Hinduism - What Is The Significance Of Cinnabar In Indian Alchemy?

Cinnabar is the common term for mercuric sulfide, which appears as red crystals or clusters. 

Cinnabar is significant in Indian alchemy, especially in the mercurial (dhatuvada) school, since it represents a chemical union of the two elements that symbolize the deity Shiva (mercury) and his wife, Shakti (sulfur). 

  • The universe, according to Hindu alchemy, is a succession of bipolar opposites in conflict with each other. 
  • It is possible to accomplish spiritual development and the cessation of rebirth by uniting these conflicting energies (samsara). 
  • This is accomplished in Hindu alchemy by physically ingesting different ingredients. 
  • Mercury is supposed to represent Shiva's sperm, while sulfur is Shakti's uterine blood in this instance; its combination and intake is thought to help the aspirant advance. 

Hinduism - What Is A Churail?


Churail is a (perhaps derived from the Sanskrit word cur, which means "to steal") female malevolent spirit said to be the spirit of a woman who died childless, in childbirth, or with her wishes unfulfilled in some way. 

These unfulfilled aspirations drive such spirits to seek vengeance by hurting others, especially children, in order to reclaim the pleasure they were denied. 

  • See Lawrence Babb, The Divine Hierarchy, 1975; Ann Grodzins Gold, Fruitful Journeys, 1988;
  • And Sudhir Kakar, Shamans, Mystics, and Doctors, 1991 for further information about churails and other unquiet ghosts of the dead. 


Hinduism - Where Is Chunar In India?


Chunar is a sandstone quarry located approximately 25 miles south of modern-day Benares. 

This quarry is well-known for providing the stone for the Mauryan monarch Ashoka's pillars. 

  • The pillars were erected along his empire's main commerce routes and engraved with imperial proclamations known as pillar edicts. 


Hinduism - What Is Chudakarana?


Chudakarana (“tonsure”) is a Samskara. It is the eighth and last ceremony in the traditional life cycle (samskaras). 

The hair on the child's head is shaved off in the chudakarana samskara, but a tuft of hair (chuda) is often left. 

This is the final of the childhood samskaras, and it is still done in contemporary India, especially by brahmin households, to commemorate the ceremonial end of childhood. 

This ritual is typically done when the child's age is an odd number, although it is sometimes performed when the child's age is an even number (most commonly at one, three, or five years old). 

  • Because most Indian infants are born with hair, which is thought to retain pollutants, the chudakarana is seen as a purification ritual in which the remainder of the impurities from delivery are removed. 
  • This cut-off hair is seen to maintain a strong link with the kid, as it is in many other cultures. 
  • Traditional belief says that if this hair falls into the wrong hands, it may be used to perform black magic on the kid. 
  • Because of this, the hair is typically carefully collected and disposed of, most often by running water.

Hinduism - Who Were The Cholas?


Southern Indian dynasty whose original birthplace was the Tanjore region of Tamil Nadu (9th–13th centuries C. E.). 

The first Chola capital was at Tanjore itself, but under Rajendra I (r. 1014–1042 C.E.) it was transferred to Gangaikondacholapuran. 

Tanjore is located in the Cauvery River delta and is known for its rice-growing potential. 

The Chola kings built their kingdom on the basis of their agricultural might. 

The Cholas were formerly vassals of the Pallava dynasty, but by the late ninth century, they had gained independence. 

  • The Cholas ruled southern India in the 10 and eleventh century, dominating most of peninsular India and Sri Lanka and conducting naval expeditions as far as Malaysia. 
  • The Cholas were known for their public works, especially the building of large temples in the Tanjore region and other parts of Tamil Nadu; one of the most spectacular was Raja Raja's (r. 985–1014 C.E.) Brhadeshvar temple. 
  • The Chola dynasty, on a lesser scale, was also a patron of beautiful artworks, particularly bronzes. 
  • The quick ascent of this dynasty was followed by an equally precipitous fall. 
  • They had been invaded many times by the Pandya dynasty by the middle of the thirteenth century, and were ultimately captured in 1279. 

Yogic Philosophy - The Yoga Of Science


Yoga And Science

Rather than the observable primary reality of existence, the goal of science is search for the truth. 

And, finally, without its translation into the domain of actual life, this search, in my opinion, remains unfinished. 

If not the world, science—that is, scientific knowledge—must undoubtedly change the scientist. 

In the abstract, knowledge is simply a titillation of the mind, a little stimulation of a part of our entire humanness. 

Knowledge must find expression in the body in order to be fulfilled. 

More than that, it must use the force of its truth to transform the body. 

And truth, not knowledge, is the source of all power. 

Manipulative power, such as political leverage or overwhelming influence, is linked with knowledge. 

Truth's intrinsic power, on the other hand, is transformational in the most profound sense. 

It has the ability to reshape a person in the light of truth. 

What is the truth? 

Shouldn't we be talking about truths? 


Truth must be unique in order to be true. 


A plurality of truths is a logical paradox. 

The practice of speaking about many truths originated from the loss of truth and its replacement with a plethora of facts. However, facts are not the same as truth. 

Only knowledge (prajna) is freeing because it bears the truth (ritambhara). 

Without conceptual blinders, truth is reality. 

To the extent that science's path is illuminated by the ideal of truth, it may lead the scientist, step by step, to the discovery of truth—not just factual truth, but the sort of truth that sees everything in context and maintains that context. 

When considering the broader context of human existence, it is necessary to examine humanity's evolutionary potential, as well as its potential spiritual destiny. 

As a result, science may serve as a stepping stone to Yoga's "evolutionary science," i.e., a spiritual discipline that allows us to realize our entire potential. 

If mastered, yoga's concentration and meditation methods reveal the mind's transcendental potential, allowing us to experience truth at the greatest level, as "ultimate Truth" (paramartha-satya). 

Recommended Reading - Unity of Nature (New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 1980), by C. F. von Weizsacker. 

East and West Spiritual Technologies, And Evolution 

Modern civilization is moving in the direction of external freedom. 

Free expression of opinion, affiliation, the ability to form personal connections on one's own terms, and the ability to follow a profession based on one's own qualities are all necessary for a productive and happy existence. 

But, in the end, outward freedom is egocentric, and interior freedom should not be overlooked as a spiritual equivalent. 

The defeat of desire, wrath, greed, attachment, pride, and laziness leads to inner liberation. 

The only way to achieve this freedom and give meaning to all forms of external freedom is for reason and love to come together in a happy marriage. 

1. Our modern technology is the result of humanity's desire for self-transcendence. 

  • Modern science and technology, on the other hand, are limited to the realm of relative liberty and happiness. 

2. The East's psychospiritual technique (i.e., Yoga) is aimed squarely at self-transcendence and inner growth. 

  • Answers to our most basic human problems require both wisdom and practical understanding of contemporary science and technology. 
  • The great Yogas of India are known for their wisdom. 

3. When we acknowledge their worth in regard to their respective areas of application, the two traditions, Eastern technology and Western scientific materialism, are complimentary. 

Reality and Reality Models 

1. The ultimate Reality is unfathomable to the human mind. 

  • As a result, adepts develop models to communicate their spiritual realizations to others. 
  • This is a crucial point: all teachings are simply expressions of the Truth, not the Truth itself. 
  • We must view them as models that may aid us in our quest to get a better understanding of life. 

2. Through the euphoric condition, it is possible to perceive things immediately, without the need of the senses (samadhi). 

3. Epistemology is the study of knowledge and the methods of cognition that are legitimate. 

  • One or more of these methods is recognized by India's different philosophical traditions. 
  • Only sensory perception is permitted by materialist schools, such as the Carvakas. 

4. The following three tools of legitimate knowledge (pramana) are recognized by several schools of lndian thought: sense perception (pratyaksha), inference (anumana), and revealed knowledge (shabda) Some of these instruments are given special attention at each school. 

  • Shabda—or apta-vacana—is the testimony of adepts who are able to give witness to the ultimate Reality via direct realization. 
  • As a result, it is often regarded as the most reliable source of spiritual information. 
  • The process of establishing a proper logical link between two things is known as inference. 
  • The process of seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, or smelling is known as perception. 

5. Ontology, or being theory, is concerned with the broad categories of being. 

  • Most schools of Yoga emphasize ontology, relying on the paradigm provided by the Samkhya tradition, which has twenty-five categories, or tattvas, the twenty-fifth of which is the Spirit (purusha). 

6. Verticalism is a kind of worldview that stresses a "Reality" above and beyond the realm of senses and intellect. 

  • Much of Indian Yoga has been influenced by a verticalist or "ascending" tendency. 
  • This has often resulted in a simultaneous retreat from the "lower" reality of the material world, as in the case of Classical Yoga. 
  • "In, up, and out" (internalization, ascension, and withdrawal/transcendence) summarizes the verticalist viewpoint. 

7. Tantra philosophy provides an alternative to the ascending/verticalist paradigm. 

  • Tantra views Nature and Spirit as inextricably linked, and strives for completeness by integrating all levels, from the coarse physical world to the profound center of Being, Spirit. 
  • The intellectual foundations of Tantra forms the basis of advancement in the physical realm. 

8. Symbolism abounds in most of the world's mystical/spiritual literature. 

  • An understanding and study of pervasive intelligence expressed in existence should be our approach to  symbolism in general and the symbolic language used in Yoga literature.

Yogic Philosophy - The Transcendence Of The Ego

The Desire for Transcendence.

" . . . the aim of science is to become philosophy, the aim of philosophy is to become religion, the aim of religion is to seek God, and thus the aim of Humanity is to become Divine." 

- Sri Ananda Acharya,  Brahmadarfonam, p. 65.

Reaching Beyond the Ego Personality. 

1 . The impulse toward transcendence is innate and universal. 

2 . This impulse has urged seekers to contemplate the Reality beyond the phenomenal world. 

  • The following three characteristics of this ultimate Reality are almost universally recognized:

 • It is an undivided Whole, singular and complete. 

• It is of a higher degree of reality than our ordinary perception of the physical realm. 

• It is the highest good (nihshreyasa) to be realized. 

3 . Realization of the Absolute is the forte of lndia's great spiritual traditions. 

  • In the quest for ultimate freedom, India's sages and pundits have explored the scope of human experience and articulated profound and diverse answers. 
  • Thus, the spiritual heritage of lndia provides us with vast psychological and spiritual models of existence. 

4 . Yoga, in the broad sense of the term, denotes all of the practices and theories of lndia's spirituality. 

  • The purpose of Yoga is to bring about freedom from suffering, or spiritual liberation (moksha). 

5. We are essentially free. 

  • We realize this when we transcend our limited notion of self or ego (ahamkara ). 

6 . Not only do we as individuals have the potential for realizing our innate freedom, the cosmos itself appears to have a tendency to move toward the Real. 

  • Evolution seems to be programmed not only for veiling the Truth from us but also for transcendence of our limited human condition. 
  • Aurobindo Ghose, with his philosophy of integral Yoga, distinguished himself from other great mystics by incorporating modem evolutionary concepts into his metaphysics. 

7 . Art, philosophy, theology, science, and technology can all be understood as expressions of humanity's innate impulse to transcendence. 

  • These pursuits characterize the human search for and expression of wholeness, happiness, and understanding. 


Ego Transcendence 

When the soul itself grows quiet, and rests from its own weariness; 

When the witness releases its final hold, and dissolves into its ever-present ground; 

When the last layer of the Self is peeled into the purest emptiness; 

When the final form of the self-contraction unfolds in the infinity of all space; 

Then Spirit itself, as ever-present awareness, stands free of its own accord, never really lost, and therefore never really found. 

With a shock of the utterly obvious, the world continues to arise, just as it always has . 

In ever-present awareness, your soul expands to embrace the entire Cosmos, so that Spirit alone remains, as the simple world of what is. 

The rain no longer falls on you, but within you; the sun shines from inside your heart and radiates out into the world, blessing it with grace; 

Supernovas swirl in your consciousness, the thunder is the sound of your own exhilarated heart; the oceans and rivers are nothing but your blood pulsing to the rhythm of your soul. 

Infinitely ascended worlds of light dance in the interior of your brain; 

Infinitely descended worlds of night cascade around your feet; 

The clouds crawl across the sky of your own unfettered mind, while the wind blows through the empty space where your self once used to be. 

The sound of the rain falling on the roof is the only self you can find, here in the obvious world of crystalline one taste, where inner and outer are silly fictions and self and other are obscene lies, and ever-present simplicity is the sound of one hand clapping madly for all eternity. 

In the greatest depth, the simplest what is, and the journey ends, as it always does, exactly where it began. 

Yogic Philosophy - Svadhyaya: Yoga And The Quest For Knowledge


Svadhyaya - Study Of Self

Knowledge is a powerful tool. Is it, however, the case? 

This famous adage, in my opinion, is terribly inaccurate. 

Nonetheless, information that leads to self-understanding is priceless, since it is self-understanding that allows us to live a life free of the unconscious's dictates. 

And this is ultimately what Yoga and other spiritual traditions are about. 

As a result, study is seen as an essential method of self-knowledge in the Yoga tradition. 

Svadhyaya is the Sanskrit term for study, and it literally means "one's own (sva) entering into (adhyaya)." 

It denotes a careful and methodical examination of the Yoga tradition as well as one's own self. 

Both traditional knowledge and self­-knowledge are intertwined. 

Traditional scriptures contain the distilled wisdom of sages who have reached the peak of self-knowledge, and therefore these writings may help us get a better understanding of ourselves. 

Study is always a journey of self-discovery, self-understanding, and self-transcendence in the yogic sense. 

It has been a part of the yogic path from the beginning of time. 

Patanjali mentions it as one of the component practices of self-restraint (niyama), the second "limb" of his eightfold path, in his Yoga-Sutra (2.32). 

Study is an important component of Yoga's pragmatic approach. 

Although yoga does not advocate blind faith, it does emphasize the supreme necessity of true, profound faith (shraddhd), or trust. 

Belief alone will not assist us in realizing what exists beyond the conditioned or egoic self. 

Instead, Yoga has always been a very experimental and experiential practice, with research being one part of this sound methodology. 

From study, one should move to practice (yoga), and from practice to study, according to the Vishnu-Purana (6.6.2), an ancient encyclopedic Sanskrit book. 

Perfection in study and practice leads to the revelation of the ultimate Self. 

"Whoever neglects learning in his youth loses the past and is dead for the future."

- Euripedes

Many Western Yoga practitioners, particularly those with a dominant right brain, avoid research. 

They'd much prefer improve their performance in one of the two postures. 

  • However, it seems that they often miss the target because they are unaware of the appropriate environment in which these methods should be developed. 
  • Frequently, they do not have a thorough understanding of the methods. 

They may attempt to compensate for their lack of understanding by attempting to re-invent the wheel and create their own yoga practices. 

  • While innovation is admirable—after all, our whole civilization is built on it—in the case of Yoga, we would be well to be humble; after all, the Yo ga tradition can boast of at least 5,000 years of rigorous experimentation. 
  • A solely left-brained (thought-driven) approach to Yoga is similarly risky, if not entirely useless, just as a mainly right-brained (action-driven) approach to Yoga has its drawbacks. 

"Armchair Yoga" isn't a substitute for hands-on experience. 

"It is better to learn late than never."
- Shakespeare

Our accomplishments will be little if our exercise is simply nominal. 

Both theory and practice, like space-time, constitute a continuum in Yoga. 

It necessitates our entire participation, as the Buddhists describe it: with body, voice, and mind. 

The Bhagavad-Gita (2.48) reminds us that yoga is about finding equilibrium (samatva). 

As a result, when we devote ourselves to the yogic path, we should activate both brain hemispheres. 

Let us not forget that "integration" is one of the definitions of the term yoga. 

Study is a source of pleasure for diligent students, according to the Shata-Patha-Brahmana ( 1 1.5. 7.1), an ancient text. 

It concentrates the student's mind and allows him or her to sleep well. It also provides wisdom and the ability to master life. 

What more could a person want? 

An Exercise In Self-Reflection.

1. What is your relationship with knowledge? 

  • Do you gather knowledge in the same way that some people collect trinkets?

  • Do you consider knowledge to be a path to wisdom?
  • Or do you think wisdom is a whole different animal than knowledge? 


2. What piece of information has had the most profound impact on you, and how has it shaped you? 


3. Do you believe in the concept of "objective" knowledge? 

  • Can we ever get out of our shell and see things for what they are? 


4. According to Alexander Pope, the appropriate topic of study should be humanity itself. What would you say to him if you were in his shoes? 


5. What is the difference between information and knowledge? 

  • The terms "information overflow" and "knowledge explosion" are often used. How do you feel about both of them? 


6. Sometimes we mean "I suppose" when we say "I know." Examine some of your basic "knowledges" to see whether you are really knowledgeable or simply making assumptions. 

  • In your situation, where do you draw the boundary between knowledge and faith? 


7. In religious and spiritual issues, what function do you think knowledge plays? 

  • Is it okay to accept things at face value, or should we constantly strive for perfect certainty? 


8. Many, if not all, Western Yoga practitioners are uninterested in studying Yoga, believing that practicing is more essential. 

  • Do you think it's possible to really practice Yoga without also studying it? 


9. While studying Yoga would undoubtedly provide us with useful knowledge, do you believe it may also inspire, elevate, and encourage us? 

  • What motivates you to pursue a degree? 


10. Do you ever have the feeling that you "don't know anything"? 

  • Or are you proud of your knowledge? 
  • Do you believe that knowledge is a kind of power?

Hinduism - Who Was Chokamela?


 (died in 1338 C.E.) Poet and saint associated with the Varkari Panth, a religious order dedicated to the worship of the Hindu deity Vithoba at his temple in Pandharpur, Maharashtra. 

Chokamela was born an untouchable Mahar, and he is the Varkari saints' sole untouchable. 

Despite Chokamela's great devotion to Vithoba, his low social position barred him from entering the god's temple since his presence would have made it unclean. 

Many stories in the hagiographical literature have Vithoba going outdoors to greet him. 

Chokamela's memorial shrine is located on the temple steps, the same steps that served as his life's border. 

Chokamela seems to have accepted the limitations imposed by his social position, although some of his poetry reflects social resistance. 

G. A. Deleury, The Cult of Vithoba, 1960; Eleanor Zelliot, “Chokamela and Eknath: Two Bhakti Modes of Legitimacy for Modern Change,” Journal of Asian and African Studies, Vol. 15, Nos. 1–2, 1980; and G. A. Deleury, The Cult of Vithoba, 1960. 


Hinduism - What Is The Festival Of Chittirai?


During the Tamil month of Chittirai (March–April), a ten-day celebration is held in the southern Indian city of Madurai. 

Madurai is known for its massive temple devoted to the goddess Minakshi, and the Chittirai festival commemorates Minakshi's marriage to Sundareshvara, the deity Shiva in his human form. 

Minakshi is a ferocious goddess who pledges to marry only a man who defeats her in combat, according to legend. 

She defeats and conquers all of the earth's rulers, but when she approaches Shiva, she is overcome with humility. 

The strong warrior is turned into a timid and shy girl, who marries him. 

Although a goddess's marriage usually signifies her domestication and submission to her husband, Minakshi remains the more powerful deity in this instance. 

She is Madurai's patron goddess, having a temple devoted to her, whereas Shiva is simply her consort. 

The wedding is celebrated with tremendous fanfare throughout the city, with the public procession of the deities through the city on temple chariots being one of the highlights. 

Dean David Shulman, Tamil Temple Myths, 1980; the event is also the subject of a film, The Wedding of the Goddess, produced by the University of Wisconsin at Madison's South Asia Center. 


You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.