Supreme Lord who descended down to earth in ten incarnations and acted, all in sport, a variety of roles on the massive stage of this earth and Mother Goddess who took appropriate roles and also presided over their drama as great Connoisseurs of histrionic arts – May the Divya Dhampathis shower on us their divine grace" COMMENTS: 1. The first Slokam is prefatory outlining the twin requisites of ancient dramatics of "Naandhi" and "Prasthaavana" 2. Naandhi = Prayer to Ishtadevata a Mangalaasaasanam Prasthaavana = Introduction of the "dramatis personae" and the roles donned by them. Both the "Sutradaara"(narrator) and the `NaTi" (actors) have to enter the stage in the opening scene itself. So, both Perumal and Thayar are mentioned in this Sloka. The last 2 Slokas present a summation (Padavakhyam) and Concluding remarks (Phalasruthi) 3. The first word is "Deva" and the last is "Nayika" establishing that the Divine couple together is the Lord of all, the basic tenet of our Siddhantam. 4. Subham = Prayer for eternal bliss and happiness which they alone can grant. 4. Na: = includes "us"- not only the actors but also the audience signifying active involvement and mutual gratification. 5. Bhumikaam = Stage, Costumes, and the World (Bhumi) - (All the world is a stage!) 6. Dasadhaa = 10 Scenes, 10 roles 7. Range Dhaamani = Holy city of Srirangam, the stage or the dais, this universe. 8. Labda = indicates "acquisition of a new experience hitherto unobtained" 9. Nirbhara = "Overflow" of the enjoyment like floods breaching the embankments. 10. Rasaih = is in plural indicative of the rich variety of bliss, a multifaceted experience. 11. AdhyakshitO bhaavukai: = Between (na:) Rasikas and actors (bhaavuka:), SD introduces "adhyakshita" (Presiding) the Chief patron of the kshetram, Lord Ranganatha Himself who is both "Vaktaa" and "bhoktaa" and enjoys the show in the company of Rasikas. 12. Prithakvideshu anugunaan = Swami Desika emphasizes the common intent and purpose of the Lord and the Lady who are inseparable, a condition that is "sine-qua-non" as per our Sampradayam. "Dwandam anyonya lakshyam". He seems to suggest that if it were not for Her Sankalpam, the Lord's Sankalpam would be vitiated by "Rasabangham", "Karyabangham" and "Dharma bangham" 13. Yath Dharmairiha Dharmini = She is one with the Lord in the discharge of His Dharma as "sahadharmiNi" 14. Iha = can mean in Srirangam, in this world, and "in every Avatara dasa" as "anthar bhoothai" and "pathni" 15. Naayika = may mean Sriranganayaki, also that she directs the show implying that the entire show is meant to bring out Her greatness. Is nor Ramayana called "Sitaayaa: Charitam mahath"? 5. 16. Naanaa kritir naayika = again, affirms the multifaceted roles she dons in different Avataras. 17. ViharatE = reemphasizes that both the Lord and the Lady "Play" their respective roles. In the drama in 10 scenes. Goto Top ________________________________________ “DASAAVATAARA STOTRAM OF SWAMI DESIKA”- MATSYA AVATAARAM. nirmagna sruthi jaala maargaNa dasaa dathakshaNair veekshaNai: antha: thanvadhiva aravinda gahanaan oudanvatheenaam apaam / nishprathyooha tharanga ringaNa mitha: prathyooDa paatha: chaDaa Dola AarOha sadOhaLam bhagavatha: maatsyam vapu: paathu na: //” 2 MEANING: “The Lord dived into the ocean in the form of a fish searched with His lotus eyes, rapidly viewing on all directions creating an illusion of lotus flowers blossoming everywhere - all in search of the Vedas that had been stolen by an Asura. The ebb and flow of the waves of the Ocean seemed to be a swinging cradle that soothed and almost lulled Him into a comfortable reverie. May this Lord of “Matsya Avataara” protect us” BACKGROUND STORY: It will be noticed that Swami Desika does not dwell at length on the story behind the scene in His drama. In some cases, he gives just a hint and in others he leaves it to the imagination of the readers. For the information of those not familiar with the story part, we give the background for a better appreciation of the Avatara Rahasyam and Swami Desika’s composition. STORY OF MATSYA AVATAARAM At the end of one of the Kalpas, after a day's strenuous work, as nightfall was approaching Brahma felt sleepy. As his eyelids closed and his mouth opened involuntarily for a yawn the Vedas slipped out of his mouth without his noticing. But a demon by name Hayagriva did not fail to notice this and hurried to devour the Vedas. Sri Vishnu who is all pervading and omniscient observed this and decided to retrieve the Vedas and restore them to Brahma to enable him to go ahead with his work of creation during the next Kalpa (day break). While Sri Vishnu could have wrested the Vedas from the demon by his sheer will-power (Sankalpa), he chose to wait for performing a two-in-one feat of conferring his blessings on a Bhakta, SATYAVRATA by name while destroying the demon. As the deluge (Pralaya) was near at hand, he decided to descend `down to earth' in the form of a `fish' to accomplish both the tasks. Satya Vrata was a great and good King. Once he went to the river KRITAMALA for offering water (Argya) during Sandya vandana. A small fish came into his hands as he cupped his palms to lift water. He dropped it back in the water. But every time he lifted water the fish was sure to get into his hands. The King left it in a tub but it grew so fast that the tub could not hold it. The king transferred into a well, pond, lake, river and finally the sea as it overgrew so rapidly that none of them could contain it. Satyavrata was amazed, when the fish revealed himself as Lord VISHNU. When the Lord asked the king what he wanted, he did not desire anything for himself. He did not even want Moksha. All that he sought was that even during the impending Pralaya, he should be instrumental in saving the life of worthy souls from destruction. The fish told him that on the 7th day from then a great deluge(Mahapralaya) would take place when a severe tornado would rip through the Universe and destroy it. But, if Satyavrata could muster herbs, seeds and a pick of beings he wanted for the next Kalpa and keep ready, the fish would send a spacious boat in which all of them as also the Saptarishis (7 sages) would be accommodated and saved. The fish advised that Vasuki, the serpent should be brought and used as a rope for fastening the boat to the horns of the fish. Satyavrata did exactly as advised by the fish and the entire crew was saved. As the boat sailed throughout the night of Brahma, Lord Vishnu taught Satyavrata and the Saptarishis what is known as “Matsya Purana.”. Thus, Vishnu saved true devotees from destruction and endowed them with divine knowledge. During the 7 day waiting period the Lord in his gigantic fish form sought after the demon Hayagriva, killed him in a straight fight and retrieved the Vedas. Thus, He accomplished the three tasks of saving the righteous, destroying the demon and retrieving Vedas for establishing Dharma. This SATYAVRATA later became the Manu during Chakshusha Manvantara. Swami Sri Vedanta Desika calls this Avatar as `ICHA MEENA' in his Dasavatara Stotra to indicate that the Lord took the form of a fish by his desire (Icha or Sankalpa) COMMENTS: 1. Swami Desika makes no mention about this story. Since Leela rasam is the main focus, SD highlights the salient Rasa anubhavam. Here it is “Ichaa”- desire. What is His desire? Taking the form of a huge fish swimming in the waters of the ocean. 2. Nirmagna Sruti jaala = Vedas that were submerged under the waters 3. Maargana dasaa= in the act of searching 4. Datta kshanai Veekshanai = casts His magic spell through His glances. The ebb and flow of the waters during the forceful swimming of the fish serves as a swing for the Lord! 5. In His hurry to search for the Vedas, His glimpses wandered hither and thither swiftly. So, like a rotating fireball that seems to be everywhere, his lotus eyes were also seen everywhere. 6. Unlike in the picture drawn by Raja Ravi Varma with a half-fish and half- human, the figure depicted by SD shows the figure as a behemoth fish precisely as it is seen in the Archaamurthis in the Dasavatara Sannidhi in Srirangam. 7. A subtle dig at the Lord can also be seen in this description. SD seems to suggest that whatever form the Lord might take, the unique specialty of His (Pundarika aksha) lotus eyes could not be camouflaged! In Stotra Ratnam, the Acharya describes “Matsya kamala lochanam”, SD goes a step further to say that when His glances wherever they fell created the appearance of bunches of lotus flowers in full bloom. 8. Why this phenomenon? Because the Lord moved so fast, His eyes directed in all directions so swiftly that the underwater seemed to be all lotus flowers. 9. As fish is believed to nourish its little ones by its sheer glance and therefore, known never to bat its eyelids - the MATSYA Lord would save His devotees by his mere glance. The dirt that gets accumulated in beings who languish in the ocean of SAMSARA - is cleansed by MATSYA Lord’s very glance. Goto Top ________________________________________ “DASAAVATAARA STOTRAM OF SWAMI DESIKA”- KOORMA AVATAARAM (Tortoise) avyaasur bhuvana trayii manibhR^itaM kaNDuuya nairadriNaa nidraaNasya parasya kuurma vapuSho nishvaasa vaatormayaH . yadvikShepaNa saMskR^ito dadhipayaH preN^khola paryaN^kikaa - nityaa rohaNa nirvR^ito viharate devaH sahaiva shriyaa . THE STORY: By the grace of God, the Devas were living happily and were resplendent with glory. Once sage Durvaasa went to the abode of Sri Vishnu and offered obeisance to Sri Vishnu and Sri Mahalakshmi (Consort of Sri Vishnu). He got a garland of Sri Mahalakshmi from a Vidhyadhara damsel. Earlier, the divine mother was pleased with performance of the damsel on Yazh, (a stringed musical instrument like harp) and had gifted the garland to her. While returning, Sage Durvasa passed through the Indraloka where Indra, Lord of Devas was coming in a procession mounted on his elephant. Durvasa offered the garland to Indra. Indra did not receive it with due respect but plucked it with the Ankusa (a goad used to spur the elephant) and placed it on the head of the elephant which promptly threw it down and trampled upon it. The sage got angry at the callous behavior of Indra and instantly cursed him and the Devas that all their glory and splendor would be lost and they would become emaciated and shorn of their power. Even as the sage turned his back, his curse started operating and the Devaloka lost its luster. Indra went to Brahma who led the Devas to Sri Vishnu, the protector. Lord Vishnu advised that they could reclaim their lost glory and strength only if they drank the nectar of immortality which could be got only by churning the milky ocean. But, how could they do it? Lord Vishnu suggested that they lift mount Mandara and place it in mid-ocean as a churn dashery using Vasuki, the serpent as a rope for turning it. But, weak as they were, Devas could not even think of lifting the mountain. Lord suggested that they make truce with the Asuras and enlist their support in a joint venture!. But, he also warned that the Devas should not desire any of the things emerging from the ocean even if the Asuras forcibly took them. They should not rest until the nectar appeared and he himself would ensure that the Asuras did not snatch it. Brahma returned to his Satyaloka and Indra set forth to the Capital of Asuras for peace talks. The Asuras were pleased and agreed to participate in the joint endeavor of lifting the mountain and churning. As they tried to lift, the burden of the mountain was too much and many on both sides got crushed. Lord Vishnu mounted the mountain on the back of `Garuda' his carrier, who flew to the seashore and safely deposited the mountain right at the center of the ocean. Vasuki was wound round Mandara. The Asuras out of ego would not settle for the tail side. So, they took charge of the head side of Vasuki, while the Devas had to make do with the tail side. As the churning began, the mountain wobbled as it had nothing to support and began to sink. Immediately, Lord Vishnu took the form of a giant sized tortoise, plunged into the ocean and emerged out with the mountain on his back. They churned now with ease. The first thing to appear was the deadly poison called Halahala or Kalakuta (black poison) representing the impurities of the ocean. The poison was so potent as to blind the eyes and affect breathing. Responding to the prayer of the Devas and Asuras, Lord Siva drank the poison. Parvati, his consort stopped the poison from descending down the throat. Hence, Siva is also called NEELAKANTA (Blue-throated). Then emerged SURABHI (the cow), VAARUNI (wine), KARPAKAM / PARIJATHAM (a tree), APSARAS (nymphs) CHANDRA (moon), SRI (Mahalakshmi), UCHAISRAVAS (the white sonorous steed ), AIRAVATHAM'(Indra's elephant). Finally, Lord DANVANTARI (the divine physician) who is none other than another incarnation of Lord Vishnu appeared with a golden pitcher with AMRUTHA (the nectar of immortality) - an elixir of life that can prolong life indefinitely. (It is also believed to have the properties that can change any base metal into gold) Both the Devas and Asuras were excited and a fight royal ensued. Lord Vishnu now took the form of a beautiful damsel, enticed the Asuras to give up their fight and entrust to her the task of distributing of nectar among them all, on condition that none would question her action. Both sides agreed to the condition. The Mohini (bewitching damsel) started distributing first to the row where Devas had seated. The Asuras waited for their turn. But, by the time she completed serving the row occupied by the Devas, there was not a drop of nectar left in the pitcher. Then, Mohini appeared as Lord Vishnu, mounted on his Garuda and flew to his abode. The Asuras, disappointed as they were charged on the Devas. But, the rejuvenated Devas easily vanquished the emaciated Asuras and regained their lost power and glory and the asuras were driven to Patala loka. It will be seen that Lord Vishnu did everything. He advised them how to get nectar, how to enlist support of their sworn enemies. He arranged to the lift the mountain. He deliberately allowed the asuras to be on the head-side of Vasuki which spouted poison and killed a number of asuras. He held the mountain on his back to enable the churning. He took the form of Danvantri and emerged with the pitcher of nectar. He again appeared as Mohini to ensure Devas and deprive Asuras of a share in the nectar. Without all this help, none of these could have happened and Devas would have been languishing from the effects of the curse of Durvasa forever. Sri Swami Desikan while describing this Avatara says "Vihara Katchapa" meaning that Lord did all this in sport assuming the form of a tortoise. He says that when the mountain moved during the churning, it looked as if it gently scratched the back of the tortoise and relieved it of its itching and in the relief so secured, the Lord actually felt sleepy. He imagines that as the waves of the ocean rose and fell, it looked as if it were a swinging 'waterbed' on which the Lord enjoyed the swing. Thirumangai Azhwar calls him a `GIRIDHARAN' meaning one who bore the mountain in anticipation of a similar feat the Lord was to exhibit in a subsequent Avatar as Krishna when he lifted the Govardhana Giri with his little finger COMMENTS: 1. Adrinaa: This means “mountain. This is the only reference to the story, nothing else. 2. In 12th Sloka, SD refers to “Vihara Kachchapa” = Sportily donned the form of tortoise. 3. Parasya Koorma vapushO = He roamed as the primordial tortoise (Aadhi Sri Koormam). “Parasaya” also refers to His “Parama purusha tvam” 4. Bhuvanatrayeem avyaasu: = SD indirectly alludes to the story of the world having been protected when Siva is said to have drunk the poison. Did Siva really drink the poison? Sruthi says “Vayurasmaa upaamanyath pinishta smaa kunannamaa kesee vishasya PatrEna yad RudrEna pibath sa:’ meaning that it is the Lord who drank the poison making Siva a vessel to hold it (vishasya PatrEna yad RudrEna pibath sa:) 5. ViharatE = "plays" - is in the present tense indicating that this Avatara is till not yet over. 6. Kanduuyanai: = means creating an itching sensation. When the mountain on His back like a churn dashery rotated during the churning, when the Devas and Asuras pulled it like in the rope pulling game, what could we expect except excruciating sense of itch for the Lord. But, what actually happened? He felt it so soothing that He was almost lulled into sleep!. SD goes further to say that during this “falling asleep” stage, he breathed so heavily that the waves of the milky ocean rose and fell as if it was gently swinging Him along with Piraatti and felt agreeably comfortable! 7. Does the Lord really sleep? He is a “Nitya Prabuddha”- ever awake and vigilant. In Yadhavabhyudayam SD makes a reference to this “Sleep- awake” situation in his own inimitable style where he suggests that the Lord was in deep meditation on how to distribute the nectar to the Devas while depriving the evil asuras, though the churning was a joint endeavor! 8. Sriya Sahaiy Eva = SD not only reaffirms the inseparable-ness of the divine couple but according to Acharyas’ Vyakhyanams, all these efforts of the Lord in - Suggesting to the Devas about the Churning of the milky ocean - Suggesting making peace with the Asuras as a military strategy to secure their cooperation, - Arranging to bring the Mantara mountain, - Bearing it on His back to stop its wobbling, - Advising Devas to hold on to the tail end of the deadly serpent, Vaasuki, - Appearing as Dhanvantari with the Pot of nectar - Assuming the guise of Mohini for distributing nectar to the Devas - All were done only with a view to secure for Himself the nectarine Mahalakshmi(amudhinum iniya penn amudai adaiya ivvalavu paaDu”) Goto Top ________________________________________ DASAAVATAARA STOTRAM OF SWAMI DESIKA” VARAAHA AVATAARAM (Wild Boar) gOpaayEth anisam jaganthi kuhanaa pOthree pavithree kritha brahmANDa: praLayOrmi gOsha gurubhir gONaaravai: gurguraih: / yath dhamshtra ankura kOTi ghaaTa ghaTanaa nishkampa nitya sthithi: brahma sthambham asoudasou bhagavathee mushEva visvambharaa // 4 MEANING: “At the time of the great deluge, mother earth was wholly drowned under the waters. The Lord took the form of a huge wild boar and diving deep under the waters salvaged Her. At that time, He exhaled so heavily making a roaring sound that purified the three worlds. The boar bore Mother earth who bears the entire universe firmly on His horn as if She was a tuber root stuck in it”. STORY: VARSHA AVATAR (Wild Boar) The Maanasa putras of Brahma viz. Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanaatana and Sanatkumara – visited the abode of SRI NARYANA. At the seventh entrance, the gate keepers, Jaya and Vijaya stopped them even though they had the right to meet with the Lord without prior appointment. Enraged at this, the RISHIS cursed them to be born in the world. The Lord appeared and approved of the curse but since they were repentant, modified the fiat by offering them to be born on three occasions as demons to be killed by himself in his three future Avatars after which they could re-enter the Kingdom of god. It is these Jaya and Vijaya who were born as Hinanya-aksha (Golden eyed) and Hiranya kasipu (Golden dressed) during the period of Varaaha and Nrisimha Avatars respectively; Ravana and Kumbakarna during Rama Avatar and Sisupala and Dantavaktra during Krishna Avatar and were killed by Lord Vishnu in the respective Avatars after which they ascended the Kingdom of God. In the first case, they were born to the sage KASYAPA and his wife THITHI. It is believed that the disposition of progenies would be determined by the time the parents united for procreation purposes. And, they were born with demoniac traits as the couple united at an inauspicious time. The two demons developed a hostile attitude towards Lord Vishnu and when sage NARADA narrated a prognosis of the next Avatar of NRISIMHA, they vowed to hide the earth under Patala so that they could prevent the manifestation of the Lord on earth. They set about to conquer the Devas with their newfound power and started tormenting virtuous souls. The Devas pleaded with Lord Vishnu, the protector and preserver of the Universe. He assured them that he would do the needful. Brahma was meditating on the Lord, when a tiny boar emerged from one of his nostrils. Even as Brahma wondered what it was, the boar grew in size and became as big as a huge mountain with a roar that reverberated through the universe, it took a mighty leap into the air and plunged down into the ocean and reached the fathomless Patala where mother earth (Bhumi Devi) was kept concealed by the demons. Digging his tusk, the boar lifted Bhumidevi and held her secure in its horn. Hiranyaksha was itching for a fight and when he confronted VARUNA, the latter pleaded inability to give a fight and suggested that he call Lord Vishnu who alone would be match for the demon. Hiranyaksha learned from Sage NARADA that Lord Vishnu had taken the form of a boar and was seeking to salvage mother earth from the hideout. Immediately, he rushed to charge the boar and hurled insults on the boar. The boar, however, ignored all the taunts as it measured the earth with one foot, in this Avatar, The Lord held the entire earth in His horn says POIGAI ALWAR. THIRUMAZHISAI ALWAR calls the MAHAVARAHA MURTHY as GNANAPIRAN. Other Alwars described him as BHUVARAHAN as the Lord lifted BHU DEVI and ADHIVARAHAN since He is the primordial Iswara. It is believed that this Avatar took place at the time of deluge ending the Padma kalpa. ANDAL praised the Lord since out of his love for BHUMIDEVI, he did not mind plunging into dirt and slime in order to retrieve her. To save devotees, he will not hesitate to take even the lowliest of forms and the form of the boar came only next to those of fish and tortoise. The same horn which tore apart the demon, also held gently the mother earth. Sri Swami Desikan in his Dasavatara stotra extols this avatar as `MAHA POTRIN' referring to the gigantic size of the boar. COMMENTS: 1. During the saving, Lord advised Bhudevi, which is known as “Varaaha Puraana” 2. Andal is none other than this Bhudevi reincarnated. 3. Tip of His single horn – “Eka Sringhee Varaahas Tvam” says Ramayana. 4. Anisam: “without night” i.e. always, while in sleep and while awake. (Cf Sadaa pasyanthi Sooraya:) In the previous verse, the Lord is shown as being lulled into sleep. Here, He is shown as fully awake all through! Anisam can also be taken as Paramapadam where it is always bright (athi raatram uthamam ahar bhavathi) 5. Varaaha is NOT a country pig as popularly believed but a huge wild boar like a rhinoceros 6. Nish kampa nitya sthithi = Holding the ever revolving, ever rotating earth firm and steady. The modern scientific concept of earth rotating is brought out here. 7. Viswam bharaa = Bhu devi bore the massive earth; the Lord bore her. Can we imagine the mammoth form of the Lord? It is said the Meru mountain looked like dirt at the feet of the boar. 8. How did mother earth look like? Mustheva = Like a small piece of root (Korai kizhangu) 9. SD describes Him as “Mahaa potrin” – Gigantic. Mahatvam is also a leela! 10. GONa aravair gurgurai: = The roar of the boar was verily the Varaaha Charama Slokam that is the ultimate promise of the Lord to the fallen souls! 11. Pavithree kritha Brahmaanda: = The sound issuing forth from the boar is said to be more forceful than the tornado at the time of deluge reverberating through all directions purifying the entire space. 12. Varaaha is also known as “Jnaana moorthi”- the source of knowledge. Goto Top ________________________________________ "DASAAVATAARA STOTRAM OF SWAMI DESIKA"- : NRISIMHA AVATARAM (Half-Lion, Half Human) Slokam 5 prathyaadishTa puraathana praharaNa graama: kshaNam paaNijai: avyaath threeNi jaganthi akunTa mahimaa vaikunTa kaNTeerava:/ yath praadur bhavanaath avandhya jaTaraa yaadrichikaath vEdasaam yaa kaachith sahasaa mahaasura griha sthooNaa pithamahi abhooth// Meaning "The King of VaikunTam Himself came down in the form of Lion-king. Discarding the antiquated conventional weapons, He converted His own nails as the weapon. He appeared in some pillar in the palace of the great Asura and rid it of its sterlity by delivering Him, thus transforming it as the Paternal Grandmother of Brahmas! May that Lord Nrisimha protect all the three worlds" THE BACKGROUND STORY NARASIMHA AVATAR (Man-Lion) On learning of the death of his brother at the hands of Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakasipu vowed to kill Bhagavan and his devotees (Bhaagavatas) who were engaged in a Yaga. With this end in view, he did penance propitiating Brahma and got several boons. That he should not be killed by any created thing, on earth or sky, at night or day, inside or outside, by man or beast, celestial beings or Asuras, by any poisonous beings alive or dead or by any weapons. He became invincible and commenced tormenting all good people.When he was busy doing penance, Indra took away Hiranyakasipu's wife, who was pregnant. Sage NARADA stopped him and proceeded to explain to her the glory of MAHAVISHNU. The fetus growing in the womb listened to the discourse of Sage NARADA and became an incorrigible Bhakta of Sri VISHNU.On return from penance with all the boons he got from BRAHMA, Hrianyakasipu proclaimed that he was himself God and nobody should pay obeisance to VISHNU. When the baby was born to Hrianyakasipu, he was named PRAHLADA meaning one that is supremely happy. When he came of age, PRAHLADA was sent to the Gurukula of his preceptor SUKRACHARYA. Sukracharya tried to inculcate the new syllabus of adoring Hrianyakasipu as God. However hard he tried, Sukracharya could not divert the attention of PRAHLADA from his attachment to VISHNU. Having failed in his efforts, Sukracharya complained to Hrianyakasipu who became angry with his son, roared and threatened him. But, nothing would move PRAHLADA from his devotion and determination to worship Lord Vishnu. When asked where from he got the courage to defy, the son replied he got the strength from the All-powerful VISHNU. - He ordered PRAHLADA to be cut asunder but only the weapon used got broken. - He had him cast away into the ocean but the Lord of the ocean brought him unaffected. - He was hurled from top of a mountain but the boy was saved by the gentle hands of Lord Vishnu. - He let snakes bite Prahlada but the Lord who reclines on Adisesha saved the boy. - He ordered elephants to trample him and - He ordered the boy to be burnt by fire. - But, Prahlada emerged unscathed every time. Hrianyakasipu became exasperated. Enraged, Hrianyakasipu vowed to kill Vishnu and then Prahlada. He asked Prahlada where Vishnu was and showed a pillar that was in his palace and asked if Vishnu was in it. Prahlada replied in the affirmative and asked him to say where He was NOT!Hrianyakasipu kicked the pillar with a bang. With a resounding crash the pillar cracked and, Lord Vishnu emerged from it in the form of half-lion half- man to substantiate the words of Prahlada. On seeing a creature that was neither human nor animal, Hrianyakasipu realized that it could be none other than Lord Vishnu himself. Almost instantly NRISIMHA seized him and crushed him in a close embrace but he slipped through his hands, and charged him with a sword.By that time, dusk had arrived which was neither day nor night, NRISIMHA carried the Asura to the doorstep where under the arch of the doorway he sat laying the Asura on his lap. Thus, it was neither earth nor sky, neither inside nor outside. NRISIMHA tore Hrianyakasipu to death with his claws. Claw is not a weapon, one that was neither alive nor dead. Periyazhwar explains why he embraced Hrianyakasipu before killing him saying that he was searching whether there was at least an iota of compassion towards his son. Since he did not find any, he decided to kill the Asura. Sri Swami Vedanta Desika while referring to this AVATARA says, that the pillar in the ASURA'S palace had the luck which other pillars elsewhere in the world did not enjoy because it was from there Bhagavan emerged thus ending her sterility. He jocularly remarks that by this, the pillar had become the grandmother of BRAHMA thus: Brahma is known to be "Pithaamaha" Grandfather. Vishnu is his father. By giving birth to Vishnu, the pillar had become Brahma's grandmother. He calls this Avatar "YADRUCHA HARE" meaning that the Lord appeared instantly and no preparations were made by him for his incarnation. That the Lord exhibited both his wrath and grace all at the same time is very well brought out in the Sloka 'Satapatala Bheeshane' in Swami Sri Vedanta Desika's Kamasika Ashtakam. When asked how it was possible that the two incompatible emotions could be perceived in the same personality all at once, Emperumanar is reported to have replied that the lioness even when pouncing on its prey, the elephant, would continue to breast feed with love its calf. COMMENTS: 1. Kshanam = In a trice, Suddenly. Nrisimha Emerged unexpectedly from the pillar 2. Paanijai: = Fingernails; They grow on the hands (paaNI+ja) and can be clipped without hurt. So, they are both alive and dead at the same time since Hrianyakasipu wanted NOT to be killed by anything living or dead! 3. Prathyaadishta Praharana graama: = Discarding the old routine weapons like disc, mace etc. known as Panchaayudham, Shodasaayudham etc. because the Lord had to deal with Hrianyakasipu without offending any of the contrary boons Hrianyakasipu had obtained from Siva. 4. Akunta mahimaa = One of immeasurable glory cf Andal's "Kurai onrum illatha Govindaa". 5. Threeni Jaganthi avyaath = It is such a one who can protect the 3 worlds 6. Vaikunta Kanteerava: = can mean both the Lion residing in Vaikuntam or the Lion called Vaikuntan. Since Hrianyakasipu wanted NOT to be killed by human or animal, the Lord took the Half-lion, Half-human form, which cannot be deemed as either human or beast! 7. Sahasaa = Immediately and with supersonic speed 8. Avantya Jataraa = The pillar was relieved of barrenness (Maladu) And, what happened? 9. Mahaasura Gruha Sthoonaa Piathaamahi abhooth = Swami Desika's imagination runs riot when he humorously says that the pillar in the great Asura's palace gave birth to the Lord thereby becoming the Grandmother for Brahma! Brahma is known as Grandsire (Pithaamaha); Lord Narayana is the father, having created Brahma; the pillar gave birth to Narayana in the form of Nrisimha and automatically became the grandmother to the grandsire himself! 10. Of all the leelas of the Lord, the most wonderful is that of Nrisimha. It is described as "Athiadbutham" more wonderful than that of Kishnaavatara described only as "adbutham". He had to devise a stratagem appropriate in form, time, location, and place, mode etc. without transgressing the opposite conditions Hrianyakasipu had demanded and was granted in the form of boons. 11. In 12th Sloka, Swami Desika calls the lord "yadruchchaa Hareh" This can mean that He took the form never seen or heard of before and that He took everyone by surprise including Hrianyakasipu, Brahma and Prahlada by suddenly appearing from a stone pillar! This is also another aspect of Leela. 12. Vedasaam: Brahmas: The word is in plural to indicate that there were several Brahmas from time immemorial. A story in Upanishads describe Brahma as a worm living inside the fruit of a fig tree imagining that the entire world was within the fruit it lived in, not knowing that there were numerous other Brahma worms inside the millions of fruits on the mother tree! There is also a Slokam that says that it may be possible to count the number of sands on the banks of the Ganges or the tiny drops when torrential rains lash but it is not possible to count the number of Brahmas who were born and disappeared! Gangaayaa: sikathaa: dhaaraa thathaa varshathi vaasave / Sakhyaa ganayithum lokE na vyatheethaa: pitaamahaah // 13. It used to be said that the Lord appeared to make the words of His devotee true. When Prahlada said that the Lord WAS in the pillar, He actually WAS there to prove him true. "Nija Brithya Baashitham" Who is the true Brithya here? Not only Prahlada but Siva also because He had to be true to every single faulty boon Siva granted to Hrianyakasipu! 14. Another episode, which some people project is, the story in which Siva is shown as taking a queerer form than Nrisimha as Sarbeswara and killing Nrisimha. This is a concocted story found in an unreliable Tamasic Sthala Purana. Exploding the myth behind this, it is said that "Saraba" perished like a firefly ("salabaha") falling into a burning flame that was Nrisimha! "Sarabaha SalabhaayatE". Note the alliteration! 15. Swami Desika variously describes Nrisimha as "Adbutha Kesari" (wonderful lion) "kaamaasikaa kesari" ( who became a lion of His own choice), "KapaTa Kesari" (deceitful lion) ,"kelee narasimham" (Playful), "Vishama vilochana" ( One who displays at the same time opposite emotions of anger at Hrianyakasipu and compassion at Prahlada) like a lion which even while pouncing ferociously on its prey continues to breast- feed her cub) Goto Top ________________________________________ DASAAVATAARA STOTRAM OF SWAMI DESIKA-VAAMANA AVATAARAM (The Dwarf) SLOKAM: vreeDaa vidha vadhaanya dhaanava yasO naasera dhaaTee paTah: trai aksham makuTam punan avathu na: TraivikramO vikramah: / yath prasthaava samuchritha dvaja paTee vrithaantha siddhaanthibhih: srOthObhih: sura sindhu ashTasu disaa soudhEshu dOdhooyatE // MEANING: “ When the Lord went to Mahaabali to beg for three footsteps of land, the bounteous Emperor Mahaabali felt ashamed of himself in offering the gift. When the Lord grew to show His Viswaroopam and measured the three worlds, the foot that went up seemed to be the flagstaff proceeding to proclaim the glorious bounty of Mahaabali. Brahma offered “Paadhyam” to this foot, while the sacred waters flowing from this fell on and sanctified the matted crest of hair of Siva and the eight directions. May that Vikrama’s foot protect us” THE BACKGROUND STORY: MAHABALI, the grandson of PRAHLADA was a virtuous king. He performed a sacrifice called `VISWAJIT' (conquest of the worlds) meaning that which bestows mastery over the three worlds. From out of the sacrificial fire arose a golden chariot, an armor and a coat of arms. Donning them, he set out on a `DIGVIJAYA' (Conquest of the directions). With the help of SUKRACHARYA his preceptor, he drove Indra and Devas to the nether world and occupied MAYAVATHI, the capital of Indra. BRIHASPATI counseled Indra to wait. Nothing could be done and MAHABALI would fall only if and when his preceptor cursed him for disobeying his command a situation that could be contrived only by Lord VishNu. Kaasyapa Rishi had another wife by name ADITI who was the mother of Devas.As the banishment of Devas took place at a time when KASYAPA had gone out for meditation, she awaited his arrival. And, when he returned she narrated the happenings. KASYAPA and ADITI performed a `PAYOVRATA' - (penance for 12 days when the sacrificers could drink only milk). This was done to propitiate SRI VISHNU. Vishnu was pleased and appeared before them and told that he would be born as the youngest son of ADITI and would help in restoring the glory of Indra. Accordingly he was born during a bright fortnight of the month Bhadrapada. The baby immediately grew up to be a short statured Brahmin Brahmachari (celibate) called VAMANA. This Brahmachari entered the sacrificial grounds of BALI who was performing Aswamedha (horse sacrifice). He was resplendent and shone like a thousand Suryas. Bali was amazed, received him with due honors and requested what he wanted - cows, elephants, horses, gold, chariots and promised that he would give whatever VAAMANA wanted. Vaamana said that he did not desire any of these but wanted that much of land as measured by three steps in his stride. BALI readily agreed and asked his wife to bring water for consecrating water in his palm. His Guru, Sukracharya realized that it is only Lord VishNu who had come in the garb of a Brahmachari and prevailed upon BALI to retract from his promise. But, Bali insisted saying that if Lord VishNu himself were to seek alms from him, there could no greater glory for him and he would not retract. Sukracharya became angry and cursed him that he would soon fall from his high position. And, SRI VISHNU was waiting exactly for this moment. Soon after the consecration VAAMANA grew and grew so tall that all those who witnessed were amazed to witness such a phenomenon. Vaamana became TRIVIKRAMA and began to measure the three paces. By the first he strode like a colossus and covered the earth. By the second, he measured the Heavens. And, asked BALI where was he to measure by the third pace. BALI bowed low to Vishnu and prayed VIKRAMA to place his foot on his head. Lord VishNu sent him to Sutala to rule there and thereafter to enjoy for a whole Manvantara, the position of Indra. The three steps are compared by a commentator to three fiery manifestations of the Lord Viz., Flame, Lightning and the Sun-the flame ablaze the terrestrial sphere, the lightning illuminating the atmospheric sphere and the Sun darting across the celestial sphere. Thus, in this Avatar the God of majesty and power took a dwarf's stature, begged MAHABALI on behalf of his devotee, Indra and at the same time ensured MAHABALI, Lordship of the Sutala, the nether world and thereafter the position of the next Indra in Savarni Manvanthra. It is believed the Lord is still guarding the palace of MAHABALI and had conferred immortality to MAHABALI in recognition and appreciation of his steadfastness in upholding his promise. Swami Vedanta Desika describes this Avatar as `Raksha Vaamana" - Vaamana whose only objective is protecting those who surrender to him. Indra surrendered and on his behalf he took a lowly form of a dwarf. As MAHABALI surrendered to God when he bowed before the Lord, the Lord assumed the role of a watchman to guard his palace. Since he did not desire to dishonor MAHABALI, the grandson of an ardent devotee, Prahlada, He stooped even to beg of him three paces of earth and desisted from wresting earth by force. Also, Bhagavaan had promised to Prahlada that he would not kill any of his family members or descendants. So, he had to avert a fight, which would have entailed Mahaabali's death. The only way he could wrest earth was begging and begging for a living was the prescribed vocation for a Brahmin especially a Brahmachari. Thus, he protected both Indra and Mahaabali without bloodshed. An interesting point which is little known is that when Mahaabali once complained to his grandfather, Prahlada about the decline in the prosperity of his kingdom, Prahlada told him that it was due to the disrespect shown by Mahaabali to the Lord. Mahaabali asked arrogantly who was this VishNu that stood in his way. Prahlada could not bear to hear such a haughty reply and cursed Mahaabali that he would soon be banished from his kingdom. Sukracharya's curse only added fuel to the fire of the curse of Prahlada. Together, the two curses brought the downfall of Mahaabali. Though, in fact, Lord VishNu (the rightful lord of the Universe) was only reclaiming what belonged to him and in the process seemed to check up the measurements since he did it by begging alms- considered an unedifying act, he shrank and looked dwarfish and small - all as a supplicant before MAHABALI who looked great as a bestower - a fact that had to be recognized. ANDAL refers him as "ONGI ULAGALANDA UTHAMAN' - the noble one who measured the earth by assuming gigantic proportions - to prove that he measured his own property. Who is a “Uthaman”? One who helps others expecting a ‘quid pro quo’ is an “adhaman”. One who helps without expecting anything in return is a ‘madhyaman’. One who beliitles himself, not minding the dishonor to one’s self, yet goes out to help others is “Uthaman”. Here the Lord belittled Himself to help both Indra and Mahaabali. Hence, He is “Uthaman”. Even as pilot goes before a VIP, the foot of Trivikrama when it reached the high heavens proclaimed the glory of MAHABALI'S bounty COMMENTS: 1. This is the ONLY Avatara that is mentioned in the Vedas“Idam Vishnu VichakramE Tredaa nidadE padam”. 2. When the Lord took Viswaroopam, He shone like the combination of the terrestrial flames, the atmospheric lightning and the celestial Sun. 3. Because the Lord had promised to Prahlada not to kill any of his descendants, He had to resort to a strategy to dispossess Mahaabali. The best way that could be done is by begging a gift from Mahaabali. Naturally, out of shame as one with a begging bowl, the Lord had to appear in a diminutive form before Mahaabali, Hence, the dwarf Vaamana! 4. Vreeda vidtha= Overcome with shyness. The Sruti says that Daanam should be given with shyness and humility. “hriyaa dEyam” Hence, Mahaabali offered gift in this spirit. 5. Vadaanya = Generous. Vada + anya. When one gives Daanam, the donor should feel he had not given enough. His bhaavam should be to ask the recipient Please tell (Vada); “Do you need anything more?” (anya).This is the frame of mind of the generous Mahaabali. 6. Daanava Yasah naaseera Dhaatee patah = The glory of the Asura King was such that when the Lord took the form of Trivikrama and grew, His foot reaching up the high heavens seemed to act as a pilot declaring his glory of a VIP spearheading his army (naaseera). 7. Trai aksham makuTam Punann = Sanctifying the head of the three eyed Siva because the waters flowing from Lord’ feet cleansed with the kamanDalam waters offered by Brahma in SatyalOkam flowed down and was held in the locks of hair of Lord Siva, the locks became purified! 8. The TiruvaDi of the Lord appeared as the flag post; the Ganges looked like the flag (dvaja patee) declaring to all the worlds the glory of Mahaabali’s generosity. 9. It is interesting to note that when one raised His foot (Trivikrama), one offered Paadhyam and washed it (Brahma) and a third one’s head got sanctified by the holy waters (Siva)! This establishes without any doubt as to who is Para dEvata. 10. Why did Mahaabali fall? His Guru Sukracharya cursed him when he disobeyed him by insisting on granting alms to Vaamana against Guru’s protests. Once, puffed up with pride, he challenged his grandfather, Prahlada denigrating the Lord so dear to Prahlaada; Prahlaada spelled a curse that he would lose his possessions. The twin curses led to his downfall. 11. Swami Desika in the 12th Sloka calls Vaamana “Rakshaa Vaamana” – One who protected. This is because he did not kill Mahaabali; Instead, He spread the glory of Mahaabali in all the 8 quarters (Ashtasu disaa soudeshu), sending him down to rule over the nether world of Soothalam and finally assuring him the post of Indra in the next manvantara. Goto Top ________________________________________ DASAAVATAARA STOTRAM OF SWAMI DESIKA-PARASURAMA AVATARAM (RAMA WITH THE AXE) SLOKAM 7 KrOdha agnim jamadagni peeTana bhavam sam tharpayishyan kramaath a-kshathraam iha santhathas cha ya imaam tri:sapta kritva kshithim / Dathvaa karmaNi dakshiNaam kvachana thaam aaskandhya sindhum vasan Abrahmanyam apaa karOthu bhagavaan aabrahma keeTam munih // MEANING: “ When the fire of the fury of the Lord as a Sage was roused by a king who killed his father Jamadagni, He wiped out with a vengeance 21 generations of the Royal clan from the face of the earth. Later He gave away the earth in a Yagjna and retired to a land, which He reclaimed, from the Sea. Let this Lord rid the miseries of the world right from the four faced Brahma to the lowest of creatures” BACKGROUND STORY: KARTHAVEERYARJUNA, the ruler of HEHAYA was a great king. He got boons from Datta AatrEya and other deities to become invincible. Puffed with ego due to the newfound powers acquired by him, he became tyrannical and began tormenting every one. Once, he even tried to confront Ravana, the ruler of Lanka but was defeated and so he made truce with him. With a thousand arms, with weapons and power, with a powerful ally in Ravana, nothing could stop him from his evil ways. It is to quell Karthaveerya and his ilk and to protect the righteous from his claws that Lord Vishnu descended down to earth and was born as BHARGAVA RAMA the youngest of the five sons of Jamadagni and Renuka. Jamadagni's father was RISHIKAN who married a Kshatriya girl SATYAVATI, daughter of one KHADI. Because of this Varna sangaraha (mixing up of castes) and other circumstances, BHARGAVA Rama though born as a Brahmin exhibited Kshatriya traits and had a liking for weapons, archery etc. Indeed, his favorite weapon was an axe, which he got as a gift from Siva. Parasu means Axe. Hence, he was called PARASU RAMA. Once, when the five brothers had gone out, Karthaveeryaarjuna entered the hermitage of Jamadagni and demanded food for himself and his retinue. With the help of Kaamadhenu, Jamadagni got food prepared for the host of guests. Karthaveerya knowing this demanded Kaamadhenu. But, Jamadagni would not part with it. The king forcibly took away the cow and the calf. When PARASU RAMA learnt of the incident, he marched towards MAHISHMATI, the capital of the king. The king dispatched 17 battalions of Ratha (Chariots) Gaja (elephantry), Turaga (Cavalry) and Pathadhi (infantry) each one called an Akshouhini. Single-handed, PARASURAMA destroyed the entire lot and then cut off the thousand arms of Kaarthaveerya and killed him with his axe. Retrieving Kaamadhenu and her calf, he returned to the hermitage where life was proceeding peacefully for some time. On another occasion, Renuka who went to fetch water from a nearby river happened to see some celestial Devas playing. Since her attention was distracted, it became too late when she returned with the water required. Jamadagni got angry and asked his sons to behead her. But, none would carry out his commands. Then entered PARASU RAMA when his father ordered him to behead not only Renuka but also his brothers. Without hesitation, PARASU RAMA carried out the orders. Pleased, the father asked what boons he wanted. All that PARASU RAMA wanted was that his mother and brothers should come alive and be oblivious of whatever had happened. Jamadagni granted the boon and they did come alive and life was again peaceful at the hermitage. But, not for long. Kaarthaveerya's sons stormed the hermitage to avenge the death of their father Only Jamadagni and Renuka were there at that time, Ignoring the pleadings of Renuka, they cut off the head of Jamadagni who was deep in meditation. Renuka was beside with grief and was crying aloud as PARASU RAMA returned. She beat her breast 21 times. PARASU RAMA vowed that he would wipe out 21 generations of Kshatriyas and proceeded to do the `Samskaras' for his father. Jamadagni gained the realm of the seven Rishis (Saptarishi mandalam). PARASU RAMA carried out his vow, wrested the land and properties of Kshatriyas and finally gave them away to sage KASYAPA and retired to the southwest corner of India. Swami Sri Vedanta Desika describes him as 'ROSHA RAMA' (Indignant Rama) When, Parasu Rama confronted Dasaratha who was returning from Mithila after the wedding of Rama and Sita, RAMA the AVATAR took back all the powers of PARASURAMA since the purpose of PARASURAMA AVATAR was completed. Parasurama threw his axe into the western ocean. The ocean receded upto the point where the axe fell and the land so reclaimed is known as Parasurama Kshetram. Scholars say that modern Kerala is this Kshetram. This Avatar is not a direct Avatar. Lord Vishnu entered the soul of a Brahmin son of Jamadagni (By Avesa or Anupravesa). Of the 10 Avatars, except Parasurama avatar all the others are Amsa avatars (i.e.) Direct descent of Lord Vishnu COMMENTS: 1. We can find shells called “Kilinjals” in Kerala even today to substantiate this event. 2. It may be noted that in the entire Stotra, this is the only one having some details of the story. 3. Abhramanyam apaakarothu: = This is the shrill call usually signaled whenever anything was noticed against the SAtvika Brahmins in those days. Amaram says- “Abhrahmanyam avadhyokthaih” 4. This story shows that gifting landed property (Bhoo daanam) was the greatest gift. 5. It also shows that Brahmins are born not only take Daanam but they also give Daanam. 6. Yet another lesson is that one should not desire to stay on land already gifted away. 7. Sam tharpayishyan = This refers “Tarpanam” made with blood (Kurudhi Tarpanam) 8. Tris sapta krutva = 3 x 7= 21 times his mother beat her breasts and he vowed to destroy 21 generations of Kshatriyas. 9. Bhagavaan Munih = Nowhere else has this peculiar expression of “Muni” employed. Why? To denote that this was not a Poorna Avatara but only an AavEsa Avatara, in which the Lord entered the soul of a Muni. 10. In 12th Sloka, SD refers to this Avatara as “ROsha Rama”. “ROsham” does not mean mere anger but the spirit of revenge for injustice, which is a natural instinctive response of a Kshatriya. As will be seen from the story, though he was born in a Brahmin household, due to some circumstances, he acquired the characteristics of a Kshatriya. Goto Top ________________________________________ “DASAAVATAARA STOTRAM OF SWAMI DESIKA “SRI RAMA AVATARAM” (RAMA WITH THE BOW) (The Prince charming-the personification of righteousness) SLOKAM 8 paaraavaara payO visOshaNa paareeNa kalaanala – jwaalaajaala vihaara haari visika vyaapaara gOra kramah / sarvaavastha sakruth prapanna janathaa samrakshaNaika vrathee dharmO vigrahavaan adharma virtheem dhanvee sa thanveetha na: // MEANING: “ He can, with His bow and arrows wreak havoc on everything and dry up the vast bodiess of waters of great oceans like the fierce fire-force of deluge. His valor is incomparable and unsurpassed. Yet, His compassion is so great that if one were to surrender at His feet for once, He has vowed to afford protection as a matter of principle and policy, whatever the circumstances, even at the risk of His own life! Let that Lord Rama, the wielder of the mighty bow, the Greatest of heroes and who is Dharma personified, save us” BACKGROUND STORY As most of our readers would be aware of the story of Ramayana, we do not propose to retell the story except to highlight some little known aspects in the well-known story. COMMENTS: 1. It may be noted that there is no mention of Ravana in this Sloka. 2. In the first 2 lines, the valor of Rama is spoken of to show His “Paratvam” with reference to the power of His bow (Dhanvee). Since this word pairs with “Thanveetha” (Protect), Swami Desika seems to suggest that He could protect because of the prowess of his Dhanus (bow) 3. In the next 2 lines, His compassion gets mentioned to show His “Soulabhyam” in protecting anyone who surrenders to Him. That is why, SD calls Him (personification of Dharma)“ Vigrahavaan Dharma:” and “adharma virathi” (destroyer of evil) the twin objectives of Avatara Rahasyam. 4. There is a misconception about Rama worshipping Siva in Rameswaram. This is NOT mentioned in Srimad Vaalmiki Ramayanam nor in Kamba Ramayanam. It is Tulasidas who imaginatively introduced this in his “Rama Charita Manas” 5. Another instance of an incorrect interpretation which people make relates to the pious lady SABARI. The popular notion is that she bit the fruits and saved the good ones bearing her spittle for offering to Sri Rama. This is not correct. All she did was to taste a sample of fruit from each tree in her garden and throw away the bitten one but left the other fruits to remain on the same tree, provided the one she had tasted, tasted good. This is because Sabari knew that it would amount to defilement to offer to the Lord the remains of anything that she had partaken earlier 6. The incident in which Sri Rama is said to surrender to the Ocean King that went futile shows that only surrender by a weaker person to a capable person will be fruitful and the reverse will be in vain. Rama had both Sakti, Veeryam etc unlike the Ocean king. 7. Sakruth Prapanna Janathaa = indicates that Prapatti is the ONLY sure means for Moksha- a cardinal concept in our Sampradayam. 8. RAVANA was the brother of KUBERA. He became so powerful that he even made the nine planets to be the steps leading to his throne. Because he attempted to rape RAMBHA, the wife of NALAKUBARA (son of Kubera), she cursed that Ravana's head would be smashed into smithereens if he attempted to rape any woman. Incidentally, that is why he did not force Sri Sita when he abducted her. 9. The most important aspect of Ramayana is the vow of Sri Rama to protect those who surrender unto him. Sri Swami Desikan has aptly described this `Quality of mercy' of the Lord referring to Rama as "KARUNA KAKUTSTHA". He is “Compassion incarnate”. No other event in the entire Ramayanam t brings out this aspect more than the “Kaakaasura” incident in which Indra’s son took the form of a crow and tormented Sri Sita. When King Raghu went to help Indra in a war against Asuras, he did so on condition that he would ride on the hump of a bull and Indra was to act as the bull. “Kakuth” means hump of a bull. Remembering that some ancestor of the Crow (Indra) helped some ancestor of his own; Rama took compassion on the crow and spared its life, taking away only one its eyes. 10. In the hermitage of SUDEEKSHANA, Rama says to Sita that he would not mind laying down his life or deserting both her and Lakshmana but he would never give up his vow to protect those who surrender to him even if it be his arch enemy, RAVANA. 11. He vowed also that He would treat anyone who created trouble for the Satvic Rishis as His own enemies. So, it is for this reason that He killed the Asuras even though they did no harm to Him personally 12. Nammazhwar asks, "Will any one who desires to learn, learn anything other than Rama?” "KARPAR RAMPIRANAI ALLAL MARRUM KARPARO". Why? Because, Rama is fills the minds of anyone who thinks of Him. 13. ANDAL who commenced eulogizing Lord Krishna in her Tiruppavai calls Lord Rama as “manathukku iniyaan”. This is because she reminds Krishna how as Rama the Lord took so much pains to build a bridge, take a whole battalion of vaanaraas, fight fiercely and destroy Ravana and his army. All for the sake of one woman, Sri Sita!She seems to have a dig at Krishna whether he would not take a leaf of lesson from this incident, in the case of the multitude of Gopis who were pining only for His love and affection! 14. The very word Rama is derived from the statement “ramayathi ithi Raamah 15. Swami Desika has written in the Gadya style a great work entitled "MAHAVEERA VAIBAVAM" otherwise known as `RAGHUVEERA GADYAM' in lucid style bringing out the glory of Ramayana. 16. This is a PURNA AVATAR (Complete incarnation) of Mahavishnu himself, Lakshmana that of Adhisesha (couch) Satrugna the aspect of Panchajanya (conch) and Bharatha the aspect of Sudarsana (Chakra). 17. Compassion is also an aspect of the Lord’s leela. Goto Top ________________________________________ DASAAVATAARA STOTRAM OF SWAMI DESIKA “SRI BALARAMA AVATARAM” (RAMA WITH THE PLOUGH) SLOKAM 9: Pakkath Kowrava paTTaNa prabruthaya: praastha pralambaadaya: Thaalaankasya tathaa vidhaa vihruthayas thanvanthu bhadraaNi na: / Ksheeram Sarkara yEva yaabhir apruthak boothaa: prabhoothair guNai: Aa-kowmaarakam aswadantha jagathE krishNasya thaa: kELaya: // MEANING: “May the exploits of Sri Balarama like his turning upside down Hastinaapura, the capital of the Kauravas, his wiping out the Rakshasas like Pralambasura do us all the good. Right from childhood, Balarama was inseparably involved in the sporting activities of Sri Krishna making them more enjoyable, like the inseparable sugar dissolved in milk therby heightening its taste.” BACKGROUND STORY: This Avatar and that of Sri KRISHNA happened in Dvaparyuga. Vasudeva's first wife was Rohini. The second wife was Devaki. For the seventh time Devaki conceived and it was Balarama. But, Lord through His `Yogamaya' had the fetus transferred from the womb of De
Posted by: Sunder May 16 2004, 11:02 AM
QUOTE (Kaushal @ May 16 2004, 05:49 PM)
Sunder, Sw. Paramaarthananda comes from a lineage of Sw.Chinmayananda and Sw.Dayananada (of Arsha Vidya fame). I transcribed by hand his lectures on the tattwabodha. They are a model of clarity and precision especially because of his command of English (must be a science graduated.gif). No i dont have his phone number, but as HH says one should be able to get it from Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in pa.
Thanks HH & Kaushal.. From the Arshavidya site, I have the contacts ( ) I shall call them sometime today or during the week. thanks again smile.gif
Posted by: Spinster May 18 2004, 11:04 AM
some of the books mentioned by Sunder garu are available in Eglish from Chinmaya trust. I have read Atma Bhodha viveka Choodamani commentary by HH Chinmayananda, I have accumulated lot more books but have yet to touch them. About Adhyatmaka Ramayanam, the telugu version is available on cassette. The translated lyrics in telugu are so great and sweet, I wonder if the samkritham version must be oozing nectar. The telugu translation of the Adhayatmaka Ramyanam was by 15th century (either contemporary of Annamacharya or earlier to him) by Munipalli kavi who is supposed to have lived around Chitoor district of AP. fyi regards
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Jun 6 2004, 01:51 PM
ShaShTi ShaShTi is the wife of the terrible 6-headed lord of the bhUtas. She is the daughter of yama or indra. When grandson of manu was still-born he was revived by the great ShaShTi. She is also known as devasenA or senA and is worshipped on the shri pa~nchamI, the 5th day after dIpAvali. A tarpaNaM performed to her and kumAra with the mantras from the bodhAyana dharmasUtra. Usually the tarpaNaM is performed under a large ashvatta tree or some other tree. A cat’s face may be draw on a cloth or a leaf and left there as to invoke her. Then a cat is offered milk as it is the vAhana of ShaShTi and she is supposed to accept offerings that form. This day marks her marriage with the great kumAra. She is also invoked on the 6th day after the birth of a child to keep away the awful agents of her husband from obliterating the child. She is accordingly invoked in the Ayushya homa performed for safe-guarding the lives of kids. She is worshipped by thieves and knaves on the 6th day of the waning moon for success in thievery. Another important rite of ShaShTi is the AraNya ShaShTi that is performed around May-June during the first 6th digit of the waxing moon. The rite is usually done under a kadamba tree in a forest, where an idol of ShaShTi may be installed. Then oblations are offered in the fire with the AraNya sUktaM of the R^ig veda and then a tarpaNaM for kumAra and devasenA is done. An oblation is also offered to the mAtrika lohitAyani, a female gaNa of kuMAra. Then food is left for a fishing cat or a lynx and women are given a thread to wear around their wrist. ShaShTi is invoked as residing in the bindu at the heart of the ShaTkoNa yantra perpetually conjoined with kumAra. She is shining blue in color and is held in the tight embrace of the red kumAra, with his hands around her saffron-smeared full breasts, even as he draws her glorious face closer to this own central face. Seated on his lap she plays with the opposite face of the kumara which is in the form of a goat. ShaShTi and kumAra are depicted frequently on the coins of the yaudheya janapada.
Posted by: Mudy Jun 20 2004, 07:55 PM
In Ramacharitamanas, in begining one can find Prashnavali. Who is first creator of Prashnavali? Tulsi Das or Valmiki.
Posted by: Ashok Kumar Jun 21 2004, 05:11 PM
Mudy, Prashnavali was created by Tulsidas. It is not found in Valmiki Ramayana. Times of India has a link to online Prashnavali under Astrology section.
Posted by: k.ram Jun 22 2004, 10:51 AM
20th International Conf - Ramayana -Spiritual Dimensions- Tirupathi - 22-24 Aug - is being organized by The Oriental Research Inst. Sri.Venkateshwara University. This is a mega programme Details can be obtained from Prof. V.Venkateshwar Reddy Organizing Secretary 20th International Conf - Ramayana Oriental research Inst. Sri Venkateshwara University Tirupathi - 517 502 (AP) Bharath (India) Ph.No. (o) 0877 2249666 ext 291 ® 0877 -224409 mobile : 09849121316 email : A souveneir is being brought out too for the occasion.
Posted by: rajesh_g Jun 27 2004, 11:53 AM
I have been watching "Ramayana" lately. Watched "Bali-Sugreev" episode yesterday. I thought Bali's question "Hey Rama why did you kill me while hiding - how can this be justified by dharma" was not explained properly. What do different sources say about this episode ? My aunt and wife were watching it too. My aunt said "yes this was wrong and he had to repay this when Krishna was killed in a similar manner". What do other sources say ?
Posted by: Sunder Jun 27 2004, 12:16 PM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Jun 28 2004, 12:23 AM)
I have been watching "Ramayana" lately. Watched "Bali-Sugreev" episode yesterday. I thought Bali's question "Hey Rama why did you kill me while hiding - how can this be justified by dharma" was not explained properly. What do different sources say about this episode ? My aunt and wife were watching it too. My aunt said "yes this was wrong and he had to repay this when Krishna was killed in a similar manner". What do other sources say ?
IIRC, according to Valmiki Ramayana, Sri Rama gives a proper and fitting explanation. You will have to read between the lines to understand the full impact of HIS assertive reply to Vaali. Rama says : "I am The KING, and you are a Creature. I can kill you openly and overtly, or hidden or covertly, as I choose." If Vaali did not die that day by Rama's arrows, would have died of TB, or old age, (or a vimana crash) sometime eventually. Any ephemeral being, SHOULD, MUST and WILL die (or leave the body.) How this is done is not the creature's choosing (when I say creature, it also includes humans, and includes me.) None but the Vidhatha can choose how and when a creature should leave it's body. Or, how and when it should get a new body. This is Rama's answer when taken to be the Paramatma. Rama's answer, when taken as an ordinary human Prince, is also justified in the following dialogue... Rama: Vaali, you had wrongfully driven away your brother Sugreeva (the Strong necked one.) and had unlawfully kept his wife as your own. Abduction of another's wife is illegal. Vaali: Raama, you are a human being. and your rules do not apply to the vanaras. Among animals, it's always the strong taking many wives.. ...dialogue contiues... Rama: In which case, Oh Vaali, I am a Prince - a Kshatriya - and as a Kshatriya, I have full rights to kill any animal as I choose. I do not need it's permission to do so. ---------------- (for the records, I used to be a Rama-dweshi (Rama hater) when I was a teen. I was a staunch Shiva Bhaktha, and hated any mention of Vishnu.. smile.gif Then the ignorance was washed away... now I KNOW Rama. He is my Master, He is my King, He is my All. He is Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, Garuda Suparna. He is One, and sages call Him by different names.. He is called Agni, Yama, or Vayu Matarisva.)
Posted by: rajesh_g Jun 27 2004, 02:15 PM
Hello Sunder, Let me rephrase the question. Why did Shri Rama not challenge Vaali and kill him in battle ? A couple of days ago while watching the episode where Surpankha goes and complains to her brother (not Ravana the other one - forgot name) and the brother comes out to take revenge - Shri Rama says - go run away from the battlefield, acc to dharma I cant kill you when u r running away from battlefield - which could be vaguely interpreted as "I wont kill you if you dont fight me" ? Watching the Vaali episode i thought about 2 other things that got mentioned. (1) Vaali had a boon of gaining 1/2 of his enemy's strength while fighting (2) Shri Ram promises to Sugreeva - I will be faithful to our friendship even if means going against dharma/neeti. But somehow the connection is not so obvious there either ? PS : me -> Hanuman bhakt.. flex.gif biggrin.gif
Posted by: Sunder Jun 28 2004, 11:45 AM
Why did Shri Rama not challenge Vaali and kill him in battle ?
Rama could not have challenged Vali into a duel, or into any other form of combat owing to lack of proper grounds or reasons to fight. Rama did not even have grounds (or a motive) to use Sama, Dhana or Bedha to bring Vaali to his terms. Rama, had forged an alliance - a friendship - with Sugreeva. Having done so, his primary aim was to aid Sugreeva in his fight. This part in Ramayana is a - Dharma Sankatam - i.e. a portion where the laws of Dharma will be questioned. Like in the Mahabharatha, Krishna's aid in killing Bheeshma Pithamaha (Shikandin), Drona (Ashwatthama hathah kunjarah), Bhurishrivas aka Soumadattha (by cutting of his hand from behind), Jayadratha (eclipsing the sun) etc are places where Dharma seems to have won by adharma. (I
A couple of days ago while watching the episode where Surpankha goes and complains to her brother (not Ravana the other one - forgot name)
Kara and Dhushana, they and another 14,000 were liquidated by Shri Rama single handedly in Janasthan. He asks Lakshmana to take Devi Janaki into a cave for protection while he disposes the 14K Rakshasas.
(1) Vaali had a boon of gaining 1/2 of his enemy's strength while fighting
The Story I heard from my father goes like this: During the Samudra manthan (Kurma avathar), the devas and asuras were tired, and needed rest. Vali, came to the aid, singlehandedly keeping the churning going while the devas rested. When a divine necklace came out of the manthan, it was presented to Vaali (I think by Indra or Surya). Who so ever wore the necklace would gain 1/2 the strength of the opponent who is face-to-face with him. Did you know: that in the Ramayana, the Son of Indra (Vaali) was killed by the Son of Surya (Sugreeva), with Rama's help. In the Bharatha war, the Son of Surya (Karna) was killed by Son of Indra (Arjuna) with Krishna's help.. So the equation balances.. smile.gif PS: Shivo'aham. smile.gif
Posted by: Sunder Jun 28 2004, 11:46 AM
QUOTE Thus Vaali, son of Indra, reproached Raama with his dying breath. And all this is fully set out by Vaalmeeki, the divine poet, as well as by Kamban. Against this accusation what defence could Raama offer? Vaalmeeki has it that Raama gave some explanation with which Vaali was satisfied. But I am omitting all this as pointless and pray that the learned may forgive me. What I think is that an avataar is an avataar and that among the sorrows that the Lord and His consort had to endure in their earthly incarnation, this liability to have their actions weighed on the earthly scales is a part. Vaali bruised and bleeding from the many wounds of his fight with Sugreeva, lay in the throes of death. He lived just long enough to see his queen and his beloved son Angada-poor bewildered lad who at his mother's bidding 'to fall at the feet of his father who was going on a long long journey' prostrated himself in silence, too stunned to realise the extent of his loss. This will be narrated later. Vaali's words were addressed to Raama. "All is over, I shall blame you no more. My, dear, dear son Angada is orphaned. You and Sugreeva should look after him. I entrust him to you. Look after him it is your duty to see that he does not pine away like a withering lotus-plant in a dried-up tank. Tell Sugreeva that he should not imagine that it was Taara who set me up against him. Ask him to treat Angada as he should treat a prince, with honour and affection. Do this for me. I want no more. The warrior's Heaven is calling me!" So ended Vaali's life.
Posted by: rajesh_g Jun 28 2004, 02:33 PM
Thanks for the link Sunder guru. specool.gif I agree with the author (1) What I think is that an avataar is an avataar and that among the sorrows that the Lord and His consort had to endure in their earthly incarnation, this liability to have their actions weighed on the earthly scales is a part. (2) Owing to the protective virtue of Indra's necklace, Raama could not have met Vaali face to face and vanquished him, just as Raavana could not be conquered by the gods. Raama could kill Vaali only when himself unseen. Although the connection between #2 is not obvious while watching Ramayana.. My aunt says there is a story that when the hunter asks Krishna why it was he who was chosen to slay Krishna - Krishna tells him in the past life the hunter was Bali and he was just repaying the debt. Thanks for the posts Sunder. Thoroughly enjoyed them. Today I will watch Ramayana again - starting from Sugreeva's coronation. thumbup.gif
Posted by: k.ram Jun 29 2004, 06:40 AM
I was wondering if experts can help me in wrapping my head around the Ramayanam date issue. I have read in few places that ramayana took place in 24th Chaturyuga's thretha yuga. We are currently in 28th chaturyuga [Mahabharatham took place in 28th chaturyuga]. How do we, if we can, harmonize this with what we know currently or is it impossible? Actually any information on this issue would be a great read and very welcome to novices like me. smile.gif
Posted by: sridhar k Jul 5 2004, 08:16 AM
Ram, Thanks for all your posts. Pls. keep them coming!
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 5 2004, 06:31 PM
Boss-log, Was watching the Ramayana episode where after praying Sea for 3 days Sri Ram gets angry and loads Brahmastra. Sea god appears and provides solution for crossing the ocean but then Sri Rama asks this Brahmastra has to be launched - who should i launch it against ? Sea-god says that there is a land - DRUMAKULYA(?) - in the north where the there are "Dasyus" (?) with abhiras as king they are evil and need to be punished upon which Rama shoots the arrow in the NORTH direction. Then Sri Rama says this land which is very green right now will become barren but will have lots of fragrant aushadhis which will help human race. Any modern day equivalent ? NORTH of lanka - used to be fertile but is barren now but still grows lots of aushadhies for benefit of humankind ? Tibet ? Siberia ? unsure.gif ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Also was wondering about Vibhishana. The concept "my country right or wrong" is challenged. What do people think - should Vibhishana have stayed in Lanka or was he right in seeking Ram's refuge ? Very interesting stuff there.. specool.gif Also the episode about Sri Ram's Shiv Aradhna was pretty cool thumbup.gif
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Jul 5 2004, 10:49 PM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Jul 5 2004, 08:31 PM)
DRUMAKULYA(?) - in the north where the there are "Dasyus" (?) with abhiras as king they are evil and need to be punished upon which Rama shoots the arrow in the NORTH direction.
The place is indeed called drumakulya (द्रुमकुल्य- if you have unicode like MS-Ariel unicode). The texts states: ugradarshana karmANo bahavastra dasyavaH |AbhIra pramukhAH pApAH pibanti salilaM mama || Dwelling in that region are dasyus of fierce deed and appearance ; the sinful AbhIras are the foremost of them who drink my water. The dasyus and AbhIras are un-Aryan tribes. The rAmAyaNa adds that the place where the dart fell came to be known as marukAntAra (मरुकान्तार). As per Hindu geography, this should correspond to modern Marwar in Rajasthan. The rAmAyaNa goes on that the arrow struck the earth with a great flash of light and a terrible noise issued from the earth when struck by the missile. It dried up the entire region to a sandy mass and the waters from rasAtala gushed up to fill the crater left by the missile. The lake formed by this cleft was called vraNa (व्रण) which corresponds to the Sambhar lake in modern India. It is supposed to have an oasis with good cattle, few diseases and many plants. The rAmAyaNa bases itself on several old Indo-Aryan themes. The comparison of rAma and the great indra is often made. This tale has its relationaship with indra's vajra destroying the dasyus and associated motifs.
Also was wondering about Vibhishana. The concept "my country right or wrong" is challenged. What do people think - should Vibhishana have stayed in Lanka or was he right in seeking Ram's refuge ? Very interesting stuff there..
Well the point is faith in ideology as against faith in nationalism. vibhIshaNa was a firm adherent of a certain set of ideals, so he would violate other ties to reach ideological coherence. kumbhakarNa on the contrary saw the moral issues with rAvaNa's act but was a nationalist. So he sacrificed his life for rAvaNa bravely dying in battle. vibhIshaNa had the option of leaving rAvaNa but remaining neutral, but he actively aided rAma in securing the final victory. This may mean he was traitor working for personal gains or a kinder view is that he became a traitor because of his ideology drawing him to rAma. Indian communists for example are ideological drawn to betray India to China.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Jul 5 2004, 11:32 PM
A point of interest to note is that in the rAmopakhyAna that is embedded in the mahAbhArata and thus represents an early fossil version of the rAmAyana we may use to compare with vAlmIkI's version. Both versions state that the bridge is called nala setu not rama setu after nala the monkey manifestation of the god tvaShTA. That version the monkeys initially wanted to cross the sea by boats, but rAma went for the bridge to move larger number of troops across. Evidently the vAnaras were not great at navy. Why the rakshas did not attack when the bridge was being built is also sort of strange to me. In the ramopakhAyana version raMa orders a preliminary raid to devastate lanka and destroy its surroundings. Later they conduct arson in a night attack. Then they destroyed the fortifications and defences and various buildings. So it was quiet an all out attack in which Lanka was sacked rather thoroughly.
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 10 2004, 08:52 AM
Thanks HH. Marwar must be it. smile.gif I agree vanaras must have been sitting ducks while building the setu. Must count as a big blunder on Ravana's part. One more question - watching Ramayana and other wars it seems elephants and horse chariots seem to be the favorite war vehicles. Why not horse-back ? Europeans preferred horseback ? What advantages do each of these offer ?
Posted by: Administrator Jul 11 2004, 08:40 AM
Forumites, please continue the developing discussion on Indian philosophy and allied topics in the separate thread: All direct itihaasa puraaNa issues can continue here. Thank you
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Jul 11 2004, 09:06 AM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Jul 10 2004, 10:52 AM)
I agree vanaras must have been sitting ducks while building the setu. Must count as a big blunder on Ravana's part.
I believe this is an ancient echo of the Hindu prelediciton for defensive wars from fortified strongholds, as against active storming. Though the lack of forward action was strange.
One more question - watching Ramayana and other wars it seems elephants and horse chariots seem to be the favorite war vehicles. Why not horse-back ? Europeans preferred horseback ? What advantages do each of these offer ?
There is a Western academic belief that Indians did not know of horseback fighting till it was introduced the Greeks and Iranians (even bought by Iravati Karve). However, nothing can be farther from the truth. The Hindus did have horseback warfare and the earliest stirrups are known from India. However, in the early days the stirrup was generally absent or people were not well trained in its use. This made the horseback a more dangerous proposition for the most favored weapon of the Indo-Iranians, the bow (in this context remember how kambhojaya / Cambyses, the Iranian king died while mounting his horse). The chariot moreover offered greater stability and comfort in using the bow, carrying more weapons like an Indian warrior typically did (a gada, a shakti, a bhindipAla and the like) and more boxes of arrows. Thus the chariot held its sway in the flat plains were full-fledged open encounters were fought. I have early written on on how the elephant was a very effective war weapon too. Nevertheless, the rAmAyaNa does document that the rakshas were mounted directly on horses. For a major horseback battle, read the account of the battle of narAntaka cutting through the vAnara armies on horseback with a weapon called the prAsa.
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 12 2004, 12:20 PM
For a major horseback battle, read the account of the battle of narAntaka cutting through the vAnara armies on horseback with a weapon called the prAsa.
I saw an episode yesterday where they show Ravana's 4 sons (Atikaya, Devantaka, Narantaka, one more i forget) along with Akampana and other commanders in battle. Narantaka is shown on chariot again and is killed in battle with Angada - that battle is shown where both Angada and Narantaka are on foot with gada & khadag resp.. Besides the setu thing - i find one more thing that looks like a major blunder on part of Ravana's war strategy -> why not send the entire force in at the same time and overwhelm the enemy ? Why send his warriors one after the other ?
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Jul 16 2004, 09:40 PM ....
Narantaka is shown on chariot again and is killed in battle with Angada - that battle is shown where both Angada and Narantaka are on foot with gada & khadag resp..
One of the many mistakes in the TV ramayan. The vAnaras do not use gadas. They only had stones, trees and hands/feet.
Posted by: Sridatta Jul 16 2004, 10:53 PM
Besides the setu thing - i find one more thing that looks like a major blunder on part of Ravana's war strategy -> why not send the entire force in at the same time and overwhelm the enemy ? Why send his warriors one after the other ?
Probably overconfidence. Haughtiness and utter disdain for Manavas was a characteristic which the Rakshasas always displayed. (This is not surprising having overwhelmed the hosts of the Devas in the earlier epochs. Its a bit akin to a top side like Australia fielding a second string cricket team against minnows like Zimbabwe laugh.gif ). It was not till rather late in the battle did Ravana realize the magnitude and strength of the opponents he was pitted against. Initially, he never thought the services of the "Sleeping Giant" and the master sorcer would be required against small fry like monkeys. But, you're very right. The folly cost him dearly. Poor Aksha might have not died had Ravana dispatched Meghanada upfront. Even earlier, Khara underestimating the strength of Rama sent just 14 warriors to finish him off. But when they were finished off by the Kakustha scion as quickly as the came, he sallied forth with a great force 14,000 warriors. His hauteur and pride was so great that even after he watched before his eyes the extermination of Dushana, Trishiras; even after he had lost all his weapons except his mace, he still felt that Rama would be easily crushed.
Posted by: Anand K Jul 17 2004, 12:14 AM
I have been following this thread for quite some time and since the focus is now on Ramayana, I would like to share a gnawing doubt. The Vanaras as a soverign race are neither mentioned in the later epic, i.e, The Mahabharatha nor in other ithihasas. Of course there's that famous episode of Bheema meeting Hanuman and Lord Krishna with Jaambavan...but thats practically it, na? The Mahabharata took place just a few generations after Ramayana, but to my knowledge it doesn't speak of any land ruled by the Vanaras. There are references to Pandya and Chera kings who lorded over the south(?)....Check out the episode in the Karna parva where Pandya battles Ashvattama. A rather detailed description given that Pandya is a minor character.. The whole buisness with the Vanaras is centred around the epic of Lord Rama.....Who are they? If they were a race of men, why were they given solely the physical attributes of primates? Is there any funda behind all this? Various descriptions of Kishkinda shows that it is a functional kingdom with a chain of command, infrastructure, standing armies etc....i.e no "monkey buisness" at all biggrin.gif . And there is that matter of a Vanara nation having a bear, Jambavan as its field marshal! Any thoughts, gentlemen? One take of mine is that ; Lord Rama who was cast out of his home and convenant was aided by the dregs of society (the tribals who ferried him), the elements and most importantly, other beings of nature like Vultures(Jatayu, Samptai), monkeys, Rakshasas(Vibhishana and his followers), bear, squirrel etc. When there were no humans around, the rest of creation helped the Avatar in his quest.... I see a message in it. Is this the whole point of the idea of introducing vanaras and all? Feel free to pick out holes in this theory(Dunno if someone made this point before).
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 17 2004, 05:02 PM
Not to pick holes or anything but I have always wondered - do we need a *purpose* for the pauranic stories ? - can a story/event exist without a purpose ? - is looking for a cause/reason/purpose the only way to look at itihaas/puranas ? - is moral-of-the-story theme the only way of looking at stories/puranas/events ? - what other ways could there be at looking at puranas ?
Posted by: Anand K Jul 17 2004, 06:32 PM
Well, I think all Hindu puranas have profound truths embedded in them...messages, warnings, evergreen ideals, social and historical details etc etc. Black and white, shades of grey are all dealt with in these epics. I mean, the epsodes in the puranas/ithihasas don't end with "So, the moral of the story is..." ; the illuminating truth is given out in subtle ways. Yes, can a story be a just a story? Can someone write a story for just story's sake?..... A character in the horror-spiritual classic It by Stephen King asks these questions in his creative writing classes in college...but then he was scarred from his first face-off with the "evil with no name, a horror with no end". wink.gif.Its very possible that a story can be just a story, just for the pleasure of a story...But I dunno if the sages of ancient India would even write down these epics with multiple threads of thought, all the anecdotes unless it has elements of truth and wisdom in them. I fail to see dharma concept in the Greek/Roman/Norse and most Semitic and Egyptian epics, but after reading the Indian epics (the big picture, not just piecewise) the truths hits you right in the face......Like, we can see that its not entirely two color good vs evil in this world....Fundaes like; Is Ravana downright evil? Didn't Lord Ram give in to social H&D and send Sita to exile? Wasn't Shakuni just doing realpolitik by trying to clear the path for his bloodline by taking on the Pandavas? Can't Lord Krishna be justified for using his divine skills to intervene and thus annihilate the much superior Kaurava forces? One thing Hinduism teaches through its books is that there can be more than two dimensions to life and all thats in it. Well, before I rant more I wish I could get more info about the Vanara post I made ....
Posted by: Ashok Kumar Jul 17 2004, 06:50 PM
On the question of vanaras being a separate species or not, lets consider the case of Neanderthals in Europe. Neanderthals looked somewhat like humans, but were a different species. They coexisted with humans for a long while before becoming extinct.
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 18 2004, 09:58 AM
One can also think about Jaguars, Dolphins, Rams etc (NFL teams) - are they really jaguars/dolphins etc ? I remember seeing some martial arts movies when i was young where the fighters would fight snake-style/monkey-style etc. Were they really snakes and monkeys ?
Posted by: Sunder Jul 18 2004, 11:25 AM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Jul 18 2004, 10:28 PM)
One can also think about Jaguars, Dolphins, Rams etc (NFL teams) - are they really jaguars/dolphins etc ? I remember seeing some martial arts movies when i was young where the fighters would fight snake-style/monkey-style etc. Were they really snakes and monkeys ?
Jaguars, Dolphins etc for team name cannot be compared to the Vanaras of the Ramayana. Same goes for Neanderthals. Valmiki *explicitly* States the physical features of the Vaanaras in the Ramayana leaving no doubt about them as a species. Specially, the mention of LANGULAM (tail) leaves no doubt that the Vanaras were not apes or Neanderthals, they were closer to Langoors or other primates. Rajesh, (I digress a little bit) regarding the Kung-fu fighting (including Shao-Lin martial arts), it may be interesting to note that a man from Kanchipuram called Bodhidharma had taught the Chinese buddhists the Martial Arts. Bodhidharma was the 28th partiarch of India Buddhism and the first Partiarch of Zen Buddhism (I love the so called "Platform Sutra" of Hui Neng - the 6th patriarch of Chinese Buddhism - who was of the southern "Sudden School".) Even in the Ramayana, you can find different styles of WRESTLING (founded by Baratha muni?) in the episode where Sugreeva fights Ravana one-on-one *before* the battle begins.. One style of walking was called "go moothram" i.e. zig-zag walking akin to the serpentine trace made by a cow/bull when its urinating while walking. smile.gif Back to Ramayana. The Vanaras as a species did not participate in the Baratha War. But I had read somewhere (perhaps Jayadeva's poems) that Balarama had countered and quelled a renegade Vanara Sainyam. Also, there was a YUGA between Ramayana and Bhaaratha, thus I am not sure if we should take into account the undocumented death of a civilization during that time.
Posted by: Anand K Jul 18 2004, 02:45 PM
I suddenly remembered a fact I heard in a Quiz sometime back, India quiz of Saarang 2001(?)....There was a Vanara chieftain from Sugriva's Army who had sided with Lord Ram in the battle for Lanka but sided with the Kauravas in Kurukshetra. I can't remember the details now nor could I dig up something about it. Sunder's post about Balarama defeating Vanara renegades reminded me of this snippet. K.M.Munshi's Krishnavatar also speaks of Lord Krishna meeting the bear-people who's chief was Jambavan himself in his search for Symanthaka jewel. There Jamabavan tells the Lord that his people are dying out as the world changes and gives his daughter Jambavati in marriage to him. Interesting piece of work , The Krishnavatar....a sort of demystifying the epics, rational explanation behind the legend and all. Munshiji wanted to wirte like 50 volumes, but he died after completeing about 9 volumes IIRC. He writes of the meeting between Lord Krishna and the cosmic serpent Anantha who is described as a primal being who burrows the earth and is a manifestation of the supreme....and this was long before Frank herbert wrote of the sandworm, Shai Hulud in his Dune series. Also, M.T.Vasudevan Nair's "Randam Oozham" i.e The second in line is a fascinating demystifying work on the Mahabharata from Bhima's perspective. Anyway... There's also the legend that Hanuman and Jambavan were blessed with immortality and they are members of the Chiranjeevi club of Indian lore. Others being Ashvattama (immortality is but cursed on him), Ved Vyaasa etc. Thats an explanation of why they appear in the later epic. Interesting info u can get here, lots of people with good knowldge of the Indian lore and the possible truths behind them... Keep it coming friends...Can the masters of this forum give us some more info pleaaaasee. lmaosmiley.gif
Posted by: Sridatta Jul 18 2004, 10:11 PM
- do we need a *purpose* for the pauranic stories ? - can a story/event exist without a purpose ? - is looking for a cause/reason/purpose the only way to look at itihaas/puranas ? - is moral-of-the-story theme the only way of looking at stories/puranas/events ? - what other ways could there be at looking at puranas ?
In this context, I'd like to share a strand of thought of which I picked up from one of the greatest mythologies written in recent times "The Lord of the Rings" biggrin.gif I think it is important to distinguish between "allegory" and "applicability". JRR Tolkien the author of the LoTR puts it beautifully : I think that many confuse "applicability" with "allegory"; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other is the purposed domination of the author. ~ JRR Tolkien In other words, you are free to look for a message or moral in a particular tale; That's "applicability". But when the author tries to impose or convey a particular message it becomes "allegory". When this is done emphatically, it assumes the form: "So, the moral of the story is....". But when it is done subtly one needs to unravel the underlying metaphors and symbolisms of the author. That's "allegory". So, I think we have all flavours in the Hindu epics and puranas: didactic, allegorical, historical, humorous, and also "just-so-stories". (I think it is a natural tendency in many of us to look for a message or allegory in a mythological tale. Tolkien too, like the mythological writers of the past, was subjected to such speculations. Thus, as the LoTR became popular there were people who compared Elbereth with the Virgin Mary, Aragorn with Christ etc. But Tolkien himself expressly denied any such allegories and comparisons).
but after reading the Indian epics (the big picture, not just piecewise) the truths hits you right in the face......
Absolutely. The epics and puranas were definitely rooted in Dharma; Dharma was the axis around which the lives of many of the characters revolved. In all that rich mosaic of tales, Dharma is the one thread which seems to run through them. But there is no one way of looking at the epics and puranas. Much lies in the mind of the reader -- whether we interpret them in the didactical sense or pursue a historical line of intepretation depends on our innate proclivities. The battle between "good and evil" which one person perceives in an epic may be just another genre of "heroic mythology" to another.
Black and white, shades of grey are all dealt with in these epics... Is Ravana downright evil? Wasn't Shakuni just doing realpolitik by trying to clear the path for his bloodline by taking on the Pandavas?
I think this is an important characteristic of the Hindu world-view. Contrast this with religions which sharply draw the line between the two camps: good and evil; believers and infidels; the "true faith" and heathenism; And in more recent times the "Axis of evil" laugh.gif When we compare a Ravana with say a character like Tolkien's Sauron (who was wholly evil) the difference in world-views strikes us clearly.
Posted by: Sunder Jul 18 2004, 11:20 PM
Here is an answer that I really liked. From our Guru, the Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. The Puranas are the magnifying glass of the Vedas. The principles and rules of dharma that are briefly dealt with in the Vedas are enlarged or elaborated upon in them in the form of stories. A subject briefly touched upon may not make a deep impression on the mind. If the same were told as an absorbing story it would at once make an impact on the mind of the listener or reader. The Vedas urge us to speak the truth ("Satyam vada"). How one becomes exalted by remaining truthful at all costs is illustrated by the story of Hariscandra. "Dharmam cara" (Follow dharma, live a life of dharma) is a Vedic injunction consisting of just two words. The importance of the pursuit of dharma is explained through the long story of Dharmaputra [Yudhisthira] in the Mahabharata. "Matr-devo bhava" and "Ptir-devo bhava" ("Be one to whom the mother is god" - "Be one to whom the father is god"): these two admonishments are enlarged on, as it were, through the magnifying glass in the story of Sri Rama. Such dharmic virtues as humility, patience, compassion, chastity, which are the subject of Vedic ordinances, are illustrated through the noble examples of men belonging to ancient times, women of hallowed reputation. By reading their stories or listening to them we form a deep attachment to the virtues and qualities exemplified by them. All these men and women whose accounts are contained in the Puranas had to undergo trials and tribulations. We keep commiting so many wrongs. But consider these Puranic characters who had to suffer more than we suffer. Indeed some of them had to go through terrible ordeals. However, by reading their stories we do not form the impression that adherence to dharma means suffering. On the contrary, etched in our minds is the example of men and women of great inner purity who in their practice of dharma stood like a rock against all difficulties and challenges. At the same time, we moved by their tales of woe and thereby our own inner impurities are washed away. Finally, the glorious victory they achieve in the end and fame they achieve help to create a sturdy bond in us with dharma.
Posted by: amarnath Jul 19 2004, 03:03 AM
Yikes... the more i read on Ramayana , i more i get confused. Now wait a second.There are a number of elements in Ramayanan that lead you to believe that it was a true story.Again a number of elements lead you to believe the other way around. For example, some satelitte photo of alleged bridge b/w Lanka and India. All over India there are a number of places "allegedly" visited by Ram and Sita...etc. Makes one think. I am comfortable with Vimanas...i.e aircrafts,missiles all those stuff... but other things like vanaras really do push me to the wall.Esp Ravana having 10 heads,lifting the Kailas and distrubing Shiva...singing a song and getting a sword. Perhaps these are to be termed 'personifications' ? As i said i am confused.
Posted by: Mudy Jul 19 2004, 08:33 AM
Ravana having 10 heads
10 heads doesn't mean physical 10 heads but his knowledge was equivalent to 10 learned people.
Posted by: Sunder Jul 19 2004, 09:58 AM
10 heads doesn't mean physical 10 heads but his knowledge was equivalent to 10 learned people.
You are right. It could be an analogy. Now-a-days we say, "Talk to the head of the department." this does not mean that there is a physical head sitting somewhere in a particular department, nor does it mean that no other person in that department is headless. 10 heads is only a figure of expression. There is one analogy that I quote often. Sri Sadashiva Brahmendral had a beautiful interpretation of Ramayana. Sri Rama is Paramatma, and Devi Janaki is jeevatma. The ten headed Ravana is the 10 Indriyas (5 Karmendriya and 5 Gnanendriya) - i.e. Organs of Action, and Sense organs. Ravana had captured Devi Maithili for a period of 10 months (gestation period) thus separating Jeeva from Parama. Hanumaan is manas (the mind), who with the Grace of Rama (Paramatma), unites Devi Seetha (Jeeva) with Parama. This union was possible only because Jeeva did not succumb to the temptations and/or threats of the ten headed Ravana (Paulastya.) PS: While on analogies, Chanakya says that Indra's 1000 eyes actually meant that Indra had one thousand Ministers, with the largest cabinet of those days..
Posted by: Anand K Jul 19 2004, 11:04 AM
Here's another interpretation.......Man, I love this religion! guitar.gif . Ravana's knowledge of the six shastras and the four vedas is the inner meaning of the belief that he had ten heads. It is a symbolic way of saying that he was an expert in all the ten branches of knowledge.
Posted by: Sunder Jul 19 2004, 01:13 PM
There's also the legend that Hanuman and Jambavan were blessed with immortality and they are members of the Chiranjeevi club of Indian lore.
The ones I can think of belonging to the Chiranjeevi Club are Sri Markandeya, son of Mrikandu, Hanuman, Jhambavaan, Parashurama, Druva, Mahabali Chakravarthi, Surapadman(?), Trishanku (for he would still be in his own custom made swarga.), Kaka Bushunda (of Yoga Vashishta fame.) I am sure I am missing out more. Of the characters that appear both in Ramayana and Bhaaratha.. Parashurama (teacher of Bheeshma, and Karna), Hanumaan (Bhimakarma Vrikodhara's brother), Jhambavaan (Krishna's father-in-law), I hear that Sukha (son of Vyaasa) had met with Videha Janaka), but did not hear this from Valmiki Ramayana or Maha Bhaaratha, thus I cannot count Janaka in. Incidentally Bhargava Rama meeting Kakutsa Rama is the only time when two Major Avataras meet. There is a 'avatara' energy transfer from Parashu Rama to Raghu Rama when the former hands over a Narayana Dhanush (or is it a chaapam?) to the latter. Sri Rama's official Avataara begins from there on.
Posted by: sridhar k Jul 19 2004, 07:25 PM
Another interpretation that i heard is Ravana can do ten things simultaneously. I think Srimad Bhagavatam has references to Janaka being a realized soul and not sure about being Chiranjeevi. I will try to confirm that.
Posted by: Sunder Jul 19 2004, 08:04 PM
QUOTE (sridhar k @ Jul 20 2004, 07:55 AM)
I think Srimad Bhagavatam has references to Janaka being a realized soul and not sure about being Chiranjeevi. I will try to confirm that.
AFAIK Janaka was only a Videha. Not a chiranjeevi.
Posted by: amarnath Jul 19 2004, 08:41 PM
Thanks ! One would have to note that , our oldest scriptures written thousands of years ago , will have to be subject to correct and just interpretation and understanding the message within the context of book and its ideas etc. Another doubt : Draupadi having 5 husbands.. errm is it that all her husbands were individual forms of a single god..?
Posted by: sridhar k Jul 19 2004, 08:59 PM
Talking about Janaka and Videha SB 9.13.18: From Hrasvaromā came a son named Śīradhvaja [also called Janaka]. When Śīradhvaja was plowing a field, from the front of his plow [śīra] appeared a daughter named Sītādevī, who later became the wife of Lord Rāmacandra. Thus he was known as Śīradhvaja
Posted by: Anand K Jul 19 2004, 09:17 PM
About Draupadi having 5 husbands there's a rather weird myth about her previous life where she asks Lord Shiva for a good husband 5 times ..... He granted her five alpha males in the next life instead wink.gif . In the Mahabharata itself there is that story about Kunti telling Arjuna to share his prize with all his brothers without knowing that the prize was Draupadi. Brothers took this to heart it seems. The idea of the love or "pact" of a single woman sealing the circle is common in many cultures. Even now there are communities where a girl is married to brothers to prevent the splitting of family assets and all.....In the Mahabharata era, there were many communities in the Gharwal/Terai region which followed this practice. Kunti, the clever woman she was, must have picked up this idea when they were in hiding in those parts after the arson plot. I had mentioned about a book Randaam Oozham (The Second in Line) before; there's a very interesting scene in it where Kunti psy ops them and plays on the feelings of ALL the brothers towards Draupadi. She understood that Arjuna taking for himself the "most beautiful princess" might cause very destructive envy towards Arjuna and the brotherhood might break as a result..... She pushes the not so reluctant brothers to marry Draupadi. Bheema thinks to himself after this incident "All ye wise men and sages who claim a female is just a sacrificial fire to accept your seed(virya)... you DON'T know this woman, our mother!". Anybody read It by Stephen King (here I go again!).....those who read it might note the "similarity" to the above story.....about how the seven close the circle, seal the pact.
Posted by: bgrkumar Jul 19 2004, 10:50 PM
In Mahabharatha, isn't Ashwathama supposed to be a chiranjeevi too? Krishna curses him in the end to lead a miserable life and suffer for using the brahmastra against uttaraa's womb to kill her unborn son.
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 21 2004, 02:02 PM
QUOTE (Hauma Hamiddha @ Jul 6 2004, 11:19 AM)
Also was wondering about Vibhishana. The concept "my country right or wrong" is challenged. What do people think - should Vibhishana have stayed in Lanka or was he right in seeking Ram's refuge ? Very interesting stuff there..
Well the point is faith in ideology as against faith in nationalism. vibhIshaNa was a firm adherent of a certain set of ideals, so he would violate other ties to reach ideological coherence. kumbhakarNa on the contrary saw the moral issues with rAvaNa's act but was a nationalist. So he sacrificed his life for rAvaNa bravely dying in battle. vibhIshaNa had the option of leaving rAvaNa but remaining neutral, but he actively aided rAma in securing the final victory. This may mean he was traitor working for personal gains or a kinder view is that he became a traitor because of his ideology drawing him to rAma. Indian communists for example are ideological drawn to betray India to China.
You are so right, HH. I watched the Ramayana episode where Vibhishana led Laxman and other warriors to Nikumbala Temple to destroy Indrajit's yagna and eventually slay him.. Here's to wishing that Bharatmata produces more Indrajits and Kumbhakaran's then Vibhishan's. rock.gif thumbup.gif To me it Vibhishana will always remain a traitor of the highest order. thumbsdownsmileyanim.gif
Posted by: amarnath Jul 22 2004, 01:40 AM
Not to anger yo people But i have some problems in Mahabharatha like Karna being ridiculed for being a sutra at various places. Whatever the reason , whatever the rules....whoever the enforcer may be...sorry i will not ridicule a sutra for his birth in a lower caste.For some strange reason i cannot think a human can be different/needs to be misused or differentiated if he is born in a lower caste. That Caste system alone has brought the downfall of Bharat for so long. For that reason i do not love mahabharatha... I know Karna was not a sutra by birth...still he had to suffer.didnt he ?
Posted by: Sunder Jul 22 2004, 07:48 AM
QUOTE (amarnath @ Jul 22 2004, 02:10 PM)
Not to anger yo people But i have some problems in Mahabharatha like Karna being ridiculed for being a sutra at various places. Whatever the reason , whatever the rules....whoever the enforcer may be...sorry i will not ridicule a sutra for his birth in a lower caste.For some strange reason i cannot think a human can be different/needs to be misused or differentiated if he is born in a lower caste. That Caste system alone has brought the downfall of Bharat for so long. For that reason i do not love mahabharatha... I know Karna was not a sutra by birth...still he had to suffer.didnt he ?
Amarnath, I am pretty sure no one here will be angry about anything smile.gif Karna was nicknamed a SUTA-Putra (Chauffeur's Son) by Arjuna. Arjuna, owing to his swabhava, is so consumed by this (mutual) hatred towards Karna that he refers to karna as SUTA-Putra even in the Bhagavad Geetha, while seeing the Vishvarupa Darshana. (Krishna however addressed Radheya Karna as Karna.) Karna, Ekalavya and others were not liked by Arjuna because of Arjuna's Manitvam (Abhimanam or Ego.) As Swami Paramarthananda aptly puts it, the entire Mahabharatha is a story of Manitvam after Manitvam after Manitvam. It is a story of revenge and vendetta. (*) Bhishma and Ambha story is one of revenge and destruction. Ambha's whole life as Shikandin had but one Purpose - The death of Bhishma. (*) Drupadha and Drona's story is one of revenge and destruction. Drona humiliating Drupadha, and in turn Drupadha creating Draupadhi and Drishtadhymna for the destruction of Drona. (*) Karna and Arjuna - the well known story. (*) Bhima and Dhuryodhana (and ofcouse Duhshasana) (*) Jayadratha's humiliation and penance for the destruction of the Pandavas. (*) Dhuryodhana's desire for revenge at the Magical Mayasabha. (*) Draupadhi and her desire for revenge leading to the Great Bharatha war with 18 akshoni sainya. (HH, what is an akshoni ? is sounds like it's more than a batallion or a division?) Thus, all the hatred shown was making the birth or economic situation as an excuse. BUT, even under these conditions, Pivoted as Varshneya Krishna (ParaBrahman) as the center, Dharma prevails inspite of the human weakness of it's characters. Mahabaratha is not a story of a family... it is Ithihasa which contains lots of guidance for Dharma and Neethi. The Upakathas of Mahabaratha are truly pride instilling and will guide you on the path of Dharma involuntarily.. Back to the point.. your judging of a society based on today's values may not be appropriate. If you took cue from the Bharatha and started calling others Suta-Putra, then it may cause anger on this forum. Not otherwise. Judging by the standards of those days, and what was considered Dharma and Adharma, we can see that Dharma of those days is still called Dharma. The Sociological aspect and division of labour has changed. Please listen to the following links..
Posted by: bgrkumar Jul 22 2004, 02:07 PM
It has to be remembered that the Kaurava army consisted of 11 akshauhinis. An akshauhini was formed in the following ratio. 1 chariot : 1 elephant : 3 horse-mounted warriors : 5 infantry soldiers. One akshauhini therefore consisted of 21870 chariots; 21870 elephants; 65610 horse-mounted warriors and 109350 infantry. Multiply this number by 11 and you get the total strength of the Kaurava army. The Pandava army consisted of 7 akshauhinis.
Posted by: Sridatta Jul 22 2004, 08:38 PM
One akshauhini therefore consisted of 21870 chariots; 21870 elephants; 65610 horse-mounted warriors and 109350 infantry. Multiply this number by 11 and you get the total strength of the Kaurava army. The Pandava army consisted of 7 akshauhinis.
Adding all these together and multiplying by 18, the total strength of the forces assembled at Kurukshetra comes up to 3,936,600. Taking cue from medieval Indian history, I think the figures are a bit far-fetched, and we have to take them with a pinch of salt. (We must remember that the Puranas are famed for exaggeration!) In the Indian context, I think the largest armies were fielded by the kings of Vijayanagar. A contemporary Portuguese traveler Nuniz reported that when Krishnadeva Raya set forth for the battle of Raichur (A.D. 1522 (?)) the strength of his army totalled up to a whopping : 703,000 foot, 32,600 horse, and 551 elephants. Besides, the actual fighting units we have to take into account the logistic units: camp followers, merchants, engineers, labourers, slaves, courtesans, prostitues, and "an infinitude of people" who joined him enroute Raichur. As the historian Robert Sewell says "When we total up the list given by Nuniz of the columns that marched from Vijayanagar for the campaign, the amount is so huge that we pause in natural doubt as to whether the story could by any possibility be true. It certainly demands a large strain on our credulity! Nonetheless, he admits that large armies seem to have always been the rule in India, and that certainly Krishna Raya had the power to raise immense numbers of troops. Sewell goes on to say that: "His power to do so lay in his mode of government. The whole empire was divided into provinces and estates, held by chiefs bound to keep up masses of troops fit for immediate service. It is, of course, natural to suppose that in this great war the king would have put forth all his strength." At the fateful battle of Talikota (1565) too the Hindus fielded a very large army but were unable to press home the advantage against the coalition of Mussalmans. In one of his descriptions Firishtah estimates the Vijayanagar army as amounting to 900,000 infantry, 45,000 cavalry, and 2000 elephants, besides 15,000 auxiliaries. But, as Sewell says, "he himself varies so greatly in the numbers he gives in different parts of his narrative that there is no necessity to accept these figures as accurate." Moreover, Ferishtah might have purposely swelled the Hindu figures and contracted the Mussalman strength to further aggrandize the emphatic victory of the believers. There can be little doubt, however, that the numbers were very large. Sewell in his "A forgotten Empire" adduces a few more interesting snippets on the sizes of Hindu armies : "In the second volume of Scott's "History of the Dekhan," a translation is given of a journal kept by a Bondela officer in the reign of Aurangzib, an officer who served under "Dulput Roy" in A.D. 1690. Writing about Vijayanagar in former days, at the height of its grandeur and importance, he says, "They kept an army of 30,000 horse, a million of infantry, and their wealth was beyond enumeration." "Conti, who was in India about a century earlier than the war in question, told Bracciolini that the Vijayanagar army consisted of "a million of men and upwards." Abdur Razzak (1442 A.D.) the Mussalman ambassador tells the same story, putting the number at 1,100,000 with 1000 elephants. Twenty years later Nikitin states that the Kulbarga forces marching to attack the Hindus amounted to 900,000 foot, 190,000 horse, and 575 elephants. [So clearly the sheer carnage and manslaughter at Talikota would have been immense -- a veritable feast for Ares and Dio Marti !! ] The Russian traveler further states that : "The Sultan himself, independently of his nobles, took the field with 300,000 men, and even when he only went out on a hunting expedition he took with him a train of 10,000 horse, 500,000 foot, and 200 elephants. He states that the Malik ul Tujar alone had an army of 200,000 employed in the siege of one city. The Hindus fought almost nude, and were armed with shield and sword." Going further back in time, we know that Alexander the Great, riding at the head of his Companions Cavalry (which might have numbered around 6000) had scattered a force of nearly half a million Persians under Darius. Greek observers computed the army of Magadha Greeks as consisting of 600,000 foot, 30,000 cavalry, and 9000 elephants. It is also estimated that the army of Hindu confederated states mustered in 1192 A.D. for the desperate defence of the motherland against the Muhammadans amounted, "according to the most moderate estimate," to 300,000 horse, 3000 elephants, and a great number of infantry. . I believe, as per some Hindu chronicles, immense Rajput confedracies were raised both against Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni and Ghazy Sultan Shiabuddin Ghori. The rout of so large a body of horse (300,000) by Sultan Mahmud is quite remarkable, almost incredible. The Sultanate of Delhi did not fall far behind in its numerical strength. In A.D. 1259 a Mogul embassy was received at Delhi by an escort of 50,000 horse, and was led past lines of infantry numbering as many as 200,000 in their ranks. Muhammad Tughlaq of Delhi is said to have raised, according to Firishtah, an army of 370,000 men for the conquest of Persia, and when he wanted to destroy the inhabitants of a certain tract of country, he "ordered out his army as if he were going hunting," surrounded the tract, and then, pressing inwards towards the centre, slaughtered all the inhabitants therein. This implies that he took, when merely hunting, immense numbers of men with him. Muhammad Tughlaq allegedly had an army of 900,000 horse and Portuguese traveler Nuniz, on the opening page of his chronicle, says that this Sultan invaded the Balaghat with 800,000 horse. [This estimate was, of course, only according to the tradition extant in 1535]. During the second battle of Panipat, Hemu's cavalry numbering around 50,000 was defeated by a force led by Akbar (probably then under the mentorship of Bayram Khan). As late as 1762 the Mahrattas are said to have had an army of 100,000 horse.At any rate, the losses were so heavy that the Marathas never recovered -- probably to the tune of 100,000. One estimate states that there was not a single village in Maharashtra which had not lost at least one youth in the great cause. The Afghans are said to have lost around 30,000. All these figures carry with them an element of exaggeration. But the botton line is very clear: the Indian rulers were capable of fielding very large armies.
Posted by: amarnath Jul 22 2004, 09:32 PM
I presume around 3 million around Kurushetra is something not impossible. It was the "Maha"bharatha war atleast ! Sunder, yet to read ur links .will reply soon
Posted by: Sunder Jul 22 2004, 10:14 PM
QUOTE (amarnath @ Jul 23 2004, 10:02 AM)
Sunder, yet to read ur links .will reply soon
Amarnath, they are AUDIO links.. you need to have headphones (if you are at work:))
Posted by: amarnath Jul 22 2004, 10:58 PM
Roger that Sunder. ! Postcount++ wink.gif
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 24 2004, 05:54 PM
Question for IF guroos, Does Indian Literature mention mental retardation or other psychiatric or psycological disorders anywhere ? Thanks.
Posted by: Sunder Jul 24 2004, 06:19 PM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Jul 25 2004, 06:24 AM)
Question for IF guroos, Does Indian Literature mention mental retardation or other psychiatric or psycological disorders anywhere ? Thanks.
Yes. The earliest I can think of is Rama's Ancestor Asamanjasa, the son of Sagara Chakravarthi was mentally retarded. He however was never made King, however his son Amsumaan was made the king.
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 25 2004, 12:41 PM
Thanks Sunder. Do you remember the symptoms ? The reason I ask this is that recently I was having a discussion with a few friends and we were wondering if this psycological/psychiatric disorder is a recent phenomenon (last of couple of centuries) ? We were thinking :- 1. The possibility that people with mystic powers might be getting labelled as having mental disorders. 2. The possibility that such disorders were resulting in absolving people of blame on grounds of mental insanity 3. The possibility that such disorders have indeed crept up due to the post industrial-revolution era (a) due to environmental changes (b) genetic mutations.. Which led us to wonder whether such symptoms atleast have been mentioned in Indian literature or not.
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 25 2004, 12:44 PM
BTW this was a beer bash - so all kinds of things were being discussed .. smile.gif The other thing we were wondering was the concept of intellectual property. What was the Indic position on intellectual property rights ?
Posted by: Mudy Jul 25 2004, 04:56 PM
rajesh_g, In Indian/Hindu culture mental disability is not considered bad or wrong, infact it is more refered as person is god or God is in his/her form. In Singapore, first time I realized govt don't allow mentally handicapped on street coz it gives wrong picture of there country.
Posted by: Rajita Rajvasishth Jul 26 2004, 11:15 PM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Jul 26 2004, 01:14 AM)
The other thing we were wondering was the concept of intellectual property. What was the Indic position on intellectual property rights ?
I would interpret the whole guru-sishya system as an expression of copyright and intellectual property consciousness of the Indians. It is just that the Hindus worked under a different framework from the Western model. It was very hard to get things out of irascible gurus because they were conscious of the intellectual property they held smile.gif
Posted by: Rajita Rajvasishth Jul 26 2004, 11:21 PM
It was common for Shaiva to exhibit behavior that may be considered that of madmen They had practices like Huddukara- making a clacking noise by slapping your tounge on the palate Attahaas- laughly loudly and dancing about puffing cheeks and making noises like Bom Bom digambara- going about naked. What is not clear is whether perfectly normal people performed this or those with some mental prelidiction went for such options.
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 27 2004, 12:47 PM
The reality is probably going to be somewhere in the middle - we know so little about how the mind works. I suspect a lot of what passes for psycology/psychiatry is going to go down the tubes - a lot of it already has and a lot more will. I was shocked to hear once that a friend's kid had some disorder called attention-deficit-disorder or something like that when one could tell its just a different human being with different skill-sets and interests. But no he had some 'disorder' or something.. rolleyes.gif At the same time however there definitely is a possibility that some brain malfunction is possible just like any other body parts. Lets hope science provides us answers in the future (hopefully in our lifetimes) . Mudy, I think science in the western societies has gone from one end to other. Earlier insanity had 'solutions' like lobotomy - now murderers go free because as kids they got spanked or something.. rolleyes.gif Rajita, specool.gif
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 27 2004, 01:01 PM
BTW folks, I finished watching Ramayana yesterday. Ramanand Sagar came up after the last episode was over and talked about the great sages who wrote and rewrote the epic according to their times and in different languages. He acknowledged that all he has done was to adapt from these great works as best as he could and also mentioned that his "jholi" was tiny as compared to these great sages. He begged the audience to be generous in forgiving him of any deficiencies - good speech in general. Personally I think Ramanand Sagar did a fantastic job for his time/resources. May India be blessed with more of his types.. rocker.gif ______________________________________________________ After watching Ramayana I have made up a cool list and suck list for characters other then the main ones (Rama, Sita, Ravana). Here is my cool list.. 1. Hanuman flex.gif flex.gif (ok I m biased) 2. Meghnad/Indrajit - great pitru-bhakt , just like Sri Rama.. thumbup.gif 3. Kumbhakaran - a true nationalist - my country right or wrong .. rocker.gif 4. Vaali - flex.gif - Even Sri Rama had to resort to tricks to slay him.. 5. Kevat - wily man used amazing excuse to wash Sri Rama's feet.. The suck list dry.gif 1. Vibhishana 2. Vibhishana 3. Vibhishana 4. Vibhishana 5. Vibhishana ( ok maybe Sugriv here)..
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 27 2004, 01:04 PM
One final Ramayana related question.. After slaying Ravana and after the devas sing Sri Rama's praises and Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma's meetings with Sri Rama Dasarath shows up to give blessings to Rama and says "just like ASHTAVAKRA you have made your father proud and contributed to his mukti" or somehting to that effect. I have never heard of ASHTAVAKRA before - if its not the right name then I will go back and watch that episode and write the correct name. Who was he ? How did he free his father ?
Posted by: Anand K Jul 27 2004, 03:05 PM
Ashtavakra was the son of the great sage Kahoda, who considered to be a master of the scriptures. While he was still in his mother's womb, he listened to his fathers teachings. One day Kahoda's words were questioned by is son, still in the womb. An angered Kahoda cursed his son to be born with 8 joints( 4 more than the usual 2 elbow and 2 knee joints)...thus he was called Ashtavakra.."eight crooks". Later on his father was downed for losing a deathmatch debate with the undefeated court scholar of King Janaka, a person named Bandhi. Ashtavakra challenged Bandhi and won, but before Bandhi was to be executed he revealed that he was the son of Varuna and that all the drowned sages were actually safe and sound. He had done all this to collect some sages for a yagna his father was conducting....Soon after, his father emerged from the water, blessed him and conceded that Ashtavakra's intellect was better than his. Ashtavakra was asked to take a dip in the river and he emerged free of his deformity. BTW, Ashtavakra Gita is a text noted for its somewhat alternate line of thought...about the wisdom in the scriptures isn't ultimate and that the real truth is within yourself.
Posted by: Sunder Jul 27 2004, 03:32 PM
I have never heard of ASHTAVAKRA before - if its not the right name then I will go back and watch that episode and write the correct name. Who was he ? How did he free his father ?
Hoiiiiii.. I fell off the chair listening to that. How can one NOT know Astavakra? Astavakra (literally eight bends), was the son of Kahola (or was it kahodaka?), and the nephew of the great Swethakethu. Kahola, was not good at enunciation. While he was reading out the Shlokas one day, his son (Astavakra) corrected him while still in his mother's womb. Angered at this, Kahola cursed him to be born crooked. With eight bends (not joints.) Thus Astavakra, though was physically handicapped, he was one of the greatest minds of all times. I think it was VANDHI (not Bandhi), who defeated Kahola and sent him to Varuna's abode. Like Anand says, Ashtavakra (who goes to Mithila with his uncle Swethakethu) challenges Vandhi and defeats him. Thus he rescues his father. Ashtavakra Gita is just Nectar for the soul. It's a conversation between Janaka and Ashtavakra. Janaka was no ordinary Soul. He was rightly called Videha. Here is a story about Janaka when he was listening to a Discourse on the Atma Vidya: One day, an ashram brahmachari came running: "There is a huge forest fire, flames are progressing quickly towards the huts". All the ascetics immediately rushed to their quarters to save their little belongings, bedding, manuscripts, kamandalu (begging bowl), etc·Only afterwards they came back to listen to the rest of the teaching on the Self. Some time later, a messenger from Mithila came at a gallop; without even coming down, he shouted: "Mithila is burning!" Janaka did not move an inch. Soon later, another envoy from the palace reached: "The fire has attacked your palace!" Janaka went on listening to the teaching. In the end, a third messenger came out of breath and yelled: "Your inner appartments are prey to flames!" At this juncture, Yajnavalkya stopped his talk and glanced in Janaka's direction. The king said: "Even if Mithila, the palace and the inner apartments burn, even if this body is reduced to ashes, the Self remains the same." Now, the Rishi gazed to the ascetic without a word; they suddenly realized who in the audience was the real knower of the Self. (This story is so well known in India that the phrase 'if Mithila burns·' has become a kind of proverb).
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 27 2004, 03:54 PM
Hoiiiiii.. I fell off the chair listening to that. How can one NOT know Astavakra?
Sunder boss, My dad used to say "ch*tiyon ki kami nahin hai ghalib is jamanein main, ek dhundo hajaar milte hain".. Well you have one.. Seriously folks, The knowledge on these boards is awesome. My viewing of Ramayana was enriched by you folks answering my stupid questions as much as Ramanand Sagar has by making this serial. rock.gif Thankyou all from bottom of my heart.. cheers.gif
Posted by: rajesh_g Jul 27 2004, 04:04 PM
One humble request to all you folks. If you guys could come out with small stories like Ashtavakra ones that would be great to save, print and tell kids. So please whenever you guys get time post a cool story.. thumbup.gif
Posted by: Sunder Jul 27 2004, 04:40 PM
Sunder boss, My dad used to say "ch*tiyon ki kami nahin hai ghalib is jamanein main, ek dhundo hajaar milte hain".. Well you have one..
Rajesh ji, my comment was not meant to be a dig at you. Definitely not.. smile.gif I grew up mostly with the upanishadic characters so much that I thought the whole world would know Astavakra's name. When someone starts talking about Cricket (or post '80 bollywood actors/actresses) I would draw a huge blank. biggrin.gif Hotha hai, chaltha hai, dhuniya hai.
Posted by: bgrkumar Jul 27 2004, 05:44 PM
I thought kamandala was a sort of jug which held water, and not a begging bowl.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Jul 27 2004, 09:12 PM
A variant of the tale- the most likely protoform: uddAlaka was an A~ngirasa of the sub-clan of AruNi. He had two brilliant children- son shvetaketu and daughter sujAtA. He had a student called kahola, who was not very intellectually endowed, of the clan of the kaushItakis, . However, he was very devoted to uddAlaka and hence he married sujAtA to kahola. sujAtA was pregnant with their son, who had luckily taken after his mother and grandfather. He was so pained at his father reciting the vedas in flawed accents that aShTavakra he twisted himself in pain and as result was born as aShTavakra. His mother egged on kahoLa to prove himself in the brahmodaya contests in mithilA. Sadly for her, kahoLa lost to vaNDi and a consequence to the pledge drowned himself. Soon her brother shvetaketu and aShTavakra, a mere boy set out to mithilA confront vaNDi. vaNDi was routed by aShTa in the brahmodaya that followed and had to take jala samAdhi.
Posted by: Sunder Jul 28 2004, 07:03 AM
QUOTE (bgrkumar @ Jul 28 2004, 06:14 AM)
I thought kamandala was a sort of jug which held water, and not a begging bowl.
Eek. yes, Kamandalu is indeed a 'guindi/kooja' to carry water.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Aug 1 2004, 10:10 PM
WARNING: Do not read the below post unless you are mature enough The roguish Karttikeya and the wives of the gods We worship the roguish deity kumAra with offerings as ordained by the school of the great sage gopatha. Due to the efficiency of the law enforcement and strictures of the dharma shAstra the rogues and thieves of the land were no longer able achieving their aims. So the rogues and thieves decided to worship the great spear-wielding deity who is known to some as son of agni, to others as the first born son of the fierce rudra and to yet other as the son of the kR^ittikas. The chief of the taskaras accordingly set up a well decorated maNDapa and invoked kumAra with the great formulae ending in the refrain "dhurtaM AvAhayAmyahaM". Pleased by the worship the six-headed god promised the rogues that their trouble will come to an end. Accordingly the fowl-bannered deity incarnated as the sage kanakahastin. kanakahastin became the great sage of the rogues and robbers and composed the text on taskaravidya for their benefit. Armed with this the thieves regained their ways and accordingly offered worship to the great ShaNmukha. ~~* After slaughtering tAraka, the lord of the dAnavas, the commander of the deva army, who is endowed with good looks and great prowess, took to amorous and erotic sports. On account of his look he started flirting with all the goddesses in svarga and engaged in dalliance with the wives of other great deities. On account of his charms the goddess were unable to keep away from the six-headed god and constantly milled around him and were lost in his embraces and passionate plays. In great consternation, the devas rushed to the great daughter of the mountains and asked umA to save their wives from her son. umA called her fiery son and upbraided him about his ways. But the great deity ignored her and continued dallying with the goddesses. Finally to save the devas from this situation, umA decided to manifest in every goddess. Thus, to which ever wife of the god kumAra went, he only saw his mother umA. Utterly disgusted he renounced his amorous sports and vanished to the seclusion of kumAra parvata. oM vacadbhuve namaH from brahma purANa, chapter 81.
Posted by: rhytha Aug 2 2004, 11:47 AM
can anyone tell me where i can listen to some good vedic hymns, in mp3 download format with??
Posted by: amarnath Aug 2 2004, 08:58 PM
Hi Whats with this thing about Cow Worship ? Is there any note in vedas about cow == god ? Atleast i cant take it that Godess of Wealth Laxmi , resides in Cow !
Posted by: rajesh_g Aug 3 2004, 01:46 PM
After Ramayana I have started watching Uttara Ramayana (also from Ramanand Sagar). In one of the episodes it is shown that after receiving inspiration from Dev Rishi Narada for composing Ramayana Maharishi Valmiki goes out for sandhya vandana. He goes to a river and at the time sees 2 Saras birds by the bank - he stands there watching the 2 birds so deeply in love with each other. Then a Vyaadha (shikari ?) comes along and shoots an arrow at the male. The female dies out of shock that her husband has died. Maharishi is enraged and curses the shikari to unending misery. His curse however comes out in the form of a Kavya. He goes back to his kutiya and is feeling really bad that he had cursed the shikari but suddenly realises that his curse was equally (?) divided into 4 parts with each part having same (?) number of words . Maharishi is shown wondering out loud with his disciple Bharadwaja whether he has created the worlds' first Kavya. My question to guroos - is this normally attributed as the first Kavya ? Is Kavya the same thing as poetry ? Is the literature before this not in the form of Kavya ? Thankyou.
Posted by: Ashok Kumar Aug 3 2004, 02:13 PM
Rajesh, That story is correct. It is said Valmiki was the first poet (Adikavi) in the classical sense who wrote in shlokas. Before him vedic poetry was called 'mantras' or 'rchas'. He is credited to have started the so called 'shloka' style. After seeing the hunter ( nishAda) kill the krauncha birds that were involved in love, his heart cried with sorrow (shoka) and what came was supposdly the first shloka of sanskrit literature. As I recall that shloka went like: 'mA nishAda .... ' (hunter, please don't ... ) (forgot the rest of it)
Posted by: rajesh_g Aug 3 2004, 02:32 PM
Thankyou Ashok Kumar. specool.gif Right now I am at work - will post the shloka after I get home. You guys are awesome.. thumbup.gif
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Aug 3 2004, 03:19 PM
QUOTE (Ashok Kumar @ Aug 3 2004, 04:13 PM)
Rajesh, That story is correct. It is said Valmiki was the first poet (Adikavi) in the classical sense who wrote in shlokas. Before him vedic poetry was called 'mantras' or 'rchas'. He is credited to have started the so called 'shloka' style. After seeing the hunter ( nishAda) kill the krauncha birds that were involved in love, his heart cried with sorrow (shoka) and what came was supposdly the first shloka of sanskrit literature. As I recall that shloka went like: 'mA nishAda .... ' (hunter, please don't ... ) (forgot the rest of it)
maa niShAda pratiSThAmtva magamaH shAshvatiiH samAH | yat krau~Ncha mithunAt ekamavadhIH kAma mohitaM || That is why it is said that a proper Hindu should to interrupt two organisms in conjugation.
Posted by: rajesh_g Aug 7 2004, 01:26 PM
Guroos, When Valmiki talks about the inspiration he has had about writing a kathaa Devrishi Narada , while talking about how appropriate the inspiration is, says.. "dharmartha kaama mokshanam, upadesha samanvitam, purva-vritam kathayuktam, itihaasam priyakshate(?)" (sorry about incorrect sanskrit) What does it mean ? Is it something famous and important ?
Posted by: Ashok Kumar Aug 8 2004, 09:16 AM
HH, Thanks! Rajesh, in the quote "dharmartha kaama mokshanam, upadesha samanvitam, purva-vritam kathayuktam, itihaasam priyakshate(?)", the last word 'priyakshate' is suspect. I am not sure what the correct word is. But the translation except that last word is: Containing (samanvitam), the teaching of (upadesham), the four purushaarthas (dharma, kaama, artha & moksha), combined with the story (katha-yuktam) of happenings of the past (purva-vritam), is called (priyakshate?) itihaasa.
Posted by: rajesh_g Aug 8 2004, 10:39 AM
Thanks Ashok Kumar. specool.gif Its hard to listen to the last word. They also zoom out so cant even read lips.. sad.gif
Posted by: Sridatta Aug 8 2004, 08:19 PM
can anyone tell me where i can listen to some good vedic hymns, in mp3 download format with??
You might have come across these websites before, nonetheless let me mention them. The Yajur chants on the MusicIndiaOnline site are particularly good : (But you can't download them I think; they can only be heard online) Also, I found the chants on the website really good. They are rendered by Sri Govinda Prakasha Bhatta & Sri Ananta Padmanabha Bhatta, who seem to have a rich and resonant tone. There are 12 sample verses from the RV in this selection and they all can be downloaded in the .asf format, zipped (2.46 MB), which can be played using Windows Media Player. [Note: .asf files are compressed files with reduced sound quality. For better quality audio, they also have an option to buy the cassette on their website. ]
Posted by: Sridatta Aug 8 2004, 08:28 PM
Rhytha, In addition to the 2 links mentioned above, you may also find some interesting material in the following websites:
Posted by: rajesh_g Aug 12 2004, 03:59 PM
Arindam's article on "Can India come up with billion dollar innovations" made me go back to a rather long writeup I had read a while ago. This section might be of interest to some.. ______________________________________ SECTION VI About Learning and Learning to Learn Learning, Teaching and Culture Without the least bit of exaggeration, one could re-describe the life processes of most biological organisms on earth, especially that of human beings, as a learning process. Life on earth, one could say, is a problem solver, irrespective of whether or not the organisms conceptualize this situation as a problem. Whatever the exact scope of such or similar claims, it is indubitable that human beings are paradigmatic examples of problem solving creatures. Though our evolutionary history has predisposed us towards becoming the kind of creatures (as organisms) that we are, most things we do are learned activities: from learning to walk to learning to use a language, from learning to program a computer to learning to live with others. Given this, it is of great interest for us to know what this learning process is all about. Is there one learning activity or many different ones? How do we learn? What are its mechanisms and what are its sub-processes? There are also other questions, which are of very great importance: does our evolutionary history put constraints on what can be learned and what can be unlearned? Are the choices open to us more narrowly circumscribed than what people take to be the case? etc. We are socialized within the framework of groups; we learn to use language within the framework of groups as well. One of the results of the socialization process is the emergence of human individuality. One of the results of learning a language is to become aware of being a language-user. Because one of the notions of individuality is that of a self-conscious human being, and one of the essential aspects of human language is its stock of personal pronouns like ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘myself’, etc., learning to use a language involves the ability to use reflexive pronouns. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to see many thinkers positing a necessary connection between these two: language is the source of human self-consciousness, or in bolder terms still, language is human self-consciousness. Should this claim be true, most of what I have said so far is false: we do speak languages in Asia, and, I have claimed, ‘selves’ in Asian culture are irreflexive. Socialization, in its broadest sense, refers to the process of living with others. Who these ‘others’ are, what it means to ‘live with them’, etc., are things a human organism learns when it gets socialized. Human groups preserve notions regarding these, amongst other things, in terms of their customs, lore, traditions, etc. Not only that. What is a learning process from the point of view of the individual organism with respect to socialization is a teaching process from the point of view of those responsible for socializing the organism in question. They, the teachers, also draw upon the resources of the group to which they belong. In this sense, it is a truism to claim that the exact content of ‘socialization’ is a matter of the group to which one belongs, i.e., to the culture to which one belongs. It would be equally non-controversial to claim that the methods of teaching will teach only to the extent they dovetail with the process of learning. To the best of our knowledge, we are not genetically determined (either as individuals or as a species) to learn in any one particular way. Given the fact that socializing process of a human organism begins at a very early stage, from the minute of its birth as it were, it would be safe to assert that the teaching process gives form to the way an organism learns about its environment. If the teaching process draws upon the resources of the group, i.e., it is influenced by the culture of that group, it appears reasonable to assert that the way one learns is non-trivially dependent upon one’s culture. Not only the what, but also the how of the learning process is connected to the culture of an organism’s group. One of the important aspects of learning to live with others involves regulation of one’s conduct. One of the domains regulating human conduct is that of morality. I have already drawn attention to the fact that we, in Asia, are taught to be moral principally, if not exclusively, through the medium of stories, legends, etc. I have also claimed that one becomes a conscious, but not a reflexive self in Asian culture. In this section, I would like to speculate about the significance of the relationship between the two, i.e., I would like to suggest that an elaboration or a construction of an irreflexive ‘self’, and a method of teaching are intimately related to each other by means of a dominant mode of learning. There is a difference between the way we learn, and the way learning occurs in the West. Learning Theories and Cognitive Theories In order to contrast the two cultures, I will partially follow the strategy I adopted in the previous section. That is, I will refer to theories about learning processes when I talk about the way of learning in the West. By contrast, I will reflect about the significance of the practice of teaching when I talk of Asia. Unhappy though this situation is, it is unavoidable. Let us, therefore, begin with the West. If we look at Western psychological theories of today (leaving out of our consideration the contributions of Soviet and east-European psychologies), we cannot but help being struck by the strange state of affairs represented by cognitive science in general or, more narrowly, by cognitive psychology. Because they are about cognition, we would expect them to formulate/answer questions about the nature of learning process, etc. Yet, strangely enough, not only is this not the case, but we are also led to feel that there is something wrong about this expectation. This must be something approaching a consensus in the cognitive psychological community of today, because in the recent encyclopaedias and encyclopaedic dictionaries of psychology, for instance, “learning” and “learning theories” hardly show themselves as active areas of investigation. The only significant learning theory, apparently, is the family of behaviourist theories, and contemporary cognitive psychology is built in explicit opposition to them. The situation is even stranger than it appears at first sight. Learning theory is identified with behaviourism i.e. they are almost used as synonymous terms. If this is the case, then cognitive psychology can hardly be taken as an alternative to behaviourist theories. Yet, almost all cognitive psychologists appear to think that their theories are alternatives to behaviourism. Should this be true, then surely the former ought to ask questions that behaviourism asked, viz., what a learning process is, how an organism learns, etc. To these questions, if they give different answers, then there is justification to construe them as alternate theories. But, they do not – at least, not explicitly. The picture becomes even more complex, if we bring in Piaget’s genetic psychology. During his life-time, he was in constant polemics with both these. If running polemics from all sides are any indication of their differences, then we will have to think that they are, somewhere along the line, competitor, or rival theories. As a first approximation, let us try to capture the difference between the group of behaviourist theories as, for instance, exemplified by Skinner’s theory, and those of cognitive psychology and genetic psychology, in terms of the different approaches they take to answer the following question: when is some activity a learning activity? The first, behaviourist, approach would characterize some activity as a learning activity insofar the said activity exhibited some properties. The second, cognitive and genetic, approach would characterize learning activity as being one, depending upon what such an activity eventuated in. A brief caricature is in order here. This is the Skinnerian approach in general terms: all learned behaviour is a causally produced behaviour. To have learnt a behaviour is to have acquired the propensity to produce the behaviour whenever the causative circumstances are present. A behaviour is said to have been learned by an organism if, and only if, the behaviour has a history with respect to the organism in question i.e., learned behaviour is identical to the history of that behaviour. Behaviours have no history, but the organisms which produce behaviours have one. Consequently, history of behaviour and the history of the organism fall together. When put in such general terms, Skinner does not put it in any other way, this becomes very trivial: the past experiences of an organism are crucial with respect to the behaviour it is likely to produce. If you have learned English and that is the only language you have learned, it is very likely that the next sentence you are going to utter will be a sentence from the English language. As one of the harshest critics of behaviourism, Noam Chomsky, puts it, we hardly need a behavioural science to tell us this. Regarding cognitive and genetic psychologies, not to mention the burgeoning field of cognitive science and Artificial Intelligence, the situation is far too complex to allow even a caricature. So, I will simply make some assertions with the happy realization that the point I would like to make later does not depend upon the truth of these assertions. But that does not imply that these assertions are either groundless or false. It merely suggests that they can be contested for not being an accurate representation of the state of affairs. Those activities which eventuate in the production or even acquisition of cognitive products are to be considered as learning activities. It is of no importance for our purposes whether such products are to be seen as concepts like ‘space’, ‘time’ or ‘causality’, or as judgements involving these concepts or, even, whether they are to be looked at as full-blown theories. A logical or mathematical activity is one which produces logical or mathematical products. In order to describe the phases or stages of such a cognitive activity, it is vital to refer to the products eventuated by the exercise of such an activity. A learning activity comes to be seen with respect to the products of such a process. This is true for all these theories, no matter where we look: it may be an explication of the strategy of “means-end analysis” as a typical feature of some cognitive activities; it could be discussions about the designing of “expert systems” in the field of Artificial Intelligence, or it could be debates about the “internalization” of action-schemes and their elaboration by means of “reflective abstraction” or whatever. Learning, to put it succinctly, is not domain-neutral but domain-dependent. Therefore, we could suggest that the real question asked by these approaches is: how do we acquire, or produce cognitive products? This psychological question has its philosophical counterpart: how can we justify/accept/reject cognitive products? Of course, the psychological question itself has a philosophical flavour: how is cognition possible at all? The Kantian ‘transcendental’ nature of this question can come hardly as a surprise: Piaget, for example, was a Kantian after all. As a second approximation, we could now say that behaviourism and contemporary cognitive and genetic psychologies appear not to be giving two different answers to the same question after all. Rather, they seem to be asking two different questions: (a)When is an activity learned? What features does it exhibit? (b)How are cognitive products acquired and produced? How can such an activity be represented? Should this be the case, this raises the issue whether these two approaches are approaches to the same question, as we tried to see it as a first approximation, and thus whether they are rival theories at all. Let me simply register this query without making any attempt to answer it. One of the results of both these approaches, even though it is truer of the second, is to draw one’s attention to the relation between knowledge and meta-knowledge. To know that ‘p’ is the case, logically entails knowing that one knows that ‘p’ is the case. Knowledge system is thus a reflexive system. Insofar as we are talking about human beings, if a human being knows something, it logically entails that he is reflexive with respect to his own knowledge. This not only presupposes a reflexive self, but also sustains one. In a slightly different terminology, something is in your memory if, and only if, you can access it. You can do so, if you know how to access it, and this knowledge must be somewhere in the system. If this is so both as a matter of fact of empirical psychology, i.e., as a fact about our memories, and as a matter of logic, some of my claims are not tenable. Again, I raise this as an issue without, however, doing anything to settle it. A Notion of Learning Let me return to the question raised at the beginning: what makes some activity into a learning activity? The intuition behind this question is our tendency (or desire) to call various actions as learning actions, which are indifferent to what is learned as such. It is analogous to our tendency (or desire) for wanting to call some state of affairs a ‘diseased’ state, insofar as it exhibits some characteristics. Such a general notion of disease (which does not exist today) would be neutral or indifferent with respect to the specific symptoms and signs exhibited by an organism in a specific diseased state. It is possible that such a general notion of disease is not forthcoming or, where it does, it would turn out to be entirely trivial. Equally, such a general notion may not only turn out to be possible to arrive at, but a theory which incorporates such a notion may turn out to be non-trivial also. Similar considerations apply to a general theory of learning. I should like to explore the possibility of a non-trivial, general notion of learning with respect to our cultures. If learning is indifferent to what is learned, what transforms some activity into a learning activity cannot be either the beliefs or concepts or the skills acquired due to this process. It must be the nature of some process which makes us want to call it a learning process. That is, an activity which exhibits some specific properties is what we would want to call a learning activity. Any learning activity is a sequence of actions, i.e., each action is connected to the other in some definite way. The ‘definiteness’ alluded to cannot only be a temporal one in that each action follows upon the other. Rather, it must be the case that some sets of actions hang together in some way or another. It is this ‘Zusammenhang’ that makes a group of actions into a learning activity. That is, they exhibit a pattern. To learn, therefore, is to perform actions which are patterned. I would now like to suggest that what is specific or distinctive about the way we learn in Asia is the dominant pattern our actions exhibit by virtue of which they become learning actions. It is one of mimesis. If I may give another description of the same: in Asian cultures, learning is an ‘application’ of mimetic learning scheme. The rest of what follows elaborates upon this one single point. Stories as Models I have already drawn attention to one of the characteristic aspects of cultural systems, viz., they train the young (not just them) to learn in ways specific to their systems. What is specific to our way of learning can best be explicated by reflecting upon the significance of the predominant custom of teaching prevalent in Asian culture, namely through stories. For my purposes, two aspects of “story-telling” are important. It is best to look at them by turns. Firstly, stories are a way of representing the world. Cognitively speaking, they are models of the world in a broad sense of the term. As models, they portray, stand for, or represent some small part of the world. Perhaps, it is interesting, to go a bit in detail into how stories represent the world. And I shall do so without seeking controversies, and sticking to elementary truisms. Therefore, let me consider the case of a group performing a rain dance. When asked about the significance of their actions, one gets to hear a story invariably as it were. Such a story depicts a set of events which includes the performing of the rain dance in conjunction with some other events. Now, it is not the case that causal efficacy is attributed to the performance of the rain dance. That is, the group does not believe that their jumping up and down, in some specified way, causes the rains to come. They are not justifying this belief by telling a story. What, then, are they doing? Because stories are models of a situation, as models they are neither true nor false; it is only in models that statements come out as true or false. When the group performs a rain dance and no rains come, all that can be said about the story is that it is not model for such a situation. If, on the other hand, we look at the way the group experiences the situation, then quite a lot could be explicated. When the dance is performed and the rains do not come, the group experiences this situation as “something having gone wrong somewhere”. When the rains do come, it is experienced as “everything is as it should be”. What are these experiences signalling? Almost all cultures preserve and inculcate a sense and feeling for order. It is almost as though each generation teaches the same basic truth about its culture to the next generation: cultural systems are not the result of purposive actions of some or all of its members. An appreciation of a culture (albeit their own culture) as an order, which has come into being without either being willed or designed is a necessary component to growing up in any culture. The order in one’s culture, seen as a kind of “natural growth”, and the order in the universe are seen to share the same property of not being the result of their deliberate actions. The awareness that actions of its members are necessary to maintain the cultural order, and that such actions, somehow, can disrupt or sustain the order is also present in most cultures. In any culture, at any moment of time, hypotheses float around which purport to explain both: some or other account of the pattern that one’s own culture and the cosmos exhibits, and some explanation of the role of individual actions with respect to sustaining or disrupting these orders. Many such explanations have come and gone; why does the sense and feeling of order not follow suit? This is best answered, if we ask how cultures manage to sustain this feeling in the absence of knowledge. What mechanisms, there need not be only one mechanism, preserve the sense of order in the absence of knowledge regarding the pattern(s), in the absence of knowledge regarding the nature of one’s contribution towards disrupting or maintaining such an order? One such mechanism admirably suited for this job is the stories and legends that we tell. Stories preserve patterns without saying what these patterns are. They depict partial aspects of an order without specifying what the order consists of. Rain dancing, the coming of the rains, etc., form a sequence of situations without a specification of relations between them. The experience of “something having gone wrong somewhere, and that of “everything is as it should be” are expressions of disturbance/appropriateness accordingly as the story is not/is a model of the situation. Stories do not explain anything, because they do not portray relations (causal or otherwise) between events. In very simple terms, they just model a set of affairs. To be sure, there are many different kinds of stories; some of them make an explicit claim to being explanatory in nature. At the moment though, we can safely, yes safely, overlook the types and concentrate on the genre. This is the cognitive or representational aspect of stories which makes them continuous with other representational products known to us like philosophy, scientific theories, etc. But they also differ from them: whereas theories explain, stories do not. Theories can justify some belief that you may have, stories do not. Just as an illustration, here is a story familiar to most of you depicting the conception of Buddha in his mother’s womb: “Once it came to pass that a noble and beautiful woman conceived. At this same moment, the elements of the ten-thousand world systems quaked and trembled as an immeasurable light appeared. The blind received their sight. The deaf heard. The dumb spoke with one another. The crooked became straight. The lame walked. Prisoners were freed from their bonds and chains. In hell the fire was extinguished. In the heaven of the ancestors all hunger and thirst ended. Wild animals ceased being afraid. The illness of the sick vanished. All men began to speak kindly to one another as this new being was conceived in his mother’s womb.” How did you read it? Did it occur to you to think that Buddha’s conception caused any or all of these events? You will have noticed though that the story itself is silent about the relation between the events. It is we who have to connect the events together. If you read it without imputing causal relations, did it strike you that you were not disturbed by the sequence of events? And that there was something “natural” or “appropriate” about the entire sequence, even though the occurrence of some event is forbidden by the scientific theories we accept? Did you get the feeling that things are “as they should be” even when you know that some of them are improbable? If you did, you know what stories are and what they do. This story is depicting a moral order. What I have said so far concerns the first, cognitive, aspect of stories as models. There is a second, practical, aspect to stories-as-models as well. Stories are a way of going about in the world. They are models in a practical sense i.e. they are emulable. Stories are pedagogic instruments par excellence. How can stories teach us to do anything? How can they be instructive, i.e., instruct us to do anything at all? Our stories do not come with any explicit morals attached: they do not say, for example, ‘the moral of this story is…’ They are not structured as manuals for practical action either: ‘do X in order to reach Y’. How, then, can they teach? If they do, it has to do with the way we learn. Let us, therefore, ask: what kind of an activity must a learning activity be, if stories are how one learns? My answer is that it can only be a mimetic activity. As stories, they are a set of propositions. What they depict are actions. Between these actions and those of one’s own, what obtains is a practical relation of mimesis. Only as such can stories function as instructions for actions. Stories combine this double function: they are ‘theoretical, and ‘practical’ at the same time. They are not straightforward instructions; nor are they only representational. They entertain us too, but not the way the “Little Red Riding Hood” does. Understanding and imitation fall together: to understand is to imitate and to imitate is to understand. Stories are oblique instructions disguised as representations depicting actions. One learns, while one is not aware that one is learning. Mimesis is a sub-intentional learning. This property is not paradoxical at all: it is characteristic of all mimetic learning. As any mimic would tell you, to be aware that one is miming while one mimes is to be unable to mime at all. (That is the reason why children can be such good imitators.) In terms of this paper: mimetic learning is irreflexive. An irreflexive ‘self’ learns through mechanisms which are irreflexive themselves. Some Hypotheses A mode of teaching, I said before, forms the way one learns. Stories are paradigmatic examples of our methods of teaching. Therefore, the form our learning actions exhibit is one of mimesis. This suggestion generates some surprising, non-trivial implications. Here are a few of them: 1.If mimetic learning is to succeed, meta-reflections about both what one is learning and how one is learning have to be avoided. In the best of cases, one realizes that one has learned, and that too only long after the learning process is completed. Such meta-reflections can only be avoided, if mimetic learning is the dominant learning scheme in a culture. Consider what could happen otherwise, i.e., if there were many different learning schemes of equal importance or where, for example, mimetic learning is subordinated to other kinds of learning. The learning subject must have information present somewhere in his system which tells him whether a particular way of learning is appropriate in the given situation. Decision requires to be made both about what one wants to learn, and how one learns. One is forced, as it were, to be reflexive. Perhaps, an example would prove instructive. Consider the way reading is taught in our cultures. In terms of efficacy, there is little to be said in favour of the superiority of ‘Western’ methods as against ‘our’ methods. Theoretically, the situation is equally bleak: existing pedagogic methods are through and through suspect with respect to psychological theories. In the most used teaching-to-read methods, the pedagogy of reading in the West rests upon what is called “structural analysis”. This involves an analysis of the structure of the words, i.e., an analysis of speech structure and word structure, both graphemically and phonemically. That is, one speaks out a word loud and one is taught to break it up into its constituent phonemes, which are then mapped to graphemes. Previously, a child used the word ‘cat’ and made itself understood. There was nothing mysterious or puzzling about the word; it never occurred to the child that it ought to reflect about that or any other word. As it reaches appropriate levels at school, it is taught that ‘cat’ is not the same thing as cat; the former is a word composed of phonemes k/a/th and that they correspond to the graphemes c/a/t; and that the word itself refers to the concept of the animal so named which, in turn, picks out an animal, etc. This process is deemed crucial to recognizing novel words. For our purposes, the point of this example is the following: the way one is taught to read in the Western culture forces a child to think about what it is saying, how it is segmented phonemically, i.e., it is forced to become conscious of what it is doing, and to do consciously what it was doing all along without being aware that it was doing it. In the most used Western teaching-to-read methods, learning to read entails acquiring meta-level knowledge about the knowledge the child already had, viz., of its native language. In other words, it is taught to reflect consciously about its very learning itself. This is not limited to the pedagogy of reading alone. 2.The previous point helps generate the following hypothesis: socializing children by means of stories stands in some direct relation to the growth of reflexive selves. If it is the case that selves are reflexive in Europe, stories can only have entertainment value. The greater the degree a culture encourages the growth of reflexive selves, the less are also its stock of stories (legends, myths, ‘fairy’ tales, etc.) A culture which stimulates reflexivity in its members cannot sustain stories as models. 3.There is another, albeit related, point to the previous hypothesis. In a culture where ‘selves’ are not reflexive at all or are only partially so, but one whose ideal (or ‘self-image’) is governed by that of reflexivity, stories continue to be important but in a transmuted form. They continue to depict events and situations, but are powerless to teach. That is, they retain their instructional nature without being able to instruct. There is such a genre in Western culture: utopian thought. They are instructional in nature without really instructing. (That is exactly what the moral imperatives, the ‘oughts’, are.) They depict events and situations which are not “real”, i.e., not the “is’, but outside of it, viz., in utopia. They depict “non-real” situations and events with the explicit claim of doing so. Because of this, they can continue to exist only if they entertain and that depends on the ‘aesthetic’ taste of the population at any given moment. The modern day utopian thought is known well enough to all of us to recognize it as so without doubt: science fiction. 4.If we learn to be moral beings through mimesis, it means that moral and ethical actions must be susceptible to being mimed. Contrast this stance with that of the West: a moral individual (an ideal priest or, say, Jesus Christ) is inimitable in principle. That is, a moral individual is actually a message, which does not say “be like me”, but one which proclaims “hope” for the humankind, brings “glad tidings” so to speak. And the “hope” is that the presence of such an inimitable, exceptional individual will “save” humankind. If one is “righteous”, it is not only because that is the way to one’s ‘salvation’, but more importantly, because the salvation of humankind depends upon the “righteous” being present amongst them. One is “moral” so that other ‘sinners’ may be delivered from their ‘sins’. Such figures cannot influence daily life positively, but do so negatively viz., as examples of what we ordinary mortals, cannot be. They are, literally, the embodiments of ‘ought’ and, as such, outside the ‘is’ (Not every human being can be an ideal priest or even, as the examples tell us, ought to be one.) In Asia, such an ‘ought’ is no moral example at all. A moral action must be capable of emulation in daily life and only as such can someone be an ‘example’. Moral actions are actions that a son, a father, a friend, a teacher, a wife, etc., can perform as a son, a father, a friend, a teacher, a wife, etc. Either moral actions are realizable in this world, and in circumstances we find ourselves in our daily lives or they are not moral actions at all. Therefore, those real or fictitious individuals whose actions we mime and who are, consequently, construed as ‘exemplary’ individuals cannot find themselves ‘outside’ our world, but in situations analogous to our own. (Such a view is consistent with our models of ‘self’, for obvious reasons.) 5.This suggests that the role of moral authorities in these two cultures is different. In the West, the moral authorities are rigid principles without mercy or forgiveness. All talk of autonomy notwithstanding, moral ‘decisions’ are totally heteronymous. One has to reflect not only about the principle one has to apply, but also judge whether one has correctly applied it. As a consequence, moral domain becomes one of judgement. The objects of judgement are and can only be conceptual ones, viz., theories. To say that some action is moral is to say whether or not the description of that action satisfies some or other moral principle. We have noticed this already. Moral life gets impoverished by being reduced to a principle (e.g. utilitarianism) or by being at the mercy of another’s ‘judgement’ (e.g., that of a priest). In Asia, by contrast, the immediate physically recognizable authority figures (parents, teachers, elders) are also figures of moral authority. Mimesis in moral action requires figures recognized as moral authorities. Consequently, in a culture dominated by mimetic learning, not only do such authorities play an important role in regulating moral conduct, but are also so recognized. That is why, I suggest, parents, teachers, elders, ancestors have such a privileged position in our culture. They are not only familial or socially recognized authorities, but are individually recognized moral authorities also. 6.If socialization involves mimesis, and families are the primary units of socializing a human infant, the success of the socialization process depends very much on what the family exactly models. That is, an individual can be taught to “live with others” if and only if, the family stands for, or represents the significant details of the social environment. The family, in its important details, must be continuous with the moral community at large. And, I submit, it does. Not only this. In a peculiar way, this sheds some light upon the “sternness”, or “harshness” considered typical of both family life and teaching situations in Asia. One is being prepared for life, when one is brought up as an offspring and a pupil. Between them, the parents and the teachers must prepare the child to act morally when it goes ‘out’ as an adult to meet the world at large. That can only be done if the child faces a wide variety of situations during its growing-up process, and sees the ways in which ‘others’ are going to construe its actions. Parents and teachers must, in the full sense of the term, stand for and represent the rest of the community. To allow parental love and indulgence to ‘interfere’ in this process is to fail in discharging the moral obligation that one has assumed towards one’s off-spring, viz., that of socializing the child. Consequently, one’s family is also one’s sternest and harshest critic. If one passes this test, the belief is that one can pass any other test. Hence the descriptions of an ideal father or teacher: “harder than the diamond, softer than a flower”. The contrast between family as a ‘‘moral arena” as Asian culture sees it, and family as a “Haven in a heartless world”, as Lasch titles his book on family, cannot be sharper. In Western families, one is to experience love, one learns to be oneself. One becomes one’s true self, and learns to let the others be. The socializing or educative role of the family is secondary, it is derivative. Its primary task is to “protect” the child from the “cruel world out there”. If it prepares the child to face up to the cold and indifferent world, it does so by providing that “love and understanding” which gives the child the courage to “go and get” what it wants. It is taught to be “itself” in all circumstances. Family is one’s only oasis in the desert of social life. In one case, family is the moral community; in the other, it is different from and other than the social world. Mimetic learning sheds light on the how and why of the former, partial and incomplete though it is as an explanation. 7.One other aspect of moral authorities is worthy of mention. Learning by mimesis, as supported by our model of ‘self’’, involves that the moral action of others can shame you into performing a moral action yourself, i.e., the actions that others perform/have performed can guide and instruct you in the course of your life. Contrast this with the attitude in the West. Not only are moral individuals inimitable, but they also “ought not to be” imitated for yet another reason. Because one’s action expresses one’s self (in whatever form), and to “be one’s self” is the guiding value of a life, the actions of such moral individuals are seen as expressions of the “moral selves” of those individuals. In such a case, a specific moral action ceases to have an instructional or pedagogic significance: it is only a psychological curiosity, i.e., it can tell you something about the kind of person that someone is. While in one culture, a moral action could be seen as raising the question “how is that an instruction for my actions?” In another culture, it raises the question “what kind of a person must he be to do what I would not?” To get a flavour of this difference between our two cultures, I would suggest to those of you who have seen the film “Gandhi”, and in a position to talk to someone from the West who has also seen the film to do so. You would be surprised at what you can learn from such a ‘coffee-shop’ talk. Consider, in this regard, what Einstein said of Gandhi… 8.By its very nature, Mimesis is a reproduction of existing actions, i.e., it essentially conserves. A culture dominated by mimetic learning must, perforce, exhibit a very strong pull towards conservatism. Our cultures are essentially conservative. Tradition, the past, etc., must weigh heavily on all those who are members of such cultures. And, I submit, it does so in our case. 9.The other side of the same phenomenon is what happens when our cultures meet with those of the West. There is a partial exchange of authorities, not their total disappearance. The tendency is towards an imitation of these, new, authorities. We could look at the ‘Westernization’ of our youth or at the fact that the Japanese have earned the label, often used pejoratively, of being “very good imitators”. We imitate the West not because there is some “iron law of capitalism” which compels us, willy-nilly, to be like them but because that is our way of learning. This might shed some light upon why one Indian community survived by adapting itself to the West, whereas another got exterminated by failing to do so. 10.Despite a considerable technological development in Asia much, much earlier, scientific theorizing (as we know of it today) emerged within the Western culture. A hypothesis that can be generated to throw some light on this phenomenon is this: mimetic learning is restricted to performing actions that are perceived as being performed by others. Novel or new actions result primarily by performing a familiar action in novel circumstances and secondarily by transposing actions performed in one domain to another. While mimetic learning is transposable, it remains essentially limited in scope. It is a ‘scheme’ of “social learning”, if you like. It is relatively inflexible in the sense that it cannot be transposed to learning about the “Natural world”, unless in the form of modelling “natural events” in human artefacts. But this does not suffice for scientific theorizing. Crudely put, there is a kind of rigidity or inflexibility to our learning which is, to some extent, due to the lack of reflexivity in our learning. There is something more that requires to he said in this regard. As I am not very clear about it myself, I will merely mention it in the passing. Consider this question: what notion of knowledge should we have, if we would want to consider mimesis as learning? Or, what notion of knowledge do we have, if we learn by mimesis? It cannot be analogous to the interrogative, questioning, probing processes, which are seen as being characteristic to scientific theorizing. One cannot put constraints on Nature, and force it, as Kant put it, to answer our questions. There can be no mimesis in such circumstances. So, if this is not the notion of knowledge that we have, what else could it possibly be? My answer will be very vague, because that is all that comes to my mind. Mimetic learning involves being ready and alert to identify learning situations; such situations do not come with labels attached to their sleeves. Some situation, any situation, can be a learning situation; someone, anyone, can teach you; some action, any action, can be exemplary. Whether or not you learn from such situations, persons and actions depends upon you construing them thus. No person, for instance, performs an action with the sole intention of teaching you; he is performing the obligations he has assumed. Even where his obligation is to teach you, you can but learn if you construe it as a learning situation. In a world, then, where fleeting actions and events can teach, and where ‘teachers’ do not come with professorial chairs, there your readiness to learn is crucial, if you are to learn at all. It means that you have to be alert lest a teacher or an action passes you by, and open so that you may ‘see’ what is being taught. Because, literally, anyone or any action may teach you, you will have to be fundamentally open to all situations and actions. Cognitive attitude, thus, appears to involve these dimensions of readiness, alertness and openness to being taught. Though these dimensions and the construing activity are active, they are also “peculiarly passive”. For, consider: if learning is sub-intentional, what is taught depends on that which you construe as being taught, and your construal itself is a function of the dimensions involved in cognitive attitude, then the cognitive attitude itself can only be characterized, if we say that it involves “readiness, open-ness and alertness to…” You cannot fill the blank with a constant, but can do so with a variable or with “all events, all actions, and all persons at all times”. Equally, you may as well leave it open. We do have a word, which captures such an open-ended attitude: receptivity. Though this word does capture the ‘passive dimension’ involved in such an open-ended cognitive attitude, it does so by stripping it of all its active dimensions. It must be clear from the foregoing that our cognitive attitude is not, cannot be, totally or even fundamentally passive. That is why I said that it is “peculiarly passive”. We could put it this way: cognitive attitude appears to involve openness and readiness to, God I hate this word, being revealed to. Consequently, knowledge seems to require some kind of an action, which happens to you as you go about in the world. If it sounds mystical, that is because it has something to do with mysticism. But, not quite the way it may appear at first sight. It could be the case, I will come back to this point last, that mimetic learning involves the using of the right-hemisphere of the brain (for right-handed people), which is also the seat of mystical experience. Be it as this may, one will have to return to explicate the conception of knowledge implicit in our cultures. Though vital and crucial, it will have to wait, perhaps, for that time when there is greater clarity all around. 11.What does it mean to grow up an Asian then? Application of mimetic learning scheme, if it can be called that at all, requires that one develops the ability to discriminate finely. One has to sort out, so to speak, situations and actions in such a way that one is able to distinguish between emulable-in-this-situation from the emulable-in-that-situation. Not all aspects of an event and action is, can or should be emulated. In other words, we grow up to be members of our culture by acquiring finely tuned set of discriminating criteria. How do we acquire these criteria? Again, the answer cannot be other than to say, by mimesis. It is, if I may nest operations, mimetic schemes within mimetic schemes. Some of the patterns are preserved in our cultures by the multiplicity of cultural institutions: son, friend, pupil, father, wife…etc. As we slowly grow into maturity, we become some of these, and we learn to become these by taking as models those who went before us, those who are our contemporaries and so on. As these institutions overlap, so do our schemes, meshing and intermeshing with each other, generating and sustaining a culture, which none understand but all admit to being a gestalt of “unformalizable and refined codes of conduct, rituals, ceremonies, etc.” Events and actions must loose their clarity and simplicity, when multiple and often incompatible models are said to model the same situation. They must become complex and essentially ambiguous. Indeed, I claim, they do. One expression of this situation is the extra-ordinary productivity of our culture with respect to “religions”. 12.Speaking of religions brings me to the last observation that I want to make. Again, it is a hypothesis generated by the preceding points. One of the characteristics of Western culture is the kind of importance it attaches to language. It is believed that everything is knowable, and what is knowable is also sayable, even though various thinkers like Kant, Hayek, etc., have warned against such a presumption. We need not choose sides on this debate for now. But to the extent this is believed, the education of people involves placing a very heavy emphasis on expressing things in language. We know that human brain consists of two symmetrical hemispheres. Each of these appears to specialize in some kinds of tasks: the left-hemisphere of the right-handed people (or the right-hemisphere for the left-handed), for example, contains the speech area. Linguistic, logical and mathematical abilities or, in short, linguistic and analytical skills are more or less localized in one of the two hemispheres (I shall speak only of the right-handed people from now on and, hence, of the left-hemisphere alone, when I talk of the seat for linguistic, etc., skills.). Because ‘intelligence’ refers basically to the development of linguistic and analytical skills, a culture which places great importance on “developing intelligence” has to emphasize such activities as its educational focus. It is also the case that one of the supreme ideals of Western culture is that of “rationality” (Of course we are all for “rationality”; who would want to be irrational in this day and age, except the irrational?) An action or a decision is rational insofar as it instances some or another rational principle. To be ‘rational’, to be ‘moral’, etc., is to act and judge according to some or other principle. In such a culture, the left-hemisphere must be called into play more often than the right-hemisphere of the brain. The right-hemisphere, for its part, is the seat of emotions and passions, intuition and creativity, etc. In a culture where the ideal is the subordination of passion to reason (people like Hume notwithstanding), there the ideal is the subordination of the right to left hemisphere of the brain. The left hemisphere is, of course, not “stupid”, i.e., it is not just a boiling sea of “animal passions”. It simply does not have the linguistic ability, speaking figuratively, to “express itself”. It appears reasonable to hypothesize that education in our cultures trains us to call the right-hemisphere into play more often than is the case in the West. Consider, for example, the realm of moral education. If stories and not the ‘principles’ are the how of our moral actions, ‘understanding’ such stories cannot take place without calling in the right-hemisphere of the brain. It must be said at once that ‘understanding’ is not being used here in the sense of being able to answer questions about the stories, after being told one. Many people in the field of Artificial Intelligence are busy writing programs, which, it is claimed, display such ability. Rather, it is being used in the sense of taking it as an instruction for action. (It could be said that this is not an insurmountable problem, but I will come to it soon.) The stories, as I said, depict events and situations from life-situations, or consequences of actions performed by identifiable figures. As stories, they have to be appealing, and possess a definite order and structure. The order cannot be felt, and the appeal would be lost in the absence of the right-hemisphere, even if the left-hemisphere has to be called in to say exactly what the order or even the appeal consists of. Perhaps it is the case that in the early years of childhood, the infant primarily uses the right-hemisphere of the brain to learn even while its left-hemisphere is being stimulated. That could be the reason why they are open to all situations, while displaying precisely the kind of cognitive attitude that I spoke of earlier. As any number of studies have shown us, the openness and creativity the children normally display fall very sharply within two years of beginning to attend school. The estimates go so high, psychologists speak of a drop of over 98% in the creative capacity of children within the first two years of their schooling, that it seems reasonable to assume that the dominance of the left-hemisphere of the brain over the right leads not merely to development of some skills (in this case, the development of linguistic and analytical skills), but, more importantly, to a different way of learning altogether. An extreme example might help us appreciate the point better: it is not impossible to think of a computer making moral decisions. That is, it is not impossible to write a computer program which embodies some ethical theory or another, and contains instructions about how actions and events should be analyzed. It would be a mammoth job, and it is also true that one does not know today how such a program would look. But should it be possible to do so, the decision arrived at by the running of such a program on a computer would represent the pinnacle of what would be considered a moral decision. That is so, because moral decisions are the results of possessing an adequate moral theory. There is no way we could represent our notion of morality in a computer program, unless it be in the form of some complex induction rules. But we are not inducing any rule whatsoever from the stories which depict moral actions or moral orders. We are not reasoning the way it requires to be represented, if written as a program: “A did X in situation Z; my situation is analogous in some relevant details; therefore, provisionally, I ought to do X as well.”. We could not be doing any such thing, if we learn through mimesis. You could, of course, represent our ways of being moral as thought it was an application of an inductive rule or even a set of them. This will tell you what your notion of the moral is, but not what we do when we act morally. (This is one of the reasons why, I believe, our notions of being moral differs both from situational ethics and from casuistry.). This is not a pro or contra argument regarding whether computers ‘feel’ or ‘think’. It is simply to say that the Western concept of the moral can be simulated on a computer whereas our ideas of the moral cannot, unless as a “weaker version” of its Western counterpart. It may turn out that I am wrong; until such time, I will believe that moral actions in our cultures cannot be divorced from the personal, experiential dimension whereas the Western notions can. Whether this satisfies you or not, I believe that the point I want to make is clear: In the West, one is moral purely on conceptual grounds. On these grounds alone, can one not be moral in Asia, without the affective and the emotional being somehow involved. There is a second, bolder, hypothesis to be made which I have already hinted at. Mimetic learning involves using the right hemisphere of the brain. There is some plausibility to this hypothesis as well. As I said before, to say or analyze what one is doing when one is miming is not to be able to mime at all. This ‘saying’ or ‘analyzing’ involves the left-hemisphere of the brain, which is where these skills are localized. Once such a process is initiated, the left-hemisphere assumes dominance. Consequently, the latter becomes more ‘passive’ with the failure to imitate as a result. In this connection, think of the studies about the fall in the creativity of young children when they start attending school. It is in contact with an environment, which places such a premium on developing linguistic and analytical skills that children cease being creative. Creativity, we know, is the capacity of the right-hemisphere. Now, whether one can localize mimetic learning in the right-hemisphere or whether using stories as models requires using both hemispheres, at least this minimal hypothesis can be reasonably accepted: learning processes in Asian culture involve calling the right hemisphere into play more often than is the case in the West. But, it requires to be said in order to prevent misunderstandings from arising, that does not imply that Asians are not ‘logical or analytical’ or that Europeans do not ‘feel’. We have an extensive history of logical and linguistic analyses, and no one is suggesting that Europeans are born without right-hemispheres, much less that they do not use it. I hope this is clear! Should this minimal hypothesis be true, it sheds light on another phenomenon characterized as typical of our culture, viz., the phenomenon of mysticism. The seat of mystical experience is the right-hemisphere of the brain. Our culture ‘trains’ its members in the use of this hemisphere more often and more regularly than the West. Consider one of the unintended side-effects of this ‘training’: over a period of time, a statistically significant number of people will begin to report to having had the kind of experience we term as being ‘mystical’. This phenomenon will have to show some kind of regularity, i.e., it must happen regularly, over some significant period of time to some of the members of the group. While isolated reports, which come in now and then, can be discounted as being insignificant, it is not possible to do so when the same, or very similar report becomes something of a regular feature in a society. However it may get ‘explained’, the explanation cannot by-pass the phenomenon. It is experienced as something that always seems to occur, i.e., as something that seems to be a significant experience in its own right, a legitimate or even a very natural experience, which is culturally relevant to the community itself. I put to you that the acceptance of such experiences is preserved in our culture by making the mystical experience the very core of our religions. By the same token, contrary must be the case in a culture like that of the West. And that is indeed so: ‘mysticism’ has always been at logger-heads with the established religions. To be sure, this does not explain much. But, it does appear to shed some light on what requires to be explained. This situation, if remotely true, would explicate the two differing notions of wisdom in our two cultures. In one, wisdom (sophia) is primarily theoretical in nature. In the other, wisdom is primarily practical in nature. In both, they are standards of excellence: someone who knows the truth is the wise one in one culture: in the other, it is someone who performs exactly the right action in the right circumstances. True, neither of these ideals is the exclusive property of either. But it does not take away, I trust, the point about the ideals of human existence as they differ between these two cultures. A Last Word or Two Just two more remarks before ending this section. Firstly, whatever your ‘assessment’ of the hypotheses proposed in this section, I hope you will grant me that the notion of mimetic learning, however unclear it may be as of now, does appear to be non-trivial and productive. at least on first sight, it seems to bring together a wide set of disparate phenomena together. This circumstance alone must make the basic idea of this section appear less implausible. It must make one want to take a closer look at the issue instead of being totally dismissive. Of course, nothing of what I have said either in this section or elsewhere proves any one point. They are intended to make a quest appear less stupid than it might otherwise be the case. I shall come back to this point in the conclusions in greater detail. Secondly, I intended to say more things. At least two more sections, one about economic and decision theories, and the other about the history and philosophy of sciences are not added to this already swollen paper. The basic idea, in one case, was to look at the “free-rider problem” and “prisoner’s dilemma” in terms of the notion of mimetic learning. In the other case, it was a possible way of looking at the debates about the problem of “scientific method”, which engaged the attention of thinkers in the West for nearly three centuries. These sections are not appended partly due to the fact that they are not fully written out, and partly due to the size of the present paper. I do not, as yet, have a very clear idea where such inquiries will take one to. But I feel convinced that they hang together is some way and that both issues would look different when looked at differently. Be it as that may, what I have said so far ought to suffice for the moment. I draw you attention to my intentions nevertheless, because, who knows, someone from amongst you might want to pursue the enquiry into these or other areas.
Posted by: rajesh_g Aug 18 2004, 07:14 PM
Finished watching Uttara Ramayana yesterday. I must say I had started watching this reluctantly - I knew it was going to be very painful (had also heard that Ramanand Sagar had overdone the song and dance part) but I am happy to report I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is always the forward button when those endless songs are there to spoil the story - altho I would recommend people to listen to all songs in the last volume (8th i think), they are great - especially the Luv-Kush ones. On the balance tho its very enjoyable and Mr Sagar has tried and balanced compulsions of Rama as the king and his love for Sita. Great job, Mr Sagar. Wish I had watched it earlier. Although I will watch it many more times.. smile.gif Questions on Ramayana... Question 1 : When Maharshi Valmiki comes to Rama's court along with Sita and her 2 sons - he says he understands Rama's compulsions to ask Sita to swear infront of the general populace that she is pure. But, he continues, on his part he 10th son of PRACHETA swear that all his boons, powers and punyas be in vain if Sita is not pure. Who is PRACHETA ? I had heard that Maharshi Valmiki was started out as a dacoit and it was only when Devmuni Narada asked him "who are you looting for" and to go ask them "if they will share the fruits of his sins" that he comes to senses and follows the path of Dharma. What is the story of Maharshi Valmiki ? Question 2 (very basic i have to admit) : In Ramayana (as in many other places) there is a lot of mention about Daitya, Daanava, Rakshasa, Asur - do they all mean the same thing ? Question 3 : Arya Sumant at one point tells Rama that there is no joy in Ayodhya and the people need some mahotsava (festival/celebration) in order to cheer them up. Rama agrees and says people need festivals and celebrations to cheer them up from time to time (Ayodhya Shining). He also mentions that he has to repent for Brahma Hatyaa (Ravana was a brahmin). He proposes that a Raja Surya Yagna is performed. Bharat says that will mean the end of all self-respecting clans on the planet to which Rama agrees and then Laxman proposes Ashwa Megha Yagna. What is the difference between the two ? Even in Ashwa Megha Yagna they put a challenge on the ceremonial horse challenging anybody to catch the horse and fight with Ayodhya's armies ? Question 4 : Shatrughna is shown becoming the king of Madura. Is this the same as Mathura ?
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Aug 19 2004, 09:43 AM
vAlmIkI was a dacoit in his early adult career, but he was born and educated a brAhmaNa of the clan of the bhArgavas. He descended from the line of khyAti the second wife of bhR^igu atharvA vAruNi. Usually prachetas is considered the son of vAlmIkI and the author of the uttara kANDa of the R. But in some accounts a certain prachetas is also listed as the father of vAlmIkI.
Question 2 (very basic i have to admit) : In Ramayana (as in many other places) there is a lot of mention about Daitya, Daanava, Rakshasa, Asur - do they all mean the same thing ?
No they are different. Asura is the old name for the great gods like varuNa, mitra and savitA and sometimes agni and rudra. Later asura came to mean demon. Diti and danu were the original progenitors of demons, whose sons are the daityas and dAnavas. They are demons even in the R^igveda but the word asura originally was not demon but a god. Later by the brAhmaNa period the word asura came to mean the same as daitya and dAnava. rakShas are a different class of beings. In the atharvan literature, and also RV they originally meant disease causing entities. Later they came to mean demonic beings on the earthy plane, unlike the former 3 who were mainly on the celestial plane. There are allied terms to rakShas, like yAtudhAna and nishAchAri.
He proposes that a Raja Surya Yagna is performed. Bharat says that will mean the end of all self-respecting clans on the planet to which Rama agrees and then Laxman proposes Ashwa Megha Yagna. What is the difference between the two ? Even in Ashwa Megha Yagna they put a challenge on the ceremonial horse challenging anybody to catch the horse and fight with Ayodhya's armies ?
The correct names are rAjasUya and ashvamedha. The vedic texts say: with a rAjasUya one becomes a king, with a vAjapeya one becomes a might ruler, with a ashvamedha one becomes a saMrAT and chakravartin. All 3 are royal rituals to assert kingship. The first is like a coronation. The ashvamedha is the grandest of them all, one of the most complex of all ritual to be ever devised. It is performed by a victorious king whose horse passes unrivalled through the kingdoms of all other rulers of jambudvIpa and beyond. If the horse is stopped a battle ensues and the rival has to be defeated for the rite to proceed. Once the horse returns, it is sacrificed and offered to the gods as ordained by the ashvamedha section of the yajur veda. The ritual encompasses a lot of military and fertility symbolism in course of its performance and the king and his queens eat a bit of of the horse as symbol of the royal power entering them. Technically it cannot be performed by a ruler without a queen- this was rAma's main problem.
Posted by: rajesh_g Aug 19 2004, 06:22 PM
Thankyou for the answers HH. Sagar must have shown this incorrectly then. Somehow the conversation between Rama-Bharat and then Rama-Laxman implies that Rajasuya yagna would have brought destruction to all self-respecting kings and an end of their clans. While Ashwamedha would somehow spare them ? Thanks for correcting the yagna names.. thumbup.gif PS : Is Shatrughna's madura the same as Krishna's mathura ?
Posted by: Sridatta Aug 19 2004, 08:30 PM
PS : Is Shatrughna's madura the same as Krishna's mathura ?
The parallel is a striking one. It seems to me to be quite obvious that these two cities in the south were meant to mirror the great holy centers of the North. Thus, Madurai (Madura) ≡ Mathura Kanchi (puram) ≡ Kashi I'm not too sure about the history... but just hazard a guess that the south Indian Rajas might have named them so, to show that the south was in no way lacking to the North (the realm of Aryavarta). Once the depredations of the Musulmans began in the North, Kashi and Mathura were literally burnt to ground. Perhaps no city has suffered at the hands of the invaders more than Mathura. Every generation of Muslim rulers seemed to take a fancy for it -- Mahmud of Ghazni, the despots of the Delhi Sultante, the Lodis, and finally the Moghuls -- all levelled the temples of Mathura. So, perhaps Kanchi and Madura have of the south has some special sentimental value in Hindu mind, especially after their northern twins were vandalized by fire and sword. [ Several years ago I heard my mother quote a nice little subhashita : "Puspeshu Jaathi, Nagareshu Kanchi, Streeshu Rambha, Purusheshu Vishnu ( Lord Vishnu among men"... some have attributed it to Bhasa, others to Kalidasa smile.gif (Among the flowers stands out the Jaathi , among all the fair cities it would be Kanchi, among the nymphs Rambha is peerless, and among the Purushas Vishnu is exemplar) I think it is not without good reason that the poet hailed it as "Nagareshu Kanchi"
Posted by: Sridatta Aug 19 2004, 09:43 PM
Rajasuya yagna would have brought destruction to all self-respecting kings and an end of their clans. While Ashwamedha would somehow spare them ?
Ashvamedha seems to have be a master ploy of Indo-Aryan politics. In the first place, even if resistance was offered by any given realm to the wandering horse, it did not lead to serious carnage. After a brief skirmish, the Samrat could either recognize the sovereignity of that state, or, gently depose its monarch and reinstate the prince as a loyal vassal. (We might say that there was a "scaling down of aggression" without any long term bitterness). Thus, the conquering Samrat also earned the goodwill of the people by reinstating their own prince rather than imposing hegemony over them. But probably the drawback of this political system was that no one power could form a centralized pan-India empire. This led to fragmentation -- the perennial Indian problem. Thus, the political milieu of India prior to the mighty Mauryan Empire, presents a picture of 16 major Aryan states in the North and innumerable minor feudatories. However, towards 450 BC or so Magadha began to slowly emerge as the supreme power among them. Ashoka's unification was truly remarkable -- his edicts and inscriptions have been found all over from Gandhara to South India. (Interestingly, despite the fragmentation, it was no easy walk-over for Alexander in 320 BC. In addition to the princely states, it appears that there were also the fiercely independent republican states (or oligarchies) -- the Audambaras, Arjunayanas, Malavas, Yaudheyas, Sibis, Kunindas, Trigartas, the Abhiras etc. Pride of place goes to the Malavas and the Yaudheyas for harrying and furstrating Alexander's designs). The practice of Ashvamedha did not go out of vogue in Indian politics even after the end of the age of the Mauryas. Much later, we find that the Gupta kings like Samudragupta performed grand Ashvamedhas to establish their unquestioned supremacy in the entire realm of Aryavarta. Some have derided this as a purely ritual assertion of kinship. But, perhaps, Ashvamedha must have played an important part in holding together the Gupta empire in a compact manner. For, such an empire could never have been a hegemony. They would have felt the need to conciliate and cooperate among hostile feudatories. Their attempts at empire building were followed a few centuries later by the great tripartite struggle of the Royal Pratiharas (of Gurjaradesha), the Rashtrakutas, and the Palas (of Bengal), who were able to found mighty empires in Northern India by the strength of their arms. No love was lost in this struggle.
Posted by: rajesh_g Aug 19 2004, 09:47 PM
HH, I watched that episode again - with subtitles on this time. They describe Rajsuya yagna as "universal conquest". unsure.gif One more interesting thing that Laxman says while proposing Ashwamedha yagna. He says Indra had to perform this to wash off his brahma hatya sin. To which Rama says, yes in old times when King Hila (?) was cursed by Lord Shiva into becoming a woman, he had to perform this yagna to become a man again and that he realises that he is guilty of killing a brahmana (Ravana) and Rishi Khambodhar has refused to accept food from Raghu vanshis because we have not atoned of this. Sridatta, In TV serial they show Rama advising Shatrughna to go meet a Rishi Chyavan on the banks of Yamuna. Rishi Chyavan (or Yavan, son of Rishi Bhargava) is shown to be the person who initially goes and complains about the king of Madura, Lavanasur who kills and devours rishis around the banks of Yamuna.
Posted by: Sridatta Aug 19 2004, 10:01 PM
Once the horse returns, it is sacrificed and offered to the gods as ordained by the ashvamedha section of the yajur veda. The ritual encompasses a lot of military and fertility symbolism in course of its performance and the king and his queens eat a bit of of the horse as symbol of the royal power entering them.
Absolutely! Another complex attempt at symbolism is found in the great Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad, occurring in the Satapatha Brahmana : Aum! usa va asvasya medhyasya sirah, suryas caksuh, vatah pranah, vyattam agnir vaisvanarah; samvatsara atmasyasya medhyasya, dyauh prstham, antariksam udaram, prthivi pajasyam, disah parsve, avantaradisah parsavah, rtavongani, masas cardhamasas ca parvani, ahora-trani pratisthah, naksa-trany asthini nabho mamsani: uvadh-yam sikatah, sindhavo gudah, yakrc ca klomanas ca parvatah, osadhasyas ca vanaspatayas ca lomani. udyan purvardhah nimlocan jaghanardhah, yad vijrmbhate tad vidyotate, yad vidhunute tat stanayati, yam mehati tad varsati; vag evasya vak. "usa va asvasya medhyasya sirah...." This shows that the Indo-Aryans wanted to establish a philosophical basis for what was also a very practical political ploy smile.gif
Posted by: Sunder Aug 22 2004, 10:30 AM
Here are the questions I sent to my local "Sahasranamam group"... post your answers smile.gif 1) We know it's not thirty three crore, but only thirty three Devas. Who are they? A) Indra, Mitra, Agni, Varuna. B) Mitra, Pushan, Marichi, Brihaspathi. C) 12 Adityas, 8 Vasus, 11 Rudras, 2 Ashvins. D) 12 Adityas, 8 Vasus, 11 Rudras, Indra & Brihaspathi. 2) Vishnu literally means: A) Omniscient. B) Omnipotent C) Omnipresent. D) Amphibian. 3) Chathur-Vyoohah is one of the 1000 names. What are the four Vyoohas? A) Ratha (Chariots), Gaja (Elephant), Thuraga (Cavalry), Padha (Infantry). B) Padma Vyooha, Chakra Vyooha, Dhanda Vyooha, Sarpa Vyooha. C) Rama (Vishnu), Lakshmana (Sesha), Bharatha (Chakram), Shatrughna (Shankam). D) Vasudeva (Paramatma), Sangarshana (Jeevatma), Pradyumna (Mind), Aniruddha (Ego). 4) Which of the following is NOT about Vishnu: A) Vishnu Sahasranamam. B) Purusha Suktam. C) Narayana Suktam. D) Lalitha Sahasranamam. E) None of the above. 5) We know Garuda is the Vehicle of Vishnu, which of the following is false? A) Kasyapa is Garuda's father. B) Vinatha is Garuda's mother. C) Aruna is Garuda's (half formed) brother. D) Gardavi is Garuda's sister. 6) Which of the following is the avatara of Adi-Sesha? A) Brungi. B) Patanjali. C) Vyagra Padha. D) Chandikeswara. 7) Valmiki Ramayana mentions "Shadardha-nayana". Who is this? A) Brahma. B) Vishnu. C) Rudra. 4) Indra. 8) The temple of Brahmastapuram was dug up from it's foundations, and all it's vigrahas destroyed by an Islamic Invader. Which temple is Brahmastapuram. A) Madurai Meenakshi. B) Chidambaram. C) Sri Kala Hasthi. D) Tirupathi. 9) Krishna, while killing Kamsa, also killed his Elephant. What was it's name? A) Airavatham. B) Supratheekam. C) Kuvalayapeetam. D) Gajendra Moksham. 10) The final question is not multiple choice. Explain the meaning of the seventh verse of Mandukya upanishad. It starts with "Na-anthah-pragnam".....
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Aug 22 2004, 02:43 PM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Aug 19 2004, 11:47 PM)
I watched that episode again - with subtitles on this time. They describe Rajsuya yagna as "universal conquest". unsure.gif
Rajesh- RA Sagar was following the uttara khANDa fairly accurately. There are many points to keep in mind here: 1) The the uttara khANDa of all the sections of the epic is the most notoriously interpolated section. 2) In the vedic texts the progression is very clear: rAjasUya->vAjapeya-> ashvamedha This practice was however canonical amongst the pUrus (especially the two great bhArata powers- the kuru and the panchala). 3) rAma on the contrary belonged to the the ikSvAku clan and they had slightly different ritual practices. Clearly they performed a certain horse sacrifices purely for fertility purposes: eg. the sacrifice of the horse for rAma's birth. So they may have considered it OK to perform ashvamedha out of turn. 4) In the rAjasUya, one needs to subjugate a certain surrounding rulers necessarily before its performance. In the vedic texts describing the performance of the rAjasUya rite it was typically performed after the king has gained enough ground to be coronated. In the ashvamedha on the contrary the the rival ruler need not fight. He may merely acknowledge the overlordship of the horse's owner and let it pass. He has to attend the rite as vassal in the end. This may explain bharata's statement that the rAjasUya is destuctive, and so they went in for ashvamedha. However, the whole tale of the ashvamedha purifying brahmahatya and the ridiculous tale of iLA appear to be later concoctions. But the general practice of rulers in historical India was to perform a rAjasUya or vAjapeya first and then an ashvamedha.
his brahma hatya sin. To which Rama says, yes in old times when King Hila (?) was cursed by Lord Shiva into becoming a woman, he had to perform this yagna to become a man again and that he realises that he is guilty of killing a brahmana (Ravana) and Rishi
The tale in the uttara rAmAyaNa is that of iLA (not Hila). He was a king of bahlika (Balkh in modern Af'stan) and son of kardama. In a hunting binge he kills thousands of animals and earns the displeasure of deva rudra and umA. So he is cursed to lose his manhood. This story is a garbled version of the actual tale of iLA. iLA was the daughter of the founding father of the Aryan kShatriyas, manu (also the first law-giver for the Aryas). iLA married budha and through him begot purUravAs, through whom descend many kShatriyas. In the vedic texts the legendary ancestress iLA is clearly remembered and invoked in the Apri sUKtani as one of the 3 supporting goddesses of the Aryans: iLA (the ancestress), sarasvatI (the giver of water) and bhAratI (the bearer of the land, after whom the country and the tribe gets its name). Evidently at some point the (aiLava) kShatriyas a little concerned about their fatherhood, concocted the tale of iLA originally being a man and becoming a woman. They were somehow trying to squeeze a male line connection to manu. ... The Madhura of lavaNasura is indeed Mathura of the yadus. The account in the UK of ram. is a garbled account of the historic struggle for supremacy between mandhAtA (an ancient ancestor rAma, the great emperor of the ikShvAkus , hero of the vedas) and the yAdavas in the time of their great emperors, madhu and shashabindu. Some time the yadus have been "asurized" because they descended from devayAnI, the asura priestess of the bhArgava clan. long post... stopping for now.
Posted by: Sridatta Aug 22 2004, 05:48 PM
2) Vishnu literally means: A) Omniscient. B) Omnipotent C) Omnipresent. D) Amphibian.
The etymology of the word Vishnu is quite profound. To my mind it seems to express the "Pantheistic" world-view of the ancient Hindus. This is what I came across in a commentary on the Vishnu Sahasranamam: "Visvam Vishnur vasatkaro bhuta bhavya bhavat prabhuh..." "When the question arises, who is it that has become Vishvam (the Universe), the answer is given that it is Vishnu. As he pervades everything -- vevesti -- he is called Vishnu. The term Vishnu is derived from the root "Vis" (indicating presence everywhere) combined with the suffix "nuk". The commentator then quotes from the Vishnu Purana : " yasmAd vishtam idam sarvam tasya shaktyA mahAtmanah tasmAd evo 'cyate Vishnur visher dAtoh praveshanAt " " The power of that supreme Vishnu has entered within the universe. The root Vis here means to enter into. " Similar stanzas may be quoted from other texts. For instance the Vedic refrain: " ta ved vishNo bahuda vIryANI | tvaM naH pR^iNihi pashubhir vishvarupaiH sudhAyAM mA dehi parame vyoman || " " Thine O Vishnu are deeds manifold; Encompass with you diverse forms as in animals, and let me see with ease the primal universe. " In the Gita, of course, we get a majestic glimpse of this conception during the Vishvarupa apocalypse: divi sUryasahasrasya bhavedyugapadutthiA . yadi bhAH sadR^ishI saa syAdbhAsastasya mahAtmanaH .. 11.12 tatraikastha.n jagatkR^itsnaM pravibhak tamanekadhA . apashyaddevadevasya shariire pANDavastadA .. 11.13 " If the splendor of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once in the sky then that would be the the splendor of the Mighty One (mahAtmanaH). The pANDava (Arjuna) then beheld in the body of that God of gods the entire universe divided and further sub-divided into many parts, all collected together." That is to say, Nature with all its diverse parts, assemblies, and sub systems, at various levels of abstraction comprises the very body of Vishnu. Then again, "lelihyase grasamAnaH samantAt.h lokAnsamagrAnvadanairjvaladbhiH . tejobhirApUrya jagatsamagraM bhAsastavogrAH pratapanti vishhNo .. 11.30 " "aakhyaahi me ko bhavaanugraruupo namo.astu te devavara prasiida . viGYaatumichchhaami bhavantamaadya.n na hi prajaanaami tava pravR^ittim.h 11.31 " "Filling the whole universe with thy energy, thy fierce splendours are the source of all heat. Tell me who thou art of such fierce form. I bow to thee O chief of the gods. I desire to understand the the primal one, I do not comprehend your manisfestation. "
4) Which of the following is NOT about Vishnu: A) Vishnu Sahasranamam. B) Purusha Suktam. C) Narayana Suktam. D) Lalitha Sahasranamam. E) None of the above.
Comparing the two Sahasranamams, a certain commentator put it very succintly: the VSN is more austere and focuses on the Impersonal aspect (in the Vedantic sense), while the LSN is more ornate and describes the personal aspect of in resplendent terms. Nonetheless, its amazing how much philosophical content is woven into both these Sahasranamams. To the astute reader, each and every appellation seems pregnant with meaning, and chosen with consummate grace!
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Aug 23 2004, 01:21 PM
QUOTE (Sunder @ Aug 22 2004, 12:30 PM)
1) We know it's not thirty three crore, but only thirty three Devas. Who are they? C) 12 Adityas, 8 Vasus, 11 Rudras, 2 Ashvins. 2) Vishnu literally means: C) Omnipresent. 3) Chathur-Vyoohah is one of the 1000 names. What are the four Vyoohas? anniruddha; pradyumna; saMkarShaNa; vAsudeva. 4) Which of the following is NOT about Vishnu: A) Vishnu Sahasranamam. C) Narayana Suktam. strictly speaking only these 2 more loosely :B) Purusha Suktam. even more loosely one may even include : D) Lalitha Sahasranamam. 5) We know Garuda is the Vehicle of Vishnu, which of the following is false? D) Gardavi is Garuda's sister. 6) Which of the following is the avatara of Adi-Sesha? B) Patanjali. 7) Valmiki Ramayana mentions "Shadardha-nayana". Who is this? Not sure of your transliteration? 9) Krishna, while killing Kamsa, also killed his Elephant. What was it's name? C) Kuvalayapeetam.
good work Sunder.
Posted by: Sunder Aug 23 2004, 04:40 PM
4) Which of the following is NOT about Vishnu: A) Vishnu Sahasranamam. C) Narayana Suktam. strictly speaking only these 2 more loosely :B) Purusha Suktam. even more loosely one may even include : D) Lalitha Sahasranamam.
Hauma, you got all of the attempted answers right (except for question #4). The question was which is NOT about Vishnu. (I would have said "none of the above", as even Lalitha Sahasranamam, loosely speaking is about Vishnu.) Even though Lalitha Sahasranamam is given to Sri Agasthya by Sri Hayagreeva, could you tell me if it was composed before or after the Vishnu Sahasranamam? (Contextwise, it was well before the mahabharatha) but composition wise, is it after Vyasa's work? There is a striking similarity in sequence of three names in Vishnu Sahasranamam (Durgamo, Durlabho Durgo - Duravaaso Durariha) and Lalitha Sahasranamam (Durgama, Durlabha, Durga - dukkha hantri sukhapradha). In my weaker moments I wonder if the sequence has a significance.
7) Valmiki Ramayana mentions "Shadardha-nayana". Who is this? Not sure of your transliteration?
This is from a shloka after Ravana is killed, and after the Agnipariksha. I have to go home and refer to the exact shloka number, but there is a reference to Dasaratha coming down with Indra, and in the chapters that follow it, Brahma extolls Rama's quality. There is a word used there, "Shad-ardha nayana" refering to Rudra Pashupathi. Valmiki beautifully refers to Tri-nayana ("Three eyed one") as Shadardha Nayana ("Half of six eyes".) I shall have to fish out the shloka when I have time. Good Job Hauma.. smile.gif (It's like praising Srinivasa Aiyangar Ramanujan for solving simple addition.)
Posted by: Sunder Aug 25 2004, 02:25 PM
Shadardha Nayana Srimaan Mahadevo Vrushadvajah. Reference is Sri Valmiki Ramayanam - Yuddha Kanda Chapter 117 Shloka 3.
Posted by: bgrkumar Aug 27 2004, 02:23 PM
Vyasa is supposed to have split the vedas into 4 parts, rig, yajur, sama and atharvana. Is there references to it in other puranas? I don't remember reading any purana which said that the vedas were just one. Shouldn't it have been so in literature before vyasa if it was unified earlier?
Posted by: k.ram Aug 27 2004, 02:39 PM
ohmy.gif Bhima-like skeletal remains found in North India The picture of the ancient giant sized skeleton, with two men of our era at work alongside it, seems to be saying a lot. A Geo Exploration Team sponsored by the monthly journal of nature, National Geographic, is reported to have unearthed the Bhima-like skeletal structure, human in form but super-human in size, some time ago in a desert region of North India, called the Empty Quarter. Indian Army is learnt to have extended its support to the National Geographic Team (India Division) since the area where the skeleton of phenomenal size was found comes under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defence, Government of India. Inscription The exploration team i learnt to have found stone tablets with inscriptions stating that our Gods mentioned in India's mythology, 'Brahma' being the creator, had created people of phenomenal size, the like of which have not been created since. They were very tall, huge and very powerful capable of surrounding the trunks of big trees with their strong arms and uprooting them with consummate ease. The Gods are believed to have created them to put an end to evil forces in that era and bring order in life. Bhima One of the sons of Bhima of the five Pandava brothers featured in the epic Mahabharata (of Dwaapara Yuga) is also thought to have carried the genes responsible for gigantic physique. Later, they are said to have turned against the Gods, altho-ugh given all the power and purpose, transgressing the limits of boundaries of conduct. As a result of their misconduct, Lord Shiva destroyed them, according to one school of thought. - Huh? The Geo Exploration Team believes the huge skeleton to be among the remains of those people of Mahabharata era, which some scholars think was about sixty to eighty centuries ago.—BRS [Note: Prof. M.N. Shivaram, Chairman, Institution of Engineers, Mysore Centre, who received the above matter on e-mail on Monday, sent the related papers to Star of Mysore, which is gratefully acknowledged.—Ed]
Posted by: rajesh_g Aug 27 2004, 04:37 PM
This probably belongs to Bhavishya-Navana (?) type thread, but its an enjoyable read.. smile.gif
Posted by: Rajita Rajvasishth Aug 30 2004, 10:35 PM
I would like to ask the learned mythologians about the Damanaka festival. Long ago in college days when the Valentine's day controversies used to still be a matter of discussion, HH told me that we had our indigenous version of that called the Damanaka festival. The jingle in the name or may be the romance made be remember it for long. Later people in grad school and more recently some ABCDs wanted to know more about this Damanaka festival and asked me about it. I looked up some Hindi translations I have, and found that the Damanaka festival was claimed to be a Krishna festival. But clearly the original and/or my Hindi translation has been more recently tampered with by Vaishnavites and a festival or Kama and Rati has been glossed over by the prudish sound like something else. The hack job is poorly done because while it is called a Krishna festival, the mantra used for it is : tat purshhaaya vidhmahe kaama devaaya dhimahi . tanno anangaH prachodayat .. Also there is a sentence stating that the festival should be observed with dancing, songs, musical instruments and water and color play. rocker.gif It is fixed for Chitra, shukla paksha dvadashi- clearly a spring festival. So it may please the Sena that our indigenous Valentine day had censored byt the Vaishnavites smile.gif
Posted by: Sridatta Aug 31 2004, 04:20 AM
But clearly the original and/or my Hindi translation has been more recently tampered with by Vaishnavites and a festival or Kama and Rati has been glossed over by the prudish sound like something else. The hack job is poorly done because while it is called a Krishna festival, the mantra used for it is : tat purshhaaya vidhmahe kaama devaaya dhimahi . tanno anangaH prachodayat ..
Well, RR this may not be directly relevant to particular festival to which you allude, but I too have come across some obscure references to the festival of Manmatha in the story of the "Vasavadatta Romance" -- which you might have come across somewhere. But I need to look up the original references in the Kathasaritsagara of Somadeva (c. 1070 AD) to confirm the existence of this. For purposes of reference, let me just append a very brief note on this which I had posted elsewhere :- "The 'Vasavadatta Romance' seems to have been a much loved theme in ancient Indian. Bhasa wrote the Swapnavasavadatta" in Sanskrit and "Vasavadatta" by Subandhu is another great work on the same theme. In Buddhist literature in Pali and Prakrit too we find elaborate accounts of this tale. (Dhamma-pada-Atthaka, 5th Century AD). King Harsha, ruler of Kanauj (606--647 AD), also known as "Nipuna Kavi" too waxed eloquent on this theme in his plays Priyadarshika and Ratnavali. Udayana the legendary king of Kausambhi (Vatsa?) is the hero of both plays." Now, RR, I have come across a curious reference somewhere that queen(s) of this Udayana decided to observe a festival in the honour of Manmatha. Accordingly, an idol of Cupid was placed in an enchanting sylvan grove, full of creepers and song-birds and the queens proceeded there with objects of worship such as flowers, incense, rice etc. While this was happening, Udayana, the cynosure of all eyes, was himself striding in the grove and he looked like a second Manmatha descended on earth! There seem to be three major parts to this Udayana tale : (1) How the charming Udayana eloped with Vasavadatta the daughter of King Pradyota of Avanti (2) How he subsequently lost his kingdom to invaders and lost Vasavadatta too in a fire accident (this is part of the plot), and how he finally is reunited with her. (3) The hilarious Ratnavali fiasco, in which he earns the ire of Vasavadatta for courting the attentions of one Ratnavali (a Sinhalese princess). It is in this final part that I remember noticing the allusion to the Kama-festival. But as I said, I will have to look up the original Kathasaritsagara to confirm te veracity of this festival.
Posted by: k.ram Aug 31 2004, 08:22 AM
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Aug 31 2004, 09:48 PM
HH told me that we had our indigenous version of that called the Damanaka festival.
Rayi and others, From a somewhat corrupt, but legible copy of the padma purANa, I have been able to piece together the most complete version of the damanaka utasava vidhi for kAma and rati. I provide it here as a part of my ongoing project of creating critical vidhis for ancient Hindu festivals ( for after all the learned have said the shAstra is more authoritative than prayoga). Source padma purANa, uttara kANDa, 84. day: chitra; shukla pakSha; dvAdashi. Rite: In a sylvan grove, idols of rati and kAma are installed with the mantra: kAmadeva namaste.astu vishvamohana kAraka | viShNorarathe vicheshyAmi kR^ipAM kuru mamopari || Then the idols are brought home to with accompanying music and singing. The idols are installed in the indra disha or the eastern quarter after sunset. The whole worship is conducted after sunset. An auspicious circle is drawn around the idols and the idols are clothed in white cloth. They are decorated with the shoots of the damanaka plant. The deities are worshipped with the formulae: oM klIM kAmadevAya namaH | oM hrIM ratyai namaH | The the deities are devotely worshiped with sandal paste, flowers, incense and lamp-waving with the following formulae: oM madanAya namaH (east) manmathAya namaH (Southeast) kandarpAya namaH (south) ana~ngAya namaH (south-west) bhasma sharIrAya namaH (west) smarAya namaH (North-East) IshvarAya namaH (north) puShpa-bANAya namaH (northeast) Then they offer turmeric stained rice, festive eatables (bhakShaNas), and tAmbUlas (paan) Then they meditate of kAma by performing the kAma gAyatri japa 108 times: tat puruShAya vidhmahe kAmadevAya dhimahi | tanno.ana~nagaH prachodayAt || A pitcher of water is placed before the idols Then the following formulae are recited: namo.astu puShpabANaya jagadAhlAdakAriNe | manmathAya jagannetra rati prItikarAya cha || devadeva namaste.astu shri vishvesha namo.astute | ratipate namaste.astu namaste.astu vishvamaNDana || namaste.astu jagannatha sarvabIja namo.astute || feet of the idols are washed with water from the pitcher. Then there is a great celebration with song, music, dance and a Holi-styled splashing-sports.
Posted by: Sridatta Sep 3 2004, 12:38 PM
Well I made a cursory scan of the KSS but not come across any conclusive reference to the Madanotsava, but there definitely seems to have existed some joyous Holi-like occasion, on which all sections of society from brahmins to shudras engaged in pleasures like color throwing. It could be that the Madanotsava was some kind of ancient predecessor of Holi. (This is just a guess -- given the riot of color involved smile.gif
oM madanAya namaH (east) manmathAya namaH (Southeast) kandarpAya namaH (south) ana~ngAya namaH (south-west) bhasma sharIrAya namaH (west) smarAya namaH (North-East) IshvarAya namaH (north) puShpa-bANAya namaH (northeast)
That apart, it is interesting to note that the worship of the God Kama, celebrated by many appellations in the classical works, is quite ancient. In the Kathasaritsagara, he is comes thru as a much loved deity. But his adoration may even predate the pauranic days. I vaguely remember having seen a litany to Cupid in the Atharva-veda (19.52 ?, not too sure). (But I'm not too sure whether that hymn relates to the deity Kama per se or some other deeper philsophical metaphor)
Posted by: Sridatta Sep 3 2004, 01:25 PM
Here is the vedic ode to Kama from the AV : kā́mas tád ágre sám avartata mánaso réta pratamá yád ā́sīt / sá kāma kā́mena brhatā́ sáyonī rāyás póayájamānāya dehi //1// tvá kāma sáhasāsi práti ito vibúr vibā́vā saka ā́ sakīyaté / tvám ugrá pŕ tanāsu sasahí sáha ójo yájamānāya dehi //2// dūrā́c cakamānā́ya pratipā ā́yā́k aye / ā́smā aśr vann ā́śā kā́menājanayant svà //3// kā́mena mā kā́ma ā́gan hŕ dayād dŕ daya pári / yád amī́ ām adó mánas tád aítū́pa mām ihá //4// yát kāma kāmáyamānā idá kr mási te haví / tán na sárva sám rdyatām átaitásya haví o vīhi svā́hā //5//
Posted by: bgrkumar Sep 3 2004, 02:01 PM
In Karnataka, Holi is actually called as "kamana habba" meaning "kama's festival". On that day, people used to collect fire wood, dried cow dung and other stuff and would burn them at the night, and this is called "kama dahana" meaning burhing of kama. Nowadays, not many people do this, and this practise has been extinct in Bangalore and parts now.
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 9 2004, 09:06 AM
Yesterday I got chance to watch Yudhisthira-Yaksha episode from Mahabharata. Loved it .. smile.gif Somehow whenever I have across this part it seems the question-answers are different - any authentic source (in English) ?
Posted by: gangajal Sep 9 2004, 10:01 AM
rajesh g. The most complete and probably accurate English translation of Mahabharat is by Kishori Mohan Ganguly.
Posted by: k.ram Sep 9 2004, 01:12 PM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Sep 9 2004, 09:36 PM)
Yesterday I got chance to watch Yudhisthira-Yaksha episode from Mahabharata. Loved it .. smile.gif Somehow whenever I have across this part it seems the question-answers are different - any authentic source (in English) ?
Rajesh, which version of Mahabharat are you watching? Wonder if they are avaialbe in US unsure.gif
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 9 2004, 02:56 PM
K Ram, B R Chopra onlee... Its available in all desi stores for rental $1 per disk.
Posted by: Mudy Sep 9 2004, 10:53 PM,0008.htm It was February 18, 3102 BC Friday at 02 hours, 27 minutes and 30 seconds in the afternoon when Lod Krishna left his earthly body for his heavenly abode - or so claims an ascetic after intensive calculations.
Posted by: Sridatta Sep 10 2004, 05:04 AM
Yesterday I got chance to watch Yudhisthira-Yaksha episode from Mahabharata. Loved it .. Somehow whenever I have across this part it seems the question-answers are different - any authentic source (in English) ?
Hey Rajesh, there is a small Bharati Vidya Bhavan book by the name "Yaksha-Prashna" which gives a nice insight into the questions & answers... you might be able to get hold of it at a Bhavans bookstore. You could also check out Kamala Subramanium's rendering of the Mahabharata (again a Bhavans publication). It is beautifully written. Of course, for a more comprehensive coverage of all the questions posed by the Yaksha, one must look up Ganguli's translation of the Mahabharata. This of course is the complete unabridged work... it is so vast that one tends to feel lost on perusing it. So, for most practical purposes of day-to-day reference and inspiration Kamala Subramanium's work should suffice.
Posted by: Pathmarajah Sep 10 2004, 05:46 AM
fwd for the benefit of all. Hi, The Ramayana was originally 4,000 verses only. Some centuries later it became 8,000 verses. Today's version is 20,000 verses. The Mahabharata was originally 20,000 verses.Today it is 100,000 verses. Casteists wrote passages into these epics.The Srimad Bhagavatham was written in the 12th century CE. Many upanishads were written in medieval times and some even as late as the 16th century. All these latter day documents, additions and accretions must be rejected. However nobody has the authority in Hinuism to do it. It is an individual decision. As for myself I have rejected all these texts in total. The translation of the Purusha Shukta hymn is incorrect. The hymn talks about the Lord's expansion - His extending into His creation. It has nothing to do with the caste system although it clearly reveals the broad vocational classifications in the ancient agricultural age and that the Lord became all people too. And that no part of His body is of lesser importance than other parts. On the contrary, indeed we are told to worship His feet. Besides words have changed meanings over 5,000 years. Just 2,000 years ago 'paraiyar' was an exalted and educated class of weavers. Today it is a derogatory word that has even entered the vocabulary of English and many other languages. Varna originally meant the color or effulgence of a God, not the varna system or skin color. Hence Lord Muruga is Agni - means Muruga has the color of Agni, or Agni is the effulgence/emanating shakti of Muruga. Those hundreds of passages in the RigVeda to Agni are all Lord Muruga verses. The are two or 3 other references in the brahmana sections to jaatis but not to the varna system as we know it today. It too could be an accretion. There are some caste references in the old and famous Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka upanishads. Clearly these are accretions as the conflict with the rest of the teachings of the vedas and upanishads. While there was no varna system ever in place in the subcontinent, the jaati system was always there. Jaati was a clan and vocational identifying mark. When meeting a person for the first time, we always ask his name, then vocation/clan. Thus a person says, 'I am Rama, potter, from Srirengam - name, trade/clan, place. We cannot delete texts (except in our minds), as some Hindus cling on to it and ground their faith, philosophy and sect on these very tampered texts, but we can simply inform all Hindus that they are living a lie with regards to caste, and in this way bring about an egalitarian Hindu society. Harsh, Vishalagarwal, if you are around, I would like to hear your views, and for the benefit of all members. Regards. Pathma "Ram Narayanan" wrote: > > Friends: > > This is from another list. Is this story found in the authoritative original > versions of the Valmiki or Kamba Ramayana? Or is it a later interpollation? > If it is an interpollation, can some one tell me why steps are not being > taken to edit out all such unacceptable passages? > > Ram >
Posted by: Pathmarajah Sep 10 2004, 05:49 AM
Hello Pathma The Ramayana contains passages that run into odds with social realities of ancient India. We know that the Nandas were shudras and that the mauryas were a mixed caste. If caste was really so rigid as maintained by Mr.Walia then how did the Nandas and Mauryas come to power? Further there is ample evidence of castes moving up and down the ladder based on affluence. When Megasthenes came to India he described Indian society having seven classes not four and these do not fit into the rigid four varna system as defined in the texts. As for the Purushsukta hymn, I doubt that any hierarchy is involved. One can argue that devotees always worship the feet of the Gods. By that standard the shudra is on the top. Harsh
Posted by: Pathmarajah Sep 10 2004, 05:52 AM
There are two methods of eliminating spurious passages from texts: 1. Text critical editions based on manuscript evidence and reconstruction of manuscript lemma, 2. 'Higher' Criticism based on 'logic', evidence from parallel texts, evidence from old commentaries, internal evidence of the text itself, linguistic analysis and so on. Now, we know that the Ramayana of Valmiki was authored before the birth of Buddha. This is evident because there is no mention of Buddha (except in a verse that is rejected as an interpolation because it occurs only in Southern manuscripts), because there is no mention of Pataliputra, or its precursor Rajagrhya, but only of the latter's precursor Girivraja. The culture of peninsular India shown in the text is Neolithic. However, the oldest manuscripts of the text perhaps do not predate more than a few centuries. Moreover, the text was very susceptible to interpolations because it was a Kavya meant for oral recitations and as such the sutas or recitors were free to add verses here and there per their convenience. Because of this, although a critical edition of Ramayana does exist (published from Baroda) and although an English translation of the same has been published (by Robert Goldman and others in several volumes), we cannot really use method 1 to establish the 'Ur-text' or original text of Ramayana conclusively. This is because all existing manuscripts post-date Valmiki by at least 2000 years and they show hundreds of variations amongst them. Therefore, the editors of the Critical edition merely reproduced verses common to all manuscripts, leaving the non-common verses in footnotes or in appendices. This method, though the best that they could have followed, is questionable because the recitor who was responsible for a particular manuscript tradition could have merely dropped some verses from his repertoire. However, it is largely accepted that available texts have more interpolated verses than lost verses. The manuscript evidence as such does not allow us to completely remove the Uttarkanda from the Ramayana text and this is understandable. Coming to the use of higher criticism, the method tends to be very subjective. Linguistic analysis is not an exact science. The text as reflected in the 70 or so existing commentaries on Ramayana varies a lot. The numerous versions of Ramayana occuring in other parallel Hindu versions (such as summaries in Mahabharata, Puranas etc.) are also too short to establish the authenticity of this verse or that. However, we know the following for sure: 1. Hindu texts typically end with a verse or verses that describe the religious merit or reading the text. These verses are called Phalasrutis. Curiously in the Valmiki Ramayana, the Phalasrutis occur at the end of 6th Kanda, which indicates that the entire Uttarakanda is a later addition. 2. The language of the Uttarakanda is inferior to that of the other kandas. Fewer poetical devices such as alamkaras are used in the Uttarakanda which raises the susupicion that an inferior poet had composed this work. 3. Summaries of the Ramayana occuring in other Puranas and in the Mahabharata typically omit the portions of Uttarakanda and none mentions the Shambuka Vadha episode. 4. Of the other later 14 or so Sanskrit versions of Ramayana, only the Adhyatma Ramayana which is one of the latest, mentions the Shambuka episode and therefore it is of no independent authority being based on Valmiki Ramayana itself. 5. Hindu texts have never cited the episode of Shambukavadha to debar Sudras from tapasyaa (there are other texts available for that which have been cited instead) and in popular versions of Ramayana such as the Ramacharitmanas, the episode is omited even in the Uttarkanda rendering. Therefore, from this 'higher criticism', it is highly probable, almost certain, that the Shambuka episode is a late addition to Ramayana. The reason why the Uttarkanda is still included in the academically produced critical edition is because it is not considered the task of the critical editor to use higher criticism to edit his text from manuscript evidence. Instead, higher criticism is used by the practitioners of the faith of which the text is a part, i.e., by emic scholars and believers. And Hindu scholars have by and large maintained that the Uttarkanda together with the Shambuka episode is an interpolation which is evident from the perfunctory references to this part of Ramayana in other Hindu works. Now, higher criticism has been used by some academic scholars as well to list the different chronological layers of Ramayana and in this regard the study of John Brockington are the most comprehensive. He also confirms that the Uttarkanda is the latest addition. He also suggests that the Balakanda and some portions of the other kandas are also late additions. I can try to find his book in my home and provide details. Sincerely, Vishal Agarwal
Posted by: rhytha Sep 10 2004, 11:36 AM
Patha, i remeber you saying that thier is no castes in bali. but take a look at these pics which mention, shudras, brhamans(its by a tourist, who must have asked the locals what they are) blink.gif
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 10 2004, 12:09 PM
Sridatta, Can the books be ordered online and delivered to the US ? Is this their website ? ? Thankyou.. There is also an article on sulekha re the Varna Vyavastha..
Vyäsa, a brahmin sage and the most revered author of many Vedic scriptures including the Vedas, Mahabharata, Bhagavada Gita and Bhagavata Purana, was the son of Satyavati, a sudra woman. Vyäsa's profound knowledge of the Vedic wisdom established him as a brahmin even though he was born of a sudra mother. Vyäsa's father, Päräsara, was also a son of a candala woman and yet was considered a brahmin based on his Vedic wisdom. Another popular Vedic sage, Välmiki was initially a hunter. He came to be known as a brahmin sage on the basis of his profound knowledge of the scriptures and his authorship of the Rämäyana. According to Rig Veda (IX.112.3), the poet refers to his diverse parentage: “I am a reciter of hymns, my father is a physician and my mother grinds corn with stones. We desire to obtain wealth in various actions.” Sage Aitareya, author of Aitareya Upanisad, was born of a sudra woman. Vasishtha, son of a prostitute, was established as a brahmin and Rig Veda book VII is attributed to him. In Chandogya Upanisad, the honesty of Satyakäma establishes his brahminhood, even though his ancestry is unknown as he is the son of a maidservant. Visvamitra, born in a ksatriya family becomes a sage, and hence a brahmin, based on his asceticism. Some Rig Veda hymns are attributed to him. The priest Vidathin Bhärdväja became a ksatriya as soon as he was adopted by King Bharata and his descendents were the well-known Bharata ksatriyas. Janaka, a ksatriya by birth, attained the rank of a brahmin by virtue of his ripe wisdom and saintly character and is considered a rajarishi (king-sage). Vidura, a brahmin visionary, who gave religious and moral instructions to King Dhrtarashtra, was born to a woman servant of the palace. His varna as a brahmin was determined on the basis of his wisdom and knowledge of scriptures. The Kauravas and Pandavas were the descendants of Satyavati, a fisher-woman, and Vyäsa, a brahmin. In spite of this mixed heredity, the Kauravas and Pandavas were known as ksatriyas on the basis of their occupation. Ajamidha and Puramidha were admitted to the status of the brahmin class, and even composed Vedic hymns. Yaska, in his Nirukta, tells us that of two brothers, Santanu and Devapi, one becomes a ksatriya king and the other a brahmin priest. Kavasa, the son of the slave girl Ilusa, becomes a brahmin priest. The Bhagavata Purana tells of the elevation of the ksatriya clan named Dhastru to brahminhood. In the later Vedic times, Chandragupta Maurya, originally from the Muria tribe, goes on to become the famous Mauryan emperor of Magadha. Similarly, his descendant, King Asoka, was the son of a maidservant. The Sanskrit poet and author, Kalidasa is also not known to be a brahmin by birth. His works are considered among the most important Sanskrit works. In the medieval period, saint Thiruvalluvar, author of 'Thirukural' was a weaver. Other saints such as Kabir, Sura Dasa, Ram Dasa and Tukaram came from the sudra class also. Many of the great visionaries in modern India were not brahmins by birth but can be regarded as brahmins by their life-styles and teachings: Mahätmä Gändhi, Swämi Vivekänada, Sri Aurobindo, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Swämi Chinmayänanda etc.
Many other interesting things.. One thing I found interesting is..
Satapatha Brahmana VII.5.2.6. This passage describes the process of creation of human beings by Prajapati as follows: "He formed animals from his breath, a man from his soul, a horse from his eye, a bull from his breath, a sheep from his ear, a goat from his voice." It is worth noting that here too the various objects of creation are being correlated to various parts of the body of Prajapati, as in the Purusa Sukta.
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 10 2004, 01:24 PM
General question for Guroos, In internet foras and books and lectures and everywhere one finds that the mode of conversation often involves quoting from the scriptures. Chapter falana and verse dhimkaa. Is this the traditional way of conversation in our culture ? In puranas to be specific, do we see a lot of quoting from scriptures ? I have noticed that a given character will say "Dharmanusar.... " or even say something without really giving out chapter-verse ? Or is it not true ? I do expect such chapter verse thing in various Bhashyas but would we/should we expect such quotes from scriptures in puranas - if it was indeed a way of life at the time of its creation ? unsure.gif blink.gif
Posted by: gangajal Sep 10 2004, 02:07 PM
rajesh g, First, a disclaimer -- I am not a Guru. Why would you expect Puranas to quote from the scriptures? Each Purana would naturally claim to be the supreme scripture, far better than any other scripture, and thus there is no reason for it to quote from any other scripture. Mahabharata, for example, which claims it is a Purana says that it outweighs the 4 vedas. Quotations from scriptures are only to be expected in commentaries since a commentator has to show that her thought is in accord with the scriptures.
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 10 2004, 02:24 PM
QUOTE (gangajal @ Sep 10 2004, 02:07 PM)
Why would you expect Puranas to quote from the scriptures? Each Purana would naturally claim to be the supreme scripture, far better than any other scripture, and thus there is no reason for it to quote from any other scripture. Mahabharata, for example, which claims it is a Purana says that it outweighs the 4 vedas.
Sorry let me try again. In Mahabharata or Ramayana for example you would frequently find statements like "Ve gyaani hai" , "shastron main nipun hai", etc.. In tricky dharma-sankat type situations for example, once again one would see "dharmanusaar.." or "shastraanusaar.." or "niti yehi kehti hai..." or even in some places a character might end up saying some really profound statement but never say "Falana scripture, falanaa adhyaay".. I never realised all puranas claimed superiority over every thing else, however.. I thought it was just knowledge in a different format and hence found it weird that since puranas are knowledge bodies adapted for times they would reflect their times .. unsure.gif blink.gif On that note, a request to all guroos, some general writeups on puranas (not any specific ones) would be great !! Links to such writeups would be great too.. rocker.gif
Posted by: gangajal Sep 10 2004, 02:40 PM
rajesh g wrote: "I never realised all puranas claimed superiority over every thing else, however.." Puranas are the problem children of Hindu scriptures. This is because each Purana claims its Deity to be the Supreme. Thus Shiva Purana, for example, says Shiva is the Supreme while Vishnu Purana says Vishnu is the Supreme. Obviously both the Puranas can not be right. The various Acharyas have handled the problem of the Puranas differently. Acharya Shankara solved the problem by saying that Shiva, Vishnu, Devi etc are all aspects of Brahman. If Brahman=Shiva=Vishnu=Devi etc, then of course all Puranas are right. Vaishnava interpreters could not take that route because they consider only Vishnu/Krishna to be the Supreme. So they do consider all non-Vaisnavite Puranas to be wrong. A good discussion of this problem is in a book , 'Tattva Sandharva' by Swami Tripurari. You have also raised the issue of Mahabharat or Ramayana talking about Shastras. They are not quoting any scriptures. They are using the word Shastra or Dharma in a traditional sense. For example, if they say that killing is against shastras they mean that killing violates traditional moral code.
Posted by: Sunder Sep 10 2004, 02:46 PM
Mahabharatha and Ramayana are not puranam. They are Ithihasa (Ithi ha asau.) Purana are the magnifying glass of the Vedas. They are sometimes elaborate stories that reinforces a point. Like Harishchandra's story teaches us "Satyam Vadha". Vedas are pramanas. Puranas cannot supercede vedas in terms of validity. All Shastras, Upanishads, Eighteen puranas and the six (asthika darshana) schools of thoughts maintain vedas as the authority.
On that note, a request to all guroos, some general writeups on puranas (not any specific ones) would be great !! Links to such writeups would be great too..
Lots of this is already available on the net. Google for "shiva purana" or Markandeya Purana etc. Here is one of my favourite ones. (read it completely, for it makes an excellent reading on Hindu Dharma. )
Posted by: gangajal Sep 10 2004, 03:05 PM
Sundar wrote: "Mahabharatha and Ramayana are not puranam. They are Ithihasa (Ithi ha asau.) Purana are the magnifying glass of the Vedas. They are sometimes elaborate stories that reinforces a point. Like Harishchandra's story teaches us "Satyam Vadha". Vedas are pramanas. Puranas cannot supercede vedas in terms of validity. All Shastras, Upanishads, Eighteen puranas and the six (asthika darshana) schools of thoughts maintain vedas as the authority" Chandogya Upanishad talks of one Itihasa-Purana. If you believe that then Ramayana, Mahabharata, 18 Maha Puranas, 18 Upa Puranas and Devi Bhagavat Purana are just fragments of that single itihasa-purana. Mahabharata, itself, claims to be a Purana, "As the full-moon by its mild light expandeth the buds of water-lily, so this Purana, by exposing the light of the Sruti hath expanded the human intellect." (Adi Parva I translated by Ganguli) You are right that most Vedantic sects say that Puranas can not supercede Vedas in terms of validity and that Vedas are pramana. Madhva's Dvaita sampraday says that the Puranas are better pramana than the Vedas. According to them Vedas are like the star telling us that there is light while (Vaishnavite) Puaranas are like the Sun. Vedic revealation is brightest in the Puranas.
Posted by: Sunder Sep 10 2004, 04:26 PM
Madhva's Dvaita sampraday says that the Puranas are better pramana than the Vedas. According to them Vedas are like the star telling us that there is light while (Vaishnavite) Puaranas are like the Sun. Vedic revealation is brightest in the Puranas.
It may be an individual opinion, or an opinion of just a particular school. This statement of the Vaishnava sampradaya would not become a Pramana in itself. If, blinded by love, I sing praises that my girlfriend is more beautiful than the Godess Sri Lakshmi, it should only be seen as a sentence uttered in love, and not as an authority in itself. I hope Sri Madhvacharya would have just mentioned that Puranas are Amrutham just as a passing remark rather than making it the central point. Once again, Vedas are Pramana, Puranas cannot be a pramana *outside* the boundaries of Vedas. E.g. If there is a confilict between Puranas and Shruthi, it will be the Vedas that should be taken as Authority.
Posted by: Dev M Sep 10 2004, 04:45 PM
Ok, there was some discussion on beef eating during Vedic/ancient times being peddled by commies. I read the Sandhya Jain's article referring to it. May I request forum members to post riposte if you will on the falsehood that beef was eaten in ancient times? Here is what I would like: > Who has claimed that absurdity? Any books or articles? > Anyone thrashing that bogus theory? Sources and references please. I searched the whole site but only found handful of references with tangential reference like the Sandhya Jain article. Please give me as much ammo as you can. Thanks for the help.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Sep 10 2004, 05:17 PM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Sep 10 2004, 03:24 PM)
In puranas to be specific, do we see a lot of quoting from scriptures ? I have noticed that a given character will say "Dharmanusar.... " or even say something without really giving out chapter-verse ? Or is it not true ?
Firstly the main system of quotation used by the Hindus is that of pratIka. i.e giving a few words (often unique words) of the shloka or mantra. It was understood that learned individuals would no the shAstras well, hence they would understand the pratIka. The purANas have numerous quotations of vedic mantras in the form of pratIkas. Other cases involve citation by name. For example shatarudriya or apratiratham are specific sections of the yajur veda that any educated dvija knows. By the way most standard purANas hold the veda in great respect. In addition there is the citation in full. That is the whole shloka, gAtha or mantra is cited by the purANa, shAstra or sutra. Thus for example the pa~nchatantra may cite an entire verse of the great authority manu. In the era of educated hindus the citations were typically for real and not some made material.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Sep 10 2004, 05:44 PM
A few general notes are presented below (A disclaimer- these notes could potentially conflict with the constructs of theologically minded individuals): ........................ 1) The veda saMhitAs are rather unique, highly coherent, set of Indo-Aryan texts. 2) The brAhmaNas with the associated upaniShads and AraNyakas are the next layer of vedic texts that are temporally closest to the saMhitAs. Some of the brAhmaNa material is consistent with the saMhitAs, however a part of the brAhmaNas can show a misunderstanding of the actual content of the referred saMhitA. 3)Despite claims by many western Indologists, most classic (ancient) upaniShads are largely rooted in the belief systems of vedic saMhitas, though like the rest of the brAhmaNas to which they belong, they may occassionally misinterpret an original saMhitA statement. 4)The chief old upaniShads are: bR^ihadAraNyaka, chAndogya, taittirIya, kaushItaki, aitareya, shvetAshvatara, prashNa, kaTha, talavakAra, iShavAsya, maNDukya, muNDaka, chAgaleya, mahAnArAyaNa, maitrAyaNi. Of these the real odd one out is muNDaka- this is the only text that actually questions the authority of the vedic texts and appears to deride them as lowe knowledge. talavakAra is a borderline case of contra-vedic response. I believe these represent intra-vedic rebellious tendencies, which eventually became full-blown in the nAstIka lineages of Hindu thought. 5) pai~Ngala, jAbAla and subala are questionable members of the ancient group. I am personally dubious of the origins of jAbAla though it seems to have affinities with the Hindu reunciate stream. 6) pai~Ngala, i believe may have some old para-vedic saMkhya though which was later recast with a slight vedantic angle. 7) The subala appears to be another paravedic branch related to early vaiShNava pancharAtra thought. .......... The muNDaka does not seem to belong to any cannonical brAhmaNa.
Posted by: Pathmarajah Sep 10 2004, 07:33 PM
Hi rhytha, I think I said that is no untouchability in Balinese Hinduism. I also said that there was a jaati system in India but not varna, but interestingly a 4 fold varna system exists in Bali not jaati. And neither jaati or varna in Indochina. I spend 3 weeks in Bali documenting their religion which I posted on a separate thread. Regards. Pathma
Posted by: Rajita Rajvasishth Sep 10 2004, 10:27 PM
I sincerely believe Hindus should not be trying to disprove things like cows were not sacrificed or eaten in the Vedic period. There is quite a bit of strong evidence that cows were indeed eaten in the Vedic period. But the Hindu dharma shastras are clear in stating that the meat should not be eaten by brahmins outside of sacrificial contexts. That was defined as a sin if one wantonly killed a cow outside of the sacrificial. Then a brahmin lost his status. It is a sin similar to drinking alcoholic drinks in the Dharma Shastras. However Kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras ate meat freely. In slightly later times, Kshatriyas and vaishyas were also supposed to commit a sin by drinking anything alcoholic. Eating garlic and onion was also proscribed.
Posted by: Mudy Sep 11 2004, 02:30 PM
sincerely believe Hindus should not be trying to disprove things like cows were not sacrificed or eaten in the Vedic period. There is quite a bit of strong evidence that cows were indeed eaten in the Vedic period.
Rajita Rajvasishth, Read this :
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 12 2004, 12:40 PM
Earlier I was watching the episode where Vidura resigns from his position before the war begins. I couldnt help but compare his actions with Vibhishana's actions. Somehow I had found myself angry with Vibhishana but not so with Vidura - on the contrary my respect for Vidura increased manifold. I was trying to find some differences between Vidura and Vibhishana.. Here are some that i can think of ?? - Vidura resigned from his post and didnt actively go and help out Pandavas defeat Hastinapura. - Mahabharata war was essentially between members of the Kuru family. While Rama (an outsider) had invaded Lanka. What other such differences can one think of between Ramayana and Mahabharata ? ---------------------------------------- Other questions.. - Bhisma and Dhristadhyumna agreed to rules of the war. One of the rules of the war is fight will always be between equals - charioteer with charioteer, etc. And yet they show all charioteers shooting arrows at foot-soldiers ? - The "samay" character says that all warriors in Bharata-varsha were involved in the great war. Only Balrama and Rukmi (brother of Rukmini) did not participate in this. Earlier they had shown Balarama's refusal on grounds of "its a family matter" - what was Rukmi's reason ? - Krishna calls Kunti "Buaa" (dad's sister) and yet Arjuna weds Subhadra (mother of Abhimanyu, sister of Krishna) ?
Posted by: Sridatta Sep 12 2004, 08:35 PM
- The "samay" character says that all warriors in Bharata-varsha were involved in the great war. Only Balrama and Rukmi (brother of Rukmini) did not participate in this. Earlier they had shown Balarama's refusal on grounds of "its a family matter" - what was Rukmi's reason ?
The story of Prince Rukma is indeed an interesting one. To put it very briefly, here are the facts: Krishna eloped with Rukma's sister Rukmini and bore her away in his chariot towards his kingdom. (The practice of winning one's bride in such a fashion was fairly common among noble Aryan kshatriyas and was as such considered a heroic act -- provided the bride was willing party to this). Krishna was thus fast hurrying towards his realm with the princess Rukmini by his side in his chariot. This incensed her brother Rukma and he gave hot pursuit with his army. Seeing Rukma approach, Krishna decided to turn and give battle to Rukma's forces. In the skirmish that followed, Rukma's forces were easily dispersed and he was left alone on the battlefield, defeated and disarmed. Krishna could have easily killed him off, but out of mercy he decided to let him go with chastisement. Accordingly, he drew his sabre and disfigured Rukma by shearing off his locks in a grotesque manner. Rukma was thus sorely disgraced and humiliated and was forced to return home cutting a rather sorry figure. Years later, when all the kings assembled for the great Bharata war, Rukma too decided to join the Pandavas. It is true that no love was lost between him and Krishna, but perhaps his decision was motivated by purely political considerations. Perhaps he sought to cement an alliance with his sister's husband -- who was very powerful and influential. Or perhaps he felt that after the war he would find a safe ally in the just and mighty king Yudishtira. Whatever his reasons may have been, he came with his army to the Pandava camp first. But Rukma was a vain man -- a hollow braggart. While the Pandavas were busy discussing plans of war, he began bragging in a highly arrogant fashion. He boasted that he would single-handedly rout the Kaurava forces and win back the kingdom the Pandavas had lost. Such haughty talk was obviously very irritating to all the brave men around him -- especially Bhima and Arjuna -- who were very proud kshatriyas themselves. They told him plainly that they did not require his assistance to win the war, and that if he wanted to serve them in their cause he could do so quietly, or else just leave. They made it clear that they had never solicited his help. The signal was very plain: we are not craving for your assistance; you may leave or you may stay -- we couldn't be bothered. Rukma left the Pandava camp in a huff and decided to try his luck with Duryodhana. By then, even Duryodhana's ranks had swelled greatly and he too was in no urgent need of a petty king's aid. Rukma had not learnt his lesson and there too be began his silly bragging... how he would crush the Pandavas bla bla. Needless to say, the proud Duryodhana was hardly impressed. He said to Rukma, "We certainly don't need the 'left-overs' of the Pandavas. Thankfully, our situation is not so desperate as to seek the aid of those whom even the impoverished Pandavas rejected. You may stay or go where you please... it won't make the least difference" Thus insulted and rejected by both parties, a crestfallen Rukma quietly went home with his army. Only two kings remained neutral in the great Bharat war: Balarama and Rukma. While Balarama chose to remain netural because he was torn in two between his kinsmen and his sympathy for Duryodhana, Rukma remained neutral because neither party would have him. Balarama was the martial tutor of Duryodhana and was very fond of his pupil. He was aghast at the way Bhima had killed him and could very well have pole-axed Bhima, had it not been for the presence of Krishna.
Posted by: Sridatta Sep 12 2004, 08:52 PM
Mahabharata war was essentially between members of the Kuru family. While Rama (an outsider) had invaded Lanka. What other such differences can one think of between Ramayana and Mahabharata ?
If I were to answer in one line I would say that the one is a "history" and the other is a "mythology". The Mahabharata is definitely much closer to real life -- its emotions, its passions, the grand canvas of its characters -- they all sound so real. True the Mbh is written in epic language -- but still it is too real to be a fiction. So, it definitely is a history. Having said that, I'm not in any way trying to hint that the play of human emotions in the Ramayana is unrealistic. Yet, to my mind, the Ramayana is more of a mythology than a history. Of course, a mythology need not entirely be fictional. As JRR Tolkien hints in the preface of his great epic the Lord of the Rings, mythology is a valid way of preserving history. Only, its style and expression is different.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Sep 12 2004, 11:36 PM
QUOTE (Sridatta @ Sep 12 2004, 10:35 PM)
Only two kings remained neutral in the great Bharat war: Balarama and Rukma.
As an interesting aside, balarAma later clobbers rukma and his friend the king of kali~nga to death. balarAma had been cheated in a game of dice by the two and in wrath he broke their skulls with his halAyudha.
Posted by: gangajal Sep 13 2004, 12:21 PM
Sundar wrote: "It may be an individual opinion, or an opinion of just a particular school. This statement of the Vaishnava sampradaya would not become a Pramana in itself. If, blinded by love, I sing praises that my girlfriend is more beautiful than the Godess Sri Lakshmi, it should only be seen as a sentence uttered in love, and not as an authority in itself. I hope Sri Madhvacharya would have just mentioned that Puranas are Amrutham just as a passing remark rather than making it the central point. Once again, Vedas are Pramana, Puranas cannot be a pramana *outside* the boundaries of Vedas. E.g. If there is a confilict between Puranas and Shruthi, it will be the Vedas that should be taken as Authority. " The problem Dvaita Sampradaya faces is that the classical Upanishads do not talk of Vishnu. Sri Madhva and other Dvaita teachers have to read Vishnu in the text of the Sruti. Moreover, it is easier to read advaita or vishistadvait in the Sruti than pure Dvaita. The Vasihnava Puranas are much more amenable to Dvaita and Vishnu is supreme reading than the Sruti. This is the reason why the Dvaita school regards Vaishnava Puranas as better pramana than the Vedas. Of course, they admit that all of Hindu scriptures tell a consistent story. They just believe that the Puranas tell the story more clearly than Sruti.
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 13 2004, 12:34 PM
Sridatta, HH rock.gif BTW this question is from supreme HQ
Krishna calls Kunti "Buaa" (dad's sister) and yet Arjuna weds Subhadra (mother of Abhimanyu, sister of Krishna) ?
Please answer, helps me justify time spent on IF.. wink.gif
Posted by: Viren Sep 13 2004, 03:14 PM
rajesh: In certain communities, it was common to marry one's first cousin. For example a guy could marry their maternal uncle's (mamma's) daughter or paternal aunt's (buaa's) daughter. But he can't marry maternal aunt (massi's) daughter or paternal uncle (chaccha's) daughter. Was pretty common till a few decades ago.
Posted by: gangajal Sep 13 2004, 03:49 PM
Social relations are not eternal. Scriptures should be read only for the timeless spiritual truths in them.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Sep 13 2004, 04:44 PM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Sep 13 2004, 02:34 PM)
Krishna calls Kunti "Buaa" (dad's sister) and yet Arjuna weds Subhadra (mother of Abhimanyu, sister of Krishna) ?
kunti was originally born pR^itha the daughter of shurasena and she was the brother of vasudeva (the father of kR^iShNa). She was given to the king kuntibhoja in adoption. As a result of this officially she was not sharing a lineage with descendents of vAsudeva and marriage could be transacted with subhadra However, even this is a violation of the dharmashAstra norm. The explanation hence is: kShatriyas often violate dharma shAstra norms. The gotra rules are more carefully observed by brAhmaNas and the cross-cousin marriages occured amongst other varNas. Some degenerate brahmaNas have observed this custom in the recent past.
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 14 2004, 08:34 AM
HH rock.gif Sridatta, A friend in India could find the Kamala Subramanium book. Now the wait to get the book in my hand.. lmaosmiley.gif
Posted by: Sridatta Sep 14 2004, 06:48 PM
Sridatta, A friend in India could find the Kamala Subramanium book. Now the wait to get the book in my hand.. lmaosmiley.gif
I know the feeling biggrin.gif... Its a highly inspiring book and I'm sure you would find quite rewarding to read it. The author has truly brought out the pulse, grandeur and ethos of the great national epic -- with all its unbridled passions and emotions. As a kid I remember how I pestered my mum at the bookshop to buy it for me guitar.gif. And then reading and re-reading that book again and again till the pages literally withered away! BTW, there's also a Ramayana and a Bhagavatam by the same writer. Such books are like the fuel that kindles the spirit!
Posted by: Mudy Sep 14 2004, 08:17 PM
A friend in India could find the Kamala Subramanium book. Now the wait to get the book in my hand
it is available in East West store, Castro Street, Mountain View, CA.
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 15 2004, 08:33 AM
Mudy, There is East-West store available in LA too. They sell all kinds of stuff - 230 V electronics etc. I will go check if they carry the books. rocker.gif
Posted by: Mudy Sep 15 2004, 08:52 AM
Mudy, There is East-West store available in LA too. They sell all kinds of stuff - 230 V electronics etc. I will go check if they carry the books
Sorry, I thought you are in SF Bay area. anyway link to -
Posted by: gangajal Sep 15 2004, 10:42 AM
The books are also carried in the Vedanta store in Hollywood. One can go to the web and even order the books.
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 15 2004, 11:18 AM
Thanks Mudy, Gangajal.. That looks like an awesome bookstore.. specool.gif
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 15 2004, 11:25 AM
Actually may I humbly request people to kindly go through their catalog and comment on the books that are listed in their catalog ? Whenever time permits.. Here is the URL that shows "Browse by category" Thankyou.
Posted by: gangajal Sep 15 2004, 04:01 PM
I will give below a list of books that I have found helpful over many years from the Hollywood Vedanta Center Bookstore. I would also like to emphasize that since this is a Ramakrishna Order Book store it has an Advaitic bent. ********************************************** Upanishads: ********************************************** 1. Upanishads Volumes I-IV translated by Swami Nikhilananda This translation is based on Shankara's commentary but does not have the sanskrit text. 2. Principal Upanishads translated by Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan This translation has the transliterated sanskrit text. There is some commentary and sometimes Radhakrishnan mentions Shankara, Rangaramanuja and Madhva's comments. ************************************************ Brahma-Sutra Bhasya ************************************************ 3. Brahma-Sutra Bhasya of Sankaracharya by Badarayana translated by Swami Gambhirananda. It is a very large book with a complete commentary by Shankaracharya. It is a very difficult book to read because the subject matter is very dry but is essential to give you an overview of the matter. They have an abridged version of BSB translated by other authors. 4. Brahma_sutra SriBhasya of Ramanuja translated by Sw Vireshwarananda and Sw Adidevananda This will give you Ramanuja's view of the text. *************************************************** Bhagavad Gita *************************************************** 5. Bhagavad Gita translated by Swami Chibhavananda Excellent detailed commentary. Non-sectarian approach. 6.Bhagavad Gita Bhasya of Sri Sankaracharya translated by A. G. Krishna Warrier Essential reading if you are interested in Sankara's commentary 7. Bhagavd Gita Bhasya of Sri Sankaracharya translated by Swami Gambhirananda Same comment as 6. Either 6 or 7 would do. 8 Ramauja Gita Bhasya translated by Swami Adidevananda Essential reading if you are interested in Ramanuja's commentary 9. Gudhartha Dipika by Madhusudana Saraswati translated by Swami Gambhirananda Difficult reading initially but then it becomes easier. Madhusudana Saraswati's Gita Bhasya is considered to be second only to Sankara's commentary in the Advaita school 10. Bhagavad Gita translated by Swami Tapasyananda I found this book together with Chidvabhananda's book very useful in understanding Gita. Sankara and Ramanuja's commentaries are of couse great classical commentaries and are must read. *********************************************** Shankara's books *********************************************** 11. Aparokssnubhuti: Self Realization of Sri Sankaracharya translated by Swami Vimuktananda 12. Saundarya Lahari of Sri Sankaracharya 13. Atmabodha (Self-Knowledge) translated by Swami Nikhilananda 14. Upadesha Sahasri of Sri Sankaracharya translated by Swami Jagadananda (General Comments: These are optional books meant for diehard Sankara followers) 15. Shankara's Crest Jewel of Discrimination:The Vivek-chudamini of Shankara translated by Sw Prabhananda and Christopher Isherwood (Must read if you want to understand the nittygritties of Shankara's philosophy) **************************************************** Other Vedanta Scritptures (within Advaita tradition) ***************************************************** 16. Astavakra Samhita translated by Swami Nityaswarupananda 17. Avadhuta Gita of Dattatreya (choose any of the two translations) (General Comments: Must read books if you follow Advaita tradition. Both are superb) 18. Vasisihta's Yoga translated by Swami Venkatesananda Extremely big book although abridged version available. Must read if you follow Advaita tradition 19. Pancadasi of Sri Vidyaranya Swami by Swami Swahananda (Must read book if you want a summary of the Advaita position) 20. Jivanmukti-Viveka by Swami Vidyaranya translated by Sw Moksadananda (if you are interested in Advaitic understanding of Jivanmukti ----- Other schools do not agree with the concept of Jivanmukti) ************************************************************ Itihasa-Purana ************************************************************ 21. Mahabharat by Ganguli (An extremely large book about 4500 pages in 4 large paperbacks. Must read if you really want to enjoy the riches of Mahabharata) 22. Srimad Bhagavata by Swami Tapasyananda (Ramakrishan Order is a Shankarite school and so does not regard the Puranas very highly. They, however, regard Srimad Bhagavatam very highly. This translation, interprets the Purana from the Advaita tradition. Very large 4 Volume book. Must read if you want to know Advaita tradition's understanding of this Purana) *********************************************************** Yoga and Meditation *********************************************************** 23. Yoga philosophy of Patanjali translated by P.N. Mukherjee (Certainly the best commentary of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra. Used in Kolkata university. Must read book if you are interested in understanding Yoga Sutra) 24. Jnana Yoga:The Yoga of Knowledge by Vivekananda 25. Bhakti Yoga:The Yoga of Love and Devotion by Vivekananda 26. Raja Yoga by Vivekananda 27. Karma Yoga by Vivekananda (Must read for understanding the practical approach to spiritual practice) 28. Meditation and Other Spiritual Disciplines by Sw Swahananda 29. Meditation and Spiritual Life by Sw Yatiswarananda (Very useful books on the nittygritties of Meditation) *********************************************************** Bhakti ************************************************************ 30. Narada Bhakti Sutras (several translations available) (Must read to understand the definition of Bhakti) 31. Bhakti Schools of Vedanta by Sw Tapasyananda (Very useful summary of different Vaishnava interpreters of Vedanta) ******************************************************** Ramakrishna and Holy Mother ******************************************************** 32. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Mahendranath Gupta translated by Sw Nikhilananda (Absolutely superb book to understand Sri Ramakrishna's personality and teachings) 33. Ramakrishna: The Great Master by Swami Saradananda (Essential reading if you are attracted to Sri Ramakrishna) 34. Gospel of the Holy Mother (Essential reading if you are attracted to Ma Sarada, the wife of Sri Ramakrishna)
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Sep 15 2004, 11:45 PM
nakula the 4th pANDava asked the kuru grandsire on his arrowy death bed about the origin of the sword. nakula said that he believed that the sword was a superior weapon and even if one lost his bow or horse or chariot one could still defend himself against mace and spear wielders if one were a good swordsman. bhIshma replied that he was excited beyond words by that question and began to utter a narrative. "In the begining there there was no sky, nor light nor motion. Extending over it all was utter silence. In his own proper time prajApati manifested as hiraNyagarbha. From prajApati emerged the sky, the stars, the earth and divisions of time. From him emerged the deva rudra and devas: the maruts, Adityas, ashvins, and vasus. brahmA then manifested as various living forms which included the R^iShis. prajApati then promulgated the sanAtana dharma. The R^iShis saw this dharma in the form of the vedas and lived in obdience to it. However in the darkness of night the dAnavas began transgressing the dharma. They were hiraNyakashipu, hiraNyAkSha, virochana, shambhara, viprachitti, prahlAda, namUchi, bali and many others, who delighted in evil deeds. The persecuted and afflicted all beings by thrashing them with their rods of chastisement. Then prajApati collected objects to perform a grand sacrifice with the foremost of the devas. I have heard from the R^ishis that something awful happened in that sacrifice. A creature sprang from the midst of the sacrificial fire scattering flames all around him. It was as though a moon had arisen in the midst of the stars. He was colored like a deep-blue lotus. His teeth were sharp, stomach lean and stature tall. He was of exceeding energy and winds were howling all around, trees were being torn apart and meteors blazed through the skies. Then the great prajApati declared : This being whom I have conceived is know as asi, and he shall effect the destruction of the enemies of the gods. Then that being assumed the form of a blazing, sharp-edged sword glowing like the flame at the end of the kalpa. brahmA then gave that sword to the blue-necked rudra with the bull-banner and asked him to put down pApa and adharma. Then that rudra praised by the great R^ishis took up that sword and assumed a terrible form. He put forth four arms and filled the space between heaven and earth. Flames gushed out of his mouth and he assumed diverse colors of blue, white and red. He wore an upper garment of black deerskin studded with stars of gold and he bore an eye on his forehead that resembled the sun in splendour. His other two eyes were black and tawny. The awful mahAdeva also picked up huge shield with 3 studs resembling a black mass of clouds with flashes of lightning. Then the great deva uttered terrible roars and laughing awfully, began to whirl the sword in the sky desiring a showdown with the demons. The dAnava began attacking rudra with diverse razor sharp and fiery weapons. But rudra though single handed moved so rapidly with his sword that the demons thought that they were facing a thousand rudras. Tearing, piercing, lopping off, mincing and smashing down the great deva moved with great celerity amongst the daityas, like a forest conflagration consuming dry wood. Arms severed, heads lopped off, chests pierced the dAnavas expired, while other fled penetrating the depths of the earth or the oceans. The earth became miry with flesh and blood of the dAnavas by the acts of sharva. Drenched in gore the earth looked like a fair-complexioned maid intoxicated with alcohol and attired in crimson robes disarrayed in abandon. Having thus extirpated the demons, and re-established dharma, rudra cast of his awful form and assumed his benign shape, shiva. rudra gave this sword dyed with the blood of the daityas to the deva viShNu. viShNu gave it to the deva indra. indra then gave it to the other devas. They presented that mighty sword to manu. Giving it to him they said: O manu protect the world with this sword having dharma in its womb. Duly deliver punishments to those who transgress dharma. Never misuse it according to caprice. Some should be punished by wordy rebukes, fines and confiscations. Mutilations and death punishments should never be inflicted for small transgressions. This all these punishments are various shapes of this sword, O manu with which the law in maintained and creatures protected. manu then passed the sword of the god to his son kShUpa. From kShuPa it passed to manu's other son ikShvAku. From him the sword of dharma passed to pururavA born of iLA. From him it passed to AyU. From him it passed to nahuSha. From him it passed yayAti. From him it passed to pUru. From him it was wrested by amUrtarAyas of the clan of the amAvasus. From him it went to bhumishaya. From him it went to bharata daushyanti. From him it went Ailavila, the upholder of dharma. From him it went to kuvalAshva the aikShvAkava. From him it went to kambhoja. From him it went to muchukunda. From him it went to marutta. From him it went to raivata. From him to yuvanAshva. From him it went to raghu, the great conqueror. From him it went to hariNashva. From him it went to shunaka. From him it went to ushinAra. From him it went to the bhojas and yadavas. From the yadus to shivi. From him it went to the partardanas of kAshi. Then it was taken by vishvAmitras of the aShTaka lineage. Then it was taken by the pa~nchala pR^ishadashva. From him it went to the brahmins of the bharadvAja lineage. The last of that lineage was droNa. He gave to kR^ipa. He in turn gave it to the pAnDus. kR^ittika is the nakShatra of the sword. rohiNi the gotra, agni the deity, and rudra the maharshi. It is verily dharmapAla the upholder of dharma." It is praised by the names: "asirvishasanaH khaDgastIkShNavartmA durAsadaH | shrIgarbho vijayashchaiva dharmapAlastathaiva cha ||"
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 16 2004, 08:02 PM
A suggestion for guroos .. Maybe a whole new thread for Indic creation type stories/theories ? Not just creation of cosmos - could be anything ? It could include posts like the one HH posted, "srusti se pehle sat nahin thaa, asat bhee nahin" type posts, "Bhagwad was narrated first by Vishnu to Brahma who narrated to Narada" type posts .. Does it deserve a separate thread ? What say people ?
Posted by: Sunder Sep 16 2004, 10:27 PM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Sep 17 2004, 08:32 AM)
A suggestion for guroos .. Maybe a whole new thread for Indic creation type stories/theories ? Not just creation of cosmos - could be anything ? It could include posts like the one HH posted, "srusti se pehle sat nahin thaa, asat bhee nahin" type posts, "Bhagwad was narrated first by Vishnu to Brahma who narrated to Narada" type posts .. Does it deserve a separate thread ? What say people ?
Itihasa-Purana thread itself should be sufficient to deal with the topic at hand, as long as the source of the creation theories fall within Itihasa or Purana. HH thanks for the wonderful post. I just have a quick question. Why did Bheeshma group Prahlada and Bali with kings "who delighted in evil deeds." ? Also, is this from Vyasa Baratha or someone else's rendition of the same epic?
Posted by: bgrkumar Sep 16 2004, 11:51 PM
HH, who among the Pandavas finally got the sword? Also, Bhishma doesn't appear to have completely answered Nakula's question, i.e is Sword the best weapon?
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Sep 17 2004, 10:07 AM
I just have a quick question. Why did Bheeshma group Prahlada and Bali with kings "who delighted in evil deeds." ? Also, is this from Vyasa Baratha or someone else's rendition of the same epic?
It is in some of the purANas that prahlAda and bali and even bANa to certain extant are portrayed in some what positive light. However, they were dAnavas nevertheless and did engage in activities typical of their svabhAva when the opportunity availed itself. Hence, indra and his younger brother viShNu had to destroy them. The older texts, including the mahAbhArata and the brAhmaNas narrate that prahlAda was slain by indra and bali slain or suppressed by viShNu. The historical reason for this difference in opinion in their portrayal is a complex one related to the mutually Indo-Iranian polarization. It is very similar to the way the bhR^igus are depicted in the epics- shukra, chyvAna and bhR^igu himself. The above itihAsa is narrated from mahAbhArata (vulgate text, chapter 167/ "critical edition" chapter 161 of shAnti parvan).
HH, who among the Pandavas finally got the sword? Also, Bhishma doesn't appear to have completely answered Nakula's question, i.e is Sword the best weapon?
Well all pANDavas got the sword, but it was the particular favorite of nakula. After narrating the above itihAsa, bhIShma does tersely notes: "agryaH praharaNAnAM cha khaDgo mAdravatIsuta" that the sword is the foremost of the striking weapons of son of mAdravati. He also gives the khadgastuti or the praise of the sword with the 8 names: asirvishasanaH khaDgastIkShNavartmA durAsadaH . shrIgarbho vijayashchaiva dharmapAlastathaiva cha
Posted by: Rajita Rajvasishth Sep 17 2004, 10:11 PM
Could some one tell me of the 2 series of the Avatars of Ganesh. I believe there are 2 sets of them : one set with 4 incarnations and another set with 8 incarnations. But I do not remember the details.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Sep 19 2004, 10:02 AM
The gaNesha purANa has the 4 fold incarnations of gaNapati. They are: 1) vinAyaka in the kR^itayuga. 3 demons dhUmrAkSha, narAntaka and devAntaka assume great power and spread terror. So gaNapati is born of kAshyapa and his wife. He has a 10 handed form with lion vAhana and slays these asuras in a great battle at kAshi. 2)mayureshvara in the tretayuga. A demon called sindhu swallowed a pot of amR^ita he had obtained from rudra and became invincible. gaNapati assumed a form with 6 hands and captured mayUra a mighty son of vinAta and rode him to battle and slew sindhu after making him disgorge the amR^ita. It said that he then gave his peacock to his brother kumAra. 3)lambodara in the dvAparayuga. This was for the killing of the demon sindhura who arose from the yawn of brahma. brahma graced him with many boons and armed with these he spread terror. gaNapati was born of vyAsa the vAsiShtHa and captured a terrible rat that was wreaking havoc in his house. Then riding that mouse and emerging in a 4 handed form he slew sindhura in a deadly encounter. 4)dhUmraketu is the incarnation of the future in the kaliyuga. Here gaNapati is said to assume a 2 handed form riding a horse for the destruction of the mlecchas and dasyus who would be ruining the world and restoring it to the Aryas. The incarnations of gaNapati in the G.P are a suggestive of a relatively late work, as they clearly have borrowed from the older layer of Pauranic myths. So the GP is clearly a second order purana resting on the older motifs of the primary purANas. The puNyakSetras of some of these myths are associated with Maharashtra and Gujarat supporting a later regional character of this stream of the gANapatya sect. This is similar to the pattern observed in the populist kaumara sect in south. Also note the methodlogical parallels of Pauranic reworking in the kaumara tract "tamil skanda purANaM" and the G.P. The 8 incarnations are from the mudgala puraNa. That is for another day.
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 19 2004, 01:08 PM
Yesterday I watched the Mahabharata episodes - abhimanyu-vadh and about half of the next day in battle - arjun has vowed to slay Jayadratha by the end of the day. Wife wouldnt let me watch any further.. argue.gif Anyway in these episodes they have shown 2 battle formations. Chakravyuha and Kamalavyuha.. For chakravyuha the formation is strange where the main warriors are in the middle while the rest of the army is in concentric circles with warriors wielding different weapons. It almost looks like a defensive formation. While apparently the goal of the whole excercise was so that Acharya Drona could capture Yudhisthira . They show Yudhishthira is scared because he doesnt know how to break chakravyuha - making it sound like an offensive formation. And then Abhimanyu comes in and says he knows how to get in but not get out. Its confusing - why does anybody have to go in ? In fact they show Abhimanyu circling the whole formation and goes in at one weak point. Why couldnt they just keep fighting the outside circle and kill time till Arjuna returns ?? Was this due to some kind of battle rule that once an adversary throws a challenge with a battle formation one has to go in ?? What are the offensive aspects of chakravyuha ? Kamalavyuha seemed like a defensive formation and while not so much detail is shown - it does make some sense given that the goal of the battle that day was to protect Sindhu naresh... PS : They keep mentioning "Maharathi Krita-varma" and yet never mention anything about him. Is he important ?
Posted by: Anand K Sep 19 2004, 05:46 PM
A few accounts say that Abhimanyu had to break into the Padmavyuh and not the Chakravyuh....however the Chakravyuh is the more accepted version.. Moreover, to prevent Arjuna from getting to Jayadratha, Drona improvised a new formation: He arranged the army in the chakravyuh..... He formed the padhma vyuha (lotus formation) inside the chakravyuha. Within these two vyuhas, he formed a needle vyuha. Jayatradha was placed within the eye of the needle. I have searched many resources to get some details about the actual maneuvers and battle drill...The Greek phalanx system and the Roman legionnaire systems are well documented...hell, even the Egyptians, Parthians etc had well explained battle drill. Unless such resources are obtained we could only speculate on the chakravyuha funda and all.. Though the numbers in an Akshauhini are well defined, its not clearly said how they are put to, how are the infantry arranged, what are their weapons and tactics, are the chariots and cavalry used in flanking or second wave attacks, what is the role of the elphants...are they reserve forces for mop up or are they sent first to break enemy ranks. The stress on medium-long range combat, i.e archery skills is curious...rather than conventional wisdom which says archery and artillery are used to soften the enemy, they are used in the epics by chariot mounted heroes ALL the time in "area attack" and single combat modes....I dunno how they managed to develop the archery skills so as to zero it down to man-man combat, its amazing! I believe that unlike the TV epics which show the ornate heavy-a$$ chariots stationary with maharathis slicing each others' arrows in midflight, they were lightly armoured, fast chariots which were always moving and maneuvering so as not to present itself as a stationary target . I also wonder why the ancients didn't go for the cavalry archer doctrine which the Islamic and Hun armies used to conquer the known world. Maybe its because we didn't have the double recurved composite bow the cavalry archers used .....maybe its the logistics problem like resupply, attrition etc.
Posted by: Anand K Sep 19 2004, 06:05 PM
sad.gif One problem when history becomes legend and legend becomes myth, the details become the main casualities! And the devil is in the details .....I guess I expect too much from Indian history and purana which is about 7 millenia old and more ravaged by deification,denudation and mythification as compared to the "crystal clear" documented wars and startegy of Rome who's not even a third of our age! Sighhhhh.... Anybody got some ideas and resources on the actuall conduct of Kurukshetra war pls help me out..SOS. There was a thread on premodern warfare..........cross post it there too?
Posted by: Sridatta Sep 22 2004, 04:31 AM
PS : They keep mentioning "Maharathi Krita-varma" and yet never mention anything about him. Is he important ?
When it comes to the "Who's who" stuff, genealogies, etc I think its best left to our "walking encyclopedia" HH biggrin.gif I don't know much about Kritavarma's position in the Yadava genealogy, however, if you'd like to hear some interesting side stories about Kritavarma, then here goes... it is always nice to revisit portions of this great epic, which lie on the fringes of our memory. (Somehow the Mbh brings out a certain child-like enthusiasm in me, so pray indulge me while I revist facts which may already be well known to most). Firstly, you must know that Kritavarma belonged to the Yadu clan and was therefore related to Krishna. [Yadu seems to have been a king of the hoary antiquity who founded the dynasty which goes by his name. Again, the "guroos" will have to fill us in with the details of all this]. The question then arises as to why did Kritavarma take up arms against the Pandavas, while Satyaki fought on the side of the Pandavas? Now, as you may recall, when both Duryodhana and Arjuna had approached Krishna for help, Krishna offered the services of his armies to Duryodhana. Thus, Kritavarma found himself in the position of a mercenary, who though still closely allied to his kinsfolk, would fight like a professional soldier for Duryodhana. Now, Kritavarma was a great soldier and fought fiercely directing much of his furies on his fellow clansman Satyaki. While great many brave men fell during that 18 day carnage, Kritavarma survived the war... he was in fact one of the 3 surviors on the Kaurava side -- the others being Ashvatthama and the teacher Kripa. After the armies of Duryodhana were finally routed on the 18th day, Duryodhana suddenly went missing. He was so hurt and humiliated that his whole frame was on fire and he fled to a place where he could cool himself. The 5 Pandavas and Krishna pursued him relentlessly and hunted him down by a lake. With cruel words and taunts, he was forced to come out and do battle. And as we all know, Bhimasena crushed his thighs in the mace-fight that ensued. It was a slow and miserable death. The proud and haughty prince lay there amid the blood and mud like a crushed serpent writhing in excruciating agony, awaiting his end. To add to that, he had an altercation with Krishna, who ruthlessly lambasted him. Duryodhana tried to raise the point of Adharma, but Krishna made it clear that the very epitome of Adharma had no grounds to argue on what morality was. Many harsh words were bandied (which were of course the bitter truth) and the sensitive Duryodhana was bitterly hurt by them. Krishna then urged the 5 Pandavas to leave sinner alone to his death and hasten to celebrate their victory. (For some reason, the victors did not sleep in their regular camp that night. Little did they realize that their lives were saved because of this). As the darkness drew in, the battle field was filled with unearthly cries of jackals and other scavengers -- who were perhaps having a feast of a lifetime! Monarch Duryodhana lay there helpless and crushed -- wretched animal awaiting its death. When, Ashvatthama arrived there and beheld his king's condition he was overwhelmed with grief. Ashvatthama had always loved and admired Duryodhana very much and to him the sight brought a flood of tears. But the tears soon gave way to wrath and he took a terrible vow to avenge the death of his king. Pleased by his loyalty to the last, Duryodhana annointed him general and blessed him and sent him forth. How he would accomplish his task no one knew. Kripa and Kritavarma, the only other survivors, were with him. All three were extremely tired and broken in spirit. They retired to a large forest. While the others rested, Ashvatthama alone kept awake, brooding in despair as to how he would avenge Duryodhana. While brooding thus, he saw a remarkable sight. A hoard of owls suddenly swooped down upon the Banyan tree under which they were resting and completely massacred the crows that had roosted there. This put a terrible thought into the mind of Ashvatthama. He pursuaded his friends to join in the deed, but they were horrified. But since they were all together in battle, they decided to accompany him and keep guard. Ashvatthama attacked the Pandava camp at night and brutally massacred everyone -- Draupadi's sons, Drishtadyumna (who had slain his father) -- all perished. He then set fire to the camp and all the soldiers were roasted alive. Kripa and Kritavarma who stood on guard prevented anyone from escaping while Ashvatthama kicked, strangled, and hacked the sleeping soldiers. Having done this heinous deed, he hastened back with Kripa and Kritavarma to the spot where Duryodhana lay and gave him the "good news". "The reckoning is now level sire," says he. "I have slain everyone and thus avenged your death. Only the 5 Pandavas, Krishna and Satyaki have survived from their side, while we have 3 men standing." The dying Duryodhana was pleased and smiled affectionately: "You, O Ashvatthama, have achieved what even the great grandsire Bhishma nor Drona, nor Radheya nor Shakuni nor myself could achieve. Your feat is truly remarkable, and is only excelled by your love for me. I shall now die a contended man." So saying the monarch breathed his last. *** The end of the House of the Vrishnis. Years later, in the course of Yudhistira's rule, the inevitable signs of the decadence of the new Yuga began setting in. The old era had ended, all its great heroes like Arjuna and Krishna were in twilight of their lives. A great tragedy was to soon overwhelm the House of Vrishnis. It all started off as a practical joke, and little did the folk realize then its dire consequences. The Yadavas took to hard drinking. 36 years had passed since the war and Krishna inwardly knew that the time had come. One day, some rishis came to Dwaraka. The arrogant and irreverent Yadavas mocked these rishis with a practical joke. They dressed up one of their young men like a woman and, presenting him to the revered guests, said: "O ye learned men, tell us whether this lady will have a boy or a girl." The rishis saw through the irreverent joke and said in anger: "This person will give birth to a mace, and that mace will prove to be Yama to your tribe and destroy you all.". And lo, the young man got labour pains and gave birth to a mace! The terrified yadavas tried their best to grind the mace to powder and hurled it into the sea. However, one iron bit alone couldn't be ground. Some years passed and people soon forgot about the curse and thought that its effects had passed. But the grains of the powdered mace took shape as terrible reeds growing on the shores of an island. And the small iron block was swallowed by a fish. A fisherman who caught the fish, sold it to a hunter who fitted it to his arrow. One day, the Yadavas decided to go out partying. So with great fan-fare and merriment they all went to that island and piknicked joyously for several days. But soon, they got drunk and the effects of wine robbed them of their senses. They become quarrelsome and unrestrained. Old and painful memories of the war were revoked. Insults were traded. One side talked of Abhimanyu's unfair death and the other spoke of Drona's end. Naturally, the topic of Ashvatthama's night massacre was raked up: "How in the world could you even be party to the killing sleeping soldiers, O Kritavarma?" said Satyaki. "You have brought an indelible opprobrium on our tribe," To this, Kritavarma shot back: "You barbarian Satyaki! Like a butcher you slaughtered the great Bhurisravas when he was seated in yoga after his right hand was cut off and you". Soon, 2 rival factions were formed amidst the Yadavas. They were all inebriated and violent. A great drunken brawl followed in which both Satyaki and Kritavarma were both killed. The inebriated Vrishnis at first began striking each other with fists and bows and then as they looked around on the island they found the deadly reeds growing there. Plucking them out, they struck out at each other with these in a dreadful melee. The touch of the reed was fatal. Krishna watched before his eyes the death of his son and grandson. Knowing that there was nothing much to live for now, he himself began drawing out armfuls of the reed and clubbed his own clansmen to death. He knew that the process (the beginning of the end) was already in motion and he now only wanted to hasten it. Thus were the Yadavas destroyed. Who could imagine that so noble a House as that of the Vrishnis would come to such an end! Krishna retired to a forest and sat there alone meditating. A hunter who beheld his yellow silks and the beautiful arch of his foot mistook it for a stag and shot him. The dart was fitted with the iron arrow head obtained from the fisherman. It was fatal. For, after all, the Yuga had finally ended and the purpose of his incarnation was fulfilled. (Yet, I would imagine that when Partha heard this, news delivered by charioteer Daruka, he broke down hopelessly -- despite having heard the lecture on the 2nd chapter of the Gita live! He felt as if the light had left his life! How could it be otherwise! They were more than mere sakhas. Conjoined in spirit, they were Nara and Narayana themselves!)
Posted by: Rajita Rajvasishth Sep 25 2004, 12:27 PM
The jainas possess some interesting divergent variants of the canonical Indo-Aryan myths. The harivaMsha of jinasena and the triShaShThisalakapuruSha charita of hemachandra is a rather rich source for such mythic material. The jaina view postulated the existance of 63 salakapuruShas or notable figures who are like spokes in the wheel of time. Not unexpectedly the 63 includes the 24 tirthankaras. Other than these there are 12 chakravartins who start with the great bhArata. Then there are the 9 vAsudevas or the 9 nArAyaNas, 9 balabhadras and 9 prativAsudevas. In each epoch of the time wheel is born a vAsudeva or a nArAyaNa with an elder brother termed the balabhadra. A woman called a kR^itya is also born in each epoch to aid the vAsudeva in his acts. The evil in the world is spread by the prativAsudeva, who is finally killed in the show-down with the vAsudeva. Below are these entities:
vAsudeva balabhadra prativAsudeva tripR^ishTa vijaya ashvagrIva or hayagrIva dvipR^ishTa achala tAraka svAyambhuva dharmaprabha naraka puruShottama suprabha nishumbha puruShasiMha sudarsana madhu and kaiTabha puNDarIka Ananda prahlAda dattAtreya nandimitra bali lakShmaNa rAmachandra rAvana kR^iShNa samkarShaNa jarAsandha
In Jain temple 49 of Vimalavasahi (Mt. Abu) there is a remarkable idol of the 16 armed vAsudeva puruShasiMha killing a prativAsudeva. The jaina version of the rAmAyaNa obviously has lakShmaNa kill rAvaNa the prativAsudeva and kR^iShNa kill jarAsandha rather than bhIma. From the list of vAsudevas or nArAyaNas and prativAsudevas it is clear that the jaina epicists had diverged from the Hindu mainstream early on and were drawing in an ad hoc fashion from a body of historical and mythological elements they had inherited from the mainstream. These were used to rebuild works that paralleled the mainstream sUta literature. The core elements of the original inheritance include the concept of periodic nArAyaNas from the incarnations of viShNu and their number, names of some of these incarnations and the names of demons. The concept of the vAsudeva and the balabhadra appear to have been acquired from the early form of the bhAgavata religion of the sAtvatas, which later developed into the full-fledged pA~ncharAtra system where they are the primary manifestation of the puruSha nArAyaNa. This appears to have been further systematized to include all the incarnations of viShNu. That the elements of the original inheritance were reordered in an ad hoc fashion is suggested by the several anachronisms such as the insertion of madhu and kaiTabha in to the prati-vAsudeva list when they were actually killed by the un-incarnated viShNu. Other demons like tAraka who was killed by kumAra and naraka much later by kR^iShNa were made earlier prativAsudevas. Such conflations are also apparent in the bauddha ghatajAtaka. It talks of the tale of vAsudeva and baladeva the sons of upasAgara and devagabbhA the sister of kaMsa. In this tale vAsudeva and baladeva are brought up by a certain andhakaveNhu and his wife nandagopA who was an attendant of devagabbhA. Here the name andhakaveNhu is a corruption of the compound of andhaka-vR^iShNi, the main clans of yadus from which kR^iShNa hailed. One can see that the conflation of names coming from the ancestral mainstream source following their isolation of the bauddhas was similar to the case of the jainas. The chakravartins amongst the 64 jaina salakapurShas also seems to be a concept derived from the mainstream sUta histories which enumerate chakarvatins and the ShoDaSharAjika. But the jaina list a of chakravartins is a strange motley including mainstream rulers like bhArata, sagara and brahmadatta woven into jaina-centric legends and polemics. The jaina concept of prati-vAsudeva may not be very original either. The bhAgavataM/ harivaMsha describe the showdown between kR^ishNa and the false-vAsudeva (or the prativAsudeva), the paunDraka in which the latter’s head is cut off. Thus, there may have existed the concept even in the mainstream that in the age when vAsudeva emerge there is competition for that status and the winner is the vAsudeva, while the loser the prati-vAsudeva. The jaina theory present the balabhadra as a more peaceful individual compared to the vAsudeva who slays the hostile elements of his epoch. The baladeva is often portrayed as the promulgator of peaceful jaina concepts. While the historical baladeva of the mainstream literature was hardly in a jaina tirthankara mould he did devote time to peace efforts even in the account of the harivaMsha. During the marriage of sAmbha he prevented a major showdown between the yadus and the kurus by his peace effort and a minimal threat of diverting a river to flood Hastinapura. He also refused to participate in the great bhArata war. After baladeva murdered the sUta lomaharShaNa and rukmiNI’s brother rukma, he decided to retire from all military activities and he and his wives devoted themselves to shrauta practices. These may have provided the jainas with the inspiration for their idea of the baladeva.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Sep 25 2004, 01:44 PM
Rayi- I had originally intended the above post only for your private viewing- any how I did not explicitly state that. I wanted to work on it a little more before I got down to posting it here. Anyhow, never mind let be as it is for what ever it is worth.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Sep 25 2004, 07:12 PM
datta, the atri, was endowed with lasting youthfulness and was the embodiment of all the 3 guNas. In his early life was a great warrior and was the prime minister and priest of haihaya emperor, kArtavIrya arjuna. He led the haihaya troops to many great victories and participated in the rise of the emperor. The haihaya king was un-paralleled in the use of arms and having conquered the entire known world was crowned as saMrAT by dattAtreya. The haihaya, however, had a deep enemity with the bhR^igus. He stole the cow of the bhArgava R^ishi jamadagni. In due course arjuna was challenged by rAma the son of jamadgni and axed to death by him. dattatreya was furious and carried out many abhichAra rites to destroy the bhArgavas. Aided by his spells, the vitIhotras or the sons of arjuna slew the bhArgava R^ishi jamadgni. However, rAmo bhArgava over came the spells with their own deadly incantations of the atharvaNa shruti and prepared for war with the vItahavyas. In the battle that followed they were protected by the brahman of dattAtreya and the bhArgava could not over come them. However, finally with the atri-destroying charm of the atharvaNa shruti rAma overcame the brahman of datta. After that he pierced the vitahavyas with his deadly astras and slew each of them. With the vItihotras dead, datta renounced the world and practiced the sattva guNa. He lead the life a celibate ascetic for long, teaching the principles of renunciation. In the final stage of he became and embodiment of the tamoguNa and picked a beautiful woman as his companion and wandered around with her in carefree indulgence, bearing a trident and a bow and guarded by 4 dogs. They were continually lost in dalliance, loud laughter, merriment and imbibition of vAruNi beer, when rAmo bhArgava chanced upon them. In this state the atri enlightened him on the tantric lores.
Posted by: k.ram Sep 28 2004, 09:00 AM
Ramayana was real: American professor Hyderabad, Sept. 24: Professor Robert P Goldman, director of the University of California Education Abroad Programme, termed the epic Ramayana a "real-life" account. Delivering a lecture on `Ramayana: Medieval Indian Interpretations', organised by the University of Hyderabad as part of its distinguished lecture series, Goldman rejected the Western view that Ramayana was a mixture of the real and the mythological. "There's clear-cut evidence to show that the incidents described in Ramayana took place," he said here on Friday. Goldman said the experts had calculated the exact period in which the war between Lord Rama and Ravana took place and the time taken by Lord Hanuman to bring the Sanjeevani herb and how long the demon Kumbhakarna used to sleep. Goldman said he believed that Hanuman flew to Sri Lanka and spoke a human language. "It is something supernatural and something natural," he said. "It is not myth as is generally claimed by some Westerners. Rama-yana is a reality."
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 28 2004, 02:23 PM
HH/Rajita, Thanks for the cool post on Jainism. There is a temple about 100 kms from Ahmedabad which is very popular. I have visited that temple too..
Main Deity- 22 inches high, white-colored idol of Bhagawan Padmaprabha in the Padmasana posture. History- In ancient times, this place was known as Madhumati. The idols and artistic remains recovered from the ground tells that the history of this place is nearly 2000 years old. The inscription on the idols in the Brahmi script proves its antiquity. Acharyadev Buddhisagarsurisvarji in the newly built temple reinstalled the ancient and beautiful Mulnayak Bhagawan Padmaprabh, in the 1974 of the Vikram era. The Acharya also installed a very ancient idol of Ghantakarna Mahavir in the temple here in the 1980 of the Vikram era. The idol of Ghantakarna Mahavir is very miraculous. Thousands of devotees come here to fulfill their desires. The splendid temple of Ghantakarna with the twenty-four devkulikas is at present under renovation. In his previous birth, Ghantakarna Mahavirdev was a Kshatriya king named Tungabhadra. He protected religious people, caste and virtuous women and, unmarried girls from robbers. He used a bow and arrows. His idol, therefore, has a bow and an arrow. Ghantakarna Mahavirdev always helps those who repose faith in him. In his previous birth, he was very fond Sukhadi. Therefore, there is a custom of offering Sukhadi to him. Sukhadi should be consumed within the temple precincts besides this temple and the splendid temple of Ghantakarna Mahavir; there is also a Gurumandir of Buddhisagarsurisvarji. . Many artistic idols or ancient remains are seen there. The artistic and sculptural models in the Kotyark temple, give an idea of the antiquity of this place. The 130 cms. High idol of Bhagawan Shantinath in the Padmasana posture is made of five mental and it has radium eyes. It is very miraculous and wonderful. It is also called an idol of Kesariyaji. In the temple on the hill, there is a 106 cms. High, white-colored, delightful idol of Bhagawan Ajitnath in the Kayotsarga posture. At this places Buddhisagarsurisvarji also worshipped God. Guidance- The nearest railway station of Vijapur is 10 kilometers away. There are very good facilities of bus service and private vehicles for going to this sacred place on the Kalol-Vijapur road near Ahmedabad. There are good boarding and lodging facilites.
I have always wondered about this temple. Its interesting that Jainas have "rakshak devas" who protect people inspite of ahimsa . I have also heard from many people that most Jainas were kshatriyas to begin with. What is the concept of ahimsa as found in Jainism ? Is it the same in Buddhism ?
Posted by: rajesh_g Oct 5 2004, 09:50 PM
Forgot to post closing comments on BRChopra's Mahabharata. I remember seeing the same serial more then a decade ago and then I liked it way more then Sagar's Ramayana. To my surprise this time around I find Ramayana more likeable. BRChopra's Mbh seems too filmy. Duryodhana is shown as a totally stupid fellow, Shakuni evil etc. And Dhritrashtra-Gandhari conversations are a major bore. Too filmy. They might as well have put in some dialog like kutte kamine main tumharaa khoon pee jaoongaa, chun chun ke maroongaa. thumbsdownsmileyanim.gif
Posted by: Viren Oct 12 2004, 11:53 AM
Posted by: Rajita Rajvasishth Oct 17 2004, 11:21 PM
I heard some poetic lyrics composed by Shankaracharya at the temple termed the Mahishasuramardini stotram Could the scholar log provide an appropriate translation for the following shokas. There is an English translation by Madhava Deshpande but I am somehow not convinced with it for the following paragraphs (i am trying to use Itrans, at least approximately): ayi raNa durmada shatru vadhodita durdhara nirjara shaktibhR^ite | chatura vichAra dhurINa mahAshiva dUta kR^ita pramathAdhipate || durita durIha durAshaya durmati dAnavadUta kR^itAntamate | jaya jaya he mahiShAsuramardini ramyakapardini shailasute || sahitamahAhava mallamatallika mallita rallaka mallarate | virachita vallika pallika mallika shrillika bhillika vargavR^ite | sita kR^ita phulli samullasitAkR^iNatallaja pallava sallalite | jaya jaya he mahiShAsuramardini ramyakapardini shailasute ||
Posted by: Sridatta Nov 16 2004, 09:38 PM
I heard some poetic lyrics composed by Shankaracharya at the temple termed the Mahishasuramardini stotram. There is an English translation by Madhava Deshpande but I am somehow not convinced with it for the following paragraphs [Stanzas 5 & 11]
The meaning of Stanza 11 is indeed unclear and in both the translations that I came across, I could not a proper interpretation. Anyways, here are the translations that I came across:
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Dec 5 2004, 11:48 PM
The snake of viShNu Upon the great snake shesha sleeps the great god viShNu, even as the the kalpa wears out. He stirs only when the waters rise and threaten to sink the world plane. This shesha is time and hence he is called ananta. Thus, when viShNu sleeps on the coils of the great world snake he is experiencing the cyclic passage of time. Once the great god vAyu and the world snake ananta had a contest of strength. shesha wound around the mount meru around which the world revolves and vAyu was supposed to dislodge the snake from the great mountain. The efforts of mAtarishvan to dislodge the great snake proved futile for a long time eventhough the world shook with his terrible gusts. Then in fury he uprooted the mount meru snake and all and hurled the mountain with great ferocity. Under the impact of vAyu's blow, meru shattered and ananta lost his grip and surrendered. With meru shattered the world shook and had no axis. The deva viShNu then stabilized the shattered meru it with his foot. Versions of this tale are persistantly narrated in the local puraNas associated with viShNu shrines and also the garuDa purANa. This is remarkable example of the fact of precession being preserved in the language of myth. viShNu is a predominantly precessional deity. All his five early incarnations contain the precessional motifs that were uncovered by Santillana and von Dechend in The Hamlet's Mill. 1) matsya. The deluge represent the sinking of the old equinoctical constellations below the equatorial plane- that is sinking of the world plane below water. It is revived by the viShNu as the fish which provides the new world axis in the form of its immense horn. 2) kurma. The meru is used as a churning rod by the devas and the asuras and the same snake ananta or vAsuki as the churning rope. The rod meru, is the classic world axis of Hindu myth and the snake is the cyclic time. The great rod slips, much to the consternation of the devas, when viShNu assuming the form of a turtle stabilizes the meru mountain and allows the cosmic churn to continue. This again represents the slipping of the axis by precession. 3) varAha. The world plane sinks again below water (that is the equinoctical plane sinking due to precession) and is restored by viShNu as varAha. The boar brings back a new equinoctical plane. 4) nR^isiMha. The world axis is called the skambha, as praised in the great hymn of the atharvans. nR^isiMha emerges from the shattered pillar at the end of the kalpa. It occurs at the twilight zone (neither day nor night) between the inner and outer zones of the palace of hiraNyakashipu (neither in nor out). This again represents the loss of the world axis (the pillar) and the transitional zone between two equinoctical constellation during precession. 5) vAmana. Here viShNu with the 3 steps secures the 3 scaffolds with which the ancients concieved the world axis: 1) the zenith segment 2) the nadir segment and 3) the zone formed by the tilt in the axis- the celestial tropics. Thus, the snake shesha coiled around meru represents the path of cyclic time around the around the world axis, and the shaking of the axis by vAyu the precessional shifts of the axis. Likewise the Hindu mythic image of vAsuki supporting the earth is a symbolic representation of the cyclic time around the world axis. The language of myth has indeed preserved one of the most primal astronomical discoveries of the ancient humans and Hindus verily retain the most vivid memories of it. It is, hence, not surprising that the Vedic astronomers were able to carry out successful calendrical reform stretching from punarvasu in the hazy past to bharaNi-ashvayuja in the late vedic period. In face of this it is certain that those Indologists who doubt the antiquity of the Vedic texts are afflicted by an incurable mental ailment.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Dec 23 2004, 11:44 AM
The drinking of poison While the bhAgavataM is considered a vaiShNava text, it contains an highly magnified stotra to rudra. The stotra contains yet another example of the classical macrantropic motif that is so pervasive in Hindu thought since the puruSha sUktaM and the ashvamedha brAhmaNaM. It is full-fledged development was in India and not in Mesopotamia or Egypt. I provide a translation of the stotra given that the available ones are unsatisfactory. shrI-prajApataya UchuH :/ The prajApatis said: deva-deva mahA-deva bhUtAtman bhUta-bhAvana/ trAhi naH sharaNApannAMs trailokya-dahanAd viShAt// O god of the gods, the great god, the basis of the elements and origin of the elements, we surrender at your lotus feet. Save us from this poison, which is burning the three worlds. tvam ekaH sarva-jagata Ishvaro bandha-mokShayoH/ taM tvAm archanti kushalAH prapannArti-haraM gurum// You are the one lord of all worlds; isvarah, cause of bondage and liberation. We worship you seeking good fortune, who is the mitigator all the distresses of the votary, and the preceptor. guNa-mayyA sva-shaktyAsya sarga-sthity-apyayAn vibho/ dhatse yadA sva-dRig bhUman brahma-viShNu-shivAbhidhAm// By your own energy you set the guNas in action; oh god you cause the emergence, maintenance and annihilation of this world when you oh great one manifest as brahmA, viShNu and shiva. tvaM brahma paramaM guhyaM sad-asad-bhAva-bhAvanam/ nAnA-shaktibhir AbhAtas tvam AtmA jagad-IshvaraH// you are the brahman, the primal secret cause of the manifest and the unmanifest [states of the universe] as well as cause and effect. With diverse forms of energy you manifest; you are the consciousness {atman}, the lord of the universe. tvaM shabda-yonir jagad-Adir AtmA prANendriya-dravya-guNaH svabhAvaH/ kAlaH kratuH satyam RitaM cha dharmas tvayy akSharaM yat tri-vRid-Amananti// You are the source of sound, origin of the universe, consciouness, living matter, sensory substances, the atoms, the guNas, propertied of matter, time, action, and natural law (R^ita) comprised of satya (inviolable laws) and dharma (the enforced laws). They say the syllable, which comprises of the 3-fold form (a-u-m) is for you. agnir mukhaM te .akhila-devatAtmA kShitiM vidur loka-bhavA~Nghri-pankajaM / kAlaM gatiM te .akhila-devatAtmAno dishash ca karNau rasanaM jaleshaM // Fire is your mouth, the breath of all gods; the earth is known to be your lotus feet the source of the worlds; time is your change of state, the sum-total of the gods your and the directions are your ears and water is you taste. nAbhir nabhas te shvasanaM nabhasvAn sUryash cha chakShUMShi jalaM sma retaH/ parAvarAtmAshrayaNaM tavAtmA somo mano dyaur bhagavan shiras te// The coulds are your navel, the atmosphere your breathing, the sun your eyes and the [celestial] waters; verily your semen. Your self is the shelter of all beings, primary and secondary, the moon your mind and the heavens your head. kukShiH samudrA girayo .asthi-sa~NghA romANi sarvauShadhi-vIrudhas te/ ChandAMsi sAkShAt tava sapta dhAtavas trayI-mayAtman hRidayaM sarva-dharmaH// The oceans are your abdomen, the mountains your skeleton, and the plants and trees are your hairs. The [Vedic] Meters are verily the seven constituents of your body the three-fold vedic chants your metabolism, and the laws your heart. mukhAni pa~nchopaniShadas tavesha yais triMshad-aShTottara-mantra-vargaH/ yat tach ChivAkhyaM paramAtma-tattvaM deva svayaM-jyotir avasthitis te// Your [five] faces are the five mantras of the [mahAnArAyaNopaniShat], oh lord, by which thirty-eight fold mantras* have merged. You are the one renowned as shiva, the self luminous one, by whom the state of knowledge of the paramAtman is attained. ChAyA tv adharmormiShu yair visargo netra-trayaM sattva-rajas-tamAMsi/ sA~NkhyAtmanaH shAstra-kRitas tavekShA Chandomayo deva RiShiH purANaH// Your shadow is the wave of adharma, by which emerge [many of its manifestations]; your three eyes are [the three guNas],sattva, rajas and tamas, you are the foundation of sAMkhya thought, the shastras with metrical verses are made by your glance. You are the ancient god and seer. na te giri-trAkhila-loka-pAla-viri~ncha-vaikuNTha-surendra-gamyam/ jyotiH paraM yatra rajas tamash cha sattvaM na yad brahma nirasta-bhedam// Oh mountain-dweller, neither the lords of the world, nor brahmA, nor viShNu, nor the lord of the of the gods (indra) can perceive, you primal brilliance, which is the brahman, in which sattva, rajas and tamas lose their distinction. kAmAdhvara-tripura-kAlagarAdy-aneka-bhUta-druhaH kShapayataH stutaye na tat te/ yas tv anta-kAla idam Atma-kRitaM sva-netra-vahni-sphuli~Nga-shikhayA bhasitaM na veda// kAma, the sacrifice [of dakSha], the tripuras, the poison of time and many other molestors of beings have been slain by you. We do not praise those acts, because do we not know [that] at the end of time, by your acts the [whole universe itself] is burned by the flashes of fire emerging from your eye. ye tv Atma-rAma-gurubhir hRidi chintitA~Nghri-dvandvaM charantam umayA tapasAbhitaptam/ katthanta ugra-paruShaM nirataM shmashAne te nUnam Utim avidaMs tava hAta-lajjAH// Those gurus, who verily meditate on your two lotus feet within their heart become self-realized; but those seeing you prancing with umA and performing severe penances and deride you as being perpetually in the graveyard, as being fierce and violent verily do not grasp your [apparently] shameless ways. tat tasya te sad-asatoH parataH parasya nA~njaH svarUpa-gamane prabhavanti bhUmnaH/ brahmAdayaH kim uta saMstavane vayaM tu tat-sarga-sarga-viShayA api shakti-mAtram// There your primal form, beyond the manifest and unmanifest, is very difficult [to perceive] nor is it possible to for even brahmA and others to perceive your primal form; what to speak of others? Thus we can offer worship to source of all existence only to best of our limitations. etat paraM prapashyAmo na paraM te maheshvara/ mRiDanAya hi lokasya vyaktis te .avyakta-karmaNaH// The primal state of yours that is beyond all this, oh great god, we cannot see. For the mercy of the world you have manifested, you whose [all] activities cannot be perceived by anyone.
Posted by: sridhar k Dec 23 2004, 02:52 PM
Haumaji, Can we know the canto and the chapter in Srimad Bhagavatam?
Posted by: rajesh_g Dec 23 2004, 05:21 PM
Sridhar guroo, From.. search for maha-deva
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Dec 23 2004, 10:10 PM
QUOTE (sridhar k @ Dec 23 2004, 04:52 PM)
Can we know the canto and the chapter in Srimad Bhagavatam?
8.7.21-35 I have noticed it being recited in some "composite" shiva viShNu temples in Maharashtra. Prabhupada's translation indicated by Rajesh has some inaccuracies and also a biased explanation if one sees his original text.
Posted by: sridhar k Dec 23 2004, 11:09 PM
Rajesh bhai, Haumaji, thanks.
Posted by: Sunder Dec 30 2004, 03:44 PM
QUOTE (Ashok Kumar @ Dec 31 2004, 03:41 AM)
There is a story about 'Bhandasura' in Tripura-Upakhyanam. This was a demon who was technically a very pious person, but only technically. Thats why the name 'Bhanda' or a pretender. This is perhaps one of my favourite incidents in history. The story of Bhandasura is beautifully outlined in Sri Lalitha Sahasranamam. I shall xpost it in Ithihasa Purana thread .
Posted by: Ashok Kumar Dec 30 2004, 05:17 PM
Sunder, Thanks for the link. As I am sure you must have noticed too, this story and other such stories such as in Durga-Saptashati run on many levels. I find the interpretation of these stories at the psychological level quite fascinating. The names of demons such as bhanda, kutilaksha etc also stand for bad tendencies in us. The divine victory in us is same as our spiritual victory, which happens when these internal demons are slain. The trait or state of 'Bhanda' is an especially tricky one. It is like an empty pot (Bhaanda in sanskrit), appearing substantive and big from outside and also making loud noises, but completely empty or 'shunya' from inside. It is quite easy to find people in the 'bhanda' state of spirituality. Everything is only for show, no substance within. Bhandasura lived in 'shunyaka-pattana' quite apt place for him to live. The biggest challenge to a 'bhanda' is temptation. Since his spirituality is for show only, it is easily defeated by temptation. That is why he was defeated by parashakti in her form of Lalita or Kameshwari, the most beautiful of all forms. In Durga saptashati also all the stories have psychological counterparts. The story of slaying of 'Rakta-bija' by goddess Kali is another case in point. Rakta-bija means 'blood seed' , it also means 'seed of desire'. Whenever blood of this demon used to fall on the ground, from every drop a new clone of the demon used to be created. Mother Kali killed the demon by drinking its blood before it fell to the ground. But what is the 'ground' where the 'seed of desire' falls and multiplies beyond control. That ground is ground of consciousness or 'chitta'. The grace of mother Kali, is the momentous powerful and violent intervention that when conferred, eliminates those desire-seeds from even falling on the ground of 'chitta' and multiplying beyond control. The demons madhu-kaitabha are the duality of sweet and bitter, or pleasant and unpleasant or raga and dvesha, one of the hardest internal demons to conquer. One could go on and on. But there is a wealth of richness in these stories that is often missed in a literal reading. But for interspersed highly dense and sophisticated philosophical passages. Compared to relatively inane story line, the interspersed philosophically loaded passages appear incongruous, but only till one tries to read the stories literally. These stories run on many levels, the literal level, the cosmic level and other the internal level which I find most fasninating.
Posted by: Rajita Rajvasishth Dec 30 2004, 11:38 PM
QUOTE (Sunder @ Dec 31 2004, 04:14 AM)
There is a story about 'Bhandasura' in Tripura-Upakhyanam.
I am curious about this text Tripura-Upakhyanam. I have never heard of it. The Bhandasura epic is of course connected to the Lalitopakhyana. In Himachal Lalitopakhyana is found as an appendix to the Tantric paddhati Lalitaarchana Chandrika and was associated with the wooden Kamaksha temple. The other appendix is the Sahasranama Mala Strotram. It may have come from the Brahmanda purana. I hear in south India it is associated with the a specific southern recension of the BP where it has link to a story of Agastya going south and the South Indian Nishada couple who were elevated to Kshatriyas. However the core Lalitopakhyana and Sahasranama is largely identical amongst southerners and northerners. Amongst the southerners there seems to be another text: the Lalita Trishati after the Sahasranamam that may not be very prevalent or even absent in the north. The Bhanda epic is associated with the downward turn of the wheel where Kumar Kartik Svami is born after Ganesh. In the upward turn of the Kala wheel associated with the demons of three cities Kumar preceeds Ganesh. In the downward cycle the Shakti additionally has a Daughter- Bala (as is Bala vikrama nandita) who kills the 30 sons of Bhanda. In the Northern tradition Bala is worshiped as a 16 year old goddess while the southerners seem to refer to her as 9 year old. She has her own Sahasranama which is the embodiment of KAmakala. The Pratyangira Shatanama states that Bhanda was originally her devotee.
Posted by: k.ram Jan 1 2005, 07:50 AM
In reading mahabharatham, esp. the question raised if Pandavas finished their vanavasm and agnatavasam, there are indications that there were both versionns of the calendar - solar based and lunar based. Are there other resources anywhere to confirm that? Thanks
Posted by: rajesh_g Jan 3 2005, 09:56 PM
The legend of Sage Bhrigu Many thousands of years ago the Lord of the universe and God of the three Lokas, Lord Sri Vishnu Narayana was having a sleep on the bed of the Cobra. The Goddess Lakshmi was respectfully nursing his feet. At the very same time, the Maharishi Bhrigu presented himself to the Vaykunth Loka at the entrance. Two Doorkeepers – Jai and Vijay - were standing at the entrance to the Vaykunth Loka. First, they welcomed Bhrigu Rishi, but then they told him to wait and not to enter right away, since Lord Sri Vishnu was sleeping. Not being allowed entrance to Lord Sri Vishnu Narayana, the Maharishi Bhrigu got very angry and said to Jai and Vijay: "By stopping the Maharishi Bhrigu you have insulted the most great Brahmin soul. Due to that you can get a curse, which will force you to be reborn on the Earth at least three times." While listening to this threat from Maharishi Bhrigu, Jai and Vijay both bended down their heads and were very silent. Now the Bhrigu Rishi could enter the door without anybody stopping him. The Maharishi Bhrigu then entered the place where Lord Sri Vishnu Narayana was sleeping with Goddess Lakshmi at his feet. When Bhrigu Rishi saw this, he became full of anger, because he thought that Lord Vishnu was not really sleeping, but only pretending to sleep just to insult him. This was the time, when the Maharishi Bhrigu with his right leg kicked the chest of Lord Sri Vishnu. When he was hit Lord Vishnu opened his eyes and stood up. Lord Vishnu was astonished to see the Bhrigu Rishi standing there. So he bended down his head, folded his hands, and said to Bhrigu Rishi: "My Lord, my chest is the strongest thing in the world, like a mountain, but your feet are so soft. Maybe you got hurt while kicking me. So please forgive me for that." While listening to the words of Lord Vishnu, the Bhrigu Rishi got very calm and felt very guilty, and he asked the God please to forgive him. As all this happened, Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, got very angry, and she said to Maharishi Bhrigu: "By behaving this badly towards my husband, you have insulted me. Therefore I now give a curse, so that you and your fellow Brahmins will always live in poverty begging for your living. I will never come to your home." After listening to this the Bhrigu Rishi said: "Poverty Lakshmi! Whatever crime I did was in anger, and I have already asked the Lord Sri Vishnu to forgive me. By not thinking very nicely, you have now given this curse to me and my fellow Brahmins. But anyway, what has happened has happened. I will now write a Jyotish Grantha, from which the Brahmins can predict all about the past, present and future of every person in the world. They will get good knowledge as well as good earnings from this. They will be able to earn their livelihood. And this way you have got to come to their home anyhow!" Having said this Maharishi Bhrigu went back to his ashram, and wrote his book known as "Bhrigu Samhita" which contains the life-stories of the past, present and future of all the people in the world on the basis of their Janma-kundalies. First of all, Bhrigu Rishi taught the principles of this Grantha to his own son and disciple Shukra. And from the lips of Shukra it was little by little distributed to the Brahmins all over the world. On the basis of this the Brahmins have predicted about the past, present and future, and made a living from that. This is the story about the Bhrigu Samhita.
Posted by: Ashok Kumar Jan 4 2005, 06:07 PM
Rajitha, The text is "Lalita-upakhyanam" or "Lalitopakhyanam". I erroneously transposed "Tripura" for "Lalita" as they are names of the same Goddess. Coming back to the manisfestations of "bhanda"ness, the worst manisfestation is when a "Bhanda" convinces even himself/herself that he/she is the real thing. Very hard disease to cure. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Meanings from the Cologne Online Sanskrit dictionary: Entry bhaNDa Meaning m. a jester , buffoon , mime (also as N. of a partic. mixed caste) Pur. Katha1s. Sarvad. ; (%{A}) f. see %{zveta-bh-} ; (%{I}) f. see below ; n. = %{bhaNDa} ; pl. utensils , implements A1past. ; %{-tapasvin} m. a hypocritical ascetic MW. ; %{-tva} n. buffoonery Subh. ; %{-dhUrta-nizAcara} m. pl. (prob.) jesters and rogues and night-revellers BhP. , Introd. ; %{-hAsinI} f. a harlot , prostitute L. Entry bhANDa Meaning m. ( %{bhaND}?) Thespesia Populneoides ( = %{gardabhA7NDa}) L. ; (%{I}) f. a species of plant Sus3r. (perhaps = %{bhaNDI} , Rubia Munjista , or Hydrocotyle Asiatica L.) ; n. (ifc. f. %{A}) any vessel , pot , dish , pail , vat , box , case Mn. MBh. &c. ; any implement , tool , instrument ib. ; horse-trappings , harness MBh. R. ; any ornament ib. ; a musical instrument (cf. %{-vAdana}) ; goods , wares , merchandise (also m. pl.) Mn. Ya1jn5. MBh. &c. ; capital Katha1s. ; treasure L. ; the bed of a river L. ; (fr. %{bhaNDa}) mimicry , buffoonery L. (cf. %{putra-} and %{bhrAtR-bh-}).
Posted by: Ashok Kumar Jan 6 2005, 03:06 PM
Rajitha wrote:
The Bhanda epic is associated with the downward turn of the wheel where Kumar Kartik Svami is born after Ganesh. In the upward turn of the Kala wheel associated with the demons of three cities Kumar preceeds Ganesh. In the downward cycle the Shakti additionally has a Daughter- Bala (as is Bala vikrama nandita) who kills the 30 sons of Bhanda. In the Northern tradition Bala is worshiped as a 16 year old goddess while the southerners seem to refer to her as 9 year old. She has her own Sahasranama which is the embodiment of KAmakala. The Pratyangira Shatanama states that Bhanda was originally her devotee.
All the divinities are manifested within the human being too. This is a very important aspect of Tantrik discipline. Each meditation is an act of creation and destruction, where the "bindu" or dot of light first appears with sound or "nAda", and then this "bindu" becomes dynamic with oscillations or "spanda-shakti", after which a whole creation of various geometric forms, sounds, experiences and divinities takes place. And at the end all this is submerged back into "bindu". Take for example "kAmakalA" that you mentioned. The famous text "kAmakalA-vilAsaH", an importan text of shrI-vidyA tradition, deals with this. In it a detailed structure of shrI yantra is also presented. kAma-kalA is the "bindu" or dot seen in meditation when it becomes dynamic or is suffused with "spanda". This "bindu" or dot can then expand into myriad geometric forms in "sR^iShTi-krama" forming the whole shrI-chakra or again collapse as in "samhAra-krama". Associated with these various forms of the "bindu" are sounds or "nAda" and divinities and experiences. The "sR^iShTi-krama" or the creation cycle is one kind of turn of the kAla-chakra (wheel of time) as you mention. saMhAra-krama or destruction cycle is another. Now coming to Ganesha and kArtikeya, remember that Ganesha is called of "svastika" form , of four-fold geometric symmetry, red in color, associated with "earth" element, his mount is mouse that tunnels through the earth, his form is elephant, the biggest living material form on earth (not oceans). This association of "earth" element with "red" color and "four-fold" geometric symmetry is seen everywhere in tantric system. Amongst the chakras, the mUlAdhAra has red color, is associated with earth element, and its lotus chakra has four-petals. Ganesha's imagery is often shown in "svastika" or four fold form. In contrast kArtikeya is associated with 6-fold symmetry, ShaNmukham. In this context it is not hard to see how GaNesha can arise before kArtikeya in one cycle and vice versa in other. To me, shrI-Ganesha is the divine's mighty manifestation that acts in the lowest and most difficult of all plains, the material level. Where the biggest obstacles to spiritual progress are faced, where the darkness of ignorance is most blinding, and dangers and hostile interventions surround the sAdhaka at every step. That is why gaNeSha is worshipped as the vighna-vinAshaka (remover of obstacles). In Lalitopakhyanam too, his power was the one that destroyed the "disturbance-machinery" (vighna-yantra) of BhandAsura. mahAgaNesha nirbhinna vighna-yantra praharShitA (Goddess who was pleased by the destruction of the "vighna-yantra" by mahA gaNesha --Lalita sahasranAma.
Posted by: Ashok Kumar Jan 6 2005, 05:08 PM
Also, the usage of words like 'kAma', 'kAmeshvara', kAmeshvrI, kama-kalA, may confuse people who are stuck with lower sexual interpretations of tantra. This 'kAma' is not the same as that of kAma-sUtra. Reading the original shrI-vidyA texts clearly bears this out.
Posted by: Sunder Jan 6 2005, 05:16 PM Absolutely Fantastic... (Insert Icon to do Sashtanga namaskaaram)
Posted by: Sunder Jan 6 2005, 05:36 PM
QUOTE (Ashok Kumar @ Jan 7 2005, 05:38 AM)
Also, the usage of words like 'kAma', 'kAmeshvara', kAmeshvrI, kama-kalA, may confuse people who are stuck with lower sexual interpretations of tantra. This 'kAma' is not the same as that of kAma-sUtra. Reading the original shrI-vidyA texts clearly bears this out.
Ashok Kumar ji. In the above post, just reading the words Nadha, Bindu, (and Kala) sends the spine tingling. Romanchanam is the right word to discribe the thought of Nadham. It is said that Ananga (aka Kama, manmatha) had done Sri Vidya upasana. Kama definitely is not base desires that entangles one into Avidya. In the Gita, Sri Bhagavaan gives the definition as 'Dharma Aviruddho Butheshu Kamo'smi'. Desires that do not contradict Dharma is what is to be taken. Kama in the normal sense is one of the chathur vida purusharthas. Thus, as far as an Dharmic society is concerned, there is no hypocrisy viewing 'kAma' as part of normal life.
Posted by: SatishR Jan 14 2005, 12:49 PM
QUOTE (Ashok Kumar @ Jan 7 2005, 05:38 AM)
Also, the usage of words like 'kAma', 'kAmeshvara', kAmeshvrI, kama-kalA, may confuse people who are stuck with lower sexual interpretations of tantra. This 'kAma' is not the same as that of kAma-sUtra. Reading the original shrI-vidyA texts clearly bears this out.
I read that kAma in the context of shrIvidya means paramashiva in a translation of kAma-kalA-vilAsa. rgds
Posted by: Ashok Kumar Jan 15 2005, 04:20 PM
Satish, Shiva is actually called kAmeshvara, not kAma. Shiva is called kAmeshvara and shakti is called kAmeshvarI. The agent which causes vimarsha (oscillation) in the static prakAsha (light), is called kAma (the desire). If you look at the meditation based interpretations: Shiva is 'prakAshamaya'. The light of conciousness without which nothing is illuminated, without which nothing is observed, and nothing really exists. Shiva is the basis, the 'light' of illumination of every existence. But only light is not enough for the world to exist as seen. We need change. Some sort of becoming, not just being. The power of change or oscillations is termed 'vimarsha' , which is another name of 'shakti'. Only when 'prakAsha' and 'vimarsha' combine, creation is possible. From originally observed 'bindu' which is 'prakAshamaya' (or 'shivamaya'), the creation proceeds only when it undergoes 'vimarsha', or oscillations ('spanda'). In this process, the bindu with spanda is called 'kAmakalA', in which shivatattva (light) and shakti-tattva (oscillations), have combined. Shiva is here called kAmeshvara and shakti is called kAmeshvarI. The agent which causes vimarsha in the static prakAsha, is called kAma (the desire). This is supported by vedic statement too: 'so-akAmayat, eko-aham, bahusyAm prajAye iti' (he desired, I am one, may I become many) Only when prakAsha and vimarsha combine, the bindu becomes suffused with spanda and then from that bindu creation of many forms, sounds, divinities etc takes place. This meditative version of creation of destruction is also the Hindu vision of universal creation and destruction too. But that particular meditation that creates the worlds takes place in Divine's cosmic mind. Anothet imagery is of a dream, instead of a meditation. When Vishnu (literally meaning all pervading), falls asleep on the serpent Ananta (literally meaning infinite), then in that sleep a lotus rises in his navel ( a 'bindu' appears in the middle of the all pervading one). On that lotus is seated 4-faced brahmA who then creates the universe. Compare this with a bindu arising in meditatiion and then generating a four fold lotus or similar geometric patterns. In ShrI Shankara's advaita, the nirguNa brahman is similar ti the shiva or 'prakAsha', and mAyA is similar to shakti (vimarsha). Remember that mAya has twofold action in advaita: 1. AvaraNa-shakti = Hiding the true nature of reality 2. prakShepaNa-shakti = power to project new forms mAyA hides the nirguNa nature of absolute reality and then projects the multitudinous forms on it to create the world. In srIvidyA or kAshmIra shavism, mAyA is not seen in negative light. She is same as the mother parAshakti without whom world as seen can not exist. Without her there will be only the unchangeable unity of brahman. She is truly the Mother of the universe. The imagery that comes to mind is as follows: Think of the Nirguna-Brahman being the fierce, blindingly brilliant sun of unity that will instantaneously burn down any idea of duality. Mother parAshakti creates the shade, the hiding protection, so that the burning brilliance of that light is softened somewhat, and in that protective shade she creates the worlds where Her children can play.
Posted by: SatishR Jan 16 2005, 01:06 PM
QUOTE (Ashok Kumar @ Jan 16 2005, 04:50 AM)
Shiva is actually called kAmeshvara, not kAma.
Namaste, Actually both kAma and kAmeshvara refer to Shiva. Mahatripurasundari is called kAmakalA The cidvalli, a commentary on kAmakalA-vilAsa explains that kalA means virmarsha shakti, and that kAma refers to shiva, which is why Devi is kAmakalA, meaning the vimarsha shakti(or just vimarsha) of parama shiva. Commentary on shlokas 25 may be referred to for this. cidvalli: for shloka 25 while explaining the word kAmakalAtmA says, kAmaH, prakAshaikasvabhAvaH anuttarAkSharAtmA paramashivaH. Elsewhere I read that even Bhagavan Shri Krishna/Purushottama is referred to as kAma in some context within the Agama-s or purANa-s, although I dont exactly recall where. I enjoyed your explanation on the prakAsha - vimarsha aspects. rgds
Posted by: Ashok Kumar Jan 18 2005, 10:14 AM
Namste! Thanks a lot for your comments. I read that sentence from the chidvalli a bit differently. kAmaH(kAma) prakAsha(shiva)+eka(one)+svabhAvaH(inherent quality) anuttara(beyond which there is none) + akShara(indestructible)+AtmA (self)+ paramashivaH(the highest shiva). To me it appears that this sentence says two things: 1. "kAmah prakAshaiekasvabhAvaH" i.e. kAma is one inherent quality of shiva (prakAsha). 2. "anuttarAksharAtmA paramashivaH" i.e. Atma is anuttara, akshara paramashiva So I would say this line merely defines the meanings of the words "kAma" and "AtmA". I don't have the chidvalli with me currently. But perhaps it defines "kalA" next. Could you please check that. When all the three definitions of kAma, AtmA and kalA are given then that would give the meaning of "kAmakaLatmA" as shiva who is the the AtmA of the kAmakalA. ----------------------------------- kAma or manmatha was first burnt down by shiva. This story is puranic as well as in lalitopakhyanam. From the meditative viewpoint I take it to mean the state where prakasha-tattva (shiva) is present without any vimarsha. For time to be, events must follow in sequence. It is the ordering of events that defines time. Without vimarsha, there are no events, no time. A timeless state ensues where only the pure consciousness, prakAsha or shiva or nirguna-brahman is present. Time or kAla is present only when vimarsha happens. Unless there are events, time can not be defined. Time is inferred from the succession of events. Thats why the first manifestation of shakti in Durga-SaptashatI is mahA-kAli ( the power of time). Even in shrIvidyA, the first manifestation is kAmakalA where the vimarsha appears in the prakAsha, the starting point of time. Beginning of 'Time' here can be in a meditative sense start of vimarsh and sR^iShTi from the bindu. In a cosmic sense it is same as the MahA-kAla. In lalitopAkhyAnam, kAma was revived from its ashes. From a meditative viewpoint I take it to mean, a new cycle, a new fluctuation, a new vimarsha appears in the prakAsha of shiva. In this light I would put kAma per se under parAshakti. But even shakti is defined as the 'svabhava' or inherent quality of shiva. Like the power to burn is the svabhAva of fire. In that sense, kAma can also be called a svabhAva of shiva, which I believe is implied by the sentence quoted by you from the chidvalli.
Posted by: Sridatta Jan 21 2005, 09:05 PM
As I am sure you must have noticed too, this story and other such stories such as in Durga-Saptashati run on many levels. I find the interpretation of these stories at the psychological level quite fascinating. The names of demons such as bhanda, kutilaksha etc also stand for bad tendencies in us. The divine victory in us is same as our spiritual victory, which happens when these internal demons are slain. The trait or state of 'Bhanda' is an especially tricky one. It is like an empty pot (Bhaanda in sanskrit), appearing substantive and big from outside and also making loud noises, but completely empty or 'shunya' from inside. It is quite easy to find people in the 'bhanda' state of spirituality. Everything is only for show, no substance within.
Recently, I came across this book Shakti and Shâkta by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe)... in the above context, readers may find some of the material dealt with here quite interesting: Here are links to some of the interesting chapters: The author Sir John Woodroffe was quite a remarkable person. One may read more about him and his works here:
Posted by: Sunder Jan 22 2005, 03:08 AM
QUOTE (Sridatta @ Jan 22 2005, 09:35 AM)
Recently, I came across this book Shakti and Shâkta by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe)... in the above context, readers may find some of the material dealt with here quite interesting:
Shakti and Shâkta is an excellent book, and I would recommend it anytime. It is definitely a lengthy - but interesting read.. and I must say Sri Avalon had done an excellent and painstaking task in chronicling the minds of the Shakthas of Bengal. I am yet to digest it all. But it definitely is a book to own.
Posted by: sridhar k Jan 29 2005, 04:42 PM
Regarding , Kama , Kameshvara, again ctrl+ c , ctrl+v from Paramacharya's comments on Soundarya lahiri *********************************************************************** concept of pancha-kRtyaM is also mentioned by the Shaiva schools. The very word pancha-kRtyaM means and involves activity. And as we know, no activity is possible without the kArya-brahman (para-brahma-shakti) coming in. So we can take it that the original source is parA-shakti. She does it through the five agents of Hers, namely the five forms of divinity mentioned above. The shAnta (calm) ShivaM in its nascent state cannot act. When action takes place it takes place through parA-shakti in the form of the five-fold functions. ShivaM by itself does not produce the action. But it is in ShivaM, the paraBrahman, that the first vibration for action sprouts, by its own Shakti. But even before the action there must have been a will. This will is called the icchA-Shakti. On the basis of this icchA -- the first wish, as it may be called, and the Upanishad also says: ‘akAmayata’ –the kriyA-shakti (the power of Action) begins the pancha- kRtya-leelA. Thus, what was the paraBrahman by itself in itself, willed to ‘become’. It is for this divine will that the Upanishad uses the word ‘kAma’, meaning desire. This ‘desire’ is not to be taken in any derogatory sense. It is pure Divine Will from Being to Becoming. Thus the first evolute from Brahman is this divine kAma. So the Shakti that is the origin of this is called KAmeshvari and the ShivaM in which this kAma sprouted is therefore called KAmeshwara. The first evolute from Brahman is the ‘desire’ (kAmaM) that the leelA of the manifestation of the universe should take place. So the ‘KAmeshvara-KAmeshvari’ evolute is the first couple. She (KAmeshvari) might later be called ‘LalitAmbaal’ or ‘RAja-RAjeshvari’ but He (KAmeshvara) is never called ‘Laliteshvara’ or ‘RAja-RAjeshvara’. Again She is ‘tripura-sundari’ – which name is the origin for the titling of this composition as ‘Soundaryalahari’ , but there is no ‘tripurasundara’ . All these latter names of Shakti have come because She is the Creator, Monitor and Queen of this entire universe. That is why, as soon as the lalitA-sahasranAma begins with the name ‘ShrI-mAta’, the next two names are ‘Shri-mahArAjnI’, and ‘ShrImat-simhAsaneshvarI’. For these two names there is no masculine counterpart of the name. When Brahman ‘chose’ to become saguNa-Brahman, the initial spark was that ‘desire’ to become. So the KAmeshvari-KAmeshvara couple arose and is rightly named so. The panchakRtya is for the world to arise and go on from there. Thus the desire to produce multiplicity out of Herself is the kAmaM. But along with this desire is also the act (in the form of MAyA) of ‘separating’ the created multiplicity from the reality of the Creator. Is this not then a cruel desire? # The ultimate aim is to bring back everything into the source. Then why do it at all? That is the Cosmic Play. The very ‘desire’ to exhibit into a multiplicity is based on the joy of bringing back everything together into the one and only source. The para-brahma-Shakti exhibits itself into five functions. Thus we have a five-fold aspect of brahma-Shakti, created by itself from itself. So these five aspects are represented in a peculiar form where KAmeshvari is sitting on the left lap of KAmeshvara. The seat on which they are sitting facing the East, has four legs, namely Brahma (Creation), Vishnu (Sustenance), Shiva (Dissolution), and Ishvara (mAyic curtain); the seat itself is SadAshiva (mokshha-anugraha). These five are called the five ‘Brahman-s’ . And this explains the name ‘panca-brahma-Asana-sthitA’ for the Goddess. There is also another name ‘panca-preta-Asana-Aseena’ meaning ‘She who is seated on the seat of five ‘preta-s’ – preta, meaning ‘dead body’ --. The ‘Brahman-s’ of the earlier name are here called ‘preta-s, because, if the five functions had not been assigned to them, they are nothing, - like the motor without the horsepower ! Even for KAmeshvara, she is the life-giving Shakti and therefore the name ‘KAmeshvara-prANa- nADI’ which occurs both in Lalita-sahasranama and in Trishati. Now let us come to the word ‘spandituM’. The hara-rudra has been assigned the duty of samhAra, this is a ‘full duty’, so to say. On the other hand, the Shiva that is the absolute Brahman has just been ‘moved’ – moved from within! This movement is the ‘spandanaM’. The ShivaM was like a calm, ripple-less, vibration-less peaceful lake; and in that lake, the first ripple, the first vibration, the first movement took place in the form of ‘kAmaM’. The agent for this was the cit-Shakti of Brahman itself. She, the cit-Shakti, not only became two, namely the willing power (icchA- Shakti), and the acting power (kriyA-Shakti), but made the icchA rise in Brahman itself and this ‘making’ was itself Her first act of creation! ****************************************************************
Posted by: sridhar k Jan 30 2005, 08:03 AM
Another interesting site
Posted by: sridhar k Jan 31 2005, 08:25 PM
From my uncle about the Arthur AValaon ***************************************************************** Regarding Arthur Avalon (Woodroff, he converted into Hinduism), if you can get his book titled " Serpent Power" on Kundalini Yoga. I saw this book only in Kanchi Sankara Mutt University library in Enathur. Periava quoted him in Soundaryalayahiri explanation while briefly talking about Kundalini. He said Kundalini should not be discussed freely like what is happening today (with numerous books on Kundalini), however, he just touched on it to give a very brief summary. ************************************************************* If anyone come across this book, please let me know. Thanks in advance. Sundar ji, have you read the original devaithin Kural in Tamil, especially the section on Soundarya lahiri. My uncle says that it goes about 600 pages. I have been trying to locate the same in without much success.
Posted by: Sunder Jan 31 2005, 10:06 PM
QUOTE (sridhar k @ Feb 1 2005, 08:55 AM)
Periava quoted him in Soundaryalayahiri explanation while briefly talking about Kundalini. He said Kundalini should not be discussed freely like what is happening today (with numerous books on Kundalini), however, he just touched on it to give a very brief summary. ---------------------------- Sundar ji, have you read the original devaithin Kural in Tamil, especially the section on Soundarya lahiri. My uncle says that it goes about 600 pages. I have been trying to locate the same in without much success.
Sridhar ji, ten years ago, I too was of the opinion that Kundalini should not be discussed in public (except with a Guru, and in private), and it is never a thing to brag about. Once you are comfortable with it, it can be talkes about (specially in this day and age, when in the name of secrecy, the Genuine ones are silent, and the fake ones are hijacking the whole concept of Kundalini and new-age cults..) Regarding "Deivatthin Kural", I have not read it in tamil, as I cant fluently read tamil. We have the Arul Vakku, and that I have heard many times. Here you will find Deivattin Kural (all volumes), though you will need tamil fonts. While I can see most pages in tamil, Some pages do not render properly, I do not know why.
Posted by: gangajal Feb 1 2005, 11:21 AM
QUOTE (sridhar k @ Feb 1 2005, 08:55 AM)
From my uncle about the Arthur AValaon ***************************************************************** Regarding Arthur Avalon (Woodroff, he converted into Hinduism), if you can get his book titled " Serpent Power" on Kundalini Yoga. I saw this book only in Kanchi Sankara Mutt University library in Enathur. Periava quoted him in Soundaryalayahiri explanation while briefly talking about Kundalini. He said Kundalini should not be discussed freely like what is happening today (with numerous books on Kundalini), however, he just touched on it to give a very brief summary. ************************************************************* If anyone come across this book, please let me know. Thanks in advance.
sridhar ji, The book serpent power is widely available in the US. What should not be discussed is one's private experience regarding Kundalini. What is the problem with discussing Kundalini as a subject?
Posted by: Sunder Feb 1 2005, 11:47 AM
QUOTE (gangajal @ Feb 1 2005, 11:51 PM)
The book serpent power is widely available in the US. Personal experiences ought not to be shared only as long as one is a katthukutty (learner), Once someone has gained spiritual maturity, and is firmly established so that sharing experiences will not distract their attention away, they DO share. As did Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. The Hamasopanishad is exactly that, it is a step by step guide to raising the kundalini.
Posted by: gangajal Feb 1 2005, 12:28 PM
QUOTE (Sunder @ Feb 2 2005, 12:17 AM)
QUOTE (gangajal @ Feb 1 2005, 11:51 PM)
The book serpent power is widely available in the US. Personal experiences ought not to be shared only as long as one is a katthukutty (learner), Once someone has gained spiritual maturity, and is firmly established so that sharing experiences will not distract their attention away, they DO share. As did Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. The Hamasopanishad is exactly that, it is a step by step guide to raising the kundalini.
Sundar ji, You are absolutely right. However, how many people reach the maturity of a Sri Ramakrishna or Sri Ramana or any of the great?. Even my Guru, Swami Swahananda, is completely mum about his spiritual experiences.
Posted by: Sunder Feb 1 2005, 12:41 PM
QUOTE (gangajal @ Feb 2 2005, 12:58 AM)
Sundar ji, You are absolutely right. However, how many people reach the maturity of a Sri Ramakrishna or Sri Ramana or any of the great?. Even my Guru, Swami Swahananda, is completely mum about his spiritual experiences.
Gangajal ji, the Truly wise ones are silent, like a hunter who has already spotted his kill, but still waits till he is in a position to fully nail it. They do not waste their energy talking and getting into distractions. The young-grasshoppers definitely go out and brag at the very first sight of light. We are on the same page on this one. smile.gif
Posted by: sridhar k Feb 1 2005, 08:22 PM
Sundarji and Gangajalji, Thanks. Even though i have downloaded tamil fonts, i was not able to view the site in tamil. I shifted to IE from Firefox, it solved the problem. Regarding sharing Kundalini experience, here is what the acharya has to say (in tamil, will try to translate a bit later) Added later : Paramacharya does not give a blanket statement that talking about Kundalini is bad. He says the following a) After Arthur Avalon's book. every tom dick and harry is talking about Kundalini yoga without understanding its potential. He says that he does not undermine his efforts and on the contrary thanks him. He says a lot of people have been inspired by the book and have attained siddhi. His book helped westerners to look at the tantra with a much better perspective. On top of it all, his book played a great role in the revival of tantra. b) He also asks if it is not to spoken about, why have our great rishis given this path and why Sankara talks about it in Soundarya lahiri . But his arguement are the following. c) the path of kundalini yoga is riddled with Maya. There are more mayic traps within the path and unless you have a great guru , you might have a problem. c) the adverse effects it can bring if not practiced properly , as it is one thing that requires great supervision. d) Gnana marga and Karma marga are much easier option. When Bhagavan says in the Gita that with Gnana marga and bakthi marga, your efforts are carried forward to the next janma and does not give u adverse effects, if you deviate from the path. According to the Acharya, its an indirect reference by Bhagavan to possible adverse effect's in yoga (which he refers as Kundalini). e) then why talk about in public when u dont have a proper understanding of it. He says he is not against somebody writing a book but against frauds and people with meagre knowledge talking about it. f) People who have raised the kundalini a wee bit also get some piecemeal powers and they think that they have attained siddhi, which is dangerous to the person as well as others. I hope i have tried to give a correct gist.

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