‘Ganesha’ : The Vedic Lord of Divine ‘Intelligence’ and ‘Knowledge’

Dr. Dhananjay B. Ghare

Salutations to Lord Ganesha the Divine_Mathematician, Super_Spiritual_Leader, Commander of Supernatural_Intelligence and the Unique Universal_Trouble_Shooter.

Every Vedic ‘God’ is actually a theoretical philosophical ‘Concept’, well defined and evolved by the Vedic sages, as they got involved in their efforts to understand “Mother Nature” and all about her past, present and future activities. Here are some intellectual churnings about the Vedopanishadic ‘Concept’ of Lord Ganesha and the ways of getting benefited from him.

Heavy dependence on ‘Intelligence’ and ‘Knowledge’ is the basic demand of the modern concept of building any ‘Knowledge based Society’. Most developed nations are already claiming that their citizens are living in a knowledge-based society and India is building up it’s educational, political and social systems to attain this goal within the next few decades. Presently we are assessing the “Intellectual capability” of any individual on the basis of his-

a) Mathematical computational capability

b) Vast memory storage & quick memorization

c) Ability to solve quiz’s, puzzles etc.

d) Ability and linguistic command in debates etc.

All these capabilities are performed by one’s Consciously Awakened Intelligence (CAI) and believed to be carried out via the person’s brain, in its awakened state and in good health. Any person is unable to access CAI, when affected by high fever or under the influence of drugs, wine etc. On the other hand, every person is also in possession of (24×7) All_time active divine ‘Intellectual_Power’ (AADIP), which is not in his willful control, but it instantaneously works and takes action in the best interest of the person, even when a) in deep sleep or b) unconscious or c) in coma etc. e.g. If the person gets pricked by a sharp thorn or a needle (administering some medicine), even that a) small injury, b) it’s location and c) extent etc. are carefully noted and instantaneously a well-planned activity is initiated to cure this problem (विघ्न) of injury. In Vedic terminology, this divine computational and intellectual support provided in every such action, can be recognized as provided by the divine power (सिद्धि_बुद्धि_पति, विघ्न_हर्ता) Lord Ganesha.

In fact, this divine supernatural mathematically computing expertise mode or facet of Mother Nature is omni_time, omnipresent in the entire universe and takes suitable actions in every living as well as, nonliving species from an atom’s beautiful atomic structure to beautiful structures of huge_galaxies. These are just a couple of examples reasonably known to the modern science. There are many more presences such as black_holes, dark_matter, etc. which are just getting vaguely visualized and the nature of their internal structures and life spans etc. are just like fictitious predictions at the present moment of time.

Everything that happens in this universe, happens as per the laws of Mother Nature and all modern scientists are always busy in trying to understand these laws, (so that they can hopefully be used to create new facilities, prosperity, entertainments etc. for global human welfare). Logically therefore, on the universal scale of operations of Mother Nature, almost infinite number of these natural computational analysis are continuously being carried out in top priority and subsequently, the activities follow the outcome (results) of these calculations. The birth, growth, aging, decay and death of stars, planets, galaxies, black holes etc. all fall within this logical prediction.

The Vedic sages have therefore given the honor of “First_Salutations” (आद्य_वंदनीयत्व) to this theoretical concept of Lord_Ganesha. This is one of the ways of Vedopanishadic attempts to understand the universal activities of Mother Nature. Like other Vedic concepts, this divine concept is also projected to have a symbolic human form with fat_big_belly, along with the head like an elephant. There is almost a dozen or more ways explained in Pauranic texts to understand this symbolic representation. One of the best ways is as follows. The manifested ‘Universe’ is logically expected to have the shape of a huge spheroidal with its size depending on its age from its birth. This spheroidal (ब्रह्माण्ड) tied up with time (शेष_मौञ्जीबंधनम्) is the big_fat_belly (लम्बोदर) of Lord Ganesha. The two sets of three characteristics (सत्व, रज, तम & उत्पत्ति, स्थिति, लय) are represented by the elephant like head & the trunk (शुण्डा) represents the tie_up between the (सगुण, साकार) belly and the (निर्गुण, निराकार) head.

To understand the spiritual or divine nature of humanly accessible ‘CAI’ “(Consciously Awakened Intelligence)” and it’s relationship with “AADIP” (the ‘All_time active divine ‘Intellectual_Power’), it is obvious that ‘CAI’ is limited whereas “AADIP” is almost unlimited. The CAI cannot be accessed and used by the awakened spirit (or jīvātmā) without the knowledge (and indirect approval) of the AADIP present within himself/ herself. The personality of every living species, is a complex combination of structures conveniently understood in several parallel ways. Even non-Vedic religious scriptures describe them in similar fashions of combinations of their faiths.

In Vedopanishadic literature, every living species is made out of –

a) A gross physical body whose characteristics can be measured. e.g. height, weight, shape, size, limbs (like hands, legs etc.), bones, skin, hairs etc.

b) Several automated or semi_automated systems (इन्द्रियाणि) working in a coordinated fashion as part & parcel of this gross physical body (with partial control of CAI on a few of them). e.g. the breathing system, the digestive system, the blood circulatory system, the nervous sensory system, etc.

c) An inner subtle presence called ‘Mind’ which does not possess any characteristics which can be detected and measured by any instrumental applications (available till date).

d) Still subtler level of presence called as ‘Intellect’ which also does not possess any characteristics which can be detected and measured by any instrumental applications (available till date). It is vaguely believed that this presence resides in the brain. But we find intellectually brilliant responses coming from species like viruses, plants etc.) which have no ‘Brain’.

e) Still deeper subtle level of presence called as ‘Spirit’ (जीवात्मा) which also does not possess any characteristics which can be detected and measured by any instrumental applications (available till date) but whose presence or absence is the most crucial difference in a living species and its dead body.

 f) Still further deeper subtle level of presence called as ‘Mini_God_supreme’  (परमात्मा) which also does not possess any characteristics which can be detected and measured by any instrumental applications (available till date) but whose presence activates auto_response activities even after the death via ‘AADIP’ (to destroy the dead body, which are used by the doctors to prepare their postmortem reports).

In theoretical essence, both जीवात्मा and परमात्मा are almost identical.

Now, ‘Yoga’ techniques (especially the Patanjali Astānga Yoga आत्म_संयमन, चित्त_वृत्ति_निरोधन, राजयोग) procedures are designed to try to establish an intellectual cum emotional link or bond between the जीवात्मा and परमात्मा, via CAI and AADIP. There are five modes or moods of functioning of ‘चित्त’ (जीवात्मा, Consciousness) called as-

1) मूढ : meaning foolish (ignorant),

2) क्षिप्त : extrovert ( jumping’s towards surrounding environment, incidences, objects etc.),

3) विक्षिप्त  : scattered, distracted, agitated lured by extrovert objectives,

4) एकाग्र  : highly focused and concentrated

5) निरुद्ध  : highly disciplined

For divine ‘Peace’, ‘Tranquility’, ‘Silence’, ‘Happiness’ the गणेश_योग practitioners must rely on एकाग्र & निरुद्ध states of their consciousness. Salutations to Lord_Ganesha the Divine_Mathematician & Commander of Supernatural_Intelligence.

Dr. Dhananjay B. Ghare, Former Scientist, IISC, Bengaluru

Krishn Kutashtami – A Better Way to Celebrate Janmashtami

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh

Birth of a child is celebrated throughout the world with fanfare and gaiety, although it is less clear when the tradition of birthday celebrations ushered. It seems it was not there during the Ramayana and Mahabharata time at least, as, while there are ample descriptions of the celebrations at the time of the birth of Ram, and all the tribulations that the parents of Krishn had to encounter at the time of his birth, there are no stories of the annual pampering that goes into celebrating of children’s birthdays these days. By the way, the figurative contrast of day and night in the observance of the birthday celebrations of Ram and Krishn couldn’t be more glaring, which was even literally true, and is celebrated accordingly.

Nevertheless, the traditions of Ram Navami and Krishn Janmashtami celebrations are in place since seemingly prehistoric times. These celebrations traditionally though involve fasting rather than feasting, and are considered as sober moments of reflection and reminders. The fasting is taken up by both men and women, although there is a propensity of women participation in such things. Evidently, the fasting is to recreate the labor pain of great mothers of Ram and Krishn had to go through in their births, as if to remind us all that the day actually belongs to them (the mothers). Therefore, it is suggested in some circles that it is, in fact, the mothers’ day that each child should celebrate on his or her birthday, as it is literally the birth of the mother with the birth of a child. As the child has done or accomplished little at the time of birth, it makes hardly any sense to pamper a child with such celebrations, other than to remind them of their indebtedness to their parents, particularly mothers.

The reason for celebrating the birthday of Ram and Krishn, and that too only after their departure from this loka, is in recognition of their enormous, immense, and colossal work in service of people to reestablish dharma on the earth for public good. Interestingly and expectedly, all such work were done by them as adults. So, why do we still celebrate their Janmashtami or Ram Navami, rather than their accomplishments days? Or, why not include visuals of their adult lives in the decorations and rituals to remind us of their actual deeds? In case of Ram, Dussehra is celebrated to recognize it in that sense, but why no such day for Shri Krishn? Well, there are some days like Govardhan puja and Narak Chaturdashi during Diwali time which are related to Shri Krishn. However, the greatest event of his lifetime, the Mahabharata, and his role as a literal and metaphorical charioteer of that war remains unremembered, and consequently uncelebrated.

In Mahabharata war, Krishn was bound by his word to not take up arms in the war, and that couldn’t be just an accident. His most often repeated lines from Gita are –

यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत |

अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ||4. 7||

yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata

abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛijāmyaham

Its meaning is that whenever there is depletion of dharma, and when adharma raises itself, aham (I) creates the ataman (self) in such a way so the adharma is countered. The way it manifests itself depends on the condition of the situation.

The greatest contribution of Krishn in Mahabharata was not that he gave Gita gyan to Arjuna, although it was critical and continues to be useful to all conceptually, and remains the finest description of relationship of self, karma, and yoga. The greatest contribution of Krishn was what he did himself, which was conditioned on not taking up the arms. With arms one fights, but Krishn was not interested in fighting as much as in defeating the enemies of dharma. Consequently, he resorted to kutastha niti (kutaniti in short) which is generally and wrongly defined as diplomacy (negotiation by certified person having a diploma). He himself expounds on kutastha as narrated in chapter 6 of Bhagvadgita.

ज्ञानविज्ञानतृप्तात्मा कूटस्थो विजितेन्द्रिय: |

युक्त इत्युच्यते योगी समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चन: || 6.8||

jñāna-vijñāna-tṛiptātmā kūṭa-stho vijitendriyaḥ

yukta ityuchyate yogī sama-loṣhṭāśhma-kāñchanaḥ

Swami Muktananda translates it as follows – The yogis who are satisfied by knowledge and discrimination, and have conquered their senses, remain undisturbed in all circumstances. They see everything—dirt, stones, and gold—as the same. Kutashtha is the state of brahm or parmatma which remains unchanged under any and all circumstances. In yogic practice it can be attained through realization, and is considered to be located at the bhrumadhya in body, the seat of the agya chakra.

Sri Krishn was not just a yogi but Yogeshwar, and thus a master of the kutastha state, and thus the Kutaniti. His overt Kutaniti started at his meeting with Karna, who was one of very few persons with ability to defeat Arjuna. The others were Pitamah Bhishm and Barbareek, the son of Ghatotkacha, both of who also were defeated via Krishn Kutaniti.

Coincidentally, the meeting between Krishn and Karna also happened on Ashtami, but the Ashtami of the Shuklapaksha on Margashirsha (Agahan) month, after his shantiduta mission to Hastinapur. It was then Krishn told Karna the mystery of latter’s birth from Kunti that made the enemy side of the Pandavas substantially weak. He used similar Kutaniti tactics to remove Barbareek before the war, and Pitamah Bhishm during the war, ensuring the defeat of Duryodhana and Kauravas. Victory in a battle depends on the weakness of the enemy as much as on the strength of one’s own side. If the enemy is strong, weakness is created for the victory, and Shri Krishn knew this more than anyone else through his Kutashtha gyan, and used it abundantly to ensure the victory of dharma that was on the side of Pandavas.

Since Shri Krishn initiated this strategy on Ashtami tithi, I suggest we label it as Krishn Kutashtami, so that those who consider him as the demonstrator of the dharma victory may remind themselves of its value.

Indians, in general, and Hindus in particular, need to acquire this trait of their ideal to deal with modern situations of adharma, be it Taliban in Afghanistan or haters of Hindutva in US university campuses, the two issues currently in the news. It seems the Hindu community in both cases is doing little to weaken the enemy. Those making arguments that Taliban killings of Muslims in Afghanistan are actually weakening themselves, are not fully aware of the rules and consequences of battles and wars. Talibans and Jihadis killing innocent civilians to terrorize them into submission, are dominating with their version of Islam (Sunni, Wahabi, Deobandi, etc.) eliminating any voice of sanity within the community. Humanity is being violated which is adharma (abhyutthānam adharmasya), that calls for the tadatmanam srijamyaham. However, Hindus and their nationalist government is fairly quiet, while their cowardice intellectuals make a narrative out of it. India’s history is the witness of such behavior when those hardened by their war experience have invaded India, and enslaved. You don’t make case for a new world order by hiding behind excuses while real people (actually your own people historically) are being violated right in your neighborhood. This is sure way of others complying with the diktats of jihadis for fear of being punished in the same way, strengthening the enemies.

Similarly, the Hindu groups against the planned conference on Dismantling Global Hindutva that claimed sponsorship of 40 universities in the United States gave free credit to the organizers by assuming the universities really sponsored that conference, a fake claim of its organizers. Universities in the United States almost never sponsor conferences, let alone this controversial one. There are funding organizations that sometimes include some federal agencies as sponsors, but more frequently some faculty members join conference, as organizers or participants using their university affiliations.  Rather than calling the bluff of the enemies of Hindutva, many in the Hindu community started fighting universities, at least some of whom will support the rights of their faculty members for academic freedom. Thus, rather than weakening enemy forces the Hindu community action provides them (enemies) some semblance of support, which makes it look like their win.

Kutastha niti (aka Kutaniti) is more critical to learn from Shri Krishn in place of makhanchor, handiphor, and other baby babbles. These show the focus on the wrong state of Krishn contribution, and certainly misplaced work of celebrations of such a towering personality as Shri Krishn. A celebration of Kutashtha Ashstami may mend the Hindu lethargy from action in the service of humanity, be it Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, or Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah!

 It is critical to ponder over the question – what will Krishn do today to deal with problems in the world?

– Prof. Bal Ram SinghSchool of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA

A New Narrative of Ayodhya as the Nanihal of Humanity

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh

It is my intention to narrate the best possible way that I understand the origin of our ancestry. The point I mean by our ancestry today is my own family, which comes from a village near Ayodhya and their ancestors. The first thing to discuss about this is that we are from the Avadh kshetra, which is somewhere from around Kanpur, perhaps a little bit west of Kanpur up until Banaras, Gorakhpur, Deoria. So, there are a number of districts, I think a total of over twenty-six districts, which are known as Avadh kshetra. They were at one time the Kaushal Pradesh, which at some time, it had been the seat of the Aryabrata.

In British as well as Muslim ruler’s time or Mughal times, it used to be known as Avadh Province or area. There used to be actually a Navab of Avadh, who ruled at one time a large part of India also. To understand the value of Avadh kshetra in the history of humanity we may have to just to go to the beginning of this area, there is a story of this area that connects us to the world. How did this all start?

There is the Western point of view in which the world stated with Adam and Eve who are the origin of the humanity. The humans are supposed to come from Adam and Eve as described in Genesis of the Old Testament of Bible. And, so even today, whenever they find in their Research, especially in archaeological research, any kind of human skeleton, they date them. When they consider the skeleton to be normally the oldest one as a male, they name as Adam, and if it is a female as Eve. In some form scientists have located both of them, although there was a research paper recently to show that it seems the male and female progenitors of humans were not exactly in the same place. But that’s just the current research, and future research could change all that.

Currently, they have located oldest humans somewhere in Africa. Adam and Eve both have been located in Africa. From the Old Testament of the Bible in which the Adam and Eve are considered the origin of humanity, there is also the story of Noah’s Ark, who are the later descendants of Adam and Eve. They are the surviving race, which apparently is the origin of humanity today. In Arabic world, actually, the Muslim world or Islamic world also uses the same story of them and they call it Adam and Houva, the Houva being the mother. Adam is the same as Adam in Bible, and the word ‘Admi’, at least in the Indian subcontinent, I believe comes from the same story.

From the Indian perspective there is no Adam and Eve, obviously, although different rulers of India that included the Muslim rulers and British rulers tended to superimpose their story of origin of human beings on Indian narrative as well. One example of that is that the bridge between India and Sri Lanka, which is now named as Ram-Setu, because it is supposed to have been built to go to Sri Lanka during the Ram-Ravan yuddha (war). Officially for a long time it was known as Adams Bridge because they perhaps thought that all this structure represents Adam, either very sincerely thinking that Adam was the original man, thus it must be named after him, or they must have played some kind of mockery of the Indian culture and they wanted to appropriate the culture anyway. That is just only one instance where Adam’s bridge has been used, as a place in the Indian context, and was mostly done by the British.

However, what is the story of the Indian cosmology? How do the Hindus look at the origin of humanity? They have a story of Manu and Satarupa. According to them, this Manu is the origin of humanity, so one can just imagine how much impact that can have on rest of the world. Interestingly, the word ‘man’ comes from Manu. ‘Human’ word comes from Manu. ‘Woman’ word also related to the man, Thus Adam is not actually used in the Western world to refer to a man, even though they linguistically use that origin as Manu.

So, who was Manu? There are epochs of Manu, each of being 306,720,000 years, and are referred to as Manvantaras that consists of 71 yuga cycle. There is a total of 14 Manvantaras in a day of Bramhā, the creative force, with the current Manvantara being the 7th of 14. Calculations of times in yugas vary and are subject to interpretations. However, currently 14 Manvantaras make one Kalpa, and that follows a pralaya time of equal length. When these are computed, the Kalpa comes out to be 4.32 billion years, remarkably close to the current age of Earth calculated geologically and astronomically. This contrasts with the 4,004 years of the age of Earth mentioned according to some interpretation of the Bible (Bression, 2013).

Manu and Satarupa are thus the origin of the humanity which could meet the scientific criteria of at least the length of time. The current Manu, also known as Vaivasvata was the apparently a king of Dravida or southern India, and was rescued by the Matsyavatar of Viṣṇu during the apocalyptic flood or deluge. This flood story is similar to Noah’s Ark story of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Vaivasvata Manu is supposed to have established Aryabrata at the bank of Saryu river, and his son Ikshavāku, the progenitor of the Suryavansha, established his capital in Ayodhyā. After renunciation of the kingdom, Manu and Satarupa are stated to have performed tapasya at Naimisāraṇya, a place between Lucknow and Kanpur within the Avadh region, and received the darśan of Bhagvān Viṣṇu, who granted their wish to become their son as Rām when they were to be born as Dasharatha and Kaushalya. Thus, the origin of the humanity as Manu-Satarupa, and later as Ikshavāku was in fact Ayodhya, about 2 billion years ago. That timeframe for human existence does not exactly match with the current view of human evolution of about 2 million years, which, however, is certainly older than about 6,000 years believed by the people of the Book (meaning Bible). An opinion similar my view outlined here was expressed by the Nobel laureate Francis Crick (1995). He writes:

“Most of the religious beliefs we have today originated in a time when the earth, while a small place by our standards, was then thought of a being very large, even though its exact extent was unknown. …It was not implausible to believe the earth was less than ten thousand years old. The stars seemed far away, fixed perhaps in the spherical firmament, but that the universe extended as far as it does – more than 10 billion light years – was almost inconceivable. (An exception has to be made here for certain eastern religions, such as Hinduism, that take pleasure in inflating times and distances for the sheer joy of it)”  

Although Crick makes fun of Hinduism for the inflation of time, that timeframe is, in general, closer to the scientific estimate of the time on Earth. Interestingly, a human geographic project of National Geographic Society (see the map below) and other population genetics studies (Oppenheimer, 2012) have shown that human population initially migrated from Africa to the Indian Subcontinent, and then everywhere else from that route, making India as the main source of human migration some 60,000 years ago, which may in fact have cultural consequences. This may indeed supplement the Manu story of human origin, and use of the word ‘man’ referring to the Homo sapiens, may be one of such consequences. India, particularly, Ayodhyā, where Vaivasvata Manu established Aryavrata at first at the bank of Saryu river, thus becomes the nanihal (maternal grandmother’s place) of the entire humanity, after Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa.

It will be fascinating to explore this line of novel narrative that combines cosmology and genetics in its support. Further analysis of linguistics, art, music, rituals, and philosophical connections need to be explored and examined. For example, the word ‘Adammay’ have been derived from Adi Manu, or progenitor Manu.

References

Bression, D. (2013) October 23, 4004 B.C.: Happy Birthday Earth! October 23 is (in)famous as supposed earth’s birthday – this date is mentioned in many textbooks retelling the life of Irish Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656).  Scientific American October, 2013.

Crick, F. (1995) Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul,  Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York.

Oppenheimer, S. (2012) Out-of-Africa, the peopling of continents and islands: Tracing uniparental gene trees across the map. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 367(1590):770-84

– Prof. Bal Ram SinghSchool of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA

In Search of Vedic Role Models for Modern Male Population – III. Uncertainty of Pursuit and the Biology of Purusha

Rudra-Manthan Series

(Continued from Part-II)

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh

The feminine aspect of the Mahat Śakti has been modeled through the Nava-Durgā for human practice and realization (https://vedicwaves.wordpress.com/2021/04/28/nava-durga-as-ideal-model-for-the-development-of-women-to-attain-their-natural-full-potential/) in a relatively simple symbolization of the various phases of a woman’s life. The masculine aspect has never been explicitly modeled in the past to the best of my knowledge, although it is no rocket science to imagine it would be the Śiva. Since Śiva form represents the visible world, with infinite diversity, modeling it in a set of fixed formats is difficult, and this perhaps is the explanation of the absence of a symbolic representation of the masculine form. In terms of the Purūṣa and Prakṛti also, the former is defined through the pursuit (in deed a word derived from Purūṣa), which is a lot more uncertain than the Prakṛti even with its diversity. This can be seen reflected in a popular Sūbhāṣita as follows

नृपस्य चित्तं कृपणस्य वित्तं  मनोरथः दुर्जन मानवानाम्|

त्रिया चरित्रं पुरुष्यस्य भाग्यं दैवो न जानाति कुतो मनुष्यः||

Nrupasya chittam krupanasya vittam manorathah durjan manavaanaam|

Triyaa charitram purushasya  bhaagyam  daivo na jaanaati kuto manushyah||

i.e. Even the Devas do not know about a king’s (or a rulers) mentality, the wealth of a miserly person, about the wishes of wicked persons, the way a woman will behave, and what will be the fate of a man.  Then how can an ordinary person know about it?

The prediction of the pursuit of unknown which man has more tendency to do, and thus also the consequence of such pursuit certainly is uncertain. Also, the triya that comes from stree is related to sāttvic, rājasic, and tāmasic gunas that women possess simultaneously (remember multi-tasking!), which is by its nature difficult to determine. These are the factors why the uncertainty is associated with these two very important traits men and women possess biologically and psychologically. However, women nevertheless would have more control over their own conduct compared to men, leading to more risk variability men’s life as pointed out in a Harvard Health Publishing article.

Over 15 years ago there were psychological studies conducted on men and women in terms of spatial and navigational skills. It was found that men have higher spatial skills compared to men. What implications would this might have in the lives of men? When men find themselves located in a place be in forest or car they are able to have better sense of their position. This means they will be adept to parking their cars in a given place, or may have a sense of the direction they need to pursue to get out. On the other hand, women have better navigational skills by being able to spot items on the way, thus making them milestones to find their way. Thus, while women may be flexible or appear distracted but their ability to spot items helps in their navigational needs. Men, on the other hand, have sense of directions but the details of getting to a place will have many uncertainties.

Biologically men and women are quite different, beginning with genetic, metabolic, and physiological, that leads to social and cultural behavior, imposed or otherwise. According to Robert H. Shmerling “The uneven playing field for boys starts early. The Y chromosome tends to develop mutations more often than X chromosomes and the lack of a second X chromosome in men means that X-linked abnormalities among boys are not “masked” by a second, normal version. Survival in the womb is also less reliable for male fetuses (for uncertain, and probably multiple, reasons). Developmental disorders are also more common among boys; some of these could shorten life expectancy.”

In addition, the hormonal secretion, including sex hormones (Figure 1), dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, which affects mood, behavior, and physiology, are quite different not only in their pattern, but also in their effects. For example, the oxytocin – a social bonding hormone, has positive effect on women whereas somewhat negative effect on men. All this begs the question for the need to utilize the knowledge of ancient India coded in Vedic texts for modern times to create a role model for men.

Figure 1. Level of sex hormone in men and women.

(to be continued….)

Editorial note – As a complementary to the Indian tradition of Nava-Durgā as the ideal role model of girls and women, it is high time that boys also get to be reminded of their potential and possibilities with role models similar to Nava-Durgā. Recently, the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, USA, in collaboration with Kuruom Jankalyan Sansthan in village Kuruom near Ayodhya decided to make a debut program of Ramkathā as the platform to discuss, during April 22 – May 2, 2021, the features and traits of eleven Rudras as Rudra-Manthan for guiding boys in the world to grow and realize their full potential. Rudra-Manthan series of articles continue to explore that possibility to promote a better understanding of the needs and to provide educational support to boys and men.

– Prof. Bal Ram SinghSchool of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA

‘Yagyas’ – Your Connect with the Divine

Mrs. Rati Hegde

In the Durgā Sūktam, Jātavedās, interpreted physically as fire, represents the Omniscent Īśwara. He (the Divine Agni) is exhorted to lead us and protect us by taking us across all perils just as the captain takes the ship across the sea. He is also requested to save us from all wrong-doings. He is Tarasi – skilled in saving and helping in crossing over and He is requested to help us cross the ocean of Samsāra.

Yagya (Yajña) is a ritual in which the performer of the Yagya invokes any particular devatā via Agni (fire) with the help of a mantra, gives an oblation or offering to the devatā and asks for a blessing for the benefit of mankind, the environment, animals and every part of nature on this earth and beyond. While doing so, the Yajmāna (or the performer of the Yagya) also hopes that good fortune befalls him too, because he is through his offering, strengthening nature and the devatās. This is a divine ritual in Sanatan Dharma or Hinduism.

*Yagya is a medium of connectivity with the divine forces. Yagya is also a process of purifying atmosphere through the agency of fire. Vedas have two fundamental concepts and they are ‘Yoga’ and ‘Yagya’. Vedic texts describe in detail the processes of Yagyas. In fact, Yagya is at the core of all Vedas. A study of Vedic texts and Brāhamaṇas indicates the main components of Yagya as :  

a) Sankalp-divine resolve of the good of Society and self.

b) Agnidevatā Prasthāpana– Engagement of Prakāś Śakti (Light Energy) in the process of Yagya  

c) Havirdravya for oblations to be offered to the sacred fire for carrying them to the main Deity for which Yagya is being performed

d) Timing of Yagya as per position of constellations for Interplanetary Communications and Cosmic Energy Influences.

e) Mantras and Prayers-Sound Energy vibrations and frequencies for the desired effect as per Mantra Vijñān or Mantra Śāstra

f) Sacrifice for the sake of common good and

g) The Resonance Effect of all these components to carry through and achieve the Sankalp. The objective of Yagya has to be ‘Vyaṣṭi -Kalyān’ and ‘Samaṣṭi -Kalyān’. Only then can that particular act or ritual qualify to be called as a Yagya.*

When we usually talk of a Yagya we picture a ‘havankund’, i.e., a pit where wood is burned, ‘havis’ (food for the devatā) is offered, Brāhmins sitting around the ‘Yagnakund’ chanting mantras, elaborate rangolis, and a couple sitting in front of the Yagya offering their prayers. Yes, this is the way a ritualistic Yagya is conducted… but there are other forms of Yagyas in which only the fire element, the sincere prayer, the offering, the Yajmāna and the personal devatā are there. They may not fit into the Vedic elaborate Yagya as we usually know of, but it is a Yagya nevertheless.

Last year, when Modi ji asked everyone to light lamps as a thankful gesture to those who were our caregivers and our Covid heroes, many claimed that it was based on the Devī Purāṇa. During the battle against Mahiśāsura, Kātyāyaṇī (a form of Durgā Devī) is believed to have lost her energy on Aṣṭamī day. On Sandhi Pūjā Muhūrat she was re-energised and she killed Mahiśāsura. To this day, Bengalis light 108 lamps on this Muhūrat during Durgā Pūjā. This lighting of lamps (Agni), singing verses in praise of Mā (mantras), praying for relieving the universe from all kinds of negative energies, i.e., Asuras (benefit of mankind and strengthening the devatās) … all this is a form of Yagya itself, but it is done publicly without the involvement of any structured ritual or Yagnakund.

Another form of Yagya which almost everyone must have been involved in but never realised it to be so, is the burning of Holīkā or Kāma on the day before Dhulī-vandan on Holī festival. Holīkādahan or KāmaDahan is the burning of logs and old, unused stuff while invoking Śivā / Viṣṇu in the form of folk songs/ballads, thus destroying the tāmasic feelings in one.  People offer upalās (cow dung), maize, corn, ghee, etc. to the fire. The ‘Yajmāna’ and the ‘Purohita’, both are the self and blessings are asked for destruction of the negative elements in nature, in the surroundings and within us.

There is also another form of Yagya which everyone who is a practising hindu performs in their very own houses every day. This is the lighting of the diyā or the lamp during sandhyā (dawn/dusk). Here too Agni is invoked to send our prayers to the devatās, offerings are made (in the form of ‘prasād’) and prayers are offered to various devīs and devatās either through mantras or through our own words. We seek to destroy the negative energies in ourselves and our house and seek to strengthen the divine within us.

Another simplified form of Yagya which almost every Hindu housewife indulges in everyday in her kitchen is the lighting up of fire (in any form) to cook food (anna). In Chapter 5 of Yajñavalkya Smriti on the duties of a householder, Yajñavalkya refers to Pañchyagnas which are supposed to be done nitya (everyday) – Bhuta Yagya (feeding of animals, birds, sick people, etc.), Svadhā ie. feeding of Pitṛs (by men, when they offer ‘anna’ to the Pitṛs before eating their food), Deva Yagya, i.e., feeding of food to fire, Brahma Yagya, i.e., Swādhyāya or learning of Vedas and finally Manuṣya Yagya, i.e., feeding the guests. In the above, since we cannot do Deva Yagya every day, it has become a custom to thank Agni when lighting the fire for the first time in the day for cooking, by offering a small piece of anything special that is cooked to Vaiśvadeva (the Agni in the cooking fire), by the housewife. Most housewives also like to keep a small piece of food for the crows or ants everyday and giving a ‘roti’ to the cows and the dogs is part of the Bhuta Yagya. The main ‘bhojana’ is first to be given to guests (Manuṣya Yagya), old people, pregnant women, children, etc and then the householders can consume the food. The importance of this fire is so much that even when any other Yagya takes place at home, the gṛhiṇī (housewife) is called upon to bring that fire to set light the first spark in the Yagnakund. Another form of Bhuta Yagna is when rangoli is drawn by using fine rice powder so that ants and other insects and small birds can consume it later.

What about children? Can they perform any Yagya? Well, you know the crackers that one bursts during Deepāvalī? While the lighting of the lamps and keeping it outside our homes or on window sills is to invite Mātā Lakṣmī and Prabhu Śrī Rām to our homes, I would like to claim that the bursting of crackers is the way we invoke the memory of our devatās through Agni and the sound of the crackers. This is how we introduce our children to Agni and Yagyas in a joyful way.

Purists may say that all of the above are not actually Yagyas, but the fact remains that all of the above are actually miniature versions of the elaborate Yagya rituals done to please/placate/energize our devīs and devatās and to energize ourselves too. Those who seek to bracket Hinduism as a religion with elaborate rituals aimed at trampling upon or restricting certain ‘castes’ from reaching out to God without any medium (like a Brāhmin Purohit) in between, do not know the vastness called Dharma. For every ritual which is elaborate and reaching out to the entire Brahmāṇda (universe), there also exists an extremely simple form (Piṇde) which bestows upon the devotee and the deity the same benefits as the elaborate one. Of course, the only condition is that there should be Śraddhā (faith) and Bhakti (devotion). In fact, without the two, even elaborate rituals do not give the prescribed results.

[*With inputs from Shri Anand Gaikwad]

Mrs. Rati Hegde, columnist and author

In Search of Vedic Role Models for Modern Male Population – II. Philosophical Concept of Equimportantity

Rudra-Manthan Series

(Continued from Part-I)

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh

The term ardhanārīśwar is not only a symbol of unity shown of the male and female elements of the consciousness, but the name itself symbolizes something further, that is it is ardhanārīśwar, not an ardhanāreśwar, implying the basis of all that is conscious is the Śakti component of the female element of the existence. According to an article by Professor Subhash Kak “Our root consciousness – Śiva, PrakāśaCit — is what makes it possible to comprehend reality. It is the self-shining Light (Prakāśa) both creates the world and makes it understandable.” Thus Śakti by itself maybe incomprehensible, perhaps in the similar way as is the energy unless transformed into matter is not visible in the physical world, as can be understood from E = mc2, where E are energy and mass of matter, respectively.

More importantly, how do we perceive this universe? How are our faculties developed? How do we “see” the world we are in? Obviously, we see and perceive through the faculties which use us as the reference. Sānkhya philosophy (Figure 1) mathematically presents it as Mahat (the primordial principle or element) that consists of 24 elements, 5 bhūtas (pañcabhūtas), 5 tanmātras (subtle elements), 5 gyānendriyas (sensory organs), 5 karmendriyas (organs of action), mana (mind), buddhi (wisdom), citta (consciousness), and ahankara (existence). The Mahat itself is created by the combination of prakriti and puruṣa, as represented in the ardhanārīśwar of Śakti and Śiva.

Figure 1. Twenty Five Elements of Sānkhya Darśan

For the awareness of the knowledge, it is interaction or association of the two that makes the knowledge perceivable or discernable. Since the Śiva component of the ardhanārīśwar is visible result of this perception, this consciousness is identified with Śiva. Professor Kak writes “Universal consciousness, as a unity, is Śiva or Bhairava. Śiva makes it possible for the material associations of the physical world to have meaning.”

In terms of providing meaning to a given sound, Professor Kak writes “Our phenomenal knowledge can only be in terms of the associations of the outer world. But the associations in themselves need something to bind them together. The binding is the mātṛkā, the womb of elementary sounds or phonemes associated with the resonances of the mind, which are components of the spoken language. It is the binding that makes it possible to understand words or symbols when they are strung together.” This binding is carried out through prakāśa or light represented by Śiva, which associates the Śakti or creation that is a consciousness with free will (swātantrya). The free will when associated with illumination on mind becomes icchha Śakti or will power, and when it reflects upon itself it is vimarśa. The mystery of Śiva can be resolved through meditation on samaya, where Śiva (Prakāśa or Light) and Śakti (Vimarśa or Knowledge) are one, according to Kak. In other words, samaya is the element of efforts required to realize the unity of Śiva and Śakti, which is nothing but the self itself.

With the above philosophical background, one can attempt to examine social and scientific construction of female and male, which is also symbolically a tool to realize self. Since the self-inside is same as outside there ought not be any qualms in understanding the meaning of the diversity outside to create the unity inside. While a proposal for equality sounds reasonable, and certainly attracts popularity, but considering variations in traits, actions, consequences, freedom, associations, etc., equality is unnatural and an attempt to suppress the acceptance of diversity. Female and male are starkly different, but equally important. It is time perhaps to discover another word, such as equimportantity, which would allow description of the Mahat (shown in Figure 1 as part of the Sānkhya Darśan) in terms of infinite components of beings and non-beings, each with its unique features, where an absence of any makes the Mahat disappear (as Mahat cannot be incomplete), thus defining the equimportantity. Mathematically, if something is infinite, taking an element will limit its infinity, thus the loss of that infinite element, Mahat, for example.

Once the equimportance is established, it is easier for everything or everyone to express oneself to one’s full potential, without any need of imitation, copying, or following others. Ultimately, the outer world is the way to reflect on oneself in terms of Śiva being reflected on Śakti, and thus an acceptance of the world as it is, and then retaining once own innate nature with realization preserves all.

(continued to part-III)

Editorial note – As a complementary to the Indian tradition of Nava-Durga as the ideal role model of girls and women, it is high time that boys also get to be reminded of their potential and possibilities with role models similar to Nava-Durgā. Recently, the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, USA, in collaboration with Kuruom Jankalyan Sansthan in village Kuruom near Ayodhya decided to make a debut program of Ramkathā as the platform to discuss, during April 22 – May 2, 2021, the features and traits of eleven Rudras as Rudra-Manthan for guiding boys in the world to grow and realize their full potential. Rudra-Manthan series of articles continue to explore that possibility to promote a better understanding of the needs and to provide educational support to boys and men.

– Prof. Bal Ram SinghSchool of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA

स्वस्थ जीवन की ओर ले जाने वाला साधन ‘योग’

डॉ.अलका शर्मा

प्राचीन शास्त्रों में मानव जीवन का परम लक्ष्य पुरुषार्थ चतुष्ट्य की प्राप्ति माना गया है। धर्म, अर्थ, काम, मोक्ष सभी की प्राप्ति स्वस्थ शरीर द्वारा ही संभव है|

धर्मार्थकाममोक्षणारोग्यम मूलमुत्तम्।

(चरक संहिता २.१.१६)

स्वस्थ शरीर द्वारा ही मानव संसार के समस्त कार्य, धनोपार्जन, लोक-व्यवहार, व्यापार, नौकरी, पारिवारिक-दायित्व, भजन, चिंतन, मनन आदि करने में सक्षम होता है। कालिदास ने भी धर्मसाधन के लिए स्वस्थ शरीर को ही अनिवार्य माना है-

शरीमाद्यं खलु धर्मसाधनम्।

(कुमारसम्भवम्)

क्योंकि यदि हमारा शरीर विकार ग्रस्त है तो वह क्षीण व दुर्बल हो जाता है और अस्वस्थ व्यक्ति जीवन के समस्त आनंद-धन, ऐश्वर्य, भोजन से विरक्त सा हो जाता है। अस्वस्थ व्यक्ति को प्रकृति के सुंदर दृश्यों में भी रुचि नहीं रहती। निरंतर अपनी व्याधि के विषय में ही चिंतित रहता है। अतः जीवन का वास्तविक आनंद लेने के लिए शरीर का स्वस्थ होना परम आवश्यक है।

स्वास्थ्य के प्रति सजग व्यक्ति अपनी-अपनी रुचि के अनुसार भिन्न-भिन्न उपाय करते हैं। उदाहरणार्थ- प्रातः काल जागरण, उषा-पान, प्रातःकालीन टहलना, व्यायाम, जिम, विभिन्न खेल आदि। स्वास्थ्य के प्रति सजग हमारे प्राचीन ऋषियों ने पुरातन काल में ही शरीर को स्वस्थ रखने, इच्छाशक्ति को प्रबल बनाने के लिए, मन पर संयम रखने के लिए एक उत्कृष्ट प्रणाली को विकसित किया जिसे ’योग’ कहते है। योग के वास्तविक महत्व से अनभिज्ञ पर जिज्ञासु जनसाधारण के मानसपटल पर यही प्रश्न उठता है कि वास्तव मे ’योग क्या है’? जब हम अन्य व्यायाम कर सकते हैं तो फिर योग क्यों?

साधारण शब्दों में योग का अर्थ है ’जोड़ना’। शरीर व मन को परस्पर जोड़ना ही ‘योग’ है। पतंजलि-योगसूत्र के अनुसार शरीर, मन, व मस्तिष्क में तादात्म्य स्थापित कर मानव को स्वस्थ, ऊर्जावान, सक्रिय बनाने की कला ही ’योग’ है क्योंकि कभी हम शरीर से स्वस्थ होते है, पर मन अशांत होता है और कभी मन शांत है तो कभी शरीर लाचार हो जाता है। ऎसे में हम योगासनों के माध्यम से स्वस्थ तन, प्रसन्न व शांत मन की प्राप्ति करते हैं।

गीता में ’समत्वं योग उच्यते’( २/४८) कहकर योग की अत्यन्त सारगर्भित व्याख्या की गई है। कहने का अभिप्राय यह है कि जहाँ संतुलन, समत्व, लयबद्धता, सामंजस्य, अद्वन्द है, वहीं योग है। इसके विपरीत जहाँ संघर्ष, विग्रह, असामंजस्य, असंतुलन, असंगति है, वहीं रोग है। प्रायः लोग अपने परिवार, समाज, व्यवसाय, नौकरी में सही तादात्म्य स्थापित नहीं कर पाते और परिणाम स्वरूप अशांति, संघर्ष, बैर, व्याधि, रोग उनके जीवन का अंग बन जाते है। योग के अनुसार वीणा की सुमधुर ध्वनि तभी सुनाई पड़ती है, जब उसके सभी तार कसे हो। उसी प्रकार हमारे शरीर व मन के भी तारो में पर्याप्त लयबद्धता, संतुलन हो तो हमारी जीवन-वीणा में भी सुमधुर झंकार प्रस्फुटित हो उठेगी। यदि हम अपने शरीर को स्वस्थ रखना चाहते हैं, साथ ही हड्डियों की लचक, पुष्ट मांसपेशी, शरीर में सुचारू रूप से रक्त संचार, शरीर के सभी अंगों- ह्रदय, मस्तिष्क, गुर्दे, पाचन-तंत्र, श्वास- तंत्र आदि को पुष्ट करना चाहते हैं तो निश्चित ही योगासनों से निम्न लाभ अवश्य पाएंगे-

  • स्वस्थ व सुडौल शरीर
  • प्रसन्न व शांत मन
  • मानसिक शांति
  • आंतरिक प्रसन्नता
  • तीक्ष्ण बुद्धि
  • निर्णायक शक्ति
  • चिंतन की स्पष्ट दिशा
  • तेज स्मरणशक्ति
  • इन्द्रिय निग्रह
  • मुखमंडल पर तेज

वस्तुत: योगासन शरीर को स्वस्थ रखने की पूर्ण चिकित्सा-पद्धति है, जिसमें शरीर में उत्पन्न समस्त व्याधियों का योगासन द्वारा उपचार व निदान किया जा सकता है। योगासनों से शरीर लचीला बनता है, सभी ग्रंथियों में रस-स्राव नियंत्रित होता है, एकाग्रता व शांति का अनुभव होता है, सहन-शीलता, दृढ़ता आत्मसंयम आदि गुणों का विकास होता है, तथा मन पर नियंत्रण होने के कारण सूक्ष्म शरीर सकारात्मक भाव से प्रभावित होता है।

कुछ लोग योग को जटिल प्रक्रिया मानते हुए अपने स्वास्थ्य रक्षण हेतु अन्य व्यायाम, विभिन्न खेल, या जिम आदि को अपनी दिनचर्या में शामिल करते हैं। वैसे तो शरीर को स्वस्थ रखने के लिये व्यायाम, भ्रमण, तैराकी, जॉगिंग, साईक्लिंग, बैडमिंटन, टेनिस क्रिकेट, जुडो आदि कई प्रचलित तरीके हैं। इन सभी से निसंदेह हम शरीर में चुस्ती-फुर्ती, स्थूलता में कमी,  सुचारू रूप से रक्त-संचार आदि लाभ ले सकते है| प्रत्यक्ष को प्रमाण की कोई आवश्यकता नहीं होती। उपरोक्त चर्चा का सबसे बड़ा  उदाहरण इस कोरोना संकट में देखने को मिला। कोरोना वायरस श्वास व नासिका के द्वारा शरीर में प्रविष्ठ होकर कितनी तेजी से फैला, ये सभी ने देखा और जाना। कोरोना के समय मॉल, बाज़ार, जिम, क्लब, रेस्ट्रोरेंट जब सब कुछ बंद था। यहां तक कि वेक्सीन भी बहुत देर में उपलब्ध हुई। ऐसे में जहां अनुलोम-विलोम,  कपालभाति, भस्त्रिका आदि प्राणायाम ने आशातीत परिणाम दिखाए और करोड़ों लोगों को स्वस्थ किया। वहीं ॐकार, नाद, भ्रामरी प्राणायाम द्वारा सामाजिक जीवन से दूर अपने घरों में ही कैद करोड़ों लोगों को अवसाद, डिप्रेशन आदि से मुक्ति मिली। इस प्रकार जिन्होंने भी योग पर विश्वास कर योग की शरण ली उन्होंने उस कठिन समय में केवल घर में ही रहकर योगासनों से लाभ उठाया और अपने प्राणों की रक्षा करते हुए मृत्यु पर विजय प्राप्त की।

मेरा व्यक्तिगत अनुभव भी इस दौरान रहा। नंवबर, २०२० में अपने दफ्तर जाने के कारण मैं और मेरे पति दोनों ही कोरोना से संक्रमित हो गए। पहले से ही नियमित रूप से योगाभ्यास करने के कारण हम दो दिन में ही ठीक हो गए क्योंकि प्राय: ऎसा माना जाता है कि योग के कारण रोग-प्रतिरोधक क्षमता (immunity) बड़ जाती है। प्राणायाम के नियमित अभ्यास से प्राण शक्ति ’ऊर्जा’ ऊर्ध्वगामी हो जाती है। श्वास को लंबा, गहरा, लयबद्ध बनाने से आयु में वृद्धि होती है क्योंकि जितना गहरा श्वास हम लेंगे उतने ही दीर्घ जीवी हम होंगे।

श्वास-प्रश्वास की गति को वेगपूर्वक लेना व छोड़ना ’भस्त्रिका प्राणायाम’ कहलाता है। जैसे सुनार धौकनी से सोने को परिष्कृत करता है, उसी प्रकार इस प्राणायाम से हमारे शरीर की अन्तरिक शुद्धि  होती है। कपालभाति  व भस्त्रिका सहयोगी प्राणायाम है। कपालभाति प्राणायाम में श्वास को बार-बार बाहर फेंकने में अधिक शक्ति लगती है और सांस लेने में उतने  वेग की आवश्यकता नहीं जबकि भस्त्रिका में सांस लेने व छोड़ने दोनों में ही वेग का प्रयोग होता है। इससे दमा, टी.बी, वायु रोग,  रक्त-शुद्धि,  सुचारू रक्त संचार,  सूर्यनाडी, चंद्र नाडी  एवम सुषुम्ना नाड़ी का शोधन होकर प्राण सुचारू रूप से प्रवाहित होने लगता है। कोरोना  काल में शीघ्रता से ठीक होने में मुझे इन प्राणायामों ने मदद की। इस प्रकार योग की गुणवत्ता व श्रेष्ठता स्वतः दृष्टि गोचर है। कोरोना काल में विश्व के समस्त देशों ने योग के महत्व को जाना व स्वीकार किया है।

गीता में शरीर को क्षेत्र कहा गया है- ’इदं शरीरं कौन्तेय क्षेत्रमित्यभिधीयते’ (१३.२)। जिस प्रकार खेत में बोये गए बीजों के अनुरूप ही फल प्राप्त होता है, उसी प्रकार शरीर रूपी खेत में उत्तम कर्म संस्कारों का वपन करना चाहिए।

अपने शरीर की प्रकृति को जानकर रक्षण करना हमारा ही दायित्व है। पर यह कितनी विडंबना है कि हर व्यक्ति देश, विदेश, भूगोल, खगोल, विज्ञान आदि की पूर्ण जानकारी रखता है पर अपने ही शरीर के पूर्ण विज्ञान को कभी जानने का प्रयास भी नहीं करता। गलत दिनचर्या, पथ्य-कुपथ्य से सर्वथा अनभिज्ञ, योगासनों, प्राणायाम, ध्यान से कोसो दूर होकर व्यक्ति अपने शरीर को असंख्य व्याधियों का शिकार बना लेता है। अतः अपने जीवन में योग को अपनाए और ’जीवेम शरदः शतम्’ जैसे वैदिक स्वप्न को साकार करें।

डॉ.अलका शर्मा, साहित्यकार एवं निदेशक, निजी कंपनी

Minimizing Unhappiness in Life through Practice of Yoga

Dr. Dhananjay B. Ghare

‘Yoga’ literally means linking, bonding, or getting connected by something with something. In common usage, it is linked with ‘luck’ or ‘chance’ of occurrence of several events together during same time period.

Every Human’s lifespan can be split into a series of durations of experiencing ‘happiness’ and ‘unhappiness’. Within these periods, there can be different levels of intensities of these feelings. Practice of yoga devotes ways and means of decreasing the duration as well as the intensity of feeling ‘unhappiness’ by using techniques recognized in the yoga. These activities may consequently get accompanied with increasing both the duration and intensity of feeling ‘Happy’. To understand this goal, we first need to understand (a) the nature of, and (b) some major reasons of feeling unhappy.  Let us enumerate some of them, and simultaneously enlist the Yogic solutions to minimize them.

While experiencing deep sleep, we are totally unaware of any feeling of either ‘happiness’ or ‘unhappiness’. Therefore, we can count this duration under the list of ‘not feeling unhappy’. Consequently, trying to enjoy deep sleep, as long as possible, is the simplest method of reduction of the period of feeling ‘unhappy’ in our life. In cases where we do have time to sleep, but are unable to get the sleep, we should consult a physician or psychiatric to treat our sleeplessness by using any pathological treatments. Correspondingly, we should learn the Śavāsana and yoga-nidrā to stay relaxed in these ‘sleep like’ states of mind, devoid of feeling unhappiness.

While experiencing the state of ‘turīya-samādhi’ we are free from unhappiness. Transcendental Meditation is a comparatively simpler technique, developed by Maharshi MaheshaYogi-ji to learn and practice.

While experiencing the dream state, if we get bad unhappy dreams, they are often caused by some fear psychosis, hidden in our mind. Bhakti-yoga and vrata-archanā based karma-yoga or kriyāyoga, based solutions aimed at getting the blessings of our God or Goddess can be helpful. Another devotional faith or Japa-yoga based solutions are helpful in reduction of duration of feeling unhappy resulting from bad dreams.

While experiencing the awakened state, we often feel uneasiness originating from multiple physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, environmental conditions. At present, we do not have any standardized scales and gauges for measurement of intensity of unhappiness, resulting from any particular reason. Still, let us imagine that we can arbitrarily assign some value to the unhappiness caused by a ‘Cause’ ‘C1’ and plot it against time ‘t’ then we shall get some sort of  line or curve. The area of projections under this curve from time t1 to t2 gives us a measure of our ‘unhappiness’ suffered during this duration, due to cause C1. e.g. in a typical case of a physical injury caused by a cut suffered by a cook (serving in a restaurant) while cutting a vegetable, the duration of its healing and the intensity of the pain due to this injury, as well as, inability or inefficiency in work suffered during this healing period, etc. represent the measures of unhappiness suffered by that cook. Simultaneously, this cook may suffer from any number of other physical deceases. Diabetic conditions may prolong the duration of suffering and the area under the curve increases. Scolding from his employer for his inefficiency, or cut in his daily salary during this period as well as the expenditure involved in treating the wound, etc. can add to his worries and feelings of unhappiness. Appropriate diet and appropriate medical treatment supporting lifestyle along with a mental attribute of higher levels of patience and tolerance (kshamā) will help to reduce the intensity.  The measure of the total unhappiness suffered can be increased, reduced, and controlled by such modifications. Says Gita-

युक्ताहारविहारश्चयुक्तचेष्टश्चकर्मसु | युक्तस्वप्नअवबोधश्चयोगोभवतिदु:खहा || (6.17)

There can be several thousands of causes or reasons which can bring varieties of physical states of unhappiness. Their intensity is assignable with some arbitrary value suitable to each cause. Gaining higher and higher unhappiness intensity levels can be considered as rise in that.

The natural tendency of any soul (jīvātmā) is to get motivated to undertake conscious actions which are expected by that soul to reduce and minimize this unhappiness potential. This Vedic law is very similar in nature to the law of modern Physics called as the ‘Law of Minimum Potential Energy’. Naturally, the consciousness’s motivating force is directly proportional to the difference in the values of the instantaneous state of unhappiness with the lowest possible state of unhappiness.

Hunger and thirst are routinely recurring forms of two axes of unhappiness. The Vedic solutions are appropriate quantities of appropriate nutritious food and drink. Regularly repeated appropriate diet and dieting is the solution for minimization of these routine causes of unhappiness.

Boredom resulting from daily routine work is another common reason of feeling uneasy type unhappiness. Presently, we resort to undertake a journey to some tourist resorts, hill stations to encounter this problem. Most of the ancient pilgrimage places such as jyotir-linga, Śakti-sthala etc. are located on beautiful places, hills, river-banks or ocean-beaches. Undertaking pilgrimage especially by walking with devotionally oriented groups has been working as health recovering cum spiritually educating annual program for millions of persons in India. These programs are combinations of bhakti-yoga, and appropriate activities of Yoga.

Usefulness of ‘Yogāsana postures, prāṇāyāma practices, dhyāna meditation etc. have already become globally popular. YouTube based instruction programs as yogic remedies to several common deceases (e.g. asthma, BP, diabetics, arthritis, back-pain etc.) are available on the internet. All these are yoga-based methods for reduction of unhappiness via improvements in physical, mental, emotional health and immunity.

Dr. Dhananjay B. Ghare, Former Scientist, IISC, Bengaluru

Plant Wealth Revealed in the Śrī Rudram

Dr. Raghava S. Boddupalli

Formation of Śrī Rudram

Lord Rudra is the deity mentioned in all four Vēdic texts at multiple places and in multiple forms. Also, Rudra is highly admired in Vēdas and Purāṇas. The name ‘Rudra’ occurs 98 times in the RV, 113 times in the Kṛṣṇa Yajurvēda (KYV), 22 times in the Śukla Yajurvēda (SYV), 4 times in the SV and 45 times in the AV. The Yajurvēda hymns that have gained particular importance are the ‘Rudra Namakaṁ’ (TS 4-5-1 to 4-5-11) and the ‘Rudra Camakaṁ’ (TS 4-7-1 to 4-7-11), which constitute the ‘Śatarudrīyam’ or the ‘Śrī Rudram’ or ‘Rudrapraśna’. Traditionally, along with Namakaṁ and Camakaṁ, Puruṣa sūktaṃ is also chanted.

Namakaṁ Camakaṁ caiva puruṣa sūktam ca nityaśaḥ |

Mahādēvēna tattulyam tanmē manaḥ śivasaṃkalpamastu ||

‘Rudram’ occurs in all the original 108 (92 KYV and 16 SYV) branches (Śākhas) of the Yajurvēda (YV), thus giving rise to the name ‘Śatarudrīyam’. Rudram is found in the six recensions of the YV (4 of KYV and 2 of SYV) surviving today. In the Śrī Rudram alone, the name ‘Rudra’ occurs 18 times and the name ‘Śiva’ occurs 14 times in the Namaka Praśna. The popular name ‘Namaka Praśna’ is due to the repeated utterance, 187 times, of the word “Namah or Namo” (salutation). Following this, the ‘Camaka Praśna’ is chanted wherein the words “Ca me” (meaning ‘and me’), repeated 338 times, hence popularly named ‘Camakam’. While chanting the Śrī Rudram, it is customary after reciting the 11th Anuvāka of the Namaka Praśna, the additional eight Mantras that are chanted which contain the famous Mahā Mr̥tyuṃjaya Mantra, and the other Mantras are revealed in the TS, but elsewhere. Among these eight Mantras, three Mantras are revealed in the RV, four Mantras in the Taittirīya Āraṇyakam (TA) and one Mantra in the TS.  These Mantras are brought together and merged after the 11th Anuvāka of the Namaka Praśna and together are described as ‘Rudra Namaka’. By chanting these Mantras, we are praying Lord Rudra to protect us from untimely death. Similarly, after the 11th Anuvāka of the Camaka Praśna, a Śānti Mantra that is routinely recited is obtained from the 3rd Kāṇḍa of the TS [3-3-2(4)].  With this, the chanting of the ‘Śrī Rudram’ is completed. The three Mantras that are adopted from the RV into the Śrī Rudram are provided with the YV swara. The additional Mantras might have been appended by our R̥ṣis.

Botanical Facets of Śrī Rudram

The Mantras/liturgies in the Śrī Rudram describe agriculture crops, plants, trees and botanical and agriculture terminology. The term Ōṣadhi appears in mantras of Śrī Rudram. Ōṣadhi means an annual plant or herb with medicinal properties. It also means a plant that dies immediately after it produces seeds or a herb that lasts for one year or season [TS 4-5-2(11)]. Śrī Rudram explains that plants and trees containing trichomes (kēśa or hair-like structures) on both sides of the leaves, i.e. dorsal and ventral surface of the leaf [TS 4-5-2(2)].  Both the leaves and the trichomes (hair-like structures) are containing the chlorophyll (hari or harita) and hence they are green in colour. Just as hair are innumerable in number and that protect the skin and the head of the human beings, leaves are also numerous and protect plants and trees. The term Śaṣpa is mentioned in the YV Saṃhitās [TS 4-5-8(16) and VS 21-29] and in RV Brāhmaṇa (AB 8-5-3 and AB 8-8-4), YV Brāhmaṇa[SB 12-7-2(8) and SB 12-9-1(2)]. Sāyaṇāchārya in his commentary on Taittirīya Saṃhita mentioned that Śaṣpa means a just born Darbha grass (Desmostachya bipinnata) grows on the banks of the Ganga River. It also denotes ‘young’ or a ‘sprouting grass’.

tryaṃbakaṃ yajāmahē sugandhiṃ puṣṭivardhanaṃ |

               urvārukamiva bandhanānmṛtyōrmukṣīya māmṛtāt || – TS 1-8-6(11)

My Salutations to Lord Rudra, as the scent, colour etc. are all superior as mentioned by Upanishad in ‘Divyagandha:, the Sri Gandha tree (Santalum album)’, ‘Divyarasa:’ etc., has been used here. Also, in this Mantra it is an invocation made with a request to release the clutch of ‘Mṛtyu’ (death). The essence of this Mantra signifies the fact that just as the ripened Urvāruka (see Figure 01) (cucumber fruit = Cucumis sativus) separates on its own from the stem, in the same way I would like to liberate myself from the cycle of life and death.

Figure 02 – Urvāru (Cucumis sativus) – (a) Cucumber field, (b) Flowering stage, (c) Cucumber fruit intact with the plant, (d) Cucumber fruits and (e) Seeds

Lord Rudra’s weapons such as Triśūla, Bow (Pinakam), Arrows and others are made out of an important and highest quality wood comparable to that of a Nyagrōdha (Ficus benghalensis) tree [TS 4-5-10(10)]. It is described that Lord is seated in a banyan tree in Kailasa, which is 100 Yōjanas tall and 175 Yōjanas wide (Yōjana is a Vedic measure of distance that was used in ancient India. One Yōjana is about 12-15 kilometers in length) and that banyan tree is the refuge of those anxious to obtain Mokṣa.

The 4th Anuvāka of the Camaka Praśna starts with ‘energy’ so much needed for day to day living. It then lists various sources of energy and the means to procure them (agriculture, conquest, etc.).  It asks for the abundance of those sources. It indicates the requirements for the success of Agriculture, growth of the plants and creepers. For the reputed food, the Annam, revealed the major, minor food grains, legumes and an oil seed crop that would give relief from hunger. Here, seven cereal crops, four legume crops and one oil seed crop are revealed (TS 4-7-4, see Figure 02).

……व्री॒हय॑श्च मे॒ यवा”श्चम मे॒ माषा”श्च मे॒ तिला”श्च मे मु॒द्गाश्च॑ मे ख॒ल्वा”श्च मे गो॒धूमा”श्च मे म॒सुरा”श्च मे

प्रि॒यङ्ग॑वश्च॒ मेण॑वश्च मे श्या॒माका”श्च मे नी॒वारा”श्च मे || – TS 4-7-4.

Figure 02 – Cereal, Legume and Oil Seed Crops Revealed
in the Śrī Rudram

The different qualities of cereal grains and their progressive increase in growth of food grains are detailed in this Anuvāka (TS 4-7-4). It prays for the condition in which one never has to go hungry (akṣut) and the condition in which one never runs out (akṣitiḥ) of any item required in a given day. One also gets the message that having food and drink with many more people is more elevating for the nourishment of the body and mind. All these actions are energy-imbibing (eating, drinking etc.) are to be done with a sweet and pleasant manner of speaking, which will definitely reflect in the subtle portion of the food which goes to the mind.

The plants/trees and their derivatives are the key for the ritualistic activities and their significance is described in the Yajurveda. Yajña is the subject matter of entire Vēda. The general requirements to perform Yajñas and are detailed in the Śrī Rudram. The general requirements of Yajñaand Yāgas, in the form of preparation of Yajña Vēdi, Samidhas (kindling wood), Yajña implements (manufactured from different wood of trees), plant-derived oblations, and others are clearly indicated in the Camaka Praśna of Śrī Rudram (TS 4-7-8).

This brief article explains some significant botanical aspects of the Śrī Rudram. An exhaustive explanation of all botanical and agricultural facets is available in the article titled, ‘Agriculture Crops, Plants and Trees Revealed in the Śrī Rudram (Raghava S. Boddupalli (2019) Asian Agri-History, 23(4): 261-281). In summary, the flora of Śrī Rudram contains, one (01) wild grass, seven (07) cereal crops, four (04) legume crops, one (01) oil seed crop, two (02) creepers, five (05) shrubs and fifteen (15) trees. The plants and trees mentioned in the Camaka Praśna are more in number when compared with the Namaka Praśna. The reason for this is that in the Camaka Praśna we pray to the Lord Rudra to provide various crops, plants and trees required for our living and also to perform Yajñas and Yāgās. The crops mentioned in the Śrī Rudram are being cultivated even today for food and fodder.

Dr. Raghava S. Boddupalli, Institute of Sanskrit and Vedic Studies (ISVS)

Editor's note: The above mentioned author's article titled, ‘Agriculture Crops, Plants and Trees Revealed in the Śrī Rudram’ published in Asian Agri-History journal has received 'Dr. KL Mehra Memorial Award'.

In Search of Vedic Role Models for Modern Male Population – I. Genesis of the Issues

Rudra-Manthan Series

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh

In a free country like United States of America, the land of equality and justice, there is a statistics from the Congressional Research Service that advises the US Congress on facts and data, entitled American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics, Updated July 29, 2020, which states that the combined deaths in Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf war were 95,156 for men and 25 for women. Even if an adjustment is made for the percentage of male and female (approximately 85:15), the number of deaths for male vs. female (99.974:0.026) is extremely lopsided.

Does this statistics reflect a cultural conditioning or an innate inclination, not for the death, of course, but to opt for a task that risks life? Is this only a modern time phenomenon or an ancient practice? There have been women warriors and fighters in modern times like Rānī Lakṣmībāī, Rānī Durgavati, or Rānī Chennāmma, as well as in ancient and mythological times like Durgā, Kaikeyī, Surpaṇakhā, Lankinī, etc. However, the overwhelming number of men fighting and dying in battles is beyond any shred of doubt. The Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata, the two epic wars were fought by only men the extent of their annihilation at least in Mahābhārata war to restore the honor of women! There is no such an instance for the other way around.

What may be the driving force for such a preponderance of inclination in men? If it is due to cultural conditioning, there ought to be a change with change in cultural expression today when there is equality among men and women. If it is due to an innate inclination, it needs to be understood from philosophical, psychological, and scientific analyses.

Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing (a consumer health education division of Harvard Medical School), wrote a blog (dated February 16, 2016) article entitled “Why men often die earlier than women”, with following observations:

There are many reasons why the ratio of men to women (which is roughly equal in young adulthood) starts to favor women over time. Among the most powerful factors? Men tend to

Take bigger risks. Some of the reason seems to be “biological destiny.” The frontal lobe of the brain — the part that controls judgment and consideration of an action’s consequences — develops more slowly in boys and young men than in their female counterparts. This may contribute to the fact that far more boys and men die in accidents or due to violence than girls and women. Examples include biking, driving drunk, and homicide. This tendency toward lack of judgment and consideration of consequences may also contribute to detrimental lifestyle decisions among young men, such as smoking or drinking to excess.

Have more dangerous jobs. Men far outnumber women in some of the riskiest occupations, including military combat, firefighting, and working at construction sites.

Die of heart disease more often and at a younger age. In fact, men are 50% more likely than women to die of heart disease. The fact that men have lower estrogen levels than women may be part of the reason. But medical risks, such as poorly treated high blood pressure or unfavorable cholesterol levels, may contribute as well.

Be larger than women. Across many species, larger animals tend to die younger than smaller ones. Although the magnitude of this effect is uncertain in humans, it may work against male longevity.

Commit suicide more often than women. This is true despite the fact that depression is considered more common among women and women make more (non-fatal) suicide attempts. Some attribute this to the tendency for men to avoid seeking care for depression and the cultural norms that discourage men from seeking help for mental illness.

Be less socially connected. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, people with fewer and weaker social connections (which tends to include men more often than women) tend to have higher death rates.

Avoid doctors. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, men are far more likely to skip routine health screens and far less likely than women to have seen a doctor of any kind during the previous year.

Even in this Corona crisis, we can find stark differences between male and female for the infection and mortality rates, with male accounting for more than two fold infections and death rates.

Philosophically speaking, there is a concept of Ardhanārīshwar, the Śivā and Śaktī, the essential concept of completeness. Could it be the Śivā that could be the symbol of the role model for males, just like the Nava-Durgās are those for females? To answer such a question one needs to examine various forms of Śivā to provide options of inclination to boys and men for the development of their innate qualities.

(to be continued….)

– Prof. Bal Ram SinghSchool of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA

Editorial note – As a complementary to the Indian tradition of Nava-Durgā as the ideal role model of girls and women, it is high time that boys also get to be reminded of their potential and possibilities with role models similar to Nava-Durgā. Recently, the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, USA, in collaboration with Kuruom Jankalyan Sansthan in village Kuruom near Ayodhya decided to make a debut program of Ramkathā as the platform to discuss, during April 22 – May 2, 2021, the features and traits of eleven Rudras as Rudra-Manthan for guiding boys in the world to grow and realize their full potential. Rudra-Manthan series of articles will explore that possibility to promote a better understanding of the needs and to provide educational support to boys and men.