A few musings on how to approach a Shastra. While the role and importance of #Guru is well recognized and upheld in #Hindu tradition, it is often that we do not understand the full implication of what a Shastra is. A Shastra is often reduced to a mere text, just a piece of writing by some scholar, like the papers academics write today. But, a Shastra is not just a text, not just a piece of paper. Shastra embodies in itself Vidya, not mere information. It is the manifestation of Guru Tattva in the form of words.
Take Manu Smriti, for example, it is not just some text written by some x y z, it is not a mere recording of social happenings, it is not a text written out of malice. It is a Dharma-Shastra, which embodies within it the Dharma-Tattva. Maharishi Manu may not be with us in a visible form today, but the essence of his being, in the form of this Vidya on Dharma is embedded into Manu Smriti. The Guru Tattva of Manu lives on in the words that constitute Manu Smriti.
It is for this reason, our tradition has cultivated the practice of doing Parayana. We do Parayana or devotional reading of Ramayana, of texts written by our Acharyas etc. because, the Guru Tattva is embedded into the text, it enlivens the text, makes the text a living manifestation. Even a person who may not be ready to understand the philosophy or tenets expounded in a text, a Parayana of the text with Shraddha, allows one to access the Guru Tattva, the blessings of the Guru who composed the text, the Parampara which has preserved it and this imparts Chitta-Shuddhi.
No true understanding of Shastra is possible without Shraddha- Shraddha in the text and Shraddha in the Guru who composed it.
Just as Dharma is compared to a Bull, the mother earth, the nature is compared to a Cow. And this Bull of Dharma looses one leg with each passing Yuga and stands on one leg alone in Kaliyuga. Correspondingly, the Cow, which denotes Bhoomi Devi, is subjected to more and more abuse, exploitation and harassment.
Should we then understand that by hurting cows, the manifestation of mother earth, by slaughtering them, eating them, we are committing a far greater Adharma than what we understand? Are we committing Matru-Hatya by committing Go-Hatya? That too of the Mother Earth, the nature which nourishes everything and not just a human mother? Is “cow” an important link in the ecological balance, we are yet to realize? And since, Mother is considered the first Guru, we are also guilty of “Guru Hatya”!
My new book “Musings on Hinduism” is now available for purchase both as Paperback and as Kindle E-book.
The book includes a number of my writings on a variety of topics, especially related to General Hinduism, Vedanta, and Challenges facing Hindu society. It also includes a translation and commentary on few Hindu texts.
Book: Musings on Hinduism
Author: Nithin Sridhar
Indian Edition (Both Paperback & Kindle): http://www.amazon.in/Musings-Hinduism-Nithin-Sridhar/dp/9383826304/
International Edition (Kindle): https://www.amazon.com/Musings-Hinduism-Dharma-Nithin-Sridhar-ebook/dp/B06XG9T6MG
International Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/6995737
Excerpt from a review on Amazon: “The author has started with simplification of the difficult ‘Vedanta’ definition down to translation of select Sanskrit verses, and miscellaneous musings on popular misconceptions. To a lay reader, this presents a highly readable medley of the author’s perceptions that are culled from authentic texts.”
I am happy to announce that I have published my 2016 essay on Dakshinamurthy as ebook on Amazon Kindle. The book explores the various facets of the Hindu deity Sri Dakshinamurthy, who is not only worshiped as the First Guru, but also as the One, who imparts all knowledge through the medium innumerable number of human Gurus. The essay particularly focuses on the facet of Sri Dakshinamurthy as a Guru, as Ishwara, and as Atman. It is a must read for those interested to explore the importance of Guru tradition and the connection between Guru and Ishwara in Hindu tradition.
Indian Edition (Ebook)- https://www.amazon.in/dp/B01MU61Z0R
International Edition (Ebook)- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MU61Z0R
UK (Ebook)- https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MU61Z0R
Though Hindu traditions celebrate the New Year at different dates based on geographical locations, and the calendars followed there, since, the adoption of the Gregory Calendar after Independence, January 1st has been observed as the beginning of the New Year for all secular purposes. And just as we have adopted this new calendar for counting the days, many of us have also adopted the western tradition of making New Year resolutions.
This does not mean that the concept of “resolution” itself is alien to Hindu traditions. Everyday people make new resolutions, start new initiatives, and decide what to do next. From as simple and secular an activity to decide, say purchase a particular cushion cover to celebrating festivals and performing Pujas for spiritual elevation, every action is rooted in mental resolution that a particular action must be performed. In the technical Hindu terminology, action is a Karma and performance of an action is the application of Kriya Shakti. This performance is in-turn rooted in mental resolution, called as Sankalpa, which involves exertion of Iccha-Shakti or will-power. In many ways, this Sankalpa is root of all life and that is why every spiritual action, be it Puja, Homa, meditation, or Svadhyaya (Self-study of scriptures) invariably starts with a Sankalpa, which usually involves an appeal to the divinity to become pleased with us and fulfill all our desires.
The New Year resolutions that people usually take range from as simple as deciding to read some books and reducing one’s weight to more substantial like getting a promotion or purchasing a house. Whether people follow it up with action till the end, or leave it mid-way is a different issue and leaving mid-way may show how their Iccha and Kriya Shakti may have been weak. But, the important point to note is, most of these resolutions could be categories into Kama and Artha, i.e. those related to mundane pleasures and mundane prosperity. A Hindu must ask himself or herself, what about Dharma?
Hindu worldview posits four goals of life: Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. Though, Moksha could be attained only at the end of the journey over many lives, to even reach that stage one must first practice the first three sincerely. Dharma has been translated variously as duty, law, righteousness, religion, etc. But, at its essence, it means “that which upholds all life”. Each individual must ask himself/herself, what is it that upholds him/her? What defines them as individual? Is it their name, family, or the possessions, which define them? Or is there a purpose in life, which would define them? Hindu scriptures call this “purpose of life” unique to each individual as Svadharma. We may understand it as pursuance of “Self-Actualization”- the actualization on the ground of the full potential of an individual.
Without aligning one’s desires for pleasures and prosperity with one’s journey towards self-actualization, one would end up unfulfilled and discontent. The life becomes wasted, a step back in the journey towards ultimate Moksha, for without self-actualization, there is no self-realization. Thus, it becomes imperative for every Hindu to take a Dharmic resolution this New Year to look inside and work towards their self-actualization. The starting steps may be as simple as say, joining a guitar class or picking up a self-learning guide to learn Sanskrit. As long as the resolution is aligned to your inner-calling, you are on the right path.