Advaitam and Science

OM, Purnamata purnamitam purnat purnamutachyate, purnasya purnamataye purnamevavasishyate – Bri.Up V.i.1

TEMPLE CULTURE IN SANATANA DHARMA

                                       TEMPLE CULTURE IN SANATANA DHARMA

In the ancient times, during the Vedic period, hardly temples were seen in Bharata.  People then practiced Atma vidya, meditation, yoga and yagna.  They did not give much importance to the worship of idols.  In fact, they thought bhakti as a very basic step to liberation.  They were then highly intellectual, organized, disciplined and long lived and they felt practicing Atma Vidya straightly is the only means for liberation.  They did not have much desires and so they ignored the desire-oriented bhakti too. 

In the puranic period, people were less intellectual, desire oriented, egoistic and had less peace of mind.  They were unable to go directly to Atma vidya and they felt the need for an external way of worship.  It is then the Rishis depicted the form of the formless Lord.  Understanding the nature and the attributes of the Lord from the puranas, the great Rishis depicted the form of the Lord.  Then they did not have a painting brush or paper and so they carved the image of the idol on the stone which were comparatively soft.  To exhibit them publicly they build a structure and kept the idol.  They said that the Lord in You (Atma) is like this and considered the external worship of the Lord as a preliminary step to liberation.  They named the structure in which the Lord is kept as skhetra, which means a structure of matter or it can also be compared with the body (gross, subtle and causal bodies).  The main idol is kept in a room inside that great structure and it is said as sanctum sanctorum or said as Garbha graha; which implies the secret hidden place of the Lord.  The idol inside the Garbha graha is said as skhetraja or Bhagavan.  The rules for doing poojas and rituals for the Lord are well explained in the Puranas than in the Vedas.  In the Vedas the importance is given for the Yagnas and these yagnas are mainly done to worship the gods to satisfy desires.  Later on when the temple culture developed they used these yagnas with modification, for the deities in the temples. 

Different forms of the Lord according to different gunas (nature) and attributes were carved on the stone and these idols are done poojas by the priests and by the energy of the Vedic mantras the idols become worshipping deities.  After the initial pooja rituals were over the idols are consecrated inside the Garbha graha.  The people in and around the town worship the deities.  Likewise many temples and deities were formed and by the end of Dwapara yuga and the beginning of Kali yuga many temples were formed like this and the temple culture became famous.  The kings who ruled the kingdom donated liberally to the temples and the temple culture grew drastically in the Kali yuga.  in the medieval period, the temples were used almost like the modern-day banks and the kings’ considered temples as a holy place to keep their money safe.  This is the time when other kings invaded Bharata, they first looted the temples and destroyed the temples to destroy the Religion.  They succeeded in looting the temples but could not disturb the Religion because Sanatana Dharma is beyond Hinduism or temples or Deities.  Sanatana dharma is the Truth, the Reality, it will exist even when the Universe is destroyed by pralaya.  Sanatana dharma is the dharma followed or the dharma to realize the Truth, which is none other than the Self. 

The temple architecture in India are of three types.

The Nagara style(northern India)  the land between the Himalayas and the Vindhyas.

The Dravida style(Sothern  india) the land between the Krishna and the Kaveri rivers and  

The Vesera style (combination of both regions) .

The style mainly differs only in the external structure or the type of the tall structure of the temple.  The way poojas done in the temples also differ from region to region according to the practice of the people in that area.  What ever the way of pooja or the structure of the temple may be, the temple denotes the body of an individual and the main deity denotes the Atma in the sarira (body).  When we stand in front of the main deity and worship closing our eyes for a second, then we are connected with the Atma in that second.   

The temple culture is very famous in modern days and people ought to forget the Atma vidya itself; because people have become core desire oriented and Atma vidya gains no importance in that situation. 

THE ANCIENT LAW, JUDGEMENT AND PUNISHMENT ACCORDING TO MANU DHARMA SASTRA

THE ANCIENT LAW, JUDGEMENT AND PUNISHMENT ACCORDING TO

MANU DHARMA SASTRA

In the ancient times dharma ruled the nation and the king is the one who implemented dharma in his nation and he played a key role in upholding dharma.

Dharma eva hato hanti dharmo rakshati rakshitah: Tasmad dharmo na hantavya ma no dharmo hato vadheeta” Manusmriti Ch 8 vs 25

“Dharma, that is, justice violated indeed destroys the one who violates it, and justice preserved surely protects the one who protects it.  Therefore, justice must not be violated lest, violated justice destroys everyone”

The king is the judge.  He has to directly listen to the cases and judge them according to the principle of the Vedas.  The learned Brahmanas must assist the king to take decisions. Justice is seen as divine.  justice protects the one who protects it.  Only dharma(justice) will follow men after death; everything else will be destroyed by time. 

In the assembly where an injustice is done

One quarter of the guilt goes to the one who committed it

One quarter goes to the witness

One quarter to the members of the tribunal

One quarter to the king.

All are equally guilt of sin.

During the trial the king, who is also the judge, must be intelligent enough to find the attitude of the criminal by his bodily gestures, movement of the eyes, his voice and appearance.

The witness can be from the four varnas.  He /she must not be a friend, dependent, enemy or a servant of the accused.

The witness is given importance.  If the witness lies, he is fined and cursed by all.  A witness who speaks truth is respected by the king and the Vedic pundits.  Based on the words of the witness a judgment is taken.  A false witness is punished according to the motive.  A fine for the wrong witness is decided by the wise men. 

If the king punishes the guiltless, then he attains the loka of suffering in the next birth and attains misery and suffering in this birth too.

A person found guilty the first time is given a warning.

The second time he is condemned

The third time he is censured and made to pay fine

The fourth time he may receive corporal punishment.

In the case of a lost article, one who finds it must give it to the king.  If any one wants to claim the article, then he has to give the exact details, like shape, weight etc.  The king will take a small part of its value as a fine and give the article.  If the lost article or property is stolen by the officials or thieves while under the custody of the king, then they are considered as thieves and trampled by an elephant.  If any one does false claim, then he is fined 1/8th of the value.

The king can take over the property of the unknown owner.  If no one comes to claim it for three years then the king considers it as his property.

One should not sell unworthy, non-genuine, imitation, improper measurement, or articles with adultery.  One should not conceal goods.  They will be severely fined by the king.

If the debtor does not pay the money and the creditor has valid witness or proof, then the king or the appointed judge itself will take the responsibility to recover back the money with fine.  In case, if the creditor lies, then he will be made to pay the claimed amount as fine for violating justice.

The king must take the custody of the orphan child until he becomes self-dependent in all ways.  The king must protect the woman and her property in case if no one takes care of her.  She must be treated with respect by the king. 

In short, the king must be like a protector, father, brother, friend and a well wisher and must uphold justice under all circumstances.  The wrong doers must be rightly identified and punished accordingly without hatred.  They are punished to uphold dharma.

THE ANCIENT LAWS OF RULERSHIP AS IN MANU DHARMA SASTRA

THE ANCIENT LAWS OF RULERSHIP AS IN MANU DHARMA SASTRA

The sapta Rishis revealed many rules and procedures on various subjects and topics based on the Vedas to Manu, the first ruler of the world, who was meditating on how to rule the world.    Manu, while he was ruling the world, by the request of some Rishis he revealed the same to them and it is later coded as the Manu dharma sastra.  Among many topics discussed, Manu dharma sastra also describes certain rules and procedures for a leader shouldto rule the nation.  Some of the important points from it are given in this article.

The king is the ruler of the nation; the ruling king should decide the next king to rule his nation.  It may be his own children or relative or the one who is capable to rule.  The king must be trained in Raja dharma, just as how a Brahmana is trained in Vedas.

The king can have all the luxuries and facilities of the land, not for him to enjoy the luxuries, but use them to help the people and to protect them by any means.  The king must have self-control and must not have anger, greed or lust.  These three will destroy him and his nation. 

A true and dedicated king is like a father to the nation.  The subjects must feel comfortable with the king.  They must feel free to meet the king at any time and at any place.

As soon as a king is coronated, he implements a dhanda (rod of power).  The dhanda is also coronated along with the king.  The king must impart laws to the dhanda, and do abhishekam for the dhanda.  Any mistake done in administering the dhanda will result in corruption of the varnas and the downfall of his empire.   The dhanda is the power of the king.  This dhanda is referred to as shenkol in the modern day.  Even when the king sleeps, the dhanda will be awake to implement justice.  The king always has the dhanda with him.  Even if he fails to follow dharma, the dhanda will instigate him.  Even though dhanda is a rod like structure made of gold or silver, it is treated and respected like a king.

The king must treat all the varnas equally, and protect them all without any discrimination.  If dharma is not followed by the king, then the king as well as his subjects will be destroyed.  The king has the power to appoint the ministers equal to him in all ways.  The ministers also should be well trained in the sastras, Vedas and must be free from anger, greed or lust.  If the king has any doubt in administration, then he can get the advice of the ministers.  The king must discuss protection, prosperity of the kingdom and the distribution of the revenue with the ministers on the day-to-day basis. 

The king can appoint officials and with their help collect dhana (money) from the people as annual tax and it forms the dhana (revenue) of the nation.  The king as well as the officials should not demand money but collect it following rules and vedic principles.  The tax charged must not burden the giver, but must be like a contribution to help the nation.  Revenue can also be collected from the business done with the other nations, and when the king conquers a nation their dhana can be added to the dhana of the nation.  The revenue must be spent carefully for protection of the subjects and the nation, for free education, for the poor and needy.  If any of the official misuse power or money or become corrupt then the king should protect the subjects and confiscate the money from the officials.

When the king of another nation is captured, the king as well as their people must be treated with respect; the captured king must be given place, all comforts and money to live the rest of the life in peace.  If a soldier of his nation is killed in a battle, then the king should support the family of the soldier till the children becomes self-reliant.  The king should not think even twice to kill the enemy whether he is outside or inside the nation.

The king must appoint a person well capable to deal with business, loyal, honest, good memory, fearless nature, good communication skill, patience, dignity and personality to deal with the other nations in all matters.  He is called dhoota (ambassador).  The success of a kingdom’s relationship with other kingdoms to a large extend depend on the dhoota. 

The king has the power to form the law of the nation but that should benefit all the subjects.  While punishing a subject he must consider the place, time, strength of the offence, the level of knowledge of the offender etc, then apply the law who has transgressed the law. 

Each village will have a head and group of villages will also have a head and they report to the higher officials about the happenings in each village and thus the king is always well informed.  Apart from it the king will personally go for rounds in the villages to know about the administration and the welfare of the people.

The king must be a very responsible, efficient and learned person.

These are the rules and the laws given in the dharma sastra of Manu as the seventh chapter – Raja dharma.

LESSER KNOWN AVATARS OF BHAGAVAN VISHNU

LESSER-KNOWN AVATARS OF BHAGAVAN VISHNU

Bhagavan Vishnu takes avatar (incarnation) from time to time; whenever dharma in the creation declines and adharma increases He takes avatar.  The ten avatars of Bhagavan Vishnu are known to all the bhaktas.  Apart from this there are many avatars which are lesser known and in this article, I would like to share with you some of the lesser-known avatars of Bhagavan Vishnu.

1. Hayagriva avatar

Bhagavan Vishnu took the Hayagriva avatar, to kill a demon named Hayagriva.  Hayagriva was a dhanava born to Rishi Kashyapa.  He had a horse neck and a human body.  He defeated the devas and ruled the world.  He did not want the human race to learn the Vedas, because learning Vedas will elevate them and they will not listen to him; so, he took the Vedas from lord Brahma and hid it.  Dhanava Hayagriva worshipped Devi Durga and obtained a boon that only another Hayagriva like him (one with a horse neck) can defeat and kill him.   The devas worshipped Bhagavan Vishnu and Bhagavan knowing the secret of the boon took Hayagriva avatar and killed dhanava Hayagriva, saved the Vedas and Devas.  Hayagriva avatar of Bhagavan is an embodiment of knowledge.

2. Mahahansa avatar (Golden swan avatar)

Sanakadi Rishis ( Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, Sanat Kumara, ) were the mind born sons of Lord Brahma.  They were created by Lord Brahma to help him in the creation.  But from the time they were born, they were interested in Brahma vidya.  They already had very deep knowledge and Lord Brahma could not teach them further.  Knowing about their deep thirst for knowledge, Bhagavan Vishnu took the form of a golden swan (Hansa) and appeared in the Manasa Lake in the heights of Himalayas.  This is the Hansa avatar of Bhagavan Vishnu.  Bhagavan took the form of Hansa because among all the beings only Hansa has the ability to separate milk from the water; Just like how one knows to discriminate the illusory aspects of the material world from the Truth.  The Sanakadi Rishis approached Bhagavan Hansa and Bhagavan Hansa cleared all their doubts in Brahma Vidya in the form of Hansa floating in the Manasa River.

3. Nara-Narayana Avatar

Nara-Narayana are the twin brother avatar of Bhavan Vishnu.  They were born to preserve dharma in the world.  They were born to Dharma, the mind born son of Lord Brahmaa and Murti, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati.  Murti is the personification of Ahimsa.  From the time they were born they dedicated their life for meditation and penance.  They meditated in Badarikashrama.  Their tapas were so deep that not even Lord Shiva could disturb their tapas.  They did tapas to establish dharma in the world.  It is said that in the Mahabharata, Arjuna is the incarnation of Nara and Narayana Himself appeared as Lord krishna.  They worked together again to reestablish dharma.

4. Dhanvantari avatar.

During the Samudra madhana, churning the ocean of milk, by the asuras (demons) and the Devas (gods) there appeared amruta (divine elixir).  Bhagavan Vishnu appeared in a very attractive form with four arms and dark shining complexion, holding the pot of amruta.  This is the Dhanvantari avatar.  The asuras greedily grabbed it and each asura wanted to consume it all alone. So, there was a fight going on among them and Bhagavan Vishnu took this as an advantage and disappeared, and appeared in another form to get that amruta from them and serve it to the devas.  Before disappearing from them Bhagavan Dhanvantari said that he will appear on the earth in future.

The Raja of Kasi, King Dhirgatamas, had no son.   He worshipped Bhagavan Vishnu, the Dhanvanrti avatar, to get a son.  Bhagavan pleased by his bhakti was born as the son of Kasi Maharaj as prince Divodasa.  He imparted the science of Ayurveda to the sages in His life time including the sage surgeon, Susruta and so Bhagavan Dhanvantari is called the Father of Ayurveda.  It is believed that Lord Brahma created the science of Ayurveda before the creation of mankind.  Bhagavan Dhanvantari compiled it according to topics and gave the knowledge to the sages.  Any disease in this world can be cured by the science of ayurveda.

5. Mohini Avatar

Mohini is the only female avatar of Bhagavan Vishnu.  Bhagavan took the avatar as a beautiful woman with the power of captivating everyone through her charm and beauty.  During the Samudra madhana, churning the ocean of milk, by the asuras (demons) and the Devas (gods) appeared amruta (divine elixir).  The Asuras took away the Amruta, and if they consume it then adharma will prevail in the creation.  The Devas worshipped Bhagavan Vishnu, and Bhagavan appeared in a mohita rupa (deluding captivating form) and tricked the Asuras and gave the Amruta to the Devas.  But two Asuras in the name of Ragu and Ketu in disguise consumed the Amruta and they became eternal and they continue to disturb the world.

6. Dattatreya Avatar

Bhagavan Dattatreya is believed to be the incarnation of the Trinity Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiv, and so His form is believed to have three heads and six arms.  He was born as the son of Sage Atri and Devi Anasuya.  Some tradition considers Him as the incarnation of Shiva and some as the incarnation of Vishnu.  It is believed that Bhagavan in this avatar imparted the secret of Yoga to the sages.  He is known as the first teacher of Yoga.  He is believed to be the author of Tripura Rahasya, which is a treatise in Advaita philosophy.  He taught Tripura Rahasya to sage Parasurama.

7. Kapila Avatar

Sage Kapila was responsible for propagating the Sankhya Philosophy.  He is the avatar of Bhagavan Vishnu and was born as the son of Kardama Prajapati and his wife Devahuti.  Sankhya philosophy is spiritual knowledge combined with the elemental knowledge.  It deals with Purusha (Brahman) and Prakriti (maya).  Sage Kapila is the brother and guru of Devi Anasuya, the mother of Sage Dattatreya.  He first taught this knowledge to his mother Devi Devahuti.  His philosophy is recorded as sankhya philosophy.

8.Ved Vyasa Avatar

Sage Vyasa was the son of Rishi Parasara and Devi Satyavati.  Satyavati was a fisher women engaged in Ferrying passengers across the river Yamuna.  At one instance, Sage Parasara was her passenger and they both got married and Sage Vyasa was born.  He was born on an island in River Yamuna and he was dark in complexion and was called as Krishna Dwaipayana (black man of the Island).  Hinduism cannot have this glory without the effort and work of Ved Vyasa.  He compiled and edited the Vedas into four sections as Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva Veda.  He taught the four sections to His four students Sage Sumantu, sage Vaisampayana, Sage Jaimini, Sage Paila.

Later He wrote the eighteen puranas.  He wrote the Mahabharata and wrote the Truth of the Vedas in the form of Sutras (aphorisms) as Brahma Sutra. 

These are some of the avatars of Bhagavan Vishnu that are lesser known among the many avatars and that are need to be known to the Bhaktas.

THE MEANING OF SANATANA DHARMA

THE MEANING OF SANATANA DHARMA

The meaning of Sanatana dharma is made complicated by misinterpretation.  Sanatana dharma can easily be said as the rules and discipline derived from the Vedas by the Rishis for the righteous way of life.  No one dictated the people to follow it; they themselves followed the rules because the rules helped them to see the unity in diversity which is the goal of the Vedas.  Later, when the concept of kingdom and rulership came in to existence the first ruler of the universe Manu, briefed these rules and discipline under the request of the Rishis.  It was later brought out as Manu Smriti with different topics.  The Rishis requested Manu to do so and he briefed the rules from the Vedas for the better living of the people in the future.  According to the Vedas an individual is born to understand his real nature and unite with Brahman. The rules and discipline help one to realize his real nature.  Later the rules were quoted in many smritis like Ramayana, Srimad Bhagavada, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita etc.

Sanatana dharma cannot be accepted as a religion, because there are no specific rituals or doctrine or commandments or a dictator in Sanatana dharma.  It is purely based on the principles of the Vedas which are eternal and infinite.   No one knows from when did Sanatana dharma began; it is eternal.  In short, Sanatana dharma can be said as the righteous way of life to realize the Truth.

Sanatana dharma divides the society into four groups based on the guna (nature) and karma (action).  It is only division and there is no place for discrimination.  Discrimination is against culture.  The Aryans, meaning people who are educated, are cultured and noble, will not discriminate people.  Discrimination, insulting, defaming are all part of the uncultured society.  The division of the society is strictly based on the nature of the individual and the action he performs is based on his nature.  This division is called varna. 

Brahmana varna

People who have the natural flair to learn Vedas, teach it and do karmas prescribed in the Vedas are called Brahmanas.

Shatriya varna

People who have the natural flair to save the people under all circumstance and look after the welfare of the people are called the shatriyas.

Vaisya varna

People who have the natural flair to do business and agriculture and have the talent to look after the economy of the nation by doing trade are called the vaisyas.

Sudra varna

People who have the helping mentality by doing service to others, helping others to come up in life, serving the other three varnas are called sudras.  They have the special talent to do rough and hard work.

In the ancient times each varna helped each other and the society developed uniformly.  There was no discrimination then because each varna helped the other and the motive of all was Self-realization. 

Brahmanas excelled in understanding Vedas and so they were respected by all and the Brahmanas treated others equally since they were well versed in Vedas. 

Women were respected in the society and many women Rishis were part of revealing Vedas. 

The people and their life style aligned with the Vedas and there were no other religion or beliefs during that time and hence no misunderstanding prevailed.

Later when the time moved on, people began to see everything very grossly and began to view in a narrow way and many noble facts were given wrong meaning; people also followed the wrong understanding and began to live an egoistic material life.  The varnas were divided in to castes and some people dominated the others and made the system worse.  The divinity of the Vedas and seeing unity in diversity which is the goal of the Vedas is questioned by wrong values.

The world is passing through the kali yuga.  The understanding and the intellect of the people will align with the yuga.  the understanding of the Vedas will also differ according to the yugas.  It is better to understand the Vedas in the right sense; because misinterpretation will lead to decline in the values in the society.