Monday December 11, 2017

Uncovered: Why the West does not understand Kali

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kali-face

By Nithin Sridhar

“In the distant past, the land that would be India played host to a war between ancient aliens, whose cross-temporal battles contributed to the country’s rich myths and legends. Kali, oldest and deadliest of these creatures, was thought defeated long, long ago; her body scattered throughout time to prevent her return. But her psychic essence could not be killed… nor her millennia-long quest for vengeance.

“Now, in the 23rd Century, she is on the brink of resurrection. And with India at the forefront of human spaceflight, it’s not only Earth that falls to her predations if she succeeds – but the whole cosmos!

“In a race against time, and across it, the Doctor and Clara must gather secrets, intelligence, and allies from across India’s past, present, and future – if they are to survive… THE SWORDS OF KALI.”

This is the summary of the second story in the Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor comic strip published by the Titan Comics. The story portrays Goddess Kali, one of the most revered mothers in Hinduism as an alien creature who is seeking revenge. The comic appears to have even appropriated the story of Sati and how her body parts were scattered after she burned herself in her father’s Yajna (fire ritual) and distorted it to fit into their story of alien battles.

There is nothing wrong per se with portrayal of Kali or other Hindu Gods and symbols in comics or movies. But, such a portrayal should be true to their meaning and depiction in the source culture. A distorted portrayal not only depicts ignorance and negligence on the part of those who use other culture’s symbols, but when this distortion keeps happening again and again, it points towards deliberate malaise and pre-conceived biases towards certain cultures that are outside the mainstream western culture.

Depiction of Goddess Kali in American entertainment industry

The Titan comics are neither the first nor the only people to portray Mother Kali in a negative as well as incorrect manner. Here are the few examples:

  1. In 1984 “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” movie, Goddess Kali was portrayed as a monster, to whom human sacrifices were given by Thugees. The whole scene is depicted dramatically in such a way that it gives the impression as if Goddess Kali is some kind of evil.
  2. In 2008, Supermodel Heidi Klum dressed as Goddess Kali for a Halloween party. When asked about why she chose to dress like Kali, she said the idea was given to her by her secretary, and she added:”I loved it because she’s so mean and killed all these different people and had fingers hanging off her and little shrunken heads everywhere.” Her statement clearly shows that she considers Kali as a mean people killer, which clearly depicts her lack of understanding of the iconography of Kali.
  3. In 2010, in a famous TV series called “Supernatural”, both Mother Kali and her son Lord Ganesha have been depicted in a very poor light. First, it portrays Goddess Kali as having an affair with Angel Gabriel. Then, it portrays Ganesha as a big fat man who is reduced to a splash of blood by Lucifer, the evil personified in Christian theology. The whole episode makes a mockery of Hindu religion and Hindu deities on multiple counts. It propagates the medieval Christian view that depicts Pagan gods as inferior and powerless compared to even the Christian angels and equates Hindu Gods and Hindu symbols with other pagan systems. The episode not only shows the extent of ignorance present in western society about Hinduism, but also shows the pre-conceived bias they have cultivated.
  4. The 2012 online video action game SMITE allowed players to play as various gods and other characters. The game includes characters from Hindu, Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, and Norse civilizations. The fact that various Gods from Hinduism like Kali, Agni, Rama etc. has been included alongside Gods from Pagan cultures which no longer flourishes, again shows a medieval Christian mentality of rejecting everything non-Christian as pagan and hence inferior and false. This view is further highlighted by the absence of any angels or characters from Christian or other Abrahamic mythologies.
  5. In 2014, Goddess Kali was included in a sexual joke shown in TBS late nights where it showed Kali as one among various historical women, with which one can have sex using Time Bone machine.
  6. In January this year, Fox’s show “Sleepy Hollow” showed Vetala (a spirit) who has no significant connection with Goddess Kali as being a demon servant of her. It further showed a statue of Kali being used to turn a man into a demon, something which is alien to the understanding of Kali or Vetala or the concept of demon in Hinduism.
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Heidi Klum dressed as Kali

These few examples are enough to show the ignorance and the disdain that is shared by many people in the west, especially those who are involved in making movies, TV shows, comic strips etc. and other aspects of the entertainment industry. But, these negative portrayals are not limited to entertainment industry alone. It is present in western academics as well.

Depiction of Kali in Western Academics

Sarah Caldwell, in her articleThe Bloodthirsty tongue and the self-fed breast, homosexual fellatio fantasy in a south Indian ritual tradition” which won her the Robert Stoller award, writes:

This essay demonstrates that in Kerala, symbolism of the fierce goddess [Kali] does not represent abreactions of the primal scene fantasies of a Kleinian phallic mother or introjection of the fathers penis; rather, we will show that themes of eroticism and aggression in the mythology are male transsexual fantasies reflecting intense preoedipal fixation on the mothers body and expressing conflicts over primary feminine identity.”

She further quotes D. M. Wulffs view on the imagery of Goddess Kali: “[Kali] is herself, first of all, a phallic being, the mother with a penis, she stands triumphantly erect on Sivas body, sword raised, fingers pointed, and eyes and tongue protruding. At the same time, draped with severed heads and hands, she is the bloodied image of the castrating and menstruating (thus castrating) female.”

According to them, Mother Kali symbolizes “male transsexual fantasies” and is a “mother with a penis” who depicts a “castrating female.” These depictions are completely alien to Hindu perception of Goddess Kali. The academics seem to have an intention to portray the worship of Kali as a worship of “mother with a penis” just like they often portray the worship of Lord Shiva as a worship of “human phallus” without properly understanding the meaning of “Linga” which has multiple meanings like mark, pillar, phallus etc.

Prof. Dr. Narasingha Sil in his 1996 lecture which has been published here- “The Status of Kali in American Academia” says: “Then, with the advent of the electronic age since the late eighties and the early nineties, the Bengali Kali was sacrificed at the altar of the free-thinking, free-wheeling but utterly benighted computer buffs and has been transformed into a pretty and lusty beast of the East that you are now looking at—a booted but naked woman with markedly Mediterranean features perched on a toilet seat, possessing six hands (any being other than the bimanual human is enough to be regarded as a Hindu deity) holding all the artifices of autoerotism, and actually masturbating with an oversize dildo.

Or we have Kali who resembles a monstrous mutant sci-fi creature with a lolling tongue or, partially true to some indigenous iconography, an excessively passionate female in rut or animal heat on top of the ethyphallus Mahadeva, the Great God (another appellation of Siva) in a posture of viparitarati [reverse sex].

Dr. Sil further quotes a few poems on Kali taken from the internet. One poem runs like this:

“Kali is a slut, and a bitch.
She fucked your grandmother and your grandfather at the same time.
Kali is willing to sexually/spiritually ravish
all would-be lovers: man, woman and child.”

Another similar poem reads thus:

Kali, my Bitch-Slut-Whore,
fuckest Thou my Dad and Gran,
great Kinky Tart, would Thou
do as much for I, Thy son.

Therefore, the current conception of Goddess Kali among many people in the west is not only that of a blood-lusting monster or a mother with a penis but also as one who masturbates with an oversized dildo and is a complete slut who sleeps with everybody.

These highly sexual and perverse interpretations of Goddess Kali is completely alien to Hindu philosophy and iconography.

Mother Kali in Hindu tradition

The name Kali which is actually pronounced as “kAli”, is taken from the root word “kaala” which can either mean time or darkness. Time denotes motion as time is always in motion. The time has no beginning. It is always changing. In fact, the whole universe and all its objects are always in the motion driven by time. The objects, take birth, grow in size, decay and finally die. This whole process is driven by time. And Kali is one who is the essence of “time”, who is “time” herself.

kali-maa
Photo: www.flickr.com

Therefore, it is Kali who creates, controls, and destroys the Universe. She is called as “Adya-the oldest or the first” who is the source of all changes, all manifestations. The other meaning of the term “Darkness” or “Black” also denotes the same meaning.

Just as Black color denotes an absorption of all colors in science, Kali represents a state wherein the whole universe lies absorbed in an Unmanifested seed state (also called as Mula-prakriti). Therefore, as the embodiment of time, she is the creator and sustainer of the universe, and as an embodiment of darkness, she denotes the dissolution of the Universe.

She can be considered as equivalent to Samkhyan Prakriti and Vedantic Maya. Therefore, her name or her color which is “Black” does not denote that she is a “monster”.

Now coming to her iconographic details, she is shown as having her tongue lolling out with blood dripping from her mouth. She is usually depicted as having four hands, with one holding a sword, another a severed head, the other two hands are in the mudras of granting blessings and grant fearlessness, or sometimes hold objects like lotus or a bowl. She is naked with disheveled hairs and is usually shown in the backdrop of a Samshaan (cremation ground). She wears a garland of skulls around her neck and a skirt made of severed hands.

Now, let us look at what these means. A garment is a covering draped on the body. The whole cosmos can be understood as a cosmic body of Kali. There is nothing outside it. Therefore, she is without a garment, without a covering. Hence, she is naked. Garment can also represent the limitation of “rupa/form”. The manifestation of various objects is nothing but a manifestation of nama (name) and rupa (form). But, Kali being the unmanifested source has no “rupa” and hence is naked. The garment may also denote the three gunas i.e. Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, that is worn by Atman (Self) to become manifest as universe. Kali who is non-different from Atman in its absolute state, is without the gunas and hence naked. Therefore, there is no sexuality involved in her depiction as being naked.

The blood dripping from her mouth and her apparent blood-lust depicts a very specific spiritual process of “Rakta-Shuddi”, the purification of the blood. Blood is the most important carrier of the Prana (vital force) in the physical body. The purification of the Prana and hence of the blood is very important in Kundalini yoga. Goddess Kali is the one who purifies the Prana. Her drinking of blood denotes this purification of blood and vital force. This drinking of blood can also mean the absorption of the individual vital forces into herself. That is, she liberates a person from bondage to physical body and helps him to merge his subtle body into hers, thereby attaining spiritual union with her.

Kalika
Kali lithograph

The severed head indicates the ego of the individuals that is afflicted with lust, anger, delusion and other passions of the mind. The sword is used to cut this unpurified ego. Goddess Kali is the one who grants purification of the mind by cutting of the limited ego that is afflicted with mental passions called “arishdvarga”. The hands showing boon and a sign of fearlessness needs no further explanation.

The severed hands represent Karmas or actions. “Hands” are one of the organs of actions and hence is used as a symbol for “Karmas”. She wears a skirt of severed hands, because it is she alone who is able to severe our karmas, and make us free of their bondage. She helps the spiritual practitioners to move towards Moksha (liberation), by cutting their Karmas one by one.

The garland of severed heads are sometimes depicted as being 51 in numbers that depict the 51 letters of Sanskrit and hence the whole domain of speech and knowledge. The garland of skulls may also denote that a person has to undergo hundreds of lives in various bodies before he could attain Moksha. The disheveled hair denote that she is not bound by the rules of human society.

She is usually depicted as having one of her legs on the chest of Lord Shiva who lies on the ground in a static state. This represents the Purusha-Prakriti aspect of Samkhya. Shiva is static absolute Brahman, Kali is the power of this Brahman to have motion. Therefore, Shiva is lying without movement and Kali is standing or dancing on him.

In some depictions, especially with respect to forms like Chinnamasta, the Shakti is shown as being in a sexual union with Shiva who is lying static on the ground. The imagery is a direct depiction of the cosmic union of Purusha and Prakriti. The fact that Brahman and his power are non-different is being depicted in this imagery. The sexual union being the physical imitation of the cosmic union, the imagery aims to highlight the comic and spiritual union through sexual union. Further, in certain tantrika sadhanas (tantrika practices), the sexual energy is used to attain a spiritual union.

But, these nuances are either missed or deliberately ignored in the western commentary on Hinduism. Their understanding and interpretation of Goddess Kali is completely alien to Hindu world-view. In fact, the depictions of Kali as monstrous mother with a penis or as a whore can be easily branded as blasphemous if such a concept of blasphemy had been present in Hinduism.

This freedom of expression without concepts like blasphemy is being misused by certain quarters of western academia, media, and entertainment industry. The tantrika philosophy and spirituality is dismissed as superstition and in their place, perverse, incorrect, and non-existent meanings are being attached to Goddess Kali and other Hindu deities and symbols.

But, all is not lost.

Every cloud has a silver lining

There are many authors and teachers in the west who have understood Hinduism and Hindu traditions in depth. Their writings and teachings are in conformity with the Hindu philosophy. For example, books by authors like David Frawley and Dr. Robert Svoboda are very thorough and shed new light on ancient teachings.

Photo: http://www.rebellesociety.com/2015/08/07/kali-takes-new-york-sign-of-the-times/
Kali projection in New York. Photo: http://www.rebellesociety.com/2015/08/07/kali-takes-new-york-sign-of-the-times/

Just yesterday, a huge image of Mother Kali was projected on the face of the Empire State Building. It was part of a display by filmmaker Louie Psihoyos and his team Projecting Change to create awareness about wildlife extinction. The display included projection of a large number of endangered animals and at the end of it the image of Mother Kali was depicted.

Regarding the event, this article says: “This Kali apparition over Manhattan may be our last warning. Fierce protectress of truth, she tells it like it is, she beckons us to dive into the dark, to face the stark reality of the global ecological crisis upon us, and to let heartbreak be the ground from which we awaken and serve.

It further adds: “It is time to get our Kali on inside and out; to cut off the head and commit to the heart on all levels. So many of us are shedding our false selves, empty certainties and small lives, and no matter how much we wish for the safety of the old, the more desperately we hold on, the hotter the fires of the Real.”

  • Navita

    Thank you, a very helpful article providing information from the authentic side. Much needed to correct the arrogant, self-serving and machiavellian interpretations of certain streams of Western ‘academics’ and society.

  • Hipo

    Wonderful explanation. Befitting reply to wendy doniger and groups. The aspersion on Hindu God and Goddesses proves metal bankruptcy of west. Sister Nivedita wrote a magnificient book on Mother Kali.

  • Dr.R.K.D.Goel

    God Study by Mr. Prahbatji

  • Sherry April Bailey

    WTH….

    GTH in a hand basket, all that follow darkness….

  • Shriram Bhandari

    Beautiful article and quite a shocking revelation.

  • Samrat Nigam

    As a Hindu myself i don’t rule out the possibility that our gods and goddesses were powerful alien beings from another Earth like planet who came to Earth for creating life, spreading wisdom, philosophy, art & architecture, construction work, agriculture, maths, physics and science. Only there is no hard evidence except for speculations in Ancient Alien series of History Channel and UFOlogists like Georgio Tsukolos, Eric Von Danikan etc. I have read and ripped the book ‘Chariots of the Gods’ by Von Danikan and am amazed at the questions he has raised for example when humanity enters its space age and hight technological breakthroughs in the fields of flight, space, medical science, cybernetics, bio technology, Artificial intelligence, communication and robotics –
    1 will he explore other planets
    2 If we find Earth like planets will we make the intelligent humans of that planet the slaves and colonize them?
    3 Will special cyborgs or robots be used for war and medical treatments?
    4 Will there be an inter planetary war if we find aliens? etc etc
    These questions are fetched and baffling to mankind today. But who knows what lies for the curiosity of man and his quest to explore the unknown in the future.

    If Aliens visited Earth say even the probability of 1-5%, they might have been explorers just like we are exploring our solar system today. But the Aliens might have been an advanced inter-stellar travelers and not an inferior species like we are today.

    We all know that UFO’s are mystery. The witnesses who have seen them call them real. Many stories, real abduction cases and real (not fake) videos are there to be seen on UFO sighting documentaries and films. But still UFO’s remain a mystery till date. The mysteries of Bermuda triangle and Pacific Bermuda Triangle. Lost underwater cities and civilizations like Atlantis are a complete mystery.

  • Trdgrde

    Cultural appropriation theory is ridiculous. Every culture BORROWS from another culture, modifies and adapts those elements to enrich their own. I love mythology, I love religion, especially Asian religions, which I respect the most. My interest in Indian religious expressions stem from many sources. Popular Culture is one of them (besides scientific magazines, books and documentaries). As a kid, when I saw a representation of any god in comics, I investigated about them. The thought that states that use of some religious elements in popular culture is cultural appropriation is absurd.

    The idea that Kali is seen as a sexualized image only because of popular culture, which is reduced as “cultural appropriation” is just the product of the imagination of the idiots and the perpetually offended mentally ill.

  • Aoneesh Sharma

    I am booking marking this article because this is a good article and has done a good job in its effort to spread the truth.

  • Philip Sieve

    I like to know how the cultural context of things. That said, welcome to how academia and the media see Christianity and abuse it’s symbols and cosmic heros (thus no misused angelic video game characters are needed, though it would be cool to fight opposing deities using St. Michael the Archangel, who is one of the highest servants of God) far more than it does others’.

  • Manthra koliyer

    This article has made many misconceptions away

  • Navita

    Thank you, a very helpful article providing information from the authentic side. Much needed to correct the arrogant, self-serving and machiavellian interpretations of certain streams of Western ‘academics’ and society.

  • Hipo

    Wonderful explanation. Befitting reply to wendy doniger and groups. The aspersion on Hindu God and Goddesses proves metal bankruptcy of west. Sister Nivedita wrote a magnificient book on Mother Kali.

  • Dr.R.K.D.Goel

    God Study by Mr. Prahbatji

  • Sherry April Bailey

    WTH….

    GTH in a hand basket, all that follow darkness….

  • Shriram Bhandari

    Beautiful article and quite a shocking revelation.

  • Samrat Nigam

    As a Hindu myself i don’t rule out the possibility that our gods and goddesses were powerful alien beings from another Earth like planet who came to Earth for creating life, spreading wisdom, philosophy, art & architecture, construction work, agriculture, maths, physics and science. Only there is no hard evidence except for speculations in Ancient Alien series of History Channel and UFOlogists like Georgio Tsukolos, Eric Von Danikan etc. I have read and ripped the book ‘Chariots of the Gods’ by Von Danikan and am amazed at the questions he has raised for example when humanity enters its space age and hight technological breakthroughs in the fields of flight, space, medical science, cybernetics, bio technology, Artificial intelligence, communication and robotics –
    1 will he explore other planets
    2 If we find Earth like planets will we make the intelligent humans of that planet the slaves and colonize them?
    3 Will special cyborgs or robots be used for war and medical treatments?
    4 Will there be an inter planetary war if we find aliens? etc etc
    These questions are fetched and baffling to mankind today. But who knows what lies for the curiosity of man and his quest to explore the unknown in the future.

    If Aliens visited Earth say even the probability of 1-5%, they might have been explorers just like we are exploring our solar system today. But the Aliens might have been an advanced inter-stellar travelers and not an inferior species like we are today.

    We all know that UFO’s are mystery. The witnesses who have seen them call them real. Many stories, real abduction cases and real (not fake) videos are there to be seen on UFO sighting documentaries and films. But still UFO’s remain a mystery till date. The mysteries of Bermuda triangle and Pacific Bermuda Triangle. Lost underwater cities and civilizations like Atlantis are a complete mystery.

  • Trdgrde

    Cultural appropriation theory is ridiculous. Every culture BORROWS from another culture, modifies and adapts those elements to enrich their own. I love mythology, I love religion, especially Asian religions, which I respect the most. My interest in Indian religious expressions stem from many sources. Popular Culture is one of them (besides scientific magazines, books and documentaries). As a kid, when I saw a representation of any god in comics, I investigated about them. The thought that states that use of some religious elements in popular culture is cultural appropriation is absurd.

    The idea that Kali is seen as a sexualized image only because of popular culture, which is reduced as “cultural appropriation” is just the product of the imagination of the idiots and the perpetually offended mentally ill.

  • Aoneesh Sharma

    I am booking marking this article because this is a good article and has done a good job in its effort to spread the truth.

  • Philip Sieve

    I like to know how the cultural context of things. That said, welcome to how academia and the media see Christianity and abuse it’s symbols and cosmic heros (thus no misused angelic video game characters are needed, though it would be cool to fight opposing deities using St. Michael the Archangel, who is one of the highest servants of God) far more than it does others’.

  • Manthra koliyer

    This article has made many misconceptions away

Next Story

7 spectacular Hindu Temples to visit in Incredible India

Have you ever considered visiting a temple while you are struggling in life? A temple visit is enough to give you strength, calm you down and help you to reconnect with divine. Go for a temple walk. Here is a list of 7 spectacular Hindu temples in Incredible India

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Hindu Temples
Akshardham Temple, Delhi (www.akshardham.com)
  • Hindus have more sacred sites, festivals and pilgrimages, more yogis, monks and sadhus, an older and vaster literature than any religion – Dr. David Frawley

Temples in Hinduism holds a very important place. Hindu temples are popularly known as mandiram, devaalayam or devastanam, meaning the shrine, abode or place of Ishwar. Hindu temples are at once a collective work of art, the adobe of Ishwar, a symbol of the cosmos and a path leading the worshipper into contact with the God, from the temporal to the eternal. Hindu temples are valued and respected both as a means of enabling worship in the presence of God and as a way to uphold Indian culture and dharma. Here is a list of 7 spectacular Hindu Temples in Incredible India you will love visiting as many times as possible in your lifetime.

1. Somnath Temple, Gujarat

Hinduism
Somnath, Gujarat (Image Credit : Shaurya Ritwik)

The Somnath is believed to be the first among the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. Somnath Temple has been looted, destroyed and resurrected 17 times. In AD 1026, Mahmud of Ghazni first looted the temple, and then came Afzal Khan, the commander of Ala-ud-din Khilji and later Aurangzeb. While the barbaric looters are sleeping in their grave, Somnath still stands as a pillar of Hinduism, as a sign of resistance. Somnath is the place where you can connect with history and your source. Best time to visit Somnath : Well, any time of the year.

2. Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Hindu Temples
Meenakshi Temple, Madurai (Image Source: Wikipedia)

Meenakshi Temple is known for its beautiful architecture. It is dedicated to Meenakshi, a form of Parvati, and her consort, Sundareswar, a form of Shiva. The temple was almost completely destroyed in the year 1310 following the invasion of the Islamic conqueror Malik kafur. Most of the Islamic rulers were noted for their intolerance towards Hindu temples, the invaders destroyed most of the ancient sculptures of the temple. The temple was rebuilt by the Hindu Nayaka dynasty ruler Vishwanatha Nayakar in the 16th and 17th century. According to the Tiruvilaiyatal Puranam, of the list of 68 pilgrimage places in Shaivism, four are most important: Kashi (Varanasi), Chidambaram, Tirukkalatti and Madurai. The sacrality of Madurai is from this temple.

3. Jagannath Temple, Puri, Orissa

Hindu Temples
Jagannath Temple, Orissa (AKL)

Jagannath temple was built in the 12 th century by Raja Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva. It is one of the Char Dhams of Hinduism in Incredible India and is situated on the Nilgiri Hill. The temple is known for its annual Ratha Yatra, which attracts millions of Hindu devotees every year. It is said that the divine mahaprasad of the temple is prepared under the scrutiny of goddess Lakshmi. During Rath Yatra, idol of Jagannath along with Subhadra and Balabhadra are placed in huge chariots and brought out to the street. Thousands of people pull the sacred chariot. The main chariot is around 45 feet high. These rathas are constructed new every year. It has wood-carved horses and charioteers. Rath Yatra is held every year during the month of Asadha as per Hindu calendar.

4. Kailashnath Temple, Ellora, Maharashtra

Hindu Temples
Kailashnath Temple, Ellora (Image Credits: AKL)

The Kailasha Temple or Kailashnath Temple is one of the largest rock cut ancient Hindu temples. A megalith carved out of one single rock, it is considered one of the most remarkable cave temples in India because of its size, architecture and sculptural treatment. It is a prime example of extraordinary ancient Hindu architecture. Visiting this temple will definitely give you a ride to our glorious ancient past.

5. Konark Sun Temple, Orissa

Hindu temples
Konark sun Temple, Orissa (Image Source : Wikimedia Commans)

Konark houses a colossal temple dedicated to the Sun God in Orissa attributed to king Narsimhadeva about 1250 CE. Even in its ruined state it is a magnificient temple reflecting the genius of the architects that envisioned and built it. The ruins of this temple were excavated in late 19th century. The Konark temple is famously known for its architectural grandeur and for the intricacy and profusion of sculptural work. The entire temple has been conceived as a chariot of the sun god with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings. Seven horses drag the temple. Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants. A flight of steps lead to the main entrance. If you are in Orissa you can not miss one of the most spell binding temple in Incredible India, Konark sun Temple.

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6. Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand

Hindu Temples
Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand (Image Credit: Shaurya Ritwik)
Hindu Temples
Prime Minister Modi at Kedarnath (Twitter)

Kedarnath is among one of the holiest Hindu temples of Incredible India with Lord Shiva as its residing deity. The temple was built by Pandavas and revived by Adi Shankaracharya himself in the early 8th century. The temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of India and the main temple of Panch Kedar. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April (Akshaya Tritriya) to Kartik Purnima (the autumn full moon, usually November). During the winters, the vigrahas (deities) from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped there for six months. You must visit Kedarnath, one of the most important pilgrimage in hinduism to feel the beauty of nature and divinity.

7. Chennakeshava Temple, Belur, Karnataka

Hindu Temples
Chennakeshava Temple, Karnataka (Image Credit : Wikimedia)

The Chennakeshava Temple, also referred to as Keshava, Kesava or Vijayanarayana Temple of Belur, the erstwhile capital of Hoysala kingdom is a 12th-century Hindu temple in the Hassan district of Karnataka state, Incredible India. This Hindu temple is another testament to the amazing artistry of ancient Incredible India. This place will give you sense of pride regarding what our ancestors left for us.

So, are you ready for a “Walk to Temple”? The wonderful Hindu temples Incredible India has can not be comprehended in a list, there are lakhs of them, visit them to connect with your roots, to get acquainted with Dharma which is eternal.

 

– 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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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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Sins in Hinduism: Facts, Meaning,Philosophy,Types & Atonement

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Sins in hinduism
The sins in Hinduism can be washed away with devotional means. Pixabay.
  • Sin is regarded as an impurity arising in one’s body as a consequence to his own evil deeds. It is an effect that can be neutralised through various practices to lead your life into Moksha or liberation.
  • A liberated being or Jivanmukta is purified of all his sins who does not have to go through any further sins and rebirth. In order to make your soul pure and sinless, practice every deed with God’s grace.
  • The Sins in Hinduism, sinful conduct and their remedies have been referred to in Hindu Scriptures such as in Upanishads, Bhagavadgita, Yoga Sutras, Manu Smriti and Garuda Purana. 

As stated about sins in Hinduism, sin may form up with disobedience to God’s divine laws of Dharma. It may however be difficult to follow, but is considered obligatory for humans. The sins in Hinduism can be forgiven if Dharma is upholded as a service to God through self-effort and pure devotion to God.

Sins in Hinduism
Meditation is considered as the easiest from of removing sins in Hinduism. Pixabay.

What is the meaning of Sins in Hinduism?

The word Pāpam (paap) is often used to describe sins in Hinduism as mentioned in the Vedas and Hindu scriptures. Punyam (punya) is the opposite (antonym) of sin. It does not acquire an equivalent word in English since the concept of sins in Hinduism is different in western culture and Christianity.

Separating the word, ‘Pa‘ means to drink, inhale or absorb. ‘Apa‘ means water, combinedly meaning consuming or drinking impure water or poison. Pāpam also denotes evil, wicked, mischievous, destructive, inferior, corrupt and guilt.

It is believed that the sins of Hinduism manifests in the body with the impurities of worldliness (vishaya-asakti). The human body becomes subject to various poisons (visham) such as egoism, greed, ignorance, selfishness, desires and so on, which emerge with our attachments with worldly things (vishayas). These poisons of sins make the humans to take rebirths and deaths until they are removed completely. In the Hindu culture, Lord Shiva is regarded as the destroyer and the healer who gets invoked by devotees prayers and can remove or destroy such poison or sins to grant them liberation.

Sins in Hinduism
The sins in hinduism have been depicted in the scriptures. Pixabay.

What is the Philosophy of Sins in Hinduism?

The sins appear from physical, mental or oral actions, due to the impurities or poisons pertaining to Dharma and Hinduism. The poison of sin is stimulated if one harms intentionally to others or oneself by way of pain and suffering continuing the cycle of rebirth and death.

The repurcussions of sinful acts or karma are fault or mistake (aparadha), worry or anxiety (cintha), impurities or imperfections (doshas), evil intentions (dudhi), evil qualities (dhurta lakshana), immorality (adharma), demonic nature (asura sampatti), chaos or disorderliness (anrta), mental afflictions (klesha), destruction (nirtti), karmic debt (rna), sorrow (shoka), darkness or grossness (tamas) and suffering (pida). Others include: inferior birth, birth through demonic wombs, downfall into hells, increased suffering to ancestors, adversity, loss of reputation.

Sins in Hinduism
Visit Pilgrimage shrines to erase your sins in Hindusim. Pixabay.

What are the types of Sins in Hinduism?

The Dharmashastras of the Hindu scriptures denote sin as Pātaka which represents the causes of one’s downfall or destruction (patanam).The following are the three types of sins in Hinduism: Mortal Sins (Mahapatakas), Secondary Sins (Upa Patakas) and Minor Sins (Prakirna or prasangika Patakas)

The Mahapatakas

These are the gravest and darkest sins in Hinduism leading to the worst downfall of the mortals into the darkest of hells. They can neither be neutralized or washed away without suffering. Some Puranas and Vedas indicate to devote oneself purely to God to remove such sins. The Dharmashastras have stated such five gravest sins termed as the Pancha Mahapatakas. In Hinduism,the company of sinners is also not advisable as associating with sinners will lead you to the same consequences.

The Upa Patakas

These secondary sins may emerge out of minor offenses that include incompetency to perform sacrifices regularly, displeasing the Guru, selling harmful and intoxicating drinks, disbelief in God, giving false witness, making false acclaims, and performing a sacrifice for an unworthy person or unworthy cause and engaging in illicit sex.

The Prakirna Patakas

These type of sins in Hinduism form the minor offenses committed intentionally or unintentionally out of ignorance or carelessness which can be removed or washed away by performing sacrifices (prayaschitta) or by punishments and requesting forgiveness. The law books regard more than fifty minor sins in Hinduism such as selling the wife, making salt, studying forbidden Shastras, killing a woman, marrying the younger son before marrying the elder one, killing insects and other creatures, ignorance to parents, accepting gifts without performing sacrifices,adultery etc.

What are the solutions to overcome Sins?

Fines and punishments

The Dharmashastras render both corporeal and monetary punishments for various offenses or sins in Hinduism, apart from the sufferings in hell or rebirth. According to Hindu scriptures, the ancient era saw immense difference in the application of punishments from caste to caste.

Confession

The best path to deal with sins of Hinduism is to surrender yourself infront of God and seek forgiveness with your own confession of the sin committed. The king was regarded as a similar figure to God who demanded a public confession (abhishasta) from the sinner.

Austerities and Atonement

By performing Vedic traditional rituals, the sins in Hinduism are removed by fasting, virtuous conduct, self-control, practice of nonviolence, truthfulness, austere living, practice of silence, concentration and meditation.

Sins in Hinduism
Your sins in Hinduism can be removed by Devoting yourself to the grace of God. Pixabay.

Rituals and sacrifices

The Vedas have recommended various rituals or sacrifices to wash away the the impurities (dhosas) arising from one’s birth, karma, relationships, place or direction related issues, vastu defects, dangerous diseases and evil conduct.

Prayers and Mantras

Vishnu Purana of the Hindu scriptures pronounce the effective importance of the continuous chanting of names of God (japam) in the Kaliyug. Some mantras and hymns are considered more significant than meditation and sacrifices to clean the impurities of the body.

Recitation of the Vedas and other Sacred Books

Knowledge (jnana) has the eternal power to remove the sins in Hinduism. It can be derived with regular reading up and learning from the scriptures of sacred importance.

Visiting pilgrimages

To grant your devotion and gratitude, Hinduism seeks to commit to Dharma by visiting holy pilgrimage place. It is a divine form of self-cleansing and experiencing peace and happiness.

Bathing in the sacred rivers

The sacred pilgrimages are mostly located near the banks of the rivers that are also treated as purifiers. Hence, bathing in those rivers lead your life into devotional worship as a purification rituals to overcome sins in Hinduism.

Yoga and Meditation

Pranayama and meditation are the suggested methods to practise peace and overcome past sins. They also form a major part of the austerities to cleanse the internal mind and body.

The blessings of saints and gurus

Saints, sadhus and mahatmas have been given a special status in Hinduism because of their respectful purity and virtue. They acquire divine knowledge and supreme powers, with which they cleanse those who approach them for blessings.

Sins in Hinduism
Worshipping the saints remove the sins in hinduism. Pixabay.

Virtuous conduct

Sinful karma can be countered with huge efforts into virtuous karma. The sins in Hinduism are washed away with kind and healthy conduct to everyone equally.

Charity

Dana (gift giving) or charity is very significant in Hindu Dharma. By conducting sacrifices and spiritual practices one must conduct charity as well. As a part of Vedas, the higher castes are under obligation to perform five daily sacrifices including offer food to gods, ancestors, sages, humans and creatures.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana