Hinduism simplified for today's generation

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Isha Upanishad – ईशोपनिषद्

॥ शान्तिपाठ ॥

ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पूर्णमुदच्यते ।
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ।।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ।।
That is complete, this is complete, from That complete This complete has become manifested, what remains after negating completeness is also complete. OM Peace Peace Peace be unto us all.

(The One is Brahman, the omnipresent, omniscient and indescribable that has become this universe as we see it and at the same time is much more profound than just this universe for everything has come out of It. It is in everything yet It is not limited by what we see and perceive. For the Brahman can only be realized, It cannot be described. OM Peace Peace Peace be unto us all.)

ॐ ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यक्तिञ्च जगत्यां जगत् । तेन त्येक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यास्विद्धनम ।। १ ।।
Everything must be pervaded, covered by the Lord (Brahman), even the world that keeps changing (the repeated cycle of creation, preservation and destruction), rejoice, enjoy in knowing this, not coveting the wealth of others, for whose is that wealth?

कुर्वन्नेवेह कर्माणि जिजीविषेच्छतँ समाः । एवं त्वयि नान्यथेतोऽस्ति न कर्म लिप्यते नरे ।। २ ।।
(Thus knowing the above) Keep doing your work (unattached) even if one desires to live for a 100 years, for there is no other way than this, the work, action (you thus do) will not cling to man (causing more karma)

असुर्या नाम ते लोका अन्धेन तमसाऽवृताः । ताँस्ते प्रेत्याभिगच्छन्ति ये के चात्महनो जनाः ।। ३ ।।
Slayers of the self (because of the ignorance of the real nature of Atman, some think shortening of life, their body and mind will give liberation instead of cultivating strength of mind, doing unattached work and attaining the true knowledge of Brahman. Same for the people who kill others, not realizing that we are all one Brahman, thus slaying their own self.) go to the demonic worlds of ignorance, that are sunless, (ignorance as gathered in ones lifetime because of the pain, gloom and confusion they carry in their mind at death) covered with blinding darkness (without a way of knowing the Truth other than by taking more births with worse impressions and living through that karma) after death.

अनेजदेकं मनसो जवीयो नैनद्देवा आप्नुवन्पुर्वमर्षत् । तद्धावतोऽन्यानत्येत तिषतस्मिन्नपो मातरिक्ष्वा दधाति ।। ४ ।।
That unmoving One is swifter than the mind. The Lord of senses (the 5 senses of sight, sounds, smell, taste and touch) cannot reach it in their swiftest movements. By standing still, it outruns all who try to run (after it using material or worldly senses once cannot run behind Brahman, for it will outrun you again and again, because it is all pervading and beside you, above you, under you, behind, in front and inside you. You have to realize it to know it.) Matarikshva is thus firmly established in it. (Matarikshva – the divine life power – water, atmosphere that sustains and covers the mortal world)

तदेजति तन्नैजति तद्दूरे तद्वन्तिके तदन्तरस्य सर्वस्यास्य बाह्यतः ।। ५ ।।
That (Brahman) moves and moves not, That is near and the same is far, That is within all this and That also is outside all this. (All-pervading Brahman)

यस्तु सर्वाणि भूतान्यात्मन्येवानुपश्यति । सर्वभूतेषु चात्मानं ततो न विजुगुप्सते ।। ६ ।।
He who sees all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings, will never turn away from the Self (How can you hate, be angry with oneself? For everything within and outside is your own creation, for you are Brahman. Knowing that all is Brahman, there is no other self that you can turn away from and hence the notion of we are all One the same Brahman that is within and without)

यस्मिन्सर्वाणि भूतान्यात्मैवाभूद्विजानतः । तत्र को मोहः कः शोक एकत्वमनुपश्यतः ।। ७ ।।
He who sees this, all beings in his own Self (become One), how can he be deluded and have grief when he sees the oneness (of the Self)?

स पर्यगाच्छुक्रमकायमव्रणमस्नाविरं शुद्धमपापविद्धम् । कविर्मनीषी परिभूः स्वयमभूर्याथातथ्यतोऽर्थान् व्यदधदाच्छाश्वतिभ्यः समाभ्यः ।। ८ ।।
He that is all pervading, radiant, bodiless, spotless, pure, untouched by sin, unpierced by evil. The seer the thinker that has become everywhere, transcendent, self-existant, has created this world by assigning order to everything by nature for eternal years.

अन्धं तमः प्रविशान्ति येऽविधामूपासते । ततो भूय इव ते तमो य उ विधायाँ रताः ।। ९ ।।
The ones with Avidya (ignorance) enter into darkness and the ones who delight in their (Vidya) knowledge fall into greater darkness. (Knowledge and ignorance both have their own distinct outcomes)

अन्यदेवाहुर्विधयाऽन्यदाहुर्विधया इति शुश्रुम धीराणां ये नस्तद्विचचक्षिरे ।। १० ।।
Distinct are the results of Avidya and Vidya, attaining different ends, so we are told by the wise men who taught this.

विधां चविधां च यस्तद्वेदोभयाँ सह । अविधया मृत्युं तिर्त्वा विधयामृतमश्रुते ।। ११ ।।
He who knows both Vidya and Avidya is That One (Brahman), crosses death by Avidya and attains immortality by Vidya.

अन्धं तमः प्रविशान्ति येऽसम्भूतिमुपासते । ततो भूय इव ते तमो य उ सम्भूत्याँ रताः ।। १२ ।।
They fall into blinding darkness who worship the un-manifest and still further darkness who worship the manifest.

अन्यदेवाहुः सम्भवादन्यदाहुरसम्भवात् । इति शुश्रुम धीराणां ये नस्तद्विचचक्षिरे ।। १३ ।।
Distinct ends are met by the worship of the un-manifest and the manifest, so we have heard from the wise men who have taught us.

सम्भूतिं च विनाशं च यस्तद्वेदोभयँ सह। विनाशेन मृत्युं तिर्त्वा सम्भूत्याऽमृतमश्नुते ।। १४ ।।
He who understand the manifest and un-manifest are One (for there is no birth and death, the soul is eternal), cross death through knowledge of the manifest and attains life immortal through knowledge of the manifest.

हिरण्मयेन पात्रेण सत्यस्यापिहितं मुखम् । तत्त्वं पूषन्नपावृणु सत्यधर्माय दृष्टये ।। १५ ।।
The face of Truth is covered with a golden disc, O Pushan uncover that, so I who worship the Truth can see it.

पूषन्नेकर्षे यम सूर्य प्राजापत्या व्यूह रशमीन् समूह । तेजो यत्ते रूपं कल्याणतमं तत्ते पश्यामि योऽसावसौ पुरूषः सोऽहमस्मि ।। १६ ।।
O’ Pushan, O’ sole Seer, O’ Controller, O illuminating Sun, O’ power of the Lord of all creatures, gather your rays, the Lustre which is your most blessed, beautiful form of all, that in You I behold myself for You are is no other than I.

वायुरनिलममृतमथेदं भस्मान्तँ शरीरम् । ॐ क्रतो स्मर कृतँ स्मर कृतो स्मर कृतँ स्मर ।। १७ ।।
The Breath returns to the immortal Life (Brahman), while for the body ashes are the end. OM! O Will remember that which was done, remember! O Will, remember, that which was done, remember.

अग्ने नय सुपथा राये अस्मान् विश्वानि देव वयुनानि विद्वान् । युयोधयस्मज्जुहुराणमेनो भूयिष्ठां ते नम उक्तिं विधेम ।। १८ ।।
O Lord Agni, knowing all that are manifested, lead us to the path of prosperity, remove from us the evil vice (devious attraction of sin) that leads us astray. We offer you our highest worship.

The above is written with a self understanding from the translations of Shri Shankar and Shir Aurobindo. I pray to the Lord to forgive me for any mistakes in my interpretation of such a divine scripture. May you all find True knowledge and thereby peace in the study of Vedas and the Upanishads.

Divine Love

radha-and-krishnaDivine Love cannot be described, it has to be experienced. It is just like religion, happiness, sadness that cannot be described but have to be experienced. Writing about divine Love is really difficult because I myself haven’t experienced it yet. I aspire to realize divine Love someday and describe it to you. Our scriptures say that divine Love is nothing other than Brahman, self-realization and that Brahman in itself is so profound and infinite that it cannot be described in a worldly language or feeling. For everything is Brahman. So, who are you loving? Your own Self. So, this begs the question. How do I experience this divine Love? How do we know how Radha Loved Shri Krishna and Shri Krishna Loved Radha and that Shri Ram Loved Sita and Sita Loved Shri Ram and that their Love was eternal, selfless and hence divine? Well, we tell that based on our intellect, our own emotions. When we read about Love between Radha and Krishna, it kindles in our hearts a fire that has the soft and mild heat that stirs within us a feeling and gives us a short glimpse of what divine Love is. This is still a very personal feeling, but almost everybody, male or female seems to feel some kind of feeling in their hearts that can be termed as happiness, joy, something sublime that cannot be explained or described. For our worldly explanation of Love, multiply this feeling a million times and imagine that to be divinity, self-realization. Does that intrigue you? Does that make you want to feel divine Love? I certainly want to experience that. Here are ways to increase this feeling of Love in an attempt to self-realization:

Take a pause and reflect on the feeling thinking about Radha and Krishna, Ram and Sita.

Know that the feeling described above is distinctly different from want of sexual union or sexual attraction. The want to sexual union while is a pure feeling, we usually contaminate it with Lust (selfish greed to satisfy ones own senses or body). So, don’t fool yourself.

Cultivate bhava – Everyday when you wake up, with your eyes closed think about the glories of the Lord, the virtues associated with Godliness, the stories of Krishna and Radha and Ram and Sita and observe the feeling that emanates from your heart. Try to focus on that feeling and imagine it is spreading all over your body. If you don’t feel anything, thats ok. Just keep trying, If you can feel something but it isn’t as intense, that’s ok too, keep practicing. If you feel intense emotions, and that makes you cry, thats ok too, just cry it out. You will know your practice is going well when you can feel sympathy, empathy, generosity, kindness, calmness and peace of mind. Keep at it ….

Listen to devotional songs, sing and dance – Bhakti geet, kirtan are amazing tools to get lost in the Lord. When we sing, chant and dance, we forget everything around us, it is just us and our higher Self experiencing a kind of joy, deeply personal and deeply refreshing. While most people are too self conscious to do these things, try and find a temple or group who sing and dance to kirtan of the Lord together. Absorb the experience and feeling that comes from listening to devotional songs, singing and dancing for the Lord.

Cultivate kindness – Look around you, be kind to other people. Being kind doesn’t mean you have to tolerate injustice. As Shri Ramaksrishna say, to the wicked you have to hiss just as a snake hisses in self defense but dont put your venom into others. Kindness means not putting that venom into others. For the ones who feel close, take care of them, for the ones who you don’t feel as close show indifference rather than hatred and for the wicked hiss. Cultivating kindness will increase the sublime feeling in your heart and give you fast spiritual progress.

These are just a few ways to experience divine love there are many more. The more you practice, you will come to realize that almost everything you do selflessly will give you the same joy, the experience of divine love.

5 tips for becoming a better Hindu

The only way to demonstrate the richness of Hindu religion is to live it in our deeds and actions. We have to live by the principles of the religion and internalize them in ourselves. The only way to preach is by practice.
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  1. Satya (Truth)- Be truthful in your thoughts, words and actions. Let all 3 be synchronized, so that what you think, you say and do.
  2. Bramacharya (Purity of thought & deed) – Become content, give up lust for women, fame, wealth and power. I’m not saying give up your ambitions. Please don’t. Life is an opportunity to do great work, so don’t kill your ambitions. Achieve your ambitions by transforming your lust to Love. Love for your mother, sister, friend, wife, etc. Love for work and the joy it brings, Love for creative thought and the wonders it can create. Give up your greed and jealousy on others success. Be happy that the others are progressing. Build your dreams in reality on your mental strength, work smart, work hard, become knowledgeable, use the tools of knowledge for the service of others and at all time maintain purity of thought. Wealth, fame, power will seek you, when you work selflessly.
  3. Ahimsa (non-violence)- Become so mentally strong that hatred will not touch you. Anger only comes when we feel inferior to others. Make yourself physically and mentally strong. Be practical in your dealings, don’t let hatred and anger overcome you. Deal with everything and everyone with detachment from judgements and use your inner strength to influence value of Ahimsa in others. To understand Ahimsa, read the Bhagavad Gita and try to internalize the essence of what it means.
  4. Asteya (non-stealing) – Just like Brahmacharya, become content with what you have at the moment and strive hard with sincere effort, mental strength and strong self philosophy to achieve your dreams. Don’t steal from others i.e. don’t build your castle at the cost of others, but at the service of others.
  5. Pray and worship – religion is a deeply personal thing, and Hinduism respects that. Select your path, Bhakti, Gyana, Karma, Japa, etc. Yoga. Pick one practice and stick with it, maintain discipline and keep practicing. You will surely realize your spiritual goals. These practices will give you the strength to follow Satya, Brahmacharya, Ahimsa and Asteya.

I’ve only hand picked a few values, you may want to create your own list of 5 items and practice them sincerely. The goal of a Hindu is to purify the inner Self i.e. self-realization. Becoming a better Hindu is no different from becoming a better person. May the light of knowledge dawn on you and help you in this goal.

The beliefs of Hinduism, Sanatan Dharm

Hindus believe that all religions have a common goal of salvation, though their paths may vary and hence all paths deserve our respect and tolerance.

Hindus believe that to interpret religious teachings one has to first surrender to God by self-discipline, removing ones animal instinct, selfless service to mankind for only then the true meaning of the religious teachings is revealed and properly understood. You cannot just read books, do some rituals and proclaim to be religious.

Hindus believe that God is indescribable, formless, omnipotent and omnipresent. The belief in idol worship is only a means to communicate with the infinite by using something that is concrete to visualize, apply virtues and pay reverence to. Each idol, the deity is looked upon as either, the infinite God, the mother, father, child or beloved to enable communicating with the infinite with love and reverence just as we would with our loved ones.

Hindus believes in ahimsa, non-violence and that all life is sacred and deserves our respect. The truth about non-violence is often misunderstood as someone slaps you on one cheek, you show the other. The true meaning of non-violence can only be understood by a realized soul. All we can strive is to remove hatred from our minds. Fighting for a righteous cause that benefits mankind is justified, fighting for ones own self-defense is justified, fighting to save ones family is justified, fighting against injustice through proper means is justified, however there is always a very thin line between what is justified and what is not. For most of us we can only try to do the right thing and pray to God to keep us from becoming selfish and justifying violence for ourself or others.

Hindus believe in karma, such that every action has a reaction. Good or right  actions yield goodness and wrong or bad actions yield all negative things. The fact that we are our minds is strongly taught in all Hindu teachings and hence the rituals to keep the mind occupied and focused on the higher goals of spirituality and goodness for mankind.

Hindus believe in reincarnation of the soul and that ties to the principle of Karma. Each birth of the soul is an opportunity for self-realization and achieving liberation. We perfect ourselves birth after birth to reach the goal of merging with the infinite.

Hindus believe that the four Vedas – Rig, Yejur, Sama and Atharva are divinity’s message to humankind. The early thinkers and seers who could realize God, were able to transfer that knowledge generations after generations through verbal and written texts. The Vedas are considered the final authority on the teachings of Sanatan Dharma.

Vedic Chant expressing spirit of worship through symbols

“O Lord in my worship I have attributed forms to Thee, who art formless. By my hymns, I have, as it were, contradicted Thy indescribable nature. By going on pilgrimage, I have, as it were, denied Thy omnipresence. O Lord please forgive me for these three transgressions.”

This Vedic Prayer reminds the seeker that God is beyond form, indescribable and omnipresent. So, consider what you do every moment as a devotion to Him alone and give it your best, because God is in every form, every knowledge known and unknown to humankind and present everywhere and in everything with different manifestations.

God, Goddesses and their symbols

सिद्धिबुद्धिप्रदे देवि भुक्तिमुक्तिप्रदायिनि । मन्त्रमुर्ते सदा देवि महालक्ष्मि नमोस्तु ते ।
“Devi Mahalakshmi, giver of intelligence and success, worldly enjoyment and liberation. Mystic mantas are your form. Obeisance to Thee.”

Each God and Godess symbolize a virtue through a mantra. Focus on the mantra in the form and you will imbibe that virtue.

An easy way to start with Hinduism

The best way to start knowing Hinduism is by reading the 2 ancient epics of India, the Ramayan and Mahabharat. Most people think that Hinduism is all about thousands of Gods and their temples and the rituals etc.etc. Unfortunately all of that is Hinduism as it appears to an outsider looking at it from a 30,000 feet view. The true meaning of Hinduism and a Hindu life can only be understood by reading epics like Ramayan and Mahabharat and many other scriptures written by ancient thinkers. The reading has to be associated with questioning of each and every event especially why the characters in these epics did what they did and what were their motives and what was the outcome. Internalize these readings and then move on to the scientific and philosophical teachings of the Vedas and the Upanishads. Then when all that is read and internalized, can one read the Bhagvad Gita and understand it. You may as well read the Bhagvad Gita and try to understand Hinduism, but it will take repeated reading, thinking and true life experiences to know the esoteric meanings of each verse and the depth of the underlying wisdom. Eventually you will realize that reading is not enough and that you must do and experiment with what you have learned. That is when true Hinduism will start to reveal itself to you.

Temple worship and the rest is an integral part of Hindus, but thats only the means to reach the ultimate goal of self-realization. So, dont get fooled by the pictures of Gods and Godesses that are used to depict Hinduism, but dive deeper into its real meaning and understand the way of life a Hindu lives by reading from the ancient epics instead.