Category: mantras

The reality of Shadow Planets

The Sanskrit word for planet is Graha. The english equivalent of the word Graha is however inadequate. European translators who wanted to understand Indian astronomical texts, two centuries ago, made the hurried assumption that the word Graha means Planet. They did not understand the nuances of the word Graha. The widespread use of the word planet in place of Graha by educated Indians today in the context of astronomy creates confusion. The best example of this is a reference to Chhaya Graha (Shadow planet). How can a shadow be a planet or how can a planet be shadowy? An overview of a few Sanskrit words Agraha, Parigraha, Nigraha, Anugraha and Vigraha gives us a clue that the word Graha refers to the principle of holding something in place. 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). Planets

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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. Each letter from the Devanagari letter “ka” is a representation of the 33 devas of the Vedic tradition. The letter “ka” is prajapati, the creator. Similarly Sankhya texts map each consonant 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, for example, borrowed his method of representing numbers in his astronomical treatise from an ancient Tantra text. 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 researched Pancharatra books related to worship traditions which had been handed down for millennia in the Indian subcontinent. He had taken up the study of the Pancharatra texts to rectify confusing worship practices in temples in Tamil Nadu. He brought structure and uniformity to worship practices based on his research.  The Pancharatra texts recognize the human psychology of relating more easily with the world of forms than with the world of pure abstractions. They establishes five distinct modes of invoking the powers of the all pervading formless divinity into relatable structures. The first mode is called “Sthandila” which is understood to be a small piece of land worthy of hosting the divine energy. The fire altar used in Vedic Yagnas was constructed in a carefully chosen spots of land or “Sthandila”.  Ancient Yogis and Siddhas used their divination skills to choose worship spots where beautiful temple structures arose during historic centuries. A third

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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?

Max Muller, the reputed translator of the Vedas and the original proponent of the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) relied on the commentaries of the 13th century Indian author by the Sayana for his translations. Not many people today recognize the contribution of Sayana to our ability to understand the Vedas to some extent in the twenty first century. Max Muller had an easy task of translating the Vedas, thanks to the works of Sayana. His task of finding support for AIT was definitely tougher. Max Muller had to wrestle with the works of a colossal literary figures, such as Saunaka, from the ancient Vedic civilization to construct an unprecedented foundation for AIT. Saunaka, a contemporary of Veda Vyasa, compiled Anukramani Indices to the Vedas. He indexed every line and every verse in the Vedas according to the Chhandas (Poetic Meter), Devata (Vedic Diety) and Rishi (Vedic seer). The manuscripts of the Vedas which were discovered by Europeans in the 18th

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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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The star gazer Bhodayana?

Rishi Bhodayana is today recognized as the inventor of the Pythagoras theorem because his Sulbasutra text predates the works of Pythagoras by several centuries. Bhodayana’s prescription for Vedic Sanskaras are followed even today. Because of the clarity of his prescription even families who otherwise follow the Sutras of Rishi Apasthamba borrow procedures of Bhodayana sometimes. Pundits chant the Udagashanti mantras, a grouping of mantras created by Bhodayana, in important rituals such as Upanayan and weddings. A section of the Udagashanti mantras describes the procedure for observing the rising of Nakshatras in the east. Narayana Iyengar in his paper, on astronomical observations in India in the 2nd millennium BCE, to be published in the Indian Journal of the History of sciences refers to the Udagashanti Mantras. He writes that Sanskrit Pundits as late as the 11th century wrote commentaries on these mantras providing a newer context to the observation of the Heliacal rising of stars. The existence of these commentaries is a

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