|Director, Exotic India Art, 1999-present
|B.E (Mechanical Engineering), Delhi University, 1995
|Date of Birth
||6th Aug, 1973
||Nitin Kumar is a leading light behind the Exotic India story, being a founding visionary. Having conceptualized Exotic India in 1999, Nitin Kumar is today its Executive Editor, and is responsible for all content on the website. He has authored several articles for the website, on diverse subjects as Hinduism, Buddhism, Art, Fashion, et al.
Sri Nitin Kumar is a firm believer in Vedanta Philosophy, and is today an acknowledged scholar on the Vedas, Puranas, and indeed the Brahma Sutras. With his deep understanding of the Sanskrit Language, he is presently directly involved in translations of ancient Hindu texts into English.
The author also holds a keen appreciation of visual art, and has been associated in the recent past with the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi.
Published in February 2017
Her epithet in the Devi-Mahatmya is Mahalakshmi. She is the wrathful four-armed goddess of battlefield represented holding in them various weapons…. A form of Lakshmi seated over a lotus laid over a golden seat and a pair of white elephants…. Except in some classical forms in Lakshmi-Narayana imagery Lakshmi is ordinarily two-armed…. Incarnation theory is the crux of Vaishnavism. Vishnu incarnates alone but Lakshmi also incarnates in simultaneity…. Though very rare some enthused artists have conceived on Ardhanarishvara line also Vishnu’s Ardhanarishvara images.
Published in December 2016
There is Rama, the son of Ayodhya's king Dasharatha in his human birth, and there is Rama's divinity, his divine aura that overwhelms the Tulasi's entire Ramacharit-manas, one manifest - with attributes, and the other, unmanifest - without attributes. With main emphasis on his majesty in South Indian tradition this crown is taller than usual. His 'khadgasana' images are usually in three modes; one with his right foot moved forward represents him in a commander's disposition ready to rush for protecting a devotee in crisis or redeem him from some calamity. Harihara, a form in which he shares with Shiva half of the body. Basically a bird Garuda is seen for ages as Vishnu's ardent devotee, a learned human being and an auspicious presence, and in iconographic tradition often conceived with a man's face, anatomy, ornaments and ensemble. The Puranas are replete with tales of Garuda's divine exploits.
Here is a fragment from one of the most poignant episodes of Indian history…. This piece of history is from the Mahabharata…. She was dying with shame but inside, like a true kshatrani (woman of the warrior race), she was burning with anger…. I have heard that women who follow dharma were never brought before a public court….Greed is the destroyer of dharma. I do not desire a third boon…. Draupadi was as forgiving as mother earth herself…. Just then Arjuna saw his dear friend Bhagawan Krishna approaching him…. “Leave him, leave him. He is a brahmin and worthy of our worship. Their mother should not cry, like I have at the death of my children.
Published in November 2015
Whenever he gets the time, he should go and live amongst people who have given up worldly life…. A wise person should serve his body and family only to the extent that is functionally necessary…. The person who lays claim on the surplus wealth is nothing but a thief…. He should share all objects of enjoyment with everyone, right down to dogs, sinners…. Such is the attachment to one’s wife….How despicable is this body, which if buried is going to become the food of worms, or excreta if eaten by animals….Since a son is to thus revere his elders even after their death, what to say that he is expected to serve them when they are alive…. The person wishing to follow the path of dharma should steer clear of the five forms of Adharma.
Published in September 2015
The Bhagavad Gita, while describing the qualities of a wise person says…. This verse is vividly illustrated in the story of king Rantideva occurring in the Srimad Bhagavatam…. He did not believe in hoarding, was above all attachments and was highly patient…. They were all trembling due to starvation and thirst….bowed to the dogs and their owner…. What I want is only this: That I be able to go and live in the hearts of all beings and undergo sufferings on their behalf, so that they may become free from all miseries.
We assume that our happiness is the result of an interaction with external objects…. Suppose that an individual is deprived of sleep and food and pleasurable objects for a long time and then all of them are simultaneously offered to him…. Actually, seeking the answer to this question is the most significant pursuit in life…. The veil comes up again and the duality returns…. In this background, we can now analyse the nature of dukha (grief).
Actually, the one who worships Bhagwan Vishnu should get rich and the one who worships Shiva should become an avadhuta like Him…. Then he works hard again to acquire wealth. I render all his efforts futile…. However, Bhagawan Vishnu is not like that, it takes longer to please Him…. As a consequence, they later harassed the great God Himself…. On the seventh day, he bathed in the holy waters of Kedarnath and began to cut his head with an axe to offer into the fire…. The boy bowed respectfully before the demon and asked…. No one who commits sin against a great person can be safe and happy in this world.
But to pull this statement out of context and give it as an advice for anyone is far from correct…. But how is one to recognise the guru? Obviously, he will be able to understand the difficulties of the disciples and clarify to them the meaning of the scriptures on the basis of logic and experience….
They will have to search in their own neighbourhood only….The guru chosen by him should be at least better than himself!…. Of course, if the ideal guru whose features have been enumerated in the beginning is available, then the sadhaka should immediately go and surrender to him…. It is just like going to another teacher for higher education, after completing the education in a school.
Only a certain fraction of this karma is chosen by God in order to form the blueprint of our next birth…. The fruit that one experiences in this birth is due to prarabdha and a portion of the present agami…. Similarly, a fish in the Ganga does not accrue punya because of always living in Ganga…. A good karma can be annulled by a bad karma and a bad one by a good one…. Sometimes we also hear that prarabdha cannot be got rid of. It has to be spent through…. Bhagawan Vyasa says that for the full result of the karma to manifest, three things are necessary…. Then how to understand the statement that prarabdha should unavoidably be experienced?
It concedes that for an orderly social life a division into four groups based on the principle of varnadharma is necessary…. Each individual sometimes acts in a sattvika manner while at other times he may act in rajasic or tamasic manner, which means that the manifestation of a particular guna depends on circumstances…. Though all the three gunas are present in everyone, different persons are driven to act differently…. The karma that I have to perform should depend on my inherent gunas and should have the ability to regulate these gunas…. There is no instant transition to moksha…. An individual has to make his way towards moksha only through worldly life.
During one such sacrifice, nine spiritually charged men entered the sacrificial hall….As for Bhagavat Dharma, it is the dharma spoken by God directly from his own mouth…. Like a person eating food finds himself gratified simultaneously in three ways…. We are all constantly taught by spiritual texts to offer or dedicate all our actions to God. However, the question remains as to how to practically carry out this injunction…..The only fruit of wealth is dharma... Therefore, there is no need for the Vedas to enjoin us to these things for which we already have a tendency….The real intention of the Vedic injunctions in these matters is to make a person abstain from them…”
Published in February 2015
Once as he was engaged in puja, a saint came to visit him….Like a true householder attached to his family, Gajendra sported in the water with his wives, children and friends…. Understanding that his end was imminent, they all slowly withdrew, till Gajendra was left alone…. If we reflect on it calmly, we will realise that there is no house in the world where the story of Gajendra does not play out…. The one who is careful towards the end is able to reform his death….
Gajendra’s hymn of praise is one of the greatest philosophical poems in the annals of world literature.
Published in January 2015
Vyasa Ji explained through a story how it came to be that the Pandava's marriage with a single wife was in conformity with dharma….The gods, along with their king Indra, were sitting on the bank of a river when they saw a beautiful golden lotus floating on its waters…. Both were playing a game of dice…. On hearing Shiva’s words, Indra started shaking with fear… Without death, the burden on the earth becomes too much…. Her birth had the sanction of all the three Gods - Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu.
Published in December 2014
Who would not satisfy his wife who is but his better half?…. Later, he took a bath, performed pranayama and meditating silently on the pure, eternal light, repeated internally the Gayatri Mantra…. Once it so happened that goddess Lakshmi was out of Vaikuntha…. Despite being older, they always maintain the appearance of five-year olds…. Seeing the great saints he welcomed them with reverence…. It is never for one single purpose but to fulfil many functions at the same time…. He ensured for them a glorious death.
Published in November 2014
The primary thrust in the Mahabharata is to teach us the nuances of dharma through the poignant love story…. I have full control over my mind, even then it is attracted towards you…. You think you are alone with your own self. But don’t you know that the all-knowing God dwells in every heart…. Those who have wives are the ones who have Lakshmi…. I tell you that truth is equal to studying all the Vedas and bathing in all the pilgrimages…. The immortal dialogue between Shakuntala and her husband is one of the greatest….
Published in October 2014
Even though there are infinite objects in the world, they all fall into one of the following categories…. When we see smoke on a far off mountain top, we infer that that place is on fire…. For example, in the Ramayana, when looking for Sita, Rama found a small bundle containing her gold jewels…. Not all features of the two animals are identical…. Otherwise, it is not at all possible to remain healthy and active as he appears to all….We are fortunate to be governed by the Vedas.
Published in September 2014
A king should walk the ethical path….. So what if you are also the son of the king?…..It is a fact that you have taken birth from an unfortunate woman, on whose milk you have grown up…..Narada was impressed with Dhruva’s resolution and set out to guide him…. Dhruva was stunned by the beauty of God….. Bhagawan Vishnu’s conch has a two-fold symbolism…. Dhruva was given everything he had hoped for and every need of his was fulfilled. Yet, his heart was filled with regret as he returned home….. Here we see that the satsang of mahatmas like Manu can achieve what even a vision of God cannot achieve.
As she matured he started looking for a suitable husband…. Those were wonderful times when high character and not material wealth were the factors in selecting a husband….The purpose of marriage is unification…. It would be nice if I had a son with me…. Such is the greatness of sadhus….The symptoms of a saint are as follows…. One who worships Me in the temples but does not know that I am situated in everybody’s heart…. Man too finds satisfaction in his deep-rooted attraction for his house, wealth, children, wife….His movements slow down but he still stays in the house like a dog…. As a consequence her curly black hair gradually became brown and matted.
It is to show us that whenever one wants something from somebody, one is reduced in stature…. Anyone coming to me to ask for something never again has to ask for anything in his whole life…. Money in any case deserts us after death….After washing Bhagwan’s Vishnu’s foot fell down to the earth and became the river Ganga….Punishment given by exalted persons like Yourself is nothing but a worthy reward in itself…. If he, as a human, is not affected by pride of his lineage, achievements, youth, beauty, learning, power….
Undoubtedly these are all precious things difficult for an ordinary human being to obtain…. In this manner had he converted his karma into a yajna….With a trembling body and frowning brows he furiously admonished the king, who stood all the time with folded hands…. The Chakra is the weapon of the Supreme Ruler of the universe…. I love them and they Me…. Today I have witnessed the glory of a true devotee of the Lord…. He sacrifices his own reputation in order to show the greatness of the Lord’s devotees.
Now the question is: Why did Brahma Ji take Lord Shiva also with them to Lord Vishnu?….When he was Lakshmana, being the younger he couldn’t stop Rama from going to the forest and thought that in this incarnation, by becoming the elder brother, he would be better able to serve his Lord….Now with impending arrival of Lord Krishna they were sure to be soon reunited with their loving husbands… Actually, even though many avatars before had graced the Earth, none had given her the level of happiness that Krishna was going to give….The wind god Vayu was extremely happy at the service his son Hanuman had provided to Rama in the previous avatar of the Lord….This realisation enraptured her to no end and she wept with joy.
She was extremely fond of me and used to tenderly shower me with affection…. I had developed two favourable qualities since childhood…. The love given by this world is selfish…. The mistake we make is that we love this world more than we love God….. She says that I should first study to clear my exams… The son who serves his mother is the one who is dear to God… He also instructed that I should first pull Krishna into my mind and then chant His name… Following his instructions, I stayed at home for twelve more years…. In the dark she stepped on a snake who bit her…. Whenever I was hungry, God would inspire somebody to come and offer me food.
Sudama never asked anybody for anything…. His wife, extremely devoted to her husband, lived in the same condition….There was no restriction on saints and Brahmins who had free access to Krishna’s residence… Then Lord Krishna washed Sudama’s hands and feet with His tears…Next morning, when it was time for Sudama to leave, Shri Krishna thought to Himself….When food is offered to Lord Krishna with love and devotion, He is pleased with it and accepts it…He remained detached all his life, and used all his possessions as if actually belonging to God.
Published in February 2014
Even though Indra saw his guru he turned away his gaze as if he had missed seeing him….So, during the performance of sacrifices, he would pour offerings not only on behalf of the gods, but also secretly give offerings on behalf of the demons…he entire world was filled with a feeling of forgiveness towards him… The gods felt helpless not knowing what to do, until they took refuge with the Lord Narayana dwelling in their hearts…The fact is that everyone in this world is engrossed in his selfish interests….
Whenever people like us make an effort for achieving material objects like power and money He renders these efforts fruitless…How was he able to recall the Supreme Lord in his last moments this being difficult for even the most accomplished of yogis?
Published in January 2014
Stepping out of the house, Rishabha took a vow of absolute silence and stopped replying even when spoken to…. Physically he was perfect. He had a broad chest, lissome limbs and a beautiful face made all the more charming by the natural smile…. Therefore he started to live like a python….Why then did he have to send them away?....One should never make friends with one’s mind…. He now kept a piece of stone in his mouth. Thus, at the end of his life, Rishabha gave trouble to no one for performing even his last rites.
Published in December 2013
It was the learned Brahmin’s performing the sacrifice who answered on the king’s behalf.... Along with his wife left for the sacred site of Badrinath.... He spent the student days of his life at the house of his teacher (gurukula), where he studies the Vedas and also learned other worldly sciences.... By his actions he laid down, for the sake of the ignorant, the righteous way of life, known as Dharma.... They feel no attraction whatsoever for a house teeming with wife, children and wealth.... f they do not abide with these instructions one should get angry with them.... This is the true worship of God.
Published in November 2013
When he did not return even after a long interval, another of the brothers went after him.... Who makes the sun rise?.... Nilakantha, the most ancient and authoritative commentator on the Mahabharata has clarified the meaning of this verse.... Who is the friend of a dying man?.... His wife is the friend given to him by the gods.... With whom does one’s friendship last forever?.... What is the greatest wonder in this world?.... Thus did end this story on a happy note.
Published in October 2013
Every day he would pour offerings into the sacred fires, accompanied by a hundred thousand chantings of the Gayatri mantra.... She stood before him with folded hands.... The princess, though bashful, did not even for a moment doubt her father’s words.... From there he proceeded on foot to where the hut of the blind king was..... After her father had gone, Savitri removed all her ornaments and rich clothes and donned clothes made of barks and leaves as befitting forest-dwellers.... Outwardly she seemed normal and happy but inside she was burning in the fire of torment.... Seeing him, she gently placed her husband’s head on the ground.... Your words are as soothing to me as water is to a thirsty man.
Published in September 2013
The amount of hardship she undergoes to bring up the child, that too with pleasure, is astounding.... Make their stay pleasant while they are in your house.... Remember that you are at the root of the future of the family.... So, the choice is ours – will we believe the publicity generated by a selfish media, or listen to our ancient selfless Rishis?.... Indeed, Dharma is protected at the grass roots by women only.
It should also be remembered that it is not only one’s parents but the whole society that helps him to grow.... This does not mean that one should stop eating.... Infatuation for a certain thing goes only by developing infatuation for a higher thing.... Never praise them in so many words when they achieve something.... The issue is this: ‘Life survives on life’....The desire to live and the desire to develop compassion are opposed to each other.... By this age one will have surely done the best one could do for one’s family. Now it is the time to turn inwards and work for one’s own spiritual good.
There are serious reservations about Lord Krishna’s actions in the Mahabharata war.... There were many veterans sitting in the assembly while the above ignominy was taking place.... His Dharma is towards the greater good.... A criminal is speeding away in a car after committing heinous crimes.... How then did Lord Krishna indulge in amorous sports with the gopis of Vrindavana?.... They bent their heads without answering Him.... Nobody will be washing clothes or doing cooking etc in the dead of night.
Finally, when the moment of death approaches, the person lies down and all his activities cease....Then people around the dying person say: ‘His speech has stopped; nevertheless, he still understands things. He can recognize us’.... They then bring the sacred water of river Ganga and pour a bit of it into his mouth.... Anyhow, while coming to the earth, he enters into rain and through it into food grains.... The conditions however may not yet be suitable for the father to have him right away.
Meditation is often interpreted as a translation of the Sanskrit word ‘dhyana’.... In particular, it is the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita which dedicates itself exclusively to answer all our queries regarding mediation.....not indulging in what we think is right, but doing what God knows is right, by unquestionably obeying His commands like a dutiful servant....This verse is not speaking of two different people.... The phrase ‘look at the tip of the nose’ is not to be taken literally to mean that one should direct one’s eyeballs towards the tip of one’s nose.... Next the Gita speaks of how a meditator should eat.... Meditation is not done to calm the mind.
How does this love towards the divine manifest itself?.... Kirtana consists of chanting aloud God’s divine name and glories of His form.... Smarana means the constant remembrance of God.... The obvious example of this kind of Bhakti is our mother goddess Lakshmi.... Consists of the physical worship of God in the form of an idol etc, using the correct rituals.... He was overcome with emotion and the consequent surge of affection for Krishna made his hair stand on its end and the overflowing eyes began to shed tears....No wonder that Shri Rama embraced him.... Stories about the friendship of Krishna and Arjuna abound in the Mahabharata.... One whose each and every action can be deemed as Bhakti.
Their activities include not only performing karma, but also experiencing its fruits.... In the waking and dream states, we do not know anything about what another person is experiencing.... . In dreams however, the sense organs are inactive and only the mind functions....An Ananda in which grief is totally destroyed.... One who had lost kingship becomes king again.... We have always been accustomed to obtaining sukha only through an effort.... Why should happiness terminate when still in contact with the object? It is known that the first thing he would seek would be sleep, then food and then the pleasures from outside objects....The all compassionate God is everyday giving us an experience to understand our oneness with Him.
Published in February 2013
There are different opinions regarding the nature of Moksha.... Arjuna could not avoid grief in the battlefield.... what exactly is meant by ‘without a body’?.... When we say that “He is singing standing”, there is no interval between his standing and singing.... This goes on till one is satisfied with what one has heard.... Needs listening, logic and experience.... There is no other way to generate the fruit of a Karma.... Moksha is not produced because it is eternal.
Published in January 2013
At some juncture in his life, he undergoes a tremendous amount of suffering....As this happens, his suffering too loses momentum and starts decreasing.....Observing that God is doing him well, he is emboldened to ask for more....Now that he has all he wanted, there seems to be no need for God, and he forgets Him..... This happens again and again, and he continues to oscillate....Once he is at this level, there is no going back or falling down for the Bhakta....God, who is seated inside his heart, draws him back, inspiring him to reflect....Like the small child, whose exclusive devotion to her compels his mother to forever keep him under her protective arms.
Published in December 2012
The Gita says that the subject of Karma is extremely mysterious....We need to first understand the three types of Karma....However, it is exactly the opposite for a householder....This defines most of what goes on in the name of meditation today....Just like the sky, which remains unaffected by the coming and going of clouds....him to remain a mere detached spectator....believing himself to be happy because he is free from Karma....However, a true and intelligent man can discover in himself that even in physical inaction there can be intense mental and intellectual activity.
Published in November 2012
Can a flower said to be the creation of human hands?...It is at this stage, when we delve into what the ancient scriptures like Valmiki Ramayana say about Him....This is in fact the crucial difference between Shri Rama and Lord Krishna....His tongue could never utter those terrible and tragic words....During His childhood, while playing with His brothers, Rama never attempted to defeat them....At times we see someone ready to share their wealth with others, but not his own brother....Shri Rama unfailingly used to get up before dawn....Towards the end of the Ramayana, when Shri Rama had killed Ravana....Thus it constituted Dharma.
Like a loving mother, she guides us to the supreme and purest form of love....The only sister of five brothers, she was obviously much loved and the center of attraction at home....She would send a message to Krishna, professing her single-minded affection for him....Having once heard of Lord Krishna, one starts losing his heart to him....If so happened this would be in clear violation of the promise made by God himself in the Ramayana....How do we know that we are following our Dharma properly?....She then proceeds to ask him a question, answering it herself....
A baby dreams for about nine hours....Vedanta analyzes the dream state to bring out the nature of the light illuminating our dreams....That is why a sleeping body does not appear like inauspicious....However, they are only visible to the dreamer, not to others....Dreams are only a recall of the memory of what has happened in the waking world....The three texts give three different versions as to who is the creator of dreams....Suppose one eats too much and gets a stomach ache....The Vedas adopt the style of direct teaching from the Guru to disciple....In the waking state it is our eyes which serve as instruments to view the world....It is the one who is witnessing the absence of everything....It is through the dream state that we get introduced to the soul’s self-illuminating nature.
Having performed his Dharma as a king for many years, and observing the
graying of his hair....When he continued to perform this worship daily
without fail, his heart melted with a surging, ever increasing love for
God....Suddenly a lion roared, and the poor creature, frightened out of her
wits, panicked....Even during the course of performing his religious duties,
which required single minded devotion, he would rise up again and again to
check on the young one....He had become so terrified of any attachment to
anybody that he stayed all alone....The pious Brahmin was much worried about
his son....Whenever somebody wanted him to do something, Bharata would
ungrudgingly do whatever was asked of him..... Observing his excellent
physique, they chose him to share the load....It seems as though a man is
walking on it, but the foot of the man who walks on the earth is also made
of the same earth.
All of man’s activity is directed towards attaining that what is pleasant to him and preventing that which makes him suffer....Even then the Vedic Karma could not be performed....This is how and why Dharma was created, the four Varnas being in a sense its four pillars....Consider the amount of virtues expected of a Brahmin performing sacrifices for others....The king, who, even though he takes taxes from his people, remains oblivious to their protection, is considered a great sinner....He is fully entitled to the knowledge of Vedanta....Karmas like Vedic sacrifices etc. destroy the negative residue of sins accumulated by us over our many births....This is called working like a servant under God.
Difficult to reconcile to some seemingly exaggerated statements, which cannot be substantiated by any means of knowledge....Any sentence can convey its meaning in either of two ways....During a Vedic sacrifice, a particular space is marked out for its performance....Hence an outlet for the smoke should be constructed....Taken by itself this Arthavada statement holds no meaning....When it is said ‘feed all Brahmins’, it does not mean that we feed all Brahmins in the world....Vedic Karma leads to fruits only if it has been fully completed....One should collect water holding a piece of gold in one’s hand....Enlightening in its method and inspirational in its impact.
It is the Vedas themselves which give us scope to leave Karma in a prescribed manner....If there is no reason for continuing with Karma he does leave it....The answer to this is that calling a house one’s own inevitably leads to affection and attachment....Continues to perform Karma for setting an example or even to hive of criticism....Karma has been delineated by the Vedas themselves, which we know are infallible....This is the Nishkama Karma done with a feeling of offering to God....However this does not lead to a consequent purification of the mind....Whatever is enjoined for one is his or her Dharma.....A householder cannot become celibate.
Published in February 2012
Ramayana teaches us how to live, the Shrimad Bhagavatam instructs us on how to die....At that very moment there arrived a large number of saints, along with their disciples....What should a person do when confronted with death?....The search for the Guru is not a physical one....If the wife wants to stay with her children she can continue to live with them....The resulting surge of devotion totally cleansed their minds....After completing one’s education one has to get married and enjoy the material things in life....While the first two are stages where we acquire material things, the next two represent stages where we are taught how to leave things....
Published in January 2012
Only a very few people are interested in Moksha, because the majority of us live under the illusion that happiness is the result of fulfilling worldly desires....How can a permanent state of happiness be derived from a non-permanent object?....Therefore, an aspirant should invoke the grace of God....Therefore, the seeker of Moksha should not strive for more than what is sufficient to sustain his life....The Vedas can be understood only with the help of a Guru....It is permanent, and should be obtained by discriminating between the permanent and the transient.
Published in December 2011
To help a aspirant, the Upanishads prescribe certain focused meditations known as Upasanas....This does not mean that there should be no movement in the mind at all and it should be fixed only on a given shape or sound....There are also Upasanas using a symbol, which are less difficult....There is gain in this thinking, just as the subordinate is treated as the chief....When one is standing or walking, the mind will have to pay attention to the body....For how many days should the Upasana be done?....It causes the mental form corresponding to the Upasana to emerge at the moment of death.
Published in November 2011
No one spends even a single moment without doing some action or the other....We generally notice in history that almost all civilizations acquire a lot of material affluence in the beginning and after sometime they go into oblivion....We very well know that it is only the work based on well thought plan that solves problems and not our worry.....The success of any action depends not only on visible parameters but also invisible one....We are carried by the slogans of the times and move in the turbulent waters of life in a rudderless boat.....Want to give us a state of pleasure which is constant and never ending.
Published in October 2011
The sources of Dharma have been systematically divided into four simple categories....This desisting from the prohibition is what constitutes the karma, leading to Dharma.....There are many Vedic Karmas which do not find mention directly in the Vedas but are found only in the Smritis....The Agnihotra mentioned above can be performed at any one of the three times....Lord Shiva drank the deadliest poison easily. However, if anybody else did the same, he would be reduced to ashes....However, this is the weakest source of Dharma out of the four.
Published in September 2011
The Vedas unfold their mysteries....While this mantra speaks metaphorically, the very next mantra spells this out clearly....How can a sane person address a plant, or call out to a piece of stone to hear what he is saying?....It is mentioned in the Mahabharata that a yogi, who has acquired supernatural powers....It is this unknown fact which the Vedas acquaint us with....Such a method seeks to reconcile apparently conflicting statements, not discarding even a single Vedic sentence.
All the scriptures, whether it be the Gita or the Upanishads, are there to give us Samskara....Samskaras begin even before the birth of the individual, since it is believed that the state of the parent’s mind during conception affects the well-being and ‘quality’ of the offspring....To gain this ascendance we need to rein our base instincts through Samskaras....In comparing the married couple to the earth and the sky, the Vedas recognize the inherent nature and necessity of this union....A husband should always keep his wife happy, giving her whatever she wants....This Samskara strengthens the bond between husband and wife....It is definitely geared to keep the woman in good cheer, and to show her that she is special.
What was the need for this immense universe of unimaginable complexity? You need practice for even simple activities like cycling, singing or swimming.....A lizard can dexterously catch the flying flies the moment it comes out of the egg.....Judged solely on the basis of the mere action only, charity leads to a loss of money....In the view of such people, accepting heaven and hell is sufficient enough to explain our present Karma, and there is no need for rebirth in this world....Can we not say that these activities are just instinctive? You can certainly notice a monkey’s instinct in man also…
Can we alter the fruits of a particular karma through another karma?....If one cannot sit on the floor, he or she can sit on the chair; and if even that is not possible one may lie down....This amounts to undergoing pain voluntarily for a higher cause....One should grow a new forest and stay in it for the rest of one’s life....All the mental thoughts which we get can be classified into two groups.....Baked in the fire of this grief, he recognizes its connection with mundane things....The cause of anything, which cannot be traced to an act done wantonly in this life should be deemed as destiny....
The Bhagavad Gita says: “Like a man discards his worn out clothes and wears new ones, so does the soul discard this body and acquire a new one” (2.22). This makes it clear that the individual soul or jiva is different from this body....Inside the gross there is another body, known as the ‘sukshma sharira’. It is not visible to any of the sense organs....The subtle body does not die....Therefore, the jiva is different from both the subtle and gross bodies. Indeed, Avidya is the causal body since it is the cause of our falling continuously into the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, it is through overcoming our Avidya, the root cause of all our miseries, that we can ensure of never again falling into the clutches of the gross and subtle bodies...
The source of all activity in an inert body is an animate free will....But why should one worship gods?....Can you spell out clearly what exactly is the mechanism between our puja and the fulfillment of our desires?....There is also confusion regarding the gods.....However, Rama and Krishna did not face any such situation.....Majority of the people indulge in idol worship; but some do not agree with it. Is idol worship right or wrong?....Suppose you bring home a person for whom you have great love and respect.....Such doubts may appear when we one worships God out of fear.
Published in February 2011
Due to our deep-rooted ignorance, there is a wide gap between
what we believe ourselves to be and what we actually are....What
are the qualities in a guru which make us seek the science of
salvation from him? How should we approach such a guru?....The
primary reason why we are unable to obtain a guru like this is
our inability to understand that there is no other path to Moksha
than the one delineated in the scriptures....The service we are
able to offer to our guru is the sincerest reflection of the
genuineness of our commitment.
Published in October 2010
During childhood the size of the body is small which grows larger
in youth. How does the soul accommodate this change in
size?...This will contradict our everyday experience that the
whole body is conscious of a refreshing coolness when we bathe in
the river Ganga....The Upanishads clearly mention the soul as
residing in the heart....The whiteness of a piece of cloth
remains in it and not beyond....When a person dies, even though
his physical body is lying in front of us, it is inert....
Published in September 2010
Hearing these contradictory statements, the man concluded that the woman was very impatient....We therefore see that the scriptures have described God in both ways....We must realize that even though a wound is harmful for the one possessing it, it is not so for the worm who finds shelter and nourishment....We go to somebody and ask him what is gold?....This is the only faultless theory....Here we see that these are not different mantras giving contradictory versions, but same mantras presenting apparently conflicting perceptions of God.
For the clear understanding of the nature of God, we have to filter out the camouflage....There are adjectives which qualify God using negative terms....God is Truth, Knowledge and Endless....., God, remains unchanged, even as the world changes every moment.....: When you eat food lacking in salt, you can immediately pinpoint its absence. What this means is that you can taste its absence....Prahlada the supreme bhakta had realized that the supreme God was present everywhere....We have now successfully filtered out God from this world.
In the seventh chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna makes a promise to Arjuna....It is this Maya, which, during creation, takes on the form of the world....The Bhagavad Gita uses the word Maya four times, and its synonym Prakriti more than 20 times...... Inspired by these emotions, we perform more and more karma to bring that which we like near us, and push what we dislike away from us....Maya thus presents the cause as an effect having a nature different from the cause....Even if we have pondered on this question, have we still not failed to overcome our intense physical desires?....In India women are named after Maya, considering it to be sacred.
According to the ancient scriptures, God is at once all the three causes of the world....This would amount to saying that Devadatta eats himself, which is obviously absurd....Therefore, your God is partial....When ornaments melt back into gold, their attributes do not contaminate it....For such skeptics, an example from modern science will suffice....Therefore, here we have an example where an effect doesn’t have a property existing in its cause...
Thus did the compassionate Lord grant the demon Moksha, exactly as He does to high-class yogis....Due to their intense love for Him, all the cowherds boys wanted to face Krishna.....Brahma is the master of intellect. That is why he is shown with a beard, which signifies his experience in worldly matters and wisdom.....Blessed are the ladies who taste the sweet nectar of His lips, the mere memories of which made the young gopis of Vrindavana faint with ecstasy....There is no use displaying one’s mathematical skills in front of a grammarian....Brahma jumped down from his royal chariot and rolled in the dust of Vrindavana, touching each of his four Vedic crowns one by one at Krishna’s feet.....The silence of the Lord speaks louder than His words.
Published in January 2010
Rama instructed Hanuman to establish the mountain near the banks of the river Yamuna at Vrindavana, where in His Krishna avatara He would play with his bare feet....So than sprung from the feet of Govardhana, the river Ganga, known as Manasi Ganga....Krishna initiated one of the most fascinating of all His Lilas....Overflowing with emotion, the residents of Vrindavana rushed to Him. Many of them embraced Him....God’s Lila doesn’t fulfill only a single purpose....Krishna’s mother Yashoda too got wind of the conversation. Consequently, there started blowing in her mind winds of doubt....Krishna always lives in the eyes of the gopis of Vrindavana....God’s exceptional love for cows is made amply evident in this Lila.
One should never cultivate the habit of receiving too much respect or honor....It was with reluctance that I gave away my delicate young daughter to him in marriage....Sati Devi, the wife of Shiva, observed numerous airplanes carrying heavily ornamented beautiful women along with their spouses....One should never go the houses of those who look upon the visitor with a frown and angry looks....She burst out into copious tears and with her body trembling looked askance at Shiva as if to burn him down....Concentrating on the lotus feet of her beloved Lord Shiva, she became completely absorbed and lost track of everything else....However the gods and sages were still fearful of facing Shiva....It will find rest only on the shore of absolute faith.
Even after having atoned for a sin, and knowing very well that committing a sin is against our interest, we commit those very sins again and again....Many rivers cannot purify a pot of wine....Even after performing the atonements prescribed in the Vedic Scriptures, our mind again runs to towards sin....Thus the messengers of Shri Narayana convincingly explained to the Yamadutas the essence of 'Param-Dharma', meaning the 'Higher-Dharma'.....An extreme sinner is unable to fulfill the stipulated time allotted to him...Paramhamsas (ascetics of the highest order) are exalted people who have no taste for material enjoyment, but constantly drink the sweet fragrant honey of the Lord's lotus feet....The purpose of life is not just to create more good karmas, but to terminate karmas once and for all by transcending the entire karmic process....Engaged in karma over numerous lifetimes, by our very nature we are unable to place faith in any means which doesn't require a heavy dose of karma.
Published in November 2008
A flower is the abode of Goddess Lakshmi....The nature of Lord Brahma is such that he can give only specific boons, but never lasting relief from distress....Effort is the vehicle of divine grace....The movement of the massive mountain on the back of the tortoise made God feel as if someone was pleasantly scratching his back....Seeing their distress Lord Shiva was overwhelmed with compassion....Only the one, who like Lord Shiva, bears of the Ganga of knowledge on his head can survive them.... Goddess Lakshmi, shining like a creeper of gold, holding a garland in her arms, set out in search of a suitable spouse....One who backbites or complains, has to face eclipses
Long long ago, in the ancient city of Ujjain there lived a brahmin, who was however a brahmin in name only....Wherever that old brahmin, now in tatters, would go, wicked people would insult him terribly....He took each and every bit of suffering in his stride, reconciling himself with each of them, thoroughly working out the nature of suffering....The Planets cannot be the ultimate cause of our sukha (happiness) or dukha (suffering) because they affect only that which is born....Time or kala can be experienced as the present alone, and the present moment, down to the microsecond, can be divided and subdivided till time itself disappears and only the Self, the witnessing Presence alone remains.....Krishna shows just how a severe crisis or an extreme moment of suffering in our life can give us a highly creative impetus, propelling us on to the path of self-realization.
Published in December 2007
Once Shri Krishna knocked at Shrimati Radharani's door....Krishna introduced himself with various names, the meanings of which were taken differently by Radharani than that intended by him....In the Bhagavad Gita there are forty different names used by Arjuna to call upon Shri Krishna.....Obeying Arjuna's command, Krishna drove the chariot in between the two armies.....Krishna is the ultimate attraction, and like a magnet drawing iron files towards it, he too naturally attracts his devotees....Here there are two modes of addressing Krishna: Keshava and Bhagvan, both of which are loaded with spiritual and contextual relevance....The 'nameless' has a thousand names and it is through these names that the 'nameless' is to be realized.
Published in November 2007
It was there that the king laid his eyes on a charming damsel of superb beauty....She was of an attractive dark complexion and was wearing a yellow colored sari.....Every living entity is supposed to be the king of its own body since it has the full freedom to use the body as it likes....We sometimes wish to obtain a beautiful wife, for which Goddess Parvati needs to be worshipped....In the world, whether one is a man or a woman, one wants to enjoy.... A man wants to enjoy a beautiful woman, while a woman wants to enjoy a powerful man....Since no one in this world would mate with her willingly....All men in this world were women in their previous births.
Published in September 2007
The only true male in this world is Krishna, while the rest all are females....Loving god is different than merely believing in him....Of all the emotions in man, kama, or desire, is the strongest because he is born due to it....The gopis of Vrindavana are the ideal teachers from whom one can learn the art of loving god....A gopi is one who keeps her love and lover secret....In the highest state of love, there is no restraining screen between lovers....As Lakshmi tenderly presses Vishnu's feet with affection he dozes off in his yoga nidra....The same god who rules over the world runs barefoot after cows in Vrindavana....To catch her attention, Krishna walked slowly in front of her with a slow and dance-like gait....The gopis' affection for Lord Krishna is a supreme tribute to the creative power of love.
To get to the root of the concept of avatara, we also have to understand the meaning of dharma... The Indian tradition visualizes god and man as eternal companions.... Krishna clearly states why he takes avatara.... This seems like using a missile to kill a mosquito?....Incarnation has a higher purpose than the mere killing of evildoers... What kind of example can a god lamenting for his wife set for the world?... Krishna's lila is not to be emulated but meditated upon... What sort of message does god when taking the form of a pig (Varaha), or a fish want to deliver?... When the same current lights up a bulb it becomes especially manifest.
She imagined each successive man to be a wealthy client who would give her plentiful money in return for her body....A mosquito drills through our own bodies to extract the red water that is its natural nourishment....Like the python, one should eat food obtained without any special effort....Acquisition of whatever we crave for is a certain source of misery. One who realizes this and overcomes the propensity for possession, becoming a have-not, enjoys everlasting happiness....Like a child I care for neither honor nor dishonor. I have no responsibility of home and family, and wander carefree in this world....She broke her bangles one by one, until only two remained on each wrist.....The serpent takes it easy, spending his time very conveniently, inhabiting holes made by others.
One of the travelers was a sadhu (saint). His reaction was opposite to the general one....There is no difference between god and his devotees....In the Mahabharata, Queen Draupadi once asked Krishna why he came so late to prevent her disrobing?....Here we recall Krishna, even though he is the supreme lord of the universe, running helplessly scared of his mother....When Radha woke up she saw him lying near her. From his whole form radiated her name: Radhe Radhe. She too then fainted in intense ecstasy.....Chanting thus, she would toss one grain of rice into a bowl, and only use rice from that container for her consumption. She truly embodied the ideal of the Gita, where god says: Whatever you eat, O Arjuna, do it as an offering to me....
To call anything beautiful is always the highest form of aesthetic praise....Sita was rendered mute like an untouched vina....Gold when heated shines in even greater splendor....Sita's braid is like a serpent, making it clear that it would be fatal for a man (except her husband) to touch her....Hanuman's quest is suggestive of a much deeper symbolism than a mere search for the 'physical' Sita....Bhakti is not a path, but the goal of life....The supreme feminine emotion is to nourish her children....Rama is beautiful because of Sita.
Published in February 2007
Shiva is an embodiment of the three principal themes of Indian philosophy....The marriage of Shiva and Parvati was preceded by a long interval of courtship. It was no ordinary engagement however....Shiva was tempted enough to touch her, and Parvati, tantalizing him, withdrew....She would exist only as an intense flame burning for Shiva....Tapasya means to gradually start bringing restraint into our lives....She was no different from the way trees live in this world....Though he possesses nothing, he is the source of all possessions....Inevitable union between male and female
Published in January 2007
To understand Buddha's approach to death we have to go back to
his life....Death is the only certainty in this uncertain
world....The only way to defeat death was to die before
death....suggesting each of us to live like islands, detached
from the world....Whether my body remains or I pass away - it
will be the same, because even then my Dharmakaya (the Dharma
preached by me) will remain in this world.....Out of compassion
for his fellow beings, Buddha continued to survive physically
even after Nirvana.
Published in November 2006
With a guest come all the gods. If a guest is honored, so are
they; if he goes away disappointed, they are disappointed too. The
Bhagavad Gita calls such an opportunity a direct gateway to
heaven. The householder dutifully bowed before the god arrived in
the form of the dogs and their master. Buddhism lays special
emphasis on placing oneself in the position of others. Dana is
not only the act of giving, but the mental state of liberality as
Published in October 2006
Brahmin Shvetaketu... decided to unravel before the world an authoritative scripture channelising man's animal instincts into a disciplined practice of pleasure... he undertook to rearrange the text originally presented by Nandi, the bull of Shiva, in a thousand chapters... Vatsyayana, the celebrated author of the Kama Sutra,
condensed it further into the thirty-six chapters that exist today... the intention of the Kama Sutra is to link pleasure with virtue, and it is all about not being a slave to sensual desire... The pleasure that arises at the time of the physical senses and the mind and the heart enjoying their natural objects, is Kama... In Dharma, Artha and Kama, the preceding one is better than the succeeding one... Vatsyayana establishes Kama as an independent branch of study, declaring physical desire to be an integral need of the body,... in ethical rhythm with Artha and Dharma.
Published in September 2006
A virgin blooming with fresh youth, the luster of her body was like the rising sun. Three-eyed, her face was endowed with the beauty of ten million cupids (Kamadeva)...Blossoming breasts which surpassed even the buds of a lotus (in softness)...Wishing to pay obeisance to her, the gods then got down from their chariot and approached the goddess. No sooner had they done so than she transformed them all into beautiful, young maidens....A weak man is declared to be without any Shakti, nobody says that he is without Shiva, or without Vishnu. They are all called Shakti-less; no one says that this man is Shiva-less
After having returned the clothes of the unclad maidens bathing in the sacred waters of river Yamuna, Krishna congratulated them for their unflinching devotion towards him and promised that he would sport with them during the forthcoming autumn nights...The gopis' escape from the shackles of worldly life was not however without event...Truly, Krishna is the ultimate attraction, much like a magnet draws iron files towards it...whatever emotion is directed towards god, it should be intense and continuous...the gopis puffed up with pride and each regarded herself as special...the gopis forgot their agony of separation (viraha), and on physical contact with him (anga sanga) felt all their desires fulfilled...
Published in February 2006
...'When an individual is firmly established in non-violence (ahimsa), all beings who come near him also cease to be hostile'... Patanjali is the author of the de facto text of yoga - 'The Yoga Sutra.'... Patanjali's scripture not only provides yoga with a thorough and consistent philosophical basis, but in the process, also clarifies many important esoteric concepts (like karma), common to all traditions of Indian thought... Patanjali's is a far-sighted vision of universal humanity... The desire not to harm others is an essential ingredient in cultivating a mental state recognizing the essential unity underlying all living beings, leading towards ultimate mystical union, envisaged as the final goal of yoga...
Published in December 2005
The Bhagavad Gita consists of seven hundred verses. Out of these, a massive 574 have been uttered by Krishna himself, giving us an unparalleled insight into the true nature of divinity... (It) is in many ways God's picture album filled with self-portraits... The Great Teacher knows that human intellect is but naturally attracted to what it perceives to be extraordinary. This is made explicit when he defines himself to be 'the brilliance of all that is brilliant and the splendor of all that is splendid.'... God is present in all that is good and bad. The choice however remains ours... That is the reason he points out to us various specific and temporal manifestations of his otherwise endless and eternal glory. By following their biographical narratives to their logical conclusions, expressed through an autobiographical discourse in God's own voice, we gain a clearer roadmap for identifying, and making the correct choices in our own lives...
Published in November 2005
...karuna is central to the entire Buddhist tradition. It is frequently described as a love for all beings, equal in intensity to a mother's affection for her child... the defining symbol of...the Chinese assimilation of Buddhism...is the goddess...Kuan Yin...who with her sweet and merciful disposition, has won the hearts of not only the Chinese, but also profoundly affected even those who, belonging to a foreign tradition, have only had a fleeting interaction with her... Kuan Yin is the Chinese version of the male god Avalokiteshvara, whom the ancient texts eulogize as the patron deity of compassion... (She) is a symbol...of the many hued flavor of karuna, expressed through the softer wisdom of a woman... Though often images are encountered, which show her sporting a moustache, emphasizing masculinity; this is negated by the softness of her demeanor... Can anything be more subtly female than her graceful poise - modest and inward looking, yet potent enough to generate and compassionately nourish the whole outside world?
...notwithstanding the injunctions to the contrary, the moon as a symbol continued to fascinate humans... the appearance of the new crescent was often greeted with joy as a return of the moon from the dead... It is...auspicious to craft the crescent out in silver... (The) active engagement of the two principles...(of) opposites in dynamic harmony...was given visual form in an ingenious diagram known in Chinese as the Tai Chi Tu (Yin Yang)... The spiral is one of the oldest pagan symbols in existence. It represents the perpetual motion of life, with the spring-like coils suggesting latent power, presenting a picture of life as an endless, evolutionary process bound within the cycles of time... The cross is also a cosmic symbol, with its vertical and horizontal lines spanning the universe...
Girish's...intellect continued to refuse to accept (Sri Ramakrishna) as a guru... (He) asked...What is a guru? (Sri Ramakrishna replied)...A guru is like the matchmaker who arranges for the union of the bride with his bridegroom. Likewise a guru prepares for the meeting of the individual soul with his beloved, the Divine Spirit... Ramakrishna...asked a disciple to sing...Go into solitude and shut yourself in a cave. Peace is not there. Peace is where faith is, for faith is the root of all.... It was (the) transformed soul (of Girish) who began the practice of paying homage to Sri Ramakrishna...
people all over India will say approvingly for someone: He is a Rama like son, a Rama like brother, or a Rama like king. It is rare however to hear the following as a compliment Rama like husband or son-in-law.... All of Sita's miseries in the confinement of Ravana pale in comparison...to the emotional trauma and humiliation she was subjected to by Rama himself. In a bitter irony, what was to be her moment of deliverance, turned out to be the beginning of another trial... Sita sets a high standard as an ideal wife who stays unswerving in her loyalty and righteousness, no matter how undesirable her husband's response... She emerges as a woman that even Agni - who has the power to reduce to ashes everything he touches - dare not touch or harm...
Published in February 2005
Shankaracharya's philosophical outlook can be summed up in one word Advaita, 'Dvaita' meaning duality and the prefix 'A' negating it... The goal of Advaita is to make an individual realize his or her essential (spiritual) identity with the supreme realty Brahman... Shankara was not the founder of the theory of Advaita... What he however did was to bring all the various streams of Indian thought...under the common roof of Advaita... In addition to composing numerous texts and verses delineating the essential principles of non-dualistic Vedic philosophy, a significant contribution of Shankara is his commentary on the principal Upanishad texts and the Bhagavad Gita as also the Brahma sutras... Shankara'a purpose is not to intimidate the reader with abstract technical jargon; but rather provide him/her with spiritual insight
Published in January 2005
Each of the three forms of Mahakala has some distinctly different qualities and aspects.... The continuous counting of the rosary is a symbol of perpetual activity, which Mahakala achieves on a cosmic scale.... An elephant-headed entity lying crushed under his legs represents our instinctive, primary animal force and urge... The blazing fire surrounding him demonstrates his powerful energy out to consume all neurotic states of minds.... Mahakala's typical blackness symbolizes his all-embracing, comprehensive nature, because it is the hue into which all other colors merge; it absorbs and dissolves them. Just as all colors disappear in black, so do all names and forms melt into that of Mahakala. Black is also the total absence of color, again signifying the nature of Mahakala as ultimate reality.... He is the transcendent-time (maha-kala), absolute, eternal, measureless, and ever present.
Published in December 2004
The intense passion of Mirabai, which sought to model itself on the fervent ardor of the gopis of Vrindavana, suggests that the lord can be worshipped very effectively if the devotee imagines himself to be a woman... Chaitanya's mystic-ecstatic form of worship openly encouraged male devotees to imagine themselves in the role of gopis... the female...is the more emotional of the two sexes, and bhakti being a necessarily emotional experience, Chaitanya's 'hyper-sentimentality' found adequate expression in the personality of Radha whose intensity of passion can said to have paralleled Chaitanya's own frenzied devotion to the Lord... The Padma Purana says that when the great lord Rama entered the forest named Dandaka, the virtuous sages residing in its wild surroundings desired to engage in lila with the lord. Hence they were all reborn as gopis in Vrindavana, and through physical passion they found liberation from the ocean of existence... Similar descriptions of divine romanticism are found in the mystical literature of other traditions: the Kabbalah speaks of approaching the Absolute with the divine passion of a lover... Indeed, since between lovers there are no secrets, by approaching divinity as a lover we enter into the mystery of god.
Published in October 2004
The word karma is derived from
Sanskrit root 'kri,' meaning 'to do,' implying that all action is
karma. Technically, the term incorporates both an action and its
consequence... we...confront a dilemma...namely, the relative
and purity of an action... What determines the nature of the
the will or intention behind an act... We read in the Bhagavad
again and again that we must all work incessantly. There it is
mentioned that all work by nature is composed of good and evil...
and evil are not constant - they change according to time and
circumstance... every act is sacred since we are not the doer but
higher reality is acting through us... Karma yoga is a means for
seeking divinity in action and life itself...
In Hindu symbolism, a monkey signifies the human mind, which is ever restless and never still... Hanuman is symbolic of the perfect mind, and embodies the highest potential it can achieve... Hanuman's name...illustrates his self-effacing character, being made up of 'hanan' (annihilation) and 'man' (mind), thus indicating one who has conquered his ego... Hanuman never threatens the world with his virility unlike say Shiva whose virility often has to be restrained by goddess Kali... He is...a perfect karma yogi since he performs his actions with detachment, acting as an instrument of destiny rather than being impelled by any selfish motive...
In its characteristic unique way, Buddhist thought divides the eventful life of its founder into twelve glorious events. These defining incidents of his life are given visual form in densely packed sequences narrated in a special genre of paintings... These artworks not only delineate Buddha's gradual progress towards spiritual enlightenment, but also present a visual depiction of a vast number of abstract philosophical notions underlying esoteric Buddhism...
Published in February 2004
One enters Nepal as a traveler, and leaves as a pilgrim... Nepal is the ideal place to rise above the theoretical... textbooks, and see the twin strands of Tantra and Shamanism... rooted in the eternal and faithful depths of Hinduism, and tempered by the sobering influence of Buddhism... the gods of Nepal do not represent a forgotten era of the past. The deities here are living, and participate in the ordinary existence of everyday life as much as we mere mortals do...
Published in January 2004
providence has blessed women with the primary responsibility of the perpetuation of the human race. Understandably her physical body has been richly endowed for this glorious function
To the connoisseur of Indian aesthetics, the profusion of voluptuous women dominating its canvas comes as no surprise
But while celebrating the female body in glorious images the artist never loses sight of the fact that whatever nature creates, it creates with a purpose. No form is accidental and every natural form must have a divinely ordained function. Whatever be the artistic representation, it must glorify this inherent natural function
Published in December 2003
Wordsworth... said: 'Heaven lies about us in our infancy.'... as an infant and a child, Krishna is approachable... He can be approached with the intimacy with which a parent approaches a child... Such a god invites man to dispense with cumbersome formality and come to him openly, delighting in him intimately... Krishna's incarnation represents the human dimension of the divine... Krishna removes the poison of evil from this world while he joyously feeds on a mother's bosom... God as an infant does not govern the world from a majestic throne, but makes the world his playground and even while enjoying himself maintains the cosmic order. A child too seeks only to amuse himself, expressing his essential nature in every action...
Published in November 2003
Christ and Buddha, two manifestations of divinity, showed us that true salvation lies only on the path of humanity and compassion towards all. Indeed, through their humanity they are both related to us, and through their divinity, to god... 'Buddha and Christ are but local inflections of a universal archetype: the Cosmic Person imaging wholeness.'... Just as Buddha gained enlightenment by conquering the five senses, Christ, pinned in five places... nails down the five senses... Since they both embodied universal human aspirations and their ultimate realization... the art they inspired too would develop motifs which would elaborate similar principles, though the metaphors deployed would vary, being dependent upon local contexts.
Published in October 2003
Buddhism has evolved over the centuries a complex, yet discernable scheme of symbolism which has found adequate expression in Buddhist art... Buddhist motifs [are] soaked in rich spiritual symbolism... [They are] said to represent Buddha's deep and resonant voice, through which he introduced his followers to the path of dharma... Undoubtedly, the most popular of such symbols is the group of eight, known in Sanskrit as 'Ashtamangala,' ashta meaning eight and mangala meaning auspicious. Each of these symbols is also individually associated with the physical form of the Buddha... Artistically, these motifs may be depicted individually, in pairs, in fours, or as a composite group of eight. Designs of these eight symbols adorn all manner of sacred and secular Buddhist objects, such as carved wooden furniture, metalwork, wall panels, carpets and silk brocades.
Published in September 2003
Mysticism is the inherent desire to seek oneness with the ultimate reality... the sense organs provide the only window to perceive this supreme state of being... This state is non-material, just like music is... the first musical instrument was the human body itself, and the first created music, the human voice... In mysticism, everything is vibration... all material forms made up of vibrations... The drum, through its rhythms, replicates these vibrations... the beating together of cymbals is said to signify the symbolic union of opposites... an activity which is necessary to maintain the harmony of the dynamic universe... the flute... gives forth a clear, pure and simple sound... both intensely melancholy and entrancingly sprightly... The sacredness and reverence for the flute can be gauged form the fact that it is often deified as an extension of Krishna's own beauty
Ganga is...(the) divine grace flowing on to our material world, as is visible in the prosperity of the fertile and rich crop-yielding regions adjacent to her banks... The intense devotion and love which her devotees feel for Ganga is no small measure due to the fact that she is the only accessible physical entity that flows both in the heavens and on the earth... Ganga is a river that has been at the core of sacred Hindu lore and tradition... As a mother, Ganga is tangible, approachable, and all accepting... Ganga's icon at the (temple) doorway... implies her status as a remover of pollution...
The five Dhyani Buddhas represent the five basic types of human personality and demonstrate the absolutely perfected form of these personality types... It is an ample demonstration of the genius of Vajrayana Buddhism that... weaknesses are not denied or suppressed... hope lies in the belief that the human mind holds within itself the potential to metamorphose these negative traits into positive attributes... All the five Dhyani Buddhas are said to have originated from Vajrasattva himself... Color is logically... one of the significant means through which Buddhist art gives a tangible form to human emotions and nowhere is this more explicitly displayed than in the typical iconography of the five Dhyani Buddhas...
The Hindu Temple (dissolves) the boundaries between man and divinity... by putting into practice the belief that the temple, the human body, and the sacred mountain and cave, represent aspects of the same divine symmetry... The thought behind the design of a temple is a continuation of Upanishadic analogy, in which the atman (soul or the divine aspect in each of us) is likened to an embryo within a womb or to something hidden in a cave... Temples appeared on the horizon only in the Kali-yuga...(when) the gods ceased to come down and appear in their own or disguised forms. The architecture of the Hindu temple recreates the archetypal environment of an era when there was no need for such an architecture...
The Buddha's journey to spiritual awakening or 'Nirvana,'... perfectly mirrors the ... progressive development of a hero... Not at ease with his immediate environment... a constant unease gnaws at his heart, prompting him to question the very nature of his existence. This inner strife is the first inkling that a greater destiny lies ahead of the potential hero... Buddha was born an ordinary mortal. His path to fulfillment... was a journey full of exciting experiences and mistakes made. He learned from each of his mistakes, making it a springboard for all future, and finally the ultimate success... each of us... is capable and deserving of Nirvana, having a potential Buddha hidden in us...
The earliest term applied to the divine feminine... is Shakti... Specifically, Shakti means power, force and feminine energy. She represents the fundamental creative instinct underlying the cosmos, and is the energizing force of all divinity, of every being and every thing... The yoni or female generative organ is... venerated for its obvious properties of fertility and growth... While Durga is the most potent icon to express the aggressive and destructive behavior of Shakti, Lakshmi is the quintessential goddess who proclaims her creative aspect... (It) is emphasized in the Gandharva Tantra (that) 'She who is the sun, moon, and fire, lays down the purusha (male) and enjoys him from above.'...
Published in February 2003
Since its beginnings in India, Buddhism has spread over an area... wherever you travel throughout this vast area, there is one type of architectural monument which is everywhere... This ubiquitous Buddhist monument is the stupa... it was the Buddha himself who outlined the basic design of the stupa... The Buddha's physical form... finds an echo in the stupa... The stupa by virtue of being the monument of Buddha's choice is deemed especially sacred... The spiritual merit of this monument is enhanced... by it being a reflection of the Cosmic Man, visualized in the ideals of Yoga, who resides in each of us...
Published in January 2003
'The world rests as the lotus in the palm of my hand, the cosmos revolves around my finger like a discus. I blow the music of life through my conch and wield my mace to protect all creatures'... Vishnu is the Preserver, the protector of all humanity. A deity who saves mankind from calamities which result from its own foibles... (a) popular icon of Vishnu shows him in a dreamlike state reclining upon a mighty serpent and floating upon the primordial waters. Vishnu in his dream state represents that gap in time when creation stands withdrawn and eternity awaits the birth of a new age...
Published in November 2002
'The Wheel of Life'...serves as a powerful inspiration to spiritual aspirants...to look deeply into their own inner beings...it is an attempt to convey spiritual insights behind our 'physical existence' in purely visual terms...(It) symbolically represents how...beings, who have not practiced the Dharma and liberated themselves, are bound in a cycle of existences whose very nature is suffering...One should intently and seriously contemplate the meaning of this wheel...Once this happens, the wish to be free of this mindless suffering is spontaneous and constant
Published in October 2002
It is well established in the canons of Indian thought that every woman mirrors in herself the divine feminine... Envisioned as totally naked, the visual tales of her terrible form do not end with her dense black color or with the skirt made up of decapitated hands...(or) the necklace made up of heads she has severed from the torsos of beings...The truth behind the mystery of Kali, it seems, is to not be found by a conventional appraisal of her physical appearance....it is the female of the species who comes out with honors here, by resolutely establishing that when they are wives and when they progress to being mothers, Kali forms an integral part of their characteristic buildup.
Published in September 2002
Iconographic representations tend to show the dakini as a young, naked figure in a dancing posture, often holding a skull cup filled with menstrual blood or the elixir of life in one hand, and a curved knife in the other. She may wear a garland of human skulls, with a trident staff leaning against her shoulder. Her hair is usually wild and hanging down her back, and her face often wrathful in expression, as she dances on top of a corpse, which represents her complete mastery over ego and ignorance. Practitioners often claim to hear the clacking of her bone adornments as the dakinis indulge in their vigorous movement. Indeed these unrestrained damsels appear to revel in freedom of every kind.
Nobility is always a defining quality of the mythic hero. His actions are severe and punishing, or gentle as per the demand of the situation...(The) supreme display of detached attachment was worthy of Rama... Rama was a man. He was also a god...he inspires all of us 'ordinary' mortals to follow the path of a just and upright existence, unswerving in our faith of the correctness of it. This is the true inner journey of the hero, leading to the divine spark that blazes inside each of us, waiting to be discovered.
A bodhisattva wishes to help all beings attain nirvana. He must therefore refuse to enter nirvana himself, as he cannot apparently render any services...after his own nirvana... A bodhisattva can never love the body for its own sake... he cherishes it...because he will...save someone sometime somewhere... in the moment of tribulation.
Iconographically, they (Mahavidyas) are individually shown dominating male deities. Kali and Tara are shown astride Shiva, while others like Shodashi sit on the body of Shiva... By subverting... conventional social norms, the adept seeks to liberate his or her consciousness from the... inhibiting categories of proper and improper, good and bad, polluted and pure.
God of eroticism, Shiva is... the master of Yoga, which is described as the method used to sublimate virile power and transform it into mental and intellectual power. He is therefore the 'great Yogi.'... 'I have never renounced any vice: it is they who have left me' summarizes the message of Shiva.
...each and every part of the feminine physique... have consistently been used to support ornaments... the simple appearance without ornament is not enough... Hence the stress on adornment of the women, who are but the poetry of nature...
Published in February 2002
...there exists in Buddhism the concept of a rainbow body... the rainbow body signifies the awakening of the inner self to the complete reservoir of terrestrial knowledge that it is possible to access before stepping over the threshold to the state of Nirvana...
Published in January 2002
...the originator of families, the preserver of the established order and the perpetuator of traditions...As the Great Goddess rules the heavens, her earthly counterpart, the woman, rules the home...
Published in December 2001
...God first created sound, and from these sound frequencies came the phenomenal world... Matter itself is said to have proceeded from sound and OM is said to be the most sacred of all sounds. It is the syllable which preceded the universe and from which the gods were created...
Published in November 2001
...the sacred sound 'namaste' is believed to have a quasi-magical value, corresponding to a creative energy change. This transformation is that of aligning oneself in harmony with the vibration of the cosmos itself....
Published in September 2001
...art which has evolved out of tantra... is especially intended to convey a knowledge evoking a higher level of perception, and tapping dormant sources of our awareness...
...symbolic sign based finger patterns taking the place, but retaining the efficacy of the spoken word, and are used to evoke in the mind ideas symbolizing divine powers or the deities...
In classical mythology the raison d'кtre of Parvati's birth is to lure Shiva into marriage and thus into the wider circle of married life from which he is aloof as a lone ascetic, living in the wilds of the mountains. The goddess represents the complementary pole to the ascetic, world-denying tradition in the Hindu ethos. In her role as maiden, wife, and later as a mother, she extends Shiva's circle of activity into the realm of the householder, where his stored-up energy is released in positive ways.
Rites and rituals are an essential part of Tibetan religion and reflect its practical side. Not restricted to temples alone, they are performed in a variety of places and circumstances, for a myriad of purposes. Daily ceremonies are conducted in temples, although they are perhaps not so elaborate as those that take place in Hindu temples in India and Nepal.
...The Great Goddess Durga was born from the energies of the male divinities...The awesome three-eyed Goddess was adorned with the crescent moon...seas trembled as the Goddess engaged the Great Demon Mahisasura...Thus the reveries of Mahisa are exterminated...
The Sari, it is said, was born on the loom of a fanciful weaver. He dreamt of a Woman. The shimmer of her tears. The drape of her tumbling hair. The colors of her many moods. The softness of her touch. All these he wove together. He couldn't stop. He wove for many yards. And when he was done, the story goes, he sat back and smiled and smiled and smiled.
Published in February 2001
An enigmatic aspect of Buddhist iconography is the presence of wrathful, terrifying forms. Though these awesome, hair-raising images seem contradictory to Buddhist ideals, they are not personifications of evil or demonic forces. Rather they symbolize the violence that is a fundamental reality of the cosmos in general, and of the human mind in particular. In addition to destroying the passions of the mind, the purpose of gods is to protect the faithful. The wrathful deities, who symbolize the tremendous effort it takes to vanquish evil, especially perform this function.
Published in January 2001
Shiva the Hindu god of destruction is also known as Nataraja, the Lord of Dancers (In Sanskrit Nata means dance and raja means Lord). The visual image of Nataraja achieved canonical form in the bronzes cast under the Chola dynasty in the tenth century AD, and then continued to be reproduced in metal, stone and other substances right up to the present times. The Chola Nataraja is often said to be the supreme statement of Hindu art.
Published in December 2000
The role of the goddess as one who fulfills wishes has remained one of enduring strength and consequence. In the ancient collection of sacred hymns known as the Veda, this aspect of the goddess already becomes manifest. The two most shining examples in this context are The Great Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati.
Published in November 2000
Goddess Tara, a female Buddha and meditational deity, is arguably the most popular goddess in the Buddhist pantheon. She is considered to be the goddess of universal compassion who represents virtuous and enlightened activity.
The word Tara itself is derived from the root 'tri' (to cross), hence the implied meaning:' the one who enables living beings to cross the Ocean of Existence and Suffering'. Her compassion for living beings, her desire to save them from suffering, is said to be even stronger than a mother's love for her children.
Published in October 2000
What is the symbolism of Ganesha's elephant head? Why does Ganesha ride on a mouse? What is the spiritual significance of Lord Ganesha? How was Ganesha especially devoted towards his mother Parvati? What are the different symbols Ganesha holds in his hands? These are some of the questions this article answers.
Published in September 2000
The word mandala itself is derived from the root manda, which means essence, to which the suffix la, meaning container, has been added. Thus, one obvious connotation of mandala is that it is a container of essence
Kali's fierce appearances have been the subject of extensive descriptions in several earlier and modern works. Though her fierce form is filled with awe- inspiring symbols, their real meaning is not what it first appears
...The word Tantra itself is derived from the verbal root tan, meaning to 'weave'...Often the mother is shown in a posture with both legs around the father's waist...refer to the union of a lotus and vajra...
Jahangir the fourth Mughal emperor (r. 1605-27), was a lover of beauty, be it that of an artifact created by human hands or that observed in nature, the work of god. His memoirs, commonly known as Tuzuk-I-Jahangiri or, Jahangirnama, are as much an album of his aesthetic experiences as a chronicle of his reign. With his keen sensibility, these experiences were a permanent source of joy for him. Nature and beauty were preserved through the brush of his artists.
...Krishna was physically irresistibly appealing... In the embrace of Krishna, the gopis, maddened with desire, found refuge...Often the colorful legends surrounding his amorous adventures with female friends prove to be of supreme inspiration to artists
A Thangka is a painted or embroidered banner which was hung in a monastery or a family altar and carried by lamas in ceremonial processions. In Tibetan the word 'than' means flat and the suffix 'ka' stands for painting. The Thangka is thus a kind of painting done on flat surface but which can be rolled up when not required for display.
Published in February 2000
The technique of batik is a demanding one. In general, the final design must be conceived before the picture is begun. The batik artist works intimately with color; if he wishes parts of his design to be light yellow, for example, all these parts must be waxed at the same time before any subsequent dyeing. He cannot isolate one part of his design and complete it before moving on to the others as an artist in oils or watercolor may; he must create his design in stages, each of which encompasses the whole picture.
Published in January 2000
Pata is a Sanskrit derivation which literally means canvas so pata-painting means a scroll painting on canvas. The art of Pata Painting (or pata chitra) is practiced by the artists of Orissa, a state on the Eastern Coast of India.
The painter first chooses two pieces (generally tussar silk) of cloth and he sticks the pieces together by means of a paste prepared from tamarind seeds. They are then dried in the sun.
Published in December 1999
Hindu women who live in villages near the market town of Madhubani in northern India maintain old traditions and teach them to their daughters. Painting is one of the traditional skills that is passed down from generation to generation in the families of some of the women. They paint figures from nature and myth on household and village walls to mark the seasonal festivals of the religious year, for special events of the life-cycle, and when marriages are being arranged they prepare intricately designed wedding proposals.
Published in November 1999
The Rajput painter had inherited a legacy of mural painting as well as the art of the book. He devised a pictorial scheme with colour as a principal means of visual articulation. Conspicuously he retained the colour of complexions, costumes and architecture as local, while playing up the tenor of the natural environment in low or high key, or changing them altogether from their normal hues.
Published in October 1999
In Indian art generally, possibly because of its predominantly religious character, the symbolic level is always the more important. The depicted surface-reality always very strongly implies some general statement. For instance, the animals and plants of the Buddhist frescoes are not just animals and plants but symbols of the whole of creation, a statement that it is animated, that it feels and suffers.
The themes of the miniature are generally inspired by paintings commissioned centuries ago by Indian Emperors. Initially, the sketch is prepared by the artist on a smooth surface of a paper in light blue or reddish-brown ink. This primary sketch is drawn in soft lines suggesting only the outlines of the figures. These are later corrected and bold, accurate, hard lines are drawn. A thin coat of white pigment is applied to obliterate the incorrect lines.
At first the available colors are ground on a stone slab (by rubbing or grounding) to bring them in a powder form. Some artists use mortar and pestle of a very hard quality stone. Then that color is dissolved in water along with some gum and then filtered. The filtration process is continued till the color becomes totally earth or sand free. Thereafter water is removed and the color is dried and kept in form of balls. When required, the desired color along with some dry gum is dissolved slowly in water with the help of finger or thumb.'
In Sanskrit the word Tulika is used for brushes. The artists in their ordinary language call it Kalam. It is worthwhile noting here that the different styles of paintings are also called as Kalam, viz. - Bundi Kalam, Kangra Kalam, Shah Kalam, etc. Kalams of different thicknesses are chiefly prepared for different types of works and from different types of bristles. The thick or medium size Kalam is required to fill colors in the painting.