Friday December 14, 2018

Treat others as God: Taittiriya Upanishad

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By Nithin Sridhar

Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 2

Upanishads are considered as the highest authority in Hindu religion. Its principles are eternal, and its teachings universal. There are hundreds of Upanishads available. One among them is called as Taittiriya Upanishad and it occurs in Krishna Yajurveda.

devapitrkAryAbhyAm na pramaditavyaM |
mAtridEvo bhava | pitridEvo bhava | achAryadEvO bhava | atithidEvO bhava |
yAnyanavadyAni karmANi tAni sEvitavyAni | nO itarANi |
yAnyasmAkam sucharitAni | tAni tvayOpAsyani ||
(Taittiriya Upanishad 1.11.2)

Translation: There should be no errors in your duties to the gods and the Manes. Treat your mother as God. Treat your father as God. Treat your teacher as God. Treat your guest as God. Whatever deeds are faultless, those alone are to be performed and not others. Whatever good conduct is present in us, only those should be adopted by you and not others.

 

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http://www.yogasuggestion.com

 

This mantra (hymn) captures the gist of ideal human conduct. The Upanishad is instructing people to be righteous in their conduct and practice their duties sincerely.

The mantra starts by reminding people1 that they have certain duties towards the gods and the forefathers. The gods are various cosmic principles that also manifest as the internal principles dwelling inside a person. The practice of devotion towards gods results in mental purification, detachment and one-pointed concentration. It further helps a person attain devaloka (realm of the gods) upon death. Therefore, the duty of a person towards gods is to practice devotion to attain spiritual good.

Similarly, the Pitr’s refers to the manes or forefathers from whom we have inherited this body and the family. Showing reverence to them helps to induce humility and pay karmic debts and become free from certain desires of the mind. It further helps to attain pitrloka (realm of the manes) upon death. Therefore, the duty towards manes involves practicing faith and reverence towards them.

After instructing people about the duty that one has towards gods and manes, the Upanishad speaks about how a person should conduct his life and should respect other people. Further, it tells that the mother, the father, the teacher, and even the guests are to be treated as God.

In other words, one must treat every person with love, respect and reverence. Today, we witness many children insulting parents, many students abusing teachers and people behaving rudely with the guests and vice versa. The Upanishad considers these rude, coarse and violent behaviors as adharma i.e. unrighteous actions that lead to sorrow. Therefore, for one’s own good, one must try to be polite and respectful in their interactions with others.

Now a question may arise here that whether treating others as God imply that one should accept what others are saying as truth and practice them even if they appear unrighteous?

In answer to this, the teacher in the Upanishad clarifies that one should inculcate from others only those actions which are righteous and disregard the rest. It further stresses that only those actions which are of “good conduct” should be imbibed and practiced and not the others.

Knowing this, if one were to adhere to these principles, he or she will attain great success, satisfaction, and spiritual merit.

In a nutshell, the Upanishad teaches the secret to meritorious and fulfilling life.

1 In the context of the Upanishad, the audience is the students who have finished their studies and are about to take up worldly duties.

More in this segment:

Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 1

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Puja for The Spiritualism, Not for Vulgar Entertainment

The westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures" and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those "holy books" only in the drawers of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods' idols !!!

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Hinduism
he westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures"

By Salil Gewali

Any auspicious days in Hinduism are expected to be observed with a complete purity of action and thought. The same holds true for other religions too. As per the Hindu scriptures, the believers are required to stay away from any kind of sense gratifications, particularly when the specific days are dedicated to Gods and Goddess such as Navratri, Laxmi Puja, Krishna Janmashtami, Shivaratri, to name a few. The pathway to devotion and spiritualism should not be “desecrated” by the blot of the brazen entertainment. The scriptures logically explain why it is antithetical, and its adverse consequences.

Hindusim
Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.

 But, what a huge irony, rather a blasphemy that many people these days have started to choose the auspicious days of Gods to satisfy their base senses. Without a wee bit of regret, a certain class of people holds almost every auspicious day as the most “unmissable” occasion to booze with the friends, and what not, and stagger back home, lol! Such bizarre practices are fast catching now than ever.  Sadly, hardly any conscious people and spiritual organizations stand up and take the right measures to check such godless deviations.

What is quite unpleasant is that such a kind of unholy practices are often being facilitated by certain “Hindu intuitions” as well. On this past Laxmi Puja, the “propitious time” to perform the ritual had fallen between 6 PM to 7:53 PM. Yours truly decided to use that span of time for meditation. But hell broke loose. Apart from fireworks around, the Bollywood songs in high decibel burst forth from a certain Hindu institution quite frustrated the mission.

Hindusim
Sadhu Sanga Retreat, 2016

 One senior citizen laments – “Nothing could be irreligious than the fact that a favorable time for “puja” is also being used for the wrongful purposes. We rather expect the “Hindu institutions” to teach our children Bhajan, Kirtan, and other spiritual activities, not the loud and feverish parties and disturb others.”

Another college student adds “Having been much disturbed by the noise pollution, I have persuaded my parents to shift our place of residence to elsewhere, not at least near holy places with an unholy mission. I have started to see such institutions with the eyes of suspicion these says.” Is it that our institutions are unable to use their “discretion”, and as a result, they fail to differentiate between right and wrong?  One is deeply apprehensive that Bollywood songs and vulgar dances might as well be included as a part of the “puja ritual” as we have long accepted the fun of fireworks bursting as an integral part of Laxmi Puja which in fact is just an entrenched “misconception”.

Hinduism
Hinduism is expected to be observed with a complete purity of action

Needless to say, our roar for consumerism has almost drowned the whisper of inherent spiritualism. We are only just sending out the wrong messages. I’m afraid, the whole culture itself might be looked down with derision by other faiths. It might just become a subject of ridicule! It is no exaggeration, such negative notions against the “wrong practices” are all what we often read these days in several newspapers and social media. Do we want others to demean our profound spiritual heritage thus?  I believe it calls for a serious soul-searching.

Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.  It warns in the strongest terms that mankind should absolutely be careful not to fall under the influence of any short-lived sense gratifications. Or else, our endeavor to “practice and preserve” the sanctity of a religion/spiritualism will be a futile exercise.

However, on the other hand, the westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our “scriptures” and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those “holy books” only in a drawer of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods’ idols !!!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.

Twitter:@SGewali.