Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vedas, Gita and Varna

I recently read an old book, ' History of Ancient India' by R K Majumdar and R N Srivastava.

In page 118, there is a mention of mantra probably from one of the brahmanas of Rigveda

karuraham tatobhi shagupal prakshini nanA |
nAnAdiyO vasooyavO (a) mugAyiva tasthi mendrAyandO parisrava ||

"I am a poet, my father is a physician and my mother grinds corn on stone. Being engaged in different occupations, we seek wealth and happiness as cows seek food in different pastures"

This shows the utter lack of class consciousness in Rigvedic period.

Now let us take up the Purusha sooktam. Translation to the mantra of Purusha Suktam (RV 10.8.90) mantra 13

ब्राह्मणोस्य मुखमासीद बाहूराजन्य : कृत : |

ऊरू तदस्य यद्वैस्यो पद्भ्यां शूद्रो अजायत ||

brahmano(a) sya mukhamaseed, bahoo rAjanya: kruta:|
uru tadasya yadvaisyo padbhyo sudro ajAyata||

The brahmin became the head of the Purusha. The Kashatriya became its arms. The Vaisya its torso and the sudra its legs.

The standard interpretation is that of the brahman 'becoming' the head of the Purusha (not 'springing up from' as given by European mischief indologists). The previous mantra 12 in purusha suktam says

" when the Purusha was sacrificed( vyadadhu:) , into what forms he was made ? What became of His head ? What became of his face ? What is said of His Arms ? What are said of His Thighs and feet ?"

So the verse 13, is a continuation of the 'what became of ' line of enquiry .

The mantra 13 (which is being used by anti Hindus and all and sundry to denigrate the Varna system) is in fact a straightforward hymn on the nature of classification of people on naturally existing principles.

As regards the Gita: Krishna says in Chapter 4, sloka 13,

chAturvarnyam mayA srushtam guna karma vibhAgasha: |

The four characteristics which classify people based on character (attitude) and Action are created by me.

This is the correct meaning. Krishna says here 'varnyam' (characteristics) and not 'varnam' (classification). Look at the missing 'y'

And lastly I come to the Jati। This is the achilles' heel of our country in general and our religion in particular. You will be surprised to learn that the Jati classification was made during the 3 rd to 10 th century when Buddhism died out and the returnees made out sects for themselves in Hinduism. But here again, the Jati is different from 'caste' as coined by the British.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Divine Endeavour- Uzhavaarappani


Today (28-06-09), morning a troop of more than 150 devotees descended on our neighbourhood Shiva temple. They are part of the ' Kongu Mandalam ApparadaigaL Sivaneri Vazhipaattu Thirukkoottam ( Association of 'Appar AdigaL' Siva Devotees of Kongu Region ) . They are from Vijayamangalam near Erode and do cleaning of Siva Temples every month on the last Sunday. This is their 335 th temple in their 35 years of such divine work.

By the time I reached the temple , all the members were busy cleaning our temple. Half of them were women and they were from diverse places in Kongu region. Some children also had come. Most of the men were with Rudraksha Mala, bare chested and busy in cleaning the ground and the prakarams.

Oil slime, soot from lamps, and stains of all kinds were being attended to. Look at the following pictures that speak for themselves.

The women had brought the flowers themselves and are engaged in preparing garlands for the deities.

A typical Shiva Devotee (Sivanadiyar) with Rudraksha malas around his neck.
The cleaned Nataraja swamy Vigraha . The temple kurukkaLs are sitting along . The boy is my son.
Food is getting ready for the devotees. This was arranged by our temple management.
The Lord's utensils are being cleaned.

A woman devotee cleans the Gomuki- the outlet port for the Abhisheka water.
The open ground being cleaned.
Each of the above picture can be clicked on and enlarged. Please observe the eagerness of the Bhaktas as they had converged from far off distances. One such volunteer was present as early as 6.00 AM and he came from Bhavani , about 80 KM from Coimbatore !

Witnessing the scene of 'Uzhavarappani' (cleaning of the temple) , I was transported in time back by 1500 years, when the great Appar swamigaL, started cleaning temples as part of his divine work. In fact his only work was cleaning temples and singing the praise of Lord Siva. That work alone revived Saiva Religion in Tamilnadu and paved the way for other great Nayanmars to do divine work.

I stood there moved to the bones on seeing the simple people seriously engaged in their work. They were mostly from the middle class or lower middle class , sacrificing a weekend for the cause of society and the Lord. It became clear that whatever be the missionary onslaught, the core of Hinduism is rock solid and invincible. I just saw one more demonstration of it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

We all have a Divine Mother

We all have a Divine Mother

Recently, I accompanied my family to a suburb of Coimbatore where my wife's friend had invited us to attend a temple function. I thought it was one of those temples of some small colonies. I came humbled after that visit.

First, what struck me was the scale of the festival. The entire village or rather township was involved in it. The temple was dedicated to Bhadra Kali Amman. The place is a village right inside Coimbatore city called Uppilipalayam. The entire population of the village rever Bhadra Kali. The festival was 'poochhaattu'- a function held once in three years for this Devi.

The temple is a spacious one surrounded by streets on two sides. The festival was made attractive by the stall selling flowers, toys, condiments and pooja items. Look at a street here.

There is a typical custom in Amman and Kali temples in Tamilnadu. That is the offering of a sweet meat (maavilakku) made of rice flour and jaggery (or sugar). The wet paste of the two are made into a cup shape and oil is poured into the sunken area and a lamp is lit with a cotton wick. The entire womanfolk of the village carried the 'Maavilakku' . Look at this cute Tamil girl carrying the maavilakku ! What a tasteful decoration !

I tried to analyze the crowd regarding their particular caste. This village has a mixture of Naidu, Vellala Gounders,brahmins, Thevars, Viswakarmas, Devendra Kula Vellalars, and many shades of harijans. Looking around the temple, I could see huge banners welcoming the visitors on behalf of each community.

A small word here. Each caste mentioned above has their own kula devata. The Naidus are staunch Vaishnavites too. But , here they were, standing shoulder to shoulder honouring their divine mother ! Once the temple flag is hoisted indicating the poochchaattu, no one stays out of the village beyond the evening. No one even attends any condolences like death , visiting the bereaved etc.

I myself has a kuladevata by name Chandamma Devi, who is the presiding Devi in a village near Kolhapur where my ancestors lived. Likewise, whomever I asked, everyone had a kula devata in the form of an Amman . The only exception being the Sri Vaishnavas. But Sri Vaishnavism is just a 1,000 year old tradition and before that every Hindu must have had the divine mother as a kula devata.

And the divine mother sits there in the middle of the village blessing every visitor. I now realize this - That everyone of us has a Divine Mother too.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why do Sandhyavandanam at all ?

Why do Sandhyavandanam at all ?

I know many Brahmin friends who ask me “ What is the use of Sandhyavandanam at all ? It is not like meditation which shows results instantly. In this we sprinkle water or partake it in some routine and murmur some hymns. What benefit at all do we get ?”

This is the Kali yuga and such words from Brahmins themselves are to be expected only. But in order to answer my friends, I have written this post . As I myself was an atheist in my twenties and who never did sandhya till about three years back, such knowledge is reassuring to myself first . Read on:

Nadis and the Sandhya time

Sandhya means the time of union of the day with the night. They usually are in the evening and early morning. But, why do Sandhya at this these times only ? It is these times that one is in an empty stomach which is a condition for any spiritual exercise.

The standard explanation of our acharyas on the Sandhya time is in this post.

The recent psychological experiments have confirmed the existence of the nadis of the spine viz “ Ida , Pingala and Sushumna”. These nadis are not physical entities but are part of our astral body and can be seen by those endowed with special vision. Even advanced yogis can see these nadis.

These nadis ida and pingala are the paths of flow of Prana or life force. They are in a continued state of agitation during the daytime but, tend to follow a uniform path during the sandhya periods. Hence such periods were chosen for Sandhyavandanam to derive maximum concentration.

Achamanam and mental focus

The achamanam is a scientifically proved technique of cooling our body and also in focusing our mind. Read this old blog post here on achamanam.

Pranayama and deep concentration

Pranayamam is the next. Pranayama is to be done with mentally chanting the extended Gayatri. The Puraka, Kumbaka and Rechaka type of Pranayama was originally suggested and practiced but nowadays even the Puraka and Rechaka themselves are sufficient to derive benefit. The kumbaka has to be learnt only with the help of Gurus who are becoming rare these days.

The steady intake of Breath is called Puraka and steady exhaling is called Rechaka. Usually Rechaka is best done at twice the time of Puraka. Let me illustrate the power of breath.

Prana regulates the temperature of the Body: In early morning even in cold climates, you can splash cold water on your body by taking a deep breath and keeping it inside while taking bath. You will not feel cold at all. Just remember those days when the oldies used to close the nostrils while taking a dip in the river or pond !

Next try this: Close your eyes, sit erect, but not stiff. Think of the sound AUM. Pronounce it mentally, very slowly. A…….U………..M. Do it for five to ten minutes. Now without opening your eyes, notice your breath. You will be surprised. It has become very slow, very rhythmic and feeble ! In the same way, notice how a child breathes in sleep. Very rhythmic , steady and VERY SLOW.

What do you gather ? when the thoughts are focused, the breath is slow and rhythmic. In the same way, when the breath is made rhythmic and slow, your thoughts (mind) will be focused and clear ! Apart from single pranayamas at the beginnings, the gayatri japa is tucked in between two sets of three pranayamas each at the beginning and end respectively. Look at the subtlety of our Rishis !

Gayatri Japa

The Gayatri chanting part is the central part of the Sandhyavandanam and many volumes can be written on this alone. Gayatri is a most sacred and mysterious mantra that can activate twenty four spots of the human body. Look at this picture where the individual sounds of the gayatri are marked on the body of the sadhak. The working of gayatri is very subtle and it was said that a Brahmin need not do any sadhna if he does gayatri.


Then there is Arghyam. This is a beautiful kriya in Sandhyavandanam and it is as subtle and scientific as Gayatri japa. Considering its beauty and importance, I am planning to bring it as a separate post.

Net links for Sandhyavandanam:

You can download this pdf book on Sandhya from this website.

My dear readers, I believe you enjoyed this post. If a good portion of you realize the import of doing Sandhyavandanam and start doing this, I will be happy. If you encourage others to do it, I will be doubly happy. If you enjoy doing it realizing its depth , I will be most happy. It is just a twenty minute routine in the morning and evening.

(pictures taken from the internet)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Is Krishna really an Avatar ?

Is Krishna an Avatar ?

In Srimad Bhagavad Gita, there is an extraordinary declaration by Krishna:

“Whenever Dharma declines and when irreligion flourishes, I will be born in each of such eras to reestablish dharma and to destroy the irreligious”

To some it is a sacred statement. But to many, it seems a far fetched one. The very idea of a God being born is a ridiculous one to them. Is there a significance to this statement ? What are its implications ? In searching for answers, I was spell bound by an explanation. Please read on.

Whenever Krishna as being born a human is discussed, Buddha and Mahavira are also discussed there. Is this comparison correct ?

Buddha and Mahavira were enlightened masters who reached that stage through rigorous sadhana (spiritual exercises). Their sadhana was to empty out whatever belonged to them- physical, mental and intellectual till they reached the empty stage.

On the other hand , we have not known Krishna to have done any Sadhana. But still his preaching on the battle field in the form of Srimad Bhagavad Gita remains the greatest gift to humankind for the last 5000 years. What differentiates Krishna from the other two ?

Osho, in his superb book, “ Krishna, the man and his Philosophy”, gives a beautiful explanation. Here are his words.

If I empty out my inside, if I negate something in me, it will cease to be, and I will achieve a kind of emptiness. But this emptiness will be just the absence of something that I have negated.

But there is a different kind of emptiness which is not of our making: this emptiness is born out of our awareness of our being. We are empty; we are emptiness itself, so we don’t have to become it.

Emptiness is our very nature; we are it. And when we come to it, it is not the result of some sadhana, some discipline or effort. And this emptiness is multidimensional.

Krishna makes an extraordinary statement on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, one no other man of enlightenment has ever made. He tells Arjuna, ”I will continue to come whenever the world is in trouble. I will continue to come whenever religion declines and disintegrates.”

Buddha and Mahavira cannot say this. There is no statement of theirs on record that they will come back again when the earth is beset by darkness and disease, by irreligion and profanity.

Rather, they will say, ”How can we come again? We are now liberated, we have attained to mahanirvana.”

But Krishna says, ”Don’t worry, I can come back whenever this earth is in distress.” When Krishna says he can come again he only means he has no difficulty whatsoever in coming and going. It makes no difference for him. His emptiness is so total that nothing can affect it.

Mahavira and Buddha can take emptiness only in the sense of release, of liberation, moksha,

because they have longed for and labored all their lives for this liberation. So when they come

to this emptiness they feel free and relaxed. It is the point of no return for them; the question of going back does not arise.

For them, going back will mean going back to the same old world of greed and anger, of craving and attachment, of hate and hostility, of sorrow and suffering. Why go back to the rotten world of senseless strife and war and misery? Therefore when they come to emptiness they just become dissolved into it, they just disappear into the infinite. They will not talk of returning to the same corruption and horror they have left behind.

But going back to the world does not make any difference to Krishna: he can easily go back if it becomes necessary. He will remain himself in every situation – in love and attachment, in anger and hostility. Nothing will disturb his emptiness, his calm.

He will find no difficulty whatsoever is coming and going. His emptiness is positive and complete, alive and dynamic. But so far as experiencing it is concerned, it is the same whether you come to Buddha’s emptiness or Krishna’s.

Both will take you into bliss. But where Buddha’s emptiness will bring you relaxation and rest, maybe Krishna’s emptiness will lead you to immense action. If we can coin a phrase like ”active void”, it will appropriately describe Krishna’s emptiness. And the emptiness of Buddha and Mahavira should be called ”passive void”.

Bliss is common to both but with one difference: the bliss of the active void will be creative and the other kind of bliss will dissolve itself in the great void.” Thus concludes Osho.

Buddha and Mahavira strived for an empty state. But Krishna is that emptiness itself. It is this that separates a seer from an incarnate. Buddha was time bound. Krishna is timeless. Krishna is God incarnate, an avatar.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why the Histories of Great Souls of Bharat are not available ?

Why the Histories of Great Souls of Bharat are not available ?

I often face this question. This question has been hurled at me in many discussion groups, emails, personal discussions and even from my own curious self. This history dimension took a huge proportion in the Rama Sethu episode when a bunch of mercenary like politicians challenged the entire Hindu community to prove the historicity of Lord Ram.

One of my friends says that we Hindus lack the art of history writing. But this is wrong. We have the Eighteen Puranas and their countless upa puranas which deal with histories of many great sons of Bharat. Now, what is missing ?

The single most glaring miss in our Puranas are the specific time of birth, year and millennia of our Avatars like Rama and Krishna and also our Rishis. This has made our Puranas an object of ridicule in the eyes of so called ‘indologists’.

The title ‘indologist’ is available to anyone who belongs to the anti Indian, anti Hindu, pro Christian, pro communist, and pro atheist groups. Curiously, a patriotic Indian is just a ‘historian’ whereas all the above persons are ‘indologists’. In short, anyone who wants to dishonour India will easily qualify for that title.

Dr Narahari Achar, recently declared that the Mahabharata war indeed took place and it happened in the year 3067 BCE . Read this link

This he did with the help of a software which could generate the almanacs for ten thousand successive years! He went back in time to calculate the astronomical data as provided by Sage Vyasa in ‘Mahabharatam’.

We also hear Buddha’s history is also in such darkness. Even the fixing of Kaladi, as the birthplace of Adi Sankara, was done in 1910 only.

On reading all this, we cry out ,why ? Why indeed our ancestors hid their histories to us ? In finding the answers I was struck by the beauty of an explanation. Please read on.

Osho, in his “Krishna, the man and his philosophy” says keeping time and recording it is the job of unenlightened people. To keep records of illuminated masters who have transcended time is an insult. May be this is why Krishna’s historical indications were allowed to fade away from memory. But, his life and teachings are told and retold in Bharat with such freshness, devotion and joy. Does it not sound paradoxical ?

Enlightenment happens when time ceases to be. Time is a product of the mind. When mind ceases in Samadhi, time does not exist. Krishna cannot be predicted in Samadhi , where there is no time.

In Bharatiya philosophy , the Atman (or the soul) has no beginning or end whereas in Islamic and Christian teachings, the soul has only one birth. This is the reason why immaculate records have been kept on their teachers. Once they know and realize that the soul goes on taking reincarnations in so many life forms, they would have realized the futility of keeping such records.

Rinzai, an illumined Zen master, once remarked to the amazement of his pupils , “: Buddha never happened”. They knew he was a fervent Buddha devotee. Rinzai explained, “ May be his shadow walked up on earth, but Buddha ? never !” . He asked, “ Can someone without beginning can be bracketed into a single life ?”

We know the Krishna, the mischievous boy, the naughty teenager, the enthralling flautist, the wrestler , the sweetheart of the Gopikas, the King, the husband of eight wives, the strategist, and finally the preacher who sang the eternal Bhagavad Gita. We even know he lived and ruled Dwaraka . But what we do not know is ‘when’. In the entire Srimad Bhagavatham, this piece of information is not clear.

Here is Osho again:

Therefore it is not a failing on the part of this country if it does not have a sense of history. It is so not for lack of an awareness of history, but because of a still higher awareness that we have, an awareness of the eternal. A higher awareness, by its very nature, denies the lower.

We don’t attach so much value to an event as to the spirit running through the event, to the soul of the event. So we did not care to notice what Krishna ate and drank, but we did take every care to notice the witness inside Krishna who was simply aware when Krishna ate and drank.

We did not care to remember when Krishna was born, but we certainly remembered the spirit, the soul that came with his birth and departed with his death. We were much more concerned with the innermost spirit, with the soul, than with its material frame.”