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http://www.ganesh.us/ram/index.

htm How to do Puja


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Puja is a sacred practice of reverence, honor, adoration or worship from the devotee towards the Almighty. Puja could mean different things to different people. For Puja, all you need to have is a devoted heart full of love for the divine. The merciful God overlooks the shortcomings of men if they follow the path of spirituality with devotion. So, minor faults don t really matter, if the devotion is sincere. God is kind and grants !lessings to the devotees with sincere heart. "ow is Puja #ele!rated$ According to "induism, a formal puja consists of meditation %dhyana&, austerity %tapa&, chanting %mantra&, scripture reading %svadhyaya&, offering food %thaal& and prostrations %panchanga or ashtanga pranama, dandavat&. People apply tilaka on their forehead with sandalwood paste, and a vermillion dot %kumkum #hand& in its centre. The centre of the forehead is considered as the crucial point suggesting the omnipresence of the 'ivine. Puja is generally concluded with aarti to the lord. Puja can !e cele!rated !y an individual person or in gatherings. The ceremony may !e done in silence or accompanied !y prayers. Sometimes a puja is done for the !enefit of certain people, for whom people ask !lessings. Steps of a Puja (ach and every sect, family or an individual have their own way of doing Puja. (very time when you say samarpayami %) m offering&, offer two akshatha with love and devotion to the lord. %Akshatha is uncooked rice* if possi!le color it with kumkum, saffron powder, turmeric and a little !it of water. This can !e made for a week in advance and can !e kept near the Alter& A typical Puja involves the following +, steps Dhyaanam Samarpayami %Think or meditate on the .ord& Aawaahanam Samarpayami %/ffering invitation the .ord& Aasanam Samarpayami %/ffer a seat to the .ord& Paadyam Samarpayami %/ffer water to wash the feet& Arghyam Samarpayami %/ffer water to wash the hands& Aachamaneeyam Samarpayami %/ffer water to drink& Snaanam Samarpayami %Give !ath to the .ord& Maha Abhishe am Samarpayami %Give main head !ath to the .ord& Pratishtaapayaami %0ake him seated& !asthram Samarpayami %/ffer clothes to the .ord& "ajnopa#eetham Samarpayami %/ffer the "oly Thread& $andham Samarpayami %/ffer sandalwood paste1powder& A shatham Samarpayami %/ffer Akshatha1 2ice& Pushpam Samarpayami %/ffer Flowers to the .ord& Ashthothtra Poojam Samarpayami %/ffer the holy 345 names& Dhoopam Aaghraapayaami %/ffer Fragrance 1 Agar!atti& Deepam Darshayaami %/ffer light to the lord& %ei#edyam Samarpayami %/ffer Food to the .ord& Pha&am Samarpayami %/ffer Fruits to the .ord& 'aamboo&am Samarpayami %/ffer !etel nut and leaves& Da shinam Samarpayami %/ffer money to the .ord& Maha %irajanam Samarpayami %/ffer aarti to the .ord& Prada shinam Samarpayami %Taking clockwise rounds of arti& %amas aram Samarpayami %/ffer Prostrations& Mantra Pushpam Samarpayami %/ffer incantations and flowers& Praarthanaam Samarpayami %/ffer prayers, re6uest your desires&

(shamaapanam Samarpayami %/ffer apologies 7 ask for forgiveness&

)hy do we fo&&ow those* Sanaathana Dharma has its foundation on scientific spirituality. In the entire ancient Hindu literature we can see that science and spirituality are integrated. It is mentioned in the 40th chapter of the Yajurveda known as Eesaavaasya Upanishad that use scientific knowledge for solving problems in our life and use the spiritual knowledge for attaining immortality through philosophical outlook. Remember that in each and every aachaaraa there will be a component of spirituality in it. Without spirituality, nothing e ists in !anaathana dharma. "enerally everyone bear a wrong impression that this spirituality is religion. !pirituality is different in Hindu dharma. Here the #uestion of religion does not e ist at all, because Hindu dharma was not created by an individual, prophet or an incarnation. !pirituality is a part of every Hindu custom in the normal life of a Hindu. )hy %ecessity of a $uru in our &ife*
A Guru is absolutely necessary for every aspirant in the spiritual path. God teaches through the human enlightened body of a fully realized Guru. The Guru is the pattern into which you should mould yourself. Guru is the door to spiritual liberation, but it is the aspirant who has to enter it through Niskama karma -righteous words, thoughts and actions performed without the e pectation of results. Also a total surrender, a strong faith and a firm devotion towards the Guru is needed. The Guru will then be able to absorb part of your previous bad karma -dark energies that reside within your soul, due to errors commited in the past and that hinder spiritual liberation- and purify your soul. !e will remove pitfalls and obstacles, leading you along the right path towards enlightment. The disciple should not rest satisfied with the transmission of knowledge and "ight from the Guru. !e will have to struggle hard in sadhana -spiritual disciplines- for further perfection and attainments. !e must be a person full of love, humility, compassion, patience, endurance, forbearance# he must perform service to others without the e pectation of positive results or any kind of reward. $t is important to realize that the more spiritual evolution the seeker attains for himself, through positive actions, faith, surrender and devotion towards God or to a fully realized Guru, the more responsibility the seeker has in the spiritual arena and minor mistakes in life can have profound effects in spiritual evolution. The Guru can transform the disciple by a look, a touch, a thought or a word, or mere willing. %ri &amakrishna 'aramahamsa touched %wami (ivekananda and by his grace %wami (ivekananda had supra conscious e perience though he had struggled hard for the rest of his life in order to attain perfection. )e must always keep on working -righteous thoughts, words and actions- no matter the spiritual level attained, remembering that the more we get, the more we shall be asked in e change. )ithout the grace of the Guru, it is very difficult to evolve spiritually. To light a candle, you need a burning candle. An illumined soul alone can enlighten another soul.

)hy do we &ight a &amp*

)n almost every )ndian home a lamp is lit daily !efore the altar of the .ord. )n some houses it is lit at dawn, in some, twice a day 8 at dawn and dusk 8 and in a few it is maintained continuously %akhanda deepa&. All auspicious functions commence with the lighting of the lamp, which is often maintained right through the occasion. .ight sym!oli9es knowledge, and darkness, ignorance. The .ord is the :;nowledge Principle: %chaitanya& who is the source, the enlivener and the illuminator of all knowledge. "ence light is worshiped as the .ord himself. ;nowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness. Also knowledge is a lasting inner wealth !y which all outer achievement can !e accomplished. "ence we light the lamp to !ow down to knowledge as the greatest of all forms of wealth <hy not light a !ul! or tu!e light$ That too would remove darkness. =ut the traditional oil lamp has a further spiritual significance. The oil or ghee in the lamp sym!oli9es our vaasanas or negative tendencies and the wick, the ego. <hen lit !y spiritual knowledge, the vaasanas get slowly e>hausted and the ego too finally perishes. The flame of a lamp always !urns upwards. Similarly we should ac6uire such knowledge as to take us towards higher ideals. <hilst lighting the lamp we thus prayDeepajyothi parabrahma Deepa sarva tamopahaha Deepena saadhyate saram Sandhyaa deepo namostute ) prostrate to the dawn1dusk lamp* whose light is the ;nowledge Principle %the Supreme .ord&, which removes the darkness of ignorance and !y which all can !e achieved in life.

Why do we FAST ?
0ost devout )ndians fast regularly or on special occasions like festivals. /n such days they do not eat at all, eat once or make do with fruits or a special diet of simple food. Fasting in Sanskrit is called upavaasa. ?pa means :near: @ vaasa means :to stay:. ?pavaasa therefore means staying near %the .ord&, meaning the attainment of close mental pro>imity with the .ord. Then what has upavaasa to do with food$ A lot of our time and energy is spent in procuring food items, preparing, cooking, eating and digesting food. #ertain food types make our minds dull and agitated. "ence on certain days man decides to save time and conserve his energy !y eating either simple, light food or totally a!staining from eating so that his mind !ecomes alert and pure. The mind, otherwise preAoccupied !y the thought of food, now entertains no!le thoughts and stays with the .ord. Since it is a selfAimposed form of discipline it is usually adhered to with joy. Also every system needs a !reak and an overhaul to work at its !est. 2est and a change of diet during fasting is very good for the digestive system and the entire !ody. The more you indulge the senses, the more they make their demands. Fasting helps us to cultivate control over our senses, su!limate our desires and guide our minds to !e poised and at peace. Fasting should not make us weak, irrita!le or create an urge to indulge later. This happens when there is no no!le goal !ehind fasting. The =hagavad Geeta urges us to eat appropriately 8 neither too less nor too much 8 yuktaAaahaara and to eat simple, pure and healthy food % a saatvik diet& even when not fasting.

)hy do we ha#e prayer room *


0ost )ndian homes have a prayer room or altar. A lamp is lit and the .ord worshipped each day. /ther spiritual practices like japa %repetition of the .ordBs name&, meditation, paaraayana %reading of the scriptures&, prayers, devotional singing etc is also done here. Special worship is done on auspicious ocasions like !irthdays, anniversaries, festivals and the like. (ach mem!er of the family 8 young or old 8 communes with and worships the 'ivine here. The .ord is the entire creation. "e is therefore the true owner of the house we live in too. The prayer room is the 0aster room of the house. <e are the earthly occupants of "is property. This notion rids us of false pride and possessiveness. The ideal attitude to take is to regard the .ord as the true owner

of our homes and ourselves as caretakers of "is home. =ut if that is rather difficult, we could at least think of "im as a very welcome guest. Cust as we would house an important guest in the !est comfort, so too we felicitate the .ordBs presence in our homes !y having a prayer room or altar, which is, at all times, kept clean and wellAdecorated. Also the .ord is allApervading. To remind us that "e resides in our homes with us, we have prayer rooms. <ithout the grace of the .ord, no task can !e successfully or easily accomplished. <e invoke "is grace !y communing with "im in the prayer room each day and on special occasions. (ach room in a house is dedicated to a specific function like the !edroom for resting, the drawing room to receive guests, the kitchen for cooking etc. The furniture, decor and the atmosphere of each room are made conducive to the purpose it serves. So too for the purpose of meditation, worship and prayer, we should have a conducive atmosphere 8 hence the need for a prayer room. Sacred thoughts and sound vi!rations pervade the place and influence the minds of those who spend time there. Spiritual thoughts and vi!rations accumulated through regular meditation, worship and chanting done there pervade the prayer room. (ven when we are tired or agitated, !y just sitting in the prayer room for a while, we feel calm, rejuvenated and spiritually uplifted

)hy do we do %amaste *
)ndians greet each other with namaste. The two palms are placed together in front of the chest and the head !ows whilst saying the word namaste. This greeting is for all 8 people younger than us, of our own age, those older than us, friends and even strangers. There are five forms of formal traditional greeting enjoined in the shaastras of which namaskaram is one. This is understood as prostration !ut it actually refers to paying homage as we do today when we greet each other with a namaste. Damaste could !e just a casual or formal greeting, a cultural convention or an act of worship. "owever there is much more to it than meets the eye. )n Sanskrit namah @ te E namaste. )t means 8 ) !ow to you 8 my greetings, salutations or prostration to you. Damaha can also !e literally interpreted as :na ma: %not mine&. )t has a spiritual significance of negating or reducing oneBs ego in the presence of another. The real meeting !etween people is the meeting of their minds. <hen we greet another, we do so with namaste, which means, :may our minds meet,: indicated !y the folded palms placed !efore the chest. The !owing down of the head is a gracious form of e>tending friendship in love and humility. The spiritual meaning is even deeper. The life force, the divinity, the Self or the .ord in me is the same in all. 2ecognising this oneness with the meeting of the palms, we salute with head !owed the 'ivinity in the person we meet. That is why sometimes, we close our eyes as we do namaste to a revered person or the .ord 8 as if to look within. The gesture is often accompanied !y words like :2am 2am:, :Cai Shri ;rishna:, :Damo Darayana:, :Cai Siya 2am:, :/m Shanti: etc 8 indicating the recognition of this divinity. <hen we know this significance, our greeting does not remain just a superficial gesture or word !ut paves the way for a deeper communion with another in an atmosphere of love and respect.

)hy do prostrate before parents and e&ders *


)ndians prostrate !efore their parents, elders, teachers and no!le souls !y touching their feet. The elder in turn !lesses us !y placing his or her hand on or over our heads. Prostration is done daily, when we meet elders and particularly on important occasions like the !eginning of a new task, !irthdays, festivals etc. )n certain traditional circles, prostration is accompanied !y a!hivaadana which serves to introduce oneAself, announce oneBs family and social stature. 0an stands on his feet. Touching the feet in prostration is a sign of respect for the age, maturity, no!ility and divinity that our elders personify. )t sym!oli9es our recognition of their selfless love for us and the sacrifices that they have done for our welfare. )t is a way of hum!ly acknowledging the greatness of another. This tradition reflects the strong family ties which has

!een one of )ndiaBs enduring strengths. The good wishes %Sankalpa& and !lessings %aashirvaada& of elders are highly valued in )ndia. <e prostrate to seek them. Good thoughts create positive vi!rations. Good wishes springing from a heart full of love, divinity and no!ility have a tremendous strength. <hen we prostrate with humility and respect, we invoke the good wishes and !lessings of elders which flow in the form of positive energy to envelop us. This is why the posture assumed whether it is in the standing or prone position, ena!les the entire !ody to receive the energy thus received. The different forms of showing respect are Pratuthana 8 rising to welcome a person. Namaskaara 8 paying homage in the form of namaste. Upasangrahan 8 touching the feet of elders or teachers. Shaashtaanga 8 prostrating fully with the feet, knees, stomach, chest, forehead and arms touching the ground in front of the elder. Pratyabivaadana 8 returning a greeting. 2ules are prescri!ed in our scriptures as to who should prostrate to whom. <ealth, family name, age, moral strength and spiritual knowledge in ascending order of importance 6ualified men to receive respect. This is why a king though the ruler of the land, would prostrate !efore a spiritual master. (pics like the 2amayana and 0aha!harata have many stories highlighting this aspect

)hy do we wear mar s +ti&a and the &i e, on the forehead*


The tilak invokes a feeling of sanctity in the wearer and others. )t is recognised as a religious mark. )ts form and colour vary according to oneBs caste, religious sect or the form of the .ord worshipped. )n earlier times, the four castes %!ased on varna or colour& 8 =rahmana, ;shatriya, Faishya and Sudra 8 applied marks differently. The !rahmin applied a white chandan mark signifying purity, as his profession was of a priestly or academic nature. The kshatriya applied a red kumkum mark signifying valour as he !elonged to warrior races. The vaishya wore a yellow kesar or turmeric mark signifying prosperity as he was a !usinessman or trader devoted to creation of wealth. The sudra applied a !lack !hasma, kasturi or charcoal mark signifying service as he supported the work of the other three divisions. Also Fishnu worshippers apply a chandan tilak of the shape of :?:, Shiva worshippers a tripundra %of the shape of :7ordm* :& of !hasma, 'evi worshippers a red dot of kumkum and so on&. The tilak cover the spot !etween the eye!rows, which is the seat of memory and thinking. )t is known as the Aajna #hakra in the language of Goga. The tilak is applied with the prayer 8 :0ay ) remem!er the .ord. 0ay this pious feeling pervade all my activities. 0ay ) !e righteous in my deeds.: (ven when we temporarily forget this prayerful attitude the mark on another reminds us of our resolve. The tilak is thus a !lessing of the .ord and a protection against wrong tendencies and forces. The entire !ody emanates energy in the form of electromagnetic waves 8 the forehead and the su!tle spot !etween the eye!rows especially so. That is why worry generates heat and causes a headache. The tilak and pottu cools the forehead, protects us and prevents energy loss. sometimes the entire forehead is covered with chandan or !hasma. ?sing plastic reusa!le :stick !indis: is not very !eneficial, even though it serves the purpose of decoration.

)hy do we not touch papers- boo s and peop&e with the feet*
To )ndians, knowledge is sacred and divine. So it must !e given respect at all times. Dowadays

we separate su!jects as sacred and secular. =ut in ancient )ndia every su!ject 8 academic or spiritual 8 was considered divine and taught !y the guru in the gurukula. The custom of not stepping on educational tools is a fre6uent reminder of the high position accorded to knowledge in )ndian culture. From an early age, this wisdom fosters in us a deep reverence for !ooks and education. This is also the reason why we worship !ooks, vehicles and instruments once a year on Saraswathi Pooja or Ayudha Pooja day, dedicated to the Goddess of .earning. )n fact, each day !efore starting our studies, we praySaraswati namasthubhyam Varade kaama roopini Vidyaarambham karishyaami Sidhirbhavatu me sadaa / Goddess Saraswati, the giver of =oons and fulfiller of wishes, ) prostrate to Gou !efore Starting my studies. 0ay Gou always fulfill me.

To touch another with the feet is considered an act of misdemeanor. Why is this so?
0an is regarded as the most !eautiful, living !reathing temple of the .ordH Therefore touching another with the feet is akin to disrespecting the divinity within him or her. This calls for an immediate apology, which is offered with reverence and humility.

Why do we apply the holy ash?


The ash of any !urnt o!ject is not regarded as holy ash. =hasma %the holy ash& is the ash from the homa %sacrificial fire& where special wood along with ghee and other her!s is offered as worship of the .ord. /r the deity is worshipped !y pouring ash as a!hisheka and is then distri!uted as !hasma. =hasma is generally applied on the forehead. Some apply it on certain parts of the !ody like the upper arms, chest etc. Some ascetics ru! it all over the !ody. 0any consume a pinch of it each time they receive it. The word !hasma means :that !y which our sins are destroyed and the .ord is remem!ered:. =ha implied !hartsanam %:to destroy:& and sma implies smaranam %:to remem!er:&. The application of !hasma therefore signifies destruction of the evil and remem!rance of the divine. =hasma is called vi!huti %which means :glory:& as it gives glory to one who applies it and raksha %which means a source of protection& as it protects the wearer from ill health and evil, !y purifying him or her. "oma %offering of o!lations into the fire with sacred chants& signifies the offering or surrender of the ego and egocentric desires into the flame of knowledge or a no!le and selfless cause. The conse6uent ash signifies the purity of the mind which results from such actions. Also the fire of knowledge !urns the o!lation and wood signifying ignorance and inertia respectively. The ash we apply indicates that we should !urn false identification with the !ody and !ecome free of the limitations of !irth and death. This is not to !e misconstrued as a morose reminder of death !ut as a powerful pointer towards the fact that time and tide wait for none. =hasma is specially associated with .ord Shiva who applies it all over "is !ody. Shiva devotes apply !hasma as a tripundra %the form of :7ordm* :&. <hen applied with a red spot at the centre, the mark sym!olises ShivaAShakti %the unity of energy and matter that creates the entire seen and unseen

universe&. =hasma has medicinal value and is used in many ayurvedic medicines. )t a!sor!s e>cess moisture from the !ody and prevents colds and headaches. The ?panishads say that the famous 0rityunjaya mantra should !e chanted whilst applying ash on the forehead. Tryambakam yajaamahe Su andhim pushtivardhanam !rvaa rukamiva bhandhanaan "rytyor muksheeyamaa amrutaat :<e worship the threeAeyed .ord Shiva who nourishes and spread fragrance in our lives. 0ay "e free us from the shackles of sorrow, change and death 8 effortlessly, like the fall of a rip !rinjal from its stem.:

Why do we offer food to the #ord before eatin it?


)ndians make an offering of food to the .ord and later partake of it as prasaada 8 a holy gift from the .ord. )n our daily ritualistic worship %pooja& too we offer naivedyam %food& to the .ord. The .ord is omnipotent and omniscient. 0an is a part, while the .ord is the totality. All that we do is !y "is strength and knowledge alone. "ence what we receive in life as a result of our actions is really "is alone. <e acknowledge this through the act of offering food to "im. This is e>emplified !y the "indi words :tera tujko arpan:8 ) offer what is Gours to Gou. Thereafter it is akin to "is gift to us, graced !y "is divine touch. ;nowing this, our entire attitude to food and the act of eating changes. The food offered will naturally !e pure and the !est. <e share what we get with others !efore consuming it. <e do not demand, complain or criticise the 6uality of the food we get. <e eat it with cheerful acceptance %prasaada !uddhi&. =efore we partake of our daily meals we first sprinkle water around the plate as an act of purification. Five morsels of food are placed on the side of the plate acknowledging the de!t owed !y us to the 'ivine forces %devta runa& for their !enign grace and protection* our ancestors %pitru runa& for giving us their lineage and a family culture* the sages %rishi runa& as our religion and culture have !een :realised:, maintained and handed down to us !y them* our fellow !eings %manushya runa& who constitute society without the support of which we could not live as we do and other living !eings %!huta runa& for serving us selflessly. Thereafter the .ord, the life force, who is also within us as the five lifeAgiving physiological functions, is offered the food. This is done with the chant

praanaaya swaahaa$ apaanaaya swaahaa$ vyaanaaya swaahaa$ udaanaaya swaahaa$ samaanaaya swaahaa$ brahmane swaahaa
After offering the food thus, it is eaten as prasaada 8 !lessed food.

Why do we do pradakshina %circumambulate&?


<e cannot draw a circle without a centre point. The .ord is the centre, source and essence of our lives. 2ecognising "im as the focal point in our lives, we go a!out doing our daily chores. This is the significance of pradakshina. Also every point on the circumference of a circle is e6uidistant from the centre. This means that wherever or whoever we may !e, we are e6ually close to the .ord. "is grace flows towards us without partiality. )hy is prada shina done on&y in a c&oc wise manner*

The reason is not, as a person said, to avoid a traffic jamH As we do pradakshina, the .ord is always on our right. )n )ndia the right side sym!olises auspiciousness. So as we circumam!ulate the sanctum sanctorum we remind ourselves to lead an auspicious life of righteousness, with the .ord who is the indispensa!le source of help and strength, as our guide 8 the :right hand:. )ndian scriptures enjoin 8 matrudevo !hava, pitrudevo !hava, acharyadevo !hava. 0ay you consider your parents and teachers as you would the .ord. <ith this in mind we also do pradakshina around our parents and divine personages. After the completion of traditional worship %pooja&, we customarily do pradakshina around ourselves. )n this way we recognise and remem!er the supreme divinity within us, which alone is idolised in the form of the .ord that we worship outside.

Why do we re ard trees and plants as sacred? The .ord, the life in us, pervades all living !eings, !e they plants or animals. "ence, they are all regarded as sacred. "uman life on earth depends on plants and trees. They give us the vital factors that makes life possi!le on earth- food, o>ygen, clothing, shelter, medicines etc. "ence, in )ndia, we are taught to regard trees and plants as sacred. )ndians scriptures tell us to plant ten trees if, for any reason, we have to cut one. <e are advised to use parts of trees and plants only as much as is needed for food, fuel, shelter etc. we are also urged to apologise to a plant or tree !efore cutting it to avoid incurring a specific sin named soona #ertain trees and plants like tulasi, peepal etc., which have tremendous !eneficial 6ualities, are worshipped till today. )t is !elieved that divine !eings manifest as trees and plants, and many people worship them to fulfill their desires or to please the .ord Why do we rin the bell in a temple?
)s it to wake up the .ord$ =ut the .ord never sleeps. )s it to let the .ord know we have come$ "e does not need to !e told, as "e is allAknowing. )s it a form of seeking permission to enter "is precinct$ )t is a homecoming and therefore entry needs no permission. The .ord welcomes us at all times. Then why do we ring the !ell$ The ringing of the !ell produces what is regarded as an auspicious sound. )t produces the sound /m, the universal name of the .ord. There should !e auspiciousness within and without, to gain the vision of the .ord who is allAauspiciousness. (ven while doing the ritualistic aarati, we ring the !ell. )t is sometimes accompanied !y the auspicious sounds of the conch and other musical instruments. An added significance of ringing the !ell, conch and other instruments is that they help drowned any inauspicious or irrelevant noises and comments that might distur! or distract the worshippers in their devotional ardour, concentration and inner peace. As we start the daily ritualistic worship %pooja& we ring the !ell, chantingAagamaarthamtu devaanaam gamanaarthamtu rakshasaam Kurve ghantaaravam tatra devataahvaahna lakshanam ) ring this !ell indicating the invocation of divinity, So that virtuous and no!le forces enter %my home and heart&* And the demonic and evil forces From within and without, depart.

Why do we worship the kalasha?


First of all what is a kalasha$ A !rass, mud or copper pot is filled with water. 0ango leaves are placed in the mouth of the pot and a coconut is placed over it. A red or white thread is tied around its neck or sometimes all around it in a intricate diamondAshaped pattern. The pot may !e decorated wit designs. Such a pot is known as a kalasha. <hen the pot is filled with water or rice, it is known as purnakum!ha representing the inert !ody which when filled with the divine life force gains the power to do all the wonderful things that makes life what it is. A kalasha is placed with due rituals on all important occasions like the traditional house warming %grihapravesa&, wedding, daily worship etc. )t is placed near the entrance as a sign of welcome. )t is also used in a traditional manner while receiving holy personages. <hy do we worship the kalasha$ =efore the creation came into !eing, .ord Fishnu was reclining on "is snakeA!ed in the milky ocean. From "is navel emerged a lotus from which appeared .ord =rahma, the creator, who thereafter created this world. The water in the kalasha sym!olises the primordial water from which the entire creation emerged. )t is the giver of life to all and has the potential of creating innumera!le names and forms, the inert o!jects and the sentient !eings and all that is auspicious in the world from the energy !ehind the universe. The leaves and coconut represent creation. The thread represents the love that :!inds: all in creation. The kalasha is therefore considered auspicious and worshipped. The waters from all the holy rivers, the knowledge of all the Fedas and the !lessings of all the deities are invoked in the kalasha and its water is thereafter used for all the rituals, including the a!hisheka. The consecration %kum!haa!hisheka& of a temple is done in a grand manner with ela!orate rituals including the pouring of one or more kalashas of holy water on the top of the temple. <hen the asuras and the devas churned the milky ocean, the .ord appeared !earing the pot of nectar, which !lessed one with everlasting life. Thus the kalasha also sym!olises immortality. 0en of wisdom are full and complete as they identify with the infinite Truth %poornatvam&. They !rim with joy and love and respect all that is auspicious. <e greet them with a purnakum!ha %:full pot:& acknowledging their greatness and as a sign of respectful and reverential welcome, with a :full heart:.

Why do we consider the lotus as special? $he lotus is the symbol of truth, auspiciousness and beauty %satyam, shivam, sundaram&. $he 'ord is also that nature and therefore, His various aspects are compared to a lotus %i.e. lotus(eyes, lotus feet, lotus hands, the lotus of the heart etc.&. $he lotus blooms with the rising sun and close at night. !imilarly, our minds open up and e pand with the light of knowledge. $he lotus grows even in slushy areas. It remains beautiful and untainted despite its surroundings, reminding us that we too can and should strive to remain pure and beautiful within, under all circumstances. $he lotus leaf never gets wet even though it is always in water. It symbolises the man of wisdom %gyaani& who remains ever )oyous, unaffected by the world of sorrow and change. $his is revealed in a shloka from the *hagwad "eeta+ Brahmanyaadhaaya karmaani Sangam tyaktvaa karoti yaha Lipyate na sa paapena Padma patram ivaambhasaa He who does actions, offering them to *rahman %the !upreme&, abandoning attachment, is not tainted by sin, )ust as a lotus leaf remains unaffected by the water on it. ,rom this, we learn that what is natural to the man of wisdom becomes a discipline to be practised by all saadhakas or spiritual seekers and devotees. -ur bodies have certain

energy centres described in the .oga !haastras as chakras. /ach one is associated with lotus that have a certain number of petals. ,or e ample, the !ahasra chakra at the top of the head, which opens when the yogi attains "odhood or Realisation, is represented by a lotus with a thousand petals. 0lso, the lotus posture %padmaasana& is recommended when one sits for meditation. 0 lotus emerged from the navel of 'ord 1ishnu. 'ord *rahma originated from it to create the world. Hence, the lotus symbolises the link between the creator and the supreme 2ause. It also symbolises *rahmaloka, the abode of 'ord *rahma. $he auspicious sign of the swastika is said to have evolved from the lotus. Why do we worship tulasi? In !anskrit, tulanaa naasti athaiva tulasi ( that which is incomparable %in its #ualities& is the tulasi. ,or Indians it is one of the most sacred plants. In fact it is known to be the only thing used in worship which, once used, can be washed and reused in poo)a ( as it is regarded so self(purifying. 0s one story goes, $ulasi was the devoted wife of !hankhachuda, a celestial being. !he believed that 'ord 3rishna tricked her into sinning. !o she cursed Him to become a stone %shaaligraama&. !eeing her devotion and adhered to righteousness, the 'ord blessed her saying that she would become the worshipped plant, tulasi that would adorn His head. 0lso that all offerings would be incomplete without the tulasi leaf ( hence the worship of tulasi. !he also symbolises "oddess 'akshmi, the consort of 'ord 1ishnu. $hose who wish to be righteous and have a happy family life worship the tulasi. $ulasi is married to the 'ord with all pomp and show as in any wedding. $his is because according to another legend, the 'ord blessed her to be His consort. !atyabhama once weighed 'ord 3rishna against all her legendary wealth. $he scales did not balance till a single tulasi leaf was placed along with the wealth on the scale by Rukmini with devotion. $hus the tulasi played the vital role of demonstrating to the world that even a small ob)ect offered with devotion means more to the 'ord than all the wealth in the world. $he tulasi leaf has great medicinal value and is used to cure various ailments, including the common cold. Yanmule sarvatirhaani Yannagre sarvadevataa Yanmadhye sarvavedaascha Tulasi taam namaamyaham I bow down to the tulasi, 0t whose base are all the holy places, 0t whose top reside all the deities and In whose middle are all the 1edas.

Why do we blow the conch?


<hen the conch is !lown, the primordial sound of /m emanates. /m is an auspicious sound that was chanted !y the .ord !efore creating the world. )t represents the world and the Truth !ehind it. As the story goes, the demon Shankhaasura defeated the devas, the Fedas and went to the !ottom of the ocean. The devas appealed to .ord Fishnu for help. "e incarnated as 0atsya Avataara A the :fish incarnation: and killed Shankhaasura. The .ord !lew the conchAshaped !one of his ear and head. The /m sound emanated, from which emerged the Fedas. All knowledge enshrined in the Fedas is an ela!oration of /m. The conch therefore is known as shankha after Shankaasua. The conch !lown !y the .ord is called Paanchajanya. "e carries it at all times in one of "is four hands. )t represents dharma or righteousness that is one of the four goals %purushaarthas& of life. The sound of the conch is thus also the victory call of good over evil. Another wellAknown purpose of !lowing the conch and the instruments, known traditionally to produce auspicious sounds is to drown or mask negative comments or noises that may distur! or upset the atmosphere or the minds of worshippers. Ancient )ndia lived in her villages. (ach village was presided over !y a primary temple and several small ones. 'uring the aarati performed after all important poojas and on sacred occasions, the conch used to !e !lown. Since villages were generally small, the sound of the conch would !e heard all over the village. People who could not make it to the temple were reminded to stop whatever they were doing, at least for a few seconds, and mentally !ow to the .ord. The conch sound served to !riefly elevate people s minds to a prayerful attitude even in the middle of their !usy daily routine. The conch is placed at the altar in temples and homes ne>t to the .ord as a sym!ol of Daada =rahma %Truth&, the Fedas, /m, dharma, victory and auspiciousness. )t is often used to offer devotees thirtha %sanctified water& to raise their minds to the highest Truth. )t is worshipped with the following verse. Twam puraa saa arot pannaha Vishnunaa vidhrutahakare 'evaischa poojitha sarvahi (anchjanya namostu te Sa&utations to Panchajanya the conch born of the ocean He&d in the hand of .ord !ishnu and worshipped by a&& de#aas.

Why do we say shaanti thrice??


Shaanti, meaning :peace:, is a natural state of !eing. 'istur!ances are created either !y us or others. For e>ample, peace already e>ists in a place until someone makes noise. Therefore, peace underlies all our agitations. <hen agitations end, peace is naturally e>perienced since it was already there. <here there is peace, there is happiness. Therefore, every one without e>ception desires peace in his1her life. "owever, peace within or without seems very hard to attain !ecause it is covered !y our own agitations. A rare few manage to remain peaceful within even in the midst of e>ternal agitation and trou!les. To invoke peace, we chant prayers. =y chanting prayers, trou!les end and peace is e>perienced internally, irrespective of the e>ternal distur!ances. All such prayers end !y chanting shaanti thrice. )t is !elieved that trivaram satyam A that which is said thrice comes true. For emphasising a point we repeat a thing thrice. )n the court of law also, one who takes the witness stands says, :) shall speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing !ut the truth:. <e chant shaanti thrice to emphasise our intense desire for peace. All o!stacles, pro!lems and sorrows originate from three sources. Aadhidaivika - The unseen divine forces over which we have little or no control like earth6uakes, floods, volcanic eruptions etc. Aadhi!hautika- The known factors around us like accidents, human contacts, pollution, crime etc. Aadhyaatmika - <e sincerely pray to the .ord that at least while we undertake special tasks or

even in our daily lives, there are no pro!lems or that, pro!lems are minimised from the three sources written a!out a!ove. 0ay peace alone prevail. "ence shaanti is chanted thrice. )t is chanted aloud the first time, addressing the unseen forces. )t is chanted softer the second time, directed to our immediate surroundings and those around, and softest the last time as it is addressed to oneself.

Why do we offer a coconut?


$n $ndia one of the most common offerings in a temple is a coconut. $t is also offered on occasions like weddings, festivals, the use of a new vehicle, bridge, house etc. $t is offered in the sacrificial fire whilst performing homa. The coconut is broken and placed before the "ord. $t is later distributed as prasaada. The fibre covering of the dried coconut is removed e cept for a tuft on the top. The marks on the coconut make it look like the head of a human being. The coconut is broken, symbolising the breaking of the ego. The *uice within, representing the inner tendencies +vaasanas, is offered along with the white kernel - the mind, to the "ord. A mind thus purified by the touch of the "ord is used as prasaada + a holy gift,. $n the traditional abhishekha ritual done in all temples and many homes, several materials are poured over the deity like milk, curd, honey, tender coconut water, sandal paste, holy ash etc. -ach material has a specific significance of bestowing certain benefits on worshippers. Tender coconut water is used in abhisheka rituals since it is believed to bestow spiritual growth on the seeker. The coconut also symbolises selfless service. -very part of the tree -the trunk, leaves, fruit, coir etc. $s used in innumerable ways like thatches, mats, tasty dishes, oil, soap etc. $t takes in even salty water from the earth and converts it into sweet nutritive water that is especially beneficial to sick people. $t is used in the preparation of many ayurvedic medicines and in other alternative medicinal systems. The marks on the coconut are even thought to represent the three-eyed "ord %hiva and therefore it is considered to be a means to fulfill our desires.

Why do we chant )m?


/m is one of the most chanted sound sym!ols in )ndia. )t has a profound effect on the !ody and mind of the one who chants and also on the surroundings. 0ost mantras and vedic prayers start with om. All auspicious actions !egin with om. )t is even used as a greeting A om, "ari om etc. )t is repeated as a mantra or meditated upon. )ts form is worshipped, contemplated upon or used as an auspicious sign. /m is the universal name of the .ord. )t is made up of the letters A %phonetically as in :around:&, ? %phonetically as in :put:& and 0 %phonetically as in :mum:&. The sound emerging from the vocal chords starts from the !ase of the throat as :A:. <ith the coming together of the lips, :?: is formed and when the lips are closed, all sounds end in :0:. The three letters sym!olise the three states %waking, dream and deep sleep&, the three deities %=rahma, Fishnu and Shiva&,the three Fedas %2ig, Gajur and Sama& the three worlds %=huh, =huvah, Suvah& etc. The .ord is all these and !eyond. The formless, attri!uteless .ord %=rahman& is represented !y the silence !etween two om #hants. /m is also called pranava that means :that %sym!ol or sound& !y which the .ord is praised:. The entire essence of the Fedas is enshrined in the word om. )t is said that the .ord started creating the world after chanting om and atha. "ence its sound is consi dered to create an auspicious !eginning for any task that we undertake. The om chant should have the resounding sound of a !ell %aaooommm&. /m is written in different ways in different places. The most common form sym!olises .ord Ganesha. The upper curve is the head* the lower large one, the stomach* the side one, the trunk* and the semiAcircular mark with the dot, the sweetAmeat !all %modaka& in .ord Ganesha s

hand. Thus om sym!olises everything A the means and the goal of life, the world and the Truth !ehind it, the material and the Sacred, all form and the Formless.

)hy do we do aarati* $owards the end of every ritualistic worship%poo)a or bha)an& of the 'ord or to welcome an honoured guest or saint, we perform the aarati. $his is always accompanied by the ringing of the bell and sometimes by singing, playing of musical instruments and clapping. It is one of the si teen steps %shodasha upachaara& of the poo)a ritual. It is referred to as the lighted lamp in the right hand, which we wave in a clockwise circling movement to light the entire form of the 'ord. /ach part is revealed individually and also the entire form of the 'ord. 0s the light is waved we either do mental or loud chanting of prayers or simply behold the beautiful form of the 'ord, illumined by the lamp.0t the end of the aarati we place our hands over the flame and then gently touch our eyes and the top of the head. We have seen and participated in this ritual from our childhood. 'et us find out why we do the aarati4 Having worshipped the 'ord of love ( performing abhisheka, decorating the image and offering fruits and delicacies, we see the beauty of the 'ord in all His glory. -ur minds are focussed on each limb of the 'ord as it is lit up by the lamp. It is akin to silent open( eyed meditation on His beauty. $he singing, clapping, ringing of the bell etc. denote the )oy and auspiciousness which accompanies the vision of the 'ord. 0arati is often performed with camphor. $his holds a telling spiritual significance. 2amphor when lit, burns itself out completely without leaving a trace of it. It represents our inherent tendencies %vaasanas&. When lit by the fire of knowledge which illumines the 'ord %$ruth&, our vaasanas thereafter burn themselves out completely, not leaving a trace of ego which creates in us a sense of individuality that keeps us separate from the 'ord. 0lso while camphor burns to reveal the glory of 'ord, it emits a pleasant perfume even while it sacrifices itself. In our spiritual progress, even as we serve the guru and society, we should willingly sacrifice ourselves and all we have, to spread the 5perfume5 of love to all. We often wait a long while to see the illumined 'ord but when the aarati is actually performed, our eyes close automatically as if to look within. $his is to signify that each of us is a temple of the 'ord. 6ust as the priest reveals the form of the 'ord clearly with the aarati flame, so too the guru revelas to us the divinity within each of us with the help of the 5flame5 of knowledge %or the light of spiritual knowledge&. 0t the end of the aarati, we place our hands over the flame and then touch our eyes and the top of the head. It means ( may the light that illuminated the 'ord light up my vision7 may my vision be divine and my thoughts noble and beautiful. $he philosophical meaning of aarati e tends further. $he sun, moon, stars, lightning and fire are the natural sources of light. $he 'ord is the source of these wonderous phenomenon of the universe. It is due to Him alone that all else e ist and shine. 0s we light up the 'ord with the flame of the aarati, we turn our attention to the very source of all light which symbolises knowledge and life. 0lso the sun is the presiding deity of the intellect, the moon, that of the mind, and fire, that of speech. $he 'ord is the supreme consciousness that illuminates all of them. Without Him, the intellect cannot think, nor can the mind feel nor the tongue speak. $he 'ordis

beyond the mind, intellect and speech. How can these finite e#uipment illuminate the 'ord4 $herefore, as we perform the aarati we chant7 Na tatra suryo bhaati na chandra taarakam Nemaa vidyuto bhaanti kutoyamagnib Tameva bhaantam anubhaati sarvam Tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhaati He is there where the sun does not shine, 8or the moon, stars and lightning. then what to talk of this small flame %in my hand&, /verything %in the universe& shines only after the 'ord, 0nd by His light alone are we all illumined.

*+ Symbols in ,induism +*
Hinduism is rich in symbolism. 9any acts of worship, such as puja, are symbolic, a form of visualisation in which worshippers simulate activities normally performed on higher planes of e istence. $hus the scope of symbolism is broad and includes physical acts such as offering pranam %obeisances& with folded hands. !uch physical gestures tend to induce the appropriate mood and awareness within the practitioner. 9any symbols are considered auspicious, embodying the notion of inner purity. !acred emblems are displayed in the home or temple to invoke good fortune. $he most popular symbols are listed on the right. 0um, also written 5-m5 and called pranava, is the most important Hindu symbol. Its prolonged intonation is associated with the primeval sound through which the universe was created. It is thought to contain all things. It consists of three syllables : a(u(m : which are sounded progressively from the throat to the lips. $he three sounds are considered to symbolise many items, but perhaps most importantly the three states of consciousness ; waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. $he entire symbol represents the fourth state, which is the awareness of one<s own spiritual identity. 0um is the most important mula %root& mantra and is thus chanted at the beginning of many prayers, mantras, and rituals. Hindu people greet each other by placing their two hands together and slightly bowing the head, whilst saying namaste or a similar phrase. $hey adopt the same posture when greeting the temple deity or a holy person. $hus when greeting another person, a Hindu is offering respect to the soul within %atman& and also to "od within the heart %=aramatman&. Ten Important Symbols >. -m %0um& ; the most important Hindu symbol, often used as the emblem of Hinduism %see above&. ?. Hands in prayer ; a sign of respect for the sacred, that which is dear to the heart %see above&. @. 'otus %padma& ; symbol of purityAtranscendence. "rowing out of the mud, it is beautiful, and though resting on water, it does not touch it.

4. 2onchshell ; used during arati+ one of the four symbols of 1ishnu. $he others are the lotus, club and disc. B. !wastika ; an ancient solar sign considered to invoke auspiciousnes.

C. $rident %trishul& ; the symbol of !hiva7 often carried by !haivite sannyasis %renunciates&. D. 3alasha ; coconut circled by mango leaves on a pot. -ften used in rituals such as the fire sacrifice. E. 2ow ; symbol of purity, motherhood and ahimsa %non(violence&. F. 'otus feet %of guru or deity& ; touching the feet of superiors shows an attitude of submission and service. >0. GipaAlamp ; symbol of light.

*+ ,indu Tenets and -oncepts +*


Here we discuss some of the basic tenets and concepts of Hinduism.
<hat is 'harma$ <hat is ;arma$ <hat is /m$ <hat is Damaste$ The I Principles 7 34 #ommandments #ommon 0yths A!out "induism 2eincarnation, "eaven and "ell The "indu #oncept of Time The Four Ages of 0an "indu 'octrines "indu 2eligious Thoughts

9odern Hindu Renaissance

)hat is Dharma *
Dharma is the path of righteousness and &i#ing one/s &ife according to the codes of

conduct as described by the Hindu scriptures.

Mora& .aw of the )or&d "induism descri!es dharma as the natural universal laws whose o!servance ena!les humans to !e contented and happy, and to save himself from degradation and suffering. 'harma is the moral law com!ined with spiritual discipline that guides one s life. "indus consider dharma the very foundation of life. )t means :that which holds: the people of this world and the whole creation. 'harma is the :law of !eing: without which things cannot e>ist.

According to the Scriptures 'harma refers to the religious ethics as propounded !y "indu gurus in ancient )ndian scriptures. Tulsidas, author of 2amcharitmanas, has defined the root of dharma as compassion. This principle was taken up !y .ord =uddha in his immortal !ook of great wisdom, 'hammapada. The Atharva Feda descri!es dharma sym!olically- Prithivim dharmana dhritam, that is, :this world is upheld !y dharma:. )n the epic poem 0aha!harata, the Pandavas represent dharma in life and the ;auravas represent adharma.

$ood Dharma 0 $ood (arma "induism accepts the concept of reincarnation, and what determines the state of an individual in the ne>t e>istence is karma which refers to the actions undertaken !y the !ody and the mind. )n order to achieve good karma it is important to live life according to dharma, what is right. This involves doing what is right for the individual, the family, the class or caste and also for the universe itself. 'harma is like a cosmic norm and if one goes against the norm it can result in !ad karma. So, dharma affects the future according to the karma accumulated. Therefore one s dharmic path in the ne>t life is the one necessary to !ring to fruition all the results of past karma.

)hat Ma es "ou Dharmic* Anything that helps human !eing to reach god is dharma and anything that hinders human !eing from reaching god is adharma. According to the =hagavat Purana, righteous living or life on a dharmic path has four aspects- austerity %tap&, purity %shauch&, compassion %daya& and truthfulness %satya&* and adharmic or unrighteous life has three vices- pride %ahankar&, contact %sangh&, and into>ication %madya&. The essence of dharma lies in possessing a certain a!ility, power and spiritual strength. The strength of !eing dharmic also lies in the uni6ue com!ination of spiritual !rilliance and physical prowess.

'he 12 3u&es of Dharma 0anusmriti written !y the ancient sage 0anu, prescri!es 34 essential rules for the o!servance of dharma- Patience %dhriti&, forgiveness %kshama&, piety or self control %dama&, honesty %asteya&, sanctity %shauch&, control of senses %indraiyaAnigrah&, reason %dhi&, knowledge or learning %vidya&, truthfulness %satya& and a!sence of anger %krodha&. 0anu further writes, :DonAviolence, truth, nonAcoveting, purity of !ody and mind, control of senses are the essence of dharma:. Therefore dharmic laws govern not only the individual !ut all in society.

'he Purpose of Dharma The purpose of dharma is not only to attain a union of the soul with the supreme reality, it also suggests a code of conduct that is intended to secure !oth worldly joys and supreme happiness. 2ishi ;anda has defined dharma in Faisesika as :that confers worldly joys and leads to supreme happiness:. "induism is the religion that suggests methods for the attainment of the highest ideal and eternal !liss here and now on earth and not somewhere in heaven. For e>ample, it endorses the idea that it is one s dharma to marry, raise a family and provide for that family in whatever way is necessary. The practice of dharma gives an e>perience of peace, joy, strength and tran6uillity within one s self and makes life disciplined.

)hat is (arma * $he 'aw of 2ause H /ffect The self-controlled person, moving among ob ects, !ith his senses free from attachment and malevolence and brought under his o!n control, attains tran"uility# ~ Bhagavad Gita II.64 s.
The law of cause and effect forms an integral part of "indu philosophy. This law is termed as karma , which means to act . The #oncise />ford 'ictionary of #urrent (nglish defines it as the :sum of person s actions in one of his successive states of e>istence, viewed as deciding his fate for the ne>t:. )n Sanskrit karma means :volitional action that is undertaken deli!erately or knowingly:. This also dovetails selfAdetermination and a strong will power to a!stain from inactivity. ;arma is the differentia that characteri9es human !eings and distinguishes him from other creatures of the world. 'he %atura& .aw The theory of karma harps on the Dewtonian principle that every action produces an e6ual and opposite reaction. (very time we think or do something, we create a cause, which in time will !ear its corresponding effects. And this cyclical cause and effect generates the concepts of %or the world& and !irth and reincarnation. )t is the personality of a human !eing or the jivatman A with its positive and negative actions A that causes karma. ;arma could !e !oth the activities of the !ody or the mind, irrespective of the consideration whether the performance !rings fruition immediately or at a later stage. "owever, the involuntary or the refle> actions of the !ody cannot !e called karma. "our (arma 4s "our 5wn Doing (very person is responsi!le for his or her acts and thoughts, so each person s karma is entirely his or her own. /ccidentals see the operation of karma as fatalistic. =ut that is far from true since it is in the hands of an individual to shape his own future !y schooling his present. "indu philosophy, which !elieves in life after death, holds the doctrine that if the karma of an individual is good enough, the ne>t !irth will !e rewarding, and if not, the person may actually devolve and degenerate into a lower life form. )n order to achieve good karma it is important to live life according to dharma or what is right. 'hree (inds of (arma According to the ways of life chosen !y a person, his karma can !e classified into three kinds. The satvik karma, which is without attachment, selfless and for the !enefit of others* the rajasik karma, which is selfish where the focus is on gains for oneself* and the tamasik karma, which is undertaken without heed to conse6uences, and is supremely selfish and savage. )n this conte>t 'r. ' D Singh in his A Study of "induism, 6uotes 0ahatma Gandhi s lucid differentiation !etween the three. According to Gandhi, the tamasik works in a mechanic fashion, the rajasik drives too many horses, is restless and always doing something or other, and the satvik works with peace in mind. Swami Sivananda, of the 'ivine .ife Society, 2ishikesh classifies karma into three kinds on the !asis of action and reaction- Prara!dha %so much of past actions as has given rise to the present !irth&, Sanchita %the !alance of past actions that will give rise to future !irths A the storehouse of accumulated actions&, Agami or ;riyamana %acts !eing done in the present life&. 'he Discip&ine of 6nattached Action According to the scriptures, the discipline of unattached action %DishkJma ;arma& can lead to salvation of the soul. So they recommend that one should remain detached while carrying out his duties in life. As .ord ;rishna said in the =hagavad Gita- :To the man thinking a!out the o!jects %of the senses& arises attachment towards them* from attachment, arises longing* and from longing arises anger. From anger comes delusion* and from delusion loss of memory* from loss

of memory, the ruin of discrimination* and on the ruin of discrimination, he perishes:.

)hat is Aum or 5m * 0ll 0bout the Hindu Icon !he g"al #hich all the $edas declare% #hich all austerities aim at% and #hich men desire #hen they lead the li&e "& c"ntinence ' is (m. !his sylla)le (m is indeed Brahman. *h"s"ever +n"#s this sylla)le ")tains all that he desires. !his is the )est supp"rt, this is the highest supp"rt. *h"s"ever +n"#s this supp"rt is ad"red in the #"rld "& Brahma. ~ Katha Upanishad I
5m or Aum is of paramount importance in "induism. This sym!ol %as seen in the image on the right& is a sacred sylla!le representing =rahman, the impersonal A!solute of "induism K omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest e>istence. =rahman, in itself, is incomprehensi!le* so a sym!ol !ecomes mandatory to help us reali9e the ?nknowa!le. /m, therefore, represents !oth the unmanifest %nirguna& and manifest %saguna& aspects of God. That is why it is called pranava, to mean that it pervades life and runs through our prana or !reath. 'he Power of 5m 'uring meditation, when we chant /m, we create within ourselves a vi!ration that attunes sympathy with the cosmic vi!ration and we start thinking universally. The momentary silence !etween each chant !ecomes palpa!le. 0ind moves !etween the opposites of sound and silence until, at last, it ceases the sound. )n the silence, the single thoughtK/mKis 6uenched* there is no thought. This is the state of trance, where the mind and the intellect are transcended as the individual self merges with the )nfinite Self in the pious moment of reali9ation. )t is a moment when the petty worldly affairs are lost in the desire for the universal. Such is the immeasura!le power of /m. 5m in Dai&y .ife Although /m sym!oli9es the most profound concepts of "indu !elief, it is in use daily. The "indus !egin their day or any work or a journey !y uttering /m. The sacred sym!ol is often found at the head of letters, at the !eginning of e>amination papers and so on. 0any "indus, as an e>pression of spiritual perfection, wear the sign of /m as a pendant. This sym!ol is enshrined in every "indu temple premise or in some form or another on family shrines. )t is interesting to note that a newly !orn child is ushered into the world with this holy sign. After !irth, the child is ritually cleansed and the sacred sylla!le /m is written on its tongue with honey. Thus right at the time of !irth the sylla!le /m is initiated into the life of a "indu and ever remains with him as the sym!ol of piety. /m is also a popular sym!ol used in contemporary !ody art and tattoos.

'he 7terna& Sy&&ab&e According to the 0andukya ?panishad, :/m is the one eternal sylla!le of which all that e>ists is !ut the development. The past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that e>ists !eyond the three forms of time is also implied in it:. 'he Music of 5m /m is not a word !ut rather an intonation, which, like music, transcends the !arriers of age, race, culture and even species. )t is made up of three Sanskrit letters, aa, au and ma which, when com!ined together, make the sound Aum or /m. )t is !elieved to !e the !asic sound of the world and to contain all other sounds. )t is a mantra or prayer in itself. )f repeated with the correct

intonation, it can resonate throughout the !ody so that the sound penetrates to the centre of one s !eing, the atman or soul. There is harmony, peace and !liss in this simple !ut deeply philosophical sound. =y vi!rating the sacred sylla!le /m, the supreme com!ination of letters, if one thinks of the ?ltimate Personality of Godhead and 6uits his !ody, he will certainly reach the highest state of :stateless: eternity, states the =hagavad Gita. 'he !ision of 5m /m provides a dualistic viewpoint. /n one hand, it projects the mind !eyond the immediate to what is a!stract and ine>pressi!le. /n the other hand, it makes the a!solute more tangi!le and comprehensive. )t encompasses all potentialities and possi!ilities* it is everything that was, is, or can yet !e. )t is omnipotent and likewise remains undefined.

How to 'ype it on your 8omputer Try thisH To get the /m sym!ol on your computer screen, open 0S <ord and key in !ackslash % L & in <ingdings font. Gou will type in /mH

)hat is Meaning of %amaste * I8amasteJ or InamaskarJ is the Indian way of greeting each other. Wherever they are ; on the street, in the house, in public transport, on vacation or on the phone ; when Hindus meet people they know or strangers with whom they want to initiate a conversation, namaste is the customary courtesy greeting to begin with and often to end with. It is not a superficial gesture or a mere word, and is for all people ( young and old, friends and strangers
%amaste According to the Scriptures: Damaste and its common variants Mnamaskar,B MnamaskaaraB or MnamaskaramB, is one of the five forms of formal traditional greeting mentioned in the Fedas. This is normally understood as prostration !ut it actually refers to paying homage or showing respect to one another, as is the practice today, when we greet each other. 'he Meaning of %amaste: )n Sanskrit the word is namah @ te E namaste which means N) !ow to youO A my greetings, salutations or prostration to you. The word MnamahaB can also !e literally interpreted as :na ma: %not mine&. )t has a spiritual significance of negating or reducing one s ego in the presence of another. How to %amaste : =end the arms from the el!ow upwards and face the two palms of the hands. Place the two palms together and keep the folded palms in front of the chest. ?tter the word namaste and while saying the word !ow the head slightly. )hy %amaste: Damaste could !e just a casual or formal greeting, a cultural convention or an act of worship. "owever, there is much more to it than meets the eye. The real meeting !etween people is the meeting of their minds. <hen we greet one another with namaste, it means, Mmay our minds meetB, indicated !y the folded palms placed !efore the chest. The !owing down of the head is a gracious form of e>tending friendship in love, respect and humility.

Spiritua& Significance of %amaste: The reason why we do namaste has a deeper spiritual significance. )t recogni9es the !elief that the life force, the divinity, the Self or the God in me is the same in all. Acknowledging this oneness with the meeting of the palms, we honor the god in the person we meet. %amaste in Prayers: 'uring prayers, "indus not only do namaste !ut also !ow and close their eyes, as it were, to look into the inner spirit. This physical gesture is sometimes accompanied !y names of gods like M2am 2amB, MCai Shri ;rishnaB, MDamo DarayanaB, MCai Siya 2amB or just M/m ShantiB 8 the common refrain in "indu chants. This is also 6uite common when two devout "indus meet A indicating the recognition of the divinity within ourselves and e>tending a warm welcome to each other

9 Princip&e/s : 12 Discip&ines $he *asics of Hinduism 5 PRINCIPLES >. "od / ists+ -ne 0bsolute -9. -ne $rinity+ *rahma, 1ishnu, 9aheshwara %!hiva& !everal divine forms ?. 0ll human beings are divine @. Knity of e istence through love 4. Religious harmony B. 3nowledge of @ "s+ "anga %sacred river&, "ita %sacred script&, "ayatri %sacred mantra&

! "ISCIPLINES >. ?. @. 4. B. C. D. E. F. Satya %$ruth& #himsa %8on(violence& $rahma%harya %2elibacy, non(adultery& #steya %8o desire to possess or steal& #pari&hara %8on(corrupt& Sha'%ha %2leanliness& Santosh %2ontentment& S(adhyaya %Reading of scriptures& Tapas %0usterity, perseverance, penance&

>0. Ish(arpranidhan %Regular prayers& )*"ERN +IN"U REN#ISS#NCE


The .odern !indu &enaissance +/011 A2 - 'resent, witnessed the emergence of many social and religious vices in the !indu society in $ndia. .any leaders, saints, scholars, social and religious reformers came up on to the scene and tried to bring the society back into the tradition of !indu 2harma. This was the period when social reform movements like &a*a &am .ohan &oy3s 4rahmo %ama*, 'rarthana %ama*, %wami 2ayanand %araswati3s Arya %ama* and other such movements became very strong. .rs. Annie 4esant +/056-/788,, an -nglishwoman, translated and

popularized the 4hagwad Gita, and established the !indu 9ollege in 4enaras, now known as the 4enaras !indu :niversity. %ri &amakrishna +/08;-/00; A2,, a famous sage of modern times, infused the true spirit of !indu 2harma into his followers. %wami (ivekananda +/0;8-/71<, elucidated !indu 2harma within and outside $ndia and introduced the (edanta philosophy to the )est. %ri Aurobindo Ghose +/06</7=1, elo>uently interpreted the basic concepts of the !indu 2harma and e pounded the yoga philosophy for the transformation of human consciousness. &abindranath Tagore +/0;/-/75/,, one of the greatest mystical poets of the world, e pounded the :panishadic philosophy through his songs in Gitan*ali and in many of his other works. .ahatma Gandhi +/0;7-/750, e tended non-violence, a !indu cardinal virtue, to social, national and international affairs. 2r. %arvepalli &adhakrishnan +/000-/76=,, a philosopher, statesman, and the second 'resident of $ndia, interpreted the classical !indu philosophy in the conte t of the modern world through his numerous scholarly works, such as !indu (iew of "ife. BRAHMO SAMAJ The 4rahma %ama* was a theistic organisation founded by &a*a &am .ohan &oy, an educated 4engali, at 9alcutta in /0<0. $t was initially known as the ?4rahmo %abha?. Two factors contributed to the formation of the 4rahmo %ama* during the /7th century. @irstly the !indu social system had begun to stagnate and placed too much emphasis on traditional rituals. %econdly, an -nglish educated class of $ndians began to emerge to fulfill the administrative and economic needs of 4ritish rule. Fundamental Principles: The fundamental principles of the 4rahmo %ama* areA+/, There is only one God, who is the 9reator and the %aviour of this world. !e is spirit, infinite in power, wisdom, love, *ustice and holiness, omnipresent, eternal and blissful. +<, The human soul is immortal and capable of infinite progress, and is responsible to God for its doings. +8, .an3s happiness in this and the ne t world consists in worshipping God in spirit and in truth. +5, "oving God, holding communion with !im and carrying out !is will in all the concerns of life, constitute true worship. +=, No created ob*ect is to be worshipped as God, and God alone is to be considered as infallible. To this, Raja Ram Mohan Roy added: ?the true way of serving God is to do good to man.? %ince no one person is considered to be infallible, the 4rahmos hold all the great religious leaders of the world in respect, and believe that truth is to be gleaned from all the scriptures of the world. To that e tent, the 4rahmo religion is truly eclectic. :niversalist in nature, it is ?dogmatically un-dogmatic?. The 4rahmo %ama* re*ected idol worship and the worship of multiple gods and goddesses of the traditional !indu beliefs. $t sought to purge !induism of its social evils by advocating the teachings of (edas and :panishads. The 4rahmo %ama* has played a significant role in the renaissance of $ndia, and the roots of much of the modern thinking in $ndia can be traced back to the 4rahmo movement. After initially evolving in $ndia, the 4rahmo religion is now practised in many parts of the world. i!isions in the Brahmo Samaj: &a*a &am .ohan &oy was much influenced by the )estern thought, especially 9hristianity. !e was one of the first !indus to visit -urope, where he was much admired by the intellectuals. After the death of &a*a &am .ohan &oy, 4rahmo %ama* got divided into many sects. 2ebendranath Tagore +@ather of &abindranath Tagore, took an active interest in the 4rahmo %ama* and began to transform the 4rahmo %ama* into a spiritual fraternity. !e established the Adi 4rahmo %ama* and formulated the ?4rahmo-upasana? which was a set of readings from the :panishads.

2ebendranath Tagore3s successor was Beshab 9handra %en. !e sought to incorporate 9hristian ideals into the 4rahmo %ama* movement. !e began the compilation of a scripture including passages from the !oly 4ooks of many religions !indu, 4uddhist, 9hristian and .uslim. !e founded the 4haritiya 4rahmo %ama* or the Naba 4idhan %ama*. Another split took place in the 4rahmo %ama* in .ay /060 when the %adharan 4rahmo %ama* was founded by 'andit %hivanath %hastri, owing to differences with Beshab 9handra %en. -ventually these three were united to form the ?4rahmo %ammilan %ama*? and a ?mandir? was built in 4howanipur, 9alcutta, which celebrated its centenary in /776. Prominent Brahmo Samajis: &a*a &am .ohan &oy, Beshad 9handra %en, Cagdish 9handra 4ose, 'rasanta 9handra .ahalanobis, %atya*it &ay, &abindranath Tagore, 2ebendranath Tagore and Amartya %en. PRARTHA"A SAMAJ 'rarthana %ama*, founded by &.G.4handarkar and ..G.&anade in 4ombay in /0;6, was an offshoot of the 4rahmo %ama*. "ike 4rahmo %ama*, it also preached worship of one god and tried to free religion from various evils like caste system and dominance of priests. The other persons who worked for promoting the principles of the 'rarthana %ama* include Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and Bandukuri (eerasalingam. AR#A SAMAJ Arya %ama* was founded in /06= at 4ombay by %wami 2ayanand %araswati to move the !indu 2harma away from all the factitious beliefs and to go back to the teachings of (edas. The goal of the Arya %ama* is Brinvanto (ishvam Aryam i.e. to .ake This )orld Noble. Arya %ama* started the %uddhi .ovement to reconvert the 9hristians and others into !induism. Fundamental Principles o$ Arya Samaj: There are ten fundamental principles of Arya %ama* which include +/, 4elieve in one %upreme God. +<, God is personification of - istence, $ntelligence and 4liss. !e is @ormless, Almighty# Cust, 4enevolent, :nborn, -ndless and $nfinite +8, The (edas are the scriptures of true knowledge and are the words of God. +5, -mbrace truth and forsake untruth +=, &ighteousness, +;, 4enevolence +6, "ove and Custice +0, To dispel avidya +nescience, and promote vidya +science,, both spiritual and physical. +7, 'romoting good of all and +/1, %ubordination and "iberty. The Arya %ama* organization is live and sound in all parts of the world. Arya %ama* has branches in countries around the world including :nited %tates, 9anada, Guyana, %urinam, Trinidad, .e ico, :nited Bingdom, Netherlands, Benya, Tanzania, :ganda, %outh Africa, .alawi, .auritius, 'akistan, 4urma, Thailand, %ingapore, !ong Bong, and Australia. Prominent Arya Samajis: %wami 2ayanand %araswati, %wami %hradhanand, Acharya &am 2ev, 'andit Guru 2utt (idyarthi and "ala "a*pat &ai. RAM%R&SH"A M&SS&O" The &amkrishna .ission was inaugurated by %wami (ivekananda+/0;8-/71<, in /076 to spread the message and teachings of his spiritual guru, the famous 4hakti saint &amkrishna 'aramhansa. Dne of the ma*or aims for establishing the

&amkrishna .ission was the spread of the universal message of the (edanta and the revival of !induism. $n /075 %wami (ivekananda attended the )orld 'arliament of &eligions in 9hicago and became famous by his elo>uent defence of !induism. $n /076 he established .ats or monasteries named after &amakrishna for religious meditation. (ivekanda was very modern in his outlook and denounced untouchability, poverty and suppression of women. !e condemned the caste system and undue emphasis on rituals and ceremonies. !e welcomed the knowledge of science and said that it does not contradict religion. !is teachings inspired courage, confidence and national pride among the !indus. TH'OSOPH&(A) SO(&'T# OF &" &A The Theosophical %ociety was first formed in the :nited %tates by .adame !.'.4lavatsky, a &ussian lady, and 9olonel !.%.Dlcott, an American military officer. They came to $ndia and were inspired by the !indu philosophy and !indu scriptures. They formed the head>uarters of Theosophical %ociety in $ndia in /00; at Adyar in .adras. The Theosophical %ociety became very popular in $ndia under .rs Annie 4esant, an $rish lady, who came to $ndia in /078. %he established the central !indu 9ollege at 4enaras, which later developed into the !indu :niversity.

8ommon Myths About Hinduism


"induism is a uni6ue faithH The most o!vious misconception a!out "induism is that we tend to see it as just another religion. To !e precise, "induism is a way of life, a dharma. 'harma does not mean religion. )t is the law that governs all action. Thus, contrary to popular perception, "induism is not just a religion in the tradition sense of the term. /ut of this misinterpretation, has come most of the misconceptions a!out "induism. Hinduism: A Modern 'erm <ords like "indu or "induism are ananchronisms. They do not e>ist in the )ndian cultural le>icon. People have coined them to suit their needs in different points of history. Dowhere in the scriptures is there any reference to "induism. Hinduism is a %ot rea&&y Po&ytheistic; 0any !elieve that multiplicity of deities makes "induism polytheistic. Such a !elief is nothing short of mistaking the wood for the tree. The !ewildering diversity of "indu !elief A theistic, atheistic and agnostic A rests on a solid unity. :(kam sath, Fipraah !ahudhaa vadanti:, says the 2ig Feda- The Truth %God, =rahman, etc& is one, scholars call it !y various names. <hat the multipicity of deities does indicate is "induism s spiritual hospitality as evidenced !y two characteristically "indu doctrines- The 'octrine of Spiritual #ompetence %Adhikaara& and the 'octrine of The #hosen 'eity %)shhta 'evata&. The doctrine of spiritual competence re6uires that the spiritual practices prescri!ed to a person should correspond to his or her spiritual competence. The doctrine of the chosen deity gives a person the freedom to choose %or invent& a form of =rahman that satisfies his spiritual cravings and to make it the o!ject of his worship. )t is nota!le that !oth doctrines are consistent with "induism s assertion that the unchanging reality is

present in everything, even the transient. A 8u&ture More than a 3e&igion "induism does not have any one founder, and it does not have a =i!le or a ;oran to which controversies can !e referred for resolution. #onse6uently, it does not re6uire its adherents to accept any one idea. )t is thus cultural, not creedal, with a history contemporaneous with the peoples with which it is associated. A 8ommon <aith of the 4ndian Subcontinent The Aryan )nvasion Theory having !een completely discredited, it cannot !e assumed that "induism was the pagan faith of invaders !elonging to a race called Aryans. 2ather it was the common metafaith of people of various races, including "arappans. The Sanskrit word aryan is a word of honoura!le address, not the racial reference invented !y (uropean scholars and put to perverse use !y the Da9is. Much More than Spiritua&ity <ritings we now categorise as "indu scriptures include not just !ooks relating to spirituality !ut also secular pursuits like science, medicine and engineering. This is another reason why it defies classification as a religion per se. Further, it cannot !e claimed to !e essentially a school of metaphysics. Dor can it !e descri!ed as other worldly . )n fact, one can almost identify "induism with a civili9ation that is flourishing even now. A 8u&ture Much 5&der than we =e&ie#e (vidence that "induism must have e>isted even circa 34444 =.#. is availa!le- The importance attached to the river Saraswati and the numerous references to it in the Fedas indicates that the 2ig Feda was !eing composed well !efore PI44 =.#. The first vernal e6uino> recorded in the 2ig Feda is that of the star Ashwini, which is now known to have occurred around 34444 =.#. Su!hash ;ak, a #omputer (ngineer and a reputed )ndologist, decoded the 2ig Feda and found many advanced astronomical concepts therein. The technological sophistication re6uired to even anticipate such concepts is unlikely to have !een ac6uired !y a nomadic people, as the )nvasionists would like us to !elieve. )n his !ook Gods, Sages and ;ings, 'avid Frawley provides compelling evidence to su!stantiate this claim.

3eincarnation- Hea#en and He&&


Hi*h+ay To Hea!en Part ,: Reincarnation - 'arly Hindu Belie$ Dur desire to live in this world drives our life. And we all seek heaven on earth. 4ut what happens after we dieE )here do we goE .any of us today don3t believe in the concept of heaven and hell. %o did the early !indusF To them heaven was not a preferred destination after death.

Bac. to "ature The early !indus never believed in heaven, and never prayed to attain a permanent place there. The earliest concept of afterlife, say (edic scholars, was that the dead reunite with .other Nature and live in some other form on this earth G *ust as )ordsworth wrote, ?with rocks and stones and trees.? Going back to the early (edic hymns, we find an elo>uent invocation to the fire god, where the prayer is to assimilate the dead with the natural worldA

?Burn him not, scorch him not, O A*ni, (onsume him not entirely/ a$$lict him not0 May your eye *o to the Sun, To the +ind your soul0 Or *o to the +aters i$ it suits thee there, Or a1ide +ith thy mem1ers in the plants222? H The &ig (eda The concept of heaven and hell evolved at a later stage when we find such amendments in the (eda as ?Go thou to the heaven or to the earth, according to thy meritI? &dea o$ &mmortality (edic folks were satisfied with living their life to the fullest# they never aspired to attain immortality. $t was a common belief that human beings are allocated a span of hundred years for earthly e istence, and people *ust prayed for a healthy lifeA ?I $nterpose not, D gods, in the midst of our passing e istence, by inflicting infirmity in our bodies.? +&ig (eda, !owever, as time passed by, the idea of eternity for mortals evolved. Thus later in the same (eda we come to readA ?IGrant us food, and may $ obtain immortality through my posterity.?

Hi*h+ay To Hea!en Part ,: (oncept o$ Hea!en 3 Hell $f we take the (edas as our reference point to study the evolution of the !indu concept of heaven and hell, we find that although the first book of the Rig Veda refers to 3heaven3, it is only in the last book that the term gets some import. )hile 4ook $ of the Rig Veda in a hymn mentionsA ?...pious sacrificers en*oy residence in the heaven of $ndraI?, 4ook ($ in a special invocation to the fire God appeals to ?lead men to heaven?. -ven the last book does not refer to 3heaven3 as an auspicious afterlife destination. The idea of reincarnation and the concept of attaining heaven became popular in the !indu canon with the passage of time. 4here is Hea!en5 (edic people were not >uite sure about the site or setting of this heaven or who ruled the region. 4ut by common consensus it was situated somewhere up there, and it was $ndra who reigned in heaven and Jama who ruled the hell. Ho+6s Hea!en )i.e5 $n the mythical tale of .udgala and &ishi 2urvasa, we have a detailed description of the heavens +%anskrit ?swarga?,, the nature of its inhabitants, and its advantages and disadvantages. )hile the two were in a conversation about virtues and heaven, a celestial messenger appears in his heavenly vehicle to take .udgala to his heavenly abode. $n reply to his in>uiry, the messenger gives an e plicit account of

heaven. !ere3s an e cerpt from this scriptural description as paraphrased by %wami %hivananada of &ishikeshA ?IThe heaven is well provided with e cellent pathsIThe %iddhas, the (aiswas, the Gandharvas, the Apsaras, the Jamas and the 2hamas dwell there. There are many celestial gardens. !ere sport persons of meritorious acts. Neither hunger nor thirst, nor heat, nor cold, neither grief nor fatigue, neither labour nor repentance, nor fear, nor anything that is disgusting and inauspicious# none of these is to be found in heaven. There is no old age eitherI2elightful fragrance is found everywhere. The breeze is gentle and pleasant. The inhabitants have resplendent bodies. 2elightful sounds captivate both the ear and the mind. These worlds are obtained by meritorious acts and not by birth nor by the merits of fathers and mothersIThere is neither sweat nor stench, nor e cretion nor urine. The dust does not soil one3s clothes. There is no uncleanliness of any kind. Garlands +made from flowers, do not fade. - cellent garments full of celestial fragrance never fade. There are countless celestial cars that move in the air. The dwellers are free from envy, grief, ignorance and malice. They live very happilyI? isad!anta*es o$ Hea!en After the bliss of heaven, the celestial messenger tells us about its disadvantagesA ?$n the celestial region, a person, while en*oying the fruits of acts he had already performed, cannot perform any other new act. !e must en*oy the fruits of the former life till they are completely e hausted. @urther, he is liable to fail after he has completely e hausted his merit. These are the disadvantages of heaven. The consciousness of those about to fall is stupefied. $t is also agitated by emotions. As the garlands of those about to fall fade away, fear possesses their heartsI? escription o$ Hell $n The Mahabharata, (rihaspati3s account of ?the frightful regions of Jama? has a good description of hell. !e tells king JudhishthiraA ?$n those regions, D king, there are places that are fraught with every merit and that are worthy on that account of being the abodes of the very deities. There are, again, places in those regions that are worse than those which are inhabited by animals and birdsI?

Hi*h+ay To Hea!en Part 7: 8irtue, Sin 3 eath "By no one among men is his own life understood; Carry us beyond all sins" (Vedic Prayer) There are clear stipulations in the Bhagavad Gita about the kind of acts that can lead one to heaven or hellA ?Ithose who worship the gods go to the gods# Ithose who worship the Bhutas go to the Bhutas# and those who worship me come to me.? T+o-4ay To Hea!en -ver since (edic times, there e ist two known roads to heavenA 'iety and righteousness, and prayers and rituals. 'eople who chose the first path had to lead a sin-free life full of good deeds, and those who took the easier lane deviced ceremonies and wrote hymns and prayers to please the gods. Ri*hteousness: Thy Only Friend9 )hen in the Mahabharata, Judhishthira asks (rihaspati about what is the true friend of mortal creatures, and who follows him to the afterworld, (rihaspati saysA

?Dne is born alone, D king, and one dies alone# one crosses alone the difficulties one meets with, and one alone encounters whatever misery falls to one3s lot. Dne has really no companion in these acts. IDnly righteousness follows the body that is thus abandoned by them allIDne endued with righteousness would attain that high end which is constituted by heaven. $f endued with unrighteousness, he goes to hell.? Sins 3 O$$ences: Hi*h+ay to Hell (edic men was ever careful against committing any sin, because sins could be inherited from forefathers, and passed on from generation to generation. Thus we have such prayers in the ig VedaA ?I.ay the purpose of my mind be sincere# may $ not fall into any kind of sinI? !owever, it was believed, women3s sins were cleansed ?by their menstrual course like a metallic plate that is scoured with ashes?. @or men, there was always a conscious effort to pass off sinful deeds as accidental deviations. The seventh book of the Rig Veda makes this clearA ?$t is not our own choice, (aruna, but our condition that is the cause of our sinning# it is that which causes into ication, wrath, gambling, ignorance# there is a senior in the pro imity to the *unior# even a dream is provocative of sin?. Ho+ 4e ie The Brihadaranya!a "#anishad tells us about what happens to us immediately after deathA ?The upper end of the heart now lights up. 4y the help of that light, this self departs, either through the eye, or through the head, or through other parts of the body. )hen it goes out, the vital force accompanies it# when the vital force goes out, all the organs accompany it. Then the self is endowed with particular consciousness, and afterwards it passes on to the body that is brought to light by that consciousness. .editation, work and previous impressions follow it. I As it does and as it acts, so it becomesA The doer of good becomes good, and the doer of evil becomes evilI?

'ime- 7pochs : Mi&&ennia


The Hindu 8ie+ o$ Time : .ost of us are accustomed to living life according to linear beliefs and patterns of e istence. )e believe everything has a beginning, middle and an end. 4ut !induism has little to do with the linear nature of history, the linear concept of time or the linear pattern of life. (yclical Time The passage of 3linear3 time has brought us where we are today - at the dawn of a new century and a new millennium. 4ut !induism views the concept of time in a much different manner, and there is a cosmic perspective to it. !indus believe the process of creation moves in cycles and that each cycle has four great epochs of time, namely Satya Yug, Treta Yug, Dwapar Yug and Kali Yug. And because the process of creation is cyclical and never ending, it ?begins to end and ends to begin?. Time is :od According to the !indu theory of creation, time +%anskrit 'kal', is a manifestation of God. 9reation begins when God makes his energies active and ends when he withdraws all his energies into a state of inactivity. God is timeless, for time is relative and ceases to e ist in the Absolute. The past, the present and the future coe ist in him simultaneously. $alcha!ra God creates the cycle of time, called Kalchakra, in order to create divisions and movements of life and sustain the worlds in periodic timeframes. God also uses time

to create the 3illusions3 of life and death. $t is time, which is accountable for old age, death and dyin* of his creations. )hen we overcome time, we become immortal. 2eath is not the end of the line, but a gateway to the ne t cycle, to birth. This is also true of the universe itself and akin to the cyclic patterns in the rhythms of nature. The Four 'pochs or yu*s : According to !indu scriptures, all mortal beings are destined to pass through four great epochs in every cycle of creation and destruction. This divine cycle turns fullcircle at the end of what is known as kalpa. A kalpa is a period of /1,111 divine years or /1 million years, and is divided into four ages or yugs +%anskrit yuga K ageLepoch,. The four great epochs in !induism areA Satya Yug, Treta Yug, Dwapar Yug and Kali Yug. Satya Yug or the Age of Truth is said to last for four thousand divine years, Treta Yug for three thousand, Dwapara Yug for two thousand and Kali Yug will last for one thousand divine years. $t is also believed that three of these great ages have already passed away, and we are now living in the fourth one. )hat these ages e actly mean, and why this division, it3s hard to e plain, because they appear too unrealistic to be true for the rational mind. Son*s o$ &nnocence 3 ';perience9 The four ages symbolize the four phases of involution during which man gradually lost the awareness of his inner selves and subtle bodies. !induism believes that human beings have five kinds of bodies, called annamayak sa, pranamayak sa, man mayak sa !ignanamayak sa and anandamayak sa, which represent the 3gross body3, the 3breath body3, the 3psychic body3, the 3intelligence body3 and the 3bliss body3 respectively. Another theory e plains these epochs of time on the basis of the degree of loss of righteousness in the world. $t says, during Satya Yug only truth prevailed +%anskrit Satya K truth,, Treta lost M truth, Dwapar lost N truth and Kali is left with only M truth. -vil and dishonesty has replaced truth in the last three ages or yugs. %ashaavatar Throughout these four yugs, "ord (ishnu is said to incarnate ten times in ten different avatars. This is known as 3Dashaa!atar3 +%anskrit dasha K ten,. 2uring the Age of Truth, human beings were spiritually most advanced and had great psychic powers. $n the Treta Yug people still remained righteous and adhered to moral ways of life. "ord &ama of the fabled Ramayana lived in Treta Yug. $n the Dwapara Yug, men had lost all knowledge of the intelligence and bliss bodies. "ord Brishna was born in this age. The present Kali Yug is the most degenerated of the !indu epochs )i!in* in the $ali &ug )e live in the Kali Yug " in a world infested with impurities and vices. 'eople possessing genial virtues are diminishing day by day. @loods and famine, war and crime, deceit and duplicity characterize this age. 4ut, say the scriptures, final emancipation is possible only in this age. The Si*ns o$ $ali &ug9 Kali Yug has two phasesA $n the first, humans - having lost the knowledge of the two higher selves - had knowledge of the 3breath body3 apart from the physical self. 2uring the second phase even this knowledge has deserted mankind, leaving us only with the awareness of the gross physical body. This e plains why we are now more

preoccupied with our physical self than anything else. 2ue to our preoccupation with our physical bodies and our lower selves, and because of our emphasis on the pursuit of gross materialism, this age has been termed the 3Age of 2arkness3 - an age when we have lost touch with our inner selves, an age of profound ignoranceF 4hat the 'pics Say 4oth the two great epics - The amayana 3 Mahabharata - have spoken about the Kali Yug. $n the Tulasi Ramayana, we find Bakbhushundi foretellingA ?$n the Kali Yug, the hot-bed of sin, men and women are all steeped in unrighteousness and act contrary to the 8edasIevery virtue had been engulfed by the sins of Kali Yug# all good books had disappeared# impostors had promulgated a number of creeds, which they had invented out of their own wit. The people had all fallen prey to delusion and all pious acts had been swallowed by greed.? $n the Mahabharata #Santi $ar!a% Judhishthir saysA ?IThe ordinances of the (edas disappear gradually in every successive ageIthe duties in the Bali age are entirely of another kind. $t seems, therefore, that duties have been laid down for the respective age according to the powers of human beings in the respective ages.? The sage (yasa later on clarifiesA ?$n the Kali Yug, the duties of the respective order disappear and men become afflicted by ine>uity.? 4hat Happens "e;t5 $t is predicted that at the end of the Kali Yug, )ord Shi!a shall destroy the universe and all the physical body would undergo a great transformation. After such dissolution, "ord 4rahma would recreate the universe and mankind will become the 34eings of Truth3 once again.

'he <our Ages of Man in Hinduism


The Hindu Sta*es o$ )i$e : )n "induism, human life is !elieved to comprise four stages. These are called :ashramas: and every man should ideally go through each of these stages> The First Ashrama A :=rahmacharya: or the Student Stage > The Second Ashrama A :Grihastha: or the "ouseholder Stage > The Third Ashrama A :Fanaprastha: or the "ermit Stage > The Fourth Ashrama A :Sannyasa: or the <andering Ascetic Stage .rahmacharya: 'he 8e&ibate Student This is a period of formal education. )t lasts until the age of +I, during which, the young male leaves home to stay with a guru and attain !oth spiritual and practical knowledge. 'uring this period, he is called a brahmachari, and is prepared for his future profession, as well as for his family, and social and religious life ahead. /rihastha: 'he Married <ami&y Man This period !egins when a man gets married, and undertakes the responsi!ility for earning a living and supporting his family. At this stage, "induism supports the pursuit of wealth % artha& as a necessity, and indulgence in se>ual pleasure %kama&, under certain defined social and cosmic norms. This ashrama lasts until around the age of I4. According to the .aws of 0anu, when a person s skin wrinkles and his hair greys, he should go out into the forest. "owever, in real life, most "indus are so much in love with this second ashrama that the Grihastha stage lasts a lifetimeH

Vanaprastha: 'he Hermit in 3etreat This stage of a man !egins when his duty as a householder comes to an end- "e has !ecome a grandfather, his children are grown up, and have esta!lished lives of their own. At this age, he should renounce all physical, material and se>ual pleasures, retire from his social and professional life, leave his home, and go to live in a forest hut, spending his time in prayers. "e is allowed to take his wife along, !ut is supposed to maintain little contact with the family. This kind of life is indeed very harsh and cruel for an aged person. Do wonder, this third ashrama is now nearly o!solete. Sannyasa: 'he )andering 3ec&use At this stage, a man is supposed to !e totally devoted to God. "e is a sannyasi, he has no home, no other attachment* he has renounced all desires, fears and hopes, duties and responsi!ilities. "e is virtually merged with God, all his worldly ties are !roken, and his sole concern !ecomes attaining moksha, or release from the circle of !irth and death. %Suffice it to say, very few "indu men can go up to this stage of !ecoming a complete ascetic.& <hen he dies, the funeral ceremonies %Pretakarma& are performed !y his son and heir. )hat About )omen* Although these ashramas are predominantly designed for the male, females too have a vital role to play in each one of them. So women are not actually e>cluded !ecause they are always supposed to have an active social and religious life at home. "owever, a woman s role is of a dependent nature since, traditionally, they need the protection of a responsi!le male at every stage of life. History This system of ashramas is !elieved to !e prevalent since the Ith century =#( in "indu society. "owever, historians say that these stages of life were always viewed more as ideals than as common practice. According to one scholar, even in its very !eginnings, after the first ashrama, a young adult could choose which of the other ashramas he would wish to pursue for the rest of his life. Today, it is not e>pected that a "indu male should go through the four stages, !ut it still stands as an important :pillar: of "indu socioAreligious tradition

P34%84P.7 H4%D6 D58'34%7S

Harmony o$ Reli*ions !indu sages declare that there is no one religion that teaches an e clusive road to salvation. All genuine spiritual paths are valid and all great religions are like the branches of a tree -- the tree of religion. This doctrine lays foundation for the !indu ideal of universal harmony. &sh+ara <:od= There is but one %upreme 4eing, )ho is absolute e istence, absolute knowledge and absolute bliss +satchid&ananda,. !e is both immanent and transcendent, and both 9reator and :n-manifest &eality. There is no duality of God and the world, but only unity. God can be worshipped and prayed in the form of a chosen deity +'shta De!ata, in the temples and in the home shrines. "on-8iolence <Ahimsa= Ahimsa means non-violence +in thought, word and deed,, non-in*ury and non-killing. The !indu 2harma teaches that all forms of life are different manifestations of 4rahman. )e must therefore not be indifferent to the sufferings of any of the God3s creatures. This doctrine creates love for humans between themselves as well as with other forms of life and encourages the protection of our environment. Reli*ious iscipline

!indus believe that wisdom is not an e clusive possession of any particular race or religion. !indu 2harma allows an individual to select a religious discipline in accordance with one3s own religious yearning and spiritual competence. !indu 2harma recommends the guidance of a spiritually awakened master +guru, for attaining perfection in life. harma 2harma is the law that maintains the cosmic order as well as the individual and social order. 2harma is of four kindsA universal dharma +rita,, human dharma +ashram dharma,, social dharma +!arana dharma, and individual dharma +s!adharma,. All four dharmas together are called sanatana dharma, the original name of the !indu religion. :niversal dharma includes the natural laws associated with the physical phenomenon of the universe, such as the laws of matter, science and planetary motions. !uman dharma means the human actions which maintain the individual, social and environmental order. %ocial dharma is e emplified in human actions associated with professional, social, community and national duties and responsibilities. $ndividual dharma consists of individual actions associated with one3s individual duties and responsibilities. The !indu doctrine of dharma states that right action must be performed for the sake of righteousness and good must be done for the sake of goodness, without any e pectation of receiving something in return. >nity o$ ';istence !indu sages have declared that the cosmic energy is a manifestation of the :niversal %pirit +Brahman,. The entire universe is a play between 4rahman, or the cosmic consciousness, and the cosmic energy. 4rahman has become all things and beings of the world. Thus we are all interconnected in subtle ways. )a+ o$ %arma

+IN"U RELI,I*US T+*U,+TS


!indu religious thought embodies a variety of ideas, principles and practices, giving rise to various religious schools +sampradayas,. -ach school venerates the %upreme 2eity, which represents a particular aspect of the :ltimate &eality +4rahman,. -ach school has temples, guru lineages, religious leaders, pilgrimage centers, monastic communities and sacred literature. %ome of these schools hold such divergent views that each appears to be a complete religion in itself. Jet, they all believe in the central doctrines of !indu religion, such as karma, dharma, reincarnation, divinity of the atman, sacraments, deity worship, guru-shishya +teacher-disciple, tradition and the scriptural authority of the (edas. None of these schools is in any way superior or inferior to the others. They simply represent different ways of approach to the same goal and are meant for various classes of people having different tastes, aptitudes, temperaments, and e hibiting various levels of spiritual development. 8' A"TA The science of (edanta is enshrined in the original spiritual te ts of $ndia. $t is founded on the authority of the :panishads, the 4hagwad Gita and the 4rahmasutram of 4adrayana (yasa. (edanta brings out the mystical, ethical and metaphysical aspects of philosophy. The abiding knowledge of (edanta rests in the vision of the Dne &eality, a vision that transcends race, class, creed, gender and nationality. (edanta is the one principle of truth encompassing all religions. There are three different philosophies on this concept. Advaita +non-duality, implies that there is an identity of 4rahman and Civa atman while 2vaita +duality, differs from Advaita and maintains an ultimate diversity between 4rahman and Civa atman. (isistadvaita +>ualified non-duality, maintains a crucial differentiation as well as a fundamental identity. Advaita is the oldest e tant school of (edanta founded by Adi %hankaracharya. Advaita asserts that the real, essential identity of the *iva, the individual self, is nothing other than 4rahman itself. $t asserts that 4rahman, the 3impersonal3 God and the universal soul, is the Absolute Truth. 4rahman has multiple roles to playA the creator, the maintainer, and the destroyer all in one. The teaching follows from the statements of the :panishads +.ahavakyas, like tat tvam asi and aham brahmasmi. $t is in this cardinal doctrine that Advaita differs from all other schools of (edanta. The (isishtadvaita philosophy was e pounded by %ri &amanu*a. According to this desirable >ualities viz., satyam, *nanam and anandam. The main e ponent of the 2vaita philosophy was %ri .adhava +'urnapra*na,. $t says that the supreme goal of life is service of god. Dther systems which are not >uite popular as the above mentioned philosophies include 2vaitadvaita +dual-non-dual doctrine,, %uddhadvaita +pure non-dualism, and Acinntyaa bhedabheda +oneness and difference, were e pounded by Nimbarka, (allabha and (idyabhusana respectively. All the above philosophers have written commentaries on the 'rasthana-traya +triple canon, of the (edanta, which are the :panishads, 4rahma sutra and the 4hagwad Gita. The !indu religious systems have been classified by Adi %hankaracharya into si ma*or paths, called %had-maths. These are %haivism, (aishnavism, %haktism, Ganapathyam, Baumaram, and %auram or Cyotiam. SHA&8&SM The followers of %haivism venerate the :ltimate &eality as "ord %hiva. This tradition has been traced back by scholars to the $ndus (alley 9ivilization. The archeologists have discovered the so-called proto-'ashupati seals of this civilization, which depict

%hiva as "ord 'ashupati, seated in a yogic pose. There are many schools of %haivism, of which the si ma*or systems are %haiva %iddhanta, 'ashupata %haivism, Bashmir %haivism, (Ora %haivism, %iddha %iddhanta and %hiva Advaita. These systems differ somewhat in their doctrines pertaining to the relationship between %hiva, the Atman and the world. .ost !indus worship "ord %hiva as a member of the !indu Trinity. !owever, the followers of %haivism, called %haivas or %haivites, worship !im as the :ltimate &eality. The predominant philosophy of %haivism is monistic-theism. According to this doctrine, "ord %hiva is both personal and impersonal. $n the personal aspect, %hiva creates, controls and pervades all that e ists. $n this aspect, %hiva is what other religions call God. %haivism declares that there is nothing outside %hiva and, thus, recognizes the oneness of 'ati-pau-pasa +God- Atman -)orld,. $n the impersonal aspect, %hiva transcends all e istence and in the liberated state the Atman is one with %hiva. The main ob*ects of %hiva worship are shivalinga and images of %hiva. The linga symbolizes both the creative and destructive power of the "ord and great sanctity is attached to it by the devotees. The banalingas are very sacred ob*ects of worship to the followers of %haivism. These are the elliptical stones of a special kind found in the bed of the river Narmada, one of the seven sacred rivers in $ndia. @resh flowers, pure water, young sprouts of Busha +a holy grass, and durva +called bent or panic grass,, fruit, bilva leaves and sun-dried rice are used in the ritual part of the %hiva worship. According to tradition, offering leaves of the bilva tree +wood-apple, is considered very auspicious for the worship of "ord %hiva. .ahashivaratri +the great night of %hiva, is an annual festival that falls on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of 'halguna +@ebruary-.arch,, and is dedicated to the worship of "ord %hiva. $n mythology, %hiva is the husband of 'arvati, the daughter of the !imalayas. They have two sons, Ganesha and Barttikeya and a daughter Cyoti. Their residence is the snow-clad mountain Bailash. The mythology depicts %hiva both as God of terror as well as benevolence. !is five powers are revealment +offering grace to the devotees,, concealment +obscuring by !is power of maya,, creation, preservation and dissolution. The ma*or scriptures of %haivism are (edas, %haiva Agamas and %haiva 'uranas. 8A&SH"A8&SM (aishnavism venerates the :ltimate &eality as "ord (ishnu. This tradition began during the (edic period when its earliest schools 'ancharatra and 4hagavata became popular around 811 49. .odern day (aishnavism includes five popular schools founded by &amanu*a, .adhva, Nimbarka, (allabha and 9haitanya. .ost !indus worship "ord (ishnu as a member of the !indu Trinity. !owever, the followers of (aishnavism, called (aishnavas or (aishnavites, worship "ord (ishnu as the :ltimate &eality. Although the philosophy of (aishnavism includes dualism of .adhva, >ualified dualism of &amanu*a, and nearly monistic views of (allabha, the predominant philosophy of (aishnavism is dualism. According to this doctrine, there are two categories of the :ltimate &eality. "ord (ishnu as personal God is the Absolute &eality, and the Atmans +individuals souls, are the relative realities, eternally distinct from each other and "ord (ishnu, but dependent on !im. The doctrine of incarnation +avatara, is fundamental to all !indus, especially to (aishnavas. "ord (ishnu assumed each avatara for a particular end and as the situation demanded. The number of avataras of "ord (ishnu is generally accepted to be ten, with &ama and Brishna being the two most popular among !indus. (aishnavism stresses on complete surrender +prapatti, to "ord (ishnu and !is incarnations and advocates devotion +bhakti, as the highest spiritual discipline. The

ob*ects of worship are the images of "ord (ishnu and !is incarnations, and salagramas, small stones of different colors +predominantly black, recovered from the bed of the river Gandaki, one of the tributaries of the Ganges river in $ndia. @resh flowers, water, fruits and leaves of the tulasi plant are used in the ritual part of the worship of "ord (ishnu and !is incarnations. Dne of the uni>ue features of the (aishnava worship is kirtana, which consists of choral singing of the names and deeds of "ord (ishnu and !is incarnations, accompanied by drums and cymbals and synchronized with rhythmic bodily movements. The ma*or scriptures of (aishnavism are (edas, Agamas, 'uranas, &amayana, .ahabharata and 4hagwad Gita. SHA%T&SM %hakti means ?creative energy,? and %haktism means ?2octrine of the 9reative -nergy.? %haktism venerates the :ltimate &eality as the 2ivine .other-%hakti or 2evi-of the universe. Archeologists have recovered thousands of female statuettes at the .ehrgarh village in $ndia, which indicate that %hakti worship e isted in $ndia as far back as ==11 49. There are references to the female deities in the &ig (eda, including a popular !ymn to the 2ivine .other, which holds special sanctity to !indus in general and %haktas +the followers of %haktism, in particular. %haktism visualises the :ltimate &eality as having two aspects, transcendent and immanent. %hiva is the transcendent aspect, the supreme cosmic consciousness, and %hakti is the supreme creative energy. %hiva and %hakti are God and God3s creative energy, which are inseparably connected. .etaphorically, %hiva and %hakti is an inseparable divine couple, representing the male and female principles in creation. %haktism greatly resembles %haivism, but %hiva is considered solely transcendent and is not worshipped. "ike %haivism, the goal of %haktism is to unite with %hiva. %uch unity is possible only with the grace of the 2ivine .other, who unfolds as iccha shakti +the power of desire, will and love,, kriya shakti +the power of action,, and *nana shakti +the power of knowledge and wisdom,. )ithin %haktism, %hiva is the un-manifest Absolute and %hakti is the 2ivine .other of the manifest creation. The 2ivine .other is worshipped in both the fierce and benign forms. The fierce forms of Goddess include Bali, 2urga, 9handi, 9hamundi, 4hadrakali and 4hairavi. The benign forms of Goddess include :ma, Gauri, Ambika, 'arvati, .aheshvari, "alita, "akshmi, %araswata and Annapurna. The ma*or scriptures of %haktism are (edas, %hakta agamas and 'uranas. :A"APATH#AM Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity, represents that aspect of the :ltimate &eality which removes obstacles. !indus, therefore, invoke "ord Ganesha at the beginning of all undertakings, whether religious, spiritual or worldly, for "ord Ganesha removes obstacles and brings success to the enterprise. Ganesha is also called (ighneshvara, meaning ?the "ord presiding over the obstacles.? $n the &ig (eda, Ganesha is the name of 4rihapati, the "ord of prayer +the !oly )ord,. $n mythology Ganesha is the first son of the divine couple %hiva and 'arvati. Ganapatyas, followers of Ganapathyam, venerate "ord Ganesha e clusively as the form of the :ltimate &eality +4rahman, that is accessible to the mind, senses and +through devotional practices, the heart. Ganapatyas regard .oraya Gosavi +/;=/ A2,, the famous devotee of Ganesha, as their spiritual progenitor. Tradition holds that .oraya e perienced a series of visions of Ganesha at a shrine at .oragaon, near 'une. An annual ten-day festival, Ganesha 9haturthi, is held in August-%eptember to celebrate the birth of Ganesha. The ma*or scriptures of this tradition are (edas, %kanda 'urana, and .udgala 'urana.

%A>MARAM The followers of this tradition venerate "ord Barttikeya, also called by other names such as .urugan, Bumara, %kanda, %ubramanya and %hanmukhanatha, as their $shta 2evata +personal-God,. "ord Barttikeya represents the power of the :ltimate &eality +4rahman, that destroys ignorance, bestows divine knowledge, upholds dharma +righteousness,, removes worries and strengthens human will. $n popular pictures and images, Barttikeya is shown holding a spear, which symbolizes his divine power to destroy ignorance and unrighteousness. Dn the day of (aikasi (ishakham in .ay-Cune, elaborate pu*as and special ceremonies +abhishekam, are conducted in homes and temples in the honour of "ord Barttikeya. !is protection and grace are specially invoked on the day of %kanda %hashthi, which falls on the si th day after the new moon in Dctober-November. $n Canuary-@ebruary, another holy festival +Tai 'usam, is celebrated in his honour. %pecial pu*as are performed in honor of "ord Barttikeya every month on Brittika nakshatra and %hashthi, the si th day after the new moon. SA>RAM The power of the sun to dispel darkness, illuminate the world and nourish mankind is recognized by !indus as an aspect of the infinite power of the :ltimate &eality +4rahman,. The worship of this triple power of the 2ivine, symbolized by the (edic deity %urya, the %un-god, is called %auram. %urya is worshipped by !indus s an ob*ect of meditation during many physical e ercises. 2evout !indus recite sacred verses selected from the epic and 'uranic literature daily early in the morning before commencing the day3s work. The best known of the hymns to the sun is one from &amayana that was imparted to &ama during his battle with &avana. !indus in general worship the sun every year on the seventh day after the new moon in the month that corresponds to Canuary-@ebruary. %acred mantras are recited for the special worship of the sun, especially on %undays, birthdays and at other special functions. 'rostrations are made to the sun after each tenth mantra until one hundred and thirty-two prostrations have been completed. These prostrations are called Surya-"amas.ara2 The following most sacred &igvedic prayer, named after its meter, is called GayatrO, meaning ?the saviour of the singer.? $t is considered to be the mantra of all mantras, the most potent mantra, repeated as many times as possible by !indus daily in pu*a and personal chanting to venerate the sun as the 9reator +%avitar,. The mystic power of this mantra is so high that it is called (edamatri, meaning ?.other of the (edas.? Gayatri .antra is imparted to a young boy for initiation into (edic tradition. #amas 3 "iyamas -- The Moral and 'thical &deals o$ Hindus -thics can be described as the science of morality, and morality as the living of a virtuous life. !indus place greater emphasis on the attitude of the mind rather than on postulation of the elaborate theories of what is right and what is wrong. Accordingly, the !indu vision of morality and ethics is characterized by the following considerationsA Ahimsa +non-in*ury,, %atya +truthfulness,, Asteya +non-stealing,, 4rahmacharya +controlling se ,, Bshama +forgiveness,, 2hriti +firmness,, 2aya +compassion,, Ar*ava +honesty,, .itahara +&efrain from consuming meat,, %haucha +purity,, !ri +remorse,, %antosha +contentment,, 2ana +tithing,, Astikya +faith,, 'u*ana +worship,, %hravana +hearing of scriptures,, .ati +cognition,, (rata +sacred vows,, Capa +chanting, and Tapas +austerity,.

+ind' C'stoms

+ind' C'stoms on Child $irth


!everal Hindu samskars or scripture based rites are associated with birth of a child. $hese samskars include+ ,arbhadana -%on%eption. : or fervent prayer for a child in order to fulfill the parental obligation to continue the human race. P'nsa/ana -0et's prote%tion. : =erformed during the third or fourth month of pregnancy and prior to consciousness of fetus, to invoke divine #ualities in the child. Simantonnayana -satis0yin& the %ra/in& o0 the pre&nant mother. : similar to baby shower, performed during the seventh month of pregnency, prayers offered for to "od for healthy physical and mental growth of a child 1ata2arma -%hild birth. : welcomes the child into the family7 mantras are recited for a healthy and long life. !amskar is performed to create a pleasant atmosphere for both the newly born child and mother. Nama2arna -Namin& the %hild. : 58aming5 according to scriptural procedures 8ishkarmana %taking the child outdoors for the first time& performed four months after birth. #nnaprasana -&i/in& the %hild 0irst solid 0ood.: =erformed in the seventh or eight month after birth. $here are detail instruction regarding what food to give etc., in scriptures %"rihyasutra&

+ind' C'stoms on Child $irth


!everal Hindu samskars or scripture based rites are associated with birth of a child. $hese samskars include+ ,arbhadana -%on%eption. : or fervent prayer for a child in order to fulfill the parental obligation to continue the human race. P'nsa/ana -0et's prote%tion. : =erformed during the third or fourth month of pregnancy and prior to consciousness of fetus, to invoke divine #ualities in the child. Simantonnayana -satis0yin& the %ra/in& o0 the pre&nant mother. : similar to baby shower, performed during the seventh month of pregnency, prayers offered for to "od for healthy physical and mental growth of a child 1ata2arma -%hild birth. : welcomes the child into the family7 mantras are recited for a healthy and long life. !amskar is performed to create a pleasant atmosphere for both the newly born child and mother. Nama2arna -Namin& the %hild. : 58aming5 according to scriptural procedures 8ishkarmana %taking the child outdoors for the first time& performed four months after birth.

#nnaprasana -&i/in& the %hild 0irst solid 0ood.: =erformed in the seventh or eight month after birth. $here are detail instruction regarding what food to give etc., in scriptures %"rihyasutra& $he naming of a child is one of the most fundamental Hindu 5sams+ars5 or scripture based rites. $he name is selected such that its meaning can inspire the child to follow the path of righteousness. $he name given to newborn babies are generally suggestive of divine #ualities of the vedic deities. 0 common practice among Hindus is to name their children after the names of sages, saints, holy persons, deities, and the names of the incarnation of "od. It is believed that by repeatedly calling such names one is reminded of the 'ord

+ind' Sans2ars
Hindu samskaras are the rites or practices enshrined and ordained in Hindu scriptures to guide an individual toward a proper sense of duty and obligation during the various stages of life. Hindu samskars have been formulated by ancient sages based upon their own intuitive knowledge, e periences, and beliefs relating to the nature of human life. !amskars create a religious atmosphere conducive to the maintenance of virtuous tendencies. In Hindu dharma, the birth of a child is considered a religious activity. !amskaras begin prior to birth and end with the cremation of the body following death. $he number of samskaras prescribed in various scriptures vary from eleven to forty, some of the most significant samskars are + ,arbhadhana %conception& 1ata2arma %child birth& Nama2arana %naming a child& #nnaprasana %giving the child solid food& )'ndan %shaving the head& Upanayana %sacred thread ceremony& 3i/aaha %marriage& #nthyeshti %cremation&

Caste and 3arna in +ind'ism


$he ancient culture of India was based upon a system of social diversification according to spiritual development. ,our orders of society were recogniLed based upon the four main goals of human beings and established society accordingly. $hese four groups were the $rahmins, the priests or spiritual class7 the Kshatriya, the nobility or ruling class7 the 3aishya, the merchants and farmers7 and the Sh'dras or servants. $hese four orders of society were called 4/arna45 which has two meanings7 first it

means 4%olor46 and second it means a 4/eil47 0s color it does not refer to the color of the skin of people, but to the #ualities or energies of human nature. 0s a veil it shows the four different ways in which the Givine !elf is hidden in human beings. In ancient India, these divisions were not based on birth but based on #ualifications. 0ccording to the $ha&a/ad ,ita this 0ryan family system broke down in India over three thousand years ago at the time of 3rishna. Hence after three thousand years this system of determining natural aptitude has degenerated into the caste system which resembles it now only in form.

8o'r #shrams 9 Sta&es in +ind'ism


In 1edic times, the normal human life was regarded as eighty(four years, consisting of four sections of twenty(one years each. $he first twenty(one years is called the 4$rahma%harya ashram45 the stage of youth or learning, which re#uires a certain discipline, guidance and purity for its full flowering. $he second twenty(one years, from ages twenty(one to forty(two, is called the 4,rihastha ashram4 or householder phase. $his is the main time for having children and raising a family, as well as for working and fulfilling our duties to society. $he third section of twenty(one years, from ages forty(two to si ty(three is the 43anaprastha4 or the hermitage phase. $his is a time for return to contemplation and for guiding society in the distance. $he fourth and last section from si ty(three to eighty(four is the 4Sannyasa4 or renunciation phase. $he person, now an elder full of wisdom, inwardly aims to renounce all the outer goals of life. He also becomes a teacher of the spiritual knowledge and no longer partakes in social or political concerns. In this we see that only twenty(one years are allotted for the outer duties of life. $hree( #uarters of life is to be devoted primarily to spiritual study.

)arria&e in +ind' "harma


Traditional Marria*e Traditional !indu marriage was strictly based on absolute trust, mutual affection, capacity to ad*ust and sharing the responsibilities e>ually. At every stage of the wedding ceremony when the incantations +.antras, from the (edas were uttered, prayers were offered to ensure a smooth life. The duties were demarcated and freedom given to both. The union being sacred, the vow did not give room for separation. The character of the bridegroom was first assessed and his >ualifications were taken into consideration. 4oth husband and wife should be loyal to each other and contrary to the mistaken belief that the wife was not treated on par with her husband she had full charge of the household while he was to assist her in maintaining the family. )ealth accumulated by him should be used for the family insisting that it should not be frittered away. The process of marriage commenced when the parents felt that their son was mature enough to shoulder responsibility. :nlike the prevailing custom now, in olden times

the eligible boy3s father used to go in search of a girl from a noble family and seek her parent3s approval. A verse refers to the e pectations regarding the factors governing compatibilityA the bride yearning for a spouse with charm# her mother, a wealthy boy# the father, a boy of character and high educational >ualifications and the relatives, about the family tradition. @or the bridegroom, she must be a companion, an adviser and one who enthuses him in all his tasks. %ri A.%ivaramakrishna %astrigal in a discourse e plained the significance of the mantras recited during the marriage ceremony. The solemn assurance of upholding the spirit of unity was made before the "ord of @ire +Agni, serving as witness. The PP'aanigrahanam33 was an important step. The significance of taking seven steps was that the couple should never give scope for differences of opinion and should an occasion arise, both should respect the sentiments of the other, thereby ensuring that no confrontation takes place. As one who was in charge of the household, she should stand like a rock. )hether a fine image is carved out of it or rain pours on it or made to bear heat, the stone is impervious. Another statement records that the father of the bride felt e tremely happy and relieved that the interests of his daughter have been entrusted to a capable person. @rom then on, he concentrated on his personal work. The sanctity attached to the marriage has been clearly brought out in the &amayana by the manner in which the 2ivine couple conducted themselves, both in prosperity and in adversity.

Hindu 1iew of a Harmonious ,amily


/very human being is potentially divine and the goal of life is to e press this divinity by performing useful work. A harmonious family is an institution which provides the energy and inspiration to bring forth one3s divinity. A child of a harmonious family becomes a divine personality. - pressing one3s inherent divinity is akin to entering a house that has four doors, with each door having a uni>ue key. -ach door must be opened to gain entry into the house. There is one road that leads to this house. $n this e ample, the four doors are dedication, contribution, learning and responsibility. The four keys are love, recognition, sharing and trust. The name of the road is offer and receive +sammarpan and swQkRr,. The following illustrates which key opens which doorA

Dffer

"ove &ecognition %haring Trust

S &eceive

2edication 9ontribution "earning &esponsibility

Lo/e and "edi%ation 'ove is accepting a person as he %or she& is and helping him to grow. 'ove is a divine feeling which is beyond likes and dislikes. Gedication is self(sacrificing devotion to whatever one does. Gedication builds attitudes in people. =ositive attitudes are necessary to perform useful work in the world.

'ove and dedication are two aspects of the same relationship. When parents are loving, the children are dedicated. When the children are dedicated, the parents are loving. When the teacher is loving, the students are dedicated and when the students are dedicated, the teacher is loving. $he love(dedication relationship brings out noble #ualities of the child and helps him to grow and establish harmonious relationships within the family and with the outside world. Re%o&nition and Contrib'tion While attitudes are necessary, abilities and skills are re#uired for an active and contributing personality. 0bilities and skills are developed by performing useful work. It is essential to ensure an atmosphere of daily useful work in the family. When children contribute to useful work, they can perform useful work for the society, nation and humanity in their adult lives. Recognition and contribution are two sides of the same interaction. Recognition begets contribution and the contribution begets recognition. =arents are the starting point. When parents recogniLe and appreciate, children will contribute more and more. When children contribute, parents will appreciate more and more. Sharin& and Learnin& Gedication and contribution alone are not sufficient. 3nowledge is necessary to perform useful work in the world. 3nowledge comes from learning, and learning comes from sharing. While there is an end for every teaching, there is no end for learning. When parents continuously share their knowledge and e perience with their children, the children continuously learn. !haring and learning are two aspects of the same relationship. When parents share, children learn and when children learn, parents share. !haring is the best way of teaching. !haring encourages learning. With a positive attitude towards work and learning, children can grow into noble personalities. Tr'st and Responsibility =ositive attitude, dedication and knowledge alone are not sufficient for a person to e press divinity. Responsibility is another key factor. 0 responsible person is an enriched person. 0ssuming responsibility for the family, society, nation, and humanity is divinity. It is essential to inculcate a sense of responsibility into children, a task for the parents. $he parents cannot perform this task unless they are responsible themselves. $rust and responsibility are two aspects of the same interaction. When parents trust their children, the children take on responsibility, and in turn develop increasing trust with their parents. 0 trusted person is a divine person. Con%l'sions

0 harmonious family is an institution which provides the energy and inspiration necessary to bring forth one<s divinity.

$he key to a harmonious family is the "&&er and receive philo(sophy %sammarpan and s#-+.r/% as taught by rishis. ,amily members must learn to rise above the ta+e and ta+e %a thief<s philosophy&, ta+e and give %government philosophy&, give and ta+e %business philosophy& and adopt the "&&er and receive philosophy within the family. $he love(dedication relationship builds positive attitudes in children. 0s parents offer love and receive dedication, children will offer dedication and receive love. /ncourage children to participate in all aspects of daily work of the family. With positive attitudes and useful work, they will develop into noble and productive personalities in their adult lives. !hare knowledge with children. With positive attitudes, useful work and learning, they will become dedicated, knowledgeable and contributing personalities. When parents trust children, children will take on responsibilities. 0 responsible person is an enriched person. $he three basic ideals of Hindu Gharma(seva %unselfish service&, vishva +utum)am %universal family&, and sahaviryam %together(ness in the family&(can be realiLed when children grow into responsible, knowledgeable, and dedicated contributors. Types o0 )arria&e in +ind' - "harma

!istorians have documented eight different types of marriages in ancient $ndia. These eight types are described in this section. The eight marriage types are A Brahma Marria*e : The father or guardian gave away his daughter, ?decked with costly garments and *ewels? to a carefully chosen bridegroom well versed in the vedas and endowed in noble >ualities ai!a Marria*e : 2augher ?duly decked with ornaments?, was given in gratitude to a priest for performing some important worship rituals. This was e tremely rare Arsha Marria*e : 4rideTs father received a gift of milk cow and a breeding bull from the bridegroom. This was not considered dowry, but a token of respect Prajaapaatya Marria*e : 4rideTs father gave his daugher to the bridegroom with the traditional blessing ?.ay both of you perform your duties together? :aandhar!a Marria*e : 4ridegroom and bride married secretly without the knowledge of their parents. This was considered inferior because caused by lustful impulses. Asura Marria*e : 4ridegroom voluntarily gave as much wealth as he could afford to the brideTs relatives, not in accordance with the in*unctions of the scriptures because it was like buying the bride, which was prohibited Raa.shasa Marria*e : )oman was forcibly taken away from her family and then persuaded to marry. This was considered inferior because caused by lustful impulses

Paishacha Marria*e : 'erson married a woman whom he had seduced while she was asleep, into icated or insane, this was prohibited

Hindu Marria*e (eremony


The !indu marriage ceremony consists of several steps. The following is a description of this colorful and uni>ue ceremony. This is a generalized wedding ceremony, and there are regional and community variations. %ome of the steps may be omited or added from the following list based on local and family customs.

Pre Marria*e : Mahendi and Peethi


A day before the wedding the palm and feet of the bride are decorated with ?.ahendi?.A canopy or mandapa decorated with flowers is erected at the place of wedding. Dn the wedding morning, various ablutionary rituals are performed on both the bride and the groom in their own homes. Their bodies are anointed with turmeric, sandalwood paste and oils, which cleanse the body, soften the skin, and make it aromatic. They are then bathed to the chanting of (edic mantras.

The Marria*e (eremony


$n a mandapa - canopy or marriage stage decorated with flowers and and with a fire as witness the !indu marriage ceremony begins. $t is a long and elaborate ceremony, with every step rooted in vedic tradition, signifying various aspects of live that is to follow after the marriage. The various steps in the marriage ceremony include A Baarat <4eddin* Procession=- The 4ridegroom arrives for the wedding along with his family and friends in a procession. They are received by the bride3s family and friends. (ommencement o$ Marria*e : The priest commences the marriage under a canopy that is specially decorated for the ceremony. The priest invokes blessings of God for the couple to be married. The bride offers yogurt and honey to the groom as a token of purity and sweetness. The bride greets the groom by placing a garland around his neck and the groom reciprocates. 4oth are congratulated by guests. The priest invokes the memory and blessings of forefathers of the bride and the groom for this auspicious occasion. %anya anam <:i!in* a+ay o$ the dau*hter= - The bride accepts her change of status from an unmarried woman to a wife by spreading turmeric powder on her hands. Bana 2anam is performed by the father +or uncle of guardian, of the bride in presence of a large gathering that is invited to witness the wedding.The father pours out a libation of sacred water symbolizing the giving away of the daughter to the bride groom. The groom recites (edic hymns to Bama, the God of love, for pure love and blessings.As a condition for offering his daughter for marriage, the father of the bride re>uests a promise from the groom for assisting the bride in realizing the three ends A dharma, artha, and kama. The groom makes the promise by repeating three times that he will not fail the bride in realizing dharma, artha and kama. 8i!aaha <4eddin*= - The bride and the bridegroom face each other, and the priest ties their garments +the bride3s saree to the groom3s shirt, in a knot, symbolizing the sacred union.The bride and the bridegroom garland each other and e change the rings. Ne t the nuptial fire, symbolizing the divine witness, and the sanctifier of the sacrament, is installed and worshipped. 4oth the bride and the groom grasp their

hands together and pray to God for !is blessings. %amagree, consisting of crushed sandalwood, herbs, sugar, rice, ghee +clarified butter,, and twigs is offered into the sacred fire to seek God3s blessings for the couple. Paani*rahana or Hasta Milap <Holdin* the hand= - The bridegroom stands facing west and the bride sits in front of him facing east. !e seizes her hand and recites (edic hymns for happiness, long life, and a lifelong relationship. )hen the bridegroom takes the bride3s hand he says A ?O Saras!ati, *racious one, rich in o$$ sprin*, you +hom +e hymm $irst o$ all the :ods, may you prosper this marria*e2? ?& sei@e your hand2? )aya <)aja= Homa : The O1lation o$ Parched :rain - !ere the bride offers sacrifice of food +poured into her hands by her brother or someone acting in her brother3s behalf, to the Gods for their blessings. ?This *rain & spill2 May it 1rin* to me +ell-1ein* and unite you to me2 May A*ni hear us2? !e then causes the bride to spill the grain into the fire, sayingA ?This +oman scatterin* *rain into the $ire, prays: Blessin*s on my hus1and2 May my relati!es 1e prosperous2

6S!aha96 ? A*ni Parinaya : The (ircumam1ulation o$ the Fire - The bridegroom holds the bride by the hand and both walk three times around the nuptial fire. 4oth offer oblations and recite appropriate (edic hymns to Gods for prosperity, good fortune, and con*ugal fidelity.They touch each others heart and pray for union of their hearts and minds )hile walking around the bridegroom repeatsA ?First no+ they 1rin* to you in 1ridal procession this Surya, *uidin* her steps in circular motion2 Return her no+, O A*ni, to her hus1and as ri*ht$ul +i$e, +ith hope o$ children to come2? Then the entire rite is repeated twice more, beginning with the rite of the fried grain.At the fourth round she pours into the re all the fried grain from the mouth of the winnowing basket sayingA ?To Bha*a s!aha9? Asmaarohana or Shilarohana <Mountin* the stone= - At the end of each round of nuptial fire, both the bride and the groom step on a stone and offer a prayer for their mutual love to be firm and steadfast like the stone.The bridegroom says the words while the bride stands upA ?(ome, 1eauti$ul one2? And lets her put the tip of the right foot on the stone, sayingA ?(ome, step on the stone/ 1e stron* li.e a stone2

Resist the enemies/ o!ercome those +ho attac. you2? Satapadi <Se!en Steps= - This is the most important rite of the entire ceremony. !ere the bride and the bridegroom take seven steps together around teh nuptial fire +Agni, and make the following seven promises to each other A As per the (edic rituals, the bridegroom sings the following A )ith God as our guide, let us take A the first step to nourish each other the second step to grow together in strength the third step to preserve our wealth the fourth step to share our *oys and sorrows the fifth step to care for our children the si th step to be together forever the seventh step to remain lifelong friends, the perfect halves to make a perfect whole. A$ter the se!enth step he ma.es her remain +here she is and says: ?)ith seven steps we become friends. "et me reach your friendship. "et me not be severed from your friendship. "et your friendship not be severed from me.? The %patapadi ceremony ceremony concludes with a prayer that the union is indissoluble. At the end of this ceremony, the bridegroom and bride become husband and wife. $n some communities such as Gu*arati, instead of seven, only four steps, signifying Artha, 2harma, Bama and .oksha are taken

Hradayasparsh : Touchin* the Heart - The bridegroom then comes over bride3s right shoulder touches her heart sayingA ?& hold your heart in ser!in* $ello+ship, your mind $ollo+s my mind2 &n my +ord you rejoice +ith all your heart2 #ou are joined to me 1y the )ord o$ all creatures2? Man*al Sutra harana - The .angala suthra 2harana is the tying of the thread containing the marks of the (ishnu or %hiva in the neck of the bride by the groom. Suhaa* or Sindhoordana - The groom places sindh hair symbolizing her as a married woman. r +red powder, on the bride3s

Aashir!aad : The groom3s parents bless the couple and offer cloth or flower to the bride +now their daugher-in-law,, symbolizing her *oining of the groom3s family. All those assembled shower flowers on the couple and bless them completing the marriage.

Post Marria*e (eremonies


The marriage is not over, *ust because the main ceremony is over. The bride and bridegroom go to their new home, and begin their new lives with the following ceremonies A :rahapra!esha - 'nterin* the Home - The couple depart from the girlTs house after the vidai , for the groomTs house.They carry behind the couple the sacred fire in

a vessel. They should keep the re constantly alight.)hen they reach his house, he saysA ?'nter +ith your ri*ht $oot2 o not remain outside2? The bride enters the home placing the right foot - considered auspicious, first. )hen the bride and the groom enter the groom3s house, the mother of the groom welcomes the bride by doing an aarati.They sit in silence until the stars are visible Post-Marria*e :ame Playin* - There are several regional variations to this ceremony. Aeki-4eki - The above in typical in a Gu*arati marriage. $n the groomTs house a game called aeki-beki is played, by placing a ring and several coins in a tray of water which is colored by vermilion and milk. $t is said that the person who finds the ring four times, will rule the house. Talam1ra - $n many %outh $ndian marriages the rice mi ed with the turmeric is poured over the heads of groom and bride by bride and groom. After this there are ceremonies of name calling singing and other games aimed at the bringing the bride and the groom closer. Arundhati arshan - Arundhathi 2arshana is the showing of the %aptha &ishi .andala and the small star Arundhathi underneath the star of (ashistha. These seven sages and their families are the originators of the (edic "ore of the !indus. $n memoriam of these great sages the seven stars in the Great 4ear constellation are named after them. The significance of this ritual is to remind the couple of the cosmic responsibilities they have to fulfill. 2arshan of these Great %ages is intended to remind the couple the heritage they have to carry and the debt to the sages they have to pay. hru!a arshan - )oo.in* at the Polestar - After sunset he shows her the polar star, sayingA

?#ou are $irm and & see you2 Be rm +ith me, O ourishin* one9 Brhaspati has *i!en you to me, so li!e +ith me a hundred years 1earin* children 1y me, your hus1and2?

8edic Marria*e Mantara


The !indu marriage is based on the marriage of %oma with %uryA, and is narrated by &ishi %uryA in the &ig(eda. This could be based on an imagined marriage ceremony or could be the marriage of the seer herself. This collection of verses is mainly form the &ig(eda, and has been compiled by %ri Anirban to adapt it for use in !indu marriages. The verses are full of (edic imagery. $ will use a 4angla translation by 'rofessor Gouri 2harmapAl, and re-translate them into english. U %hubha-dristi GroomA Aghorchakshur apatighniedhi shiva pashubhyah sumanAh suvarchAh. (irasur devakAmA syenA sham na bhava dvipade sham chatuspade.

&ig(eda /1.0=.55 Trishtup chhanda. 4e +edhi, soft gazed +aghor-chakshuh,, not a widow +a-pati-ghni, benefactor of animals +pashubhyah shiva,, pleasant hearted +su-manAh,, bright looking +suvarchAh,, mother of heroes +vira-suh,, devoted to God +deva-kAmA,. 4e peaceable with +sham bhava, our +nah, people +dvipade, and animals +chatuspade,. Groom takes the bride to the altar and both sit down. AchArya recounts the marriage of %oma with %uryA. U %omatattva AchAryaA %atyenottabhitA bhumih suryenottabhitA dyuoh. &itenAdityAs tishthanti divi somo adhi shritah. &ig(eda /1.0=./ Anushtup chhanda -arth +bhumih, is hoisted up +uttabhitA, by satya +satyena,. The sky +dyouh, is hoisted up +uttabhitA, by surya +suryena,. The Adityas +AdityAh, stand on &ita +ritena tishthanti,. %oma +somah, is supported by sky +divi adhishritah,. %omenAdityA valinah somena prithivi mahi. Atho nakshatrAnAm eshAmupasthe soma Ahitah. &ig(eda /1.0=.< Anushtup chhanda 4y %oma +somena, the Adityas +AdityAh, are powerful +valinah,. 4y %oma +somena, the earth +prithivi, is glorious +mahi,. And +atha, %oma stays +somah Ahitah, close to the stars +eshAm nakshatrAnAm upasthe,. %omam manyate papivan yat sampishanti oshadhim. %omam yam brahmAno vidurna tasyAshnAti kaschana. &ig(eda /1.0=.8 Anushtup chhanda The creeper that people crush +yat oshadhim sam-pishanti,, +the drinkers, imagine +manyate, +that, they are drinking soma eli ir +somam papivAn,. That soma +yam somam, which the brAhmins +brahmanah, know of +viduh,, nobody ever eats it +na kaschan tasya ashnAti,. U %oma desires a wife %omo vadhuyrabhavat ashvinAstAmubhA vara. %uryAm yat patye shamsantim manasA savitA dadAt. &ig(eda /1.0=.7 Anushtup chhanda %oma +somah, becomes +abhavat, desirous of a wife +vadhuyuh,. 4oth Ashvinas +ubha ashvinA, became +their, welcomers +vara AstAm,. )hen +yat, suryA +suryAm,

became desirous of groom +patye shamshantim,, +then, savitA +savitA, mentally +manasA, offered +her, +adadAt,. U %uryA is described 9hittirA upabarhanam chakshurA abhyan*anam. 2yuorbhumih kosha Ashidyad suryA patim. &ig(eda /1.0=.6 Anushtup chhanda )hen %uryA went towards her husband +yat suryA patim agAt,, +then, the sky and earth +dyuoh bhumih, became the carriage +koshah Asit,, +her, awareness +chittih, became +Ah, the back cushion +upabarhanam,, +her, vision +chakshuh, became +Ah, eye make-up +abhyan*anam,. .ano asyA an AsiddyourAsiduta chhadih. %hukrou anadvahou Astam yadayAtsuryA griham. &ig(eda /1.0=./1 Anushtup chhanda )hen %uryA went to +husband3s, home +yat suryA griham ayAt,, +then, her +asyAh, mind +manah, became +Asit, +her, chariot +anah,, and +uta, sky +dyouh, became +Asit, +its, roof +chhadih,, two stars +shukrou, became +AstAm, +her, ride +Anadvahou,. 2ve te chakre surye brahmAnah rituthA viduh. Athoikam chakram yadguhA tadaddhatayah idviduh. &ig(eda /1.0=./; Anushtup chhanda D suryA +surye,, brAhmins know +brahmAnah viduh, +about, your two seasonal cycles +te dve rituthA chakre,. 4ut one of these cycles +atha ekam chakram, which is secret +yad guhA,, that is known to the poet +tad addhatayah it viduh,. U 4ow to all %uryAoi devebhyo mitrAya varunAya cha. Je bhutasya prachetas idam tebhyokaram namah. &ig(eda /1.0=./6 Anushtup chhanda They who wishes well of creatures +ye bhutasya prachetasah, them %uryA, .itra, (aruna and others +tebhyah suryAoi devebhyah mitrAya varunAya cha, $ bow to them +idam namah akaram,. U To the bride %omah prathamah vivide gandharvo vivida uttarah. Tritiyo agnishte patisturiaste manushya*ah.

&ig(eda /1.0=.51 Anushtup chhanda %oma recieved first +somah prathamah vivide,, Gandharva recieved afterwards +gandharvah uttarah vivide,. Agni is your third husband +Agnih te tritiyah patih,, son of man is your fourth +manushya*ah te turyah,. U The fire is lit and said to Agne shardha mahate soubhagAya tava dyumnAni uttamAni santu. %am *Aspatyam suyamam Akrinushva shatruyatAm abhi tisthA mahAmsi. &ig(eda =.<0.8 Trishtup chhanda D Agni show your might +Agne shardha, your best illuminations +tava uttamAni dyumnAni, may bring great luck +mahate soubhagAya santu,. .ake the spousal family +*ampatyam Akrinushva, evenly balanced +suyamam sam,, resist the might of +mahamsi abhi tistha, the unfriendly +shatruyatam,. U Groom3s A*yAhuti +she will touch his right shoulder with her right hand, Dm dyuos te pristham rakshatu vayur uru ashvinou cha. %tanandhayAmsa te putrAn savitA abhirakshatu. AvAsasah paridhAnAt vrihaspatir (ishve devAbhirakshantu paschat svAhA. %AmamantrabrAhmana /././< Tri-avasana shatpada kakummati shakkari chhanda +.ay, the sky +dyuoh, protect your back +te prishtham rakshatu,, (ayu and the two Ashvinas +vAyu ashvinou cha, +protect your, legs +uru,. +.ay, your unweaned sons +te stanandhayAn putrAn, be protected by savitA +savitA abhirakshatu,. +.ay, vrihaspati +vrihaspatih, +protect you, till you are clothed +AvAsasah paridhAnAt,, afterwards +paschAt, may the vishadevas protect +vishve devAh abhirakshantu,. kta pareitu mrityur amritam me agAt. (aivasvato no abhayam krinotu svAhA. %AmamantrabrAhmana /././= 9hatushpadA gAyatri chhanda +.ay, death +mrityuh, be sent far +parA etu,, immortality +amritam, come near +me Agat,. %on of (ivasvAn +vaivasvatah, give us shelter from fear +na abhayam krinotu,. U - change of seats and acceptance of hand 'ushA tveto nayatu hastagrihya ashvinA tvA pravahatAm rathena. GrihAn gachha grihapatni yathAso vashini tvam vidatham A vadasi. &ig(eda /1.0=.<; Trishtup chhanda

+.ay, 'ushA +pushA, lead you from here +itah nayatu, holding your hand +hastagrihya tva,. The two Ashvinas +ashvinA, carry you in chariot +tvA rathena pra vahatAm,. Go home +grihAn gachha,, so that you become the lady of the household +yathA tvam grihapatni asah,, take control +vashini, +and, give orders +vidatham A vadAsi,. GroomA GribhnAmi te soubhagatvAya hastam .ayA patyA *aradashtir yathA sah. 4hago aryamA savitA purandhir mahyam tvAdur gArhapatyAya devAh. &ig(eda /1.0=.8; Trishtup chhanda @or good luck +soubhagatvAya, $ accept your hand +te hastam gribhnAmi,, so that +yathA, in my husbandship +mayA patyA, you reach old age +*arat ashtih asah,. The devas 4haga, AryamA, %avitA and 'urandhi +4hago aryamA saviA purandhir devAh, have given you to me +mahyam tvA aduh, for +becoming your, husband +gArhapatyAya,. U 4ride3s la*Ahom 4rideA Dm dirghAyur astu me patih shatam varshAni *ivatu. -dhantAm *nAtayo mama svAhA. %AmamantrabrAhmana /.<.< GAyatri chhanda +.ay, my husband +me patih, live long +dirghAyuh astu,, live one hundred years +shatam varshAni *ivatu,. .y relatives +mama *nAtayah, prosper +edhantAm,. Dm aryamanam nu devam kanyA agnim ayakshata. sa mAm devo aryamA preto munchatu mAmutah svAhA. %AmamantrabrAhmana /.<.8 Anushtup chhanda +As a, daughter +kanyA, +$, made vows +ayakshata nu, to deva Aryama and Agni +aryamanam devam agnim,. +.ay the, Aryama deva +sah aryamA deva, liberate me from it +mam itah pramanchatu,, +.ay Agni, liberate me from that +ma amutah,.

Cremation - Last Rites


Hindus generally cremate their dead. the body of the departed is given a bath and dressed in fresh clothes. ,ragrant sandlewood paste is applied to the corpse, which is then decorated with flowers and garlands, followed by a small amount of gold dust sprinkled on different parts of the head and face. 0fter some purificatory scriptural chants and worship rituals, the body is placed on the funeral pyre facing either north or south. 0 close relative of the departed lights some kindling and walks around the pyre chanting a prayer for the well being of the departed soul. $hen he lights the funeral pyre after touching the mouth of the departed with kindling.

In larger cities bodies are cremated in modern crematoria. $he ashes are later put in a holy river or sea. $he body of a Hindu saint is not usually cremated but put in a grave or buried in water.

Namas2ar
$o greet another person a friend or ac#uaintance, to pay respect to an elder, a holy person or a temple deity or a Hindu )oins his or her hands with palms together, bows down in front of the other person, and says Namas2ar5 Namaste5 or Pranam ( meaning Reverent !alutations. In Hindu view, *rahman dwells in the heart of each being as the individual self. $he )oining of hands symboliLes the idea that in the meeting of two persons, the !elf actually meets Itself. 6oining hands also symboliLes humility. $hus when a Hindu )oins his hands and says namas2ar, he actually says in humility, 5I bow to "od in you7 I love you and I respect you, as there is no one like you.5

Si&ni0i%an%e *0 Names
$he naming of a child is one of the most fundamental Hindu 4sams2ars4 or scripture based rites. $he name is selected such that its meaning can inspire the child to follow the path of righteousness. $he name given to newborn babies are generally suggestive of divine #ualities of the vedic deities. 0 common practice among Hindus is to name their children after the names of sages, saints, holy persons, deities, and the names of the incarnation of "od. It is believed that by repeatedly calling such names one is reminded of the 'ord

$aby 9 Childs Names (ith )eanin&


+ind' $aby Names #a2arshan ( attraction #bha ( lustrous beauty #bhay ( a son of Gharma #bhi:it ( a constellation dear to Hari #%hal ( steady, mountainous #%hy'ta ( a name of 1ishnu #dhira ( lightning #dishree ( e alted #diti ( free and unbounded #ditya ( lord of the sun #himsa ( nonviolent virtue #:atashatr' ( a name of 1ishnu #:ay ( uncon#uerable, god

#2aash ( sky #2shay ( name of a "od #2'ti ( princess #mal ( bright, clean, pure7 hope, wish, dream #mandeep ( light of peace #mar ( forever #mbar ( sky #mberley ( the sky #mbi2a ( goddess of destruction #mit ( endless #mita ( without limits #mrit ( nectar #mrita ( immortality #m'lya ( priceless #nand ( bliss, happiness #n&ada ( a son of 'akshmana #ni2a ( very beautiful, graceful #n:'man ( a party place %mehfil& #nnap'rna ( one of the Hindu "oddesses #nnir'ddha ( son of =radyummna #noop ( incomparable, the best #n'radha ( a bright star #n'sree ( pretty #olani ( 2loud from Heaven #parna ( same as =arvati #r:'n ( one of the =andavas #r'na ( radiance #sha ( hope, life #shish ( blessings #sh(in ( strong horse #si:a ( a great sage, brother of *rihaspati #s2ini ( daughter of =ra)apati 1irat #smita ( pride #s'man ( lord of vital breaths #s/athama ( sun of drona #s/in ( %8asatya and Gasra& gods of medicine #thalia ( "od is e alted, the lord is mighty #thar/an ( knower of the 0rthara vedas #tma:a ( daughter #tma:yoti ( light of 0tma #tman ( the self #/anti ( ancient 9alwa #/asa ( independent #y'shmati ( person who has a long life $a2a ( crane $ala/an ( powerful $ali ( 9ighty warrior $ansari ( *ansuri $el ( sacred wood apple tree

$hoomi ( earth $hri&' ( a =ra)apati $h'de/ ( lord of the earth $ina ( a musical instrument, intelligence Chaitra ( aries sign Chander ( moon Chane ( name of a god, dependability Chhaya ( shadow Chitra ( portrait "ahana ( a Rudra "amini ( lightning "arshan ( a god<s name "attatreya ( a son of 0tri, a god "eepi2a ( a little light "e/a2i ( black, mother of 3rishna "e/arsi ( sage of the Gevas "e/i ( resides in heaven "hanan:ay ( 0r)una "har'na ( a rishi "hatri ( a son of 1ishnu, 'akshmi "ilip ( a king, ancestor of Rama "i/ya ( heavenly, brilliant "risana ( daughter of the sun "risti ( sight, a form of the Gevi "'ran:aya ( a heroic son "'r&a ( unreachable "'r:aya ( difficult to con#uer E2a%ha2ra ( son of 3ashyapa E2nath ( poet, saint Elina ( pure, intelligent 8al&'n ( month in the Hindu calendar ,a:endra ( elephant king ,anesa ( good luck ,anesh ( a Hindu "od ,a'ri ( yellow ,ayatri ( mother of the 1edas ,opal ( 'ord 3rishna +arsh ( )oy +astin ( elephant +ema ( snow, himalayas +inda ( female deer Inayat ( kindness Indira ( India Indra ( "od of rain and thunder Indrina ( deep Ira ( watchful, descendant Ira/an ( son of 0r)unaAKloopi Isha ( one who protects Ishana ( rich

1a0ar ( little stream 1aina ( good character 1aya ( name of a "od, victory 1ayani ( a sakti of "anesha 1ayant ( victorious, a Rudra 1ayne ( victorious 1ee/an ( life 1im'ta ( one of >0E names of the !un "od 1i/ana ( one of >0E names of the !un "od 1i/in ( to give life 1yoti ( light Ka:al ( eyeliner Kala ( time, black Kalidas ( the poet, musician Kal2in ( tenth incarnation of "od 1ishnu Kamade/ ( god of love Kama2shi ( a Gevi, same as 'alita Kamal ( lotus flower, name of a "od Kamna ( desire Kana2 ( gold Kan%hana ( a celestial 0psara, gold Kantha ( name of a "od Kapil ( name of a rishi Kar2a ( crab Karti2eya ( !ubramanyam, !kanda, son of !hiva and =arvati Ka/eri ( sacred river of India Ka/i ( poet Ka/indra ( mighty poet Ka/ita ( poem Kedar ( mountain lord, powerful Kerani ( sacred bells Kesha/ ( 3rishna<s name Kimatra ( seduce Kintan ( wearing a crown Kiran ( ray Kirit ( crown, tiara Kirti ( fame, a form of the Gevi Kripa ( has a twin sister 3ripi Kriti ( a work of art Kshama ( forgiveness, patience, a form of the Gevi K'sa&ra ( a king K'sh ( son of Rama La2shman ( brother of Rama La2shya ( target Lalasa ( love La/ani ( grace Lola2si ( a sakti of "anesha )adha/ ( 3rishna )adh' ( honey

)adh'r ( sweet )adh's'dhana ( 3rishna )ahabala ( strength )aha/ira ( son of =riyavrata )aitreya ( disciple of sage =arasara )aitryi ( friendship )alati ( small fragrant flower )aliha ( strong, beautiful )alina ( tower, dark )amta ( mother<s love for child, wife of sage 0si)a )andara ( mythical tree )andeep ( light of heart )andhatri ( prince )anisha ( sharp intellect, genius, sagacity )arisa ( mother of Gaksa )ar2andeya ( a sage )atan&a ( sage, advisor to Gevi 'alita )atan&i ( a Gevi )atri2a ( mother, name of goddess )aya ( divine creative forse in everything )ayon ( the black "od )edha ( intelligence, a form of the Gevi )eena ( precious stone )e&hana ( raincloud )eh'l ( 0 derivative of 9ukul )ela ( religious gathering )ena ( mother of 9enaka )ena2a ( celestial damsel )esha ( ram, born under the sign of 0ries )itali ( friend )ohan ( charming )ohini ( most beautiful )'2ta ( means a pearl in $elugu Naina ( eyes Namde/ ( poet, saint Nandin ( the delightful, follower of !hiva Narayana ( 1ishnu Narmada ( name of a river Narsi ( poet, saint Nartana ( makes others dance Neel ( blue Neelam ( sapphire Neer:a ( lotus flower Neha ( rain Nidra ( a form of the Gevi Nihar ( mist, fog, dew Ni:' ( =ansophist Nilini ( perpetuator of the 3uru race Nimai ( name of 'ord 3rishna

Nira: ( lotus flower Niramitra ( son of pandava !ahadeva Nir/ana ( deep silence, ultimate bliss Nisha ( night Nishad ( the musical note 8i Nitara ( deeply rooted Nitya ( goddess =arvati NityaS'ndara ( good(looking Niyati ( fate Padma ( "oddess 'akshmi Pandita ( scholar Pan2a: ( lotus flower Paramartha ( great entity Paras ( touchstone Parni2a ( auspicious 0psara Parnita ( auspicious 0psara Parth ( 0 name given to 0r)un by 'ord 3rishna Partha ( 0 name given to 0r)un by 'ord 3rishna Parthi/i ( the "oddess !ita Par/ani ( full moon Par/ati ( the "oddess !arasvati Par/een ( star Payal ( anklet Phoolan ( flower Pi/ari ( a wife of !ukha Piyali ( tree Poo:a ( prayer Prabha ( lustrous Prabha2ar ( cause of lustre Prabhati ( morning Pradeep ( light Pradeepta ( glowing Pra&ati ( progress Pra&ya ( wisdom Prama ( knowing truth Pramada ( woman Prams' ( 0 scholar Pranati ( prayer Prana/ ( -9 Pranay ( love, romance Prapti ( gain Prasata ( father of Graupad Prashanti ( peace Prassana ( cheerful Prati2 ( symbol Pratima ( image Pra/een ( proficient Preeti ( love Prem ( love

Preyasi ( beloved Prita ( dear one Prith' ( first 3satriya, son of 1ena Priti ( satisfaction, renowned wife of =ulastyaA!ukha Priti2a ( beloved Pri/rata ( son of !atarupa Priya ( loved one, darling P'ndari2 ( white in colour P'r':it ( con#ueror of many P'r/a:a ( elder sister P'san ( a sage P'sti ( nourishment, a form of the Gevi, wife of "anapati Radhi2a ( a form of the Gevi, Bth !akti, wife of 3rishna Rai/ata ( a 9anu Ra:endra ( "od Ram ( 'ord Rama Raman':a ( a saint Ramya ( elegant, beautiful Rani ( a #ueen Rantide/ ( devotee of 8arayana Rati ( a Gevi Ratri ( night Ra/i ( benevolent, sun "od Re2ha ( straight line Reshma ( silky Re/ati ( wife of *alarama Riddhi ( !iddhi will follow Rina ( #ueen Rishab ( the musical note Re Rohana ( sandalwood Rohit ( red color Roshni ( light R'drani ( a wife of !hiva Sa%h%hit ( $ruth, 2onsciousness Sa%hi ( bliss(child7 wife of Indra Sa&ar ( king Sa&ara ( ocean Sahade/ ( prince Saheli ( friend Sahen ( falcon Sahib ( sir Sahiba ( lady Sahila ( guide Sa:ili ( decorated Sa:ni ( beloved Sa2ti ( energy, goodness Saloni ( dear, beautiful Samir ( wind Sampriti ( attachment

Sam'dra ( lord of the ocean San%hay ( collection Sandeep ( Rishi %!ega of "ods&, named after !andipani Rishi Sandya ( sunset time, name of a "od San&ita ( musical San:na ( wife of the !un San:'la ( beautiful Sapna ( dream Saras/ati ( a "oddess Sari2a ( thrush Sarisha ( charming Sarita ( stream, river Sarmistha ( a daughter of 1rsaparvan Sarn&in ( name of "od 1ishnu Saro:in ( lotus(like Sary' ( 0 river in Ramayana Satay' ( brother of 0mavasu and 1ivasu Satr'i:t ( a son of 1atsa Satya/ati ( mother of 1yasa Sa'na2 ( boy sage Sa/arna ( daughter of the ocean Sa/ita ( sun Sa/itri ( a form of the Gevi, 4th !akti Seema ( symbol Sesha ( serpent who symboliLes time Se/ati ( white rose Se/ita ( beloved Shaili ( style Shamita ( peacemaker Shanata ( peaceful Shashi ( the moon, moonbeam Shash(at ( ever lasting Sheetal ( cool Shi/ ( 'ord !hiva Shreya ( auspicious Shri ( lustre Shri:ani ( creative Shr'ti ( hearing Siddhi ( then you must have a Riddhi Simoni ( obedient Simran ( "od<s "ift Sin&h ( lion Smita ( smiling Smriti ( recollection, a form of the Gevi Somatra ( e celling the moon Sona ( gold Sona2shi ( golden eye Sonal ( golden Soni2a ( golden

Sraddha ( faith, a wife of !hiva S'bhadra ( a wife of 0r)una S'bha&a ( a fortunate person S'bh':a ( auspicious 0psara S'desha ( a son of 3rishna S'de/a ( good Geva S'de/i ( wife of 3rishna S'2arman ( reciter of >000 !amhitas S'2'mar ( tender S'madh'r ( very sweet S'mant' ( 0tharva 1eda was assigned to him S'nita ( a daughter of Gharma S'parna ( leafy S'prabha ( radiant S'priya ( !u means good and 5=riya5 means 5loved one5 S'rabhi ( wish(yielding cow S'ra/inda ( a beautiful .aksa S'rotama ( auspicious 0psara S'rya ( the sun S'shanti ( peace S'shmita ( smiling S'sila ( wife of 3rishna, clever in amorous sciences S'/rata ( a child of Gaksa S(ar'pa ( truth Ta2sa ( a son of *harata Tara ( rocky hill, tower Thaman ( name of a god Trishna ( thirst, a form of the Gevi T'lasi ( a Gevi T'sti ( peace, happiness, a for of the Gevi Uma ( nation, mother, horse Unnati ( progress Upendra ( an element Ur:a/aha ( of the 8imi dynasty Urmila ( wife of 'akshmana Ur/asi ( most beautiful of 0psaras Uttam ( @rd 9anu Uttara ( mother of =ariksit 3aira:a ( son of 1irat 3aninadh ( Husband of !araswati %the goddess of knowledge& 3ariya ( e cellent one 3arsha ( rain 3ar'n ( lord of the waters 3ar'ni ( a goddess 3asanta ( spring 3asa/a ( Indra 3asa/i ( mentaldaughter of the =itrs 3as'man ( born of fire 3as'mati ( apsara of une#ualled splendour

3edan&a ( vedas 3id/an ( scholar 3idya ( wisdom, knowledge 3i2as ( progress 3i2ram ( glorious king 3imala ( pure, sakti of the "ayatri Gevi 3inata ( humble, mother of "aruda 3inay ( good behaviour 3inaya ( good behaviour 3irat ( supreme being 3isala ( celestial 0psara 3is/a:it ( one who con#uers the universe 3is/a2arman ( architect, son of .ogasiddha 3is/ay' ( brother of 0mavasuand !atayu 3i/atma ( universal soul 3rinda ( virtue and strength ;a2sha ( a sister of Gaksha <e/ ( deer, wolf