Friday December 15, 2017

Dakshinamurthy: The First Guru who bestows all Knowledge

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By Nithin Sridhar

Guru Poornima special: Part 7

Today is Guru Poornima, one of the most important festivals in Hindu culture. It is a day when people worship the holy feet of their Gurus. Guru means “one who dispels the darkness and takes one towards Knowledge.”

Hence, Guru ultimately refers to one who dispels the darkness of Avidya (Ignorance) and helps one attain ultimate transcendental Knowledge – Brahma Jnana. But even the teachers who impart mundane knowledge on various aspects of science, ethics, morality, daily life, etc. are considered as Guru, as they also dispel ignorance regarding some particular aspect of life. 2014-07-11-GuruSishyaforHP

Various spiritual traditions today worship their whole Guru-Parampara – the line of Gurus who have kept the knowledge alive and have transmitted them to various people year after year for last many millenniums, if we go by modern history. Hindu Puranas speak about how Guru’s preserve and transmit various branches of Knowledge yuga after yuga in every Kalpa.

Therefore, whatever we know today, whatever knowledge we have today, it is due to the singular efforts of various teachers and Guru whose utmost duty has been to practice, preserve and propagate Knowledge and uplift common men.

Every person must have learned from someone else, but ultimately someone must have taught the first person as well. According to the Hindu tradition, that first teacher is God/Brahman itself. It is Brahman who appeared as Lord Krishna and taught Bhagavad Gita, it is Brahman who appeared as Brahmaa (one among the Hindu Trinity) and taught Manu, it is Brahman who appeared as Dattatreya and taught Parashurama. It is this Brahman who is known as “Dakshinamurthy” in his aspect as Guru who teaches all branches of Knowledge- mundane and transcendental.

Therefore, this last installment in the Guru Poornima Series will be dedicated to the lotus feet of Lord Dakshinamurthy.

Meaning of the term Dakshinamurthy: The term Dakshinamurthy can be understood in multiple ways. The most common meaning is “One who faces south.” Here, Dakshina has been taken to mean south. In temples, Shiva is thus carved in a position that faces south. South denotes death. Hence, Dakshinamurthy controls death and grants immortality to people by imparting Atma-Jnana (Self Realization).

Dakshinamurthy is split as “Dakshina” and “Amurthy”. Here, Amurthy means “without form.” That is one who is without attributes like name, form, etc. The term Dakshina if understood as “right side,” the term Dakshinamurthy will refer to Formless God (Nirguna Brahman) who exists in the Hrdaya (spiritual heart) that lies at the right side of body (Krishna in Gita says, he stays in Hrdaya of all living beings).

The term “Dakshina” also means “one who has power/capacity.” Some understand this to refer to the power to create, sustain, and destroy the Universe. Hence, Dakshinamurthy is ultimate Nirguna Brahman who creates, sustains, and destroys the Universe. The “power/capacity” may also refer to capacity to impart Jnana (Self-Knowledge) and Moksha (Liberation). Hence, Dakshinamurthy is one who imparts ultimate Moksha.

If one goes deeper into Vedanta, then Dakshina refers to the Buddhi (intellect) that arises as Akhandaakaaravritti (thought pattern that perceives Infinite whole) as it also has the power/capacity to perceive the “Amurthy,” the formless Brahman.

Hence, Dakshinamurthy refers to ultimate Brahman, who creates, sustains, and destroys the Universe and who grants Atma-Jnana and Moksha to people.

Dakshinamurthy

Iconography of Dakshinamurthy: There are little variations in his depictions and iconographical details. A most common depiction as given in Shaiva-Karana-Agama is as follows: “Dakshinamurty has white complexion of sacred ash. He carries the crescent moon on His head. His hands have the gesture of knowledge, a rosary, a lute, and a serpent. He looks very attractive with a sacred staff called Yogapatta. He sits on a seat called Vyakhyapitha (seat of knowledge) and is surrounded by all great sages. He has a calm temperament. He is adorned by serpents and wears the skin of a deer as dress. He is very auspicious. On the right flank of the Lord, there are Jamadagni, Vasistha, Bhrigu and Narada. Bharadvaja, Saunaka, Agastya and Bhargava should be shown on the left. The lord is seated under a banyan tree in the region of the Mount Kailasha, which is populated by Kinnaras etc. He is the master of all and very calm.”

Worship of Dakshinamurthy: An idol of Dakshinamurthy is found in almost all the temples carved on its south facing wall. Among the 12 Jyotirlinga’s, the one in Ujjain which is popularly known as Mahakaleshwar is south-facing, and it represents Dakshinamurthy.

Adi Shankara has written a famous stotra called Dakshinamurthy Stotram where he sings the glory of Dakshinamurthy and describes the tenets of Advaita Vedanta. This stotra can be utilized both for worshipping Dakshinamurthy and for studying Vedanta. 

slide-img2Teachings of Dakshinamurthy: Dakshinamurthy teaches through “Silence” and not through verbal instructions. According to Hindu philosophy there are four types of speech – verbal, mental, visual, and the transcendental. The verbal communication called as Vaikari is the lowest form of expression. Higher than Vaikhari is Madhyama which is non-verbal communication through thoughts. Still higher is Pashyanti which is communication through visual imagery, the person is made to “see” through the inner eye. The highest is “Para” which is “Silence,” where communication is without words, thoughts, or visions. It is kind of inner intuition without any external attribute.

It is this “Silence” that corresponds to highest transcendental Knowledge of Brahman and which is beyond the grasp of words, thoughts or visions, is taught by Dakshinamurthy in his aspect as “Medha Dakshinamurthy” that grants Moksha.

At a worldly level, Dakshinamurthy grants the knowledge of Yoga and Tantra as Yogamurthi, the knowledge of dance as Nataraja, the knowledge of music as Veenaa-dhara and the knowledge of all scriptures as Vyaakhyanamuthi.

Therefore, on this auspicious day of Guru Poornima, every seeker of knowledge must worship Dakshinamurthy and seek his blessings.

Glossary:

Avidya: Literally ignorance. In Vedanta, it refers to ignorance about true nature of Atman/Self that it is free and unbound and without duality. This ignorance gives rise to universe of multiplicity of names and forms.

Brahma-Jnana/Atma Jnana: Refers to God-Realization/Self-Knowledge attaining which one attains Moksha/liberation from birth and death cycle.

Yuga: It refers to four Yugas: Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali, that comes cyclically one after the other.

Kalpa: Its duration is equal to 1000 Mahayuga i.e. 1000 cycle of 4 yugas which is equal to 4.32 billion human years.

Nirguna Brahman: Brahman in its ultimate transcendent aspect is without three gunas of sattva, rajas and tamas that constitutes this Universe. Hence, Brahman is called Nirguna.

Hrdaya: Literally “Heart”. It does not refer to physical heart, but to spiritual center of Individual existence that corresponds to right side of chest in physical body.

Akhandaakaaravritti: It is a technical term in Vedanta. A person first attains one pointed concentration on an object, then he attains a state of objectless subject which is defined in yoga as chitta-vritti-nirodha. But, there is a higher state, wherein, a person perceives the subject and object as being non-different from Atman. This perception of one infinite Atman is called as Akhandaakaaravritti. This vritti/mental pattern destroys Avidya/ignorance and a person attains Moksha.

More in this segment:

Guru Poornima Special- Part 1

Guru Poornima Special- Part 2

Guru Poornima Special- Part 3

Guru Poornima Special- Part 4

Guru Poornima Special- Part 5

Guru Poornima Special- Part 6

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Dr. Kumar Mahabir intends to Sue Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Culture for Discrimination against Hindus

Mahabir says Trinidad's Culture Ministry promotes Christianity and discriminates against Hindus

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Trinidad & Tobago
The Calendar launched by Ministry of Culture has no Indian oriented event.
  • The Ministry of Culture of Trinidad and Tobago has been taken to court for discriminating against the country’s Hindu and Muslim culture
  • The complaint comes after the Ministry omits 11 important Indo-Trinidadian cultural events from its 2016 cultural calendar
  • The complaint also alleges that not one Indian oriented event was included in the Ministry’s calendar

Trinidad and Tobago, August 06, 2017: The Ministry of Culture for Trinidad & Tobago has been blamed for discriminating against its Hindu and Muslim culture. A prominent Indian activist Dr Kumar Mahabir has threatened to slap a court case on the Ministry.

The complaint submitted to Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) by the leagl team of Dr. Mahabir alleges that the Ministry did not include even a single event that is Indian oriented in its 2016 calendar. It says that the Ministry was clearly discriminating against Indian and Hindu organizations citing the names of Institute of Indian Knowledge, Tank Sound Company, The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Trinidad & Tobago Yatra Committee Inc, Karma: The Band, Missy & R Promotions, The Hindu Prachaar Kendra, International Day of Yoga Committee, Caroni Hindu Mandir, Casanova Productions, and UWI’s Film Programme Department.

Also Read: Stop Blaming Indians for the Black Crisis in Trinidad and Tobago

In the Ministry’s 2016 calendar, these 11 important Indo-Trinidadian events were omitted. Furthermore, the calendar also missed the inclusion of several Indian Arrival Day celebrations that were held in the country after the national holiday. The Ministry of Development, Culture, and Arts has failed to include these major events which exposes the larger problem; the failure to incorporate the Indian culture in its society.

This exposure has raised many other questions. One very crucial implication is that the Ministry will not be funding these organizations. Dr. Mahabir raises the question, “Is there ethnic equity in the top hierarchy of the Ministry’s staff?

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On the other hand, the Ministry of Culture is a big promoter of Christian Church organized events. It is interesting to note that at 35%, Indo-Trinidadians comprise the largest ethnic group in the society.

Dr. Kumar Mahabir had highlighted the exclusion of these several Indian events in a letter that was published regional as well as the international newspaper called ‘World Hindu News’. Dr. Mahabir, an Indo-Trinidadian himself, filed a complaint of discrimination against the Ministry.

The complaint has been launched under the discrimination category with respect to “provision of goods and services”

With ample evidence, Dr. Mahabir also claimed that Hindu and Muslim communities have suffered less favorable treatment as compared to other communities, based simply on culture and religion.

In his complaint letter, Dr. Mahabir demanded an apology by the Ministry to the communities. Further, he also demanded an explanation for the omission. However, the Ministry did not reply, the result of which has been the initiation of a legal inquiry.

– by a Staff Writer of NewsGram

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Ramayana : 6 Timeless Management Lessons From the Ancient Hindu Text that You Must Imbibe

Every Hindu child has grown up on a staple diet of lessons from Lord Ram's life and journey. However, the Ramayana has much more practical knowledge to impart.

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gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Ram Darbar. Wikimedia
  • The struggle of the divine prince Rama to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana- a story we have all heard but never thought we can implement in our life
  • The Valmiki Ramayana (the original text in Sanskrit) has nearly 50,000 verses with each verse enriched with wisdom to impart
  • With a heart fully illuminated, a pure conscience, anybody can incorporate a divinely Rama and the life lessons he imparted into their lives

New Delhi, August 7, 2017: Lord Rama is the epitome of compassion, love and positivity. His humble demeanor and his respect for elders and younger ones works like a teaching. His unwavering devotion and service to his parents motivates us to be a better version of ourselves.  His tale of brotherly love motivates us to forego greed and maintain relationships over money. Lord Rama has taught us a lot, and lessons from Ramayana have given us every reason to be like him.  And I do not ask for much but to only embed 10% of his persona in my life.

The Ramcharitmanas was written in Awadhi to reach the masses.
Verses from The Ramcharitmanas, a retelling of the Sanskrit Ramayana written by Tulsidas.

The Ramayana has nearly 50,000 verses, with each verse enriched with wisdom to impart. If you have grown up in a Hindu household, you must have watched several dramatic telecasts of the Ramayana on the television every Sunday morning, but have you ever wondered about all the practical philosophies the epic has to offer? Along with tales of compassion and perseverance, Ramayana also provides us with a practical guide to be better at our work- karma.

We present a list of management concepts that you might have missed from the epic:

  1. SWOT Analysis Solves Everything

Reference : As soon as Hanuman traced Sita to Lanka, the first thing he did was to survey and understand the area, and it’s people – their attitude, actions, strengths and weaknesses.

Interpretation : SWOT (Strength, weakness, opportunities,  threats) analysis forms a crucial part of the success of any business, regardless of what era it is undertaken in.

In order to be a smart businessman, a prerequisite is to be certain of your goals and targets, which should be followed by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your competition and yourself.  Keeping all possible threats in mind, a plan should then be devised.

And you can be sure to hit the jackpot!

ALSO READ Ramlila: Eleven countries where Ramayana enactment tradition is thriving

2. Make A Plan. Stick To It.

Reference : When Lord Ram killed Maricha who came in the disguise of a deer, he shouted “Lakshman! Sita” in Ram’s voice. Assuming his brother is in danger, Sita ordered Lakshmana who was at guard, to go after the voice and save his brother. Rule 1 broken.

In spite of Lakshman strictly asking Sita to stay within the Lakshman-rekha (a secure boundary that he drew) she overstepped it to feed Ravana disguised as a sage, thus breaking rule 2. We all know what followed was an elaborate tale of abduction and fight.

Interpretation : The progress of an organization is the reason planning is important-devising a plan helps establish a set route to achieve target. It eliminates unnecessary effort and provides us with a definite set of steps to fulfill our goal. A plan also brings the entire team together by clearly attributing tasks, thus promoting better coordination.

What is equally important is to stick to the devised plan.

 

3. Keep A Check On The Stakeholders 

Reference : King Dashratha had three wives- Kaushalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi and four sons. Kaikeyi gave birth to the eldest son, Bharat. Ram was the son of Kaushalya. And Sumitra gave birth to Lakshmana and Shatrughan. This means three individual minds that had their own opinions and thus, influenced the king in their own ways.

Lessons from Ramayana are enriched with wisdom.
Kind Dashratha and his three wives. Wikimedia

Interpretation : When there are too many stakeholders,  power is bound to get diluted, opinions get confusing, decision-making in turn becomes difficult and one can possible lose control of the task.

 

4. Importance of Communication 

Reference : The fight between Bali and the demon Mayavee extended for an elongated period inside a cave, while younger brother Sugreev was ordered to keep a watch and wait at the cave’s entrance. When nobody emerged from inside for an entire year,  Sugreev returned to kingdom Kishkindha assuming that they both were dead, proclaimed himself as Kind and made Bali’s wife his queen.

Interpretation : Miscommunication is a deadly killer- it not only creates confusion and fosters animosity, but also ends all possible scope of development. Effective communication steers away any confusion, keeping everybody aware of their roles and the growth of the business.

 

5. Value Your Subordinates 

Reference : When in his court his younger brother Vibhishana pointed out that abducting Sita was a wrong decision, Ravana immediately shut him off. Ravana’s arrogance thus resulted in him losing one of his finest and smartest ministers. When his wife expressed similar views, it didn’t take long for him to lash out at her too. Look what fate Ravana brought upon himself by ignoring the suggestions of his subordinates- he not only lost his kingdom but also his life.

Lessons from Ramayana can also be implemented in real life.
The demon king Ravana is understood to have lost more than just a battle because of his arrogance. Wikimedia

Interpretation : A good manager is one who knows the secret to get work done. If you believe you alone run a business, that is your arrogance. A good businessman includes everybody in the working, even the subordinate staff and makes them feel part of a team which together achieves success.

 

6. Mergers and Alliances 

Reference : When king Janak announced the wedding of his daughter Sita, the event saw participation by some of the strongest men.  However, it was Rama who won the competition, and in turn Sita. The two had been raised with the same values, and an absence of hedonistic beliefs.

In a similar way, the friendship of Sugreev and Rama serve as an example that mutual support and coordination between two parties can help achieve targets and growth.

Interpretation : A merger based on the congruence of basic values of both the parties involved is sure to lead you to a successful venture. A synergy in the respective core strengths and objectives of both parties involved helps tap their joint business potential better.

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The Hindu culture not just celebrates but worships the teachings of Ramayana. Rama’s journey is enriched with religious teachings, lessons, and reminders that allow the readers to tread upon the righteous path of Dharma and Karma.

When the heart is fully illuminated, and with a pure conscience, anybody can experience a divinely Rama within themselves and create their own Ram-Rajya.

– by a staff writer of NewsGram


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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Reliving Christ Through Yakshagana : Is Evangelist Christianity Sneaking into Hindu Culture?

The book by Mulia Keshavaiah has caused a stir in the religious Indian diaspora. Is it a mere literary piece or there is more to the story?

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Yakshagana is mainly found in parts of Karnataka, and Kerala
Yakshagana is a traditional theatre form combining dance, music and drama. Wikimedia
  • Yakshagana is an ancient form of theatre, predominantly performed in the Kannada regions
  • The art form has come under scrutiny following a book by writer Mulia Keshavaiah
  • Questions about the dominance and operation of Christian Missionaries have come up in the Indian landscape. 

Mangaluru, August 2, 2017: Yakshagana – a scholastic name used for the last 200 years meaning the song (gana) of the yaksha (nature spirits).

Originating in Karnataka around 500 years ago, Yakshagana acquired a theatrical form in the coastal belt by combining dance, music, and dialogue with a unique style and form. The themes for the show usually took inspiration from the Hindu Mythology, until noted writer Mulia Keshavaiah changed the course of the gana forever.

While the life of Jesus Christ has been told innumerable times previously through songs, films, poems, and stories, the tale had never been told in the form of a Yakshagana.

Keshavaiah combined the two, much to the amusement of the people. The shows then began to narrate stories of Jesus, Satan, Joseph and Mary among others.

The troupe did not falter the tradition and successfully staged shows across the North and South Kannada districts, attracting an audience of both the faiths during the 1970s.

The art of Yakshagana essentially involves conveying stories through extempore dialogues. However, Keshavaiah soon noticed that characters from Ramayana, Mahabharata and other Hindu epics were beginning to creep into the Bible narratives. This was because most of the actors were Hindus who were unacquainted with the traditional tales of the Bible, he had told The Hindu.

In order to educate the artists and uphold the sanctity of the stories, Keshavaiah took to writing a book of prasangas (poetry) based on Christian stories from the Bible.

‘Yesu Christha Mahathne’, a major exodus from a tradition largely dominated by the Hindus, was completed in 1976 and accepted without any criticism. In fact, it became so popular that the book was also translated into English and German.

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After almost four decades, Keshavaiah revised his book and launched Mahachethana Yesu Christha Mahathne’ again on May 25 this year at Mangaluru by adding dialogues and commentaries. “The commentaries have been written to keep the storyline intact and guide the artists”, said Raghu Mulia, Kashavaiah’s son, in a statement to The Hindu.

Calling it a “purely literary work”, Mr. Raghu believes the book is intended to attract the Christian community of the coastal region to the art form. Following the release of the book, their troupe also performed a Bible Yakshagana performance.

ALSO READ: Padma Bhushan David Frawley points out Christian Missionaries’ assault on Hindu Dharma

However, with the change in time, a change in the mentality of the people has also been observed, who are no longer as welcoming to Yakshagana’s Christian stories as they were in the 1970s.

A question that immediately comes to mind here is whether to see this as an attempt by Christian Missionaries to try and sneak into Hindu culture through camouflage?

Abrahamic religions, that include Christianity and Islam, are popularly believed to uphold their religions as the absolute truth and spread the ‘word of God’, which often takes the shape of Missionaries. However, the honesty and purity of this act remain debatable.

Why do Christian missionaries do ‘evangelisation’ in India?

Although missionaries cannot be stereotyped, they each have a calling.

The faith holds that God has sent a missionary to promote the religious or social beliefs of the organization they represent, which often takes the form of evangelism, discipleship, and church planting.

Previously, missionaries have had a lot of success in Africa, the South Sea Islands, and Latin America. And India remains an easy target because of its inherent flexibility. In such a situation, polarization continues to prove a threat to the innate Hindu design.

In the Indian landscape where religious opinions exercise an active presence, situations don’t take long to take a turn.

Social media and public discussion platforms have remained abuzz ever since the release of the book, as it received flak and disapproval from people affiliated with Hindutva groups over the traditional form of Yakshagana being used to ‘propagate’ Christian faith.

Public forums have at length discussed the purpose and effect the act can possibly have on the Hindu design, as questions on proselytization (convert or attempt to convert from one religion, belief, or opinion to another) are raised.

Keshavaiah is also believed to have been threatened by right-wing Hindutva groups for promoting religious conversions in Karnataka, who allege that he is beguiling Hindu believers to embrace Christianity using Yakshagana as a tool.

Yakshagana traditionally depicts stories from kavya (epic poems) and the Puranas (ancient Hindu texts).  Believed to have been strongly influenced by the Vaishnava Bhakti movement in its present form, its roots and ties to various aspects of Hinduism remain evident. In such a scenario, according to popular opinions, it was never appropriate in the first place to use the art for a ‘foreign’ religion.  Mixing the art form further holds a potential to result in religious confusions.

Yakshagana is usually based on tales from Hindu Puranas and kavyas
Yakshagana dancers performing a prasang on Jatayu, a bird-character from the Hindu mythology. Wikimedia

Kashavaiah and his family, who now carry the legacy of his troupe, however, maintain that the Yakshagana is a traditional art form of Karnataka that has never belonged to any one religion exclusively.

Calling it literature, Raghu Mulia told The Hindu, “No bias should be attributed to it. Those raising objections have not read the book and are not familiar with Yakshagana”.

-prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala


 
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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