THE DIFFERENCE IN DEVOTION AND KNOWLEDGE
OF THE THREE FAMOUS CHILDREN – PART 1
We all know of the devotion and knowledge of the three famous children in the scriptures – Dhruva, prahlad and Nachiketa. In this article with two parts, I would like to share with you the brief story of the three children and my view on this topic.
The story of Dhruva comes in fourth skanda, chapter eight of Srimad Bhagavata. Child Dhruva belonged to a Kshatriya family. His father was a king and his grandfather was Suyambhuva manu. His mother was Sunithi and he was always insulted by his stepmother Suruchi. On one particular day Dhruva’s father too kept silent when she insulted him, and this caused more pain in Dhruva and he ran to his mother Sunithi. She advised him to have unswerving devotion on Lord Vishnu. Taking her words seriously he left to the forest to meditate on Lord Vishnu. He met sage Narada in the forest and the sage was surprised by the determination of the young child who was only five years of age. By the advice of the sage, the young child Dhruva meditated on Lord Vishnu, saw the form of Lord Vishnu, and received the boon to be the Dhruva nakshatra, the pole star after his life time.
The story of Prahlad comes in the seventh skanda of Srimad Bhagavata. Child Prahlad was also five years of age and he belonged to an Asura family. He was the son of a famous asura, Hiranyakashipu. Devotion to Lord Vishnu was inherent in that child and from a very young age he was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. His devotion to Lord Vishnu was unaccepted by his father because his father considered Lord Vishnu as his enemy. His father inflicted tortures on this young child, but nothing affected Prahlad because all the time his mind was strongly attached to Lord Vishnu. Prahlad had great faith in the Lord and to make Prahlad’s words true, Lord Vishnu appeared as Narashimha in the place (a pillar) where Prahlad believed that Lord would be there in that pillar too. Lord Narashimha killed Hiranyakashipu and blessed Prahlad who had no other worldly desires than the refugee in the Lord’s feet.
The story of Nachiketa comes in the Kathopanishad. The entire Upanishad is the teaching of Brahma vidya by Lord Yama, the guru of Nachiketa, to the young child. Nachiketa belonged to a Brahmin family. His father Vajasravasa, once performed a Yagna where the owner of the sacrifice had to give all he owed to others as offering. But his father gave only the used and old things to others. Even the cows he gave to Brahmins were very old. Therefore to balance the mistake of his father Nachiketa asked his father, “To whom do you offer me?” This irritated his father and he said, “To death I give you”. To make his father’s words true, even though later he was dissuaded by his father, he went to the abode of Lord Yama. There the attendants of the Lord made Nachiketa to wait outside the palace for three days without food or water. With determination the young child waited outside for the Lord. When Lord Yama arrived he was surprised by the determination of the young child and he offered him three boons because he waited for three days. As the first boon Nachiketa asked, my father should be free from worry and anxiety for missing me and he should accept me without hesitation when I go back to him. As the second boon he asked, a person coming to heaven must have a long stay in heaven. Lord Yama immediately gave the two boons. The Lord was surprised by the third boon Nachiketa asked because it was regarding Brahma vidya. Nachiketa asked, “Some say that it exists and some say that it does not exist after death. I want to know the truth from you, the lord of death”. To test the child whether he was qualified for Brahma vidya, Lord Yama offered him worldly boons, which Nachiketa rejected and he was so adamant for Brahma vidya. In the end, the lord as guru taught Brahma vidya to Nachiketa and Nachiketa became the knower of Brahman.
These are the very inspiring stories of the three small children who had remarkable power of determination, devotion and knowledge. In the second part of the article I will share with you the difference in devotion and knowledge of these three children.
In this article I would like to mention about the gitas mentioned in different puranas.
1. Agastya gita – Agastya gita comes in the Varaha purana. Varaha purana is the conversation between Varaha murti (the avatar of Lord Mahavishnu) and Dharani (earth). To one of the questions by Dharani, Varahamurti as answer quotes the Agastya gita, which was originally said by Sage Agastya. This gita tells about the concept of moksha, the attainment of paramatma by the jivatma through devotion, renunciation and by the grace of God.
2. Avadhuda gita – Avadhuta means ever-free. Avadhuta gita means the song of the ever-free. Avadhuta gita is the experience of the Avadhuta Dattatreya. It is based on the non-dualistic philosophy. Avadhuta gita is an independent treatise on Advaita vedanta. It is also said as Vedanta sara.
3. Brahma gita – Brahma gita comes in the Brahma Purana. This gita praises Lord Shiva. After the death of Sati, Daksha goes to Lord Shiva and praises his glories and the Lord blesses him. These slokas are said as Brahma gita.
4. Devi gita – Devi gita comes in the Devi baghavata purana. It is one among the eighteen puranas, where Devi is said as Brahman. Devi gita tells about the supreme power of the divine mother. She is both compassionate and at the same time very ferocious too. Devi gita is the conversation between devi Parvati and her father Himavan, and she tells her father that she is the ultimate reality, Brahman. She explains about the evolution, existence and dissolution.
5. Ganesha gita – Ganesha gita is from the Ganesha purana. It has two sections. The first is the upasana kanda, a section on devotion to Lord Ganesha. The second section is the krida kanda, which tells about the divine leelas of Lord Ganesha. Ganesha gita comes in the krida kanda. It is the discourse of Lord Gajanana, an incarnation of Ganesha, to king Varenya. The discourse is based on liberation.
6. Guru gita – Guru gita comes in the skanda purana. It has 352 verses. It is a famous gita in Vedanta philosophy. It is a conversation between Lord Shiva and devi Parvati, where devi Parvati asks about the importance of guru, and the answer by Lord Shiva is the Guru gita.
7. Hanuman gita – Hanuman gita is the discourse of Lord Ram and devi Sita after their arrival back to Ayodhya, after defeating Ravana. Lord Ram and devi Sita reveal their identity to Hanuman. Lord Ram says that he is the all pervading, imperishable Brahman and devi Sita is the yoga maya existing in Brahman.
8. Ishwara gita – Ishwara gita comes in the uttara vibhaga of the kurma purana. It is the teaching of Lord Vishnu to Sage Narada. Ishwara gita explains Ishwara, the creator as omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient.
9. Rama gita – Rama gita comes in the uttara kanda of Adhyatma Ramayana, authored by Veda Vyasa. Rama gita is a dialogue between Lord Rama and his younger brother Lakshmana. To one of the questions by devi Parvati, her consort Lord Shiva as answer retells the Rama gita. The presenter of Rama gita is Lord Shiva.
There is another Rama gita in Jnana vasishta, Tattwa sarayana. It is the dialogue between Hanuman and Sri Ram on jnana, bhakti yoga and vairagya. It emphasizes the importance of knowledge and practice of good karmas. It is based on monistic philosophy.
10. Ramana gita – Ramana gita is not a traditional gita as taken from any puranas. Ramana gita is the teachings of Shri Ramana maharshi who lived in the 20th century in a place called Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. One of his disciples, Shri Ganapathi muni, recorded the answers given by Shri Ramana maharshi to nearly 43 questions posted by his devotees on Self enquiry and he brought it out as Ramana gita.
11. Ribhu gita – Ribhu gita comes in the Shiva rahasya purana. It is an upapurana based on Lord Shiva and saivite worship. It has about 2000 versus. It is a dialogue between Sage Ribhu and his disciple Sage Nidagha.
12. Shiva gita – Shiva gita is taken from the padma purana. When Ravana took away devi Sita, Lord Rama in grief wandered in the forest. Sage Agastya consoled Sri Ram and advised him to worship Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva appeared before Lord Ram and taught him this gita. The guru of Shiva gita is Lord Shiva and the disciple is Lord Ram. Lord Shiva says in Shiva gita that the entire creation is the manifestation of the primordial being, himself.
13. Siddha gita – Siddha gita is from Yoga Vasishta. Some siddhas assembled near the palace of king Janaka and they were singing the praise of Brahman and Atma. Sage Vasistha quotes this gita to Sri Ram.
14. Surya gita – Surya gita is found in the Tattwa sarayana. It is the teaching of the eternal teacher Dakshinamurthi to Lord Brahma about Brahman and its manifestations.
15. Suta gita – Suta gita is from the skanda purana. It comprises of the teaching about Brahman and maya tattwa.
16. Vallabha gita – Vallabha gita is also said as shodasha granthas, a collection of sixteen stotras of Shri Vallabhacharya. Shri Vallabhacharya was one of the five main acharyas who propagated the Vaishnava Bhakti tradition of Hinduism and he is the founder of the pushti sect in Hinduism. It is based on the philosophy of shuddha advaitam (non-dualism), which means that Brahman alone is real. They do not accept the concept of maya. Pushti sect believes that the Universe is not an illusion, but the natural emanation from God. Jiva is a part of God (Krishna) and is identical with him. Their main deity is Lord Krishna and attaining him is liberation. As answers to his devotes questions, Shri Vallabhacharya wrote 16 granthas to help them in the path of devotion. These granthas were later known as Vallabha gita.
17. Vasishta gita – Vasishta gita is also knows as Yoga Vasishta. It is an important work in Vedanta philosophy. It is the advice given by Sage Vasishta to Lord Ram, when Sri Ram was in the dejected state of mind. It comes in the uttara bhaga of Valmiki Ramayana. It is also known as jnana Vasishta. It is a profound work in Vedanta with 32,000 versus. The discourse of Sage Vasishta is based on the Reality, non-duality, manifestation and liberation.
18. Vibheeshana gita – Vibeeshana gita comes in the yuddha kanda of Ramayana. It is a discourse between Lord Ram and Vibeeshana. Vibeeshana asked Sri Ram that how he was able to win over the mighty Ravana; Sri Ram said that dharma, faith and good values will win in the end. Sri Ram’s answer is said as Vibeeshana gita.
19. Vidya gita – Vidya gita comes in the Tripura Rahasya. It is in the form of a story as said by Lord Dattatreya to Lord Parasuram. Lord Dattatreya says that vidya, the highest wisdom is devi herself and she removes the fog of delusion and confers liberation through intelligence.
20. Yama gita – Yama gita was originally recited by Agni dev to Sage Vasishta. It appears in Vishnu Puran, Agni Puran and Narashimha Puran. It explains the nature of Self, the concept of Brahman and the ways to attain liberation.
21. Vyasa gita – Vyasa gita comes in the Brahma Puran. Brahma Puran was said by Lord Brahma to the Sages on mount Meru. The Sages requested Lord Brahma to tell about the yoga that will help them to be free of miseries and later help them to unite with Paramatma; as answer Sage Vyasa recited the Vyasa gita, which explains the philosophy of non-dualism and samkya philosophy.
These are the different gitas in Hinduism. In total there are more than 60 gitas in Hinduism other than the famous Baghavad gita. Hope the three articles (Different gitas in Hinduism Part 1, Part2, Part 3) may help the readers to trace the source and read the gitas to improve their knowledge on Brahman.
In my last article I shared with you the different gitas from Mahabarata. In this article, I would like to share with you the different gitas from Srimad Bhagavata. Srimad Bhagavata is one among the eighteen puranas. It is a very famous purana written by Sage Vyasa. It has twelve skandas. I would like to view Srimad Bhagavata as a philosophical work drenched in Bhakti. There are seventeen gitas in Srimad Bhagavata and I would like to give a gist of them so that it may help anyone to trace the source and refer to them to develop the spiritual knowledge. Some special sections in Srimad Bhagavata are traditionally considered as gita. It may not be in the format of gita, still it is considered as gita.
1. Bharata Gita – Bharata Gita comes in the fifth skanda (chapters 11- 14). The teaching of Sage Bharata to king Rahuguna is Bharata Gita. Bharata is the son of king Rishaba; after whom this land is name as Bharata. The teaching of Sage Bharata is to control the mind, senses and to have love towards the Lord.
2. Bhikshu Gita – Bhikshu Gita comes in the eleventh skanda (Chapter 23). It is a dialogue between Sage Suka dev and king Parikshit. Its core content is advaita vedanta. It is a story of a poor Brahmin from a place called Avanti who realizes the truth, after much suffering in life.
3. Gopi gitas
There are a set of six gitas in the tenth skanda which are famously said as Gopi Gitas. They are different hymns of the Vraja Gopis, which are deep in emotion, pure selfless and divine love towards Lord Krishna. They are the
1. Venu Gita – When the gopis are at home during the night, they hear the flute song (venu ghana) of Lord Krishna. When they go to work in the morning (to tend the cows in the forest), they sing in praise of the Venu ghana. This hymn is Venu Gita (chapter 21).
2. Pranaya Gita – Pranaya or Prema is pure love, which is a spiritual mentality of equality and oneness of heart between two people, the lover and his beloved. It describes that how one leaves their individuality and identifies with the other (lover). At this stage, they feel that the prana, mana, bhuddhi, deha and vesha (costume) are identical with the other. They do not feel any difference between them. It is the highest state of bhakti. The hymn praising this state of emotion is called the Pranaya Gita (chapter 29).
3. Gopi Gita – Gopi Gita is also a hymn by the gopis assembled on the banks of river Yamuna. While searching for Lord Krishna, they sing about the feeling of separation from Lord Krishna. This hymn is Gopi Gita (chapter 31).
4. Yugala Gita – Yugala gita is pair of verses glorifying Sri Krishna, which the gopis sing in the late afternoon to pass time. It comes in chapter 35.
5. Viraha Gita – When Akrura comes to Vraja to take Sri Krishna and Balaram to Madhura city, the gopis of Vraja including Radha was saddened by the news. They openly express their deep feeling of separation from Sri Krishna and it is Viraha Gita (chapter 39).
6. Bhramara Gita – After going to Madhura, Sri Krishna will sent Uddhava from Madhura to console the gopis of Vraja. He came in the early morning to Madhura. At that time, a gopi spotted a honey bee near Akrura. She thinks that it is a special messenger from Sri Krishna and she laments to that honey bee about her feeling of separation from Sri Krishna. This is Bhramara Gita (chapter 47).
4. Kapila Gita – Kapila Gita comes in the third skanda. Kapila gita is the teaching of Sage Kapila to his mother Devahuti. Sage Kapila was one of the founders of Samkhya philosophy which is a dualistic philosophy. It comes in chapter 25 – 33.
5. Rudra Gita – It is from the fourth skanda (chapter 24). It is also repeated in the Varaha purana. Rudra is the pure devotion to the Supreme Being. It is the hymn in praise of Lord Vishnu expounded by Lord Rudra.
6. Sruti Gita – It comes in the tenth skanda (chapter 87). Sruti Gita is the Vedas singing in praise of the ultimate reality; which means that the Vedas explain the Reality.
7. Rishaba Gita – It is from the fifth skanda (chapter 4, 5, 6). It is the teaching of king Rishaba to his children about practicing good values and attaining liberation.
8. Uddhava Gita – It is otherwise known as Hamsa Gita. It comes in the eleventh skanda. It has thousand verses. It is the last discourse of Lord Krishna to his friend and devotee Uddhava. It is very deep in philosophy like Bhagavad Gita.
9. Aila Gita – It comes in the eleventh skanda. It is the story of king Pururuva (also known as Aila), which Lord Krishna says to Uddhava. It explains how attachments to mundane life affect the spiritual development.
10. Mahishi Gita – It comes in the tenth skanda.(chapter 90). The queens of Lord Krishna sing a hymn in praise of their happy moment with their husband, Lord Krishna. It is a very small gita with only ten verses.
11. Bhumi Gita – It comes in the twelfth skanda (chapter 3). It is a song by mother earth (Bhumi Devi), who laments that how foolish the rulers are that they conquer a part of the land and think that they have conquered the earth and they themselves are sentient being; what to say about their achievements.
12. Jayanteya Gita – It comes in the eleventh skanda (chapter 2-5). It is famously known as Nimi-Navayogi samvada. It is a dialogue between king Nimi and the navayogis (the nine yogis who are the sons of king Rishaba and queen Jayanti). It describes the different steps to reach liberation.
These are the different gitas in Srimad Bhagavata. Some are deep in philosophy, some are deep in the emotion of divine love, and some are deep in the emotion of bhakti. They all are helpful for one’s inspiration and enlightenment.
Gita means a song or a hymn. It is usually a dialogue or a conversation between a guru, preceptor, or a jivan mukta and a sishya, student, or an earnest seeker. Sometimes the song will be in the form of an advice. Gita is usually filled with many questions and answers. Gitas are very important in Hinduism, because it is ripe with spiritual knowledge. There are many gitas in Hinduism. To my knowledge there are more than sixty gitas in Hinduism. The source of these gitas is from the epics, puranas, upapuranas and other Hindu scriptures. The most famous among all these gitas is Sri Baghavad gita. Everyone knows about this gita. In this article let us see the different gitas from mahabharata.
Mahabharata has eighteen parvas, chapters, or books. The longest among them is the shanti parva. It has 365 chapters. Shanti parva has three sections. They are the Raja dharma parva, apad dharma parva and moksha dharma parva. The source of majority of the mahabharata gitas is from the moksha dharma parva or raja dharma parva of shanti parva of mahabharata.
The background of shanti parva is, after the great mahabharata war was over, King Yudhishtira was in a dejected state of mind. Nobody could console him. After the coronation ceremony was over the five Pandava brothers went to see Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna took them to see Bheeshmaacharya, who was lying on the bed of arrows, still alive. When Bheeshmaacharya saluted Lord Krishna, He took away the pain of Bheeshmaacharya, and made his mind peaceful. By the direction of Lord Krishna King Yudhishtira asked many questions to Bheeshmaacharya. Bheeshmaacharya gave deep philosophical answers to each of King Yudhishtira questions. Each one of his profound answers is traditionally considered as gita. Majority of them are a dialogue between a Rishi and a king, which he refers to king Yudhishtira.
Another parva which is the source of many gitas in mahabharata is the vana parva. During the period of exile, the Pandavas especially Yudhishtira meets many sages. He asks many questions to these sages regarding all important topics in life. The answer by the sages to these questions is traditionally considered as gita. This parva is about the moral ethics and values the Pandavas learnt during their period of exile in the forest.
Now let us see the different gitas from mahabharata. There are 25 gitas in mahabharata.
1. Sri Baghavad gita – It is also said as Hari gita by Sage Narada. It comes in the Bheeshma parva of mahabharata. It is a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. It has 700 verses. It discusses various aspects of life.
2. Anu gita – After the mahabharata war was over, Arjuna completely forgot the gita. Therefore, he approached Lord Krishna and requested him to repeat the gita. Lord Krishna said what is said in a particular situation, at a particular time cannot be repeated again; and he said the essence of Baghavad gita, which is known as Anu gita.
3. Uttara gita – After ruling the kingdom for many years, again in the old age Arjuna approached Lord Krishna and requested him to advice Brahma vidya. Lord Krishna advised many yogic practices and this collection is called uttara gita.
These three gitas are known as Krishna gitas. They are said by Lord Krishna to Arjuna.
3. Ashtavakra gita – This gita is the conversation between sage Ashtavakra and king Janaka of Mythila. Sage Ashtavakra is the guru of king Janaka. It comes in the vana parva of mahabharata. It is about the core advaita vedanta philosophy. During the period of vanavasa to one of the questions of Yudhishtira, sage Lomash recites the story of Ashtavakra.
4. Baka gita – It is a conversation between sage Baka and lord Indira. It is about dharma and renunciation.
5. Bheeshma gita – This gita has three hymns sung in praise of Lord Vishnu, Lord Narayana and Lord Mahadev by Bheeshma.
6. Bodhya gita – This gita comes in the shanti parva, sub-section moksha dharma parva of mahabharata. It is a dialogue between sage Bodhya and king Yayati.
7. Brahmana gita – It comes in the ashvamedha parva of mahabharata. It is conversation between a learned brahmin and his wife about ways to escape from the bondage of maya.
8. Harita gita – It comes in the shanti parva of mahabharta. This gita is the teachings of sage Harita on sanyasa dharma. Bheeshmaacharya recites this gita as an answer to one of the questions by king Yudishtira.
9. Kama gita – It is very short gita with only eleven verses. It comes in the ashvamedha parva of mahabharata. It is a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Yudishtira on the importance of suppression of desires, and the ways to deal with desires.
10. Manki gita – It comes in the shanti parva, sub-section moksha dharma parva of mahabharata. It is the story of sage Manki on his enlightenment, which Bheeshmaacharya recites to one of the questions of king Yudhishtira.
11. Nahusha gita – It is a dialogue between king Yudhishtira and Nahusha in the form of a serpent.
12. Parasara gita – It comes in the shanti parva of mahabharata. It is a dialogue between Rishi Parasara, who is the father of Ved Vyasa, and king Janaka. Bheeshmaacharya recites this gita, which is about good values, to a question asked by king Yudhishtira.
13. Pandava gita – This gita is a hymn dedicated to Lord Krishna. It has 76 verses. This gita is about the saranagathi tattwa. Many people including the five pandavas, Draupati, Kunti, Narada, Bhishma, Dronacharya etc tell about their saranagati to Lord Krishna and how they were protected by Lord Krishna. This gita is also known as Prapanna gita.
14. Pingala gita – It comes in the santi parva, sub-section moksha dharma parva of mahabharata. When king Yudhishtira asks Bheeshmaacharya about knowledge and renunciation, Bheeshmaacharya recites this gita. Actually it is a story of a dancing girl named Pingala, who realizes that the cause for her sorrow are her desires and she gave up her desires and attained enlightenment. It also comes in the Uddhava gita.
15. Sampaka gita – It comes in the shanti parva, sub-section moksha dharma parva in mahabharata. Sampaka was a learned and pious brahmin who realized that only renunciation can give everlasting happiness. When king Yudhishtira questions Bheeshmaacharya the reason for the same kind of sorrow and happiness affecting both the rich and the poor, Bheeshmaacharya recited this gita.
16. Sanatsujata gita – This gita comes in the udyoga parva of mahabharata. It is a dialogue between king Dhritharashtira and Rishi Sanatsujata. King Dhritharastira was disturbed by the exile of the Pandava brothers. Vidhura invites Rishi Sanatsujata to advise the king. The advice given by Rishi Sanatsujata based on brahma vidya is Sanatsujata gita.
17. Shaunaka gita – This gita comes in the aranya (vana) parva of mahabharata. It is a dialogue between sage Shaunaka and Yudhishtira based on the secrets of life.
18. Vamadeva gita – It comes in the shanti parva, sub-section raja dharma parva of mahabharata. To a question by king Yudhishtira on raja dharma, Bheeshmaacharya recites this gita. It is a dialogue between Rishi Vamadeva and king Vasumana of Kosala kingdom.
19. Shadaja gita – This gita comes in the shanti parva, sub-section apad dharma parva of mahabharata. Shadaja means originating from six; this gita has individual views about dharma from the five Pandava brothers and Vidhura.
20. Utathya gita – It comes in the shanti parva, sub-section raja dharma parva of mahabharata. King Yudhishtira asks about raja dharma and Bheeshmaacharya recites this gita which is originally said by Utathya (son of Angiras) to king Mandhata.
21. Vicakhnu gita – This gita is from the shanti parva, sub-section moksha dharma parva of mahabharata. It is a small gita with eleven versus. Bheeshmaacharya tells king Yudhishtira about the views of king Vicakhnu on non-violence. King Vicakhnu says that the animal nature in man must be sacrificed rather than sacrificing the real animals in the yagna (sacrifice).
22. Vidhura gita – It is also famously said as Vidhura neeti. It comes in the udyoga parva of mahabharata. It has 500 versus. This gita is the advice given by Vidhura on raja dharma, dharma, individual and social morality, politics and the art of governing to king Dhritharashtira.
23. Vritra gita – It comes in the shanti parva, sub-section moksha dharma parva in mahabharata. It is a dialogue between Vritrasura and Sukracharya, which Bheeshmaacharya refers to king Yudhishtira to a question based on detachment and moksha.
24. Vyadha gita – This gita comes in the vana parva of mahabharata. It is the advice given by sage Markandeya to Yudhishtira in the vanavasa period of the pandavas. It is a story of a butcher (vyadha) who does nishkama karma (selfless act) and dharma (righteous act).
25. Yudhishtira – This gita is also known as yaksha prashna. It comes in the vana parva of mahabharata. It is a conversation between a yaksha and Yudhishtira. A yaksha in the form of a crane asks many questions to Yudhishtira for which Yudhishtira answers brilliantly.
These are the gitas from the greatest epic mahabharata.
In my next article I’ll write about the different gitas from Srimad Baghavata purana.
SACRED TEXTS IN HINDUISM
Hinduism has many sacred texts. Though the most famous among them is Baghavad gita, there are many other sacred texts. What is a sacred text? The text that explains the concept of God, the profound principles and beliefs in a religion is called the sacred text. On this basis, Hinduism has many sacred texts. The sacred texts in Hinduism explain the universal concept of God, the relationship between God and the individual, the concept of Jagad (world), the rituals and beliefs that help an individual to evolve in life.
The sacred texts in Hinduism can be broadly divided into sruti and smiriti. In the ancient times, knowledge of Veda and Vedanta were passed on to generation after generation only by oral rendition. The students hear the teachings, register them in their mind and teach them to their students. In the ancient times the entire Veda and Vedanta were passed on in the Guru sishya parampara (teacher student lineage) in this manner. Therefore, the Veda and Vedanta are called as sruti (to be heard).
The texts written remembering the sruti is said as smiriti (to be remembered). Ithihasas, puranas and smiriti literature are said as smiriti. Ithihasas, puranas and smiriti literature were written with the underlying touch of the Vedas. The concept of Veda and Vedanta are included in the smiriti.
There are many texts in Hinduism to suit the different mentalities of people. People who are more ritualistic go after the ritualistic part of Veda. People who are emotional go after smiriti. People who have spiritual mentality go after Vedanta. Whatever an individual follows it gradually leads him to the ultimate goal, self realization.
Veda and Vedanta belong to sruti. The Veda is divided in to four parts. They are the Rig, Yajur, sama and atharva Veda.
Rig Veda consists of entirely mantras. The mantras that are to be chanted during different sacrifices and the mantras that help mental evolution are given in the Rig Veda.
Yajur Veda has mantras, explanation of the sacrifices, and the rules, regulations that are to be followed during the sacrifices are given in yajur Veda.
Sama Veda is the musical rendering of the mantras in the Rig Veda. It is very powerful because the musical notes have a great impact in the mind and in the atmosphere.
Atharva Veda was included in the Vedas in the last. It includes mantras which help to manipulate the energy either in the positive or in the negative way.
All these different parts of the Veda have an end portion called Vedanta. In the Vedanta portion the core concept of Hindu Dharma is explained. It explains about the concept of nirakara, nirguna, niswarupa Brahman. The mantra and sacrifices section of the Veda is called the karma kanda and the Vedanta section is called the Jnana kanda. All the mantras, rituals etc in the karma kanda helps to lift a person intellectually to understand the concept of Brahman.
Ithihasas are the life history of the divine rulers of Bharata. They are two itihasas, the Ramayana written by Sage Valmiki and Mahabharata written by sage Vyasa.
Ramayana is the life history of the divine rulers of the lineage of the Sun god (surya vamsa). It mainly tells about the divine ruler Raja Ram, the avatar of Mahavishnu. Ramayana was originally written by Sage Valmiki, but later many people recreated Ramayana including the ritual dogmas, beliefs, and social code of conduct that were prevalent in their period of time and in their region. They never changed or rather cannot change the main story of Lord Ram. Recreating Ramayana is still considered as a scholarly work by many scholars.
Mahabharata was written by Sage Vyasa. Though Mahabharata is the story of the two major clan of Bharata, the main hero of Mahabharata is Lord Krishna. Mahabharata tells about the rulers of the lineage of the moon god (chandra vamsa). The famous text Baghavad Gita is a part of Mahabharata. It has eighteen parvas or chapters. Each parva forms a book.
There are eighteen puranas. All of them were written by Sage Vyasa. Srimad Bhagavata is the famous among them. It is also said as the fifth Veda. The life history of Lord Krishna explained in Srimad Bhagavada is very profound. The puranas are written by Sage Vyasa based on the concepts of Veda. Many concepts of Veda and Vedanta are included in the puranas. Puranas are the detailed explanation of the Vedas. Each purana tells about a particular concept of Brahman, like vishnu puran, skanda puran, Brahmanda Puran etc and it also explains the evolution and dissolution related to that concept of Brahman. Many rituals and festive celebrations in India are based on the Puranas and itihasas.
Smiriti literature explains the social code of conduct. There are eighteen smiritis and the famous among them is the manu smiriti. These codes of conduct were derived from the Vedas. Veda explains many sacrifices and rituals which help us satisfy our desires and needs. Many code of conduct including rules and regulation for the priest, yajaman (owner of the sacrifices), helping priest etc were given in the Veda. These codes of conduct were collected and written in the sutra form. This is known as the kalpa sutra. Kalpa sutra is one among the six Vedangas. All the smiritis are based on these kalpa sutras. Manu collected these codes of conduct, included the code of conduct prevalent during his time, and wrote the manu smiriti. Manu Smiriti is only a book of suggestions; it is not a book of commandment. The Government of India formed its Law book based on the Manu Smiriti. Many laws for women, property rights, individual and social rights etc are based on the Manu Smiriti. The code of conduct of the Smiriti is subject to change. It changes with time. It is said that Manu smiriti was written in the 2nd century. Those laws may not be applicable in the modern age and so the laws are subject to change.
In the Manu smiriti there are different codes of conduct for the different ashramas and for the different varnas. Importance is given for the varna and individual who sacrifice their life to attain knowledge. Smiriti literature aims for spiritual purity through physical, verbal and mental purity.
The itihasas, puranas or smiriti literature, they all aim for self realization in their own way. Itihasas tell about self realization through the life history of the divine personalities. Puranas tell about self realization through different stories and explanations. Smiriti literature explains self realization through the code of conduct. Since the ultimate principle of Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) is self realization, all these texts are considered as sacred texts in Hinduism.
TRIVITKARANA AND PANCHIKARANA
Before creation there was only Sat. Brahman alone existed. At that time, its inherent power maya did not manifest. Then, Brahman with maya made sankalpa (imagination) to manifest and maya manifested as these different forms. Maya from the unmanifest state began to manifest. Maya is dependent on Sat (Brahman) and so it is called mitya. Maya is inert. When it combines with Brahman it appears as intelligent. Maya has three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas. From the tamo aspect of maya evolved the sukshma bhutas; otherwise known as tanmatras. These sukshma bhutas (subtle elements) undergo a process called trivitkarana and transform into sthula bhutas (gross elements). Trivitkarana is a process of transformation of the three elements agni (fire), aap (water) and pritvi (matter) from its sukshma state (subtle state) to sthula state (gross state). Trivitkarana is explained in the Chandogya Upanisad, in the sixth chapter, section three, mantras 3, 4. Trivitkarana is a process of combination of the three elements. When agni manifested, by its power manifested aap (water) element. By the power of aap manifested prithvi (matter) element. At this stage agni, aap, prithvi are in the pure and subtle state, which cannot be perceived. This pure subtle agni, aap and prithvi combine and become gross, then it can be perceived. This combination process is called trivitkarana.
Trivitkarana process is
1/2 portion of agni combines with 1/4th portion of aap + 1/4th portion of prithvi to form the gross agni element.
1/2 portion of aap combines with 1/4th portion of agni + 1/4th portion of prithvi to form the gross aap element.
1/2 portion of prithvi combines with 1/4th portion of agni + 1/4th portion of aap to form the gross prithvi element.
Trivitkarana is explained in Chandogya Upanisad. Similarly, when the pancha sukshma bhutas (five basic subtle elements) combine, it is called panchikarana. When the five elements combine the proportion of combination will change. Panchikarana is the process by which the five sukshma bhutas combine, undergo transformation and become the five sthula bhutas; this is the sthula bhutas which we perceive as the five basic elements. Panchikarana is explained by Sri Adi Sankaracharya.
Panchikarana process is
1/2 portion of akasa (ether) element combines with 1/8th portion of vayu (air) element + 1/8th portion of agni (fire) element + 1/8th portion of aap (water) element + 1/8th portion of prithvi (matter) element to become sthula (gross) akasa element.
1/2 portion of vayu combines with 1/8th portion of akasa + 1/8th portion of agni + 1/8th portion of aap + 1/8th portion of prithvi to become sthula (gross) vayu element.
1/2 portion of agni combines with 1/8th portion of akasa + 1/8th portion of vayu + 1/8th portion of aap + 1/8th portion of prithvi to become sthula (gross) agni element.
1/2 portion of aap combines with 1/8th portion of akasa + 1/8th portion of vayu + 1/8th portion of agni + 1/8th portion of prithvi to become sthula (gross) aap element.
1/2 portion of prithvi combines with 1/8th portion of akasa + 1/8th portion of vayu + 1/8th portion of agni + 1/8th portion of aap to become sthula (gross) prithvi element.
The pure and subtle akasa, vayu, agni, aap and prithvi combine and undergo transformation to become the sthula (gross) elements.
Now, the sthula pancha bhutas (five gross elements) combine to form different sariras (gross bodies). Whatever form we see in this world is the combination of these five elements. The sthula sarira shrishti are of four types. They are
Jarayujam – that which are born from the womb. Examples are human beings, animals etc.
Andajam – that which are born from the egg. Examples are birds, reptiles, insects etc.
Udhbhijam – that which are born from the seed, comes out splitting earth. Examples are plants.
Svethajam – that which are born from the moisture. Examples are bacteria, germs etc.
All these type of bodies are the different combination of the five gross elements. These sariras are inert. Brahman as chitabasa enters in these sariras and makes it conscious. Thus the creation goes on.
Trivitkarana and panchikarana are the process by which the sukshma bhutas undergo a process of combination and transform as sthula bhutas.