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  1. #1
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    Some observations about Maha Sivarathri


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    In all South Indian style temples in USA except for a few Vaishnava temples, Maha Sivarathri is observed, some with all night chanting of Rudram and Chamakam.

    It is very interesting and unique to Hindu tradition that we worship Rudra which is a description of ferocious aspect of Isvara.

    This forms of worship of Isvara in our tradition is not limited only to Siva worshippers.

    In fact in B.Gita, Sri Krishna presented as Bhagavan by poet Vyasa , reveals his so called cosmic form to Arjuna. This cosmic form is one of the most frightening forms of Isvara described in Mahabharatha.

    So why do our traditions have a fascination towards worshipping forms of Isvara that is fear-producing?


    Most Hindus worship a magician God to 'gain' something. There are many that believe God has to be feared. Some even propagate the notion that they will only fear their God and not of others. There are others who could not care less what the deity is - they just want some thing from the Lord. This post is not directed to such people at all.

    There are others - believers of atheism (there is no Isvara), believers of agnosticism (meaning one can never understand the truth) , worshippers of Kama and Krodha. This post is meaningless to them also.

    One is free to believe what they want but if anyone wants to dig a bit deeper they will find that their assumptions do not hold well.

    In B.Gita - Arjuna and Krishna are presented as eternal friends. They represent metaphorically the relationship of Isvara and Jiva. The fear of the cosmic form only happens because Arjuna at that point thinks he is separate from Isvara. However the overall and consistent message in our scriptures seem to be that fear is not the correct way to deal with our relationship to Isvara.

    In certain traditions, during Sandhya Vandanam there is salutations delivered to Lord of Death - Yama and his accountant Chitragupta. This is odd and is meaningless if it is done with fear.

    There are several items I wanted to share in this post but it may make this too long.

    I *may* post a few more posts in this thread about the following areas when I get time but it may be over few weeks (only if there is interest in such areas).

    1. The brilliance of our tradition to worship fear producing forms - Rudra, Narasimha to mention a few; Why?

    2. The similarities between forms of Rudra as described in Sri Rudram and the description of cosmic form of Sri krishna revealed to Arjuna

    3. The practice of all night chanting of Rudram and chamakam and meditation for prolonged period. Having done this some years ago, I can share some benefits to sincere Sadhakas (when done with right understanding)

    4. Why is Isvara in our tradition presented as both provider of grace and provider of fear & problems

    In the mean time let me wish you a Happy Sivarathri night!
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    Quote Originally Posted by tks View Post
    Most Hindus worship a magician God to 'gain' something. There are many that believe God has to be feared. Some even propagate the notion that they will only fear their God and not of others. There are others who could not care less what the deity is - they just want some thing from the Lord.

    In B.Gita - Arjuna and Krishna are presented as eternal friends. They represent metaphorically the relationship of Isvara and Jiva.



    3. The practice of all night chanting of Rudram and chamakam and meditation for prolonged period. Having done this some years ago, I can share some benefits to sincere Sadhakas (when done with right understanding)

    4. Why is Isvara in our tradition presented as both provider of grace and provider of fear & problems

    In the mean time let me wish you a Happy Sivarathri night!
    While I look forward to your future posts, I find some points contradictory. I find it rather high sounding when you say that your post is not directed at those *most Hindus* who want *something from the the magician God*.

    All Hindus, I believe, may be with a few exceptions probably in your circle, know about the existence/supposed existence of Rudra or Iswara only through the religious texts, predominantly the vedas and later on puranas. If you have any other source of knowledge, please share with the members in this forum.

    Also you have said that you have undergone all night chanting of Rudram and chamakam and meditation for prolonged period. If you still care to remember the meanings of **chamakam** it is merely a wishful list of things the sadhaka asks from Sri Rudra. If I am not wrong it lists about 288 such things from Iswara, some for his own good, some for the good of his tribesmen and country. It is rather funny that the Rsis who saw the rks and yajus mantras and who passed it on for a few thousands of years were not so eclectic.

    Even the tiniest dvAdaSa nAma and the lengthy saharasnAmAs have a detailed "phala Sruthi" at the end which details the phalan that would accrue to the reciter. The phala sruthis are also composed by the same persons who composed the stotras or slokams or sahasranAmams and there is no charge of interpolation. So when someone declares the majority of the hindus believing in magician god as less than informed, if not downright ignorant it behoves of them to declare their special source of knowledge.

    2. There is nothing in the BG itself which says that metaphorically the relatiionship between Krsna and Arjuna are like Isvara and Jeeva. If that be so, then the Isvara should be at fault for abandoning the jiva to roam around in forests for years while Krsna chose the luxury of Dwaaraka. I would take this as an attempted spin unless someone can give cogent, error proof logical reasoning.

    3. With my very limited knowledge of scriptures I can make a good case for Krsna and Arjuna to be none other than dahta-vakra and SiSupAlA and quote bits and pieces from this source and that source and knot them together.

    I think the principles of Occam razor should apply for unwanted assumptions to press home a point of view.
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    Continuing from post #3
    ===============
    Let me address some of the objections now and complete the response at another time.

    Post #1: I stated -
    "In fact in B.Gita, Sri Krishna presented as Bhagavan by poet Vyasa , reveals his so called cosmic form to Arjuna
    .
    .

    In B.Gita - Arjuna and Krishna are presented as eternal friends. They represent metaphorically the relationship of Isvara and Jiva."

    Post #2 - Objection raised

    There is nothing in the BG itself which says that metaphorically the relatiionship between Krsna and Arjuna are like Isvara. If that be so, then the Isvara should be at fault for abandoning the jiva to roam around in forests for years while Krsna chose the luxury of Dwaaraka. I would take this as an attempted spin unless someone can give cogent, error proof logical reasoning.
    Response:
    I already to alluded to this aspect in my original post (see bolded part). In the entire B.Gita, there is no mention of "Sri Krishna uvacha". All teachings are presented as Isvara's (Bhagavan's) teaching. Arjuna is presented as the Jiva who has the confusion and sorrow. In the larger setting of MB, Sri Krishna and Arjuna are portrayed as friends.

    In studying B.Gita our learning becomes more meaningful when we can identify ourselves with sorrow of Arjuna. (We are all Jivas and Iswara is never separate from us).

    In chapter 2, verse 3 Sri Krishna as Bhagavan calls Arjuna with this

    klaibyam ma sma gamah partha
    naitat tvayy upapadyate
    Only a dear friend (not even a strict teacher) will call someone impotent or eunuch depending on whose translation you want to take.

    Many scholars (you can do your own search) have described B.Gita as a conversation metaphorically taking place in the battlefield of life.

    Metaphors by definition are never spelled out - they are drawn out by commentators.


    Regarding your other comment: "If that be so, then the Isvara should be at fault for abandoning the jiva to roam around in forests for years while Krsna chose the luxury of Dwaaraka " - I submit that this statement is coming from your understanding of what Isvara is and is also arising from your likes and dislikes (Raga-Dwesha).

    Isvara is not the magician appearing there to change the Prarabdha karma of Pandavas. There are our actions and there are hidden variables that we call Daivam that determines the outcome/result/phala of any action.


    Let me stop here and will address other objection when I get time in a week or so. In the mean time if the above is not logical and cogent to you please state why.

    Regards
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    Quote Originally Posted by tks View Post
    4. Why is Isvara in our tradition presented as both provider of grace and provider of fear & problems

    The fear factor needs to be addressed by us humans eventually.

    The early concept of God was infused with fear cos the human mind had and still has not much idea what lies ahead.

    Its just like being in darkness and not knowing what danger lies ahead.

    We can all try a simple experiment..just off all the lights in our house and try walking to the bedroom for example..even though we know our house well but still when groping in darkness there is some amount of fear that exists in our mind mainly becos we are unsure what lies ahead even in familiar grounds.

    So likewise..technically none of us humans really know anything about God in the true sense..so there is always the element of "fear" when dealing with the Unknown.

    Therefore early humans started off prayers with the fear factor of the Unknown and then started to lace their prayers with Praises when understanding of Spirituality improved.

    Further more to gain strength we first have to identify our fears.

    Once we conquer our fears with the new found strength then we can face the "problems" called Existence.

    Now the next is why some feel the Iswara is also viewed as the giver of problems.

    This could be to make us the Jeeva "identify" with Iswara.. that is we can only give ourselves problems by our actions and inactions..so if we feel Iswara is supposed to give us problems..how are we to overcome that?

    The answer could be ..By eliminating our own problems with co-ordination of Thoughts,Words and Deeds..a troubled mind can only see a "trouble giving" God and a happy mind sees a benevolent God hence we have the Phala Shruti as an anti depressant.
    How we perceive Iswara reflects our state of mind.

    But is having a happy mind a guarantee in life that no problems lies ahead?

    Nope..there is no guarantee..so we are asked to fix our mind to develop a steady state to be equiposed in both happiness and sorrow..loss and gain..victory or defeat and walk out unscathed in all situations.
    Last edited by renuka; 17-02-2015 at 07:58 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tks View Post
    Continuing from post #3
    ===============
    Let me address some of the objections now and complete the response at another time.

    Post #1: I stated -
    "In fact in B.Gita, Sri Krishna presented as Bhagavan by poet Vyasa , reveals his so called cosmic form to Arjuna
    .
    .

    In B.Gita - Arjuna and Krishna are presented as eternal friends. They represent metaphorically the relationship of Isvara and Jiva."

    Post #2 - Objection raised



    Response:
    I already to alluded to this aspect in my original post (see bolded part). In the entire B.Gita, there is no mention of "Sri Krishna uvacha". All teachings are presented as Isvara's (Bhagavan's) teaching. Arjuna is presented as the Jiva who has the confusion and sorrow. In the larger setting of MB, Sri Krishna and Arjuna are portrayed as friends.

    In studying B.Gita our learning becomes more meaningful when we can identify ourselves with sorrow of Arjuna. (We are all Jivas and Iswara is never separate from us).

    In chapter 2, verse 3 Sri Krishna as Bhagavan calls Arjuna with this

    klaibyam ma sma gamah partha
    naitat tvayy upapadyate
    Only a dear friend (not even a strict teacher) will call someone impotent or eunuch depending on whose translation you want to take.

    Many scholars (you can do your own search) have described B.Gita as a conversation metaphorically taking place in the battlefield of life.

    Metaphors by definition are never spelled out - they are drawn out by commentators.


    Regarding your other comment: "If that be so, then the Isvara should be at fault for abandoning the jiva to roam around in forests for years while Krsna chose the luxury of Dwaaraka " - I submit that this statement is coming from your understanding of what Isvara is and is also arising from your likes and dislikes (Raga-Dwesha).

    Isvara is not the magician appearing there to change the Prarabdha karma of Pandavas. There are our actions and there are hidden variables that we call Daivam that determines the outcome/result/phala of any action.


    Let me stop here and will address other objection when I get time in a week or so. In the mean time if the above is not logical and cogent to you please state why.

    Regards
    Ok.. I will respond to the substantive parts of your post.

    1. A sizeable chunk of the BG is repetition of the mantras found in kaThOpaniSad. There is no mention of Krsna, Vyasa or Arjuna in that upaniSad, It was a customary way of writing in those days to reiterate key principles or philosohpies through the mouth of another. You can find the same in jAtakA tales and also in the conversation among monkeys in Ramayana.

    2. The important question is whether the author (or the narrator Vyasa in the instance of BG) intended metaphor. It is not how the reader looks at the things... it is how the writer looked at the things in his narration. We just cant load the words with extra meanings because it appeals to us.

    If the word "mouse" is found in "Alice in wonderland" it just means ... the mouse a biological creature. I can not take it to mean the computer mouse that helps me navigate in lieu of key board, just because I am more conversant with the computer mouse.

    3. That many scholars described BG as a conversation in metaphor is not a valid argument, in my humble opinion... because it just passes on the onus of the proof to the scholars. That is quoting some higher authority, who cant be questioned and whose authority has to be taken for granted, when upaniSads themselves encourage people to question a premise rather than merely accept the commandment.

    4. Adi Sankara, the foremost scholar, has written a bhAshyam on the BG, as also others like Madhava and Sri RamanuAcharyA has used BG in his Sree BhAshyam. Have any of them alluded that Arjuna was a "jeeva"?

    Metaphors are **implied similies"" and the context should so permit unambiguously and not be thrust upon.

    None of the arguments of course reduces the importance of Krsna's teachings, but should we look for the things that are not there prima facie?

    Regards
    Last edited by zebra16; 17-02-2015 at 12:30 PM.
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  10. #6
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    well, very articulated debate. y see as Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, 'y surrender to me; rest I will take care of' surrender shud be in total without question. then only one can understand, appreciate, evaluate and debate. at the same time I have no business to question anyone raising any issues on Rudram etc. as someone said in this forum, I have read rudram, chamakam etc with clear meaning. I attended classes in Delhi on Rudram when that learned person explained all these with clear-cut meaning. Above all, when y listen rudram, chamakam etc with closed eyes, y simply enthral yrself. I did. - srinivasan
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    Quote Originally Posted by renuka View Post
    The fear factor needs to be addressed by us humans eventually.

    The early concept of God was infused with fear cos the human mind had and still has not much idea what lies ahead.

    Its just like being in darkness and not knowing what danger lies ahead.

    We can all try a simple experiment..just off all the lights in our house and try walking to the bedroom for example..even though we know our house well but still when groping in darkness there is some amount of fear that exists in our mind mainly becos we are unsure what lies ahead even in familiar grounds.

    So likewise..technically none of us humans really know anything about God in the true sense..so there is always the element of "fear" when dealing with the Unknown.

    Therefore early humans started off prayers with the fear factor of the Unknown and then started to lace their prayers with Praises when understanding of Spirituality improved.

    Further more to gain strength we first have to identify our fears.

    Once we conquer our fears with the new found strength then we can face the "problems" called Existence.

    Now the next is why some feel the Iswara is also viewed as the giver of problems.

    This could be to make us the Jeeva "identify" with Iswara.. that is we can only give ourselves problems by our actions and inactions..so if we feel Iswara is supposed to give us problems..how are we to overcome that?

    The answer could be ..By eliminating our own problems with co-ordination of Thoughts,Words and Deeds..a troubled mind can only see a "trouble giving" God and a happy mind sees a benevolent God hence we have the Phala Shruti as an anti depressant.
    How we perceive Iswara reflects our state of mind.

    But is having a happy mind a guarantee in life that no problems lies ahead?

    Nope..there is no guarantee..so we are asked to fix our mind to develop a steady state to be equiposed in both happiness and sorrow..loss and gain..victory or defeat and walk out unscathed in all situations.
    Good post, at least I understand this one in this thread LoL - cant say I agree with all that is said.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebra16 View Post
    Ok.. I will respond to the substantive parts of your post.

    1. A sizeable chunk of the BG is repetition of the mantras found in kaThOpaniSad. There is no mention of Krsna, Vyasa or Arjuna in that upaniSad, It was a customary way of writing in those days to reiterate key principles or philosohpies through the mouth of another. You can find the same in jAtakA tales and also in the conversation among monkeys in Ramayana.

    2. The important question is whether the author (or the narrator Vyasa in the instance of BG) intended metaphor. It is not how the reader looks at the things... it is how the writer looked at the things in his narration. We just cant load the words with extra meanings because it appeals to us.

    If the word "mouse" is found in "Alice in wonderland" it just means ... the mouse a biological creature. I can not take it to mean the computer mouse that helps me navigate in lieu of key board, just because I am more conversant with the computer mouse.

    3. That many scholars described BG as a conversation in metaphor is not a valid argument, in my humble opinion... because it just passes on the onus of the proof to the scholars. That is quoting some higher authority, who cant be questioned and whose authority has to be taken for granted, when upaniSads themselves encourage people to question a premise rather than merely accept the commandment.

    4. Adi Sankara, the foremost scholar, has written a bhAshyam on the BG, as also others like Madhava and Sri RamanuAcharyA has used BG in his Sree BhAshyam. Have any of them alluded that Arjuna was a "jeeva"?

    Metaphors are **implied similies"" and the context should so permit unambiguously and not be thrust upon.

    None of the arguments of course reduces the importance of Krsna's teachings, but should we look for the things that are not there prima facie?

    Regards
    Sri Narayan -

    We may not be the'same page' to reach alignment I think. Our background and focus seem to be vastly different.

    I will suspend my judgment for now and spend time required to see if it is possible to close the disconnect.

    I want torespectfully say that many of your comments comes across to me as either a factoid of not any particular relevance to the discussion, or statement of obviousities or inferences that seem broken at ground zero *from my vantage point*.

    Let me explain with another metaphor. Suppose two people - persons A & B decide to have a scholarly discussions about a topic in advance mathematics like say Geometric quantization and A starts defining some aspects of Hilbert's infinite dimensional space.

    B then says the distance between two points is a straight line. A hears what B says and tries to get back to the topic by giving a decent interpretation saying 'oh that is true, not sure why you say that, but it is only true in Euclidean space '.

    B responds saying there is a problem using the word space since one can mistake for the more recent use of Cyber space. …

    I obviously exaggerated the metaphor to make a point.

    These are not sarcasm statement or put down of any kind but they are just critique of your posts only. I will explain by going a bit more in depth with my reasoning.

    I can be corrected by all means of my impressions and to do so I want to take the following approach.

    After providing amplifying comments and my sense about where this is going, I will ask you some questions.

    Your answer will give me better insight as to where you are coming from. I will then be able to respond to your 'objections' in a more meaningful manner.

    It is entirely possible that in trying to answer my questions some of your initial objections may go away. So there is a value in your answering the questions that follow

    A)Factoids of no relevance to points, some even patently wrong:

    1. Your point 1 is partially correct - Yes there are verses in B.Gita chapter 2, chapter 15 (for example) and some concepts that have direct correlation to Kathopanishad verses. Terms like 'large chunk' is false!


    This point regardless is irrelevant because B.Gita is a Smrithi and Upanishad is a Sruthi. In Sri Sankara's commentary he brings out many more specific references to other upanishads in appropriate places be it in Avatarika or in Purvapakshi-Siddhanta dialogs . The reason he gives specific references to Sruthi is because B.Gita being a Smrithi but regarded as the essence of all Upanishads in terms of what it teaches.

    Besides B.Gita is not just Brhmavidya but is also a Yoga Shastra. In any case, ALL Upanishads, Brahma Sutra,B.Gita have one and only message and therefore they are consistent.

    Q1 - I would like to explain your specific objectives for studying B.Gita vs studying Upanishads ?

    Q2- What do you see are the difference in focus between Bhashyam of Sri Sankara as opposed to those of others (another factoid you mentioned that many Bhashyas exist).

    1. You say Krishna, Arjuna etc are not mentioned in Kathopanishad. Indeed that is true!


    Q3:why would you expect references of characters to be identical between Kathopanishad and B.Gita (for that matter any two scriptures)?

    Statement of Obviousities that do not seem to add anything to what you may be trying to convey


    1. Point 2 first of all raises the questions as to why you study B.Gita in the first place (Q1 already noted).


    Vyasa may be a single person or could be a family name that is attributed to many scriptures. If your main point is that people should not overstate and read more into what there is - I agree with you. But no serious scholar makes the mistake of taking the word that has multiple meanings and apply them incorrectly as your metaphor suggests.

    If your point on the other hand is that people use technologies and today's words to create new interpretation, that is entirely possible but in serious scholarly discussions that kind of examples get exposed in a 'New York minute'! Such people lose credibility very quickly for their scholarship.

    Let me use your own analogy to make a different point.

    The mouse in 'Alice in wonderland' was initially a drawing as a cartoon and printed and distributed.

    The mouse drawing was repeated many times later, pictures taken and turned into animated light on a screen. The mouse now appears as light (on and off) on a screen.

    The mouse then existed as a digital file and in next technological revision it even lost its existence as a computer files stored as 0 and 1.

    The mouse has become even more subtle as a logic data structure in a program where the entire cartoon movie is produced by programs and its logic - it is hard to pinpoint where that mouse is anymore.

    Then this 'mouse' in its momentary existence in a subtle form makes its way to a TV via many forms undergoing many changes - bits and bytes, air waves etc., analog and digital medial and then selectively lights up a LCD screen or LED screen to provide an appearance of mouse to a person watching.

    Several decades ago a child may see a book and read the story, today they may have a Youtube movie downloaded of the same story. In all these transformations of the mouse, the story and its value has not changed unless done deliberately. But sure enough the representation of the mouse has undergone radical changes.

    This metaphor can be used to describe certain vedantic concepts (not the scope of the discussion here)



    The point is that good teachers use the technologies correctly to amplify universal principles embodied in the teachings

    B)The last part -basic breakdown


    1. Your point number 4. You must have very clear idea what a jiva (jeeva) is by now. If not there is no dialog possible.


    Do you know that Sri Sankara's commentary starts somewhere in the middle of chapter 2 because he does not waste one word on useless discussions or on obvious items.

    Q5-What is your understanding of the word Jiva , what do you think Arjuna is as presented?


    1. In your post 2 - you mentioned Sisupala etc - those have stories and Purana as the basis. My opening post was not addressed to anyone who is into magic, puranas or even the first three parts of Vedas as the primary focus area.


    I hope you know that the 'knowledge part' of Vedas completely negates (NOT rejects) the Samhitas, Brahmanas and Aranyaka sections.

    Myfocus is from the knowledge perspective ONLY which does not mix well with others. There are Suktams and others like Sri Rudram not found in Vedanta but have vedantic context and they come under the knowledge sections even though in placement they may not be at the end of Vedas.

    It is hard to appreciate the real meaning of Sri Rudram without knowledge of Vedanta to some extent.

    C)More Questions

    I agree with your assertion that principles of Occam razor should apply.

    You have mentioned your interest in contradiction free understanding in your post #2. So I have a number of very specific questions about your understanding of Sri Rudram in a way that is without any seeming contradictions.

    In the next post I will summarize the above questions and few ask more questions from Sri Rudram.


    I type and spend little time revising - please bear with grammar , spelling etc.


    Regards
    Last edited by tks; 23-02-2015 at 03:47 AM. Reason: fixed a few format issues
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    Questions


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    1. I would like to explain your specific objectives of studying B.Gita vs Upanishads are?
    2. What do you see the difference in focus between Bhashyam of Sri Sankara as opposed to others?
    3. why would you expect references of characters to be identical between Kathopanishad and B.Gita?
    4. What is your understanding of the word Jiva , what do you think Arjuna is as presented? If he is not a jiva what is he in the story?


    Questions from SriRudram

    5. ओंनमोभगवते॑रुद्रा॒य
    As you know the root word Rudra isderived from the word रु, to produce sound, to cry and रुद्, to shed tears and द्रु, to flow, run, melt. So the Isvara is one who makes you cry and to make a grown person cry one has to terrorize them. How do you deal with this aspect of Isvara the terrorist when you are offering your Namaskaram and while chanting since isvara is supposed to be all about Love and compassion? (there are other meanings but this meaning I have provided above is a legitimate one and is very essential part (and cannot be discarded))

    6. The above meaning is not an anomaly. I will go to few more Anuvakas for some more examples here and there that the description of Isvara is not very complimentary as stated- in fact they are downright nasty. It occurs throughout Sri Rudram but I will pick a few to ask you as to how you resolve the contradictory meanings even in the same sentence - For example : नमो॒ वञ्च॑ते परि॒वञ्च॑ते स्तायू॒नां पत॑ये॒ नमो॒ in Anuvaka 3 - the meaning is Namaskaram to the one who cheats now and then, one who cheats all the time and the one who is the God of those who steal !

    7. Continuing on Anuvaka 3 - let us look at this : नमो॑ निचे॒रवे॑ परिच॒रायार॑ण्यानां॒ पत॑ये॒ नमो॒ Here the gist of the meaning is Namaskaram to one is the Lord of the thieves of the forest (like highway robbors)

    8. Let me go to Anuvaka 5 to pick lines about Isvara (Rudra) where the lines have contradictions built in . Many lines have this but I will pick one to ask your views. नमो॒ नील॑ग्रीवाय शिति॒कण्ठा॑य च॒ - Here the meaning is : Namaskaram to the blue-necked one with white throat.

    You cannot refer to some Puranic story as to why Lord Siva has blue neck because this verse/teaching of Isvara's form occurs in vedas ( Taittriya Samhita) and it cannot refer to a Puranic story for its reference being that Veda is the ultimate authority in its own right.

    9. Let me ask one more question from a different source. My guess is that you do Sandhyavandam with some regularity. As you know one of the key part of preparation before Gayatri Japam is giving Argyam. There is a Puranic story about thirty million asuras called Mandehas, that wants to attack and devour the sun at Sandhya time. So the one doing Sandhyavandanam is asked to sprinkle water which becomes like Vajra Ayudha to attack these monsters, not to kill them but simply make them ineffective momentarily. This kind of explanation seem meaningless in today's world. First there is really no Sun rise or Sun set from Sun's view point. Second spraying water with Mantra is all about some magic and is fine for a youngsters. How do you reconcile this story and still realize the importance of this part of the ritual and do it with Shraddha?

    10. Given that interpretation by a teacher is sometimes needed to resolve the apparent contradictions, what is your criteria to assess when an explanation is correct and when it is not? In other words how do you know someone is not making things up while explaining?

    This is just to get a better understanding of where you are coming from and how you resolve contradictions. I hope you will answer spending time like I have making them up now!

    I may have to travel next weekend - will try to address your response and reply to other queries when possible

    Regards
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    Quote Originally Posted by tks View Post

    You cannot refer to some Puranic story as to why Lord Siva has blue neck because this verse/teaching of Isvara's form occurs in vedas ( Taittriya Samhita) and it cannot refer to a Puranic story for its reference being that Veda is the ultimate authority in its own right.

    9. Let me ask one more question from a different source. My guess is that you do Sandhyavandam with some regularity. As you know one of the key part of preparation before Gayatri Japam is giving Argyam. There is a Puranic story about thirty million asuras called Mandehas, that wants to attack and devour the sun at Sandhya time. So the one doing Sandhyavandanam is asked to sprinkle water which becomes like Vajra Ayudha to attack these monsters, not to kill them but simply make them ineffective momentarily. This kind of explanation seem meaningless in today's world. First there is really no Sun rise or Sun set from Sun's view point. Second spraying water with Mantra is all about some magic and is fine for a youngsters. How do you reconcile this story and still realize the importance of this part of the ritual and do it with Shraddha?
    I have added the part of your post regarding puranic stories vis-a-vis.. to the sandhya vandanam because it is relevant.

    1. Contrary to the belief that the story of mandehas is contained only in purANams, (notably Vishnu PurANam,Garuda PurANam), the mandehas story has a mention in both Taittiriya Samhita and Taittiriya AraNyaka - 2.2 - swAdhyaya brahmaNam (both Srutis) and the explanation is similar, if not more basic. If need be, I can furnish the relevant khAndam and anuvAkam numbers to you.

    1(a) The simplest symbolic view point is that mandehas is not a physical rAkshasha... but it is mind + body (manaH + dehaH). Such personifications are common in Sruthi and we have a rishi's name coined as Deergha Tamas and in Smrithi we find such personifications, like for example ashta-vakra.

    2. Regarding the real non-setting of sun and non sun rise, the issue does not come into the picture at all, because that knowledge was probably not available to the rishis. In fact there are Sruthi passages that describe as sun a disc and the sun hides under the earth. That the sun is visualised as a calf in the womb of mother earth is found in Sruthi passage -- taittiriya Aranyakam -- also known as aruNa praSnam.

    3. There are two ways to reconcile the issue. One to admit that vedas contain artha-vAdas, that is passages containing eulogies of certain acts and mantras (as concluded by the pUrva-meemAmsAs and contained in Jaimini PM Sutras) in this case the glorification of gAyatri mantrA. The second is to admit the real reason for the symbolism of arghyam is no longer applicable or forgotten.

    3 (a) But the symbolism of sun being the universal conscience keeper and the Atman being the Self-conscience keeper and the equation between the two is brought forth by utterances such as "asAvAdityO Brahma...brahMaivAham.. brahmAiva satyam"

    3 (b) Invocation of sun is also symbolic as the impeller of action.. as the first mantrA of yajurveda starts with "iShe tvA... Urje tvA.....devO vaH savitA pryApathu SresTathamAya karmaNa"... etc. urging the lethargic body and slothy mind to propel into action.


    4. While on the subject of sandhyA-vandanam, it would be pertinent to point out that this simple ritual has undergone a lot of transformation, particularly in respect of its mantra portions. The vaishnava influence of modifying sandhyA-vandanam mantras to make mention of Hari,Kesava and nArayana is quite evident.

    5. If need be, I can furnish the details of sandhyA vandanam as contained in Bodhayana paddhati, which has only vedic mantras and no mention of "yamAya Dharma rAjaya" etc. which you mentioned in some other post.

    6. The avAhanam of gAyatri etc. are basically a tAntric method or a hybrid tAntric method and we do not find this AvAhanam or any Suklam bharadharam or mama-upAta etc. in Sroutha yajnas.

    7. That sandhyA-vandanam does not contain even a cursory agni kAryam also makes it an entrant of sutra period.

    8. Adi Sankara in his various BhAshyams does not make even a mention of sandhyA-vandanam although he makes a clear mention of agnihOtram like agnihOtrA-ityAdi etc. If he has made such a mention (of sandhyA vandanam), I surely missed it and would thank you if you can give me a reference.

    9. According to me, sandhyA-vandam forms the foundation of upAsana-khanda, which I will address briefly when attending to your other queries. To the extent I have followed your posts, I have not got any indication of your views on that subject of upAsana khanda so far.....
    Last edited by zebra16; 08-03-2015 at 09:55 AM.
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