Archive for January, 2010

Body in Hinduism VII

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Sharir – Tattvas Part III (contd.):

Pran – the story, with Sanskrit reference

The Sanskrit Text for the previous story of Chhandogya (Chandogya) Upanishad (Ch. Up: 5.1, Shlok: 1-15) goes as below:

“yo ha vai jyeṣṭha ca śreṣṭha ca veda jyeṣṭhaś ca ha vai śreṣṭhaś ca bhavati | prāo vāva jyeṣṭhaś ca śreṣṭhaś ca” || ChUp_5,1.1 ||

“yo ha vai vasiṣṭha veda vasiṣṭho ha svānā bhavati | vāg vāva vasiṣṭhaḥ” || ChUp_5,1.2 ||

“yo ha vai pratiṣṭ veda prati ha tiṣṭhaty asmiś ca loke ‘mumiś ca |

cakur vāva pratiṣṭhā” || ChUp_5,1.3 ||

“yo ha vai sapada veda sa hāsmai kāmā padyante daivāś ca mānuāś ca | śrotra vāva sapat” || ChUp_5,1.4 ||

“yo ha vā āyatana vedāyatana ha svānā bhavati |

mano ha vā āyatanam” || ChUp_5,1.5 ||

“atha ha prāā ahaśreyasi vyūdire |

aha śreyān asmy aha śreyān asmīti” || ChUp_5,1.6 ||

“te ha prāā prajāpati pitaram etyocu bhagavan ko na śreṣṭha iti |

tān hovāca |

“yasmin va utkrānte śarīra pāpiṣṭhataram iva dśyeta sa va śreṣṭha iti” || ChUp_5,1.7 ||

“sā ha vāg uccakrāma | sā savatsara proya paryetyovāca |

katham aśakatarte maj jīvitum iti |

yathā kalā avadanta prāanta prāena paśyantaś cakuā śṛṇvanta śrotrea dhyāyanto manasaivam iti |

praviveśa ha vāk” || ChUp_5,1.8 ||

“cakur hoccakrāma | tat savatsara proya paryetyovāca |

katham aśakatarte maj jīvitum iti |

yathāndhā apaśyanta prāanta prāena vadanto vācā śṛṇvanta śrotrea dhyāyanto manasaivam iti |

praviveśa ha cakuḥ” || ChUp_5,1.9 ||

“śrotra hoccakrāma | tat savatsara proya paryetyovāca katham aśakatarte maj jīvitum iti | yathā badhirā aśṛṇvanta prāanta prāena vadanto vācā paśyantaś cakuā dhyāyanto manasaivam iti |

praviveśa ha śrotram” || ChUp_5,1.10 ||

“mano hoccakrāma | tat savatsara proya paryetyovāca |

katham aśakatarte maj jīvitum iti |

yathā bālā amanasa prāanta prāena vadanto vācā paśyantaś cakuā śṛṇvanta śrotreaivam iti |

praviveśa ha manaḥ” || ChUp_5,1.11 ||

“atha ha prāa uccikramian sa yathā suhaya pavīśaśakūn sakhided evam itarān prāān samakhidat |ta hābhisametyocu |

bhagavann edhi |tva na śreṣṭho ‘si |

motkramīr iti” || ChUp_5,1.12 ||

“atha haina vāg uvāca |

yad aha vasiṣṭho ‘smi tva tadvasiṣṭho ‘sīti |

atha haina cakur uvāca |

yad aha pratiṣṭhāsmi tva tatpratiṣṭhāsīti” || ChUp_5,1.13 ||

“atha haina śrotram uvāca |

yad aha sapad asmi tva tatsapad asīti |

atha haina mana uvāca |

yad aham āyatanam asmi tva tadāyatanam asīti” || ChUp_5,1.14 ||

“na vai vāco na cakūṃṣi na śrotrāi na manāsīty ācakate |

prāā ity evācakate |

prāo hy evaitāni sarvāi bhavati” || ChUp_5,1.15 ||)

“The meaning, in short, is as follows:

Once, five main faculties of our body – the mind (antahkaran), breath (pran), speech (tongue), hearing (ear) and vision or sight (eye) – were arguing with each other as to which one of them was the best and most important. To resolve their dispute they decided that each one would leave the body and see whose absence was most missed. First speech left the body but the body, though mute, continued to live. Next the eyes left but the body, though blind, continued to live. Next the ears left but the body, though deaf, continued to live. Then, the mind left but the body, though unconscious, continued to live. Finally the Pran (vital functions), one by one, began to leave and the body began to die and all the other faculties began to lose their energy and functions. They all rushed to Pran and told it to stay, accepting its supremacy. Clearly Pran won the argument. Pran gives energy or vitality to all our faculties of the body, without which they cannot function. Control of the pran is very important to sustain our lives.

The importance of Pran is also described in Question (Prashna) II of Prashna Upanishad.

Shlok 3: “Tānvarishthaha prana uvacha mā mohamāpadhyathāhamevaitatpanchadhāmātmanam pravibhajyaaitadbanamavashtabhya vidharayāmiti teashradhhānā bavabhuvuhu ||”

(Pr. Up: Q 2, Shlok: 3)

To them pran, the chief, said: “Do not fall into delusion. I alone, dividing myself into five parts, support this body and uphold it.” Meaning, five prans are in fact five different types of just one pran.

In Hinduism, whatever is described for the body is also described for the universe (Brahmand), because, Brahmand is also considered the body – the body of Ishwar. In Hinduism, similarity is described between the individual body and the universe. It is believed that whatever exists in the body also exists in the universe; only at different scale and in the different form. Shlok 4 – 11 of Question II of Prashna Upanishad describes the importance of the universal Pran in detail.

Shlok 12: That form of your which abides in speech, which abides in the ear, which abides in the eye and which pervades the mind, is very important so do not go away!

Shlok 13: All that exists here (in the body) is under the control of pran (bodily pran) and also what exists in heaven is controlled by the pran (universal pran).

Pran is also described in Question III of the same Prashna Upanishad.

Shlok 1: Then Kaushalya, the son of Ashval, asked Pippalād Rishi: Sir, whence is this pran born? How does it come into this body? How does it abide in the body after it has divided itself? How does it depart? How does it support the external and how the internal?

Shlok 3: This pran is born of Atman or ātmā (meaning, pran and ātmā – soul are two different things). As a shadow is cast by a person, so this pran is, by Atman. Through the activity of the mind it comes into this body.

Shlok 4: As an emperor commands his officials, saying; “Rule these villages or those,” so this pran employs the other prans, each in its separate place.

Shlok 11: The wise man who thus knows pran does not lose his offspring and becomes immortal. As to this there is the following verse:

Shlok 12: He who knows the origin of pran, its entry, its place, its fivefold distribution, its internal aspect and also its external, obtains immortality; yes, he obtains immortality.

Body in Hinduism VI

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Sharir – Tattvas Part III:

Pran – the story from Upanishad

What is pran in Hinduism? What is its important in life? To know that we have to first study the old Vedic story found in Upanishads. Chhandogya Upanishad describes the story as follows:

Chhandogya Upanishad: Part Five – Chapter I — Supremacy of the pran

The story of Pran:

1. He who knows what is the oldest and greatest becomes himself the oldest and greatest. The pran, indeed, is the oldest and greatest.

2. He who knows what is the most excellent or very special (vashishta) becomes the very special among his related. The organ of speech, indeed, is the very special.

3. He who knows what well established (pratishtha) is becomes well established in this world and the next. The eye, indeed, has its status well established.

4. He who knows prosperous or fortunate one (sampad), his both divine and human wishes are fulfilled. The ear, indeed, is that prosperous or fortunate one.

5. He who knows the home or resting place (āyatana) for others becomes the abode or resting place for of his fellows. The mind, indeed, is such an abode or resting place for all other indriyas.

6. Thus pran, indriyas, and antahkarans all disputed among themselves about who was good (shreyasi) among them, each saying: “I am the best,” “I am the best.”

7. They went to Prajapati, their progenitor (pitaram) and said: “O revered Sir (Bhagwān) (Bhag means Aishvarya. Bhagwan here is used as the powerful person also called bhāgyavant), who is the best among us?” He said to them: “He by whose departure the body looks worse than the worst (pāpishthataram iva drashyeta) is the best (shreshtha) among you.”

8. The organ of speech departed. After being away for a whole year, it came back and said: “How have you been able to live without me?” The other organs replied: “We lived just as dumb people live, without speaking, but living with the pran (prānantah prānena), seeing with the eye, hearing with the ear and thinking (dhyāyanto) with the mind.” Then the organ of speech entered the body.

9. The eye departed. After being away for a whole year, it came back and said: “How have you been able to live without me?” The other organs replied: “We lived just as blind people live, without seeing, but living with the pran, speaking with the tongue, hearing with the ear and thinking with the mind.” Then the eye entered the body.

10. The ear went out. After being away for a whole year, it came back and said: “How have you been able to live without me?” The other organs replied: “We lived just as deaf people live, without hearing, but living with the pran, speaking with the tongue, seeing with the eye and thinking with the mind.” Then the ear entered the body.

11. The mind went out. After being away for a whole year, it came back and said: “How have you been able to live without me?” The other organs replied: “We lived just like children whose minds are not yet developed, that is, unintelligent or mindless (amanasah), without thinking with the mind, but living with the pran, speaking with the tongue, seeing with the eye and hearing with the ear.” Then the mind entered the body.

12. Then as the pran was about to depart, he uprooted (samakhidat) the colleagues or associates (suhayah) from their places just as a noble horse tears up the pegs to which its feet are tied. They came to him and said: “Revered Sir, you are our lord or the most respected person (bhagvann); you are the best among us (shreshto’si). Do not depart from us (motkramīr iti).”

13. Then the organ of speech said to him: “That attribute of being most excellent or very special which I possess belongs to you.” Then the eye said: “That attribute of greatness or fame which I possess belongs to you.”

14. Then the ear said: “That attribute of power o virtue which I possess belongs to you.” Then the mind said: “That attribute of being the chief or controller which I possess belongs to you.”

15. Thus, people do not call them (navai vācho) as the sense organs like, the organs of speech, the eyes, the ears, or the mind, but they call or understand them as nothing but prans. The pran alone is in all of them (prāo hy evaitāni sarvāi bhavati) and everything in them is because of pran.”

Body in Hinduism V

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Sharir – Tattvas Part II:

Panch-bhuts and Panch-tanmatras

Panch-Bhuts:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     “Panch” means five. Panch-bhuts are five gross physical elements or tattvas, namely, Pruthvi, Jal, Tej, Vāyu, and Ākāsh. These elements are mentioned in Hinduism at different places with different meanings in different contexts using the same names. At places they are simply meant to be as natural substances, for example, earth, water, fire, air, and space or sky. At places, they are also meant to be, in esoteric context, five states-of-matter, namely, solid, liquid, radiation (or matter in the form of rays or waves, such as, in alpha, beta, and gamma irradiation), gas, and the fifth one vacuum state. At places they are also meant to be fundamental forces of nature, with the same names as mentioned above, of which we know four of them. They are gravitational force, weak force, electromagnetic force, strong force, and not yet known or defined, the fifth force.

Hinduism describes that, all of these five physical elements are ontologically evolved from each other as well as subtler than each other. Pruthvi is evolved from Jal, Jal is evolved from Tej, Tej is evolved from Vāyu, and Vāyu is evolved from Ākāsh. Jal is subtler than Pruthvi as well as cause of Pruthvi, Tej is subtler than as well as cause of Jal, Vāyu is cause of Jal as well as subtler than Jal, and Ākāsh is the most subtler as well as cause of Vāyu and all four elements. Hinduism also describes that all of these five physical elements as matter are successively 10 times more abundant than each other and as forces are successively 10 times stronger than each other. Akash as a force is ten times stronger and as an element ten times more abundant than Vayu, Vayu is ten times stronger and ten times more abundant than Tej, Tej as the electromagnetic force is ten times stronger and more abundant than Jal and Jal is ten times stronger and abundant than Pruthvi as the gravitational force. According to science, gravitational force or gravity is the weakest force of nature.

Panch-Vishays and Panch-Tanmātrās:

Panch-vishays or Panch Tanmatras are five subtle elements, namely, Shabda, Sparsh, Rup (Roop), Ras (Rasa), and Gandh. In English, they are translated as sound, touch, light or sight, taste, and smell. In the scriptures, both are used synonymously using the same names. As a type of sensation it is called “Vishay” and as a carrier of vishay in the form of tiny portion, measure, or unit it is called “Tanmātrā”. Five vishays are five types of sensations or vibrations that can be perceived or experienced pleasurably or painfully by five types of sensory organ systems. Five tanmatras are five kinds of disturbances, waves, objects of perceptions. Five tanmatras are five kinds of carriers of panch-vishays, just like kinds of force carriers of science, which can be propagated through the five types of gross elements and can be perceived by five types of sensory organs causing five kinds of pleasurable or painful sensations.

Just like five kinds of force carriers of the science, according to the philosophy of Hinduism, tanmatras carry panch-vishays. Sound is carried in space but not in vacuum. Sound or shabda is the tanmatra (tiny measure or unit) of akash (ether or space) and is perceived by the ears. Touch is carried by vayu. Touch or sparsh is the tanmatra of vayu element and is perceived by the skin. Sight is carried by light. One cannot see in darkness or in the absence of light. Sight or rup is the tanmatra of tej and is perceived by the eyes. Taste is carried by jal element. Taste or rasa is the tanmatra of jal and is perceived by the tongue. Smell is carried by pruthwi element. Smell or gandh is the tanmatra of pruthvi and is perceived by the nose.

In the scriptures, at places, five bhut, namely, pruthwi, jal, tej, vayu, and akash, are also mentioned as the forces of nature. If panch-bhuts (five gross elements) are mentioned in the scriptures as natural forces, then five tanmatras can be considered as force carriers. Tanmatra of Pruthvi (as the gravitational force or gravity) turns out to be Graviton, tanmatra of Jal (as the weak force) becomes W and Z particles, tanmatra of Tej (as the electromagnetic force) becomes Photon, tanmatra of Vayu (as the strong force) becomes Gluon, and tanmatra of Akash (as the unknown fifth force) becomes Ether (Aether).

Body in Hinduism IV

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Sharir – Tattvas Part I: 

Mahattattva and Ahamkar

Hinduism describes three types of body of jiv. On liberation jiv leaves its three types of body and goes to the abode of God called Brahmdhām. For souls those are not liberated remain attached to their Kāran Sharir (causal body) and is absorbed within Māyā. This kāran sharir is of a form of avidyā and carries accumulated deeds (sanchit karmas) of the jiv. The jiv and its kāran sharir have eternal relationship. On creation, those jivs that are not liberated from the cycle of birth and death and have resided in Māyā along with their kāran sharir get various types of bodies of organisms or creatures including plants and animals, according to their individual karmas, by God’s will. Just as the judge decides the final outcome of the case and sets the reward for the defendant and the punishment to be inflicted on a convicted person after consideration or liberation, God decides which jiv gets which kind of body depending on its deed or karma. This is the reason why, in Hinduism, God is also described as “karma-fal-pradātā”, meaning giver of the fruits of karmas. Both, the Sukshma and Sthul bodies are intimately associated and remained within Kāran body, just as a tree is remained within its seed.

Hinduism also describes that the body of a jiv consists of 24 different elements as enumerated in previous part. These 24 elements are not eternal because they are derived from three types of Ahamkārs, which in turn are derived from Mahattattva. Mahattattva is also not eternal. It is derived from Pradhān-Prakruti, which in turn is derived from Mul-prakruti or Mahāmāyā. According to Hinduism, this Māyā is eternal. Now, let us discuss some of the elements of the body in further detail.


Mahattattva is the primordial form of universe (brahmand). The entire world inherently resides in a subtle form within mahattattva, just as a whole tree resides in a seed or an entire human body resides in an embryo. Mahattattva is like the matter in the fireball from which the whole Brahmānd (Universe) is evolved. It is very bright or luminous (prakāshmān), crystal clear (swachha), without any deformities (nirvikār), without any kind of disturbances or activities meaning quiet (shānt), and is extremely neutral in qualities or gunas (shuddha sattvamaya). It is created from Pradhānprakruti and is a source of 51 elements, namely, three kinds of ahamkars (the source of all other elements), fourteen deities of indriyas and antahkarans, four antahkarans, ten indriyas, ten prans, panch-bhuts and panch-tanmatras. From Mahattattva three types of Ahamkār are evolved and from Ahamkars the 24 elements, the constituents of whole Brahmānd (Universe), are evolved. Mahattattva and chitt are indifferent (abhed). Just as Mahattattva is the primordial form of universe, Chitt is the primordial form of body (sharir). Just as the universe is evolved from Mahattattva, whole body of living organism is evolved from Chitt.


Ahamkar is evolved from Mahattattva. It is of 3 types. Ahamkār is equivalent to the primordial matter in three forms from which the remaining elements of the universe (Brahmānd) are evolved. Ahamkar is “trigunātmak” meaning, it carries the three intrinsic or inherent properties, qualities, or attributes of Māyā, namely, Sattvagun, Rajogun, and Tamogun. By nature ahamkar is quiet (without any internal activities) or passive (shānt), dense (ghor), and totally ignorant or without any physical or cognitive activity (vimudh). Ahamkār is the cause of gross and subtle physical elements (bhuts); indriyas, antahkarans, and their deities; and prāns.

A. Sāttvik Ahamkār:

The main characteristic of sāttvik-gun (sattvagun) is purity, awareness, wakefulness, goodness, neutrality or indistinctiveness, balance, tranquility, wisdom, knowledge, etc. From Sattvik ahamkar the man and the presiding deities (also called Pratyādhi or Devatās) of the indriyas, divine or higher elements, are evolved.

B. Rājas Ahamkār:

The main characteristic of rājas-gun (rajogun) is passion, incoherence, cloudiness, lack of clarity, lacking harmony, lacking connection, impurity, unintelligibility, etc. From Rajas ahamkar ten indriyas, Buddhi, and prāns, basic functional elements, are evolved.

C. Tāmas Ahamkār:

The main characteristic of tāmas-gun (tamogun) is darkness, unconsciousness, passiveness, emptiness, ignorance, etc. From Tamas ahamkar five bhuts (gross elements), and five tanmātrās (subtle elements), basic structural elements, are evolved.

Body in Hinduism III

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Sharir – Sthul, Sukshma, and Karan

Hinduism describes that the non-liberated soul are born (jiv) in “Mrutyu Lok” – the realm of the universe where life exists. They born, live, and die in this realm (lok), so, it is called Mrutyu (death) lok. Scientists have found that life can sustain even in the most extreme or harsh conditions. This is because of the superb structural and functional engineering of the body. Thus, body is an important unit of living being. In Hinduism, body is known as sharir, deh, tanu, or tan (ta´n). The Sanskrit word “tan (ta´n)” rhymes with man (ma´n means mind) and dhan (dha´n means money or wealth). Middle Persian language (3rd to 7th century BCE) also used to have word tan (ta´n) for the body. Hinduism describes all living beings have three kinds of body, namely, Sthul (gross), Sukshma (subtle or psychological), and Karan (causal). This body of living beings is consisting of 24 physical entities, called tattvas.

1. Sthul sharir: It is a gross physical body of the soul or jiv. Sthul body is made of different parts and organ systems called “Ang” and “Upāng” in Sanskrit. For the lower animals and microbes, their gross body is microscopic and they have tiny angs and upangs. Out of 24 elements, the sthul body of living beings consists of five gross elements known as Panch-bhuts. They are: Pruthvi, Jal, Tej, Vayu, and Akash. These five bhuts are created from Tāmas Ahamkār, which in turn is created, along with Rājas and Sātvik Ahamkārs, from Mahattattva. Mahattattva, which is equivalent to Chitt, is the primordial element of the body. Sthul sharir is perceptible by our five senses. According to Hinduism, an important function or the main purpose of Sthul sharir is to gain the ultimate knowledge of the Truth, to enjoy the bliss of God and God related spiritual pleasure in this very life, and to transcend to the abode of God after the death. But because of its nature of experiencing happiness and sorrow of panchvishays it has become an object or vehicle for Bhog-vilās (worldly pleasures) causing more attachments to them, instead of achieving moksh, detaching from worldly pleasures, or achieving the highest spiritually enlightened state.

2. Sukshma sharir: It is subtle, psychological or functional body. For higher animals it is psyche or mental body for the soul. It is not perceptible by our senses or sensory organs but its existence can be inferred and experienced in our day to day life. For the lower animals and plants sukshma sharir is functional and can be understood by their intelligence and activities related to survival and feeling of pleasure and pain, such as, food gathering, cell division and multiplication, mating, hibernation, running away from danger and developing bodily resistance against harsh environment, experiencing shock, sadness, crying, etc. Sukshma sharir carries with it the basic instincts for the protection and survival of a living organism, such as āhār (to eat food), nindrā (to sleep), bhay (to fear), maithun (to procreate), sukh (to feel pleasure), and dukh (to feel plain). In the modern time of luxuries we still feel unhappiness in our life. In the modern time of comfort we still feel that our world’s peace is at stake. This is because we are still harboring, in our sukshma sharir, the vices, such as, lust (kām), avarice (vāsanā), anger (krodh), greed (lobh), egotism (mad), infatuation (moh), jealousy (irshā), enviousness (matsar), hope (āshā), deep and intense desire or crave (ishnā, trishnā or trushnā), grudge or animosity (ver), etc. We create our own mental body around us. For example, I am such and such person of such and such race, with such and such name, with such and such nationality, with such and such skin color, with such and such qualifications, with such and such social and monetary status, and such and such creed. I am doctor, engineer, actor, or businessmen, etc. I am rich or poor. I am brother or sister, father or mother, uncle or aunt, etc. Even animals, tiny creatures, and microscopic organisms also create their own such mental (sukshma) body around their soul and that is why they recognize their kind and also stay, mingle, and mate with their kinds. When we call an animal by its name it will look at us and respond, because, the animal has created a mental body around its soul. Our sexual orientation, irrespective of our chromosomal, hormonal, or physical orientation is the result of our mental (sukshma) body. A common person may think of himself as a king and a king may think of himself as a common person and behave accordingly because of his sukshma body. Sukshma sharir consists of rest of the 19 elements, namely, five Prāns, Vishays, or Tanmatras; ten Indriyas, four Antahkarans, namely, Man, Buddhi, Chitt, and Ahamkar.

Panch-prān-mano-buddhihi dashendriya-samanvitam, a-panchikrut-bhutotham sukshma-angam bhog-sādhanam.

Man (Mana) and Buddhi are part of sukshma or subtle body. Sometimes Ahamkar and Chitt are not included as part of sukshma sharir, which makes the total of 17 elements for sukshma sharir. The reason may be, Hinduism also describes that both Chitt and Mahattattva has indifference (abhedpunu). Because, just as Mahattattva is the primordial form and cause of three kinds of celestial body of Ishwar, namely, Virāt, Sutrātmā, and Avyākrut; Chitt also is the primordial form and cause of three kinds of terrestrial body of  Jiv, namely, Sthul, Sukshma, and Kāran. If this is the case, then chitt obviously, as a cause of other bodily elements, could possibly the part of kāran sharir. From chitt, three types of Ahamkār are evolved and from ahamkārs rest of the 24 elements are evolved. Thus, ahamkar would also become the part of kāran sharir. Probably, because of this reason both Ahamkār and Chitt might not have been included, by some, in sukshma or subtle body, instead they may be included as a part of kāran or causal body. In short, Antahkarans – man, buddhi, ahamkar, and chitt (mind or psych as a whole) is the cause of attachment and detachment with the worldly objects and their relatives. “Man eva manushyam kāranam bandh mokshayoho.”

3. Kāran sharir: Hinduism has described Kāran sharir around our soul. It seems to be, the karan sharir of the soul has not been described before by any other religion except Hinduism. Kāran sharir is a causal body which is the sole cause for the gross and subtle bodies in the next birth of the soul that is not liberated or detached from the causal body. Causal body carries the information or knowledge acquired during the previous births. The infatuation and intense or deep desires for the worldly objects and pleasures, called vāsanā, goes along with it. Soul is firmly attached to this causal body or kāran sharir. Kāran sharir consists elementally of Māyā, so it has all the characteristics of Māyā. It is described to have attributes like, anādi (without the beginning and end), avidyā (ignorant in nature), and anirvāchya (indescribable or inexplicable). On death the sthul and sukshma bodies become “dust unto dust” or parts of natural physical elements. But the causal body or kāran sharir, after death, goes with the non-liberated soul (māyānvit meaning covered with maya) wherever the soul goes, unless, the soul is completely detached or freed from it. Once the soul is completely detached from its causal body made of Māyā, it goes to the abode of God called Brahmdhām.  This liberation of the soul is known, in Hinduism, as final redemption or “Ātyantik moksh”. Thus, final redemption in Hinduism is the detachment of soul from its three bodies consisting of maya and its attributes. It also means liberation forever from the cycle of birth and death, also known as Samsār chakra, because the soul has never have to come back to world again except for the God’s wish.

Body in Hinduism II

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Sharir – 24 Elements (Tattvas)

As we have seen previously that Hinduism believes in the field-fielder (KshetraKshetragna) theory. Prakruti is the field and Purush is its fielder. Similarly, body is a field (kshetra) and the soul is its fielder (kshetragna). According to Sānkhya scriptures, Prakruti or the nature consists of 24 physical entities or elements (tattvas), whereas, Purush, also known as Ishwar, is a quite distinct eternal entity or ontological element (tattva). Similarly, body, being the part of nature, also consists of 24 elements, whereas, soul or jiv is ontologically quite distinct eternal entity from the body. Both, Prakruti or body and Purush or jiv, are characteristically quite different from each other. One is mortal (nāshvant), decayable, destructible, “trigunātmak” (having three gunas or properties of maya), full of ignorance, etc. The other is imperishable or non-aging (ajar), immortal (amar), indestructible (achhedya), indivisible and impenetrable (abhedya), full of knowledge or knowledgeable (gnātā), subtle (sukshma), etc. When jiv behaves as united or intermingled with its body and Purush is intermingled with Prakruti, it is their combined or inseparable form (anvay swarup). When jiv is behaves as quite distinct from its three kinds of body (sthul, sukshma, and kāran) and Purush or Ishwar remain quite distinct from its three kinds of body (virāt, sutrātmā, and avyākrut) body, it is their distinct eternal form (vyatirek swarup).

These 24 elements are as follows:

1. Five gross elements (called Panch-bhuts): Pruthvi, Jal, Tej, Vayu, and Akash. They are explained and translated in English as Earth, Water, Fire or Light, Air or Gas, and Space or Sky, respectively. But this translation is misleading. Rather, they should be translated as they are.

Five Bhuts (pronounced as Bhoots) are five basic structural elements. They are derived from Tāmas Ahamkār – one of the three types of Ahamkārs. The three Ahamkars, namely, Sātvik Ahamkār, Rājas Ahamkār, and Tāmas Ahamkār are created from Mahattattva which is in turn created from Pradhan-Prakruti.

2. Five subtle elements (called Panch-Tanmātrās, PanchVishays, or Panch Prāns): Five subtle or microscopic elements are physical elements at the subatomic level, for example, tanmatras, and physiological elements at the bimolecular level, for example, prans.

Five subtle physical elements are: sound (Shabda), touch (Sparsh), sight/light (Roop), taste (Ras), and smell (Gandh). Each subtle element is a part or meter (mātrā) of each gross element. For example, sound (Shabda) is part (matra) of Ākāsh/Vyom and its main receiving organ is ear, touch (Sparsh) is part (matra) of Vayu/Marut/air and its main receiving organ is skin, sight/light (Roop) is part (matra) of Tej/light and its main receiving organ is eye, taste (Ras) is part (matra) of Aapa/Jal/water/liquid and its main receiving organ is tongue, and smell (Gandh) is part (matra) of Kshiti/Pruthvi/solid and its main receiving organ is nose. Similarly, each vishay is carried by each tanmātrā. Thus, tanmatras are akin to carrier particles of science.

Hinduism has also described five functional or physiological processes at the biomolecular level as five subtle elements, which are collectively known as prāns. Five prāns are: Prān (also spelled as Prāna), Apān (also spelled as Apāna), Vyān also spelled as Vyāna), Samān (also spelled as Samāna) and Udān (also spelled as Udāna). Prans as vital processes are as such not physical elements but as life sustaining entities or forms of energies they are also considered as elements. Along with five prāns, five upa-prāns (pronounced as oopa-praans) are also described in Hinduism. Five upa-prans are: Nāg (also spelled as Naga), Kurm (also spelled as Koorma), Krikara, Devdatt (also spelled as Devadatta) and Dhananjay (also spelled as Dhananjaya)

Five Tanmātrās are five basic carrier elements of vishays to their respective senses. Just as panch-bhuts, panch-tanmatras are also derived from Tāmas Ahamkar, but Prāns are derived from Rājas Ahamkar.

3. Five motor or executive organ systems (called Karmendriyas – (Karma-Indriyas): speech organ (Vāk, Vāni, or Mukh), hands or working organs (Pāni or Hasta), legs or locomotors organ (Pād), excretory organ (Pāyu), and reproductory organ (Upastha).

4. Five sensory organ systems (called Gnanendriyas – (Gnan Indriyas): organ for sound (ear – Karna-Indriya), organ for touch (skin – Tvak or Sparsh-Indriya), organ for seeing (Eyes – Chakshu-Indriya), organ for taste (Tongue – Jihvā or Swad-Indriya), and organ for smell (Nose – Nāsikā or Ghran-Indriya).

Ten Indriyas (five types of motor organs and five types of sensory organs) are derived from Rājas Ahamkar.

5. Four intellectual systems or functional operating units (collectively called Antahkaranantah + karana: inner operative or executive instruments): They are: Man or Mana, Buddhi, Ahamkār, and Chitt. Chitt is equivalent to Mahattattva of the universe. Just as Mahattattva is primordial form of universe, Chitt is primordial form of body. Chitt is first to appear or develop in the body. Ahamkar is derived from Chitt. Ahamkar is of three kinds: Satvik, Rajasik, and Tamasik. Mana is derived from Sātvik Ahamkar. Buddhi is derived from Rājas Ahamkar.

Thus, five bhuts, five tanmatras, ten prans (five prans and five upa-prans), ten indriyas, four antahkarans, and fourteen presiding deities (devatās) of indriyas (namely, Dis, Vāta, Surya, Varun, Ashvins are for gnanendriyas; Vahni, Indra, Upendra, Mrityu, and Prajapati are for karmendriyas; and Chandra, Prajapati, Rudra, Kshetragna are for antahkarans) are all derived from three Ahamkars which in turn are derived from Mahattattva. Thus, Mahattattva is the primordial form of universe. It is like the matter in the fireball from which the whole Brahmānd (Universe) is evolved. This could be the reason why Vedas and Upanishads describe Mahattattva as Hiranyagarbha or the Golden Embryo.

All of the above physical elements that constitute body and universe, according to Hinduism, are part of Maya – one of the five fundamental eternal philosophical elements. The soul or jiv itself makes an ontologically quite distinct fundamental eternal philosophical element. According to Hinduism, all of the above physical elements are considered incapable of doing anything without soul or jiv. And soul or jiv is considered incapable of doing anything without God. God resides in the soul.

Body in Hinduism I

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Sharir – In general

The creation of God, also known as the Nature, is called “Shrishti” (also spelled as Shrushti) in Hinduism. Hinduism believes in Prakruti and Purush (Controlee & Controller), Jad and Chid (Matter & Energy), Achetan and Chetan (Non-divine & Divine), Kshetra and Kshetragna (Field and Fielder), Brahm and Parabrahm (Sharir & Shariri), Body and Soul (Insentient & Sentient), and Deh and Jiv (Anātmā & Ātmā) theory. According to Hinduism, the cosmos (universe) consists of body (Virāt) and its life force (Virāt-Purush). The life force of the Prakruti (Nature) is known as Purush. Similarly, the body of an individual living organism also consists of a body and its life force. The life force of the body (sharir) is known as jiv, ātmā, or jivātmā. In English, “jiv” (also spelled as jiva or jeev) is generally translated as “soul”. Hinduism believes that all living things have souls that control their own bodies. Souls are many.

According to Hinduism, all souls are similar in strength and in elemental composition. They all make their own category of fundamental eternal reality, called Jiv category, consisting of similar philosophical element (tattva). According to Hinduism, from the tiny bacteria to demigods all are of Jiv category. It is said that by worshiping God a trivial fly has elevated to the level of Sun. It is saying that, “This jiv has been elevated from the level of fly to the level of Sun.” The soul of an ant or mosquito is similar in characteristics of the soul of an elephant or lion. But, because of the limitations of the body their potential or power differs. Once detached from the body and after becoming brahmanized (brahmrup) all souls become equally powerful. Hinduism believes in the concept of transmigration of the soul or rebirth. Reincarnation (punah avatār) and rebirth (punah janma or punarjanma) are two different things. Rebirth means the same soul is reborn again. The word “incarnation” means “avatar” and it should be used for the manifestation of God only. Reincarnation of God means God manifests or appears, by His Godly power, on this earth or anywhere in brahmands in different physical forms, for different purposes, never ever leaving His abode. In both these processes of rebirth and reincarnation, soul and God, elementally, never transforms, only their body or external appearance changes. In rebirth soul gets different body. In reincarnation God reveals Himself differently while remaining in His abode in His original form. Thus, the word “reincarnation” is supposed to be used restrictively for God or divine power only and not for common un-liberated souls. After death of a living being the soul goes through the cycle of transmigration – the cycle of birth and death, also known as “Samsār chakra”. This cycle is also known as “Lakh Chaurasi” meaning the cycle of 8,400,000 lineages of life forms. The concept of 8.4 million species of life forms existed for many millenniums in Hinduism. It Graur and Li in their “Fundamentals of Molecular Evolution,” page 436) estimate the number of extant species to be 4.5 – 10 million. Currently new species are being discovered every day.

It is said that the current systems of classifying forms of life, known as “rank-based scientific or biological classification”, descend from the thought presented by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who published in his metaphysical and logical works the first known classification of everything whatsoever, or “being”. Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. The current rank-based classification of organisms is attributed to Linnaeus and is known as Linnaean taxonomy. It was first presented by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae (1735) and his subsequent works. In his Imperium Naturae, Linnaeus established three kingdoms, namely Regnum Animale (Animal Kingdom), Regnum Vegetabile (Vegetable Kingdom), and Regnum Lapideum (Mineral Kingdom). Thus, Carl Linnaeus (Carolus Linnaeus, 1707 –1778) laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy.

Most possibly, the concept of classification of living things goes back to Vedic period of Hinduism. Long before Carl Linnaeus (1707 –1778) and Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), if it is not incorrect to say, Hinduism has classified living things or organisms into three or four major groups or divisions based on birth similarity. Chhāndogya Upanishad divides all life into 3 classes in this way: “Tesam khalv esam bhutanam triny eva bijani bhavanti, andajam, jivajam, udbhijjam iti.” Meaning, “In truth, beings have here three kinds of seeds, born from the egg, born alive, and born from the germ.” (Chhāndogya Upanishad 6.3.1). Not only that, Shrimad Bhagavat Puran has even classified the so-called animal kingdom of Carl Linnaeus in 3 major subdivisions as shown by this shlok: “jarāyujaḿ svedajam aṇajodbhidaḿ carācaraḿ devarṣi-pitṛ-bhūtam aindriyam dyauḥ khaḿ kṣitiḥ śaila-sarit-samudra-dvīpa-graharkṣety abhidheya ekaḥ” (Shrimad Bhagavat 5.18.32.)

Thus, these four groups are: Jarāyuj, Andaj, Swedaj, and Udbhij. Jarāyuj (also known as Pindaj) are placental (jarāyu means outer covering of embryo or placenta, also translated as womb) or mammals which are born directly from the body or occurring by means of a placenta or placenta like organ; such as humans and other animals. Andaj are born from an egg (anda means egg) such as birds, fishes, and amphibians. Swedaj are born from or out of the sweat, dander (material shed from the body of various animals), shed skin cells and flakes, organic detritus, biotic material, or moisture generated by breathing, perspiration, saliva, and other secretions (sweda means sweat) such as insects and other tiny or microscopic creatures. Udbhij (also spelled as Udvij) are born from the ground or grow out of earth (udbhud means comes up, created, or born from bhu means ground or land) such as trees and plants. First three groups belong to animal kingdom (Kingdom Animalia) and the last one belongs to the plant kingdom (Kingdom Plantae).