Monday, December 29, 2008

About this blog


The purpose of this blog is to share opinions, links and resources about the Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) with like minded souls elsewhere in the world. I would rather consider this as an online Satsangh i.e. company of good souls exchanging their views and sharing the nectar of devotion.

It all started when I was wondering what all things I will teach my future progeny to educate them about the rich cultural heritage of India. I realized that I will feel myself guilty and quite unworthy if I fail to pass on the heritage that my forefathers have bestowed on me. 
This blog is a tapestry of discussions, articles, links and resources on Hindu culture. It also helps to connect with people all over the world and exchange ideas. Please feel free to post your comments and to contact me.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Palani - Abode of Lord Murugan

Palani (Pazhani / Thiru Avinankudi) is a temple in a hilltop in the Dindigul district of the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The deity of Palani is known variously as Lord Murugan, Dandayudhapani Swami, Shanmukhan, Arumukhan, Saravanan, Swaminathan etc. Cheaman Perumal, a ruler of Kerala, built the main temple perhaps in the 7th Century AD.

The legend behind the origin of the temple is as follows. Once sage Narada paid a visit to Kailasa to see Lord Siva and Parvathi and gifted a mango (jnanappazham or fruit of knowledge). Lord Siva gave it to Parvathi who in turn wanted it for her children to eat it. As there was only one fruit and it should not be cut, they announced a contest and said that the winner would be given the fruit. Whoever makes a pradakshinam (circum ambulation) of the entire world first will be given the fruit.Lord Murugan mounted his vahana (peacock) to go around the world. Lord Ganesha was cunning and circumambulated around his parents, symbolising the world, and got the fruit. On his return Lord Murugan found himself cheated and in his anger renunciated everything and came to this spot to settle forever. Lord Siva and Parvati said, "Pazham Nee" ('You are the Fruit') to pacify him and that is how the name of the place came into being Pazhani.

Visit the official temple website to know more about the legend, facilities, maps, picture galleries etc.
Link: http://palani.org/

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Narayaneeyam

Melputhoor Narayana Bhattathiri was born in 1560 was born in Thirunavaya near the northern banks of the river Bharathappuzha in Kerala. He had mastered from his guru Achyuta Pisharody, Rigveda, Sanskrit grammar and ancient Indian logic by age 16th. He was afflicted with chronic rheumatism and was advised by Ezhuthachan (father of Malayalam language) to dedicate a work to Lord Guruvaayoorappan. He had completed the work in 100 days by submitting one cantos (of 10 verses, called "Dasakam" in Sanskrit) before Guruvayoorappan on each day with each one of them ending with a prayer for a cure for his illness. On the 10th day, he became completely cured of his disease. His work describes Bhakti tradition of India and portrays the life of Sri Krishna.


This beautiful work in Sanskrit is bought to the public via the medium of internet by A. Sanatkumar and Lalitha Sanatkumar. The website was inspired by the setting of the complete Narayaneeyam to music by his mother Shrimathi Seethalakshmi Ramaswami. You can read the original text in Sanskrit, read it’s English meaning and listen to the melodious rendering for each shlokam.


Click Here to go to Complete Narayaneeyam website.


Sabarimala – Abode of Lord Ayyappa

Not many deities are termed as kaliyuga varada since it is difficult to attain Moksha in this age of hypocrisy, violence and bad influences. It is believed that Lord Ayyappa will grant a devotee moksha if he observes 41 days of austerities and climb the 18 holy gold steps to arrive at the sannidhanam to get a glimpse of the Lord. He combines in himself the powers of Vishnu and Shiva and is referred to as Dharmasasta, Manikantan, Harihara sutan, Ayyanar, Bhootanathan etc. Lord Ayyappan's temple is situated in the Western Ghat mountain ranges, in the Sahya hilly regions in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, India in the midst of 18 hills.

Kerala has always been a religiously tolerant place where people of different faiths and beliefs work together for a common culture. People from different faiths go to a pilgrimage to Sabarimala with single minded devotion to Lord Ayyappa. ‘Vavaru nada’ is a place near the temple which is dedicated to a muslim disciple of Lord Ayyappa. The temple plays the rendition by Dr. K.J. yesudas who is a staunch Ayyappa devotee though being a Christian by birth.

Makara Jyothi is the celestial star which marks the climax of the Sabarimala pilgrimage season called Makaravilakku. The main worship is performed on the day of Makara Sankranti (January 14th). Below is a video from youtube with a commentary on the celebrations in Sabarimala.

http://www.manikanta.com/ contains all the necessary information like the legend, history, routemap, schedules etc.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The legend of Tirupati

In the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh state in S. India is the sacred shrine of Sri Venkateswara (Balaji). The varied names ascribed to the main deity are Balaji, Srinivasa, Venkateswara and Venkatachalapathy. The goddess Sri or Lakshmi (Vishnu's consort) resides on the chest of Venkateswara, and thus he is also known as Srinivasa (the one in whom Sri resides). This famous ancient shrine occupies the Venkatachalam hill that forms part of the seven hills of Tirumala, and hence the temple is also known as the Temple of Seven Hills. The temple is the most visited Hindu place of worship, and is the world's second richest in terms of the offerings made by pilgrims to the God and gifts given by visiting pilgrims. The temple is visited by about 60,000 pilgrims daily! On special occasions and festivals the number of pilgrims shoots up to 200,000, making it the second most visited holy place after the Vatican, annually.

Not many people who visit the temple are aware of the other temples in and around the Tirupati. They include Alamelu mangapuram at Tiruchanooru, Srinivasa Mangapuram, Sri Kalahasteeswara Temple, Kapila Teertham, Govindaraja Swamy Temple, Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple and Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami.

The legend surrounding the origin of the temple is described beautifully in the official temple website at http://tirumala.org/maintemple_legends.htm

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tripura Rahasya

Sri Tripura Rahasya is an ancient work in Sanskrit. It was considered by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi as one of the greatest works that expounded advaita philosophy. Some scholars however call this system the Taantri or the Saakta, and point out some apparent differences between this and Advaita Vedanta. This system teaches that the Supreme Reality is no other than Abstract Intelligence. "Intelligence" signifies Self-luminosity and 'Abstraction' denotes its unlimited nature.
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi often often quoted from it and regretted that it was not available in English. As a consequence Sri Munagala Venkataramaiah (now Swami Ramanananda Saraswathi) took up the work of translation in 1936 as another labour of love, adding just one more English translation to his already extensive store.
The origin of this work is as follows. Mahaadeva (Lord Siva) originally taught the Highest Truth to Vishnu who in turn taught Brahma in the Celestial regions. Later Vishnu incarnated on Earth as Sri Dattaatreya, the Lord of the Avadhuutas (the naked sages), and taught it to Parasuraama with the added injunction that it should be communicated to Haritaayana who would later seek the Truth from him. The work was thus written by Haritaayana and is also called after his name Haritaayana Samhita. It is said to consist of 12,000 slokaas in three sections.
You can read this great work of philosophy in English at http://sss.vn.ua/tripura1.htm5

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

It is believed that the Guru (Spiritual Master) is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord (God) because of his being the closest servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged by the ancient scriptures and followed by most authorities. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisance unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master. The Guru should be accepted as the God. Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was born as Sathyanarayana Raju on November 23, 1926— or later than 1927 — with the family name of "Ratnakaram" and is a South Indian guru, religious leader, orator. In fact, devotees consider him as the incarnation of God.
Bhagawan Sri Satya Sai Baba was born to Peddavenkama Raju and Eswaramma in a poor agrarian family in the remote village of Puttaparthi, located in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh. He was given the name Sathya Narayana Raju. On 20 October 1940 at the age of 14, Sai Baba announced, "My devotees are calling me. I have my work." From then on Sai Baba claimed to be the avatar for our age, i.e. a divine incarnation sent to Earth to bring about spiritual renewal. He has consistently maintained this position ever since.
Swami himself has said that Sai Baba of Shirdi was an incarnation of Shiva and that his future reincarnation, Prema Sai Baba, would be a reincarnation of Shakti. He publicly repeated this claim in 1976.[21] Baba's biography states that Prema Sai Baba will be born in Mysore State in India. Sathya Sai Baba is a prolific orator about religious topics. He asserted that he is an avatar of God in whom all names and forms ascribed by man to God are manifest. He also says that everybody else is God and that the difference is that he is aware of this and others have yet to realize it, which is consistent with advaita vedanta, including modern teachers such as Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj.

Sathya Sai Baba preaches love and the unity of all world religions and asserts that people who follow him do not need to give up their original religion. His followers view his teachings as syncretic (uniting all religions). He says that he has come to restore faith in, and encourage the practice of the teachings in the Vedas (Vedasamrakshana). Several books and discourses by him, such as the book Ramakatha Rasavahini teach the literal interpretation of Hindu mythology and advocate the practice of Hindu Dharma (Sthapana)
“I have come to light the lamp of Love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. I have not come on behalf of any exclusive religion. I have not come on a mission of publicity for a sect or creed or cause, nor have I come to collect followers for a doctrine. I have no plan to attract disciples or devotees into my fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this unitary faith, this spiritual principle, this path of Love, this virtue of Love, this duty of Love, this obligation of Love.”
-4 July 1968, Baba
Sathya Sai Baba is the figurehead to a number of free educational institutions, charitable organizations and service projects that are spread over 10,000 centers in 166 countries around the world.
Links:

Read Srimad Bhagavatam Online

Srimad Bhagavatam is a sacred collection of stories especially for the Vaishnavites. The book, arranged in twelve so-called cantos, comprises 335 chapters with about 18000 verses. It is that collection of stories which stresses the prime importance of the maintaining aspect of God personified by the transcendental form of Lord Vishnu. The writer of this book is Krishna Dvaipâyana Vyâsadeva, also called Bâdarâyana. He compiled the Vedas, also known as s'ruti, containing the basic wisdom, the mantras for the rituals and the hymns. He as well wtote the Mahâbhârata. Vyâsa also wrote the rest of the eighteen purânas as well as the Brahma-sûtra, his masterpiece on the Absolute Truth.

This book, and it's culture, was brought to the West by Swami A. C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupâda. Together with his pupils. He realized a verse by verse commented series of books covering the entire Bhâgavatam. This site offers not all these commentaries but does offer the basic translation of the verses as well as a concatenated version, translated as-it-is which is regularly updated, being maintained by Anand Aadhar Prabhu (René P. B. A. Meijer), a dutch psychologist converted to the philosophy of yoga who received instruction in the temples of ISKCON.

http://www.srimadbhagavatam.org/

Sanskrit Stotras, Mantras and Texts

I was searching for an online source for the daily recital of stotras and veda mantras since I could not get them from local bookstores. Study Sanskrit, read Sanskrit texts, listen to Vedic pundits chant, or read Sanksrit humor. http://sanskrit.safire.com/ contains a wide variety of Sanskrit texts and stotras in the pdf format, which you can view or print for your personal use. Most of the texts are in Devanagari script and some are with English translation. Bhagavad-Gita, Devi Mahatmyam, all of the sahasranama stotras, and several other texts are also encoded in transliteration. The site is maintained by Mr. Dale Steinhauser. If you would like to show your appreciation for all the work and dedication which has gone into the website, please consider donating. The site is dedicated to His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Sanātana Dharma

Hinduism is often referred to as Sanātana Dharma, a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal law", by its practitioners. Hinduism is often stated to be the "oldest religious tradition" or "oldest living major tradition."Hindū is the Persian name for the Indus River, first encountered in the Old Persian word Hindu (həndu), corresponding to Vedic SanskritSindhu, the Indus River.Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism,panentheism, pantheism, monism, and atheism. It is sometimes referred to as henotheistic

Most Hindu sects do not seek converts because they believe that the goals of spiritual life can be attained through any religion, as long as it is practiced sincerely. Concepts of conversion, evangelization, and proselyzation are absent from Hindu literature and in practice have never played a significant role, though acceptance of willing converts is becoming more common. Early in its history, in the absence of other competing religions,Hindus considered everyone they came across as Hindus and expected everyone they met to be Hindus.

Hinduism's vast body of scriptures are divided into Śruti ("revealed") and Smriti ("remembered"). These scriptures discuss theology, philosophy and mythology, and provide information on the practice of dharma right living. Among these texts, the Vedas and the Upanishads are the foremost in authority, importance and antiquity. Other major scriptures include the Tantras, the Agama, the Purānas and the epics Mahābhārata and Rāmāyana. The Bhagavad Gītā, a treatise from the Mahābhārata, spoken by Krishna, is sometimes called a summary of the spiritual teachings of the Vedas. It can even be considered as the holiest book for Hindus akin to Bible for christians or Quran for Muslims.

    The apparent multiplication of gods is bewildering at the first glance, but you soon discover that they are the same GOD. There is always one uttermost God who defies personification. This makes Hinduism the most tolerant religion in the world, because its one transcendent God includes all possible gods. In fact Hinduism is so elastic and so subtle that the most profound Methodist, and crudest idolater, are equally at home with it.

— George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Nobel Laureate in Literature

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