Janmashtmi

radha_y_krishna


JANMASHTMI celebrating Lord Krishna’s birth day each year assures us of the grand manifestation of the Supreme in the form of Krishna for protection of the virtuous and destruction of  the wicked at the appropriate time.

Puranic Theology associates the avatars with the four Yugas —— Sat, Treta, Dvapara and Kali.  In today’s Kali Yuga Krishna could appear in our midst at any given moment.  The Bhagavatam say that Krishna is the full-fledged avatar complete in al aspects.


Krishna


Krishna denotes unmeasured, incomprehensible and absolutely great personae stimulating astonishment, rapture and admiration.  Krishna is known as the Foremost Yogi.  With the amalgamation of the theistic doctrine of devotion, Krishna evolved as a personal God of love and grace in the form of Kanha Krishna at Gokul and Vrindavan apart from representing Vasudeva Krishna at Mathura and Dvaraka.

Krishna is also looked upon as having two bodies.  One which is eternal, supracosmic and spiritual and the other which is material and temporary.  As an object of Bhakti, Krishna appears as an embodiment of Nine Emotions or Rasas and fulfils the nine-fold required enforcements of devotees as God in the form of a child, a youth, counsellor, friend and beloved.

———- Asha Goswami

Breaking free of our karma

“Why have you followed the spiritual path for your whole life ?”  There are many answers to this question, but a big one is, “It brings me freedom”.  Freedom to change negative patterns that have kept me in their clutches, freedom to respond with calmness and kindness even when others are angry or challenging, freedom to enjoy whatever life brings.

Swami Kriyananda says, ” When you see a fault within yourself, don’t despair, but rejoice.  It has been there all along, but now that you have seen it, you can start working to change it.”  What are some spiritual tools that help us to break free of our Karmic patterns ?  Karma is simply energy generated by past thoughts or actions that we have steered in a certain direction.


Karma chakra


With conscious awareness and determination, replace a negative pattern with a positive one.  Use affirmations repeatedly with deep concentration to change chronic patterns of thinking.  Be patient.  The deeper the Karma, the longer the time required to change it.  Don’t constantly dig up the spiritual seeds you are sowing to see if they have taken root.  Let them grow in their own time to become mighty plants.

Bring the problem to God in meditation and prayer.  Our sincere efforts and desire to be free draw the grace that brings release.  We have to do our little part, and then God steps in and unties the knots of Karma that have kept us bound.

—————– Nayaswami Devi.  

Nishkama Karma

Nishkama karma


NISHKAMA KARMA (State of No – Action) becomes possible only for a yogi at heart.  Meditating on what is unimaginable is considered to be the ultimate sadhana.  It is supposed to be beyond any conceptualisation.  If we imagine light, that is also a kind of form.  If the mind keeps thinking about the term ‘unthinkable’ to focus on, that is also limited in sphere.  So it is a challenge,  one has to overcome and the secret is that it can be attained by not pursuing anything with an intention to pursue, by becoming absolutely blank.

That is the state of ‘no – action’ in every sense (the state of Godhood) that supplies the energy for all action.  Why do we need sadhana of the unthinkable ?  We need the strength to pursue the most fruitful action.  Ramakrishna talks about three thieves, representing three gunas : RAJAS (can make you exhausted), TAMAS (can completely destroy you ) and SATTVA (the thief that has a lot of compassion)  SATTVA also guides you to the road that takes you safely home, the STATE OF NO – ACTION.

Kabir Das called this SAHAJA YOGA.  If we can become completely blank even for a moment, that is the real state of GOD – REALISATION.  In deep sleep, we may attain this stage.  But from a spiritual point of view, this state has to be experienced when we are awake.

It is very difficult to become completely thoughtless.  After remaining blank for a while, w may feel sleepy, but even then it is worth practising.  The effort to make ourselves thoughtless is also an action.  So, that action has to be discarded.  But as a beginner, we may take some form or light and remain blank, which may ultimately lead to the state of nothingness and thoughtlessness .

A sage suggested, you may think of God’s feet to begin with, but do not try to perform anything on the feet.  Just remain stable.  A state will come when the feet will disappear ——- what would remain is ‘nothingness’.  As one attains the state of ‘nothingness’ spontaneously, permanent peace prevails.

That is why it is said that BRAHMN is ‘unspeakable’.  Even one who realises cannot utter a word about it.  Buddha simply smiled and said nothing as He was asked to comment on NIRVANA.  It is for individuals to experience it.  Those who follow the path of sadhana and human welfare are able to perform this selflessly.  Thus, NISHKAMA KARMA becomes possible for a yogi at heart.

———– Arup Mitra. 

The Puranas & the Vedas

PuranasHinduism 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.


Krishna Arjuna


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.


Puranas


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

Virupaksha temple


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 temples


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.


virupaksha temple


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.


Virupaksha temple


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.


Temples Pattadakal


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.

Nathdwara

Shrinathji Nathdwara


It literally means GATEWAY to SHRINATHJI.  It is a town in Rajasthan, famous for its Temple of Krishna which house the idol of Shrinathji (14th century)——- a 7-year-old infant incarnation of Krishna.  Nathdwara Town itself is popularly referred to as SHRINATHJI, after the presiding Deity.


Nathdwara


As per the religious beliefs, the shrine at Nathdwara was built in the 17th century at the spot as exactly ordained by Shrinathji Himself.  The idol of Lord Krishna was being transferred to a safer place from Vrindavan, to protect it from anti-Hindu, iconoclastic, Mughal ruler Aurangzeb.  When the idol reached the spot n the village of SINHAD, the wheels of the bullock-cart, in which the idol was being transported, sank axle-deep in mud and could not be moved any further.  The accompanying priests realised that the particular place was the Lord’s chosen spot, and accordingly, a Temple was built there, under the rule and protection of the then Maharana Rana Singh of Mewar.  Shrinathji Temple is also known as HAVELI (mansion) of Shrinathji.

Nathdwara has an average elevation of 1919ft.  It is set amid idyllic hills.  A steady stream of pilgrims has ensured a plentiful supply of transport and accommodation.  Shrinathji Temple is the centre of attraction, but the town is also famous for its PICHWAI paintings (large paintings on cloth depicting legends from the life of Lord Krishna), handmade terracotta, ivory articles and HAWELI music (devotional music akin to DHRUPAD singing with compositions meant for various seasons, festivals and sections of the day).


Shrinathji Nathdwara


The structure of the Temple is simple, but the aesthetic appeal of this Temple is ceaseless.  Lord Shrinathji symbolizes a form of Lord Krishna, when He lifted the Govardhana (a hill).  In the image, the Lord is revealed with His left hand raised and the right hand is like a fist.  The idol is carved out of a large black stone.  Images of two cows, a snake, a lion, two peacocks and a parrot near the God’s head are imprinted on the idol.


Nathdwara Shrinathji temple


The Temple authorities have not less than 500 cows.  Darshan opens eight times a day and the Lord looks different in every Darshan, and the RAJBHOG Darshan, taking place around noon, is the most important and sought-after.  Photography and mobile phones are strictly prohibited in the Temple premises.  The best time to visit Shrinathji is from September to February.

Satva, Rajas, Tama

When PURUSH (soul) combines with PRAKRITI (creation), in the form of three gunas ——– Satva, Rajas and Tama —– a being takes birth in creation..
Light, Happiness and Gyan are properties of SATVA, RAJAS pertains to desires, attachments and resultant actions, and TAMA is darkness, ignorance and sleep.  At all times, all the three gunas are present in a human being, one dominating the other, depending on the desire and state of evolution of being.
Ordinary beings are ruled by TAMA, which is also the guna dominant in animals and other lower beings.  When a being leaves the body with the dominance of TAMA GUNA, se/he gets the animal yonis and enters into the netherworlds, says the Bhagvad Gita.  So the TAMA GUNA needs to be reduced and SATVA and RAJAS increased.
As the RAJAS GUNA increases, one is guided towards action (KARMA) driven by passion, material desires and attachment.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, every BHOG has a ROG attached to it.  So under this guna, a being indulges in pleasures of the senses and experiences the pains that come with it.  This ties the person to the downward spiral of birth and death —- each birth being lower and more painful than the previous.  Therefore, excess of the RAJAS GUNA is bad.  Abundance of the SATVA GUNA, makes us practise DHYAN & SADHNA and initiates cleansing through service and charity.  Gyan and bliss follow.  When a being leaves the body with dominance of SATVA, she/he takes birth in subtler dimensions and LOKAS, in the yonis of Devas and Rishis.


Three gunas

All the three gunas pertain to physical creation.  We can exit the painful cycle of birth and death to merge with the ultimate reality i.e. GOD by rising above these gunas.  When we go beyond the influence of TAMA, RAJAS & SATVA, we become GUNA ATEET ——– a state that can only be achieved through a guru’s help.  When a guru transfers his Gyan (Shakti) to the disciple, the latter becomes GUNA ATEET.  But Gyan can only exist in a SATVIK environment.  So, it is imperative for us to engage in charity and service, to change the negative karmas accumulated over so many births.  Only then can we move towards gaining Gyan and Liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

————– Yogi Ashwini