Friday December 15, 2017

Polymath Patanjali: Compiler of Yogic science, master philosopher cum grammarian

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By Gaurav Sharma

And now Yoga, the very first line of Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutra(s), holds a deep mystical meaning behind it (having engaged in all sorts of mundane activities up till now, it is now time for Yoga).

The name Patanjali itself has an aura of mystery attached to it. That one man could provide a wide-encompassing body of work in his life has bewildered Oriental scholars ever since they came across his profound texts.

Indeed, most outstanding scholars have been unambiguous in contending that the name Patanjali did not belong to one man, but to different geniuses.

In making that contention, the modern day scholars completely forget that in ancient India, it was but a common sight for a single man to possess diverse talents, much like the medieval Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci.

The myriad meanings of Patanjali

The name Patanjali stems from a fable hypothesizing his birth. Legend has it that Shesa, the divine serpent who was the rest for Lord Vishnu, had incarnated as a snakelet and fell into the folded hands of a Brahmin.

Sanskrit commentators explain the word Patanjali in two ways. In the first instance, Patanjali is falling into folded hands. In the other interpretation, the meaning is conversed; Patanjali is the man for whom the folded hands are falling.

Etymologically, Patanjali is a compound word, a culmination of the word Patan or bank and Jal or water. Patanjali, is therefore, synonymous of a water bank.

Patanjali’s comprehensive works

–Yoga Tradition

Patanjali is well renowned within the yoga world. While the process of yoga was being practiced as long back as 3000 BCE, it was Patanjali who codified or compiled the diversified and complex yoga practice into Sutras or thread like form, the modern day equivalent of a formula or aphorism.

Some people use Sutra in the singular form to highlight a single thread that is consistent with the yoga teachings of Patanjali. Others prefer using the plural form Sutras, to emphasize the various threads that weave a wholesome tapestry.

The Yoga-Sutra(s) of Patanjali were the first works to succinctly outline and elaborate on the art of Yoga meditation for self-realization. It is sometimes also referred to as Ashtanga-Yoga and Raja-Yoga, while others call it Kriya-Yoga, citing chapter two of the sutra(s).

Apart from succinctly summarizing the science of Yoga, Patanjali brought to light something very basic and enlightening.

There have been many scholarly commentaries on the Yoga Sutras, but all the commentaries miss something very practical. Such commentaries can only satisfy the intellect, but do not actually help you beyond that.

‘yogash chitta vritti narodha’–yoga is the control of the ‘modifications’ of the mind [1.2]. Narodha means control; there is no other English word for it. Control doesn’t mean suppression, but channeling or regulating,” says Swami Rama, one of the first Yogis to be inspected by Western scientists, while mentioning the novel contributions of Patanjali.

Taking the Samkhya philosophy to a higher pedestal

It is widely believed that the Yoga-Sutra(s) are based on the foundation of Samkhya philosophy, the dualist cum rationalist school of Indian philosophy. For example, historian Surendranath Gupta prefers calling Patanjali’s commentary as Patanjala Samkhya, thereby basing it on Samkhya principles.

However, what distinguishes Patanjali from the Sankhya philosophy is the fundamental addition of principle of Isvara or God. Liberation, according to Patanjali, can be attained by surrendering to God. Devotion, represented by the syllable OM, is considered as the most efficient means to Moksha by Patanjali.

While Samkhya holds knowledge as the cornerstone of liberation, Patanjali considers mere intellectual knowledge as inadequate for achieving the ultimate aim of freeing oneself from the clutches of Maya or material energy.

“The two philosophies were in popular parlance distinguished from each other as Samkhya with and Samkhya without a Lord,” says Max Mueller, the german-born Orientalist, while distinguishing between the two schools of thought.

Contributions to Grammar

While Patanjali is revered as a yoga guru, the fact that he was one of the three pioneering Sanskrit grammarians of ancient India, the others being Panini and Katyayana, has been obscured from public view.
Commenting on Katyayana’s Varttika and Panini’s Ashtadhyayi, Patanjali elaborated on selected rules of grammar in his masterpiece, Mahabhashya, or the great commentary.
The development of language was given a proper form by Patanjali. He carves out details related to phonology and accent with utmost ease and discusses etymology in depth, but leaves out syntax, as it is relatively redundant in the inflexional language that he scrutinized.

Distinction from Panini, Contemporary relevance

Panini’s aim in Ashtadhyayi was to distinguish form and meanings from incorrect ones. Patanjali, on the other hand, possesses a greater metaphysical bent of mind. He clarifies ambiguity, keeps the pedagogical style rather concise, and focuses on keeping the text unadulterated.

Moreover, the writing style of Panini is much lighter. Religious intolerance, a thriving problem in the present day, is highlighted in his comments on conflicts between orthodox Brahmins and other heterodox groups, such as Buddhism and Jainism.

He describes the hostility between the groups as an incessant fight between a mongoose and a snake. Other events such as incursion and tribal areas also find a mention in Patanjali’s words.

But perhaps what holds the greatest anodyne for the splintered minds of today is Patanjali’s concept of Chitt Vritti Nirodha; stilling the modifications of the mind in order to experience higher dimensions of life (the fulcrum).

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Forbes Rich List 2017: Acharya Balkrishna of Patanjali Named as 19th Richest Indian

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Acharya Balkrishna
Acharya Balkrishna. Wikimedia

Oct 05, 2017: Patanjali Ayurveda’s Acharya Balkrishna, the partner of yoga acharya Ramdev, has bagged the nineteenth position this year in the Forbes magazine’s Annual India Rich List 2017 with total assets of $6.55 billion (Rs. 43,000 crores).

Reliance Industries Ltd. foreman Mukesh Ambani managed India’s wealthiest position for the tenth straight year as his total assets swelled to $38 billion (Rs. 2.5 trillion), while Anil Ambani was positioned much lower at the 45th place with $3.15 billion.

Sun Pharma’s Dilip Shanghvi moved down from his previous second place to the ninth.

Also Read: British-Indian Actor Kunal Nayyar Ranks Fourth on Forbes Magazines List of World’s Highest-Paid TV Actors 

Wipro’s Azim Premji held the second position with total assets of $19 billion, climbing two spots from a year ago.

The Hinduja brothers are at the third position with $18.4 billion, while Lakshmi Mittal is presently positioned fourth ($16.5 billion) and Pallonji Mistry fifth ($16 billion).

Forbes said the rundown was arranged utilizing shareholding and budgetary data secured from the families and people, stock trades, investigators and administrative offices.

 

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Ancient Hindu Temple Changu Narayan in Nepal Possesses Historical Significance

Changu Narayan is a sacred Hindu temple in Nepal and was built in the memory of Lord Vishnu

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Changu Narayan Temple is an ancient Hindu temple in Nepal. Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Changu Narayan is considered to be the oldest temple in Nepal
  • It is based on a high hilltop know was Changu or Dolagiri
  • It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has an interesting tale behind it

New Delhi, July 14, 2017: The ancient Hindu temple Changu Narayan is situated on the top of a high hill well known as Changu or Dolagiri. The temple had a neighboring forest of champak tree and a small village called Changu and is situated in Bhaktapur District, Nepal.

The hill is about 7 miles or 12 km east of Kathmandu and a few miles north of Bhaktapur. This holy place “changu narayan Temple” is devoted to Lord Vishnu and held in admiration by the people of Hindu religion. Changu Narayan is believed to be the oldest temple in Nepal’s history. Bhaktapur king established kingdoms in Kashmir and kept it as Hindu kingdom.

ALSO READ: Hindu Temple Kamakhya questions the Dominant Religious Legacies against Menstrual Blood

“changu narayan Temple” has a very intriguing story behind its existence. In old times, a Gwala, a cow herder, was given a cow by a Brahmin whose name was Sudarshan. The cow was believed to produce milk in large quantities. The cow herder used to take the cow for grazing to Change, which was a Champak trees forest that time. The cow was always found under a particular tree’s shade while grazing. In the evening, when the Gwala started milking the cow at his house, he received only a negligible quantity of milk. This continued for a number of days. He was disappointed and told the Brahmin about the cow not giving enough quantity of milk. After seeing this incident with his eyes, Sudarshan agreed and they decided that they should examine the cow while her grazing activity was being undertaken.

Changu Narayan Temple, east side, with the griffin (stone sculpture) left at the entrance. Source: Wikimedia

Both of them hid behind the trees and observed the cow. They noticed that a small black boy who had come out of the tree started feeding himself with the milk. This infuriated the two men as they thought of the boy as a demon and the tree as its home.

So the champak tree was cut down by the Brahmin. While he was doing this, he saw human blood come out of the champak tree. Both Brahmin and Gwala presumed they had done a crime and started crying.

Lord Vishnu suddenly emerged and told the Gwala and Brahmin, the mistake was not theirs and began narrating the story of him committing a crime by unknowingly murdering Sudarshan’s father while forest hunting. Afterward, he was cursed and he wandered on his mouth, as ‘Garuda’ descending on the Changu hill where he survived on stolen milk. The cutting down of the tree by Brahmin beheaded Vishnu and freed him from his sins.

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Following this incident, Brahmin and Gwala started worshiping that place and built a small temple of Lord Vishnu. That place has been considered sacred ever since. Even today, Sudarshan’s descendant is one of the priest of that temple and the Gwala’s descendants as conservators.

People belonging to Newar community reside in and around the area of Changu Narayan. Due to tourism development in this area, we can locate many hotels, souvenir shops, restaurants etc.

However, this holy temple “changu narayan” faces a lot of challenges and threats. The Manohara stream has witnessed rampant mining of sand and stones. The local administration has failed to cut down the mining activities. Due to these mining activities, the temple area has become prone to landslides. Because of overgrazing in the nearby forest, the chances of soil erosion and landslide have become very high.

– prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025

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24 years after Converting his Faith to Islam, 52-year-old Sheshadri from Mysore Returns to Hinduism

What was the reason for his conversion from Islam to back to his original religion Hinduism?

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Sheshadri originally belonged to a Brahmin family
(Representative image) Sheshadri originally belonged to a Brahmin family. Wikimedia
  • Sheshadri lost his mother when he was only 2 years old and he also lost his father while he was studying in class 10
  • No one from his community came to help him and to survive he had to take odd jobs at hotels in Mysore and Bengaluru 
  • He adopted Islam religion as he developed a liking for that religion

 Mysore, Karnataka, August 25, 2017:  Sheshadri, an old man from Mysore who is  59 yrs old and earlier belonged to a Brahmin family and Shree Vaishnava Pantha Brahmin community. He later adopted Islam religion. Now, after a long duration of time, Sheshadri and his 20-year-old son Syed Ateek have converted back to Hinduism.

Here’s how a Brahmin man who first converted to Islam and later came back to his own religion- Hinduism:

  • Sheshadri is a resident of Jakkanahalli (a small village which falls in Mandya district) town Shree Ranga Pattana in Karnataka. His profession is that of a lorry driver in Mandya.
  • His father’s name was late B Govindaraju, who was a priest and follower of Ramanujacharya, a Hindu theologian and held a belief in Vishishtadvaita (non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy).
  • His mother’s name was Kamalamma, who was a Shaiva Brahmin and follower of Adi Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta (a type of Hindu philosophy and religious practice, they believe that their soul is not really different from God). 
  • But his parents didn’t have an easy life as they had to leave the town as the community opposed their marriage.

ALSO READ: Tamil Brahmin’s transformation to urban middle class 

  • Sheshadri didn’t have a normal childhood. He lost his mother when he was only 2 years old and he also lost his father while he was studying in class 10.
  • During those tough days no one from his community came to help him, to survive he had to take odd jobs at hotels in Mysore and Bengaluru.
  • In 1993, he started working as a lorry driver with Syed Keezer from Kollegala. At that time, Sheshadri adopted Islam religion as he developed a liking for that religion.
  • Sheshadri married Fahmida, who was a relative of Syed Keezer and with her, he had two sons- Syed Ateek and Syed Siddiq.
  • But even his marriage didn’t last long as Fahmida left Sheshadri 2 years ago because of some conflict and after it, she started living with her parents and took her younger son Syed Siddiq along with her.
  • This event affected him in a huge way, leaving him frustrated and thus he decided to convert back to the religion he originally belonged to that is Hinduism.
  • His elder son Syed Ateeq joined him in conversion and changed his name to Harshal.
  • Sheshadri talked about the reason for conversion from Islam to Hinduism. According to Banglore Mirror report, he said “I embraced Islam and married a Muslim woman due to restrictions from our community. I was always eager to come back to Hinduism. I will now persuade my wife and the other son to convert to Hinduism.”
  • There was a Ghar Waapsi (homecoming) programme held for Sheshadri, conducted by Pramod Mutalik, Sri Ram Sene chief at the Arya Samaj Mandir, Mysore.