Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Sikhs. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Sikhs. Sort by date Show all posts

Hinduism And Hindu Theology - What Is The Adigranth?

Adigrath literally means, “Primal Book”. One of the titles for the Sikh text that is most often used by non-Sikhs. 

Sikhs prefer to refer to the text as Shri Guru Granth Sahib, which indicates the book's position as the Sikh community's spiritual leader (guru). 

The tenth Sikh guru, Gobind Singh (d. 1708), bestowed this position after declaring that the community will no longer have human leaders after his death, relying only on their scripture for guidance. 

  • The Sikhs' treatment of the text demonstrates its religious authority. 
  • They treat the Adigranth as if he were a live being. 
  • The Adigranth is ceremonially put to bed at night in Sikh temples and awoken in the morning. 
  • It is worshipped beneath a canopy (a symbol of royalty), fanned in hot weather and warmed in cold, and carried on the bearer's head, which is regarded the cleanest portion of the body, if it must be transported anyplace. 
  • The Sikhs were most likely inspired by Muslim behavior with regard to the Qur'an, since most Hindus give little attention to a book itself, no matter how significant the content may be. 
  • The Adigranth is very important in Sikh life: Sikh couples marry by circling the book, similar to Hindu couples surrounding the holy fire (agnipradakshinam), and a popular dying ritual is an uninterrupted reading (akhand path) of the whole text. 

Guru Arjan, the fifth Sikh guru, composed the book between 1603 and 1604. 

According to legend, he wrote the book in response to competitors challenging his authority, some of whom had produced and circulated volumes ostensibly containing the teachings of Teacher Nanak, the Sikhs' founder and first guru. 

While there may be some truth to this legend, it is now widely accepted that Arjan was working from a compilation created a generation earlier. 

The mul mantra, which provides a set of characteristics and qualities attributed to the Supreme Being, is found in the first verses of the book. 

The Adigranth is divided into three sections after this entrance. 

  • The first is the Japji, a collection of thirty-eight verses by Guru Nanak that are considered the core of the Sikh religion and are repeated as the morning prayer by the devout. 
  • The hymns of the Sikh gurus are organized by raga, or musical mode, in the second part. 
    • The hymns are organized by poetic meter inside each raga, and within each meter, the hymns are ordered chronologically by who of the gurus wrote them. 
    • Because all 10 gurus, according to Sikh tradition, had the same heavenly essence, they all called themselves "Nanak." 
    • However, the songs' introductions distinguish them by using the word Mahala (literally "home," but metaphorically "body") followed by a number, ranging from Mahala 1 for Guru Nanak to Mahala 5 for Guru Arjan. 

  • The Adigranth's last part includes hymns written by a variety of different followers (bhakta), both Hindu and Muslim, who the Sikh gurus felt were preaching the fundamental Sikh doctrine of monotheism and the necessity to serve God. 
    • Trilochan, Jayadeva, Pipa, Ramananda, Sen, Namdev, Kabir, and Ravidas are among the Hindu devotional (bhakti) poets whose works may be found in this area, with major collections for the latter three. 
    • This final part makes the Adigranth a very significant book, even for people who are not interested in the Sikhs. 
    • This part not only provides manuscript tradition that can be exactly and properly dated, but it also ensures that the text has stayed unaltered from the beginning of the seventeenth century due to its holy significance. 

Many additional manuscript sources for these poets are far more modern, and textual degradation and pseudonymous additions make them difficult.

You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Hinduism - Who Was Yogi Bhajan Or Harbhajan Singh Puri?


Yogi Bhajan or Harbhajan Singh Puri, was the 'Sikh Dharma Brotherhood' founder and modern Hindu missionary.

In 1969, he arrived in the United States, leaving behind a job as a customs agent at the Delhi airport.

His first teachings were classical hatha yoga and kundalini yoga disciplines, with his followers grouped into the "Happy, Healthy, Holy Organization" (3HO).

Hatha yoga is a religious discipline (yoga) based on a sequence of body postures known as asanas.

It is commonly thought that this practice provides a variety of physical advantages, including enhanced bodily flexibility and the potential to treat chronic diseases.

Kundalini yoga is a spiritual practice whose main goal is to awaken the kundalini, the dormant spiritual power that lives in everyone's subtle body.

The kundalini is supposed to be awakened by a mix of yoga practice and ritual action, and it is said to provide further spiritual capacities and, eventually, total soul liberation (moksha).

Yogi Bhajan claims to be a master of tantra, a hidden, ritually based religious practice, but his teaching expanded in the 1970s to incorporate ancient Sikh beliefs and symbols.

The most visible of these symbols are the "five Ks," which include uncut hair (kesh), a comb (kangha), a jewelry on the right wrist (kara), shorts (kacch), and a ceremonial sword (kacch) (kirpan).

Many of Yogi Bhajan's followers adhere to Sikh symbols considerably more rigidly than most individuals born as Sikhs, yet there are two major differences between the movement and the traditional Sikh society.

One of them is its concentration on tantra, which isn't very popular with Sikhs.

The most notable distinction, however, is Yogi Bhajan's religious authority over his followers, which is considerably different from the traditional Sikh community's decentralized, essentially democratic structure.

You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.

Hinduism - Who Was Fani Muhsin? What Is The Dabistan-iMazahib?

Fani Muhsin  (ca. mid-17th c.) Traditionally credited with writing the Dabistan-iMazahib ("School of Manners"), which was most likely written about 1665. 

The Dabistan is a priceless outside source for religious life at the period, since it contains one of the first accounts of the Sikhs, as well as many other contemporary sects. 

Fani, a Persian and a Parsi by origin, traveled to India because he was fascinated by religious life and wanted to observe all he could. 

He is said to have been a keen observer with a fair amount of objectivity. 

He claims that all he did was translate (into the Persian in which the material was written) what his friends and sources had informed him, and the text seems to back him up. 

You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.

Hinduism - AGAMAS



    What Are Agamas?

    Agamas refer to sacred Hindu texts recorded in various forms collectively.

    The significance of texts of all kinds—prose and poetry, written and oral, spoken and sung (whether by a single expert or by a multitude), antique and vernacular, stable and fluid—distinguishes Hinduism, if Hinduism can be characterized as a single thing at all. 

    Here we explore the significance of texts in Hinduism, defines various textual categories, and provides links to entries that cover related topics. 

    Agamas can be Stable and Flowing, Written and Spoken. 

    Any utterance, long or short, that can be repeated in essentially the same manner on several occasions is referred to in this context as a "text." 

    There is a propensity to limit the word "text" to utterances recorded in writing, whether in handwriting, printed, or electronic form. 

    This inclination is supported by the nomenclature of mobile phones and text editing software. 

    When discussing Hindu culture, however, where certain texts exist without writing and are conveyed orally from one speaker to another, this limitation is improper. 

    Writing seems to have first arisen in India, apart from the Indus Valley script, about the middle of the last millennium BCE, but was not utilized for religious writings until much later. 

    With the exception of a few later ones, several of these—the Vedic texts—were written down during a period when there is no proof that writing existed. 

    Others, passed down within small communities, are only known to those outside those communities if they are written down or electronically stored by a third party. 

    There are texts in all of the Hindu languages that are interpreted in this broad meaning (including English and other languages of countries outside South Asia). 

    Many civilizations have incredibly stable ritual texts that must always be performed in precisely the same way—the same words in the same sequence, often even with the same vocal inflections—in order to avoid becoming insulting, ineffectual, or even catastrophic. 

    Vedic writings are one example of this. 

    Other texts may be changed by various reciters, scribes, or even the same person at different times by deleting, adding, or modifying specific words. 

    The art of the reciter may include improvised variation. 

    The Mahabharata and Ramayana, which change considerably in various regions of South Asia, are excellent examples of this. 

    Whether a text is written or spoken depends on whether it is stable or flowing. 

    While the Vedic writings have not altered despite being passed down orally for millennia prior to being recorded, there are hundreds of manuscripts and four distinct printed copies of the Mahabharata. 

    The idea that a text should be retained in tact without being recorded in writing runs counter to what literary historians and anthropologists have discovered about the nature of oral literature. 

    In societies where oral texts are fluid, significant study on oral transmission of texts has been conducted (Chadwick and Chadwick 1932–1940; Lord 1960; Ong 1982). 

    A typical orally transmitted text, like a ballad or an epic, exists as a variety of performances, each of which is somewhat improvised and not an exact replication of any prior performance. 

    This explains, for instance, the Mahabharata's several recensions and myriad modifications. 

    Some theorists (mostly from outside Indian studies) have questioned whether the Veda could have been conveyed unmodified without the use of writing, despite the fact that the oral transmission of the Veda in ancient and contemporary times is thoroughly proven (Scharfe 2002: 8–37, 240–51). 

    According to one anthropologist, the Vedic texts cannot have taken on a set shape before writing was discovered since the concept of a stable text can only exist in a community that is literate (Goody 1987). 

    He claims that the educational environment decontextualizes memory in literate societies by isolating learning from action (Goody 1987: 189). 

    In contrast, this was and is accomplished in India without the use of writing by isolating the study of the Vedas from the context of the yajna, where the texts would be used. 

    The practice of self-study (svadhyaya), in which the Veda-knower recites the texts he has learned, and the learning process are rituals in and of themselves. 

    A class of people who dedicate a major portion of their life to it must be able to do the mental labor-intensive task of oral transmission of a stable text. 

    It was accomplished by brahmans, whose standing relied on their knowledge; monks, similarly, transmitted Buddhist literature (Warder 1970: 205, 294). 

    Some of Paul Ricoeur's (1981: 147; cf. Graham 1987: 15) insights must be amended in a Hindu setting due to the potential of a stable oral text. 

    He contends that the act of writing simultaneously creates the text and distinguishes it from speech, and hence from the setting in which the words were first spoken and in which they had meaning. 

    Recontextualizing the text in the interpreter's own context is the goal of hermeneutics, according to Ricoeur. 

    However, according to the Hindu perspective, the Veda and other writings are not distinguished from speech and are texts even if they are not written. 

    The Veda is speech in and of itself; it is frequently referred to as sabda-brahman, "Brahman as sound," and is a manifestation of the original speech that was spoken at the beginning of the cosmos (om). 

    Not just the Veda, but also the Epics, Puranas, Tantras, and other works that are passed down verbally yet written down in manuscripts are subject to the rule that voice takes precedence over writing (Carpenter 1992). 

    As shown by commentary (see below), recontextualization, or giving a text a new meaning in a new context, did occur in ancient India, but it had previously happened with the Brahmanas and writings like Yaska's Nirukta, completely independently of writing. 

    Until the widespread use of printing in the nineteenth century, other literature relied either on less stable techniques of oral transmission or on perishable manuscripts, or both, whereas the Vedic texts have been maintained stable by a closely regulated methodology of oral transmission. 

    While more well-known writings like the Panchatantra are available in several manuscript and printed copies in various locales, showing the unbridled inventiveness of anonymous storytellers, many ancient Sanskrit texts have been passed down in pretty dependable manuscript form. 

    Similar fluidity may be seen in the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas, and other smrti works. 

    While certain vernacular collections, like the poetry of Kabir, have a very consistent history, others don't. 

    Some academics have tried to reconstruct the original shape of such a work by contrasting the readings of various manuscripts using textual criticism techniques. 

    Others argue that these approaches are unsuitable for works that have always been available in a variety of versions reflecting regional and ideological differences. 

    Others who seek the original text via the variation versions and those who believe that these versions themselves are the appropriate subject of study continue to have disagreements (Narayana Rao 2004: 110–03). 

    Printing altered the situation in the nineteenth century by giving certain copies of previously fluid writings preference and making Vedic texts, which were previously the property of twice-born men who had received upanayana, accessible to everyone. 

    Then then, recording and broadcasting in the 20th century altered everything. 

    Specialist reciters are no longer required because to sound recordings and written volumes of mantras (Buhnemann 1988: 96). 

    The Ramayana and Mahabharata on television have prioritized certain interpretations more successfully than printed copies could (Brockington 1998: 510–13). 

    The Mahabharata, Ramayana, and Puranas have certain stories that have rather solid literary forms, but popular storytelling is still a flexible art. 

    The vrat-katha is a significant kind of religious story that is told to a group of individuals engaged in a vrata

    The traditional form of a vrata includes the telling of the narrative, which explains how the vrata was established and what benefits come from following it. 

    However, a videotape might now take the role of the storyteller (Jackson and Nesbitt 1993: 65–70). 

    Hindu thinking places a high value on speech, as seen by the care with which texts are preserved and the respect accorded to individuals who recall them, both in the Vedic textual tradition and in less formal traditions (Graham 1987: 67–77). 

    However, in non-Vedic ritual writing has a place alongside speech despite the fact that speech is given priority and that the vocal aspect is dominant both in Vedic ritual and elsewhere. 

    Both inside and outside of temples, mantras are painted; home shrines often have metal sculptures of the om symbol, and some temples have neon signs. 

    On holy diagrams, this character and others that stand in for "seed mantras" are engraved (yantras). 

    Both Valmiki's Ramayana and the whole of Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas are engraved on the walls of contemporary temples in Varanasi and Ayodhya, respectively (Brockington 1998: 506n.). 

    In many temples, a printed copy of the Rigveda Samhita is on display; however, it is not meant to be read, but rather to be revered, much as the Sikhs revere the Adi Granth

    What exactly are "holy texts"? 

    The term "holy texts" is a useful method to distinguish between writings that obviously have a religious purpose within a given tradition and those that do not. 

    The Veda, the Dharmasastra, the poems of the Alvars and Nayan-mar, the mantras spoken or chanted in worship, bhajan songs, or books of instruction like the Siks.patr of Swami Narayana are just a few examples of texts that are discussed in this entry that are used in ritual or that convey religious ideas or precepts. 

    Even though the Pancatantra and the Kamasutra are included in this encyclopedia because of their importance to Hindu culture, we are not concerned with these writings since they are obviously not holy. 

    Although many of them include mythical content or express significant principles like karma or purity, the majority of ancient poetry and contemporary books are also unimportant to us. 

    The Mahabharata and the Ramayana, on the other hand, are the subjects of our interest since they not only include tales but also serve as a repository for religious doctrine and mantras and are dramatized and repeated during certain ceremonial occasions. 

    A priceless legacy of editions, translations, and other works has been left by the study of Hindu writings written in Sanskrit and other languages throughout the nineteenth and most of the twentieth centuries. 

    The belief that every religion had its own "Bible" or "scriptures," serving a comparable purpose to the Bible in Protestantism (in theological theory if not in observable practice), was supported and, to some measure, driven by that scholarly tradition. 

    This presumption, exemplified by Muller's Sacred Books of the East series, ignores the many ways that texts may be employed in various traditions as well as the various ways that their authority or holiness may be perceived (Timm 1992: 2). 

    Like "the holy" itself, the notion of "sacred texts" or "scripture" is imposed from outside and is not always present among participants. 

    We may interpret it as texts that are "considered, in some way, as the primary center of spoken interaction with ultimate reality" (Graham 1987: 68). 

    They can be interpreted as such because they were said by a particularly wise person, like Valmiki, or by a great number of wise people, like the Vedic rishis or a group of bhakti poets, or by a deity, like Siva; or they can be interpreted as wise because they were eternal and independent of any author, which in the Purva Mmamsa view is the assurance of the Veda's authority. 

    Some works (e.g., Bhagavadgta 18, 67-78; S vetas.vatara Upanisad 6. 22f.) make a claim to being holy by offering incentives for hearing or reciting them or banning teaching them to unauthorized individuals. 

    However, the way a text is used, not its contents, can indicate whether it is considered sacred. 

    This includes whether or not it is recited in ritual settings, whether it is treated as a source of truths or moral imperatives, and whether written or oral versions of the text are revered or protected from tampering. 

    Speaking of sacred texts implies that there is a community who holds those texts in high regard (W.C. Smith 1993: 17f.). 

    For various Hindu groups, various texts are sacred in various ways. 

    Adherence to a text may define what is, for convenience's sake, a "sect" in Hinduism (Renou 1953: 91–99). 

    The word "sect" essentially translates to "tradition" in Sanskrit; unlike in European contexts where it may denote anything that differs from a church or societal standards. 

    Even when a sampradaya's founder left no written works behind, later generations continued to produce literary works in both the vernacular and Sanskrit. 

    This was the situation with the Chaitanya-founded Vaisnava tradition, where the six Gosvamins of Vrindavana composed Bengali and Sanskrit texts that were considered canonical for the Sampradaya. 

    Even the non-hierarchical Bauls, who have no known founder, have their own fluid corpus of songs. 

    What Are Smritis And Srutis?

    Smrti and Sruti Although the term "holy texts" or "scripture" is not an indigenous one, Hindus themselves have categorized such books in a number of significant ways. 

    We may start by dividing knowledge into sruti, which means "hearing, revelation," and smrti, which means "memory, tradition." Sruti is the Veda; it is timeless and was comprehended by the ancient via extrasensory perception. 

    Even if the writers of Smrti writings were much smarter than modern humans are capable of becoming, they were still humans. 

    The word "sruti" does not relate to a fixed canon of writings since the bounds of the Veda are fluid. 

    Indeed, the phrase was not always limited to the Veda; in Manusmrti (12.95), books that are most likely Buddhist and Jain are condemned as "srutis that are outside the Veda" (Olivelle 2005: 234, 349). 

    Smrti is still not as exact. It contains the Kalpasutras, yet as they are a component of the Vedic ceremonial system, they are not typical of smrti writings. 

    The Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Dharmasastras, the Puranas, the Agamas, and the Tantras are what are often meant by the word. 

    There may be disagreements on whether a text is authentic since none of these criteria are clearly established. 

    These works are often structured by a dialogue in which a mythological person learns something from a different figure, with the prestige of these individuals lending legitimacy to the lessons. 

    Conversations are often placed inside dialogues to provide a series of teachers and listeners, most notably in the Mahabharata. 

    As a result, their literary form places them in a setting of verbal instruction from an authoritative speaker to an attentive listener, a scenario that is repeated by a line of speakers and listeners down to the current reciter and his audience. 

    Smrti renders its listeners indirect receivers of linguistic communication from the divine, but Sruti makes audible the everlasting speech at the beginning of the cosmos. 

    The Smrti texts are publicly recited, with the reciter frequently interspersing a vernacular translation, in contrast to the Vedas, which must be protected from being heard by unauthorized people (such as non-twice-born men or women) and recited in a set ritual manner in the exact form in which they have been learned. 

    Despite the fact that printing and manuscripts have made such recitation easier, the majority of people encounter texts via voice. 

    The performance of reciting the Puranas is mostly oral, however it is carried out by a highly educated professional known as the pauranika, who not only reads the book aloud but also comments on it while referencing other works. 

    A similar performance erases the line between oral and written culture (Singer 1972: 150–55; see also Narayana Rao 2004: 103–14). 

    Since the proponents of smrti possessed in-depth knowledge of the Veda, historically, the authority of smrti is drawn from that of sruti. 

    Manu claims that the tradition (smrti) and behavior of people who know it are the second source of dharma after the Veda itself (Manusmrti 2, 6). 

    The Vedic redactor Vyasa is credited with writing the Mahabharata after compiling the Vedas (Mahabharata 1.1.52). 

    According to Mahabharata 1.1.204, "The epics (itihasa) and Puranas should be employed to reinforce the Veda, because the Veda dread an uneducated man lest he may ruin it." 

    The narrative is repeated in the Bhagavata Purana: Vyasa wrote the Mahabharata because women, sudras, and nominal brahman (those who do not fulfill the actual character of brahman by learning the Veda) could not access the Vedas (Bhagavata Purana, 1.5.25). 

    But it also adds a conclusion: Vyasa eventually wrote the Bhagavata Purana to instruct in Krishna worship because he was still unsatisfied (Bhagavata Purana 1.4. 26–31; 1.7.6–8). 

    The historical link between smrti and sruti weakens as we go from the Kalpasutras through the Dharmasastras and epics to the Puranas, Agamas, and Tantras

    The four yugas, the framework on which historical time is traditionally constructed, are used to acknowledge this historical variation in the tradition. 

    Only during the Kreta era could the Vedas be properly followed; during the Dvapara era, they were in danger of being lost, which is why Vyasa set them up. 

    The Vedas are poorly known and understood in the current Kali era, when the brahmans who should preserve them are degenerate and the status of the kshatriyas who once supported the yajna has been usurped by rebels; instead, the smrti texts, which contain the meaning of the Vedas, have taken their place. 

    The Kali era is claimed to outlaw several behaviors that are prescribed in the Vedic writings namely Kali Varjya(or kali-varjita). 

    These practices include animal sacrifice and niyoga, also known as levirate, in which a man's wife engages in sexual relations with his brother in order to produce a son for her dead husband. 

    The belief that the Bhagavata Purana, or any other specific smrti work, conveys the content of the Veda does not imply that specific sentences in one text may be connected to phrases in another. 

    Instead, it conveys the feeling that both have the absolute truth. 

    The Bhagavad Gita, which has been the subject of countless translations and commentaries since the late nineteenth century, is the smrti text that is currently printed the most widely. 

    Long before that, it served as the inspiration for numerous imitations, some of which are included in Puranas like the Ganesagta or the Devgta while the Anugta is contained within the Mahabharata itself (Gonda 1977: 271–76). 

    Although some people object to this, the Bhagavadgta is often utilized in funeral ceremonies and as a book for religious schools (Firth 1997: 84, 87). 

    Numerous smrti writings, whether they promote the worship of Siva, Visnu, or Sakti or another god, are well-known and acknowledged by devotees of other deities. 

    Many of the Puranas support this. 

    On the other hand, there are literature known as Agamas, Tantras, and Sam hitas that are particular to one or both of these deities. 

    The word "agama," which means "tradition," may be used to refer to works that provide guidance on ritual behavior and the pursuit of salvation generally, but it is particularly used to describe books that identify Siva as the ultimate god. 

    Tantra may also be used more broadly, however it is particularly employed in books on Sakti worship. 

    The Vedic Samhitas and the group of works dedicated to Visnu known as the Pancaratra Samhitas are the two principal usage of the term samhita. 

    Even while the phrases A gama, Tantra, and Samhita are often used to refer to Saivism, Saktism, and Vaisnavism, respectively, none of them are exclusive to any of these three. 

    However, the specific books they refer to are often just Saivism, Saktism, or Vaisnavism (Gonda 1977). 

    What Are Mantras, Vidhis, And Arthavada?

    The Veda is divided into mantra, vidhi, and arthavada categories according to a different categorization created in Purva Mimamsa. 

    1. A mantra is a passage of text chanted or spoken aloud during a rite. 
    2. A vidhi is a paragraph that instructs ritual practitioners on what to do and how to execute it. It is often translated as a "injunction." 
    3. Arthavada, which translates to "statement of purpose," explains why a ritual should be performed in a certain manner. 

    In practice, it refers to all Vedic texts that are neither mantras nor vidhis. 

    The Samhitas have mantras, but the Brahmanas and Aranyakas also commonly mention them. 

    The Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads also contain vidhi and arthavada

    Although the word "mantra" is often used outside of the Vedic setting, this categorization specifically pertains to Vedic writings. 

    Non-Vedic literature may also be categorized into sections that are employed in ritual, sections that prescribe, and sections that offer motivation for ritual action. 

    The phrases vidhi and arthavada are less common writings in both Sanskrit and the local language. 

    The sruti and smrti writings mentioned above are all in Sanskrit, and many Hindus who do not speak the language are acquainted with the sound of Sanskrit due to its usage in ritual. 

    There are holy scriptures in all Indian languages. 

    Bhakti, with its focus on the relationship between the devotee and the divine, which eliminates the necessity for the brahman and his ceremonial writings in Sanskrit, encouraged the use of literature in vernacular languages. 

    However, we need not assume that the earliest vernacular texts, starting with the Tamil poems of the sixth century, were also the first bhakti texts to be made available. 

    The use of vernacular languages from the beginning in Buddhist and Jain texts suggests that Sanskrit's dominance in the religious sphere had long been contested. 

    Along with the bhakti poetry, there are many vernacular Puranas, some of which are completely independent of Sanskrit and others that have been translated or altered from it (Rocher 1986: 72–77). 

    Many regional and educational themes are addressed in vernacular versions of the Ramayana, such as Kampan's Tamil translation Iramavataram and Tulsdas's Hindi Ramcaritmanas. 

    In the Ramlla dramas, especially at Dasahra, these, especially the latter, are not only recited but also performed (Brockington 1998: 505-07; Lutgendorf 1991). 

    It is less common to dramatize the Mahabharata, but South India and Sri Lanka both stage plays centered on Draupad (Brockington 1998: 507; Hiltebeitel 1988-91; Tanaka 1991). 

    Sanskrit writings are explicitly rejected in certain bhakti traditions, as in the tale of the Marathi poet Namdev who had a cow recite the Veda (Ranade 1961: 71). 

    The concept of the fifth Veda and the notion that vernacular texts with concepts such as the Tamil Veda, as well as smrti texts with concepts like the Bhagavata Purana (see above), contain the meaning of the Veda, were both expanded. 

    On the other hand, in many lineages, the creation of vernacular literature has been followed by the development of texts in Sanskrit. 

    For instance, the Sanskrit works of Yamunacarya, Ramanuja, and others came after the Tamil songs of the Alvars. 

    The Alvars were also followed by the Bhagavata Purana, which, because it was written in Sanskrit, made emotional bhakti accessible outside of the Tamil-speaking region. 

    However, the change from the vernacular to Sanskrit was accompanied by a change from an emotional to an intellectual form of bhakti (Hardy 1983: 36–43). 

    Vernacular works must obviously be regional, although this does not preclude their translation into or imitation in neighboring languages; for example, poetry credited to Kabr are also available in Bengali, Panjabi, and Hindi. 

    Tyagaraja's (1767–1847) Telegu songs are popular in areas of South India and the diaspora but are seldom recognized outside of that region (Jackson 1991). 

    Up until the nineteenth century, when English usage started to rise steadily throughout the Hindu world, Sanskrit was the only language in which texts could be made available. 

    The English writings of non-regional, non-sectarian Hinduism pioneers like Gandhi, Radhakrishnan, and Vivekananda—a Bengali, Gujarati, and Tamil—show the significance of English in this process. 

    In the last fifty years, Hindi has surpassed English as the language spoken across all of India. 

    Some Sanskrit writings are regional or even local, while vernacular texts are by their very nature local. 

    What Are Mahatmyas And Sthala-Puranas?

    In addition to texts from locally based sampradayas, there are texts from pilgrimage sites or temples. 

    These texts include Mahatmyas ('glorifications'), which extol the local deity and the advantages of visiting it, and Sthala-Puranas ('puranas of the place, local puranas'), which tell the history of the site's sanctity and the rules for visiting it. 

    Examples of these two types that overlap may be found in vernacular and Sanskrit languages (Rocher 1986: 71f. ; Gonda 1977: 276-81). 

    The readers or listeners of vernacular texts are not always able to understand them; Sanskrit is not the only language that is used in ritual without being fully understood. 

    The language of the Tamil bhakti poetry is not current spoken Tamil, although they are nevertheless widely performed in temples. 

    Tulsıdas’ Ramcaritmanas may have owed its popularity originally to its being in language familiar to its hearers, but it continues to be repeated in its original, now archaic form, its worth consisting in its holiness rather than its accessibility. 

    Sacred Poetry And Prose. 

    Most of the works we are interested in are in verse, however numerous mantras from the Yajur veda, all of the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, certain Upanisads, and the Kalpasutras are in prose (interesting as the earliest instances of prose in any Indian language). 

    Also written in prose are the non-Vedic sutras. 

    There are a few portions in the Mahabharata and Puranas that are written in prose. 

    Sanskrit literature, especially technical works like the Sam. 

    hyakarikas, the founding book of the Sam. 

    khya philosophy, was and remains heavily verse-based. 

    The sloka, a stanza of thirty-two syllables split into four halves, is by far the most popular poetry form. 

    Unlike the other meters employed in the complex literature known as kavya, it is adaptable and simple to utilize (see below). 

    Slokas have been written by countless anonymous authors of the Puranas and other texts, in addition to well-known poets, and are used even for quite unpoetic subjects were cited in prose works of religion that inspired debate, such as:

    1. Swami Narayan's Vacanamrta ('Immortality in words') in Gujarati, 
    2. Dayananda Saraswati's Satyartha Prakasa ('Light of truth') in Hindi, 
    3. or Vivekananda's writings in English. 

    What is Kavya?

    Even though kavya can be in prose, the term is occasionally translated as "poetry." It takes a significant amount of literary training to compose and appreciate this particular genre of Sanskrit literature. 

    It contains a variety of literary genres, such as verse epics, dramas, and one-verse epigrams. 

    Even today, despite the fact that few people are sufficiently educated to appreciate it, it is still being developed under the patronage of kings. 

    The Buddha-charita (also known as the "Life of the Buddha"), written by Asvaghosa in the first or second century CE, and inscriptions from the second century CE forward are the earliest instances that have survived. 

    Although textual scholars consider the Ramayana's only passages in which it claims to be the original kavya to be late and that it lacks the stylistic elaboration typical of kavya, it is still hailed as the genre's founding work (Brockington 1998: 23, 361). 

    Kavya, in contrast to smrti and other works, rigorously adheres to the grammatical rules established by Panini and other grammarians and makes use of sophisticated meters and aesthetic embellishments that are outlined in literary guides. 

    A thorough understanding of mythology as well as other disciplines is required to fully comprehend kavya, even though it generally does not come within the category of holy literature. 

    Kavya works frequently start with a prayer or deity's invocation. 

    Some, like Kalidasa's Kumarasam Bhava on the birth of Skanda, are based on mythological stories, while others, like his play Sakuntala, use epic tales. 

    The Gtagovinda and the Karnandana ('Delight of the ears'), poems from the Radhavallabh Sampradaya, which was formed by the poet's father, Hita Harivamsa, and focused on Krishna's beloved, Radha, are two instances of kavya compositions that are devotional throughout (Gonda 1977: 25–29; Entwistle 1987: 168). 

    The Kuncitan ghri-stava, written by Umapati Sivacarya in the year 1300 CE and translated as "Hymn of praise to [Nataraja's] curved foot," is one particularly intriguing example. 

    Each of its 313 verses concludes with a refrain that alludes to Siva's foot being raised in the dance and does so by way of a clever and moving fusing of mythological, theological, and philosophical ideas (D. Smith 1996). 

    What Is a Stotra?

    The stotra, a hymn of adoration to a deity, is a common type of religious text that is written in both Sanskrit and vernacular (Gonda 1977: 232–70). 

    In contrast to sloka or the meters used in kavya, many stotras use rhyme and a metre with a strong recurrent beat, and they frequently contain a refrain. 

    Many stotras are credited to Sankara (Mahadevan 1980; Hirst 2005: 24f.). 

    The Gtagovinda contains stotras, which are songs. 

    Another example is the poem Bande Mataram by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, which was originally written to honor Bengal as a mother goddess but was later changed to refer to India. 

    Its grammar is so straightforward that anyone who knows Bengali or Hindi can understand most of the poem (Lipner 2005). 

    The nama-stotra is one kind of stotra, and it consists mostly of a list of names, epithets, and descriptions of a specific god (Gonda 1977: 268–70; Gonda 1970: 67–76). 

    An early example is the Sata-rudrya ('[hymn] of a thousand Rudras'), which is still chanted in Siva temples and is part of the Black Yajur veda (Vajasaney Samhita 4, 5). 

    The prayers are interspersed with numerous names and epithets that invoke Rudra (Gonda 1970: 70f.; Gonda 1977: 241; translated Keith 1914: 353-62). 

    Other Sanskrit prose was utilized in theological works such as Ramanuja’s Vedartha-samgraha (‘Compendium of the meaning of the Veda’), and for the huge library of comments detailed below. 

    It was used for literary works such as the Pancatantra, theater, and other literary works that did not fall under the rubric of holy writings. 

    Except for letters and other related documents, little little prose was produced in the common languages until the nineteenth century. 

    The bhakti poems are in verse, though some, like the Marathi abhangs and the Kannad vacans, have a more flexible verse structure. 

    Since 1816, Rammohan Roy and his Hindu and Christian adversaries have contributed prose works in Bengali and English to religious debates that had hitherto only been held in Sanskrit. 

    In his earliest work, Roy noted that many people had trouble reading Bengali prose and offered some brief tips on how to do so (Killingley 1982: 12; Das 1966: 131f.). 

    Newspapers, books, and other advances encouraged the use of prose in the vernacular languages during the nineteenth century. 

    These well-known instances are the Lalita-sahasra-nama ('Thousand names of the luscious [Goddess]') in the Brahmanada Purana and the Visnu-sahasra-nama ('Thousand names of Visnu'; Raghavan 1958: 421-36). 

    What Is The Purpose And Place Of Commentary In Sacred Texts?

    Hindu writings are meant to be analyzed and discussed. 

    Some comments, sometimes referred to as t.ka, just clarify challenging terms; the term for a more thorough commentary is bhasya. 

    Some comments, such as Saya's on Vedic literature, Sankara's on the Upanisads, or the countless commentators on the Manusmrti or Manavadharmasastra, explain every word in the original text on the grounds that nothing is without intent. 

    Some texts, like the Brahmasutras and the Bhagavadgta, have been discussed numerous times from various and frequently conflicting perspectives; one of the commentator's tasks is to disprove competing interpretations. 

    A commentary, particularly one on a sutra, may be a text of original authorship in and of itself, with subsequent commentary by members of the same school of thought elaborating on the first commentary's meaning in light of newer developments within the school. 

    Although it has been argued that the presence of substantial commentaries indicates a text's theological significance, a text that is religiously inspiring but not theologically significant may draw little to no attention (Clooney 2003: 461). 

    In addition to Sanskrit commentaries, vernacular commentaries exist. 

    Tamil commentaries on Tamil texts are one such example (Hardy 1983: 244f.). 

    Oral commentaries on the Puranas have also been mentioned.

    ~Kiran Atma

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    References And Further reading: 

    • J. A. B. van Buitenen, trans., Yamana’s Agamapramanyam or Treatise on the Validity of Pancaratra (Madras: Ramanuja Research Society, 1971).
    • Bruno Dagens, Architecture in the Ajitagama and the Rauravagama: A Study of Two South Indian Texts (New Delhi: Sitaram Institute of Scientific Research, 1984).
    • Mark Dyczkowski, The Canon of the Saivagama and the Kubjika Tantras of the Western Kaula Tradition (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988).
    • Kamalakar Mishra, Kashmir Saivism: The Central Philosophy of Tantrism (Portland, Ore.: Rudra Press, 1993).
    • S. K. Ramachandra Rao, Agama-Kosa: Agama Encyclopedia (Bangalore: Kapatharu Research Academy, 1994).

    Hinduism - Who Are Minorities And What Is Their Plight In India?

    Minority groups in every society are determined by the social environment in which they exist.

    Muslims and Christians are the two most prominent minority groups in India.

    Due to India's tumultuous relations with Pakistan, Muslims—roughly 12% of the population—are regarded with distrust.

    Outside of India, Christians and Muslims are seen as having religious loyalties—Mecca for Muslims and Rome or Jerusalem for Christians.

    Other religious groups, such as the Sikhs and Jains, who are part of the Indian cultural tradition, have had quite different perceptions on these two sects.

    The Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates, as well as other cultural and political organizations advocating Hindu nationalism (Hindutva), have often emphasized the "otherness" of these people.

    These groups' stated goal is to bring Hindus from various areas, castes, and backgrounds together, yet they accomplish it via criteria that exclude minorities.

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    Hinduism - What Is The Kartik Purnima?


    Kartik Purnima is the Hindu New Year.

    Bathing (snana) celebration occurs during the full moon in the lunar month of Kartik (October–November).

    An early morning bath in the Ganges or any other holy river during the festival is said to bestow exceptional religious merit on the bather.

    To take advantage of this chance, people often go to holy rivers.

    Sikhs also commemorate the birth of their holy leader, Guru Nanak, on this day in 1469. 

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    Hinduism - Who Are The Jats Of Northern India?

     One of the hundreds of subgroups of traditional Indian society known as jatis ("birth").

    Each jati was linked with — and had a monopoly over — a certain profession, and the social standing of the jati's members was defined by that employment; this structure gave rise to the present caste system.

    The Jats are a northern Indian ethnic group whose members live in a number of northern Indian states, including Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

    The Jats are equally divided between Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab, although the population is mostly Hindu in other locations.

    Farming is the Jats' ancestral employment, and they are generally regarded as strong and tenacious peasants; these qualities have also made them outstanding soldiers, both in the service of the British Empire and in independent India.

    For a variety of religious and symbolic reasons, ascetics often wear their hair in jatas.

    Uncut hair is a sign of renunciation on one level; its untidy, matted appearance shows the ascetic's separation from worldly preoccupation with order and decorum.

    On another level, ascetics wear jatas to imitate the deity Shiva, the archetypal ascetic, who is invariably shown with matted locks on his hair.

    Although Shiva worshipers (bhakta) are the most prevalent wearers of jatas, certain rigorous renunciants who are devotees of the deity Vishnu also love this hairdo.

    Finally, jatas are just a low-maintenance haircut from a non-religious standpoint.

    They're generally rubbed with wood ash to keep them tidy; when the hair gets longer, the jatas simply become longer, and in many instances, they may be twisted into a crown, or jatamakuta, on top of the head.

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    Hinduism - What Is The Dabistan-I-Mazahib?


    Dabistan-I-Mazahib ("School of Manners") is a phrase that means "School of Manners." 

    The oldest thorough description of the Sikhs, as well as many other modern religious groups, comes from an outside source. 

    Muhsin Fani is typically credited with writing the text. 

    Fani was a Persian who went across most of northern India, presumably driven only by his desire to learn about the country's many religious practices. 

    The work is particularly unusual for its apparent lack of authorial bias— Fani claims that he just transcribed what his friends and informants told him, and the tone of the Dabistan appears to support this assertion. 

    The Dabistan, or School of Manners, 1843, is a translation of the work by David Shea and Anthony Troyer. 

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    I Believe, If Only...


    'I'd believe in God if He'd only...' 

    Many people regard their contacts with God as a type of bargain basement where they may pick up the occasional relic without having to pay top dollar for it. 

    Others seek some sort of miraculous cabaret trick to ‘prove' the Divine's existence, never considering that God could object to being treated like a second-class conjuror. 

    This casual attitude, or even the doubt of God's existence, is not a new occurrence. ‘No sooner have the intellectuals limited the Almighty to the history books than public opinion rises against them,' said A. M. Wilson in his book God's Funeral. 

    Nonetheless, arguments like "If God is almighty, can he make a rock that even he can't lift?" are frequently used to refute the idea of a supreme god who is all things to all people. 

    The ‘Prove it!' attitude appears to be at the root of much modern spiritual search, particularly among individuals who claim to have 

    • (a) no religious belief or 
    • (b) a passionate antagonism to conventional faiths. 

    The poor old Creator can't be everything to everyone. He, She, or It will always stub a toe on someone's preconceptions, and therefore the skeptic's "evidence" will stay elusive. 

    The proof will finally appear in the eyes of the sincere seeker, but it will not be the same for you as it was for the authors of this book, nor will your experiences equal those of other readers. 

    Define your own vision of God and how you view Him/Her/It in relation to the rest of the universe. 

    1. Is the picture of: a patriarchal/matriarchal character that is benign? 
    2. Being ‘out there' or, on the other hand, being ‘in me'? 
    3. Is there a divine creative power at work? 

    In order to relate to God, the majority of people across the world require a picture of Him/Her cast in their own likeness, i.e. human form. Celts, Sikhs, Muslims, and Jews, on the other hand, worship their deity in a more abstract way, often not even mentioning the name of God. 

    Religious art from throughout the world is a fascinating subject that reveals more about how people from different cultures view their God in terms of aesthetic depiction than words can possibly communicate (s).

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    Hinduism - What Is The History Of Indian Culture?




    The "animistic" and "polytheistic" Indian subcontinent is home to tens of thousands of local cults that have native shamanic roots, that perhaps reminds one of civilizations described in the African continent or resemble the Pscythian tribes of Eurasia. 

    •  However, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism are four main spiritual traditions that rank among the global religions. 
    •  As a result, India's contribution to global spirituality is unparalleled. 

    More than any other race, Indians have shown great versatility in spiritual issues, inspiring many other countries and resulting in a much-needed spiritual enrichment of our spiritually sick Western civilisation in our century. 

    •  For millennia, Hinduism has been the main tradition of the Indian subcontinent, with more than 1.2 billion followers worldwide. 

    There are about 967 million Hindus in India, about 80% of the population which today stands over 1.4 billion people. 

    • Muslims, are the second biggest religious group, followed by Christians and Sikhs.
    •  In India, Buddhists make up a tiny minority, although they are well-represented in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Tibet, and Southeast Asia. 


    The word "Hinduism" is a bit of a misnomer. 


    • It is often used to refer to the whole culture of all Peninsula residents, excluding those who adhere to clearly recognized faiths like as Buddhism and Christianity. 
    •  More precisely, the term refers to a number of traditions that are historically and ideologically linked to the ancient Vedic civilization of more than 6,000 years ago, and which took on its distinctive shape around the turn of the first millennium c. E. 

    NOTE: The term "Hinduism" is used on this site in the broadest meaning possible. 


    Hinduism is a philosophy as well as a religion just as much as it can be a universal identity today. 

    •  It is a complete civilization with its own particular lifestyle, defined by a distinctive social structure: the caste system, much like the other global religions. 

    For thousands of years, Hindu society has been divided into four estates (varna), which are incorrectly referred to as castes: 

    1. the priestly or briihmana estate or class;
    2. the warrior or kshatriya class; 
    3. the "common people" or vaishya class (comprising farmers, traders, and artisans); 
    4. and the servile or shudra class. 


    This arrangement is believed to have its origins in the heavenly order. 

    •  The primal being or macranthropos is depicted as giving birth to the four estates as follows in the RigVeda's "Hymn of Man" (purusha-sfi.kta) (1 0. 90.  1 2): 
      • The brahmin is His lips; the warrior is made of His arms; the merchant is made of His thighs; and the servant is made of His feet. 
    •  Members of the slave estate were systematically barred from acquiring holy knowledge, and they ultimately became outcasts. 
      •  The feet are metaphorically "filthy," and the shudras' assignment to the Cosmic Man's lower limbs denotes their poor social position.
      • However, since the feet are an essential component of a fully functioning human person, the servile estate is also vital to society's well-being. 
      •  However, the shudras are karmically predestined for menial labor rather than intellectual, leadership, or creative activity, according to Vedic beliefs, since their awareness is of a darker color (varna). 

     It is a common misconception that the word varna ("color") relates to skin color and that the four states are divided by ethnic lines. 

    •  All four estates, however, are part of the Vedic Aryan social body, which, according to the Rig-Veda, valued the hue of the soul above ethnic traits. 
    •  Only the top three estates are regarded "twice-born" (dvija), meaning they have been "born again" via appropriate Vedic initiation. 
    •  Boys and girls from the priestly, military, and agricultural/mercantile estates were customarily married at the ages of eight, eleven, and twelve, respectively. 
    •  They were then given a holy thread (yajna-upavita, spelled yajno­ pavita) to wear permanently over the left shoulder, hanging diagonally across the chest, as part of the investiture (upanayana) ceremony. 


    Allowing marriages between members of different estates resulted in the formation of social groupings known as castes (jati). 

    •  As a result, a growing number of subcastes emerged. 
    •  The conduct and actions of members of various castes are tightly regulated by complex rules that control this social order. 
    •  This stratification very certainly resulted in marginalized people being labeled "outcasts" or "untouchables."

    Visionaries and reformers have often questioned this enormous social superstructure. 


    • The founder of Buddhism, Gautama, was one of the first to reject it. 
      •  Despite this, it has persisted throughout the ages and has had a strong effect on all other subcontinental cultures. 
    •  Social innovators who opposed the caste system in general had to oppose the Vedic revelation that legitimized it as well. 
    •  The caste system, with its social inequalities, is as natural to the devout Hindu as democracy is to us.
    •  The caste system is justified by citing the law of karma, much as we defend democratic principles by emphasizing the value of the individual. 
      •  Because of previous decisions and acts, each individual has a certain station in life. 
      •  Brahmins are brahmins because of their past lives' moral and spiritual endeavors. 
      •  Outcasts are outcasts for a variety of reasons, including a lack of desire for a better life or serious crimes. 

     Although the caste system offends our modern Western sensibilities, our forefathers formerly had beliefs and ideals that were comparable to those of traditional Hindus. 

    • The old social order, which was clearly hierarchical, was only questioned, contested, and eventually destroyed with the development of a strong individualism during the Renaissance. 
    •  Even our modern so-called egalitarian countries, with a super-wealthy elite at one end and a large number of impoverished people at the other, are not without social stratification. 

    The caste system's rigidity has been counterbalanced by a considerable ideological flexibility. 

    •  As a result, Hinduism has shown an incredible ability for absorbing even the most diametrically opposed elements inside itself. 
    •  For example, at one end of the spectrum is Shankara's extreme non­ dualist school, and at the other end is Classical Samkhya's rigorous dualist school, which, despite its atheism, is nevertheless considered one of Hinduism's six main philosophical systems (darshana). 
    •  The "cool" contemplative approach of nondualist Jnana-Yoga of the Upanishads on the one hand, and the passionate emo­ tionalism of certain schools of monotheistic Bhakti­ Yoga on the other, is another example of such radically divergent philosophical views. 
    •  The medieval way of devotionalism (bhakti-marga) is very syncretistic, including aspects from Islamic Sufism, for example. 
      •  The Allah-Upanishad, a late book written under Muslim influence, exemplifies Hinduism's all-inclusive ethos. 
    •  Even a well-defined religious tradition like Christianity fell prey to Hinduism's spongelike absorptive capacity, and had to be saved from Hinduization by Jesuit missionaries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

    The inclusive nature of Hinduism is often misconstrued as universal tolerance, which is not the case. 

    •  There have been many examples of intolerance between different schools or factions of Hinduism throughout India's history, such as the long-standing conflict between the Vaishnavas and the Shaivas. 
    •  Hinduism is best understood as a complex sociocultural process that has evolved via the dynamics of continuity and discontinuity, or the survival of ancient forms and the incorporation of new cultural and religious manifestations. 
    •  Thus, Hinduism may be considered to have begun with Vedic civilization from one perspective (possibly as early as the fi fth millennium B . C. E. ). 
    •  From another perspective, the Vedic sacred culture and Hinduism as we know it now have genuine and significant contrasts. 
    •  Nonetheless, the general consistency has been remarkable, perhaps more so than the shifts that have occurred through time. 

     Most Western and Indian academics, until recently, emphasized the discontinuity in India's cultural development. 

    •  They perceived a conflict between the Indus Valley civilisation and the Vedic "Aryan" culture, which they believed originated outside of India. 
    •  However, this long-held Aryan invasion hypothesis is currently being actively contested. 
    •  A increasing number of academics in India and the West view this historical model as a scientific fiction that was created without sufficient evidence and has had a negative impact on our knowledge of ancient India's history and culture. 
    •  The book In Search of the Cradle of Civilization documents this significant shift in scholarly thinking. 


    All evidence suggests that the Sanskrit-speaking Aryans who wrote the Vedas were not barbaric nomads who arrived from outside India and wreaked havoc on the local people. 

     Rather, the available evidence suggests that they were genuine Indian natives. 

    Furthermore, there are compelling grounds to believe that the Vedic civilization, as represented in the Rig-Veda and the other three Vedic Samhitiis, was substantially, if not entirely, similar to the so-called Indus civilization. 

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