Category Archives: Sanatan Dharma

What is Jnana Yoga ? | Bhagavad Gita

books knowledge jnana yoga

The process of Yoga connects one to his/her spiritual essence. There are several kinds of Yoga, but it has been broadly classified into 3 – Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga. We have discussed Karma Yoga previously. In this article, we shall be discussing Jnana Yoga in detail. Jnana Yoga involves mental speculation, evaluating ideas, through logic and discourse, and aspiring to ultimately comprehend what is what. Jnana Yoga is the realization of the self through philosophical discussions. Jnana Yoga involves discrimination between matter and spirit through mental speculation. Hence Jnana Yoga promotes knowledge through seclusion, study, and sense abnegation. Activities and necessities of life are minimized in Jnana Yoga, as the focus is placed on becoming free from sensual desires that deceive the soul. By rejecting matter, Jnana Yogis aim at attaining liberation (moksha).

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What is Bhakti Yoga ?

chaitanya pancha tattva bhakti yoga

According to the ‘Sandilya Bhakti Sutra’, Bhakti is the transcendental attachment to Krishna, the Supreme Lord. The process of reawakening this transcendental loving relationship between God and the living entity is called ‘Bhakti Yoga’. Bhakti or pure devotional service is free from all traces of Karma (fruitive activities) and Jnana (speculative knowledge). A devotee established in Bhakti Yoga, constantly serves Krishna, engaging his mind, intellect and all of his senses in the Lord’s service. Bhakti Yoga purifies one and frees one from all material designations. Upon attaining pure love of God, one neither hankers nor laments. He is freed from all attachments and detachments, and takes no pleasure in material things. Lord Krishna explains the exalted stature of Bhakti Yoga in Bhagavad Gita as follows –

tapasvibhyo ‘dhiko yogi
jnanibhyo ‘pi mato ‘dhikah
karmibhyas cadhiko yogi
tasmad yogi bhavarjuna
(Bhagavad Gita 6.46)

A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the wise speculative thinker and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, under all circumstances, be a yogi.

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 (Krishna) with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service (bhakti), is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.

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Book : Sanatan Dharma – An Overview

cows india sacred krishna 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’. 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’ is timeless, non-sectarian and not limited by any boundaries. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and 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.

Contents – An Overview of Sanatan Dharma

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Cows and Krishna | Sacred Cow

cows india sacred krishna

Namo brahmanya devaya
Go brahmana hitaya ca
Jagad dhitaya Krsnaya
Govindaya namo namah
(Vishnu Purana 1.19.65)

I offer my obeisances again and again to Lord Krishna, who is always worshiped by qualified brahmanas and is very dear to them. He is always concerned with the welfare of the cows, the brahmanas, and the whole world. I offer my repeated obeisances unto the Personality of Godhead, known as Krishna and Govinda.

The above mantra, quoted in Vishnu Purana, is used to worship and offer bhoga to Lord Krishna. The above prayer lays a striking emphasis on the protection of cows and the brahmanas. Brahmanas, or the intellectuals, are the symbols of spiritual education. In Vedic India, cows were treated as mothers and they sustained the entire society with their milk. From the above verse, it is abundantly clear that cows were very dear to Krishna. In fact, the Bhagavad Gita quotes Lord Krishna in saying –

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Who is a Karma Yogi ? | Bhagavad Gita

bhagavad gita teachings slokas summary karma yogi yoga

Lord Krishna explains in Bhagavad Gita that merely by refraining from work, one cannot attain freedom from the reactions of this material world. By practicing renunciation alone, one cannot achieve perfection. It is because, one is forced to work in this world, as per the qualities (Sattva, rajas, tamas), he has acquired from material nature. Therefore, one who refrains from external activities but dwells upon sense objects in his mind is a pretender who only deludes himself. On the other hand, one who sincerely endeavors to regulate his senses, with the help of his mind and intelligence, and executes Karma Yoga, is by far superior. The word ‘Karma’ refers to various actions, and the word ‘Yoga’ refers to the process that connects us to our spiritual essence. One who practices ‘Karma Yoga’ is referred to as ‘Karma Yogi’. In this article, we shall be discussing Karma Yoga in detail.

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Karma, Akarma and Vikarma

karma akarma vikarma

Actions that are performed in terms of one’s prescribed duties, as mentioned in the revealed scriptures, are called Karma. ‘Akarma’ are actions that are devoted to the Supreme Lord and are free from material bondage. Actions that are opposed to the instructions of the revealed scriptures, performed through the misuse of one’s freedom, are called ‘Vikarma’.

‘Vikarma’ leads one to the lower forms of life. Of these three, the work, i.e. Akarma, that frees one from the bondage of material life, is favored by intelligent men. Ordinary men might want to conduct good deeds for fame and recognition in this life or perhaps attain heavenly pleasures in the next. However, intelligent men know that both good and bad work binds one to material miseries and hence they choose to act so that they would become free from both good and bad reactions. Vikarma, however, is sinful work that drags one to hellish life.

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108 Upanishads according to Muktikopanishad

upanishads vedas scriptures sanatan dharma hinduism

The term ‘Upanishad’ means an intimate session between the teacher and the taught. The Upanishads contain the philosophical essence of the Vedas and are therefore called Vedanta. ‘Veda’ means knowledge, and ‘anta’ means the end. In other words, a proper understanding of the ultimate meaning of the Vedas is called Vedanta knowledge. The Upanishads are to be learned by “sitting near the spiritual master” (upa-ni-shad). The knowledge of the Upanishad is guhya-vidya (secret). Sage Dramida had characterized Upanishad as ‘brahmani upanisanneti upanisat’ – that which is deeply absorbed in brahman. Muktikopanishad lists the names of 108 Upanishads. Of these 11 Upanishads are considered to be the topmost. These eleven are –

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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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