Posts Tagged ‘Upanishads’

Darshan (Philosophy) XXXI

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Concluding comments:

Conclusion I

All of the above philosophies of Hinduism have one thing in common. They are all derived from and consistent with the triad of authentic Hindu scriptures known as Prasthan Trayi, namely, Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita, and Brahm Sutra. They include the essence of all the ancient Hindu scriptures, namely, Vedas, Upanishads, various sutras, various smrutis, all the Purans, Mahabharat, and Ramayan. Number wise Hindu scriptures are not just a few texts but they are hundreds in numbers, consisting of hundreds of thousands of verses (shloks) and short sentences (sutras), and all of them are in Sanskrit or other vernacular languages derived from Sanskrit. It is difficult to study single-handedly and understand them all individually. This explains why there are many interpretations, explanations, and commentaries just about one single Truth and the five fundamental eternal realities in Hinduism.

The beauty of Hinduism is that it allows complete religious freedom at the same time teaches to develop the utmost tolerance for others’ belief. This is exactly opposite of bullying. Smruti shastras allow devotees to worship their own deity as God or demigod (devata) and to follow their own choice of scriptures according to their own level of understanding and intelligence irrespective of the Ultimate Truth. Yet, at the same time it also teaches to keep in mind that one is allowed to compare anything or anybody with God but one can never compare God with anything else that is lower than the level of God in His whole creation, not even with the transcendental and penultimate reality Brahm – the abode of God. This was the understanding of Madhavacharya when he placed Lakshmi at the little subordinate or subservient level to that of Narayan (God). Hinduism tells the truth to the followers of any deity or any God other than the Supreme Being, Parabrahm Purushottam Narayan, cautioning them, that whosoever follows other than Purushottam Narayan will be led to that particular person’s or deity’s own destination depending on that person’s or deity’s own power and capability but not the final resting place or the ultimate destination of the most powerful Supreme Being. The ultimate destination or the final redemption can only be reached by following the Truth, the true Supreme Being, or by achieving the truly ultimate knowledge. Hinduism tells never to follow blindfolded. It says to use one’s own intelligence and judgment objectively and see the behavior, level, and achievement of the Guru (guidance counselor), his Guru or master, and his students or followers. It also advises to disregard the social or worldly etiquettes, manner, or any other external variables of the true Guru in learning the brahm-gnan. Hinduism helps also by providing all the necessary guidance and guidelines to understand, know, and follow the Truth and at the end leaves the responsibility of taking final decision on the individual. Hinduism never forces anybody in following the religion, it just tells about the Truth. Shad Darshan shows the science of how to know the Truth. No matter whom one follows, no matter which path one follows, and no matter which decision one takes, it always advises never to lose one’s spiritual joy – the bliss of brahmanized state (brahmpanu) or the eternal happiness one gets by having union or close association with Brahm or Brahmanized sant or satpurush.

The Satyam (the truth), Shivam (the greatness), and Sundaram (the beauty) of Hinduism is that leaving aside its religious and philosophical aspects, and keeping one’s own faith or belief in one’s own religion, religious practices, religious philosophy, and the choicest deity of worshiping, one can still study, understand, and practice the universal, natural, and humanitarian aspect of it to bring the mental peace, world peace, and the heaven, paradise, or swarg on the earth.

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) XIV

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – in General II

In the scriptures Parabrahm, Parameshwar, Paramatma, Purushottam, Narayan, Hari, are all referred to one single entity – the Supreme Being – called “Bhagwan” (God). Brahm the abode of Parabrahm, which is holding and supporting multiple brahmands by its power, is the single penultimate truth of just lesser than equal level of Purushottam (God) and is transcendental to everything else except Parabrahm (God). Purushottam Narayan (God) is forever the Supreme Being – the Ultimate Truth. Sometimes the scriptures have used different words similarly or similar words differently according to the time, place, audience, and other factors. When one studies and understands all the scriptures together than the real meaning becomes apparent. Currently, Swaminarayan philosophy is gaining attentions and interests of many intellectual students of religious philosophy and other intellectual audience of different professions. Even though its’ contemporary origin of only a couple of hundred years compared to the other philosophies of many hundred to a couple of thousand years old, it is increasingly being accepted in the current curriculum of religious philosophies.

Swaminarayan philosophy holds that Jiv, Ishwar, Maya, Brahm, and Parabrahm are the five fundamental eternal realities quite distinct from each other. All of these five realities are described in the scriptures of Hinduism but their true or real meanings and their relationship with each other are explored and explained very first time by Shri Swaminarayan. Before the explanation by Swaminarayan Philosophy, some philosophers believed that both the jivs and ishwar where same or part and partial (amsh-amshi). According to some philosophers Ishwar, Brahm, and Parabrahm were considered as one and the same entity. According to some philosophers Brahm and Parabrahm were considered as the same reality. The five great Acharyas – the proponents of above mentioned philosophies of Hinduism, namely, Shri Shankaracharya, Shri Ramanujacharya, Shri Nimbarkacharya, Shri Madhavacharya, and Shri Vallabhacharya all conclusively inferred that Brahm is the cause of the cosmos, it should be the goal of life for everybody, and the knowledge and the union of soul with Brahm would lead to the Moksh or the final liberation. In Bhagwad Gita there are two separate chapters allocated to Aksharbrahm and Purushottam: Chapter 8 – the Aksharbrahm Yoga and Chapter 15 – the Purushottam yoga. They both describe Akshar Brahm as the abode of Purushottam, which can only be attained by the utmost devotion to Purushottam and by attaining it one never has to come back again in the cycle of births and deaths in this material world. Within Brahm the entire existence is situated and the entire existence is pervaded by it.  It should be the ultimate goal for everyone – every soul. In both the chapters, the topmost reality is described as Purushottam, the unparalleled, the one and only, Supreme Being generally known as God. God, who is the controller of other four subordinate realities, has created this Creation in such a way that once it is created He never have to intervene again in its day-to-day activities related to creation, sustenance, and destruction of many different lower levels, from birth, life, and death of a star to those a human being.

Darshan (Philosophy) XIII

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – in General I

Akshar Purushottam Philosophy of Shri Swaminarayan:

Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan philosophy is a unique philosophy given by Swami Sahajanand, who is also known as Shri Swaminarayan (1781-1830). Swaminarayan philosophy is also known as “Navya Vishishtadvaita” or “Neo Qualified Non-Dualism.” It differs from the other Vedanta philosophies in that it describes five fundamental eternal realities instead of three realities. Other Vedanta philosophies define three fundamental eternal realities, namely, souls (jiv), universe (jagat), and Brahm or God (jagadishwar). Swaminarayan philosophy defines five fundamental realities based on Prasthan Trayi – the three authentic and basic scriptures of Hinduism, namely, Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita, and Brahm Sutras. (*See note below on “Prasthan Trayi”) The five eternal (meaning, forever existing without any birth and death) fundamental realities described by Swaminarayan philosophy are: jiv (souls), ishwar (universal souls, also known as Purushas), maya (cosmos), Brahm (the abode of God), and Parabrahm (the Supreme Being).

The minute imperfections remained concealed or unexplained in other philosophies are explained by Swaminarayan philosophy. As per this philosophy, there are ontological distinctions between Purush and Purushottam and between Brahm (Aksharbrahm) and Parabrahm (Purushottam). Hinduism describes about the existence of many purushas – the universal souls of brahmands. They are all categorized under ishwars. Obviously, they cannot be categorized under God or souls because of their multiplicity and limited but universal potential. Parabrahm Purushottam (God) – the Supreme Reality, who is one and only, is transcendental to all of them. There is also ontological distinction between Parabrahm (God) and Brahm (the abode of God). Both cannot be one reality because of their characteristical differences. Just like the difference King and its kingdom or householder and his house, both cannot be the same or one single ontological entity. Parabrahm and Brahm, or, God and His abode, cannot be just one entity. In Prasthan Trayi of Hinduism, both God and His abode, that is, Purushottam and Akshar, Parabrahm and Brahm, respectively, are described as quite distinct ontological entities from each other. For common people and for the general use, Ishwar and Parameshwar, Brahm and Parabrahm, Purush (Mahapurush) and Purushottam are all same or look similar, but specifically for the learned people, they are ontologically different entities. Just as for common people “bugs” (jantu) causing diseases are all same, but for the learned people they are biologically different, for example, parasites, bacteria, and viruses are all different bugs causing different diseases.


Prasthan Trayi:

Prasthan Trayi is a trio or triad of the three authentic and basic scriptures of Hinduism, namely, Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita, and Brahm Sutras.

1. Upanishads or the later parts of the Vedas are considered as the direct revelation of God to Brahmā and great rishis at the beginning of the creation. There are more than 108 Upanishads available in book forms, out of them Ishāvāsya, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Māndukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chhāndogya, and Brahadāranyaka Upanishads are considered as 10 major Upanishads.

2. Bhagwad Gita also given directly by Lord Shri Krishna is composed by Vyasa and is included in the “Bhishma Parva” of Mahabharat from 25th chapter (adhyāya) through 42nd chapter. It consists of the philosophical essence of Vedas, all the Upanishads, 18 major Purāns (Puranas or Purans), namely, Brahm Puran, Padma Puran, Vishnu Puran, Vāyu Puran, Nārad Puran, Mārkandeya Puran, Agneya Puran, Bhavishya Puran, Brahm-Vaivart Puran, Ling Puran, Varāh Puran, Skand Puran, Vāman Puran, Kurma Puran, Matsya Puran, Garud Puran, Brahmānd Puran, and Shrimad Bhāgwat Puran, and two major Itihasas, namely, Ramayan and Mahabharat.

3. Brahm Sutras given by Shri Badarayana Vyas, the son of Parashara rishi, contains the essence of Brahmvidya, that is, the knowledge of Brahm and Parabrahm given in the form of short and precise sentences, called sutras, using only a few syllables. It is known as the base of all the Vedanta philosophies. Brahm Sutra has four chapters (adhyāy), each having four sections (pāda or pad). In each section there are different sub-sections (adhikarans). Each adhikaran contains one to several short sentences (sutras). In all, there are about 555 sutras. 


Prasthan Trayi:

Prasthan Trayi is a trio or triad of the three authentic and basic scriptures of Hinduism, namely, Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita, and Brahm Sutras.

1. Upanishads or the later parts of the Vedas are considered as the direct revelation of God to Brahmā and great rishis at the beginning of the creation. There are more than 108 Upanishads available in book forms, out of them Ishāvāsya, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Māndukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chhāndogya, and Brahadāranyaka Upanishads are considered as 10 major Upanishads.

2. Bhagwad Gita also given directly by Lord Shri Krishna is composed by Vyasa and is included in the “Bhishma Parva” of Mahabharat from 25th chapter (adhyāya) through 42nd chapter. It consists of the philosophical essence of Vedas, all the Upanishads, 18 major Purāns (Puranas or Purans), namely, Brahm Puran, Padma Puran, Vishnu Puran, Vāyu Puran, Nārad Puran, Mārkandeya Puran, Agneya Puran, Bhavishya Puran, Brahm-Vaivart Puran, Ling Puran, Varāh Puran, Skand Puran, Vāman Puran, Kurma Puran, Matsya Puran, Garud Puran, Brahmānd Puran, and Shrimad Bhāgwat Puran, and two major Itihasas, namely, Ramayan and Mahabharat.

3. Brahm Sutras given by Shri Badarayana Vyas, the son of Parashara rishi, contains the essence of Brahmvidya, that is, the knowledge of Brahm and Parabrahm given in the form of short and precise sentences, called sutras, using only a few syllables. It is known as the base of all the Vedanta philosophies. Brahm Sutra has four chapters (adhyāy), each having four sections (pāda or pad). In each section there are different sub-sections (adhikarans). Each adhikaran contains one to several short sentences (sutras). In all, there are about 555 sutras.

Darshan (Philosophy) III

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Mimamsa and Vedanta:

Purva Mimamsa (Mimamsa):

Mimamsa is also known as Purva Mimamsa, as against Uttara Mimamsa. Mimamsa was developed by rishi Jaimini and was described in his text “Mimamsa Sutra.” Mimamsa means detail investigation or analysis of the subject. According to Mimamsa, the correct performance of the Vedic rites or rituals is the means of salvation. It discusses in detail the nature of ritual obligations (karma-kānda) and ethical and moral duties (dharma) based on correct interpretation of the scriptures. It deals with linguistic methods. It describes critical analysis and explanations of scriptural texts – words, sentences, and the language as whole. We can say that, like Nyaya (system of logical analysis) and Vaisheshika (system of particles and cosmic analysis), Mimamsa is a creditworthy ancient Hindu scientific system of linguistic analysis for the study of scriptural texts. When any ritualism over the time becomes monotonous and meaningless, that is, losing its original meaning, the further detailed study and reanalysis of it is surely warranted. The origin of Mimamsa was timely when the Vedic system of ritualism was marginalized by many religious, historical, and political factors. Mimamsa has tried to reestablish the validity of Vedic ritualism portion which had become monotonous and meaningless over the time. For that, Mimamsa has used the science of Nyaya system for its Vedic interpretation. Mimamsa believes not in proving the truth of the knowledge rather in disproving the falsity of the knowledge.  Just take out the untruth from a system, and what remains is the truth.

Mimamsa has gone in every detail of the meanings of the words rather than sentences of the Vedic literature and the actions prescribed by them. In this manner it has emphasized more of the “yāgnic karmakānds”, leaving behind the essence of knowledge contained in Upanishads – the end parts of the Vedas for the Vedanta philosophy to be originated in future. Purva Mimamsa and Uttara Mimamsa never contradict with each other.

Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanta):

Vedanta marks the “trivenisangam” – meeting point of three understandings of the Vedic scriptures, namely, pantheistic understanding of Vedic Arya society, atheistic understanding of Buddhism and Jainism, and monotheistic understanding of mainstream Hinduism. It also marks the beginning of the separate identification of Brahm and Parabrahm. Vedanta means the end (“anta”) part of the Vedas. The philosophies based on the end part of Veda are known as Vedanta philosophies or in short “Vedanta”. Thus, Vedanta is not just one philosophy but the group of philosophies that include Advaita (Non-Dualism), Vishishtadvaita (Qualified Non-Dualism), Dvaita (Dualism), and other philosophies having the same common source. Vedanta is also called Uttara Mimamsa, because the term Vedanta had become almost synonymous to Advaita Vedanta philosophy of Shankaracharya. All Vedanta philosophies are developed around the teachings of Upanishads and Aranyakas rather than the hymns (mantras) and the ritual parts (karma kānds) of the Vedas. The texts “Vedanta Sutras” or “Brahm Sutras” were composed by rishi Bādarāyan, also known as Vyasa. According to some Vedanta there is one Absolute Reality called “Brahm.” According to other Vedanta the Absolute Reality is called “Parabrahm,” “Purushottam,” or “Narayan.” Other realities are merely an illusion, like a dream, meaning, not the permanent. The object of life is to realize that Truth by knowledge, intuition and experience. According to Vedanta, Brahm is all pervading, (sarva-vyāpak), omnipresent, the cause of all (sarva-kāran), supporter of all (sarvādhār), beyond any qualities or attributes (nirgun), non-dual (advaita), untainted or without any impurities of maya (niranjan), the all-doer (sarva-kartā) yet appear to be non-doer (akartā) (meaning, kartā thakā akartā), and without any worldly attributes but possessing divine attributes. By describing Brahm having no attributes the followers of some Vedanta (Vedantis or Vedantists), believe that Brahm is “nirākār” or formless. By describing Brahm having no worldly attribute doesn’t mean Brahm do not have any form. In the same scriptures Brahm is described to have divine attributes, “divya sākār” form. In fact the scriptures describe Brahm having two forms at the same time, one impersonal and the other personified. When Brahm is described as the abode of God and supporting brahmands it is described as impersonal. When Brahm is described as the consort, “shakti”, companion, best Bhakta, or humble servant of God, it is described to have personification.   

This is, in short, about the six basic philosophical systems of Hinduism. They were developed on different bases of the same original authentic Vedic scriptures in such a way that they become complementary to each other. Sankhya took care of the psychological or thinking aspect of the Vedic knowledge while Yoga took care of the physiological or behavioral aspect of the Vedic knowledge; Nyaya took care of the logical aspect of the Vedic science while Vaisheshika took care of the physical aspect of the Vedic science; Purva Mimamsa took care of the ritual aspect of the Vedas while Uttar Mimamsa took care of the intellectual aspect of the Vedas. The beauty of Hinduism is that, any of its six systems never contradicted to each other instead they added to each other in understanding the “Truth” or “Absolute” of Hinduism. Even though having total diversity in understanding and in practice, Hinduism has remained one religion and has flourished under one umbrella of main stream Hinduism. This is probably, due to its inherent belief in tolerance and freedom – 1. Freedom of religion – freedom of both the aspects of religion: freedom of religious practice and freedom of philosophical thinking. 2. Freedom from worldly attachments – freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Hinduism has always remained open to the mankind. It has never tried to enforce its doctrine on others. On the contrarily it has remained rather more conservatively among the intellectual class, in well control practicing and in letting others learn its Sanskrit language. These could be the two main reasons of its major loss of its lots of wealthy information.

Darshan (Philosophy) I

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Shad Darshan – Sankhya and Yoga:


Since Hinduism has its base in Vedas and Vedas are considered words of God directly revealed to the great Rishis, Hinduism is not considered as a philosophy. Hinduism is the Vedic way of describing the Absolute Truth. Vedas are considered eternal (without any origin), authorless (apaurusheya – means not the work of mankind or beyond human imagination), and infallible (never wrong). The directly revealed words of God are considered as the form of God. “mada vāni, mada rupam”, meaning, “My words are my form.” It is considered as one of the ways of understanding or claiming the Truth, just like any other religious philosophies. It will be surprising to know that almost all religious philosophies agree to believe that the “Truth” or “Absolute” is one, but it is equally surprising that the claimants or claimers are many! Because, Hinduism is not considered as a philosophy but is considered as the first hand or direct information about the truth, the philosophies developed on the bases of the Vedas – the words of God, are called “Darshans.” Darshans are philosophies – philosophical interpretations about the Truth by the great scholars. Darshans literarily means the views, visions, or philosophies and are also known as “Tattvagnān” (also spelled as “Tattvagyan” or “Tattvajnan”). Hinduism is not the “Darshan” or “Tattvagnān.” “Shad” means six and “Darshan” means philosophy. The six major philosophies of Hinduism developed from Vedas and Upanishads are: Sānkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaisheshika, Purva Mimānsā (Mimamsa), and Uttara Mimānsā (also known as Vedanta.”) All these philosophies were basically developed before the Common Era except the few major philosophies based on Vedanta.


Sankhya” is the oldest classical philosophical system of Hinduism founded by rishi Kapil. According to Sankhya, there are basically two realities: Prakruti and Purush. Prakruti means the Nature which consists of 24 elements (tattvas). Purush means the essence or the controller of Prakruti. It is ontologically and characteristically distinct from Prakruti and is considered as the 25th element that is transcendental to all other elements. The responsibility of exploring or knowing in detail and further describing the Nature or Prakruti has been taken up by the Science, The responsibility of knowing and describing God or Purush has been taken up by the Religion.

The objective of Sankhya is to obtain discriminative knowledge of the manifest (vyakta) nature (prakruti), the unmanifest (avyakta) nature (prakruti), and the knower (purush). “Tadviparitaha shreyān vyakta-avykta-gna-vignānāt ||” (Sāmkhya Kārikā: 2) According to Sankhya, Vyakta prakruti includes Mahattattva, Buddhi, Ahamkar, five Tanmatra, ten Indriya, and five Mahabhut. Avyakta prakruti is Pradhān. The knower (gnaha) is known as Purush.

Sankhya philosophy maintains multiplicity of Purush. “janana-marana-karanānām pratiniyamādugapatpravruteshcha | Purushabahutvam siddhim traigunyaviparyayāshchaiva ||” (Sāmkhya Kārikā: 18) “Everybody does not born at the same time, does not die at the same time, everybody does not do same activity (karma) at the same time, everybody does activities (pravrutti) according to their psychological state of mind (gunas), such as some do virtuous activities (dharma), some do wicked activities (adharma);  some do cultivate detachment from the worldly object (vairagya) some not; some gain knowledge (gyān), some not. These diversities themselves show the plurality of purushas.”

Sankhya does not separate jiv or soul from sharir or the body. It considers jiv or soul as a part of 24 elements of Nature (also called Pradhān Prakruti) because jiv is intermingled or blended with them so closely that it cannot be separately identified. The 24 elements along with jiv are considered as the field called “Kshetra” and Purush is considered as the fielder called “Kshetragna.” They have controlee and controller relationships, respectively. This can be compared to the Dualism. But, the dualism of body and its life force (soul, atma or jivatma) or the dualism of cosmos (Prakruti) and its super-soul (Purush) and not the dualism of body and mind (According to Hinduism mind or antahkaran is part of the body – ontologically same element or reality) as against Monism. In Sankhya, the intellect or conscious is called “mahat” (mahattattva). Sankhya describes three kinds of proofs or evidences called “Pramānas,” namely, “Pratyaksha pramana” meaning direct perception, “Anumāna pramana” meaning logical inference, and “Sabda pramana” means verbal testimony.

Sānkhya is the eyes (ānkhya) to visualize the Truth. The message of Sankhya is to utilized this material world for improving one’s understanding about the Truth, at the same time developing the detachment from it, and hence to uplift the soul considering that this material world is not that important, permanent, or giver of the happiness or the bliss. It can just give comfort at the most. It is called the Nature or Prakruti – the jad (lifeless), aparā (non-transcendental) Prakruti which is “nāshvant” meaning destructible. The real essence is its life force, motivating force, its cause, its controller called Purush, Ishwar, or God. One should cultivate the attachment with the Truth. Sankhya generally believes in unrestricted use of nature or the worldly products of the nature and then either to forget it or to rationalize it to remain permanently detached from it so that one always remains in the state of bliss and avoid pain and sufferings.

In Sankhya, the question of salvation remains open. If Purush is God and Prakruti is His creation then salvation of Purush is out of question. If Brahmand is Prakruti (Pradhān) and its chief controller is Purush and if there is only one brahmand then the separation of Purush from its brahmand happens at the dissolution. But it doesn’t explain multiplicity of Purushas. If there are many brahmands, and hence many Pradhāns then it explains existence of many Purushas. But then it does not explain the supremacy of one God. One needs to add or explain the existence of the supreme reality. If Prakruti is body and Purush is its essence, called Jiv or soul, then it explains many bodies and many souls – a separate soul for each living being. But then the soul becomes the 25th element and what about God? What about salvation? Who gets salvation and who gives salvation? If souls get salvation, then who gives them salvation? The above ontological questions or flaws in Sankhya philosophy creates the necessity of at least one more reality, either soul or God, which is explained by the next philosophy.


Yoga was developed by rishi Pātanjali for creation of the spiritual bonding or union of a soul with the God. But now it has taken a 360 degree turn to help built physical health globally. The principals of Yoga are mentioned in his text of “Yoga Sutra.” Patanjali’s yoga system accepts the principles and concepts of Sankhya about the 24 kinds of physical elements. Patanjali’s Yoga texts (Yoga Shāshtras) go one step further. According to yoga, soul or jiv is ontologically different than the 24 kinds of physical, material, or worldly elements. So soul or jiv can be considered as the 25th element and God automatically becomes the 26th element. God is still maintained superior to all that makes up the topmost transcendental element or fundamental entity constituting the creation. God in Yoga is personified, Supreme, and of the nature of soul, that is, purely spiritual. He facilitates the attainment of liberation of the souls of His devotees. He remains non-doer or “akrtā.” Meaning, He doesn’t do anything directly by Himself and remain detached from its creation. He is called “Ishwar.” In Yoga, Ishwar is described as one, “in whom there is the seed (bij) or source of unsurpassed (nirātishayam) quality of all-knowing (omniscience),” “Tatra niratishayam sarvagnatva-bijam” Meaning Ishwar is omniscient or all-knower (sarvagna) (Yoga Sutra: 1.25) and “Sa purveshām-api guruhu kālenānavachchhedāt” (Yoga Sutra: 1.26) Meaning, “who is Guru (mentor or the ideal) of also ancient ones (primary creators, such as Brahmā and others), for, He is unbounded (pierced) by time (for He has no beginning and end, meaning eternal, whereas others have beginning and end).” Ishwar is “Purush-vishesha” (Godhead) untouched, unaffected, and free from the “klesha” (afflictions), “karma” (deeds or actions), “vipāka” (fruits of the deeds or actions), and “āshaya” (intentions or desires). “Klesha karma vipākāshayair aparāmrushtaha purusha-vishesha ishwaraha” (Yoga Sutra: 1.24). Souls are pure, eternal, immutable, and are countless in number. They remain attached to the world and worldly things. Souls assume innumerable embodied forms in the cycle of birth and death. In Yoga, the intellect or conscious is called “chittva” (chitt). Unlike the unrestricted use of nature in the Sankhya system, Yoga believes in the restricted use of the nature or in the well controlled and willing (not the forceful and against one’s will) suppression (nirodh) of the thoughts (vruttis) of the conscious (chitt). To understand the elements let us take only one kind of element, say the “Pruthwi” element. It consists of particulate form of more than 112-118 elements of the periodic table. Yoga also describes perceptions, but only of two kinds: “Savikalpa” meaning relative and “Nirvikalpa” meaning absolute perception.

In Yoga, Ashtang Yoga or meditation (dhyān) is used as the means of communion with the Divinity or God. Divinity or self is the object of meditation. Yoga recommends considering the soul, jiv or atma as the distinct (chaitanya) entity from the physical or worldly (lifeless) objects or entities and to develop “Atmabhāv” or “Atma-realization”; and then to worship Paramatma (God) who has definite form (sākār). If we have a physical form, then God has to have, physical but divine (divya sakar), form otherwise the union cannot be strong and fruitful. This is called “sajātiya” union, meaning the union “of a kind” or “of the same kind,” because, Soul and God both are believed to share ontologically common traits. The message of Yoga, as compared to Sankhya, is not to utilize this material world at all or at the minimum necessary level to keep one’s body, mind, and soul healthy and long-lasting keeping in mind that it is just the vehicle in developing the union with the Truth called God or Narayan and attaining the liberation.

Thus, Yoga emphasizes for spiritually leveling or uplifting the “Atma to God” or “Jiv to Shiv (God)” or “one eternal to another eternal” (shāswat) objects, rather than downgrading oneself with the worldly, material, destructible (nāshvant) objects by thinking or being as a part of a physical elements. If a person thinks him or herself as a part of the material world and worships God then his or her union or bonding with the God does not become complete, strong, and permanent. There always remains a flaw or hanging sward over that union and ultimately it breaks with even a trivial reason.

Yoga philosophy explains three basic or fundamental realities and salvation of souls, but it creates one more issue. If one understands Ishwar from Yoga only, being defined as Purush form, God as a person gets many limitations in understanding. One cannot get it how personified God can be all-knower or omniscient (sarvagna), all-controller, inner-guide of all (sarva antaryāmi), all-pervasive (sarva vyāpak), present everywhere at the same time (omnipresent) and absolutely perfect (paripurna).

Yoga was meant for the union of the atma (self or soul) with Paramatma (God) and the object of meditation was self or God. But in modern period of times, the object of meditation is changed from the divinity to diversity and yoga has just remain one of the means of attaining or maintaining well being of the body only, not even of mind and the soul.

Hinduism – Philosophy:

Saturday, May 1st, 2010


Dear reader:

Philosophy is the heart of a religion. Religion is based on God’s words revealed directly to the great people. They put them in the words for all human beings. Scholars and Godly people interpreted them for the salvation and good for the common people. Yet, in studying these philosophies, one should keep in mind that the world’s great philosophers and philosophies were misunderstood and misinterpreted first by their own people, by taking their words literarily when they were not to be taken literarily and by taking them metaphorically when they were not meant for or to be conceived as a metaphor, before the rest of the world later knows about the true or real meaning of these words.

Herewith, in the following articles, we will try to present various major philosophies of Hinduism for the general information. Details of particular philosophies can be studied from the authentic text books. It is not necessary for everybody to agree with everything presented here. Readers may agree or disagree with any or all of the philosophies, yet one should keep oneself open to study other philosophies to seek the Truth. For the serious readers, it is advisable to refer to the original scriptures. We are sure that they would find for themselves some new understandings about the subject. We shall also try on our side to provide the references as much as possible, but we are afraid that it might make the articles uninteresting or boring. Also, please, pardon us for our unintentional typos and grammatical errors.

The beauty of Hinduism is that one can keep one’s faith or religion and still study and follow the universal laws of peace and harmony from it. Sincere seeker of the knowledge of the Ultimate Truth – Brahm and Parabrahm (God), should find and follow the great Sant or personality as Guru. The information only becomes knowledge after understanding and putting into practice the scriptural words of God. Salvation only occurs by practicing, and not just discussing, God’s words in one’s day to day life. Without putting those words into practice even masters would not enjoy the bliss of God.

Shad Darshans are the six major philosophies of Hinduism. They are all supportive to each other and each one is centered on any one particular ideology from the Vedas. The Vedanta philosophy is one of the six major philosophies of Hinduism. There are many philosophies under this heading. Vedanta philosophies are mainly based on Prasthantrayi and Agamas texts. Agamas are the body or religion part of Hinduism, whereas, Nigamas (Vedas and Upanishads) and Prasthantrayi, are the essence or heart, meaning, philosophical part of Hinduism.

In the coming pages we will try to present as many from the above philosophies of Hinduism as possible.

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.”

Hindu Scriptures VI

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

The Vedas – Part IV


Sahitās are also spelled as “Sanhitās” or “Samhitas”. The Samhitas are the collections of the Mantras or Hymns sung or recited to the devatās without much ritual. Most often, traditionally, the Samhita portion alone is referred to as the Veda. For example, the word ‘Rigved’ would typically mean the Rigved Samhita. In the case of the Rigved, Samved and Atharvaved, there is a clear-cut separation between the Samhita and the Brahmana portions. In contrast, in the Shukla (white) Yajurved, the Samhita and the Brahmana portions are separate from each other. In the Krishna (black) Yajurved, the Samhita and the Brahmana portions are intermixed. Thus, the Taittiriya Samhita, which belongs to the Krishna Yajurved, has the Samhita interspersed with Brahmana portions. Even the Taittiriya Brahmana has both Mantras and Brahmana passages mixed with each other. The mantras of Samhitas are mostly written in verse, meaning, in the form of poetry or hymns whereas the Brahmanas are predominantly in prose. It is the samhitas which shows us that poems were written by the human beings first than the prose were written. The Vedas sometimes refer only to the Samhitas. It seems that, as we will see later on, Sanhitas were taught the very first in the life of a person, right from the childhood (galthuthi), also called “Brahmcharyāshram” or the learning age in the Vedic society. There are many well known books written in the post-vedic period, possibly after 6th century BCE, also known as “Samhitās” or “Sanhitās”, because, the word “Samhita” means “Compilation of knowledge”. Vedic samhitas should not be confused with these samhitas of post-vedic period, such as, Gherand Samhita and Shiva Samhita related to Hatha Yoga; Sushrut Samhita, Charak Samhita, Kashyap Samhita, and other, related to Ayurved Medicine; Garga Samhita related to Astrology; another Garga Samhita describing the life of Krishna; Deva Samhita describing the origin of Jats from Shiv’s locks; etc. are also post-vedic samhitas.


The Brahmanas lay out the precepts, rituals and religious duties. It seems that the Brahmanas are prescribed for mainly the adult life called “Grahasthāshram.” A well established social human being functioning as the householders with all responsibilities of the family and raising the children belongs to Grahasthashram. The Brahmanas contain formulas for rituals, rules and regulations for rites and sacrifices and also outline other religious duties. The formulas and rules for conducting extremely complex rituals are explained to the minutest detail. And every ritual is performed for a specific purpose for which a specific effect or benefit is expected. It can be inferred that, in Vedic society there was nothing that could not be achieved by sacrifices.


Aranyakas were prescribed for the later period of life of semi-retirement, called “Vānprasthāshram,” meaning, the age group “towards retirement to the forest” when the people who had fulfilled their duties of raising and supporting their families and children, and were on the way to the retirement, usually, to the forests (the usual retirement place in ancient time was forest and not the vacation homes) and spend the remaining active life in meditation and contemplation of God. Thus, Aranyakas derived their name from the word “Aranya” meaning “wilderness”, “forest”, or “woods”. The Aranyakas provide the link between the ritualistic Brahmanas and the philosophical Upanishads. The symbolic and spiritual aspects of the sacrificial religion are meditated upon in the Aranyakas while philosophical issues are discussed in the Upanishads. Most of the famous Upanishads are found in the Aranyakas.


The Upanishads consists of philosophical discussions that examine and propound the wisdom in the earlier part of the Vedas. Since they appear at the end of the Vedas they are also called “Vedānta,” meaning, the end (anta) part of the Vedas. All subsequent Hindu thoughts or visions, called Darshans, were derived from the discussions found in the Upanishads. The Upanishads were prescribed for that period of life known as retirement, called “Sanyāsāshram,” meaning “renunciation” or “full retirement.” Sanyasashram is the period of life of people when they already have had lived and enjoyed their whole life doing rituals prescribed in the Brahmanas; have spent their remaining active semi-retired life peacefully, usually in the forests close to the nature, meditating and contemplating on God as prescribed in the Aranyakas; have broken all the emotional ties with their families and relatives; and are physically and mentally ready to leave without any more worldly desires remained for fulfilling in this very rare and precious God-given human life in this world. In short, the Upanishads are meant to provide us the very essence and the meaning of life.

Dear reader, here we partly conclude the information on Vedas in short. It is an attempt to provide a gross picture or idea of Hindu scriptures. The minute details and precise informations can be obtained and verified individually by referring the authentic text books. The original Sanskrit text and its translation also needs to be verified personally for its authenticity and truthfulness. In future, we will discuss Samhitās, Brāhmanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads and also the other scriptures in detail. Let us not forget that the information only becomes knowledge when one puts it into practice. Unless we put aside our ego that “I am such and such person and this body is me,” called the “deha-bhāv” in Hinduism, and attain the “ātmā-bhāv”, that is, “the soul inside my body is real me,” all that is described in the scriptures is in vein or it just remains as merely an information and never becomes knowledge called Shākshātkār. Though individually may our knowledge of scriptures be limited, our understanding of the scriptures should be thorough. The difference between Hinduism and other major philosophies is that, whereas other philosophies discuss God as “paroksh (parā-aksh),” Hinduism discusses God as “pratyaksh (prati-aksh)”, “murtimān” ,or “sākshāt (sa akshata).” Paroksh means manifestation of God beyond our reach or beyond our vision, that is, the form of God in His abode only. Pratyaksh means manifestation of Godin front of our eyes, either by Himself (Swayam) in human form, in form of His Avatars, in the form of His holy words as Scriptures, in the form of His holy image or object of worship as Murtis, or through His legacy called “Guru paramparā” that passes the very essence of His scriptures through many generations and by creating His very presence keeping Him alive through many millenniums. To begin with Hinduism was given not just for Indians only, but was given for the whole mankind. Ordinarily speaking, Hinduism is a factory of transforming out hearts and mind for the betterment of our society. It is a factory of transforming our physique and psych for the betterment of our individual lives. Spiritually speaking, Hinduism is a factory of transforming our souls for making them capable of staying with God in His abode enjoying His very bliss forever.

At the end, we rest here by quoting the very essence of all the scriptures.

 “… and the essence of all the scriptures is that one should only do which pleases God…” (a quote from the Vachanāmrut, Gadhadā II-28, of Bhagwān Swāminārāyan)