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  1. #1
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    SandhyaVandanam & Nithya Karmas in the context of modern living - what, why, how


    1 Not allowed!
    The objective of the next set of posts is to describe the philosophical significance of various Karmas/Actions/Rituals that is prescribed in our scriptures.

    More importantly, at the surface level one will find major contradictions for reasons given for doing daily rituals such as Sandhyavandam for example.

    The puranic stories associated with the explanations seem to be entertaining at best and are unsatisfactory for anyone wanting to know if there is a deeper significance.

    No one wants a made up reason just to justify a ritual. If at all it has to be the otherway around - how could a ritual help one to attain a given goal.
    What should be that goal?

    The significance of the various parts of a ritual then has to then make sense without force fitting an explanation.

    There are also other questions that comes up in the context of the knowledge of Science we all possess. If Sun never sets or arises, what is the point in doing a ritual that revolves around sunrise and sunset?

    There are more deeper questions for those that are asked to do yearly Shraddhams.
    No one knows what happens to a person when they die.

    We have not met anyone that came back from death though there are books written by people who have 'come back' from their near death experience.
    Those accounts cannot be trusted because death by definition is a state from where one never returns.

    Therefore, no one knows what happened to our ancestors after they passed away. Why would we want to do rituals for them based on some Puranic stories?


    Even for a seeker of knowledge (not the seeker of Punya and heaven, whatever those words may mean), performance of annual Shraddham function is prescribed.
    How do we reconcile these prescriptions with lack of knowledge of what happened to our ancestors other than being asked to believe in some stories at best.

    There are three groups of people in my thinking when it comes to such rituals .

    1. One is to follow the prescriptions blindly. My view is to respect their beliefs. My request to them is to not detract the postings here with their beliefs since there are ritual sections for such posts. We would like to have a more reasoned discussions here if possible.

    2. Other is to follow the rituals but then question them thinking that there may be some real significance. There may be Shraddha involved in this group of people. These set of posts are addressed to only those people.

    3. Then, there are those that think that there is no significance to any of these activities. In my thinking, this approach also forms another set of belief systems only (lacking intellectual content). The General Section can be used to express such viewpoints and beliefs rather than here.

    If there are clarification questions, kindly ask. I plan to write some posts over a period of time (perhaps once a week). When we have reached a natural stopping point it will be useful to have more discussions and counter points but only from group 2, please.
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    0 Not allowed!
    How does one detect Shraddha?
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    1 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by renuka View Post
    How does one detect Shraddha?
    Shraddha is faith to be ratified by understanding at a later point in time and place.
    It is deeply personal and is known only to the person. It is about attitude at the core of one's mind and is not detectable by others.

    Normally it is wise not to judge anyone as to their faith or Shraddha since it is not possible. That is why in the opening post my statement had tentativeness in the description that "there may be shraddha involved" in some people .

    However there are situations one is placed to judge. For example if I have to hire someone I need to be sure that their interviewing skills do not detract their lack of 'shraddha' towards their chosen profession. It is part of my duty to hire right and judging is part of that duty.

    What we end up noticing is behaviour only which is available for our judgement.

    In the next post, I will detail what I know are ways to know if our shraddha is real towards a topic. But it is only for self judgement and is not useful to judge others.

    In the context of posting and interacting here, we all are pressed for time. Therefore at the very least I have to pick and choose topics to get engaged in.

    If someone has a question and and if I have answers I will spend whatever time it takes to make sure the response is as complete as possible. In the end I do not control how it is received.

    However if there was response not consistent with the spirit of the discussion I just move on and not bother with further interaction. In that sense I make a judgement on the behaviour only.

    This topic area of Nithya Karma is about self growth for a purpose (to be expanded later) and is meaningless to someone if they are not personally involved.
    There are people interested in such topics just like one may interested in a topic like Botany. For such people the discussion that follows will not be useful.

    If one has Shraddha towards learning the truth (and only that person knows this), then their behaviour here may be consistent with their interiority of their mind, which will then make the topic area more relevant. That is the point I was making in the opening post.
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    How we learn?


    1 Not allowed!
    The explanation of the 'why' aspects behind daily rituals such as Sandhyavandhanam can be easily described in few lines but without a rigorous understanding of the context behind the explanation, it will all seem just hollow leading to missing many of the profound aspects behind the rituals.

    For example, in B.Gita Chapter 2 the real teaching begins in verse 11 and Sri Krishna actually has puts forth the bottomline of what to expect in the rest of B.Gita right in that verse itself. Without proper teacher interpreting commentaries such as Sri Sankara it will be easy to miss this part. Also all the essence of teaching contained in B.Gita is all covered in Chapter 2 itself but this itself is not obvious to a casual learner.

    What I am sharing are my understanding of traditional teaching of our scriptures only. Obviously I could make mistakes but not knowingly so. The style of explanations and metaphors from modern context are my own but I am not putting forth any new insight. In fact my conviction after spending a quarter century is that what is taught in our scriptures cannot be bested.

    In order to detect Shraddha in ourselves in approaching topics purported to help with our personal growth we may want to briefly reflect on how we learn things.

    Then from the context of learning we can appreciate how our Shraddha towards a topic enables or detracts our learning.

    Following this we have to understand the full context of what, why, how, when etc of the Nithya Karmas.

    Then the explanation of how Sandhyavandanam and Shraddham in the modern context has relevance.

    It is necessary to understand in the modern context of living these are applicable to all people including women. How it is observed may be different but the universal principles based on which the practices are prescribed is applicable to all human beings regardless of their caste, creed, gender, and even gender orientation.

    So how do we learn topics of profound significance?

    There is a well known verse which I want to quote and use it to explain the recognition of Shraddha in ourselves towards learning.


    आचार्यात् पादमादत्ते पादं शिष्यः स्वमेधया ।
    सब्रह्मचारिभ्यः पादं पादं कालक्रमेण च ॥- महाभारत, उद्योगपर्व



    Simple Translation:

    We learn from four sources (and it need not be precisely 25% from each source though the verse says 1/4th from each source)
    They are
    • (Qualified) Teacher - The thread on Guru Purnima in this section amply addresses this aspect. It also describes indirectly the role of Shradda towards the Guru ROLE
    • Self - Our own analysis. I will share what I understand by this term later because we could be our worst enemy or our best friend in our effort to grow
    • Other people- The shraddha of others involved such as other students can make or break our growth. Therefore detailing the behaviour that are clues to watch out for will be important especially in an open forum such as this one
    • Time - Those with Shraddha gains knowledge and Nithya Karmas are but one small step as part of preparation. A baby takes about 9 months to grow from a single cell to a complete human being.




    Next couple of posts will be about our Shraddha towards learning from other people, own self and how to leverage time to our advantage.
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    0 Not allowed!
    re-opened on request.
    Contact - Guidelines

    Since i do not read all the posts, if you need to bring something to my attention report the post or send me a message with the link.
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    0 Not allowed!
    Praveen Ji,

    Thanks for re-opening this thread.



    tks ji,

    Please go ahead

    This is one of the topics I am interested.
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  12. #7
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    1 Not allowed!
    The thread got closed due to inaction on my part over a long time. At the request of one member, I requested Sri Praveen to open the thread so that I can complete what I intended to convey in the opening post. (Thanks Sri Praveen)


    Since following Nithyakarmas prescribed in our scriptures require Shraddha (which is faith to be ratified by understanding at a later time), let me complete the discussion on Shraddha from the prior post.


    Let me present the rest of the discussion in terms of a Questions and Answer format so that it is easier to parse for the reader.


    1. Why should one follow practices of Nithya Karmas?
    Answer: There is one and only goal accomplished by Nithyakarmas, which is the purification of our mind. Just like we take a bath to clean our body, these Karmas are essential part of a person's sadhana.

    The motivation for making this effort is possible *only* when we have clarification as to what our purpose of our life is.

    There is a discussion about purpose of a human life which is described in this post referenced below:
    http://www.tamilbrahmins.com/showthr...626#post312626
    That thread goes further to describe the *role* of a teacher in guiding us in our effort.




    2. How do we show Shraddha towards a teacher?
    Who we select as a teacher shows if we have shraddha towards a given topic areas.

    A teacher of such topics as this one must have come in a Guru Parampara having mastered all the knowledge scriptures (Key Upanishads, Brahmasutras, B. Gita etc) . Such a person must necessarily be well versed in Sanskrit and be able to interpret the commentaries of teachers (Bhashyas and Tikas) independently. Such a person must have a good understanding of Science, and other schools of thoughts from both east and the west. This is necessary to be able to answer questions of a sincere student coming from a variety of background.

    The shraddha towards a teacher means living up to the teaching of the teacher and not about physically worshipping such a person. This was highlighted in this post below
    http://www.tamilbrahmins.com/showthr...268#post310268


    3. How do we learn from others (peer students)?
    If we have Shraddha towards learning a given topic area, we have to pick carefully who we engage in discussions with. Many that have no Shraddha towards learning cannot help and possibly harm our quest.

    This means that all online discussion groups are not a suitable platform to learn from. This is because what is presented is not vetted for substance or sincerity or both.

    Our own forum may have a limited use in the sense that some posts can possibly point to some references which can be useful.

    We have far too many pseudo-intellectuals who throw in own imaginations and simply attribute their ideas to some Shastra. There are even people who may be formally qualified but may lack Viveka and wisdom. There is a saying which humorously captures this point.

    यथा खरः चन्दनभारवाहि
    भारस्य वेत्ता न तु चन्दनस्य ।
    एवं हि शास्त्राणि बहुनि अधीत्य
    अर्थेषु मूढाः खरवद् वहन्ति ॥

    A metaphor is described about a donkey carrying many pieces of sandalwood. The answer to the question : "is the donkey carrying sandalwood" is definitively NO because donkey carries only a load. It does not carry the smell of sandalwood nor is it aware of its importance. The load is the same for the donkey regardless of what the load represents.

    Similarly there are "scholars" who carry the burden of a lot of scriptures but do not understand them properly.

    Belief which is not subject to reason cannot work well with teaching that is based on reason.

    There people with highly developed religious ego due to belief in a Godman cannot help in our effort to learn. Similarly a person soaked in rituals without understanding are also best to not engage with. Knowledge scriptures do not mean much to them.

    Those who chase after desires - even with religious rituals- cannot understand Nithyakarmas done only for the sake of inner purification.

    Those steeped in superstitions also cannot engage in helpful conversations since their superstitions (astrology etc) cannot fathom the beauty of reasons.

    Those who are unwilling to put the effort required to learn including learning Sanskrit usually are best avoided.

    Our shraddha towards learning is evidenced by who we pick to learn from.



    Now let me get back to the main topic area which is about Nithya karma itself. There is a verse in Vedantasara, which defines what a Nithyakarma is


    नित्यानि - अकरणे प्रत्यवायसाधनानि सन्ध्यावन्दनादीनि ॥ ९॥


    Simple translation: Daily Karmas, such as the sandhyāvandanam, which when not done causes harm, are termed nitya-karmas.


    The harm above has to do with impediments to our learning the knowledge scriptures.


    I will continue with the above topic in the next post.
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    1 Not allowed!
    There are four typesof Karmas- Nithya, Naimithika, Kamya and Prayaschitta karmas.



    1. Kamya karma is one which is done with a desire to achieve a given result. It may include Homam for longevity, rituals for seeking rain etc. No one can know if the intended results will materialize. They are however conducted due to our desires and insecurities supported by a belief in the Vedas that describe such Karmas. There is no harm if Kamya Karmas are not done but for a serious sadhaka, Kamya Karmas present a serious impediment to growth.
    2. Naimithika karmas are those that are not not always specified in the shastras and may or may not be a required duty (e.g., taking a bath after an eclipse). They occur at various times in a year. For the purposes of this discussions, I am not including here certain events such as Shradda events (which may be considered as Naimithika Karma by a few)
    3. Nithya karmas have logical and Vedic basis and are done without expectations of any result except for attaining inner purification of our mind. These are necessary to prepare our mind for learning greater truths about Isvara and our own true nature. These include Sandhyavandanam (which is to be done daily) and also include certain other rituals such as Shraddham that may come once a year for each of our departed parent.
    4. Prayaschitta Karmas - These are Karmas conducted with the intent to mitigate the effect of a wrong act.


    The purpose of thisthread is to provide a logical basis as to why Nithya Karmas are essential partof our inner growth.


    With Shraddha, ifone undertakes the performance of these Nithya Karmas, we are likely toencounter many objections from others.
    While we may NOTchoose to learn from those providing often unsolicited objections , it may be useful to have an idea as to why people oftenspeak dismissively of such karmas.

    A person who isunfamiliar but respectful of others will rarely offer objections. Those thathad followed such traditions blindly only to give them up later tend to be themost ardent critics. They are still in a 'fight' or 'flight' mode over suchrituals. The best thing to do is to not engage with such people.

    In order to be sureour sharadda towards Nithya Karmas are not weakened it is necessary tounderstand a basis as to why such rituals lead to our inner purification (ofour mind).

    This requires ananalysis of how we relate to other people and what we think to be ourentitlements.

    After all we did notchoose anything in our life we claim to be ours. We did not choose our body shape/height, ourthinking capacity, our specific skills, our parents, our race, our gender tojust name just a few. In fact we do not control literally any event thathappens in our life. Yet we act as if we are in control celebrating ourownership to anything that comes our way.

    Stephen Covey whowrote the book called '7 habits of highly effective people' has providedexcellent description as to how we relate to others in our lives. We start outour life being dependent on others (like parents) for our very survival. Manybut not all grow to becoming independent. The truly successful people end upunderstanding what it means to be 'interdependent'.

    Let me quote from asource which provides a more detailed description of these three ways ofrelating to others - dependent, independent and interdependent.


    "We start lifein a state of Dependence. We are fed, looked after and shown the way. Withoutthis level of support, we wouldn’t last very long. As the years go by, webecome more and more independent — physically, intellectually, emotionally andfinancially — until we are totally in charge of ourselves. For many, this stateof Independence, or Self-Mastery, is the ultimate goal. It is often seenin our society as the epitome of success. Few consider the next stage.

    As a higher level ofmaturity, reaching Independence is a major accomplishment, but it isn’t theultimate ideal in effective living. “Life is, by nature, highly interdependent.To try to achieve maximum effectiveness through independence is like trying toplay tennis with a golf club.”

    Yet the conceptof Interdependence is often misunderstood and many see it asregressive, as a step back towards Dependence. As a result, many relationshipscome to an end when partners, for fear of losing their hard-earnedIndependence, seek to re-affirm themselves.

    Moving fromIndependence to Interdependence is not moving back to Dependence.Interdependence is a much deeper concept which implies a higher level ofmaturity. People who enter interdependent relationships (in business and inlife) are self-assured, confident and self-reliant. They know that what theycan achieve through Synergy with others is much bigger than the sumof what they would achieve independently.

    “Interdependence isa far more mature, more advanced concept. If I am (…) interdependent, I amself-reliant and capable, but I also realize that you and I working togethercan accomplish far more than, even at my best, I could accomplish alone (…) Asan interdependent person, I have the opportunity to share myself deeply,meaningfully, with others, and I have access to the vast resources andpotential of other human beings. Interdependence is a choice onlyindependent people can make. Dependent people cannot choose to becomeinterdependent. They don’t have the character to do it; they don’t own enoughof themselves.” (Stephen Covey)

    From <https://coachingfortranslators.com/2...ey-to-success/>

    How does it all tieto doing our Nithya Karmas? That will be in the next post.
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  16. #9
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    1 Not allowed!
    Sorry for the interruption Sir

    Today I stumbled upon this message in FB which is more relevant and would like to share with members:

    மனு ஸ்ம்ருதியில் 'ரிஷயோ தீர்க்க ஸந்த்யாவாத் தீர்க்கமாயுர் அவாப்நுயு ப்ரக்ஞாம் | யசச்ச கீர்த்திம் ச பிரஹ்ம வர்ச்சஸமேவ்ச' என்று இருக்கிறது.
    இதன் அர்த்தம் என்ன என்றால், ரிஷிகள் தீர்க்காயுள், ஞானம், தேஜஸ் அடைந்ததற்குக் காரணம் அவர்கள் விடாமல் செய்து வந்த ஸந்த்யா வந்தனத்தின் பலன்தான்.
    ஸந்த்யா வந்தனத்தின் பலனைத் தெரிந்து கொள்ள இது ஒன்றே போதும்.
    ஏராளமான பொருட் செலவு செய்து உபநயனம் செய்து வைத்தால் பலன் பூஜ்யமாகி விடாமல் பார்த்து கொள்வது இன்றைக்கு இருக்கிற பெற்றோர்கள் மற்றும் பெரியோர்களின் பொறுப்பாகும்.
    அவர்கள் தான் இதைக் கண்காணிக்க வேண்டும்.
    நம்முடைய பெரியோர்கள் ஸந்த்யா வந்தனத்தை ஒவ்வொரு காலத்திலும் தவறாமல் அதன் விதிப்படி செய்து வந்தார்கள். அதனால், அவர்கள் சகல வளங்களோடு வாழ்ந்தார்கள்.
    ஆனால், இப்போதோ, ஆங்கில படிப்பு படித்த அநேகம் பேர், ஸந்த்யா வந்தனத்தை முறையாகச் செய்வதாகத் தெரியவில்லை.
    ஒரு வேளை இதைச் செய்வது, நாகரீகக் குறைபாடு என்று கூட சிலர் நினைக்கிறார்கள்.
    ஸந்த்யா வ,ந்தனம் போன்ற கர்மாக்கள் முறையான படி ஒழுங்காக நடைபெறாததன் காரணமாக இப்போது லோக க்ஷேமத்தில் குறைவு ஏற்பட்டிருக்கின்ற காரியங்கள் தோன்றி இருக்கின்றன.
    ஒருவர் ஸந்த்யா வந்தனத்தை ஒழுங்காகச் செய்வதால் அவருக்கு மட்டுமே அந்த நற்பலன் போய்ச் சேருவதில்லை.
    உலகில் இருக்கின்ற அனைவருக்குமே அந்தப் பலன் போய்ச் சேருகிறது.
    இதனால் தான், ராஜாக்கள் தங்கள் ராஜ்யத்தில் வசித்து வந்த அந்தணர்களைப் போற்றினார்கள்.
    அவர்கள் தங்களது நித்ய கர்மாக்களைக் குறைவில்லாமல் செய்தால், நாட்டில் வளம் பெருகும் என்று அவர்களுக்குத் தேவையான வசதிகளைச் செய்து கொடுத்தார்கள்.
    தற்போதைய நிலையில் அக்னி மறையும் தருவாயில் இருக்கிறது.
    இனி மேலாவது எல்லோரும் ஸந்த்யா வந்தனத்தை ஒழுங்காகச் செய்ய ஆரம்பித்தால், மறைந்திருக்கும் அக்னி, பூர்ண ஜ்யோதியை அடையும் என்பதில் சந்தேகம் இல்லை.
    இதன் மூலம் உலக நலன் விருத்தி ஆகும். எல்லா ஜீவராசிகளும் சந்தோஷத்தை அடையும்.
    சைக்கிள் வேகமாகச் செலுத்தப்படும் போது, பெடல் பண்ணாது இருந்தாலும், கொஞ்சம் தூரத்திற்குத் தானாகவே சென்று கொண்டிருக்கும்.
    அது போல ஸந்த்யா வந்தனம் போன்ற கர்மாக்கள் செய்யப்பட்டுத் திடீரென்று நின்று விட்டாலும், முன்னோர்கள் செய்த கர்ம பலத்தைக் கொண்டு இப்போது நன்றாக இருப்பது போலத் தோற்றம் அளிக்கும். ஆனால், அது நிலையானதல்ல.
    தாமதமாகக் கிளம்பும் ஒருவன், தான் பிடிக்க வேண்டிய ரயிலைத் தவற விட நேர்ந்தால், போக வேண்டிய காரியம் நஷ்டம் ஆகிவிட்டதே என்பதற்காக ரொம்பவும் வருத்தப்படுகிறான்.
    ஆனால், உலக நலனுக்காகத் தான் செய்ய வேண்டிய ஸந்த்யா வந்தனக் கடமையை விட்டு விட்டால், அதற்காகக் கொஞ்சமும் வருத்தப்படாமல் இருக்கிறான்.
    காயத்ரி மந்திரத்தைத் தினமும் குறைவுபடாமலும், வசதிப்பட்டால் சொல்ல வேண்டிய அளவுக்கு அதிகமாகவும் ஒருவன் ஜபிக்க வேண்டும்.
    இந்த மந்திரம் மிகவும் சக்தி வாய்ந்தது.
    எவன் ஒருவன் ச்ரத்தையுடனும், பக்தியுடனும் காயத்ரி மந்திரத்தைத் தினமும் த்யான பூர்வமாக ஜபித்து வருகிறானோ, அவன் பக்தி ச்ரத்தையை அனுசரித்து, அதே ஜன்மாவிலோ அல்லது தொடர்ந்து வரும் ஜன்மாக்கள் ஒன்றிலோ மிகப் பெரிய பதவியை அடைகிறான்.

    Source: Face Book
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    Sri VB -

    Thanks for sharing the Facebook post about the virtues of doing Sandhyavandandam etc.



    The greatness of many prayers including Gayatri Mantram is that the prayer is not for an individual self.

    One translation of this Mantra is "We meditate on the effulgent glory of the divine Light; may He inspire/activate our understanding (intellect)"

    The key point to note is that it is expressed in plural using words such as 'We and Our' and not 'I and my' !



    Most people in today's age believe in individuality and selfishness. There are studies about behaviour of millennials that confirm that they are some of the most selfish minded people!

    Most people including those in India cannot see any reason to do rituals of yester years and that too for the sole welfare of others. It is also not possible to make a causal connection between acts of prayer and the welfare of the society. The appeal at best is in terms of faith and magic only, which is fine when a youngster is starting out and does not have the capacity to comprehend profound reasons.

    For many adults and young adults of today, the appeal to belief and faith will not work.

    The great news is that our teaching tradition does not require one to believe in anything either.

    In this thread, my posts are explicitly not about seeking anyone to believe what is quoted but to understand them. They are not my personal beliefs (which belong in the General Section) but articulation of well thought out reasons why Sandhyavandanam and other Nithya Karmas are important for an aspirant who seeks to understand the Truth of Isvara (and ourselves).
  19. All views expressed by the Members and Moderators here are that of the individuals only and do not reflect the official policy or view of the TamilBrahmins.com Website.
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