Sunday July 22, 2018

Meaning of life according to hinduism “world’s oldest religion”

Hindu text Vedas hold true to their Sanskrit translation- “knowledge” in every aspect of their being, be it knowledge of science or morality

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Hindu Text Vedas. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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August 25, 2016: Hinduism is believed to be one of the oldest religions on the earth and it has an astonishing amount of knowledge related to astronomy, medicine, mathematics, and literature and much more. Therefore, there is no doubt that Hinduism is the world’s oldest known modern religion.

Hindu text Vedas hold true to their Sanskrit translation- “knowledge” in every aspect of their being, be it knowledge of science or morality. The text does not hesitate to use the example of the smallest of insects to demonstrate the significance of life, and justice for every living creature.

Pashu, a book on compilation of animal tales by Dr Pattnaik. Image source: Flipkart
Pashu, a book on animal tales from Hindu Mythology by Dr Devdutt Pattnaik. Image source: Flipkart

The stories with a message of morality and good virtues through animal examples are abundant in all of the 300 versions of the Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas. Here are some of the excerpts from “Pashu”, a book compiled by Devdutt Pattanaik, who is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist, author and communicator whose works focus largely on the areas of myth, mythology, and also management.

Mahabharata: Mahaprasthanika Parva

After a rule of 36 years, the Pandavas along with Draupadi decided to scale the mountains and enter the Home of the Gods.

“If we have lived virtuous lives, the Gods will let us enter,” declared Yudhishthira, the Pandava king.

A dog, too, had ventured with them. Only Yudhishthira and the dog managed to reach the top of the mountain and stood before the gates.

“Only you can enter, not the dog” proclaimed the Gods.

“But as equal right, since he has come on the same ardours journey and has never faltered in his desire and diligence. The flesh may be different but the soul is the same. If he cannot come in, I will stay out as well,” argued Yudhishthira. 

The Gods were pleased and blessed Yudhishthira for his righteousness. “The dog is ‘dharma’ and you have demonstrated your innate spirituality in recognising that all creatures are the same.”

Ramayana: Little squirrel who helped Lord Rama!

A little squirrel was labouring hard to help Lord Rama’s army built the bridge to cross over to Lanka.

It was laughed at by many others, but lord Rama picked it up and gently stroked it as a gesture of appreciation, and left the marks of his hands as stripes.

Mahabharata: Gandhari’s 100 sons

According to the legends, at the end of the war Gandhari is said to have lamented to Lord Krishna, whom she blamed for the death of her sons. She is said to have asked the Lord the reason for her sufferings. Lord Krishna replied that the law of cause and effect was the reason behind all sufferings.

He explained to her that long back in an earlier life, Gandhari had poured boiling water after cooking rice on the ground outside her kitchen.

An insect had laid hundred eggs there and all of them were killed. The mother insect cursed her that she too would have to endure the deaths of her hundred children. Another legend stated that Gandhari had crushed the eggs of a mother turtle, who cursed her with a similar fate.

Mahabharata: Sumukh and Gunakeshi

Gunakeshi was the daughter of Matali, Indra’s charioteer, who was in love with Samuka, a Naga (snake). Samuka and Gunakeshi couldn’t get married as Garuda, the eagle, was promised one Naga to feed upon each day as a truce so that he does not kill everyone, and Samuka was his next victim.

Indra, after being begged upon by Matili, went to Vishnu for help to save samuka. Vishnu ordered Garuda to spare the Naga boy. Garuda refused and vowed to remain hungry unless samuka was presented to him.

Vishnu placed a hand on Garuda, and  as a result the eagle was unable to fly anymore. He begged Vishnu for mercy, at which Vishnu replied – for that you must show compassion to others—for that is how all life is sustained. The Naga was spared.

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These are small fragments from the ocean of fables and stories that the scriptures encompasses. An endless mine of treasure which rests between closed book covers!

– by Usman Zafar of NewsGram. Twitter: @HalkiSiChuban

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Copyright 2016 NewsGram

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    It’s article of wisdom! Pleased to read.

  • Enakshi Roy Chowdhury

    Quite interesting! good facts.

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Shankaracharya: A remarkable genius that Hinduism produced (Book Review)

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

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He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita
He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita.

Title: Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker; Author: Pavan K. Varma; Publisher: Tranquebar Press; Pages: 364; Price: Rs 699

This must be one of the greatest tributes ever paid to Shankaracharya, the quintessential “paramarthachintakh”, who wished to search for the ultimate truths behind the mysteries of the universe. His genius lay in building a complete and original philosophical edifice upon the foundational wisdom of the Upanishads.

A gifted writer, Pavan Varma, diplomat-turned-politician and author of several books including one on Lord Krishna, takes us through Shankara’s short but eventful span of life during which, from having been born in what is present-day Kerala, he made unparalleled contributions to Hindu religion that encompassed the entire country. Hinduism has not seen a thinker of his calibre and one with such indefatigable energy, before or since.

Shankara’s real contribution was to cull out a rigorous system of philosophy that was based on the essential thrust of Upanishadic thought but without being constrained by its unstructured presentation and contradictory meanderings.

He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. He wrote extensive and definitive commentaries on each of them. Of course, the importance he gave to the Mother Goddess, in the form of Shakti or Devi, can be traced to his own attachment to his mother whom he left when he set off, at a young age, in search of a guru and higher learning.

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.
Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess.

Against all odds, Shankara created institutions for the preservation and propagation of Vedantic philosophy. He established “mathas” with the specific aim of creating institutions that would develop and project the Advaita doctrine. He spoke against both caste discriminations and social inequality, at a time when large sections of conservative Hindu opinion thought otherwise.

Shankara was both the absolutist Vedantin, uncompromising in his belief in the non-dual Brahman, and a great synthesiser, willing to assimilate within his theoretical canvas several key elements of other schools of philosophy. He revived and restored Hinduism both as a philosophy and a religion that appealed to its followers.

Also Read: Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Varma rightly says that it must have required great courage of conviction as well as deep spiritual and philosophical insight for Shankaracharya to build on the insights of the Upanishads a structure of thought, over a millennium ago, that saw the universe and our own lives within it with a clairvoyance that is being so amazingly endorsed by science today. The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara’s philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess. The added value of the book is that it has, in English, a great deal of Shankara’s writings. Unfortunately, most Hindus today are often largely uninformed about the remarkable philosophical foundations of their religion. They are, the author points out, deliberately choosing the shell for the great treasure that lies within. This is indeed a rich book. (IANS)