March 25, 2013
When is Paryushan in 2013? – 2013 Paryushan falls on Tuesday, 10th September.
Paryushan or Paryusan is the most important festival of the Jains. The word ‘Paryushan’ means abiding or getting together. It is celebrated from the 4th to the 14th day of the bright lunar half of the month of Bhadra (mid-August to mid-September). Paryushan is celebrated throughout 10 days during the time when wandering aesthetics take up a temporary residence for the monsoon season.
Legend of Paryushan
The Paryushan Prava was originally initiated by Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism. The origin of the festival is related to the temporary residence of traveling monks to a particular place for the period of Chaturmas which means the ‘four months of rainy season’.
Celebration of Paryushan
People observe a fast for the period of 10 days. Every day they meditate and renew their faith by reflecting on their spiritual journey. They also conduct various rituals during the day for the purification of their souls. They undertake a pledge to lead a respectable life and also ask forgiveness for their lawlessness. For nine days people follow a life of austerity consuming boiled and puffed rice between 6 to 9 pm. On the 10th day, which is the last day of the festival, they break their fast and a banquet is prepared which is a community affair.
Significance of Paryushan
The period of Paryushan signifies asking for pardon to the Lord by Jains for the sins committed by them. Fasting is also considered auspicious as it purifies the souls and increases knowledge and wisdom. This festival increases the spiritual power and unites all Jains to one soul. It also inspires them to vow that they will reduce the faults in themselves. The significance of the festival is to make the Jains aware of the life force that dwells within all animate and inanimate objects. It makes them review their attitude towards all objects of creation around them.
March 22, 2013
The world’s oldest and third largest religion of the world is Hinduism. Its philosophy does not present any restrictions on the conception of god and the universe. More 1.5 billion Hindus have the freedom to choose their “ishtadev” or “Aradhyadev”, which means favorite god or the worshiping god respectively from a group of 330 million Hindu gods. Most of these gods are the avatars or incarnations of the principal gods mentioned in the sacred scriptures.
Some of the Important Gods in Hinduism are:
Adishakti: She is the ultimate source of energy and governs all the changes in the universe. She is the originator of the trinity of principal gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Brahma: He is the creator of the universe. The first human being Manu is the son of Brahma.
Vishnu: He is the manager of this universe. He supports, sustains and governs all the elements in the cosmos.
Shiva: He is the most powerful god and is responsible for the destruction of the existing universe and transform it into a new form.
Laxmi: She is the wife of Lord Vishnu and is the giver of wealth and prosperity.
Saraswati: She is the wife of Brahma and the giver of education.
Parvati: She is the wife of Shiva and is the giver of power.
Ganesha: He is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is the head of celestial armies and is worshiped by Hindus before the commencement of worshiping any other god or goddess.
The three principal gods along with their wives form the primary group of gods in Hinduism. They are always in complete harmony with each other and never interfere with the working or functioning of the other gods. In times of clashes, these gods consult with each other what is in the best interest of the human race and the cosmos.
The Navagrahas: There are nine celestial bodies of the Sun,Moon,Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. These bodies are believed to influence every aspect of life on earth and thus enjoy the status of gods in Hinduism. The principal gods overlook the functioning of these demi-gods. The roles of these celestial bodies are as follows:
Sun: He is the chief of all the other celestial bodies and represents the soul or spirit in a person.
Moon: He is the ruler of emotions or feelings and represents the mental framework in a person.
Mercury: He is the god of communication which involves reading, writing and speaking.
Venus: She is the goddess of beauty, charm and love. Married life with a partner of an individual is influenced by this celestial body.
Mars: He is the god of action and courage. He rules anger, aggression and dynamism in an individual.
Jupiter: He is the god of good fortune and prosperity. Aspects like higher learning, food and travel are also influenced by this god.
Saturn: He is the god of justice and fairness appointed by Lord Shiva himself for this role. He is the god who rewards or punishes an individual based on his or her karma or actions.
Rahu: He is the demon who causes eclipses by swallowing the sun and moon. He represents the area of life where an individual can experience chaos.
Ketu: He is the demon representing super-natural and unexplainable events in the life of humans.
Conclusion: All followers of Hinduism are aware of the principal Hindu gods and the navagrahas along with their roles in the cosmos and life on earth. These gods are revered the most and regularly worshiped.
October 4, 2012
One of the oldest living religions of the world is Hinduism. Its followers are known as the Hindus. There are one billion followers of this religion and it has sustained its existence since the early Harappan civilization. What are the essential features of Hindu culture which are responsible for its long term existence without any threat?
Essential Features in the Culture of Hindus:
1. Freedom to Propose Beliefs: Unlike other major religions of the world, Hinduism is not a religion per se. Its culture does not include obeying the teachings laid down by a particular prophet. Instead, Hinduism is a collection of points of view of several of its proponents over centuries. Hindus, as part of their culture, enjoy flexibility in the set of beliefs which help them to lead a particular way of life on the basis of righteousness or Dharma. New beliefs replace the age old beliefs from time to time providing relevance to the main principles of Hinduism.
2. Tolerance Towards Other Beliefs: All the major contributors to this religion held and propagated the view that there are as many numbers of ways to reach god as the number of beliefs. This lead to the development of tolerance towards other beliefs in Hindus. Philosophers like Ramakrishna Paramahansa and his disciple Swami Vivekananda even experimented with other faiths by successfully converting themselves into another religion and realize god. This culture holds other religions in equal regard and respect and treat the followers of other religions as fellow travelers in the journey of spirituality.
3. Selfless Service to Others: One of the main pillars of Hindu way of leading life to achieve salvation after death is by doing selfless service to others without expecting any rewards or worry for the consequences. Hindus could remain immune from the primary vices in humans like jealousy, anger and hatred owing to this one principle of doing selfless karma or work.
4. Diversity: There are a large number of ethnic groups like Gujratis, Biharis, Bengali, Tamils, Kannad, Maharastrian,Telugu, Rajasthanis, Odiyas, Malayalies to name a few which form the Hindu community. Each of these ethnic groups has its distinct traditions and a few common practices keeping with the culture of the main religion. Wing this aspect of Hinduism, there is an innate sense of unity in diversity in the Hindus.
There is exchange of food, dressing, music and literature among these different groups under the common sense of being Hindus.
Though the Indian heartland was attacked, conquered and ruled by foreigners of other religion, the culture of the hindus remained as pristine as ever owing to these essential features. Committing of atrocities and the offering of temptations for conversion by the proponents of other religion are recorded in history. But, such attempts only strengthened the faith hindus have on their illustrious culture.
Conclusion: Hindu culture has not only provided a spiritual base in the lives of its followers, but has also been instrumental in providing perspective to the people from other religion who voluntarily chose to imbibe the main essence of this religion like freedom, tolerance and selfless service, as their own.
October 1, 2012
In an interview with Elle Magazine in 2010, Hollywood actresses Julia Roberts said that she became a Hindu. She was drawn towards this religion by her spiritual guru Shri Neem Karoli Baba. By that time she was the World’s highest paid actress with a net worth of $140 million. What is it in the Hinduism traditions that made her find solace in India? The list of western celebrities coming to the east to find a sense of their lives is long. Let us explore some of the reasons of why it is so.
Why Westerners are Attracted to Traditions of India
All the spiritual texts in the Hinduism like the Vedas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata teach that the root cause of misery in Human life is the Ego. It is an abyss of ignorance and darkness. Materialism further deepens this abyss. Bliss resides in the soul of the humans which guides the mind towards the path of wisdom. The body is just a tool driven by the wise mind.
But, the western way of living thrives on ego and materialism. The body is given utmost importance and the mind is filled with thoughts of self-importance. The soul remains an unknown and unexplored concept. As a consequence, the body turns into a slave to the pleasures,the mind swells in pride and the soul starves for spiritual purity. The lives of beings in such a state is same as a newly polished car with a completely filled fuel tank and a malfunctioning engine.
On the contrary, Hinduism teaches ways of life to enlighten the soul, control the mind and devote the body in the service of others. In this way, the soul finds stability, the mind gets a direction and the body is provided a higher purpose to serve under the mind.
By following the traditions of Hindus, like selflessness and self-realization, the westerners bring in a sense of inner balance within their selves. They become detached and unaffected by the chaos and the pressures of the external world and discover a new self in the inner realms of their soul.
Plastic smiles are replaced by innocent and loud laughter. Attachment to materialism is replaced by charity. A life meant for the self is devoted to the well being of the needy. The emptiness of the soul is replaced by divine contentment.
Moreover, the best feature of adapting the traditions of the Hindus is that one can develop his or her own sets of traditions after undergoing self transformation. There are no set rules or beliefs to follow in Hinduism. This religion is not a religion per se but is all about carrying out spiritual experiments in the laboratory of life. The conclusions to be drawn on the complex concepts of self discovery are completely placed on the individual experimenter who in turn experiences a sense of freedom and gratitude towards Hinduism for providing a new lease of life.
Conclusion: In this way, the lost find refuge, solace, a path and a purpose in the Hinduism traditions to undergo self transformation and start living afresh.
September 23, 2012
One of the oldest living and third largest religion of the world is Hinduism. There are more than 1.5 billion Hindus all over the world. The origin of this religion dates back to early Harappan days. Let us learn some of other interesting Hinduism facts.
Facts about Hinduism
- Hinduism is the mixture of several traditions and there is no founder of it
- The word Hindu comes from the Sanskrit word Sindhu which is the river along with a civilization existed in the Iron age
- The earliest references of this religion are mentioned in the Rig Veda, which is one of the oldest scriptures of the world dating back to 1700 – 1100 BCE
- The Vedas, Upanishads, puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Bhagwad Gita are the texts which form the philosophical basis of Hinduism
- Between 5th and 9th century, Hinduism flourished in its several aspects and co-existed along with its sister religions like Buddhism and Jainism
- There were several attempts to change the religion of the natives of India by foreign conquerors
- The Arabs believed in change the faith of the Hindus to Islam by using brutal force and torture
- During British rule, the Christians utilized the poverty of Hindus and lured many to change their faith based on temptation
- The independent India was conceived based on secular beliefs and the Indian national flag is the symbol of this idea
- While the 200 years long rule of the Britishers, influenced the very fabric of Hinduism, it could still serve the period of change owing to its flexible nature of owing progressive thoughts and giving up outdated beliefs
- The west was introduced to Hinduism by Swami Vivekananda in the famous Chicago conference
- Sri Prabhupadha brought the beliefs of this religion on the world stage through the ISKCON movement
- Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Smartism and Shaktism are the major subdivisions of this religion
- The first Vice President of India Dr. Servepalli Radhakrishan stated that Hinduism as the union of reason and intuition. Hinduism cannot be defined and can only be experienced
- The Honorable Supreme Court of India mentions that Hinduism is not a religion and is only a way of life adopted voluntarily as a choice
- The whole world is one big family according to this religion and their complete freedom to adopt other beliefs and even modify one’s own based on personal spiritual experiences
- The objectives of human life are to follow the principles of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha to attain salvation at the end of the life
- The four means to realize god are through, love, work, devotion and wisdom
- There are several pilgrims for the Hindus to be visited in a lifetime, though not mandatory. The four pilgrims at Puri, Rameswaram, Dwarka and Badrinath hold special significance
- The Hindus remain rooted to their culture and tradition by celebrating various festivals all along the year based on specific dates in their mythological texts
Conclusion: The most important of Hinduism facts is that this religion does not believe in conversions as the Hindu way of life is taught to be adapted and shared out of free will and faith.