Category: mantras

The reality of Shadow Planets

The Sanskrit word Graha is very unique. Its English equivalent, namely planet, is however inadequate. The word planet does not convey the idea that it is a holder of an energy of some sort. European translators, two centuries ago, made the hurried assumption that the word Graha means Planet. The widespread use of the word planet to refer to Graha in the context of astronomy creates confusion. A good example of this confusion is the literal translation of the phrase Chaya Graha to a shadow planet. How can a shadow be a planet? Can shadow qualify to be an object? An overview of the related Sanskrit words gives us a better idea about the phrase Chaya Graha. Something that grasps, holds or seizes is Graha. According to Sri Sri Ravishankar, an expert on the terminology in Vedic texts, the whole universe is moving fast and whatever is holding this universe is called Graha (QNA Nov 2015). According to this, a

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Leafness of a Leaf per Yajur Veda

While researching for my book “Beyond Space and Beyond Matter”, I came across the approach of understanding words from constituent letters. Each letter in Sanskrit has a meaning. I hadn’t paid much attention to this fact until Sri Sri Ravishankar, my Guru, mentioned it to me. Every letter from the Devanagari letter “ka” is a representation of the 33 devas of the Vedic tradition. The letter “ka” represents prajapati, the creator. Similarly Sankhya texts map each of these consonants to a principle in creation. Tantra texts map every letter of the Sanskrit letter to 51 aspects of the mother divine. Many such approaches were well known in the distant past. Aryabhata, the astronomer. for example, borrowed from this method from ancient Tantra text. However, he borrowed it for representing numbers in his astronomical treatise. Here is a video explaining how we can interpret a Yajur mantra to be referring to photosynthesis based on the above theme.

Sacred Spots – Hindu worship sites before the popularity of temples

Ramanuja, a Vaishnava master from the fourteenth century was an expert in Pancharatra books . These books discuss worship procedures which are prevalent for millennia in the Indian subcontinent.  Worship practices in temples in Tamil Nadu had deteriorated into confusion. Consequently, Ramanuja took up the study of Pancharatra texts  with a view to bring structure in temple practices.  Psychologists understand now that human can relate more easily with the world of forms than the world of pure abstractions. Centuries earlier, Pancharatra texts recognized this basic tenet of human psychology. Ultimately, any form of worship is related to the supreme divine who is formless.  However, the center piece of any temple worship is a representation of this formless divine. Pancharatra texts suggest five distinct representations., or modes of invoking the powers of the formless into relatable structures. The first mode is the “Sthandila“. This refers to a small piece of land which is worthy of holding the divine presence, momentarily. Per this rule, Vedic priest construct

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When did Yoga and Vedanta traditions diverge?

Yoga, Vedanta and mantra are three unique traditions which have been popular for several centuries in India. Strangely the practitioners of any one of three traditions do not readily venture into the others. Vedanta fans for example are not enthusiastic about stretching themselves on the Yoga mat, “OM” is the only sound which Yoga practitioners chant and Pundits feel content with chanting the mantras. Is it purely because of the differences in the approaches among the three traditions? Vedanta today appeals to the intellectually oriented, Yoga to the physically active and Mantra to those from families of chanters. But a cleft must appeared between the three tradition sometimes in the distant past. One finds a mention for example that Vaishnava Acharyas after the time of Nathamuni (few centuries before Saint Ramanuja) did not have access to Vaishnava Yoga. All Vaishanavas in Tamil Nadu today learn to chant Pasurams which were compositions in Tamil by Alwars, or Vaishnava saints who lived

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Rishi Saunaka more important than Veda Vyasa to Max Muller?

Only a few people know the value of the commentaries of a 13th century scholar by the name Sayana or Sayanacharya. Earlier western translators could not have made any progress without them. However Max Muller, the reputed translator of the Vedas, hardly credits Sayana. What was the reason? Secondly, Max Muller is the original proponent of the, now discredited, Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT). Did Sayana’s 13th century work provide any clues about this theory to Max Muller? Certainly not! However, the work provides a list of key literary figures from an earlier millennia whose reputation had to be shaken to bring credibility to AIT. One among them is Saunaka. Saunaka was a contemporary of Veda Vyasa. He compiled an exhaustive index or Anukramani to the Vedas. He indexed every line and every verse in the Vedas. In addition he indexed them three ways, namely, by (i) Chhandas (Poetic Meter), (ii) Devata, and (iii) Rishi (Vedic seer). Europeans discovered Vedic manuscripts

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A cambodian clue to the 1000 Shivalingas in Sirsi !

Sirsi, a town in Karnataka state hosts Sahasra (1000) lingas in the flowing waters of the river Shalmali. Historians feel that king Sadashiva Raya had these constructed in the 15th century. Enigmatically, the Kannada script on few of the Shivalingas belong to a far earlier century. The local lore is that the shiva lingas were installed here because this area was an important energy center. Not much else is known about the reason for creating so many Shiva lingas in the flowing waters. The figures on the rocks here resemble those in the Madhukeshwara temple in Banavasi, the nearby town, the first capital of the state of Karnataka. Banavasi is mentioned in such diverse sources as the Mahabharata, by Ptolemy (1 century CE) and in the Ashokan edicts. The Indian subcontinent was divided into federations or Janapadas around the time of Ashoka. Shatavahana kings controlled the territory around Banavasi. The Shatavahanas ruled from their capital in Kotilingalu (crore lingas) in

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Mantra to Idol – The 2 face, 3 leg, 7 armed Agni

Vedas, especially the Rig Veda celebrates Agni as the foremost. One of the eighteen main Puranas is named after Agni. Yet a very few iconic forms for Agni are found in temples. The Dancing Shiva in the temple of Chidambaram holds Agni in one of his hands. The Shivalinga in the famous temple of Arunachalam is considered to hold Agni’s energy.  The aura of Devi and Bhairava in many temples contains Agni. If temple culture was a replacement for the Yagya traditions from the earlier times we should see prolific number of temples for Agni. The Gavipuram cave temple in the midst of the bustling city of Bangalore is a rare case with a statue of Agni. Agni here is represented with four horns, two faces, seven hands and three legs based on the literal translations of one of the famous mantras from the Rig Veda.  “catvari srnga trayo asya pada dvesirse sapta hastaso asya tridha baddho vrsabho roraviti maho devo martyan

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Bhaga provides clues about the Evolution of Temple Worship!

The 7th mandala of the Rig Veda, attributed to the Rishi Vasishta contains the mantras to the Devata Bhaga. The Bhagya Suktam, the prayers for prosperity is from the 7th Mandala.  Elaborate Yagya ceremonies such as the Soma Yagya which are rarely performed today includes offerings to the Devata Bhaga in its morning section. Bhagaya Suktam is recited even today in homes before the start of any fire ceremonies in the morning time. Bhaga is the form of the early morning Sun and he is the lord of brilliance. The phrase Bhagavan is derived from the root Bhaga. We do not find any temple dedicated to this important Devata, nor do we see his form among the multitudes of idols in temples. How did temple culture forget such an important Devatas from the Vedic times? We hear that the followers of Bhuddha and Mahavira started the practice of chiseling statues to emulate the physical presence of the enlightened masters.  Shakti

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Baudhayana's instruction

The star gazer Bhodayana?

Today, mathematicians are aware of Rishi Baudhayana. This is because his Sulbasutra text predates the works of Pythagoras by several centuries. Hindus follow Baudhayana’s prescription for Vedic Samskara are even today. There is much clarity in his prescription. Because of this, even families who otherwise follow the Sutras of Rishi Apastamba borrow procedures of Baudhayana. Pundits chant the Udagashanti mantras, a grouping of mantras created by Baudhayana. Besides, these mantras are important in rituals such as Upanayanam and wedding. A section of the Udagashanti mantras highlights the importance of observing the rising sign in the east. Narayana Iyengar mentions this in his paper. His paper (Indian Journal of the History of sciences) mentions astronomical observations in India in the 2nd millennium BCE. In addition, the paper notes that the Sanskrit Pundits wrote commentaries on these mantras, as late as the 11th century. These commentaries bring a different context to the observation of the Heliacal rising of stars. In summary, such commentaries are

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