Friday December 15, 2017

Lessons one can learn from the incarnation of Lord Krishna

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Photo: http://wallpapers.filmibeat.com

By Nithin Sridhar

vasudevasutaṁdevaṁkaṁsacāṇūramardanam |

devakīparamānandaṁkṛṣṇaṁvandejagadgurum ||

Translation: I worship Lord Kṛiṣhṇa, the son of Vasudeva, who killed the great demons Kamsa and Chaṇura, who is a source of great joy to his mother, Devaki, and who is indeed a world teacher and spiritual master of the universe. (Sri Krishna-Ashtakam)

Photo: www.harekrsna.de
Photo: www.harekrsna.de

Today is Krishna Janmashtami, the day when Krishna was born in Dwapara, the previous Yuga. Krishna is not only one of the most important deities in Hinduism, but is also one of the most important incarnations of God.

In fact, of all the incarnations of God, Krishna alone is considered as a “Poorna Avatara” or a “Complete Incarnation”; that is, he was completely aware of his God-hood, the purpose of his incarnation, and also had complete control over the Universe (Prakriti) right from his childhood.

It is for this reason that the life of Krishna was filled with many miracles and many extraordinary accomplishments, as can be learned from Bhagavata Purana.

Keeping the debate on his historicity aside, for a Hindu and a practitioner of Sanatana Dharma, Krishna was indeed present in flesh and blood in the Mahabharata war and guided the Pandavas to victory. There is no doubt for a practitioner that Krishna was a complete incarnation of God. Further, God and his manifestations being eternal, Krishna can be worshiped and realized even today, even though the flesh and blood earthly incarnation has ended long ago.

It is in this context that the celebration of Krishna Janmashtami gains significance. It is not just a remembrance of Krishna’s birth in some hoary past or a symbolic acknowledgment of Krishna, the God incarnate who was present in Dwapara. Instead, Janmashtami is the celebration of the eternal reality of God, whose presence in this particular aspect of Krishna, especially in his baby form, can be most intimately felt and realized on this day.

The Krishna Tattva, or the essence of Krishna is most strongly present on this day. Hence, a worship of Krishna will be most fulfilling and satisfying if performed today. In fact, with genuine love and surrender, one may even attain some spiritual experience. Even if one is not able to attain any such experience, one can still learn many life lessons from Krishna’s incarnation and try to adopt them in daily life to attain spiritual progress.

The life of Krishna, on the one hand, is filled with fun, frolic, love and celebration; on the other hand, it is filled with war, politics, philosophy and spirituality. In every stage of his life and through every action, Krishna comes out as the greatest teacher, the mankind ever had. It is for this reason that the Krishna-Ashtakam calls Krishna “Jagadguru” or World-Teacher.

Let us look at a few teachings that Krishna imparts about Bhakti or Devotion through his incarnation.

Krishna and Yashoda

Though Devaki was the biological mother of Krishna, it was Yashoda who brought him up. It is Yashoda, more than Devaki, who was eulogized as the mother of Krishna.

In Narada Bhakti Sutras, sage Narada speaks about eleven kinds of practicing Bhakti (devotion). One among them is “Vatsalya Bhakti” which refers to parental love. The relationship between Yashoda and Krishna exemplifies this Vatsalya Bhakti. Krishna taught his mother to develop this kind of Bhakti through his love and actions which include pestering his mother or causing trouble around the village. In a sense, Krishna helped Yashoda attain ideal motherhood.

An incident mentioned in the Puranas states that when someone had complained to Yashoda about Krishna having eaten mud, she ordered him to open his mouth. However, when Krishna did so, she saw the entire universe including herself inside his mouth. She could not comprehend what had happened and became fearful and confused. At this reaction, Krishna made her forget her vision and she returned back to her normal state.

Yashoda was able to see Krishna’s universal form because her love for him was pure and deep. Yet, her love was incomplete at that stage, as a result of which she became afraid on seeing his universal form. Further, if Krishna had not made her forget the vision, Yashoda would not have been able to look at Krishna as her son. In other words, Yashoda was not yet ready to attain the highest realization. Therefore, to help Yashoda further perfect her motherly devotion, Krishna made her forget the vision. Hence, through this play with Yashoda, Krishna imparts important lessons about ideals of motherhood and how to practice Vatsalya Bhakti.

Krishna and Gopis

The Raas-Lila of gopis and the incident of Krishna stealing away their clothes is very famous. However, what is not clearly known is why Krishna stole those clothes and what he teaches through his interaction with the gopis.

Photo: http://pratyasha-nithin.artistwebsites.com
Photo: http://pratyasha-nithin.artistwebsites.com

The gopis had practiced austerities with a vow to have Krishna as their husband. They practiced what Narada calls “Kantya Bhakti” or spousal devotion. The gopis who had prayed to get Krishna as their husband had inadvertently broken their vow when they had bathed naked in the water.Hence, Krishna helped them rectify it by making them come out naked from the water and surrendering themselves. Shame does not exist between a husband and a wife. As long as it exists, conjugal love cannot be complete. Since the gopis worshiped Krishna as their husband, it was vital for them to become free of shame in front of him. The whole incident was aimed at helping them accomplish this and subsequently fulfilling their vows. The subsequent Raas-Lila with dance and merriment were all an extension of this Kantya Bhakti.

Thus, through his interaction with the gopis, Krishna shows how devotion to God in a spousal or conjugal manner must be practiced in life.

Later, when Krishna leaves Vrindavan forever and never returns back to visit Yashoda or the gopis, he teaches them how to perfect a higher stage of Bhakti that Narada calls “Parama-Viraha Bhakti” or the devotion of supreme pain due to separation.” This can be assessed by Krishna’s discussion with Uddava, whom he sends to deliver a message to Yashoda and the gopis.

Krishna and Draupadi

Draupadi was very close to Krishna and shared a sibling relationship. Their bond depicts the sibling-like affection in the devotion to God. This kind of love is an aspect of Vatsalya Bhakti. When Draupadi was being disrobed after the Pandavas were defeated in a game of dice, it was Krishna who saved her honor. Draupadi first appealed to her husbands, and then to the elders present in the Kaurava court. But, when none came to help her and she did not know what to do, she finally surrendered herself to Lord Krishna and left hold of her robe. In doing so, her devotion and surrender became complete and Krishna came and saved her. The event teaches one how to practice devotion. As long as we hold onto our pride and ego, it is not possible to realize God first hand. However, when one surrenders one’s actions completely to God, He is bound to safeguard the person.

Krishna and Pandavas

The Pandavas exemplify devotion through friendship. Narada calls such devotion “SakyaBhakti”. The Pandavas had many faults, but their one virtue was of an unquestioning surrender to Krishna. It was this surrender that helped Yudhishtira to understand why he had committed Adharma by playing the game of dice. It was this surrender that helped Arjuna fight in the Kurukshetra war with the conviction that he was doing Dharma. This surrender made Arjuna a fit candidate to receive Gita-Upadesha or the teachings of Gita from Krishna. Krishna always taught the Pandavas about the future course of actions to be taken, about what was right and wrong. Krishna, through his advice and assistance, taught the Pandavas the Sakya Bhakti.

These are some of the lessons on Bhakti and its practice taught by Krishna through his incarnation. He had taught that one can worship God in any form –as a son, father, brother, friend or lover. He also showed how God never abandons his devotees and whenever a devotee is in distress, God would definitely help out him or her. The only key to this is that the devotee must be genuine; his devotion must be sincere, and he must surrender completely. On this Janmashtami, people ought to ponder over some of these teachings and try to implement them in their lives.

  • devika todi

    informative article. of all gods that are worshipped by the hindus, Krishna endears to me the most

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On Gita Jayanti let us look into the timeless wisdom of Bhagavad Gita, holy book of Hindus which inspired millions

Bhagavad Gita is the timeless wisdom of Sanatan Dharma for mankind. One of the most widely read book which inspired millions of people all across the globe. Read how you can shape your destiny through timeless wisdom of Bhagavad Gita

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Bhagavad Gita Jayanti
Bhagwan Krishna revealing Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna in Mahabharata

“Fear not, what is not real, never was and never will be, what is real, always was, and can never be destroyed” – Bhagawad Gita, doctrine of universal truth.

 
Today on occasion of Bhagwad Gita Jayanti I would like to  share my personal and social experiences with the eternal source of knowledge, Bhagawad Gita, book which inspired millions of readers for thousands of years. It’s no surprise that the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita has inspired countless people throughout history; being India’s best gift to mankind. Bhagawad Gita is undoubtedly the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed. 
 
The purpose behind revealing Bhagwad Gita to Arjuna by Shri Krishna was to remove his confusions at the battlefield in Kurukshetra. Similarly, all of us are so much confused in life, but we never turn to the source which can remove these confusions. Not only Arjuna, but every one of us is full of anxieties because of this material existence and scheme of things we are into. The purpose of Bhagavad Gita is to deliver mankind from the nescience of material existence. 
 
I fortunately at very young age was introduced to Bhagawad Gita by my Nana ji, who also happens to be the reason behind my deeply rooted interest in indic studies, indian philosophy, bhakti and spirituality. What Bhagawad Gita gave me in life can not be comprehended in words, it has always been the guiding force in my life, it acted as a beacon of light when life seemed all dark. After being a constant companion of Bhagwad Gita, my life changed drastically, I am sure this holds true for everyone who has been grasping the eternal flowing nectar of Bhagawad Gita. To say that I can explain Bhagawad Gita will be foolish on my part, its an ocean and I might have been blessed to grasp few drops of it. But it certainly gave me new perspective of life beyond this material world, I became more truthful to my duties and most importantly I learnt the act of letting go. The scripture of Bhagavad Gita contains precious pearls of wisdom which ought to be read by all, irrespective of one’s age, caste, color or religion.  The most important benefit envisaged by Bajgwad Gita is the “inspiration for the man to lead a ‘Dharmic life,” a fact often forgotten by the modern man who is too much troubled in making: name, fame, accomplishments, financial achievements, power and ability to control the resources. 
Bhagavad Gita Jayanti
Shri krishna in Mahabharata as “Parth Sarthi”
 
A person can acquire proper meaning in life, a deeper realization of his true identity, and attain a level of self-confidence and peace only by inward reflection and realisation which can never be reached through ordinary, materialistic studies or endeavors. Furthermore, teachings of Bhagavad Gita bring us to our higher potential in everything we do, materially or spiritually. This is the power and the importance of the Bhagavad Gita and the instructions of Shri Krishna found within it.

Gita Saar is the essence of Gita, reading this will inspire you to know Bhagwad Gita further, trust me, its the best gift you can give to yourself or anyone : 

“Whatever happened, it happened for good.
Whatever is happening, is also happening for good.
Whatever will happen, that too will be for good.
What have you lost for which you weep?
What did you bring with you, which you have lost?
What did you produce, which has perished?
You did not bring anything when you were born.
Whatever you have taken, it is taken from Here.
Whatever you have given, it is given Here.
You came empty handed and you will go the same way.
Whatever is yours today, will be somebody else’s tomorrow
And it will be some others’ later.
This change is the law of the universe
And the theme behind my creation.”

– Shri Krishna

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Bhagavad Gita Jayanti
Narendra Modi gifting Bhagavad Gita
Recently, It was so heartening to see Indian Prime Minister Modi gifting Bhagwad Gita to different nation heads. “I have nothing more valuable to give and the world has nothing more valuable to get,” the Prime Minister rightly said. Bhagawad Gita is the identity of India, it is the essence of Sanatan Dharma, the foundation rock of spirituality and guiding force for thousands of years to come.
 
It is impossible to truncate the teachings and glory of Bhagavad Gita into one page and I know that it would be sheer stupidity on my part to even think so. But I hope many of you will  get a copy of Bhagwad Gita on this auspicious occasion of Gita Jayanti, read it, distribute it, cherish it and experience the magic in your life. Gita teaches many things and as Mahatma Gandhi had said “No matter how many times Gita is read it teaches something new every time we read it”

 

–  by SHAURYA RITWIK, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

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Exploring the Faces of Faith and Devotion: 7 Principal Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism

Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creater, sustainer and destroyer of the world

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Are you familiar with the various gods and goddesses of Hinduism? Pixabay

New Delhi, October 9, 2017 : Devout Hindus have a god for every occasion and every day – over 33 million, according to popular beliefs. While people of other religions often interpret them as fictional characters, the multiple gods and goddesses of Hinduism are held with utmost devotion and sincerity by the believers.

Ours is a polytheistic religion – in other words, a myriad of gods and goddesses of Hinduism. Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the world. These divine forces are known to appear in different avatars, embodied by different gods and goddesses.

In Hinduism, Lord Brahma is the creator of the Universe and the first member of the holy trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh). However, he is not worshiped as Vishnu or Shiva with only one temple dedicated to him, the Pushkar temple of Rajasthan.

Here are some of the many gods and goddesses of Hinduism.

1. Vishnu

Vishnu is the second member of the holy Hindu triad, who sustains the entire world – Vishnu is believed to return to the earth during distressed times to restore the balance between good and evil.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Lord Vishnu. Wikimedia

Believed to have incarnated nine times, Vishnu symbolizes the principles of order, righteousness, and truth. His associate is Lakshmi, the goddess of family life and prosperity.

Vishnu is always depicted with a blue-colored human body with four hands, each of which carries four different objects – a conch, chakra, lotus flower and mace. The god is shown to ride the Garuda, an eagle.

So far, Vishnu has appeared on earth in various incarnations. These include fish, turtle, boar, Narsimha (half lion, half man), Vamana (dwarf sage with the ability to grow), Parsuram, Ram, Krishna and Buddha. Devotees believe he will re-incarnate in a last avatar, popularly known as ‘Kalki’, close to the end of this world.

Hindus who worship Vishnu are primarily known as Vaishnava and regard him as the greatest god.

2. Shiva

One of the members of the holy Hindu trinity, Lord Shiva is as the god of destruction, so that the world may be recreated by Brahma. Thus, his destructive powers are perceived as regenerative: necessary to make renewal possible.

Known by different names like Mahadeva, Nataraja , Pashupati, Vishwanath and Bhole Nath, Shiva is known to have untamed enthusiasm, which drives him to extremes in conduct. It is his relationship with wife Parvati which established the balance. While other gods and goddesses are represented in glorious avatars, Shiva is dressed in plan animal skin and usually sits in a yogic aasana.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
God Shiva, Wikimedia

Shiva is often addressed as the Lord of Dance, with the rhythm of the dance believed to be symbolic of the balance in the universe, masterfully held by Shiva. His most significant dance form is the Tandav.

Hindus who worship Shiva as their primary god are known as Shaivites.


3. Lakshmi

One of the most popular goddesses of Hindu mythology, Lakshmi gets hers name from the Sanskrit word ‘lakshya’, meaning ambition or purpose. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, prosperity and purity and is the associate of Vishnu.

Lakshmi is believed to reside in places of hard work, and sincerity, However, the goddess leaves whenever an individual is overcome with greed or malice or when these qualities are not evident anymore. Hindus believe Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi. Hence, they worship the goddess of prosperity primarily during Diwali, which commemorated the Hindu epic Ramayana.

Gods and goddesses of hinduism
Goddess Lakshmi. Wikimedia

Lakshmi is widely represented as an enchanting woman with four arms, settled or standing on a lotus flower.

Devout Hindus worship Lakshmi at temples and inside homes alike, and believe worshipping her with utmost sincerity blesses an individual with success and fortune.


4. Ganesha

The pot bellied, elephant-headed god Ganesha, also known as Ganpati, Vinayak and Binayak, is the son of Shiva and Parvati. one of the most popular gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ganesha is revered as the remover of all obstacles, which is why his presence is first acknowledged before beginning any new work.

The lord of success and wealth, Ganesha is also the patron of knowledge and learning; devotees believe he wrote down parts of the Hindu epic Mahabharata with his broken tusk.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
Ganesh Puja. Wikimedia

Ganesha is typically depicted as a pot-bellied, elephant-headed red colored god, with four arms and a broken tusk. This head is believed to characterize the atma or the soul and the body represents the maya or mankind’s earthly existence. The rats, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.

Lord Ganesha is shown riding mouse, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.


5. Krishna

Believed to be the most popular and the most powerful avatar of Vishnu, Krishna is revered as the Supreme Being or the Purana Purushottam out of a list of several hundred gods and goddesses of Hinduism, by several devout Hindus. One of the most loved and mischievous gods, Krishna means ‘black’ and can be believed to denote mysteriousness.

In Hinduism, Krishna takes several different roles- that of a hero, leader, protector, philosopher, teacher and a friend and is believed to have lived on earth between 3200 – 3100 BC. His birth is widely celebrated on the midnight of Ashtami during the month of Shravan, and is called Janmashthami.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Picture of idols of Lord Krishna and Radha, decorated for Janmashtami. Wikimedia

Stories of Krishna’s birth, childhood and youth and widely read and circulated, with every mother wanting to have a child like him. His raas with Radha is also remembered widely.

Krishna is held with utmost reverence for his role as the charioteer of Arjuna, as explained in the Mahabharata. It was in the middle of this war that Krishna delivered his famous advice about ‘Nishkam Karma’ which propagated action without attachment, which formed the basis of the Bhagwat Gita.

Krishna is extremely fond of white butter and there are several stories about how he stole butter from gopis throughout his childhood. He is depicted as a dark and extremely handsome, usually depicted with a flute which he used for its seductive powers.


6. Ram

Maryada Purushottam Ram is the ideal avatar of Vishnu. An epitome of chivalry, virtues and ethical demeanor, Ram is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu who is believed to have taken birth to eradicate all evils from the world.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Ram Darbar. Wikimedia

Unlike all other gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ram is believed to be a historical character, instead of an imaginary figure. The Hindu epic Ramayana is a retelling and celebration of Ram’s life – a tale of his fourteen years in exile with his wife and brother.

Ram’s birthday is celebrated as Ramnavmi, wherein devotees invoke him with religious chants to attain his blessings shield. The festival of lights, Diwali, which is one of the major festivals in Hinduism, is also observed to celebrate the return of Ram, Laksham and Sita back to Ayodhya after an exile of fourteen years.

Ram bears a dark complexion to show his resemblance to Vishnu and his other avatar Krishna, and is almost always depicted with a bow and arrow in his hands and a quiver on his back. Ram also wears a tilak on his forehead. Accompanying the statues of Ram are idols of his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and the celebrated monkey-god Hanuman, who together combine the Ram Darbar.

7. Saraswati

Daughter of Shiva and Durga, and the consort of Brahma, Saraswati is revered as the goddess of wisdom, learning, speech and music. She is the goddess of knowledge and arts. Devotees often worship the deity before commencing any educational work- books and stationary items are often revered as Saraswati is believed to reside in them.

Saraswati Vandana, religious chants dedicated to the goddess of music often begin and end all Vedic lessons. The goddess also plays songs of wisdom, affection and life on the veena, a string instrument.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
Sarswati, Wikimedia Commons

Saraswati is visually represented in pure white attire and rides a peacock, with a lotus in one hand and sacred scriptures in the other. She also has four hands that signify the four aspects of learning- mind, intellect, alertness, and ego.

Out of all the 33 million gods and goddesses of Hinduism, devout Hindus believe only Saraswati can grant them moksha- the ultimate emancipation of the soul.

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10 quotes from Bhagavada Gita to kick start your day

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By Sakchi Srivastava

Bhagavada Gita or the Song of the God, in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, is a narrative between Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna passes on sermons and teachings on life and death to Arjuna. These teachings are universal truths which have proved their relevance through millenniums. They are of extreme relevance to people of all ages, no matter which nationality they belong to. These are eternal truths which help every individual to pass the necessary ordeals of life.

Here are 10 special quotes from the Bhagvada Gita which can enlighten the mind and the soul –

1. “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”
People are born in this world as individuals responsible for their own actions. They should make their own decisions no matter how right and wrong they are, without trying to imitate others. People should learn to take ownership of their life rather walking on someone else’s road.

2. “I am Time, the great destroyer of the world.”
As goes the great saying “Time and Tide wait for none”, Bhagvada Gita also propagates the beliefs that time is the most valuable ornament of our existence. Any being belonging to any age group cannot afford to waste it. It teaches us how to be organized and have a productive and meaningful life. Once wasted, it can never be compensated.

3. “O Krishna, the mind is restless”
The mind is a powerful element that cannot be controlled by any force. It is its own master. At one point people believe in something and at the very other moment they support something else. The mind is always in a state of flux.

4. ‘Reshape yourself through the power of your will.’
Life should be conquered by the will. Will is the strongest emotion which drives the entire existence. People’s will to achieve their goals or to become something in life helps them to achieve success.

5. “Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward.”
People have the right to work, but never to the fruit of that work. They should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should they long for inaction. Hard work should be the soul dedication and the result will follow. People should always be patience.

6. “There is nothing lost or wasted in life.”
Everyone has the privilege of living only one life. People come into this world without belongings but as individuals. They should not have regrets in this life. They don’t even lose their loved ones, they are all here.

7. “Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.”
Every man is an individual with different opinions and perspectives. A man is known by his beliefs. Whatever he believes in becomes his identity.

8. “There is neither this world nor the world beyond nor happiness for the one who doubts.”
Anyone who doubts his decisions, his likings, his dislikes or is not confident about his choices will fail to be happy no matter how many chances are given to him. He will not find happiness in any state of mind.

9. “One can become whatever one wants to be (if one constantly contemplates on the object of desire with faith).”
All have hankering towards achieving goals in life. Though some are successful but some lose the battle because they are in doubt. People should understand humans have the capability to achieve everything in life only if they believe in themselves.

10. “I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Anything that takes birth is destined to die. Everything, that breathes, which includes plants and animals, also have a lifespan.