Monthly Archives: April 2022

The four Varnas of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) | Indian Caste system

varna caste system varnashrama

Sanatan Dharma explains that a human being can be classified into four varnas (castes) – brahmana (priests), Kshatriya (Kings/administrators), Vaisya (merchants), and Shudra (workers) depending upon their individual nature and inclinations. Based on their caste (varna), human beings can be assigned some specific occupational duties. Indeed, everyone has a prescribed duty according to the Varnashrama dharma. Those who execute their prescribed duties live peacefully and are not greatly disturbed by material conditions. The spiritual orders of brahmacharya (celibate), grihastha (householder), vanaprastha (retired), and sannyasa (renounced) are called ashramas. If one executes his prescribed duty in both the social and spiritual order, the Supreme Lord becomes satisfied. However, it must be understood that the ultimate objective of this varna system (varna and ashrama) is to gradually purify one’s consciousness so that one grows eligible to serve and please Vishnu, the Supreme Lord. This is also confirmed in Vishnu Purana –

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Karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana | Bhagavad Gita

vishnu krishna arjuna bhagavad gita kurukshetra Karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana

karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana
ma karma phala-hetur bhur ma te sango ‘stv akarmani
(Bhagavad Gita, 2.47)

You certainly have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not performing your duty.

When Arjuna was perplexed and hesitated to fight against his kins in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Lord Krishna coached him in the science of yoga. The conversations that took place between Krishna and Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, comprise the contents of Bhagavad Gita. Krishna and Arjuna discussed a host of subjects. Amongst them were yoga, characteristics and immortality of the soul, one’s duties, the objectives of one’s life, afterlife, God, the dynamics of the material world and the key to transcending it. Bhagavad Gita was spoken by Lord Krishna to Arjuna about 5000 years ago at the onset of the great war of Kurukshetra and their discussion is considered to be one of the most celebrated philosophical and religious dialogues known to man.

Actions without Attachment to results (ma phaleshu kadachana)

In the above verse 2.47, Lord Krishna instructs Arjuna to fight and not shy away from performing his duty. He explains that one should never refrain from fulfilling his/her prescribed duties irrespective of the outcomes of his/her actions. In other words, one should never be attached to the fruits of the actions and should only concern himself with executing them. The Lord here also emphasizes that inaction (akarmani) is sinful and one should conduct the prescribed duties under all circumstances. Prescribed duties can be categorized into routine work, emergency work, and desired activities. Actions, not opposed to scriptural injunctions, that are performed without attachment to the outcome, doubtlessly lead one to the path of liberation. An aspirant of the highest knowledge must know that to hanker or yearn for a reward for one’s actions is the cause of material bondage. But it may be said that all actions produce a result, just as eating satisfies the urge of hunger. The Supreme Lord hence states that one should not let the anticipated results be the cause of motivation for performing the respective actions.

krishna supreme truth bhagavan

Arjuna, who was reluctant to raise arms against his family members (Kauravas) on the battlefield of Kurukshetra was advised by Lord Krishna to fight. Arjuna was a Kshatriya (warrior) and it was his duty to fight for a rightful cause. Therefore, the Lord advised him to fight without bothering about the outcomes of the war. Even non-participation in the battle was another side of his attachment. Any attachment, positive or negative, causes material bondage. Therefore fighting to perform his duty as a warrior (Kshatriya) was the only auspicious path to salvation for Arjuna.

While giving his purport to this verse, Srila Madhvacharya comments that an embodied soul influenced by mundane desires is deemed to be reprehensible. Even the desire for heavenly enjoyments is to be shunned as they are tainted with fruitive rewards as well. Therefore for those possessing spiritual intelligence, motivation for the desire for reward is not advisable. Arjuna is certainly spiritually intelligent and being the son of Indra the ruler of the demigods he certainly has sufficient ‘adhikara’ or qualities. Only for the purpose of giving His unequivocal instructions for posterity has the Supreme Lord Krishna utilized him to benefit all the worlds.

Equanimity in both success or failure

In the very next verse, Lord Krishna reiterates His instructions to Arjuna and instructs him on Nishkama Karma Yoga as follows.

yoga sthah kuru karmani sangam tyaktva dhananjaya
siddhy asiddhyoh samo bhutva samatvam yoga uchyate
(Bhagavad Gita 2.48)

Execute your duty being equipoised, O Arjuna, relinquishing all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga.

vaishnava vaishnavism krishna

Hereby, Krishna guides Arjuna on how one should be equipoised in both success and failure. Considering victory and defeat as equal, Arjuna should execute his duty of fighting. This equanimity of one’s mind concerning success and failure has been termed as ‘Yoga’.

Being equipoised – How can one achieve this state of mind ?

Sridhara Swami explains that yoga is the science of union between jiva and the Supreme Lord. By relinquishing attachment, and motivation for rewards, one should depend solely upon the mercy of the Supreme Lord in all of one’s activities. One should perform his/her actions only as an offering unto the supreme Lord, being totally unattached to the results. This is confirmed by Lord Krishna, later in the Bhagavad Gita –

yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad-arpanam
(Bhagavad Gita 9.27)

O son of Kunti (Arjuna), all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer or give away, as well as austerities you may perform – do that as an offering to Me (Krishna).

madhvacharya balakrishna

In order to survive in this material world, everyone needs to perform specific actions. Everyone has to work to preserve the body and soul together. Lord Krishna here recommends that one should work for Him and execute all their prescribed duties as an offering unto Him. In this way, dovetailing all actions, towards pleasing Krishna, and meditating on Him all throughout the day, one can unite with the Supreme Lord most intimately. Such a person is situated in the highest stage of Yoga. This is confirmed in chapter 6 of Bhagavad Gita –

yoginam api sarvesam mad-gatenantar-atmana
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo matah
(Bhagavad Gita, 6.47)

And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, thinks of Me within himself, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.

One needs to understand that though the living entities are entitled to actions, only the Supreme Lord can bestow the results. The Supreme Lord is the cause of all causes (sarva karana karanam). Hence, one who performs actions being motivated by fruitive results, is under the illusion that he/she is the cause of the outcome. One should understand that it is fallacious to believe that one is the ultimate controller of their own destiny because all results are ultimately ordained by the Supreme Lord.


Avatars of Krishna | Vishnu avatars (incarnations)

krishna supreme truth bhagavan vishnu avatars

Krishna is also referred to as ‘Bhagavan Swayam’ in Srimad Bhagavatam, thereby implying that He is the source of all avatars (incarnations) of Godhead. Krishna is ‘Svayam rupa’ or the original supreme personality of Godhead, and is also referred to as ‘puskala’ or the most complete. When various forms of the Supreme Lord manifest their appearance in this material world for various purposes, they are known as ‘avatars’ or incarnations.

Ete camsa kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam
Indrari vyakulam lokam mrdayanti yuge yuge
(Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.28)

All these incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of plenary portions of the Supreme Lord, but Lord Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead. All of His incarnations appear whenever there is a disturbance created by atheists. These incarnations appear to protect the theists.

This is also confirmed by Lord Brahma in his prayers :

Isvarah paramah krishna sac cid ananda vigrahah
Anadir adir govindah sarva karana karanam
(Brahma Samhita 5.1)

Krishna, who is also known as Govinda, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He has a transcendental form of eternal bliss and knowledge. He is the origin of all and the prime cause of all causes.

alarnath

We have previously discussed the various forms of the Supreme Lord (Svayam rupa, tad ekatma rupa, avesha) and they are known as avatars when they descend from the spiritual to the material world. These various forms of the Supreme Lord are eternally existing in their own spiritual abodes. Avatars can appear through parents, as expansions, or without the help of any agency. For example, Lord Krishna and Ramachandra appeared as the sons of Vasudeva and Dasaratha respectively. Garbhodakasayi Vishnu originates as an expansion of Maha-Vishnu. While among those who appear without help are Matsya and Hamsa avatars. There are six types of avatars of the Supreme Lord namely –

  • Purusha avatar
  • Guna avatar
  • Lila avatar
  • Manvantara avatar
  • Yuga avatar
  • Shaktyavesha avatar

We shall discuss briefly about each of them in this article.

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Hindu Sacred Books | Holy Books of Sanatan Dharma | Vedic literature

srimad bhagavatam bhagavata veda hinduism books sanatan dharma

Dharma is often interpreted as “duty,” “religion” or “religious duty” and yet its definition is more profound, defying the concise English translation. The word ‘Dharma’ originates from the Sanskrit root “dhri,” which means “to sustain.” Another correlated meaning of ‘Dharma’ is ‘that which is indispensable and fundamental to something’. So what is Sanatan Dharma ? The word ‘Sanatan’ translates to ‘eternal’ and the phrase ‘Sanatan Dharma’ alludes to that which is eternally integral to a living entity. That which is ‘Sanatan’ does not have either a beginning or an end. Likewise, ‘Sanatan Dharma’, also referred to as ‘Hinduism’, is timeless, non-sectarian and not limited by any boundaries. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and the faith of a person may change. But ‘Sanatan Dharma’ is that which cannot be changed. For instance liquidity cannot be taken away from water, nor can heat be taken away from fire. In this article, we shall focus our attention on the holy texts or the sacred books of Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma).

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108 Names of Srimati Radharani | Sri Radhika Astottara-sata Nama Stotram

krishna accessories ornaments articles radha

‘Sri Radhika Astottara sata Nama’ is a song composed by Srila Raghunath Das Goswami , reciting the 108 names of Srimati Radharani. This is part of his book ‘stvavali’. ‘Stavavali ‘ (collection of hymns) is a famous book composed by our dear gosai consisting of four volumes filled with stotrams (systematic hymns with no fixed number of verses), ashtakams (systematic hymns of eight verses), and dasakams (systematic hymns with ten verses). 

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Brahman, Paramatma, Bhagavan – 3 ways to conceive the Supreme

brahman paramatma bhagavan sun

Krishna, who is the personification of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, is perceived in three of His aspects – Brahman (residing everywhere), Antaryami (residing within as the Supersoul), and Bhagavan (the Supreme Person who lives beyond this material world and possesses six kinds of opulence in full – strength, fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty and renunciation). It will be easier to understand with the help of an example. The sun, sunshine and sun’s reflection are one but also different. All pervading sunshine (compared to Brahman) is non-different from the sun. Both are heat and light, yet the sun (compared to the Supreme Personality of Godhead) retains its form and identity as the source of everything. Similarly, the same sun may be reflected upon ponds or numerous pots of water. In this way, the same God is reflected within the hearts of all living entities as Paramatma or supersoul. Hence Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan are 3 aspects of the Supreme. Brahman and Paramatma are partial whereas Bhagavan is the complete realization of the Supreme truth.

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Vishnu or Shiva – Who is Supreme? | Differences between Vishnu and Shiva

shiva ashtakam prayers vishnu

Srimad Bhagavatam reveals that Lord Shiva is the foremost of all the Vaishnavas (devotees of Vishnu) – vaishnavanam yatha sambhuh purananam idam tatha’ (Srimad Bhagavatam – 12.13.16). However, some people having incorrect sambandha gyan (knowledge of relationship with the Supreme) incorrectly claim that Lord Shiva is the Supreme Lord. The scriptures, however, unambiguously reveal that Lord Shiva is a devotee of the Supreme Lord and in fact he is a devotee of the highest order. The Mohini Murti pastime, wherein Lord Shiva was bewildered by Krishna who took the form of a beautiful attractive woman, or the pastime of Bhasmasura , wherein Lord Shiva had to flee from the asura unto whom he had bestowed several benedictions a while before, reflect the superiority and the position of Lord Krishna as the Supreme.

In fact, Shiva is always meditating and hankering to render service unto Sri Krishna who is his dear beloved Lord. In Chaitanya Mangala, it is described how Lord Shiva once became mad with ecstasy after honoring a tiny morsel of Krishna Prasadam which he had received from Narada Muni. Such were his feelings, that he began loudly singing and dancing. The dance slowly became more and more vigorous and took the shape of ‘Tandava’, a dance that is usually performed at the time of annihilation. As the whole world started shaking, the helpless demigods approached mother Parvati requesting her to console her husband. We can thus clearly understand how dear Krishna and His food remnants are to Lord Shiva.

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Glories of Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) | Ripened fruit of the Vedas

vaishnava vaishnavism krishna srimad bhagavatam

#1 Srimad Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of Krishna

Krsne sva dhamopagate dharma jnanadibhih saha
Kalau nasta-drsam esa puranarko dhunoditah
(Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.43)

Srimad Bhagavatam is as luminous as the sun. After Lord Krishna left for His abode, accompanied by dharma and knowledge, Bhagavata Purana emerged to save the people from the darkness of Kali-yuga.

Muni, mora bhakta, ara grantha bhagavate
Yara bheda ache tara nasa bhalamate
(Chaitanya Bhagavata, Madhya,  21.18)

Myself (Supreme Lord), My devotees, and the scripture Srimad Bhagavatam – one who sees any distinction between these three will find all his intelligence destroyed.

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