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Monday, February 16, 2015

Intrinsic nature of Shiva

भगवान शिव त्याग, तपस्या, करूणा व वात्सल्य की मूर्ति है, जो अपने भक्तों पर जल्द प्रसन्न हो जाते हैं। वे मनोवांछित फल देने वाले प्रभु के रूप में भी माने जाते हैं

~~ ॐ नमः शिवाय ~~

शिव अनादि हैं,

अनन्त हैं,
विश्वविधाता हैं|
सारे संसार में एक मात्र शिव ही हैं जो जन्म, मृत्यू एवं काल के बंधनो से अलिप्त स्वयं महाकाल हैं| शिव सृष्टी के मूल कारण हैं, फिर भी स्वयं अकर्ता हैं, तटस्थ हैं|
सृष्टी से पहले कुछ नहीं था – न धरती न अम्बर, न अग्नी न वायू, न सूर्य न ही प्रकाश, न जीव न ही देव। था तो केवल सर्वव्यपी अंधकार और महादेव शिव। तब शिव ने सृष्टी की परिकल्पना की.           
The image of the Dancing Lord immediately conveys the dynamic motion of reality and nature.  However, in the midst of his furious dance of creation and dissolution, Shiva remains in a state of elegant serenity.  Just as in the sculpture of the Eternal Shiva of Elephanta, his expression is undisturbed by the qualities of existence, for he is eternally absorbed in the Infinite Brahman.  His attention is not directed outward, but inward, towards the inner Self (Atman) which resides deep in the heart of all things.  The place where the Shiva’s dance is performed is known as Chidambaram, which refers to the heat of the individual and the heart of the Universe.  “This is His Dance. Its deepest significance is felt when it is realized that it takes place within the heart and the self.  Everywhere is God: that Everywhere is the heart.” 

 The Atman is the eternal soul which is never born, never suffers, and can never be destroyed.  Atman and Brahman are one.  Abiding in the eternal bliss of the all-knowing Self, Shiva’s dances creates the illusion of Maya, yet he is never distracted from the inner light of Brahman-Atman.

“His form is everywhere:
All-pervading in His Shiva-Shakti:
Chidambaram is everywhere, everywhere His dance:
As Shiva is all and omnipresent,
Everywhere is Shiva’s gracious dance made manifest.” 

           Shiva’s dance represents the source of all existence (Brahman) dancing playfully with it’s Self (Atman).  The figure embodies five major attributes of the Infinite Being: creation and evolution (sristi), preservation and support (sthiti), destruction (samhara), veiling and illusion (tirobhava), and release and grace (anugraha).  The purpose of the dance is to release the souls of the illusioned by awakening the infinite spirit, which is the frequency of infinity.  Shiva’s divine light penetrates the darkest realms of Maya.  The source of this light is Chidambaram, within the Heart.

“Amid the flowers of His creation (prakriti),
Blinded by their beauty, He rushes, He frolics, He dances, He whirls.
He is all rapture, all bliss, in this play (lila).
In consciousness alone, in love alone,The Spirit learns the nature of His divine being.
Divinely playing in the multiplicity of forms, He comprehends Himself.” 

           It is often difficult for some to understand this playful side of Shiva.  Indeed, because Shiva is known primarily as The Destroyer, his presence is often terrible and horrific to those who do not recognize their own Self.  Shiva’s dance creates the illusion of Maya which bewilders the ego-self and causes forgetfulness of the Absolute Truth.  However, all existence is finite, and whatever has been displayed will be dissolved back into the divine essence of Brahman.  At the end of each Universal Cycle, called the Mayayuga or the Great Eon, Shiva destroys all that has been created.  However, his furious destruction of the Universe ultimately releases all souls into Brahman; thus, there is no reason to fear Shiva’s gruesome appearance as Death.

           Indeed, Shiva is known as Yamantaka, which means The Destroyer of Death.  Shiva ultimately conquers Yama, the God of Death.  Shiva is Kala, which means Time.  However, Shiva is also known as Maha-Kala, which means Great Time, Eternity, the swallower of time, and the swallower of all the ages and cycles of ages.  Shiva is the destroyer of time (kalasamhara). 

           Shiva is definitely characterized by his wild, unpredictable, destructive aspect.  As the Lord of Dance, Nataraja, Shiva performs the tandava, which is the fierce, violent dance in which the Universe is destroyed.  “In descriptions of this dance, Shiva’s whirling arms and flying locks crash into the heavenly bodies, knocking them off course or destroying them utterly.” 

Through Shiva’s transcendental movements, everything is destroyed at the end of Time, only be re-born again at he beginning of the next Mahayuga.  In addition to Shiva’s tandava dance, which is explosive and overwhelming, he also performs the lasya, which is a gentle dance full of emotions of tenderness and love.  Shiva is the master of both the tandava and lasya forms of dance.

           An essential key that can be used to unlock the mystery of Shiva lies in understanding that the Infinite Being represents the union of all polarities, which is why Shiva appears so paradoxical to the rational mind.  The Infinite Being is infinitely small and infinitely large, everywhere and nowhere, good and evil, positive and negative, hot and cold, as well as violent and peaceful.  We’ve already seen that the universe is the result of interacting polarities, such as the male and female heads of the Eternal Shiva.  In the same context, the God and Goddess, yin and yang, are the first born manifestations of the Absolute.  The Absolute is beyond the differentiating qualities of sex, and at the same time the Absolute is both male and female.  In order to explore this idea, let’s consider the tradition of Shakti-Shiva.

           In general, all male gods possess an inherent power with which they are able to express their creative energy.  This power is known as shakti, and is always personified in the form of a goddess.  Shakti not only represents the consort of a deity, but it represents the deity’s embodied power.  In a less patriarchal sense, God and Goddess are equal and together they represent the Divine Couple.  The male and female qualities of Godhead are unified by their transcendental love for each other, and together they are responsible for the creation of the all existence.

           Shiva, the Infinite Being, and Shakti, his consort, can be understood in terms of the concepts of purusa (pure spirit) and prakrti (nature).  In this context, Shiva is the essence of Brahman and Shakti is the life force which underlies and pervades the entire natural world.  Although Shiva and Shakti may appear as opposites, they are in essence one.  One cannot exist without the other.  “Gazing with a deep and everlasting rapture, they are imbued with the secret knowledge that, through seemingly two, they are fundamentally one.” 

 Many popular traditions in India hold the perspective that the Universe is created as a result of the eternal lovemaking of Shakti and Shiva.  Shakti is known as The Fairest of the Three Worlds (tri-pura-sundari), and is also referred to as the most beautiful woman in the Universe.

           The Universal power of Shakti is often identified with the Goddess Parvati, Shiva’s second wife. Shiva’s first wife was a goddess named Sati.  Sati, it is said, committed suicide when her father, Daksa, insulted Shiva by not inviting him to a great sacrifice that was being performed.  Parvati is generally considered to be the reincarnation of Sati.  Parvati is a name which means “she who is of the mountains.”  If Parvati is the earth, then Shiva is the sky.  If Parvati is the light, then Shiva is the sun.  If Parvati is the embodiment of all individual souls, then Shiva is the soul itself.  Shiva and Parvati live on Mount Kailasha and spend much their time making love, which is so intense that it shakes the cosmos.




Saturday, September 27, 2014


Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna

-  Excerpt from Vivekananda: An Ancient Silence-Heart And A Modern Dynamism-Life by Sri Chinmoy.

Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna

A popular view is that without Vivekananda Sri Ramakrishna would have remained the Sri Ramakrishna of Bengal; to the wider world he would at most have been a mere name. One may quite reasonably dispute the point, for no spiritual force of Sri Ramakrishna’s dimensions could lose its dynamism and remain confined within the narrow limits of one little province. But it goes without saying that Vivekananda would not have been his mighty self without his child-like, simple, but towering spiritual Master.             

The reciprocal appreciation of the greatness of the disciple and the Master found an exceedingly interesting expression in their lives. The former was firmly convinced that millions of Vivekanandas could come into existence at the fiat of his Master, while the latter declared that his Naren was the incarnation of Narayan himself to uplift humanity.           

Without Arjuna would the victory of Kurukshetra have been possible? Sri Krishna had to preach the whole Gita to train his disciple, over and above infusing into him his divine force.              

Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda appeared in an age more advanced. Hence the Master could much more easily make of Naren what he intended him to be.   

In the life of Narendranath we notice two instances in which Matter submitted to Spirit. The young Narendranath, steeped in agnosticism, accepting matter and doubting the existence of the supreme Spirit, would question people who seemed to be advanced in spirituality as to whether they had direct vision of God. Maharshi Devendranath, father of Tagore, attempted thrice in vain to answer the query of the bold young man, and at last said, ‘You possess the eyes of a Yogi.’ 

This very Narendranath fell at the hallowed feet of Sri Ramakrishna, who was a veritable embodiment of Spirit, and who saw Spirit permeating Matter.     

As a contrast, the supremely materialistic America practically bowed down before Vivekananda, who stood there as the spiritual representative of the East.     

His was a life of numerous miracles. At the age of eight he entered into trance for the first time! He was only thirty years old when America -nay, the West – found the spiritual giant in him! In his childhood and boyhood he condemned women terribly. But in his later years he fought like a giant for the progress of Indian womanhood! We may, however, hold that in his earlier days Vivekananda was afraid not of woman but of temptation. It took six long years for him to make his proud head bow to the Mother Kali. And when his surrender was complete he opened his devoted lips: ‘All my patriotism is gone. Everything is gone. Now it’s only Mother, Mother!’           

I am sure my purpose will be best served if I just reproduce his own words aboutKali. ‘How I used to hate Kali!’ Vivekananda said, ‘and all Her ways. That was the ground of my six years- fight that I would not accept Her. But I had to accept Her at last. Ramakrishna Paramahansa dedicated me to Her, and now I believe that She guides me in every little thing I do, and does with me what She wills.’    

Vivekananda ruthlessly looked down upon the so-called miracles that create a commotion in the minds of people. ‘I look upon miracles as the greatest stumbling block in the way of truth. When the disciples of Buddha told him of a man who had performed a so-called miracle and showed him the bowl, he took it and crushed it under his feet and told them never to build their faith on miracles, but to look for truth in everlasting principles.’ He showed them the inner light – the Light of the Spirit, which is the only safe light to go by. Miracles are only stumbling blocks. Let us brush them aside.   

To show surprise at anything amounts to a tacit expression of ignorance, and hence of weakness. Never show surprise, – such was the command of Viswanath Dutta to his son Naren when he was in his teens. The son acted according to his father’s instructions from that very day until the end of his life. He spent years at the foot of the silence-hushed and snow-capped Himalayas during his itinerancy. He met people drawn from all sections of society – from the lowest to the highest. He came in close contact with the poorest and the richest of the world. In spite of striking differences in the world, surprise could never take shelter in his all-conceiving eyes. 

Perfection is the only choice for a man treading the path of spirituality. Perfection and infinite bliss run abreast. True happiness lies nowhere else except in perfection. But how to achieve this perfection? Vivekananda shows us a unique way to achieve the impossible. He writes: ‘If we can distinguish well between quality and substance, we may become perfect men.’

Sweetness and happiness are rarely found in carrying out earthly duties. No human being must be judged by the nature of his duties, but by the manner and the spirit in which he discharges them. What is our duty and what is not our duty has been the most puzzling, the most intricate problem to solve since the dawn of civilisation. But the bold statement made by Vivekananda solves it in a very easy manner: ‘any action that makes us go Godward is a good action, and that is our duty; any action that makes us go downward is evil, and that is not our duty.’ And we may further add to it that in order to advance in life, it is our duty to have faith in ourselves first and then in the Divine. Everybody must remember the undeniable truth that without having faith in oneself one can never have faith in God. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014



Buddha, in the Sutta Nipata: 
[A liberated being is:] one who has given up anger, completely destroyed lust and pride, who doesn’t see any substantiality in forms of becoming, who has no ill-temper, who has destroyed speculations, who is neither restless nor indolent, who knows that all in the world is insubstantial, who is freed from greed, lust and anger and all unhealthy tendencies, anxieties and cravings whatsoever, who has eradicated the five hindrances (sensuality, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, skepticism), and who is freed from confusion, having overcome doubts and sorrow…. (1-17)

Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, even so, let one cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings. Let thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world… without any enmity. Whether one stands, walks, sits or lies down, as long as one is awake, one should develop this mindfulness. (146-51)

Resting places for the mind have gone. Grasping is no longer there at all. (470)

He doesn’t see himself in terms of self… There’s nothing in him that can lead to bewilderment; causes of ignorance are gone, there are none whatsoever. He perceives with insight all phenomena. He bears the last body. Full enlightenment is reached, ultimate and blissful. (477-8)

The sage has abandoned the notion of self or ego and is free from clinging. He doesn’t depend even on knowledge. He has no dogmatic views. (800)

Sorrow and avarice don’t cling to him, as water doesn’t stick to the lotus leaf…. The sage doesn’t cling to anything—seen, heard or thought. (811-812)

He has no anger, fear or pride. Nothing disturbs his composure and nothing gives him cause for regret. He is restrained in speech. He has no longing for the future and no grief for the past…. He doesn’t conceal anything and there’s nothing he holds onto…. He remains unobtrusive; he has no disdain or insult for anyone. He is not a man full of himself or addicted to pleasure. He is gentle and alert,… showing no aversion (to anything). He is not a person who works because he wants something; if he gets nothing at all he remains unperturbed…. His mindfulness holds him poised in a constant even-mindedness where arrogance is impossible… Because he understands the Way Things Are, he is free from dependency and there’s nothing he relies on. For him there is no more craving to exist or not to exist. This is what I call a man who is calmed [in nibbana / Skt.: nirvana] … nothing to tie him down, gone beyond the pull of attachment…. A man with nothing in him that he grasps at as his and nothing in him that he rejects as not his. (848-58)

By cutting out the root obstacle, the delusion: he eradicates all thought of ‘I am.’ By being mindful all the time, he trains himself to let go of all cravings that arise in him. (916) There is nothing in this world that is solid at base and not a part of it that is changeless. (937)

When a man doesn’t identify himself with mind and matter at all, when he doesn’t grieve for what doesn’t exist, then he can’t sustain any loss in this world. When he doesn’t think, ‘This is mine’ or ‘That belongs to them,’ then, since he has no egoism, he can’t grieve with the thought of ‘I don’t have.’… When a man is the same in all circumstances, then you have what I would call the praiseworthy condition of a man unshakeable. A man of discernment, without a flutter of desire, doesn’t accumulate—he has no conditioning—he has stopped all effort of every kind; so everywhere he sees peace and happiness…. He is free from possessiveness; he holds on to nothing and he rejects nothing. (948-54)

A wise man doesn’t have desires, nor does he need to learn. He is wishless, he has wisdom, and you can recognize him because he is a man of nothing; he isn’t hanging onto pleasure or to being. (1091)

Lose the greed for pleasure. See how letting go of the world is peace. There’s nothing you need hold onto and nothing you need push away. Dry up the remains of your past and have nothing for your future. If you don’t cling to the present then you can go from place to place in peace. There’s a greed that fixes on the individual body-mind. When that greed has utterly gone, then … you are immune from death. (1098-1100)

Buddha, in the Udana Sutta: 
The abolition of the conceit ‘I am’—that is truly the supreme bliss. (ii.1)

Any sensual bliss in the world, any heavenly bliss, isn’t worth one sixteenth-sixteenth of the bliss of the ending of craving. (ii.2)

Whatever an enemy might do to an enemy, the ill-directed mind can do to you even worse. (iv.3)

People who only see one side of things engage in quarrels and disputes. (vi.4)

People are intent on the idea of ‘made by me’ and attached to the idea of ‘made by another.’ Some don’t realize this, nor do they see it as a thorn. But to one who sees, having extracted this thorn, [the idea] ‘I am doing,’ doesn’t occur; ‘another is doing,’ doesn’t occur. This human race is possessed by conceit, bound by conceit, tied down by conceit. Speaking hurtfully because of their views they don’t go beyond transmigration—the wandering on. (vi.6)

One who is independent has no wavering. No wavering, there is calm. Being calm, there’s no desire. No desire, there’s no coming or going. No coming or going, there’s no passing away or arising. No passing away or arising, there’s neither a here nor a there nor a between-the-two. This, just this, is the end of suffering.” (viii.4)

Buddha, in the Itivuttakka Sutta:
Whoever is wakeful, mindful, alert, centered, sensitive, calm and clear, rightly exploring the Truth [Dhamma], will, at once, shatter the darkness. So be devoted to wakefulness [and you realize] right here a self-awakening unsurpassed.” (47)

For those with confidence in the supreme, supreme is the result. (90)

Centered, mindful, alert, the Awakened One’s disciple discerns [egocentric] feelings, how feelings come into play, where they cease, and the path to their ending. With the ending of feelings, a monk free of want is totally unbound…. A master of direct knowing, at peace, he [or she] is a sage gone beyond bonds. (52-3) One should investigate in such a way that—his consciousness neither externally scattered and diffused, nor internally fixated—he is, from lack of clinging, unagitated, and there is no seed for the origination of future birth, aging, death or misery. (94)

Buddha, in the Dhammapada
Hate is not overcome by hate, whatever the occasion; by freedom from hate is hate appeased. This is the eternal law. (5)

Childish ones, of little intelligence, go about with a self that is truly an enemy; performing the deed that is bad, which is of bitter fruit.…When the bad deed (karmically) ripens, then the childish one comes to misery. (66, 69)

Buddha, in the Majjhima Nikaya:
Suppose a cloth were defiled and stained and dipped in some colored dye, it would look poorly dyed and impure… So too, when the mind is defiled, an unhappy destination may be expected…. What are the imperfections that defile the mind? Covetousness and greed, ill will, anger, resentment, contempt, insolence, envy, deceit, fraud, obstinacy, rivalry, conceit, arrogance, vanity, negligence…. A monk abandons them… and abides pervading all quarters with a mind of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. (7.2ff.)

All unwholesome states lead downwards and all wholesome states lead upwards. (8.15)

Monks, even if bandits were to sever you savagely limb by limb with a saw, he who gave rise to a mind of hate towards them would not be carrying out my teaching. So you should train thus: ‘Our minds will remain unaffected, and we shall utter no evil words; we shall abide compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of loving-kindness, without inner hate. We shall abide pervading them and the all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility.’ (21.20)

Are material form, feeling, perception, reactions and cognizing consciousness [the five aggregates of personality, all of them “impermanent, suffering, subject to change”] fit to be regarded as ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’? [“No.”] Seeing this, a well-taught noble disciple becomes disenchanted [with the five aggregates]… Being disenchanted he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion [mind] is liberated. (22.22-9)

If one doesn’t strive, one won’t finally arrive at truth, but because one strives, one does finally arrive at truth. (95.22)

One sees all form,... sensation,... perception,... reactions,... consciousness [the five aggregates] as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ It is when one knows and sees thus that in regard to this body with its consciousness and all external signs [objects] there is no I-making, mine-making or underlying tendency to conceit [or clinging].” (109.12-13)

Conceiving [of a thing-like self and thing-like world] is a disease…. Overcoming all conceivings, one is a sage at peace. And the sage at peace isn’t born, doesn’t age, doesn’t die, isn’t shaken and isn’t agitated. (140.31)

[A true disciple] is one who acts in full awareness when going forward and returning, when looking ahead and away,… when eating, drinking, tasting,… defecating, urinating, walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking and keeping silent. (119, passim)

Buddha, in the Digha Nikaya
Wisdom is purified by morality and morality is purified by wisdom: where one is, the other is, the moral man has wisdom and the wise man has morality, and the combination of morality and wisdom is called the highest principle in the world. (4.22)

If defiling states disappear… nothing but happiness and delight develops, tranquility, mindfulness and clear awareness…. (9.40-2)

There are two kinds of happiness (and two kinds of equanimity, bodily conduct, speech, etc.): the kind to be pursued and the kind to be avoided. Avoid that by which unwholesome mental factors increase and follow that by which wholesome factors increase and unwholesome factors decrease. (18.ii.3-5 condensed)

An Arahant [perfected one]… is incapable of doing nine things: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, storing goods for sensual indulgence, or acting wrongly through attachment, hatred, folly or fear. (29.26 condensed)

Buddha, in the Samyutta Nikaya
When seized by the End-maker (Death), as you abandon the human state, what’s truly your own? What do you take along when you go? What follows behind you like a shadow that never leaves? Both the merit and evil that you as a mortal perform here: that’s what’s truly your own, what you take along when you go; that’s what follows behind you like a shadow that never leaves. (3.4)

Wealth, silver, gold, or whatever other belongings you have; slaves, servants, errand runners and any dependents: you must go without taking any of them; you must leave all of them behind. What you do with body, speech or mind: that is yours; taking that you go; that’s your follower, like a shadow that never leaves…. Acts of merit are the support for beings in their after-death world. (3.20)

Few are those people in the world who, when acquiring lavish wealth, don’t become intoxicated and heedless, don’t become greedy for sensuality, and don’t mistreat other beings…. Impassioned with sensual possessions, greedy dazed by sensual pleasures, they don’t awaken to the fact that they’ve gone too far—like a deer into a trap laid out. (3.6)

Aging and death come rolling over living beings: noble warriors, outcastes and scavengers. They spare nothing. They trample everything…. One who practices the Dhamma [Truth or Spiritual Way] in thought, word, and deed, receives praise here on earth and after death rejoices in heaven [and finally comes to Supreme Release, Nibbana]. (3.25)

Seven factors for awakening, when developed and pursued, lead to direct knowledge, to self-Awakening, to Unbinding [Nibbana]. Which seven? Mindfulness, investigation of qualities, persistence, rapture, serenity, concentration and poised equanimity. (46.14)

* * * * *

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Interview With God

I dreamed I had an interview with God.

"Come in," God said. "So, you would like to interview Me?"

"If you have the time," I said.

God smiled and said:
"My time is eternity and is enough to do everything; What uestions do you have in mind to ask me?"

"What surprises you most about mankind?"

God answered:

"That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up, and then long to be children again...

That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health...

That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present nor the future...

That they live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived."

God's hands took mine and we were silent for awhile and then I asked... "As a parent, what are some of life's lessons you want your children to learn?"

God replied with a smile:

"To learn that they cannot make anyone love them. What they can do is to let themselves be loved...

To learn that what is most valuable is not what they have in their lives, but who they have in their lives...

To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others. All will be judged individually on their own merits, not as a group on a comparison basis...

To learn that a rich person is not the one who has the most, but is one who needs the least...

To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and that it takes many years to heal them...

To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness...

To learn that there are persons that love them dearly, but simply do not know how to express or show their feelings...

To learn that money can buy everything but happiness...

To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it totally different...

To learn that a true friend is someone who knows everything about them, and likes them anyway...

To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others, but that they have to forgive themselves."

I sat there for awhile enjoying the moment. I thanked Him for his time and for all that He has done for me and my family, and He replied, "Anytime. I'm here 24 hours a day. All you have to do is ask for me, and I'll answer."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Incarnation of Vishnu - God Narasimha

The Incarnation of Vishnu - God Narasimha

Sinister Father Saintly Son

A vicious storm raged through the darkness. Pierce winds hissed again and again and uprooted gigantic trees. Thick clouds covered the sky, and lightning flashed as though laughing. The ocean with its high waves wailed as if stricken with sorrow. Jackals and dogs howled ominously, and birds flew shrieking from their nests. The twin demons Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksa were being born.

Day by day, year after year, they grew more powerful, more evil, and more dominant over all the other demons, who made alliances with them. Then, under the direction of Hiranyaksa and Hiranyakasipu, the demons set out to conquer the demigods, their archenemies and the administrators of the universe. In their war for universal power, the demons enjoyed many victories, but at last Lord Visnu [Krsna] Himself killed Hiranyaksa. His brother's death overwhelmed Hiranyakasipu with grief and rage. He bit his lips and gazed upward with eyes whose blazing anger filled the sky with smoke. He took up his trident, glanced around fiercely, bared his terrible teeth, and began to speak to his demon friends.

"O my friends," he roared, "Lord Visnu is supposed to behave equally toward the demigods and the demons, but now He has taken the demigods' side and killed my very dear brother Hiranyaksa. For this I shall sever His head from His body! And with His profuse blood I shall please my dead brother Hiranyaksa, who was so fond of sucking blood. Only then shall I be pacified!"

First, Hiranyakasipu sent his demoniac friends throughout the world to wreak havoc on the innocent and the pious, and then he set out to fulfill his own evil plans. Hiranyakasipu not only wanted to rule the universe and possess all mystic perfections but also, and most important, he wanted to become immortal. To achieve these seemingly impossible ends, he went to the valley of the Mandara Hill and began performing severe austerities: he stood on his tiptoes and kept his arms held upward and his eyes fixed on the sky.

By the intensity of Hiranyakasipu's exertion, the hair on his head began shedding a light as brilliant as a supernova. All the rivers and oceans seethed, and all the mountains and islands on the surface of the globe began trembling. Stars and planets fell from the heavens, and fires blazed in all directions. So long did Hiranyakasipu remain in his painful position that grass, bamboo sticks, and finally a huge anthill covered his body. The ants devoured his skin, fat, flesh, and blood, until only his skeleton remained.

Seeing his ghastly condition, the demigods said, "The malicious Hiranyakasipu has been devoured by his own sins, just as a serpent is eaten by small ants." Thus encouraged, the demigods, headed by Indra, launched a fierce attack upon the demons. Showing unprecedented strength, the demigods massacred the demons, and to save their own lives the demon generals scattered in all directions. They fled from their homes in great haste, forgetting their wives, animals, and household belongings. Finally, the victorious demigods plundered the palace of Hiranyakasipu and arrested the pregnant Queen Kayadhu, one of Hiranyakasipu's wives.

As King Indra, the leader of the demigods, led Kayadhu away, the great sage Narada appeared on the scene. "O king of the demigods," Narada said, "you should not so mercilessly drag away this chaste wife of another man. Release her immediately!

"But King Indra said, "Within this woman's womb is the seed of the great demon Hiranyakasipu. Therefore, let her remain in our custody until she gives birth to the child; then we shall release her."

Narada replied, "The child within her womb, who will be known as Prahlada, is completely sinless. In fact, he is a great devotee a powerful servant of Lord Visnu, the Personality of Godhead. You will not be able to kill him."

Upon hearing this. King Indra honored the words of the exalted saint Narada and released Queen Kayadhu. Then, having defeated the demons' armies, the demigods returned to their celestial kingdom.

Narada brought the queen to his hermitage and, assuring her all protection, he requested, "My dear child, please remain here until your husband returns." Kayadhu desired the safety of her unborn child, so she stayed in the care of Narada, serving the sage with great devotion. Because Narada is naturally very kind to all fallen souls, he instructed her on religion and transcendental knowledge, and his words were free of any material contamination. While the queen heard his teachings, the child within her womb also listened attentively to Narada's spiritual message. Thus, even before his birth, Prahlada received his spiritual education.

Meanwhile, other residents of heaven approached Brahma, the foremost demigod, to complain to him that the scorching light still emanating from Hiranyakasipu's head had made their planets uninhabitable. Thus informed, Brahma and the other demigods went to see Hiranyakasipu to pacify him and end his severe austerities. "I am astonished to see your endurance!" exclaimed Brahma upon seeing Hiranyakasipu. "Despite being bitten and eaten by worms and ants, you are still keeping your life air circulating within your bones. This is certainly wonderful! By your severe austerities you have won my favor, and I am prepared to give you whatever benedictions you desire." After speaking these words, Brahma sprinkled spiritual water on the skeleton of Hiranyakasipu. The demon now blossomed forth in a youthful body whose lustrous, golden limbs could withstand the striking of thunderbolts.

Sinister Father Saintly Son

At once Hiranyakasipu addressed Brahma. "Please grant that I not be killed by any created living being; that I not die inside or outside any residence, during daytime or night, nor on the ground or in the sky; that I not be killed by any being created by you, nor by any weapon, nor by any human being or animal indeed, that I not meet death from any entity, either living or nonliving; that I have no competitor; that I have sole lordship over all living beings and presiding deities; and that I acquire all mystic powers."

After Brahma had granted him all these requests, Hiranyakasipu exclaimed, "At last, now I am immortal and invincible! Now I shall challenge Visnu and avenge the death of my brother!"

Very swiftly, Hiranyakasipu conquered all the planets in the universe, took up residence in the lavish palace of King Indra, and forced the demigods to bow down at his feet. He even stole the sacrificial oblations meant for the demigods. Hiranyakasipu ruled severely, and he was always drunk on strong-smelling wines and liquors.

During this time Queen Kayadhu returned to the palace of her husband and bore him a son Prahlada. He was a reservoir of all transcendental qualities because he was an unalloyed devotee of God. Determined to understand the Absolute Truth, he had full control over his senses and mind. He was kind to all living creatures and the best friend of everyone. Toward respectable per- sons he behaved just like a menial servant, to the poor he was like a father, and to his equals he was like a sympathetic brother. Always very humble, he considered his teachers, spiritual masters, and older Godbrothers to be as good as the Lord Himself. Indeed, he was completely free of any pride that might have arisen from his good education, riches, beauty, and aristocratic birth.

Hiranyakasipu did not know that Prahlada had already learned devotional service while in the womb of his mother. So, when Prahlada turned five, Hiranyakasipu sent him to school to acquire a materialistic education. Prahlada studied along with the sons of other demons. At school he heard and recited lessons on politics and economics, but he did not like them because they required that he consider one person a friend and another person an enemy.

After Prahlada had attended school for some time, Hiranyakasipu took him on his lap and affectionately inquired, "My dear son, please tell me about your favorite subject in school."

Prahlada replied, "O king of the demons, as far as I have learned from my spiritual master, any person who accepts his temporary body and temporary household life as real is certainly embarassed by anxiety, having fallen into a dark, dry well filled only with suffering. He should leave home at once, go to the forest, and take shelter of God."

Startled, Hiranyakasipu laughed sardonically and said, "Thus is the intelligence of children spoiled by the words of the enemy!" He told his assistants, "Give this boy complete protection at school. Devotees of the Lord may go there in disguise, so take care that his intelligence is not further influenced by them."

After taking Prahlada back to school, Prahlada's teachers (Sanda and Amarka) said to him, "Dear son Prahlada, all peace and good fortune unto you. Now, we are going to ask you a few questions, so please do not speak lies; just reply with the truth. The other boys here are not like you; they do not speak in a deviant way about 'God.' How have you learned these instructions? How has your intelligence been spoiled? Have our enemies polluted you?"

Prahlada answered, "Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Personality of Godhead, who deludes those in the material world and thus creates in their minds distinctions such as 'friend' and 'enemy.' Now I am actually seeing this delusion, which I previously heard about from learned authorities.

"Since every one of us is an eternal servant of God, we are not different from one another, but persons who are unable to ascertain the existence of the Lord within themselves always think in terms of 'friend' and 'enemy.' The same Personality of Godhead who has created this situation has given me the intelligence to take the side of your so-called enemy. As iron is attracted by a magnet, I am attracted by the Lord."

Prahlada's teachers were furious.

"Bring me a stick!"

"This Prahlada is damaging our good name!"

"He must be punished!"

Continuously threatening him, Sanda and Amarka started to teach Prahlada about worldly pseudo-religion, money-making, and sense pleasure. After some time, they again presented him to his father. When Hiranyakasipu saw Prahlada bowing down before him, he affectionately showered the child with his blessings and jubilantly embraced him with both his arms. He sat Prahlada on his lap and, with tears gliding down from his eyes onto the child's smiling face, he spoke to his son.

"My dear Prahlada " he began. "My dear son, for a long time you have heard so many things from your teachers. Now please repeat to me whatever you think is the best of that knowledge."

Fearlessly, Prahlada said, "Hearing and chanting about the holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia, and pastimes of the Supreme Lord; remembering them; serving the lotus feet of the Lord; offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia; offering prayers to the Lord; becoming His servant; considering the Lord one's best friend; and surrendering to Him (in other words, serving Him with body, mind, and words) these nine processes are known as pure devotional service, and I consider anyone who has dedicated his life to the service of Lord Visnu through these nine methods to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge."

His lips trembling in rage, Hiranyakasipu turned to Sanda. "What is this nonsense! Some 'brahmana' you are! You have disobeyed my order! You have taken shelter of my enemies! You have taught this poor boy about devotional service!"

Sanda quickly replied, "O King, O enemy of Indra! Whatever your son has said was not taught to him by me or by anyone else. His devotional service has developed spontaneously. Please, give up your anger. Do not unnecessarily accuse us!"

Hiranyakasipu turned to his son and said, "You rascal! Most fallen member of our family! If your teachers did not teach you this, who did?!"

Prahlada answered, "Persons who have accepted as their leader a blind man attached to external sense objects cannot understand that the goal of life is to return home, back to Godhead, to engage in the devotional service of Lord Visnu. Only if such persons take shelter of the lotus feet of a devotee of Lord Visnu can they be freed from material contamination."

Sinister Father Saintly Son

Blinded by anger, Hiranyakasipu threw Prahlada from his lap onto the ground. "Servants! Take him away and kill him at once!" he screamed. "By becoming a devotee of Visnu, Prahlada has become my brother's murderer! He is a traitor, a poisoned limb of the family, and he must be amputated immediately! Kill him without delay!"

The demoniac servants of Hiranyakasipu, who had fearful faces, sharp teeth, and reddish beards, then started to strike Prahlada's tender body with their tridents. They shouted, "Chop him up! Pierce him!"

However, Prahlada just sat silently and meditated on the Personality of Godhead, and the demons' weapons had no effect on him. Seeing this, Hiranyakasipu became fearful and contrived various ways to kill his son. He threw him beneath elephants' feet; he cast him into the midst of huge, fearful snakes; he cursed him with destructive spells; he hurled him from a hilltop; he conjured up frightening apparitions; he gave him poison; he starved him; he exposed him to severe cold, winds, fire, and water; he even threw heavy stones to crush him. But throughout these trials Prahlada simply meditated on Lord Visnu, and thus he remained unharmed. Hiranyakasipu became very anxious about what to do next.

But Sanda and Amarka were still very hopeful that they could change the boy by the force of their teaching. So once again Hiranyakasipu put Prahlada under their care, and once again they systematically and unceasingly taught Prahlada about worldly pseudo-religion, business, and sensual satisfaction. But whenever the teachers left the classroom to attend to household affairs, Prahlada would speak to his classmates about the uselessness of materialism. His friends loved and respected him, and because of their tender age, they had not yet been polluted by their teachers' instructions. Thus they listened attentively to Prahlada's words.

"A person who is sufficiently intelligent," he told them, "should practice devotional service from the very beginning of life, giving up all other engagements. This human body is rarely achieved, although it is temporary like other bodies. In the human body we can perform devotional service to God, and even a slight amount of sincere devotional service can give us complete perfection.

"The human form of life affords us a chance to return home, back to Godhead. Therefore, all living beings, especially human beings, must serve the lotus feet of Lord Visnu. This devotional service is natural because Lord Visnu, the Personality of Godhead, is the most beloved friend, master, and well-wisher of everyone.

"We should not try merely for sensual pleasure, for it results only in a loss of time and energy, but no actual spiritual profit. But if we try to serve Lord Visnu, then surely we can attain the spiritual platform of self-realization."

All the sons of the demons appreciated the transcendental instructions of Prahlada, and they took them very seriously. But Sanda and Amarka became afraid. They saw that by associating with Prahlada their students were becoming devotees of Lord Visnu. When the teachers approached Hiranyakasipu and described the situation, he went into a great rage. Trembling in fury and hissing like a snake trampled underfoot, Hiranyakasipu called for his son.

When Prahlada came before his father, his hands were folded, and he looked peaceful, mild, and gentle. Hiranyakasipu stared at him with crooked eyes and rebuked him harshly: "O most impudent, stupid troublemaker! O scum of the earth, you have violated my power, and therefore you are an obstinate fool! Today I shall send you to your death! Prahlada, you rascal, you know that when I am angry all the planets in the universe tremble! Tell me by whose power have you become so impudent and fearless?!"

Calmly, Prahlada replied, "My dear king, the source of my strength is the source of yours also, and the source of everyone's. Whether moving or stationary, superior or inferior, every living being is under the control of the all-powerful Personality of Godhead."

"You say there is a being superior to me," said Hiranyakasipu, "but where is He? If He is everywhere, then why is He not present in this pillar you see before you? Do you think He is in this pillar?"

"Yes," Prahlada answered, "He is there."

Hiranyakasipu's rage flared more and more. "Because you are speaking such nonsense," he said, "I shall now sever your head from your body! Now let me see your most worshipable God come to protect you!"

Then, exactly at that moment, out of the very pillar that Hiranyakasipu had singled out, a wonderful and terrifying form appeared, a form never before seen half man and half lion, with angry eyes like molten gold, a shining mane that expanded the dimensions of His fearful face, and a razor-sharp tongue that moved about like a dueling sword. The Supreme Personality of Godhead had incarnated in His wrathful form of Nrsimhadeva.

Sinister Father Saintly Son

Shocked and bewildered, Hiranyakasipu gazed at the Lord, then picked up his club and attacked him boldly. Nrsimhadeva played with him just as an eagle plays with a snake, allowing him time and again to escape the long, threatening nails of His lotus hands. Finally, the Lord grabbed him and placed him on His lap. Then, in the doorway of the assembly hall, He very easily tore the demon Hiranyakasipu to pieces.

By His transcendental cleverness, Lord Nrsimhadeva was able to kill Hiranyakasipu without contradicting any of Brahma's benedictions. The execution took place neither inside nor outside, but in the doorway; neither on land nor in the sky, but on the Lord's lap; neither during the day nor during the night, but at twilight; neither by man, beast, or demigod nor by any created being, but by the Personality of Godhead; and not by any weapon, but by the Lord's own lotus hands.

The demigods showered Lord Nrsimhadeva with flowers and then offered Him respectful prayers, glorifying Him and thanking Him for saving the universe from the oppressive reign of Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada, also, offered the Lord very beautiful prayers, asking Him only for the strength to serve Him and to love Him. When Nrsimhadeva encouraged Prahlada to request some favor, the boy simply asked the Lord to save all people, including his demoniac father, from repeated birth and death in this world. Thanks to the devotional training he received from the pure devotee Narada, Prahlada made his life successful he remembered the Lord always and pleased Him with his loving service.

Source: Srimad Bhagvatam

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Lord Krishna in the centre of the Raas Leela dance depicts that there is a Parmatma or the lord around whom the whole universe is formed.  The gopis dance around the lord and they all are considered as the partner of the lord. This means that there is a lord with each one of us and he is looking after us. Just that we have to recognise and appreciate him. We can do so only when we surrender ourselves completely to this divine power. The gopis were always women and hardly was a man enchanted by Lord Krishna in this form. This too has a deep spiritual essence. This says that god is man and all the human beings are feminine. They have a relationship of a spouse with the lord.

The Lord is knowledge supreme and he gets this importance only when the students in the form of gopis come to him to gain the knowledge. The Raas Leela is a good way to learn and appreciate the Brahma Vidya. It has nothing to do with sensual behaviour as explained by many. We hope that this article will help our readers to understand the deep and the spiritual importance of the Raas Leela.        




Swami Vivekananda had a very unique way of looking at Raas Leela. Some people consider it as unethical and immoral. However, Vivekananda said that Raas Leela was a medium that Lord Krishna used to prove that there is a strong connection between the universe and all the souls that live in it. The lord wanted each and every one to feel the universal power and connect to the ultimate truth. His medium was the sweet sound of the flute that he used to play always. Unless we learn to reach a state of trance and completely surrender ourselves to the supreme power we will not be able to understand the essence of the Raas Leela.

Complete Surrender

The most difficult part in any devotion is to surrender yourself completely to the lord and lose your identity. The devotion of the gopis to the Lord Krishna was unquestionable. They would be completely mesmerised by the sweet sound of the flute and would forget what they had to do. Similarly in Raas Leela we can see the deep love of Lord Krishna and Radha. Radha loved Krishna and there was no logic in her love. She just blindly loved him and considered him as her own. She would not care about the society or her family and would always come running to Lord Krishna when he would play the flute. There is a deep spiritual significance in this action of Radha. The lord wanted to prove that love for the lord is of prime importance. Unless you can give off your bonds and ties and run to the lord whenever he calls you your path to salvation cannot be reached. One must be free of all fear of loss and of the society and should always think of God.

May we be one with The Infinite KRISHNA and our soul dance with Him to enjoy the Eternal Bliss.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The lifespan of KRISHNA on earth.

Lord Krishnas Disappearance

Lord Krishna, the 10th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, took birth on earth with a purpose. The main objective of taking human form by the divine being was to rid mother Earth from the cruelties and increasing power of the demons.

Janmashtami Life Span of Lord Krishna
It is believed that Bhagwan Krishna lived on Earth with brother Balram for 125 years. The first ten years of his life were spent in the towns of Gokul and Vrindavan, in Northern India. The following years beginning in the 11th year of Lord's life till the age of 28 were spent in Mathura. Sri Krishna later established Dwarka, a city in Gujarat and lived the rest of his life there with his wife Rukmini and sons.

Legends of Lord Krishna's Disappearance
According to researchers, Lord Krishna disappeared on 18th February 3102 BC. The period after his disappearance marks the beginning of Kaliyug. It is said Bhagwan Krishna had predicted that exactly seven days after the disappearance of the Lord, the Golden city of Dwarka in Gujarat will drown in the sea. Indeed Dwarka city is said to have been merged in sea owing to torrential rain. There are quite a few reasons assigned to Lord Krishna's leaving his spirit for the heaven. They are as follows:

Fulfillment of Sri Krishna's Birth Objective
Lord Krishna alighted on mother Earth with the primary objective of reducing the growing power of the demons and relieving people from their cruelties. The secondary objective was fighting the historical battle in Kurukshetra in order to deliver justice to Pandavas. Having accomplished his missions and establishing peace , it was time for Lord to end his life journey on Earth.

Curse of Mother Gandhari
Mahabharata, the historical battle fought in Kurukshetra resulted in the death of all the hundred sons of King Dhritarashtra and Gandhari. Lord Krishna is said to have visited Mother Gandhari to offer his condolence. In a fit of rage and sorrow, Mata Gandhari cursed Bhagwan Krishna that just as the Kaurava dynasty had ended fighting with each other, similarly the Yaduvanshi dynasty would end fighting and killing each other. Mother Gandhari felt that Sri Krishna didn't play a fair role in putting an end to the war. Lord Krishna happily accepted the curse.

Curse of Sages Vishwamitra and Narada
According to a folklore, Sage Vishwamitra and Sage Narada once visited the city of Dwarka to meet Lord Krishna. A few children of Lord Krishna dressed up Samba (Son of Sri Krishna and Jambavati) as a pregnant woman and asked the visiting sages to foretell what kind of a child Samba will bear. Feeling insulted, the sages cursed that Samba will give birth to an Iron rod which in turn will be instrumental in the fall of the Yaduvanshi Dynasty. The very next day, Samba gave birth to an iron rod. Lord Krishna's sons crushed it into powder and threw the bottle in the sea. However, one day the bottle was washed up the shore and the powdered iron took form of an arrow. Lord Krishna could foresee everything and as a last resort to save his Dynasty, prohibited liquor in the city of Dwarka. Eventually, the Yadavas became drunk and killed each other with iron rods. None of them survived. Lord Krishna was shattered to see the Dynasty perish.

Death of Balram
On seeing the end of Yaduvanshi clan, Lord Balram the elder brother of Sri Krishna sat under a tree and ended his life by breathing out life from his mouth in the form of a white serpent.

Disappearance of Sri Krishna 
Lord Krishna was disillusioned with the fraternal killing among the Yaduvanshis. He went to a forest near Somnath in Bhalka Tirth to meditate. Jara, a hunter mistook the lord's feet to be a deer and accidentally shot him with the arrow. Lord Krishna's spirit left for heaven. Bhagwan Krishna's disappearance marks the beginning of the current debauched age, also known as Kaliyug.

The great sage Vyas then wrote the famous 'Bhagawad Puran' to save the heritage and miracles of Lord Krishna. The story of Lord Krishna has since been passed from generation to generation.


 Prayaschitta includes austerities like fasting, chanting of Mantras, giving away gifts or going to pilgrimage. It is a ritual which is performed to eliminate the effects of bad deeds. Praya means austerity and chitta refers to firm resolution. Human beings are bound to make mistakes.  one has to repent, resolve so that it is not repeated. 

If one commits a sin one has to commit expiation to get over the guilt. Prayaschitta depends on the type of sin committed. There are two types of sins: Mahapatakas and Upapatakas. Mahapatakas include killing a person of knowledge, drinking intoxicating liquids and smoking. Upapatakas include neglect of sacred fire, offending one`s teacher, theft, nonpayment of debts, selling banned articles, cutting down trees or killing animals who are not dangerous. 


Moksha is one of the basic themes of Hindu philosophy. The term is found prevalent in HinduismJainismBuddhism and Sikhism, and it refers to the liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth as well as all the sufferings and limitations of worldly existence. This kind of liberation can be achieved by and accompanied with the complete ending of all material passions. The beliefs of the Hindu Religion hold that true liberation occurs when the individual soul recognizes itself with the Source of all phenomenal existence known as Brahman

Moksha is basically forsaking the material and worldly life and establishing oneself as a devoted servant of Lord Vishnu in Vaishnavism, which is the largest branch of Hinduism. The UpanishadsBhagavad GitaMahabharata and the Ramayana also emphasize on the personal, devotional type of Moksha which is achieved through the practice of Bhakti Yoga. Within Moksha, there lies the ultimate peace, the ultimate knowledge, the ultimate enlightenment and the ultimate paradise. In Buddhism liberation is Nirvana. This is the goal of the Buddhist path. In Jainism, when a soul is released from the cycle of births and deaths it achieves Moksha. Thereafter it becomes a Siddha. In Sikhism it is Jivan Mukti that stands for ultimate reality. The Mukta becomes the master of sense and self, fearless and devoid of resentment, upright, humble, no desires and clings to nothing. 

Kinds of Moksha 
The concept of Moksha in the Hindu Religion is mainly of two types. These are personal and impersonal. Moksha is defined as the loving, eternal union with God and considered the highest perfection of existence. In Advaita philosophy Moksha is union with the oneness which Advaita advocates. 

Path to attain Moksha 
In Hinduism self-realization is the key to obtain Moksha. There are believed to be four Yogas or paths for the attainment of Moksha. They are the ways of working for the Supreme, realizing the Supreme, meditating on the Supreme and serving the Supreme in loving devotion. One must achieve Moksha on his or her own under the guidance of a "guru". 

Knowledge required for attaining Moksha 
According to Upanishads Jnana is the sole means to Moksha. One should achieve not mere verbal knowledge but a kind of intensive knowledge which is generated by constant meditation. The view that knowledge derived by the study of sacred texts leads to upasana has been established on the basis of the Upanishadic teachings. The knowledge of Brahman generated by the study of the Upanishads thus serves as an aid to nididhyasana or meditation. 


Four Ashrams of Vedic life was based on an individual`s Karma andDharma. Every doctrine of ancient India, carved out by the ancient saints, is based on scientific and rational reasoning. However, to put them to use they needed to be socially embedded. Hence methods like, the Ashram system, were included in the Vedic society. The average life of an Indian was considered to be 100 years. Based on this there were four ashrams of Vedic life-BrahmacharyaGrihasthaVanaprastha and Sannyasa. The goal of each stage or ashram was to fulfil the ideals on which these stages were divided. 

The stages of ashram life imply that an individual takes shelter in all the four stages of life depending on his age. These stages stratify the duties that man has to practice in his lifetime. These four divisions are elucidated in ancient Manu`s scripts. With such methodology the then contemporary society also aimed at holding the social institutions together. From an early age man was shown the paths of ethics, self-restraint, intelligence, pragmatism, love, compassion and discipline. He was guided to stay away from greed, cruelty, sloth, pride and several other vices. This system was also beneficial for the society at large. 

According to the four ashrams of life a man was expected to lead his life in 4 stages: Brahmacharya: - This stage is the first one and it begins at the age of 20 and extends up to 25 years. In this stage man leads the life of student and practices celibacy. The motto of this phase is to train man to discipline himself. 

Grihastha: - At this point of time man needs to pay heed to his social and family life. This phase begins from 25 and lasts till 60 years. Grihastha is a crucial stage in one`s life where man has to balance both his familial and social duties. He is married and manages his household and at the same time looks after the needs of the world outside. He has to discharge the duties of a son, brother, husband, father and a member of the community. 

Vanaprastha: - This is the step to Partial renunciation. This stage ushers in the life of man at an age of 50 and lasts till he is 74. His children are grown up and he slowly moves away for the material ties. It is his age for retirement and starts walking on a path that will lead him to the Divine. 

Sanyasa: The last stage in his life comes when he completely snaps off his worldly ties. This phase begins at 74 and lasts till he dies. He is completely free from the emotional attachments. He becomes an ascetic. 

A true devotee is he who knows his duties and fulfils them. Society needs both kinds of people-he who abandons all to pursue god and he who stays within a social institution and strikes a balance between Karma and Dharma. 


Atman` is the highest self, it remains when everything that is not the self of a man is abolished. Inn English means "soul" or "Self". In HinduDharma, the word "Atman" has deeper connotations. It is the imperceptible, timeless, perpetual and essential self, residing within the mortal frame of every Jiva. Lord Krishna, the Divine Incarnation of Lord Vishnu had explained the perplexed Arjuna, the Fundamental Truth of Existence, in the Eternal Book of Life, Bhagavad Gita that the main essence is the Atman. The word `Atman` is derived from `an` which means `to breathe`, which is `the breath of life`. The meaning of the word changed with time and it covered life, soul, self or essential being of the individual. According to Sankara, `Atman` means `to derive`, `to eat` or `pervade all`. It is the principle of man`s life. `Atman` is the Sanskrit word for the soul of a man. Professor Radhakrishnan says in his exposition of the philosophy of the Upanishads, `Atman` is the `God`s dwelling place`. 

The general concept of Atman is that it is the indestructible and eternal soul. It is never born, never dead and after coming into existence never ceases to be. It is always, permanent and very ancient. At the time of death the soul does not die. It just leaves the body and enters into a new one. Adi Shankaracharya observes: "Like the waves in the ocean, the worlds arise, live and dissolve in the Supreme Self; the substance and cause of everything." Atman is that highest self. An individual hears, touches, sees, feels and thinks by the atman. The `Atman` continues despite the shutting off of consciousness, which is exalted above waking and sleeping. Atman inhabits in the unexplored, deepest recesses, of Jiva. "There the eyes cannot travel, nor speech nor mind. Nor do we know how to explain it. It is other than the known and beyond the unknown". 

The `Atman` is not an object of any sort but is the eternal subject. We hear, touch, see, feel and think by the atman. The `Atman` continues despite the shutting off of consciousness, which is exalted above waking and sleeping. When a man withdraws from all outward things, by retreating into the ground of soul, in the remotest depth of the soul, we find the infinite. Atman is intrinsically connected to the Pure Consciousness of Brahman, the Cosmic Spirit. Hinduism asserts that Brahman is the Creative Aspect of God. Brahman is the Celestial Source of existence. It is the all-pervading, Divine Core, from which sprouts the inherent life force, driving every individual soul or Atman in Jiva. 

Advaita philosophy of Hinduism sees no difference between the Brahman and Atman. Indeed, Mandukya Upanishad reinforces this idea. It is Brahman, which manifests itself as the Jiv atman within the tangible mould of the body, made of Prakriti, the "material-nature" of Ishvara. This ideology claiming every Atman, as Brahman, authenticates that all are its creations and manifestations. Atman is the Universal Soul, the Brahman. Therefore each creature bears as much importance as the other has. The core philosophy of the Upanishad has said that `Atman` is the `God`s dwelling place`. The real thing in every individual is the self or `Soul`. According to the Hindu religion, `Atman` means, the union of the collective human soul with God, which brings about a complete merge in the absolute totality of Brahman. 

Advaita Vedanta traces Atman to be that pure, uncultivated, self-shinning consciousness, timeless, space less, and unthinkable. It is no congruent from Brahman under staying supporting an entity. Atman is pure, undifferentiated, self-shinning consciousness: It is a supreme power of awareness, transcendent to ordinary sense mental consciousness, aware only of the Oneness of being. In actuality, it is the strata of conscious wherein the partition of subject and object, which typify commonplace consciousness, are overcome. It is the transcendental conscious state. Atman is thus void of differentiation, but for Advaita it is not simply a void: it is the infinite richness of spiritual being. 

On the other hand, the Dvaita Philosophy distinguishes Jiv atman from Brahman. Madhvacharya and his disciples were of the opinion, that every Jiv atman is dependent on the Independent Reality or Svatantra Tattva of the Supreme Brahman or Para Brahman, for its emergence as living forms. All Jivas are rooted in Brahman, but not the whole of Brahman. Atman is the path, which leads to Brahman. One can comprehend the immortal Atman only through Yoga or a mastery over the temporal characteristics of the Jiva or person. These are the body, the mind, the intellect and the senses. The material case of the body would have been rendered as inanimate, had the soul not invested it with life; whereas the command over the mind and the senses, invites a sublime knowledge of the Supreme Soul, the Ultimate Truth. 

It is amazing enough, to discover, that the soul is not the actual rider. It is the power of intellect, which drives the chariot and holds the mind. However Buddhi is not the Lord of the chariot, but a devoted friend to Atman, who helps Atman in executing its functions. If the manas are allowed to obey the signals of the senses, without being filtered through the control-network of Buddhi or wisdom, the chariot containing the Atman, will never forge ahead in the right direction. In the darkness of ignorance, the Jiva thinks that the material body that he possesses is real and cannot sense the existence of the innermost Atman. The Katha Upanishad delineates the innate link between ego and Atman. 

It is the Yogi, engaged in the great and illuminating activity of Yoga, who can subdue the hindering ego, and chastise it with the Ethereal Truth of Atman. Hinduism thus instils in its followers a basic sense of respect for all forms of life, by driving home the glorious relation of Atman to Brahman. As long as life will thrive on this earth, the elevated research on the superior subject of Atman, will appeal to mankind. Again according to the early prose Upanishads, `Atman` is the principle of the individual consciousness and Brahman the super personal ground of the cosmos.` Brahman, the first principle of the universe, is known through atman, the inner self of man. `Atman` never dies or takes birth. A person dies with his physical existence like the body perishes but the `Atman` exists all the time. "Nhanyate hanyamaney sharirey"-Atman is eternal, it hardly dies.