Tag Archives: Hinduism

hindu guru dead or meditating?

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The family and followers of one of India’s wealthiest Hindu spiritual leaders are fighting a legal battle over whether he is dead or simply in a deep state of meditation.

His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj, the founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan religious order with a property estate worth an estimated £100 million, died in January, according to his wife and son.

However, his disciples at his Ashram have refused to let the family take his body for cremation because they claim he is still alive.

According to his followers, based in the Punjab city of Jalandhar, he simply went into a deep Samadhi or meditation and they have frozen his body to preserve it for when he wakes from it.

Excerpt from Telegraph article Indian court asked to rule on whether Hindu guru dead or meditating by Dean Nelson

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sanatana dharma

sanatana dharma, in Hinduism, term used to denote the “eternal” or absolute set of duties or religiously ordained practices incumbent upon all Hindus, regardless of class, caste, or sect. Different texts give different lists of the duties, but in general sanatana dharma consists of virtues such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings, purity, goodwill, mercy, patience, forbearance, self-restraint, generosity, and asceticism. Sanatana dharma is contrasted with svadharma, one’s “own duty” or the particular duties enjoined upon an individual according to his or her class or caste and stage of life. The potential for conflict between the two types of dharma (e.g., between the particular duties of a warrior and the general injunction to practice non-injury) is addressed in Hindu texts such as the Bhagavad Gītā, where it is said that in such cases svadharma must prevail.

The term has also more recently been used by Hindu leaders, reformers, and nationalists to refer to Hinduism as a unified world religion. Sanatana dharma has thus become a synonym for the “eternal” truth and teachings of Hinduism, the latter conceived of as not only transcendent of history and unchanging but also as indivisible and ultimately nonsectarian.

Excerpt from Encyclopaedia Britannica Article Sanatana Dharma


history of hinduism

Hinduism (Sanskrit सिन्धु “Sindhu” (Indus River) + ism) is a term for a wide variety of related religious traditions native to India. Historically, it encompasses the development of Religion in India since the Iron Age traditions, which in turn hark back to prehistoric religions such as that of the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation followed by the Iron Age Historical Vedic religion.

The period between 800 BCE and 200 BCE is “a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions”, and a formative period for Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

The Epic and Early Puranic period, from ca. 200 BCE to 500 CE, saw the classical “Golden Age” of Hinduism, which coincides with the Gupta Empire. In this period the six branches of Hindu philosophy evolved, namely Samkhya,Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. Monotheistic sects like Shaivism and Vaishnavism developed during this same period through the Bhakti movement.

The period from roughly 650 to 1100 CE forms the late Classical period or early Middle Ages, in which classical Pauranic Hinduism is established, and Adi Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta, which reconciled the Vaishnava and Shaiva sects, and gave rise to Smartism, while initiating the decline of the non-Vedantic schools of philosophy.

Hinduism under the Islamic Rulers, from 1100 to ca. 1750 CE, saw the increasing prominence of the Bhakti movement, which remains influential today. The colonial period saw the emergence of various Hindu reform movements partly inspired by western culture, such as spiritism (Theosophy). The Partition of India in 1947 was along religious lines, with the Republic of India emerging with a Hindu majority.

During the 20th century, due to the Indian diaspora, Hindu minorities have formed in all continents, with the largest communities in absolute numbers in the United States and the United Kingdom. In the Republic of India, Hindu nationalism has emerged as a strong political force since the 1980s, the Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party forming the Government of India from 1999 to 2004, and its first state government in southern India in 2006.

Excerpt from Wikipedia Article History of Hinduism


puranas

The Puranas (Sanskrit: पुराण purāṇa, “of ancient times”) are ancient Hindu texts eulogizing various deities, primarily the divine Trimurti God in Hinduism through divine stories. Puranas may also be described as a genre of important Hindu religious texts alongside some Jain and Buddhist religious texts, notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.The Puranas are frequently classified according to the Trimurti (Trinity or the three aspects of the divine). The Padma Purana classifies them in accordance with the three gunas or qualities as Sattva (Truth and Purity), Rajas (Dimness and Passion) and Tamas (Darkness and Ignorance).

Vyasa, the narrator of the Mahabharata, is traditionally considered the compiler of the Puranas. However, the earliest written versions date from the time of the Gupta Empire (third-fifth century CE) and much material may be dated, through historical references and other means, to this period and the succeeding centuries.

The date of the production of the written texts does not define the date of origin of the Puranas. On one hand, they existed in some oral form before being written while at the same time, they have been incrementally modified well into the 16th century.

An early reference is found in the Chandogya Upanishad (7.1.2). (circa 500 BCE). The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad refers to purana as the “fifth Veda”, itihāsapurāṇaṃ pañcamaṃ vedānāṃ, reflecting the early religious importance of these myths, presumably then in purely oral form. Importantly, the most famous form of itihāsapurāṇaṃ is the Mahabharata. The term also appears in the Atharvaveda11.7.24.

According to Matysa Purana, they are said to narrate five subjects, called Pancha Lakshana pañcalakṣaṇa (“five distinguishing marks”, though some scholars have suggested that these are shared by other traditional religious scriptures):

  1. Sarga: the creation of the universe.
  2. Pratisarga: secondary creations, mostly recreations after dissolution.
  3. Vamśa: genealogy of the gods and sages.
  4. Manvañtara: the creation of the human race and the first human beings. The epoch of the Manus‘ rule, 71 celestial Yugas or 308,448,000 years.
  5. Vamśānucaritam: the histories of the patriarchs of the lunar and solar dynasties.

The Puranas also lay emphasis on keeping a record of genealogies, as the Vayu Purana says, “to preserve the genealogies of gods, sages and glorious kings and the traditions of great men.” The Puranic genealogies indicate, for example, that Sraddhadeva Manu lived 95 generations before the Bharata war. In Arrian‘s IndicaMegasthenes is quoted as stating that the Indians counted from “Dionysos” (Shiva) to “Sandracottus” (Chandragupta Maurya) “a hundred and fifty-three kings over six thousand and forty-three years.” The list of kings in Kalhana‘s Rajatarangini goes back to the 19th century BCE.

Excerpt of Wikipedia Article: Puranas


upanishads

The Upanishads (Sanskrit: उपनिषद्, IASTUpaniṣad, IPA: [upəniʂəd]) are a collection of philosophical texts which form the theoretical basis for the Hindu religion. They are also known as Vedanta (“the end of the Veda“). The Upanishads are considered by orthodox Hindus to contain revealed truths (Sruti) concerning the nature of ultimate reality (brahman) and describing the character and form of human salvation (moksha). The Upanishads are found mostly in the concluding part of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas and have been passed down in oral tradition.

More than 200 Upanishads are known, of which the first dozen or so are the oldest and most important and are referred to as the principal or main (mukhya) Upanishads. With the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahmasutra (known collectively as the Prasthanatrayi), the mukhya Upanishads provide a foundation for the several later schools of Vedanta, among them, two influential monistic schools of Hinduism Themukhya Upanishads all predate the Common Era, possibly from the Pre-Buddhist period (6th century BCE) down to the Maurya period. The remainder of the Muktika canon was mostly composed during medieval Hinduism, but new Upanishads continued being composed in the early modern and modern era, down to at least the 19th century.

The Sanskrit term Upaniṣad translates to “sitting down near”, referring to the student sitting down near the teacher while receiving esoteric knowledge.

Excerpt from Wikipedia Article: Upanishads


vedas

The Vedas (Sanskrit वेदाः véda, “knowledge”) are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. The Vedas are apauruṣeya (“not of human agency”). They are supposed to have been directly revealed, and thus are called śruti (“what is heard”), distinguishing them from other religious texts, which are called smṛti (“what is remembered”). In Hindu tradition, the creation of Vedas is credited to Brahma. The Vedic texts or śruti are organized around four canonical collections of metrical material known as Saṃhitās, of which the first three are related to the performance of yajna (sacrifice) in historical Vedic religion:

  1. The Rigveda, containing hymns to be recited by the hotar, or presiding priest;
  2. The Yajurveda, containing formulas to be recited by the adhvaryu or officiating priest;
  3. The Samaveda, containing formulas to be sung by the udgatar or priest that chants;
  4. The Atharvaveda, a collection of spells and incantations, apotropaic charms and speculative hymns.

The individual verses contained in these compilations are known as mantras. Some selected Vedic mantras are still recited at prayers, religious functions and other auspicious occasions in contemporary Hinduism.

The various Indian philosophies and sects have taken differing positions on the Vedas. Schools of Indian philosophy which cite the Vedas as their scriptural authority are classified as “orthodox” (āstika). Other traditions, notably Buddhism and Jainism, which did not regard the Vedas as authorities are referred to by traditional Hindu texts as “heterodox” or “non-orthodox” (nāstika) schools. In addition to Buddhism and Jainism, Sikhism and Brahmoism, many non-Brahmin Hindus in South India do not accept the authority of the Vedas. Certain South Indian Brahmin communities such as Iyengars consider the Tamil Divya Prabandham or writing of the Alvar saints as equivalent to the Vedas.

Excerpt from Wikipedia Article: Vedas