Thursday, August 21, 2008


Tirumala is the most popular temple ever . Seventy five thousand pilgrims on an average day pass through its portals , and one hundred and fifty thousand on festivals . The temple is open almost 24 hours , from 2.30 am to 2 am the next day , closing ceremonially only for half an hour . Being nearly 2000 years old , it is also the oldest temple in the world which has been in continous worship as per very ancient rituals . Over fifty thousand pilgrims are fed free of cost by the temple every day . (Even the vatican , which is far richer does not do that ).

One old sanskrit verse goes -

"Venkatadri Samam Sthanam Brahmande Nasti Kinchana ,

Venkatesha Samo Devo Na Bhuto Na Bhavishyati."


There is no place like Venkatadri ( Tirumala Hill ) in the whole universe ,

and there is no deity like Venkatesha , nor will there ever be .

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yoga , Bhakti , Karma , and Jnana

Yoga means " to harness " . Also sometimes described as " union" . Yoga as per a narrow definition , is one of the six systems of philosophy mentioned earlier , but it also has a greater scope , with a broader definition . Yoga , very broadly is often taken to mean all techniques intended "to harness " and discipline energies , in order to perfect our physical and mental powers , the ultimate goal being in liberation , by uniting oneself with the universal being .
The Patanjali Yoga Sutras ( 2nd century BC) deal with this system of philosophy.
The eigth steps of yogic practice are
1. Yama - ( restraint ) abstention from vice , unchastity , falsehood , theft , , greed etc .
2. Niyama ( discipline) - cultivation of virtues , deep study of the scriptures etc .
3.Asana ( posture) - adoption of the right physical posture.
4.Pranayama ( breath control ) deep breathing exercises to be taught by a qualifed teacher .
5. Pratyahara ( withdrawal of the senses ) detaching oneself from external stimuli
6. Dharana ( concentration ) on a specific object of contemplation .
7. Dhyana ( meditation ) single pointed focus on a particular object / thought.
8. Samadhi ( total absorption ) merging with the universal spirit/ consciousness.

Since Yoga is not easy ,and not for everyone , Vedanta , which is the last of the six systems of philosophy , reccomends Bhakti and Karma for ordinary individuals , and Jnana for only those who can understand it .

The three paths , mentioned earlier in the cardinal principles ,and described in the Vedanta , namely
Bhakti ( devotion ) , Karma( duty ) , and Jnana ( knowledge )
are , as per a broader definition of Yoga , also referred to as
Bhakti Yoga ( spiritual progress through intense devotion to a personified chosen deity ),
Karma Yoga ( spiritual progress through performance of duty , dharma , right conduct ,right action , good works ,discipline ,ethics etc )
and Jnana Yoga ( spiritual progress through deep study and knowledge of the sacred texts )
There are other forms of Yoga , such as
Raja Yoga (control of the mind by the intellect ,through meditation ) ,
Hatha Yoga ( development of energies through physical exercise ) ,
Kundalini Yoga , ( a method of reintegration, by awakening the cosmic energy of unlimited potential within oneself ,(kundalini shakti))
etc .
Buddhism , Zen Buddhism , some aspects of the Tao and Confucious principles , Jain spiritual practice , are all forms of Yoga as per the broader definition of Yoga .