Posts Tagged ‘Vedas’

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) 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.

Hindu Scriptures V

Friday, October 16th, 2009

The Vedas – Part III

As we have seen previously, each of the four Vedas, namely, Rigved, Sāmved, Yajurved, and Atharvaved, consist of four components known as Samhitās, Brāhmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads. The Samhitas are considered the Vedas proper; the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the Upanishads are periodic additions, made by way of growing with the changing times. The fourth and the last portions of the Vedas, the Upanishads, are called Vedānta. The Veda texts were preserved orally long before the methods of preservation of written material became robust. It is said that they were all compiled by Veda Vyasa. Vedas in all contain about 20,389 hymns. Each Ved has a different focus. The Rigved involves mainly a metaphysical consideration of the nature of God. The Sām and Yajur Vedas prescribe liturgical functions. The Atharvaved is believed to be of a distinctly later period than the other three Vedas. One can see that the definite priest-hood system was established by the Atharvaved period. In earlier Vedic period the head of the household would normally perform the religious rituals himself. In the priest-hood period the priests were supposed to conduct all major rituals so that they were performed exactly as specified because only they were learned and it was believed that if the rituals were faulty the purpose of the rituals would not be achieved. Thus, it was in the later part of the Vedic period that the priests or the Brahmins seemed to become powerful and dominant in the society. So when Ved Vyās compiled all the Vedas (i.e. possibly around Mahabharat period – around 3101 to 5561 BCE) the Vedic system was fully established, the teachings of Upanishads was also well spread, and after that the preaching of Purāns became more dominant.


The word “rig” is derived from the word ‘ric’ which literally means ‘praise or verse’, especially ‘a sacred verse recited in praise of a deity’. Rigved describes metrical hymns, which are meant to be recited loudly. It involves mainly a metaphysical consideration of the nature of God. It is the oldest Ved and is sometimes known as ‘the wisdom of the hymns’. It is divided into 10 books, with 1,028 hymns. In all the Rigved contains about 10,552 hymns or verses. Most of the early hymns of the Rigved are about nature and its personifications in the form of devas, like Agni, Surya, Indra, Varun, Vāyu, etc. The later hymns are addressed to the Supreme Being, as this concept had evolved by then. Each hymn names the sage to whom it was revealed. Most of the hymns of Rigved are repeated in the Yajur and Sam Vedas. Rigved has one Sanhita and two Brahmanas. It can be called as the creation hymn that shows us the nature worshiping society of that period.


Sām or Sāman means “melody” or “song” – the poem that can be sung. The Samaved is purely a liturgical collection of melodies (sāman). Samved contains about 1,875 hymns or verses. The text of most (all but 76) of the hymns in the Samaved are drawn from the Rigved and have no distinctive lessons of their own. The remaining 76 mantras of Samved are also resumed to be from Rigved that are lost. Hence, its text is, in another way, a reduced version of the Rigved. Three recensions of the Samaved Samhita are known, namely, the Kauthuma recension (seen in Gujarat and in Bihar), the Jaiminiya (seen in the Karnatak and Kerala), and the āyanīya (seen in the Maharashtra). Bhagvad Gita (chapter 10, verse 22) in the epic Mahabharat says that the Samved is the best among the four Vedas. It is the Samved that is the foundation of all other systems of music. All verses in the same adhyāy or decade of Samved have one common meter and one deity. All the deities of Rigved are all present in theses verses. All the benefits of singing of Samved accrue only when every syllable of every verse in the entire adhyay or chapter is chanted or sung correctly. Perfection was achieved and was maintained since during that time when writing was not yet developed. Mankind had to rely upon their senses of hearing and speaking. It was an art or talent that developed in those periods of time.


Yajurved is a collection of all mantras or hymns that are useful in rituals. It contains about 1,975 hymns. In Yajurved, the verses are in prose form that has no meter. Yajurved is further divided into two parts, the Sukla and the Krishna. The Krishna Yajurved Samhita exists today in various recensions, most importantly the Taittiriya Samhita and the Maitrayani Samhita. The Shukla Yajurved Samhita is preserved most prominently as the Vajasaneya Samhita. It is believed that, the Vajasaneya is a later revelation to sage Yāgnavalkya from the resplendent Sun-God. In the Krishna (“Black or dark”) Yajurved the commentary, Brahmana, the prose content is mixed with the hymns; and in the Shukla (“white or bright”) Yajurbed there is no commentary among the hymns. The contents of these two recensions are also presented in different order. The Yajurved Samhita is divided into 40 chapters and contains 1,975 verses. About 30 percent of the verses are drawn from the Rigved Samhita (particularly from chapters eight and nine). This Veda is a special collection of hymns to be chanted during yagna.


Atharvaved is considered the last Veda recorded, it consists of mostly original hymns (rather than replications from the Rig Veda). It is known as the Veda of prayer, in recognition of its abundant magical charms and spells. It also contains many Agama-like cosmological passages that bridge the earlier Vedic hymns and formulas with the metaphysics of the Upanishads. The Atharvaved contains about 5,987 hymns. According to the tradition, the Atharvaveda was mainly composed by two groups of rishis known as the Atharvanas and the Angirasa; hence its oldest name is Ātharvāgirasa. In the late Vedic Gopatha Brahmana, it is attributed to the Bhrigu and Angirasa. There are two surviving recensions or shākhās, known as Shaunakīya and Paippalāda. Atharvaved was not found in South India during the middle Ages and until very recently; and since they are the last one in the Vedas, it suggests that Vedic culture began in the southern India when India was an island near Africa (around 120 million years ago) and later on spread to the north and from there to Europe (possibly after about 45 to 10 million years ago). The Charaavyuha lists nine shakhas, or schools, of the Atharvaveda, namely, paippalāda, stauda, mauda, shaunakīya, jājala, jalada, kuntap, brahmavada, devadarsha, and chāraṇavaidyā. Of these, only the Shaunakīya and the Paippalāda recensions have survived. Two main post-Samhita texts associated with the Atharvaved are the Vaitāna Sūtra and the Kaushika Sūtra. The Vaitana Sutra deals with the participation of the Atharvaveda Brahman priests in the Shrauta ritual while the Kaushika Sūtra contains many applications of Atharvaveda mantras in healing and magic.

The Shaunakiya text is divided into four parts: Part 1: Kāṇḍas 1-7. It deals with healing and general black and white magic that is to be applied in all situations of life, from the first tooth of a baby to regaining kingship. Part 2: Kāndas 8-12. It constitutes early speculation on the nature of the universe and of humans as well as on ritual. Part 3: Kandas 13-18. It deals with issues of a householder’s life, such as marriage, death, and female rivalry. Part 4: Kandas 19 and 20. They are later editions. The Paippalada text has a similar arrangement into four parts: Part 1: Kandas 1-15, Part 2: Kandas 16-17, Part 3: Kānd 18, and Part 4: Kandas 19-20, with roughly the same contents.

The Atharvaved also deals with medicine. It identifies the causes of disease as living causative agents such as the yātudhāna, the kimīdin, the krumi or kimi and the durāma

The Atharvans seek to kill them with a variety plant based medicines in order to counter the disease. Atharvaved (hymn I.23-24) describes the disease leprosy and recommends the rajani aushadhi for its treatment. Atharvaved also informs about varieties of warfare.

Hindu Scriptures III

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

The Vedas – Part II

Following are some of the major uniquely distinguishing features of Vedas:

Vedas believed in “Universalism” or “Universal Brotherhood”. What science now, at the end of 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century, says Vedas believed thousands of centuries or rather hundreds of millennium before, that we are one big family whose roots can be traced to a single pair of a father and a mother – common parents! Color, race, creed, and other features were developed later on.

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, meaning, the entire world is one family.

Ayam bandhurayam neti gananā laghuchetasām, Udāracharitānām tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (Maha Upanishad: Chapter 6, Verse 72), meaning, “One is my brother and the other is not – is the thinking of a narrow-minded person. For those who are broad-minded, liberals, or noble people, the entire world is a one big family.

‘Ayam nijah paroveti gananā laghuchetasām,

Udāracharitānām tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ | (Hitopadesh: 1.3.71), meaning,

“This is my own relative and that is a stranger” – is the calculation of the narrow-minded; for the magnanimous or generous hearts, however, the entire earth is but a family”

The message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is also told in Panchatantra: 5.3.37. It is also mentioned in Purananuru (a collection of 400 verses composed by more than 150 poets) – an ancient Tamil Sangam literature dated around 100 BCE. “Yathum Oore Yavarum Kelir” (Song 192 by Kanniyan Poongundran), meaning, “every place is my home town; everyone is my kin’ or ‘to us all towns are one, all men our kin”.

Sisters and Brothers of America, I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance…We are the children of God…” When this Vedic message of universal brotherhood and children of Brahmā was presented to the western world at the parliament of Religions: 11th to 27th of September 1893, by Swami Vivekananda the whole audience of seven thousand people of the assembly went into inexplicable rapture with standing ovation and clapping that lasted for more than three minutes.

Vedic philosophy believed in “Environmental Friendliness” thousands of centuries before the concept was developed by the modern world. Respect to the nature and to all natural resources was the first message of Vedic philosophy to the mankind. Environmental friendliness just did not include only nature and the human beings but it also included animals, tiny creatures, plants, and all living things, as well as, all non-living things like land, air, water, fire, Sun, Moon, planets, etc. We can say that the Vedic society was the first “Environmental Protection Agency” in the history of mankind. Vedas were the first promoters of “Animal Rights”.

Vedas believed in “Non-violence” and “World Peace”. “Ahinsā Paramo Dharma”, meaning, the very first duty, ethics, and responsibility of mankind above all duties, ethics, and responsibilities are to maintain the non-violence and peace in the world. Not only that to keep weapons, develop weapons, or use weapons was considered a big sin. It was all forbidden in the Vedic society. Any type of cruelty was forbidden under the laws of ahinsa (also spelled as ahimsa).

Any kind of killing (hinsā or himsa) was considered a big Sin (Pāp) in Vedic society. Not only killing of human beings but killing of animals, even tiniest creatures, was also considered a sin. Not only killing of others but the killing of self, called “suicide” (Ātmahatyā), was also considered a big sin. Not only killing but even disfigurement or dismemberment of any bodily parts and even causing pain and sufferings to others,was also considered a grave sin.

Killing for any purpose, not even for praising or pleasing the deity or lord, was also forbidden in Vedas. People misunderstood the meaning of “Sacrifice” for their own preferences, likings or understandings. Sacrifice always meant giving up something that is most loving thing for a person. Sacrificing meant for the self-offering of the self or the most loving thing of the self and not the offering of the others or the most loving thing of the others. Sacrifice never meant innocent third party killing. Barbarianism was considered antisocial or uncivilized acts. Animal sacrifice was never the message of Vedic philosophy. When human beings became more and more civilized they understood the rights of others more and more.

The trend of civilized society was towards limiting the violence and killing for the betterment of the society. Just as unjustified mass killing is limited by justifying one killing by the legalization of death sentence, in the history of mankind, killing was tried to be limited by older societies under the name of sacrifice. The ideas of prescribed or controlled burn and controlled killing (death sentence) of modern society to prevent major catastrophic wildfires and mass murders have their roots in Vedas. Although Vedas did not believe any kind of killing, people took the ideas for their self interests. Just as there is a big difference between killing and murder, between murder and death sentence, between death sentence and human sacrifice, there is a big difference between animal sacrifice and grain sacrifice. Vedic society clearly understood the above Vedic principle of ahinsa or non-violence. Vedic yagnas, rituals, and religious ceremonies were prescribed to perform based on this philosophy. Not only that, Vedic teachings propounded sacrifice of only those grains (as against endangered and rare spices of grains) that were naturally more abundant, very old, and could not be grown again even if they are sowed. Until someone would think of another environmental friendly way of disposal of excess of grains this was the master idea of Vedic period – an idea of relating everything in our day to day life to our religion.

Vegetarianism” was more of the byproduct of Ahimsa or non-violence rather than of health consciousness of Vedic period. It became the main feature of civilized Vedic Hindu society. Cruelty or inhumanity lies behind meat eating. Moreover, they must have realized that the bodily features of human beings were never meant for meat-eating. Man was never created carnivorous or scavenger from very beginning. Cooking was a main difference between sober human beings and wild animals of that period. Scientists now agree that meat or flesh of any kind is not the food for human beings. It is never cost-effective nor it is health or cardio friendly.

Hindu Scriptures II

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

The Vedas – Part I

Does anyone wonder how come so many philosophies are under one roof or one umbrella of single philosophy, called Hinduism? How come varieties of beliefs and practices can survive for thousands of years against many odds but under one name called Hindu religion? The reason is they all are rooted under one single fundamental book of philosophy, called Ved (also spelled as Veda). The name Ved is derived from the Sanskrit root word vid”, meaning “to know”, “to learn”, or “to understand”.

One Ved, later on, was divided into four Vedas, namely, Rigveda, Yajurveda, Sāmaveda, and Atharvaveda. Vedas are most sacred ancient scriptural texts of Hinduism. It is believed that the knowledge of Vedas called the Vedic knowledge is directly given by God to the mankind. Vedas are the direct gift of Brahmā – the creator and god of this world. They are believed to be “divinely heard” as mantras (hymns) by the ancient Rishis (sages) and that is why they are also categorized as “Shrutis” (heard) as against “Smrutis” (recalled or remembered) which were memorized through many generations of mankind. For millenniums, they were passed over verbally, as an oral tradition like so many other oral traditions in the world in the singing fashion, through thousands of generations until writing was discovered. It just flowed like a river whose root lies somewhere higher up at the top of a mountain and whose delta is spread in the humanity. There is no single human creator of Vedas. And, that is why Vedas are known as “apaurusheya.” Though, it is believed that the latest compilation available was done by maharshi Ved Vyas – a well known authentic author and character figure of Mahābhārat and Purāns. He was son of rishi Parāshar and mother Satyavati. {Vyas was married to Pinjalā (Vatikā), the daughter of Jābāli. They had son named Shuk (Shukdevji). Vyas also had children with Ambikā, Ambālikā, and a maid. Ambikā and Ambālikā were childless widows of Vyas’s half-brother Vichitravirya. Vyas had to father their children on the request of his mother Satyavati, an ancient practice called Niyog, where a chosen man can father sons with the widow of a person who dies issueless. Vyas’s son with Ambikā was named Dhritarāshtra, who was blind, with Ambālikā was named Pāndu, who was severely anemic, and with the maid (because other two children were unhealthy) was named Vidur.} It is believed that originally there was one Veda comprise of more than hundred thousand verses. Ved Vyas is said to have arranged them under four headings and passed them on to four of his disciples: the Rig Veda to Paila, the Yajur Veda to Vaishampāyan, the Sāma Veda to Jaimini, and the Atharva Veda to Angiras. It is also believed (according to the Vishnu Puran (Book 3, Ch 3)) that Lord Vishnu incarnates in every Dwāpar Yug as Ved Vyas to preserve Vedas and the Vedic knowledge for betterment of mankind. Thus, Vedas are the oldest scriptures and the foundation of Hinduism. Current texts of Vedas in the book form are available for about 3000-6000 years.

Vedas cover many subjects, from nature to human behavior, sociology to humanities, from god (Paramātmā) to soul (ātmā), from worldly life to the life after death, from the life of sanyāsi (renunciate) to the everyday life of common man, etc. Vedas are the original basic scriptures of Hinduism on the base of which other scriptures and philosophies of Hinduism were developed from time to time. Vedic theology is one of the oldest theologies of the world.