Posts Tagged ‘Upanishad’

Darshan (Philosophy) XXXIV

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Shad Darshan – Concluding comments:

Nota Bene II

We are asking so many questions about God, but can we ask just a few questions for ourselves? Do we really believe in God? If we really believe in Him, then we wouldn’t be doing what we are doing now. If He really comes in front of us, then we would not be treating Him as we are treating Him now when He is not present in front of us. If He really comes here and sees us doing what we are not supposed to be doing, then would He be proud of us after all His teaching and preaching?

Questions to ask for ourselves:

If we really believe in Him, then have we ever tried to achieve a few good qualities of Him? If we believe in humanity, then how come we, at times, become inhumane to others? We should not be asking for death of others, as in case of death sentence, for the death of our loved ones. God never preached an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth, rather He taught us for forgiveness. How can we ask for forgiveness from Him, if are not willing to forgive others? If He is merciful, then why we do not show mercy to others? Why we hurt others or kill them – doesn’t matter if they are animals or humans, friends or foes, rich or poor, good or bad, justified or unjustified, for good or for bad. If we believe Him as the judge of everyone then why are we judging others? If we believe He does justice to others, then how can we do injustice to others? If we believe He is the boss, then why we take His law in our hands and try to be bossy on others. If we know He has tolerated and suffered for others and is still doing so, then why we are not so tolerant to others. Why we bother whom, why, and how others worship to Him, if we are not sure for ourselves why, how, and whom we worship. If we cannot develop any of His good qualities in us, then how can we expect Him to enjoy our company in His abode? If we firmly believe in Him, then why do we have doubt in Him? If we believe in Him then why do we have double standards – one for us and one for others; or why do we have triple standards for our own self – for thinking something else, saying something else, and doing something else?

Lastly, a few words about the science:

Let’s ask a few questions about the science and religion. Has anyone heard any scientists saying, “I study and teach science, astronomy, or physics in college and university, but I do not believe in black hole,” or “I do not believe that black hole exists.” “Well, Gravity is Gravity, but, I believe in Newton’s Gravity and do not believe in Einstein’s Gravity.” “I teach solar system, but I do not believe that the sun is at the center.” “I do not believe that the earth is round. I personally believe that the earth is flat.” Well, this happens in case of religion and religious philosophy. One may hear, among religious philosophers, saying that, “I study and teach religious philosophy, but, I do not believe in God or in His existence.” “I teach religion but I do not believe in Western God. I believe in Eastern God.” “I preach about the religious practices and commands of God to others, but, I personally do not believe in strictly following them.” In science the measures used, for example, of time, length, volume, mass, etc., are standard: nationally and internationally, globally and universally, for the scientists and for laymen, for poor and rich, or for believers and for non-believers. Well, for religion, the measures or ethical and moral do’s and don’ts, such as, not to steal, not to deceive, not to adulterate, not to gain or use wealth in wrongful way, to do humanitarian or charitable work, etc. are all relative, never absolute or neutral. They change according to the person, time, circumstances, creed, greed, wealth, color, race, gender, sexual orientation, and individual preferences. We see double or triple standards for ourselves and for others, for believing, preaching, and practicing. We talk about the Truth but we try to hide the truth. The science proposes and publishes theories, but never impose upon others to believe them. Whichever theory is true would be survived in the harsh experimental testing and rigorous argumentative discourses and debates and then would be accepted widely until it is disproved by another theory that would be more truthful, veridical, and realistic. Science is open to accept the truth and is also open to reject the un-truth. In case of religion, it is not like that. God’s words are all revealed in the scriptures but we want, to believe and interpret them, subjectively, according to our own will, likings, preferences, or necessities. Not only that we want to promote and impose upon others what we believe is true, simply because of our deep faith and love in ourselves. In religion, we are not open to accept criticism, nor are we willing to accept other beliefs simply because we do not know the truth. Until then belief simply remain as a belief. These are the differences between trust in the science and faith in the religion. For the majority of people, in the current era of modernization, religion has remained the subject of belief and discussion only, whereas, science is becoming day by day the subject of trust. The root cause of the difference is in the application or practicing. Whatever the science says people apply and whatever religion says people are reluctant to put into practice.

Why the science and spirituality do not go together? Why religions shy away from the science and why many scientists do not believe in God? Spirituality is based on the faith while science is based on the facts. Spirituality has no limitations, science has limitations. Spirituality thinks farther and faster but philosophically, science thinks comparatively nearer and slower but firmly. We can say that spirituality is far-sighted, science is near-sighted. If we believe in God, then we should not have to worry even for science. Science can make us untrue but not the god. If we worry about the science, then in fact we are worried about ourselves, about the philosophies that we have created, about the understanding of the scriptures that we have interpreted, and about the explanations of God that we have enforced to or imparted upon others, that we might be disproved otherwise by the science. If we do worry, then believe that, God also worries with us. If God doesn’t worry then why should we worry at all? Shouldn’t we be that courageous or confident? Science is not our enemy. Science is our friend helping us to understand the truth, to correct us if we are doing anything mistakenly. Are not we supposed to be using the science to explore the Truth, to propagate the Truth, and to keep us alive and healthy for long to enjoy the bliss of the Truth? Science and spirituality go together and cannot be separated from our lives. As religious people, we might think that science is our enemy, but on the contrary, science is our rival in searching for the truth. So, let it race and go deeper and deeper. It will ultimately help us. Ultimately, a day will come when science will also be ineffable and say, “Truth is there, but we are incapable to describe it.” “Not this, not this,” as it is said for God in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, “Neti, Neti” meaning, “this is not the Truth, the Truth is still beyond – beyond our reach, beyond our description, and beyond our understanding.”  God is indescribable.

Darshan (Philosophy) XXIX

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – Moksha

Atyantik Kalyān or Moksha Part II

Dharma, Gnan, Vairagya, and Bhakti coupled with Mahātmya (the knowledge of the greatness and the glory of God) are considered as the pillars of Sanatana Dharma, Ekantik Dharma, or Bhagwat Dharma and have to be achieved to their perfection to transcendent maya and to attain God’s abode. The devotee of God who achieves them to their perfection is called the ekantik bhakta. Such an ekantik bhakta is superior to all other devotees, is dear to God, and is known as the Gnani (knowledgeable) in Bhagwad Gita. “Teshām gnānee nitya-yukta eka-bhaktir-vishishyate | Priyo hi gnāneeno’tyartham-aham sa cha mama priyaha ||” (Bhagwad Gita; 7. 17) Meaning, “Of those, the one with the gnān is the best because he is always engaged in me and is devoted to me alone. I am exceedingly dear to a person with gnān, and he is dear to me.” “Udārāhā sarva evaite gnānee tvātamaiva me matam |”(Bhagwad Gita; 7. 18) Meaning, “They are all indeed noble, but I consider the one with gnān to be my very soul (ātmā).”

Just as Brahm and Parabrahm are two distinct entities, the soul (jiv or atma) and Brahm are two distinct ontological entities. So, no one can be Brahm. Soul can only achieve the highest achievable enlightened state, be like Brahm, and then humbly serve God, but it cannot be Brahm. This is because both the soul and Brahm are two distinct ontological entities. Therefore, leveling with Brahm is the highest desired state. Absolutely no one can be like God. No one can level oneself with Parabrahm (God). Even after achieving the highest level God is always realized and experienced transcendental and most blissful. As one transcends further and further, the Supreme Being seems to be greater and greater, giving the feeling of more and more joy and pleasure that is indescribable. The joy and pleasure of that bliss is like reaching the higher and higher tips of the tallest mountain or going higher and higher, farther and farther deep into the space and observing the universe with our own eyes.

Just as God is free from kāl (time or aging), karma (deeds), and māyā (worldly attachments or ignorance), after death the devotee of God also becomes free from kāl (time or aging), karma (deeds), and māyā (worldly attachments or ignorance) and forever resides in the humble service of God in His abode.

According to the Swaminarayan philosophy, only after realizing Brahm, that is, after becoming “brahmrup” jiv gets true eligibility to worship Parabrahm (God). “Brahm vidāpnoti param” (Taittiriya Upanishad: 2. Brahmvalli Adhyay, 1. Pratham Anuvāk, Shlok-1). It means that, “the one who knows Brahm (Akshar) attains Parabrahm (Purushottam).” One who doesn’t worship Purushottam by becoming “brahmrup” cannot be said to have attained the final or ultimate liberation. “Brahm bhutaha prasannātmā na shochati na kānkshati | Samaha sarveshu bhuteshu mad bhaktim labhate parām ||” (Bhagwad Gita: 18.54) Meaning, “One who has become brahmanized (brahmrup) remains joyful, grieves nothing, desires nothing, and behaves equally with all beings deserves to offer me one’s supreme devotion or bhakti.” Only those devotees who are free of worldly desires are dear to God.

There are and there will be many spiritual souls who have or will attain the highest spiritually enlightenment state known as brahmrup, kaivalya, nirvana, etc. As long as they believe in a single higher authority to guide them it is fine. But if they do not believe in any higher or supreme authority or believe themselves as God or the Supreme, then there will be either no God or there will be many Gods but without any Supreme Being. It is like an institution either without any head or with many heads but no presiding or judging figure to control them. The said institution may last longer and be well organize for sometime but not for many billion years – the age of universe.

Darshan (Philosophy) XIX

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – Brahm

Brahm, Akshar, or Aksharbrahm: Part I

After discussing the three distinct ontological elements, namely, jiv, ishwar, and maya, Swaminarayan philosophy discusses two more and the most important ontologically distinct entities or elements (tattvas), which are transcendental to all the three including maya (amāyik) and cannot be convinced, determined, or inferred just by guessing, arguing, or discussing; but only by experiencing personally by association with the Brahmanized Sant or by meditation (samādhi). These are: Brahm and Parabrahm.

1. Brahm, Akshar, or Aksharbrahm:

Brahm is, one and the only one (ekam and advitiyam), eternal (nitya), and penultimate reality. It is transcendental to all other realities, yet it is subordinate to the topmost, the Ultimate, and the Supreme Reality called Parabrahm. Brahm is the abode (dham) of Parabrahm Purushottam Narayan. Brahm is characterized as Sachchidanand (truth-, conscious or chaitanya-, and bliss- full) Brahm. As an abode it is also known as Brahm-mahol, Brahmdhām, or Akshardhām. As the topmost devotee (bhakta) and the humblest servant of God, as a role model for other devotees, or as a divine personified reality (tattva) the same abode of Purushottam (God) is known, in Vedas, Upanishads, and in Prasthantrayi, as Akshar, Brahm, or Aksharbrahm. It is known as param chaitanya (transcendental consciousness), satya-rup (true), gnan-rup (form of knowledge), anant (infinite), amāp (immeasurable) and adho-urdhva pramān-rahit (overall or all-around limitless). In Taittiriya Upanishad Brahm is described as, “Satyam (truth), Gnānam (knowledge), Anantam (infinite) Brahm.” (Taittiriya Upanishad: 2.1) It is shuddha (pure – without any impurities of maya), akhand (whole, undivided, and indivisible), avinashi (indestructible), vikār-rahit (without any deformity or changes) and without any characteristics (gunas) of maya. It is extremely cool and bright. This extremely cool (mahāshital), pleasant (sukhmaya), extremely bright (atishay tejomaya), infinite (anant), and limitless or beyond any limits (apār) luminescent light (tej) of Aksharbrahm is known as Chidākāsh. It is sarvādhār (all-supporter), sarva-vyāpak (all-penetrating), divine and characteristically most distinct (vilakshan) from other mayik elements. It is this abode of God, known as Akshardham, in which Purushottam (God) resides Himself forever, in His vyatirek (distinct from Brahm and other realities) and anvay (indistinct from Brahm and other realities as their essence or antaryāmi) forms.

The existence of Brahm and Parabrahm, according to Hinduism, is undeniable. Until the clarification by Shri Swaminarayan, the words Brahm and Parabrahm had become synonymous or having similar meanings. But if one studies the scriptural sayings very minutely one would immediately know that Brahm and Parabrahm are not the same but two different entities. In the scriptures, Brahm is described as the overall cause of countless brahmands or multiverse. He does that according to God’s wish. Parabrahm is described as the cause, essence, or soul of Brahm, Dham, Brahmdham, or His abode. Parabrahm is described as the ultimate cause of His creation. He does it by means of His four other realities, namely, Brahm, maya, ishwar, and jiv. The scriptures have never described anywhere Brahm as the cause or source of Parabrahm. “Mama yonir mahad Brahm, tasmin garbham dadhāmyaham | Sambhavaha sarva bhutanam, tato bhavati Bharat ||” (Bhagwad Gita: 14.3) Meaning, “My major pathway or source of creation or origin is through Brahm, in which, I place (dadhāmi) the seed or germ of the cosmos from which all beings are created or born, O, son of Bharat.” Because of the transcendental, subtle, all-pervasive, and infinite nature and description of Brahm, it can be easily misunderstood that Brahm could possibly be Parabrahm, but in the scriptures Brahm is never ever described to be transcendental to Parabrahm or to be the essence and master of Parabrahm.

Darshan (Philosophy) XVIII

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – Maya

Maya or Prakruti

Maya means matter, in modern terms. It is the material cause of the creation. Maya is described to be trigunātmikā. Just as particles have three inherent properties of mass, charge, and spin; maya also has three inherent qualities called gunas, namely, Satva, Raja, and Tama. These gunas or properties are described in the Moksha-dharma section of Shanti ParvaBook 12 of Mahabharat. Maya is full of darkness and ignorance. It causes illusion. It does not have intelligence. It is lifeless (achetan), insentient, and dead. Scriptures called it jad-chidātmak (analogous to matter and energy or particle and wave form). It is also called the Shakti or power of Purushottam (God). It is the root cause of ignorance (avidya) and attachment of the soul with its body and bodily relatives. It creates the feeling of aham (I-ness) for the body and mamatva (My-ness) for the bodily objects and bodily relatives. It causes attractions for the two objects. It causes bondage or attachment of the soul with the world and worldly things.

Maya in its primordial form is also known as Prakruti. The primordial form of universe is called Pradhān and the primordial form of multiverse or multiple brahmands is called Mahāmāyā or Mul-Prakruti.

3. Pradhan and Purush

Pradhān is a kind of Prakruti. Sometimes, it is also known as Pradhan-Prakruti to differentiate it from the Mul-Prakruti. Pradhan-Prakrutis are infinite in numbers. They are all evolved from Mul-Prakruti. Pradhan is described in the scriptures as the material cause of brahmand. Its essence is known as Purush, called Pradhan-Purush to differentiate him from Mul-Purush. From Pradhan, Mahattattva – the primordial form of brahmand (universe) is evolved. From Mahattattva, three types of Ahamkar are evolved and from them 24 kinds of elements (tattvas) are evolved. From these 24 elements all of the non-living and living beings of the universe are evolved. Pradhan-Purush or Ishwar is the essence of Pradhan and the efficient cause of universe. Virāt form of brahmand, also known as Virat-Purush, is evolved from Pradhan-Purush. All avatars manifest from Virat-Purush. Vāsudev Narayan enters into and resides in avatars through Purush. His presence qualifies the avatar. It is not possible for an avatar to manifest through Virat-Purush without the presence of Vāsudev Narayan (God).

4. Mul-Prakruti and Mul-Purush

Mul-Prakruti (also known as Mahamaya) is mentioned in the scriptures as the root cause or the basic material cause of infinite numbers of universes (ananta koti brahmands). (Mahabharat: Book 12: Shanti Parva, Part 2-3: Mokshdharma Parva: Section: CCCLII) Scriptures describe that from a pair of Mul-Prakruti (also known as Mahamaya) and Mul-Purush (also known as Prakruti-Purush or Mahāpurush) infinite number of pairs of Pradhan and Purush are evolved. From each pair of Pradhan and Purush, each brahmand is evolved. Mul-Prakruti or Mahamaya is the final material cause of countless brahmands or multiverse. Prakruti-Purush or Mahapurush is the final efficient cause of countless brahmands or multiverse.

Mahamaya, Maya in general, is originated from a tiny portion of the luminescence (tej) of Brahm, which sustains in it all of the brahmands. “Vishtabhya aham idam kritsnam ekāmshena sthito jagat” (Bhagwad Gita: 10.42). Meaning, “I support (vishtabhya) this entire (kritsnam) cosmos (jagat) that is being existed (sthito) in a tiny portion or fraction (ekāmshena) of me (my body).” In the scriptures, Aksharbrahm is considered as the sharir (body) of Purushottam (Parabrahm) and Purushottam is considered Aksharbrahm’s shariri (essence or controller). “Yasyāksharam shariram…” (Subāla Upanishad: Khand-7) Meaning, “He, Narayan (God), whose body (sharir) is Akshar.”

Prakruti-Purush, Mahapurush, or Mul-Purush, as he is known by these names, is basically an aksharpurush or akshar-mukta, one of many akshar-like or akshar-rup purushas. This aksharpurush or Prakruti-Purush is desireless (niranna), already liberated (mukta), brahmanized, brahm-like, or has become one with Brahm (brahmrup), and is the cause or source of maya. He is fully contented, happy, and fulfilled (paripurna) with the bliss and happiness of Brahm, who is free from any desire to indulge in worldly or mayik pleasures. Even though he stays within maya he ever remains unaffected by maya. There are many such akshar-like, brahmrup Purushas who worship Purushottam Vāsudev Narayan (God). Mahapurush is born or arise (upajayate) from Aksharbrahm at the wish or will of Purushottam. Mahapurush is the cause of Mahamaya. Mahamaya, as such, is anādi (unborn) or eternal (without birth and death). But at the final dissolution (Ātyantik pralay) it becomes dormant, shrinks or dissolves in a tiny portion of Aksharbrahm, and remains embedded there until the next creation. It is the same Mahamaya that is reactivated or born from the tej or luminescence of Aksharbrahm by Mahapurush. Through Mahamaya, Mahapurush causes the rest of the creation of multiple brahmands. Thus, finally it is Purushottam Vāsudev who, in the form of Brahm, is both – the material as well as efficient cause of creation, sustenance, and dissolution of countless or infinite numbers of brahmands. Taittiriya Upanishad says, “Vignānam cha avignānam abhavat |” (Taittiriya Upanishad: Brahmānanda Valli, Anuvāka: 6) Meaning, “Brahm became the intelligence (sentient being) as well as the non-intelligence (insentient being) of the universe.”

Just as there is a difference between the jiv (an individual soul) and Purush (Virat-Purush or a universal soul and Prakruti-Purush or a multiversal soul), who is an ishwar, there is difference between ishwar and Brahm.

Aksharbrahm, the abode of Purushottam,  is the penultimate reality – the one and only. Purushottam is the Ultimate Reality. Aksharbrahm is the most sought for reality, for the yogis and the devotees of God who seek for the final resting place or the final liberation. The scriptures say that when the whole creation undergoes dissolution, there remains or exists nothing but God, His abode, and the liberated souls. This is the reason why it is called final liberation (Atyantik Kalyan or Moksh).

Darshan (Philosophy) IV

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies:

Advaita philosophy

Kevala Advaita philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya

Many sub-philosophies have been developed under the heading of Vedanta (Uttara Mimamsa) philosophy – the philosophies based on Prasthan Trayi, since the beginning of the Common Era. Out of them one is the Advait Vedanta philosophy of Shankaracharya.

Advait philosophy of Shankaracharya:

Advait philosophy is given by Adi Shankaracharya (788 CE-821 CE?). “Advait” means “not two” or “non dual”. The word “Advait” doesn’t mean “one”. It is different than Monism, because Monism is defined little differently. As against Sankhya philosophy, the Advaita philosophy believes that Purush (soul) and Prakruti (nature) are one and same as Brahm. It is because of Maya, avidyā, or agnān (ignorance or illusion) that they look different. According to this philosophy, there exists only one reality called Brahm. “Sarvam khalv idam brahm” (Chhāndogya Upanishad: 3.14.1) Meaning, “All that we see in the world is Brahm.” Everything, what we see, feel, observe, and experience is revelation of attributeless “nirgun,” formless “nirakar” Brahm. The real meaning of nirgun, nirakar is “without any worldly trigunatmak form”. This material world is merely an illusion or untrue, meaning, it is destructible, changeable but not the permanent truth. The root cause of all the ignorance, called “Avidyā” or “Maya”, is the belief that this material world is real or the truth. The ultimate liberation comes when one establishes unity of one’s individual soul with the universal soul or Brahm by solidifying one’s knowledge (gyan) that, “Aham Brahmāsmi” (Brahadaranyaka Upanishad: 1.4.10) meaning, “I am Brahm” and “Tat tvam asi” (Chhandogya Upanishad: 6.8.7) meaning, “You are that (Brahm).” It is true that one can identify one’s soul with Brahm, because both are described to be having similar characteristics in the scriptures. When Shankaracharya said everything is Brahm, he meant it. He had a vision to see everything as Brahm or filled with Brahm, just as a scientist sees everything as well organized structures made just of atoms or quarks. Just as everything in the nature is quarks or atoms in the eyes of scientists, everything was Brahm in the eyes of Shankaracharya. If we see this object is mine and that is yours, this object is prettier and that object is ugly, if we have partiality for some and impartiality for others then we haven’t reach that stage. According to the Advait philosophy of Shankaracharya, soul is Brahm, the Nature or Prakruti (the Creation) is Brahm, and the Creator of the Creation is also Brahm. In that way Advait philosophy is a kind of Monism. Advaitists believe that the whole universe is evolved from Brahm or God. For some these changes in Brahm are real, while, for others these changes or differentiations in Brahm are only apparent or superficial and not real. Advaitists believe that individual souls are created by Maya, in reality they are one with the Brahm. The removal of the veil of ignorance (Maya) makes this truth clear – the state being known as “Jivanmukti” (the living freedom). Shankaracharya’s path is generally known as the Path of Knowledge or “Gyān or Gnān Mārg.” In Vedanta philosophy there was no worshiping of Brahm, but still worshiping of God was there. God was considered Brahm. In Shankaracharya’s period, most of his followers were Brahmins and Brahmins were “shaivites” or “shaivas” meaning they worshiped Shiv (Shankar or Mahesh) as the Supreme Being or God. Shankaracharya himself was the devotee and firm believer of Shiv. So he continued that practice. In Rigved, the word Rudra is used for Shiva. Rudra is described as the last son of Brahmā. (Kurma Puran: 1.10.21,22; Linga Puran: 1.41,42,43; Shiva Puran: 7.1.12. 31, 32; Bhagwat Puran: 3.12.6-10; Skanda Puran: 5.1.2. 24-26; Mahabharat: 1.60.1-4) The same Rudra is described to be born of Prajāpati in the previous kalpa (eon or age of universe). Currently, Vedanta and Shankaracharya’s philosophy has mostly become synonymous.

There is also somewhat different philosophy than the Vedanta philosophy of Shankaracharya, which is known as “Shushka (sushka) Vedanta.”  Shushka means dry, baseless, or bijless (nirbij, bij means seed or the essence). The followers of Shushka Vedanta or modern Vedantis, unlike followers of Vedanta philosophy of Shankaracharya, do not believe in or worship (bhakti) any God at all nor do they believe in many of His divine forms, and His abode, thinking that after becoming one with the Brahm, one need not worship or bow down to any God. They become so arrogant that they no longer have fear committing any seen. They do not even believe in any scripture-described moral or do’s and don’ts called “Vidhinishedh”. They only believe in nirakar nirgun Brahm, which itself has assumed the form of all mobile and immobile objects. Shushka Vedantis forget the controversy created by their own belief that along with jiv and all mobile and immobile objects of the universe Brahm also has to undergo births and deaths. Their own liberation thus is refuted by their own beliefs. Shushka Vedantis are those who think themselves as Brahm having still harboring lust, anger, greed, infatuation, jealousy, ego, etc and without even having attained the highest status of Brahm. They forget that Shankaracharya had truly attained the highest brahmanized state, he himself had become one with the Brahm, and he was surely and meaningfully seeing the whole creation as one, before saying the same to the others. So, Shankaracharya’s Advait Vedanta theory is widely accepted but the kind of understanding that is seen in Sushka Vedanta is largely condemned by the main stream Hinduism. Just by saying, “I am Brahm” or believing to be Brahm one cannot be like Brahm, by completely knowing about Brahm from the scriptures also one cannot be like Brahm, but by achieving or cultivating all the qualities of Brahm one can be like Brahm. Shankaracharya had truly become one with the Brahm.

If one tries to understand the form of God through Advaita Vedanta philosophy only, then God is realized as formless or abstract (nirākār) because of His description as nirgun (without any worldly mayik qualities or attributes), sarva-vyāpak (all-pervading), and sarva-kāran (cause of all). But not as having the “eternally forever divine form” (sadā divya sākār) as opposed to the any worldly form with which God’s form cannot be compared. Secondly we cannot realize that divine form of God that listens to us, talks to us, watch us, answers to our prayers, forgives us, gives us pleasure and joy, and accepts our services and devotion (navadhā bhakti). How God can talk and listen to us person-to-person, if He is not in person and we are in person and if He is formless and we are having form? If He can take any form in Nature, He sure can take the human form.

Body in Hinduism XII

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Sharir – Tattvas Part III (contd.):

Prans – in General V

To understand the pran, let’s first understand the body. What is body? How does it function? According to Hinduism, body is the God given vehicle to attain salvation for the soul. The soul is firmly attached to the three kinds of body, just as the germ of the seed is attached to the three kinds of layers of the fruit. As long as it has this attachment, soul cannot go to the abode of God, because body cannot go there and so the soul firmly attached to it.

The purpose of the life, according to Hinduism, is not to be born, live for hundred years, and die, again and again, during which we gain something and lose something, we enjoy little and suffer more, and at the end we leave everything here on this earth and cannot take anything with us. This is not we were meant for. God gave us this life to help others, to enjoy the bliss of God and to let others enjoy the same, to attain freedom and liberation from the cycle of births and deaths by offering devotion to God and by serving to His devotees. So, let’s try to understand the body first to understand the pran.

Body can be compared with the factory producing energy in the form of carrier molecules. It has three major divisions. First, the resources division or “In” division: The raw materials are air and food. Air has oxygen in it and food has necessary nutrients and water in it. They are the key elements for survival of body factory. They are gathered and concentrated or breakdown in tiny pieces by two main systems: the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, governed by Pran and Udan, respectively. Second, the transportation and distribution division or the central transverse division: After gathering resources are then transported and distributed for processing by circulatory system governed by Saman. Third, the waste management division or “Out” section: After processing the resources, waste management is done by excretory system and the expansion or growth is done, if needed, by reproductive system both of which are governed by Apan. Finally, the end products are produced and utilized for specific purposes, such as, growth, movements, mobility, routine maintenance, repair, pleasure, cognition, etc. Since body cannot store the energy, the production and utilization of the end products are done instantaneously and side-by-side. The excess or surplus of raw material gathered or created are stored in different parts of the body for emergency uses. The whole production and utilization process is governed by Vyan. This summarizes, in short, the functions of prans in the body.

The most important vital elements, oxygen and nutrients, gathered and processed by the respiratory system and by the gastrointestinal system are governed by Pran and Udan, respectively, on one side. Pran controls respiration and Udan controls digestion grossly. Both together ultimately produce the most important energy in the form of chemical energy (ATPs) necessary for the growth and maintenance and in the form of chemical free energy (heat). The processes are known as cellular respiration and catabolism. The energy released is utilized instantaneously for growth and differentiation of cells and synthesis of complex molecules by anabolic pathways and the most toxic elements, carbon dioxide and waste products, such as lactic acid, acetic acid, ammonia, and urea, are removed from the body by the excretory system. Both are governed by Vyan and Apan, respectively, on the other side. Vyan controls overall metabolism and Apan controls overall excretion. Pran (also known as inward process) and Apan (outward process) functions oppositely from each other. Pran means inhaled breathing and Apan means exhaled breathing. Similarly, Udan (in Hinduism, known as upward process) and Vyan (in Hinduism, known as transverse process, in Greek catabolism means downward process – kata means downward and ballein means to throw and anabolism means upward process – ana means upward and ballein means to throw, both combined becomes the transverse process) also function oppositely from each other.

In the middle (known in Hinduism as Navel or central region) is Saman. Both sets of opposite processes or functions, for example, “in” and “out” of the resources and waste products, energy production and energy utilization, catabolism and anabolism, and growth and destruction of cells are balanced by Saman.

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Prāns provide all the energy or vitality to our body. Prans control all the functions of our body. “All that exists here is under the control of pran.” “Pranasyedam vashe sarvam trideve yatpratishitam |” (Prashna Upanishad Prashna-II.13) Therefore, it is said in the Upanishads that, pran moves our hands and feet. Pran moves our eyes and tongue. Pran moves our lungs and the heart. Pran is responsible for all the actions in our body. Without pran the body cannot function.

Body in Hinduism XI

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Sharir – Tattvas Part III (contd.):

Prans – in General IV

Also, in Hinduism, it is believed that, “Pindeshu Brahmānde,” meaning, “whatever is found in the universe is found in the body.” The physical processes of the universe are paralleled by the biological process in the human body. Just as there are molecular physiological processes or forces called bodily prans vital for the life of the body, there are also paralleled universal forces called universal prans vital for the sustenance of universe. These universal prans are also needed to be satisfied, meaning, balanced or conserved, for avoiding the problems of environmental imbalance and for maintaining universal peace and harmony. For that, Hinduism has also prescribed oblations or “āhutis” in the scriptures to satisfy universal prans.

Reference: Chhandogya Upanishad describes the above described oblations “āhutis” as follows:

Chhandogya Upanishad: Part V – Panchāgni Vidyā: Chapter (Khand) XIX – XXIII — Performance of the Agnihotra in Oneself – Shloks 1 and 2 in each Khand:

Chapter XIX — the Pran

 “tad yad bhaktaṃ prathamam āgacchet tad dhomīyam |

sa yāṃ prathamām āhutiṃ juhuyāt tāṃ juhuyāt prāṇāya svāheti |

prāṇas tṛpyati || ChUp_5,19.1 ||”

Therefore, the devotee of God (bhakta), should offer the food that comes first as an oblation. The first oblation (prathamām āhuti) that he (i.e. the eater) offers, should offered by saying: “Swaha to the Pran!” (Prāāya svāheti) Then the pran is satisfied (tpyati). (Ch. Up: 5.19.1)

 “prāṇe tṛpyati cakṣus tṛpyati |

cakṣuṣi tṛpyaty ādityas tṛpyati |

āditye tṛpyati dyaus tṛpyati |

divi tṛpyantyāṃ yat kiṃca dyauś cādityaś cādhitiṣṭhatas tat tṛpyati |

tasyānu tṛptiṃ tṛpyati prajayā paśubhir annādyena tejasā brahmavarcaseneti || ChUp_5,19.2 ||”

The pran being satisfied, eye – the sense of vision (cakus) is satisfied. The eye being satisfied, Āditya (the Sun deity) is satisfied. The Sun being satisfied, heaven – the abode of deities (dyaus) is satisfied. When both are being satisfied, whatever is under heaven the sun is satisfied. After they are being satisfied, the eater or sacrificer is satisfied with his offspring, cattle, food, etc. luminescence (tejas) of the body, and ultimately of Brahm is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.19.2)

Chapter XX — the Vyan

“atha yāṃ dvitīyāṃ juhuyāt tāṃ juhuyād vyānāya svāheti |

vyānas tṛpyati || ChUp_5,20.1 ||”

The second oblation that he offers should be offered saying: “Swaha to the Vyan!” (Vyānāya svāheti) Then the Vyan is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.20.1)

“vyāne tṛpyati śrotraṃ tṛpyati |

śrotre tṛpyati candramās tṛpyati |

candramasi tṛpyati diśas tṛpyanti |

dikṣu tṛpyantīṣu yat kiṃca diśaś candramāś cādhitiṣṭhanti tat tṛpyati |

tasyānu tṛptiṃ tṛpyati prajayā paśubhir annādyena tejasā brahmavarcaseneti || ChUp_5,20.2 ||”

The Vyan being satisfied, ear – the sense of hearing (śrotra) is satisfied. The ear being satisfied, the Chandramā (the Moon deity) is satisfied. The moon being satisfied, the astronomical or terrestrial regions or or geographical orientation on earth (diśas – cardinal directions) are satisfied. The directions being satisfied, whatever is in that directions and under the moon is satisfied. They being satisfied, the eater or sacrificer is satisfied with his offspring, cattle, food, etc. luminescence (tejas) of the body, and ultimately of Brahm is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.20.2)

Chapter XX — the Apan

“atha yāṃ tṛtīyāṃ juhuyāt tāṃ juhuyād apānāya svāheti |

apānas tṛpyati || ChUp_5,21.1 ||”

The third oblation that he offers should be offered saying: “Swaha to the Apan!” (Apānāya svāheti) Then the Apan is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.21.1)

“apāne tṛpyati vāk tṛpyati |

vāci tṛpyantyām agnis tṛpyati |

agnau tṛpyati pṛthivī tṛpyati |

pṛthivyāṃ tṛpyantyāṃ yat kiṃ ca pṛthivī cāgniś cādhitiṣṭhatas tat tṛpyati |

tasyānutṛptiṃ tṛpyati prajayā paśubhir annādyena tejasā brahmavarcaseneti || ChUp_5,21.2 ||”

The Apan being satisfied, tongue – the sense of speech (vāk) is satisfied. Speech being satisfied, Agni (the fire deity) is satisfied. Fire being satisfied, the earth (Pthivī – Pruthwi tattva) is satisfied. The earth being satisfied, what is under the earth and under fire is satisfied. They being satisfied, the eater or sacrificer is satisfied with his offspring, cattle, food, etc. luminescence (tejas) of the body, and ultimately of Brahm is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.21.2)

Chapter XXII — the Saman

“atha yāṃ caturthīṃ juhuyāt tāṃ juhuyāt samānāya svāheti |

samānas tṛpyati || ChUp_5,22.1 ||”

The fourth oblation that he offers should be offered saying: “Swaha to the Saman!” (Samānāya svāheti) Then the Saman is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.22.1)

“samāne tṛpyati manas tṛpyati |

manasi tṛpyati parjanyas tṛpyati |

parjanye tṛpyati vidyut tṛpyati |

vidyuti tṛpyantyāṃ yat kiṃ ca vidyuc ca parjanyaś cādhitiṣṭhatas tat tṛpyati |

tasyānu tṛptiṃ tṛpyati prajayā paśubhir annādyena tejasā brahmavarcaseneti || ChUp_5,22.2 ||”

The Saman being satisfied, mind – the psyche (manas, that is, antahkarans) is satisfied. The mind being satisfied, Parjanya (the rain deity) is satisfied. The rain deity being satisfied, the lightning (vidyut – Tej tattva) is satisfied. The lightning being satisfied, what is under the lightning and under the rain deity is satisfied. They being satisfied, the eater or sacrificer is satisfied with his offspring, cattle, food, etc. luminescence (tejas) of the body, and ultimately of Brahm is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.22.2)

Chapter XXIII — the Udan

“atha yām pañcamīṃ juhuyāt tāṃ juhuyāt udānāya svāheti |

udānas tṛpyati || ChUp_5,23.1 ||”

The fifth oblation that he offers should be offered saying: “Swaha to the Udan!” (Udānāya svāheti) Then the Udan is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.23.1)

“udāne tṛpyati tvak tṛpyati tvaci tṛpyantyāṃ vāyus tṛpyati |

vāyau tṛpyaty ākāśas tṛpyati |

ākāśe tṛpyati yat kiṃca vāyuś cākāśaś cādhitiṣṭhatas tat tṛpyati |

tasyānu tṛptiṃ tṛpyati prajayā paśubhir annādyena tejasā brahmavarcaseneti || ChUp_5,23.2 ||”

The Udan being satisfied, skin – the sense of touch (tvak) is satisfied. The skin being satisfied, Vayu (the wind deity) is satisfied. The wind being satisfied, the space or void (Akash tattva) is satisfied. Akash being satisfied, what is under the wind and under the Akash is satisfied. They being satisfied, the eater or sacrificer is satisfied with his offspring, cattle, food, etc. luminescence (tejas) of the body, and ultimately of Brahm is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.23.2)

Body in Hinduism X

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Sharir – Tattvas Part III (contd.):

Prans – in General III

In the scriptures five major types of prans are described. In the Upanishads five prans are compared with five flames of a single fire.                                                                                                        In the Prashna (Prasna) Upanishad: Question II, Shlok 3 – “Tānvarishthaha prana uvācha, mā mohamāpdhyathāhamevaitatpanchadhātmānam pravibhajyaitadbānamavashtabhya vidharayāmiti teashraddhānā babhuvuhu ||” (Pr. Up: Q 2, Shlok: 3) Meaning, Pran, the chief among indriya-antahkarans, says that: “Do not fall into delusion. I alone, dividing myself into five parts, support this body and uphold it.”

In the Chhandogya Upanishad:  Chapter One: Vaishvānar-vidyā it is described that, the five prans are like the five tongues of a flaming fire. It is one single force that is working as five different vital energies. So, each tongue or each flame of the cosmic or universal fire is satisfied by the offering of a particular oblation, as it is done in the external sacrifice. Similarly, in the internal sacrifice (for example, eating), with each morsel of food five internal prans are satisfied.

When we breathe air it carries oxygen to the body and sustains life. When we eat food, it is ultimately digested and converted or metabolized into essential nutrients that provide energy to our body and its vital functions. Thus breathing, eating, drinking, etc. are important or vital for sustaining of our lives. And that is why, in Hinduism, these important activities such as offering of the food to the mouth (that is eating) or offering of air or oxygen to the lungs (that is breathing) are considered as sacred or vital acts and not just mechanical acts and are compared with performing a kind of Yagna. Just as Ghee (clarified butter), Jav or Aja (barley, oat, and rice kind of food grains), or Til (sesame seeds containing oil or fat) when offered to the holy external fire (also known as Vaishvānar Agni) are converted into external universal energy, food, when offered to the body or internal fire (also known as Jatharāgni), is also converted into the internal bodily energy. Similarly, just as the eating process is made sacred and is related with the offering or oblation called Prān-agnihotra, in the scriptures, the breathing process is also considered sacred and is considered as a part of the Ashtāng Yoga. Agnihotra means the sacrificial offering to the universal fire. So, when taking food mantras are also chanted as in agnihotra or yagna (also called yagya), for example, “Om, prānāy swāhā” (meaning, may the prān be satisfied or this morsel of food is for prān), “Om, apānāy swāhā” (meaning, may the apān be satisfied or this morsel of food is for apān), “Om, vyānāy swāhā” (meaning, may the vyān be satisfied or this morsel of food is for vyān), “Om, udānāy swāhā” (meaning, may the udān be satisfied or this morsel of food is for udān), “Om, samānāy swāhā” (meaning, may the samān be satisfied or this morsel of food is for samān), “Om, Brāhmane swāhā,” “Om, Brāhmane swāhā,” – repeated twice (meaning, may Brāhmana be satisfied or these morsels of food are for Brāhmana), “Neivedyamadhyepaniyam Samarpayāmi,” (meaning, “I offer this food at Your feet”.

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.