Hinduism can easily be divided into phases : the VEDIC PHASE and the PURANIC PHASE. The Vedic phase focussed on ritual, while the Puranic phase is about narrative. The Vedic phase continues to be mysterious, even out of reach, while the Puranic phase, with its heroes and villains, seems to make immediate sense.
Historically, the Vedic phase begins 4,000 years ago and wanes after the arrival of Gautama Buddha, 500BCE. The Puranic phase follows the rising appeal of the Buddha and his teachings, something that continues today.
The Vedic phase is associated with the hymn collections (SAMITHAS) ——RIG, YAJUR, SAMA, ATHARVA —– the ritual manuals (BRAHMANAS), and the philosophical texts (ARANYAKAS) and more prominently, the UPANISHADS. The Puranic phase is associated with the great Epics ( the RAMAYANA and the MAHABHARATA), and with chronicles known as PURANAS. There are many Puranas : 18 major ones, 100s of minor ones, including those restricted to a particular place (STHALA – PURANA) or to a particular community (JATI – PURANA). It is through the Puranas, that Vedic Wisdom reaches the common man.
The story goes that a fisherwoman’s son called Krishna Dwaipayana, whose name means “the dark one who was born on an island”, compiled and organised the Vedic hymns, which was why he was given the title of VEDA VYASA, who then wrote the ADI PURANA full of stories that made Vedic Wisdom accessible. From the Adi Purana came the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the many Puranas. Thus,, in traditional lore, Puranas are fruits of the tree that is the Vedas.
The sages see Puranas as an extension of the Vedas, yet modern scholars separate Vedas from Puranas. Some see Vedas and Puranas as two distinct traditions that have nothing to do with each other, but the Mahabharata says, “Study of Epics and Puranas supplements the understanding of Vedas”.
Others see Vedas as ‘superior’ and Puranas as ‘inferior’, a hierarchy that was common amongst Greek Aristocrats, and later Colonists, who preferred philosophy over poetry and saw ‘logos’ as superior to ‘mythos’.
At the heart of the Vedas is BRAHMAVIDYA ——– a deep understanding of human nature, which does not change with time (SANATHAN DHARMA). The sages struggled to communicate this idea. First they used rituals, hence the Vedas. Later, with increased confidence, they used stories, hence the Puranas. The former created an elite club. The latter reached to the general public.
In the 21st century, we are seeing a trend towards anti-elitism and anti-intellectualism. Why do some people insist that the Vedas are seen as different than and superior to the Puranas ? Why do we reject the fruit and prefer the tree ? Does it indulge the ego ? Does that not go against the very point of Vedic Wisdom ?
——– Devdutt Pattanaik.
PATTADAKAL, also spelled PATTADAKALU is a World Heritage Site, a Village and an important tourist centre in the State of Karnataka, and is located on the left bank of the MALAPRABHA River in Bagalkot District. It is 22km from BADAMI and 514km from AIHOLE, both of which are well-known for Chalukya monuments. The pre-Chalukya historical and archaeological site BACHINAGUDDA is also near Pattadakal.
Pattadakal, the place for Chalukya’s Coronation, was the capital of the Chalukya Dynasty of Karnataka in Southern India. The Chalukyas built many Temples here between the 7th and 9th century. There are 10 Temples, including a Jain Sanctuary, surrounded by numerous small shrines and Plinths in fusion of various Indian architectural styles (Rekha, Nagara, Prasada and Dravida Vimana) . Four Temples were built in Chalukyan Dravidian style, four in the Nagara style of Northern India and the PAPANATHA Temple in mixed style. Nine Shiva Temples and one Jaina Basadi, situated along the northern course of the river, which is considered as very auspicious according to the Holy Scriptures.
Pattadakal was a great centre of art and architecture. According to the inscriptions, the place was known by the names KISOVOLAL (red town ——- mostly mountains near Pattadakal gave this name, RAKTAPURA. It continued to be an important centre under the RASHTRAKUTAS and the KALYANI CHALUKYAS. It became a chief city for a small region called KISUKADU. The SINDHAS of YARAMABARIGE (Yelburgi) also ruled it for some time.
UNESCO, in 1987, included PATTADAKAL in its list of World Heritage Sites. The group of 8th century monuments in Pattadakal are the culmination of earliest experiments in the VESARA style of Hindu Temple architecture.
VIRUPAKSHA Temple is the largest and grandest of all the Temples in Pattadakal. It was built in the 8th century by Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband Vikramaditya — 2 victories over the Pallavas of Kanchi. The Temple has rich sculptures. It has a sanctum, pillared navaranga and triple entrances from the north, east and south porches. It has a massive gateway in front from the east.
ID ul – FITR comes to imbibe sincere goodwill in man for other human beings, after 30 days and nights of Ramzan have been spent in complete devotion to God.
However, there must be complete sincerity and modesty in giving alms to the needy. The Quran exhorts : “The righteous are those who feed the poor, the orphan and the captive for the love of God” without seeking reward or thanks. Prophet enjoined giving charity in secret rather in the presence of others.
The Sutras of Patanjali cover all aspects of human life, prescribe a code of conduct to lead a life of fulfilment and end with a glorious vision to reach our full potential. Yoga Sutras begin at the very root, mind and intelligence, called CHITTA.
In the first chapter SAMADHIPADA, Patanjali analyses the movement and functioning of the mind. The second chapter SADHANAPADA deals with practise. Patanjali goes on to provide deep insight into the nature of KLESHAS (afflictions) that affect the body and distract the mind, resulting in distorted behaviour patterns of an individual.
In SADHANAPADA, Patanjali reaches out to the lowest level of the seeker who is spiritually yet unevolved. He coins the term KRIYA YOGA . Kriya means action and Kriya Yoga emphasises the dynamic efforts on the part of the sadhaka.
Kriya Yoga comprises eight yogic discipline ——— yama, niyama, asana, pranayama,pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and Samadhi. Through asanas, the seeker becomes familiar with his body and sense intelligence. Pranayama gives control over subtle qualities of the elements ——– sound, touch, shape, taste and smell. Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses and organs of actions.
According to Patanjali, Yoga is a preventive healing art, with its science and philosophy. Pantanjali also warns us of the pitfalls that may impede spiritual growth and advises us to stabilise body and mind so that we are not shattered when confronted with tragic realities of human existence.
The 3rd chapter VIBHUTIPAD, deals with attainments. Patanjali exhorts us to continue the practise of yoga so that the intelligence of consciousness and soul may be equally balanced. Then we attain the highest state of wisdom where the person exists in a perfectly ‘integrated state’. This is known as KAIVALYA. This is the subject matter of the last chapter in the Yoga Sutras called KAIVALYAPADA that focuses on ‘absolute liberation’.
Yoga is an INTEGRATED SCIENCE which alone can restore the wholeness and integrity of our divided being and lets us enjoy real well-being.
——- Nivedita Joshi (she teaches yoga in Delhi)
Is there such a thing as “life’s calling” ? There is no “life’s calling”, but “life is calling” —— both from within and without. Only when you truly respond to the “call of life”, you know life in its entirety. If life is calling you, you must go towards it with utmost passion and involvement without any hesitation and calculation.