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Who are We? - Part II

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OP
OP
C
The above is the second part of my posting. I did post the first part but somehow it went missing. May be because I am new the blog is tricking me!

Dear Kamakshi,

I think you might not have had a chance to see my posting regarding your posts.

I have moved a couple of your posts to the articles section as they were very lengthy. I have retained one post to facilitate discussion and I have responded to the one that is retained in this thread.

There is one other person who has actually commented on your posts moved to the articles section. Do check that one out.

Regards,
Chintana
 
s. Chintana wrote:

Sure! The principle that operates behind any guru is that - one must pick ONE guru and follow that person's teachings till the end.

Beyond a point scriptural teachings cease to resemble academic texts. In other words one can read any number of texts but after one is convinced about the value of the words by a certain author/guru then one must try and make that person his/her guru.

One can usually have a clearer understanding of scriptures, their connections with yoga, varna and guna (and all else) if one begins to deepen one's understanding by practicing the words of one's guru.

As someone who has dabbled rather seriously in these matters, understanding our scriptures is NOT an academic exercise. The depth of meaning involved requires assimilation of concepts in incremental stages. One's understanding deepens in direct proportion to one's effort in building listening skills - and eventually 'seeing' skills (which is what Raja-Yoga-based meditation teaches).

To me, this is the reason that ancient schools in India were the way they were - the students had to have a personal relationship with their guru and the quality of training was usually decided by the guru - largely because certain levels of understanding are not possible by all souls. It was the job of the guru to help the student maximize his potential in developing deeper understanding and conquering disturbing karmic influences.

I guess I am trying to say that there are two levels to your question. The spiritual part and the social part. You seem to want answers to the social part from the spiritual part. And that is very much possible. But to completely understand what the spiritual part is about one needs a guru.

Others may be able to give you answers to the social part by pointing to references given by such gurus (which is what I am doing). But for anybody, to get that information first hand, one needs a guru.

Wow, Chintana! I agree with you on every word you have written re: Guru.
 
OP
OP
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s. Chintana wrote:

Sure! The principle that operates behind any guru is that - one must pick ONE guru and follow that person's teachings till the end.

Beyond a point scriptural teachings cease to resemble academic texts. In other words one can read any number of texts but after one is convinced about the value of the words by a certain author/guru then one must try and make that person his/her guru.

One can usually have a clearer understanding of scriptures, their connections with yoga, varna and guna (and all else) if one begins to deepen one's understanding by practicing the words of one's guru.

As someone who has dabbled rather seriously in these matters, understanding our scriptures is NOT an academic exercise. The depth of meaning involved requires assimilation of concepts in incremental stages. One's understanding deepens in direct proportion to one's effort in building listening skills - and eventually 'seeing' skills (which is what Raja-Yoga-based meditation teaches).

To me, this is the reason that ancient schools in India were the way they were - the students had to have a personal relationship with their guru and the quality of training was usually decided by the guru - largely because certain levels of understanding are not possible by all souls. It was the job of the guru to help the student maximize his potential in developing deeper understanding and conquering disturbing karmic influences.

I guess I am trying to say that there are two levels to your question. The spiritual part and the social part. You seem to want answers to the social part from the spiritual part. And that is very much possible. But to completely understand what the spiritual part is about one needs a guru.

Others may be able to give you answers to the social part by pointing to references given by such gurus (which is what I am doing). But for anybody, to get that information first hand, one needs a guru.

Wow, Chintana! I agree with you on every word you have written re: Guru.

Thanks Kamakshi.
 
L

lotus_quartz

Guest
Dear Chintana Madam ji,
The post above by Ms. Kamakshi pertains to the importance of Guru-Shishya parampara. This tackles the issue at spiritual levels whereas my poser in the thread "Perceptions of Brahmins - II" was at earthly levels of what do the Brahmins need to do in their day to day conduct of life in todays world. Perhaps the issue remains unanswered.

IMHO, the Guru-Shishya parampara is quite ok and important but to limits of reason only. In our past, there have been outstanding Gurus and scholars but their knowledge and wisdom failed to make impact on masses in most cases. Gurus tend to be clannish (you see plenty of such examples in Music world of various Gharanas) and at times jealous of each other. Contrast this with the modern university system of west where knowledge was seperated from the personal whims of Gurus, debated ,criticized and accepted by a larger community of wise people and finally documented with meticulous accuracy so as to be available to all and sundry who were interested in learning.

Even in Universities, students are being taught by various teachers and students have the right to dissent, debate and research on their own. Gurukal parampara generally tried to be autocratic and quelled the natural curirisity of disciple. No wonder, most of the great inventions and discoveries were made by western scientists and not by oriental disciple turned thinker/scientist etc.



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Dear Sri LQ,

I did smile at this posting as I understood the tone and the intent of the message. I did not by any means mean to intimidate anybody. I just shared my views that's all.

I do not expect everybody to have my kind of interests, that does not mean that others are any greater or lesser in the eyes of God.

I am happy to present effective arguments but am neither terribly proud of what I know nor embarrased by what I don't know. I don't know many, many things.

Actually what I meant was Kamakshi posted this in the Who are we? -II thread. I have responded to that. I meant to direct you there.

Hope to see your response there.

Regards,
Chintana

So please be assured
 
OP
OP
C
Dear Sri LQ,

The maroon italics below....

Dear Chintana Madam ji,

The post above by Ms. Kamakshi pertains to the importance of Guru-Shishya parampara. This tackles the issue at spiritual levels whereas my poser in the thread "Perceptions of Brahmins - II" was at earthly levels of what do the Brahmins need to do in their day to day conduct of life in todays world. Perhaps the issue remains unanswered.

Please refer to page 4 of this same thread. My response is the one above posting #39 (for some reason there is no number on my posting).


IMHO, the Guru-Shishya parampara is quite ok and important but to limits of reason only. In our past, there have been outstanding Gurus and scholars but their knowledge and wisdom failed to make impact on masses in most cases.

The idea of having a guru is for one's own self-development. Not to change the masses. Hinduism believes that if you change yourself you will change the world.

As for the 'masses' Hinduism is not so unkind to club all of faceless humanity into one category. The religion believes that each soul evolves differently and the kind of influences needed for each person will come his/her way. If a soul is ready for a guru, the guru will appear. Not otherwise. So the idea of 'masses' here is irrelevant.


Gurus tend to be clannish (you see plenty of such examples in Music world of various Gharanas) and at times jealous of each other.

When I use the term guru I am strictly referring to God-realized persons. My list of examples include Paramahasa Yogananda, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekananda, Paramacharya and Saint Thyagaraja.

Everybody else who calls oneself a 'teacher' is a pale shadow of these shining examples.

Contrast this with the modern university system of west where knowledge was seperated from the personal whims of Gurus, debated ,criticized and accepted by a larger community of wise people and finally documented with meticulous accuracy so as to be available to all and sundry who were interested in learning.

What do you think our upanishads are?

Are they not the finest collection of debates? Is is not the most wonderful foundation for any kind of religion? Every dissenting voice has a place in our religion. Whether you believe in God or not, you are still a Hindu. But if you don't go to Church you are not a 'good Christian'.

The West had to separate religion from everyday life because their religion did not permit debates.

It is natural for all human beings to have doubts and want to resolve them on their own terms.

Christianity the way it is currently practiced (and the way it was practiced in the past) is dogmatic and does not allow doubts. So the university system evolved the way it has.

In our tradition, look at what Adi Shankara did - he conquered dissenters through DEBATES. And how long ago did he do this? A couple of thousand years ago?

So we are not wanting in examples - we just need effort and a willingness to follow the good examples we have had.


Even in Universities, students are being taught by various teachers and students have the right to dissent, debate and research on their own. Gurukal parampara generally tried to be autocratic and quelled the natural curirisity of disciple. No wonder, most of the great inventions and discoveries were made by western scientists and not by oriental disciple turned thinker/scientist etc.

Please refer above answer.

In addition, from where do you think Bhaskaracharya and Aryabhatta came? How did we evolve this highly sophisticated system of mathematics and astrology?

As to 'most inventions and discoveries made by the West' - it appears so only because they have tried to conquer the world and usurped the inventions of other nations. Case in point, when the Allied Forces won World War II, America quietly got a hold of all the inventions that Germany did during the Nazi Regime. Did you know that?

Remember that our country has been constantly enslaved and subject to a lot of infighting. We have done a phenomenal job of holding on to some good things while continuing to be tolerant of malicious influences.

Even today the situation in India will change if the Government gets out of the way and lets people take charge of their lives. You will see inventions popping up in no time. There is no dearth of talent at home.

If you feel that the West is better than the East please understand that that is what the British wanted us to believe. We must consciously try to break that mental habit. Because after 60 years of freedom we are still not able to believe in our own merit and self-worth.

Do not hesitate to believe that you can challenge the world on anything - in your own terms - and can do a much better job if you base your actions on Indian ideas.


Regards,
Chintana
 
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KRS

Active member
Dear Sowbhagyavathi Chintana Ji,

I went back and reread both my postings and your responses. I am at a loss as to how to reply. We seem to agree on all the major points. Please correct me if I am wrong. If I am wrong, please lead me to a point where you need any clarification.

One thing to clarify, that I already have the answer from you. I thought that I have offended you by my response. Now I know it was not so, and I can move forward.

I have a comment on your response to Sri LQ's posting. While we should appreciate the contributions that our culture has made to the world, we should also appreciate the contributions that every other civilization has made to the world. I agree that the Occidentalists, in general have downgraded the contributions made by the Orientals to the human evolution. But at the same time, we as the people of Indian origin should learn from what is good elsewhere.

By the way, I will continue this thread with my next posting, if you do not have any questions that I have to answer to.

Pranams,
KRS
 
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OP
OP
C
Dear Sri KRS,

Dear Sowbhagyavathi Chintana Ji,

I went back and reread both my postings and your responses. I am at a loss as to how to reply. We seem to agree on all the major points. Please correct me if I am wrong. If I am wrong, please lead me to a point where you need any clarification.

I don't know which specific postings you are referring to - would you be able to give me the posting numbers?

In general although we don't disagree per se we seem to have different emphasis. Yours seem motivated by the classic Indian tendency to 'recognize our mistakes' and 'learn from others'. Mine are motivated by contemporary concerns - i.e., we have done enough of that, now we need to know what about us is good so that that forms a solid basis for our sense of 'Who we are?'.

As someone who came to the US not too long ago I remember only too clearly how I was focused on strongly positivistic messages in order to change my life and situations. I was quite intolerant of critical views. I was a good person (according to me) and had done many things by the book and wanted people to tell me what was wrong with what I believed (the media messages had made me think that way). It is only after getting to the US and being comfortable where I am, that I am even able to think of accomodating other points of views and indulging in debates.

Our brethren in India do need strongly positivistic/encouraging messages right now, in my view. There is no one there to do that for them. With all the nonsensical media messages flying around there is not enough emphasis on what is good about what we have. I think we need to recognize our own goodness and celebrate it so that those aspects will continue to live.


One thing to clarify, that I already have the answer from you. I thought that I have offended you by my response. Now I know it was not so, and I can move forward.

Yes, please. Do proceed.

I have a comment on your response to Sri LQ's posting. While we should appreciate the contributions that our culture has made to the world, we should also appreciate the contributions that every other civilization has made to the world.

Again, the emphasis here is different. An American would never think like this. If ever there was anything important/useful happening in the world, they would be quick to figure out what part America and Americans played in that and the media would debate out how they can do a better job of it or how they can stay out of it. However much other countries might have helped Americans will distinctly devote time to discussing their specific contributions. The focus is always on themselves.

So I am kind of borrowing a bit of that sentiment here for our own good because we need to focus on ourselves today. Yeah, other cultures have given important contributions and we need to be mindful of that. But I really only care about what we have done and where we are going. Why? Because all of the other fine cultures who have contributed to the world don't care about my culture and community. So when I am discussing my community's specific contribution and role in the world I will never want to dilute it by including someone else, who doesn't care about us, in the credits.


I agree that the Occidentalists, in general have downgraded the contributions made by the Orientals to the human evolution. But at the same time, we as the people of Indian origin should learn from what is good elsewhere.

Again, classic emphasis problem.

By the way, I will continue this thread with my next posting, if you do not have any questions that I have to answer to.

I don't have 'questions' but I will continue to highlight the emphasis part.

Pranams,
KRS

Regards,
Chintana
 
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KRS

Active member
Relationship between Dharma and Karma

Folks,

Isa Upanishad (one of the major 10 Upanishads) is the shortest (only 18 verses), but contains ALL one should know when discussing about Dharma and Karma. Below is a translation by Swami Nikhilananda:

Invocation
Om. That is full; this is full. This fullness has been projected from that fullness. When this fullness merges in that fullness, all that remains is fullness. Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!

1 All this—whatever exists in this changing universe—should be covered by the Lord. Protect the Self by renunciation. Lust not after any man's wealth.
2 If a man wishes to live a hundred years on this earth, he should live performing action. For you, who cherish such a desire and regard yourself as a man, there is no other way by which you can keep work from clinging to you.
3 Verily, those worlds of the asuras are enveloped in blind darkness; and thereto they all repair after death who are slayers of Atman.
4 That non—dual Atman, though never stirring, is swifter than the mind. The senses cannot reach It, for It moves ever in front. Though standing still, It overtakes others who are running. Because of Atman, Vayu, the World Soul apportions the activities of all.
5 It moves and moves not; It is far and likewise near. It is inside all this and It is outside all this.
6 The wise man beholds all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings; for that reason he does not hate anyone.
7 To the seer, all things have verily become the Self: what delusion, what sorrow, can there be for him who beholds that oneness?
8 It is He who pervades all—He who is bright and bodiless, without scar or sinews, pure and by evil unpierced; who is the Seer, omniscient, transcendent and uncreated. He has duly allotted to the eternal World—Creators their respective duties.
9 Into a blind darkness they enter who are devoted to ignorance (rituals); but into a greater darkness they enter who engage in knowledge of a deity alone.
10 One thing, they say, is obtained from knowledge; another, they say, from ignorance. Thus we have heard from the wise who have taught us this.
11 He who is aware that both knowledge and ignorance should be pursued together, overcomes death through ignorance and obtains immortality through knowledge.
12 Into a blind darkness they enter who worship only the unmanifested prakriti; but into a greater darkness they enter who worship the manifested Hiranyagarbha.
13 One thing, they say, is obtained from the worship of the manifested; another, they say, from the worship of the unmanifested. Thus we have heard from the wise who taught us this.
14 He who knows that both the unmanifested prakriti and the manifested Hiranyagarbha should be worshipped together, overcomes death by the worship of Hiranyagarbha and obtains immortality through devotion to prakriti.
15 The door of the Truth is covered by a golden disc. Open it, O Nourisher! Remove it so that I who have been worshipping the Truth may behold It.
16 O Nourisher, lone Traveller of the sky! Controller! O Sun, Offspring of Prajapati! Gather Your rays; withdraw Your light. I would see, through Your grace, that form of Yours which is the fairest. I am indeed He, that Purusha, who dwells there.
17 Now may my breath return to the all—pervading, immortal Prana! May this body be burnt to ashes! Om. O mind, remember, remember all that I have done.
18 O Fire, lead us by the good path for the enjoyment of the fruit of our action. You know, O god, all our deeds. Destroy our sin of deceit. We offer, by words, our salutations to you.
End of Isa Upanishad
The Peace Chant
Om. That is full; this is full. This fullness has been projected from that fullness. When this fullness merges in that fullness, all that remains is fullness. "

Please pay particular attention to verses #1, #2, #6, #10 through #14. In a way the last stanzas are depressing and are recited at the time of Hindu funerals, but this Upanishad, in my opinion, teaches us the essence of our Vedas.

We will next talk about what a 'Brahmin' dharma is from the viewpoint of Varnashrama.

Pranams,
KRS
 
OP
OP
C
Dear Sri KRS,

This is great! Thanks for posting it.

What is Hiranyagarbha?

Does this Upanishad also say how to get to the ultimate point?

Regards,
Chintana

Folks,

Isa Upanishad (one of the major 10 Upanishads) is the shortest (only 18 verses), but contains ALL one should know when discussing about Dharma and Karma. Below is a translation by Swami Nikhilananda:

Invocation
Om. That is full; this is full. This fullness has been projected from that fullness. When this fullness merges in that fullness, all that remains is fullness. Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!

1 All this—whatever exists in this changing universe—should be covered by the Lord. Protect the Self by renunciation. Lust not after any man's wealth.
2 If a man wishes to live a hundred years on this earth, he should live performing action. For you, who cherish such a desire and regard yourself as a man, there is no other way by which you can keep work from clinging to you.
3 Verily, those worlds of the asuras are enveloped in blind darkness; and thereto they all repair after death who are slayers of Atman.
4 That non—dual Atman, though never stirring, is swifter than the mind. The senses cannot reach It, for It moves ever in front. Though standing still, It overtakes others who are running. Because of Atman, Vayu, the World Soul apportions the activities of all.
5 It moves and moves not; It is far and likewise near. It is inside all this and It is outside all this.
6 The wise man beholds all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings; for that reason he does not hate anyone.
7 To the seer, all things have verily become the Self: what delusion, what sorrow, can there be for him who beholds that oneness?
8 It is He who pervades all—He who is bright and bodiless, without scar or sinews, pure and by evil unpierced; who is the Seer, omniscient, transcendent and uncreated. He has duly allotted to the eternal World—Creators their respective duties.
9 Into a blind darkness they enter who are devoted to ignorance (rituals); but into a greater darkness they enter who engage in knowledge of a deity alone.
10 One thing, they say, is obtained from knowledge; another, they say, from ignorance. Thus we have heard from the wise who have taught us this.
11 He who is aware that both knowledge and ignorance should be pursued together, overcomes death through ignorance and obtains immortality through knowledge.
12 Into a blind darkness they enter who worship only the unmanifested prakriti; but into a greater darkness they enter who worship the manifested Hiranyagarbha.
13 One thing, they say, is obtained from the worship of the manifested; another, they say, from the worship of the unmanifested. Thus we have heard from the wise who taught us this.
14 He who knows that both the unmanifested prakriti and the manifested Hiranyagarbha should be worshipped together, overcomes death by the worship of Hiranyagarbha and obtains immortality through devotion to prakriti.
15 The door of the Truth is covered by a golden disc. Open it, O Nourisher! Remove it so that I who have been worshipping the Truth may behold It.
16 O Nourisher, lone Traveller of the sky! Controller! O Sun, Offspring of Prajapati! Gather Your rays; withdraw Your light. I would see, through Your grace, that form of Yours which is the fairest. I am indeed He, that Purusha, who dwells there.
17 Now may my breath return to the all—pervading, immortal Prana! May this body be burnt to ashes! Om. O mind, remember, remember all that I have done.
18 O Fire, lead us by the good path for the enjoyment of the fruit of our action. You know, O god, all our deeds. Destroy our sin of deceit. We offer, by words, our salutations to you.
End of Isa Upanishad
The Peace Chant
Om. That is full; this is full. This fullness has been projected from that fullness. When this fullness merges in that fullness, all that remains is fullness. "

Please pay particular attention to verses #1, #2, #6, #10 through #14. In a way the last stanzas are depressing and are recited at the time of Hindu funerals, but this Upanishad, in my opinion, teaches us the essence of our Vedas.

We will next talk about what a 'Brahmin' dharma is from the viewpoint of Varnashrama.

Pranams,
KRS
 
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KRS

Active member
Dear Sowbhagyavathi Chintana Ji,

Hiranyagarbha is roughly translated as the original 'golden seed' from which the Brahma was born. In this context, it means 'all that is manifest', while Prakrithi here means 'all that is unmanifest'.

By the way Rg Veda, hymn 10:121 cites Hiranyagharba by a beautiful sloka.

Here is a Sufi quote: "
"My place is nowhere, my trace traceless. It is neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved. I have put duality aside, I have found the two worlds to be One. One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I invoke. -Rumi."

In Christianity this concept is expressed by the ideas of "works" and "faith". One needs both to attain salvation.

Regarding your second question on 'what Isa says about how to get to the ultimate point' - the whole Upanishad is quoted above (only 18 verses). But there are various interpretations of the meaning of the verses and in my mind, the 'two fold' ways are indicated here. First with 'renunciation' and doing one's Dharma and the next by Samkhya, knowing both Avidya and Vidya.

Pranams,
KRS
 
C

chanakya

Guest
I have been looking for 'Who we are partI'. Still I am not able to find it. As I feel this in one of the important topic which needs discussion and where every member should give his contribution, Could the moderator put in a visible thread. Another thing which I feel is there are some out of topic discussions. KRSji ,Chintanaji and others have given valuable inputs, but I am not able to understand how it relates to the thread heading. It is good to start the next thread with the summary of the previous thread as this one has started. I am not able to understand where the dicussion is going on? Could anyone help me out. KRS ji has given valuable information from upanishads, about our vedas and its meanings. I should really appreciate it. But my doubt is will that satisfy the doubts of present younger generation and what value addition will it give. I may be wrong but still I`m presenting my opinion. In this present world there is only Jati Brahmanas and I think this forum is to think of the uplifting/helping the fellow Jatibrahmanas. I am sorry but the truth is even many Archakas cannot be called as the Brahmanas and one eg is they use temples and our rituals as a source of business. So bringing upanishads or vedas to identify who Brahmins are will not justify and I feel this will even confuse our youths. I feel the discussion will be more useful for our members if it revolves around topics like who all can be considered by us as brahmins. A suggestion like Who all born to both brahmin parents or anyone of the parents being brahmins and who are willing to identify themselves with brahmins can be treated as brahmins. But I totally agree that we need to know the vedas and upanishads.And our good fellow members input is valuable in knowing what lies in it and also it can be considered a binding force.
As Mr.cho said there is no Brahmin in the world currently, I think we need to bring out some middle path,flexible in following like we have to have our poonnul, Should know gayathri manthram and practises which can be even followed easily etc.
These are my doubts and thoughts. Please let me know the members opinion.
 
OP
OP
C
Dear Chanakya,

I have been looking for 'Who we are partI'. Still I am not able to find it. As I feel this in one of the important topic which needs discussion and where every member should give his contribution, Could the moderator put in a visible thread.

It is on page three of the General Discussions section under the title Who are we?

Another thing which I feel is there are some out of topic discussions. KRSji ,Chintanaji and others have given valuable inputs, but I am not able to understand how it relates to the thread heading.

Every discussion has a tendency to start with a big issue and get narrowed into smaller issues depending on what the posters are debating on. So please expect big discussions to move into smaller topics. That is the nature of online forum discussions. So when you read them make sure you read the before and after - not all posters respond to all other posters. Sometimes they are selective about who they respond to. Such things cannot be regulated and it will be hard to make every posting relevant to the broader topic of the thread. After all this is not an essay.

It is good to start the next thread with the summary of the previous thread as this one has started. I am not able to understand where the dicussion is going on? Could anyone help me out. KRS ji has given valuable information from upanishads, about our vedas and its meanings. I should really appreciate it. But my doubt is will that satisfy the doubts of present younger generation and what value addition will it give. I may be wrong but still I`m presenting my opinion.

You can and should raise these questions. They are appreciated.

In this present world there is only Jati Brahmanas and I think this forum is to think of the uplifting/helping the fellow Jatibrahmanas. I am sorry but the truth is even many Archakas cannot be called as the Brahmanas and one eg is they use temples and our rituals as a source of business. So bringing upanishads or vedas to identify who Brahmins are will not justify and I feel this will even confuse our youths. I feel the discussion will be more useful for our members if it revolves around topics like who all can be considered by us as brahmins. A suggestion like Who all born to both brahmin parents or anyone of the parents being brahmins and who are willing to identify themselves with brahmins can be treated as brahmins. But I totally agree that we need to know the vedas and upanishads.And our good fellow members input is valuable in knowing what lies in it and also it can be considered a binding force.

Actually we've addressed this issue in one of our other threads. Intra Human Marriages, Hinduism vs. Rest and Who are we? (part I) - should be one of the three if I am not mistaken.

As Mr.cho said there is no Brahmin in the world currently, I think we need to bring out some middle path,flexible in following like we have to have our poonnul, Should know gayathri manthram and practises which can be even followed easily etc.
These are my doubts and thoughts. Please let me know the members opinion.

I am glad you are bringing this up. I invite other posters to respond to this.

Regards,
Chintana
 

KRS

Active member
Dear Sri Chanakya Ji,

I started the thread 'Who are we?' precisely to answer the questions you are asking. One has to understand where we are in terms of our religious/cultural beliefs and come to the current situation where we are caught between the Jatis and Secularism.

To understand this situation we need to go back to the Vedas and Upanishads to undestand what they say about us, as people. I started with the creation of four Varnas and then moved to define Dharma and the Karma Yoga. We have just finished this with the posting on Isa Upanishad and in our next posting we will move to discussing Varnashrama Dharma.

These are all very necessary to understand, because our religion has gone through millenia, through the Yugas, and we need to apply the teachings to the current situation. We will examine the Varnashrama Dharma, and Brahminism in particular and will move on to the recent times and understand what our current Hindu 'heavy weights' have said.

Believe me, there is a method to this madness!

Like Sowbhagyavathi Chintana Ji, I would invite you and others to respond and express your thoughts.

Thank you for your thoughtful posting.

Pranams,
KRS
 

KRS

Active member
What is the Varnashrama Dharma for a Brahmin

Folks,

I often wondered about what a Brahmin's life would have been like in the old times. Even as recent as the beginning of the British rule the following seems to be the prescribed daily routine for a Brahmin Grahastha (From "A day in the life of a Brahmin" - Hindu Dharma, by Kanchi Maha Periaval):

"Let me now speak about a Brahmin's daily religious life according to the sastras. It is indeed a harsh routine. A Brahmin must get up five nadikas, or two hours, before sunrise. "Panca -panca-usatkale", so it is said. "Panca-panca" means five*five - "panca-panca usatkale"denotes during the 25th nadika". From sunset to sunrise is 30 nadikas. So a Brahmin must rise during the 25th nadika- from this time to sunrise is "Brahma muhurta".

After getting up, he cleans his teeth, bathes in cold water and performs sandhyavandana and japa. Next he goes through aupasana and agnihotra. These rites come under "devayajna", sacrifices to the gods. Next is "Brahmayajna", the daily study and chanting of the Vedas. As part of this rite there are some tarpanas or libations to be offered. (For people following certain sutras these come later). If daytime is divided into eight parts one part would have been over by now.


In the second part of the daytime, the Brahmin must teach his disciples the Vedas-this is adhyapana. Afterwards, he must gather flowers himself for the puja he is to perform. Since he is not expected to earn a salary- and if he does not own any land received as gift - he must beg for his food and also for the materials for the conduct of various sacrifices. The Brahmin has the right to beg, but it is a restrictive right because it means that he can take only the minimum needed for the upkeep and what is required for the performance of the rituals. A considerable part of what he receives as gifts is to be paid as daksina to the priests officiating at the sacrifices he performs.


Of the six "occupations" of the Brahmin one is "pratigraha" or accepting gifts. Another is "dana", making donations to others. It is asked why Brahmins alone have the right to receive gifts. The answer is that they are also enjoined to make gifts to others. Indeed, the Brahmin accepts gifts for the purpose of the charity he himself has to render. This apart, he has also to make gifts during the rites to be mentioned next, "atithya" and "bhutayajna".

After the second part of the day and a portion of the third have been spent thus, the Brahmin must bathe again and perform madhyahnika. Next he does pitr-tarpana, that is he offers libations to the fathers; and this rite is followed by homa and puja. In the latter rite he must dedicate to the deities all those objects that he perceives with his five senses(the five jnanendriyas). It must now be midday and the fourth part of the daytime will have been over and the Brahmin must have completed the rites meant for the deities, the Vedas and the fathers.


Of the five great sacrifices or panca-mahayajnas, two remain- manusyayajna or honouring and feeding the guests and "bhutayajna" which includes bali to the creatures of the earth and feeding the poor (vaisvadeva). Rice is offered in the sacrificial fire and also as bali( that is without being placed in the fire). In bali, food is placed in different parts of the house to the chanting of mantras- food meant for outcastes, beggars, dogs, birds, etc. In the manusya-yajna, guests are entertained and it is also known as atithya. The Brahmin has his mealtime only after going through these rites. Until then he must not take anything except perhaps some milk or buttermilk, but never coffee or any snacks. If he has any other sacrifices to conduct, paka, havir or soma, his mealtime will be further delayed. If he has a sraddha to perform also he will have to eat later than usual. A sraddha ceremony must be commenced only in the "aparahna": I will tell you what it means.


Daytime, we have seen, is divided into eight parts. But it can also be divided into five, each of six nadikas. If the sun rises at 6, 6 to 8. 24 is morning or "pratah-kala"; 8. 24 to 10. 48 is "sangava-kala"; and 10. 48 to 1. 12 is "madhyahnika". From 1. 12 to 3. 36 it is "aparahna"; and from 3. 36 to 6 (or sunset) is "sayam-kala". (The time close to sunset is "pradosa". "Dosa" means night, the prefix "pra" meaning "pre" or "before". The English "pre' is derived from "pra". Pradosa thus is the time before night).

I said that the time for sraddha is aparahna. Rites meant for the gods may be performed only after the completion of the sraddha. After his meal, the Brahmin must read the Puranas. Next he has the duty of teaching members of other castes their hereditary vocations, arts and crafts. He does not have a moment for rest or relaxation. For soon it will be time for his evening bath, sandhyavandana, sacrifices and japa. Vaisvadeva has to be performed at night also before the Brahmin has his meal and retires to bed. On most nights he takes only light food consisting of fruits, milk, etc. On Ekadasi he has to fast the whole day
.

There is not a moment without work. It is clear that, if the Brahmin created the sastras, it is not because he wanted to live a life of ease and comfort. On the contrary, the sastras impose on him a life of hardship and austerity, a life of utter physical and mental discipline."


And so it is written.......

Pranams,
KRS
 
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Dear Sri KRS,

Dear Sowbhagyavathi Chintana Ji,

Hiranyagarbha is roughly translated as the original 'golden seed' from which the Brahma was born.

Thank you.

In this context, it means 'all that is manifest', while Prakrithi here means 'all that is unmanifest'.

I was under the impression that 'Purusha' is Soul and 'Prakrithi' is Nature. By implication Purusha is that which is more unmanifest in lesser evolved souls and Prakrithi is that which is more manifest.


By the way Rg Veda, hymn 10:121 cites Hiranyagharba by a beautiful sloka.

Here is a Sufi quote: "
"My place is nowhere, my trace traceless. It is neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved. I have put duality aside, I have found the two worlds to be One. One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I invoke. -Rumi."

Beautiful! Thank you.

In Christianity this concept is expressed by the ideas of "works" and "faith". One needs both to attain salvation.

Agreed. In India we forgot the 'work' part and began investing too much in the spiritual part.

Regarding your second question on 'what Isa says about how to get to the ultimate point' - the whole Upanishad is quoted above (only 18 verses). But there are various interpretations of the meaning of the verses and in my mind, the 'two fold' ways are indicated here. First with 'renunciation' and doing one's Dharma and the next by Samkhya, knowing both Avidya and Vidya.

So what are the intervening steps to this 'renunciation' and 'samkhya'. How does one do it?


Pranams,
KRS

Regards,
Chintana
 
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Dharma and Karma - I

Dear Sri KRS,

I am going to take 5 points at a time on the Isa Upanishad that you quoted.

Folks,

Isa Upanishad (one of the major 10 Upanishads) is the shortest (only 18 verses), but contains ALL one should know when discussing about Dharma and Karma. Below is a translation by Swami Nikhilananda:

Invocation
Om. That is full; this is full. This fullness has been projected from that fullness. When this fullness merges in that fullness, all that remains is fullness. Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!

What is 'That' and what is 'This'?


1 All this—whatever exists in this changing universe—should be covered by the Lord. Protect the Self by renunciation. Lust not after any man's wealth.

'Whatever exists in this changing universe' - Is this the definition of 'This'?

Why is renunciation and lusting after another person's wealth mentioned in the same line? Is one the opposite of the other?


2 If a man wishes to live a hundred years on this earth, he should live performing action. For you, who cherish such a desire and regard yourself as a man, there is no other way by which you can keep work from clinging to you.

Is this dharma or karma?

3 Verily, those worlds of the asuras are enveloped in blind darkness; and thereto they all repair after death who are slayers of Atman.

'Those worlds of the asuras' - so the author(s) has/have seen light and are writing/speaking from a place of having 'seen' IT.

Those who have not seen the world are in blind darkness. But this line says they are asuras who have not seen light.

Does this mean we are all asuras? I, for one, have certainly not seen IT.


4 That non—dual Atman, though never stirring, is swifter than the mind. The senses cannot reach It, for It moves ever in front. Though standing still, It overtakes others who are running. Because of Atman, Vayu, the World Soul apportions the activities of all.

5 It moves and moves not; It is far and likewise near. It is inside all this and It is outside all this.


OK. I got the meaning of Atman. These two lines are quite descriptive, giving definitions of what IT is and what IT is not. Point taken.
 
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Dharma and Karma - II

Continuation.

6 The wise man beholds all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings; for that reason he does not hate anyone.

Definition of wise man and why he does not hate. OK.

7 To the seer, all things have verily become the Self: what delusion, what sorrow, can there be for him who beholds that oneness?

This line says how a true seer perceives the world. So it is trying to give a model for any aspirant. Ok.

8 It is He who pervades all—He who is bright and bodiless, without scar or sinews, pure and by evil unpierced; who is the Seer, omniscient, transcendent and uncreated. He has duly allotted to the eternal World—Creators their respective duties.

I am confused. So far the reference was it IT or THAT and THIS. When/Why did IT become He?

He has allotted duties to Creators in the eternal world - Is this a reference to other Gods?


9 Into a blind darkness they enter who are devoted to ignorance (rituals); but into a greater darkness they enter who engage in knowledge of a deity alone.

Is the word 'alone' missing in the first part of the statement on rituals? Because rituals do serve the purpose of external purification.

OK. So if you practice rituals and or worship a deity you are still in ignorance. So how do you get to Light?

10 One thing, they say, is obtained from knowledge; another, they say, from ignorance. Thus we have heard from the wise who have taught us this.

I don't get this. What is this 'one thing' and 'another'?
 
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Dharma and Karma - III

Continuation.

11 He who is aware that both knowledge and ignorance should be pursued together, overcomes death through ignorance and obtains immortality through knowledge.

Again very confusing. How can one pursue knowledge and ignorance simultaneously?

12 Into a blind darkness they enter who worship only the unmanifested prakriti; but into a greater darkness they enter who worship the manifested Hiranyagarbha.

What is unmanifested Prakriti?

What is manifested Hiranyagarbha?

13 One thing, they say, is obtained from the worship of the manifested; another, they say, from the worship of the unmanifested. Thus we have heard from the wise who taught us this.

Which is which?

14 He who knows that both the unmanifested prakriti and the manifested Hiranyagarbha should be worshipped together, overcomes death by the worship of Hiranyagarbha and obtains immortality through devotion to prakriti.

Some clarifications to my earlier questions should cover this.

15 The door of the Truth is covered by a golden disc. Open it, O Nourisher! Remove it so that I who have been worshipping the Truth may behold It.

What is the meaning of the following - 'door', 'golden disc', 'nourisher'? How does one open that door?
 
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Dharma and Karma - IV

Continuation.

16 O Nourisher, lone Traveller of the sky! Controller! O Sun, Offspring of Prajapati! Gather Your rays; withdraw Your light. I would see, through Your grace, that form of Yours which is the fairest. I am indeed He, that Purusha, who dwells there.

Really, who is this nourisher? why is s/he a lone traveller, that too of the Sky? Why is this person a controller and a sun?

Who is Prajapati?

Looks like Purusha here is used in the sense I mentioned in the part I of this posting - Purusha is the Soul.

17 Now may my breath return to the all—pervading, immortal Prana! May this body be burnt to ashes! Om. O mind, remember, remember all that I have done.

What is the difference between breath and Prana?

Why should the mind remember everything one has done? Is that possible, in any case?


18 O Fire, lead us by the good path for the enjoyment of the fruit of our action. You know, O god, all our deeds. Destroy our sin of deceit. We offer, by words, our salutations to you.

If we are to dedicate the fruit of our actions to IT/HIM it technically means we become mentally mature to accept whatever comes as a result, good or bad. So why is this verse saying that we should be led to the enjoyment of the fruit of our actions? Where the act of renunciation here?



End of Isa Upanishad
The Peace Chant
Om. That is full; this is full. This fullness has been projected from that fullness. When this fullness merges in that fullness, all that remains is fullness. "

Please pay particular attention to verses #1, #2, #6, #10 through #14. In a way the last stanzas are depressing and are recited at the time of Hindu funerals, but this Upanishad, in my opinion, teaches us the essence of our Vedas.

Why do you feel that the last stanzas are depressing?
 
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Are these the duties of a Brahmachari, Grihasti, Vanaprasti or a Sannyasi?

Where are the 'duties' for women?

Folks,

I often wondered about what a Brahmin's life would have been like in the old times. Even as recent as the beginning of the British rule the following seems to be the prescribed daily routine for a Brahmin Grahastha (From "A day in the life of a Brahmin" - Hindu Dharma, by Kanchi Maha Periaval):

"Let me now speak about a Brahmin's daily religious life according to the sastras. It is indeed a harsh routine. A Brahmin must get up five nadikas, or two hours, before sunrise. "Panca -panca-usatkale", so it is said. "Panca-panca" means five*five - "panca-panca usatkale"denotes during the 25th nadika". From sunset to sunrise is 30 nadikas. So a Brahmin must rise during the 25th nadika- from this time to sunrise is "Brahma muhurta".

After getting up, he cleans his teeth, bathes in cold water and performs sandhyavandana and japa. Next he goes through aupasana and agnihotra. These rites come under "devayajna", sacrifices to the gods. Next is "Brahmayajna", the daily study and chanting of the Vedas. As part of this rite there are some tarpanas or libations to be offered. (For people following certain sutras these come later). If daytime is divided into eight parts one part would have been over by now.


In the second part of the daytime, the Brahmin must teach his disciples the Vedas-this is adhyapana. Afterwards, he must gather flowers himself for the puja he is to perform. Since he is not expected to earn a salary- and if he does not own any land received as gift - he must beg for his food and also for the materials for the conduct of various sacrifices. The Brahmin has the right to beg, but it is a restrictive right because it means that he can take only the minimum needed for the upkeep and what is required for the performance of the rituals. A considerable part of what he receives as gifts is to be paid as daksina to the priests officiating at the sacrifices he performs.


Of the six "occupations" of the Brahmin one is "pratigraha" or accepting gifts. Another is "dana", making donations to others. It is asked why Brahmins alone have the right to receive gifts. The answer is that they are also enjoined to make gifts to others. Indeed, the Brahmin accepts gifts for the purpose of the charity he himself has to render. This apart, he has also to make gifts during the rites to be mentioned next, "atithya" and "bhutayajna".

After the second part of the day and a portion of the third have been spent thus, the Brahmin must bathe again and perform madhyahnika. Next he does pitr-tarpana, that is he offers libations to the fathers; and this rite is followed by homa and puja. In the latter rite he must dedicate to the deities all those objects that he perceives with his five senses(the five jnanendriyas). It must now be midday and the fourth part of the daytime will have been over and the Brahmin must have completed the rites meant for the deities, the Vedas and the fathers.


Of the five great sacrifices or panca-mahayajnas, two remain- manusyayajna or honouring and feeding the guests and "bhutayajna" which includes bali to the creatures of the earth and feeding the poor (vaisvadeva). Rice is offered in the sacrificial fire and also as bali( that is without being placed in the fire). In bali, food is placed in different parts of the house to the chanting of mantras- food meant for outcastes, beggars, dogs, birds, etc. In the manusya-yajna, guests are entertained and it is also known as atithya. The Brahmin has his mealtime only after going through these rites. Until then he must not take anything except perhaps some milk or buttermilk, but never coffee or any snacks. If he has any other sacrifices to conduct, paka, havir or soma, his mealtime will be further delayed. If he has a sraddha to perform also he will have to eat later than usual. A sraddha ceremony must be commenced only in the "aparahna": I will tell you what it means.


Daytime, we have seen, is divided into eight parts. But it can also be divided into five, each of six nadikas. If the sun rises at 6, 6 to 8. 24 is morning or "pratah-kala"; 8. 24 to 10. 48 is "sangava-kala"; and 10. 48 to 1. 12 is "madhyahnika". From 1. 12 to 3. 36 it is "aparahna"; and from 3. 36 to 6 (or sunset) is "sayam-kala". (The time close to sunset is "pradosa". "Dosa" means night, the prefix "pra" meaning "pre" or "before". The English "pre' is derived from "pra". Pradosa thus is the time before night).

I said that the time for sraddha is aparahna. Rites meant for the gods may be performed only after the completion of the sraddha. After his meal, the Brahmin must read the Puranas. Next he has the duty of teaching members of other castes their hereditary vocations, arts and crafts. He does not have a moment for rest or relaxation. For soon it will be time for his evening bath, sandhyavandana, sacrifices and japa. Vaisvadeva has to be performed at night also before the Brahmin has his meal and retires to bed. On most nights he takes only light food consisting of fruits, milk, etc. On Ekadasi he has to fast the whole day
.

There is not a moment without work. It is clear that, if the Brahmin created the sastras, it is not because he wanted to live a life of ease and comfort. On the contrary, the sastras impose on him a life of hardship and austerity, a life of utter physical and mental discipline."


And so it is written.......

Pranams,
KRS
 
OP
OP
C
Life is tough for all those brahmanas who follow the rule book to the core.
Getting up at 2 AM ? Ekadasi fasting ??

But isn't anything done without a sense of understanding and joy, a torture?

By implication when something done with a sense of understanding and joy should be a pleasure!
 
L

lotus_quartz

Guest
Fine. But the rule book should have undergone change with changing times to be relevant to the world.

Pursuit of knowledge is what gives delight and pleasure (to the brahmanas). Only, what is to be categorised as 'knowledge' can not remain static but must change.
 
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