Category: mantras

The reality of Shadow Planets

How can a shadow be a planet? Can shadow qualify to be an object? What is the logic behind the part snake, part human representations of Rahu (Earth’s shadow) and Ketu (Moon’s shadow)? The Sanskrit word Graha is very unique. Its English equivalent, namely planet, is however inadequate. Graha is a reference to a holder of an energy of some sort. However, the word planet does not convey this idea. 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 today creates confusion. A good example of this confusion is the literal translation of the phrase “Chaya Graha” to a shadow planet. 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 entire universe constantly

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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. In another convention, the Maruts who are the helpers of Indra rule Forty Nine letters. Maruts are a group of seven Devas. Each group has seven of them. Tantra texts group letters of the Sanskrit language. Secondly, there are fifty one letters in the Devanagari method of writing in Sanskrit. Matrikas, who are helpers of the mother divine, rule over these seven groups. In summary, many approaches were known in the distant past to understand the power behind letters.

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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. Secondly, Vedanta fans are not enthusiastic about stretching themselves on the Yoga mat. Thirdly, “OM” is the only sound which Yoga practitioners chant. They generally do not find a desire to explore the Mantras. Similarly, the Pandits too feel content with chanting the mantras. They do not have a natural inclination to master Yoga. Is this purely because of the differences in the approaches among the three traditions? Or, did a Did a cleft appear between the three tradition sometimes in the distant past.  Vaishnava Yoga is an example. Vedanta today appeals to the intellectually oriented, Yoga to the physically active and Mantra to those from a family of chanters.   One finds a clue from the history of Vaishnava Acharyas. The time o Nathamuni (few centuries

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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. European translators could make no progress without his works. 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). However, Sayana’s work provides a list of key literary figures from an earlier millennium. Max Muller and other early Indologists had to explain the existence of their works to add credibility to AIT. One among them is Saunaka, the author of the unique Rig Veda index. He is a key literary figure to determine when the Vedas were written! Rig Veda Index of Saunaka Saunaka was a contemporary of Veda Vyasa. He compiled an exhaustive Rig Veda index, or the Anukramani. He indexed every line and every verse in the Vedas. In addition, he indexed them three ways, namely,

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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. Agni Purana is one of the eighteen main Puranas. However, we find only a very few iconic forms for Agni in temples. Firstly, Agni features in one of the hands of the Dancing Shiva statue. Secondly, the aura of Devi or Bhairav are shaped like fire or Agni. Thirdly, Agni appears as the Shiva Lingam in the famous temple of Arunachalam. Is there any other carving which captures the description of Agni in the Vedas?  Surely, temple culture is a replacement for the Yagna traditions from the earlier times.  An iconic representation of Agni We find an unique iconic representation of Agni in the Gavipuram cave temple. This temple is in the midst of the bustling city of Bangalore. The carving of Agni at the entrance to the cave here is rare. We see four horns, two faces, seven hands and three legs in this carving. Certainly, this iconic representation per

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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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