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Indra’s Penance for Enlightenment

Do Devas need to engage in Tapas or Penance to gain Enlightenment? How did Indra, the ruler of the Devas perform Penance? Did his Tapas last 101 years? Let us explore the episode related to Indra and his arch rival Vairochani. The Chandogya Upanishad, one of the major texts in the Veda tradition presents the narration of how Brahma tricked Indra and Vairochani to seek self knowledge. Long ago, the domain of the Devas or the celestials and the domain of the Asuras rivalled each other. Certainly, the rulers of these two domains were in severe competition to out do each other. They sought unique objects, creatures, animals, birds and architecture to prove their superiority. Brahma, the creator, felt sad for these two rulers. He saw how these two were missing the point! He sent out a Dindora message (like the viral messages which propagate on Social Media today). Indra and his rival came to know that a person who

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The Chakras and 21600 breaths

Is there a connection between the breath and Chakras? Firstly, a human being takes 21600 breaths a day, per Yoga literature. However, Scientists count the number of breaths to be between 20,000 to 24,000. Secondly, scientists now affirm what Yogis have said all along. Only one of the nostrils is active at any time of the day and after a gap of 2 hours the other nostril takes over. This means that 10,800 breaths flow easily through each nostril in a day. 10800 is a revered number in eastern traditions. So is there any truth also to the fact that these 10800 breaths are connected to the Chakras? Chakras are energy centers in the subtle body. Their locations roughly correspond to the endocrine system in the human body. Most people who practice Yoga are aware of seven major chakras. In what way do the 21600 breath map to these chakras? For example. 50% of the breath daily breath count maps

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The secret of Kinnaras

Chiron is the famous Centaur in Greek mythology. In addition, paintings shows centaurs as half horse and half human. The word for Centaurus in Mycenean language is Gantarus. This Mycenean word is the same as Gandharva in Indian literature. Therefore, Centaur and Gandharva must refer to the same entity. However, we do not find any reference to Gandharva as a horse-human being in Sanskrit literature. certainly, the horse-human form represents a Kinnara who is a helper of Gandharva. So, what happened during the sharing of ideas between the Indians and Greeks? What is the secret of Kinnaras? Nara refers to a human being. Therefore the word Kim-Nara or Kinnara refers to a human being but somewhat different. Besides the prefix “Kim” indicates a puzzle, a question (Kim?). Paintings and carvings illustrate Kinnaras as instrument players who accompany Gandharvas, the celestial singers. In addition, artisans in the past used their freedom of expression to illustrate Kinnaras as semi-human beings. Certainly, we

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The Secret of Yakshini

Every individual desires for comfort and joy. Besides, the pursuit of wealth is an aspect of this. Certainly, a majority of individuals in a society engage in this pursuit with faith, trust and cooperation. The collective psyche, with respect to wealth, is like a uniform field, because of this majority! However, it has some bumps and kinks. The cause of these is the fact that the wealthy seek grandeur and more fame. From this, let us understand the secret of Yakshini beings. Yaksha is an abstract being, an aspect of the collective psyche. They are related to power the structures in society. Yakshni is a female counterpart of Yaksha. They grant special favors. Mostly, the rich avail of these favors. Certainly, the worship of Yakshini was popular in earlier times. Buddhist, Jain and Hindu texts classify Yakshinis. For example, Bhandara Poorna Yakshni brings satisfaction in matters of the treasury. Therefore Kings and rulers in the past sought her favor. Similarly,

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One Mantra 3 Purposes

Vyasa collected a subset of Mantras at the end of the last Yuga or Era. Certainly a larger set of Mantras was in vogue earlier. Vyasa created four compilations from the subset. These compilations are today known as the four Vedas, namely, the Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. Several mantras are common between the Rig, Yajur and Sama Veda compilations. Almost every Sama Veda mantra is also in the Rig Veda compilation. However, not all mantras of the Rig Veda are in the Yajur Veda compilation. Because of this, Yajur Veda contains mantras which are not in the Rig Veda. What is the reason for the overlap of Mantras? Overlap of Mantras in the Rig, Yajur, Sama Vedas The tradition of Yagnas has continued through the ages. Secondly, the first step in the Yagna involves inviting appropriate Devas to the Yagna. Thirdly, Rig mantras alone can invoke the energies of Devas. Offerings to Devas is the second step in a

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Shankaracharya and Agasthiyar

Shankaracharya, a renowned spiritual master and Agasthiyar, the foremost Tamil Siddhar lived 2-3 millennia apart. Something is common between these two. One incident in each of their lives throws light on this. This are related to the Kaya Parvesh (transmigration) skills of Shankaracharya and Agasthiyar. Firstly, let us look at the incident in Shankaracharya’s life. Secondly, we can look at Agasthiyar’s life. The incident in Shankaracharya’s life centers around one of his prominent followers, namely, Mandan Mishra. Mandan Mishra was the foremost expert in Yagna techniques. Besides he adhered to the ritualistic tradition of ancient India. However, Shankaracharya was attempting to bring Vedantic tradition to the forefront. Consequently, the latter had to debate Mandan Mishra and establish the superiority of the Vedantic tradition. Shankaracharya finds his student The judge for the debate was none other than the wife of Mandan Mishra. Besides, his wife, Sharada equaled her husband in the ways of a householder. Therefore, she set a minimum qualification for admitting Shankaracharya into a debate. Only

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Alternate Viewpoint on Apsara

Apsaras are known for their legendary beauty and attractiveness. They find a place in temple carvings. Purana texts promulgate the idea of Apsaras being of a celestial origin. Secondly, they are dancers in the domain of Indra. We imagine Apsara to be amorous because the Puranas tell stories about their affairs with Kings and ascetics. Generally, in these stories, Indra sends them to the Earth to distract an ascetic. This is Indra’s way of testing an ascetic before they gain more spiritual powers. However, what is the real nature of an Apsara? Why are Apsaras known as the companions of Gandharvas? For an alternate viewpoint on Apsaras, we turn to the Vedas. Churning of the Milky Ocean To begin with, let us review the most famous story about the origin of Apsara. Apsaras emerged when the Devas, the celestials and Asuras (the enemies of Devas), churned the legendary ocean. In short, they emerged immediately after the Kalpa Vriksa, the wish fulfilling tree. Therefore, the

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Retrograde – Fact Check

Astrology considers retrograde to be a significant condition, usually in a negative sense. Astrologers call a planet which is seemingly moving in the reverse as a retrograde planet. How do we understand the retrograde phenomenon? For example, we all have noticed the following when the bus or train begins to move suddenly. The adjacent train appears to move backward. In the same way, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn appear to be in reverse when the Earth overtakes them during its annual rotation. The same also happens to Mercury and Venus during the far half of their rotation around the Sun. Certainly, from an astronomy angle there is no real reversal. Why do astrologers then feel otherwise? An astrologer holds the view that an horoscope is human centric. Firstly, perception determines one’s feelings. Secondly, the planets are indicators of human perception and feelings. In short, a planet when retrograde appears to have gone back against the background of fixed stars in the

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Fact Check of the Varga Chart system

Hindu astrology surpasses western astrology in its scope and detail. An area of distinction is the Varga system of deep-dive analysis. Hindu texts from two millennia ago contain a description of the Varga system. Many things including Karma is a part of the Varga chart! However, one can ask the question – “did an astrologer then have the tools to make full use of the Varga system”. Certainly astrologers depend on astronomers. An astronomer alone can tell the accurate positions of planets. What methods did ancient astronomers follow to track planets? How accurately could an ordinary citizen tell time two millennia ago? Let us fact check the Varga Chart system. People familiar with a basic astrology chart understand a few simple facts. Firstly, there are twelve divisions or houses in an individual’s astrology chart or the horoscope. Each house corresponds to a 30 degree arc in the sky. Secondly, each house represents a specific aspect of one’s life. For example, the 7th house represents partnerships and

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Shinshumara or Dhruva Matsya?

Shinshumara is the mysterious constellation which hosts the drifting celestial north pole. Several Purana texts make a reference to it. However, these references can not be anything but symbolic. We must refer to the texts of Vedic astronomers to get a clue. Only then can we understand what this constellation corresponds to in a physical sense. Let us look at the Dhruva-Matsya asterism in this regard. Presently, the celestial north pole is near the tip of the tail segment of the Ursa-Minor asterism. In fact, many call the star at this location as Polaris. Secondly, this asterism has seven stars. We can not but notice five of them forming an arc. Is this arc a part of the Dhruva-Matsya asterism? Firstly, Dhruva-Matsya means the fish. Secondly, it is in the vicinity of Dhruva, the celestial north pole. Thirdly, Hindu astronomers in the past have used it as a celestial clock. Twelve stars form the Dhruva-Matsya asterism. However, experts today are unable

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