Mahā Śivarātri

kamlesh

– Mrs. Kamlesh Kapur

Worship of Śiva as part of Holy Trinity

Śivarātri is celebrated by all Hindus. Many Hindus go to the temple and spend the evening singing devotional songs. Some celebrate it in home temple observing fast and doing prayers. The main places where this festival is celebrated with great pomp are at the twelve Jyotir Lingas—Śiva temples. These are at Kedarnath, Varanasi, Vaidynath, Ujjain (Avanti), Somnath, Dwaraka, Omkareshwar, Trimbakeshwar, Ghrishneshwar, Srisailam, Bhimashankar, and Rameshweram. For Hindus, these are the place for pilgrimage.

Many Hindus believe that Śiva as the life force is the creator of the universe. They believe in the ancient saying, “The creation is neither characterized by Lotus (the emblem of Brahma) nor by the Chakra (the emblem of Vishnu) nor by the Vajra (the emblem of Indra). Therefore, all creations are born of Maheshwara.” (Ganapati: Song of the Self by John A. Grimes)

Ten Praanas and atman are eleven Rudras mentioned by Yajanvalkya in Upanishad. The same are also mentioned in Yajurveda. As ten Rudras and the atman enters a living being, life begins. As these depart, life ends for that person. Rudras being good and mangalmai (auspicious) are known as Śiva or Śivam. Below is the picture of Lord Śiva as Nataraja. In Tamilnadu, India, there is a temple at Chidambaram. It is believed that at this place, Śiva performed the dance of creation. There are beautifully sculpted figures showing 108 postures and mudras (hand gestures) of Śiva’s dance.

Procedure and Ceremony on Śivarātri

Devas are invited. Śiva is invited. Yajna is performed by the community. Offerings are made with chants. Devotees sing devotional music. Ceremony ends with peace prayer. On Śivarātri, Hindus pray to the pillar of light for strength to keep peace within and in the world. Śiva manifested Himself as a pillar of light/ fire. Students may remember that the light in Hindu tradition refers to enlightenment, knowledge, vision, good speech, and wisdom. On the darkest night of the month in February, Śiva appears as the pillar of light to end ignorance. Ignorance gives birth to anger, violence, untruth, conflict, and darkness. All these are dark forces disturbing not only a person’s mental peace, but these forces also destroy peace in the society and in the nation.

Prayers are offered for the well-being of all the people in the world:

Asdo ma sad gamyo, tamso ma joyitir gamyo

Mrityor mam amritam gamyo

Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramya

Sarve bhadarani pachyantu ma kaschit dukha bhagbhavet

Karpur Gouram karunavtaram, samsara saram bhujgendra haaram,

Sada vasantam, hrideya arvinde, bhavam Bhawani sahitam namami

On Śivarātri, during the prayer ceremony, usually, eleven kalashas (earthen round pots with water) are placed in a circle, symbolizing ten Praanas. The eleventh kalasha, the symbol of the Atman is placed in the middle.

In Kalahasti temple at Varanasi, the puja is performed showing the hand of time moving. In creation, transformation, and destruction, it is the hand of time that carries us forward. Thus, Śiva Linga is that pillar of two tattavas (elements) responsible for the formation of the earth and its atmosphere.

Śivalinga

The most popular form worshipped is the Śivalinga. Śivalinga is the bottomless pillar of light. In the beginning, there was only space; then a lighted pillar appeared—the echo sounded as the vibration of Aum, air (Vayuh) filled the atmosphere. The friction caused fire (Agni). In one of the Yajurvedic mantras, this pillar of light is referred to as Svastambhitam. It is believed that this happened on the day of Śivarātri. Śivarātri, that is, Śiva’s Night, is the famous festival in honor of Lord Śiva. The pillar has no base, for the space has no beginning or end. At best we can compare it with a shooting star. The light appeared and vanished having created the two tattavas (elements of air and fire), essential elements for sustaining life. There is a sculptured fresco of this stambha in the ASI archives. During the Indus-Sarasvati age (5000 BC to 1900 BC), people offered prayers to Śivalinga.

Below is the picture of Śivalinga

shivalinga

Linga means a pillar (stambha)- a pillar of light Linga means a “mark” in Sanskrit. It is a symbol that points to an inference. For he is the life force, the air we breathe. The pillar of light arising from Agni, the fire, and fanned by the pure air makes the shape of Śivalinga. In the evolution of elements, air fills the space followed by fire making the unfathomable base of the pillar, and thus, together they complete the basic sustenance for life on earth. Hindus worship this pillar as Śivalinga, knowing fully well that Śiva is unfathomable and formless. He has no form of his own, and yet all forms are his forms. Śiva is everywhere all the time. Stark and geometric, the linga is meant to represent, in an abstract fashion, a pillar. As a pillar, it stands for Śiva as the axis of existence, which Hindus believe extends from the Absolute to the everyday world. From this axis, the world is born, and it is to this axis that it will return to before complete annihilation at the end of time (end of the kalpa).

“Every form is the form or Linga of Lord Śiva. The Linga is only the outward symbol of the formless being, Lord Śiva—Lord Śiva incarnate, who is the indivisible, all-pervading, eternal, auspicious, ever-pure, immortal essence of this vast universe, who is the undying soul seated in the chambers of one’s heart, who is one’s Indweller, innermost Self or Atman and who is identical with the Supreme Brahman.”

There is also the literary evidence of puja of this stambha in Valmiki’s Ramayana. Ravana prayed to Śiva for a long time, and then he wanted to take him along with the Kailash Mountain. He shook it hard and was able to take an elongated piece of the rock, which he thought was the essence of Śiva’s being. Ravana started the puja of this stambha. Sri Rama also performed puja of this stambha before crossing the ocean. This story is sculpted in part at Kailash cave 16 at Ellora. Worked from top to bottom, the temple happens to be the largest monolithic temple made out of one rock. Ravana’s chariot is also carved. This archaeological evidence also reveals the idea of the Stambha. Long pillar, if constructed needs a base, and the base is in the diya; the combination of Vayu and Agni was thus completed. Artists down the ages created amazing pieces of art using diverse art media. Though early paintings did not survive the ravages of time and the invasions, cave temples, frescoes, rock temples and bronze statues have survived.

Here is another picture of Śiva created by the artists.

siva 1

Śiva is sitting in yogic posture. The river Ganges is falling from his hair. He has snakes around his neck, blue patch of poison on the throat, moon on his forehead; and his third eye is closed. A yogi is not afraid of the obstacles. In Hindu tradition, snakes usually symbolize worries, negative emotions, temptations, and obstacles. The blue patch on the throat is poison. A yogi digests the good and the bad equally well. Because of the blue patch on his throat, he is also called Nilakantha. The river Ganges is known as Sursari, which means its origin is Devaloka (associated with the cloud system or the atmosphere). The river may not descend with the full destructive force; so Śiva releases it slowly. The abode of Śiva is Mount Kailash in the Himalayas. Snow is the symbol of purity and austerity of mind. Thus, through this symbol, several concepts are connected—the origin of the Ganges from the Himalayas, the rainwater swelling the river and the rain originating from the cloud system. Śiva’s eyes are half closed, which indicates even though he is in meditation, he is aware of the material world. Śiva’s third eye signifies the eye of wisdom. Śiva is worshipped as Śiva and Parvati. He is also worshipped as Nataraja: King of Dance or Simply Dancing Śiva.

Below is another picture of Śiva as Nataraja which symbolizes Kaal and Mahakaal:

siva 2

Śiva as the king of dance shows the rhythmic cycle of birth, transformation, and death of life. It also signifies that the world as we see today may not be there at the end of the kalpa. Both the Creation and the annihilation are an integral part of all life. The upper right hand has tabor (dummaroo), which symbolizes the sound of creation. The lower right hand is raised in half-moon gesture, the upper left hand has flame of destruction in its palm, and the lower left hand is showering blessings. One leg is raised indicating remaining above the material world, and the other leg presses hard on all that is negative and evil.The late astrophysicist, Carl Sagan (1934-1996) in his book, Cosmos, asserts that the Dance of Nataraja (Tandava) signifies the cycle of evolution and destruction of the cosmic universe. Carl Sagan further says, “The most elegant and sublime of these is a representation of the creation of the universe at the beginning of each cosmic cycle, a motif known as the cosmic dance of Lord Śiva. The God called in this manifestation Nataraja, the Dance King. In the upper right hand is a drum whose sound is the sound of creation. In the upper left hand is a tongue of flame, a reminder that the universe, now newly created, will billions of years from now be utterly destroyed.”

No matter, how we worship, Śiva is the ultimate reality of the cosmic reality as well as the life circle of all life anywhere and everywhere.

 Mrs. Kamlesh Kapur, Author and Educator, USA

Advertisements

India: A Concept of Nationhood (Part-II)

Continued from Part-I

Dr. Raj Kumar

The Vedic phase is very significant and influential in the evolution of Indian society. It affects its cultural, socio-economic and social-political tradition. Although, there is a prolonged debate on the Aryan influence on Indian society, nothing conclusive could be presented. Some social activists view Aryans as a native of India, whereas several scholars and academic historians’ opinions are opposite. Whatever the view, Aryans evolved the tribal society to a well-developed civilization. Development of civilization provides the people a cohesive environment for discussion, and the people start looking for the answer of the fundamental questions. Every other civilization of the world meditated upon some fundamental questions for a long time; a) how to live life, b) what is the goal of life, and c) what is the way to find happiness. The idea of India provided a unique path to get the answer to these fundamental questions. As an Indian, our traditional goal of life is a virtue (Dharma), live with success and wealth (Artha), to live with pleasure (Kama), but in the end seek enlightenment (Moksha). Vedic philosophy also discussed several ideas; idea of consciousness, idea of humanity, idea of ethics in social life, idea of spirituality, and more importantly the idea of individuality (for example, Shrimad Bhagavad Gita tells your interpretation of life is different from others, but it doesn’t mean you are wrong or others are wrong. Similarly, Ayurveda treats a person based on their personal traits and habits, instead of using any generalization). These ideas influenced the thought process of the people of the region and shaped the idea of India.

The founding concept of India was not just an abstract idea of a plurality or an idea of a common interest. It is an idea of practical understanding of the compulsion and constraints, yet accommodative, between differing ideas and views. Now, let’s examine the characteristics of India as a nation.

Let’s define nation first. In my view, the best definition is provided by Ernest Renan’s. According to him, “A nation is not formed on the basis of dynasty, language, religion, geography or shared interests. Rather, a nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. A spiritual principle is a combination of two things, which in truth are one. One lies in the past i.e. the possession in common of a rich legacy of memories. Other lies in the present, which reflects the desire to live together, and perpetuate the value system and continue the heritage that one has received in an undivided form.” The idea of India exactly fits this definition. So many people of different value system, cultural system, belief system, and interests are coming together to develop an Idea of India. Probably only place in the world where we have preserved the traditions which were practiced thousands of years ago (rich legacy), yet all Indian together try to compete with the modern world (perpetuate the value system and desire to live together). Like any other nation, India also has gone through turbulent times. Even in those turbulent times, instead of hankering for purity, India gave some very powerful ideas to this world….. the idea of accommodation, the idea of incorporation, the idea of inclusion, the idea of embracing, and the idea of mixing without losing the basic character. She sees the moment of mixing as the most creative and imaginative one. She sees the moment of mixing as an opportunity to create the culture of give and take, and ultimately become one. So, the idea of India is not an abstract idea of just cultural pluralism and democracy, it is an idea of amalgamation of different ideas.

c

This amalgamation gave diversity to Indian system. Scientifically speaking this process increases the entropy/randomness, which all the thermodynamic systems aspire to. Energy is constant in an entropy-driven process. So, we need to know how to utilize this energy in a useful way. That is why increasing entropy can be advantageous and disadvantageous, too. Advantageous when you know how to utilize this excess entropy and balance the system, and disadvantageous when you don’t know how to control the randomness. I will use an example to simplify the above statement. Protein folding, a biological process, is a very important event when the linear sequence of amino acid organizes different interactions to devise a biologically functional shape. In this process, entropy is decreasing to create a useful structure. While acquiring a biological function from linear sequence, protein has two very important intermediate stages, molten globule and intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). These two states are very flexible (higher randomness) and when needed can acquire a biologically functional state (entropically low structure). In another way, randomness is a necessary requirement but to perform function system needs to be organized. Randomness provides flexibility and fluidity, which is a necessary trait of our existence, and the idea of India already have this naturally.

You must have heard this statement ….. India is a very diverse country and its diversity is an asset. But nobody explains what is the meaning of this statement. Diversity means randomness, which is natural tendencies of anything in this world. It brings freedom; freedom of thought, freedom of action, and freedom of expression. Freedom is not the one-way road, it is a two-way path; one way is freedom, and another concurrent way is responsibility/onus/liability. Diversity in scientific terms is a degree of freedom, more degree of freedom more available options. More options mean more ways of doing things. In other words, different things can be done in a coordinated way to achieve the same goal. Therefore, in this sense diversity of India is an asset, but we need to know how to utilize it, we need to know how and where to direct this diversity, and we need to know how to fulfill our responsibilities and contribute to advancing the idea of India. One successful example of focusing diversity is the United State of America (USA). The USA has accepted people from all over the world, which gave her an asset of diversity. She utilized this diversity very smartly and focused to build a strong nation. India needs to do the same.

Thus, the idea of India is not a hypothetical one, it is a geographically, socially, philosophically, and scientifically proven idea. India’s diversity needs to be crystalized, so that the nation can move forward together in a constructive way. We did this very successfully in the past on several occasions, we need to do it again now to solve our current problems.

We are all pieces of the same puzzle.

References

  1. The Vedic Core of Human History by M. K. Agarwal, 2013.
  2. Indian Foreign Policy: Challenges and Opportunities by Atish Sinha, Madhup Mohta and Foreign Service Institute, 2007.
  3. ArunKumar, G., Soria-Hernanz, D. F., Kavitha, V. J., Arun, V. S., Syama, A., Ashokan, K. S., … The Genographic Consortium. (2012). Population Differentiation of Southern Indian Male Lineages Correlates with Agricultural Expansions Predating the Caste System. PLoS ONE7(11), e50269. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0050269.
  4. https://www.ibm.com/solutions/genographic/us/en/geno_story.html

 – Dr. Raj Kumar, Assistant Professor, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA.

India: A Concept of Nationhood (Part-I)

– Dr. Raj Kumar

I would like to start this article with the preamble of the Constitution of India.

We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic, and to secure to all its citizens:

Justice, social, economic and political;

Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship;

Equality of status and of opportunity;

And to promote among them all

Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation;

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY, this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

The preamble of the constitution is the essence of the idea of INDIA. A country like India will only shape with cross-cultural communication. The formation of this communication can only be possible, where listening to each other is more desirable than a monologue or non-dialogue, where the discussion is preferred to talking, and where community interest is given priority to the individual interest. Modern India came together through our Constitution.

The idea of India is a socio-political model for the most unique and unusual nation in the world. The vast diversity of religions, caste, region, language, views, and most importantly people of this country living together as a country in such a way that no country in the world embodies. America is also a very diverse country, but it began as multiple colonies before becoming a nation. India began as a diverse country that has been preserved through the millennia.

British, who ruled India for more than 200 years, never consider India as one country. British propagated this theory through scholarly publication of renowned 19th-century historian, John R. Seeley, who mentioned, “India is not one country, and therefore it has no one civilization.” Sir John Strachey in his book, India: Its Administration and Progress, wrote, “There is no such country, and this is the first and most essential fact about India that can be learned” (Chapter 1, page 2, Sir John Strachey).

If this is true, then what about a text at least 2000 years old, Vishnu Purana, which defines INDIA.

‘उत्तरे यतसमुद्रस्य हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम
वर्षम तद भारत नाम भारती यत्र संतति’ – विष्णु पुराण (2/3.1)

Meaning, the country that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bharatam; there dwell the descendants of Bharat.

Not only our ancient texts, famous western scholars from time to time mentioned India in the text as one region.

Megasthenes (300 BC) wrote in Indika:

“India the being four-sided in plan, the side which looks to the orient

 and that to the south is the great sea; that towards the arctic is divided

by the mountain chain of Hemodus from Scythia, inhibited by that

  the tribe of Scythians who are called Sakai, and on the fourth side, turned

  towards the west, the Indus marks the boundary, the biggest or nearly

  so of all rivers after the Nile.”

Arrian (140 CE) defines in Indoi, Indou:

The boundary of the land of India towards the north is Mount Taurus

(Caucasus). The western part of India is bounded by the river Indus right

down to the ocean. Towards the south this ocean bounds the land of India,

and eastward the sea itself is the boundary.”

Said- al Andalusi, a Muslim Qadi (Qazi in Urdu) described categories of people in his book Al-tarif bi-tabaqat al-umam (Exposition of the Generations of Nations). He defined nation as a region of land which cultivates learning. Although nations on the human plane are uniform, they differ in three ways, namely, morals, shape, and language. His approach for defining a nation was based on the scientific-philosophical concept. According to this concept, there are three requirements; a) compression of a level of discourse (theoretical reason), b) asceticism and control of the temper of the soul, and c) the essential place of philosophy and natural sciences in self-education and training. He also identified the most important people in the history. They were Persians and Chaldeans (Syrians, Babylonians, Jews, and Arabs), Copts (ancient Egyptians, Sudanese, Ethiopians and Nubians), Greeks (Romans, Franks, Russians, Bulgarians and others from the same region), Turks (Kimaki and Khazars), Indians and Chinese.

Babur who equally recognized this in his Babur Nama (Sinha and Monta, 2007), “The country of Hindustan is extensive, full of men, and full of produce. On the east, south and even on the west, it ends at the great enclosing ocean. In the north, it has mountains which connect with those of Hindu-Kush, Kafiristan, and Kashmir.”

Let’s go to start of formation of earth landmass. If you examine the formation of Earth’s landmass (Pangaea), you can notice that India is sitting on the Indian Plate, a major tectonic plate that was formed when it split from the ancient continent Gondwana land. This plate starts moving around 90 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period and covers the distance of ~ 3000 km before hitting the mainland of Asia to create Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas. The point I want to make here is that India has a unique place since the start.

Figure 1

Figure 1: Formation of Earth’s landmass. Note the formation of Indian landmass. This landmass formed and drifted separately than rest of the world.

In another way, the concept of India is not new. There is a direct evidence that human migration happens from Africa to India. Genetic evidence suggests that the first human from Africa migrated to Kerala about 70000 years ago (southern part of India). Gene M130 is the marker of the first human migrated from Africa, and Virumandi tribes of Kerala (southernmost state of India) have this gene. This is the most ancient migratory genes because the later migrations do not have this marker (Arun Kumar et al., 2012). There is already a growing view among geneticists that humans migrated to other parts of the world from India (Fig. 2). So, the first human evolved, then they migrated and at last they developed a language. Note that language is not the same as ethnicity. However, development of language provides a belief and thought system. The idea of the belief and thought system is so powerful that it provides a freedom to everyone a very robust system to believe in themselves, propagate their views, have every liberty to be proud of what they have. The idea of India allows this and it is the fundamental reason, I believe, why India is having a such a vastness of humanity with a diversity but still with the unity.

Figure22

Figure 2: Migration of human out of Africa (IBM Genographic project). Humans migrated from central Africa to eastern Africa, from there the migrated to India and distributed to the world.

Since the start of the language and writing, from time to time scholars defined India in their texts indicating British perspectives were not correct. However, British projected their view about India very strongly and most people still believe that. Honestly, I believed the same for a very long time. In fact, British did this to justify their reign and right to rule India.

I think I have given the right arguments to settle two things; a) why British were wrong in defining India, and b) from ancient to medieval period India was considered as one region.

                                                                                                                        to be Continued……..

 Dr. Raj Kumar, Assistant Professor, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA.

 

योग: कर्मसु कौशलम्

[It was broadcasted by International Broadcast service, All India Radio, New Delhi in 2016 on the occasion of International Yog Day]

डॉ. श्यामदेवमिश्र

‘योग: कर्मसु कौशलम्’ यह श्लोकांश योगेश्वर श्रीकृष्ण के श्रीमुख से उद्गीरित श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता के द्वितीय अध्याय के पचासवें श्लोक से उद्धृत है। श्लोक इस प्रकार है –

“बुद्धियुक्तो जहातीह उभे सुकृतदुष्कृतेतस्माद्योगाय युज्यस्व योग: कर्मसु कौशलम्”।।इति।।

श्लोक के उत्तरार्ध पर यदि गौर करें तो दो बातें स्पष्ट होती हैं। पहली योग की परिभाषा एवं दूसरी योग हेतु प्रभु का स्पष्ट निर्देश। उनका उपदेश है कि ‘योगाय’ अर्थात् योग के लिए अथवा योग में, ‘युज्यस्व’ अर्थात् लग जाओ। कहने का तात्पर्य है कि ‘योग में प्रवृत्त हो जाओ’ यानि कि ‘योग करो’। अब प्रश्न यह है कि क्यूँ करें योग? इस प्रश्न का उत्तर उन्होंने श्लोक के पूर्वार्ध में दिया है कि बुद्धिमान व्यक्ति अर्थात् योगी, वर्तमान में ही अथवा इस संसार में ही ‘सुकृत’ एवं ‘दुष्कृत’ अर्थात् पुण्य एवं पाप से मुक्त हो जाता है। योग के इस हेतु को स्पष्टतया जानने के लिये, सबसे पहले यह समझना परमावश्यक है कि ‘योग क्या है’? या ‘योग किसे कहते हैं’?

httpwww.boisetemple.orgbhakti-yoga

(Source of Image: http://www.boisetemple.org/bhakti-yoga/)

गीता में ‘योग’ शब्द के तीन अर्थ हैं – १. समता; जैसे – समत्वं योग उच्यते(२/४८); २. सामर्थ्य, ऐश्वर्य या प्रभाव; जैसे – पश्य मे योगमैश्वर्यम्(९/५); और ३ समाधि; जैसे – यत्रोपरमते चित्तं निरुद्धं योगसेवया(६/२०)। यद्यपि गीता में ‘योग’ का अर्थ मुख्य रूप से समता ही है तथापि ‘योग’ शब्द के अंतर्गत तीनों ही अर्थ स्वीकार्य हैं। इसके अतिरिक्त गीता में योग की तीन परिभाषाएं भी मिलती हैं जो कि दूसरे अध्याय के क्रमश: ४८वें एवं ५०वें श्लोक में तथा छठे अध्याय के २३वें श्लोक में निर्दिष्ट हैं। ये परिभाषाएं क्रमश: इस प्रकार हैं –

“समत्वं योग उच्यते”(गीता २/४८)

“योग: कर्मसु कौशलम्” (गीता २/५०)

तं विद्याद्दु:खसंयोगवियोगं योगसंज्ञितम्।(गीता /२३)

‘योग: कर्मसु कौशलम्’  के दो अर्थ लिये जा सकते हैं –

1. कर्मसु कौशलं योग: अर्थात् कर्मों में कुशलता ही योग है।

२. कर्मसु योग: कौशलम् अर्थात् कर्मों में योग ही कुशलता है।

यदि हम पहला अर्थ लें यानि कर्मों में कुशलता ही योग है तो, जो बड़ी ही कुशलता से सावधानी से ठगी, चोरी या फिर हत्या आदि कर्म करता है उसका कर्म भी ‘योग’ हो जाएगा! किन्तु ऐसा मानना उचित नहीं है और फिर श्लोक में निषिद्ध कर्मों का प्रसंग भी नहीं है। अगर हम यहाँ ‘कर्म’ शब्द से केवल शुभ कर्मों का ही ग्रहण करें तब फिर ‘कर्मसु कौशलम् योग:’ इस पद के दो अलग-अलग परिप्रेक्ष्य में भावार्थ निकलेंगे जो प्रसंग-विशेष में तो ठीक प्रतीत होते हैं किन्तु गीता में प्रभु द्वारा प्रतिपादित योग के सिद्धांतों से इतर सिद्ध होते हैं। आइए उन दोनों पर ही गौर करते हैं –

शुभ कर्मों में कुशलता ही योग है अर्थात् शुभ कर्मों को कुशलतापूर्वक करना ही योग है। इस अर्थ में ‘योग’ शब्द से मानसिक, बौद्धिक एवं शारीरिक समन्वयन एवं तादात्म्य अभिप्रेत है। यानि मन, बुद्धि एवं शरीर इन तीनों को एक साथ जोड़कर जब हम कोई कार्य करते हैं तो निश्चित ही उस कार्य में कुशलता या संपूर्ण दक्षता प्राप्त होती है, जिसे योग कहते हैं। व्यावहारिक परिप्रेक्ष्य में, यह अर्थ सटीक है एवं सफलता के सूत्र-रूप में स्वीकार्य है। आधिदैविक या अलौकिक परिप्रेक्ष्य में इसका भावार्थ यह है कि यदि कुशलतापूर्वक अर्थात् मन, बुद्धि एवं क्रिया तीनों के ही संयोग से यदि जप-तपादि अनुष्ठान किया जाए तो निश्चित ही अभीष्ट (शक्ति/सिद्धि) से योग (या संयोग) होता है।

अब यहाँ प्रश्न यह है कि उक्त दोनों ही भावार्थ, गीता में प्रतिपादित योग की संकल्पना से किस प्रकार भिन्न हैं? इसको समझने के लिए योग की परिभाषा को समझना होगा, जिसमें कहा है  –

योगस्थ: कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय

सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्यो: समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते”।। (गीता २/४८)

अर्थात्हे धनञ्जय! तुम योग में स्थित होकर शास्त्रोक्त कर्म करते जाओ। केवल कर्म में आसक्ति का त्याग कर दो और कर्म सिद्ध हो या असिद्ध अर्थात् उसका फल मिले या फिर न मिले, इन दोनों ही अवस्थाओं में अपनी चित्तवृत्ति को समान रखो। अर्थात् सिद्ध होने पर हर्ष एवं असिद्ध होने पर विषाद अपने चित्त में मत आने दो। यह सिद्धि एवं असिद्धि में सम-वृत्ति रखना ही योग है ।

यहाँ ‘योग’ शब्द कर्मयोग का ही बोधक है। यहाँ न केवल कर्म के स्वर्गादि फलों के छोड़ने की बात कही गयी है अपितु प्रातिस्विक फल की आशा छोड़कर कर्म करने से जो चित्त-शुद्धि या भगवत्प्रसाद आदि फल प्राप्त होते हैं, उनकी सिद्धि-असिद्धि में भी सामान भाव रखने की बात कही गयी है अर्थात् यह विचार मत करो कि इतने दिन मुझे कर्मयोग में लग गए अभी तक मेरी चित्त-शुद्धि कुछ नहीं हुई या भगवत्प्रसाद के कुछ लक्षण मुझे दिखाई नहीं दिए। तुम तो केवल कर्त्तव्य समझकर कर्म करते जाओ, इस कर्म का फल क्या हो रहा है इस ओर कोई दृष्टि ही न दो। इसी का नाम योग या कर्मयोग है। इस श्लोक की व्याख्या में कई विद्वानों ने योग का अर्थ परमात्मा से सम्बन्ध माना है यानी परमात्मा से सम्बन्ध रखते हुए कर्म करो अर्थात जो कुछ करो वह परमात्मा को प्रसन्न करने के ही उद्देश्य से करो और कर्मों को परमात्मा को ही अर्पण कर दिया करो।

योग या कर्मयोग के पूर्वोक्त स्वरूप के आलोक में अब हम पुन: योग: कर्मसु कौशलम् के उन पूर्वोक्त भावार्थों पर विचार करते हैं। अगर यहाँ शुभ-कर्मों को ही कुशलतापूर्वक करने का नाम योग मानें तो मनुष्य कुशलतापूर्वक साङ्गोपाङ्ग किये हुए शुभ-कर्मों के फल से बंध जाएगा। कहा भी है– फले सक्तो निबध्यते; अत: उसकी स्थिति समता में नहीं रहेगी और उसके दुखों का नाश नहीं होगा। फलत: प्रभु द्वारा प्रतिपादित योग की संगति इस अर्थ में नहीं बैठेगी।

यहाँ एक जिज्ञासा है कि शुभ कर्मों को करने के बाद भी मनुष्य दु:ख क्यूँ पाएगा? इसका समाधान यह है कि कितना भी शुभ कर्म-करने वाला क्यूँ न हो किन्तु मनुष्य की सभी इच्छाएं पूर्ण नहीं होतीं अथवा सब कुछ सर्वदा ही उसके मनोनुकूल नहीं होता; जो कि अंतत: उसे दुःख ही पहुঁचाता है। यदि ऐसा नहीं होता तो फिर मर्यादा पुरुषोत्तम राम या फिर सत्यवादी हरिश्चंद्र, जो कि स्वप्न में भी अशुभ कर्मों से दूर रहे, उन्हें अत्यंत कष्ट क्यों झेलना पड़ता!

तब ऐसे में प्रश्न उठता है कि दु:ख की आत्यन्तिक निवृत्ति कैसे हो? इसका उत्तर है – जीवन-मरण-चक्र से मुक्ति अर्थात् मोक्ष होने पर। ये कब होगा? उत्तर है – कर्मफलों के संपूर्ण भुक्त हो जाने पर। फिर शंका हुई कि जब तक जीवन है तब तक न तो कर्म करना कभी समाप्त होगा और न ही उसके फल का भोग और बिना फल भोगे तो कृत-कर्म की समाप्ति भी नहीं होगी; कहा है –नाभुक्तं क्षीयते कर्म। कहने का तात्पर्य यह है कि कर्म से फल की उत्पत्ति एवं फल-भोगार्थ पुन: कर्म; इस प्रकार से तो यह अनवरत चलने वाला क्रम बन गया। दूसरे शब्दों में, जीवन-मरण-चक्र से मुक्ति ही नहीं होगी। यह सुनकर तो और दुःख बढ़ ही गया। अरे भाई! जब तक मुक्ति नहीं होगी तब तक दु:ख भी समाप्त नहीं होगा। यह तो बड़ी ही भारी विपदा है! क्योंकि जो व्यक्ति धरती पर आया है उसका कर्मासक्त होना और फिर इस आसक्ति के कारण दु:खी होना निश्चित है। शास्त्रों में आया है –कर्मणा बध्यते जन्तु: अर्थात् कर्मों से मनुष्य बंध जाता है। कर्म कितने ही बढियां हों, उनका आरम्भ तथा अन्त होता है और उनके फल का संयोग और वियोग भी होता है। जिसका आरम्भ और अन्त संयोग और वियोग से होता है, उसके द्वारा मुक्ति कैसे प्राप्त होगी? साथ ही यह प्रश्न भी अनुत्तरित रह गया कि दु:ख के संयोग का वियोग कैसे हो? अर्थात् दु:ख का निवारण कैसे हो?

इन्हीं समस्याओं के समाधान हेतु प्रभु ने योग या कर्मयोग का सिद्धांत प्रतिपादित करते हुए उपदेश किया कि बिना आसक्ति रखे कर्म करना ही योग है, जिससे कारण कर्म के फल अर्थात् भोग से सम्बन्ध छूट जाता है और अन्तत: मुक्त होने के कारण दुःख भी समाप्त हो जाते हैं। इसी कारण प्रभु ने ‘योग’ को दु:ख के संयोग का वियोग भी ही माना है –

तं विद्याद्दु:खसंयोगवियोगं योगसंज्ञितम्।(गीता /२३)

यदि उपर्युक्त अर्थ (यानि कर्मों में कुशलता ही योग है) का ही ग्रहण करना अभीष्ट हो तो फिर कुशलता का अर्थ समत्व या निष्कामभाव यानि कि ‘योग’ लेना होगा। किन्तु जब उपर्युक्त पद में ‘योग’ शब्द आया ही है तो फिर पुन: कुशलता का अर्थ योग करने की क्या आवश्यकता है? यानि “कर्मों में कुशलता ही योग है” इस अर्थ से काम नहीं चलेगा। ऐसी स्थिति में “योग: कर्मसु कौशलम्” का ‘योग ही कर्मों में कुशलता है’ ऐसा सीधा अर्थ क्यों न ले लिया जाए? पूर्व के श्लोक में योग की परिभाषा से स्पष्ट है कि यहाँ योग ही विधेय है कर्मों की कुशलता नहीं फिर कर्म तो नाशवान हैं; नाशवान् के द्वारा अविनाशी की प्राप्ति नहीं हो सकती है। अत: महत्त्व योग का है, कर्मों का नहीं। अत: “योग: कर्मसु कौशलम्” का यही अर्थ – ‘योग ही कर्मों में कुशलता है’ उचित प्रतीत होता है।

(to be continued…)

डॉ. श्यामदेवमिश्र, सहायकाचार्य (ज्योतिष), राष्ट्रिय-संस्कृत-संस्थान, भोपाल परिसर, भोपाल, म.प्र.

Vedic Culture Growing Popular Among Indian Diaspora

Vedic culture is still relevant and gradually becoming more popular among Indian diaspora, especially in the youth, said researchers and scholars at a seminar held in the national capital.

The World Association for Vedic Studies (WAVES International) and Wider Association for Vedic Studies (WAVES India) organised an event titled “Scientific Aspects of Vedic Knowledge” from December 16 to 18, where the importance of Vedic culture in the contemporary world was discussed.

waves-144-x-36

An aspect which was prioritised at the event was the presence and influence of Vedic culture among Indian diaspora. The speakers emphasised that the cultural events like music and dance have contributed a lot in keeping alive the Vedic culture.

Cultural activities are contributing a lot to keep the customs alive. In the Caribbean countries like the West Indies and Jamaica, the Indian-origin people are mostly from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and they sing the folk music, this is how the customs are carried ahead,” Indrani Ramprasad, who is working as an independent researcher in Trinidad and Tobago, told IANS at the event.

Bal Ram Singh, organiser of the event and Professor at the School of Indic Studies, US, said that the Indian diaspora in the US is now gradually becoming aware of the existence of Vedic science and it is becoming popular among youths as well. “Lot of institutes and organisations like Chinamaya Mission, Ramakrishna Mission and even colleges have started organising Vedic classes in the US where the Vedic knowledge is being taught and the youths are showing interest to learn,” added Singh.

Not just the Indian diaspora, but the US people too are taking to the Vedic practices like Yoga, learning Vedas, and many are even opting for cremation instead of traditional burial.

Held at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, the event saw seminars, discussions and interactive sessions on numerous topics related to Vedic culture.

Sessions were held on Vedic culture’s influence and existence in the lives of modern youth, integration of modern medical and ancient Vedic perspectives on overcoming ageing, reconstructing the contemporary world with Vedic science, nano technology and the Vedic science, rain forest and global water challenges with Vedic science, and some other.

We tried to bring into limelight the importance of Vedic culture in modern science and that’s the reason we took the angle for this year’s seminar. People are not so aware of involvement of science and Vedic culture and the seminar is to bring in focus on this subject,” Singh said.

(The above picked up from the wire service- Indo Asian News Service. IANS.)

 

Navaratri as the Celebration of the Female Shakti Culture of India

Dr. Bal Ram Singh, a Professor and Director of Botulinum Research Center, Executive Mentor of School of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, a former Professor of Biophysical Chemistry and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, and Founding Director of the Center for Indic Studies at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, writes on value of ancient Indian traditions for the modern times.

 “Feminine force is that inner strength, that power, that will to face down any negative circumstances in life and defeat them.” -Georgette Mosbacher

India as a culture faces most negative attention, especially from the Western media and intellectuals, including political leaders who unceremoniously lecture India on things they need to learn from this ancient civilization.

There is always a hue and cry over women in India for one reason or the other, be it political leaders like Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Smriti Irani, Mayawati, Mamta Banerjee, Jaya Lalitha, etc., object of atrocities like Nirbhaya, Phoolan Devi, and many other rape victims throughout the country, activists like Vandana Shiva, Medha Patkar, Teesta Setalavad, etc., the spiritual leaders like Ma Amritanandamayi in Kerala, Anandamurti Guruma in Haryana, the Brahmakumaris in Rajasthan, Mother Teresa in Kolkata, Dr. Niruben Amin in Gujarat, and Didi Ma Ritambhara, who have millions of followers throughout the world.

As this is Navaratri and Dussehra time, we could use this festival to highlight some of the traditional ways in which India’s deep philosophies are practiced in regards to women. If we talk about the Navaratri goddess Durga, a word that comes from durg or fort. Durga is a symbol of fortitude, which comes to women naturally but men need to seek. Fortitude is a mental power, not necessarily the physical one.

durga-maa2

In a recent study, scientists found women’s brain is more resilient – “Women are able to carry higher levels of genetic defects without getting brain development disorders such as autism, supporting the possibility of a ‘female protective effect’, according to the study as per a news in Australian Broadcasting News (February 28, 2014).The study published in The American Journal of Human Geneticsgives clues as to why fifty per cent more males typically have an intellectual disability than females, and why boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls.

Traditionally, women in India under ideal conditions have high place in the society – Durga, Saraswati, and Laxmi, the goddesses of strength, knowledge, and wealth, respectively. Even 30-40 years ago, at least in eastern Uttar Pradesh, the place where Nirbhaya’s parents come from, girls names had Devi added as a suffix. It reflects what society perceived and professed for women’s high place. Kanya puja is still common throughout the country. The points reflect that women in general reflect the sattvic thoughts and action. And, society prospers when that sanctity is maintained.

Manusmriti (3.56), an ancient book of memoir, states that –

yatra nāryastu pūjyante ramante tatra devtā 

यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता:

This is wrongly translated as  – where women are worshipped that becomes god’s abode. The real translation would be that where women raise themselves to the level of being worshipped, gods make that place as their abode. The onus here is on the women to raise their level with their knowledge, practice, management, and caring of the society. Worshipping Monica Lewinskys of this world will not make this world abode of gods.

Women in Sanskrit are known as stree, which means they can possess satva, rajas, and tamasic gunas at the same time in their role of mother, sister/daughter, and marriage partners. They are capable of performing these functions concurrently, as in multi-tasking today. Multitasking is women’s second nature, and neuro-scientific studies will be enriched by such analysis.

According a recent report published in CBC News (March 03, 2016) quoting Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos, the director of the Brain Science Centre at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center “What we have found is that women, in many different tasks, process information about five times faster than men, and use much less of their brain to do identical cognitive performance.”

Man, on the other hand, is known as purusha (someone who pursues), because what women can accomplish/understand innately with their intuitive and perceptive power, men need to toil through learning, experiencing, and serving.

How is this difference possible? Women are right brain dominating individuals, whereas men are generally left brain dominated persons. Right brain performs intuitive functions such as art, literature, music, etc. whereas left brain is more analytical and performs math, language, technology type of operations. Right brain believed to operatefaster due to its parallel processing, and provides women with intuitive power much better than men. In India queens always sat along with kings to provide management to the kingdom, and in fact ruled their kingdoms in the absence of kings, and did well, including in battlefields.

In today’s intellectual world India as the rest of the world with few exceptions are considered as patriarchical as opposed to matriarchical society. This is not correct historically or practically, although men may have been assigned to manage the society more due to the foreign attacks the society faced in the past thousand years or so. Over five years ago, Tulsῑ Rāmayan stated that mother’s place is higher than that of the father. In Ayodhyākand Kaushalyā says –

‘jaun keval pitu ayesu tata। tau jani jahu jani badi mata’ 

जौं केवल पितु आयसु ताता। तौ जनि जाहु जानि बड़ि माता ,

which means if only father had given orders to Rām, then he did not need to go to the forest, since as a mother she holds higher position.

In Indian tradition a child is considered the most fortunate whose father is dharmatmā (righteous) and whose mother is pativratā (devoted to the husband). So, it is not easy to be an ideal mother and father. One has to work hard to reach that level, and ideal traits come from the sanskārs (values) of the family and society.

India’s daughters make majority of female graduate students in most US engineering graduate schools. That shows the true treatment of the daughters by a society, Nearly half of the Indian banks are headed by women, and have not defaulted unlike western banks. India’s housewives contribute most to the Indian economy, and Indian space programs, including its mission to Mars, is full of Indian women engineers. These are the true cultural reflections of India’s daughters, something Western world could easily learn.

In summary, women are naturally empowered, and have been accepted in Indian society as such, but it requires hard work to maintain the empowered state. They need to realize both their empowered state and the cost to maintain it. It will not come from government or modern feminist movements, which are based on ego, control, and division of the society.

विज्ञान, कामरेड कन्हैया, एवं वेदांत

 

– प्रोफेसर बलराम सिंह, सदस्य, बोर्ड ऑफ़ डायरेक्टर, वेव्स

BRSडॉ. बलराम सिंह, प्रोफेसर एवं प्रेजिडेंट, इंस्टिट्यूट ऑफ़ एडवांस्ड साइंसेज, डाटर्मॉउथ, यू एस ए, २५ सालों तक यूनिवर्सिटी ऑफ़ मेसाचुसेट्स, डाटर्मॉउथ, में केमिस्ट्री, बायोलॉजी एवं इंडिक स्टडीज के प्रोफेसर और डायरेक्टर रहे हैं। वे एक दर्जन पुस्तकों, ३०० रेसेरच आर्टिकल्स और करीब ४०० कांफ्रेंस प्रेसेंटेशन्स के लेखक रह चुके हैं।

9 फ़रवरी के जे एन यू के देशद्रोही नारों की घटना के बाद से ही कामरेड कन्हैया कुमार सिंह के बारे में बहुत कुछ सुनता आ रहा हूँ। बड़ी जिज्ञासा थी उनके बारे में जानने की विशेषरूप से जब से पता चला की वह भी मेरी तरह एक ग्रामीण क्षेत्र से है। 39 साल पहले मैंने भी गाँव से आकर जे एन यू में प्रवेश लिया था, यह बात और है कि मैं स्कूल ऑफ़ लाइफ साइंसेज में था और कामरेड कन्हैया कुमार स्कूल ऑफ़ इंटरनेशनल स्टडीज में। संभव है हम दोनों के अनुभव एक जैसे हों।

आखिर में कामरेड कन्हैया को शर्तिया जमानत मिलने के बाद पहली बार सुनने को मिला। मजा आ गया! कई कारण थे उसके। पहला तो कि उसने अपनी सारी बातें हिन्दी, वह भी ग्रामीण लहजे में कही। यह बात मुझे बड़ी भाई और मेरे अपने जे न यू में एडमिशन के इंटरव्यू का दिन याद दिला दिया। मैं स्कूल ऑफ़ लाइफ साइंसेज के 1977 तक के इतिहास में पहला व्यक्ति था जिसने हिन्दी में इंटरव्यू दिया था। दर असल पहले मेरे यह कहने पर कि मैं इंटरव्यू हिन्दी में देना चाहता था, मुझे  इंटरव्यू रूम से बाहर जाकर इन्तजार करने को कहा गया था। फिर काफी देर के बाद बुलाया गया और कहा गया कि अगर सवाल इंग्लिश मे पूछा जाय तो क्या मैं समझकर हिंदी में जबाब दे सकता था। मैंने यह शर्त स्वीकार करके इंटरव्यू दिया और सौभाग्य से मेरा सिर्फ एडमिशन ही नहीं हुआ बल्कि मुझे एडमिशन की लिस्ट में शीर्षस्थान भी प्राप्त हुआ।

rangoli
उन दिनों जे एन यू में हिन्दी बोलने वालों को हेय दृष्टि से देखा जाता था, तो अब कन्हैया को हिन्दी में भाषण देते देख मैं तो गदगद हो गया, वह भी यह देखकर कि ना कि सिर्फ कामरेड टाइप के विद्यार्थी समझ भी रहे थे बल्कि हंसकर तालियाँ बजाकर प्रतिक्रिया भी जाहिर कर रहे थे।

मैं कन्हैया कुमार को कामरेड इसलिए सम्बोधित कर रहा हूँ क्योंकि एक तो मैं एक सेमेस्टर के लिए एस एफ आई का चरनिया सदस्य हो गया था। दूसरे उनके भाषण, खासकर उनकी वैज्ञानिकों से संवाद की रूचि से कामराडरी (सहमारगिता) उत्त्पन्न हुई है।

अभी हाल में ही  (दिसम्बर 27 – 30, 2015) मैंने कुछ देश विदेश के शिक्षक साथियों के साथ ही एक अन्तराष्ट्रीय वेदांत कांग्रेस जे एन यू में संचालित किया था। उसके पहले विंटर सेमेस्टर 2015 में जे एन यू में ही संस्कृत में विज्ञान एवं तकनीकी नामक कोर्स भी पढ़ाया था। वेदांत कांग्रेस में कई सेसन विज्ञान और समाज की समस्याओं पर थे जो की जे एन यू समेत देश विदेश के प्रोफेसरों एवं विद्यार्थियों द्वारा प्रस्तुत किये गये थे। उदाहरण के तौर पर ‘Vedantic Framework to Navigate through contention issue in contemporary science’, जिसे कि यूनिवर्सिटी ऑफ मासाचुसेट्स के प्रोफेसर सुकल्यान सेनगुप्ता ने प्रस्तुत किया था। Elizabeth Town College के प्रोफेसर जे फ्री लॉन्ग ने ‘Past life,  Memory, quantum Theory and Vedanta’ पर एक प्लेनरी प्रस्तुति की थी। यही नहीं एक पैनल डिस्कसन कामरेड के विशेष रुचिकर विषय ‘सामाजिक एवं आर्थिक समानता पर वेदांत की भूमिका’ के बारे में भी था, जिसमें डॉ. कौसल पवार, एक प्रतिष्ठित दलित शोधकर्ता, दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय की अध्यापिका, जो कि जे न यू की एक शोध छात्रा भी रही है, एक एक्सपर्ट के रूप में शामिल हुई थी।

Vedant
कामरेड कन्हैया के भाषण से ऐसा लगा कि उन्हें वैज्ञानिकों से संपर्क एवं संवाद की कड़ी उत्कंठा है, इसलिए मैं अपनी अगली यात्रा के दौरान (मार्च 10 – 25, 2016) चाहूँगा कि हम लोग मिलें और उनके द्वारा चिन्हित शोषित वर्ग, महिलाएं एवं दलितों की समस्याओं पर विमर्श करें। यदि वे चाहें तो मैं जे न यू के वैज्ञानिकों को भी आमंत्रित कर लूँगा जिनमें Professor R. K. Kale (दलित वर्ग) और Professor Pramod Yadav (OBC) को भी शामिल कर लेंगे।

इतने सारे प्रयासों की तत्परता के बावजूद भी मुझे कुछ अनुभाविक शंकाए हैं। उन्हें भी सबके समक्ष रखना आवश्यक समझता हूँ। ज्ञातव्य हो कि 22nd वेदांत कांग्रेस में भाग लेने के लिए स्वामी रामदेव को जे एन यू के Rector की तरफ से निमंत्रण भेजा गया था और उसका तीव्र विरोध जे न यू छात्र संघ की उपाध्यक्ष शेला रसीद ने न कि केवल विश्वविद्यालय प्रशासन से किया था बल्कि वेदांत कांग्रेस के विदेशी प्रायोजकों एवं उनके संस्थानों को भी लिखित रूप में देकर किया था। इसका मुझे साक्षात ज्ञान है क्योकि मैं भी उन विदेशी प्रायोजकों में से एक था। मैंने शेला रसीद के पत्र का 29 दिसम्बर को जबाब देते हुए उन्हें भी विमर्श के लिए आमंत्रित किया था। आज तक उसका उत्तर नहीं आया है।

Ramdev

फिर भी उम्मीद है इस बदले माहौल में, जहाँ कामरेड कन्हैया के भाषण के समय तिरंगा लहराया जा रहा था, देश की बर्बादी के जंग की बात दूर-दूर नजर नहीं आ रही थी, और भारत के टुकड़े करने वाले कामरेडों को अगल बगल भटकने नहीं  दिया गया था चाहे वह माननीय न्यायाधीश के आदेशों के अंतर्गत ही क्यों न किया गया हो, कामरेड कन्हैया अपने ग्रामीण परिवेश वाले इस बड़े भाई बलराम से वार्ता जरूर करेंगे।