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Showing posts from October, 2011

Mahabharata - 08 - Three-stage development

Stage 1 It is believed that in this stage the various old battle songs of the Kuru and the Panchala heroes were reworked  into one narrative. This narrative talked about the fate of the Kauravas on one hand and the fate of the Pandavas on the other hand and had about ~24,000 verses. Since Brahma is regraded as the highest deity in this period, Stage 1 is believed to be pre-Buddhistic. Stage 2 During this stage a lot of materials were added. Sectarian divisions were well established, and there are references to Yavanas, Phllavas, Shakas and Parthians.  Apart from Brahman, Shiva and Vishnu have gained prominence and Krishna is now considered a reincarnation of Vishnu. Stage 3 Final redaction Critique of the Three Stages Theory As per Anukramanika Parvadhyaya of Sauti, the epic contains 100,000 verses and is known as great Bharata with legends. The portion excluding legends or the core Bharata (Bharata Smahita) contains 24,000 verses. The 8,800 verses refer to those which were exceeding

Mahabharata - 07 - Multi-stage development theory

1. Some scholars believe that Mahabharata has passed through three stages of development: a. 8,800 verses - As per 1.2.131 b. 24,000 verses - As per 1.1.102 c. 100,000 verses - As per 1.1.101 2. Some believe that it was written by different people at different times and may have three beginnings 3. Some believe that it was Vyasa himself who was the composer but that he had revised it four times

Mahabharata - 06 - Harivamsha and Famous Episodes

The Harivamsha is also known as the Harivamsha Purana and has three parts: a. Harivamsha Parva - Account of Krishna in his divine form b. Vishnu Parva - Account of Krishna as an incarnation of Vishnu c. Bhavishya Parva - Accounts of creation, prophecies, Vishnu's incarnation Famous Episodes: 1. Story of Shakuntala 2. Story of Rama 3. Story of Rishiyasringa 4. Story of King Sivi 5. Abduction of Draupadi by Jayadratha 6. Story of Savitri and Satyavan 7. Story of Nala and Damayanti

Mahabharata - 05 - Parvas 14, 15, 16,17, 18

Book 14. Ashvamedha Describes the Ashvamedha sacrifice of Yudhishthira. Book 15. Ashramavashika Describes Dhritarashtra and Narada's retreat into the foresta and the arrival of Narada. Book 16. Mausala Describes how the Yadavas killed one another. Book 17. Mahaprasthanika Narrates the final journey of the Pandavas. Book 18. Svargarohana Describes Yudhishthira's ascent to heaven.

Mahabharata - 04 - Parvas 10, 11, 12, 13

Book 10. Sauptika Describes how Ashvathama kills the five sons of the Pandavas. Book 11. Stri   This book depicts the: a. wailing of Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and others b. the breaking of the iron image of Bhima to pieces by Dhritarashtra c. shradh  ceremony of those who died in the war Book 12. Shanti Deals with various topics like Dharma and Moksha. Book 13. Anushasana   Deals with topics like: a. spiritualism b. division of wealth c. hybrid caste

Mahabharata - 03 - Parvas 4,5,6,7,8,9

Book 4: Virata Parva This book dsecribes the: a. Pandavas stay in the house of Virata b. the slaying of Kichaka by Bhima c. the rescue of the cows of Virata from Duryadhona and his group by Arjuna d. marriage of Arjuna's son Abhimanyu with Uttara Book 5: Udyoga Describes the prepartion of the Great War Book 6: Bhisma Describes the war under the leadership of Bhishma. Book 7. Drona Describes the war under the leadership of Drona Book 8. Karna Describes the war under the leadership of Karna Book 9. Shalya Describes the war under the leadership of Shalya

Mahabharata - 02 - Parvas 1,2,3

Book 1: Adi Parva   This book describes the: a. origin and genealogy of the sages and royal dynasties. b. birth of the Pandavas c. Yudhishthira's coronation d. burining of the house of lac e. birth of Ghatotkacha f. marriage of Draupadi g. banishment of Arjuna h. stealing of Subhadra i. burnining of Khandava forest Book 2 - Sabtha Parva Describes the Rajasuya sacrifice of Yudhishthira. Book 3 - Vana Parva The third book describes the: a. fight of Arjuna with Mahadeva disguised as a Kirata and his acquisition of weapons like Pashupata b. defeat of Chitraratha by Arjuna

Mahabharata - 01 - Introduction

Traditionally believed to be compiled by Vyasa, the Mahabharata consists of 18 chapters or parvas and a supplement or khila titled Harivamsha containing 16,373 stanzas. All these 18 books excepts 8th and 16,17,18 are divided into sub-scetions or Anu-parvas. Each book again is divided into chapters or adhyayas. The 12th book is the longest with ~14000 verses while book 17 is the shortest with 123 verses. The Parvas are: 1. Adi 2. Sabtha 3. Vana 4. Virata 5. Udyoga 6. Bhishma, which contains the Bhagavad Gita 7. Drona 8. Karna 9. Shalya 10. Sauptika 11. Stri 12. Shanti 13. Anushasana 14. Ashvamedha 15. Ashramavashika 16. Mausala 17. Mahaprasthanika 18. Svargarohana

Ramayana - 03 - Recensions

Some of the different recensions of Ramayana are: 1. Ramayana - Valmiki 2. By Kambana in Tamil 3. By Krittivas Ojha in Bengali 4. Ramacharitamanas by Tulsidas 5. By Bhanubhakta of Nepal 6. Janakiharana of Sri Lanka 7. Ramakerti of Kampuchea 8. Ramakir / Ramakien of Thailand 9. Hikayat Seri Rama of Malayasia 10. Serat-Rama of Java 11. Ramakavacha of Bali

Ramayana - 02 - Dating vis-a-vis Mahabharata

Traditionally, Ramayana is believed to have preceded Mahabharata. However, some scholars believe that Mahabharata preceded Ramayana. a. Poetic Style: Ramayana has almost all the characteristics of a mahAkAvya, according to latter poetics tradition. It is also called AdikAvya or first poetic work. On the other hand, Mahabharata has characteristics of the older ballad style. b. Polyandry: Mahabharata depicts Draupadi's polyandry which is believed to have been an ancient custom c. Although MB Vana Parva (273-90) contains the story of Rama, it is not clear whether it was borrowed from Ramayana or the older Rama ballad. d. Harivamsha refers to Ramayana events, but some scholars opine that Harivamsha was a later supplement to Mahabharata. Based on these, the some people feel that the core events of the Mahabharata was earlier than Ramayana events. Another hypothesis is that the core events of Ramayana are older than Mahabharata, but may have been re-composed in a different era in a dif

Ramayana - 01 - Chapters

The rAmAyaNa consists of the following books: 1. bAla kANDa or Adi kANDa 2. ayodhyA  kANDa 3. aranya kANDa 4. kiShkindhA kANDa 5. sundara kANDa 6 lankA kANDa 7. uttara kANDa Traditionally Valmiki is believed to be the author of Ramayana. Some scholars opine that books 1 and 4, and parts of book 5 and 6, are may be latter additions/ interpolations.

Trika - 03 - Aham and Idam

To account for manifestation, Trika postulates the immanent or active aspect of pure consciousness. Manifestation necessitates a subject and an object, and in the universal condition since there is nothing else, both factors must be consciousness. Consciousness therefore becomes visible to itself as Subject (ahaM) and Object (idam). The removal of one destroys the other. During the passive state they are in equilibrium. During the process of cosmic evolution, the first factors is the dual appearance of aham and idam. The Shiva Tattva is postulated to account for the Subject (Aham) of the dual relationship of universal manifestation. The emphasis is on ahaM without any awareness of the existence of idam. It is pure consciousness. The Shakti Tattva is postulated to account for the Object (Idam) of the dual relationship of universal manifestation. It accounts for the universal cause of all motion and change observed throughout the manifest world. Both Shiva and Shakti Tattvas are eterna

Trika - 02 - Parasamvit

parAsaMvit is the transcendental aspect of Nature or Pure Consciousness, also known as Paramshiva. Since something cannot come out of nothing, the Ultimate Reality must contain all things in their fullness. Therefore it must be: a. chit or Universal Consciousness to account for feeling b. Ananda or Universal Bliss to account for joy c. ichChA or Universal Desire to account for desire d. GYAna or Universal Intelligence to account for knowledge e. kriyA or Universal Action to account for action The eternal substance in which all things inhere is called Chaitanya or Universal Spirit. It is eternal and unmanifest and can be recognized only by spiritual illumination.

Trika - 01 - Introduction

Trika or Kashmiri Shaivism is a system of monism based on the Shivasutra attributed to Vasugupta. The name is derived from Trikashasana or Trikashastra. Trika believes that pure consciousness is the spiritual substance of the Universe. It is a system of pure monism which postulates a single reality with two aspects, one Transcendental and the other Immanent. The former is unmanifest while the latter pervades the universes of the manifest universe. As per Trika, consciousness eternally alternates between two phases, governed by the law of karma: a. transcendental or period of potentiality (pralaya) during which all manifestations are dormant b. immanent or active phase (srishti) which is a phase of manifestation A cycle of Pralaya and Srishti, known as Kalpa is supposed to last 4.32 billion years. As far as the nature of manifestation is concerned, Trika postulates that there is only reality  but that it has two aspects, hence the manifestation is real. Trika uses thirty-si

Tantra - 03

Some characteristics of Tantra: a. They accept Vedas as authorities b. They are not in opposition to the six Darshanas c. They are supposed to provide salvation to man in the present age (Kali Yuga) d. They provide not only the principles but also the basis for experience, that is, theory and experiment e. They are divided into three main groups: Shiva, Shakti and Vishnu There are 28 Shaiva  Agamas. Previous    Next

Tantra - 02

As per Tantric tradition, India is divided into three regions: a. Vishnukranta - East India b. Rathakranta - North India c. Ashvakranta - South India Sixty four Tantras are assigned to  each region. Tantras can be classified as: a. Abheda - Non-dualism b. Bheda - Dualism c. Bhedabheda - Both dualism and non-dualism A Tantra is said to consist of seven topics: a. Creation b. Destruction of the Universe c. Worship d. Spiritual Exercises e. Rituals and Ceremonies f. Six actions g. Meditation Previous   Next

Tantra - 01

Tantra meaning knowledge that is spread to save, is derived from the root tan, "to spread" and the suffix tra, "to save". In a broad sense Tantra refers to a wide class of medieval religious practices and ideas and has eventually become an integral part of modern Hinduism. They contain both philosophy and practical applications of the philosophy. These practices can be divided into three main categories based on : a. the Agamas which are mostly shaivite b. the tantras which are mostly shAkta c. the saMhitas which are mostly viShNuite In a narrower sense, tantra has come to refer to those practices as applicable to worship of Female Goddess or shAkti, and in a still more narrower sense refers to some of the "obscene" practices of the vIras, who are a special category of adherents subscribing to a small sect of the entire tantra way of life. However, tantra is widely misunderstood and the 200 year British rule of India is to blame for this misconcept

Yoga - 04 - Literature

1. Yogasutra by Patanjali 2. Bhashya by Vyasa - commentary on Yogasutra 3. Tattvavaisharadi by Vachaspati Mishra (glossary on Vyasa's Bhashya) 4. Rajamartanda by Bhoja 5. Yogavarttika by Vigyanabhikshu 6. Yogasarasamaghaha by Vigyanabhikshu

Yoga - 03 - Chitta, Buddhi, Ahamkara, Manas

Chitta or Mind is the first birth of consciousness and is associated with awareness. Chitta is divided into three categories in accordance with their functions - they are intelligence (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and mind (manas). Buddhi is the seat of intelligence, the intuitive capacity of the individual, his means of direct perception. When manas registers objects, buddhi discriminates, determines and recognizes. Ahamkara is the first manifestation of individual consciousness, personal position, individual identity. It is the Individualized Self that arrogates to itself the experience had by manas and passes it on to buddhi to be determined. Manas is the seat of responsible conscious activity and accounts for the process of rationalization. It works in association with the knowing senses (gYAnendriya-s) and working sense (karmendriya-s), and can perceive but cannot conceive like buddhi. The principle of the indriya-s, tanmAtra-s and bhUta-s are the same as Samkhya and have been discus

Yoga - 02 - Gunas and Linga Sharira

In the universal condition of nature Gunas are the substance of all things, in the individual manifestation they are the psychological basis of all things. Sattva Guna is the abstract principle of illumination. In the mental world it accounts for joy, pleasure, enlightenment, detachment, compassion and pure action. Rajas Guna is the abstract principle of activity which moves either of the other gunas to suppress each other. In the mental world it accounts for attachment, heedlessness, falsehood and all craving of senses. Tamas Guna is the abstract principle of restraint. In the mental world it accounts for indolence, delusion, ignorance etc. The individual proceeds from the universal condition of Purusha/ Prakriti to manifesting as Jiva. Man therefore has two aspects, subtle and gross. The subtle body known as the Linga Sharira is the vehicle of the Jiva and survives the destruction of the physical body. It is constant and does not change throughout the cycles of life and death. Howe

Yoga - 01 - Introduction and Jiva

Yoga assumes the same cosmological doctrine as the Samkhya, but while Samkhya pertains to the Universal condition of Nature, Yoga deals with Individual condition of Nature. It believes that the gross individual must have a subtle aspect from which it is manifested and to which it will return. This manifestation of an individual is as a result of the dynamic energy of the individual's past action (karma). "Yoga is the restraint of mental modifications" - Patanjali. jIva is the Individual Soul and is the subjective aspect of the individual in the phenomenal world. It is that which produces the feeling of Being.

Samkhya - 09 - Literature

1. According to tradition Kapila left no written work but passed on his works orally to Asuri who passed it on to Panchashikha who wrote Samkhyapravachanasutra and Tattvasamasa. 2. Samkhyakarika by Ishwarkrishna 3. Bhashya by Gaudapada  - commentary on Samkhyakarika 4. Samkhyatattvakaumudi by Vachaspati Mishra - commentary on Samlhyakarika

Samkhya - 08 - Mahat, Ahamkara and Manas Revisited

The trio of Mahat, Ahamkara and Manas can be understood with respect to the sleep and waking state of individuals. When an individual wakes up, he near simultaneously has the following sensations: a. consciousness b. self-awareness or I-ness or "I exist" c. self-knowledge or "I exist in relation to something else" Similarly when the Universe moves from its unmanifest state to manifest state: a. it first gains consciousness - mahAtattva b. it gains self-awareness - ahaMkAra c. it gains self-knowledge - manas

Samkhya - 07 - Gunas

Prakriti is the Cause of the manifestation of the Manifest Universe and Purusha is the seat of Universal Consciousness which the witness to Manifest Existence. When Prakriti manifests it goes through three steps: a. creation b. maintenance c. involution Therefore for each of these there must be some constituent which would account for the diversified objects of nature. These are the three Gunas, which are like strands or strings. Sattva guna is the cause of equilibrium. Rajas guna is the cause of motion and change. Tamas guna is the cause of resistance. These gunas inhere in Prakriti in a tightly coiled state and come into play by specific activations during the process of creation or involution.

Samkhya - 06 - Purusha, Prakriti

The Universe has two aspects - an umanifest eternal aspect and a manifest universe in which we live. The Unmanifest Eternal apsect or the Univesral Fabric itself has two aspects - the Universal Spirit or Unmanifest Universal Energy and the Universal Matter. The unmanifest Universal Spirit or Cosmic Spirit is known as Purusha (puruSha) which is the most subtle aspect of Spirit. The unmanifest Universal Matter or Cosmic Substance is known as Prakriti (prakRRiti) which is the most subtle aspect of universal energy. Both of these aspects exists in close relation to each other and cannot exist independently. They are eternal, unmanifest, beyond perception and are also the Uncaused Cause.

Samkhya - 05- Manas, Ahamkara, Mahatattva

Given that the Universe contains abstract sense-powers (indriya-s), corresponding elementary matter (tanmAtra) as well as the medium of inherence (mahAbhUta), how does the Universe know how to discriminate between Subject and Object, and where does this discrimination happen? This requires the presence of a higher level of abstraction known as manas or the Cosmic Mind. This Mental Plane is where the discrimination happen - where the Universe variously assumes the form of object and subject. This leads to another question, how does the Universe know that there is an "I" involved? Where does this "I-ness" come from? This again requires an Individuating Principle, which is known as Ahamkara or the Individuating Plane. How is this "I-ness" caused? How does the Universe know that there should be an "I"? This requires the presence of a Cosmic Intelligence or mahAtattva (Great Principle). Thus Mahat (Intelligence) leads to Ahamkara (I-ness) which lead

Samkhya - 04 - karmendriya

Apart from the five gYAnendriya, there also exists five karmendriya (abstract working senses): a. vAk or the power to Express b. upastha or the power to procreate c. pAyu or the power to excrete d. pANi or the power to grasp e. pAda or the power to move