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Showing posts from January, 2008

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of Transcendental Meditation Movement Retreats into Silence

Several newspapers around the world are reporting that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement has retreated into near complete silence. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is presently staying at Vlodrop village in Netherlands where the Transcendental Meditation movement is now headquartered. Maharishi has also given up the administrative works, which included running of a TM global network with a membership of nearly 6 million people. Transcendental Meditation is a 20-minute daily routine in which a person silently focuses on a mantra to induce relaxation and experiences a state of pure consciousness. The meditation technique is practiced twice daily and it has been scientifically proved that TM reduces stress, blood pressure, insomnia and pain. Critics are of the opinion that it provides nothing more than the usual stress relaxation techniques.Mahesh Prasad Varma, later he became Mahesh Yogi, was born at Madhya Pradesh in India in 1917. He has a degree in physics fr…

Ramayana Related Sites in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is home to several places associated with the Hindu epic Ramayana. Lanka was the kingdom of Ravana, the demon king. Lanka witnessed some of the most awe inspiring incidents in the Ramayana after Ravana kidnapped Mata Sita and brought her to Lanka. The search for Sita brought, Lord Ram, Lakshman and the Vanara Sena (Monkey Army) led by Sugriva and Hanuman to Lanka.
In Hinduism, Ramayana and Mahabharata are ‘ithihasas’ (history). So it is only natural to stumble upon places mentioned in the Ramayana. In the modern day Sri Lanka, there are several sites which aptly fit into the descriptions found in the Ramayana.
After Kidnapping Sita, Ravana took her to Seetakotuwa or Sitakotuwa. The place was then known as Goorulupota. It is believed that Mandodari, the wife of Ravana and the Queen of Lanka lived here. Seetakotuwa is about 10 km from Mahiyangana and ruins of a prosperous city can be found here.
In the Ramayana, Sita was held captive in the Ashoka Vana (forest) and this plac…

Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati on the Permanent and the Transient

In life, the permanent and the impermanent are mixed up with each other. It is not that the permanent is in one place and the impermanent in another, and they can be distinguished easily. The Katha Upanishad says: Shreyas and preyas approach the human being. Having very clearly considered them, the discriminative (person) distinguishes them. (1-2-2)In life, we constantly come across Shreyas and Preyas. Shreyas means that which is permanent and lasting and preyas is that which is impermanent and ephemeral. Shreyas is happiness of the Self or internal happiness, and preyas is happiness derived from sense objects or external happiness. It requires a certain sensitivity to appreciate lasting happiness as opposed to the impermanent, ephemeral happiness in the objects and achievements of the world. This viveka arises in a heart that has become relatively pure by the performance of nitya-karma, naimittika-karma, duty in the spirit of worship, meditations etc.Every moment presents a choice be…

A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism by Swami Harshananda of Ramakrishna Math

A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism is a monumental work by Swami Harshananda of Ramakrishna Math. Swami Harshananda, who is in his late 70s, has served 53 years in the Ramakrishna Monastic order and is presently the Head of Ramakrishna Math at Basavanagudi, Bangalore. A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism is in three volumes and deals with important topics associated with Hindu religion including scriptures, philosophy, mythology, rituals and sacraments, pilgrim centers, short biographies of saints, gurus and other Hindu leaders in various fields, ancient arts and sciences, archaeology, Hindu festivals and their significance. Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are also briefly explained in the book.There are nearly 3,600 entries in the encyclopedia and each volume of the book contains nearly 700 pages and there several color pictures and line drawings. Swami Harshananda is the author of several books and it took nearly 33 years to research and compile A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism.The bo…

Book Vishvarupa – Paintings on the Cosmic Form of Krishna–Vasudeva by Neena Ranjan

Vishvarupa – Paintings on the Cosmic Form of Krishna – Vasudeva by Neena Ranjan showcases paintings based on the cosmic form that Shri Krishna revealed to Arjuna in the Kurukshetra in the Mahabharata and which is detailed in the Bhagavad Gita. Most of the Vishwarupa Paintings included in the book are from 17th to 20th century.From the Foreword in the book by B.N. Goswamy… a prolonged philosophical discourse (Bhagavad Gita) in which the most profound of questions are asked and a range of answers given. But then sensing, in the midst of it, Arjuna's continuing inability to comprehend 'the deepest mystery' of it all, Krishna reveals to him his true self, a concrete vision of the creator and the destroyer, and of times deadly destructiveness: ‘a fearsome explosion of countless eyes, bellies, mouths, ornaments, and weapons, gleaming like the fiery sun that illumines the world’. That magnificent form, the Vishwarupa of Krishna-Vishnu, is however not for everyone to see. When Arj…

Lessons from Sri Krishna Tales in Breast feeding and Infant Care

Think of Lord Krishna and the images that come to our mind is that of him rendering the Bhagavad Gita and then that of the naughty pranks played by little Krishna. Dr Hemant Joshi, an activist and a pediatrician from Maharashtra, thinks that Gopal Krishna has left enough hints regarding the importance of breast feeding and infant care in the stories associated with him in the Bhagavad Purana. He illustrates his points with examples from Bhagavad PuranaOn the concept of modern breast-feeding banks, he said that if a mother’s milk is insufficient for her infant, then the child can be provided with the milk of another mother like Yasoda did it for Krishna. (The Newindpress)Dr Hemant Joshi says feeding bottle is like Demon Putana who came to kill Krishna with poisoned milk.Putana as an evil character here represents the feeding bottle and as the little Krishna had taken up the cause, every one of us should fight against feeding bottles and baby food, he added. (The Newindpress)Makhanchori…

Lord Ram and Hanuman Toys for Children

Lord Ram and Hanuman Toys are from Kridana, a United States based start-up.
Founded in 2007, Kridana is the brain child of Mahender Swami Nathan, an Indian-American. The aim of the company is to bring the best stories and characters associated with Hindu religion and mythology to life through 3-D toys and 2-D comics.There will be two reactions to the Lord Ram and Hanuman Toys:First, how can someone make toys of Hindu Gods? This is insulting Hinduism and its gods. Second, I would love to see my children adore Lord Ram and Hanuman. Learn more about them and learn the good qualities in them.To the first reaction the makers of the toys react…we’re following in the footsteps of centuries of Indian cultural artistic tradition. There’s a rich and long tradition of the Ramayana being represented in Indian decorative arts and toys from 14th century Satriya dance masks in Assam to 16th century decorative bronze sculptures of Hanuman and Rama in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Kridana is no differen…

Ramayana Research Institute in Guwahati, Assam

The Ramayana Research Institute in Guwahati, Assam, is being set up at the residence of renowned Assamese writer and Jnanpith Award winner Indira Goswami. Asom Kalatirtha will be supporting this unique endeavor. The institute will be declared open on January 20, 2008.‘At the beginning two students – from anywhere in the world – will be admitted for research work on the epic,’ Goswami told PTI over phone. (The Hindu)Goswami has approached the state government of Assam seeking sponsorship of scholarships for the researchers and the state has responded positively. There are also plans to get affiliation for the Institute with the GuwahatiUniversity.Indiran Goswami is noted for her Ramayana studies and has presented papers on the epic in India and in several countries around the world. She has a PhD from GuwahatiUniversity for her thesis ‘Comparative Study of Goswami Tulsi Das' Ramcharita Manas and Madhab Kandali's Assamese Ramayana’.Some of her well known papers and works on Ra…

Why Hindu Women Wear Nose Studs?

Nose stud or ring is worn by both married and unmarried Hindu women. The significance of the nose stud varies from region to region. As in several other rituals, there is no written code in Hinduism regarding the wearing of nose ring or nose piercing. In certain Hindu sects, a nose ring is referred as ‘Nath’ is worn during marriage and is a symbol of married woman. There are several communities in Hindu religion which does not perform nose piercing.

Several ancient classical texts are silent on the nose stud and therefore there are several theories regarding the use of nose stud in Hindu religion. Some observe that nose stud was not used during ancient times and it was introduced by invaders during the 11th century.

Another school of thought quotes ancient Ayurvedic text Sushruta Samhita (Chikitsa Sthana Chapter 19) to suggest that nose piercing was prevalent from ancient period. It is believed that the piercing of the nose near a particular node on the nostril lessens the pain during m…

Dr S Radhakrishnan Quotes on Upanishads

Summing up the teaching of Upanishad Dr Radhakrishnan says
God’s dwelling place is in the heart of man. The inner immortal soul and the great cosmic power are one and the same. Brahman is Atman and Atman is Brahman.
We have to remember that the highest religion of the Upanishads, which insists on meditation and morality and worship of God in spirit and truth, is not encumbered by such traditional dogmas and miracles as still hang upon the skirts of other religions. Its central principle that there is one supreme reality that manifests itself in the universe is not asserted as a dogma. It is the ultimate truth at which it is possible for human understanding to arrive. The progress of science and philosophy does not conflict with it but only confirms it.

The Upanishads, though remote in time from us, are not remote in thought. They disclose the working of the primal impulses of the human soul which rise above the differences of race and of geographical position. At the core of all his…

Lakshadeepam at Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Trivandrum

On the Makar Sankranti day, SreePadmanabhaSwamyTemple in Trivandrum, Kerala, will celebrate the unique festival of Lakshadeepam – lighting of one lakh deepams or one hundred thousand lights. Laksha-deepam was last held on January 14, 2008 after a period of six years.
Lakshadeepam marks the culmination of ‘murajapam.’ Murajapam is nearly two month long chanting of mantras for the welfare people and the land. The tradition of murajapam and lakshadeepam was started in 1750 AD by the then Travancore King primarily to mitigate the sins occurred during wars and annexations. Murajapam and Lakshadeepam are held once in six years.
This year the Lakshadeepam day marks the end of ‘murajapam’ which began on November 20, 2007. There is also a 19-day ‘kalabham’ ritual before the lighting on one hundred thousand diyas. Murasiveli procession, accompanied by the members of Tranvancore royal family, will be held on the same day. All these rituals are primarily intended for the welfare of the people and p…

Sivavakkiyar Poems

In the four eternal Vedas,
In the study and reading of scripts,
In sacred ashes and in holy writs
And muttering of prayers
You will not find the Lord!
Melt with the heart inside
And proclaim the Truth.
Then you will join the light
Life without servitude.He is not Hari, He is not the Lord Siva.
He is the Ultimate Cause,
In the Beyond of Beyond,
Transcending Blackness, Redness, and Whiteness.
Try not to understand:
He is not big, He is not small.
He is Infinite Distance,
Transcending even
Supreme Quiescence.SivavakkiyarShivavakkiayar is a 10th-century Tamil devotional poet and mystic(Source: The Poets of the Powers, Edited Kamil Zvelebil)

Significance of Pongal

Pongal is among the best known festivals and certainly one of the major festivals in Tamil Nadu, India. It is today observed by Tamilians around the world. The four day festival falls in the Tamil month of Thai (January – February). It celebrates the harvest, especially the rice crop, and is considered to be an ancient form of thanksgiving. The festival is named after the rice pudding or Pongal prepared on the festival day.
Pongal is an ancient festival and its origin can be traced back to the Sangam Era (200 BC – 300 AD). The entire festival even today maintains the Dravidian practices and is untouched by external influences including Aryan.
The first day of the festival is known as Bhogi Pongal. The second day is the Suryan Pongal or the Perum Pongal. The third day is the Mattu Pongal or the Pongal of cattle. The fourth day is the Kannum Pongal.
The Surya Pongal or Perum Pongal is the most important day and is dedicated to Lord Surya – Sun god. It is on this day that the most impo…

Sri Narayana Guru Quotes

One caste, one religion, one God for man; one form and the same blood in all; I cannot find any differences.There is no reason for caste differences among human beings. All those who possess humanity are human beings. Just as there are different languages and different systems, though human beings seem to be different, there can be no reason for caste differences. Humanity is common to all.Men may differ in their faiths, their languages and their modes of dressing; but there can be no evil in inter-dining and inter-marriage, because all belong to the same kind of creation.Sri Narayana Guru

Saptapuri – Seven Holy Cities in Hinduism

Saptapuri is the name given to the seven sacred cities associated with Hinduism in India. These seven holy cities are also referred as Sapta Moksha Puris and Seven Tirthas. The general belief is that by visiting these cities one escapes from endless cycle of births and deaths and attains ‘moksha.’ Sapta Puri is therefore also referred along with Char Dhams as ‘moksha dayika.’
The sacred cities in the Saptapuri are KashiKanchipuramHaridwarAyodhyaUjjainMathuraDwarka There is also a Sanskrit shloka referring to the seven great tirthas. ‘Kashi, Kanchi, Maya, Ayodhya, Avantika
Mathura, Dwaravati chaiva saptaita mokshadayika’
Kashi is also known as Varanasi and is located in Uttar Pradesh. Kanchipuram is in Tamil Nadu. Haridwar is also known as Mayapuri and is in Uttarakhand. Ujjain is also known as Avantika and is in Madhya Pradesh. Dwarka is also referred as Dwaravati and is in Gujarat. Ayodhya and Mathura are in Uttar Pradesh. Kashi is associated with Lord Shiva and is the city of lights and…

Lokamanya Tilak on the Bhagavad Gita

The most practical teaching of the Gita, and one for which it is of abiding interest and value to the men of the world with whom life is a series of struggles, is not to give away to any morbid sentimentality when duty demands sternness and the boldness to face terrible things.The Gita was not preached either as a pastime for persons tired out after living a worldly life in the pursuit of selfish motives, nor as a preparatory lesson for living such worldly life; but in order to give philosophical advice as to how one should live one’s worldly life with an eye to Release, Moksha, as to the true duty of human beings in worldly life. My last prayer to everyone, therefore is that one should not fail to thoroughly understand this ancient science of the life of a householder, or of worldly life, as early as possible in one’s life.Lokamanya Tilak

Ancient Hindus used Nanotechnology

Ancient Hindus unknowingly employed nanotechnology in the manufacture of swords, other weapons and paintings. This was indicated by Nobel Laureate (chemistry) Robert Curl Jr at the 95th Indian Science Congress in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India.‘Our ancestors have been unwittingly using the technology for over 2,000 years and carbon nano for about 500 years. Carbon nanotechnology is much older than carbon nanoscience,’ said Curl (the Hindu)Nobel Laureate (chemistry) Robert Curl Jr told an enchanted audience at the 95th Indian Science Congress here about how Damascus steel was first made by experts in south and south-central India as long ago as around 300 BC. (the New Indian Express)The swords produced by ancient Hindu blacksmiths were known to retain its sharp edge and toughness. Such high quality swords were the result of the composition of carbon in it. Nanotechnology refers broadly to a field of applied science and technology whose unifying theme is the control of matter on t…

New Ramayan Serial on NDTV Imagine

NDTV Imagine Channel, the new entertainment initiative from NDTV Ltd, will be featuring a Ramayan serial based on Valmiki’s Ramayan and Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas. The new Ramayana will air from Monday to Thursday at 2130 hrs on NDTV Imagine starting from January 21, 2008. This brand new Ramayan is from the Sagar Arts, which brought India to a standstill on Sundays during the 1980s with the mythological serial Ramayana on Doordarshan. Preview of Ramayan Serial on NDTV ImagineAnnouncing the launch of the show, Mr. Sameer Nair, CEO, NDTV Imagine said, ‘Ramayan is a tale for every generation. It is multi-layered, multi-faceted, multi-dimensional... and this brand new daily version of the timeless classic has been interpreted to cater to the taste of a shining, modern India. Television is all about great stories well told, and for us, Ramayan is India's greatest story ever and we hope to re-tell it in a compelling, entertaining manner.’New generation actors are playing the key roles i…

Illustrated Book on Hindu Mythology for Children – The Puffin Book of Magical Indian Myths

Written by Anita Nair and Illustrated by Atanu Roy, ‘The Puffin Book of Magical Indian Myths’ recounts 50 myths from the large treasure trove of stories associated with Hinduism and popular Indian folktales. The highlight of the book is the 100 odd colorful illustrations and is ideal for children in the age group of four to seven. Dasavatara, how the parijata tree came to earth, story of sage Vishwamitra, stories of Muruga and Balrama are some of the stories based on Hindu mythology. The Puffin Book of Magical Indian Myths is priced at Rs 499 and is published in India by the Penguin books.

Shri Krishna on Sthitaprajna or Ideal Human Being in Bhagavad Gita

Shri Krishna’s ideal human being is Sthitaprajna. Prajna is mind, intellect, wisdom. Sthita means stable. Sthitaprajna is a person whose mind has stabilized. Whether he has faith in the divine is immaterial, as long as he is in a state of equilibrium while facing the ups and downs of life.

Shri Krishna’s Sthitaprajna is not a religious person engaged in rituals. In this state you do experience life but remain unmoved by it because your mental faculties are always in a state of equilibrium. You can even be an atheist.
The Gita describes such a person as shruti-vipratipanna (Bhagavad Gita chapter 2:53). According to one translation it means a person ‘bewildered by a variety of revealed truths.’ It may mean false opinions you form through the shrutis, even the Vedas.

Krishna moves away from rites prescribed by the Vedas. Krishna says ‘Throw away religious cultism’ (Gita 18:66). What he means is that one should refrain from religious bigotry that leads to blind zeal, clouding mental facultie…

WAVES Conference on Vedic Heritage for Global Welfare of Next Generation

World Association for Vedic Studies (WAVES) is planning to hold its seventh international conference on ‘Vedic Heritage for Global Welfare of Next Generation’ in June 2008 at University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA. WAVES-2008 is expected to cover a total of sixteen invited lectures and around 150 paper presentation sessions and poster presentations around the theme.WAVES is a multidisciplinary academic society with members of different religions, often of different scholarly views and varied interests. It welcomes persons engaged/interested in studying in any field of Vedic/ Indian studies. The word ‘Vedic’ is used in a wide sense to include not only Vedas, but all different areas as well as past, present and future of traditions and people based on Vedas. The first conference was held in October 1996 and the sixth in June 2006. WAVES conferences in the eleven years have always been a meeting point of all like minded and concerned persons, individual scholars, research…

Comic Book on Kartikeya – Muruga

Comic based on Hindu god Kartikkeya is the latest offering in the India Authentic series presented by Deepak Chopra and Virgin Comics. Kartikeya, popularly known as Muruga, is the General of the Army of the Devas (gods). He is also known as Skanda, Subramaniya and Kartik. The comic narrates the unusual birth and adventures of Lord Muruga. A preview of the Comic from Virgin ComicsI was born with a fiery halo that threatened to undo the universe. Thus, Ganga the mighty mother-river bore me away far from the earth deep into the uncharted heavens. I grew to manhood in the care of the six maidens of the stars, the Kritika (Pleidas) of the night sky. Then, I returned to claim my rightful place in Svarga as heralded by an ancient prophecy. I am the slayer of demons and commander-in-chief of Heaven’s army, I am Kartikkeya, the son of Shiva.The highlight of the India Authentic Series is its wonderful illustrations. Interestingly, the releasing date of the comic is January 23, 2008, which is …

Vedic Management – Echoes of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Vedas

The great sages who delivered universal thoughts through the Vedas were concerned about unethical and profit driven human activities and its impact on society and the environment. This is echoed in several verses in the Vedas, especially in the Upanishads. What these great seers feared more than 5000 years ago have become a reality and we are already paying the price for such unethical and profit driven human activities. Today, many major companies around the world have realized the mistakes and there is more awareness and this has led to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Corporate Social Responsibility is a concept whereby organizations consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, employees, shareholders, communities and the environment in all aspects of their operations. (Wikipedia)

In an article titled ‘Wisdom of the ages’ in ‘The CTO Forum’ Magazine, Dr. S. Kannan presents an overview of the Vedic vision especial…

Prayer to Ganesha – For an Auspicious Beginning

Shuklaambaradharam Vishnum
Shashivarnam chaturbhujam
Prasannavadanam dhyaayeth
Sarvavighnopashaantaye He who is attired in a white garment
Who is all-pervading and has the complexion of the moon
Who has four arms and a bright and gracious countenance
On him we meditate for the removal of obstacles