Friday, February 19, 2010



Swami Vivekananda:

A prince of patriots
Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar

Swami Vivekananda whose birth anniversary fell last month was a unique personality in the history of religion. In an all-too brief life of 39 years, he traversed the entire gamut of spiritual experience by his Saddhanas and confirmed by his own personal testimony the profound truths enshrined in all religions.

Swami Vivekananda once said that before flooding India with socialistic and political ideas, they should first deluge the land with spiritual ideas. He felt deeply persuaded about the universal message of India’s spirituality blazedforth by the contemplative seers and thinkers. He was agonised at the poverty, superstition, violence, disunity and other evils in India and he wanted to eradicate them.

He saw that a sound religions which satisfied the demands of realism and the needs of humanity can getright the world. He found that message not in the theoretical but in the practical Vedanta. The carried that message to the world.

It was a great day for Hinduism when in the Parliament of Religions in Chicago on September 11, 1893, the bell-like voice of Swami Vivekananda’s speech made an imperishable impression in the west.

Swami Vivekananda caught the attention of the American press on the first day of parliament with his graceful presence, dignified apparel and large lustrous eyes like arks of fire. His roaring words of brothers and sisters of America made him all who heard him their masks.

Rooted in the past and full of pride in India’s prestige, Swami Vivekananda was yet modern in his approach to life’s problems. He wanted to combine western progress with India’s spiritual background. He defended the values and virtues of his faiths and opened the eyes of the Hindus to the glories of their heritage. As a loyal son of India Swami Vivekananda threw out a challenge and vindicated her cause in the forum of the world.

To Swami Vivekananda, religion was the manifestation of perfection in every human being. To him service to humanity meant service to God. He heralded the dawn of a new era in human civilization by worshipping the living God, that is Man. By that he brought the whole world so near, made it so pleasant a family bound in a fraternal tie.

Universal love was the core of the religion of Man, Vivekananda said.

At first we think of a personal God and call him creato, ompnipoent omniscient and soforth. But, when love comes, God is only love. He further observed, Love is the ideal, Love is the culmination.

Swami Vivekananda’s tender heart bled for the teeming poor millions. He preferred serving that unfortunate lot and came in close touch with the masses of India.

He inspired the whole of India, touching the whole country from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari, and everywhere emphatically said the same thing.

His image of India mirrored the deep love, the vision and wisdom of the spiritual guru of millions. It also ranked him as a prophet of New India.

He once said that India would be raised not with the power of the flesh, but with power of the spirit, not with the flag destruction but with the flag of peace and love, the garb of the Sannyasin, not by the power of wealth, but by the power of the begging bowl. Talking about the great role of Swami Vivekananda, the former President of India Dr. S. Radhakrishnan once said: “It is not merely the people of India that require Vivekananda’s message. The whole world today is passing through a crucible of doubt. Everywhere there is conflict between faith and doubt, conviction on one side and the lack of conviction on the other. Throughout the world people are having these problems.

The problems are testing man’s faith and if they are to get over all the present crises and lift the world to a belts sphere, it is essential for them to adopt religions as a human transformation, resulting in social transformation”.

As a prince of patriots Swami Vivekananda insisted on Character-building, on discipline, on strength of mind, physical and spiritual.


Thiruketheeswaram temple in Mannar:

The Lord - myths, legends and traditions
Sanmugam Arumugam

Thiruketheeswaram is situated in Mantai, Mannar District. The most ancient and largest Shiva Lingam in Sri Lanka is at Thiruketheeswaram, the sacred place where Kethu Bhagavan was blessed with the vision of Lord Parameshwara. The origins of ancient places are usually steeped in hoary antiquity, in eras of millenniums of years. Same is the case of Thiruketheeswaram.

The beginnings of this venerable location (Sthala) and how it became to be known as Thiruketheeswaram is shrouded in myths and legends. In the ancient days, memorable events were narrated as discourses which were orally communicated by Rishis and Manivars (learned and inspired personages) to their disciples, who in turn imparted them to others, etc., and who did likewise in their turn.

The origin of most puranic legends bear thus:- “The Supreme One enabled Nandi Devar to exemplify the Vedas by means of Puranas to those unable to understand the Vedas. Nandi Devar accordingly recited them to Sanat Kumar Munivar who in turn imparted them to Vyasa Munivar from whom Sootha Maha Munivar obtained them and delivered the knowledge to his Mini disciples”.

Concerning sacred Thiruketheeswaram puranic legends narrate the immortal story of Kethu Bhagavan performing thapas beseeching the benign dharshan of the Supreme One; Lord Iswara, for the ablution of his sins at this site; this spot eight miles north of Mannar, thus becomes sanctified forever, to be known as Thiru-Kethu-Iswaram or Thiruketheeswaram.

Poets, priests, kings and emperors for a long time afterwards established and retained the sanctity of this holy sthalam by erecting temples and noble edifices for worship - for, was it not here that the Lord long to appear in person and thus take abode?

To be continued


Developed systems of Hindu practices
Hindu practices generally involve seeking awareness of God and sometimes also seeking blessings from Devas. Therefore, Hinduism has developed numerous practices meant to help one think of divinity in the midst of everyday life. Hindus can engage in puja (worship or veneration), either at home or at a temple.

At home, Hindus often create a shrine with icons dedicated to their chosen form(s) of God. Temples are usually dedicated to a primary deity along with associated subordinate deities though some commemorate multiple deities. Visiting temples is not obligatory, and many visit temples only during religious festivals. Hindus perform their worship through icons (murtis). The icon serves as a tangible link between the worshiper and God.

The image is often considered a manifestation of God, simce God is imminent. The Padma Purana states that the murti is not to be thought of as mere stone or wood but as a manifest form of the Divinity. A few Hindu sects, such as the Arya Samaj, do not believe in worshiping God through icons.

Cultural traditions
Hinduism has a developed system of symbolism and iconography to represent the sacred in art, architecture, literature and worship. These symbols gain their meaning from the scriptures, mythology, or cultural traditions. The syllale Om (which represents the Parabrahman) and the Swastika sign (which symbolizes auspiciousness) have grown to represent Hinduism itself, while other markings such as tilaka identify a follower of the faith. Hinduism associates many symbols, which include the lotus, chakra and veena, with particular deities.

Mantras are invocations, praise and prayers that through their meaning, sound, and chanting style help a devotee focus the mind on holy thoughts or express devotion to God/the deities. Many devotees perform morning ablutions at the bank of a sacred river while chanting the Gayatri Mantra or Mahamrityunjaya mantras. The epic Mahabharata extols Japa (ritualistic chanting) as the greatest duty in the Kali Yuga (what Hindus believe to be the current age). Many adopt Japa as their primary spiritual practice.

The vast majority of Hindus engage in religious rituals on a daily basis. Most Hindus observe religious rituals at home, but observation of rituals greatly vary among regions, villages, and individuals. Devout Hindus perform daily chores such as worshiping at dawn after bathing (usually at a family shrine, and typically includes lighting a lamp and offering foodstuffs before the images of deities), recitation from religious scripts, singing devotional hymns, meditation, chanting mantras, reciting scriptures etc. A notable feature in religious ritual is the division between purity and pollution. Religious acts presuppose some degree of impurity or defilement for the practitioner, which must be overcome or neutralised before or during ritual procedures. Purification, usually with water, is thus a typical feature of most religious action.

Concept of merit
Other characteristics include a belief in the efficacy of sacrifice and concept of merit, gained through the performance of charity or good works, that will accumulate over time and reduce sufferings in the next world. Vedic rites of fire-oblation (yajna) are now only occasional practices, although they are highly revered in theory.

In Hindu wedding and burial ceremonies, however, the yajna and chanting of Vedic mantras are still the norm. The rituals, upacharas, change with time. For instance, in the past few hundred years some rituals, such as sacred dance and music offerings in the standard Sodasa Upacharas set prescribed by the Agama Shastra, were replaced by the offerings of rice and sweets.

Life-cycle rituals
Occasions like birth, marriage, and death involve what are often elaborate sets of religious customs. In Hinduism, life-cycle rituals include Annaprashan (a baby’s first intake of solid food), Upanayanam (“sacred thread ceremony” undergone by upper-caste children at their initiation into formal education) and Sraddha (ritual of treating people of feasts in the name of the deceased). For most people in India, the betrothal of the young couple and the exact date and time of the wedding are matters decided by the parents in consultation with astrologers. On death. Cremation is considered obligatory for all except sanyasis, hijra, and children under five. Cremation is typically performed by wrapping the corpse in cloth and burning it on a pyre.

Source; Wikipedia


Aathma and law of karma in Hinduism
K.S. Sivakumaran

A Hindu sometimes may think that he was never created. He has no beginning and he has no end. The reason for this attitude is simple: What was created could also be destroyed and he does not like the idea of ending his life in the grave.

But one may ask: What about Brahma who is eternally creating? What about Vishnu who is always protecting? And what about Rudra (Siva) whose only work appears to be destroying? Yes, it is true that they could no doubt create, preserve and destroy everything - but not the Aathma or Soul. Aathma is beyond their reach.

Man does not believe in his heart of hearts that everything is over when the heart stops working. Why? it is because Aathma is immortal and that it could never die. Having said this I would like to clear certain misconceptions regarding the Law of Karma which is one of the fundamental concepts of the Hindu mind.

Of course orthodox Hindus might object my points of view. The first objection may be on these lines. Law of Karma is an ancient Hindu concept. Its laws are not applicable to everybody, particularly to people in modern times.

Does it matter who discovered it first? In fact Karma is a discovery of an existing law and it is not a new invention made for a purpose. Merely because the Hindu discovered it first it doesn’t mean that it is a Hindu Law. It’s like this - the law of gravity is not Newton’s law, because Newton only discovered an existing law. He was not originating it. Similarly it applies to the law discovered in ancient times. It does not cease operating merely because our moral standards have fallen in modern times. We try to forget the law and the consequences of ignoring it.

Free to choose
The second objection is that it makes freedom of will impossibility. The answer is that if ‘free will’ is not taken for granted there is no place for the Law of Karma. Because one is free to choose between alternatives at all times that one is held responsible for the results.

Even the so-called ‘free will’, one may argue, has been predestined. Yes. We are responsible for that too. The ‘free will’ works for good or bad according to one’s own character and this character is one’s own making. What we sow we reap.

If our character is bad our ‘free will’ would naturally lead us to do wrong things. We can see this law working in every day life. - The good men choosing always the right paths and the bad men following the criminal ways to achieve their selfish ends.

The third objection I can see is that environments and heredity mould a man’s life and not his Karma. Yes, they afford the facilities but man could mar or make his life by using his ‘free will’. This again is seen in our daily life - in every nation with all the facilities they ruin themselves. It only shows that every act is self determined and cannot be compelled by outside influences. No power on earth can make you think and decide as it wants. Outside pressure might make you to act against your ‘free will’ but it cannot kill your’ free will’.

It is for this reason that that the intention of your action is looked into when your actions are reviewed in a court of law.

The fourth objection is that in this interminable series of cause and effect why the merciful God and why He allowed this cruel law to operate causing miseries at every turn.

Man is confined within space and time and as long as he is limited by these he will be also subject to cause and effect. God provided the worlds: the physical, mental and spiritual.

Man is like a child playing in the seashore collecting shells, building houses of sand and digging holes for the purpose of draining the vast ocean into them. The child has forgotten the mother and is fully absorbed with its playthings and multicolored shells. A time would come when the child is tired of its play and cry out for its mother who is watching the child all the time unrecognized.

Similarly man by experience would be able to discriminate between the real and the unreal, permanent and temporary, spiritual and material and renounce everything both good and bad and their results.

When he ascends to that pure spiritual atmosphere the Law of Karma ceases to operate and he becomes free which is the one goal of the Hindu -Liberation.

The Law of Karma or Cause and effect is a universal one operating in the physical and mental worlds. No one can escape it. All religions are based on that principle.

Man can make his own destiny and this law provides all facilities for that purpose at all times.

1 comment:

Multisubj Yb TruthSeeker said...

YOu have to read the 'epistles' of S.V., to know how he insulted his own South Indan Patrons Alasinga and Satyananda Rao.

Tamils gave him much encouragement and money. But instead of being grateful, SV thought that they owe him money!