Hindu dharma

Over a period of time, I had refelcted upon my religion and spirituality, and that has been a very enlightening journey. There were times, when I considered that religion is cause of all problems, and also periods where I thought that religion stands in way of progress and modernity. But I had moved on from those times.

I have realised that my religion doesnt stand in way of progress, rather complement it. I do think to be a progressive liberal person, you dont have to be an atheist or agnostic, though it is fashionable. I have always wondered why ‘educated’ hindu people spoke degradingly about their own religion, or refused to defend it when attacked. Most of the time it pointed me towards the fact that there is a lack of awareness and clarity of their own religion in their mind.

It has been great journey in rediscovering my religion, to have friends who set me into thinking, gave good criticisms and helped me along the journey. Sanotsh also had been of quite good help in understanding my religion better. Further to his entry on religion, he has wrote more about hindu dharma and its spirituality with clarity.

One of my friends told me an interesting story, when I was in school. It was about the pearl oysters. Pearl oysters are creatures that live in sea beds and river bottoms. He said that they would come up, take in a drop of water, and go down to the sea bed. Now the little drop is processed within its shells for years together and after a series of metamorphosis, the drop gets transformed into the precious gemstone which we call the pearl.

There is a beautiful philosophy contained in this little piece of fiction. Each great teaching of the upanishads,the Bhagawat Gita and the other sacred verses is like that tiny little drop of water. They are unharvested pearls, perhaps. When a layman receives them, it remains the same drop till his end, he never grows beyond this level.

Noble souls receive them, carry the same in their hearts, nurture them in their thoughts, words, and deeds, until at last, their life becomes a manifestation of the ideal they behold. The small little drop of water has now turned into a pearl within them. The world has now something to receive from them.

We have all heard the principles of “detachment” in the Gita and the teachings of the upanishads like “Sathyam Vadha, Dharmam Chara, Mathru Devo bhava, Pithru Devo Bhava, Acharya Devo Bhava, Adhiti Devo Bhava, ithyupanishadu”. “Sathyam Vadha” this sweet little verse , so simple and straight in its form, and still so profound in its meaning and potency. Itis from Thaithireeya upanishad. I many times wonder, how the sages, who have many a time composed complicated poetic constructions at various contexts, become extremely simple and straight in their language when they wish to impart invaluable instructions to humanity.

Now as a disciple learns this little verse, at first it sinks into him in its seedular form(tatwam). As he begins to practice this, his mind becomes more disciplined. He realizes that he would utter truth alone, every time he speaks. Odds shall come in life, many times, mind may be challenged, tempted, forced, to utter a lie, but still, he overcomes them with steady determination and steadfastedness of his mind. (Fa-hein has recorded the life of early brahmins who would refuse to say a lie, even if that would mean that their lives were at stake).

The light of his ideal receives a newer glow within him, that is the reward he receives for these acts of perseverence. Slowly even the very thoughts that come to his mind will be the essence of pure truth. The perspective with which he sees his own ideal, acquires newer dimensions. As his principle sinks inward, from the conscious to the subconscious realms of mind, even the most dormant impressions, feelings, attitudes and passions too will contain truth and nothing but pure grains of truth.

“As You think, so you speak, As You speak, so you act, and your thoughts come from the depths of truth that dwells deep with in you” – this is his state now. Nature herself will oblige such a person, it is said, what ever is uttered by him, may be inadvertently, is also bound to come true. Truth is now not just a word, Life itself has become truth.

As he walks further, the mind moves more towards the subtler realms of truth of life, and it begins to experience more, the joy of the higher truths, the truth that holds the universe, the bliss of eternity, the oneness of the absolute truth. His life is now that of perennial joy, unaffected by the ups and downs of the worldly events, he is like a loose bubble on the surface of a lake, free from the joys and sorrows of the ephemeral, his mind ever remaining in the eternal bliss of the truth of existence.

This is a state of paramahamsa, the one who has realized the ultimate truth of life, the one who sees the same truth in everything existant and nonexistant, the one for whom the heavenly water of ganges and the water that runs through the drainage canal would mean one and the same. Yes, he would drink both with the same perennial joy, the one who would eat sumptously or goes days together without food, one who would sleep alike with the dogs in the street or in the palace of a prince-He is a paramahamsa- the highest state of bliss in spiritual evolvement. This is the state of ‘kevalananda” (the non-relativistic or the absolute joy).

This is a state, after achieving which there is nothing to achieve. Bhagavatam says that the acts of a paramahamsa and that of a beggar would look alike. However, the former is a prince,much beyond a comparison for the princes of all worlds over all the times. At its pinnacle, the seeker merges, becomes one with the principle sought and this is liberation.

And this is that great process of evolution. This is the essence of divinity, by which that one ‘single drop of water’ has now become the absolute pearl. This is the glory of ‘abhyasa’, the power of perseverence. This is the meaning of the verse “uthishttatha Jaagratha, prapyavaraan nibhodhatha” (Arise, Awake, and rest not till the goal is achieved). The drop is immaterial. One would choose the one that one likes, but the ultimate goal remains the one supreme bliss of eternity.

When Buddha used to walk through the forests, even the wild animals used to remain calm – it is said. Buddha had become an embodiment of pure love. He was pure love in his wholesome. This is the secret of yoga. Meerabhai, the great devotee of Krishna is a striking example of bhakti yoga. Bhagawatham gives details of so many great souls who merged with the Lord by bhakti yoga.

Naradha bhakti sutra is the authoritative text on Bhakthi yoga.In the Bhagavat Gita, Krishna says Arjuna, that of all the yogas,Bhakthi yoga is the sweetest, simplest and fastest. The ancient rishis, has given us so many methods of taming the mind and directing the same towards God. Mind, intellect and body are the instruments in our pursuit of God realisation. Mind in its nature is extremely fickle. Krishna has said that it is an extremely difficult task to tame the mind, it verily acts as the one supreme enemy in the pursuit of self realization, yet once properly channelised will become our best companion in our spiritual quest.

When a disciple first develops a love for god, it is the beginning. It is the seed, it is that ‘tiny drop of water’. The more he thinks on god, the more the concept sinks into him. Some may turn philosophical, some may become analytical, some may turn intuitive, and yet all, by exersicing some facuty of mind, try to approach more towards the one abstraction of God, the one pointer that would transcend all the faculties of mind.

Sree Ramakrishna who sat before the idol of Kaali in the Kaali temple in Dakshineswar, illustrates to us, the power of Bhakti yoga. As a devotee sits infront of an idol, his mind focusses on the form infront. This invokes in him the concept of his god. Noble feelings of Love, and bhakthi springs from within and fills his mind. A feeling of serinity and peace is felt in his mind. The presence of god is felt around and mind enjoys that joy of tranquillity and bliss. This is the first foundation stone that is laid in his mind in his path of bhakthi yoga.

As he continues this practice, his eyes continue to focuss on the forms, the hand does the puja, and lips continue to repeat the holy names of the Lord, mind develops more and more love and devotion towards his god. In these Later stages, even the very mention of the idol would trigger off nobler emotions and tranquillity in his mind.

Mind is cleansed by the continued generation of nobler thoughts that survive over the baser selfish instincts dormant in the dark corners of the subconscious mind. The repetition of names of God could bring in the mind continued rememberence of god as mind always adheres to the form the words produce. And the rememberence of the form, would kindle higher levels of thoughts and feelings and bring the same from its depths to its surface. Thus the mind is purified and becomes fertile for God-realisation. This is the secret of japa yoga.

This is similar to pouring water continuosly into an old inkpot. At first stains of ink that will come out along with water will be more. As we continue pouring water, more and more clear water will flow out of the ink pot and finally what comes out will be completely clear water. The japas & the namasankeerthans, penetrate into the subconscious, expell the darkness and fill the same with the light of serinity and spiritual bliss.

As one proceeds further, he would see his idol in his mind in the form of bright light. It is more than the solid form. This is in the form of ‘thej’ or aura. Slowly, he would experience this form in its essence, filling every nook and corner of the space. He can also experience this ‘ thej’ associated with the meaning of everything he sees and hears in this universe.

At some stage, diversities of the different forms of god could disturb a devotee, but soon he attains the stage where every concept, every form of god would appeal to him in essence as his personal form of god alone. This stage too would go and, finally every form, every word, every sacred verse, all would trigger the same god intoxication to his mind. Mind goes beyond the diversities of the forms and names and identifies the tranquillity beneath all these as God.

I can remember the moments I have stood before Sabarimala Ayyappa, sastha temple at perumbavoor, Guruvayoor temple, Chottanikkara and the various Siva temples. This is Where all the different systems of Yoga, unite into one. Eyes worship the “sthoolaswaroopa”(the gross physical form), mind perceives the “Thejaswaroppa”(the aura form), the intellect surrenders before the “jnanaswaroppa” and in the depths of Your self, Your heart “experience” the bliss of the “sachidaananda swaroopa”, the one beyond forms and names.All this are in perfect harmony and occur in that very single moment,in unison as a devotee stands before his diety, with feelings of devotion.

I do remember my mind flooding with emotion as I read the bhagawatham and other puranas, the story of jesus christ, his compassion towards the mariya the prostitute can even now, as i write this, fill my heart with emotions, and eyes with tears. At the core of the heart, the divinity of the feelings, the essence of the tranquillity, remains the same behind all the myriad forms and names that describe it. And verily, I declare, no true devotee can find a distinction between two forms of god.and too, no one is a devotee who cannot appreciate another form of god, or another aspect, another label of god as equally true.

These are not to be told just as words, da. This should come from the very core of a man, as the only possible natural way. And this is true, it surely comes and it can only be that way. Else you should discover that there is something wrong in your spiritual practice. As he proceeds further, intensity of love and passion gets higher and higher, one sees nothing else but God, worldly attachment disappears slowly. A devotee is jubiliant, at the very mention, very thought of God, his mind flies towards his realm every now and then. He sees everything as God, hears everything as God, speaks, thinks, feels and perceives everything as God.

Even the distinction between form and formlessness do not disturb him. Mind conceives form and formlessness as two aspects of one and the same abstraction, that is beyond. The Mind goes to the core layer of conceptive faculty, from where even the form and formlessness mean one and the same, generates one and the same feeling of joy.

In the story of Gajendramoksha, it is the Nirguna Bhrahma that is worshipped by the Gajendra. Mahavishnu came, The Rishi says, to the rescue of his devotee. Our Rishis had reached this stage where they saw form and formlessness as one and the same. This is the higher state of mind a devotee attains. At its climax, he surrenders his ego fully unto God. He surrenders every thought, every emotion, every feeling, above all, his own self unto the Lord. He is beyond all concepts of god, all appears one and the same to him, which is nothing but pure experience of perennial joy. He has crossed the stages of sameepya, saroopya… and attains sayoojya. He is the jeevan muktha the one who has attained liberation in this very life.

This is the climax of bhakthi Yoga, a sweet journey of transformation to the final gem from the initial ‘little drop’. Infact this is the climax of every yoga. Krishna speaks of mainly six different systems of Yoga. One may practice one or more of the different yogas, like the bhakthi yoga, jnana yoga, karmayoga and the like, perfect them in their lives till they attain liberation.

Sree Ramakrishna was the great saint who practised all these yogas and realised its perfection in this very life. He was the Great Guru who taught the world the oneness of all the different systems of yogas. Mirabhai is the striking example of bhakthiyoga. Mahathma Gandhi patronised the anasakthiyoga.
They were all great Gurus, of man kind. Infact that is the very meaning of guru-sishya relation in india. The word Guru means the ‘destroyer of darkness’ (Gu sabhdha means darkness, Ru sabhdha means destroyer).

He alone is a Guru, who has first practiced and perfected in his life, what he preached. They are infact true alchemists. Harischandra could produce a Gandhi, Buddha could produce an Asoka. Ramakrishna produced swamy vivekananda, Krishna could produce a brave Arjuna at the battle field. The Bhagavat Gita remains the eternal teaching to mankind.

And above all is what The Jagat Guru Sankaracharya has said about Dakshina moorthy, the Lord facing south

“chitram vadatharormoole vridha sishya Guror yuva
Gurosthu mounam vyakhyanam sishyasthu chinna samsayah”

A description further than this is beyond the realms of man.

16 thoughts on “Hindu dharma”

  1. That was a pretty long and interesting post from Santosh! I sense by now that in the essence what Santosh and I say, may be one and the same. Only point I can think of to add is that many of these wisdom came from men without an input from earlier scriptures. I mean men was there before the scriptures, not always the other ways! So the ‘drop of water’ could well be a deed or an observation than a verse or teaching, I guess. Perhaps, I will try to elaborate on another comment.

    btw, believe me, you sound very much like one of my dear old friends, especially with the analogies you make and the quotes you use. I am saying this in a good sense from the familiarity it brings. Alas, my friend’s basis were the teachings from those RSS groups. Well, ofcourse I don’t want to sound judgemental and prejudiced about that as I believe, whichever be the source, as long as you can make your own mind up, all is for good. After all, the Lord works in mysterious ways, right? 🙂

    (btw, the pearl analogy may not entirely hold fast as what makes a pearl is a sharp and irritating hard object in an oyster than a soft drop of water. But, hey, that surely does not dilute what you intend to convey. Be sure.)

    Now Praveen, I can possibly nudge you about a couple of other points. I am not sure which one to take up first. Ok, lets see about this ‘educated’ hindus not defending their own religion. Frankly, mate, it depends on what you think as the way of defending your religion. Do you think that it is about proving how the other religions are not good and our religion is the only one that offers the greatest thinking? Nah, if that is the way for the ‘educated’ hindus to defend it, I am happy that they don’t do it. 🙂

    Secondly and related to the earlier point, you have used the words ‘my religion’ a few times and stressed on how you are rediscovering your religion with Santosh’s help. I am pretty sure that Santosh is someone who can surely help you about religion, but think it can not be about ‘your’ religion. This merits you to first ask yourself about what is ‘your’ religion after all (ie, if you really want to have a religion for yourself first! About which you seem to have realised the need already. So I assume this question is valid.)? My point for debate is, is your religion the one by birth (what your parents practised) or the one (or more) you identify with? Or even a new one which you make up yourself and believe in! Your preface points to the type that passes through our genes, I guess. So much about defending ‘my religion’. 😉

    Now that is a good nudge. Now let me stand firm to take the hit. 🙂

  2. Geo,

    No hitting and scoring points for me, but will reply quickly anyway. Due to paucity of time I have to be short 😉 Interesting questions you ask me. I wonder if you could ask the same questions to any person from the religion other than of Indic origins. Ask the questions and find the response, I am sure it will give you a clear idea of what religion is and what is the distinction. On one hand you say you agree with santoshs idea and on the other you give the impression that you are confused. C’mon make up your mind 😉

    Again with defending hindu dharma, the question you need to ask is that, do you think hinduism and its core idea of freedom of thought is facing any kind of threat. If so how do you think you are going to defend it. Think clear my friend and reach your own conclusions. Beating about the bush without any clarity of thought might provide some material, but the whole exercise might turn out pointless.

    With regards to defending hindu religion, I do think that “one” of the way to defend it is by highlighting the greatness of it. This itself will reveal how other relgions are not upto mark. It is indeed a genuine way. The presence of sun itself will put candlelight to shame, no comparisons exist there. Let me say to you my friend, if there has been an “intellectual pursuit” of God, it had its origin in ancient India. Please provide any great religious idea that originated in any other religion, which has never occured in India. Hinduism is a fully matured religion and this is a bare fact. Hiding that just for humility or artificial modesty is never better for educated ones, who should call a spade a spade. One needs to state facts openly .

    One needs a new religion only if it can give something new, some thing what it does not have. What new noble thought can christianity give that we do not possess? On the other hand, we have much to give – yoga, ayurveda and so on. Yet we dont convert others as the abrahamic religions do. Think about it. When the new pope was elected, he called for unity of all christians, note, not all humanity, but christians. Compare that with the thought “loka samastha sukhino bhavantu”. Still cant see any difference?

    And about my religion, my dear friend, how should I describe it. If you got the idea that my religion is about my jeans, let me point that its about my t-shirt. oops, that was a pj. 😉 Ok, let me clear this. “My religion” in a way is unique, but actually follows the strands of hindu dharma. Its one of the myriad expressions of that dharma, that I follow. The dharma, which always has given freedom of thought and encouraged intellectual quest. I indeed had to re-discover it, but it was worth it. 🙂

  3. The post seems to focuss on the ethnic features of religion and religious men.The discussion seems to be over its application to various religions.
    when i read the post i read about mother theresa, who made it a pearl from a drop of christ’s teachings.But i have a doubt-is there any such man in islam? on the contrary, i believe that islam converts the little’drops’ not into pearls, but into black charcoals.They destroyes WTO in the name of religion.They rule terrorist states in the name of religion.The world’s most notorious criminals are muslims.I think islam is an allotrope of religion-just like charcoal is an allotrope of diamond.

  4. da,
    Came after long break due to domestic pressures as you know.Just went through all the comments.Joe’s points were precise and exact.They were very basic and subtle.Too, the reply to him was precisely true,point to point.infact each point in both the sides are worth discussing.Unfortunately,i think it ended in a tussle, as i feel, joe must have felt hurt,it seems as he is not heard further.it is sad da.If he visits the site anymore, let us, thru this comment, call him, to be with us, as , behind all these discussions, we are just cool guys yaar.hey joe..be back!!!
    Arun has a point though it has to be discussed in a full perspective.
    I accept both hari’s as well as jim’s tit for tat.
    May send you next mail as soon as i get time.

  5. Even though the philosophy is excellent in practice there lie many malpractices in hinduism. Religious leaders such as Sai Baba have abused the faith of hinduism by hiding there crimes of sexual nature. People like these use religion as a ladder to gain greater power. Frankly it disgusts me as a hindu but more so as a human being. Such abominable actions by people in his position should be punished by extreme retribution.

  6. sex is no crime.not only religious leaders of hindu muslim christian or any, the political leaders,film actors,sports persons,businessmen and more..why even common men like you and me do resort to illicit sex.The common men , i meant would surely be inclined to do so given opportunity.a more open perspective towards sex as a reality is important.if at all one attains an open view towards seeing pope,saibaba,osho rajneesh,sankaracharya all amidst the media reports which themselves have fallen deep into corruption and leaving the arguments to the arguers try to pick up valables worth carrying along with one in one’s spiritual journey one could be termed truly religious.

  7. I am a very Proud hindu who has decided to to protect my faith and beliefs.

    However if hinduism has to be protected and carried on forward as a religion (and not just a belief system which other faiths look down upon), we need to make certain changes in the way we approach our religion. I strongly believe that the times have changed and so should the religion.Improvements are lways welcome and are always a good sign of corrective actions(Other faiths would slam the effort as “rewriting” religion)

    1) Hindus, please believe in your religion. This does not translate into saying that you need to look down on other religions. It just means you should look up to yours. Have you ever gone to a Muslim’s house or a Christian house which kept Ramayana and Geeta along with Koran or Bible ?
    2) Keeping an open heart should not really translate to keeping your eyes closed. Have you ever been handed a Bible by someone? If not then let me ,just say it’s pretty common occurance. Now let me ask have you ever handed a Geeta or Ramayana to anyone from other faiths? The answer is probably no. Why is it that they do and we don’t? Let me answer that. We are victims of our own openness and blindness. We have embraced the deceit and brought it into our homes by our own gullibility. My Father is a devout Hindu and a Doctor. His Nurse ( A christian) gave bible to him as present on his 20 years of service. Why Bible? To me the issue is as much with giving as it is with receiving.
    3) Hindu religion need not be as open as it has been. It has to adapt to changing times. “Openness” in Hinduism is also synonymous with “disorganization”. Organize the religion.
    4) Let Bhagwat Gita be the holy book for Hindus. Break away from 1 million gods and Goddesses worship.1 Million gods and goddesses are expression of free mind and free religious.Some one worships Shiva and someone worships Ram and Krishna. Lets all worship one God to achieve unity in our beliefs and purpose
    5) Let OM be the holy sign in every temple. See how the cross and the star are there on top of every place of worship for other faiths. Have OM on top of every place of worship. Let others know what is sacred. Swastika was already taken from us and we want to protect OM with all we have
    6) There should be a holy head for the religion and a holy body for managing the affairs. We have to do this. Shankaracharya and well qualified body should decide on the practices of the religion
    7) For Hindus to be united and remain united , they have to come together more often. Hinduism should have a day assigned for worship when the practioners are supposed to gather at the place of worship. How have we missed out on this for ages and why?
    8) Hindus should select a shrine as a central shrine for hinduism. Whatever it is Tirupathi or Rameshwaram or Ayodhya or Vaishno Devi.
    9) Hindu temples should very actively get involved in chartities. This is absolutely imperative.Temples should be run like an organization where the funds are well looked after and utilized for the benefit of not only our faith but the human kind
    10)Every Hindu should buy Gita and read it. I guess majority of us haven’t even opened it
    11) Hindu slammers get a grip and please stay in touch with reality.Protect what is yours and do it with all your heart. Realize what you stand to lose. Realize that a very sophisticated war is being waged against your faith and you are very precariously placed
    12)Hindus please teach your children and teachings of Hinduism and Gita. Dont let some Missionary school wipe the slate clean. Let the children know,admire and protect their faith. You owe it to them and owe it to yourselves
    13) Wake up and take pride in who you are, where you came from and more importantly where you are going.

    I would be more than happy to take up any questions at savehinduism@gmail.com

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