Shankaracharya Jayanti 2017: Here is why the Philosopher-Saint is believed to be an incarnation of Hindu Lord Shiva!
Adi Shankaracharya, who brought out Santana Dharma, from the clutches of rituals, is also considered as an incarnation of Lord Shiva by many people. It was Shankaracharya who had revived the teachings of Upanishads.
“Like the appearance of silver in mother of pearl, the world seems real until the Self, the underlying reality, is realized.” ― Adi Shankaracarya
‘RELIGION is realisation, it is not mere learning’– This message which stands deeply in the minds of every Hindu is not just a mental conception. This is not a stretch of the imagination Nor is it a decision arrived at by vehement vituperation and incongruent argumentation promulgated by an ordinary intellectual prodigy. This is the assertion of Shankara, India’s greatest philosopher-saint, the incarnation of Lord Shiva, reverently known as Srimath Adi Shankaracharya. This year, in 2017, to commemorate him, devotees celebrate his birth anniversary as Adi Shankaracharya Jayantion Aril 30.
The Indian Guru and philosopher Adi Shankara was born in Kalady which is situated in Kerala during 788 C.E. and he was disappeared at the young age of 32 in year 820 C.E.
According to the Hindu Calendar, Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti is observed on Panchami Tithi during Shukla Paksha of Vaishakha month and currently, falls between April and May.
Shankaracharya consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanata (अद्वैत वेदान्त) and revived it at a time when Hindu culture was on the decline.
Adi Shankaracharya, who brought out Santana Dharma, from the clutches of rituals, is also considered as an incarnation of Lord Shiva by many people. It was Shankaracharya who had revived the teachings of Upanishads. He is also the creator of many Hindu holy texts like Vedantas. It is said that he lived his life as a saint and gave a new direction to the Hindu religion.
Scholars differ regarding the period in which Adi Shankara lived but his birthday is celebrated annually on the same day – on the 5th day of the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) of Vaisakha.
Here are a few interesting facts about the day:-
Arsha Vidya Satsanga (AVS), a group dedicated to re-establish the cultural self-identity of Hindus, celebrated the Shankara Jayanthi to commemorate the birthday of jagad guru Sri Adi Shankaracharya – a great reviver of Vedic Sanatana Dharma, at Keshav Smruti, Houston on Apr 21, 2012.
Puja and Havan are organised in many Shankaracharya Mathas on the sacred day of Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti. He is worshipped all around the country.
Many satsangs are also organized on this day. To commemorate him, Sanatan Dharma is also discussed in these places on this day.
It is believed that worshipping Adi Shankaracharya on this day relieves a person from all his problems.
Two popular rituals such as Dharma yatras and Shobha yatras are also organized on this day.
People recite his compositions and Prasad (sacred food) is cooked and distributed. This day is also celebrated by giving donations to the poor people.
Vedic scholars from all over India take part in the Veda Sammelan conducted on the occasion.
Examinations are conducted for advanced students of the Vedas.
Devotees fast for a day and worship Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesh, Lord Surya, and Devi.
They also recite the Bhagavad Gita and other Hindu mantras. Feeding Brahmans on this day is believed to be a charitable act.
Adi Shankara was a repository of vast and deep knowledge and was the embodiment of ‘para vidya’ which is defined as ‘yaha tad aksharam adhigamyathe’. He was mainly responsible for the resurrection of Hinduism from its shambles and re-established the authenticity of the Hindu holy texts Vedas to its pristine glory which was earlier rendered to redundancy due to the continuous onslaught from other religions mainly Buddhism.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The famous Leaning Temple of Huma built in 1670 AD is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is one of the only two leaning temples in the world. It was constructed by the ruler, Baliar Singh, the 5th ruler of the kingdom of Chauhan of Sambalpur, Odisha, India. The speciality of this temple is it’s structure skewed to one direction.
Reason Behind its Tilted Structure:
It is regarded that the reason for its tilted structure could be some interior dismounting of rocky bed at which this temple is positioned, either because of flood current inside the Mahanadi River or earthquake, thereby affecting the position of this original temple. An interesting fact to be noted is that the other little temples inside the Hamlet are also tilted to various other directions.
The finest time to visit this leaning temple is October to March. Enshrine your spirituality during these months and celebrate the festive season in the town of Sambalpur, Odisha. Shivratri is believed to be the chief festival of this temple. Hence, it advances a huge gathering specially during Shivratri festival during March. You may also find ‘Kudo’ fishes on the bank of river Mahanadi near the temple who are given food by devotees as a part of the worship.
How to Reach the Leaning Temple of Huma:
By Road – Huma is about 23 kms towards the southern direction of Sambalpur, Odisha. and is connected with Sambalpur and other cities of Orissa by road. The temple is situated inside the village of Huma.
By Rail – Sambalpur railway station is the closest station from Huma. You may find taxis and cabs to drop you 23 kms towards the temple of Huma.
By Air – Bhubaneshwar is the closest airport to Huma which is approximately 290 ms away from Huma. Catch a taxi or cab to drop you at the exact destination.
Where to stay:
There are various hotels nearby the temple at affordable prices presenting the pleasant view of the outside village.
-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana
No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”
Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.
The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.
It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.
Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:
In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.
Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.
As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.
While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.
According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.