The Glory of Shiva Mahapurana
The Shiva Mahapurana, one of the eighteen Puranas is the greatest and the noblest of the sacred lore. It is the form of Shiva and as such is to be served and realized in this world. By reading this and listening to it the good man becomes very pious. Loving care to listen to it yields all desired results. By listening to this Purana of Shiva a man becomes sinless. After enjoying all extensive worldly pleasures, he will attain the region of Shiva.
The Shiva Mahapurana contains chapters with Shiva-cantered cosmology, the stories of Sadashiv, the relationship between gods, ethics, Yoga, Tirtha (pilgrimage) sites, bhakti, rivers and geography, and other topics.
Glory of Shiva Purana:
The Shiva Purana talks about how the Supreme Being as Shiva created the universe and incarnated in various ages to spread righteousness, knowledge, and devotion among humanity.
By understanding the mysteries of Shiv Mahapurana and singing its praises, a man attains greater virtues than that which could be attained by being charitable or by the performance of all the `yagnas'. Contemplating on the subject matters of Shivmahapuran give auspicious fruits just like a 'Kalpa-taru' (A tree which fulfils all the wishes).
Benefits of Reading or listening Shiva Purana:
Precautions for reading or listening Shiva Purana:
Contents of Shiva Purana:
The Puranas were first compiled by Brahma. Sanat kumara, a son of Brahma inherited them from his father and imparted them to Vyasa who in turn abridged them in 18 compendiums. The Shiva Purana originally, contains 100,000 shlokas and 12 Samhitas – Vidheshvara (10,000). Rudra (8,000), Vinayaka (8,000), uma (8,000), matr (8,000), ekadashrudra (13,000), Kailash (6,000), shatrudra (3,000), kotirudra (9,000), sahaskotirudra (11,000), vayviya (4,000) and Dharma (12,000). But Mehrishi Vyasa abridged it into 24,000 shlokas and 7 Samhitas (Vidhyeshvar. Rudra, shatrudra, kotirudra, Uma, Kailash and vayviya). Shiva Purana contains the exposition made of Suta ji on the inquiry made by sages. The various Samhitas or sections of Shiv Purana are as under:
A number of articles will be published on the various contents of Shiva Mahapurana in due course.
Living beings are essentially governed by the rhythms of sun, moon and stars in the subtle ways. The basic unit of living beings, Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecule carries blue print of individual characteristics accumulated in millions of years. Molecule can be further break down into atoms. Each atom seems to be like a whirlpool of centre where cosmic forces are focussed. Hence, each particle in the universe is connected to the infinite.
The four paths of yoga can be represented in the deities of panch-parmeshwar (five deities in Hinduism – Sun, Ganesh, Shiva, Shakti and Vishnu). Sun has been termed as biggest karma yogi as it rises & sets without any break (Karma yoga). Ganesh ji can be a symbol of intellect (Jnana Yoga). Shiva & Shakti are the essence of Kriya Yoga. Bhakti movement and its various sects revolve around Bhagwan Vishnu and his avatars. Daily movement of sun (Rising sun, midday and setting) is also symbolized as the trinity (Brahma – the creator, Vishnu – the sustainer and Shiva – the destroyer to complete the cycle of universe). All forms of yoga develop willpower. All the different yogic paths mutually reinforce each other.
Yoga means union, the union between the limited self (Jiva) and the cosmic self (Atman). The path of yoga is to explore the deeper layers of mind viz. sub-conscious realms of mind, unconscious realms of mind. Yoga aims to bring about total harmony between one’s fundamental drives, emotions, feelings, intellect, will and one’s interpersonal and social relationships. Hence, it tends to bring about mental peace and tranquillity as well as physical relaxation.
Different Paths & one soul:
There are so many paths of yoga such as Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga, Raja yoga, Hatha yoga, mantra yoga, Kundalini yoga, Dhyana yoga, Swara yoga, Laya yoga, Kriya yoga etc. But, all paths of yoga incorporate action, devotion, introspection, benevolence & enquiry and aim at physical health, mental peace and higher awareness. Swami Sivananda said that one should: “Serve, Love, Give, Meditate, and Realize”. All forms of yoga develop willpower. All the different yogic paths mutually reinforce each other. In hatha yoga, the mind is made one-pointed by awareness of the breath or different parts of the body. In raja yoga the mind is made one-pointed by awareness of a fixed symbol or a psychic centre. In jnana yoga the mind is made one-pointed by total absorption in an enquiry. In karma yoga the mind becomes concentrated by complete absorption in one’s work. In bhakti yoga the same result, namely one-pointedness of the mind, is achieved through love and devotion.
Salient features of different paths of Yoga:
It is the path of activity or action. By the very nature, everybody is forced to perform actions. By totally absorbing the self in the work at hand, we tend to reduce his individuality or ego. In Karma yoga, one surrenders ego when one ceases to be the doer. The detachment from results (good or bad) leads to less emotional and mental upsets in the life. When work is done for a higher or spiritual purpose then it becomes karma yoga. The action is same, but the motive is different. The attitude must change. Higher states of karma yoga become meditation. Salient features are as under -
To gain lasting peace in life it is not sufficient to attain perfect physical health and some control over thoughts. The emotions must also be transformed in accord with every action and thought. Without gaining emotional harmony and one-pointedness it is impossible to gain mental and physical harmony. Bhakti yoga is the powerful means of harmonizing the emotions. It is path of channelling emotions into devotion. Bhakti comes from the heart, not the mouth or the head. The bhakta absorbs himself completely in his object of devotion, losing his individuality or ego. Emotional and mental problem disappears.
Faith (Shraddha) and Bhakti are different. Faith implies that one believes in something. Bhakti is an experience. If one is emotionally inclined, then one can follow the path of Bhakti yoga. This involves intense concentration of one’s entire being on an object of devotion. This leads to a transcendental experience of overwhelming bhakti. Bhakti is both the means and the expression of higher awareness. Great works are an expression of the heart. The seed of bhakti lies in the heart of every person. Each person is potentially a bhakta.
As Swami Sivananda said: “Love in the law of life. Love means constant awareness. Devotion means that there will be unceasing thirst, unforgettable, remembrance and unswerving aspiration to unite with one’s ishta. Love has two forms – ego-centred love (in which one loves another person, deity, saint or whatever with the expectation of love in return) and egoless love (without any expectation of love in return, that is bhakti). Ego-centred love will take one to the finite. Egoless love leads to infinite. Ego-centred love tends to quickly subside with time, whereas bhakti increases and grows with every passing minute. The burning aspiration for the supreme and when thought is continuous, then there arises unspeakable love and bliss. This is intense bhakti.
Bhakti can be towards anything…Krishna, Christ, Rama… anything that spontaneously creates feeling of devotion from the heart. It should be something that one cannot stop thinking about. If one is a devotee of Krishna, then one can try to see Krishna, in form or essence, in everything. This is love of the divine in everything (madhura Bhakti). This leads to freedom from hatred, envy, malice, self-conceit. Blindly following rituals without any real feeling, is exactly opposite to the purpose of worship and bhakti.
All the paths of yoga aim at reducing and eventually eliminating the compulsive grip of mind – ego. Bhakti does this by relegating all one’s impulses towards the object of bhakti. This eradicates the fluctuation of the mind and induce one-pointedness. In Uddhava Gita, Krishna said: just as fire steadily grows from a small flame to a blazing fire and burns fuel to ashes, so does devotion to me, blaze forth and consume all obstacles. This makes the mind one-pointed and the fit receiver for the grace of illumination and bliss. Prayer combined with devotion helps to purify the mind and reduce the power of the ego. The greater the level of bhakti, the less the ego.
The path of bhakti provides a perfect method of expressing the unruly emotions. The essence of karma yoga is awareness, detachment and renunciation of the fruits of action. When bhakti and karma yoga are combined, it becomes almost easy to renounce attachment to the fruits or rewards of one’s actions. All rewards, praise and fruits of one’s work are dedicated to the object of devotion. This is the way to rapidly harmonize the mind and reduce egoism. If one adopts the following attitude: “I do not serve…. the Supreme along serves. It is feeling and sincerity which is important. A poor person can offer even meanest object as devotion with feeling & sincerity, is better than a rich person who gives vast wealth, but without slightest devotion.
The essence of devotion to Krishna is summed up in the Uddhava Gita when Krishna says: “All the desires, which are rooted in the heart of the sage who worships me with the yoga and devotion, gradually wilt away and when he realizes me, the knot of ignorance which is lodged in the heart is destroyed. All his doubts are annihilated and his stock of karma is exhausted. Therefore, by bhakti yoga my devotee gains all that is gained by the other paths of yoga and by austerities, dispassion, charitable acts and pilgrimages.” Shankaracharya points out: “the characteristics of pure sattva are cheerfulness, realization of one’s self, peace, contentment, bliss and steady bhakti towards atman, by which the aspirant enjoys eternal bliss,” the cleaner the mind the greater the flow of bhakti and the mind becomes intensely one-pointed.
The sadhana of the great bhakta Ramdas, mantra upasana included four steps –
This is the path of Intuitive knowledge. In Sanskrit, jnana means knowledge. It means both knowledge acquired from outside since birth by listening, reading and watching, knowledge attained inside i.e., intuitive or illuminative knowledge. Jnana does not mean intellectual or logical knowledge.
Jnana yoga requires to throw all concepts, dogmas, ideas and believe in the truth realized through personal experience. It requires obsession for answers to the enquiries, 24*7. Ask question: what is the thing called ‘I’; what is consciousness; is there any truth in the atma; why I should believe. The success depends on the intensity of the purpose to pursue the enquiries.
The foundation of jnana yoga is that one should know and feel the limitations of intellectual thought. Examining any of the subject logically as well as contrary to it i.e., opposite of logical conclusion. The result will erode the prestige of intellect. Intense reflection on the subject reveals higher truth through intuitive flashes in relaxed mind. In Jnana yoga, one surrender ego by intuitive realization that the ego is not the totality of the Being.
This is path of Introspection. One attempts to explore the different realms of the mind: conscious, subconscious, unconscious and beyond. The perception of external objects is cut off and directed towards inside. In Raja yoga, the surrender of ego is attained by understanding the vast underlying substratum of each human being and every manifested object. It has many forms -
Reference: A systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya – by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Past experiences in previous births & this birth accumulate impressions (Samskaras) of fear, hatred, dislike, jealousy, complexes etc. in subconscious layers of the mind, which produce several ego-centric or selfish tendencies. Further, in modern lifestyle, the external emergency situations are rampant. The ego-centric tendencies determine actions and reactions in different life situations.
The two systems in brain - sympathetic & parasympathetic nervous systems, mobilise heartbeat, breathing rate, raises body temperature to meet the body needs in response to external events & internal actions. The former speeds up and the latter slows down the processes of life. Speeding up of the body’s processes are the root cause of mental and physical tension. These tensions result into emotional responses. With emotional responses, adrenalin is automatically injected into blood stream from the adrenal glands. The adrenalin causes contraction of muscles, constriction of blood vessels, increases the heart and respiratory rates, speed up thought process and so on. The over-activation of the muscles without the corresponding muscular activity results in a continual drain of energy from the body. This leads to malfunctioning of several organs and many modern ailments – diabetes, sexual sterility, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart diseases etc.
Unless the mental cleaning is done, the ego centric actions will not disappear. Kriya yoga aims at rooting out the pseudo ego which separates individual from self (universal consciousness). It integrates head, heart & hands (thoughts, words and deeds). It balances the body, mind and Prana and brings harmony between positive and negative aspects. Outer events will be clearly perceived, but without the usual negative and adverse repercussions. Due to progressive surrender of their being, their ego, divinity descends. The practice of Kriya yoga realizes that the union already existing.
Kriya yoga needs mental purity, patience, silence (mental quietude & avoidance of unnecessary talks), discipline and transformation (non-violence), truthfulness, equanimity, compassion, non-stealing, self-control and moderation with respect to sex, food and talk.
What is Kriya Yoga:
Kriya Yoga, the words are derived from the Sanskrit language – Kri refers to “action”, Ya refers to “awareness” and Yoga refers to "to attach, join, harness, yoke". Kriya Yoga is scientific techniques of God-realization.
When it originated:
Shree Krishna informed in chapter 4 of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita that he revealed this immortal Yoga to Vivasvan (Sun-god); Vivasvan conveyed it to Manu (his son); and Manu imparted it to (his son) Iksvaku (1) (Like this, it transmitted). Kriya Yoga was well known in ancient times, but was eventually lost. Rishi Patanjali (between the 4th century BC - 2th century AD) compiled this entire science into eight limbs. This lost science was re-introduced by Mahavatar Babaji through Lahiri Mahasaya in the nineteenth century.
Why Kriya Yoga:
Bhagwan Shree Krishna explained Arjuna in chapter 8 of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita that one who with his mind disciplined through Yoga in the form of practice of meditation and thinking of nothing else, is constantly engaged in contemplation of God attains the supremely effulgent Divine Purusa (God) (8/8).
Essentials of Kriya Yoga:
1. Right Attitude – all are human, not much different. Love thy neighbour.
2. Diet - Moderate diet preferably vegetarian
3. Place - Practise kriya in a tidy, peaceful and well-ventilated place
4. Sound health - Body & mind should be healthy
5. Relaxation - In relaxation practices, muscles are relaxed and in turn the sensory nerves (which send messages from the muscles to the brain) & motor nerves (which sends messages of action from brain to the muscles) cease to function. In deeper states of relaxation, mind becomes completely detached from the body and calms.
6. Awareness – Awareness means mere witnessing of ever-arising stream of thoughts, breath, different parts of body, chakras etc. This activates para-sympathetic nervous system which brings down activity level of the body. Acting as a witness cuts the emotional ties. By constant practice of awareness, mind is progressively cleaned and calmed by exhausting inner disturbances.
7. Proficiency in practices – Pranayama, mudras, bandhas, location & familiarity with the psychic passages and chakras and chakra dharna – these stimulate nerve plexuses, endocrine secretions and bio-plasmic energy.
8. Non-expectation & Effortlessness – one should try to practise kriya without purpose and as a form of worship. It should be done with joy.
9. Concentration – Any conscious curb on its wandering tendency of mind, create tension. Concentration is not forced; it spontaneously arises as a consequence of performing the mechanics of the kriyas. To achieve deep state of relaxation, subconscious mind needs to be freed from worries, phobias, fears etc. Concentration occurs spontaneously in a deep relaxed mind.
10. Sequence, regularity, intensity of practices, as well as the state of mind (turmoil or calm) determine the speed of induction of pratyhara.
11. Pratyahara – It disconnects one’s awareness from sense organs and to induce spontaneous internalized awareness. In order to induce pratyahara, one must be firmly fixed on the sushumna path, lost neither in the Ida nor Pingala dimension of being.
12. Detachment & Disidentification – In meditative practices, it is essential that one watch the occurrence with a feeling of total detachment. Meditation practices contribute in removing mental problems in a more positive manner. one must endeavour to free his mind from attachment to intellectual opinions. One should realise that he or she is continually creating false identification. One should consider oneself as an actor performing the roles. A process of disidentification is necessary. It is possible to distinctly watch the activities of the body, emotions and mind as spectator.
How Kriya yoga is done:
kriya yoga is combinations of several techniques.
1. Physical postures (Asanas) - to make the body disciplined, healthy and flexible.
2. External expression of inner attitude (Mudras) – to induce physiological, psychic & mental changes
3. Physio-psychic locks (Bandhas) – to induce control of pranic forces of the body
4. Special sound patterns (Mantras)
5. Manipulation of breath - to control energy or prana (Pranayama) - to induce pratyahara and dharna
Philosophy of Sri Chaitanya – the Achintya Bheda-Abheda
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the chief proponent of the Achintya Bheda Abheda (Inconceivable Difference/One-ness) Vedanta school and the Gaudiya Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism. He was born at Mayapur near Navaidip, district Nadia (75 miles from Kolkata) West Bengal, who lived during 1486-1533.
The highlights of his philosophy are as under:
Sri Krishna, the Supreme Being:
Three Aspects of Sri Krishna’s Potency (Shakti):
The Shakti has three aspects – Svarupa Shakti (Innate potency), Tatastha Shakti (Peripheral or marginal potency) also called as Jiva Shakti and Bahiranga Shakti (Extraneous Potency). The function of the shaktis of Sri Krishna is to carry out His will and contribute to His sportive manifestations, which form the expression of His essential nature of Bliss.
Bondage of Soul (Jiva):
Being in contact with both, the Jiva gets into the state of bondage (Samsara) when Bhairanga Shakti dominates over him and makes him purely body-minded, but by the practice of devotion and grace of the God, the Jiva is enfolded by the Svarupa Shakti, he attains to his higher spiritual evolution.
Manifestations of Potency of Supreme Being:
Svarupa Shakti is the most intimate and fundamental nature of Bhagavan. It has three aspects known as Sandhini, Samvit, and Hladini, corresponding to the Supreme Being as Sat (Existence), Chit (Consciousness) and Ananda (Bliss).
Liberation of Jiva:
Reference: Bhakti Schools of Vedanta – by Swami Tapasyananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.
What is Bhakti:
Bhakti manifests in eleven different forms of attachment or daily practices viz.
Types of Bhakti:
Rules for Bhaktas:
In Vaishnavism or Vishnuism, Vishnu Bhagwan is considered the Supreme God. The followers of Bhagwan Vishnu and His incarnations are called Vaishnavas. Vishnu has several incarnations. Rama and Krishna are the most prominent of his incarnations, and they are worshipped as veritable Narayana & as personal God. Vaishnavism is the most prominent faction within Hinduism as followed by majority of Hindus. The other factions are Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism.
Hindu philosophers such as Ramanujacharya, Nimbakacharya, Madhvacharya, Vallbhacharya, Ramananda and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu were the fulcrum of the Bhakti movement during medieval period and rise of Vaishnavism. They established various Sects & Sampradayas which spread worship of Sri Vishnu, Sri Krishna and Sri Rama along with Mata Lakshmi; Sri Radha; and Sita (also Laxman, Hanuman) respectively.
The worship under Vaishnavism involves ritual image worship and matra-japa. Vaishnav festivals such as Ramanavmi, Srikrishna janamashtami, Vaikuntha Ekadashi etc. are very popular.
Roots & Scriptures:
The Vedic deities Nara and Narayana form one of the Vedic roots of Vaishnavism. There are references which make out that Narayana is prior to the phase of adoration of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva as Gods. Vishnu Bhagwan finds mention in Rigveda as solar deity (Aditya). Later on, Narayana got slowly identified with Vishnu.
Of the 108 Upanishads, fourteen are considered Vaishnava Upanishads. These are the Narayana Nrsimhatapani, Mahanaryana, Ramarahasya, Ramatapani, Vasudeva, Avyakta, Tarasara, Gopalatapani, Krsna, Haygriva, Garuda and Kali-Santarana Upanishads. The Epics attempted to make God's relation to man more personal, so that the human heart may yearn for Him. The two Indian epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana which presented Vaishnava philosophy, played pivotal role in spread of Vaishnavism. The philosophy and teachings of the Vaishnava Puranas ( mainly, Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Purana, Naradeya Purana, Garuda Purana, Vayu Purana and Varaha Purana) are bhakti oriented. These puranas provided further impetus to Vaishnavism.
Emergence & Spread:
The ancient emergence of Vaishnavism is unclear, the evidence inconsistent and scanty.
Vaishnavas are typically divided into two major (though not mutually exclusive) sects: Bhagavatas and Pancharatras. Pancharatras Tantra by Narada, and Bhagavadgita are the foundation of the Bhagavata school.
Bhagavatas follow Vasudeva-Krishna-Vishnu worship, dating back as far as 115 B.C. Within Bhagavatism, there are four main sampradayas, which follow different philosophical systems regarding the relationship between the soul (jiva) and God (Vishnu).
The Srivaishnava tradition had bifurcated into two branches, the northern Vadagali group and the Tengali group by 14th century. The Vadagali group believes that one must cling to god much like an infant monkey clings to its mother—that is, by putting forth effort to receive god's grace. The Tengali group believes that one must put forth no effort to acquire god's grace—like a kitten, they must rely entirely on the mother-cat to pick them up and carry them to safety.
Pancharatras focused upon the worship of Narayana. According to the Pancharatra doctrine, God is manifest in five forms. These are called Para or the supreme form of His transcendent being; Vyuha or the group of His forms called Vasudeva (cosmic consciousness or highest self), Samkarshana (individual self), Pradyumna (mind) and Aniruddha (egoism); Vibhava or His glory seen through His incarnations or Avataras; Archa or His presence manifest in His idols and images worshipped by devotees; and Antaryamin or His immanent presence within the Universe.
This teaching is based upon Samkhya philosophy whereby Vasudeva is the supreme purusha which gives rise to the Samkara when brought into contact with the material (prakriti) body. The Samkara is responsible for the production of the Pradyumna, and from the Pradyumna comes the Aniruddha, the creative agent. Devotees emphasize upon visual representations of Vishnu and his various incarnations and cultivating devotion via reverence for these images.
Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya or Sri Vaishnavism was founded by Nathamuni in 10th century in Tamil Nadu. Sri refers to goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi-Vishnu is worshipped in this tradition. Ramanujacharya became the most influential leader of Sri Vaishnava. The tradition traces its roots to the ancient Vedas and Pancharatra texts and popularized by the Alvars with their Divya Prabandhams. The devotional practices of Sri Vaishnava have two aspects – Bhakti and Prapatti. Bhakti is Upasana or continuous concentration on the divine with the knowledge that one is a spiritual monad forming a servant (Sesa) of God ending in its final stage in Prapatti or complete self-surrender. In Sri Vaishnava tradition, Narayana is described as the father who stands for justice and Sri, the consort, as the mother whose love extends even to the most deserving.
The tradition split into two sub-traditions around the 16th-century called the Vadakalai (sect giving Veda the first preference) and Thenkalai (sect giving Divya Prabandham the first preference). The most striking difference between Srivaishnavas and other Vaishnava groups lies in their interpretation of Vedas. While other Vaishnava groups interpret Vedic deities like Indra, Savitar, Bhaga, Rudra, etc. to be same as their Puranic counterparts, Sri Vaishnavas consider these to be different names/roles/forms of Lord Narayana citing solid reasons thus claiming that the entire Veda is dedicated for Vishnu worship alone. Sri-Vaishnavas have remodelled Pancharatra homas like Sudarshana homa, etc. to include Vedic Suktas like Rudram in them, thus giving them a Vedic outlook.
The Hinduism has always been organic and living. The Hindu philosophers thoroughly probed the origin & dynamics of the world.
During medieval period, the Vaishnava philosophers (Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Nimarkacharya, Madhvacharya and Vallabhacharya) propounded the various conceptions on source of origin of the world and its diversity. The schools of thoughts are mainly divided into five. These schools of Vedanta differ only in their conception of the nature of that unity in its relationship with diversity i.e. God (Formless or Formed Brahman) and diversity in world of animate and inanimate.
Non-Duality v/s Duality:
While Sankara’s system looks upon Non-duality as the sublation of diversity, others look upon, Non-duality as the subordination of all duality to the principle of Unity i.e. the Supreme Being. Each school of Vedanta therefore propounds its own notion of the relationship of unity with diversity. But all deny anything independent of Sat-Chit-Ananda.
Important differences of Vaisnava Philosophies:
Jiva (Atman, soul) –
Creation of world –
Samsara (State of Bondage) –
Jnana (Wisdom) –
Goal of life –
Reference: Bhakti Schools of Vedanta – by Swami Tapasyananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.
The Doctrine of Sri Ramakrishna
Sri Ramakrishna, who was born at Kamarpukur (Hooghly district, West Bengal) and lived during 1836-1886, realised all the major religions and had vision of Ma Kali, Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Sri Hanuman, Sri Mohammad and Sri Christ. He didn’t study various scriptures. But he had deep knowledge of all the scriptures and clear understanding of spiritual concepts. He always stressed on attaining knowledge directly by experiencing and realizing instead of bookish information. His conceptual knowledge & history was penned by his great disciple Sh. Mahendranath Gupta in Bengali language as Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita and translated in English by Swami Nikhilananda. His various concepts are briefed hereunder:
Concept of God and Unity of Religions & sects:
Bondage, Ignorance & Ego:
Pre-requisites for God-Realisation:
Paths of God-Realisations:
People worship God according to their tastes and temperaments. One must have stern determination; then alone is spiritual practice possible. One must make a firm resolve.
Kriya Yoga –
Highlights of Vedanta Philosophy
Vedanta means "end of the Vedas". The Upanishads, the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras are the pillars of the Vedanta. Total Upanishads are 108, out of which principal Upanishads are 11. They elaborate on how the soul (Atman) can be united with the ultimate truth (Brahman) through contemplation and mediation, as well as the doctrine of Karma i.e. the cumulative effects of a person’s actions. In the Brahma Sutras is the essence of the philosophical and spiritual ideas of the Upanishads. Shrimad Bhagavad Gita is the dialogues between Sri Krishna and Arjuna held in 3102 BC during war among Kauravas and Pandavas in Krukshetra, Haryana. It is cream of Vedas and Upanishads, in most simple Sanskrit language.
Vedanta is live. Many sub-traditions, ranging from dualism to non-dualism developed based on different but logical interpretations over period of time. These sub-traditions include Advaita Darshan, established by Adi Shankara, Vishishtadvaita Darshan established by Ramanujacharya, Dvaita Darshan established by Madhvacharya, Bhedabheda (or Dvaitadvaita) Darshan established by Nimbarkacharya, Shuddhadvaita Darshan established by Vallabhacharya, Achintyabhedabheda Darshan established by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Akshar-Purushottam Darshan established by Shastriji Maharaj.
Vedanta establishes three fundamental categories viz. the ultimate reality or Brahman or Isvara, the individual soul or self or Atman and the Prakiriti or Jagat or matter. If we compare the three fundamental categories with the Electric Powerhouse, Brahman is powerhouse; Atman is Power supply and Prakriti is electric appliances. Without electric current, no appliance will work. The major highlights of the Vedanta are mentioned as under:
Shrimad Bhagavad Gita has harmonized the Vedic rituals and spiritual wisdom of Upanishad. Shri Krishna in chapter 3 has explained that virtually any action can be transformed into yajna if it is done in the spirit of sacrifice, or offering to God. By seeing all elements of the act of offering (including the offeror himself) as nothing but Brahman (Supreme God), he attains Brahman. Even the old Vedic rituals can be performed without an eye on the results, but with a desire for the social and cosmic good.
Reference: Vedanta & Vivekananda by Swami Swahananda
Sri Vallabhacharya - his life & Philosophy of Suddhadvaita
Sri Vallabhacharya founded Pushti sect of Vaishnavism and the philosophy of Shuddha advaita (Pure Non-dualism). He was born to Telugu priest. His family had been living in Varanasi, who escaped to the Champaran of Chhattisgarh state, during the Hindu-Muslim conflicts in the late 15th century. Vallabha was born near Raipur, Chhattisgarh. He studied the Vedas and the Upanishads as a child and became one of the important leaders of the devotional Bhakti movement. He lived during 1479-1532. He wrote commentaries on Brahm Sutra & Bhagavata Purana and Shodash Granth.
After a short stay at Champaranya, Raipur, his parents returned Varanasi. At his age of eleven years, his father passed away. Vallabha undertook pilgrimage of the whole India three times lasting for a period of about twenty years. He did another round of pilgrimage, visiting Vijayanagar, Pandrapur, Gujarat, Vraja Bhumi and Himalayan pilgrimage centers.
Setting-up of Pushti Sampradaya & Nathdwara Temple:
Vraja Bhumi was especially dear to Vallabha where he established Sampradaya of Pushti-Marga which spread in western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. During 1500-02, while camping at Gokula, an image of Sri Krishna in the pose of lifting the Goverdhana Hill (Goverdhannathji) emerged out of a cave in a hill. Vallabha offered worship and built a small temple. The image was later shifted to a big temple built by a rich merchant named Purnamall. He did third round of pilgrimage which ended with his marriage. Shortly after Vallabha’s demise, when his son Vittalanatha was the leader of the sect. Since the temple of Goverdhannathji came under threat of Muslim invaders, the image was then removed to Nathdwara, Udaipur Rajasthan.
Importance of Bhagvata Purana:
Unlike Shankara system in which the Upanishads or Jnana-Kanda alone is taken seriously, Vallabha accepted all scriptures like the Vedas, Smiriti, Mahabharata, Gita, Pancaratra and Purana. In practice, however, it is Bhagvata Purana that is mainstay of the school. He expressed that the Vedas, the Vedanta, the Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagvata Purana are progressive expositions of the revealed truth. His school accepted the Bhagvata Purana as its main scripture and Sri Krishna, both as the Supreme Being (Purushottama) and the Absolute Being. His preaching to the masses consisted generally in exposition of the Bhagavad Purana. Wherever he travelled he held Bhagavad-Saptahas for seven days.
Philosophy of Suddhadvaita:
Suddhadvaita means pure Non-dualism. Vallabha critically examined the Shankara’s Advaita system and explained as under:
Concept of Maya & Cause of World:
Shankaracharya’s Advaita - Brahman is Sat-Chit-Ananda. It means truth is unalloyed and there can be no touch of illusion or falsity in Him. Adi Shankaracharya pointed out that Brahman has to invoke Maya. Maya therefore, can be His real power, producing real effects and not false appearance.
Vallabha’s Suddhadvaita – Vallabha contended that Maya can either be internal or external to Brahman. If Maya is conceived as within Him, it means the real power and related to Him in attributes, which will make Brahman a qualified entity (Savisesa). Then the thesis that Brahman is Nirvisesa (attribute-less) will have to be given up. If on the other hand, Maya is conceived as outside of Him, it becomes a dual category just like Prakriti. Then, Dualism will be resulted.
Non-dualism Brahman is accepted as the cause of it. There are two kinds of causes involved in the production of a thing. One is the material cause (Upadana) and other is the instrumental cause (Nimitta).
Vallabha propounded the Philosophy of Suddhadvaita (pure Non-Dualism), purity consisting in that it does not accept Maya, a principle of illusion that has necessarily got to be conceived as outside Brahman.
The Supreme Brahman has its immediate emanation in Aksara. Emanation means presentation with the concealment of essential nature in some respects. Aksara is Sat-Chit-Ananda, with Ananda aspect considerably concealed and lesser in attributes to the Supreme Brahman. The Aksara is the Impersonal Being. So, Supreme Brahman or Sri Krishna is Personal and Aksara is Impersonal; as against, the Supreme Brahman (Para Brahman) is Impersonal and Apara Brahman (lower Brahman) is Personal in Shankara’s system. The impersonal Aksara is the source of the Jivas and the world of matter. Jivas are countless in number and comes out of the Aksara like sparks of fire, with Ananda attribute is concealed owing to ignorance. Ananda attribute is restored in liberation. Jiva is a part of Brahman and not a reflection.
The Jiva, owing to Avidya, or ignorance generated by desires and attachments, makes a wrong and perverse evaluation of the world, taking an ego-centric, or self-centered view of what is really is God’s playful manifestation. Thus Avidya generates Samsara and not the world. When the Jiva changes its outlook and becomes God-centric, it is released and attain to fellowship with God. It ends Jiva’s Samsara, not God’s world.
Attributes of Jiva & Matter-Doctrine of manifestation and concealment
Vallabha explained about the attributes of Jiva and Nature by doctrine of manifestation (Avirbhava) and concealment (Tirobahva). Brahman manifested or concealed His attributes of Ananda and Chaitanya partly or entirely, and presenting Himself as lesser categories.
Brahman or Purusottama or Krishna is as Sat-Chit-Ananda (existence-Consciousness-Bliss) in the fullest manifestation of all these attributes. When Ananda is completely concealed, the Jiva category of individual centers of consciousness comes into being. Jiva has Sat and Chit and is devoid of Ananda. When both Ananda and Chit are completely concealed, we get matter or Nature, which is only ‘Sat’. All these manifestations are the very Brahman, wherein His higher nature is only concealed and not destroyed or sublated. Prayer, worship, and other disciplines and above all, loving service without any motive, are the ways of invoking the Divine will to manifest the concealed Chaitanya and Ananda nature.
Vallaba admitted that Jiva has an element of super-imposition in its outlook and view the world colored and distorted by Avidya, being eg-centric. Avidya has its location in the Jiva and in no sense in the Isvara. Unlike Avidya in Shankara’s system, its function is not the generation the world, but imposing a wrong angle of vision. The ego-centric view of the world and life in it is Samsara; to attain to the God-centric view is release.
Reference: Bhakti Schools of Vedanta – by Swami Tapasyananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.