Thursday December 14, 2017

Decoding the divine!

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By Nithin Sridhar

Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 10

In the last few installments of this series, various tenets of Dharma (duty/righteousness) like Ahimsa (non-injury), Daya (compassion), and Kshama (forgiveness) were explained. In this installment, let us delve deep into the topic of Ishwara or Brahman that is usually translated in English as God.

The concept of God or the Almighty has been a matter of debate all over the world from early times of mankind. Various religions, philosophies, and even scientists have tried to answer questions regarding this Supreme Being. Though most people agree with the definition of God as one who is Supreme Almighty, there are many huge irreconcilable differences between the concepts of God of the Dharmic traditions and the Abrahamic religions.

Without getting into the debate surrounding these differences, the article will try to highlight the concept of God as understood, realized, and passed down in the tradition of Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Dharma) or Hinduism.

Any discussion surrounding the topic of God and His/Her/Its existence ultimately boils down to three questions:

What is God?

Where is God?

How to perceive/reach/realize God?

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history-of-hinduism.blogspot.com

Let’s take up only the second question: “Where is God?” in this installment.

In the Isha Upanishad, the very first mantra (verse) gives an answer to this question. It says:

IshAvAsyamida.NsarvaMyatki~nchajagatyAMjagat | (Verse 1)

This translates into God has a habitat everywhere. So, to the question “Where is God?” the Isha Upanishad answers that God is present everywhere and in all objects of the Universe. Accordingly, from a tiny blade of grass to a big mountain, God is omnipresent. This understanding can be more profoundly understood by the event of Prahlada and Hiranyakashipu as mentioned in Puranas. When demon Hiranyakashipu asked his son whether God is in the pillar? Prahlada replied in positive. When Hiranyakashipu tried to break the pillar, God in the form of Narasimha came out of the pillar and slayed the demon.

The gist of the incident is that God is everywhere, in all sentient and non-sentient objects. He is in the rocks, the wind, the planets, the star, the space, the microbes, the plants, the animals or even in humans. The next question that may immediately arise is: When it is said God is in humans, plants, or objects, where exactly is the God located in them?

Lord Krishna answers this question in Bhagavad Gita (15.15) thus:

sarvasyachAhaMhRRidisanniviShTo

Translation: And I am seated in the hearts of all

So, Lord Krishna says God is located in the hearts of all. Here “Hrdii” that is translated as “Heart” does not refer to physical heart. The non-living objects don’t have a physical heart! The “Hrdii” refers to the central essence of an individual’s existence. This can be better understood with an example.

Every circle has a center. The center is the essence of the circle. It is not only the most important portion of the circle but also the very origin of the circle. In fact, the dot which represents the center can be considered as a circle in itself but with “zero” or “near zero” radius. From this perspective, a circle with any radius is nothing but a “zero radius circle” (i.e. the center) whose radius has been increased to form a particular circle with a particular radius.

Similarly, “Hrdii” or “Hradayam” does not refer to a physical heart, but to the center of “individual’s existence” of any object living or non-living. So, even though God is present everywhere and in all objects, He can be fully and directly perceived and realized in the “Hradayam” of all creatures.

How exactly this realization could be gained is a topic for another article. But it is sufficient to say that from one school of thought in Hinduism, God who is actually called as Ishwara or Brahman (each term has a specific meaning and context) in Hinduism is not some superman kind of existence present in heaven or something. Instead, God is present everywhere and in the heart of all creatures.

More in this segment:
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 1
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 2
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 3
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 4
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 5
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 6
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 7
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 8
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 9

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Rituals Exist in All Cultures and they are Important

Rituals play a prominent role in every culture

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Religion
Ancient Indian Religion.

Hinduism is a practice, which is known for its rich rituals. From the Vedic ages, Hindus perform certain activities right from the time they wake up in the morning until the time they sleep. These activities may include, Pooja (worshipping lord) and Karya (Working), which integrate their culture. The events manifest a certain beauty, without which Hinduism is incomplete.

Different sects of Hindus worship different deities. Various Poojas are held for different festivities and occasions called the ‘Utsavas’. People during different festivals not just gather to worship the god, but also come together to celebrate life, with beautiful colours, clothes and delicious food. This itself proves that rituals manifest the beauty and celebration of life in Hinduism.

Meaning Of Rituals:

However, certain sections of the society have a preconceived notion about the rituals Hindus perform, which leads to them being called ‘superstitious’ or ‘overtly religious’. But is it fair to tag them? What is the meaning of the ritual? Ritual can be any activity which you perform. It is a way of communication. A teacher teaching his or her students can be a ritual. A mother feeding her baby is a ritual. Ritual is a generic term, which must not be linked with traditions, religion and beliefs? And, even if it is associated with these customs, then Hinduism should not be the only target. Every religion follows some beliefs. For example, a Muslim reading Namaz is a ritual; Christians visiting church on every Sunday is a ritual or Thanksgivings, when people have dinners with their friends and families. Hindus may have more rituals to act on than Muslims or Christians, but this gives no one the right to invalidate their belief. The rituals which Hindus perform don’t just have a connection with God, but also scientific reasons behind them. For example, Surya Namaskar is good for health as facing the light at that time of the day is good for your eyes, and makes you a morning person.

Also Read: Navratri 5th Day, The Tales That Speaks About Mother-Son Relationship

The reason why people not like rituals is due to their stifling and obligatory nature. Since our childhood, we have been asked to adhere to certain activities, and never taught the reason behind them. This develops disconnection towards them.

Benefits Of Rituals:

Rituals should be seen as art. We must not do it for the sake of doing it. We must sense its meaning like we sense the meaning of art. There is a side of these customs which we don’t want as well, but at the end of the day, they generate a sense of unity and belongingness. They bind you as a community. As long as we live as humans, these practices will have an integral role to play in our life, which can not be neglected.

by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.      Megha can be reached at Twitter @ImMeghaacharya.

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Three reasons explaining the science behind temple visits

Various reasons explaining temple visits by Hindus. The coming generations are however not aware of them, unlike our ancestors.

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why we should visit temple
why we should visit temple
  • There are Scientific reasons behind visiting Temple.
  • These scientific reasons go beyond the limits of  ‘belief in God’.

Have You Ever Thought? Why do We Visit Temple?

Visiting Temple is a popular culture in the Hindu religion. However, the worshipers themselves are unaware of the real science & the benefits of behind the visiting temple, as they believe what is continuously being ingrained in their minds, the belief of taking blessings from the God. Their belief is not fallacious, but it tries to negate the scientific discipline behind it. This belief is more popular in the present generation, unlike our ancestors who were well versed with these explanations.

Scientific Reasons Why we should Visit Temple:

Paying visit to the temples are not only to get blessing but to get a calm and better mind set. The following 3 scientific reasons are the actual purpose of visiting the temple according to the Hindu script & you will understand, why we should visit temple often

  1. Moolasthanam

Idol
Moolasthanam

Many Hindu religion practitioners visiting a temple in the morning say that “prayer to God” gives them peace. Their statements have been proven true, as religious shrines are places known for attaining mental peace.  The structure of the temple is built after the idol is placed, which is at the pivotal point, known as the “Moolasthan” or the inner part of the temple. This is the point where Earth’s magnetic waves are extreme, which creates positive energy and builds a peaceful atmosphere. This one of the main scientific reasons why we should visit temple.

 

  1. Parikrama:

Parikrama
Devotee taking parikrama

Definition of Parikrama: Once we done praying, circling the inner sanctum of the temple where the deity resides is a a very common ritual in Hindu temples .This is called Parikrama or Pradakshina or Pradakshinam.

Science states that the parikrama we take while as part of our prayer to the God, helps us absorb all the positive energy present there. The parikrama should be taken in the clockwise direction. This one of the important reasons why we should visit temple.

Also Read:  Shradh Puja: Five Facts you should Know about Death Anniversary Ritual In Hinduism.

3. Visiting Temple Activates your sense organs

One can absorb the positive energy only when the five senses are activated. So, we should visit temple in order to activate our sense organs to absorb positive energy.

The Sense of Touch:

aarti
Taking Aarti

After the aarti, we move our hands over the camphor or diya and touch our eyes with it. The warmth activates the sense of touch.

The Sense of Smell:

The items kept around the worshiping area like the flowers, camphor incense sticks, create a strong essence and activate the sense of smell. Flowers like marigold and rose petals offered the most have a strong fragrance.

Pooja material
Pooja ingredients

The Sense of Sight:

Worshippers close their eyes while praying and once they open them, they see the camphor lit in the Moolsthan, the only light seen in dark, which activates their sense of sight. The Moolsthan is a dark place.

Prayers
People worshipping

The Sense of Hearing:

Bells
Worshiper ringing temple bell

The bells emit a sound creating unity in the right and left portions of the brain; the sound emitted lasts for at least 7 seconds in the form of an echo. These 7 seconds are enough to activate the seven healing chakras in the body.

The Sense of Taste:

copper vessel
copper vessel

Ayurveda states that Charnamrut given to us helps in balancing the three doshas- Vata, Pitta, Kapha, as it is kept in a copper vessel. Charnamrut is a liquid prasad made of curd, milk and ghee. It also activates the sense of taste.

[bctt tweet=”Three reasons explaining the scientific  reasons as why we should visit temple”]

The people living in the ancient times were well aware of these reasons, and that is how they lead their lives. However, the strict impositions of ‘belief in God’ put on people to worship have kept them away from these scientific disciplines.

by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.  Twitter @ImMeghaacharya


Megha can be reached at Twitter @ImMeghaacharya

NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.

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Delhi Thumri Festival 2017 to Witness the Performances of the Best Vocal Traditions in North India

A new style of Thumri, known as “Varanasi” developed in the late 19th century and it was not dependent on dance

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Delhi Thumri Festival 2017
Girija Devi performs classical and light classical music and has helped elevate the profile of thumri. Wikimedia
  • Thumri is a genre of lively semi-classical Indian music
  • The origin of Thumri is linked with Kathak, a form of classical dance
  • For the past seven years, Sahitya Kala Parishad has never failed in delivering a successful musical fare in Delhi

New Delhi, August 30, 2017: Thumri is a genre of lively semi-classical Indian music. it is regarded as one of the most significant types of music in North India after Khayal. In Thumri, a common theme is Lord Krishna’s romance with Radha, his companion, and gopis. This year, Delhi will witness the magic of Thumri in the month of September.

The Origin-

The origin of Thumri is linked with Kathak, a form of classical dance. Thumri requires delicacy, a soulful voice to deliver its actual beauty. This form has evolved due to Awadh’s Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and Sadiq Ali Khan, the musician of his court and play a big role in what thumri is today. Wajid Ali Shah was Lucknow’s governor for the period between 1847 and 1856. His reign saw the rise of architecture, music, poetry, dance, and drama. His contribution to India’s Art is a lot. However, some musicologists feel that before him, Thumri grew as a classical form after which it achieved popularity. A new style of Thumri, known as “Varanasi” developed in the late 19th century and it was not dependent on dance.

Thumri and Perspectives-

Many traditionalists opposed the blending of dance and music in this form. However, there also existed numerous classical musicians who got attracted to this form, as it has the ability to mix notes belonging to other Ragas through innovation. Due to this reason, Thumri was selected by various performers, including instrumentalists as well as singers. This gave rise to many forms of Thumri.

Even after so many years, the tradition and love for this form of music have not completely vanished. This has been made possible by Sahitya Kala Parishad, part of the Delhi government’s Department of Art, Culture, and Languages. For the past seven years, it has never failed in delivering a successful musical fare in Delhi. Shrimati Sindhu Mishra, the organizer of this fare, has not only introduces best vocal traditions in North India, but she has also motivated the singers of genre other than Thumri to give a performance on her stage.

ALSO READRagas for Preschool Children: Combining Classical Music with Fun Exercises

Some of the extremely talented, but less exposed singers who have been provided with a platform in Delhi’s Thumri festival include Banaras’ Debashish Dey, Samrat Pandit, Pandit Channulal Mishra, Pandit Ajoy Chakravorty among others.

Delhi Thumri Festival 2017-

This year this festival will be held at Kamani Auditorium in Delhi from 1-3 September. The festival will commence with the performance of Vidushi Arti Ankalikar who will be portraying the Jaipur Atrauli gayeki. This will be followed by Indrani Mukherjee. Her guru was the famous Vidushi Purnima Chaudhari, but now she learns from Banaras’ Manju Sundaram. She says he teaches in the Gurukul way of old times. The first day of the concert will be terminated by Pandit Chanulal Mishra of Banaras.

The second day will witness the performance of Indore’s Kalpana Zokarkar. She has a good musical descent which comprises of training in Ustad Rajab Ali Khan’s tradition. This will be the first platform for Kalpana and she agreed that she is excited about her staging. Ramakant Gaikwad, who is an upcoming singer portraying the Patiala Gharana Thumri, will be next. To put an end to the evening, the stage will be handed over to the well known Padmashri Smt Malini Awasthi.

On the final day, Delhi based singers Pooja Goswami and Meeta Pandit, the fifth descendant of the erudite family of Gwalior Pandit will take over the stage. The grand finale will be made memorable by the performance of Padma Vibhushan Vidushi Girija Devi.

-prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.