Sunday, October 27, 2019

KALi to DIWALI (Deepavali) on Hanuman to RAMA


Kali Chaudash

Kali Chaudash is observed a day before Diwali in North India and Gujarat. It is also known as Narak Chaturdashi. Deepavali in South India is celebrated on the day. Legend has it that Lord Krishna killed demon Narkasur on the day with the help of Sathyabhama. Special prayers are also offered on the day to Lord Hanuman.
Hanuman puja is a major spiritual event on the day for many Hindu families.
People bath before sunrise on the day. Special prayers are offered to Lord Hanuman. Hanuman is believed to remove the fear of evil spirits and assure in auspiciousness on the day.

Simple Diwali Rangoli – Ideas and Photos of Rangolis

Rangolis are an important aspect of Diwali celebrations. Rangoli adds more color to the colorful Deepavali celebrations. Imaginations run wild when it comes to designing the Rangolis. There are thousands of ways to draw Rangoli. Most people stick to the traditional ideas. But there are many who always opt for something new by using innovative ideas. Here are pictures of a few simple Diwali Rangoli designs.

Bali Pratipada – Balipadyami during Diwali in Karnataka and Maharashtra

Bali Padyami, or Bali Pratipada, is observed after Deepavali in Karnataka and Maharashtra. Balipadyami celebrates the reign of Asura King Balindra, popularly known as Mahabali, who was killed by Vamana, an incarnation of Vishnu. Legend has it that due to a boon given by Lord Vishnu, King Balindra gets an opportunity to rule to entire universe for one day and this day is Bali Padyami.  
Legend has it that King Bali attained immense popularity due to his good governance. He attained near invincibility with the help of his Guru Shukracharya. As a result, Indra soon lost heaven to Bali. And Balindra got the coveted title of Chakravarthi – emperor. Bali decided to conduct Ashvamedha Yajna, to show his strength.
Indra sought the help of Lord Vishnu to regain his lost heaven.
Lord Vishnu attended the Yajna, as Vamana, a dwarf. Vamana asked for three steps of land and it was immediately granted by King Bali. Soon, the short Vamana grew in size – so huge that it was impossible to describe in words.
With his first step, Vamana covered all of Earth. His second step covered all of the Sky. There was no place for the third step and King Bali offered his head. Vamana sent Bali to Patalaloka or Underworld.
King Bali was a popular and great ruler; therefore he was made the emperor of underworld by Vamana. He was also given the boon that he will be allowed to rule the entire universe for one day, which is the Balipadyami day.
The popular Onam festival in Kerala (August - September) also has the same legend. But there Mahabali visits his erstwhile subjects on the Thiruonam day.
On Balipadyami day, people remember King Bali and pray for the return of prosperity that existed during his rule. Exchanging gifts on this day is a major highlight.

Vagh Barash – Vagh Baaras during Diwali

Diwali celebrations in Gujarat begin with Vagh Baaras, or Vagh Barash. It can be considered as the first day of Diwali celebrations of Gujarati people. Vagh Barash is also known as Govatsa Dwadashi and Guru Dwadashi. Cows and other domestic animals are worshipped on the day. It is also the last day of transactions in the financial year for businesses and those who maintain account books.  
Vagh during Diwali also refers to clearing of all financial deals and debts. New transactions begin only from Labh Pancham day.
At Nathadwara, Navnit Priyaji (Lord Krishna) appears newly dressed before the devotees on the day. Temples and sacred places are decorated beautifully on the day in all places.

Dhanteras in 2008 – Diwali Dhan Teras to buy gold – silver or make investment

Dhanteras, or Dhan Teras, is the first day of Deepavali or it marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations in North India. It is observed two days before Diwali. Also known as Dhanvantari Puja or Dhantra Yodashi, it falls on the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of Kartik Month. In Gujarat and Maharashtra, the same period is the thirteenth day of Ashwina month.  
A new utensil or gold or silver is bought for the house on the Dhan Teras day. Some people make an investment on the day. Most people also wait for the day to give away Diwali gifts. The day is also dedicated to Dhanavantri, the physician of the demi-Gods, and therefore special Dhanvantari Puja is held on the day.
The day is of great importance to business community and homes. Houses are decorated and special rangolis are drawn on the floor. Small foot prints are made in the houses.

Neer Thumba Habba – Cleaning and venerating Water a day before Deepavali in Karnataka

Neer Thumba Habba, or Neer Thumbo Habba, is a unique cleaning ritual performed a day before Deepavali (Diwali) by some communities in Karnataka. ‘Neeru’ means water and the ritual is a sort of physical and spiritual cleaning. The cleaning is to remove all dirt, evil and inauspicious things before the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi on the next day.  
Neer Thumba Habba is observed on the 13th day during the waning phase of the moon in the month of Ashvija.
Toilets, wash areas, bath areas etc are cleaned thoroughly. Water containers, vessels are emptied and cleaned. All buckets and mugs are scrubbed and cleaned. Those still using huge urns decorate them with turmeric and kumkum dots. Rangolis or kolams are drawn before wash areas and before huge vessels.
Lines are also drawn on bronze and silver vessels with red paint or red mud and also using paste of gypsum.

Simple Ideas and Tips to decorate home during Diwali

Financial crisis or prosperity, rich or poor, decorating the house during Diwali is a must for all people. Utmost importance is given to cleanliness during Deepavali because Goddess Lakshmi is welcomed to home on this day. Decoration during Diwali is not all about costly renovation and new paint. Time, few constructive ideas, determination and patience can give every home a makeover and new look during Diwali. Here are few simple tips and ideas for decorating home during Diwali:
Who is going to clean the entire house? Don’t try to clean and decorate the entire house in a day. Forget the big picture. Find time daily to do some work. Make it a point to clean a room daily. Within a week the entire house will be clean. This will help in better concentration and less work.
Forget about painting the house in a short period. Instead give the walls a new look by tickling your creativity. Use floor rugs, wall rugs, old colorful Saris, rangolis, flowers, colorful clothes etc on the wall. Go for bright colors like red, blue, purple etc. (You can also borrow or steal ideas from Hindi serials and films.)
Change the curtains, cushion covers, door hangings etc with bright and fresh color materials. Again look for inspiration in television serials and movies.
If you have time and ideas, change the arrangements in living room. Rearrange the furniture. A change from routine arrangements will bring a smile in all. This can be a Diwali decoration. Bring in new green plants and flowers. Before rearranging, make a sketch in a paper so that you will get a good idea of what to do.
Diwali is all about lights. Make sure that all the lamps are working. Clean the chandeliers. Look for new lamp shades. You don’t need to buy them all. Old hard sheets and other colorful materials can be converted into lamp shades. While arranging Diyas, try to create different shapes.
Finally, each region has a traditional Diwali decoration. Try to be a bit flexible with the traditional decorations.

Diwali Lakshmi Puja – Mahalakshmi Pooja during Deepavali

Lakshmi Puja, or Laxmi Pooja, is an important ritual held during Diwali. During Mahalakshmi puja, Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity, is worshipped. On the day, Goddess Lakshmi is invited into the houses by Hindus. She is propitiated along with Ganesha and Lord Kubera.  
People also choose special time or muhurats to perform the Lakshmi puja.
Lakshmi Puja during Diwali is an important event for business establishments. New account books are opened by shops and other establishments.
Lakshmi Puja is widely observed in North India, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Naraka Chaturdasi

Naraka Chaturdasi, or Narak Chaturdashi, is associated with the Deepavali or Diwali celebrations. In South India, Naraka Chaturdasi is observed on the Deepavali day. In North India, it is observed a day before Diwali on the Choti Diwali day. Naraka Chaturdasi day celebrates the victory of Lord Krishna over Demon Naraka (Narakasura or Narakasuran).  
It must be noted here that Diwali in South India is celebrated a day before the celebrations in North India.
The legend for celebrating Diwali in North India is based on the return of Lord Ram from exile to Ayodhya. But in South India the legend is Krishna defeating demon Naraka with the help of Satyabhama.
Legend has it that Demon Naraka, the son of Bhumi Devi and Vishnu, with the help of a boon from Brahma became very powerful. The boon was that he could only be killed by his mother Bhumi Devi. With such immense power Naraka lost his self control and his ego took over him. He started harassing people and demi-gods. He also forcibly took away the earrings of Aditi, the mother of devas.
Finally, the task of annihilating Naraka fell on Krishna. As always, a clever Lord Krishna asked his wife Satyabhama, an incarnation of Bhumi Devi, to accompany him to the battle against Naraka and be his charioteer.
The battle between Naraka and Krishna shook the entire world. During the battle, an arrow hits Krishna and he acts being unconscious. Satyabhama could not tolerate this and she took the bow and arrow of Krishna and kills Demon Naraka.
It is said that before dying Naraka realized his mistakes and requested for a festival in his name from his parents which will remind people what will happen when they are overtook by inflated egos.
Naraka Chaturdasi thus indicates that good and evil rises from the same root. It also suggests that personal relationships do not matter when it comes to the good of the society. Victory of good over evil always prevails.

Diwali Muhurats – Best time to do puja and purchases

Diwali (Deepavali) is not all about celebrations and merry making; it is also a time for spiritual contemplation, pujas, opening of account books by business people, investing in gold and properties. Here are the dates and Muhurats for Pushya Nakshatra, Vagh Barash, Dhanteras or Dhanvantari Puja, Hanuman Puja, Chopada Pujan, Sharda Puja and Lakshmi Puja   during Diwali.  
A large section of Hindu society believes in astrology look for ideal time (muhurats) to do the pujas and investments. There are also an equal number of people who are only interested in the particular day and they skip the muhurats and do puja during a convenient time
The Muhurats are provided by Dharmesh Bhai, an astrologer based in Gujarat. This is only a guide to help those people who are interested in Muhurats for pujas. If you are so particular about muhurat please check the local panchang also.

Diwali is on and for Sri RAMA

The most popular Hindu festival Diwali literally means ‘an array of lamps.’ The Diwali lamps signify the removal of spiritual darkness and the ushering in of knowledge capable of realizing Brahman (That) – the Supreme Being present in all animate and inanimate. It also signifies the victory of good over evil – where the good and the evil are present in us.

There are several reasons for celebrating Diwali. The most important one is the commemoration of the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile.
Lakshmi Puja during Diwali is observed as it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi emerged from the ocean on this day during the ‘samudra manthan’ (churning of ocean) by demons and gods as mentioned in the Puranas. So for the business people, the new business year begins on Diwali.
In South India, Diwali is the day in which Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura.
In Gujarat, the day after Diwali is observed as Annakut – New Year’s Day.
Dhanteras is celebrated two days before Diwali honors Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods. He is believed to have emerged from the ocean on this day during samudra manthan.
In Orissa, the lights are lit to show the path to the spirits of ancestors returning to heaven.
In Bengal, Diwali is celebrated as Kali Puja. It is believed that Goddess Kali killed the demon Raktavija on this day.

Diwali - Deepavali   in Tamil Nadu and South India

Diwali, known as Deepavali, in South India is celebrated a day before the Diwali day in North India. The difference of dates is primarily due to the variations in the regional calendars.  

In Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh, Deepavali is celebrated to commemorate the killing of the demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. In Kerala, Deepavali is a low-key affair and is believed to be the day Lord Ram returned from exile. In Karnataka, the day after Deepavali is observed as Bali Paadyami to mark the day of King Bali's return to his subject once a year.
There may be difference in date and reason for Deepavali but the central theme – good wins over evil, remains the same.

Diwali Sayings

This Diwali let us give thanks for all we hold dear: Our health, our family, our friends and to the grace of God which never ends.
Let us release our grudges, anger and pains, for these are nothing but binding chains.
Let us vow to live each day in the most pious, God-conscious way.
Let us vow to serve all who are in need, regardless of race, caste, gender or creed.
Let us vow to keep Lord in our heart, to chant His name each day at the start.
Let us vow to lead the world from darkness to light, from falsehood to truth, and from wrong to right.
And let us vow to remember that we are all one, embracing all, discriminating against none.
May this Diwali be filled with prosperity and peace, and love and joy which doesn't cease.
May you have success in all you do. And may God's blessings be showered upon you.

Diwali Quotes

O Ram! The light of lights, the self-luminous inner light of the Self is ever shining steadily in the chamber of your heart. Sit quietly. Close your eyes. Withdraw the senses. Fix the mind on this supreme light and enjoy the real Deepavali, by attaining illumination of the soul.
He who Himself sees all but whom no one beholds, who illumines the intellect, the sun, the moon and the stars and the whole universe but whom they cannot illumine, He indeed is Brahman, He is the inner Self. Celebrate the real Deepavali by living in Brahman, and enjoy the eternal bliss of the soul.
The sun does not shine there, nor do the moon and the stars, nor do lightning shine… All the lights of the world cannot be compared even to a ray of the inner light of the Self. Merge yourself in this light of lights and enjoy the supreme Deepavali.
Many Deepavali festivals have come and gone. Yet the hearts of the vast majority are as dark as the night of the new moon. The house is lit with lamps, but the heart is full of the darkness of ignorance. O man! wake up from the slumber of ignorance. Realize the constant and eternal light of the Soul which neither rises nor sets, through meditation and deep enquiry.
May you all attain full inner illumination! May the supreme light of lights enlighten your understanding! May you all attain the inexhaustible spiritual wealth of the Self! May you all prosper gloriously on the material as well as spiritual planes!

Pictures of Traditional Rangoli Designs for Diwali and Lakshmi Puja

Rangoli patterns are an essential part of Lakshmi Puja during Diwali celebrations. These unique designs are known as ‘Kolam’ in Tamil Nadu. Today, colorful Rangolis are more preferred. Rangoli designs are drawn mainly to invite Goddess Lakshmi into the house. The two feet drawn along with the Rangoli designs symbolizes Godddess Lakshmi.
Six petaled lotuses, pointed starts, hexagons are some of the patterns widely drawn during Diwali. In some areas, especially in North India, different types of colors are widely used in the Rangoli patterns. In South India, generally the designs are kept white in color. At night, Diwali diyas are lit on the Rangoli designs.


Hundred Years of Diwali Celebrations in South Africa

A new book on Indian indentured laborers reveals that 2007 Diwali Celebrations in South Africa marks the 100th year of celebrations in the country.
The Times South Africa reports
Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed uncovered interesting information during research for their new book, “Inside Indenture.”
Desai said their research led them to an important movement called the Hindu Young Men’s Association, which was formed in 1907 and organized the first communal Diwali celebrations in a hall.
“It shows that although Indians arrived in Durban in 1860, it took almost 50 years for them to win the right to celebrate Diwali in 1907,” said Desai.
The festival was officially recognized by municipal officials only in 1907, when Hindus were given permission to celebrate the occasion.
“Being the 100th year of celebrations, we need to recognise and pay homage to those indentured labourers and many other Hindus who sacrificed a great deal to convince the white colonial authorities that Hinduism was a religion and that they had a right to cele- brate Diwali,” said Desai.
What would have Diwali meant to thousands of families living under oppressive conditions in a far off country? Did they lose track of time? They might not have known the exact date but the families would have surely discussed about Diwali and looking at the moon they would have surely told stories about Diwali to their children.
Fifty years after their arrival in South Africa, when the families officially celebrated Diwali, it surely would have been a momentous occasion because a young generation was actively participating in the celebrations – a generation which did not know how the celebrations were held in India.
Diwali might have given hope to thousands of indentured families, who lived under oppressive conditions. For many an opportunity to go back to the roots of their faith, and for some an opportunity to do something that you've already done in your homeland but was not permitted in the new home.

How to perform Lakshmi Puja at home during Diwali?

Lakshmi Puja is an important ritual during Diwali or Deepavali. There were numerous queries on how to do Lakshmi Puja at home? There is no straightforward answer to this question as the ritual varies from region to region. But here is a simple guide to perform Lakshmi Puja during Diwali.
First and foremost step is to clean the house. Through the puja we are inviting Goddess Lakshmi to our house and she likes everything to be neat and clean. In some communities, even the broom is worshipped on the Lakshmi Puja day. This symbolically represents the need for cleanliness.
Three forms of Shakti – Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Saraswathi and Goddess Durga –Lord Ganesh and Lord Kubera are worshipped on the day. No puja is performed without paying customary tributes to Lord Ganesha. Lord Kubera, represents wealth, and he is the treasurer of Gods. In homes, usually the locker or safe in which gold and cash is kept symbolically represents the seat of Kubera.
Important Items Needed For Lakshmi Puja
Mango leaves
Idol or picture of Goddess Lakshmi
Milk, curd, honey, ghee
Puffed rice
Usual puja Sweets
Coriander seeds
Cumin seeds
And other daily puja items
Lakshmi Puja Process
  • First decide on a place to perform the puja.
  • Spread a clean cloth and create a bed of rice.
  • A Kalash (pot) is placed on the bed of rice.
  • Fill about 75% of the Kalash with water.
  • Put a betel nut, flower, a clean coin, and some rice in the Kalash.
  • Now arrange mango leaves around the opening of the Kalash.
  • Place a Thaali (a small plain plate) on the Kalash.
  • On the Thaali, draw a lotus with turmeric powder and place the idol or small photograph of Goddess Lakshmi.
  • Place some coins on the Thaali.
  • On the right of Kalash, place the idol of Lord Ganesha.
  • If you need, you can also place the idols of Saraswathi and your favorite deities.
Create a peaceful and calm atmosphere. The best way is to close the eyes and meditate on ‘om.’
  • Take some water and sprinkle on all puja items to purify them.
  • Do puja with haldi, kumkum and flowers on the Kalash.
  • Light a lamp.
  • Now take some flower and rice in the hands and close the eyes and meditate on Goddess Lakshmi. You are now invoking Goddess Lakshmi. If you know mantras, recite them. Otherwise just simply meditate on Goddess Lakshmi. Here is a simple Sanskrit mantra dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi.
Namosthesthu Maha Maye,
Shree padee, sura poojithe,
Shanka, Chakra, Gadha hasthe,
Maha Lakshmi Namosthuthe
  • Now sprinkle the flowers and rice on the idol of Goddess Lakshmi.
  • Take out the idol of Goddess Lakshmi and place it on a Thaali. Clean the idol with water, then with milk, curd, ghee, honey and sugar. Then clean the idol again with water.
  • Place the idol back on the Kalash.
  • Now offer garlands made of marigolds or leaves of bel tree, sandalwood paste, kumkum and other daily puja items including lighting incense and agarbhatis.
  • Now make offerings of coconut, fruits, sweets, betel nuts and betel leaves.
  • Next make offerings of Batasha sweets, puffed rice, coriander and cumin seeds.
  • Lastly, perform a silent Arati for Goddess Lakshmi. And meditate on Goddess Lakshmi.
  • Take some of the ‘prasad’ (that will stay for long period of time) and place it at the place where ornaments and cash is usually kept.
Business people also worship the account books on this day along with Goddess Lakshmi.
This is only a guideline. You can show flexibility in the puja process. Some of the items needed might not be readily available. But you can keep the house and surrounding clean. Finally, if you can’t perform the puja, wherever you are simply mediate on Goddess Lakshmi.

Difference between Diwali in North India and Deepavali in South India

Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated throughout India but there is a difference in origin, myth and the way in which it is celebrated.

The word 'Diwali' is most popularly used in North India and South India it is mostly used as 'Deepavali.' The meaning of both the word is the same. The Deepavali celebration is a four-day festival in South India and commences on Aswayuja Bahula Chaturdasi. The first day of the festival is known as Naraka Chaturdasi and it commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over demon Naraka. This day is celebrated as Deepvali in South India and it usually falls on a day before the Diwali in North India.
Diwali in North India commemorates the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after his exile.
In North India, the Diwali celebration begins two days before the actual Diwali day with the Dhanteras.
The day after Dhanteras is celebrated as Choti Diwali. Usually, the actual Deepavali in South India takes place on this day.
On the Diwali day, Lakshmi puja is held in North India. In South India too Lakshmi puja is held on the same day. The myth is the same – Goddess Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagara (Ocean of Milk), when devas and asuras where churning for ‘amrit’.
The day after Diwali in North India is the Govardhan Puja. This day in South India is celebrated as Bali Padyami and it is believed that King Mahabali returns to earth on this day to visit his subjects.
The next day is Bhai Dhooj in North India and in South India it is the Yama Dvitiya. On this day sisters invite brothers to their home. This ritual is same in North and South but with a different name and myth.

Significance of Dhanteras and its origin

Dhanteras or Dhan Teras marks the beginning of Diwali and is observed two days before Diwali. It is the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of Kartik Month and is also known as Dhantra Yodashi.  
The importance of Dhanteras is that a new utensil or gold or silver is bought for the house. The day is dedicated to Dhanavantri, the physician of the gods.
According to Hindu legend, when devas and asuras were churning the ocean for ‘amrit’ - the nectar of immortality - Dhanvantri emerged from the ocean with the jar of amrit on this day.
On this day, Hindus purchase gold, silver and other utensils. Many people begin the purchase for Diwali celebrations on this day. Crackers, candles, diyas, hatri, clays idols of Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi, earthen katoris, kulris, chaugaras, toys and whole lot of other items needed for Diwali are purchased on this day.
For those doing business, Dhanteras is the day when new account books are bought and kept ready for the Lakshmi puja on Diwali.
Interestingly, a girl child born on Dhanteras day is considered as the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi into the house and is considered lucky by certain communities in North India. When girls born on Dhanteras get married and leave for her husband’s home, she leaves her footprints on a plate covered with ‘kumkum’ (red powder used in Hindu puja), this is to ensure that Goddess Lakshmi does not leave the house.

-------------------------    Various Sources from NET are used in making this Collection apart from my contribution  ---------

Friday, October 11, 2019


Upanishad upa (near) and shad (to sit), meaning “sitting down near”; inspired by the action of sitting at the feet of an illuminated teacher to engage in a session. There is an attempt in these texts to shift the focus of religious life from external rites and sacrifices to internal spiritual quests in the search for answers. Probably between c. 800 BCE and c. 500 BCE, some people during this time decided to engage in the pursuit of spiritual progress, living as ascetic hermits, rejecting ordinary material concerns and giving up family life. The Upanishads are commonly referred to as Vedanta. Vedanta has been interpreted as the "last chapters, parts of the Veda" and alternatively as "object, the highest purpose of the Veda". 
All Upanishads are associated with one of the four Vedas; various philosophical theories in the early Upanishads have been attributed to famous sages such as Yajnavalkya, Uddalaka Aruni, Shvetaketu, Shandilya, Aitareya, Balaki, Pippalada, and Sanatkumara. Women, such as Maitreyi and Gargi participate in the dialogues and are also credited in the early Upanishads. There are some exceptions to the anonymous tradition of the Upanishads. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad, for example, includes closing credits to sage Shvetashvatara, and he is considered the author of the Upanishad.
More than 200 Upanishads are known, but 14 are the most important: Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, Brhadaranyaka, Svetasvatara, Kausitaki, Mahanarayana and the Maitri. These texts are found mostly in the concluding part of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas and were, for centuries, memorized by each generation and passed down orally.
The Upanishads tell us that the core of our own self is not the body, or the mind, but atman or “Self”. Atman is the core of all creatures, their innermost essence. It can only be perceived by direct experience through meditation. It is when we are at the deepest level of our existence. Brahman is the one underlying substance of the universe, the unchanging “Absolute Being”, the intangible essence of the entire existence. It is the undying and unchanging seed that creates and sustains everything. It is beyond all description and intellectual understanding.
Two different types of the non-dual Brahman-Atman are presented in the Upanishads. The one in which the non-dual Brahman-Atman is the all-inclusive ground of the universe and another in which empirical, changing reality is an appearance (Maya). The Upanishads describe the universe, and the human experience, as an interplay of Purusha (the eternal, unchanging principles, consciousness) and Prakti (the temporary, changing material world, nature). The Purusha manifests itself as Ātman (soul, self), and the Prakrti as Māyā. The Upanishads refer to the knowledge of Atman as "true knowledge" (Vidya), and the knowledge of Maya as "not true knowledge" (Avidya, Nescience, lack of awareness, lack of true knowledge). In the Upanishads, Māyā is the perceived changing reality and it co-exists with Brahman which is the hidden true reality. Maya, or "illusion", is an important idea in the Upanishads, because the texts assert that in the human pursuit of blissful and liberating self-knowledge, it is Maya which obscures, confuses and distracts an individual.
One of the great insights of the Upanishads is that atman and Brahman are made of the same substance. When a person achieves moksha or liberation, atman returns to Brahman, to the source, like a drop of water returning to the ocean. The Upanishads claim that it is an illusion that we are all separate: with this realization we can be freed from ego, from reincarnation and from the suffering we experience during our existence. Moksha, in a sense, means to be reabsorbed into Brahman, into the great World Soul.
Along with the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahmasutra, the mukhya Upanishads (known collectively as the Prasthanatrayi – three main sources for all schools of Vedanta) provide a foundation for the several later schools of Vedanta, including two influential monistic schools; Buddhism and Jainism.

191011 - ARANYAKAS


The Aranyakas ("Forest Books") discuss rites deemed not suitable for the village (thus the name "forest"); it constitutes the philosophy behind ritual sacrifice texted in the Vedas. The major contents of the Aranyakas are theosophy (Brahmavidya), meditation (Upasana) and knowledge of breath (Pranavidya). They describe the secret meaning of the sacrifice and the concept of Brahma as well. The creation of the universe, the power of the Almighty, Om, the soul and the cycle of birth and death are explained in Brihadaranyaka in a simple manner. In the Aranyakas we find certain important geographical, historical, social and cultural points also. All this makes their study more significant.

The Brahmanas advocating Yajna and other rituals are prescribed only for those who live in homes and lead the life of house-holders (Grihastha). But it has to be understood that Vedic rituals are intended to confer not only material benefits but also mental purity by constant discipline.   Aranyakas containing explanations of the rituals and allegorical speculations thereon are meant for non-materialistic seakers. This may be the reason why these texts were propounded by the Rishis who resided in the forests and thought upon the secrets of the Yajnas. Aranyakas describe the actions of life and also acquisition of knowledge. These works form the basis of the Rahasya or secrets discussed in the Upanishads, therefore, another name of the Aranyakas was ‘Rahasya‘ as well. This name is mentioned in the Gopatha Brahmana and Manusmriti.

Aranyakas is to bridge the gap between the ritualistic Brahmanas and the more philosophical Upanishads. Aranyakas are non-homogeneous in content and structure. In the immense Vedic literature, there is no absolute universally true distinction between Aranyakas and Brahmanas, as some Upanishads are incorporated inside a few Aranyakas.  Aranyakas, along with Brahmanas, represent the emerging transitions in later Vedic religious practices. The transition completes with the blossoming of ancient Indian philosophy from external sacrificial rituals to internalized philosophical treatise of Upanishads.

Aranyakas describe and discuss rituals from various perspectives, but some include philosophical speculations. For example, the Katha Aranyaka discusses rituals connected with the Pravargya (ceremony introductory to the Agnishtoma (Soma sacrifice – devotion / worship / offering; to any ritual done in front of a sacred fire, often with chanting mantras), at which fresh milk is poured into a heated vessel called mahavira or gharma and offered to the Ashvins (twin Vedic gods of medicine. They are also described as divine twin horsemen in the Rigveda. They are the sons of Surya (in his form as Vivasvant) and his wife Saranyu, a goddess of the clouds)). The Aitareya Aranyaka includes explanation of the Mahavrata ritual from ritualisitic to symbolic meta-ritualistic points of view. 
The Aranyakas are associated with, and named for, individual Vedic shakhas.
·       Rigveda
o   Aitareya Aranyaka belongs to the Aitareya Shakha of Rigveda
o   Kaushitaki Aranyaka belongs to the Kaushitaki and Shankhayana Shakhas of Rigveda
·       Yajurveda
o   Taittiriya Aranyaka belongs to the Taittiriya Shakha of the Krishna Yajurveda
o   Maitrayaniya Aranyaka belongs to the Maitrayaniya Shakha of the Krishna Yajurveda
o   Katha Aranyaka belongs to the (Caraka)Katha Shakha of the Krishna Yajurveda[17]
o   Brihad Aranyaka in the Madhyandina and the Kanva versions of the Shukla Yajurveda. The Madhyandina version has 9 sections, of which the last 6 are the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
·       Samaveda
o   Talavakara Aranyaka or Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana belongs to the Talavakara or Jaiminiya Shakha of the Samaveda
o   Aranyaka Samhita is not a typical Aranyaka text: rather the Purvarchika of the Samaveda Samhitas has a section of mantras, called the 'Aranyaka Samhita', on which the Aranyagana Samans are sung.
The Atharvaveda has no surviving Aranyaka, though the Gopatha Brahmana is regarded as its Aranyaka, a remnant of a larger, lost Atharva (Paippalada) Brahmana.

191009 - BRAHMANAS

BRAHMANAS - Sruti - Ritual Guide
The Brahmanas are the commentaries on the hymns of the four Vedas. They are a layer or category of Vedic Sanskrit texts embedded within each Veda, and form a part of the Hindu Sruti literature. They are primarily a digest incorporating myths, legends, the explanation of Vedic rituals and in some cases speculations about natural phenomena or philosophy.
The Brahmanas are particularly noted for their instructions on the proper performance of rituals, as well as explain the original symbolic meanings - translated to words and ritual actions in the main text. Brahmanas lack a homogeneous structure across the different Vedas, with some containing chapters that constitute Aranyakas or Upanishads in their own right.
Each Vedic shakha (school) has its own Brahmana. Brahmana texts existed in ancient India, many of which have been lost. A total of 19 Brahmanas are extant at least in their entirety basically because these texts were orally taught for generations without documentation. Four Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and early Upanishads were documented in pre-Buddhist times (ca. 600 BCE). Brahmanas could be dated to about 900 BCE, while the youngest (such as the Shatapatha Brahmana), were complete by about 700 BCE. 
Mythology and Rituals
The Brahmanas layer of Vedic literature contain the exposition of the Vedic rites and rituals. For example, the first chapter of the Chandogya Brahmana, one of the oldest Brahmanas, includes eight suktas (hymns) for the ceremony of marriage and rituals at the birth of a child. The first hymn is a recitation that accompanies offering a Yajna oblation to deity Agni (fire) on the occasion of a marriage, and the hymn prays for prosperity of the couple getting married. The second hymn wishes for their long life, kind relatives, and a numerous progeny. The third hymn is a mutual marriage pledge, between the bride and groom, by which the two bind themselves to each other, as follows (Chāndogya Brāhmaa, Chapter 1).
यदेतद्धृदयं तव तदस्तु हृदयं मम ।        यदिदं हृदयं मम तदस्तु हृदयं तव ॥
That heart of thine shall be mine,   and this heart of mine shall be thine.
The next two hymns of the first chapter of the Chandogya Brahmana invoke deities Agni (fire), Vayu (air), Kandramas (moon), and Surya (sun) to bless the couple and ensure healthful progeny. The sixth through last hymn of the first chapter in Chandogya Brahmana are not marriage-related, but related to hymns that go with ritual celebrations on the birth of a child, and wishes for health, wealth and prosperity with a profusion of milch-cows and artha.
The Brahmanas are particularly noted for their instructions on the proper performance of rituals, as well as explain the symbolic importance of sacred words and ritual actions in the main text. These instructions insist on exact pronunciation (accent), chhandas (meters), precise pitch, with coordinated movement of hand and fingers – that is, perfect delivery. Satapatha Brahamana, for example, states that verbal perfection made a mantra infallible, while one mistake made it powerless. Scholars suggest that this orthological perfection preserved Vedas in an age when writing technology was not in vogue, and the voluminous collection of Vedic knowledge were taught to and memorized by dedicated students through Svādhyāya, then remembered and verbally transmitted from one generation to the next.