I always thought there was only one Dayanand Saraswati whom we had read about in history books. Then, I came across his name while I was doing my research about eminent people in the field of Vedanta. I was more surprised when our PM Modiji told me about him and asked me to meet him. Modiji’s office called him about my visit and told the PA of Dayanandji to permit me to spend some time with him. He has not been keeping well. I was thrilled to find out that he was in Rishikesh. I went to spend two days in his ashram in March 2013. I had more than 100 questions to ask him about various topics of Vedanta. He answered patiently and also opened my eyes about the many facets of Vedanta which I had not touched upon. Inspite of having such dedicate health, he used take regular lectures of the students for more than four hours a day and spend whole day attending visitors.
The ashram is located in sylvan surroundings on the banks of the Ganga, right across the Aurobindo Ashram where famous rock stars of yesteryears would often drop in. I spent the beautiful days enjoying the dips in the Ganga near the ashram. I also met Ammaji who is the writer of the courses offered by Dayanand Ashram. I also shared some moments with various sadhus in the ashram during Guru Purnima which surprisingly fell during my visit. I will never forget what I learned from him. It amazed me to know that many scholars from different parts of the world come to the ashram to learn Vedanta as short or long term courses. I was fortunate to witness the ceremony of Diksha to a few followers who had made up their minds to dedicate their lives to the pursuit of Vedanta and spread the message of our Scriptures.
I have heard his name so many times and read many articles written by him. Imagine my delight when I saw him at the World Hindu Congress at New Delhi in November 2014. I spoke to him in detail about my project and he offered to help me with information about what is happening in the USA in the field of Spirituality and Yoga. He is the creator of the theory of Frawley’s paradox about the Aryan invasion theory. He condemns the theory that the Aryans came from Africa or other parts to India and settled there. The current inhabitants of India are the Aryans and we never came from anywhere. Using logic and evidence, he exposes the existing Aryan theory as nothing but a figment of imagination of vested interests. How convincingly clear are his arguments!. I felt so happy to meet him and listen in person to his thoughts.
It is really interesting to know that a country like Kenya known for uninvolvement of people in jurisdiction, invites people to give a feedback on forthcoming finance bill. When I heard them I found that the government team was all set to hear us. Could manage to suggest about the charges on advertisements on our own premises. They replied about every category patiently and also took feedback from our team of HCK kisumu.
It is a good lesson about how system works locally.
I had heard a lot about Morari Bapu and when I did meet him in person, I found him to be so simple and also a great orator. When I heard him live at Ebedor Club this July, I was really impressed with his simplicity, of accepting everything around him. I was ready with my questions when I went to see him. He was straight forward and answered them all. When I was chatting with the sponsors of the event, I found that no matter what kind of background they came from, Bapu has been successful in impressing and educating all segments of the society. The Katha rendition was mostly in Hindi and Gujarati but I found an American old lady enjoying every bit of it. Perhaps the language of the heart is universal and is not bound by any artificial boundaries. The best part of Bapu is, wherever he goes, he promotes grass root talent, people who come from very humble backgrounds. He promotes them in different countries and helps them connect with a larger audience. This time he had brought some of the best and famous poets, standup comedies, writers and other performers from Gujarat. Were it not for Bapu, these skilled individuals would not have been able to travel, meet people and impress the world.
Smritiji was actually injured when I went to her office in Delhi in November 2014 during my visit to World Hindu Congress. The event opened my eyes about what is happening in the hindu societies across the world. It was pleasant and sad feelings together. Anyway, she liked my ideas about the reforms in education system required and expected from the new government. I also proposed her to come to Kenya and be our guest.
I must say what woman can do men can’t after meeting Anandiben Patel. She is tough but very sensible and sensitive. It was a great challenge for her to take over from Modiji as everyone’s expectations were at its peak. When I met her she was really busy with so many people waiting outside her office. She spoke to us in great length, taking interest in my project, gave me necessary guidance and also accepted our invitation to come to Kenya. As camera was not allowed inside the office, I asked her if I could take a pic on the phone with her, she said, “quickly”. Cool. I just wanted that.
This article was written on the occasion of Inernational Yoga Day. IT was published in one of the newspaper in Kenya.
The word Sattvic is derived from the Sanskrit word Sattva which means pure, essence, nature, vital, energy, clean, conscious, strong, courage, true, honest, wise, rudiment of life.” Sattvic diet emphasizes food and eating habits which promote, maintain or restore a sattvic state of living. It is pertinent to remember that the food we consume falls under any one of the three categories namely Sattvic, Tamasic and Rajasic. Food and drinks that have a destructive influence on the mind and body are classified as Tamasic while those foods that neither lead to better health nor prove to be destructive fall under Rajasic.
References in Scriptures
Yoga literature that can be traced back to the medieval era raises the concept of mitahara or moderation in eating. The best diet is one which is tasty, satisfying, nutritious and adequate to meet the needs of the body. Hatha Yoga Pradipika suggests that one must “eat only when one feels hungry” and “neither overeat nor eat to completely fill the capacity of one’s stomach; rather leave a quarter portion empty and fill three quarters with quality food and fresh water”. Further one interested in yogic practices should avoid foods with excessive amounts of sourness, salt, bitterness, oil, spices, unripe vegetables, fermented foods or alcohol. The Bhagavad Gita also stresses that those in Satttva state prefer foods that are life giving, nourishing, and purifying one’s existence at the same time conferring strength, happiness and health. The goal of Yoga is Chitta vruthi nirodaha that is controlling the mind and calming the senses. A sattvic diet aids in achieving this goal easily. The Chhandogya Upanishad says, “By the purity of food one becomes purified in his inner nature; by the purification of his inner nature he verily gets memory of the Self; and by the attainment of the memory of the Self, all ties and attachments are severed.”
A Sattvic diet
Hence a Sattvic diet is also known as Yogic diet. This includes seasonal foods, fruits, dairy products, nuts, seeds, oils, ripe vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and non-meat based proteins. Seasonal foods, fresh and naturally sourced, well prepared and freshly cooked are recommended. Moderation is the key in Yoga. Vegetarian food procured without harming other living creatures is hence recommended. All the six flavors are important and are preferably present in the Sattvic diet as each is vital for sustenance. Today doctors and dieticians recommend that the food pyramid be followed with a wholesome diet that can provide nutrition from all quarters, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins. They also advise that a diet that is vegetarian certainly helps in reducing many lifestyle diseases which was advocated by our ancient seers.
It is not what we eat alone that matters but how we eat too contributes to our well being. Eating should not be a rushed, matter of fact chore to be over and done with. The act of eating itself is an offering to the Vaishwanara or the divinity that is there within each one, hence it is considered to be akin to a yagna. Sattvic diet is light, easy on the stomach, refreshing and does not contribute to mental agitations. When prepared and served with love, it creates harmony and balance in the human body.
Swami Sivananda sums up beautifully when he says, “Evolution is better than revolution. You should not make sudden changes in anything, particularly so in matters pertaining to food and drink. Let the change be slow and gradual. The system should accommodate it without any trouble.”
It was a great pleasure to meet Modiji personally in Gandhi Nagar during the parliament session in February 2013. After going through the formal process of his office, the staff outside was wondering why I want to meet Modiji. But when he spent more than 18 minutes with me explaining how my project of http://www.indianscriptures.com can be taken forward, their fingers were in their mouth. As expected from a great leader, Modiji helped me with all the possible queries I had. He connected me to the right people who had knowledge of our scriptures and could answer atleast few of my 500 questions I had prepared. He allowed me to take a photo with him and ensured that the photo is delivered. After I spent three weeks meeting those people I informed the CM office. He even spoke to me on the phone before I left India asking if I could manage to meet all those people and if I got the content.
I am proud to be an Indian even though it is not fashionable to claim to be one in modern world and especially on a foreign shore. It is definitely not acceptable in the world of elites and tycoons of NRI fraternity. I still want to defy the world when it comes to the power of this soil, love of people, food from the Indian kitchen, depth of relationships, respect for our parents, love for spouses, respect for customs and last but not the least- our search for God in anything and everything.
I have a strong desire to explore every part of India and find out what makes us different from the rest of the world. Hence I consciously plan my trip to a new location every time I go to India ( I get those jinks in my feet to move and the travel bug bites me) I head straight to India! I have extensively travelled within Eastern states like Gujarat, Maharashra, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and part of Karnataka, Punjab, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It is not still not even 40% of India.
Let me share my experiences of the places I have visited and how each time, I was elevated by the mystic power of the people and places.
Hindu Scriptures stress on values that are universal and can be cultivated by all. The virtues of Dama- Self Restraint, Dana- Charity or giving and Daya- Compassion can be practiced by all easily. Read on to understand the essence of the 3D’s as they are collectively called in this article.
Sanathan Dharma has always stressed on the cardinal virtues of compassion, charity and self restraint. The values espoused by this religion are universal and is not limited to people of any one age or time. One need not be a Bharathiya or for that matter a Hindu to appreciate the message of the Scriptures. This is perhaps why the great poet T.S. Eliot dedicated an entire section ‘What the Thunder said’ in his magnum opus The Waste Land to an instruction that appeals to humanity.
Then spoke the thunder DA
Datta: what have we given? My friend, blood shaking my heart The awful daring of a moment’s surrender Which an age of prudence can never retract By this, and this only, we have existed
Here the poet alludes to the wonderful episode in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Three kinds of beings – devas, manushyas and asuras- that is the divine beings, men and the demons lived under the tutelage of their father and Creator Prajapati. At the end of their period of study, each class wanted a specific instruction from their preceptor to which Prajapati uttered the syllable DA. Each took it to mean a different virtue based on their understanding and experience. The devas said they had to observe self restraint and exercise control to which Prajapati the Wise One said “so be it”. It was the turn of the mortal men and they took it to mean Give, Give in Charity wholeheartedly. The Wise One again nodded in approval. Now it was the turn of the demons, they took the syllable DA to represent Compassion or daya. Thus the enigmatic sound DA took on diverse meanings to different classes of beings and all were right in their own way.
This allegory could in fact represent the different natures within each one of us the Sathwic, the Rajasic and the Tamasic each represented by the Devas, the Manavas and the Asuras respectively. Viewed in this light the message is very powerful as these three virtues have to be cultivated by us gradually throughout our lives. After all, life is an interplay of emotions and we need to observe control over our indulgences and senses whenever such excesses are seen. Sense control is a personal discipline and our religion stresses on Yama – Ethical Discipline which includes Ahimsa (Non-violence), Satya ( Truthfulness), Brahmacharya (Control of the senses and celibacy) Asteya( Non-stealing) Aparigraha (Non-covetousness)and Niyama – Personal Discipline that includes Saucha (Purity, cleanliness), Santosha (Contentment), Tapas (Austerity), Swadhyaya (Self-study, study of scriptures) Ishwara Pranidhana (Surrender to God’s will).
Similarly Charity is a virtue that man has to remember at all times and the act of giving is not aimed at the beneficiary but is in fact a step towards progress for man himself. This message is all the more relevant in this age of crass materialism and the I-ME-MINE culture that has seeped into our lives. The rainbow fish by Marcus Pfister is a beautiful story that brings out the virtue of Giving.
The Rainbow Fish is the most beautiful fish in the ocean. His shining scales sparkle and shimmer. The other fish ask him to play with them, but all he wants to do is show off his beauty. One day a little fish asks Rainbow Fish to share one of his scales with him, but Rainbow Fish refuses. His selfishness and greed leave him friendless and sad. A wise octopus advises the lonely fish to give away his beauty, which he reluctantly decides to do. With each scale that Rainbow Fish gives away, he grows happier and happier. The Rainbow Fish learns the importance of sharing and reaps the joy from giving. The giver becomes joyful and happy. A very poignant message indeed.
The message sent out to the demonic beings was to show Compassion- another virtue sorely lacking in the world today. Compassion is born out of a heart filled with love and mercy. As the Bard of Avon, Shakespeare puts it
The quality of mercy is not strain’d.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the heart of kings;
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.
Today we find people in various spheres perform their tasks without this vital quality of compassion. Imagine a doctor, a teacher, a parent or for that matter just about anyone in the world go about their tasks devoid of compassion. Not everything can be related to commerce and gain.
This particular episode in the Upanishads is thus a powerful message to humanity to cultivate, cherish and nurture these wonderful virtues of Daya, dama and dana. When Bharat Ratna M.S. Subbalakshmi, the Queen of Bhakthi Music was invited to perform at the United Nations on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, she concluded the performance with an Ode to Friendship Maithreem Bhajatha. This prayer was specially written for the occasion by the Saint of Kanchi, Paramacharya Chandrasekharendra Saraswati and dealt with universal brotherhood and peace as enshrined by Sanathana Dharma. The sage brings out the same message that we have seen above when he says
“It is an insult to a starving man to teach him metaphysics”
This one quote by Swami Vivekanada even as early as the nineteenth century sums up the situation of the common man in India. Swamiji’s compassion to the poor stemmed from his real life experiences of seeing them roam pathetically the length and breadth of cities and towns trying to eke out one square meal each day. Swamiji was convinced that real freedom would be gained only when each and every one of the teeming masses would be clothed and fed to their hearts content and can go about in pursuit of other things if this basic instinct of hunger could be satiated. Alas even after sixty six years of independence India has not been able to fulfill this basic survival need of man and the poor have been left behind as the country marches on ahead seeking development and prosperity. A country can be said to be truly developed only if all its citizens are carried towards this surge of progress.
Swamiji thundered “So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them! I call those men who strut about in their finery, having got all their money by grinding the poor wretches, so long as they do not do anything for those two hundred millions who are now no better than hungry savages! We are poor, my brothers, we are nobodies, but such have been always the instruments of the Most High. The Lord bless you all”
Swami Vivekanada had his finger on the pulse on the real problem that had afflicted this country. He was a Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya, a realized soul who travelled throughout this great country trying to absorb influences and understand the problems first hand. He was not an arm chair monk doling out wise lessons from the relative comfort of his monastery. His heart sympathized for the impoverished. During these travels he saw for himself the appalling conditions in which the poor lived and their backwardness troubled him. Swami Vivekananda was perhaps the first religious leader who proclaimed that ‘Manava Seva is actually Madhava Seva’ that is, service to a fellow man was actually service to god. The immediate solution he felt was to provide food and other basic necessities of survival for these daridra narayanas. Swamiji understood the crux of the problem, that owing to centuries of neglect and oppression, the masses had lost faith in their capacity for self improvement. Therefore they had to be infused with self confidence. Spirituality would certainly provide the answer but how about economic upliftment. Secular knowledge or knowledge of some skill like agriculture, industry whatever they could choose to eke out a living was necessary to help them build their self confidence.
His panacea to mitigate poverty was to remove ignorance for if a man had access to education he would develop self esteem and self confidence and would be able to lift himself out of the rut and elevate not just himself but his entire family, nay the entire society and through that the entire nation can fulfill its destiny. Swamiji said “The only service to be done for our lower classes is to give them education, to develop their lost individuality…They are to be given ideas; their eyes are to be opened to what is going on in the world around them; and then they will work out their own salvation. Every nation, every man, and every woman must work out their own salvation. Give them ideas — that is the only help they require, and then the rest must follow as the effect. Ours is to put the chemicals together, the crystallization comes in the law of nature. Our duty is to put ideas into their heads, they will do the rest. This is what is to be done in India.”
Swami Vivekananda believed that India with its ancient civilization and Vedic wisdom could collaborate with the developed West to forge a symbiotic relationship which could be mutually beneficial. “Let knowledge come to us from all sides”. Swamiji believed in this Upanishadic wisdom and his spirit of enquiry and open mindedness was phenomenal. What was the education that he believed in? A man making education and not just a money making one. “Money does not pay, nor name; fame does not pay, nor learning. It is love that pays; it is character that cleaves its way through adamantine walls of difficulties.” He stressed on character building and affirmed that an education that was merely for transmitting information would do no good. Education has to focus on the transformation of an individual where he would blossom into a complete personality filled with compassion and love for fellow human beings. “Feel, my children, feel; feel for the poor, the ignorant, the downtrodden; feel till the heart stops and the brain reels and you think you will go mad — then pour the soul out at the feet of the Lord, and then will come power, help, and indomitable energy.” Such was the master’s compassion and empathy for his fellow beings. He wanted the youth of the country to have muscles of iron and nerves of steel. He galvanized the energy of the youth in the Order that he founded ‘The Ramakrishna Mission’ and engaged them in various service projects. It is only in sharing and caring can we achieve our common goals. The Master’s message is universal and timeless and many youth were in the forefront of his mission. He stressed upon patriotism though he did not directly take part in the National Movement. Pride for one’s country is a recurring theme of his discourses. He wanted the young men and women of this country to be proud of their brilliant heritage and not ape the west in its pursuit of materialism. Character building, he stressed should start from a very early age and he exhorted all those who came under his magnetic appeal using the powerful Vedic benediction ‘Arise, awake and Stop not till the goal is reached.’
Swami Vivekananda blazed into the history of India when the world needed his message of unity, love, compassion, service and empathy and these remain as relevant in the present times as it was during his times. It is indeed a clarion call for the restless youth of India.
Going solo is the definitive Bible for solo travelers everywhere. Once you begin reading this book, you feel this irresistible motivation to take a trip alone. It is all about raw adventure, with just the sky and earth for company.
Being management graduate, I was always familiar with the theories of various aspects of management, but always wondered if they are actually making sense in our professional life or it is just one of the theories & curriculum developed by so-called management gurus to impart knowledge to the world and make money out of it.
Trust me; ever since I have started my business again, I realized that for being a successful entrepreneur our own traditional methods have a lot to teach. We don’t need to go to any management school to learn the basic principle of establishing any business, serving clients, creating wealth, developing goodwill and enjoying long-term fruits of business.
I have observed that the new management mantra for the control of the company is management team centric and we looked down upon family controlled businesses. It is perceived as if the family owned companies wouldn’t take care of the interest of the people. But in real world, most of the successful companies have been started and run by family lineage and managed also very well.
I just thought to pen down the differences between a hired CEO and the owner of the company.
He will always have pressure to make the company profitable, many times at the cost of people’s interest and at times company’s long term interest to prove his caliber
He will be more interested in fulfilling short-term goals compare to long-term interest of the company as this will prove his success but not necessarily company’s success
He lacks the long-term vision of the company and hence it is likely that he overlooks many points
He enjoys all the respects and positions of the owner of the company but still may lack the commitments and attachment to make the company successful at the cost of his life
He knows that even the company is not going through a good patch, he will get paid for that time hence the sense of responsibility towards the funds of money is less
He will not be reluctant in spend the funds of the money and will not control cost
He has the same amount of pressure to make company profitable like CEO but he will take an extra mile to make it happen as it is going to be his success fully
He has a long-term and a complete vision of the company hence he knows ways to take it forward
He fulfills short-term as well as long-term goals of the company without compromising with the quality and returns
His commitments and attachment towards company is much stronger than the CEO
He would forget his own share of the company if there is any problems with the company
The cost of the company will always be controlled by the owner
These are the basic things I have observed and I will continue writing more about what I find good in both the ways of managing business.
Though it was written decades ago, this amazing book, like the Bhagwad Geeta, holds true for every age and era. I was deeply affected by the book. It seemed to me that through every word and every line, the legendary Napoleon Hill was speaking directly to me in the context of my current circumstances. Reading it has given me a definite goal in life and helped me take firmer decisions.
The most influential book I have ever read. Cooper and Sawaf talk about emotional intelligence and how it is linked to success at home and work. Several lessons have been explained via the authors’ Tibetan travels and the lessons learned therein. The book has some pretty instructive case studies from multinational corporations and their experiences with emotional intelligence.
A runaway global hit. I recommend it to couples, both married and unmarried. As the title suggests, the book is a practical guide for improving communication with your better half and getting what you want in your relationships. Gray has some pretty interesting and unconventional theories that are well worth the time spent.
Women have since time immemorial been entrepreneurs in their own right. The dictionary meaning of the word entrepreneur is someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced. A bored housewife who sets up a small day care centre in her own home or a hard working housewife who decides to supplement the household income by preparing pickles and papads and selling them within her circle are both leveraging their talents and setting up an enterprise. While one decides to build an enterprise by offering her services as a baby sitter, the other builds a small enterprise around the specific products she is comfortable preparing and selling. This, dear listeners, is the seed of entrepreneurship that lies deep within every woman.
We have to now understand that world over the traditional set up is changing in the modern era. The social fabric of society is undergoing a transformation, in terms of increased educational status of women and varied aspirations for better living. Media is bringing in images from all over the world into people’s homes. This is necessitating a change in the life style of women both in urban as well as in rural areas.
Today’s woman is educated, well aware of the opportunities around her and bides her time to reinvent herself when the time is ripe. While some may do it to make both ends meet, there are others who want to make use of their skills and talents and also spend time usefully. Thus we have well to do wives of actors like Sharukh Khan and Akshay Kumar who are entrepreneurs in their own right working as interior designers and manufacturer of perfumed candles. The internet is full of inspiring tales of women, whether they are from small towns or large cities, women who have made a success of their passion.
The birth of the internet and online platform is a boon to women who need not travel from their homes or look out to rent space for their ventures. Cake bakers, card makers, clothes designers are all having it good now as they have tasted success. Marketing, in the days gone by, was the work of men as it involved mobility and confidence in dealing with an unfamiliar world. But the advent of social media like facebook and online marketing has greatly helped in letting the world know about your creation.
What do women need to make a success of their skills? First, identify the skills that you are confident or comfortable with. Speak to your loved ones about your plans. Taking immediate family members like husband, parents and children into confidence will help women to steer ahead boldly and creatively. You can even take some time to polish a skill to equip yourself better before plunging headlong into enterprise. Fear of failure is one single factor that prevents women from taking the plunge. It is better to have tried than not to have at all. Everything is a learning experience and has to be viewed in this context only. The learning will prove invaluable to avoid mistakes in future.
But what happens when women do not have the support of a solid family. Fear not, as we can always bank on likeminded friends to take an idea forward. The Grameen bank set up in many parts of rural India is a perfect example for this kind of an enterprise. With the availability of micro financing schemes, women have formed self help groups to set up small enterprises to lead a life of dignity and self sufficiency without depending on their wayward, drunk husbands. Enterprises set up by women succeed because of their hard work, ability to multi task and self motivation. For women in lower rungs much depends on the success of their enterprise like quality upbringing of their children and a break from the monotonous life of subservience. This is an example worth emulating in Kenyan society as well.
Women need skill training, vocational education and entrepreneurship development if they have to compete and become the best. This need not be the job of government alone. Other interested stakeholders can also shoulder this responsibility. Women entrepreneurs have changed the dynamics in society and economy is thriving and improving and many academicians are focusing on this emerging phenomenon which is going to only increase in the coming years.
This article was published in a Souvenir distributed by Hindu Council of Kenya at the event of Vibrant Kenya in January 2015.
HINDUISM- A WAY OF LIFE
Hinduism known as Sanathana Dharma or Law Eternal is a way of life and has been in existence since the timeless beginning. The word Sanatana means ancient; it also means eternal or everlasting. Hence the word Sanatana is defined as that which is old and at the same time ever new. God is called the Sanatana Purusha, the Primeval Being, the One who has no beginning. It is ancient yet ever fresh, ever relevant transcending time and age. The people who had inhabited the land, which is called Bhaarat, Hindustan or India since thousands of years constituted a society, which is very ancient (Sanaatana). The way of life they had evolved came to be known as Sanatana Dharma. The religion has its roots in the Vedas which are believed to have originated along with the dawn of creation. Hence Hinduism is also referred to as Vaidika dharma or Vedic religion.
Vedas- the repository of highest wisdom
Vedas are the oldest authoritative scriptures of Hinduism. Vedic knowledge is based on divine assertions received by ancient seers in their metaphysical state. They were in a state of communion with the divine when the highest knowledge was revealed to them as they undertook severe penance for thousands of years. This was passed on to their disciples in an oral tradition. Vedic knowledge was thus transmitted to generations of men by word of mouth. The written tradition began after Europeans discovered the grandeur of the mystic, mysterious East. Thus began a history of recording these sacred utterances. Yet what is available today sadly is a fraction of the original. Even this has not been explored to the fullest; such is the depth of the content contained in the Vedas.
Vedic Scriptures- Ancient yet Scientific
The Vedas deal with a variety of subjects from the mundane to the lofty. There is nothing that has been left uncovered for the Vedas deal with all subjects- astrology, astronomy, architecture, medicine, art, music, dance, martial arts, yoga, food, health, poetry, literature and the list goes on. There are hymns and mantras for every occasion and every ritual. The valuable knowledge disseminated by the Vedas is not for any particular region, religion, people, period or place. It is universal and transcends all barriers. That makes its relevance eternal. They are authentic and fool proof as many scientific studies conducted on the theories propounded in these Scriptures show us.
The Structure of the Vedas
Veda was an undivided mass in the beginning. It was divided into four parts by Maharshi Veda Vyaasa to suit Kaliyuga-, in view of the short lifespan and depleted mental capacities of human beings. They are: Rig, Yajur, Saama and Atharva. He taught them one to each of his disciples Paila, Vaishampaayana, Jaimini and Sumanta and commanded them to propagate. They taught the sections entrusted to them to their disciples and thus Vedas are preserved by oral tradition, from teacher to pupil through generations. This system of propagation is called Guru Paramparaa. By this system not only the text of the Vedas, but also the intonation of various syllables of the hymns are passed on from generation to generation. The Rigveda consists of hymns in praise of the gods (lustrous beings like sun etc.) in the heavens and is the main book to Mantras. It begins with a Sookta to Agni (Fire) and concludes with a Sookta to the same deity. It contains 10 Mandalas or books with 1028 hymns or Sooktas. There is another division of Rigveda by which it is divided into 8 Ashtakas with 94 chapters (Adhyaayas) and 2009 Vargas. The total number of verses in Rigveda is 10,580.
The Yajur Veda is classified into Krishna (black) and Shukla (white) recensions. The Yajur Veda contains mainly sacrificial formulae in prose and verse to be chanted at the performance of a sacrifice. The Samhitaa of the Shukla Yajur Veda is also called ‘Vaajasaneyi Samhitaa’. ‘Vaajasani’ is one of the names of the Sun god. The last chapter of Shukla Yajurveda is the most important ‘Isa Upanishad’. The Saama Veda consists mostly of verses from Rig-Veda, set to music for singing during the sacrifice. It is a collection of Mantras meant for ‘Udgaata’ priest. There are 1549 Richas in Saamaveda and only 75 of them are independent of Rigveda.
Atharva Veda presents three types of sacrifices – ‘Shaantikam’ for peace, ‘Paushtikam’ for strength and ‘Aabhichaarikam’ to cause injury to enemies. Atharvaveda is also called Atharvaangirasa Veda. i.e. the fire priests Atharvan and Angiraa, both the words meaning tracing of magic formulas and magic spells. Atharvan is sacred and auspicious magic pertaining to peace, health, wealth, affection and protection in family whereas Angirasa means hostile magic relating to curse to enemies, exorcism of evil spirits and ghosts etc. Atharvaveda consists of 20 Kaandas, which contain 739 hymns and approximately 6000 verses in prose and also in poetry. After the passage of a long time, when understanding Vedas became difficult, Vedaangas came into being to explain the true meaning of Vedas.
There are six Vedaangas- 1. Shikshaa 2. Kalpa 3. Vyaakarana 4. Nirukta 5. Chhandas and 6. Jyotisha.
Shikshaa: This is the science of proper articulation and pronunciation. The prime one among Shiksha books is the famous Panineeya Shikshaa.
Kalpa means the science, which stipulates the rituals and justifies the small differences of sacrifices in all branches of the Vedas.
Vyaakarana is grammar. It is the most important of the six Vedaangas. It clarifies the construction of words and syntax in complications of Vedic language. The author of Vyaakarana (Ashtaadhyayee) is Paanini belonging to the Third century BC.
Nirukta deals with etymology of difficult Vedic words. Yaaska is said to be the trustworthy author of this science.
The science of versification is known as Chandas Shaastra (Prosody). This was done by Pingala Naagaacharya. There are seven Vedic metres. They are Gaayatri, Ushnik, Anushtubh, Brihatee, Pankti, Jagatee, Trishtubh and Jyotisha. (Astronomy). This deals with the calculation of the movements of various planets, occurrence of eclipses, intercalary months etc. This is considered to be the eye of the Vedas among the Vedaangas because Vedic austerities are to be performed exactly at the prescribed points of time. Aachaarya Lagadha wrote Vedaanga Jyotisha, which consists of seven chapters.
The later portions of the Vedas are known as Vedanta. This is known as Jnana Kanda or repository of knowledge while the earlier portion was karma kanda or catechism of rituals. The Jnana Kanda portion consists of Aranyakas and Upanishads. The most important of the Upanishads are Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Aitreya, Taittriya, Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka- a total of ten in all.
The Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and the Bhagawad Gita form the Prasthana Thraya, the primary three scriptures of Hinduism while our epics, Ramayana and Mahabharatha, Puranas , agamas, darsanas all expound the glory and character of Hinduism in different ways.
The colorful and complex world of Indian mythology is another delightful aspect of Hinduism and has been explored by many authors, traditional and contemporary.
The Isavasya Upanishad, one of the primary scriptures of Hinduism says Isavasyam idam sarvam that is this whole world is pervaded by god. The Rig Veda extols –Ekam sat viprah bahudah vadanti that is, Truth is one, the wise call it by many names.
Godhead in Hinduism
Hindus believe in one Supreme Godhead called Brahman who is impersonal without form, shape or attributes, who is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. He transcends time and space and he can be worshipped as the Supreme consciousness or Paramatma, as Light or Love. When God is viewed as a Personal Being he is called variously as Iswara or Bhagawan. He manifests as an image or Murti, idol or icon, which is viewed as a personification of Divinity. God is invoked through mantras, rituals, chants, Pujas, bhajans, songs etc, in short anything that lets a devotee tune in to thoughts of divinity and helps him focus his mind. He is worshipped out of love not fear. This is the most unique aspect of Hinduism. His glory cannot be fathomed though we get glimpses through the outpourings of His saints and devotees. Thus a personal god helps a worshipper to easily comprehend and connect with the otherwise inscrutable, incomprehensible Supreme. These forms are many and a devotee is free to choose his favorite deity or Ishta Devata. In short there is a whole range of Divine Operating System in this universe and thus we see many gods in the Hindu Pantheon. The Trinity comprising of Brahma representing Creation, Vishnu for Preservation and Shiva for Dissolution, the Feminine or Shakti aspect represented by Mother Goddesses like Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati and the various Devatas like Ganesha, Subramanya along with many more comprise the Hindu galaxy of Gods.
And then there is the highest philosophy propagated in Hinduism I am God- Aham Brahmasmi. For we are no different from the supreme consciousness and when true realization dawns we break free of the fetters and realize that we are that Supreme godhead ourselves. So it is important to understand that Hinduism cannot be typecast as a particular belief system- like monism, theism, monotheism, polytheism, pantheism etc. Perhaps that is the reason why the Vedas found it easy to describe god in a unique negative way neti neti- not this not this for he is this and much more. So like the anecdotal seven blind men who described the mighty elephant, we can aspire to describe the infinite primordial without any success. Hinduism is the only religion that is so diverse in its theoretical premise that finds practical expression in myriad ways so as to suit the times and the ages. It is a live, vibrant religion that provides space for plurality of belief and expression.
www.indianscriptures.com is one of such websites which has explored the knowledge of scriptures and presented them in easy to understand format for the readers. The site is promoted by Shrivedant Foundation, a non-profit foundation is dedicated to spreading the message of Vedic Literature. It was founded by Smt. Vaishali Shah in 2001. www.indianscriptures.com is a unique one stop portal where material relating to our religion is available to all seekers. The information is genuine, authenticated and contributed by learned scholars, renowned gurus, earnest writers and established institutions. The site is a treasure-house of knowledge to all who visit it. Many Indian Scriptures in digitized format are uploaded on the portal. It is the first website to have all Indian Scriptures like Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, Itihasas, Upapuranas, Brahmangranth and many other original texts in digital form from various schools of thought. The site is informative and there are about 38000 pages filled with enriching, unique content in their original form. There are more than 300 original Scriptures in Sanskrit, Hindi and English about Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism. Readers can also download original scriptures for free.
I established The Kenya Vegetarian Club to support the cause of vegetarianism and hope to increase the number of vegetarians in Kenya. Our club endeavors to
Promote human health
Protect animal rights
World over there is a great interest in vegetarianism today. People from all walks of life would like to switch over to a vegetarian diet if they are convinced of its merits. Some are confident about their food habits and make the switch easily. Others need support, guidance and perhaps a gentle nudge. Also there is considerable confusion in the array of products that are available on the shelves of the supermarkets. Many shoppers find it difficult to tell which food and drinks are produced using animal products. The food industry often uses products that may not be suitable for vegetarians. Health professionals are not very clear about the merits of vegetarian diet as they receive little or no training in vegetarian nutrition. Parents are confused whether a wholly vegetarian diet would provide the required nutrition for their kids.
The Kenya Vegetarian Club aims to fill in this space and supports, guides and promotes vegetarianism by arranging various programs and events that help members to understand and appreciate the importance of vegetarian diet. The club also creates awareness about vegetarianism in Africa as the world is moving towards saving the environment and food production and consumption is the first step towards it. The Club intends to help local farmers to grow more vegetables thereby helping them to earn more. Shrivedant Foundation is a non-profit body which hopes to create many such movements which would help locals to switch over to a better and healthy living.
KVC publishes a quarterly newsletter which offers tidbits of information on vegetarianism, interesting recipes, vegan celebrity profiles and other important information of the events happening in Kenya. Those interested in receiving a copy of the newsletter can register by mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also find us on Facebook and Twitter to follow the activities of the club.
The Club promotes tree planting to help save the beautiful forests of Kenya. We need to join together and preserve our wildlife and other national resources for the future of our citizens. Kenya is a country of vegetation and rich with tons of variety of vegetables and fruits. Let’s all pledge to remain vegetarian and help to promote the same across the world.
Yankelovitch, a businessman, author and educationist, explains different strategies of dialogue and how conflicts all over the world can be resolved with, as he puts it, ‘the magic of dialogue’. It also helped me on a personal level, to better handle the conflicts and disagreements in my life.
This wonderful book is a great communication guide for travelers, executives, leaders and public speakers – in fact, anyone who travels overseas frequently. Apart from explaining the nuances of communicating in an unfamiliar country, it also includes several pointers on handling unexpected situations and addressing foreign audiences.
This book taught me to employ my time far more effectively. As I read it, I realized how we constantly forget how limited our time on this planet is and how we pretend that we are the masters of our own time. The truth is quite the opposite. There are two sections in the book that help you sum up your whole life and realize what you want to do with it. It also describes some common time-wasting activities we all could do away with in order to get the best out of our lives.
Spirituality is our only hope of finding peace in today’s hectic life. It helps one get into a mental and emotional state of balance. I never had to learn the importance of spirituality from anyone around me. I was born with this realisation. Though it is a very personal matter, I’d still like to share my experiences here, because I want people to know that spirituality has the answer to all of life’s questions. It teaches you to live with yourself and gives you immense pleasure out of doing NOTHING. Spirituality helps you attain whatever you want in life, it improves your communication and relationships, helps you grow as an individual and makes you so powerful that your enemies will never find a chink in your armour.
I was lucky to get a taste of spirituality very early in life. I used to have long conversations about life and spirituality with my teachers during my school days. These conversations influenced me to take a deep interest in various scriptures and the Vedas and Puranas. I also began to understand the importance of connecting with one’s own soul.
I heard about ‘Vipassana’ from a friend during early days of my professional life. This word comes from Pali, the language of the Buddha, and it means ‘SEE IT AS IT IS’, i.e. without any alteration or denial of the truth. Vipassana is a 6000-year old practice of achieving inner liberation that was revived by the Buddha about 2500 years ago. Sadly, it disappeared from India about 500 years after he attained nirvana. However, Vipassana remained preserved in Burma in its purest form of ‘guru-shishya parampara’. It was brought to India again by Mr. S. N. Goenka.
When I went for my fist Vipassana camp, I remember being completely clueless. The code of conduct for participants strictly forbids killing, stealing, sexual activity, lying, intoxicants, bodily decorations and even high beds! Even the diet is strictly controlled. The aim is to wash away all the pain and stress accumulated inside the body and mind. I remember crying frequently for the first 3-4 days.
But in this cathartic process, all my .previous aversions, agitation, cravings, negativity, anger, fear, and all kinds of disturbing thoughts were slowly getting eliminated After purification of the mind, we were told to observe each and every feeling inside the body. My mind was constantly wandering and I realised then how difficult it is for us to just focus on the moment and not measure ourselves by various yardsticks. I realised that we were not born to eat, sleep, adhere to silly societal laws or live for pleasure. We can actually create a world of our own in our minds and hearts. Believe me, that camp changed my life spiritually and emotionally. An unexpected outcome of the camp was that I was able to start using certain perfumes that I was allergic to earlier.
I strongly recommend this camp to people suffering from migraines and headaches, psychosomatic problems or any kind of allergies. You may want to visit www.dhamma.org for more details.
An Author, Researcher, Blogger, Social Worker, Traveler, Avid Reader, Philanthropist