Saturday, May 16, 2015

One cannot teach men without direct command from God

(Sri Ramakrishna To Vijay) "Come here now and then. I like to see you very much."

Vijay: "I have to do my various duties in the Brahmo Samaj; that is why I can't always come here. But I shall visit you whenever I find it possible."

Sri Ramakrishna (to Vijay): "The task of a religious teacher is indeed difficult. One cannot teach men without a direct command from God. People won't listen to you if you teach without such authority. Such teaching has no force behind it. One must first of all attain God through spiritual discipline or some other means. Thus armed with authority from God, one can deliver lectures.

"After receiving the command from God, one can be a teacher and give lectures anywhere. He who receives authority from God also receives power from Him. Only then can he perform the difficult task of a teacher.

"An insignificant tenant was once engaged in a lawsuit with a big landlord. People realized that there was a powerful man behind the tenant. Perhaps another big landlord was directing the case from behind. Man is an insignificant creature. He cannot fulfil the difficult task of a teacher without receiving power direct from God."

Vijay: "Don't the teachings of the Brahmo Samaj bring men salvation?"

Sri Ramakrishna; "How is it ever possible for one man to liberate another from the bondage of the world? God alone, the Creator of this world-bewitching maya can save men from maya. There is no other refuge but that great Teacher, Satchidananda. How is it ever possible for men who have not realized God or received His command, and who are not strengthened with divine strength, to save others from the prison-house of the world?

"One day as I was passing the Panchavati on my way to the pine-grove, I heard a bullfrog croaking. I thought it must have been seized by a snake. After some time, as I was coming back, I could still hear its terrified croaking. I looked to see what was the matter, and found that a water-snake had seized it. The snake could neither swallow it nor give it up. So there was no end to the frogs suffering. I thought that had it been seized by a cobra it would have been silenced after three croaks at the most. As it was only a water-snake, both of them had to go through this agony. A man's ego is destroyed after three croaks, as it were, if he gets into the clutches of a real teacher. But if the teacher is an 'unripe' one, then both the teacher and the disciple undergo endless suffering. The disciple cannot get rid either of his ego or of the shackles of the world. If a disciple falls into the clutches of an incompetent teacher, he doesn't attain liberation."

Source: Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sri Ramakrishna on importance of Dispassion (Vairagya)

Sri Ramakrishna: "As without strong determination the farmer cannot bring water to his field, so also without intense yearning a man cannot realize God. (To Vijay Why don't you come here now as frequently as before?"

Vijay: "Thakur ji (Sri Ramakrishna), I wish to very much, but I am not free. I have accepted work in the Brahmo Samaj."

Sri Ramakrishna: "It is 'woman and gold' that binds man and robs him of his freedom. It is woman that creates the need for gold. For woman one man becomes the slave of another, and so loses his freedom. Then he cannot act as he likes.

"The priests in the temple of Govindaji at Jaipur were celibates at first, and at that time they had fiery natures. Once the King of Jaipur sent for them, but they didn't obey him. They said to the messenger, 'Ask the king to come to see us.' After consultation, the king and his ministers arranged marriages for them. From then on the king didn't have to send for them. They would come to him of themselves and say: 'Your Majesty, we have come with our blessings. Here are the sacred flowers of the temple. Deign to accept them.' They came to the palace, for now they always wanted money for one thing or another: the building of a house, the rice-taking ceremony of their babies, or the rituals connected with the beginning of their children's education.

"There is the story of the twelve hundred nedas (Literally, "shaven-headed". Among the Vaishnava devotees, those who renounce the world shave their heads.) and thirteen hundred nedis. (Vaishnava nuns.) Virabhadra, the son of Nityananda Goswami, had thirteen hundred 'shaven-headed' disciples. They attained great spiritual powers. That alarmed their teacher. 'My disciples have acquired great spiritual powers', thought Virabhadra. 'Whatever they say to people will come to pass. Wherever they go they may create alarming situations; for people offending them unwittingly will come to grief.' Thinking thus, Virabhadra one day called them to him and said, 'See me after performing your daily devotions on the bank of the Ganges.' These disciples had such a high spiritual nature that, while meditating, they would go into samadhi and be unaware of the river water flowing over their heads during the flood-tide. Then the ebb-tide would come and still they would remain absorbed in meditation.  
(Note: Samadhi is breathless, pulseless state)

"Now, one hundred of these disciples had anticipated what their teacher would ask of them. Lest they should have to disobey his injunctions, they had quickly disappeared from the place before he summoned them. So they did not go to Virabhadra with the others. The remaining twelve hundred disciples went to the teacher after finishing their meditation. Virabhadra said to them: 'These thirteen hundred nuns will serve you. I ask you to marry them.' 'As you please, revered sir', they said. 'But one hundred of us have gone away.' Thenceforth each of these twelve hundred disciples had a wife. Consequently they all lost their spiritual power. Their austerities did not have their original fire. The company of woman robbed them of their spirituality because it destroyed their freedom.
(Note: After one marries, householder is in constantly engrossed in trying to protect his family and in fulfilling his family needs. Hence his devotion, as compared to a celibate would decrease, as he now thinks more of external objects and his family and relatives than God) 

(To Vijay) "You yourself perceive how far you have gone down by being a servant of others. Again, one finds that people with many university degrees, scholars with their vast English education, accept service under their English masters and are daily trampled under their boots. The one cause of all this is woman. They have married and set up a 'gay fair' with their wives and children. Now they cannot go back, much as they would like to. Hence all these insults and humiliations, all this suffering from slavery.
(Note: Here, 'women' herself is not a cause but it is our attraction, bonding, intimacy and emotional attachment towards them that is pointed out. This bonding develops naturally in men. Since they bigot children through wife, their bonding extends to them too. Next comes maintaining relationships with relatives and the samsAra (social circle) is developed and it expands as time passes.
The point that it is not women but attachment towards her, identifying her as our loved one like mother sister, wife and daughter is the root cause. this is cleared later by Sri Ramakrishna.)

"Once a man realizes God through intense dispassion, he is no longer attached to woman. Even if he must lead the life of a householder, he is free from fear of and attachment to woman. Suppose there are two magnets, one big and the other small. Which one will attract the iron? The big one, of course. God is the big magnet. Compared to Him, woman is a small one. What can 'woman' do?"

A devotee: "Thakur ji (Sri Ramakrishna), shall we hate women then?"

Sri Ramakrishna: "He who has realized God does not look upon a woman with the eye of lust; so he is not afraid of her. He perceives clearly that women are but so many aspects of the Divine Mother. He worships them all as the Mother Herself.
Source: Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hindu Dharma – The most organized, integrated spiritual and practical way of life.

Updated: 20th May 2015 | Current Version: v2.1.0 b [beta]

Hindu Dharma – The most organized, integrated spiritual and practical way of life.


|| hari OM ||

|| shrI guru sharaNam ||

|| shrI Adi Sankara sharaNam ||

|| shrI rAmakriShNaarpaNamastu ||

Note: Please note that this article is not complete and needs editing. There may be many typos. If and when time permits, we will add more information. In the holy occasion of Shri Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti, which is on 23rd April 2015, we have made an attempt to share our information. We will try to improve it as much as possible.

This article is also published on Google Docs anyone can comment it. Editing this article on Google Docs will require invitation from the author.

If you wish to just read this article, please visit html version of this article here to avoid accidental deleting.

If you are reading Blog Post, TOC links are not clickable. 

1. Table of Contents

1. Table of Contents
2. Transliteration Key
3. Dedicated To
4. Preface
5. What are SAstra-s (shAstra-s)?
6. An Introduction to Hindu Dharma
6.1. What is Hindu Dharma?
6.2. Final Goal of Hindu Dharma
7. Hindu Dharma, the eternal religion.
7.1. Why dharma should be eternal?
7.1.1. What is dharma Mind Logical approach
8. Is humanity the greatest religion?
9. Distinctive Features of sanAtana Dharma
10. varnAshrama dharma
10.1. brAhmaNa-s
10.2. kshatriya-s
10.3. vaishya-s
10.4. shudra-s
10.5. Why varNa by Birth?
10.6. Ashrama dharma
10.7. Advantage of Vocations by Birth
10.8. Why not varNa purely based on guNa-s?
10.8.1. Resistance to varNa dharma
10.8.2. The traditional view of varNa dharma
10.9. Future Prediction of deterioration of varNa dharma and it’s solution
11. What are basic texts of Hindu dharma?
11.1. What are veda-s?
11.1.1. Adi Sankara didnt single handedly caused downfall of Buddhism.
11.2. nyAna and vaiSeshikhA
11.3. purANa-s
11.4. dharma shAstra-s (Civil Laws)
11.4.1. Hindu dharma has the most flexible civil laws
11.5. Six Philosophical systems of India
12. yoga, haTha yoga, nAtha yoga, aghora, tantra and kriyA yoga
12.1. yoga
12.1.1. The path
12.2. haTha yoga
12.3. nAtha yoga, aghora yoga and tantra (Sakta, shakta)
12.4. aghori-s
12.4.1. nAgA sAdhu-s are not aghori-s
12.5. tAntrika-s (Sakta-s)
12.6. Saivism - vedic and yogic (tAntrika, Agamic)
12.7. kriyA yoga
12.7.1. ‘kri’ and ‘yA’
12.8. Difference between nAtha yoga and kriyA yoga
13. Five bodies in sanAtana dharma
13.1. Subtle bodies
13.2. chakra-s
13.3. kuNDAlini, nADI-s and brahmaDanDa
13.3.1. kuNDalini shakti
13.3.2. nADI-s
13.3.3. brahmaDaNDa / meruDaNDa
13.4. Gauging spiritual progress
14. Why are there different mantra-s for different people?
15. How Hinduism covers people of all types of temperament?
16. How is Hinduism the most systematically organized Religion?
17. Religious Tolerance
17.1. Tolerance and acceptance of other religions
17.1.1. No belief in One God One Book
17.1.2. Not adhering to a view that salvation is possible through only one messenger of God who is a historical person.
17.1.3. Yogic approach to gauge spiritual progress
17.1.4. Viewing other religions to the lens of ‘Hinduism’
17.1.5. Let noble thoughts flow from all directions - RV 1.89.1
17.1.6. Misinterpretation of ‘All paths lead to same truth’ RV 1.164.46
18. Two ways to live a life: Path of Action and Path of Renunciation
19. Idol Worship and Beyond - Why Idol Worship?
19.1. prANa prathisThA
19.2. Closing of eyes while praying and bowing to any idol
20. jivan mukti, a unique concept of Hindu dharma
21. Women and sanAtana dharma
21.1. Summary in Brief - Women and sanAtana dharma
21.2. Women and veda-s
21.3. Woman in the form of a Mother
21.4. Regarding Woman as Wife
21.4.1. Wife is the Root of the Religion
21.4.2. Wife Bestows Four-Purushasrthas on a Husband
21.4.3. Women rescues all the ancestors of her husband from hell
21.4.4. Wife helps a man to manifest himself
21.4.5. Wife is the most valuable possession
21.4.6. One shouldn’t do anything that is disagreeable to his wife
21.4.7. Wife Should Be The Queen Of The House, Not A Slave
21.5. Regarding Widowed Women
21.6. Union with a Woman was done with her consent and not by Rape
21.7. Female Foeticide
21.8. sati and widow
21.9. Conclusion (women in sanAtana dharma)
22. Nonviolence and Vegetarianism
22.1. Non-Violence
22.1.1. Why does violence cease to exist in state of enlightenment?
22.1.2. Why does mind give violent reactions?
22.1.3. Why does mind long?
22.1.4. Practical side of non-violence
22.2. Vegetarianism
22.2.1. No Central nervous system
22.2.2. Leaves and Branches
22.2.3. Underground Food
22.2.4. Trees wants us to eat fruits
22.2.5. Deforestation
22.2.6. Why should not we eat meat Is eating meat permitted? The common argument
22.3. Vegetarianism - Scientific Perspective
23. Scope of Work – Future Topics
24. Credits and Updates

2. Transliteration Key

The "Indian languages TRANSliteration" (ITRANS) is an ASCII transliteration scheme for Indic scripts, particularly, but not exclusively, for Devanagari (used for the Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit, Nepali, Sindhi and other languages).

The ITRANS computer package also enables automatic conversion of the Roman script to the Indic. It was used to compile the Hindi Song Book on the internet. This became an invaluable source for the words of movie and other popular lyrics of Hindi and some related languages. It also helped popularize the ITRANS romanization scheme for storing and sharing material in the Indic languages, particularly Hindi and Sanskrit, in the electronic media where the English-keyboard Roman script is a very convenient input medium.

Following transliteration key is adapted. There can be inconsistencies. We request interested readers to correct them. Some characters in both sanskrit and roman script which are frequently used are displayed below.

अ = a
आ = A or aa or ā
स = sa
श = Sa or sha, hence शास्त्र is written as shAstra or Sastra
ष = Sha
च = ca or cha
छ = chha or Cha
सीता = sItA
गीता = gItA
न = na
ण = Na
सरस्वती = sarasvatI (notice capital 'I')
मणि = maNi (notice small 'i')
ॐ = OM (both letters upper case)
anusvAra (ं) i.e. dot above word is either written as ‘n’ or ‘.n’ or ‘M’ or ‘.m’
visarga (ः) is written as ‘H’
कृष्ण = kRRIShNa or kriShNa or kRShNa or krShNa

Plural sanskrit words are written with ‘-s’ e.g. veda-s and not vedas. SAstra-s and not SAstras.

For full unicode chart, please visit this link, scroll down and look for the file itrans code 120108 final.pdf to either view or download file in pdf format.

Since we are using itransliteration key, hence we do not follow the basic English convention of starting a new line with capital letter when it comes to writing sanskrit words. e.g. Dharma is written as dharma (without capital D).

'da' (द),
'Da' (ड),
'dha' (ध) and
'Dha' (ढ)

are four different characters.

The correct spelling is 'dharma'  (र्म). If we type capital 'D' instead of small 'd' then the word would becomeर्म (notice the difference between 'ध' and 'ढ'). Again just typing capital 'D' and omitting 'h' i.e. Darma would result into 'र्म'.

If new line starts with English word then capital letter is used.

Initially reader may find it difficult to read and it may not appear pleasing to eye as we are not accustomed to read capital letters in the middle of a word. The idea is to convey the pronunciation of saMskrit (sanskrit). Typing 'ā' instead of capital a (A) is a better option as it is more pleasing to eye. In books, this approach is used. However, it is too much time consuming on both windows or Linux, as ā has to be inserted as a special character atleast on Indian Keyboard with LibreOffice v 4+. Hence we have adopted to write 'shAstra' instead of 'shāstra'.

There are inconsistencies in syntax.

Some words are very popular in English like sanskrit and upanishads. In this case, they may or may not be written as saMskrit and upanishad-s. Some words like vedic, Atmic (well being) area a mixture of both languages. Interpreting correctly is expected. Sometimes SAstra is written as shAstra. Both are correct. The reason for using both is that while typing in word or writer or any document editor, it generally autocorrects correctly spelled SAstra to Sastra. To avoid this shAstra is used.

If time permits, we will try to change attributes of saMskrit words from regular to italics to easily spot sanskrit / devanagari words.

3. Dedicated To

Lotus feet of Guru _/\_ (As it was my guru who introduced this ignorant soul to vedAnta and the great lineage of Adi SankarAcArya)

Jagadguru ShrI Adi SankarAcArya jI the revivalist of vedic dharma.

Dedicated to Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Shri Ramana Maharshi whose teachings have deep impact on my life.  

I would also like to dedicate this article to the lotus feet of all the acharyas and Gurus who have kept the holy tradition of Guru-Shishya Parampara alive. Dedicated to Brahman, the Supreme Self, substratum of entire universe.

Whatever is good is my Guru's, all errors and everything negative are mine.

4. Preface


Dear Divine Souls,

There are many books and articles written to explain Hindu Dharma. This is just another attempt to share our information about Hindu Dharma.

Unlike Abrahmanic religion which preaches ‘One God One Book One Saviour’ theory and asks on to pledge their belief to one particular person for their salvation, the philosophy which is applicable to all mankind, Hindu Dharma, is distinctive in many ways.

5. What are SAstra-s (shAstra-s)?

As per Kanchi Paramacharya, SAstra (or shAstra) is an order or commandment. Wise say that a SAstra covers all aspects of life. Hindu Dharma is the most organized way of life where each and every aspect of life be it spirituality or day-2-day activities are coded and organized in a proper and systematic structure. Covering all walks of life in a systematic way shows the intelligence, organization, management power and deep thinking ability of our ancestors.

According to upanishads, we are not physical body but pure consciousness. The ultimate goal of shAstra is to be know our true nature, be one with Brahman and attain moksha, the freedom from cycle of birth and death and attain immortality.

Let us try to understand what Hindu Dharma (HD) is and know the reason why and how HD is best organized approach of living a harmonious life.

SAstra-s are not just dry philosophies. They are practically applied in our life. The purport of SAstra-s, which is Self Realisation is experienced by great saints.

Great rishi-s intuitively heard or saw verses. They digested their meaning and explained to others in the way they have understood, but without compromising the core teachings. Hence one verse may be explained in different ways and all explanations might be correct. In this sense, we can say that SAstra-s are collection of experience of innumerable saints since time immemorial.

Any SAstra i.e. Hindu spiritual doctrine begins and ends with peace chant called as Shanti Mantra. Even independent works start with worshipping either God or Guru or both as in case of viveka chudAmaNi. This shows that concern for universal well-being and respect to God and Guru is deeply rooted within Hinduism.

Lets start our article with one such peace chant found in yajurveda.

Opening Invocation

ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु
मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah |
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

1: Om, May All become Happy,
2: May All be Free from Illness.
3: May All See what is Auspicious,
4: May no one Suffer.
5: Om Peace, Peace, Peace.

Above shAnti mantra is a verse from brihadAraNayaka upanishad of yajurveda. Please note that this mantra is not seen in the beginning of upanishad, but similar verse is found in Br. Up. 1.4.14

Another SAnti mantra from taitariya and mANDukya upanishad of atharveda is

ॐ सह नाववतु |
सह नौ भुनक्तु |
सह वीर्यं करवावहै |
तेजस्विनावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः॥

Om saha nāvavatu
saha nau bhunaktu
saha vīryaṃ karavāvahai
tejasvi nāvadhītamastu
mā vidviṣāvahai |
Om śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ ||

Aum! May He protect us both together; may He nourish us both together;
May we work conjointly with great energy,
May our study be vigorous and effective;
May we not mutually dispute (or may we not hate any).
Aum! Let there be peace in me!
Let there be peace in my environment!
Let there be peace in the forces that act on me!

More shAnti mantra-s can be found here. Many Indian States have their own mottos. Indian Navy, Air force and Army also have their mottos. These mottos are taken from our SAstra-s.  Please find the link here. It shows the richness our our culture. Every Indian must take pride in our rich culture. Indian Law also has many elements from our dharma smriti-s. Though the repentance given in smriti- may not be practical today, but they show how well our forefathers thoughts of intensity of crime and gave equivalent punishments. Smriti-s show us that our forefathers thought in many directions. They are proofs of showing deep thinking ability, structural and organizational ability of our ancestors.
Lets now study what is Hindu Dharma.

6. An Introduction to Hindu Dharma

A dharma without any name, often called as sanAtana dharma, popularly known as Hindu Dharma, is the most ancient dharma of the world. Whenever we are being asked the question – What is Hindu dharma, we find it difficult to answer the question, as what to include and what to omit while giving explanation in brief. We will try to understand our dharma in brief.

6.1. What is Hindu Dharma?

Put in simplest words in one line, Hindu Dharma is a way of Life.

Hindu dharma is a dharma which covers all aspects of life from spiritual to practical. Even day-to-day mundane activities are connected with inner purity and Atmic well-being. Hindu dharma takes into account, the well being, peace and harmony of individual, family, society and universe as a whole. Every action as described in Hindu scriptures is not only beneficial to the individual practicing it, but it is connected to the universal well being. Like other dharma-s, Hindu Dharma (HD) is also based on divine revelations, which are called as Shruti-s. The pillars of HD are veda-s, which are considered as the supreme authority.

6.2. Final Goal of Hindu Dharma

Every human being, whether theist or atheist or anti-theist wants and strives for happiness. We all try to make arrangements as such that we do not have to face any trouble in future. In case of sorrow or any negative incident that may happen in our life, we make preparations in advance to face trouble. For example we earn and save money, invest it or deposit in bank so that it can be useful in the time of trouble. Every men, whether one believes in God or not is striving to remain happy forever and to remove sorrow as soon as possible. Men searches for happiness in material object or in person. It is natural for human being to strive for happiness. The final goal of HD is eternal, everlasting peace and Bliss. Since death is inevitable, this is possible only when one becomes free from the cycle of birth and death. HD teaches us how to remain satisfied and happy, how our actions affect others, how our actions (mental, verbal and with body) could be used for the well-being of all and in spreading peace and harmony. By doing actions, as prescribed in our scriptures (SAstra-s), one not only purifies internally, but also does good for others. The very action of doing good for others purifies us internally. BhagavAn in gItA says that there are 2 paths – path of action (karma yoga) and path of renunciation (GYAna yoga). After doing works or vocations as prescribed by SAstra-s for some time, one attains sufficient inner purity to renounce the very actions (karma) that brought them inner purity and adopt the path of renunciation to finally attain Liberation. Liberation or Moksha means to realize our true nature, that we are not body but eternal Atman, which is pure consciousness and to merge with it, dissolving our individual identity as incarnated soul.

7. Hindu Dharma, the eternal religion.

Hindu Dharma (HD) or sanAtana dharma (SD) is the oldest dharma. There was a time when there was no other dharma practiced. History does not dare to investigate into the origin of our dharma. Since HD was the only dharma, hence it does not need to have a name. Since the only religion practiced during ancient times was Hindu dharma, hence there is no process of conversion to Hinduism. 'Conversion' is not a requirement in Hinduism nor is there any 'conversion' ceremony where you pledge to a belief in a particular savior.

After other religions were established, in order to separate itself from other religions, Hindus started to call themselves as practitioners of sanAtana dharma. The word Hinduism is not found in scriptures.

The term Hindu is derived from River Indu or Indus valley. The people living in the vicinity of Indus river and Indus valley were collectively referred to as 'Hindus'. Hinduism and sanAtana dharma are newly created terms. sanAtana means eternal. dharma means religion. Hence, HD is called as ‘The Eternal Religion’. Hence this religion is timeless, eternal religion.

7.1. Why dharma should be eternal?

The word ‘dharma’ is being mistaken to be limited to external rites and rituals and putting on external marks that identify you with a particular religion or a sect. However, the word ‘dharma’ is very vast.

Let understand

7.1.1. What is dharma

sAyanAcArya and vArtikakAra (SrI sureshvarAcharya) while commenting on SrI Adi Sankara’s commentary on taitiriya upanishad Tai. Up. 1.11 ‘satyam vada, dharamam chara’ has given one of the definitions of ‘dharma’ as ‘agnihotra’. This definition is from vedic POV, since veda-s and upanishads talk about path of karma (vedic rituals, karma kANDa)) and path of renunciation of karma kANDa (GYAna mArga), hence IMHO, the AcArya-s have given definition in context to the verse under explanation. Acharya-s point out that practising vedic rituals like agnihotra just once is not enough to make us inwardly pure. Practinsing rituals just once do not quality one to practice GYAna mArga. They should be diligently practised until one attains sufficient inner purity.

The word ‘dharma’ is very vast. It includes body functions. dharma of eye is to see. dharma of mind is to think. dharma also includes a predefined or expected way of life. dharma of a teacher (AcArya) is to teach and so on.

‘dharma’ could mean, virtue, character, mark, quality, nature, custom (tradition), justice, way of life, law (natural or manmade), duty (includes all kinds of duties like duty towards society, family, nation, etc), ‘that which is established’, a particular condition, right (rites and rituals), morality, customary actions, practice, observance, religion, etc. Please check more meanings on In short, dharma covers all aspects of life.

dharma is divided into two parts, changing and unchanging. Way of life, means of earning, etc come under changing part. Reflexes, emotional reactions, likes and dislikes, etc are unchanging. Even in ancient days a person would get angry, feel hurt, had likes and dislikes. Mind

bhagavAn in gItA says that each and every desire is in the mind. Adi Sankara says that mind is that which ‘keeps thinking’ or in Sri Ramana Maharshi’s words, Mind is nothing but continuous flow of thoughts. Mind does not die with death of body and stays alive until one is liberated. Mind is very important in spirituality. All kinds of thoughts, emotions, and desires are within mind. Mind is also interchangeably used with jIva, and also antakaraNa. Spirituality is direct dealing with the mind. Since mind is ancient, the old ways of controlling mind are also valid and does not become obsolete. It is said in viveka chuDAmaNi that destruction of desires are nothing but liberation. Connecting all the dots, we can conclude that veda-s are a systematic and guaranteed approach to control mind, train it, give it proper direction and finally get liberated. It is the dharma (foremost duty and birth right) of each and every soul to get liberated (achieve moksha) Logical approach

After understanding the meaning of dharma and what it covers, lets understand why dharma has to be eternal. Here, we do not talk about the ‘changing’ part, but the ‘unchanging part’. Infact, it is our duty to change the ‘way of life’ and ‘civil laws’ to suit present circumstances. The only care to be taken is to make sure that the new law does not oppose to veda-s which is eternal, unchanging.

While other religions were founded or claim to be purified form of previous corrupted religions at a particular time, the topmost canonical text i.e. veda-s are said to be present eternally without beginning or end. Western world believes that earlier humans were living like barbarians with no spiritual law and after some time a messenger of God appeared and taught them the purpose of Life. However, we believe the reason for veda-s being eternal is due to the fact when God creates universe and life, God also makes available all the resources necessary for living. So it is not that after a man becomes thirsty, God created water to quench thirst. Water already existed before humans came into existence or as the wise say, the soul was bound in flesh and bones and in the 5 bodies made up of combinations of 5 great elements (panca mahAbhUta-s – earth, water, fire, air and space) and 3 guNa-s sattva, rajasa and tamasa.

Since God has created Food for us, God must also give us knowledge on how to eat food i.e. eat raw or cooked, store it and regenerate food. This comes under dharma. Each organ has it’s own dharma i.e. it’s function.

Wise say that knowledge is already present, it is just waiting to be discovered.

Since God has created this world, we have to live in harmony with nature. Going opposite to nature is unwise and is disaster waiting to happen. Take modern example of pollution.

If we go on higher plane, we all know that one day we are all going to die and this world will come to an end as whatever is born has to face death.

Philosophically speaking, Initially there was nothing but God, then one day God created the universe and human beings. It is also believed that one day God will also destroy his creation and we will all merge in him and the next creation will follow and the cycle will go on. The only way to escape is to be with God in this life itself before the destruction of world. Once we got separated from God. Our spiritual journey is to return back to our creator. We are technically not body the but whose nature is eternal. Our real nature is Brahman only. Hence God must have also taught us the way to know our true nature. Compassionate, All loving God cannot simply leave us without giving us a path to realize our true nature. Hence in SD it is strongly believed that no one created veda-s. They were revealed to great rishi-s intuitively. As long as the world exists and we live in duality, there has to be a way to reach and merge in our creator. Wise say that whatever thoughts are given are given to us by God only. In this sense too the knowledge about other walks of life is a result of grace of God via medium. dharma has to be eternal.

8. Is humanity the greatest religion?

In recent times, so-called seculars and revisionists often say that 'Humanity' is above all religions, humanity is greatest of all religions, etc. However they miss the basic point and the purport of vedAnta. This only shows the ignorance about what Hindu Dharma is, specially what the word 'SAstra' means or covers. SAstra does not simply mean parroting verses or doing rituals and rigidly holding onto obscure, outdated and orthodox beliefs. Adi Sankara (ShrI Adi SankarAcArya jI, one of the greatest saint who revived our eternal vedic tradition) says that if there were no SAstra-s (canonical scriptures) then there would be no difference between humans and animals i.e. humans would be living animal-like life without SAstra-s. Contradictory to popular belief that 'humanity' is the greatest religion, it is the scriptures that makes us live like humans. Humanity is just one aspect of scriptures, it is not the end of road.  Abiding in peace and bliss and in non-dual state of consciousness is the supreme goal of Life. The unborn supreme reality of SD is called as brahman, which is sat (truth), chit (pure consciousness) and Anand (eternal bliss). Corrupt practices, rigidity, misunderstanding of SAstra-s and committing crimes in the name of SD does no make SD for barbarians of medieval period. The very path of advaita is such that non-violence will automatically drop from the heart of meditator. BhagavAn in gItA says to stay neutral to likes and dislikes, develop 6 qualities like restrain and control of mind, patience, faith, etc, and develop fourfold qualities like discrimination (viveka), dispassion (vairAGYa), six qualities (SATsampatti) like control over mind, patience, faith, etc (Sama, dama, uparati, titikshA, shraddhA and samAdhAna, as mentioned in viveka chuDAmaNi). An vedAntin detaches himself / herself from external and internal (mental) objects and desires. It is an established fact that sattva guNa (mode of goodness, divine qualities like compassion, forgiveness, unconditional love, etc) increase and becomes pre-dominant guNa while lower animal qualities fade away. Hence there is no question of a vedAntin practicing or preaching violence.

SD has many distinctive features, which are not found in other religions.

9. Distinctive Features of sanAtana Dharma

Some of the distinctive features of SD are :

  1. Religion without any name.
  2. One God depicted as many Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Surya, Adi Shakti, Gaensha and Sanmukha. 
  3. God with form (attributes) and without form (attributeless, nirguNa brahman) 
  4. varNa-Ashrama dharma 
  5. Every action thought and carefully carried out is for personal and universal well being and for Atmic development i.e. to attain inner purity. 
  6. Takes into account after life. Following injunctions, as laid in SAstra-s, will make one ascend to higher, spiritual more evolved worlds of demi-gods, and other worlds. 
  7. Rebirth (re-incarnation) 
  8. Final liberation is to be free from cycle of birth and death 
  9. Freedom is here and now in this world. One can be free in this life itself, while living i.e. still being in physical body. 
  10. Covers people of all emotional temperaments. 
  11. Covers all aspects of Life. 
  12. Unlike other religions, which are named after their founders, Hindu dharma is not created by any one person. 
  13. Vedas have been independently existing since time immemorial. They were revealed to great saints called rishi-s. They were not created by men or God. Hence veda-s are eternal, without any beginning or end.  Since time does not exist before and after creation when there is nothing but Brahman, the unborn supreme reality, hence veda-s which have existed eternally are not restricted by time and hence are timeless.
  14. Conversion is not a requirement in Hinduism nor is there any conversion ceremony where you pledge to a belief in a particular savior.
  15. Heaven and Hell are not eternal nor the life in Heaven and Hell is eternal. A soul in order to suffer or enjoy the fruits of his / her action either ascends in heaven or descends in Hell, the lower worlds, and stays there until the fruits of karma are not exhausted. After the fruits are exhausted, the soul takes birth in earthly plane. Hindus do not wish to stay and enjoy with 72 virgins waiting in bedroom in Heaven.
  16. There is no judgement day and resurrection as believed by Christians and Muslims nor Hindus considered themselves as special people selected by God as believed by Jews.
  17. The cycle of creation, preservation and destruction of universe is an on going process.
  18. Life and Death are continuous and never ending like day and night until one extinguishes all desires and karma-s to get liberated
  19. Belief in concept of avatAra, incarnations of God either in full or in part and descend of fully realized saints and siddha-s for upliftment of humanity and for removal of weeds and non-vedic elements that have creeped into Hinduism.
  20. Guru-SiShya paramparA, the Guru – disciple tradition.
  21. The concept of jivan mukti - Attain immortality while still staying in physical body.

Now, we will discuss an important and unique part of SD which is the backbone of SD and the reason for sustainable of SD from time immemorial.

10. varnAshrama dharma

varNa is often translated and used interchangeably with the word ‘Caste’. Caste is not the word of Indian Origin. Caste is not varNa. Caste is translated as ‘jAti’ which is a subset of varNa. There are four varNa-s – Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Sudra. Within Brahmin varNa, there are many jAti-s.

varNa – Ashrama vharma is made up of two words varNa [dharma] and Ashrama [dharma].
VarNa is by birth. It is a misconcept that varNa is purely based on guNa-s only. Before taking into consideration why varNa is by birth, lets understand four varNa-s.

10.1. brAhmaNa-s

veda-s are of utmost importance. They have to be protected. Veda-s are not short texts that can be easily memorized. Further the mantras (verses) contained in them have their own potency when they are pronounced properly. To ensure this, a full proof system was developed by great rishi-s (Seer) so that not even a bit of information gets corrupted while orally transforming from one person to another. Each verse in veda called as shruti vacan (commandment of shruti) has
- a rishi (seer to whom this verse was revealed),
- a devatA (god / demi-god to whom this verse is attributed or dedicated) and
- chandas or meter in which a verse has to be sung or pronounced.

Veda-s cannot be preserved by writing down even with svara-s (musical annotations) as they are insufficient to describe to pitch, length and the depth of a particular character in a particular word. This can only be known by listening it from an accomplished master. Mantra is sound. Sound is nothing but a kind of energy and vibration. We are all affected by vibrations and energy. When a vedic mantra is properly pronounced, it produces divine positive vibrations. Anyone who hears them or is present in vicinity receives these vibrations and his subtle body, mind and nADI-s are cleanses and purified. Each vibration has it's own frequency. Hence to generate a particular frequency, one needs to pronounce a word in a definite way to produce desired effect. This is the reason why veda-s cannot be preserved in books. They must be chanted.

To master one veda, it takes around 10 years. Hence to master 4 vedas, it would take 40 years of dedication. Further the works mentioned in vedas are to be carried out faithfully to ensure universal well being and for personal spiritual development. This is a Herculean  task. For this purpose, an entire class was created, who was entrusted with this responsibility. They came to be known as brAhmin-s. Their foremost duty is to learn, recite, practice and teach veda-s.

10.2. kshatriya-s

Society needs to be safe guarded against any foreign attack and needs to be governed properly to function effectively. This duty was entrusted by kshatriyas.

10.3. vaishya-s

Agriculture and trading are the heart of any community for it's sustenance. These duties are entrusted to Vaishyas. These are the business community. While the modern education has special courses for management and in doing business, SD already has a special varNa in whom art of doing business is in their blood.

10.4. shudra-s

Shudra-s are helping and trading class. They are essential for running of society. Without them society would collapse. They do not need to learn veda-s. Their spiritual progress is the duty of brAhmin. If he stops chantings vedas, it is shudra who has to suffer, as he is entrusted with different vocation. If a shudra starves, it is vaishya community which has to be blamed. If Shudra feels insecurity, Kshatriya has to protect them. 

10.5. Why varNa by Birth?

No varNa is higher or lower. It is just division of vocation by birth. In bhagavad gItA BG 4.13 and 18.41-48, Adi Sankara and other prominant vaidika AcArya-s explain us that varNa is based upon guNa (qualities), but guNa is inherited by birth because we can actions and fruits of past lives into account. So getting birth in a family of brAhmin or brAhmaNa is considered as a result of living a ethical, moral and spiritual past life or lives. However, today brAhmin-s and other varNa-s do not carry their prescribed duty, hence the natural advantage of being born in a particular varNa is lost. A materialist or an athiest Brahmin is Brahmin for name sake only, he is more or less like a Sudra. So a spiritual soul might be born in a pious and religious vaiSya family then materialstic Brahmin family, as his / her purpose to excel in spirituality may not be fulfilled by living in such Brahmin family as s/he does not get oppurtuinity and encouragement to walk on spiritual path since childhood.

10.6. Ashrama dharma

We have already seen what is varNa dharma. Like varNa dharma, Ashrama dharma is also divided into four parts –
brahmacharya, grihastha, vAnaprastha and sanyAsa Ashram.

For 25 years brahmacharya is to be observed, then comes grihasta i.e. to lead a family life. Next 25 years, one has to live in forest with or without wife and contemplate on inner meaning of scriptures. Lastly, one renounces the society and becomes a monk in search of highest truth, brahman, after knowing brahman, nothing more needs to be known. The purpose of human birth is fulfilled.

Though four Ashram-s are segregated by 25 years each, it does not have to be strictly followed. Learning of veda-s and byhearting verses might take around 25 years. After that up to 50 years one has to carry the burden of family and social relations.  Grihastha is the most important Ashrama in the sense that it is the only Ashram in which money can be earned. Hence a grihastha nourishes and supports other three Ashram-s. Not much is said about vAnaprastha Ashrama. vAnaprastha Ashrama is described in manu smriti Chapter 6, verses 1-28. It is said in Nirnaya Sindhu, one influential dharmashastra, that vAnaprastha Ashrama is kalivarjya i.e. inoperative in the kAlI yuga (Kali Yuga / Kalyug). Today, only grihastha and sanyAsa Ashrama are being followed. It is said in dharma smriti-s like manu smriti that even after attaining sufficient inner purity, if a mimAmsaka i.e. the one who is actively engaged in vedic rites and rituals does not renounce the society and become a monk, but does all karma kANDa with no selfish motive until death, then such a person after death ascends to brahmaloka where bhagavAn brAhmA jI himself initiates him into brahmaGYAna and the jIva at the end of kalpa (eon) will finally merge into brahman without any pain. Such a jIva will get liberated at the time of destruction of world. jIva-s in brahmaloka are capable of brahmaGYAna and never suffer from pleasure and pain but experience intense bliss, as brahmaloka is the highest amongst all loka-s says Kanchi Paramacharya. It is believed that for such a soul, there is no return back to earth.

The idea is to purity the mind. When one becomes inwardly pure, then it is time to leave the society and contemplate on the inner meaning of vedAnta and meditate on the highest truth, the Brahman. If a person attains inner purity in childhood, then such a person is considered worthy of skipping vAnaprastha Ashram and enter into sanyAsa Ashram. After taking sanyAsa, one losses one's varNa and views all people with an equal eye. All sanyAsin-s are strive for only one goal in life – moksha i.e. liberation from the cycle of birth and death by realizing and abiding in natural state, our true nature which is Brahman.

10.7. Advantage of Vocations by Birth

When vocations are practiced by birth, there is a guarantee for everyone to get employment. A person has natural advantage as he learns his vocation by birth from his childhood. Today, when this arrangement is broken, everyone wants to do the best work. Sadly, best today means, the work which gives 'good money'. Hence there is competition for becoming a doctor or an engineer, which was absent in earlier times. Not giving freedom is not bad. The ultimate purpose of Religion is to up-root ego.

varNa dharma, which is the unique feature of SD has often come into criticism. The very reason why our dharma is sustained since time immemorial is being criticized by revisionists and social reformers, without understanding the importance of varNa and Ashrama dharma in maintaining communal harmony, peace and universal well-being, for peaceful and harmonious running of society. The misunderstanding and evil practices that have creeped into our society is not because of faulty SD, but due to our faulty understanding. Our dharma smriti-s are the most flexible one in the world up to the extend of removing absolute laws and creating new laws, as said in parASara smriti which is most suited in kali yuga. Discarding varNa dharma is like offering a solution of chopping off head if one is having a headache. Can this be a solution? Cure the headache and not decapitate the head. Tossing up veda-s and upanishad-s in wild for free may look ethically and morally great specially by the revisionalists advocating equality of all, but it gives rise to a great danger of misunderstanding them. An unclean mind, a destructive mind reading upanishads by himself / herself is like a disaster waiting to happen. If anyone can correctly understand upanishads and veda-s by themselves, there would have been no need of Guru-Sishya paramparA and no need of living a life of monk.

However, vocations by birth may be overridden, if an individual has attained inner purity early than expected or have attained purity by birth due to merits of his past life. In such a case, a disciple can be initiated into vedanta, which expounds the highest truth. However in order to maintain discipline and avoid chaos and excessive competition, certain restrictions have to be imposed for the good of all. Not being authorized to learn veda-s does not mean that one does not have right to chant God's name, learn Agama shastra-s practice yoga, read itihAsa and purANa-s and even know the essence of upanishads in simple words. Only authentic chanting is forbidden for Sudra-s as it is a full time job.  

10.8. Why not varNa purely based on guNa-s?

This question is often asked by so-called advocates of equal rights for all. However, not all purposefully try to denigrate and break our social culture. There are many people who genuinely have this doubt and they should not be blamed just for having a non-traditional view. Let us try to understand why varNa cannot be purely based on guNa-s i.e. qualities.

10.8.1. Resistance to varNa dharma

Even in medieval past and in around 9th century AD there were some saints who strongly opposed to an extent that they discarded veda-s and  even established a new independent sect. Great examples are Lord Buddha and mahAtmA basavaNNa also called as maharshi baSeSvara (Basheshwara) who created a casteless vIra Saiva (Veera Shaiva) or lingAyat sect. They worship Siva linga and wear Siva linga as a locket. Siva linga represents formless aspect of Sankara bhagavAn and has trinity and all the deva-s inside it. So worshipping Siva linga is worshipping the whole brahmANDa (universe), trinity and all the devI-devatA-s. nAtha yogi-s, the followers of great yogi-s, the mahAsiddha guru gorakshanAtha, the disciple of guru macchindernAtha (matsyendarnAtha). They practice laya yoga, which is to merge (laya) in brahman via  sound which is heard in the right ear like sound of damaru or a flute, etc. It is like arriving at ocean shore by following the sound of waves of ocean. Though one does not know where the ocean is, by following the sound of waves, one can reach ocean shore.

10.8.2. The traditional view of varNa dharma

This topic is debated extensively since ages. We will try to give the traditional POV. Various examples in purANa-s and mahAbhArata and in rAmAyaNa can be found which support both theories of varNa by birth and by guNa-s. Dharma smriti-s are however clear on this matter that varNa is by birth. Veda-s do not clarify it's stand in varNa either. We should not that only 5 % of veda-s remain rest is not extant anymore. Had there been no Adi Sankara bhagavadpAda, God knows what would have left for us to practice. According to Adi Sankara, varNa is by guNa, but guNa is inherited by birth Similar is the opinion of other traditional AcArya-s. However, lets for time being consider that varNa is purely based on guNa-s and try to reach a conclusion.

We all have three guNa-s, sattva, rajasa and tamasa. In the night, tamasa is predominant, in brahma-muhurata (3:30 am to 5:30 am) sattva is prevalant and during day time, it's rajasa. Hence each person is  a brAhmaNa in early morning and sudra in night. This does not sound correct. Again, even during day time, our mood is not the same, sometimes, the effect of sattva is predominant for few minutes or even hours. Another moment one can get angry and have rajasa. Cursing others and pledging to take revenge make one tAmasika. So a person within 5 minutes has changed from brAhmin to kahatriya to sudra. How is this possible? It also does not make any sense.

Now lets imagine that if a person though born in lower varNa is promoted to higher varNa say brAhmaNa. Now suppose that s/he commits a mistake. Now has that person downgraded himself / herself to a kshatriya or vaishya or Sudra? Again after regret and some rituals and penance of one purifies can one again become a brAhmaNa? In other words, a brAhmaNa is not allowed to make any mistakes or making mistakes downgrades him or her. Does this make any sense?  

Now suppose a Sudra claims to a pure at heart, is intelligent and wants to learn veda-s or become a priest. A bigger question is who is going to judge whether a person has a particular guNa. Qualities and desires are invisible. Hence to understand the desires (vAsanA-s), we will have to judge the actions, as actions are grossest form of vAsanA and vAsanA is subtlest form of action. Without trial and error what is the other choice. Are there any saints who can look into mind and declare predominant quality of a person. If there are, how many saints genuinely do have this ability? What if a person after spending some time realizes that he is not suited to become a priest or loses interest in it or that Guru finds him / her incompetent? Answers to these questions are not easy. We have a practical problem if everyone is given a free run to let their mind loose and choose whatever they want to do and live the way they want to live. We would not say this is anarchy, but it's definitely a mess and there will be man souls who would have lost direction and clarity and on their goal of life. Hence it is better to stick to our own varNa.

Today not many brAhmin-s practiced vocation prescribed by great saints. brAhmin-s have chosen to earn money by trading of shares or do job or business. If this is the case that the highest of varNa do not stick to their vocation, why would we? The answer is not easy either. There are two reasons for sticking to our varNa dharma.

  1. No one denies that a Sudra can be an intelligent and probably even intelligent than brAhmin. But chanting veda-s is not only dependent upon intellect. It requires a pure and spiritually matured mind which is possible only after accumulating merits of many of many past lives. Todays education system does not consider 'nature' and 'mental makeup' of any person. It only depends upon recitation, retention power and intelligence. Suppose if A get 95 % but is of destructive mindset and B gets 90 % but his mind is constructive. Who will get admission first? Again, if you do not get admission in your field of choice, students select another branch and later they get job in a field that is not related to them nor do they like work they are doing. This produces stress of work as there is no 'liking' for the work, which after certain years manifests as incurable disease … and life goes on. Hence nature, mental makeup, purity of mind are important factors which should not be neglected.
  2. Practicing vocation by birth is a choice. It is the choice of brAhmin-s to dedicate their lives for veda-s or to live for earning. This does not mean that those who are doing Job do not deserve to chant veda-s. Being born in brAhmin family gives one a great opportunity which is not possible if one is born in a family of a poor Sudra where both parents and even children have to work for their livelihood else they die of starvation.

10.9. Future Prediction of deterioration of varNa dharma and it’s solution

itihAsa (mahAbhArata) and purANa-s have predicted that in kalyuga, as time passes the dark effect of kalyuga will increase which will lead to deterioration of varNa dharma, the backbone of SD, and varNa-s will mixt with each other. sUdra will sit next to brAhmin (brahmANa). vedic dharma will decline. In such case, varNa-Sankara prajA will be created i.e. inter-caste marriage will increase i.e. a brAhmin will wed a vaiSya. They children are not considered as brAhmin. They are called as varNa-Sankara and they cannot perform what a pure brAhmin can do.

Since the traditional path of vedic karma kANDa and other vocations related to varNa will get deteriorated (but not become extinct), and the path of advaita is not for all, a simple cross-varNa solution for spiritual progress was recommended. It is the path of bhakti. Chanting of mahA mantra hare rAma, hare rAma, rAmA hare hare, hare krShNa, hare krShNa, krShNa krShNa hare hare was given. Chanting of any mantra except OM, is recommended like OM NamaH SivAya, OM namo bhagavate vAsudevAya, etc.

There is no restriction based on caste, creed or gender, nor there is any strict ritual and discipline needs to be observed for chanting mahA mantra. Anyone can chant any the mantra for any period of time, either in group, or individually. One can chant loudly (sing in group) or chant it silently with or without rosary bead (japa mAlA). It is a simple approach to progress spiritually. Reading purANA-s, itihAsa and singing glories of the Lord, chanting his names are the most effective method for Self Realization. As one progresses, mind becomes introvert and does not demand and material objects. Attachment with loved ones decreases and attachment with a form of God increases. Gradually, the conditional surrender to the Lord changes to unconditional surrender. bhakti (devotion) increases with constant chanting of Lord’s name. Then God himself will show his / her true nature and give his beloved devotee what best suits him / her.

Lets understand basics texts of Hindu dharma

11. What are basic texts of Hindu dharma?

Many Hindus are ignorant of the scripture that is the very source of their religion - they do not know even its name. Here it is an attempt to atleast give brief introduction of the heart of our religion.

There are fourteen abodes of knowledge that constitutes SD. The fourteen dharma-pramANa-s (authorities of dharma) are called "caturdasa-vidyA". caturdasa means fourteen (catur means four and dasa means ten), vidyA means knowledge.

The fourteen "abodes" of knowledge are: the four vedas; the six Angas or limbs of the Vedas; four up-angas or subsidiary limbs

Religious knowledge is encompassed by these fourteen branches of learning.

Vedas are Top most authoritative texts and are the most important. Vedas are symbolized in the form of human body as a veda purusha.

Man possesses a number of angas or limbs. In the same way the veda-s personified -- the vedapurusha -- has six limbs. ( It must be noted that the veda-s are also spoken of as vedamatha, Mother Veda. ) The four upangas (sub-limbs, secondary parts), though not integral to the veda-s, are supporting limbs of the vedapurusha.

Four Vedas: rgveda, yajurveda, sAmaveda and atharvaveda

Six Angas: SikshA, VyAkaraNa, Chandas, nirukta, jyotiSa and kalpa

Four Upangas: mimAmsA, nyAya, purANa and dharmashAstra

There are yet four more vidyA-s. If you add them to the fourteen already mentioned, you will have eighteen vidyA-s - asTAdasa-vidyA which are all-inclusive. Of them, the fourteen already mentioned are directly concerned with dharma.

The remaining four -

1. Ayurveda,
2. arthashAstra,
3. dhanurveda and
4. gandharvaveda

- do not directly deal with dharma. 

We have two itihAsa-s, mahAbhArata and vAlmiki rAmAyaNa. 'itihAsa' means history. Adi Sankara considered both of them as authentic but when he used to simply mention itihAsa, it would mean only mahAbhArata. Both of these epics are given a special status of history. There are purANa-s, but they may have an element of imagination and moral of the story is generally considered as important than the story itself.
There are 18 purANa-s and 18 upa-purANa-s (subsidiary purANa-s). 'purANa' means history or that which is ancient. There are also sthala purANa-s. 'sthala' means place and purANa means history. Hence sthala purANa-s glorify ancient historic places.

There are 18 dharma shAstras, which are called as smriti-s. There are some other dharma smriti-s too. There are also 18 up-smriti-s (secondary smriti-s).

Earlier it was said that Veda-s are pillars of SD. The question arises – 

11.1. What are veda-s?

It would be difficult to define veda-s in a way that it covers the content and the purport of veda. Still we will try to understand what veda-s mean. The word 'veda' means 'vidyA' or knowledge. There are many great saints who have tried to explain veda-s by writing commentary on them. Out of them the one written by sAyanAchArya (Sayanacharya), who was an advaitin, is considered as the most authentic by all. According to him, the veda-s are a collection of mantras and their explanation or how they should be applied. Vedas are called unauthored (apurusheya), beginningless and endless. They teach highest truth.

Hence veda-s can be defined as a collection of mantras their explanation & application, their inner meaning and teaching of the highest truth to be directly experienced. Veda-s are unauthored, beginning-less and are divinely revealed mantras to great rishi-s (Seers) as a flash in their heart or as intuition. 

There are four veda-s

  • rig veda
  • yajur veda (divided into two, Sukla and krShNa yajur veda. Sukla yajur veda was lost SAkhA, revived by sage yajnayalkya)
  • sAma veda
  • atharveda

Kanchi Paramahcharyua says

The Rgvedic sakhas contain hymns to invoke the various deities; the Yajurvedic sakhas deal with the conduct of sacrifices; the Samaveda sakhas contain songs to please the deities; and the Atharvaveda sakhas, besides dealing with sacrifices, contain mantras recited to avert calamities and to destroy enemies. The Samaveda had the largest number of recensions, 1, 000. In the Rgveda there were 21; in the Yajus 109 ( Sukla-Yajur veda 15, and Krsna Yajur veda 94); and in the Atharvaveda 50.

While, according to one scholar, the Visnu Purana mentions the number of sakhas to be 1, 180, another version is that there were 1, 133 recensions- the Rgveda 21, the Yajurveda 101, the Samaveda 1, 000 and the Atharvaveda 11.

Considering that people in the age of Kali would be inferior to their forefathers, Krsna Dvaipayana thought that it should be sufficient for them to learn one sakha of any one of the four Vedas. It was the Lord that put this idea into his head. Vyasa assigned the Rgveda sakhas to Paila, the Yajurveda sakhas to Vaisampayana, the Samaveda sakhas to Jaimini and the Atharvanaveda sakhas to Sumantu. ]

Krsna Dvaipayana came to be called "Vedavyasa" for having divided the Vedas into four and then having subdivided them into 1, 180 recensions. "Vyasa" literally means an "essay" or a "composition". Classifying objects is also known as "vyasa".

According to Krsna Dvaipayana's arrangement, though it is obligatory for a person [ that is a Brahmin] to learn only one recension, it does not mean that there is a bar on learning more. The intention is that at least one sadha must be studied.

Verses in each veda are given names like
rig vedic verse is called as rik (rk),
yajurvedi mantra as yajus,
sAmavedic mantra as sAman and
atharvavedic mantra as atharvan.

sAmaveda has most verses similar to rig veda but they are sung in a different way so as to please deva-s. It is believed that sAma veda has 95 mantra-s not found in rg veda. Singing originated from sAma veda. The sargama (7 basic sounds used in traditional Indian singing), sA, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni originated from sAma veda.

Some historians believe that rg veda is oldest and atharva veda is youngest amongst veda-s. Kanchi Paramacharya says this is not true. rg veda manDala 10 contains the name of atharva veda and hence atharva veda did is as old as sAma veda.

Vedas are divided into four parts – samhitA, brAhmaNa, AraNyaka, upanishad (vedAnta)

samhitA-s are collection of mantras which form major part of veda-s.  Traditionally when one says 'veda' it means samhitA part.

brAhmaNa-s explain which and where a mantra or a collection of mantra-s are to be applied. They are further split into araNyaka-s and vedAnta.

AraNyaka-s give inner meaning behind any ritual or practice. It is more connected with inner or mental practice.

vedAnta, i.e. veda-anta, as the name suggests is the end part of veda-s. Here 'end' does not literally mean the 'end part'. It means the core or essence. e.g. IshA upanishad is in the samhitA part. SamhitA-s generally deals with just mantra-s, still it is called as an upanishad.

There are many upanishad-s, technically 1180. Out of them some say 220 are extant. Out of this 108 are listed in muktikA upanishad. Out of 108, 10 are considered to be principle upanishads.

They are listed in a form of a verse so that they are easy to remember.

Isa Kena Kathaa Prasna Munda Maandukya TAithari
Aitareyam Cha Chaandogyam Brahadhaaranyakam Dasa

ईसकेनकथाप्रश्न मुण्ड माण्डूक्य तैत्तिरी ।
एइतरेयंच छान्दोग्यं ब्रहृदारण्यकंदश ॥

For convenience they are put as Numbered List: 

  1. IshA / ISa / IshAvAsya Upanishad 
  2. Kena Upanishad 
  3. KaTha Upanishad 
  4. PrashNa Upanishad 
  5. muNDaka Upanishad 
  6. mANDukya Upanishad 
  7. taittiriya Upanishad 
  8. aitareya Upanishad 
  9. ChAndogya Upanishad 
  10. brihadAraNyaka Upanishad 

In order to realize highest truth and to be free from cycle of birth and death, along with 10 principle Upanishads, study of Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutras (topmost cannonical text) is prescribed. Together they are called as prasthAntrayi. To explain the concepts in simple and clear way, many AchArya-s have written commentaries on prasthAntrayi. Out of them Adi SankarAchArya's commentaries are oldest that are extant today.

11.1.1. Adi Sankara didnt single handedly caused downfall of Buddhism.

It is worth to mention that there is a misconception that Adi Sankara single handedly defeated buddhism and established vedic religion. The downfall of Jainism and Buddhism was mainly due to the combined effort of kumArila bhaTTa, udayanAchArya, and Adi Shankara. Buddhists had three main logical oppositions to SD.

1. Non-acceptance of veda-s (rituals).
2. Non acceptance of Ishvara
3. Non-acceptance of vedAnta, the philosophical part by establishing Sunya vAda (AtmAn is a blank, zero state)

The glory of vedic rituals was re-established by kumArila bhaTTa, a mimAmsaka or karma kANDin, who is considered as an avatAra of skanda bhagavAn

Existence of Ishvara by logical way was re-established by an adept in tarka, udayanAcArya, who by logical reasoning established the existence of Ishvara

The final purport of vedAnta, which is Self- Realization and that brahman is the substratum of entire universe and is not a Sunya avasthA, a blank, zero state, was established by Adi SankarAcArya.

On the other hand, the second avatAra of skanda bhagavAn, one of the great 63 nAyanAra saints, had many debates with Prominent jain AcArya-s, who too were very strong and even had great spiritual powers, refuted their objections and defeated them in debates thereby stopping conversion and re-establishing the glory of bhagavAn Siva. Under his influence, Siva bhakti spread far and wide in South India.

The six Angas are 

  • sikshA (Phonetics); Concerned with pronunciation
  • vyAkaraNa (grammar); Learn in accordance with rules of grammar like in pANiNi sUtra.
  • nirukta (lexicon, etymology); splits sanskrit word and gives deep meaning. 
  • kalpa (manual of rituals); Application of mantras in rituals, size of yajna kund / havan kund
  • Chandas (prosody); singing in a particular tone.
  • jyotiSha (astronomy-astrology). Perform any ritual or begin any work in auspicious time.
Their place in veda purusha is:
  • sikshA is the nose of the vedapurusa, 
  • vyAkaraNa his mouth, 
  • kalpa his hand,
  • nirukta his ear, 
  • Chandas his foot and 
  • jyotiSha his eye. 

To know the reason for each ssAstra being identified with a part of the body, each anga has to be individually studied.

A brAhmin is expected be acquainted with all anga-s. That he must be well- versed in the veda-s goes without saying. He must first learn to chant them and proficiency in the six Angas will later help him to gain insights into their meaning. For todays age, learning all four vedas is difficult, so only one shakhA (a part) of one veda is expected to be learned and memorized.

Four Up-angas are -

mimAmsA, nyAya, purAna and dharmashAstra

mimAmsA could be defined as, to perform rites and rituals according to the injunctions laid in veda-s. People following mimAmsA (pUrva mimAmsA) believe that veda-s are supreme authority. Veda-s themselves give fruits of actions. There is no concept of God in mimAmsA.

11.2. nyAna and vaiSeshikhA

nyAya means logic. People following nyAya believe in Ishvara. They are philosophically oriented and do not find any need to directly experience God. nyAya is important but dry philosophy and adherents of nAya do not find any need to mediate in order to realize shAstra-s.

Further notes for interested readers (can be skipped):

An extension of nyAya is vaisheshikhA developed by maharShi kaNNaDa. vaisheshikhA takes the enquiry further from where nyAya left it. It is the nyAya school that Adi Sankara and later on AcArya SrI harSha attacked in their commentaries. Adi Sankara refuted some of it's concepts stating that nyAya though useful is not end of road. There is need of meditation and the knowledge of Brahman by direct experience is necessary for liberation. SrI harsha attacked the basic concepts of nyAya school including who deserve to take part in debate in his khanDAn-khaNDa-khAdya. This led to the entire collapse of nyAya system until a Gangesha Upadhyay revived it by establishing navya-nyAya (new school of nyAya). All traditional AcArya-s who were actively involved in svamata vistAra and para mata bhanga i.e. expansion or spreading of own siddhAnta (principles) and refuting opponents siddhAnta were all adept in nyAya and later navya nyAya. Navya nyAya is now simply referred to as nyAya.

11.3. purANa-s

purANa-s describe about important events of glorious past which may not belong to the current eon. Unlike history which we learn in school, purANa-s aim to impart moral, religious and spiritual instructions. They convey the message of veda-s in a very friendly manner through stories, so that laymen can understand it.

Eighteen purANa-s are

viShNu  purANa
nAradiya  purANa
padma  purANa
garuDa  purANa
varAha  purANa
Srimad bhAgvata  purANa

brahmANDa  purANa
brahmavaivarta  purANa
mArkanDeya  purANa
bhavishya  purANa
vamana  purANa
brahmA  purANa

matsya  purANa
kUrma  purANa
linga  purANa
Siva  purANa
skanda  purANa
agni  purANa

11.4. dharma shAstra-s (Civil Laws)

dharma shAstra-s are created by great saints. They are called as smriti-s which means 'recollected from memory'. They are based on veda-s. In terms of authority, they are considered secondary to veda-s. dharma shAstra-s are called as 'law books'. They give moral and ethical code of conduct.

"smriti" is what is remembered. "vismriti" is insanity. Manu observes :"There is smriti for the Vedas in the form of notes. The sages who had a profound understanding of the veda-s have brought together the duties and rites (dharma and karma) mentioned in them in the form of notes and they constitute the smriti-s. They are written in a language that we can easily understand. Read them. They tell you about your duties in detail, the do's and don'ts, and how the rites are to be performed. "

We have seen that the sixth vedanga, kalpa, contains instructions about the vedic works. The grhyashAstra-s, dharmashAstra-s and SrautashAstra-s of kalpa deal with sacrifices and other rites. The smriti-s elaborate on them and contain detailed instructions with regard to the rite one has to perform through one's entire life. There are rituals to be conducted from the time of conception until death. The smriti-s also lay down the daily routine to be followed by all of us.

manu, parAshara, yjnavAlkya, gautama, harita, yama, viShNu, Sankha, likhita, brhaspati, daksa, angiras, pracetas, samvarta, acanas, atri, Apastamba and shatapata are the eighteen sages who mastered the Vedas with their superhuman power and derived smriti-s from them. Their works are known after them like manusmriti, yajnavAlkya-smriti, parAshara-smriti and so on, and they contain all that we need to know about all the dharma-s to be adhered to and all the rituals to be performed during our entire life.

Apart from these eighteen, there are eighteen subsidiary smriti-s called upasmriti-s. It is customary to include the bhagavadgItA among the smriti-s.

manu Smriti is most popular among intellectuals. Later comes Apastamba, gautam and yajnavAlkya smriti-s. parAshara smriti is considered to be suitable for kalayuga. What which is not covered by parAShara can be found in other smriti-s. In India, mitAksharI, a commentary on yajnavAlkya smriti was prevailing all over India. dayAbhAga, which is a digest of all smriti-s was prevailing in Bengal. 

11.4.1. Hindu dharma has the most flexible civil laws

The most practical part of parAshara smriti is that it says that old absolute law can be removed or replaced with a newer law. 5 brAhmin-s who are knowers of veda-s can form a council and create new law that is suitable at that time in the current circumstances.

Please find some quotes from parAshara smriti

paraAshara smriti (PS) which it says it is best suited for kaliyuga (PS 1.1-25) gives revelations like

1. Laws are made depending upon deSa, kAla and paristhiti (time, space and present circumstances. (PS 1.22)

2. You can practice as much as you can (no rigidity) (PS 1.33)

3. 5 knowers of SAstra-s (or even 3 incase of shortage) i.e. knowledge of 4 veda-s and 6 veda-anga-s can form a council and create new laws ( PS 8.6-13)

4. widow remarriage (PS 4.30): Even if husband has permanently abandoned, still women can marry.

5. Brahmins can accept food from Sudra-s (PS 11.13)

6. Sudra-s can trade (PS 2.13)

7. In the Krita sin is incurred by one who converses (with a sinner) ; in the Treta by one who touches (the sinful man) ; in the Dvapara by taking the sinner's food ; in the Kali by a (sinful) act (alone). (There is nothing like untouchability in kali yuga) --> Manu smriti was for Krita (satya) yuga. It cannot be followed completely. (PS 1.26)

11.5. Six Philosophical systems of India 

Orthodox systems are those which accept the authority of the Vedas, while the heterodox systems are those which reject it. To the latter group belong the three systems of Charvaka, Buddhism and Jainism.

The ‘shaddarshana-s’, or the six systems of Indian philosophy belong to the former group. These systems are called 

  1. Nyaya. 
  2. Vaisesika. 
  3. Samkhya. 
  4. Yoga. 
  5. Purva Mimamsa 
  6. Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta.
The nāstika (athiest) schools are (in chronological order) They reject vedas: 

Cārvāka – Believes only what can be perceived. Rational thinking. 

Jainism – offshoot of Hinduism, Independent system. Some say, actual Jain Dharma is thiest and talk about Brahman as Jina Tatva. 

Buddhism – off shoot of Hinduism, independent system. Does not accept vedas or God, theory of Shunya (zero), nihilism. 

They generally deal with four topics:

  • Existence and nature of Brahman 
  • Nature of the jiva or the individual soul 
  • Creation of the jagat or the world.
  • Moksha or liberation and the disciplines that lead to it.

12. yoga, haTha yoga, nAtha yoga, aghora, tantra and kriyA yoga

Let’s understand the basic difference between different types of yoga-s

12.1. yoga

The basic or classical text of yoga is ‘patanjali yoga sUtra’. There are other books like Siva sUtra-s, dattatraya sUtra-s. yoga is an ancient meditative technique however, wise say, it was maharShi patanjali who had complied basic principles of yoga into a systematic structure.

Many are of the opinion that the word ‘yoga’ means as some sort of physical exercise. However this definition is not true.

maharShi patanjali in his sUtra-s has defined yoga as ‘chitta-vritti-nirodha’. vritti means tendencies, behavior, or thoughts and desires. vritti is mental agitation that is caused while meditating.

The sUtra (aphorism) ‘chitta-vritti-nirodha’ means - yoga is to negate or remove tendencies of mind.
yoga also means ‘union’. Empirically it means meeting of two or more people or objects. Spiritually yoga means union of jIvAtmA (incarnated soul) and paramAtmA (The supreme consciousness, brahman). Merging of jIva in to paramAtmA results into enlightenment.

12.1.1. The path

Unlike popular belief that yoga includes practice of Asana-s (body postures), maharShi patanjali has not mentioned any Asana-s. Asana-s are found in manuals of haTha yoga. maharShi has just mentioned, ‘Sit in a posture that is comfortable’. yoga is control of mind and body via prANa (breathing) as, mind and breathing are connected. Later, mind is directly controlled. Any yogic process is not fully explained by books. They are to be learned only through an adept in yoga, a guru who has achieved mastery over mind. Still further, a yogi becomes aware of various subtle bodies and tatva-s. By tuning with them achieves mastery over them and then transcends them to rise above mAyA and merges in brahman resulting in enlightenment.

In this process, a yogi, according to the mental make-up and impressions of past lives achieves siddhi-s (super natural powers), maharShi patanjali cautions yogi-s against getting overwhelmed by siddhi-s as they cause hindrance to the spiritual progress.

Surrender to ISvara and having firm faith in him is also mentioned in yoga sUtra-s, though no particular form of Isvara is mentioned.

To a sAdhaka (meditator) this world is real, but for the siddha (Self Realised / God Realised), this world is unreal says patanjali in his sUtra P.Y.S. 2.22

Note: Here siddha means Atma siddha meaning God realised.

12.2. haTha yoga

haTha generally means ‘stubbornness’, here it means strict discipline. The most popular manual for haTha yoga is ‘haTha yoga pradipikA’. It is in haTha yoga that various Asana-s (body postures), bandha-s (blocking of subtle energy channels) and breathing patterns are mentioned. Though not compulsory, haTha yoga is generally taught to all neophyte yogi-s.

Asana-s and prANAyam-s help one’s body to become strong, healthy and disease free. It also helps cleanse nADI-s, activates chakra-s, cleanse subtle  bodies, mostly it is prANamaya kosha (energy body / aura). It makes body ‘ready’ for meditation.

But before practising meditation, certain kriyA-s are practised. These are breathing techniques to cleanse subtle bodies and cleansing of chakra-s by directing energies. After the body becomes sufficiently pure, and mind calms down and turns introvert, meditation on supreme brahman is practised. The ways might be bhakti marga, GYAna marga (philosophical enquiry or meditation on OM) or kuNDalini yoga i.e. activating kuNDalini shakti from mulAdhAra chakra and raising her to sahasrAra chakra via three main nADI-s, initially through iDa &  pingalA and later on through suShumNa. Subtle bodies, chakra-s, nADI-s and kuNDalini are explained later.

12.3. nAtha yoga, aghora yoga and tantra (Sakta, shakta)

nAtha yoga is an ancient yoga which was popularized by the great mahA siddha-s Guru maChChinder nAtha (also spelled as maChChindra nAtha, matsyendra nAtha) and his great disciple Guru gorakhanAtha (also known as gorakshanAtha). They are worshippers of Adi guru bhagavAn Siva.

The Legend, according to ShrI goraksha mahApurANa, a revered scripture of the order of nAth yogi-s which describes lives of 9 great nAtha-s of the tradition, says once Siv and Sakti were roaming and found one tAntrika chanting mantra-s that were formulated by Siva himself in a wrong way. Siva concluded that this tAntrika will be doomed. Adi Sakti, the compassionate mother blamed Siva for formulating such hard mantra-s and she said that Siva should give mantra-s in simpler form. Agreeing to Adi Sakti, Siva took form of aghori and went into the cave where tAntrika was chanting mantra-s in wrong way. He corrected him and gave him mantra-s in a simplified way. By chanting these mantra-s the tAntrika become a siddha and the first nAtha of the navanAtha sampradAya (‘nav’ means nine). These mantra-s came to be known a shAbara mantra-s.

Unfortunately, by the passage of time, due to selfish nature of human beings, these mantra-s were corrupted. Indians must have seen a fakir or a beggar who roams door-to-door with a dhoop (incense releasing lots of smoke) and waves peacock feathered broom chanting weird mantra-s. These are corrupted form of shAbara mantra-s. Originally, these mantra-s were used as an act of compassion by the siddha-s and nAtha yogi-s for the good of all. There are mantra-s to ward off evil effects, mantra-s for protection and well being of all, mantra-s for removing poison injected by scorpion bite (also found in atharva veda), and so on. Fortunately, there are some yogi-s who have protected the real mantra-s and are engaged in the spiritual quest for Self Realization. They rarely use these mantra-s, as they are not central part of yogic kriyA-s. Rightly, these true  nAtha yogi-s stay away from society and live in isolated places life jungles.

Guru gorakshanAtha had given to the world laya yoga, which is merging in brahman by tuning with the divine sound often heard in right ear like sound of damaru or flute. In general, it can be any mantra too. Mind merges (laya) into brahman by tracing the origin of these divine sounds. Sounds themselves establish yogi into samAdhi and thereby one realizes brahman (paramAtmA).

There are many works attributed to Guru goraksha nAtha / gorakh nAtha like gorakh bodh, gorakh shaTak but one of the most important work is siddha siddhAnta paddhati.

12.4. aghori-s

aghori-s are branch of nAtha yogi-s. They are worshippers of Siva. During course of time, many nAtha yogi-s began teaching yoga in their own way and in process they ended up creating their own sects. gorakhnAtha in order to distinguish themselves from other nAtha yogi-s made piercing ears compulsory as a distinguishing mark. nAtha yogi-s generally wear ear rings. Since their ears are pierced, they are called as ‘kan-phaTA yogi-s’ (Kanphata Yogis). ‘kan’ or ‘kAna’ means ear and phADanA means to tear or pierce. phaTA means torn or pierced. Hence kan-phaTA yogi-s would translate as ‘Yogis with pierced ears’.

Aghori-s do not pierce their ears. There are various sub-sects of aghori-s. They eat anything fresh or rotten, animal and human flesh, as they believe that, ‘nothing exists which is not Siva’. Hence there is nothing like ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘permissible’ and ‘forbidden’. aghori-s take this philosophy to extreme. For them, veg or non-veg is just a matter. A dead animal body and a dead human body are one and the same Whatever we eat, finally becomes blood. A person requires very strong mind to follow the path of aghori-s. They do not represent mainstream Hinduism and are not interested much in veda-s.  
aghora means that which is not ghora i.e. that which, lacks fear or that which is not terrific.  aghori-s are taught to detach themselves to the processes they do, especially those which are considered as taboo and by the grace of guru and Siva, they are themselves not affected by them. they are masters of energy and kuNDalini. A famous aghori kenArama was believed to have powers to controls 5 principle elements like air, water, fire, etc. They use their powers for good of humanity. However these sects are the most feared one by society and no one wishes to mess with them.

True aghori-s never does evil on others and are always immersed in meditation on Siva. True aghori-s are ‘inner scientists’.

12.4.1. nAgA sAdhu-s are not aghori-s

aghori-s are different than nAgA sAdhu-s. nAgA sAdhu-s follow traditional vedAnta. The difference is in their appearance. They smear themselves with ash as ash reminds that finally everything that they possess will ultimately turn to ashes. Ash is the final form of transformation and is considered to remain permanent i.e. ash has long life. It symbolises vairAGYa (dispassion), futility of worldly affairs, transient nature of body and world. Ash reminds one of death of body (temporary nature of human body) and also represents immortality. Ash is also favourite of Lord Siva and is considered as prasAda.

nAgA-s undergo intense meditations and practice haTha yoga. In addition to meditative disciplines, they also practice martial arts and were a part of rajput regiments for many years. SrI madhusudhan sarasvatI, a celebrated name in advaita vedAnta is said to have set up the order of nAgA sAdhu-s. They have their own guru (mahanta), who in turn believes in SankarAcArya-s. There are 13 divisions of nAgA sAdhu-s called as akhArA-s meaning, a place to learn combat skills and showcase them to the world.

12.5. tAntrika-s (Sakta-s)

While aghori-s and nAtha-s are worshippers of Siva, tAntrika-s are the worshippers of SAkti. They consider Adi Sakti as Brahman and all Gods and avatAra-s comes under her sway.

The most popular and also the most difficult tAntrika sAdhanA is ‘SrI vidyA upAsanA’. It is said that only a handful of people (around 12-14) in entire world, all living in India’ have full knowledge of SrI vidyA and SrI yantra. SvAmI brahmAnanda of jyotir maTha (also known as joShI maTha) is considered as an authority on SrI vidyA upAsanA.

12.6. Saivism - vedic and yogic (tAntrika, Agamic)

Saiva-s are the devotees who worship Siva as the Supreme Brahman.. There were many prominant Saiva (shaiva) saints form bhakta-s (nAyanAra-s, Nayanars) to vedic (SrikAntAcArya) to Agamic / tAntrika (Abhinavagupta of Kashmir Shaivism).

Though Saivism has it’s support in veda-s, most of the Saiva-s adhere to 28 Agama shAstra-s. There are independent works like thirumandiram and Kural. siddhAnta Saiva-s have extensively dependent upon Thirumandiram written by a great siddha, thirumulAra (Thirumoolar, Thirumular). The legend says he wrote one verse every 1 year when he descend from samAdhi only for one day during the whole year. Thirumandiram contains more than 3000 sUtra-s of yogic-devotional genre. Unlike patanjali’s yoga sUtra-s asks yogi to believe in ISvara, but does not specify the form of ISvara, Thirumandiram contains verses devoted to glorifying Siva.

Kashmir Shaivism of SrI Abhinavgupta (AG) is also called as kaula or trikA. AG has also written tantraloka, a mystical, cryptic texts containing more than 55000 verses suited for practising advanced tAntrika-s. AG has also written a commentary on it. This unique Acharya has given 3 different interpretations of same verse which are experienced by tAntrika-s and yogi-s who has raised their consciousness to that particular level. Only a practising tAnrika can actually understand tantraloka.

It was AB who had given the now popular symbolic interpretation of the battle of kurukshetra, mahAbhArata, in his gItA commentary ‘gItArtha samgrah’. Acharya has defined kurukshetra as ‘mind’, pANDava-s (Pandavs) as positive divine qualities and kaurava-s as negative qualities. It is the war inside every one of us.

Agama-s are called as tantra-s. There are Agama-s for Saiva-s, Sakta-s and vaiShNava-s. Though vaiShNava-s have adopted pure bhakti to reach the supreme Godhead, there are vaiShNava Agama-s which talk about chakra-s. Saiva-s and Sakta-s.

Conventionally,  Saiva-s though they adhere to Agama-s (tantra-s) ar esimply called as Saiva-s, Sakta-s ar called tAntrika and nAtha yogi-s are called as ‘nATha-s’.

12.7. kriyA yoga

kriyA yoga is an ancient yoga, revived by a deathless saint Mahavtar Babaji, an immortal yoga, who initiated some great yogi-s like Lahiri Mahashay, considered as ‘fountainhead of Kriya Yoga’. There are great yogi-s like Yukteshwar Giri Paramhansa Yogananda, Sanyal Mahashay,  Paramhansa Hariharananda and his disciple Paramhansa Prajnanananda (paramahansa praGYAnanda, परमंहन्स प्रज्ञानन्द).

12.7.1. ‘kri’ and ‘yA’

Generally kriyA is understood as ‘action’, but kriyA yogi-s explain the word kriyA as kri+yA as kri = action and yA = (indwelling) soul. yoga means ‘to unite’.

We, incarnated soul / jIva / jIvAtmA are separated from the Supreme Self (Cosmic Self / God / Brahman / paramAtmA) and trapped in the cycle of birth and death. Our journey, a jIvAtmA is to return back to the original source of our creation, paramAtmA.

Hence kriyA yoga could mean the journey of incarnated soul back to it’s source and merge in it.

Initially, mind is not prepared to meditate on the Supreme Self. Hence it must be purified. Breath, mind and body and interconnected. Breathing and physical heart are also connected. Calmer the breath, slower and rythmic is the pulse, faster and shorter the breath, faster is the pulse. Both heartbeat (and so pulse) and breath are with us from birth till death. But getting hold of heartbeat and controlling it is not very easy. Breathing is easy to feel and control. Hence in yoga, breathing exercises called as prANAyam and later on energy based kriyA-s are taught. They help yogi to calm mind and purity mind, gross and subtle bodies. Mind cannot stay without work. Hence kriyA-s help one to achieve concentration and purity. They directly do not lead a yogi to ultimate state. Until one gets sufficient purity to hear inner sound, or the cosmic divine sound OM and find the source or one can be aware of the entire yogic process like being aware of kuNDalini, chakra-s and subtle bodies and observing the whole working of this cluster of mind-body as a witness, one has to do kriyA-s. Later through the grace of God and Guru and through the power of discrimination, dispassion and ability to be a witness of everything that is going around, one can merge into paramAtmA. kriyA-s help cleanse and integrate bodies, synchronize them, remove blockages in subtle energy channels (nADI-s)  and chakra-s. Being witness and trying to find the source of breath, thoughts and the mantra OM, one can unite with paramAtmA. This is the common approach of yoga schools.

Here is the definition of the word kriya yoga given on website of Kriya Yoga

Kri and Ya

The word Yoga comes from the root yuj. It has 32 meanings in Sanskrit, but the most appropriate here is to unite. The union of the individual Self with the Cosmic Self, the child of God with God, the Father. Therefore, the body with the Soul is Yoga.
Kriya Yoga is a supreme science of Self-realisation. It is a scientific technique of action with constant God-consciousness, which ultimately leads to realisation - going beyond the body, mind, intellect, thought, and even the world, to Soul-consciousness.
To perceive the Soul in every breath, in every moment, in every action, in everything and every being is Kriya Yoga. By the practice of Kriya Yoga meditation, one aspires to lead a life of divine consciousness, which ultimately brings love, purity and joy.

“You are to reach God in two steps, kri and ya.
Remain concentrated at the top and observe your own work from morning till you go to bed”
  • Paramahamsa Hariharananda

"Meditation is the silent art of withdrawing yourself into the source of life. It is as if your body is completely burnt to ashes. Meditation is going beyond mind, thoughts, ego and body sense; it is going to the supreme state, the formless state.”
        - Paramahamsa Hariharananda

12.8. Difference between nAtha yoga and kriyA yoga

The difference between nAtha yoga and kriyA yoga is that kriyA yoga is not a mantra sAdhanA. There are no various mantra-s taught to achieve various siddhi-s. siddhi-s come unexpected. In nAtha yoga, SAbara mantra-s are specifically aimed at achieving siddhi-s like ability to protect oneself from negative or malice effect of others thoughts or from Planetary Gods, ability to destroy enemies, protect against ghosts and ways to control them, mantra-s to help people prosper, mantra-s to spread peace and harmony to all, power to mesmerize, etc. These type of siddhi-s often obstruct spiritual path. Hence there is greater risk of falling. Learning these mantra-s may not be compulsory and only highly purified nAtha yogi-s use them for good of mankind, still the risk of being diverted from spiritual path remains.

In yoga and tantra, there are secret ways to enter into other worlds different types of heaven and hell and other higher spiritual worlds like meher loka, tapa loka, siddha loka, rishi loka, etc in their subtle bodies.

Great yogi-s achieve great siddhi-s and they can choose to use them for the benefit of mankind. In order to stay oneself focused on spiritual path, we have vedAnta and gItA (bhagavad gItA) which warns us against dangers of acquiring siddhi-s. vedAnta re-establishes a yogi-s focus on paramAtmA as the only goal of life.  

Note: rAja yoga is often understood to be another name of patanjali’s yoga. patanjali’s yoga is simply termed as yoga. rAja yoga, as mentioned by svAmI vivekAnanda is different than traditional patanjali yoga.

According to traditional scriptures, we have five subtle bodies. Lets have a brief overview of them.

13. Five bodies in sanAtana dharma

According to SD, we not only have physical body, but we have five bodies. In yogic life, they too are nourished along with physical body. Other 4 subtle bodies are of great importance. Bodies are called as kosha-s.

13.1. Subtle bodies

Five bodies (kosha-s are) annamaya kosha, prANamaya kosha, manomaya kosha, viGYAnamaya kosha and Anandamaya kosha.

  1. annamaya kosha - Physical gross body
  2. prANamaya kosha - Energy body or aura or bioplasmic body. This body is the bridge between annamaya kosha and manomaya kosha.
  3. manomaya kosha - mental body. Some modern energy based techniques have split manomaya kosha into astral body and mental body. Astral body is emotional body, handling emotions and mental body handles thoughts.
  4. viGYAnamaya kosha - Causal body. viGYAnamaya kosha has all the impressions of past lives. It is said that ego is situated in this body. While other bodies have their own life, this body does not die until the ignorance of duality and sense of individuality is destroyed. In other words until one attains moksha, this body is not destroyed.
  5. Anandamaya kosha - buddhi body or body of Bliss. Anandamaya kosha is the body of intuition. A person living in this body i.e conscious of this body lives in intuitions. There is no need to think before doing anything. Mind is so pure that it can tap into cosmic mind or universal consciousness.

Similarly, the five kosha-s are classified into three bodies.

  1. sthuLa sharira - physical gross body
  2. sukshma sharira - subtle body (energy body and manomaya kosha)
  3. kAraNa sharira - causal body (viGYAnamaya kosha and Anandamaya kosha)

‘kAraNa’ means ‘cause’. This body is identified with antakaraNa and it’s four sub-divisions, mana (mind), buddhi (intellect), ahaMkAra (ego, sense of individuality) and chitta (memory or recitation power). This body does not die until moksha.

Each body has it’s own chakra-s. Not much is being said about chakra-s in higher bodies like manomaya kosha, etc. However Our shAstra-s say that we have seven major chakra-s. In gItA BG 5.13 it is said ‘navadvAra’ ‘नवद्वार’ meaning nine doors. bhAgavat purANa (canto 4, chapters 25-29) also describes city of nine gates. There is also description of nine doors in Guru Granth Sahib. There is also the mention of tenth door. A great yogi, a mahAsiddha, guru gorakshanAtha has described that there are nine chakra-s. If we take these doors in physical body then they are - 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils, 1 mouth, 1 anus, 1 genital. However, if we take literally take it beyond physical body, then we can count on nine chakra-s.    

13.2. chakra-s

Seven chakra-s are
  1. mUlAdhAra chakra - root chakra or base chakra or basic chakra
  2. svAdhiSthAna chakra - sacral chakra
  3. manipura chakra - navel chakra
  4. anAhata chakra - heart chakra
  5. vishuddhi chakra - throat chakra
  6. AGYA chakra - 3rd eye, chakra of will power (sometimes spelled as ajna chakra)
  7. sahasrAra chakra - crown chakra

guru gorakshanAth in siddha siddhAnta paddhati mentions two more chakra-s:

8. tAlu chakra - Palette chakra (from where nectar flows)
9. AkAsha chakra - Inverted crown chakra (one chakra faces upwards and another (sahasrAra downwards)

For detailed explanation about chakra-s please visit here

Since only nine are described does not mean that chakra-s are limited to just nine in number. Some texts mentions number of chakra-s to be 10, 12 or even 13. Traditionally only seven are given importance and are considered as ‘major chakra-s’. Others are considered as minor chakra-s. Each body part like eyes, ears, glands like thymus gland, pancreas, etc have their own energy counterpart and a minor chakra. There are chakra-s in palm, sole (foot) and in fingers, but their size is smaller than major one. Since this science is very complicated and one needs to practice any kind of energy based meditative technique in presence of a master yogi, many things are kept private.

13.3. kuNDAlini, nADI-s and brahmaDanDa

kuNDalini shakti, nADI-s and brahmaDANDa are of great importance to yogi-s. yoga is very practical and meditative approach or control and master the mind and other subtle bodies so as to rise above them and unite with Siva (brahman). Lets discuss them in brief.

For better understanding, a picture will be helpful.


13.3.1. kuNDalini shakti

yogi-s texts and yoga upanishads talks of kuNDalini shakti. It is located near the base of spine. Some say it is in the form of inverted triangle. yogi-s, specially those following tantra-s (energy based techniques) activate kuNDalini shakti and rise her until she touches sahasrahAra chakra (crown chakra).  Of course, prior to activating and raising kunDalini prANamaya kosha and chakra-s are needed to be cleansed. Hence this process must be practised under the guidance of a master yogi.

kuNDalini shakti is highly revered. She is not just a shakti, but a devi. Yogi-s reverse her as mother, Adi shakti. She is associated with uMA, or pArvatI devI, the spiritual consort of bhagavAn Siva. Siva is situated at the crown. Hence a yogis process is to merge or unite shakti with Siva. Merging of Siva and shakti results in enlightenment.

13.3.2. nADI-s

According to uttara gItA and Siva gItA, we have 72000 nADI-s. jIvAtmA or soul which resides in heart (chakra) spreads the consciousness through 72000 nADI-s. Since prANamaya kosha (energy body) is connected with annamaya kosha (energy body), jIva becomes aware of physical body through them.

Out of 72000, 3 are considered as most important. They are iDA, pingalA and suShumNA nADI. iDA and pigalA are located in the center of energy body in the spine and start from kuNDAlini shakti, they touch sahasrahAra chakra and end in two nostrils. suShumNA goes straight to sahasrahAra chakra. iDA and pingalA either spiral suShumNA or go parallel with suShumNA or are in the form of a bow i.e. curved bulging in center and converging at the two ends. Three different shapes of iDA and pingalA are found in yoga upanishad-s. They are related to the mental make-up of a person. It does not matter which form you see, seeing, feeling and experiencing them indicates a certain level of spiritual development. Such visions are taken as signs of spiritual progress.

13.3.3. brahmaDaNDa / meruDaNDa

When kuNDAlini is fully activated and reaches sahasrahAra, most yogi-s see the whole spine as a tube of bright light. This passage is called as brahmaDaNDa or meruDaNDa. Though physical spine is not straight, it is curved, yogi-s see only energy counterpart of spine. Generally energy counterpart found in energy body (prANamaya kosha) has similar shape as that of physical organ. However in case of passage of kuNDalini, which is said to rise through spine, I have not heard of any yogi having the vision of spine as having curved shape. It looks like a tube light filled with brilliant white light. As said earlier, these visions are taken as signs of spiritual progress. Hence difference in shape, form, colour, shade, type of energy are not taken too seriously.

13.4. Gauging spiritual progress

As a yogi or any spiritual aspirant progresses in spirituality, his / her prANamaya kosha it’s chakra-s and other subtle bodies also expand in size.  The spiritual progress of a person is gauged by the activation of chakra-s, their size and the type of energy one has. As sattva guNa increases, the energies become very subtle and soft. Advanced meditator has a constant feeling of bliss and peace. Since bodies develop, subsequent change in nature is seen in yogi which a yogi himself may not be aware of as the change is so natural and smooth than one hardly recognizes when and how one has changed. One can only notice the ‘change’ but not the way in which he has changed. sAttvika (divine, spiritual) qualities like calmness, peace, feeling of bliss (happiness), humility are reflected on a yogi-s face, his actions, his deeds and form his body language. Similarly, not being aware of body conscious is also reflected in eyes as seen in case of Sri Ramana Maharshi.

ramana maharshi bust

14. Why are there different mantra-s for different people?

One gets fruits (of actions) in proportion to the strength of bhakti (devotion) and samarpaNa (surrender). What matters is the intention behind chanting God's name.

Each mantra is a vibration (as sound has vibrations). Our subtle bodies, chakras and our mind, chitta, etc also has vibrations. We have a definite personality.

When one's basic nature tunes with the character of any form of Lord, one finds it easy to surrender to him and chant his name. The mantra is so formulated that it’s vibrations will also tune into the vibrations of subtle bodies and chakras and cleanse them.

Just like we have a liking for some food and dislike of other food does not mean that what you like is the best food and rest is not. We can say that certain type of food is suitable to us. In the same way certain vibrations attract you. Have you noticed that when you are standing near a stranger, at times you feel that you are not comfortable in his/ her presence. Sometimes, we become friends in the very first meeting. It’s all due to vibrations. If the vibrations are not of similar frequency, then you might not feel comfortable with him / her. Your thoughts might not align with him / her.

In the same way, a certain mantra is more effective on one person and lesser effect on another.

OM mamo bhagavate vAsudevAya is considered as bIja (beej) mantra (corrections welcome) and so it is powerful than a purANika mantra like ShrI kRuShNa sharaNam mama. But some get more joy in chanting krishna's mantra than vasudeva's. It is because the vibrations of these mantra tune with our vibrations of our subtle bodies and chakra-s

In the same way, some experience great joy in chanting 'ShrI rAma, jaya rAma jaya jaya rAma' while 'OM ShrI rAma chandrAya namaH' is considered as more potent as it corrects one with heart. It is bija mantra.

OM increases potency of any mantra and hence most mantra-s have OM in the beginning. Some also prefer to close or end any mantra by chanting OM, but kRShNa’s mantra (ShrI kRuShNa sharaNam mama) does not have OM in it (atleast not the present version, which is chanted by most).

So it all depends what suits you.

But bIja mantras are technically more potent than other mantras or puranic mantras.

15. How Hinduism covers people of all types of temperament?

sanAtana dharma says that there is only one reality of non-dual nature. This supreme reality is called as brahman. However, unlike Abrahamic religions, SD offers many paths that lead to one reality. One can be one with brahman via the path of yoga, bhakti or GYAna. There are many ways to purify our mind. It can be by vedic chanting, singing bhajans, glories of God, stuti-s, stavan-s, haTha yoga, serving saints and guru to name a few. To add to this, one God, brahman, can take any form for the benefit of devotee. Each form of God be it rAma, kRuShNa or Siva have a definite character, perform miracles, and there are many devotional songs and mantra-s dedicated to them. It is left to the liking of an individual to select a form of God of his / her choice. As explained earlier, the character and vibrations of mantra should tune in with the vibrations of energy bodies.

Path of bhakti is better suited to person of emotional temperament, while a path of GYAna to a person having a bend towards logical reasoning who have attained sufficient inner purity. The path of yoga is for those who like to have control over each situation. yoga is mastery over mind and senses. The path of karma is for inner cleansing.

The three paths in brief are
  1. bhakti (emotional temperament)
  2. GYana (logical reasoning)
  3. yoga (trying to control situations and every aspect of life)

Path of karma is for chitta shuddi.

After understanding Hinduism in Brief, lets understand why Hinduism is the most systematically organized religion.

16. How is Hinduism the most systematically organized Religion?

As said earlier, Hinduism covers all walks of life.

There are different types of collections of Hindu Scriptures that are written in a different way or different purposes. Accordingly they are called as a SAstra, sUtra, siddhAnta or samhitA.

SAstra is that covers all aspect of life, it is the word of God.
sUtra or aphorism is that which means to explain anything in the most precise and shortest way.
siddhAnta is generally a rule or a principle or an established theory.
samhitA is any methodically arranged collection of established texts or verses

We will try to briefly understand in what way Hinduism covers all aspects of life.

  • veda-s – Topmost Authority covering mantras and where to chant a particular mantra or personal and universal well being.
  • vedAnta (upanishads) – Philosophical Part of veda-s unfolding the highest truth.
  • bhagavad gItA and other gItA-s independent and from purANas- and itihAsa
  • brahma sUtra – Topmost canonical text clearing contradictions, refuting multiple views and establishing truth (This texts is to be studied last after studing Gita and Upanishads)
  • itihAsa (history) – rAmAyaNa and mahAbhArata
  • purANa-s – Speaking of God in a friendly way through stories
  • yoga – control of mind, body and breath. Texts like patangali yoga sUtra, thirumandiram, etc – for meditatative purposes
  • dharma smriti-s – civil codes
  • nATya SAstra – Doctrine of Drama and Acting
  • nritya SAstra like bhArata NATyam, and other dance forms
  • niti SAstra-s – vidur niti, chANakya niti
  • haTha yoga – haTha pradipikA, gerANDa samhitA
  • yaska's nirukta – splitting of sanskrits words and giving multiple meaning
  • amarkoSa – sanskrit dictionary
  • pANiNi's aShTAdhyAyi – sanskrit grammar
  • patanjali mahAbhASya – commentary on pAnini's  aShTAdhyAyi further explaining sanskrit grammar
  • grihya sUtra-s – describing day-2-day activities of house holders
  • vAstu SAstra – Art of house and temple building, city planning
  • Silpa SAstra for idol making and temple construction.
  • jyotiSa SAstra-s – Texts on Astrology like brighu samhitA and rAvaNa samhitA
  • paulisa siddhAnta, surya siddhanta, arya siddhAnta of Arya bhaTTa and others for Astronomy
  • ank SAstra – Science of Mathematics, mystery of numbers
  • nyAya and tarka SAstra – School of Logic
  • chAyA SiddhAnta – Problem solving through the science of shadow
  • tantra – external, internal and mixed for of worship of God, related to awakening of kuNDalini and activation of chakra-s and other subtle bodies.
  • vimAnika SAstra – science of aeronautics.

The Taboo

  • kAmaSAstra - vAtsyAyana's kAmasUtra and nandi's kAmaSAstra – study of sexual behaviour. Contrary to popular belief, it's not 'sex manual' and has spiritual elements.

  • VamachAri mArg - Left Hand Paths which are generally considered as taboo by common man crossing the human and civil limits, moral and ethical codes and do what is prohibited and still get enlightenment. KamasUtra is not a manual of tAntrika sex.

An e.g. is aghori sAdhu-s. They are masters of energies and subtle bodies and do not consider anything as unholy as Siva is present in everything and is everywhere. Nothing exists that is not Siva.

Other paths which are corrupted from pure paths are secret techniques invoking ghosts, and Gods invisible power either for personal gain or for destructive purpose.

latA sAdhanA-s found in 64 bhairava tantra-s are connected with spiritual gains via sexual pleasures. They are rejected even by Saiva-s, sects worshipping Lord Siva as supreme, probably due to being born as a result of corrupted understanding of tantra.

  • tantra-s were designed so that men and women of all varNa and jAti can practise them. There is no restriction to anyone as far as practising them it concerned. Only advice is to learn them under the guidance and care of an enlightenmed Guru or a well veresed AcArya.

  • Lokayata / brihaspatya / cArvAka of prajApati daksha – An athiest docrtine supposedly founded by prajApati daksha of athiest nature which emphasizes on materialism. CarvAka-s consider lust as the cause of creation. According to pancAdaSi and sarvadarSana samgrah of SrI vidyAraNya svAmI, there were two types of cArvAka-s – (1) those who thinks Atman (Self or 'I') is physical gross body and (2), those believing that jIva is 'I' or Self or Atman.

Four upa-veda-s (sub veda-s or secondary veda-s)

  • Artha Sastra – kauTilya's artha Sastra for Financial management
  • dhanurveda – martial arts and art of war planning using different forms like cronch vyuh, chakra vyuh
  • Ayurveda – Science of medicine e.g. charaka samhitA, dhanvantari samhitA, Sushruta samhitA (plastic surgery). It is said that there was also blood transmutation in Ancient Indian technique.
  • gandharva veda – Science and art of singing and music. Music originated from sAma veda (sargam – sA, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni)

  • Oral traditions – many things not covered for changed according to the demographics and local culture

  • Independent compositions – poetic, prakaraNa grantha-s and related to and complimenting upanishads, bhakti sUtra-s like nArada and SanDilya bhakti sUtra-s are highly revered.

  • Advances in Engineering – non-rusting Iron pillar in Delhi calle viShNu stambha (Qutub Minar) was an astronomical observatory. Zinc distillation was carried out in India in Ancient days which no other country could replicate it at that time.

From the above we can conclude that Hinduism is a religion which covers all major walks of life and is the most organized religion.

17. Religious Tolerance

The very existence of  various philosophical schools of thoughts in vedic times and in post-vedic period independent religions sprung out from SD, we can understand that Hindus by nature are very tolerant people and lived in harmony with those adhering to opposite siddhAnta. Though history suggests that there was blood shed in the name of religion, it was mostly between vaiShNava-s, advaitins and shaiva-s. Still this was very area specific and an entire nation cannot be blamed for this. Religious intolerance was not India's culture and Hindus do not believe in the spreading their religion by deceitful manner, by way of sword or by accusing non-believers of their siddhAnta of being possessed by demons. Hindus would argue and win battles on philosophical grounds and this was restricted to the intellectual class and not a mass movement.

As described earlier, there are many systems within the SD which have different and rather contrasting philosophies. All hindu-s live in harmony.

nAth yogi-s do not adhere to varNa dharma. They teach yoga to all. baSeSvara concentrated on Saiva Agama-s and worshipped Siva. He worked for the downtrodden and spread the glories of Siva.

Other religions like Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism are also tolerated though there might be philosophical differences and this respect is mutual as we all share common land and common culture.

17.1. Tolerance and acceptance of other religions

Due to multiple philosophies (siddhAnta-s nad ways life life practiced by Hindu-s, we have inherent quality of revering all religions which are not of Indian origin.

The main reason liberal views are

  1. No belief in One God One Book
  2. Not adhering to a view that salvation is possible through only one messenger of God who is a historical person.
  3. Yogic approach to gauge spiritual progress
  4. Viewing other religions to the lens of ‘Hinduism’
  5. Rig vedic Hymn RV 1.89.1 “A no bhadrAH kratavo yantu vishvataH: (meaning: Let noble thoughts flow from all directions)
  6. Rig Vedic hymn RV 1.164.46 "ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti" (meaning Truth is one, but the learned refer to it in different names).

17.1.1. No belief in One God One Book

In general, Hindu-s do not denigrate deities of other religions and do not believe in one God, One Book philosophy, which is the main reason for being liberal.

17.1.2. Not adhering to a view that salvation is possible through only one messenger of God who is a historical person.

Hindu-s also do not believe that one can get freedom only through Jesus or Muhammad, though we believe that for moksha, one must have a guru which can be said to be a messenger of God. Jesus was messenger of God, but not the only one.

17.1.3. Yogic approach to gauge spiritual progress

In addition to this, the yogic way of thinking is another way to believe that all paths lead to one destination. Spiritual progress of a person is guages through the development of chakra-s and other subtle bodies. Great saints have noted that people of other religion are also spiritually developed than laymen or a non-practising person.

17.1.4. Viewing other religions to the lens of ‘Hinduism’

Another approach is to see other religions including Abrahamic with the lens of ‘Hinduism’. We read lot of Hindu Scriptures. Repeated reading and practising makes a foundation of ‘way of thinking’. Though Hindu-s revere non-Hindu messengers of God, the respect has to be mutual. It is also important know the philosophies of other religion from their POV. i.e. to know how they interpret their scriptures and what are their beliefs about their and our religion.

An example is the belief of Christians that ‘All Humans are born Sinners’. It is believed that human race originated from Adam and Eve. Since they sinned, God cursed them and the cursed is passed on to each and every human being. Hence we are all born sinners. Based on this logic, only the one who is not a born sinner can liberate a sinner. One sinner cannot liberate another sinner. It is their belief that Jesus Christ is born out of virgin (Mother Mary). God himself has send his own part to this world for the salvation of mankind through Mother Mary. Since Mother Mary didn't begot Jesus through another human, but was a blessing of God himself, hence Jesus is not a born sinner.  Hence only he can liberate souls and ascend us to heaven to enjoy the company of God. Hence Christians must have in Jesus christ. Virgin Birth was a necessity for Jesus Christ. The whole logic gave rise to ‘Christian Good News’

Hindu-s SAstra-s have a different view. We are not born sinners. We are originally divine, but the soul has forgotten it’s divinity. Heaven is not the ultimate goal of human life, it is Self Realization. Self Realization is possible in this life itself. Due to this fundamental difference, we do not believe in what they believe, hence Christian Good News is not applicable to us, nor do we have to pledge our belief in only one saviour, Jesus Christ. It is upto individual to respect him as a holy saint and the messenger of God, but Jesus, according to the Hindu-s is not the only messenger of God.

17.1.5. Let noble thoughts flow from all directions - RV 1.89.1

आ नो भद्राः करतवो कष्यन्तु विश्वतो.अदब्धासो अपरीतास उद्भिदः |
देवा नो यथा सदमिद वर्धे असन्नप्रायुवो रक्षितारो दिवे-दिवे ||

ā no bhadrāḥ kratavo kṣyantu viśvato.adabdhāso aparītāsa udbhidaḥ |
devā no yathā sadamid vṛdhe asannaprāyuvo rakṣitāro dive-dive ||

[-00189] HYMN LXXXIX. Visvedevas.

1. MAY powers (thoughts / intelligence) auspicious come to us from every side, never deceived, unhindered, and victorious,
That the Gods ever may be with us for our gain, our guardians day by day unceasing in their care

In veda-s, each hymn is dedicated to devatA (God). This hymn is dedicated to visvedeva-s, which are 33 in number.

This hymn conveys the meaning that all we should accept all thoughts. This indicates that we accept good thoughts and logic even from enemies.

Classic example is found in rAmAyaNa where bhagavAn rAma asks his brother laxmaNa to learn niti SAstra at the feet of dying rAvaNa. ravaNa goes on to teach niti SAstra after laxmaNa on second attempt approaches rAvaNa with humility as a disciple. rAvaNa’s Siva tANDava stotra is accepted by bhagavAn Siva himself and is still sung reverentially by devout Hindu-s as a great piece of devotional composition. rAvaNa’s other works like rAvaNa samhitA, a treatise on astrology is considered as text book on Indian Astrology along with other popular compositions like brighu samhitA.

Medieval example is the popularity of Lord Buddha and Mahavira. We have philosophical differences with them, but we admire them for their exemplary character. Buddhists revere and even worship guru gorakhnAtha and guru matsyendranAtha as mahAsiddha-s. Hindu-s revere Sikh 10 gurus and Guru Tek-bahAdur Singh for his extraordinary contribution to save Hindu-s from the wrath of Muslims of Kashmir. The famous joke on sardAr jI-s that it’s 12 O Clock indicating that they go dumb on seeing only one hand of clock (as both minute and hour overlap) is a cheap joke on their valour and sacrifice.  Sikhs are also known to save Hindu and other children and women who were taken as prisoners by Muslims by attacking them at midnight. It was their slogan that sardAri jI (meaning leader), it’s 12 O Clock (i.e. mid-night), lets attack Muslims and free our (Hindu) children and women. Every Hindu should be grateful to them.  

Even though there were differences of opinion and philosophical differences on subtle topic like nature of God and soul and this world, still we all were united culturally. This was and is the strength of religious tolerance.

17.1.6. Misinterpretation of ‘All paths lead to same truth’ RV 1.164.46

Indram mitram varuNam agnim ãhuh,
atho divyah sa suparNo garutmãn,
ekam sad viprãh bahudhã vadanti,
agnim yamam mãtari’švãnam ãhuh.

[01-164] HYMN CLXIV. Visvedevas.
(They hail Him as Indra, as Mitra, as VaruNa, as Agni, also as that divine and noble-winged Garutmãn. It is of One Existence that the wise ones speak in diverse ways, whether as Agni, or as Yama, or as Mãtari’švãn.)

This hymn too is dedicated to visvedeva-s. Hence this hymn should not be taken out of context and applied to ALL religion including those which are not of Hindu origin. As we have seen that Abrahamic faiths have fundamental differences with SD such extrapolation is misleading in pure philosophical grounds. The gods mentioned in the veda-s are nothing but expansion or manifestation of the supreme brahman for carrying out a particular work. indradeva is also eulogized as brahman. Sometimes sUryadeva is considered as brahman. Supreme brahman is pointed out through different names. The names of Gods like varuNa agni, etc are mentioned in veda-s.

It was Swami Vivekananda, who made this verse popular indicating unity of all religions and the popular modern concept of ‘all religions are true, equal and lead to same destination’ which ofcourse is not true. The reason for saying this appears to be socio-political than religion. Swami Vivekananda wanted the youth to be united, as they would play crucial role in India’s freedom struggle. This statement was for cultural unity of all Indians so that intra-religious and inter-religious fights are kept aside and all Indians unite for a common cause. It worked well for him and we got our freedom.

From philosophical POV (i.e. siddhAnta POV), there are a lot of differences even in religions of Indian origin.

  1. Hindu-s following Adi SankarAcArya jI believe that brahman is formless and attributeless and permanently abiding in this natural state is the final ultimate goal of life. This state is possible in this life itself and one can retain physical body even after abiding in this ultimate state. Incarnated soul and brahman are one and the same. Others believe in staying in vaikunTha, an adobe of viShNu permanently. vaikunTha is different from heaven (svarga, devaloka). General belief is that Brahman is both with and without form.
  2. Buddhists believe that the final state is SUnya i.e. zero state, the state of nothingness.
  3. Both Buddhists and Jains believe in existence of demi-gods but not in supreme Godhead
  4. Muslims believe that the final goal is to stay permanently in heaven (jannat) in the company of 72 virgins with big breasts (some say, 72 angels). It is unclear (to the author) that they want to stay in company of Allah (Supreme Godhead) or be in company of 72 virgins.
  5. Christians, though they claim God to be formless, say Jesus Christ sits on right side of God and they want to enjoy the company of God, enjoy his intimacy and enjoy the pleasures of heaven.
  6. Both Christians and Muslims believe that there is no salvation except to pledge support in their prophets and accepting God / Allah as the Supreme Godhead.
  7. Jews too believe that only they will get salvation as they are special people selected by Yahvah (Yahweh) and so they do not convert anyone as they are not selected by Yahvah.

How can these religions, who have differ in final position of jIva (incarnated soul) w.r.t to ISvara (God) be all the same?
The nature of Supreme Godhead is different for different religions

  1. Muslim Godhead Allah hates non-believers (kafirs) and considers pig as ugly (filthy) creature. Allah only likes Muslims (believers).
  2. Christian Godhead (God) is formless but one cannot get salvation except through Jesus Christ. Christian God is a Jealous God. Jealous means not allowing worship any other God or to take partake food offered to other God.
  3. Hindu-s consider that Godhead is both with form and without form. Whatever is offered to any form of God finally reaches the formless. It is infact an offering to infinite Brahman only.

and so on.

The nature of jIva is also not same in all religions. Islam believes that jIva has personality, Male and Female, as only males would enjoy the company of 72 virgins with big breasts. Hindu-s do not believe that soul has a gender. It is a form of energy. Major difference is belief in reincarnation of jIva until it manages to break free from cycle of birth and death.

Even if we take liberal stand, the respect has to be mutual. It cannot be one way traffic. It is a general consensus that you get respect in proportion you give.

Hence the phrase often quoted ‘ekam sat viprA bahudA vadanti’, translated as ‘God is one, wise call it by different names’ is

  • Not true either from philosophical POV
  • Nor the nature of Godhead is same in all religions.
  • Final destination of incarnated soul and his / her eternal life is not same for all religions.
  • Nature of soul is also not same.

18. Two ways to live a life: Path of Action and Path of Renunciation

bhagavAn in gItA (BG 3.3) says that there are two ways of living a dhArmic life, path of action and path of knowledge i.e. path of renunciation.

In path of action, yogi-s perform action of selflessly without expecting fruits of action or surrender actions and their fruits to ISvara and attain inner purity. In path of renunciation, one does physical work as much as necessary to sustain body. They work with the knowledge of detachment i.e. they separate themselves from the actions and their fruits and from everything that is not ‘I’. GYAna yogi-s try to detach themselves from what is not ‘I’ and in this way they live a detached life.

Out of the two, from laymen, path of action is best suited.

19. Idol Worship and Beyond - Why Idol Worship?

‘Hindu-s worship Idol’ or ‘Hindu-s are idol worshipper’ is the most common opinion. However this opinion is a result of incomplete knowledge about Hindu dharma which is so different from other religions especially those not born in India. The truth is no Hindu ever worships any idol. Idol is not God. There are two common procedures that are easily noticeable in so-called idol worship

  1. prANa prathisThA
  2. closing of eyes while praying and bowing to any Idol

Lets understand what these means

19.1. prANa prathisThA

prANa pratisThA is the first ritual that has to be done before any idol can be worshipped. In this ritual, God which is formless, is invoked to be present in the idol and manifest his blessings on devotees through this idols. An idol is like a postman who is the ‘middleman’ between sender and receiver. A guru plays the same role. Since not all are fortunate to have a guru who can guide you, hence temples are created where devotees can gather and pray to God directly through an idol which represents him / her.

19.2. Closing of eyes while praying and bowing to any idol

We must have observed that after devotees offer their salutations to God, they bow down and close their eyes when they are in front of idol. The question arises - Why would you close your eyes when the very purpose you have come to temple is to have darshan of your beloved God? Meaning of darshan is generally taken as ‘to see’, however darshana in deeper sense means ‘to know’. Eyes represent all five senses (eyes, ears, etc). Hence closing of eyes symbolically means to pull back all senses or to disconnect any external stimuli and see within. bhagavAn in gItA BG 18.61 says, ‘I am in your heart’ meaning that though ISvara is omnipresent and is present everywhere, the degree of manifestation is more in heart. Hear heart is not the physical heart. It is either taken as anAhat chakra or heart could mean ‘core’, ‘center’, ‘source’. Hence this practice is an advise to look ‘within’.

There are more reasons for worshipping idol. Mind is habituated of seeing names and form. EAch form has a name and vice versa. It is difficult to visualize an abstract God who is formless and present everywhere. How can mind visualize it? It is much easier to focus on a particular object. Hence idol is preferred.

Each form of God has his / her unique character. God performs deeds that no human being can replicate. They have various devotional hymns, compositions and mantra-s dedicated to them. bhagavAn in gIta says, ‘leave all types of dharma (and adharma) and (unconditionally) surrender to Me, the Brahman’. The order is given but one cannot produce bhAva (spiritual emotion) and attachment towards God. Here too a form and character of God help.s purANa-s help create a character of God. When glorious divine deeds of krShNa or Siva are known through purANa-s and other works, an entire scene of created. For example, when krShNa is playing flute and all cows and other animals get attracted towards him, and a pleasant, divine atmosphere is created, mind constructs the whole scene and stays immersed in it. Concentration becomes natural when one has natural liking for a subject. Repeated reading of such divine stories, inspiring incidences of their life, their unparalleled divine deeds, and listening and singing infinite glories will make one stay immersed in God and increase devotion to the all mighty.

After devotee becomes inwardly pure so much so that now s/he losses interest in worldly activites, external objects and loved ones and heart longs only and only for God, then one can either shift to formless aspect of God or can continue to worship his/ her IshTa devatA (form of God of personal choice). Later a devotee unconditionally surrenders to God and does not ask anything in return but constant company of beloved God, then God takes control of his / her life and gives what is best for the devotee. God himself shows his / her true nature.

20. jivan mukti, a unique concept of Hindu dharma

The uniqueness of Hindu dharma is that after permanently abiding in the ‘natural state’, which is the supreme state of pure consciousness, the substratum of the universe, Brahman is not bound by laws of nature, is free to live or quit physical or subtle bodies. Such a blessed soul is called as jivan mukta. Now there is no need to meditate in order to enter into samAdhi and abide in this blissful state, one is already abiding in this state without making any effort. There is no need to read scriptures, nor any need to concentrate on any form of God. By the grace of almighty, such a blessed soul  is never detached from Brahman, sees everyone with an equal life, experiences constant bliss and deep peace. Such a rare soul, while still living in physical body has attained immortality. Such is the greatness of sanAtana dharma, the eternal religion. The goal is to attain immortality not by going somewhere but by abiding in the supreme state of consciousness. a jivan mukta has no longing for anything, not even for the vision of God, has a sense of completeness, lacks fear and looks to everyone with an equal eye without any discrimination of age, creed, gender or varNa, as s/he sees or experiences Brahman inside and outside everything. Each and everything is not different from brahman. But in such a state, teaching is this divine knowledge is not possible. Hence if God wishes to use such a blessed soul as his instrument, then God will lower his consciousness to a certain degree so that s/he may experience duality, but never allows the soul to detach from himself. jivan mukta is a perfect instrument through which God himself works for the upliftment of humanity, as there is no internal resistance to anything that God wishes to do through him / her. Such a blessed soul, a jivan mukta, never returns back to this impermanent world which of transient nature and is an abode of sorrows. (Ref BG 8.21, 8.23, 15.6). This means that the pure consciousness rises high and becomes one with brahman. Now this consciousness never falls back into delusion and never gets trapped in mAyA, the illusory creative energy of the Lord, but stays in the state of knowledge of True Self.

21. Women and sanAtana dharma

(Credits: Article 21.3 to 21.6 are contributed by Shri Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula of Mahapashupatastra Blog)

Unlike the unfortunate happenings in the recent era, women in ancient India used to enjoy equality with men and to be truthful, they used to enjoy higher reverence than men. With the invasions from other countries, under the ruler of Islamists and British; our sanātana-dharma suffered a lot of deterioration in terms of the decline of the morality, and change of social norms. In this paper (article related to women) we’ll see through the telescope of our religion and look at the other side i.e., the status of women of the ancient era.

21.1. Summary in Brief - Women and sanAtana dharma

Paper on women, published here is a lengthy 7 page article. Here we try to give the summary in brief for those who do not wish to read the entire article

  • Women are not supposed to learn authentic chanting of veda-s as learning veda-s is a full time job.
  • No restriction to learn sanskrit, grammar, yoga, tantra, civil laws (dharma smriti-s), philosophical contents of veda-s (upanishads) and any other form of art.
  • Women are considered as ansha (part) of Adi shakti / durgA mAtA / laxmi mAtA and hence a sign of prosperity.
  • Our culture does not teach us to cast off women as useless stuff and get rid of them as fast as possible. Daughter is very close to the heart of father. But at the time of marriage, father donates his daughter to his son-in-law. kanyA dAna is the highest form of donation that a householder can ever give.
  • Mother is revered as equivalent to demi-god and hence she is worthy of being served.
  • Wife is called as dharma patni i.e. a life partner who accompanies you on the path of dharma. No yajna (vedic ritual) can be carried out without the presence of wife. Wife is not called as kAma patni i.e. a life partner just to satisfy carnal pleasure.
  • Wife and women in general play pivotal role in shaping child’s psychic and hence are indirectly responsible for moulding of society, state and country as a whole.
  • It is said that a pious women practising chastity can save her husband even from the clutches of death. She can rise her husband from hell to heaven by sheer power of chastity.
  • 50 % of pUNYa karma phala (merits) done by husband goes to wife, but wifes pUNya karma does not go to husband. Her satitva (one-pointed devotion to husband) protects her husband.
  • Wife is called as ‘gruhiNi’ i.e. queen of house, husband is just called as ‘grihastha’ i.e. householder.
  • Wife is devoted to husband, husband is devoted to his guru and guru is devoted to God. Hence technically there is no freedom for even husband. A husband is also bound by his commitments and responsibility towards his family including his wife.
  • A widow or a women whose husband has left her permanently can remarry says parAshara smriti.
  • Women, children and cows are never to be disrespected as parAshara smriti and manu smriti. The punishment or restrictions given in smriti-s are for those women who do not follow moral or ethical codes or are not loyal to husbands or have a criminal mindset. They are there just to caution them and not to oppress them. our dharma shAstra-s allow us to create new laws in place of old obsolete laws.

With this outline, lets go deeper into the article. Reference from upanishads and mahAbhArata are given.

21.2. Women and veda-s

As per tradition, women are not allowed to chant veda-s. The reason is chanting veda-s is a full time job.

To master one veda with authentic chanting requires 10 years of dedication, person mastering one veda is called as vaidya.

Knower of 1 veda = 10 years = vaidya
Knower of 2 veda-s = 20 years = dvivedi
Knower of 3 veda-s = 30 years = trivedi
Knower of 4 veda-s = 40 years = caturvedi

Hence women are relieved from protecting veda-s. Other than this there is no restriction on women. No yajna can commence without the presence of wife. Hence wife is expected to know what the yajna is all about, what is the procedure and materials required for performing yajna. Without knowing the meaning simply sitting in a yajna makes no sense. In short, wife is well informed about vedic rituals. In order to know the contents of vedic rituals, knowledge of sanskrit is necessary. There is no restriction to learn sanskrit, sanskrit grammar, Agama shAstra-s (and tantra-s). Women can learn other arts which learned by men and that which men are not inclined to learn like handicraft, making of food materials and delicacies, healing through yoga, prANayama, Asana-s and ayurveda, music, singing & dance, etc. Certain important social functions like marriage are entirely handled by women and men are not expected to have any say in it. smriti-s say, during ApAta kAla i.e. during emergencies, when a brAhmin cannot live a normal life and carry out his duties, he can approach women and sudra in case of doubts. This indicates that even shudra-s can be knowledgeable in case of civil codes (dharma smriti-s). (There are certain portion of veda-s which even shudra-s are allowed to chant says Kanchi Paramacharya.)

Besides learning work traditionally being entrusted to them like house keeping, they can learn combat skills and martial arts too. Women can be great administrators.  since women are entrusted to nourish children not only with food but with emotional bond and mould them into good human beings by embedding good samskAra-s (good qualities), women are expected to have all round knowledge atleast to some extend in if not every then most fields. they also have to make kids incline towards spirituality. For this they will have to teach kids stories from purANa-s and itihAsa and give the purport of the stories thereby shaping their character. It goes without saying that women also have good sense of discrimination. Hence women were in no way being humiliated. Female foeticide is unthinkable and is a result of corrupted false understanding and such malpractices are and never were supported by veda-s.

The obvious of a house wife is that she does boring repetitive work with no use of intelligence like dusting, sweeping, cleaning utensils, etc is not true. A women has to be all rounder having a good character, as only vira mAtA (brave mother) can give birth to vira putra (brave son), only pious and chaste wife can give birth to great personalities and saints who will one day guide the whole society and shine forth the name of their parents, family, caste (varNa), village, state and the country.

Spiritually speaking, ladies have a good gift of being receptive, and ability to adapt to new environment (which every wife does after marriage). Ladies are also gifted with emotions which are pivotal in nourishing young ones and in keeping loved ones bonded. Ladies, generally cook food and offer them to everyone in house and to guest before they themselves eat. This shows their big-hearted serving attitude. This is one of the reason why women get contented by eating little food. They have slim diet. We find that women are active in serving sick by becoming nurses.

21.3. Woman in the form of a Mother

The very Taittiriya Upanishad while teaching about the duties and meritorious acts that one ought to perform, the very first invocation it does is to – the mother- as ‘mātrudēvō bhava’, which means, ‘treat your mother as god’. Only after this mantra it reveals other mantras as – ‘pitr̥udēvō bhava’, ‘āchārya dēvō bhava’, and atithi dēvō bhava’. This is be the first thing that should make us learn that the ‘reverence’ that is paid to a woman (mother in this context) is always of greater precedence that the rest all others.

Our sanātana-dharma teaches us –

“yō para dārētu mātruvat para dravyṣu lōṣṭvat sarva bhūtēṣu ātmavat paśyasi sah ēva paṇḍitaḥ |” which means, “He who looks at women other than one’s own wife as his mother, he who looks at others’ valuables as mere lump of clay (i.e., doesn’t desire to obtain them for himself), and he who looks at all other living beings as his own self – such a man is called a learned one!”

The first part which recommends us to look at other’s wives as one’s own mother is best exhibited in Valmiki Ramayana by Lakshmana, the younger brother of Sri Rama! When Ravana abducts Sita in an aerial car, she throws down her ornaments one by one. A group of monkeys collect them and later at the behest of Sugriva, they display those jewellery to Rama and Lakshmana. Rama’s eyes get filled with tears and hence he asks Lakshmana to identify if they were the ornaments of lady Sita. Lakshmana says, “I can clearly identify the ornaments of the legs like anklets as belonging to Sita because I used to see them while touching her feet daily; but I cannot identify other ornaments”. This clearly proves that Lakshmana never casted his gaze at her other parts of Sita’s body except her feet. Our scriptures preach us to display this kind of reverence for the wives of others. However, only due to lack of knowledge of our grand sanātana-dharma, people are becoming filled with animal instincts and thereby doing heinous crimes against women which are even painful to think of.

Our religion gives such a paramount importance to a woman as a mother that – there is no ‘śāṣṭāṁga namaskāra’ allowed for ladies. All women are allowed to prostrate in front of the God by following only “panchāṁga namaskāra” alone.
‘śāṣṭāṁga namaskāra’ means prostrating in front of the God with eight limbs viz. – two hands, two eyes, forehead, chest, and two legs. This is the method a man should adopt to prostrate before a god. However, in that posture one’s chest and organ of generation touches the ground, it is not prescribed for women – as our scriptures give the highest respect to the two vital parts of women viz. the womb and the two breasts. It is the womb of a woman which acts as the ground for creation to take place and hence it does “sr̥ṣtī”. After giving birth to a child, it is the chest portion of a woman which carries two breasts which ooze with milk for the consumption of the child and thereby the breasts act as the means of sustenance; hence a woman is looked at as doing the sustenance “sthiti”. For this reason, those two parts located at the bottom and upper portions of a woman’s body are highly sacred organs and are not supposed to touch the Earth. For this reason women perform “panchāṁga namaskāra” alone, i.e., prostrating with their five limbs viz. - two hands, forehead and two eyes.

21.4. Regarding Woman as Wife

Our sanātana-dharma has placed wife at a very high pedestal with reverence. We’ll understand the various glories of women as wives one by one now.

21.4.1. Wife is the Root of the Religion   

It is said that every man carries three debts on him to be disbursed. They are –
1. Dēva-r̥ṇaṁ (debt to Gods),
2. Rsī-r̥ṇaṁ (debt to Rishis), and
3. Pitr̥-r̥ṇaṁ (debt to Pitris / departed ancestors).

Out of these a man can payback only the 2nd debt without needing a wife. That is - by studying the scriptures handed over by the great Rishis of our lineage and by teaching the same (that is, transferring the knowledge to keep it rolling), to our descendants or disciples; one can disburse the debt to Rishis. This can be completed even by being a Brahmachari or a Sanyasi. It doesn't require a wife.
However, the remaining two viz. debt to Gods and debt to departed ancestors cannot be disbursed without the company of a wife. Debt to Gods can be paid off by doing Yajnas (sacrifices) and one gets an eligibility to do yajna only if his wife sits beside him. This is the reason why Sri Rama couldn’t perform a horse sacrifice without Sita hence he had to create a golden statue of Sita and keep her beside him while performing the yajna.

With yajnas we offer havis (food) to Gods. Gods consume them and get pleased and then they pour timely rains on earth. With timely seasonal changes earth produces good crops, and people remain healthy and entire planet remains blissful. For all this to happen, only a ‘gr̥hastha’ (householder) is eligible to do Yajnas.

Similarly, the debt to Pitris (ancestors) can be paid by begetting a son and keeping the race continuing. For begetting a son one needs to get into the wedlock and beget a son upon his wedded wife righteously. So, without a wife a man cannot repay the debt to his ancestors. therefore, it becomes mandatory for a man to sail through the āshrama called "gr̥hastha".

Not only this. gr̥hasthāśrama is the greatest of all other āshramas because the other āshramas depend on gr̥hasthas for food. Food keeps all beings alive and nourishes them. Braḥmachārīs, vānaprasthās, and sanyāsīs do not cook food for themselves, they seek food from the house of a householder only. Therefore gr̥hastha is the pillar on whom all other ashramas lean and take rest! Keeping in mind the glory of Gr̥hasthāśrama every man should seek to wed a virtuous, learned, and wise wife, because she is the support of the order of gr̥hastha mode of life.

For this very reason Mahabharata in the section named ‘Sambhava Parva’ of ‘Adi Parva’ says –

They that have wives can perform religious acts”. (MBH 01: LXXIV)

21.4.2. Wife Bestows Four-Purushasrthas on a Husband

In Mahabharata Shakuntala gives a beautiful discourse about the glories of a wife to Dushyanta. She says that a wife is the root of the four puruśārthās viz. – dharma, artha, kāma, and mōkśa. The excerpt from her speech is as follows.

The wife is a man's half. The wife is the first of friends. The wife is the root of religion, profit, and desire. The wife is the root of salvation. They that have wives can perform religious acts”. (MBH 01: LXXIV)

Even in the Aranya parva of Mahabharata Yaksha poses a a great question to Yudhishthira asking how could the three mutually contradicting goals viz. virtue, wealth, and desire be kept in harmony?

"The Yaksha asked,--'Virtue, profit, and desire are opposed to one another. How could things thus antagonistic to one another exist together?" (MBH 3: CCCXI)

Yudhistihra gives a very learned answer to that query. He says that all the three opposite goals remain in harmony through the help of a wife.

"Yudhishthira answered,--'When a wife and virtue agree with each other, then all the three thou hast mentioned may exist together'." (MBH 3: CCCXI)

A wise wife knows what is righteous and what is unrighteous, hence she acts as a counselor, and as a minister to the husband and helps him in decision making as well as stops him from stepping into the road of unrighteousness. She holds the reigns of the household affairs and manages the household monetary transactions and all financial and economical issues with her quick wittedness. She also brings forth children which are the assets for their lineage. Hence she builds wealth in the home from all angles. She also fulfils all the desires (including the carnal ones) of her husband and keeps him satisfied. Also it is because of the wife who is duly wed, that a man doesn’t accrue sins of carnal pleasures – seeking the same with women outside would accrue him sins thereby hindering his spiritual path here and hereafter. Thus, a wife is a savior for her husband. This way she keeps all the three goals viz. – dharma, artha, and kāma in harmony.

A wise and learned wife can also bestow the fourth goal viz. mōkśa on her husband by being a constant support to him in his path of scriptural learning. She motivates him towards this goal and thereby becomes the cause behind his spiritual upliftment and liberation.

21.4.3. Women rescues all the ancestors of her husband from hell

Ancestors who are not liberated and who have ascended to higher regions based on merit are susceptible to fall down. Mahabharata says that the father after death is prevented from falling into a hell called ‘put’ if he has a son. It is said that by a son one conquers the three worlds, and by a grandson, one enjoys eternity, and by a great grandson one enjoys everlasting happiness. Therefore, a wife who is called as ‘jāyā’, is the one who helps a man, and his deceased forefathers to gain higher regions of felicity.

The husband entering the womb of the wife cometh out himself in the form of the son. Therefore is the wife called by those cognisant of the Vedas as Jaya (she of whom one is born). And the son that is so born unto persons cognisant of the Vedic Mantras rescueth the spirits of deceased ancestors. And because the son rescueth ancestors from the hell call Put, therefore, hath he been called by the Self-create himself as Put-tra (the rescuer from Put). By a son one conquereth the three worlds. By a son's son, one enjoyeth eternity. And by a grandson's son great-grand-fathers enjoy everlasting happiness”. (MBH 01: LXXIV)

21.4.4. Wife helps a man to manifest himself

Kaushitaki Upanishad mentions “ātmā vai putranāmāsī |”, which means, “Thou art myself in the form of a son”. A son born through one’s wedded wife is verily the father himself manifested as a new being. This kind of manifesting one’s own self in one’s own life is possible only through the helpf of one’s wedded wife. In fact scriptures give such a high respect to a wife that it is said that – because the father himself is born through the womb of his wife, he should look at her as his mother. This indicates how much of respect one needs to have for one’s wife. This certainly is a slap on the faces of all those scoundrels who beat their wives, who burn them to death, and who torture them in various ways.

It hath been said by learned persons that one is himself born as one's son. Therefore, a man whose wife hath borne a son should look upon her as his mother. Beholding the face of the son one hath begotten upon his wife, like his own face in a mirror, one feeleth as happy as a virtuous man, on attaining to heaven. Men scorched by mental grief, or suffering under bodily pain, feel as much refreshed in the companionship of their wives as a perspiring person in a cool bath”. (MBH 01: LXXIV)

21.4.5. Wife is the most valuable possession   

For a man – the best friend who stands through thick and thin throughout the course of their common lifespan is his wife alone. If a man is in his good days, all other friends including the closest relatives would sing his glories, however when the time remains unfavourable, none of them would stick and standby a man except his loving and caring wife (parents are exceptions because if they are alive they would stand by a man but after their death one who gives her shoulder as support during the moments of distress is the wife alone).

They that have wives can lead domestic lives. They that have wives have the means to be cheerful. They that have wives can achieve good fortune. Sweet-speeched wives are friends on occasions of joy. They are as fathers on occasions of religious acts. They are mothers in sickness and woe. Even in the deep woods to a traveller a wife is his refreshment and solace. He that hath a wife is trusted by all. A wife, therefore, is one's most valuable possession”. (MBH 01: LXXIV)

21.4.6. One shouldn’t do anything that is disagreeable to his wife

Mahabharata says that a man shouldn’t do anything that is displeasing to his wife.

No man, even in anger, should ever do anything that is disagreeable to his wife, seeing that happiness, joy, and virtue,--everything dependeth on the wife”. (MBH 01: LXXIV)

21.4.7. Wife Should Be The Queen Of The House, Not A Slave

The position given to woman as a wife in our culture was indeed very exalted. Below mantra from Rig Veda clearly highlights that she is expected to be treated as the queen of house (gruhiNi) and the main spokesperson of that house. It should be noted that husband do not enjoy such status like gruharAjA (king od house). He is just called as gruhasthA (householder). It should not be thought as if a bride needs to dictate her in-laws because she is called the queen of that house. Instead, we need to understand that she is being the queen's position in their hearts. A position in heart remains for posterity and that's what is the intended message; also it means of giving prominent position in the home.

"The bride is entering the ritualistic location, her hand held by the god puushan (one form of the sun god) the twin gods of medicine the Ashwins are accompanying her in the chariot.. and she is going away from her house to that of her husband and she is blessed that she may become the ruler of the household and the main spoke-person of the assembly in her husbands place". (Rig Veda 10-75-26)

The bride is blessed to join the supreme place in the household. See how the father-in-law, mother-in-law and everyone grants her the central place in their hearts. The below verse exists in Atharva Veda too.

"May your father in law treat you with affection as if you were a queen. May your mother in law treat you with love as if you were a queen. May your sisters in law love and respect you as if you were a queen. May your brothers in law respect and adore you as if you were a queen" (Rig Veda 10-85-46 and atharva veda 14-2-44)

21.5. Regarding Widowed Women

Our religion gave equal rights to man and woman. With the invasions from foreigners due to their laws being enforced and mixed with those of the laws of our land, the widowhood related woman-unfriendly-customs would have appeared. Did Kunti shave her head in Mahabharata? Do we have any reference from scriptures where Tara (wife of deceased Vali), Mandodari (the wife of deceased Ravana), uttara (the wife of deceased Abhimanyu) shaving their heads and wearing white sarees? Certainlyw e don’t have such references!
In fact Rig Veda supports remarriage of ladies who lost their husbands as follows.
kuha svid doṣā kuha vastoraśvinā kuhābhipitvaṃ karataḥkuhoṣatuḥ |
ko vāṃ śayutrā vidhaveva devaraṃ maryaṃ nayoṣā kṛṇute sadhastha ā || (RV 10:40:2)
Where are ye, Aśvins, in the evening, where at morn? Where is your haltingplace, where rest ye for the night? Who brings you homeward, as the widow bedward draws her husband's brother, as the bride attracts the groom?”

21.6. Union with a Woman was done with her consent and not by Rape

In Mahabharata we have a great story of Shakuntala and Dushyanta. King Dushyanta on seeing her gets enamoured by her beauty and gains the strong desire of union with her. Unlike today’s men who would think only of ‘rape’ for satisfying their desires of flesh; the ancient Hindus used to maintain discipline even while being stung by the arrows of the passion.

Dushyanta said, “...O thou of the fairest complexion, full of desire I am, thou also in a similar mood mayst become my wife according to the Gandharva form”. (MBH 01: LXXIII)

Shakuntala spoke the following words to him and asked for a promise.

Sakuntala said, “This is thy son, O king! Let him be installed as thy heir-apparent. O king, this child, like unto a celestial, hath been begotten by thee upon me. Therefore, O best of men, fulfil now the promise thou gavest me. Call to mind, O thou of great good fortune, the agreement thou hadst made on the occasion of thy union with me in the asylum of Kanwa.” (MBH 01: LXXIV)

Later on, Shakuntala reminds Dushyanta of their conversation about the agreement between the couple and they united. Thus was the desire of the King fulfilled by her.

"Sakuntala, having listened to all this, answered, 'If this be the course sanctioned by religion, if, indeed, I am my own disposer, hear, O thou foremost one of Puru's race, what my terms are. Promise truly to give me what I ask thee. The son that shall be begotten on me shall become thy heir-apparent. This, O king, is my fixed resolve. O Dushmanta, if thou grant this, then let our union take place'”. (MBH 01: LXXIII)

There are many such stories in scriptures, where even the mightiest Kings never tried to rape any women even despite becoming passionate seeing their beauty. Then how come the weakest humans of today’s era dare to molest women? – is the question we need to ponder about. The only answer is – lack of awareness of the morals what our scriptures teach and lack of control over one’s senses.

21.7. Female Foeticide

Hinduism believes that God exists in all - both living and non-living. We also believe in past lives and future re-births. We strongly believe that each soul is equally divine. Each soul gets a body and environment that is conductive to his / her spiritual progress and is capable of fulfilling his / her dis-satisfied desires. It is God who directs a soul to take birth in a particular body. If we kill female babies, it would mean that we disrespect God’s decision. Hence it is illogical and a heinous crime to kill any child. On one hand, female forms are worshipped. We revere our country as ‘mother’ (bhArata mAtA). How can such a culture even think of killing female child. The problem is with the illiterate who think that female child is a burden and will incur financial depth as they will have to give dowry (which is not at all sanctioned by shAstra-s). The irony is that the same society think that advent of female (either wife or as daughter) is a sign of prosperity and good luck.   

21.8. sati and widow

sati or sahgamana means ‘to accompany’. Wives used to ascend with husband after husband left his mortal coil. sati, by the power of her tapas would be able to detach herself and leave her body in the burning pyre of her husband. Both would leave in subtle bodies. Unlike in kaliyuga where the body dies if it does not get food, in earlier yuga-s, the body does not die if it didnt receive food.   

Kanchi SankarAcArya says,

Since the Krta-Yuga there has been a decline in the powers of man. In that age a man lived so long as his skeleton lasted. Even if his blood dried up and his flesh was destroyed he survived until his bones collapsed. People in the Krta age had much power of knowledge. They were called "asti-gata-pranas".

In the Treta age people were "mamsa-gata-pranas", that is they lived so long as their flesh lasted and did not perish even when their blood dried up. They had a special capacity for performing sacrifices.

In the Dvapara age people were "rudhira-gata-pranas" and lived until such time as their blood dried up. They were known especially for the puja they performed.

We of the Kali age are "anna-gata-pranas" and life will remain in our body so long as the food [nourishment] lasts. We have little capacity to meditate, perform rituals and puja. But we are capable of chanting the names of the Lord - Krsna, Rama, and so on. It is true that by muttering the names of the Lord we will be liberated.


From this we can know that the powers of human mind has declined with time. Hence sati might not be practical today. Some kshatriya queens used to jump in fire and self-immolate themselves to save their ‘pride’ and would not surrender to the enemies. However, at no time sati was compulsory. madri chose to practice sati, but kunti, the other wife of Pandu was not allowed to practice sati instead of her wish. She might not have qualified for it. The other reason was she was needed to raise 5 sons.

A symbolic interpretation of sati can be given. A wife would renounce all the memories of the world with the death of husband. Hence her old self dies (similar to sanyAsa), and a new woman is born with no worldly obligation except that she has children to raise. Life of widow is similar to sanyAsin, free from worldly and social obligation so that she can dedicate her entire life for Atmic upliftment. Widow has benefits that sanyAsins do not enjoy. She has to protection of her family members. She need not be an ascetic. She do not need to worry about the basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. However if one does not wish to live a spiritual life, then parASara smriti (P.S. 4.30) says a widow can remarry, as curbing sensual desire is more advisable as it may bounce back at any time with full force and she might not be able to control it. This might result into disturbing her mental balance or she might start looking at other men with an eye of lust.

21.9. Conclusion (women in sanAtana dharma)

With the above discussion we intend to make the world understand that the sanātana-vaidika-dharma has always been friendly to men and women equally. In ancient India people enjoyed equal rights whether they were men or women. There were no support from rapes; there were no support for molestations in our scriptures. Our scriptures talk against such heinous crimes.
Women – whatever relation they may come up into our lives – they are adorable in all those forms and relations. As a mother she is venerable, as a sister she is full of affection, and as a wife she is the support of a man’s life just like a backbone.

People do not have enough learnings of scriptures and yet they dare to question our exalted religion. Those who speak against Hinduism calling it as a backward religion or good for nothing – they haven’t even read one scripture fully. Those who question the religion calling the practices like shaving head of widows, dowry system, and sati-method as a part fo the religion – they in reality not even aware of the names of the scriptures of our religion, let alone reading one of them.

Hinduism is the greatest revolution that exists on this Earth for ages. It is the one religion where women as well as men have their independence secured while they engage themselves in mutual inter-dependence.

22. Nonviolence and Vegetarianism

Nonviolence is prescribed to be practised physically and mentally. Vegetarian food is prescribed for those who wish to progress spiritually.

22.1. Non-Violence (अहिंसा)

Non-violence was always practiced and encouraged in Hinduism. Non-violence is not to be taken in literal way. It is an attempt to be as much non-violent in actions, thoughts and emotions. Only Atman is truly non-violent as it attaches with no one. One can be non-violent when one detaches oneself from body mind, intellect and ego. It is identification with the body and all that is non-Self that is responsible for all types of violence, physical or mental. Hence, Non-violence is a journey beginning from dis-identification of Self with the body and mind and ends up in total detached state which is Brahman, a state beyond all three guNa-s - sattva, rajas and tamasa.

22.1.1. Why does violence cease to exist in state of enlightenment?

Brahman or Atman is beyond three guNas- and so it is beyond mAyA. All that we experience is because of mAyA. Our attachment with non-Self is because of mAyA.

One can only be enlightened when one has renounced attachment towards worldly objects, both external (physical) and internal (mental, desire to acquire them). Hence mind does not long for objects. An introvert mind is satisfied. yogi-s and advanced meditators live a simple life with very few necessities.

An enlightened yogi feels intense bliss, deep peace, has a sense of contentment, and feels completeness. Such a yogi does not need anything from the outside world or from heaven, but remains merged into the Blissful immortal brahman.

For advanced meditators, every thought or desire itself is violence, as it produces ripples in steady consciousness and tries to trap the infinite consciousness into thought process and desire to achieve them. If such is the case of a sAdhaka, who has not yet realised, then what can be said about GYAni, an enlightened soul, who is permanently merged into Brahman? Definitely violence cease to exist in the supreme state of Enlightenment.

22.1.2. Why does mind give violent reactions?

Because it does not get what it wants or longs for. Hence either it is a quest to conquer, achieve or it is the frustration of failure to achieve the desired object that brings violent reactions.

22.1.3. Why does mind long?

Atman empowers mind and it itself shines (reflects) from within mind. Searching for happiness is our basic longing. It is not wrong to desire for happiness. What is wrong is to search it outside when it is inside says Sri Ramana Maharshi. After achieving that is desired, we feel happy. Everyone, whether one believes in spirituality or not is longing for this happiness. Our entire life is nothing but search for this truth. We try to find it in a person or an object and try to achieve it. Since it is our own wish, we use our will and put in our efforts … and the vicious cycle of action and reaction, karma and it’s fruits keeps rolling … and one is trapped in the cycle of birth and death. So instead of returning back to the source of mind, which is Atman, ‘I’, we search ‘I’ outside mind and body.

So the cause of violence is -

To search for happiness out us in worldly objects or person and
Making efforts to achieve it and get frustrated if it is not achieved.

One may take violence as an act of physical abuse. But in reality, in subtler plane, violence is found even in trivial actions like making efforts. It is violence when it is compared with the eternally peaceful and blissful state of non-activity.

So why does a person resort to violence -
The answer is: Ignorance of our True nature.

So to return to our true nature, what should be done?

Now we enter into the spiritual world, the path of renunciation and dis-identification. We may have the will, but not the temperament and mental purity to apply the teachings of vedAnta in our life. One cannot simply stop expectations and reactions. Hence we begin with purifying our mind so that one day we can practice detachment with correct understanding.

The path of purification begins with doing social service and surrendering fruits of work to God. We can go one step further to surrender our actions too to God and keep praying to show him a direction and the path that best suits you. We can add bhakti to get emotionally attached to God. Upon right time, God will himself guide you either directly or through a Guru. After this phase, just like a prey cannot escape from clutches of a lion, so does a student does not escape from the clutches of Guru. He (his spiritual progress) is under the control of Guru and constantly benefits from his Guru’s grace.

Till now, we were talking about violence from spiritual POV, now lets turn towards practical side of ‘violence’

22.1.4. Practical side of non-violence

Non-violence is a necessity for sages who have renounced the world. For a person living in society, one has to follow smriti-s too, which are moral and ethical codes. Like the parASara smriti, often called as the smriti that is suitable to kaliyuga (refer to sloka-s 1-25 of parASara smriti) says that you should be careful while donating something. Take care that the person is of good natured, else our money or stuff can be used for wrong purposes. Even the celebrated Manu smriti 8.350 says that a king can kill anti-social elements like murderer and rapist either in secret or in public. For this king incurs no sin. Sin is uncured when King does not kill him.

Our SAstra-s teach us to rise against injustice, to keep fighting till last drop of blood. All devatA-s except bhagavAn brahmA ji are equipped with weapons. SAstra-s do not teach us to be cowards. Teachings of vedAnta are not to be confused that it should be applied by all. vedAnta is not for all. It is only for those high souls you have purified their mind by lots of good karma and intense meditations in this life or in previous lives. We have a dedicated SAstra ‘dhanurveda’ for training men in martial arts.

You may have heard about animal sacrifices in SAstra-s. Please Kanchi Paramacharya's response on these issues

22.2. Vegetarianism (शाकाहारी भोजन)

Our journey is from individuality to totality. In order to progress spiritually, we have to turn our extrovert mind introvert. For doing this, one has to have dispassion in worldly matters and objects. Only a sAttvika mind can turn introvert, as rajas is for activity, power and glory and an active person, who is attached with his actions is always extrovert. tamasa guNa is connected with laziness, inertia, ignorance, revengeful attitude.

It is due to these qualities that Veg food is recommended, as it contains more of sattva and rajas guNa tamasa. Fruits contain more sattva than rajas.. They are light to digest. Underground food is not prescribed in Jains and even by vaiShnava-s as it has tamas guNa. It is said that 'food makes up mind' and hence, it is prescribed to saints to have a light sAttvika food.

22.2.1. No Central nervous system

Plants do not have central nervous system, though they have feelings and have life. They have a guNa of paropkAra (benevolence). In ancient days, saints used to pray to plants to have fruits and plants used to respond to their prayers. Saints used to pray to herbal plants to show their guNa-s (healing qualities). Some say, this is how Ayurveda was developed. Besides, we do not destroy the whole plant, but just pluck flowers, fruits and other vegetables. If we do not pluck fruits or grains, then open ripening they drop automatically. Do we feel pain when we trim our hair and nails? Aren’t they part of our body?

22.2.2. Leaves and Branches

Leaves, and branches grow back. Leaves have their own lifespan. They turn yellow and dry. They detach and fall off from trees. Similarly branches or small stems turn dry and fall off. Even if one does not harm tree, some branches fall off on their own. In coconut trees, heavy branches good enough to break our skulls or cause facture, fall by themselves. This indicates that trees do not die when a leaves or stems are torn out. However, if you axe branches that are green, then wise say that trees do not like it. They emit vibrations which other trees catch. Birds sittings on trees also catch these vibrations and get nervous, especially those birds who have build nests on nearby trees.

22.2.3. Underground Food

The damage is done when we uproot plants and take their roots like onion, etc. Here too the plants are not deliberately destroyed. When they’ve finished developing, you’ll notice the lowest leaves start to yellow and wither. Shortly after, the stems will flop over at the neck, as if all your plants had just died. Hence even if we do not uproot them, plants are still going to die.

Still since they grow underground, they are said to have more of tamasa guNa.

The peculiarity of tamasa guNa is strong smell which we see in onions and garlic. Even garlic can be taken in small quantities for medicinal purpose. Many Herbs are grown underground.

You may be attracted by the smell of Pav Bhaji, but you will never be attracted by the smell of any fruits. You will eat fruits only that is necessary, which is not the case with other foods. If it is your favourite delicacy, you will eat more. This attraction and bias is keeps mond extrovert, while fruits do not increase our extrovert tendencies as they do not attract us in a way other delicacies do.

Hence, for spiritual aspirants, sAttvika food is recommended which is light, easy to digest, causes less harm to others and purifies our mind. The energy saved in digesting food can be used for spiritual purposes.

22.2.4. Trees wants us to eat fruits

Another argument is that plants also feel pain. This is true and SD has recognised this long before modern medical science did. However, there is a reason for plants and trees growing flowers and fruits. The reason is to multiply, to increase the number of trees. It is the same desire that is in every living being. Flowers have pollens. The pollens from male part needs to be transported to female stigma. The process of transfer is called as pollination. Since plants cannot move on their own to satisfy their mating desire, they need to get it done through someone else. Hence flowers look beautiful, their colour, shape and aroma are very attractive. Insects gets attracted to it and sit on it and in process pollens are stuck to insects. When insect reaches another flower, pollens get deposited to another flower and the process of pollination is completed. In the same way, fruits have seeds. When any animal eats fruits or vegetables and drops seed on ground, if they fall on suitable land, seed will one day grow to a big tree. Hence plants wants us to eat fruits. It is their way of multiplying. Hence the argument that plants have feelings too and so we should not eat fruits and vegetables seems unwise.

22.2.5. Deforestation

Deforestation is the main issue. Increasing, uncontrolled human population, no care of environment by us and our ‘lavish’ lifestyles are responsible for deforestation disturbing the whole ecosystem. shAstra-s and Hindu culture teach us to live in modesty. SD does not encourage negative qualities like greed, selfishness, uncaring attitude, etc which are responsible for all the mess stealing the natural habitat of animals, birds and insects. Hence living dhArmic life is always better. We must keep our ever-demanding mind in check. SD teaches us how should we keep a check on our mind and live in harmony with nature.

22.2.6. Why should not we eat meat

Mineral kingdom i.e. rocks have consciousness (read somewhere in Sankara bhASya, mostly in viShNu sahasranAma bhASya), but this consciousness is in raw form and often they have to wait for many years or even kalpa to ascend to higher state of consciousness. Animals are more evolved than plants. No animal is willing to give away his life for taste of tongue. When any animal e.g. chicken knows that it's going to due, it is in state of depression and hopelessness. The emotions like pain of separation from body on account of death is too much and wish to live i.e. unwillingness to die, are all embedded in the energy or emotional body of animal. We cook and eat these emotionally diseased bodies. Emotions are tAmasika in nature and hence they will increase tamasa guNa of mind. So mind does not gets purified. One yoga student who used to eat non-veg was initiated into higher practice after warning to quit non-veg. He didn’t quit eating non-veg. After sometime, burns appeared in his skin.

yogi-s say, that meat eating clogs mind. Is eating meat permitted?

Eating Meat is permitted in certain conditions. Human survival is more important than following shAstra-s. There are factors which are beyond our control like natural calamities like earthquake, floods, barren, non-fertile land.

In such cases, which are called as ApAta sthiti (emergency situation), normal rules are not applicable. dharma cannot be rigid and non-practical.

Meat eating is permissible where the land is not fertile and there is no vegetation. West bengal is flooded for 6 months. There is no chance for any vegetation for 6 months. Hence Bengalis eat Fish with rice. It is their staple diet. Bengalis do not consider fish as non-veg. The common argument

If one argues that there is no difference in ‘killing’ either plants or animals, then we would like to ask them why they condemn cannibalism. Carnivorous animals avoid eating other carnivorous animals.

22.3. Vegetarianism - Scientific Perspective

Vegetarianism is have many advantages. Scientists, doctors and economists are favouring vegetarianism. Many papers are published in support of this claim.

In technical terms being ‘vegetarian’ excludes consuming, milk and milk products and eggs. Better word would be ‘Lacto-vegetarian’.

Scientific studies have have concluded that human body is not created to eat meat. Human have adopted

Some of the advantages of being vegetarian are

  1. Longer lifespan
  2. Human body is not designed to eat (and digest) raw meat.
  3. Lower chance of heart diseases
  4. Reduce risk of colon cancer. Undigested meat remains stuck on intestine walls for 3-4 days and sometimes for months.
  5. Live healthy life. Veg food is rich in minerals and vitamins.
  6. More stamina and energy
  7. Economical.
  8. Meat industry one of the factors in global warming.
  9. and more

There are several theories put forward to support claim that Human Body is not designed to eat meat. Lots of information is available on internet showing advantages of vegetarianism. We will write them in brief

  1. No sharp and strong claws
  2. Meat-eaters have no skin pores and perspire through the tongue
  3. Canines in Humans are for name sake only. Even Omnivorous animals like Monkeys have longer and stronger canines than humans. Molar teeth for grinding are absent.
  4. Humans have intestinal tract 10-12 times their body length while carnivorous animals have only 3 times their body length.
  5. Carnivorous animals eat meat raw and have a desire to hunt animals and get attracted to the dead body, while humans do not have hunting desire.
  6. Hydrochloric acid in stomach to digest food is 20 times stronger in case of meat eating animals.
  7. Salivary Glands are not needed to digest food in case of carnivorous, while humans and herbivorous animals have well developed salivary glands.
  8. Meat-eaters have acid saliva with no enzyme ptyalin to pre-digest grains while Humans like Herbivores have alkaline saliva with ptyalin to pre-digest grains.


Original Source: Based on a chart by A.D. Andrews, Fit Food for Men, (Chicago: American Hygiene Society, 1970)

Here is one more article explaining dangers of eating meat

“You are what you eat”, is a slogan that I love to use to show the mental aspect of vegetarianism. When animals are slaughtered, fear and aggression enzymes are shot into their cells from their glands and other organs, just as in humans, and are part of the dead carcass that goes on to the food store. They remain in the meat until the consumer ingests those same enzymes, which are molecularly very similar to those found in humans. Fruits and vegetables do not have emotions; therefore, when they are picked they do not release any emotions cells prior to digestion. The enzymes within fruits and vegetables supply the body with sufficient nutrients that will always uphold a healthy state of mind.
Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients; the very thing the body needs to live a long disease and pain free life. The same cannot be said for meat. Nutritionally, the alkaline-based digestive system of humans will not properly break down substantial acid substances, the greatest of which is meat.

sanAtan dharma is a vast topic. If time permits, more articles will be incorporated.

We sincerely hope that  sharing information has helped others to understand Hindu Dharma atleast to some extend from the traditional POV.

Closing Invocation:

ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदम् पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते |
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ||
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः || [1]

Auṃ pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamidam pūrṇāt pūrṇamudacyate
pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya pūrṇamevāvaśiṣyate
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ

Aum! That is infinite (Brahman), and this (universe) is infinite.
The infinite proceeds from the infinite.
(Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe),
It remains as the infinite (Brahman) alone.
Aum! Peace! Peace! Peace!

Peace Chant of brihadAraNyaka Upanishad and iSAvAsya upanishad of yajuyveda.

|| Hari OM ||


Explaining Hinduism is not easy. Sri Chandrashekharendra Sarasvati Svami, 68th Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetha, who was often glorified as 'The Walking God' has explained Hindu Dharma in much detail. His discourses are penned down in a book called 'Daivattin Kural' in Tamil, which consists of 7 volumes. This book is translated in English nad published under the title, 'The Voice of God'. Out of these 7 volumes, two volumes are published separately as the title 'Hindu Dharma – Varna Dharma for Universal Well being'. The entire book is available online in html format here. There is another book called 'Voice of Guru – The Guru Tradition', which is an extraction of teachings related to Guru from various volumes is also very useful. Books are published by Bhartiya Vidya Bhavans. It is recommended to read both these books to fully understand Hindu Dharma.

Source: Extracted from the book, Hindu Dharma, which are the collections of saying of Kanchi Paramacharya. (Missing Chapter in online version of Hindu Dharma is Uploaded here.)

23. Scope of Work – Future Topics

  1. varNa dharma and resistance from saints
  2. bhakti movements - Crossing varNa boundaries: bhakti is for all, recommended for kalyug
  3. Hindu dharma, a logical and scientific approach towards life.
  4. dharma based on logic with scientific inclination (open minded research)
  5. sAnkhya and pUrva mimAmsA
  6. Restrictions on practising yoga
  7. dharma and business
  8. Why some atheists are better than theists
  9. Bells
  10. Cows
  11. Importance of external marks / symbols / bindi, bhasma, rudrAksha (rudra-sksha), tulsi plant
  12. Ayurveda - natural medicine, suSruta

Modern Hinduism

  1. Tolerance and living in Peace is taken place by cowardliness
  2. Pseudo-Seculars
  3. Secularism: Using it as a tool to malign Hindus and Hinduism
  4. Pseudo Advaitins and Vedantins
  5. The Illusion of Equality
  6. Independent Academicians – The Self Proclaimed All knowers of sanAtana dharma
  7. Systematic Planned Attacks to Destroy Culture and scriptures by Portuguese and Britishers.
  8. Modern reformers.
  9. Difference between ancient, medieval and modern reformers and saints.
  10. What about New Hindu Converts? Which varNa do they have to adhere to?

Other articles

  1. Hinduism – The Land of Saints
  2. Asceticism, penance and meditative life
  3. Need for control of Mind and Yoga
  4. Need for asceticism
  5. Anything in excess is poison
  6. Our journey
  7. Contradictions in Hindu Scriptures and their Solution.
  8. Difference between a Yogi and a Advaita Sanyasin.

24. Credits and Updates

Since this article is in public domain, incase someone wishes to contribute and wishes to add his / her name, please write it here along with what changes you have made.

Version Number Coding


x = New Heading 1
y = New Heading 2 or 3
z = Minor corrections, addition in an existing article and correcting typos.

|| ShrI rAmaKruShNaarpaNamastu || 

|| ShrI ramaNarpaNanamastu ||

|| ShrI gurubhyo namaH ||