Saturday, July 19, 2008

Belief in God?

Have I seen God ? Probably not . Or maybe I have, and I dont know it . Who or what is God anyway ? Why should I believe in something that I have not seen or felt or experienced ?

The answer , I believe , lies with our Gurus or spiritual teachers .

The ancient brilliant scholars , teachers , sages , Valmiki , Ved Vyasa , the Saptha(seven) Rishis , Badarayana , the ancient Law givers , Parasara , Yajnavalkya , etc they all felt , saw , and experienced the Divine and the sacred .

So did Jesus , Buddha , Mahavira etc .

So did the mystic poet- saints of the tamil region in south india - the Alvars and the Nayanmars .
So did the great teachers of the middle ages , Sankara , Ramanuja and Madhva .

And also Chaitanya , Ramananda , Vallabhacharya, Kabir , Jnaneshwar ,Shankara Deva ,Samarth Ramdas, Nimbarka , Goraknath , Guru Nanak etc .

And the great poet saints , Tulsidas ,Soordas , Mirabai , Jayadeva, Eknath, Tukaram , Thyagaraja , Purandara Dasa , Dikshitar , Shyama Sastri, and so on .

And the social reformers , Guru Ravidas , Narayana Guru , Basaveshwara, Dayananda Saraswati , etc

And in the 19th century , Shiridi Sai Baba , Ramakrishna Paramahamsa ,Swami Vivekananda ,Swami Narayan of Gujarat , etc
And more recently ,Paramahamsa Yogananda , Aurobindo ,"the Mother" , Ramana Maharishi , Swami Rama ,Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ,Prabhupada , Satya Sai Baba , Sri Sri Ravishankar , Mata Amritanandamayi etc

And so did many many others , who may have led quiet lives unknown to most except their chosen disciples .

If one reads even a few of their compositions , writings etc, or about their lives , we find that they were all great brilliant scholars, poets , philosophers and had the spark of divine genius . They all experienced God within and without .

If all of them have seen God , and felt the divine in themselves , then indeed God exists for me .

Friday, July 18, 2008

The seven basic principles

The Sanathana Dharma ,over hundreds of years, from 2000 BC to 800 AD, absorbed the entire population of the Indian Subcontinent into its fold , simply by accepting all their indiviudal customs , traditions , habits , beliefs etc as part of a greater religion . Thus india became a salad bowl of religious traditions with every denomination or community ( presently over 4000) having its unique identity within the greater frame work of Hinduism .Thus the Sanathana Dharma is a salad bowl and not a melting pot !! Nobody was forced to accept one particular system . However despite all their diversity , they are all broadly agreed on some fundamental principles .
These are
1. That God ( Brahman) exists , is eternal , and is one perfect universal power and being , but has many names and forms , and cannot be described ,but has to be experienced through spirituality ,
2. That the spiritual tradition embodied in the Shruti or Vedas is the ultimate authority for the Sanathana Dharma ( Hinduism ),
3. That the universe is eternal, infinite and cyclical , ( the wheel of time ); and that we ( individual souls )find ourselves repeatedly reborn in the toils of Samsara ( the worldly trials and tribulations , pitfalls of desire and sorrow, the cycle of birth and death ) ,due to our past Karma (or actions ),
4. That there is a triple path of Karma , Bhakti and Jnana ie (a. right action and duty , b . devotion ,
and c . knowledge and wisdom through reasoning ) which can lead us out of the coils of rebirth in Samsara ,and lead us to the perfection of God ,
5. That those who wish to be liberated and free , should cultivate the five cardinal virtues of purity ( sattva ), self control ( sama and dama ), detachment(vairagya ), truth (Satyam )and non violence (ahimsa) , in their various forms and become a Dharmatma , or a noble spiritual person ,
6. And further , the individual has to concentrate on his/her Ista Devata ( or form of God that appeals to him/her), (or meditate and contemplate the formless ), according to their Adhikara ( or moral and spiritual competence and understanding ) , and accquire the grace of God,or the infinite spirit ,
7. And that ultimate freedom , liberation, and true peace lies in becoming eternally free from the cycles of birth and death, and entering the world of the infinite , or Universal spirit or God ( Brahman) .

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The five cardinal virtues

The Sanathana Dharma talks about five all important cardinal virtues that we have to cultivate in order to make spiritual progress . They are
1. Purity ( Sattvam ) of mind and body .
2. Self Control / discipline ( Sama / Dhama ) over ourselves .
3. Detachment ( Vairagyam ) over worldly issues .
4. Truth ( Satyam) in thought word and deed .
5. Non Violence ( Ahimsa ) towards all .

While it is not easy to cultivate all the cardinal virtues instantly , hinduism hopes that one should strive in the right direction .