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19 February, 2012

Siva Linga

       THE INFINITE REALITY is beyond the reach of the finite equipments of man.  Reality cannot be experienced through pratyaksa direct perception.  The scriptures therefore rely mainly on two sources of knowledge, namely anumana inference and upama comparison, for expressing the inexpressible Reality.  Siva Linga is one such indirect means of communicating the Reality.

       Linga in Sanskrit means symbolSiva Linga is a symbol of SivaSiva in this context refers to the infinite Reality.  Symbolism is an art of representing thoughts and ideas, objectives and ideals etc., through the medium of signs or symbols.  Symbolism is not a science to be investigated.  A symbol merely takes one to the thing symbolised by virtue of some similarity between the two.  Hindu symbolism explains the Truth of religion and philosophy through idols and forms, signs and stories.  All Hindu symbols have spiritual significance relating to life.  The study of symbolism lies in proper and faithful interpretations of the relationship which exists between the Reality and the form symbolising the Reality.

       The Dravidians originated the Siva Linga as a symbol of the supreme Reality.  The Narmada river contained marble-like stones shaped beautifully in the form of an ellipsoid by the running waters.  An ellipsoid is shaped like an elongated sphere having two foci instead of one as in the case of a sphere.  The ellipsoid represents Siva-sakti.  The two foci of the ellipsoid correspond to the two aspects of the Reality.  Siva the immanent, sakti the manifest.

       The Siva Linga ellipsoid is fixed in such a way that one half of it lies embedded in the earth while the other half remains outside the surface.  The upper half that appears above the surface represents the seen, visible manifest world of plurality, sakti.  The lower half under the surface is unseen invisible substratum, the supporter of the upper half.  That rightly represents the unmanifest supreme Reality, Siva.  The properties of the ellipsoid are ideally suited for symbolising the two aspects of the Reality -- the unmanifest and manifest.

       A cross-section of the ellipsoid cut along its axis is an ellipse whereas its cross-section cut at right angles to its axis is a circle.  The ellipsoid thus is a combination of ellipses and circles.  The circle represents the supreme Reality.  A circle has no beginning or end.  The Reality also has no beginning or end.  One part of an ellipsoid, namely the circle, therefore, represents the unmanifest Reality.  The other part which is the ellipse represent the manifest universe.  The entire universe consisting of an atom right upto the solar system is in a way related to the ellipse.  The solar system consists of the sun with the planets revolving around it.  The motion of each planet around the sun describes an ellipse.  Strikingly similar is the motion  of the electrons around the nucleus in an atom.  The orbits described by the movements of the electrons are also ellipses.  Hence the other aspect of ellipsoid, namely the ellipse, is most suited to represent the universe.

       Another interesting reference to the Siva Linga is that it represents the phallus.  This has provoked criticism both from the West and the East.  The critics feel that this idea has reduced the Hindu ritual and worship to absurdity.  Whether the linga was originally meant to represent the phallus is difficult to establish authoritatively.  Nevertheless, a subtle inner meaning could be read in the seemingly absurd symbolism.

       Lord Siva represents the power of destruction while Lord Brahma and Vishnu represent  the power of creation and maintenance respectively.  These three powers are the manifestation of the supreme Reality in this world.  In fact, these three powers are inseparable.  In other words, they are only three facets of the same power.  There can be no creation without destruction.  Nor destruction without creation.  For example, when the morning is dead noon is born, when the noon is dead evening is born when evening is dead night is born and so on.  In this chain of births and deaths, creation and destruction, the day is maintained.  Thus, the third power namely the power of maintenance also is ingrained in the other two powers of creation and destruction.  To indicate this inseparable nature of creation and destruction Siva, the Lord of destruction, has been represented by the organ of procreation.

Source: Excerpts from the Book on The Symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals by A. Parthasarathy.

11 February, 2012

Why do we offer food to the Lord before eating it?

In Indian Culture
Why do we offer food to the Lord before eating it?

       In western tradition food is partaken after a thanksgiving prayer – grace. Indians make an offering of it to the lord and later partake of it as prasaada a holy gift from the lord In temples and in many homes, the cooked food is first offered to the lord each day. The offered food is mixed with the rest of the food and then served as prasaada. In our daily ritualistic worship (pooja) too we offer naivedyam (food) to the Lord. Why do we do so ?

• Why do we offer neivedya (food)?

       The Lord is omnipotent and omniscient. Man is a part, while the Lord is the totality. All that we do is by His strength and knowledge alone. Hence what we receive in life as a result of our actions is really His alone. We acknowledge this through the act of offering food to him. This is exemplified by the Hindi words tera tujko arpan from the arati "Jai Jagadisha Hare”I offer what is Yours to you. Thereafter, it is akin to his gift to us, graced by His divine touch.

       Knowing this, our entire attitude to food and the act of eating changes. The food offered will naturally be pure and the best. We share what we get with others before consuming it. We do not demand, complain or criticize the quality of the food we get. We do not waste or reject it. We eat it with cheerful acceptance (prasaada buddhi). When we become established in this attitude, it goes beyond the purview of food and pervades our entire. Lives. We are then able to cheerfully accept all we get in life as His prasaada.

       Before we partake of our daily meals we first sprinkle water around the plate as an act of purification. Five morsels of food are placed on the side of the plate acknowledging the debt owed buy us to the
- divine forces (devta runa) for their benign grace and protection;

- our ancestors (pitru runa) for giving us their lineage and a family culture;

- the sages (rishi runa) as our religion and culture have been “realized”, maintained and handed down to us by them;

- our fellow beings (manushya runa) who constitute society without the support of which we could not live as we do and

- other living beings (bhuta runa) for serving us selflessly.

       Thereafter the Lord, the life force, who is also within us as the five life-giving physiological functions, is offered the food. This is done with the chant – praanaaya swaahaa, apaanaaya swaahaa, vyaanaaya swaahaa, udaanaaya swaahaa, samaanaaya swahaa, brahmane swaahaa (referring to the five physiological functions

respiratory (praana) system,
- excretory (apaana) system, 
- circulatory (vyaana) system, 
- digestive (samaana) system and
- reversal (udaana) system.

After offering the food thus, it is eaten as prasaada - blessed food.

       To remember this concept, many chant the following verses of the Bhagavat Geeta (in sanskrit).

Brahmaarpanam Brahmahavihi
       Brahmaagnau Brahmanaahutam

      Brahmakarma samaadhina

 -- Brahman is the oblation; the clarified butter; the oblation; the fire…… Brahman ( the Supreme) shall be reached by him who sees the Supreme in all actions


Aham vaishvaanarobbhutva
       praaninam debamaaashritaha
     papchaamyannam chaturvidham

“Residing in all living beings as the digestive fire, I digest the four types of food eaten by them (as an offering to Me)”.

Source: Excerpts from the Book on In Indian Culture... Why do we... by Swamini Vimalananda & Radhika Krishnakumar.

05 February, 2012

Social Service verses Social Consciousness

Kahlil Gibran

Social service versus Social Consciousness

       Any form of giving is social work. What the World needs is not the social work. Yet you people believe. What the World need is social consciousness. People do not have the social consciousness. That feeling for others. When you hit animal on the road to the car, you have feeling animals has no business to come your way. Another may feel for the animal. Similarly, you may just want to give a lovely feeling. Other thing is to recognise the need of other. That is social consciousness. That is the meaning of charity begins at your home. You must be charitable at heart. Then social service is not necessary. Social service is necessary for the social cause. I know it is impossible to give. Social service verses social consciousness. If you have servants, you may notice that they don’t have proper medicals facility, education etc. There is no social conscious. You may give money plus bonus. The feeling of other persons need is social conscious. If every person can be social consciousness, then there is no need for social service.

       There are diseases. We can control diseases by looking into our health important. Is it important to get the treatment or curing the diseases? If everybody is in perfect state of health, then Hospitals are not required. If everybody is social conscious, then there is no need for social service. There are people used to go to the Night Party in a Star Hotels with a Car. The car driver is waiting for you in the portico. Can you imagine! From 8 p.m. to 1.00 a.m. that driver is waiting without having proper “food”. Has he had proper food? Did you ever think about it? This is social consciousness. If everybody takes care of environment, where is the necessity for social work. Work with no vision of social conscious. Giving is no meaning unless you develop the wonderful quality of social consciousness. Doctors have no meaning, unless you recognize the hygienic way of living.

Famous Quote of Kahlil Gibran on Giving

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?

And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have--and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.

These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;

And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.

You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.

Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?

See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

And you receivers... and you are all receivers... assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.

Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.

-- A poem on Giving by Kahlil Gibran.

       One businessman in Chennai remarkable fellow, when they asked Rs.3,000/-, he used to give Rs.5,000/-. True giving arises if you have the genuine desire to give. It heals you. It transforms you. There is no more mental tension. Just give.

Kahlil Gibran said about Giving, “You should not get pleasure in giving and displeasure in giving.”
No returns, no expectation. Just do it whatever you want in the life.

       These days we talk about discounts and discounts. A women sell a fruits in road said, you seems to bargain with her. A person who drives in a Mercedes Benz bargain with the lady. Give them. You won’t become poor. You have to give without any expectation in the life. When you talk about giving, i.t has to be reasonably showed. You got to be sure about, what is meeting the right cause. The true example is this. Many years ago, I was in somebody’s house at Penang, Malaysia. A Doctor rich person was sending money to his widow sister. Somebody said they may misuse it. When I saw, his sister and son had alcoholic and lie down. You must know where your money is doing. It is not dispensation of extra wealth. You must make reasonable sure about.

Apre’s vous

       Live life with the attitude of apre’s vous, after you. You then become the nucleus of happiness.

       Giving is not an easy thing says Kahlil Gibran. The problem is “I know what I am doing.” The greatest problem everybody suffering is “I know”. Deep conviction is “I know” what I am doing. Most arrogant egoistic person to the most humble, sincere person suffers from the same problem. The most devoted person has that problem.

Source: Excerpts from the lectures delivered by Swami A Parthasarathy.


Swamy Rama aTirtha

       Charity does not mean indiscriminate dispensation of wealth. The World comprises two types of people. The vast majority is far from being charitable. The rest indulge in unintelligent charity. Indiscriminate charity has resulted in a lot of misery. It has bred respectable beggars in Society. True charity emanates from proper judgment of the intellect. Not something that oozes out of a weak emotion of the mind. In its purest form, charity has the distinction of benefiting the done as well. Not just the donor.

       I drew circle. What you are giving is one dot here, Bill Gates is small dot here. These dots cannot solve the poverty of the World. Because, it is not done intelligently. Therefore, giving is not that easy. So, first of all you have to find what is your obligations. Your obligations is to give. But, the problem is nobody wants to give. Because it is so painful. But, once you learn the art of giving, it is most pleasurable thing. Doing exercise is most painful. But once you learned it and put into practice, you may feel sluggishness if you skip exercise one day. Everything is right, if you do it right thing at right time. Waking-up in the early morning by 4 am is very difficult. So difficult.

       Prophet Mohamed says he is best among you who is best in GIVING. That is a difficult thing to give. But once you give all the nakedness can be cleared and taken care of.

       One businessman from South Africa, confessed that he has 55 watches. What is he doing? The pain of giving is the problem. In the Old Testament, Moses went up to the Mountain, the voice of God told Moses to hold a life serpent and Moses hesitated. So frightful and difficult. Voice said, Hold it Moses and he plunged and killed that snake. Instantly, it became a famous star of the Mosses. You could achieve impossible things with the Star. What is the Star? If you do the thing, it is so painful in the beginning and it is a right thing. Your obligation is to share. If you catch the snake, it becomes a great benefactor. But you must practice it. You got get into that. Giving will pleases you. Unless you give the right of sharing, it will not please you.

Swamy Rama Tirtha

       During 1873 to 1906, Swamy Rama Tirtha was a greatest saint lived in Punjab, India. He uttered a famous statement in USA in the year 1902. He proclaims that: The way to gain anything is to lose it. The more you run after wealth, the more it recedes. The more you crave for it, the more it eludes you. Leave it alone, it follows you. Work dispassionately, the reward of work courts you.


       Take a look at nature. Learn your lessons from the Sun, Moon and Stars. They work tirelessly. Impersonally. The good Earth yields vegetation. The rivers flow. Flowers bloom. Give out sweet fragrance. With no ego prompting them. No personal motive. No selfish desire to fulfill. You find Sun giving vitality. It rises every morning and sets in the evening. If it does not still you have trouble. Meticulously it raises and gives vitality to the world. Gayathiri Mantras says “thank you Sun for coming and thank you for going’. That’s about all. We have to learn acknowledge the blessings.

       The clouds are giving rain throughout the World. It fills all the tanks and goes away. Without which we won’t survive. Earth gives vegetation over and over again. It produces same nutritious vegetables. Everything around the World working in a spirit of giving. Rose gives fragrance. Nightingale sings. Only a human beings wants to take. The more it gives, the more it has abundance. Sun is giving so much heat, now it becomes cold in Winter season. The more you give the more you have. The fear is to find out from the person who has given. The more you give, the more you have.

Lessons from Vigbyoric colours:

       The phenomenon of colours illustrates this law of life. Light is constituted of seven vibgyoric colours. When an object is bathed in light the seven colours impinge upon it. When the object absorbs, takes in all seven, it appears black. In effect, it loses all the colours. Whereas, when the object does not take in any colour, gives away the seven colours it appears white. When an object appears blue, it has actually given away blue and taken in the other six. It appears in the colour it parts with. An object gains the colour it gives away. Learn this lesson from nature. The more you give, the more you have in abundance. Your obligation to serve, sacrifice. Unless you get the taste of giving, it is difficult. Hence, taste the art of giving.

Story of a fake Sanyyasi or Saint

       The King of state was anxious to meet a sannyasi or sage, a recluse who has renounced everything in life. He enquired of his minister if he could find one such person. The minister took the king’s wish lightly and averred that there were many around. The king waited for a while. There was no response. One day, he summoned the minister and gave him a week’s time to fulfil his wish. The minister then realised that the King was serious. He tried hard to find one. But his attempts were all in vain. In utter desperation he devised a clever plan. He chose a young man to put on an act of sannyasi in return for a large sum of money. The man readily yielded to his request. He was dressed in ochre robe with other spiritual accessories to adorn his faked religiosity. He was asked to sit under a tree in a secluded place. The stage was set. The minister announced that he had located the sanyyasi. The King and his retinue was brought to the scene. The King was inspired at the sight of the feigned sannyasi. He prostrated at his feet. So did the queen. The King looked enquiringly t the minister. He had to prostrate too! The King offered trays of money, clothing and food. The sanyyasi would not accept any of them. The King was amazed at his spirit of renunciation. He reverentially took leave of the holy man and returned to the palace with his retinue.

       The minister rushed back to the scene. He commended the young man on his great performance. And offered him the promised payment. The sanyyasi refused to accept it. The minister was confused. He told him that the play was over and bade him accept the money. The young man gestured to the minister to sit down and spoke these words of wisdom, “Dear sir, did you not witness the beauty and grandeur of life in our episode? Have you not learnt a great lesson today? Do you realize I feigned an act of renunciation for a short while. The King, the Queen and the entire retinue were at my feet. Just an act of abstraction, a show of renunciation showered so much wealth and reverence upon me. What then would be the power of true renunciation? Realise that sir, and take back your money.” He became a great Saint thereafter.

Source: Excerpts from the lectures delivered by Swami A Parthasarathy.

Four sacrfices

Lord Krishna

Four yajnas or Sacrifice

       In the Bhagavad Gita, IV Chapter 28th Verse talks about four yajnas – the yajnas (yajna means sacrifice) of wealth, austerity, yoga and Self-knowledge. These four yajnas group all service and sacrifice into four categories, graduating from the gross to the subtle.

1.Dravya yajna: Yajna of Wealth:

       Dravya literally means grains. In ancient India possession of grains meant wealth. Thus dravya yajna denotes a gift of material wealth. When you give your wealth to another, your wealth decreases and the receiver’s wealth increases. Your wealth is the offering (ahuti) and his wealth is the fire kindled. Thus, this constitutes another yajna.

2. Tapo yajna: Yajna of Austerity:

       Tapas means austerity. It signifies sacrifice of the body. Physical sacrifice is superior to material sacrifice. Parting with physical needs and comforts is greater than the parting with material wealth. The ahuti (offering) here is your body itself. With it you kindle the fire of the recipient’s material or physical benefit. This again symbolizes another form of yajna or offering.

       In dravya yajna one more parts with material gifts. Whereas, tapo yajna envisages physical exertion, service and sacrifice on the part of the one who gives. For this reason tapo yajna is considered a subtler sacrifice than dravya yajna.

3.Yoga yajna: Yajna of Yoga:
       Yoga means spiritual practice. Material and physical services are great. But far greater than these is service is rendered to enhance others’ spiritual evolution. Yoga signifies union with the Self. Yoga yajna means rendering emotional and intellectual service for the promotion of another’s spiritual development. You offer the ahuti of mental and intellectual service to kindle the fire of another’s spiritual evolution.

4 Svadhyaya jnana yajna: Yajna of Self-knowledge:

       This yajna is the highest form of service and sacrifice. The sacrifice of ignorance into the fire of wisdom. Ignorance in the form of vasanas (umanifest desires) is the ahuti. It kindles the knowledge of Self, or wisdom. With the destruction of vasanas knowledge of Self arises. This is achieved through asceticism and rigid vows directed to study of the scriptures, contemplation, meditation and realization of the Self. When a person reaches the supreme state of Self-realisation he radiates Self-knowledge, peace and happiness. He communicates the Self to all beings. No human being can perform any greater service than this. Communication of the Self is far superior to the material and physical, emotional and intellectual services of the above three yajnas. A realized soul turns into a fountain of wisdom and bliss. He helps others to gain Self-unfoldment. He gives, as it were, the ‘Self’ to others. Such a gift is indeed far greater than any other conceivable gift.

Personal experiences in day to day activities

       Iron and Gold can buy Iron and Gold. So material gifts, if you have two loafs bread, you give one bread, a little bit. Superior to Material thing is Physical. A lady has eight guests coming to her house for a dinner. When her husband phoned to he, she said, “I will manage don’t worry.” A friend visits her. Two ways you can serve. I can send you sweet dish. I can come and help you. Whole day she works with her friend. This is physical service is far superior than material service. Far superior to material service is Mental service.

       I have personally known few youngsters. They used to go from Hospital to Hospital everyday in Mumbai, India. They find out from the Hospital who are destitute persons. During visiting hours, they go and meet Patients in a Hospital bringing flowers, fruits and other things and talk to them nearly for two hours. But, they don’t give their own identity to the patience when they leave the Hospital. Likewise, they go and visit to a different Hospitals and serve emotionally. It is far superior than material sacrifice.

       Higher superior is to impart the knowledge. Some people go to poor students during exam time and help them. They work for weeks together. Any form of knowledge without expecting anything. The greatest service you can do to the World is to develop yourself spiritually. 90% of the people will say, it is selfish. When people are suffering, there is no hospitals but still you want to become knowledge in scriptures. There is one Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Rama Tirtha. The moment you perfect yourself, you become beckon for others to follow.

       How lakes created? They gather water. No lake is neglected in the world. Business of the world is to collect the water. Study and elevated to the state of self realisation and become beacon to follow. It may be superficially, if you look at it. To give the Atman itself. A person who has spiritually knowledge, he can give to the extent to unfolded he can give fully. So that is the highest service you can do.


Source: Excerpts from the lectures delivered by Swami A Parthasarathy.

04 February, 2012

Life is to Give

Victor Hugo


       The subject chosen is “Life is to give.” A subject which is totally alien to the present state of World. When we talk about it, it brings bells because we are all human and only human can practice this. When you have two dogs in the House, they play about very friendly. But when you bring food for the dog, you must bring it in a separate plates. Otherwise, if you bring in one plate, no dog will say ‘after you’. Only human being has that quality to say apre’s vou, AFTER YOU. That’s all about giving.

       Life is to Give. Why I am mentioning is this, it is giving pleases the human being. Taking gives negative form of effect. You have to carefully analyse your life. The moment you have the quality of giving, there is a pleasure or joy. The moment of taking comes, it is natural phenomena. In our World, 95% don’t want to give or share anything in the world. The remaining 5% has genuine heart to give but they give it in an unintelligent way. It means they don’t know how to give. Giving wrong time, wrong place and to a wrong person. Therefore, there is a lot suffering in the world. Lot of philanthropist is giving every day, but still the problem not solved.

Le Miserables

       The dignity of human race is founded on the principle of givingVictor Hugo in his novel Les Miserables highlights the benefaction that charity brings to a donee. In the exceptional charity of a priest to convict. The convict escaped from prison. Sought shelter for a night. The priest obliged. And gave him supper and a bed to sleep. The convict silently accepted the good man’s hospitality. In the middle of the night he decamped with the silver plates of the house. The next morning, he was brought in by the police who had caught him. The priest feigned surprise. And embarrassed the policeman, “Why did you harass him? I gifted the plates to him last night.” The policeman apologized and left. The convict was astounded. To crown it all, the priest picked up two solid silver candlestick stands from his desk and gave them to the convict with these resounding words of wisdom: Remember, life is to give, not to take. The convict took them and departed. Thence, he was transformed into a divine person. He became a symbol of service and sacrifice. Such would be the outcome of true charity. You cannot be careless or indifferent in giving. You got to be sure what you are giving.

       No person has a right to claim anything as his.  He ought not to desire, demand from society.   Perhaps his only right in the world is to give, to serve. 
'Be content to serve,' pleaded Christ. 

       The moment you are born the good world provides you with everything you need.  Oxygen to breathe, mother's milk, the right temperature within and without, pressure inside and outside and countless other things.  You become totally indebted to this world.  You must therefore maintain a sense of gratitude through your life.  And serve the world, serve the society, serve one and all.  This is the elements of right living.  The attitude of service maintains your spiritual well being. 

       The Bhgavad Gita says it is criminal to consume the resources of the world without contributing to it: 
He who eats without producing is verily a thief.
Source: Excerpts from the lectures and Book on The Eternities by Swami A Parthasarathy.
Serve the world, the entire world stands in obeisance before you.  Object and beings will be at your beck  and call.  You become a master, no servant.  That is the law of life.