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HISTORY CENTRISM - ITIHASA in HINDUISM History of Hindu Religion

1 points | Post submitted by suyash95235 days ago |20 comments | viewed367 times

Were Ramayana n Mahabrhata Real?  If proved they are Fictional,what will be the impact on Hinduism?


  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    Please try to understand - the ancientHindus were never interested in HISTORY, they were interested in the quality ofhuman character and the content and evolution of consciousness and modellingideal behaviour. These epics are not to be mined for historical data - whichmay or may not be there - history is HIS STORY and not relevant to us - hereand now - what is important for us in MY STORY - how do these Epics help you toorient yourself in this crazy world, here and now! What lessons can be learnedand what is the implication for adaptive action!

    This is a silly question. TheMahabharata in 18 volumes is an ENCYCLOPEDIA - it contains everything —philosophy, theology, ethics, history, animal husbandry, astrology, Ayur Veda,architecture, domestic science, politics, myths, legends, humour, romance, war,etc. etc. etc. In fact the Mahabharata itself says that there is nothing in thehuman world which is not found in it. So what exactly do you want to know is“real”?

    The Rāmāyana is an EPIC - it is a longpoem about Sītā - she is the central protagonist. Just as theMahābharata is centered on Draupadi — both epics are about the“mangala-sūtra” or “tāli” of these two women, according to a veryfamous Srivaishnava Acharya - Pillai Lokāchārya.


    HISTORYCENTRISM -


    Mahabharatis considered a story. If I look up Karna the character, in wikipedia, thereare several versions about even who he was married to. Was it really a story,or modified history, or just developed over time based on what people heard?Karna was a protagonist in the Great Epic. There is no way of knowing whetherhe was a real-life historical person or a fictional character invented for thestory plot. But his “historicity” is unimportant - its his role in the storywhich is significant and what’s most important about all the characters in theEpic is not their personalities so much, but rather the conversations that theyhave with others. This is the key teaching technique of the Epic and are knownas SAMVĀDA - we are drawn into the Epic by listening to characters argue anddiscuss the pros and cons of matters with each other. 

     

    Similarly,Whether Lord Rama actually lived in real time and fought and defeated a 10 headed demon king who flew in a space-ship and kidnapped his wife, after taking the help of monkeys and bears etc. is irrelevant! What matters is what the story MEANS for us and how it modifies our behaviour in beneficial ways.

    Most of the events and narratives inthese epics are like case-studies for us to discuss - Indians are by natureargumentative and they have been arguing over these stories for thousands ofyears!! So don’t expect this question ever to be put to rest.

    There have been millions of Kings who’s lives have been documented - do you know of any one now who worships Ramses orAlexander the Great? Do you know of anyone who has been inspired by them andtransformed their lives? Do you known anyone who uses any historical King as arole-model? Are their stories still told as means of teaching children values?

    So again I ask  - If the battles in the Itihasas are proven beyond reasonable doubt to be REAL history - what difference does it make to your life right now? Will you pick up arms and rush out to do battle with the demonic forces of Chaos?

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  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    RAMAYANA -

     There are hundreds ofdifferent Ramayanas with many variations and (b) which level of interpretationyou are reading. And There are three levels.

    1.  śabdārtha– the literal meaning.

    2.  bhāvārtha– the figurative meaning

    3.  lakṣyārtha– the hidden transcendental meaning.

    śabdārtha — The literal Ramayana is a story about a prince who may or maynot have been an historical character like Shivaji or King Henry 8th. There isabsolutely no concrete evidence or even a way of knowing this. Some believe hewas a real king and some believe he was a literary creation of Valmiki.

    But the story itselfis embellished with mythology, legends, divergent narratives, literary devices,descriptions, pathos, etc. which are neither natural nor historical nor evenplausible but make entertaining and exciting reading.

     

    bhāvārtha – the figurative meaning. Within the storythere are dozens of profound teachings and examples of how to deal with varioussituations we encounter in our lives. The ideal behaviour is contrasted withthe harmful and all the characters can be analysed psychologically andperennial morals and lessons drawn. the epic is a mine of great teachings andinsights regarding personal duties, social obligations, inter-personalrelationships etc. etc (in spite of the negative deconstructions by Marxistsseeing class, gender and race conflict in it.)

    The Rāmāyana is atreasure of teachings on DHARMA - this is its primary value - the narrativeitself being only a vehicle - so don’t get hung up on the historicity orliterary criticism - that is just the package and not the essential content.

     

    Lakṣyārtha - the esoteric meaning. There is a veryprofound and admirable way in which the author has woven esoteric andtranscendental teachings into the narrative. For want of space and the limitedattention of readers, I shall just give a few hints.

    The four brothersrepresent the four feet of Dharma. Rāma = Satyam - Truth, Lakṣmaṇa =Sacrifice - Yajña, Bharat = austerity - tapas, and Śatrughna=generosity - dāna.

    The three Rakṣasabrother represent the three guṇas. Rāvana = Rajas, Vibhiṣaṇa = Sattvaand Kumbhakarṇa = Tamas.

    Dasa-ratha(ten-chariots) is correlated to Dasa-grīva (ten-heads) and Sītā representsBrahma-vidya = Divine knowledge. Hanumān the power of Bhakti etc. etc. etc.

    So the Ramayana isTRUE on many different levels but not necessarily on the superficial level ofhistoricity. Traditionally Hindus never asked is it true? they asked “what canthis text teach me and what can I do with it?”

     

    According to Indianepistemology there are three perspectives of TRUTH:–

    1.  correspondence with fact, reality and evidence

    2.  coherence - i.e. lack of logical contradictions

    3.  Utility – practicality- how the item can be used in everydaylife - and this is the most important determinant. And on this level theRamayana is unquestionably true.

     

     The Rāmāyaṇaencompasses all three levels of meaning.Much of the hidden meaning is found in the names of the characters.. 

    Dasaratha — 10 chariots. A chariot is symbolic of thebody. 10 chariots symbolize the body with its 5 sensory organs and 5 motororgans.

     Dasaratha has 3 wiveswhich symbolize the three forces of the mind

    Jñāna śakti =cognition (Kauśalya), iccha śakti = emotion (Kekayi) and kriyaśakti = action (Sumitra)

     The four sonsrepresent the four aspects of Dharma.

    Jñāna śakti (Kauśalya) produces satyam (Rāma),

    iccha śakti (Kekayi) produces tapas (Bharat)

    kriya śakti (Sumitra) produces 2 sons yajña/sacrifice (Lakṣmaṇa)and dāna/generosity (Śatrughna).

     Janaka was a raja-rishi(enlightened sage-king) while plowing he discovers Sītā. Sītā meansboth furrow as well as “shining, pure, light” — she symbolizes supernal wisdom(brahma-jñāna).

     

    Satyam (Rāma) is married to Brahma-jñāna(Sīta)

     There are 3 brothers in Lanka:–

    1.  Rāvana /dasa-mukha = rajas.Activity, motivation, conquest, appropriation, aggression drive etc. Dasa-mukhais the polarity of Dasa-ratha. Dasa-ratha presides over Order whileDasa-mukha presides over Chaos.

    2.  Kumbhakarṇa= tamas. He has a gigantic body and spends his time sleeping, arisesonce in 6 months to engage in an orgy of glutton and then falls asleep again.

     3.  Vibhīṣaṇa= sattva. Just, reasonable, learned and devoted, he spends his time indoing charitable acts and meditating.

    Manthara means stupid, foolish, silly, lacking in discrimination.

    Through stupidity and ignorance (Manthara), emotion (Kekayi) takes control of mind and exiles truth and wisdom to the forest.

     And the rest is history as they say :-)

     SUMMARY - Rama represents us seeking Spiritual knowledge(Sītā) who is held captive by the Rāvāṇa (rajas). With the help ofdevotion & discrimination (hanuman) our mental obstacles (rakṣasas)are overcome, then with the help of sattva (Vibhīṣaṇa), tamas (kumbhakarna)is destroyed and rajas (Ravana) conquered and peace is restored withSattva (Vibhishana) enthroned and enlightenment obtained (patṭabhiṣeka).(This is a brief summary).

    This much is enough, there is no need for creative and useless claims for historicity. What matters is not that it happened or not but what we can learn from it and how it enriches our daily lives.

     

     

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  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    MAHABHARATA -

     The Mahabhārata is anencyclopaedia - it contains thousands of stories, legends, anecdotes, tales andfables of gods and kings. As well as philosophical, theological, sociological,legal and ethical teachings. There is some fictional geography interspersedwith some real place names, and as is stated - it discusses every conceivableaspect of humanity - the good and the bad.

    There may be sometitbits of factual history in it which have yet to be fully discovered andvalidated - but retelling history was not the purpose of the enterprise - thewhole subject matter of the book is DHARMA - this is the central theme of everyHindu scripture.

    Historiography wasnever of much serious interest to ancient Indians and there are no accurate anddetailed historical records that compare to the works of the ancient Greeks andRomans. In fact I cannot think of the name of a single ancient Indian historianthat compares to any of the many Roman historians.

    Historiographyconsisted in the keeping of state records and genealogies of Kings (mixed withlegend and mythology) probably from about the 3rd century onwards, - writinghaving been introduced to India much later than the Mediterranean countries.

     Characters named inchapter one of the Gita?

    Good question.

    At one glance theyjust seem to be some of the characters that feature in the Mahābhārta, butSwami Paramahamsa Yogananda has given beautiful esoteric interpretations of allthe names based on their grammatical structure from the Nirukta.

     EsotericInterpretation of the Names mentioned in the First Chapter

    (ParamahamsaYogananda’s commentary on the Bhagavad Gita)

     

    PĀṆḌAVAS

     Yuyudhāna — śraddha =devotion

    Yudham caitanyprakāśayitum eṣaṇaḥ abhilaṣamān iti |

    The one who has anardent desire to fight to express spiritual consciousness.

     Uttamaujas — vīrya =Vital celibacy

    Uttama oja yasya saiti | One whose power is supreme.

     Cekitāna — smriti =spiritual awareness

    Ciketi jānāti iti | Hewho remembers, realises; one whose perception is clear.

     Viraṭa — samādhi =enstacy

    viśeṣeṇa ātmani rājateiti | One who is wholly immersed in the inner Self.

     Kāśi-rāja — prajna =insight

    Pādarthān kāśuyānprakāśayan rājate vibhāti iti |

    One whose illuminationcauses other things to be illuminated or revealed accurately.

     Drupada — tivrasamvega = extreme dispassion or ardent desire for liberation

    Drutam padam yasya iti| One whose steps are quick or swift

     Dhriṣṭaketu — yama =self-restraint (Dhriṣ = courageous and ketu = chief, leader)

    Jana-ketavaḥ āḍādaḥdhṛṣyate anena iti |

    One by whosediscriminative intellect difficulties are overcome.

     Śaibya — niyama —observances (śī = in whom all things lie)

    śivam maṅgalam tat-sambandhiyam iti maṅgala-dāyakam |

    One who adheres tothat which is auspicious — to what is conducive to one’s welfare.

     Kuntibhoja — āsana =right posture (Bhuj = to take possession of, or to rule.)

    Yama kuntim kunāātmantraṇā daiva vibhūtī ākarṣikā śaktim bhunakti pālayate yaḥ saḥ

    He who takespossession of and supports the spiritual force – Kunti – by which divine powersare invoked and drawn into oneself.

     Yudhamanyu — prāṇāyama= Control of life force

    Yudham caitanyaprakāśayitum eva manu kriyā yasya saḥ |

    One whose chief actionis to struggle to manifest divine consciousness

     Purujit — pratyahāra =mental interiorization

    Paurām indriyaadhiṣṭhātṛi devān jayati iti |

    One who has conqueredthe fortress of the astral powers ruling the senses.

     Abhimanyu — samyama -pratyahāra and dhyāna = self mastery

    Abhi sarvatra manuteprakāśate iti |

    One who shines intensely everywhere

     

    Yudhiṣṭhira – viveka =discriminative awareness

     Bhīma – prāṇāyāma =control of prāṇā

     Arjuna — dhṛti,samyama = power of patience and self control

     Sahadeva – yama — thepower to observe the negative rules of morality

     Nakula – niyama — thepower to observe the positive rules

     

    KAURAVAS

     Duryodhana — materialdesires — (dur = difficult, yodhana = to overcome )

    Droṇa — vipāka —samskāra or mental impressions. (dru = to melt - that which remains in a meltedstate)

    Karmaṇām dravībhāvanāmvipākaḥ iti | The fruition of actions that are dormant

    Kripa — avidya =delusion (derived from klṛp = to imagine)

    Vastuni anyatvānikalpayati iti | He who sees things not as they are.

    Bhīṣma — asmita –sense of self — (root bhiṣ = to frighten)

    Yasmāt pañca-tattvānivibhāti saḥ |

    That by which the fiveelements come into being or shine.

    Karṇa — rāga =attachment (root kri = to do)

    Karaṇa śīla iti | Onewho acts according to habitual tendencies to derive pleasure.

    Vikarṇa — dveśa =repulsion

    Akaraṇa śīla iti | Onewho behaves according to his habitual tendencies in avoiding pain.

    Jayadratha — abhiniveśa= body bound identification

    Rāmitvā anuraktobhūtvā jayati utkṛṣṭa rūpeṇa tiṣṭhati iti |

    One who conquers bydeep attachment to life — deep attachment to one’s continued embodied existence

    Bhuriśravas (Son ofSomadatta) — Karma = Material action (bhūri = repeated, śravas = flow orstream)

    Bhūri bahulam śravaḥkṣaraṇam yaḥ saḥ iti |

    That flow whichfrequently and repeatedly disappears.

    Aśvathāman — āśaya =latent desires. (root ās-va = to store up, stha = to remain)

    āśnuvan sañcayantiṣṭhati iti | That which remains stored up or preserved.

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  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    If “Itihasa” in Sanskrittranslates to "It thus happened", then why are the Ramayana and theMahabharata translated as mythology?

     Itihasa can be translated as : — “Once upon a time……….”

    The word itself is never translated as mythology butthat is exactly what they are.

    The definition of MYTHOLOGY is:–

    Myth, a story of the gods, a religious account of the beginningof the world, the creation, fundamental events, the exemplary deeds of the godsas a result of which the world, nature and culture were created together with allparts thereof and given their order, which still obtains. A myth expresses andconfirms society's religious values and norms, it provides a pattern ofbehavior to be imitated, testifies to the efficacy of ritual with its practicalends and establishes the sanctity of cult.[8]

    Myth - Wikipedia

     ALL myths are unreal but are a source ofMEANING for us in the journey of life - we don’t just live in a scientific worldof objective facts and figures - we inhabit a very personal world and we seekand attribute “meaning” to almost everything.

    The primary function of the Myth is provide animpetus and pattern for ACTION - i.e. Dharma.

    Myth in Hinduism is extremely sophisticatedand complex and is psychology in popular narrative form. Some of the storiesare purely for entertainment, others are to instruct in social and personalvalues.

     Much of the confusion regarding these twoepics is trying to understand, categorise and box them. They are both extremelycomplex epics - more so the Mahabharata which is 18 volumes and encyclopaedicin nature.

    They contain entertaining narratives, legendsof kings and priests, genealogy and incarnations of gods, poetic descriptions,lessons, guidance, philosophical doctrines, ethical advice , examples of idealbehaviour, examples of criminal behaviour, religious festivals & fasts,sacraments, the benefit of giving gifts, what gifts to be given and to whom andso on and so forth.

    When reading the stories according to therules of Hindu exegesis you need to keep a few principles in mind.

    VALID knowledge is defined as knowledge whichconforms to objective reality, is coherent and has a practical application indaily life.

    So when you read a story ask yourself thefollowing questions:–

    1.       Is it plausible? Could it really have happenedin real time and space?

    2.       Is it coherent? Is the story logical andrational and free from contradictions?

    3.       What is the takeaway lesson here? How can Iapply this teaching or lesson in my life and what implications does it have formy spiritual journey?

    If the story is implausible, incoherent buthas a practical teaching to impart then it is to be taken figuratively and notliterally - the lesson being adopted and applied.

    If it is plausible and coherent but has nomoral or lesson to teach then take it as literal but useless.

    If it is implausible,incoherent or without moral teaching - then treat it like a Harry Potter story- having entertainment value only, enjoy it and move on.

     The ancient Hindus were never interested in anacademic discipline called today History which is the accuraterecorded and attested account of the doings and achievements of past Kings andMerchants.

    The Hindu sages were interested in theevolution of human consciousness and didn’t bother to record what the eliteswere getting up to, not did they bother themselves with studying past politicalevents.

    Any academic who has attempted to study anddate events in ancient India will confirm what an enormously difficult task itis, due to lack of records and archeological evidence. The only reliable recordwe have is dated from the Buddha. So everything is dates as pre-Buddhist orpost-Buddhist.

    The discipline of “History” is a westernpreoccupation starting with Herodotus c. 484 BCE - 425 BCE. And there have beenhundreds of scholars in ancient Rome that were dedicated to the task ofrecording events. Valmiki was not an historian he was a Poet (kavi). There wereno historians in ancient India like in Rome.

    Roman historiography -Wikipedia

     The closest word in Sanskrit is either “Itihasa”or “charitra” both being equally inadequate to express the westernnotion of “History”.

    The function of the Itihāsas are expressedthus:–

    itihāsa purāṇābhyām vedam upabrmhayet!

    “The function of the two Itihasas: Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārtaalong with the Purāṇas is to elaborate and elucidate the teaching of the Veda.”

    So the Itihāsas are commentaries onthe Veda and not a record of historical events.

    Historical evidence requiresa number of strict criteria to be fulfilled:–

    1.       Independent confirmation — i.e. from sources other than the subjectsources, writings, statements, documents, inscriptions, witness accounts etc.

    2.       Material evidence — homes, palaces, chariots, vases etc. whichcan be connected to the historical presence that one is trying to prove. Themere existence of a ruined palace does not prove the existence of the personwho allegedly occupied that palace. It simply proves a palace or city existedin that place.

    3.       Logical consistency — the stories and anecdotes told of theperson must be internally consistent - i.e. credible and free from conflictingaccounts.

    4.       Plausibility — events narrated of that person would most likely tohave happened in the time-frame, conditions and place postulated, includingother people mentioned in the narratives.

    Applying these strict criteria we cannot provethe historical existence of any of the characters; Kings or prophets of theBible, the Quran or of the Itihāsas and Puranas.

    The moment you introduce 10 headed demons, andshape-shifting titans, ogres and gigantic monkeys uprooting trees as weaponsand chucking mountains at each other you have Mythology NOT History.

    There may be a kernel of historical truth tothe Ramayana i.e. there may actually have been a king named Rama whose wife waskidnapped by another king etc. But all the stories about floating rocks, anddemons and ogres and shape-shifting monsters etc. are all figments of thepoet’s fertile imagination.

    From a hermeneutic point of view, narrativesin Sanskrit literature have 3 possible interpretations:–

    Śabdārtha — the literal meaning - in the case of the Ramayana youcan take the story exactly as it it is - entertaining and thrilling and thebasis of drama, dance, and song in the whole of South-east Asia.

    Bhāvārtha — the ethical and moral lessons one can gain from thestory. Using the different interpersonal dynamics between the characters toformulate ideal ways of behaviour, coping with tragedy and adaption to change.

    Lakṣyārtha — discerning a deeper, hidden spiritual meaning in thenarrative. The Rāmāyaṇa is a story about the journey of the jīva entrapped inSaṁsāra. It is about discovering one’s true nature, the nature of bondage tosaṁsāra and the way of liberation from saṁsāra.

    The “History” is totally irrelevant — it isthe utility and meaning and applicability of the text which is important.

     

     The Ramayana is a didactic work which has 3 levels of meaning:–

    śabdārtha — the literal meaning i.e. as a legend about a king andthe recovery of his abducted wife and his adventures in the course of the journey.

    bhāvārtha — the figurative meaning - the epic is a mine of greatteachings and insights regarding personal duties, social obligations,inter-personal relationships etc. etc (in spite of the negative deconstructionsby Marxists seeing class, gender and race conflict in it.)

    lakṣyārtha — the higher spiritual connotations – Rama represents usseeking Spiritual knowledge (Sītā) who is held captive by the Rāvāṇa (rajas).With the help of devotion & discrimination (hanuman) our mentalobstacles (rakṣasas) are overcome, then with the help of sattva (Vibhīṣaṇa),tamas (kumbhakarna) is destroyed and rajas (Ravana) conquered andpeace is restored with Sattva (Vibhishana) enthroned and enlightenmentobtained (patṭabhiṣeka). (This is a brief summary).

    This much is enough there is no need forcreative and useless claims for historicity. What matters is not that ithappened or not but what we can learn from it and how it enriches our dailylives.

    HINDUS  personally have great love anddevotion for both Rama and Hanuman and couldn’t care less whether they livedin sakala (material) realm because their true and eternalexistence is in the nishkala (spiritual) realm.

    For those of you who insist on the“historicity” of Ramayana - either you haven’t actually read the entire text oryou are kidding yourselves. Here is an exercise for you. Below are some majorincidents in the Ramayana - copy and paste them onto a sheet of paper and thensit down with your friends and relatives and discuss which one of these pointsyou consider to be History and which Mythology.

    N.B. there may indeed be a kernel ofhistorical truth which can be summed up as — a prince of Ayodhya, Rama’s wifeis abducted by the king of Srilanka - Rama wages a war and recovers her and isconsecrated king — but the narrative is almost entirely mythological.

    Notable key Incidents

    ·         King Dasaratha ruled in Ayodhya c 4433 BCE

    ·         Ayodhya covered 927 sq. kms with sophisticatedinfrastructure, temples palaces etc.

    ·         Agni manifests from fire and gives a potof payasa from which four sons are born.

    ·         Rama was born 11.02.4433 BCE ( Dr NarasinghaRao) or 4.12.7323 ( Dr. P.V.Vartak)

    ·         Tataka – a monstrous evil witch who canconjure up stone storms is killed by Rama.

    ·         Ahalya the wife of a Rishi is turned into astone for hundreds of years and revived by a touch of Rama’s foot. (Accordingto some versions)

    ·         Dundubhi a buffalo-like demon with thestrength of 1000 elephants killed by Rama

    ·         Surpanakha shape-shifting demoness and herantics

    ·         Rama’s war with demons Khara & Dushana

    ·         Trishira – a 3 headed demon killed by Rama

    ·         Mareechi another shape-shifter who can turnhimself into a golden deer.

    ·         Jatayu & Sampati huge talking vulturescapable of eating monkeys

    ·         Ayomukhi – another massive ugly demoness thandevours animals whole.

    ·         Kabandha – a demon the size of a mountain peakwith a face on its stomach.

    ·         Kishkinda is a sophisticated city inhabited bySanskrit talking shape-shifting and flying monkeys.

    ·         Hanuman (a monkey) – flies through the air1420 kms to Lanka

    ·         Mainaka a talking mountain who used to fly buthad his wings cut off by Indra, rises up out of the sea and has a conversationwith Hanuman who remains suspended in the air.

    ·         Surasa the mother of Nagas assumes a hugemountain-like form and opens her mouth 1200 kms.

    ·         Hanuman expands his body to 1200 kms in size.

    ·         Ravana – a monstrous shape-shifting demon with10 heads and 20 arms rules in Lanka.

    ·         Kumbhakarna a mountain-like demon who is solarge a thousand elephants can run up and down on his body. He sleeps for 9months then wakes up to consume a mountain a venison and hundreds of buffaloesand boars.

    ·         Monkeys build a bridge of rocks and trees 1420kms from India to Srilanka.

    ·         Armies of Vanaras and Rakshasas fight bytearing up trees and boulders and throwing them at each other.

    ·         Rama’s return to Ayodhya and Pattabhisheka on8th February .4395 BCE (Dr. Narasingha Rao) or 6th December 7272 BCE (Dr.P.V.Vartak)

    ·         Rama rules for 10,000 years i.e. until 5605C.E. (according to Valmiki he should still ruling in Ayodhya right now!)

    Perspective

    The biggest pre-industrial city in the worldwas the city of Angkor which was 1000 square Kilometres built 1000 years ago.Lidar scanning technology has mapped the entire city lying under the jungle.Why has no trace been discovered of the metropolis of Ayodhya from 6452 yearsago? The oldest structures found so far in India being those of the Induscivilization. And recently a megalithic site 7000 years old has been found inMuduma village in Telangana – and the stones menhirs do not reflect theadvanced degree of sophistication of Valmiki’s description of Ayodhya.

     It is very important for all western-educated savants to learn about Indian categories of knowledge and see things through anIndian lens rather than a western one.

    Valid knowledge in Hindu epistemology is defined as:–

    yathāvasthita vyavahāra anuguṇa jñānam pramā

    That knowledge which corresponds to a thing asit actually is, and has practical value in daily life is VALID KNOWLEDGE(pramā)

    So in other words, any form of knowledge, inorder to be considered “valid” must correspond semantically to theobject or event being described and must have a practical application in one’sdaily life.

    So take one incident — Rama fighting andkilling a ten-headed demon/brahmin king of Lanka.

    Applying the definition of Valid Knowledge

    1.       we cannot possibly know for certain if thisincident actually took place or not. It was so long ago, there were noface-book posts or videos taken and the likelihood of a real person having 10heads is doubtful – so it does not meet the first criteria.

    2.       Then the second criteria is application in ourdaily life — I personally cannot utilize this knowledge or deploy it in anyuseful way — therefore it fails the test of VALID Knowledge.

    Now it may indeed be true and actually didhappen in earthly time and place — but even in that case it is useless information.

    That same goes for many types of knowledge.Knowledge about rocket science is true but I personally cannot utilize it in mydaily life – it passes one of the criteria but not the other – hence for ME itis invalid knowledge, but for a scientist involved in space research it IS valid.

    [reply]

  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    The sacred literature of India generally hasthree levels of meaning:

    1.       Śabdārtha — literal meaning — the story is taken asliterally true on face-value.

    2.       Bhāvārtha — the figurative meaning in which one discoversarchetypes, morals, ethics, guidelines for behavior etc.

    3.       Lakṣyārtha — transcendent spiritual truths and mystical insights.

    The Rāmāyaṇa encompasses all three levels ofmeaning.

    Much of the hidden meaning is found in thenames of the characters..

    Dasaratha — 10 chariots. A chariot is symbolic of the body. 10chariots symbolize the body with its 5 sensory organs and 5 motor organs.

    Dasaratha has 3 wives which symbolize thethree forces of the mind

    Jñāna śakti = cognition (Kauśalya),iccha śakti = emotion (Kekayi) and kriya śakti = action (Sumitra)

    The four sons represent the four aspects ofDharma.

    Jñāna śakti (Kauśalya) produces satyam (Rāma),

    iccha śakti (Kekayi) produces tapas (Bharat)

    kriya śakti (Sumitra) produces 2 sons yajña/sacrifice (Lakṣmaṇa)and dāna/generosity (Śatrughna).

    Janaka was a raja-rishi (enlightenedsage-king) while plowing he discovers Sītā. Sītā means both furrowas well as “shining, pure, light” — she symbolizes supernal wisdom (brahma-jñāna).

    Satyam (Rāma) is married to Brahma-jñāna (Sīta)

    There are 3 brothers in Lanka:–

    1.       Rāvana /dasa-mukha = rajas. Activity, motivation,conquest, appropriation, aggression drive etc. Dasa-mukha isthe polarity of Dasa-ratha. Dasa-ratha presides over Order whileDasa-mukha presides over Chaos.

    2.       Kumbhakarṇa = tamas. He has a gigantic body and spends histime sleeping, arises once in 6 months to engage in an orgy of glutton and thenfalls asleep again.

    3.       Vibhīṣaṇa = sattva. Just, reasonable, learned anddevoted, he spends his time in doing charitable acts and meditating.

    Manthara means stupid, foolish, silly, lacking in discrimination.

    Through stupidity and ignorance (Manthara),emotion (Kekayi) takes control of mind and exiles truth and wisdom tothe forest.

    And the rest is history as they say :-)

     

    What is the evidence that Ramayana was real?

     

    What do you mean by “real”? You may ask is ittrue or is it historical?

    The answer depends on (a) which version youare reading - there are hundreds of different Ramayanas with many variationsand (b) which level of interpretation you are reading. And There are threelevels.

    1.       śabdārtha – the literal meaning.

    2.       bhāvārtha – the figurative meaning

    3.       lakṣyārtha – the hidden transcendental meaning.

    śabdārtha — The literal Ramayana is a story about a prince who mayor may not have been an historical character like Shivaji or King Henry 8th.There is absolutely no concrete evidence or even a way of knowing this. Somebelieve he was a real king and some believe he was a literary creation ofValmiki.

    But the story itself is embellished withmythology, legends, divergent narratives, literary devices, descriptions, pathos,etc. which are neither natural nor historical nor even plausible but makeentertaining and exciting reading.

    bhāvārtha – the figurative meaning. Within the story there aredozens of profound teachings and examples of how to deal with various situationswe encounter in our lives. The ideal behaviour is contrasted with the harmfuland all the characters can be analysed psychologically and perennial morals andlessons drawn.

    The Rāmāyana is a treasure of teachings onDHARMA - this is its primary value - the narrative itself being only a vehicle- so don’t get hung up on the historicity or literary criticism - that is justthe package and not the essential content.

    Lakṣyārtha - the esoteric meaning. There is a very profound andadmirable way in which the author has woven esoteric and transcendentalteachings into the narrative. For want of space and the limited attention ofreaders, I shall just give a few hints.

    The four brothers represent the four feet ofDharma. Rāma = Satyam - Truth, Lakṣmaṇa = Sacrifice - Yajña,Bharat = austerity - tapas, and Śatrughna= generosity - dāna.

    The three Rakṣasa brother represent the threeguṇas. Rāvana = Rajas, Vibhiṣaṇa = Sattva andKumbhakarṇa = Tamas.

    Dasa-ratha (ten-chariots) is correlated toDasa-grīva (ten-heads) and Sītā represents Brahma-vidya = Divine knowledge.Hanumān the power of Bhakti etc. etc. etc.

    So the Ramayana is TRUE on many different levels but not necessarily on the superficial level of historicity.Traditionally Hindus never asked is it true? they asked “what can this text teach me and what can I do with it?”

    [reply]

  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    Epics of India: What is known about the historicity of Hindu figures such as Rama, Krishna, etc.?

     

    It is most unfortunate that modern Hindus havebeen so seduced by western education that they have fallen right into the mind-colonisationtrap and are desperately trying to couple spirituality to materialism- to confound the two and unsuccessfully to overlay them. The previouscolonizers of India limited their theophanies to Mecca and Jerusalem so thementally-colonised are now desperate to fix the Hindu theophany in Ayodhya.

    Historicity is a western meme and has no placewhen studying the epics of India which were purely SPIRITUAL textbooks,teaching spiritual values, metaphysics and DHARMA.

    Hindus dont try to tie Rama or Krishna down toearth - to limit them by time and place and petty circumstances? Why not leavethem where they are, in the timeless and spaceless Cosmos. The universecomprises of 100 billion galaxies, planet earth is the size of a grain of sandon all the combined beaches of the world, and on this tiny speck of dust -“Historianistas” want to limit Rama to a single point - a town called Ayodhya!How astonishing - its like forcing the ocean into a teacup!!


    HISTORICITY OF LORD RAMA -

     There are two perspectives

    Mythological - Rama was  some king who lived on this dust-speck calledearth and ruled in Ayodhya several thousand years ago,

     Metaphysical - Rama who transcends alllimitations of articulation and conceptualisation and is the All-pervadingSupreme Reality - the Cosmic Rama who encompasses the 100 Billion Galaxies andextends beyond them.

     Similar to Brahma , Vishnu , Shiva

    There are two perspectives of them.

    Mythological - all the weird and wonderful stories of their pastimes andscandalous activities and their absurd mutual conflicts and triumphalism.Depending on the Purana each one creates the others and then they fight aboutwho is superior - great entertainment like Star Wars - but not serious.

    Metaphysical - they are the personifications of the SUPREME BRAHMAN - threeprimal energetic forces in operation in the Universe. They are not antagonisticforces but rather inseparable synergetic forces. Brahma (the Great one) is theorganising principle of the Cosmos. The force which ordains the emergence ofthe Universe from formlessness to form. Vishnu (the Omnipresent one) is thesustaining force which maintains equilibrium in the external Universe andhomeostasis in the bodies of all beings.

    Śiva (the Benevolent one)is the transformative force which changes form back into formlessness. Theforce of deconstruction and dissolution of all things. They are not “created”sky-guys but are eternal principles forever in operation in the Cosmic dance ofBEING. They all emerge from the Matrix or the Unified Field known as BRAHMANand are representative of the three essential qualities of Brahman. Sat - Being= Brahma (SPACE) Cit - Consciousness = Shiva Ānanda - bliss/love = Vishnu(TIME)

    Hindus are a great devotee of Rama but there r 2 views -  Rama was some king who lived on this dust-speck called earth and ruled in Ayodhya several thousand years ago, and Rama is the one who Lord Shiva described to Parvati in the Adhyātma Ramayana - I give the translation of Swami Tapasyananda in full - because it summarises Vedanta philosophy.

    Adhyātma Rāmāyana – Chapter One

    Sri Mahadeva said [to Parvati]:

    16. You are indeed fortunate in having gotthis desire to know the truth concerning the Supreme Self. You are a devotee.Never before this have I been questioned by any one on the truth concerningRama, which is an esoteric doctrine, extremely profound and subtle.

    17. I, who have been devotedly questioned andthus prompted by you today shall reply to Your question after making duesalutations to that noblest one of Raghu’s line. Rama is the Supreme Self,distinct from Prakriti. He is the one all-comprehending Being, who is pureBliss itself and the Spirit Supreme over all entities.

    18. Having projected this entire universe byPower, Māyā-śakti, He dwells within and without the universe like the elementether. Though He is thus the resident with beings, He is completely hidden fromvision, as He is their innermost Self, is the ultimate Seer and Witness of allthis universe of His Māyā’s creation.

    19. Before Him the whole universe whirls asfilings round a magnet. The unintelligent, with their minds covered by thepower Ignorance (Avidya), know this not.

    20. On Him, Rama—the Supreme Self, thePure Consciousness unaffected by Māyā— ignorant Jivas superimpose their ownignorance and see Him as involved in worldly entanglements like themselves.Attached as they are to their own relatives and worldly assets, and involved inmultifarious activities they fail to perceive Rama dwelling within their hearts,just as they fail to recognize the presence of their golden necklaces adorningtheir own necks.

    21. In the sun whose nature is luminosity,there can be no darkness. Even so how can ignorance subsist in Rama who is thecondensation of Pure Consciousness, and who is the transcendent and SupremeSelf.

    22. A man of defective eye-sight, whose visionis whirling sees the houses and other objects too as whirling. (The whirlingmovements of the objects outside is only an attribution on them of one’s ownwhirling vision). So also men are deluded by superimposing on the Supreme Selfegoistic actions of their own I-sense (Ahaṅkāra) which in combinationwith the body and the senses, assumes the role of the doer.

    23. In the sun who is of the nature ofunobstructible and changeless luminosity, there can be no day and night at anytime. In the same way, in Rama, the Supreme Being Hari, who is the condensationof Pure Consciousness, how can there be knowledge and ignorance, the twochanging states observed in limited centres of consciousness?

    24, Rama, the noblest of the Raghus, is of the nature of PureBliss-Consciousness that has no rise and fall. That lotus-eyed Lord is thewitness of Ajñāna (ignorance) and not a victim of it. Māyā,the power of ignorance is dependent on Him, and can therefore never cause Himinfatuation and ignorance.

    This is my Rama who transcends all limitationsof articulation and conceptualisation and is the All-pervading Supreme Reality- the Cosmic Rama who encompasses the 100 Billion Galaxies and extends beyondthem.

    My Rama cannot be confined to the pages ofsome book and treated like a verifiable artefact - to be examined and proddedlike a specimen.

    Let’s please stop with this “historicity”obsession and strive to understand the deep spiritual essence of the Ramayana and its implication for personal development and self-realisation.

    [reply]

  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    BRAHMA RAPED SARASWATISTORY -

     

    You are confusingmythology with philosophy. Each and every one of those stories has a wholenarrative behind it.

    For example Brahmadoes not “rape” his daughter. Brahma splits himself into two - male and female.Just like how cells reproduce. The cells then “copulate” in order to reproducethemselves. Sarasvati changes into the various creatures of the world andBrahma does the same - the female is the leader to reproduction. Every embryois born “female” with XX chromosomes but some change into XY chromosomes whichproduces the male.

    This story is simply acreation myth - like Adam and Eve. In there Bible Adam was created first andthen Eve was created from his rib - so here too Eve is Adam’s daughter. Theyhad two sons and one daughter - so creation was also through incest. So problemin Abrahamic religions - the difference is we are happy to recognise these asmyths and we do not condemn them like Abrahamic condemn Hindus.

    So in short we don’ttake our stories as historical “fact” they are just stories.


    Now we take a look at these Wordly Questionsconcerning Lord RAMA

    If any man in today’sday and age did what Ram did to Sita, that man would be shamed and cursed, thenwhy is Ram worshipped?

    The very premise ofthe question is dubious. To compare the domestic events of the Ramayana withmodern values is false. The Ramayana is a didactic narrative - it is about thedifficulty of practicing Dharma in a real world of competing values anddemands.

    What people are doingto manage their domestic affairs in today’s world is something else. Divorceand serial marriages and partnerships are becoming the norm.

    Divorce demography -Wikipedia

    Some SJW’s want tofind misogyne in the Ramayana and deconstruct it using Marxist paradigms ofpower, privilege and gender-conflict.

    Here are somepertinent factors to consider.

    Sita was never forcedby the patriarchy to do anything against her wish. She freely chose to marryRama, she chose to go to the forest with him - in fact - insisted, despite alldiscouragement. She chose to send Lakshmana away - with cruel torments, she thenchose to ignore warnings and to cross the line drawn by Lakshmana. So Sita wasnot the passive victim of male patriarchy - she was the victim of her owndecisions.

    Now lest the feministcohort begin a barrage of abuse - let’s consider the other side of theequation.

    Bali was counselled byhis wife Tara not to go and fight with Sugriva. She suspected it was a trap andrepeatedly counselled and begged him to make peace - he refused and was killed- a victim of his own choice and a rejection of the advice of a woman.

    Ravana was alsorepeatedly advised and counselled by his wife Mandodari to return Sita to Ramaand to make peace - again he rejected her advice, and he thus met his end.

    Two very strong andintelligent women who were ignored by two powerful and stupid men to their owndetriment.

    The moral of the storyis not about power and privilege and gender-conflict - it is aboutlistening to, and heeding bloody good counsel!

    Just to be clear- Ram NEVER asked Sita to undergo Agnipariksha. It was Sita who orderedLakshman to bring woods and light a fire so that she can give Agnipariksha.Both Valmiki Ramayan & Tulsidas Ramcharitmanas mention this thing.

    Hence, the question isbased on hearsay and fraudulent claims.

    Cheers…!

    Question - If nobody asked Sita to give agnipariksha, whydid she do it ? To whom was she proving her purity ? What was the point of thewhole exercise ?

    Response - 

    There is nothing inRamayana, that does not have a hidden meaning or a parallel storyline or abackdrop. The beauty of it is that one can interpret it both while knowingthese parallel stories and while unknown to them in totallity.

    Coming to answer yourquestions:

    Scientifically andmodern perspective:

    What would be themental condition of a lady being accused of adultery? what she does in thatcondition - it could be rational or irrational - isn’t it? So what a lady inpain, sorrow, feeling betrayed, accused falsely and sad and enraged; does couldonly be explained by her and no one else.

    Philosophical/Mythological/Religiousperspective (as per the scriptures):

    Before going forVanvas, Ramji had sent her to Agni Dev and what was with Ramji, wasa chhavi of her. Agnipariksha was the best way to return back toRamji and be with him.

    I highly suggest oneto read at least Ramcharitmanas so as to know the right story - the rightsequence of events and then pose questions, it would be a logical discussionthen.

    Cheers…!

     

    Why did Lord Ram sendSita into exile while she was pregnant?

    In order to understand the Ramayana you need to know that it is a map of Dharma - it does not give historical facts and figures. It raises important and sometimes controversialissues of the art of living for examination.

    The issue of these cond banishment of Sita revolves around the question of the legitimacy of a monarch.

    Does a monarch get legitimacy from privilege (autocracy) or from the popular endorsement and validation of the people he rules (democracy)?

    Should the monarchd isregard the murmuring of the people in favour of his own self-interest or should he sacrifice his own self-interest to appease the citizens?

    This is the question for discussion.

     

    Is it right that LordRama left Sita when she was kidnapped by a demon and because a washerman passedunkind comments? Is it not the same as victim shaming and victim blaming? Howis this considered “Godly behaviour”?

    The first error is analyzing and deconstructing ancient literature using Neo-marxist criticaltheory methodology.

    The second error istaking an ancient literary narrative as an historical account of what reallyhappened and judging it according to 21st century values.

    The Neo-marxistprofessors of Indology in the USA are expert at this. Sheldon Pollock was thefirst to deconstruct the Ramayana in terms of victimology and hierarchies ofpower and oppression and to completely disregard the spiritual significance andvalue.

    The Ramayana is anepic which contains descriptive stories, narratives and legends which have animplication in defining cultural beliefs and asserting values, and which informideal practice and behaviour (human and not Godly). The Ramayana is consideredas the epic par excellence and is studied during these current 9 days from NewYear till the festival of Rama Navami in order to orientate us to ideal humanvalues and to prepare us mentally and spiritually for the year ahead.

    It is well known that the Uttara Ramayana is an interpolation and the particular story that you arealluding to, is not found in other version of the Ramayana of which there arehundreds!

    Even if, for arguments sake, we take it as part of the original epic, even then there are valuesto be found here. Rama was a King i.e. a politician. He heard the discontent ofthe people who doubted his virtue and that of his own wife, and took theirconcerns to heart and exiled his most beloved wife to demonstrate that he putthe people before his own self interest. In other words he was prepared to sacrificehis own family for the sake of the trust of the citizens. He ruled only becausethe citizens gave him a mandate to rule and that too because of his impeccablevirtue.

    How many modernpoliticians, all of whom are corrupt and who lie and deceive would do that? Soyou need to compare the acts of Rama with your own Presidents or PrimeMinisters - how many of them put the concerns or anxieties of their electoratebefore that of themselves and their families.

    P.S. Regarding Marxistcultural interpretations of Hindu texts.

    There are hundreds ofdifferent Ramayanas extending over the whole of South East Asia - it is notconfined to India. Each and every Ramayana has contradictions and variations inthemes and narrative details. The primary purpose of the Ramayana is totransmit spiritual and cultural values.

    Marxist critical theory is not about uncovering the spiritual values and higher aspirations ofthe Ramayana it is about deconstructing and demolishing Culture and Religion -it a device of the Marxist Cultural Revolution - to sow dissent and to pitraces, genders and classes against each other — as is happening in all theUniversities in the USA. So the whole Grand narrative of the Marxist is thedestruction of Hinduism - “the opiate of the people” - in order to bring aboutthe Utopian Socialist Republic.

     

    In Indian literature there are legends aboutgreat kings and sages, griping narratives to entertain, love stories to delightand myths that convey moral teachings and philosophical tidbits for the commonfolk.

    As an example there isa story about Arjuna and Krishna walking along and Arjuna asks Krishna aboutthe concept of Māyā. Krishna stops and takes a seat under a tree and asksArjuna to fetch him a drink of water from the nearby village.

    Arjuna hops down tothe village and at the well he meets this gorgeous girl with whom he is smittenin love, she invites him home to meet her father and he is requested to stayfor a few days (he completely forgets who he is, who Krishna is and the reason forcoming to the village.) He stays for a few days and then his marriage isarranged with the hot babe, he has kids and lives contentedly in the village.

    Then one day out ofthe blue he remembers who he is and why he came to the village originally - heleaps up and rushes out and finds the tree - and there he sees Krishna restingcomfortably and patiently waiting, decades have passed. Arjuna begs hisforgiveness and Krishna smilingly says - “now you know about Māyā!”

    This is what we meanby MYTH - it is a charming story which teaches a profound philosophicaldoctrine.

    Now somefundamentalist folks would start investigating and arguing about if it reallyhappened, what was the date of the event, in which Yuga did it take place, whatwas the name of the village and is there any archeological evidence of eitherthe tree or the house in which Arjuna lived? What the names of his kids were,are there any descendants, was the water sweet or brackish? What were theirfamilies doing in their absence since so many decades had passed, what was theeconomic set up in the village - all of these questions are pointless and infact ridiculous.

    The marxist mob wouldsee a confirmation of socialism - if the two comrades had gone together to thewell none of this would have happened. Sexism - why were the women going to thewell and not the men? Genderism - why did Arjuna fall in love with the womanand not the transperson or the gay guy or any other bloke. Patriarchy - why didthey have go back to the father-in-law’s house and live there? What was thefather-in-law even consulted about the matter? Politics – this story is aboutreaffirming all the evils of a capitalist society!

    The story/myth is theVEHICLE of a teaching and its packaging can be discarded once the message isrevealed.

    There are literally millions of stories like this throughout the library of Indian literature.

     

    [reply]

  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    ARE RAMAYANA and MAHABHARATA REAL -

     there is a lot of confusion about REALITY.

    What do you mean by “real”?

    Is it a material thing available to the five senses?Or is it a metaphysical concept - available to the imagination and emotions.

    In Hindu metaphysics there are two sources of“truth”:–

    1.       sakala - the material world as explained by science based onempiricism and reason – technically called LOGOS.

    2.       niṣkala - the spiritual realm - cognised through the mind andcomprised of the collective unconscious – technically referred to as MYTHOS.

    We all obtain our knowledge and construct ourunderstanding of “reality” through these two means. Our minds and emotions areinvolved in our daily reality.

    There is not a single religion on earth thatworships a “real” God in the sakala sense. All Gods of everyreligion have their origin and being in the niṣkala realm.

     

    There are 2 ways of acquiring knowledge,analysing it, thinking it through, communicating and applying it in one’s life— Mythos and Science. These are two complimentaryways of arriving at truth — they are not mutually exclusive.The one deals with the body and external universe the other deals with theunconscious mind and humankind’s perennial search for meaning.

    Science (sakala) is the critical intelligence; therational, pragmatic and scientific approach to life that enables us to functionwell in the world in which we live. Science relates to facts and figures andcorresponds to the objective world of our common experience. Science looksahead and tries to improve and discover new ways of being, and doing. Moreefficient ways to manipulate and exert control over our environment. It’s functionis to improve, to invent and innovate. The scientific approach cannot solve theexistential problems of human existence — unhappiness. It can assuage physicaland mental pain and suffering through accessories and medication, but it cannotanswer questions about the ultimate value of human existence.

    Mythos (niṣkala) is the collective creative intuition; thesource of inspiration. It is primarily concerned with what is timeless andconstant in our existence. Mythos[1] is retrospective and deals with theorigins of life, to the source of a culture and to the content of thecollective unconscious. It responds to the questions:– Who am I? Why am I here?And what do I do next? How should I live my life? How should I relate toothers?

    Mythos is not concerned with how things arewith regard to day to day issues but rather with their meaning andimplication for meaningful action. Mythos provides a spiritual context thathelps us to make sense of our day to day lives and how to respond to mental andspiritual challenges. The mythological stories of the Purāṇas and Itihāsas dealwith psychology and the unconscious mind, they explore the tension andinteraction between the forces of Chaos and Order they investigate and explorethe complexity of Dharma (Right living) — they are attempts atcomprehending the unknown and integrating our ordering our lives — there mayindeed by some kernels of historicity in them but “his-story” should become“our-story” — this is the purpose of mythos.

    Between these two realms or dimensions ofbeing, there are certain times and seasons, and special places when there is acrossing (tīrtha) between them. For example, the River Ganges is aphysical river but it is also believed to be a spiritual river as well. A bathin the Ganges cleanses us physically but it is also believed by millions topurify us spiritually. There are hundreds of sacred sites, almost allassociated with water, which serve as tīrthas — fords, portalswhere we can, like in the movie Matrix cross over into the niṣkala dimension.

    In the Āgamic (Tantric) practice, each andevery temple is built to serve as a tīrtha, a place to commune withthe Devas and experience the niṣkala realm. Hence specifictemples like Srirangam, Tirupati are called bhūr-loka vaikuṇṭham —“heaven on earth”. Wherever Hindus migrate in the world they create these fordsor sacred places, they sacralise the land and through the complex ritualsreplicate the sacred landscape of India in America, Australia, Europe, England,Africa etc.

    Both these ways:– sakala and niṣkala areessential to our lives but should always remain parallel and not be conflatedwith each other. So arguing whether Rama or Krishna were historical charactersand whether they actual fought and vanquished the Asuras they were reported tohave etc. are all meaningless questions because all their pastimes relate tothe niṣkala realm.

     

     it is important to reflect that the term ‘myth’ is commonly used for something that is false,untrue, or erroneous, but the academic definition is “a traditional storyaccepted by a culture which serves to explain their world view and to serve as a map for efficient and adaptive action.”

     

    [reply]

  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    In Indian literature there are legends about great kings and sages, griping narratives to entertain, love stories to delight and myths that convey moral teachings and philosophical tidbits for the common folk.

    As an example there is a story about Arjuna and Krishna walking along and Arjuna asks Krishna about the concept of Māyā. Krishna stops and takes a seat under a tree and asks Arjuna to fetch him a drink of water from the nearby village.

    Arjuna hops down to the village and at the well he meets this gorgeous girl with whom he is smitten in love, she invites him home to meet her father and he is requested to stay for a few days (he completely forgets who he is, who Krishna is and the reason for coming to the village.) He stays for a few days and then his marriage is arranged with the hot babe, he has kids and lives contentedly in the village.

    Then one day out of the blue he remembers who he is and why he came to the village originally - he leaps up and rushes out and finds the tree - and there he sees Krishna resting comfortably and patiently waiting, decades have passed. Arjuna begs his forgiveness and Krishna smilingly says - “now you know about Māyā!”

    This is what we mean by MYTH - it is a charming story which teaches a profound philosophical doctrine.

    Now some fundamentalist folks would start investigating and arguing about if it really happened, what was the date of the event, in which Yuga did it take place, what was the name of the village and is there any archeological evidence of either the tree or the house in which Arjuna lived? What the names of his kids were, are there any descendants, was the water sweet or brackish? What were their families doing in their absence since so many decades had passed, what was the economic set up in the village - all of these questions are pointless and in fact ridiculous.

    The marxist mob would see a confirmation of socialism - if the two comrades had gone together to the well none of this would have happened. Sexism - why were the women going to the well and not the men? Genderism - why did Arjuna fall in love with the woman and not the transperson or the gay guy or any other bloke. Patriarchy - why did they have go back to the father-in-law’s house and live there? What was the father-in-law even consulted about the matter? Politics – this story is about reaffirming all the evils of a capitalist society!

    The story/myth is the VEHICLE of a teaching and its packaging can be discarded once the message is revealed.

    There are literally millions of stories like this throughout the library of Indian literature.

     

    [reply]

  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    Is Valmiki Ramayan the oldest Hindu text since it was written during the times when Bhagwan Ram walked the Earth?

     No, the oldest extant Hindu texts are the Vedas.

    Bhagawan Rama never walked on the earth. He was never born and never died - he is the personification of the Supreme Being Sriman Nārāyaṇa and exists eternally in the Nishakala realm not the Sakala.

    The Valmiki Ramayana says Rama and his brothers were conceived by a magical pudding that was produced by the God of Fire Agni during a yajña.

    Children are not conceived through puddings, there are no shape-shifting monsters with 10 heads and 20 arms and monkeys, bears and squirrels do not build bridges.

    The story of the Ramayana is not historical its function is to teach us values and give guidance for the good life. So we need to stop thinking in materialistic terms of physicalism. The physical is temporary the metaphysical is eternal. Rama cannot be bound by time-place-circumstance.

     The Valmiki Ramayana says Rama and his brothers were conceived by a magical pudding that was produced by the God of Fire Agni during a yajña.

    Not sure you are totally correct here. Dasratha performed yajna and received special prasadam for his queen.

    There is nothing in the story which says that all the four princes were not biologically conceived with divine blessings.

     The pudding called pāyasam was produced by the god of fire Agni deva. The queens divided it up among them selves and conceived. Children are never conceived through divine blessings - they are conceived through intercourse and the meeting of semen and ovum.

    Rama and his brother were not BIOLOGICAL dudes - they were avatāras of the Supreme Being Sriman Nārāyana himself. They were not born and died - they are living eternally in the Nishakala realm.

     C-Claim , R - Response

    C

    Children are never conceived through divine blessings - they are conceived through intercourse and the meeting of semen and ovum.

    Perhaps I did not explain well. I meant that pudding was symbol of divine grace. The passage does not preclude biological procreation. The queens received the pudding and then the ovum and sperm fertilization happened with the grace of Lord Agni.

    Textual passage is not denying science.

     

    R -

     Please try to understand biology cannot be linked with “divine grace” which is the unknown factor X. Procreation is conditioned by (1) Karma and (2) biological processes (3) self-effort.

    The birth of Rama was not biological because it never happened. Rama is the avatāra of Vishnu not the biological son of a king named Dasaratha. Please try to understand the difference. For clarity you can read the Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇa which explains in greater detail.

     

    C -

     If everything happens by a set of conditions and nothing by grace, then the corollary is that it is futile to do Vedic Karma Kandas because they have no potency to actuate or alter the material conditions.

    Is this what you are saying? This Naastiktavaad, BTW.

    Beyond Puranic mythology, there is another version of Rama in Yoga Vashishtha that is not very magical.

    While Adhiatmika (spiritual) interpretation is correct and has its own value, it does not negate the Adhibhautika (physical) interpretation. Both are true in the Indian genre of epic writing. That’s my belief.

     

    R -

     The Vedas are meant for different adhikāris.

    There is karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa and upāsana-kāṇḍa. The karma-kāṇḍa is for those who are mired in worldly matters i.e. Grihasthas. For sādhakas the other two are there.

    So a nāstika is one who denies the epistemic authority of the Vedas not one who renounces karma-kāṇḍa.

    Yoga Vasiṣṭha is an amazing work and extremely valuable.

    Adibhautika version is false because the entire universe is mithya - Māyā and only Brahman is satya. You, me, avatāras, sun, moon and every thing is nothing but māyā. So please don’t be deluded into thinking YOU are real.

     

    C -

      “So a nāstika is one who denies the epistemic authority of the Vedas not one who renounces karma-kāṇḍa”

    But you are denying epistemic authority of Karma Kanda section of Vedas by denying their potency to manifest physical results.

    A Yajna performed for the birth of a child will lead to birth of a child. This is the basic premise of Karma Kanda section of Vedas. If you believe that a Yajna when performed correctly has no potency to lead to child birth you are showing lack of faith in karma-kāṇḍa/upāsana-kāṇḍa part of Vedas. This is also nāstiktvad.

     

    R -

     There is no “epistemic” authority in karma-kānḍa - it is ritual practice and ritual practice has no authority.

    Can you produce the research data on putrakāmeṣṭi yajña? perhaps with double-blind studies. Or is it just a belief?

    Again you are confused or have not studied enough. The sādhak is required to go beyond karma-kāṇḍa and to renounce all rituals while ascending the heights of jñāna-kāṇḍa. Karma-kāṇḍa is only for worldly folks - not for mumukṣus.

    Upāsana-kāṇḍa is meditational practices - again no authority - just practice.

    So you are wrong in you understanding of nāstikavāda. Please go back to your guru and study further.

     

    C -

     The sādhak is required to go beyond karma-kāṇḍa and to renounce all rituals while ascending the heights of jñāna-kāṇḍa. Karma-kāṇḍa is only for worldly folks - not for mumukṣus.

    This is understood but the implication that jñāna-kāṇḍa invalidates karma-kāṇḍa is incorrect. They are meant for two different but complementary purposes.

    The “sādhak” is not superior to “grahastha” nor are jñāna-kāṇḍa and Karma-kāṇḍa in conflict. A jnani when living as grahastha performs karma kandas with full devotion, let alone speak against their value or potency.

    Karma-kāṇḍa is not blind ritual. Vedic belief is that Devas exist and can grant wishes of yajmana when petitioned in correct way. Not holding such a view is Nastikavad. Even Buddha does not deny them.

    Just knowing that world is Maya does not give you automatic freedom from Maya, even if you may have experienced Samadhi or Turiya state. As long as you have a body and you need to breathe you are bound by Maya and are subject to different kinds of desires and traps of mind. Devas help you harmonize them.

    Karma-kāṇḍa mediaites the relationship with Devas. It has both an ontology and epistemology. Let me add humbly, you need to find a more competent teacher who can teach you Vedas if this understanding was never given to you.

    Every section or Kanda of Vedas is true, potent, divinely inspired, and relevant for its intended purpose. To doubt even a part of this is Nastikavad.

     

    R -

      “A jnani when living as grahastha performs karma kandas with full devotion, let alone speak against their value or potency.”

    depends on your sampradaya. Vaishnavas perform karma-kāṇḍa not for the results, but only as Bhagavat kainkarya. (karmaṇyeva adhikāraste te mā phaleṣu kadācana).

    Vaidika karma-kāṇḍa is restricted only to dvijas and Sūdras are not required or obligated to perform. For them there is Tantra vidhi. And may I remind you according to Shastra 90% of Hindus today as Sūdras.

    There is no ontology or epistemology in Karma-kāṇḍa - if you believe this then please with the help of your guru teach me what it is. I have been a priest for 50 years and I am keen to learn.

    All the Vedas may be true in your opinion but they are not all useful and the Vedas must be transcended.

    trai-guṇya viṣayā vedā nistrai-guṇyo bhavārjuna | nir-dvandvo nitya satvastho nir-yoga kṣema ātmavān || Gita 2:45 ||

    yāvān artha udapāne sarvataḥ saṁplutodake | tāvān sarveṣu vedeṣu brāhmaṇasya vijānataḥ || Gita 2:46 ||

    So you have still not proven your thesis that rejection of Karma-kāṇḍa is nāstikavāda. Please take the help of your Mīmāṁsa guru and solve this conundrum which you have.

     

    C -

     So you have still not proven your thesis that rejection of Karma-kāṇḍa is nāstikavāda.

    Karma-kāṇḍa is important part of Vedas and is mandatory for all Vedika householders.

    Nāstikavāda is disbelief in the potency in any part of Vedas .

    When you reject something, you are automatically showing disbelief in it. When you reject a part of Veda , nāstikavāda is self-evident

    There is no ontology or epistemology in Karma-kāṇḍa

    That Devas such as Agni, Indra, Mitra, Varuna, etc are propitiated as part of Karma-kāṇḍa exist imply their ontologically positive of status. Even the so-called nāstika like Shakyamuni Buddha (he wasn't) does not deny their ontology.

    That these Devas can be known and experienced through mediation of Vedic Karma-kāṇḍa shows that their ontology can be empirically confirmed by a system of knowledge, symbolisms, invocations and charms shows that the Karma-kāṇḍas comprise a definitive epistemology .

     How did the Rama Bridge to Sri Lanka exist iif Rama never existed? Who build that bridge?

    India needs to improve on doing more archeology research so the truth can be revealed. Sadly less than 1% of Archeology has been carried out after independence..

    the vast temple records are not interpreted or stored digitally. INDIA has to wake up to its civilizational identity. It must know its roots ASAP

     R -

    Just because a bride exists it doesn’t establish who exactly built that bride - but it is highly unlikely to have been built by animals.

    I agree that India is probably the only ancient civilization to be uninvested in Archaeology.

     C -

    edgar caycee said ram existed in his reading. he said ram entered india

     R -

     Of course Ram exists ETERNALLY in Nishkala realm not in material world.

    [reply]

  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    It’s Mythology - look for lessons in the story and don’t speculate about altering the plot - its an exercise in futility. When you read a novel or watch a movie do you ask why the author/director didn’t write or direct the plot differently or do you just enjoy the story? Apply this in Ramayana n Mahabharata

    [reply]

  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    The ultimate difference between Hinduism n all Other Religions.For the individual who follows a dharma path, it is not necessary to accept a particular account of history.

       in order to attain a higher, embodied states of consciousness. Nor is any such historical account or belief sufficient to produce the desired state. Thus, dharma traditions have flourished for long periods without undue concern about history, relying instead on the numerous lineages of spiritual masters who teach from a state of enlightenment. Meditative practices remove the layers of conditioning that obfuscate the light of one’s true self and thereby help one to realize the highest truth without depending on history. Even if all historical records

     

    were lost, historical memory erased, and every holy site desecrated, the truth could be recovered by spiritual practices.Hinduism’s theologies do not depend upon any history for their validity, in the same sense as the Laws of Gravitation do not depend upon proving the historical details of Newton’s life.

     

    Hindutva is a contemporary Hindu movement trying to make the historical identity a central element of its product: Hindutva espouses the literal interpretation of the Hindu epics such as Ramayana, and builds the modern Hindu identity on a lineage to the people represented in the epics. However, large parts of Hinduism are unrelated to any such historical identity. ‘White Hindus’ and ‘white neo-Hindus’, the twenty million Americans practicing yoga/meditation, would clearly be one of the segments in the ahistorical category. Too much focus on historicity has not only debarred newcomers into Hinduism, but has also made the legitimacy of Hinduism contingent upon the provability of ancient historical claims.

    [reply]

  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    Is Valmiki Ramayan the oldest Hindu text since it was written during the times when Bhagwan Ram walked the Earth?


    The oldest Hindu texts are the Vedas viz. the Rig Veda.

    We do not know for certain when Vālmiki composed his epic. And there is also the issue that the narrator may not have been the author himself because it seems a second person introduces the epic.

    It begins with: “The ascetic Vālmiki put the following question directly to Nārada ……” Which indicates someone else unnamed is introducing the story.

    If Vālmiki was the actual author why did he not begin with:- “I, Vālmiki asked nārada…….?” Why would he talk of himself in the second person?

    For all ancient Hindu literature it is very hard to know exactly who the author was. In medieval works they tended to introduce themselves at the beginning of a literary work. But the epics and Purāṇas are of unknown authorship - being generally attributed to one Vyāsa which means “the Compiler”.

    Nārada is a “celestial sage” who wanders through the cosmos visiting various heavenly worlds as well as the earth and all its regions - so he is unlikely to have been an historical person.

    The name Nārada means “one who gives understanding” or “one who illuminates”. His cosmic function is to stir up trouble and to instigate events which bring about awakening or enlightenment.

    [reply]

  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    As per Valmiki Ramayan - Aranya Kanda, Lord Rama killed 40000 people even before Sita was kidnapped. Were they actually Adivasis who were opposing Aryavart (varnasrama)?

    Shape-shifting demons are not “people”, the technical term is rākṣasa and they are mythical beings who guard the forests and resources and are ugly, angry and indulge in cannibalism. So nothing like ādivāsis or aboriginal inhabitants of the forests.

    Rakshasas were notorious for disturbing sacrifices, desecrating sacred groves, harassing sages, possessing human beings and generally causing destruction and mischief. Their fingernails were said to be venomous and they fed on human flesh and spoiled food.


    The Ramayana talks about meat-eating in its verses. Does this Holy text promote the consumption of meat?

    The Ramayana clearly alludes to Rama and Lakshmana hunting and preparing and Sita cooking meat.

    The literalist commentators accept it at face-value. The objectors use all kind of ludicrous exegetical gymnastics to deny the statements and conclude that they did hunt and kill animals and even may have cooked them but they did not actually eat them.

    Nevertheless whatever be the case, it is impossible to Iive in a jungle eating only fruit and roots for 14 years without partaking of animal protein. But this survival strategy does not “promote meat-eating”! Under normal circumstances one can obtain and enjoy a nutritious diet

    [reply]

  • suyash95235 days ago | +0 points

    If Ramayana and Mahabharata are myths, can then Rama and Krishna be considered mythical figures?

    It depends on what YOU mean by “myth”. If you mean it in the colloquial sense of an untruth or fiction then the answer is no.

    If you mean an archetype of the collective unconscious which is the representation of the highest truth then the answer is yes.

    They are not “humans” or historical kings, they are personifications or representations of the Absolute Truth which is known as Nārāyaṇa in the Vedas.

    Here’s a chart to help you to discern the difference between History and Mythology.

    The problem with a “Science” education is that everything must be reduced to metrics and if it can’t be measured, weighed, dated then it is not valued.

    [reply]

  • suyash95234 days ago | +0 points

    Is there any historical and visible evidence that the Indian Epic Mahabharata happened in a distant past?

    epic. /ˈɛpɪk/. noun

    1. 1. a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the past history of a nation.

    Epics are common to most cultures and may or may not be based on historical incidents or episodes but the bulk of the material of an epic is legend and myth. Since the epic is based on oral transmission it is natural that many embellishments and ornamentations may be added to the original core - commonly known as “Chinese whispers”.

    One needs to apply discrimination, critical thinking and common sense to be able to separate the historical kernels from the bulk of the legendary stuff.

    So far there is little credible archaeological evidence of historicity of all the exploits and adventures described in the Mahabharata. The purpose of the Mahabharata is not to supply historical information it is to teach the entire cumulative culture of Hinduism - and one of the sterling ways it does this is through the many dialogues (viz. Bhagavad Gita) it contains ranging from the mundane to the sublime.

    The Mahabharata is a very important source for Hindu metaphysics, and many of the beliefs, customs, traditions - this is its most important contribution. History is negligible.

    [reply]

  • suyash95168 days ago | +0 points

    If Ramayana and Mahabharata are myths, can then Rama and Krishna be considered mythical figures?

    It depends on what YOU mean by “myth”. If you mean it in the colloquial sense of an untruth or fiction then the answer is no.

    If you mean an archetype of the collective unconscious which is the representation of the highest truth then the answer is yes.

    They are not “humans” or historical kings, they are personifications or representations of the Absolute Truth which is known as Nārāyaṇa in the Vedas.

    Here’s a chart to help you to discern the difference between History and Mythology.

    The problem with a “Science” education is that everything must be reduced to metrics and if it can’t be measured, weighed, dated then it is not valued.

     

    [reply]

  • suyash95167 days ago | +0 points

    Is Valmiki Ramayan the oldest Hindu text since it was written during the times when Bhagwan Ram walked the Earth?

     

    No, the oldest extant Hindu texts are the Vedas.

    Bhagawan Rama never walked on the earth. He was never born and never died - he is the personification of the Supreme Being Sriman Nārāyaṇa and exists eternally in the Nishakala realm not the Sakala.

    The Valmiki Ramayana says Rama and his brothers were conceived by a magical pudding that was produced by the God of Fire Agni during a yajña.

    Children are not conceived through puddings, there are no shape-shifting monsters with 10 heads and 20 arms and monkeys, bears and squirrels do not build bridges.

    The story of the Ramayana is not historical its function is to teach us values and give guidance for the good life. So we need to stop thinking in materialistic terms of physicalism. The physical is temporary the metaphysical is eternal. Rama cannot be bound by time-place-circumstance.

     

     

    The Valmiki Ramayana says Rama and his brothers were conceived by a magical pudding that was produced by the God of Fire Agni during a yajña.

    Not sure you are totally correct here. Dasratha performed yajna and received special prasadam for his queen.

    There is nothing in the story which says that all the four princes were not biologically conceived with divine blessings.

     

    The pudding called pāyasam was produced by the god of fire Agni deva. The queens divided it up among them selves and conceived. Children are never conceived through divine blessings - they are conceived through intercourse and the meeting of semen and ovum.

    Rama and his brother were not BIOLOGICAL dudes - they were avatāras of the Supreme Being Sriman Nārāyana himself. They were not born and died - they are living eternally in the Nishakala realm.

     

    C

    Children are never conceived through divine blessings - they are conceived through intercourse and the meeting of semen and ovum.

    Perhaps I did not explain well. I meant that pudding was symbol of divine grace. The passage does not preclude biological procreation. The queens received the pudding and then the ovum and sperm fertilization happened with the grace of Lord Agni.

    Textual passage is not denying science.

     

    R

     

    Please try to understand biology cannot be linked with “divine grace” which is the unknown factor X. Procreation is conditioned by (1) Karma and (2) biological processes (3) self-effort.

    The birth of Rama was not biological because it never happened. Rama is the avatāra of Vishnu not the biological son of a king named Dasaratha. Please try to understand the difference. For clarity you can read the Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇa which explains in greater detail.

     

    C

     

    If everything happens by a set of conditions and nothing by grace, then the corollary is that it is futile to do Vedic Karma Kandas because they have no potency to actuate or alter the material conditions.

    Is this what you are saying? This Naastiktavaad, BTW.

    Beyond Puranic mythology, there is another version of Rama in Yoga Vashishtha that is not very magical.

    While Adhiatmika (spiritual) interpretation is correct and has its own value, it does not negate the Adhibhautika (physical) interpretation. Both are true in the Indian genre of epic writing. That’s my belief.

     

    R

     

    The Vedas are meant for different adhikāris.

    There is karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa and upāsana-kāṇḍa. The karma-kāṇḍa is for those who are mired in worldly matters i.e. Grihasthas. For sādhakas the other two are there.

    So a nāstika is one who denies the epistemic authority of the Vedas not one who renounces karma-kāṇḍa.

    Yoga Vasiṣṭha is an amazing work and extremely valuable.

    Adibhautika version is false because the entire universe is mithya - Māyā and only Brahman is satya. You, me, avatāras, sun, moon and every thing is nothing but māyā. So please don’t be deluded into thinking YOU are real.

     

    C

     

     “So a nāstika is one who denies the epistemic authority of the Vedas not one who renounces karma-kāṇḍa”

    But you are denying epistemic authority of Karma Kanda section of Vedas by denying their potency to manifest physical results.

    A Yajna performed for the birth of a child will lead to birth of a child. This is the basic premise of Karma Kanda section of Vedas. If you believe that a Yajna when performed correctly has no potency to lead to child birth you are showing lack of faith in karma-kāṇḍa/upāsana-kāṇḍa part of Vedas. This is also nāstiktvad.

     

    R

     

    There is no “epistemic” authority in karma-kānḍa - it is ritual practice and ritual practice has no authority.

    Can you produce the research data on putrakāmeṣṭi yajña? perhaps with double-blind studies. Or is it just a belief?

    Again you are confused or have not studied enough. The sādhak is required to go beyond karma-kāṇḍa and to renounce all rituals while ascending the heights of jñāna-kāṇḍa. Karma-kāṇḍa is only for worldly folks - not for mumukṣus.

    Upāsana-kāṇḍa is meditational practices - again no authority - just practice.

    So you are wrong in you understanding of nāstikavāda. Please go back to your guru and study further.

     

    C

     

     

    The sādhak is required to go beyond karma-kāṇḍa and to renounce all rituals while ascending the heights of jñāna-kāṇḍa. Karma-kāṇḍa is only for worldly folks - not for mumukṣus.

    This is understood but the implication that jñāna-kāṇḍa invalidates karma-kāṇḍa is incorrect. They are meant for two different but complementary purposes.

    The “sādhak” is not superior to “grahastha” nor are jñāna-kāṇḍa and Karma-kāṇḍa in conflict. A jnani when living as grahastha performs karma kandas with full devotion, let alone speak against their value or potency.

    Karma-kāṇḍa is not blind ritual. Vedic belief is that Devas exist and can grant wishes of yajmana when petitioned in correct way. Not holding such a view is Nastikavad. Even Buddha does not deny them.

    Just knowing that world is Maya does not give you automatic freedom from Maya, even if you may have experienced Samadhi or Turiya state. As long as you have a body and you need to breathe you are bound by Maya and are subject to different kinds of desires and traps of mind. Devas help you harmonize them.

    Karma-kāṇḍa mediaites the relationship with Devas. It has both an ontology and epistemology. Let me add humbly, you need to find a more competent teacher who can teach you Vedas if this understanding was never given to you.

    Every section or Kanda of Vedas is true, potent, divinely inspired, and relevant for its intended purpose. To doubt even a part of this is Nastikavad.

     

    R

     

     “A jnani when living as grahastha performs karma kandas with full devotion, let alone speak against their value or potency.”

    depends on your sampradaya. Vaishnavas perform karma-kāṇḍa not for the results, but only as Bhagavat kainkarya. (karmaṇyeva adhikāraste te mā phaleṣu kadācana).

    Vaidika karma-kāṇḍa is restricted only to dvijas and Sūdras are not required or obligated to perform. For them there is Tantra vidhi. And may I remind you according to Shastra 90% of Hindus today as Sūdras.

    There is no ontology or epistemology in Karma-kāṇḍa - if you believe this then please with the help of your guru teach me what it is. I have been a priest for 50 years and I am keen to learn.

    All the Vedas may be true in your opinion but they are not all useful and the Vedas must be transcended.

    trai-guṇya viṣayā vedā nistrai-guṇyo bhavārjuna | nir-dvandvo nitya satvastho nir-yoga kṣema ātmavān || Gita 2:45 ||

    yāvān artha udapāne sarvataḥ saṁplutodake | tāvān sarveṣu vedeṣu brāhmaṇasya vijānataḥ || Gita 2:46 ||

    So you have still not proven your thesis that rejection of Karma-kāṇḍa is nāstikavāda. Please take the help of your Mīmāṁsa guru and solve this conundrum which you have.

     

    C

     

    So you have still not proven your thesis that rejection of Karma-kāṇḍa is nāstikavāda.

    Karma-kāṇḍa is important part of Vedas and is mandatory for all Vedika householders.

    Nāstikavāda is disbelief in the potency in any part of Vedas .

    When you reject something, you are automatically showing disbelief in it. When you reject a part of Veda , nāstikavāda is self-evident

    There is no ontology or epistemology in Karma-kāṇḍa

    That Devas such as Agni, Indra, Mitra, Varuna, etc are propitiated as part of Karma-kāṇḍa exist imply their ontologically positive of status. Even the so-called nāstika like Shakyamuni Buddha (he wasn't) does not deny their ontology.

    That these Devas can be known and experienced through mediation of Vedic Karma-kāṇḍa shows that their ontology can be empirically confirmed by a system of knowledge, symbolisms, invocations and charms shows that the Karma-kāṇḍas comprise a definitive epistemology .

     

    How did the Rama Bridge to Sri Lanka exist iif Rama never existed? Who build that bridge?

    India needs to improve on doing more archeology research so the truth can be revealed. Sadly less than 1% of Archeology has been carried out after independence..

    the vast temple records are not interpreted or stored digitally. INDIA has to wake up to its civilizational identity. It must know its roots ASAP

     

    R

    Just because a bride exists it doesn’t establish who exactly built that bride - but it is highly unlikely to have been built by animals.

    I agree that India is probably the only ancient civilization to be uninvested in Archaeology.

     

     



     

     

    C

    edgar caycee said ram existed in his reading. he said ram entered india htough

    Upvote

     

     

    R

     

     

    Of course Ram exists ETERNALLY in Nishkala realm not in material world.

    [reply]

  • suyash95162 days ago | +0 points

    Most of the religious conflicts and wars involving the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) stem from disputes over what exactly God said and how he said it and what exactly it means. To ensure that order prevails, canons of “authentic” texts are formed and creeds, or condensed forms of crucial affirmations and beliefs, are debated, written down, and carefully observed as litmus tests for participation in the faith.

    In Christianity, this obsession with the history of God’s intervention is best illustrated by the Nicene Creed, which makes various historical claims about the life of Jesus. It is recited in every Christian church as the basic affirmation or mission statement of Christians to which they must pledge allegiance repeatedly. For those who doubt this centrality of history in Christianity, it is instructive to read this Creed, which was first composed in the year 325 CE when Christianity was becoming the state religion of the Roman Empire. It is official doctrine in Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, most Protestant churches, as well as the Anglican Communion.

    The underlying message in the Creed is that salvation can be achieved only through obedience to God’s will as understood through prophets and historical events. Salvation is necessary in order that man be saved from eternal damnation for having committed Original Sin in the Garden of Eden. The solution to the Christian problem of sin is for God to enter human history at a certain point in time. Hence, the historical record of that intervention must be carefully maintained, and its truth must be taken forward and aggressively asserted. It is a truth which is born of history and applies to history, both past and future: its goal is to make sure that humans collectively obey a specific “law.” This history, if it is to be valid, must be considered universal, however particular and fallible its agents (individual and collective) may be. I have coined the term “history-centrism” to refer to this fixation on specific and often incompatible claims to divine truth revealed in history.

    There is a profound difference between the history-centrism of the Abrahamic faiths and the goal of dharma (comprising Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism) which is that the individual aspirant elevate his or her consciousness in the here-and-now and in his or her very body. Dharma is not burdened by history, nor by the problem of “sin” as it recognizes no such historical act of disobedience. This was one of the topics of a wonderful conversation I had with Joshua Stanton, Co-Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue.

    From the dharma perspective, one does not require a historical consciousness, at least not a rigorously developed one. Instead, the aspirant is free to start afresh and tap into his potential for discovering the ultimate reality without bondage to the past. All the dharmic traditions share this a-historical and direct approach to knowing the ultimate truth. Furthermore, this potential to know the ultimate reality by direct, disciplined practice exists in all humans even those who do not believe it does.

    The prevailing Abrahamic view, by contrast, is that humans are not able to achieve unity with the divine and that, besides, the spiritual goal is salvation, not “unity with God.” Salvation can be achieved only through obedience to God’s will as understood through historical events and prophets.

    Such an absolute status of history weakens the authority of individual spiritual explorations (hence, mystics are regarded notoriously with suspicion in these traditions) and becomes the basis for competing claims to truth which cannot be reconciled. Moreover, the Abrahamic view is that those without access to these historical revelations must remain, by definition, in the dark, lacking the most elementary means to make contact with God. I regard this historical fixation as the major difference between a dharma path (Hinduism and Buddhism in particular) and the Abrahamic one (Christianity, Judaism, Islam).

    For the individual who follows a dharma path, it is not necessary to accept a particular account of history in order to attain a higher, embodied states of consciousness. Nor is any such historical account or belief sufficient to produce the desired state. Thus, dharma traditions have flourished for long periods without undue concern about history, relying instead on the numerous lineages of spiritual masters who teach from a state of enlightenment. Meditative practices remove the layers of conditioning that obfuscate the light of one’s true self and thereby help one to realize the highest truthwithout depending on history. Even if all historical records were lost, historical memory erased, and every holy site desecrated, the truth could be recovered by spiritual practices.

    [reply]

  • suyash95161 days ago | +0 points

    Problematizing God’s Interventions In History

    There are two different, and often competing, ways of arriving at spiritual truth: (A) via historical narratives (about “holy” events, for example), and (B) via adhyatma-vidya (inner “science” or esoteric processes) which tends to be direct and ahistorical. While both methods exist within every major tradition, a given tradition tends to emphasize one or the other. The methodology by which truth gets discovered, debated, validated, and accepted, becomes a central part of the core competence of the tradition, and the basis for its continuity. The essay challenges A on scientific and ethical grounds.

    On scientific grounds: Can universal truth-claims be considered scientific, if they are contingent upon a particular account of history, especially a historical event that could never be replicated? Specifically, what does a scientist think of claims of God’s unique interventions that are space-time discontinuities, and that either violated or permanently changed the laws of the cosmos? Can science afford to legitimize any Grand Narratives of Human History, including the teleology that God intervened to reveal? It is not this essay’s intention to “blame God” for intervening; but, rather, to problematize the history-centric tendencies in societies.

    On the other hand, B is a set of ahistorical methods that includes first-person empiricism. Of special interest is the question: What does science have to say about truth-claims which are based on discoveries brought about by human potential, and not based on God’s interventions in history via prophets? In other words, isadhyatma-vidya (based on inherent human potential) an empirical “science”, and, if so, could it be reconciled with historically unique revelations?

    Should the scientific approach to spirituality be to “prove” historical narratives, or should it be an open-ended process that also examines the methods used to arrive at religious canons? Should the thriving new discipline of science and religion apply scientific standards of inquiry to question religious Grand Narratives, and not just serve to legitimize certain religions? Are many scholars invested too heavily in the dominant scientific theoretical models and/or the religious outcomes of their inquiries?

    The essay also analyzes the socio-political and ethical contrasts between the two modes.

    The academic study of religion, and hence of science and religion, has been rooted in Western categories. These categories define religion based on Grand Narratives of God’s interventions in human history, and have become the lens through which much of this historiography has developed.

    At the same time, non-Western truth-claims of adhyatma-vidya are often first (i) harvested for their fruits, by repackaging them into Western categories, and then (ii) become ornaments, either digested into Western science/religion, or worn as exotic museum pieces that are not seriously examined as truth-claims. Because they are no longer nurtured as living traditions, non-Western traditions cease to serve humanity as laboratories of inner science, especially in former colonies where the West is seen as the gold standard to emulate. This has ethical implications, and has sometimes resulted in cultural genocide

    In this classification, I interpret Jesus’ original teachings as type B (ahistorical and esoteric), whereas Christianity later became type A (exoteric institutionalized power). The Grand Narratives in Jesus’ name have often not been faithful to his message. The category of “Abrahamic religions,” as used in this essay, denotes the institutions and their history-centric Grand Narratives. Prior to Constantine, Jesus had inspired movements quite similar to Indic traditions.

    This paper challenges the trajectory of the field of science and religion, and shows how the use of Abrahamic categories has limited the inquiry. It includes a lively discussion with “liberal Christians” at the end.

    Limits to Ordinary Mind

    Before comparing different methods that are used to claim transcendental truths, let us first examine the limits to ordinary human knowledge, and the possibility of transcendental knowledge.

    Most philosophies, both theistic and non-theistic, Indian and Western, accept some kind of upper limits to human knowledge. For instance:

    I. Indian theories of ignorance: A central feature in classical Indian thought is the view that the world as perceived by the ordinary human mind is not the ultimate reality, but that it is constructed by the mind (which includes the senses). This superimposition of the mind’s prior conditioning and context is referred to as nama-rupa (name-form). This nama-rupa context is the result of memory traces (sanskaras), which, in turn, are the by-products of past impressions of willful actions. So the sequence could be depicted as follows:

    Intentional choices –> Sanskara traces –> Nama-rupa –> Avidya/Maya.

    The maya principle, as the theory of mental distortions and limits, is a common foundation to many Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina traditions, even though the terms used might be different

    II. Western secular theories on the limits to mental representation: Modern Western thought has notions of similar limits of mind: (i) Gödel’s theorems demonstrate that all the truths of common mathematical systems cannot be written in any language. Linguistic expression, such as that involved in mathematics, is limited in what it could possibly state .(ii) Wittgenstein’s theory of language as a game is built on problematizing the “meanings” of sentences and the limits of what may be representable. (iii) The quantum uncertainty principle describes the uncertainty built into the state of all physical systems. (iv) Kant considered his transcendental realm and the notion of nuomena to be outside the mind’s capacity. (v) A variety of post-modernist philosophers — from Rorty, to Putnam, to Derrida — each in their own way, refute any mental representation of an objective ultimate reality. I have benefited greatly from the study of Western thought in deepening my understanding of the avidya/maya principles, although Western thinkers have mostly avoided making any reference to Indian systems

    III. Abrahamic religions’ approach to bridging the infinite gap between God and man: In contrast with the Indian traditions, the Abrahamic religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — emphasize that the infinite gap of knowledge between man and God can only be bridged when God initiates a dialog with man. This is why God’s interventions in human history are all-important, and become the cornerstone of each Abrahamic religion. Without God’s prophet bringing the ultimate truth to man, it would be impossible for man to transcend his limits (See the endnote after IV, on why Prophet ¹ Living Guru, and a sub-heading towards the end on why Savior ¹ Avatar.) Hence, Abrahamic religions are largely about history, more specifically, about God’s interventions in history. These miraculous interventions occur very rarely, and therefore, must be documented in canons and doctrines, and studied meticulously, in order to know the ultimate reality. Man has no other recourse available except this. While direct intuitive knowledge of Christ is also available, it is only after the individual has been conditioned by history-centric scriptures

    IV. Indian theories of transcendence: In Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina systems, maya, or its equivalents, masks (as avidya) an underlying state of all mundane knowing. In other words, every human has the potential to transcend avidya. What distinguishes these systems from the Abrahamic systems is that they do not depend upon a God-initiated intervention via a prophet or son, in order to transcend the ordinary human limitations. Rather, every human has the potential, no matter how rarely achieved, to experience the state claimed by rishis, advanced yogis, jivanmuktis, buddhas, or the equivalent, wherein the ultimate truth is known directly and without mediation by nama-rupa. This is a most extraordinary claim, and one that is central to the Indian traditions. (The adhyatmika process used is itself in nama-rupa, and must, therefore, be transcended eventually.)

    The rest of this paper deals only with III and IV, which are shown in the diagram below as A and B, respectively. In other words, my assumption is that the ordinary human limits are possible to transcend via some (extraordinary) processes. The purpose of the paper is to examine the essential differences between III and IV. The processes by which spiritual truth gets established differ greatly between III and IV, resulting in two major kinds of spiritual traditions: The Indic and the Abrahamic traditions are best understood by the different ways by which they arrive at their understandings of ultimate reality.

    The Abrahamic means to bridging the gap emphasizes a top-down, God-initiated intervention in human history. This intervention is via a prophet, who is also God’s son in the case of Christianity. In most interpretations, as shown below, unless such an intervention is taken literally and its message is implemented, man is doomed to remain in darkness, for his mind has no other way to escape from its delusions and limits. On the other hand, the Indic traditions claim an endless stream of enlightened living spiritual masters, each said to have realized the ultimate truth while alive on this earth, and hence, able to teach this truth to others. Unlike in the case of Indic traditions, the great teachers of Abrahamic traditions are not living models of embodied enlightenment for the student Instead, Abrahamic teachers proclaim the truth based on historical texts. The consequences of these divergent systems are enormous, and are at the heart of Indic-Abrahamic distinctions.

    The diagram that follows gives an outline of the main points that are discussed in this paper. “A” and “B” correspond to the paths of history-centrism and ahistorical spiritual enlightenment, respectively. The former’s premise is that human limitations are inherently insurmountable without divine intervention. The latter’s premise is that humans have infinite potential. These, in turn, correspond to (A) the view of man being essentially evil, and hence in need of being salvaged by God’s agency, versus (B) the view of man being essentially sat-chit-ananda, the Supreme Being in limited form, with the built-in capability to achieve self-realization

    Historicity Versus Ahistoricity

    While the Abrahamic religions have been predominantly A, this does not imply that there have not been mystics in these religions who practiced and taught the methods of B — Meister Eckhart and numerous Sufi mystics were such exemplars. Nor is it true that all Indic traditions are free from history-dependency: the recent Hindutva focus on Ram’s birthplace is an example of history-centrism

    Each culture has had both the adhyatmika (esoteric) and the laukika (worldly or exoteric) movements within it. But there have been differences between Indic and Abrahamic cultures, in the manner in which this competition played out.

    Mystics in the Abrahamic faiths were mostly on the margins of mainstream religions. They were often persecuted by the religious institutions, and were rarely accepted within their own faith communities during their lives. Hence, they did not create lineages that could further test, develop, enhance, discover, and teach the “B” processes that they had discovered, often accidentally. Therefore, there were no peer debates amongst mystics who made experiential claims Consequently, these sporadic mystical experiences did not result in the systematization of sophisticated epistemologies, nor into rigorous procedures for reproducing them — unlike in the case of India. In the West, “mysticism” became a pejorative that meant pre-rational and inferior, and was frequently subject to persecution.

    On the other hand, Indians who claimed enlightenment using the “B” methods were glorified and honored as spiritual leaders during their lives, and often developed massive followings Bhakti saints, Ramakrishna’s integral yoga, and Sri Aurobindo’s “purna Vedanta” are each examples of innovations to prior methodologies, based on embodied experience, and not based on a reinterpretation of old scripture. Such living masters have always been the loci of spirituality in India, in contrast to the institutions in the case of Abrahamic religions. Living masters often override and subvert institutional loyalties. It has also been argued that Tantra, in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, was a reaction against institutionalization and hierarchy. These innovators discover new spiritual technologies, and also re-contextualize the truth for their given culture, time, place and audience. As living laboratories, they subject the classical methodologies and experiential claims to test, improvement and adaptation — generation after generation.

    India seems to have enjoyed a very long-term and continuous free-market of adhyatma-vidya ideas, practices, and lineages, where freelancers competed just as modern high-tech start-ups do. There was no attempt to enforce top-down standards, to root out quackery, or to control and license only the “best” or “true” practices. The consumer had free choice in a vibrant spiritual marketplace. There were always dissidents, many of who launched new spin-offs in a big way, just like today’s entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. The kshyatriya kings’ non-interference in the spiritual free-market was an important tradition.

    By contrast, top-down institutionalized religions became obsessed with history-centrism and canons. They collapsed spirituality into canons, and this could be compared with a Soviet style controlled economy — the mentality of one airline, one kind of toothpaste, one kind of breakfast cereal, and central licensing of movies, music and fashions.

    Ironically, just as the Soviets derided the US free-market — as being anarchical and inefficient — so also, some of today’s Indologists and liberal arts scholars look for “canons of Hindu Law” or historical Grand Narratives, and stereotype Hindus as irrational and unethical.

    There are, indeed, trade-offs: Religious institutions provide continuity, whereas living spiritual masters disrupt bureaucracy and accumulation of power. Abrahamic traditions have institutional continuity, with historical canons as their center. Indic traditions have a flow of living spiritual masters, often with considerable spiritual creativity. These processes roughly correspond to coherence and power that is diachronic (in the Abrahamic case) versus synchronic (in the Indic case).

    It is interesting to note that in Roman Catholicism, saints are always dead persons: As per the church’s rules, only years after death is an exemplar entitled to be considered for sainthood. Why? My understanding is that living saints would threaten the institutions, because their word might overrule the dogma of the hierarchy in control Carl Jung referred to churches as institutions designed to protect men from the awesome power of the Divine. Also, the vast majority of early Christian saints were glorified as martyrs, who died violently for the cause of Christianity, and not based on esoteric maturation But martyrdom was never the basis for Indians to consider someone as a saint



    Two Kinds of Historicity

    To justify history-based religious claims, some scholars have pointed out that even science has a history. Of course, science has a fascinating history. But the history of science has not been the basis for resolving scientific disputes, and nor has it been the source of serious conflicts, because it is not a necessary condition for the validity of scientific claims. Science is not contingent upon history.

    There is a history of Isaac Newton, for instance. However, Isaac Newton’s history’s relationship to the validity of gravitation laws is entirely different than the centrality of history in the Abrahamic religions. Newton’s life history is neither a necessary condition nor a sufficient condition for the validity of the gravitation laws. It is possible for Newton’s life history to be valid — that he lived at a certain time and place, that an apple fell on his head, and so forth — and yet for his gravitation laws to be found false. Hence, his history is not sufficient for the validity of the laws he propounded. Conversely, it is possible that Newton’s history is false — i.e. he might have been an entirely different kind of person and lived in a different time and place, might have been a woman, and it might have been an orange that fell on his head rather than an apple — and yet the gravitation laws could be found to be true. Therefore, Newton’s history is not a necessary condition for the validity of the laws of gravitation.

    While it is true that there is a history of Isaac Newton, it is largely a matter of side interest to scientists, and their belief in gravitation laws is independent of any such history. The history of science, and science itself, are two separate bodies of knowledge. Imagine if there were rival schools of physics fighting over whether it was an apple that fell on Newton’s head or an orange, whether Newton had a brother, whether Newton was a woman, whether s/he existed in one place and time or a different one. Would such a profession be capable of scientific advancement?

    Therefore, we must distinguish between two kinds of history. The mundane history of human events is not what I am problematizing. This would include the histories of scientists, rulers, cultures, and so forth. The laws of nature are not contingent upon such histories, and we do not have an obsession to prove any such history in order to live our lives scientifically today. However, the history of God’s interventions has entirely different implications.

    The Big Bang and the evolution of life are examples of unique historical events of great scientific importance. But the reason scientists believe in them is because empirical data available today leads to those conclusions, and not because of any historical narratives passed down to us.


    Ahistorical Means of Truth

    This section discusses several means of attaining spiritual truth, which are not history-centric, but are existentially immediate.

    First-Person Empiricism:

    Alan Wallace explains the role of mind in any empirical investigation of consciousness: “The primary instrument that all scientists have used to make any type of  observation is the human mind…” However, like any scientific laboratory, one has to first clean, fine-tune, and calibrate the mind:

    The untrained mind, which is prone to alternating agitation and dullness, is an unreliable and inadequate instrument for observing anything. To transform it into a suitable instrument for scientific exploration, the stability and vividness of the attention must be developed to a high degree.”

    This is the scientific importance of yoga, meditation, kundalini, tantra and other systems of achieving higher states of mind, and more evolved states of body, which may then be used to discover deeper layer of reality:

    Over the past three millennia, the Indic traditions have developed rigorous methods for refining the attention, and then applying that attention to exploring the origins, nature, and role of consciousness in the natural world. The empirical and rational investigations and discoveries by such great Indian contemplatives as Gautama the Buddha profoundly challenge many of the assumptions of the modern West, particularly those of scientific materialism.”

    In the pursuit of inner discoveries, the scientist is himself/herself the instrument of observation/experience. Anindita Balslev has called this “second-order empiricism,” and feels that this has been a unique achievement of Indic traditions

    To refine and develop the inner scientist’s capabilities (i.e. cleaning the antahkarana), an important process is the cultivation of a lifestyle that minimizes mental perturbations and distractions that would reduce the resolution and clarity of experience. Rishis, yogis, and buddhas were such living human laboratories. Lineages evolved that continued the adhyatmika experimentation across many generations. These states led to the development of many sophisticated conceptual models and epistemologies over time. There were philosophical peer debates among inner scientists, based on these longitudinal experiments.

    Sunthar Visuvalingam writes:

    There is no doubt that there was much greater (and, in certain epochs such as around 600 BC, even absolute) freedom in Indian civilization to inquire into, experiment with, and expound upon the nature of (inner) Reality (including its denial, as by the Cârvaka ‘materialists’…) and its mode of attainment. A veritable technology of consciousness proliferated, armed with an arsenal of new tools such as philosophy, aesthetics, practical psychology, etc., that has [almost] no equivalent elsewhere in the world. In fact, the primary focus of the Abrahamic religions has not been esotericism, self-realization, diversification of approaches, whereas even the most ordinary Indian at least acknowledges the latter claims.” 

    Embodied Knowing:

    The rishi-state achieved by esoteric psycho-physiological adhyatmika practices is one of several kinds of embodied knowing. Bhakti sants use a different set of processes to achieve transcendence of ordinary human limits: These processes are based on intense devotion and surrender of the ego, combined with a simple lifestyle without anxieties. Natya, which includes dance, music, and performing arts in general, has served as another set of sophisticated processes for transcendence and embodied knowing, and is available to every human. Ramana Maharshi taught a Vedantic process of “inquiry” at all times, that leads to present moment transcendence.

    Sri Aurobindo explains that the experience of jnana (“supramental knowledge”) gives human beings the possibility of knowing the relative in light of the absolute: one sees, touches, feels, and knows first the infinite, and then every form is known or seen through that infinity. This extraordinary claim is that a state is possible that goes beyond the relativity and limits of ordinary mind. This transcends the distinction between experience and interpretation of experience, i.e. between ontology and epistemology.

    The following summarizes the distinctiveness of Indic traditions, on account of their emphasis on embodied knowing:

    1. Every human has this inherent potential of embodied knowing of ultimate truths.

    2. The state of embodied knowing is achieved during one’s life on Earth, and does not depend upon death (i.e. it is not after entering “heaven”).

    3. Such living enlightened gurus are sometimes seen as divine. They re-verify and re-contextualize the embodied (as contrasted with historical) truth to a given community of followers, at a given time and place. This continually refreshes the knowledge, and prevents history-centrism and ossification.

    4. Embodied knowing also has major ethical implications, because (i) ethical conduct is a prerequisite for cultivating a clean mental instrument, and hence rishismust be ethical; and also because (ii) as a byproduct of this inner pursuit one’s external conduct becomes spontaneously ethical. Ethics is inseparable from epistemology. This is important in order to understand the ethical foundation of Indic traditions — they are based on embodied knowing.

    5. Sophisticated epistemologies were developed based on embodied knowing. However, theoreticians also had to be experimental scientists, i.e. they had to engage in long-term adhyatmika practices and the prerequisite lifestyles, in order to achieve the states discussed by the epistemologies. Today’s academic scholars simply lack this empirical foundation to be able to understand the epistemologies, much less being able to critique them — regardless of how many diplomas and licenses they might have secured from their institutions.

    6. Embodied knowing is forever reproducible, even though difficult to achieve. This is very different from history-centric claims that are even theoretically non-reproducible. Therefore, shruti — the ultimate truth that is “heard” in such states — is ahistorical. It was always there, and is always available to be rediscovered in the appropriate state of consciousness. Hence, shruti is not the same as revealed scripture, because the latter is contingent upon history. Shruti is not only ahistorical, but is regarded as supra human (a-paurusheya) and unchangeable to the letter — similar to any physics formula, such as E = MC2. By contrast, smriti is knowledge that has become contextualized in a given socio-historical context.

    7. The achievement of embodied knowing by any individual is not a discontinuity in the natural laws of the cosmos — i.e. it has nothing to do with any new covenants.

    8. Miracles are not necessary as a means to validate embodied knowledge, although the practitioner may acquire them as a byproduct along the way. Each practitioner must self-validate the embodied knowing, through the practice of the adhyatma-vidya, during his/her life on Earth.

    9. Embodied knowing is best transmitted orally in a direct interpersonal manner, though many yogis have systematically documented their experiences. Once it gets collapsed into conceptual categories, it is already disembodied. Hence, while Indic traditions have developed many highly sophisticated logical and conceptual systems of discourse, embodied knowing is considered a higher state than any intellectualism. Embodied knowing transcends all “propositions.” It transcends all the linguistic boundaries of nama-rupa. This is why rishis and yogis have been placed higher than pandits.

    10. Historical prophets are not a necessary condition to embodied knowing. Historical Grand Narratives can also become a major obstacle in the achievement of higher states of embodied knowing. To advance in adhyatma-vidya, one must give up history-centrism.


    Is Adhyatma-Vidya a “Science”?

    The historicity of Buddha is not a prerequisite for the validity of Buddhism, just as the historical Newton is unnecessary for the validity of gravitation theory. Buddha emphasized that he was not a prophet. No God had sent him, and he was neither the first nor the last person to have discovered the nature of reality and how every human may achieve nirvana just as he had. He made it very clear that each person should verify his teachings for himself/herself. (Tibetan Buddhists use various deities just as Hindus use devas/devis, but they are ahistorical forces or archetypes.)

    Likewise, the validity of Vedanta, as expounded by Shankara, is not contingent upon Shankara’s life history. The validity of Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutras is not dependent upon the historicity of Patanjali. The sphota theory of Bharthrhari is not based on the personal life events of that genius.

    In more recent times, Ramana Maharshi’s and J. Krishnamurti’s teachings are not about with any historical events. The same could be said of the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, Ramakrishna, and so forth. Tantra is entirely about embodied knowing, and there are no historical pre-requisites as necessary beliefs. When one takes a course on The Art of Living, by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar — which is the fastest growing Hindu movement amongst well-educated Indians worldwide — one learns various techniques to achieve higher states of consciousness. The results are experienced here and now. One also learns new ways of experiencing the nature of the self. It is nowhere close to being a lesson in the history of God’s interventions in some remote past.

    To spiritual masters from such traditions, a fixation with a historical Grand Narrative is the worst kind of nama-rupa grasping and delusion that there could be. History-centrism is seen as a major obstacle to spiritual progress. (Therefore, to appropriate Indic spiritual methods via the “new age,” into an Abrahamic historical Grand Narrative, is often counter-productive.)

    Itihas ¹ History

    Itihas is not literal history in the Western sense. Itihas is a view of the past that is continually updated, based on the present context. As Shrinivas Tilak explains,

    “Hindus see the arrival of Sri Rama as a Grand Narrative (Ramayana) that is made up of symbols woven into dramatized ritual and narrative. But itihas (which traditionally comprises of Ramayana and Mahabharata) is not a question of either myth or history for it includes both. History is a linear mode of experience, relating primarily to the left-brain literal knowledge. Myth, on the other hand, is a creative and aesthetic mode of experience that derives from the right-brain, reflecting a holistic mode of consciousness. Just as the left and the right sides of the brain are bridged to act as one, so in itihas, both myth and history are subsumed.”

    Hence, there are many Ramayanas across India, Thailand, Indonesia, and other places, and these have changed several times. Even in Thailand, there are towns named Ayodhya, because the villagers have constructed their itihas to believe that Lord Rama lived in their midst. Bali has a monkey forest, whose monkeys are believed to be descendents of Hanuman’s army. Local inhabitants who are unable to travel to the Ganga treat the Godavri and Narmada rivers as their Ganga for many rituals. Many Hindus in UK treat the river Thames as their local Ganga, without any sense of transgression.

    Not being handcuffed to literalist history, itihas is pliable, fluid, and allows many versions, with no compulsion to find “one true canon.” Therefore, Western projects to write “critical editions” of Indian itihas are inherently flawed. Madeleine Biardeau cogently argued this for the Mahâbhârata (against V. Sukthankar) By a forced mapping onto Western notions of history, such projects would alter Indic traditions, in the same manner as many 19th century colonial interventions re-engineered Indian society, narratives and identities. This is cultural imperialism.

    Itihas is more about identity and continuity with one’s ancestors. Itihas is not seen as a necessary condition for spiritual truth-claims, because there have always been many mainstream Indian spiritual movements with no reliance upon itihas. Vaishnavism, as one of many ways of being a Hindu, comes closest to having a Grand Narrative of God’s interventions in human history, i.e. via the avatars of Vishnu. But even Vaishnavism accepts multiple avatars, and the puranas are able to adapt to include Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed as avatars — because of the pliable nature of itihasitihas is like an ecosystem of narratives, in which new peoples may incorporate their own narratives in a mutually respectful manner.

    Finally, Shiva’s dance is completely ahistorical. It is the universe. There is no question of a specific time or place where a “unique” intervention by Shiva occurred, because Shiva’s Shakti is engaged with us at all times and in all places, and is immanent in, and as the universe.

    Having said all this, itihas can also include literal historiography in the Western sense, especially in mundane human events

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