Hinduism simplified for today's generation

Archive for May, 2011

3 Gunas that control our actions

The Bhagvad Gita gives very practical advice. It talks about the 3 human tendencies that affect our actions. “Sattva Guna” – represents purity, harmony, bliss and happiness. It leads to righteous and selfless actions. “Rajo Guna” – represents passion, restlessness, aggressiveness and leads to actions that are ego centric. “Tamo Guna” – represents laziness, dullness, confusion, lethargy and leads to unrighteous actions done without proper thought. These 3 gunas wrestle with each other. Sometimes a person is calm and equal-minded in happiness and sorrow, they find joy in others happiness and do selfless actions. The same person sometimes is restless, angry, passionate, lustful, greedy and sometimes the same person is dull, sleepy, lethargic and confused. It is obvious that we should try and cultivate Sattva Guna to be able to enjoy life, find meaning in it and realise the the Brahman, infinite Divinity. Everybody loves people who are calm, kind, compassionate and friendly. So, we should always strive to cultivate Sattva Guna. Don’t get me wrong. Rajo Guna and Tamo Guna are equally important for a human being until he or she realises the Brahman, infinite Divinity. I will write more about how to cultivate Sattva Guna and how to use Rajo and Tamo Guna for our advantage.

Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram explained

रघुपति राघव राजाराम, पतित पावन सीताराम

सीताराम सीताराम, भज प्यारे तू सीताराम

ईश्वर अल्लाह तेरो नाम, सब को सन्मति दे भगवान

This is a very popular devotional song sung in India. This song was one of the favourites of Mahatma Gandhi and chanted regularly in his prayer meetings. Today I will try to explain the significance of this song and its meaning.

Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram

Patit Pavan Sita Ram

Bhaj Pyare Tu Sita Ram

Ishvar Allah tero naam

Sabko Sanmati De Bhagvan

The song starts with the praise of Raja Ram (Lord Ram). Lord Ram is an incarnation of Vishnu (the preserving aspect of Brahman). Lord Ram is an embodiment of Dharma (Right duty, righteousness) and Virtue. Raghupati Raghav mean one who has attained all spiritual knowledge, who is strong and firm in righteousness, who is radiant like the thousand suns and who has viveka (spiritual discrimination) and vairagya (dispassion for worldly thing). Such is Raja Ram.

Patit Pavan means the uplifter of those who have fallen from the path of righteousness and virtue. So, we call upon Mother Sita and Raja Ram who are the uplifters of the fallen. Mother Sita is the daughter of Earth. She signifies selfless Love and purity. Mother Earth gives us everything she has without asking anything in return. Mother earth is always pure and everything we get comes from that purity.

Bhaj Pyare Tu Sita Ram means – O beloved Lord Ram and Mother Sita we praise you for what you are and what you signify.

Ishvar Allah Tero naam means – People call you by many names, some call you God “Ishvar” while some call you Allah, but you are the one and only the Brahman, infinite Divinity that is within us all and we are all within you.

Sabko Sanmati De Bhagvan means – Bless everyone with this very wisdom that we are all the product of the same matter and consciousness, and that all of us strive towards the path of righteousness and virtue.

Hope that you will find peace and joy in singing this bhajan. We will get utmost spiritual benefit of this devotional song if we can remember its meaning and significance while singing.

Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram

Hanuman Chalisa (English)

OM

  1. Having polished the mirror of my heartwith the dust of my Guru’s feet
  2. I sing the pure fame of the Lord of Raghus
    which bestows the four fruits of life
  3. Knowing this body devoid of intelligence,
    I recall the son of the Wind
  4. Grant me strength, wit and wisdom
    and remove my sorrow and short comings
  5. Victory to Hanuman ocean of wisdom and virtue
    Hail Monkey Lord, illuminator of the three worlds
  6. Ram’s emissary, abode of matchless power
    Anjani’s son, named Son of Wind
  7. Great Hero mighty as thunderbolt
    remover of evil thoughts and companion of the good
  8. Golden-hued and splendidly adorned
    with heavy earrings and curly locks
  9. In your hands shine mace and banner
    a sacred thread of munja grass adorns your shoulder
  10. You are Shiva’s son and Keshari’s joy
    your glory is revered throughout the world
  11. Supremely wise, virtuous and clever
    you are always intent on Ram’s work
  12. You delight in hearing of the Lords deeds,
    Ram, Lakshman and Sita dwell in your heart
  13. Assuming tiny form you appeared to Sita,
    and in an awesome guise you burned Lanka
  14. Taking dreadful form you slaughtered demons
    and completed Ram’s mission
  15. Brining magical herb you revived Lakshman
    and Ram embraced you with delight
  16. Greatly did the Raghu praise you-
    “Brother you are as dear to me as Bharat!”
  17. “May the thousand-mouthed serpent sing your fame”
    so saying Sri’s Lord drew you to himself
  18. Sanak and the sages, Brahma, Gods and great saints
    Narad, Saraswati and the king of serpents
  19. Yama, Kuber and the guardians of four quadrants
    poets and scholars now can express your glory
  20. You rendered great service to Sugriva
    presenting him to Ram, you gave him kingship
  21. Vibhashan heeded your counsel
    and became Lord of Lanka as all the worlds know
  22. Though the sun is thousand miles away
    you swallowed it thinking it a sweet fruit
  23. Holding the Lord’s ring in your mouth
    it is no surprise you leapt the ocean
  24. Every arduous task in this worldbecomes easy by your grace
  25. You are the guardian of Ram’s doornone enters without your leave
  26. Taking refuge in you one finds all delight
    those you protect know no fear
  27. You alone can withstand your own splendorthe three worlds tremble at your roar
  28. Ghosts and goblins cannot come near
    Great Hero, when your name is uttered
  29. All disease and pain is eradicated,
    brave Hanuman by constant repetition of your name
  30. Hanuman releases from affliction
    those who remember him in thought word and deed
  31. Ram the renunciant reigns over all
    you carry out his every task
  32. One who brings any earning to you
    obtains the fruit of abundant life
  33. Your splendor fills the four ages
    your glory is famed throughout the world
  34. You are the guardian of saints and sages
    the destroyer of demons, the darling of Ram
  35. You grant 8 powers and 9 treasures
    by the boon you received from mother Janaki
  36. You hold the elixir of Ram’s name
    and remain eternally his servant
  37. Singing your praise one finds Ram
    and the sorrow of countless lives are destroyed
  38. At death one goes to Ram’s own abode
    born there as God’s devotee
  39. Give no thought to any other deity
    worshiping Hanuman one finds all delight
  40. All affliction ceases, all pain is removed
    by remembering the mighty hero Hanuman
  41. Victory, victory, victory to Hanuman
    be merciful even as is the divine master
  42. Whoever recites this a hundred times
    is released from bondage and gains bliss
  43. One who reads this Hanuman chalisa
    gains success – Gauri’s Lord bears witness
  44. Says Tulsidas, Hari’s constant servant“Lord make thy encampment in my Heart”
  45. Son of Wind, banisher of sorrow
    and embodiment of blessing
  46. Dwell in my heart, kind of Gods,
    together with Ram, Lakshman and Sita
    —-extended—
  47. Son of wind, embodiment of all blessings
    you destroy the root of all that is harmful and inauspicious in our lives
    Shree Ram, Hail Ram, Victory, Victory Ram
    Shree Ram, Hail Ram, Victory, Victory Ram

Routine of a Hindu devotee

The Hindu scriptures give guidelines for a devotee to perform certain activities for spiritual uplifting of themselves and others. When I say spiritual uplifting, it means goodness for self and others. The guidelines are as below:

1. Daily Upasna – Worship of the Lord. Prayers, ritualistic puja or just remembrance of the Lord’s name or glories constitutes Upasna

2.Utsava – Holy Days – celebrate holy days through the week. Keep one day for the family to visit a temple and pray together. This is especially beneficial for the emotional health of the family and encourages children to learn about their culture and traditions.

3.Tirth Yatra – Piligrimage – Visit Holy places of importance once a year with family.

4. Dharma – Virtuous Living – Follow the Yoga Niyamas and Agamas. truthfulness, Kindness, Compassion, Chastity, Non-Violence, Non-covetousness are some of the virtues encouraged by Hinduism. Cultivating these virtues in daily life gives strength to deal with problems and helps maintain peace of mind for ourselves and others.

5.Samskar – Sacrament – vow’s for self-improvement, performance of Munja at a proper age, namankaran (naming ceremony for kids) all these are samskars that need to be performed by Hindus

Thus cultivating some of the above practices the person keeps a pure mind. A pure mind is always firm and has the ability to make right decisions and rise to occasions. These things should be undertaken with faith and devotion and the result has to be experienced only then your faith will become firm. Hinduism does not force any practice or rituals.

Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga is one of the many paths to self-realisation. Bhakti Yoga is about loving-kindness and devotion to God. In the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna gives advice that can be universally applied for God realization. For a Yogi following the path of Bhakti Lord Krishna says,

1.Offer your heart and mind to me, think only of me and you shall come unto me.

This is not as easy as it sounds. What Lord Krishna is asking is to get completely absorbed in the thoughts of divine. This is like the state of unobstructed flow of thought towards God and God only.

Shri Chaitanya and Shri Ramakrishna Pramhansa are well known for their Bhakti.

Lord Krishna is very practical so, he gives further advice if you cannot do no. 1 because people find it difficult to get lost in thoughts of God.

2. He says then become my devotee – without having any material desire do everything for me.

If this is also difficult because desire is difficult to conquer then…

3. He says then offer propitiation unto me – adhering to rituals as prescribed by the Vedas, doing puja, performing austerities like fasting etc.

Again if even this is difficult then Lord Krishna says,

4. Offer humble obeisance (respect) unto me – Bow to me, offer me what you get, for everything you receive comes from me only.

Thus Bhakti Yoga is all of this and more. It is said that following even one of the above advice the person’s mind slowly gets transformed to think of the higher ideals and goals of life and with God’s grace that person becomes dear to Him the all engulfing Holy Spirit.

Different paths to Self-realisation

Hinduism is the only religion that provides different paths to self-realisation. Hinduism is also very tolerant of other religions and believes that all faiths and religions are different paths to the same ultimate goal of self-realisation; union with the Holy Spirit. Each path defined by Hinduism is scientific in nature. Some of them are: Bhakti Yoga for the emotional, Jnana Yoga for the contemplative, Karma Yoga for the people who love serving others. There are other paths or modes of worshiping the Holy Spirit in addition to what I have listed. These paths are scientific because they are suited for different human personalities, temperaments and life-situations. Every person though composed of the same fabric of the Holy Spirit is unique and they have their own ways and likings of worship. Hinduism respects this diversity and provides each person a way to seek the ultimate truth. In my future blogs I will write more on each path and try to explain them in simple terms.

Renunciation

Renunciation of the world is a common practice in many religions to seek for solitude and to attain unbroken communion with God. As per Hinduism renunciation is not just worldly renunciation. Renunciation in its deepest meaning is to give up vain desires for the worldly pleasures and live a life of selflessness. This can be undertaken by both a monk and a householder based on one’s inclination, determined by our previous karma. In essence renunciation is selfless service and it requires no special qualification. As a householder one should do ones duty well and with perfection considering it as a service to humanity because God is in every one of us. As a monk one should not ponder on vain desires in one’s mind but only think about the Spirit. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says “whosoever thinks of me at all times, does everything for me at all times, is dear unto me and shall come to me” & “Do ones work without expecting the fruits of the results thereby you wont incur sin, like a lotus leaf that remains untouched by water”. So, as Hindus we should pray to God to give us the wisdom and strength to work selflessly and thereby allows us to provide Him our service, because it is only through our will-power and God’s grace that such service is possible.