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Splashes – 32/72 – Cosmic Time in Hindu Scriptures

Hindu scriptures tell us that Universe is without a beginning (Anadi) or an end (Ananta). Cosmos undergoes infinite number of deaths and rebirths. Every moment old stars are dying and new being formed. This truth stands ratified by the modern scientists also. Santana Dharma and modern science are not in conflict. Search for truth was the pursuit of Hindu Sages, and modern scientists have also kept up the same tradition.

Calculation of Time

The time scales worked out by Hindu sages also correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology. One cosmic day and night of Brahma equals 8.64 billion years on our planet Earth. It is therefore longer than the age of Earth as well as the Sun at the center of our solar system.

The Rig Veda lists a number of stars and mentions twelve divisions of the sun’s yearly path (rashis) and 360 divisions of the circle. Thus, the year of 360 days is divided into twelve months. Using mythology as a training aid, the Sun’s annual course was artistically explained as a wheel with twelve spokes that correspond to the twelve signs of the zodiac. Time taken in twinkling of eye is called Nimish. This unit of measure is more or less like a micro second.

The time calculation table for day and night on Earth in Manusamruti is given as under:-

  • 18 Nimish = 1 Kastha
  • 30 Kastha = 1 Kala
  • 30 Kala = 1 Mahurata
  • 30 Mahurata = 1 Ahoratra
  • 30 Ahoratras = 1 Masa (Month)

Due to rotation of Earth one Ahoratra is divided in two parts called day and night (Divas and Ratri). Day is meant for work and night is for rest.

Every month has two fortnights (Paksha) of fifteen days each. Moonlit nights are called Shukal Paksha, while dark nights are called Krishna Paksha.

The above division is perfectly natural, tangible, and scientific. The day starts with Sun rise. At the day break all living beings wake up. There is freshness in breeze and streams. Flowers bloom. Nature signals every living being to start activity.

Similarly at Sun set, all living beings start returning to their resting place, flowers close, streams also indicate feeling of slowing down, and Nature ushers everyone to sleep and rest except those species that are assigned and designed by the Creator to work at night.

If we compare Natural division of Day – Night with the division followed vide Roman calendar, the date is upgraded at midnight when everyone is sleeping in bed. There is no perceivable change around and everything is artificial, stale and unscientific!

Cosmic Time and Yugas

As per Hindu scriptures, process of creation and destruction of Universe continues in cyclic order. The creation goes on for 4.32 billion years (Srishti Kalpa – Brahma’s day) followed by an equal period of destruction (Praleya Kalpa – Brahma’s night). Srishti and Praleyas Kalpas follow each other like our day and night. Together they sum up to, 8.64 billion years to make one Brahma day – called a Brahma Ahoratra. Such 360 Braahma Ahoratras, or 3110.4 billion years make one year of Brahma.

Chaturyuga is the time taken by our solar system to circle bigger solar system in the Universe. It is also called Mahayuga or great year. The Indian concept of the great year (Mahayuga) was developed from the idea of a lunisolar period of five years, combined with four ages of the world (Yugas) which were thought to be of unequal perfection and duration, succeeding one another and lasting in the ratio of 4:3:2:1.

This figure was calculated not only from rough estimates of planetary and stellar cycles, but also from the 10,800 stanzas of the Rig Veda, consisting of 432,000 syllables. The enlightened Hindu Sages calculated the great period as one of 4,320,000 years, the basic element of which was a number of sidereal solar years, 1,080,000 a multiple of 10,800.

Hindu texts have further divided a Kalpa in to 14 Manvantaras. Every Manvantra has 308448000 years or 308.448 million years.

Manvantras are divided in to Chaturyugas.  One Chaturyuga consists of 43 lakhs & 20 thousand years.  Chaturyuga is further subdivided as under:-

  • Satyug = 17 lakhs 28 thousand years
  • Treta = 12 lakhs 96 thousand years
  • Dwapar = 8 lakhs 64 thousand years
  • Kaliyug = 4 lakhs 32 thousand years

71 Chaturyugi make for one Manvanter. (30 crore, 67 lakhs, & 20 thousand years). This is the time bigger solar system takes to circle around further solar system and there is no end to more solar systems.

According to the Hindu scriptures the present phase of creation began with the beginning of the current Shwetavaraha Kalpa about 1.972 billion years ago. Since then, 6 Manvanters have passed and the 7th Vaibasvat Manwantara is in currency. There names of previous six Manvanters are Swayambhar, Swarochish, Ottmi, Tamas, Ryivat and Chakshash.

Out of currently running seventh Manvantra 28 Chaturyugas have also passed. Of the running 29 th Chaturyuga, we are passing through present Kaliyuga. That has also passed its time of 5002 years. According to Bhagavat Purana, King Uttanapaada, the father of Dhruva, ruled during the period of first Swayambhuva Manu. That was nearly 1.97 billion years ago.

Slavery to Western mindset 

Western scientists as usual, continued to reject these mind-boggling calculations, till Michael A. Cremo, an American researcher, propounded that human beings existed 2 billion years ago on Earth. Mr Cremo’s findings substantiated the narration of the Bhagavat Purana. The neat question is that do we need to overlook own achievements till certified by others?

Indian Calendar

Unfortunately, our present generations are totally ignorant about the names of the months in Indian Calendar and its base. India’s Vikrami calendar is based on the movement of planets and is more scientific whereas Gregorian (Roman) calendar is conventional and unscientific.

Our ancestors had named the days of week after the planets of our solar system.  Starting the week with Sun (Ravivar) the following days have been named according to the proximity of planets in relation to Earth. They are moon (Somvar), Mars (Mangalvar), Mercury (Budhvar), Jupiter (Brahaspativar), Venus (Shukravar) and Saturn (Shanivar).

The word calendar is pronounced kalandar in Portuguese and resounds with Sanskrit word kal-antra meaning time differentials. Other time units in Sanskrit are Yug-antra, Manv-antra, and Kalp-antra. The months of September, October, November and December also have their source in Sanskrit words Sapt-ambar, Ashta-ambar, Nov-ambar, and Dash-ambar implying seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth in order.

Gregorian (Roman) Calendar

Gregorian calendar was introduced in Rome by Julius Caesar after his victory. Although Christians claim to believe in one God, but for no reason they named the days and months of their calendar after pagan gods, whom they denounce otherwise.

It will be interesting to trace the induction of Gregorian calendar in India through East India Company. The British did not have any of their own calendar, and like other European Countries they also had been using Julian calendar. Their year started with the month of March, and counting further September was seventh month followed by October, November and December as eighth, ninth and tenth months respectively. Months of July and August was added much later and like December and January both have 31 days one after another.

The Gregorian calendar was adopted in England as official calendar in 1750 and till 1772 England also begun her new year on 1st of March every year. Later by an act of British Parliament New Year was made to start on 1 st January, the month following Christmas.

Basis of Rashi Chakras

Our sages knew that Earth took 365-1/3 days to circle the Sun. Rig-Veda has described several constellations in the sky. Our sages identified the route of Earth around the Sun and prepared a chart. The spread of constellations in the sky were imagined to resemble out lines of animal figures and given names that came to be known as Zodiac signs (Rashi chitras). Those were used as reference points in the sky along the route of Earth while circling the Sun.

The sages arrived at the conclusion through repeated observations of the sky that Earth took 30 days’ time to pass through one constellation (Rashi). Thus they worked out 30 X 12 = 360 days of the year and twelve month. But little extra time was also to be adjusted.

For the sake of simple calculations, sages standardized every month to have thirty days each. The left-over period was allowed to accumulate for twelve years after which an extra month was added to the year. That year was supposed to have 13 months that was called ‘Malmas’. It is relevant that the rotational festival of Kumbha is held after 12 years at the same place.

The Sun entered new constellation on the first of every Indian month and made exit after thirty days accordingly. Indian system is not a matter of blind faith, but purely based on calculations that are perceivable. The same 12 zodiac signs have been adopted all over the world with slight local variations but each Zodiac sign begins somewhere on 20 th or 21 st of Calendar month for ‘unknown’ reasons and relevance.

Compared to that Roman calendar months had 30 or 31 days, but the last month of the year February held ‘left-over days’ in its kitty. Sometimes it contained 29 days and sometimes 28 days. Thus extra days are adjusted by having a leap year after every four years and varied numbers of days during months. It is all conventional and arbitrary.

Reminiscent of Slavery

East India Company officials had no clue to the scientific making of Indian calendar. Along with other British colonies, British calendar was heaped upon us in India, and we as slaves had no choice or resources to resist. Indian standard time is five and half hours ahead of British time. When there is Sunrise in India to start fresh date, there is mid night in England. But as they happened to be the masters, they ordered Indians and other colonial slaves to change date at midnight to suit British. Other colonies readily obliged as they did not have any calendars of their own.

We do appreciate that cosmic time schedule cannot be taken into use to establish our historic events. The weighing bridge used for heavy-duty trucks are not used for weighing ornaments. The age of a person can neither be expressed in Light years nor in micro seconds.

But why India has been still following Roman calendar for the sake of standardization? What is the necessity for us to match our dates with Roman calendar? Even today our Government and its functionaries have made no use of ‘Saka Calendar’ that was adopted in the Constitution as Official Calendar. If we want to trace our history we shall have to rely upon our own Calendar.

Chand K Sharma

Next: Splashes – 33/ 72 – Indian Contributions to Mathematics

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Splashes– 31/ 72 – Blend of Science and Faith

One of the most remarkable features of Hinduism is that unlike other faiths, it is not confined to any geographical area; such as Jerusalem or Middle East, or time like first to seventh century AD, where Christianity and Islam developed. Santana Dharma has had its imprints left over the entire Universe. The gods, goddesses and sages are timeless. There are several inter-planetary movements not only of gods and goddesses, but also of sages and mortal beings. They appear and disappear. With such faith, Hinduism has unified abstract scientific knowledge and humanized illustrations in the form of spiritual literature that Europeans tend to call mythology.

The Scientific Mythology

Although mythology is a subject of faith and beliefs, but abstract knowledge compiled in books is open to scrutiny at all times. Hindu scriptures and text books are open to inclusion in the University curriculum for critical evaluation, so that various hypotheses could be verified by employing modern tools. The concepts in Hinduism are so strong that criticism is not considered taboo or blasphemous.

Hinduism is a perfect blend of Science and faith where both are complementary to each other.  Whatever cannot be comprehended is said to be a myth. The branch of knowledge that serves as tool to understand the intelligible qualifies to be referred as Mythology. Therefore, complex scientific concepts had been explained by Hindu sages utilizing the tool of mythology that is scientific in every respect.

Evaluation by Reasoning

Faith is always a consequence of several reasoning pointing to same findings with consistency.  Blind faith also required some solid ground for support. Hindus have several faiths and beliefs established in their kitty on account of reasoning. There is absolutely no danger to Hindu faiths that can survive any amount of cross checks. Faith is the real foundation of Hinduism.

Our scriptures are open to reasoned evaluation. Hinduism is not vulnerable to atheist thoughts that many other faiths are.  Many faiths have separated religion from science, under secularism, that is nothing but an escape to avoid scientific evaluation. Science and Religion are complementary to each-other for Hindus. Pursuit of Gyana (knowledge) is Science.

The Evolution Theory

The beginning of Indian scientific thought can be traced to the Rig Veda. According to Vedas ‘Creation’ indicated the state when there was no Creator. It is line between indefinable ‘nothingness’ and something defined by attributes and function. It was like the moment before the ‘Big Bang Theory’. These concepts about Truth provide cue to the scientific mind and are not mere religion.

Manusmariti (chapter one) refers to Evolution of Earth and life on our planet. Several Puranas have also given detailed description of the origin of our Universe.     

आसीदितं तमोभूतमप्रज्ञातमलक्षणम् अप्रतक्यमविज्ञेयं प्रसुप्तमिव सर्वतः ।।

ततः स्वयंभूभर्गवानव्यक्तो व्यञ्जयन्निदम्। महाभूतादि वृत्तौजाः प्रादुरासीत्तमोनुदः।।

                                                                                 – (मनु स्मृति 1 – 5-6)

It stated that the universe was covered in darkness and there was nothing to perceive or imagine for establishing the shape according to reasons. The five basic elements of matter subsequently known as Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and Ether emerged automatically out of the state of nothingness.

As per Sage Manu, the first germ of life was developed by water and heat from Sun. Water ascended towards the sky in vapors; from the Sky it descended in rain, from the rains were born the plants, and from the plants, animals and subsequently humans were born.

The ancient thinkers correctly understood the theory of animal life and particularly of man. The Brihat Vishnu Purana states that the aquatic life preceded monkey life, and monkey life is the precursor of the human life. Centuries later, Charles Darwin plagiarized the same thought and got it registered in his name. The ten incarnations of Vishnu explain the same theory in an interesting way since evolution, like everything else, was the manifestation of the supreme spirit (Atman). Chandogya Upanishad also testified the same thought.

Hindu sages had thoroughly studied the behavioral pattern of living beings and the motivating force urging them to actions. Animals and bird do not have schools to train their off springs in the art of making nests, finding food and satisfying other body demands, yet they have learned the same automatically under the guidance from the Creator. These findings are now being televised on National Geographic channels but sage Manu had enunciated the same fact centuries ago as under:     

     यं तु कर्मणि यस्मिन्स न्ययुड्क्त प्रथमं प्रभुः।

     तदेव स्वयं भेजे सृज्यमानः पुनः पुनः ।। (मनु स्मृति 1- 28)

For whatever activity Lord Brahma created the first specie, their off-springs automatically performed the same functions again and again.

Wood-peckers birds have been pecking holes in tree trunks for centuries to search food for themselves, when plenty of substitutes are available nearby. Their generations have continued to perform same duty in every birth without any training.

Puranic narratives depicted feelings and sensations existing in plants and animals similar to humans, and much later Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose was awarded Nobel Prize for re-stating the same truth in modern scientific language to the West.

Contributions in Applied Science

Old Indian Scriptures contain description of fourteen bhavans, seven continents and four oceans that we see printed on the geographical globes of today.  The Indian astronomers identified orbit of Earth around Sun and marked the route by providing twelve zodiac signs. They identified all the planets of our solar system, measured their distance and orbit,  predicted their effect on human mind, and thereafter included them in a Mantra to be recited to witness all the rituals of life. They had identified the gems and their properties to balance the effect of heavenly bodies on our mind, actions and events. That was the application of scientific knowledge in everyday life. The data gathered by Indian astronomers is as near to the limits established through the scientific discoveries being made today.

Philosophy of Actions and Re-actions

On the philosophical plain the Karma Sidhanta explained in Srimad Bhagvad Gita is the fore-runner of Action – Reaction Theory or better known as Theory of Relativity.

It is an accepted scientific truth that ‘Action and Reaction are equal and opposite.’ Doer does an action and its fruit is given by Almighty God and goes to the doer itself. In simple words, ‘Man acts and God reacts. Whatever you sow shall you reap is an eternal law. Effect wise actions have been classified in four types:

  • Nishkam Karma: The actions that are performed without any motive for reward provide deepest satisfaction instantly.
  • Punya Karma: When action and the intentions behind the action are noble, such as saving the life of some one.
  • Paap Karma: Evil actions performed with evil intentions to harm some body.
  • Mishrit Karma: Mixed actions are good actions with bad intentions or vice versa, such as using pesticides to obtain good crop.

Another classification of action is on different scale –

  • Kriyaman Karma: Present actions leading to chain reaction.
  • Sanchit Karma: Past deed, those have yet to show result.
  • Prarabdha: Actions performed in the past, but show their effect in present after maturing. Such actions are called fate or destiny.

The belief goes that it is purely destiny that someone has up start in life by birth in riches, while another is born with deformities. All activity in life is result of past actions and reactions. Some actions can be analyzed while others cannot be. Not only we are affected by individual actions, but also suffer or enjoy due to the actions of our parents, relatives and contacts. Can scientific reasoning be different from this thought process of Hinduism? Here lies the blend between faith and scientific explanations.

 Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 32/72 – Cosmic Time in Hindu Scriptures)

Splashes – 30/72 – Exploration for Knowledge

Hindu religion has always encouraged individuals to pursue knowledge. Inquisitiveness has always been appreciated as opposed to blind faith. It is for this mindset that India has enriched every art and science known to man from the earliest times.

System of Learning

The initial stage of learning started at home with Yama and Niyamas to inculcate values and inquisitiveness for absorbing knowledge. The methodology at Gurukul was aimed not to convert the student to a data bank, but to develop an intelligent and action oriented personality. The three-fold process of teaching included attentively listening (Shravan) the discourse, followed by assimilation (Manana), and lastly practical application (Nidyasana). Practicing for perfection (Sadhna) thereafter was to be a continuous and life-long process till the salient aspects of learning reflected through reflex actions.

Classification of Grades

Besides the literature of Vedas, Upanishdas, Darshan Shastras, Puranas and the epics; India had established a formal system of education from the earliest times. The syllabus for the next stage included study of Mathematics, Algebra, Physics, Astronomy, and Fine Arts. Graduate Students (Sanatkas) were expected to excel in Vedic knowledge. Those who could not cope for want of aptitude or hard-work were advised to switch over to professional training in the field of commerce or skills.

Entry to further higher training was open only to those who qualified prescribed levels of second stage and earned the status of Ribhu.  The tradesmen (Ribhus) were skilled persons who could be assisting scientists and engineers (Ashvins) in the designing and manufacturing of chariots, vehicles, ships and similar projects.

The next higher category was of specialists (Daksha) in specific fields such as Astronomy, Philosophy and so on. The faculties were known as Acharyas.

Recognition of Intellectuals

Those days Educational Institutes did not award degrees and diplomas, but classification was there. First class Graduates were required to pursue studies up to the age of 24 years and stay unmarried till completion. They were given the title of Brahmcharya. Those who studied further up to the age of 36 years were entitled Rudrai, and those who attained further distinctions up to the age between 44 to 48 years were recognized as Adityas.

Roughly we can co-relate the same to Graduation, post-Graduation and Doctorate classifications of today. Subsequently, those who specialized in the knowledge of Vedas came to be identified and progressively graded as Vedi, Duvedi, Triedi and Chaturvedi.  Later with passage of time such qualifications got stuck as hereditary sur-names irrespective of the real potential of the bearer.

Authenticity of Knowledge

While nomadic civilizations in other part of the world were emerging out of forest dwellings, ancient Indians had measured the land, divided the year, mapped out the heavens, traced the course of Sun and other planets through the zodiacal belt, analyzed the constitution of matter, and studied the nature of birds, beasts, plants and seeds. India’s contribution to the sciences of Mathematics and Medicine has been unique. In linguistics, Metallurgy, and Chemistry, Indians have made trail-blazing discoveries. Greek philosophers such as Aristotle, Socrates, Pluto and others who are claimed to be the ‘founding-fathers’ of Western education were not born by then.

Just three centuries ago, there was no science like Allopathic, but Ayurveda had system of curing chronic diseases. Europeans did not know the existence of Pacific Ocean on globe till 1510 AD, but ancient Indians had already established the following astronomical facts:

  • The Sun never rises, nor sets; it is due to rotation of Earth that days and nights are formed – Sam Veda 121
  • The Earth remains stabilized due to mutual gravitation of planets of our solar system. – Rig-Veda 1-103-2,1-115-4, 5-81-2)
  • The axle of Earth never gets rusted around which Earth continues to revolve. – Rig-Veda 1-164 – 29)

Institutes of Higher Learning

Educational institutions, known as Gurukuls, Ashramas, Viharas, and Parishads existed all over the country. Students were given free tuition and boarding. For higher learning universities were located at Takshashila, Kashi, Vidarbha, Ajanta, Nalanda,Ujjain and Magdha. Sanskrit was the medium of instruction. Many learned personalities were associated with universities who contributed in their respective fields earlier than European classical exponents arrived on the scene. Brief account of the prominent universities in ancient India is as follows:-

  • Takshashila: World’s first international university was established at Takshashila seven hundred years ago before Christ was born. Takshashila was known to the world as the leading seat of Hindu scholarship. It was renowned above all for its medical school, even before the time of Alexander’s invasion. The campus at Takshashila accommodated 10,500 students and offered over sixty different courses in various fields, such as Religion, Philosophy, Science Medicine, Mathematics, Astronomy, Astrology, Warfare, Politics and Music. Students, as far as Babylonia, Greece, Syria, Arabia, Persia, Mesopotamia and China came to study.
  • Vikramasila: The University of Vikramasila accommodated 8,000 students. It was situated on a hill in Magdha on the banks of the River Ganga, and flourished for four centuries. Kalidasa has mentioned multiple disciplines of knowledge taught and learnt under the guidance of Rishi Kanva, who was once Kulapati (Vice-Chancellor) there.
  • Ajanta: The Ajanta institute was known for studies in the field of Fine Arts and Architecture (Vastu Kala). The existing remains of Ajanta are still there to testify the glory of the institute.
  • Nalanda: The University of Nalanda built-in the 4th century BC was another landmark of ancient India in the field of education. It was the first University on globe. Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime. The Chinese scholar and traveler Hiuen Tsang stayed there in the 7th century, and has left an elaborate description of the excellence, and purity of monastic life practiced there. About 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied in that international university. The University counted on its staff great thinkers like Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Vasubhandu, Asanga, Sthiramati, Dharmapala, Silaphadra, Santideva and
  • Odantapuri: The University at Odantapuri was established by King Gopal near Nalanda. About 12000 students resided there.  The complex was surrounded by a high wall that Muslim invaders mistook as fort. They ransacked the institution and killed all the teachers and students.
  • Jagddala: The University at Jagddala was founded by King Devapala during the period 810-850 AD. This institute was dedicated to Tantrik studies and Buddhism. In 1027 AD Muslim invaders destroyed this institution of learning.
  • Vallabhi: This Buddhist institute at Vallabhi was known for the study of Hiyansung school of thought in Buddhism. It was founded and funded by rulers of Maitrika Besides that the subjects offered for study included Rajaniti, Krishi, Arthashastra, and Niyaya Shastra, meaning Political Science, Agriculture, Economics, and Jurisprudence respectively.

Contribution to Global Knowledge

Today we are over awed by the repute of Oxford and Cambridge Universities and cannot reconcile to the fact that India also had greater Universities to impart higher education. Emperor Ashoka and emperors of Gupta dynasty and Emperor Harshavardhana patronized many monasteries and institutes to promote knowledge.

Ancient intellectuals from India have enriched every branch of learning with original creative works that contain authentic and scientific knowledge that is still being used abroad. More stimuli contained therein is lying untapped. In the field of fine arts and literature, the contribution of writers and artists in the form of treatises is of pioneering nature. 

Unfortunately, many institutions of knowledge along with the intellectual treasures stored there in were burnt down by barbarous Islamic invaders. Nalanda Univerty was destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji during 1193 and all the intellectuals were massacred. Other Universities also met similar fate.

The Mughals ignored learning and devoted time and resources in building harems and mausoleums throughout in the length and breadth of India. With their biased mindset they opposed knowledge on the excuse of ‘Kufer’. Their major interests were in developing gardens, dishes, dance and music. Schools (Maktab and Madrassas) imparting elementary education of Islam was considered enough.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 31/72 – Blend of Science and Faith)

Splashes – 25/72 – Sati and Female Infanticide

Accusations are often made against Hinduism for abetting widow burning in the guise of sati practice and female infanticide at birth. Many Hindus are made to feel ashamed for such brutal acts alleged against their faith and ancestors. Ignorant of facts they tend to turn apologetic and accept the accusations. They do not know that the allegations are contrary to the facts. This misleading propaganda is carried out to engineer conversions out of Hindu faith by citing stray incidents of crime out of context to malign Hindu faith.

Scriptural Evidence about Sati

There is not even one statement advocating Sati in four Vedas, 108 Upanishads, 18 Puranas, or in Manusumruti. The incident of Shiva’s consort Sati had nothing to contribute towards the suicidal act of Sati. In brief, King Daksha Prajapati, had 100 daughters and the youngest of them was named Sati. She had married Lord Shiva against the wishes of the king.

Daksha organized a yagna and with the intent of ignoring Shiva, he did not invite Him. Sati went to witness the Yagna un-invited, contrary to the advice of her husband Lord Shiva. As King Daksha ignored her presence, Sati felt humiliated, and ended herself by jumping into sacrificial fire of the Yagna. Thus, Sati ended her life when her husband was very much alive and is still an eternal God! This incident is narrated in Shiva Purana to underline a social norm that a married woman must not visit her parental house, if her husband is insulted.

The incident of Sati cannot be related to the allegation of widow burning as well. In Hindu society, every married women faithful to her husband is referred as Sati – Savitri. The suffix ‘Savitri‘ is generally used as a metaphor to respect the wife of wood-cutter Satyavan, who died at young age and his wife Savitri, a princess, brought him back to life after impressing Yama, the god of Death by her wisdom.

This Sati episode also exposes the propaganda about the allegation of female infanticide at birth. If female infanticide was patronized by Hindu scriptures then King Daksha would not have nourished one hundred daughters to grow up.

Allegations belied by historical Epics

The historical epics Ramayana and Mahabharata also support that practice of Sati had no sanction from any of the Hindu scriptures. Here are some facts:-

  • In Ramayana, when King Dasratha died, none of his three queens committed sati.  They lived full life and blessed Rama at his coronation as King when he returned from exile.
  • When monkey-king Baali died, his wife Tara did not perform Sati, but was married to his younger brother It is a proof of widow rehabilitation by re-marriage.
  • When Ravana died, his wife Mandodari did not perform
  • When King Shantanu of Mahabharat epic died, his wife Satyawati did not perform Sati.
  • Similarly when his successors died, none of their wives performed sati.
  • There is only one incident in Mahabharata. Queen Madri, the second wife of King Pandu had held herself responsible to be the cause of her husband’s untimely death. Out of guilt and remorse, Madri, jumped into the funeral pyre of her fallen husband and committed suicide. The elder wife Kunti did not follow the act of younger wife. Except that incident, in the whole epic poem in which thousands of men got killed on the battlefield, there is no incident of Sati. None out of the 100 wives of the Kaurava warriors committed Sati.

Sati was an Alien Practice

On the contrary, the practice of wife burning had its roots away from India. Columbia Encyclopedia states: ‘The strange practice of killing a favorite wife on her husband’s grave has been found in many parts of the world; it was followed by such people as the Thracians, the Scythians, the ancient Egyptians, the Scandinavians, the Chinese, and people of Oceania and Africa’.

The practice of Sati came to India through Kushanas. In the later period as Rajputs, remained constantly occupied in wars, the invaders used to rape their wives again and again till they would die. Thus Rajputs resorted to the practice of Jauhar as a solution forced upon them out of socio-political necessity.

Jauhar of Rani Padmini

The episode of Rani Padmini reflects that she did not perform sati, but to save her dignity and honor, she had opted for Jauhar along with seven hundred brave young wives when their husbands volunteered ‘Saka’ (suicidal attack) on the camp of Alluddin Khilji. Thus the warrior husbands were alive on their chargers at the time of Jauhar. They bade farewell when their young spouses walked to the pyre singing bravely and escaped anticipated indignity.

The glorification of Jauhar was necessary to motivate young women to the option of choosing between a life of sexual slavery or glorified death as a Rajput widow. It was indeed a tribute to young widows who were brave to walk willingly towards death rather living dishonored.

Rule of East India Company

Harping about the practice of Sati is intended to malign Hinduism. In some provinces under the rule of East India Company, certain greedy families indulged in criminal act of widow burning to usurp the property of the widow, but that had no religious sanction. It also goes to the credit of Hindu reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy that they asked the British rulers at their own to severely punish the criminals.

Allegation of Female Infanticide

Similar to the allegation of Sati, the allegation of female infanticide also stands refuted by facts provided in scriptures and practices in Hindu society.

Besides epics and Purana, volumes of literature depicting the social life of ancient India is available under the titles Jatka Tales, Panchtantra, Hitopdesha, Betaal Pachisi, and classics of Kalidasa and others. There is no mention of any such practice or incident.

  • On the contrary, there would not have been inspiring female characters in our literature like Sita, Draupadi, Kunti, Devaki, Yashoda, Shakuntala and All of them are respected in Hindu society. Such strong-willed females would not have lived if female infanticide was patronized by scriptures and regularly practiced by Hindus.
  • It is regarded as a privileged sacred duty of the parents to perform Kanyadana (donning of daughters) at the time of marriage. Such society cannot indulge in or approve heinous crime of female infanticide.
  • Out of love and affection, Hindu parents voluntarily gift household items, colorful dresses and ornaments at the time of marriage to their daughters. Stray cases of dowry demands have no sanction from scriptures and are a social evil.
  • Hinduism does not support abortion even for limiting the family. Hinduism advocates self-restrain. Sex determination tests and abortion today are the unholy gifts from Western culture.
  • The range and variety of attractive female garments, beauty products and ornaments since ancient times in India is a reflection of love and prominence given to daughters in the families.
  • The unique festival of Raksha Bandhan is dedicated to the sentimental bond between brothers and sisters in Hindu family. No other society in the world has similar festival earmarked exclusively for this kind of relationship.

Islamic Brutality

In furtherance of his imperial designs, Mughal Emperor Akbar had initiated one-sided matrimonial alliances with Rajput families. In return when Rajputs sought reciprocal relationship, Akbar on the sly had debarred Mughal princesses getting married to anyone. Consequent to ban, both the daughters of Emperor Shahjahan, Princess Jahanara and Roshanara, had lived as spinsters. It was finally Emperor Aurangzeb who lifted the ban, because he was not interested in having matrimonial relationships with infidel Rajputs.

Such brutal practices resulted in infanticide and under-cover abortions to off springs born out of rapes, adultery and intrigues to eliminate successors to the rulers. It is still shrouded in mystery how many illegitimate infants would have been killed in the dark basements of forts during Mughal period on account of Akbar’s inhuman dictate. To counter Mughal atrocities certain Rajput families also indulged in honor killings of their daughters, but Hinduism does not support that also.   

Hinduism Pioneered Equality 

Hinduism did not make any discrimination in the society on the basis of color, race or gender. Every person is respected equally in individual capacity. As fore-runners of Human Rights, Hindus have promoted universal well-being, equality and global brotherhood through customs, traditions, rituals and festivals. Hindus must not hesitate to refute baseless propaganda hurled at them from any quarter.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 26 / 72 – Temples and Rituals in Hinduism)

Splashes – 24/72 – Status of Women in Hindu Society

The importance and respect accorded to women in Hindu society can be gauged from Hindu icons that all Hindu gods have their spouse besides them on the same pedestal as theirs. They enjoy the same reverence as that of the God and are not mere objects of pleasure. Verses have been composed in the scriptures in praise of goddesses, and they are equally empowered to grant as much blessings and inflict curses as their spouse!

Individual Freedom

Since nomadic period, all over the world, by and large, females continued to look after indoor responsibilities, while males managed the external environment, but in Hindu society women had plenty of indoor as well as out-door freedom, since the Vedic and Epic age.

Females in Hindu society had equal opportunities and scope for individual development, especially in the field of religious, spiritual, social and artistic activities. They could study Vedas, become teachers or even ascetics if they wished. They could pursue study of subjects such as medicine, mathematics, astronomy, or achieve expertise in performing arts like music, dance and drama. They could learn even martial arts and could accompany the males in battlefield. One noteworthy reference is available in Ramayana, when Queen Kaikeyi protected her wounded husband King Dasrath on battlefield, who made two standing promises to her. Even during Sanyasa Ashrama Sages and Rishis were accompanied by their wives. Arundhati, Gargi, Savitri, and Anusooya are few names of learned women mentioned as samples of feminine wisdom.

Special status granted to women in Hindu society can be gauged from the following verse of Sage Manu, the law giver: 

यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवताः। यत्रैतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वास्तत्राफलाः क्रियाः।।

– (मनु स्मृति 3-56)

(Meaning – Gods reside in the abode where women are respected, but where women are insulted, all noble deeds and knowledge get destroyed)

Status of women in Hindu Society can be compared in contrast with some other faiths where women are nothing but confined to harems for the purpose of pleasure, and cannot be relied upon as a witness to testify an atrocity alleged against a man. They cannot join the men-folk even in prayers at public places. They are debarred from education also in certain faiths.

The Institution of Marriage

Nowhere women were sold, or forced into marriage in Hindu society.  Unlike other societies, physical love and attraction do not form the basis of husband – wife relationship, but it the duty of each partner to love and care for the person one is married to. This is the stark difference in Hindu marriage and that in other societies. There was no divorce. Hindu marriage is not an act of contract, but a bond of perpetual relationship expanding the span of several lives of the couple.

In Hindu families, wife is called Dharampatni, since she is a spiritual partner of her husband.  No religious ritual is complete without her participation. Hinduism considers Moksha as the ultimate goal of human life including women. The paths prescribed for the attainment of Moksha is identical for males and females. Purity, self-control, devotion and austerity are as much necessary for women as for men.

Mostly parents arranged the marriages for their sons and daughters, but Hindu women had right to choose their life partner through Swaymvar also. However, in Hindu society, a shameless woman is considered to be a Sarupnakha, despite her physical charms and family status. Women violating the norms of their society and family suffer, and the same has been well depicted in Ramayana. Sita, the ideal home-maker also had to suffer when she stepped out of the limits of the house-hold dictate, even for giving alms to Ravana in disguise as a hermit. She had to undergo Agni-parikhsha for making re-entry to the household.

Since ancient times, Hindu society was liberal enough to have recognized Gandharva Vivah, implying marriage without formal rituals, but there is no sanction for living in kind of relationship even today.

Inter-caste marriages

There are instances of inter-caste marriages also in Hindu scriptures. Maharishi Ved Vyasa, the compiler of Vedas was a love-child of Rishi Prashara and Satyawati, the daughter of a fisherman. Satyawati was subsequently married to King Shantanu, on the condition that the eldest son born to the couple shall succeed Shantnu on throne, instead of Shantanu’s previous son Bheeshama. In another incidents, Demon Guru Shukracharya’s daughter Devyayani was married to Kshatriya king Yayati; and Rishi Kanva’s adopted daughter Shakuntala was also married to King Dushyanta through Gandharva Vivah. Similarly Pandava princes Bheema was married to Rakshasa girl Hidamba, and Arjuna was married to Naga princess Ulupi.

Role of Homemaker

Hinduism does not shut its eyes to the differences that do exist between men and women, biological as well as temperamental. In reality women differ profoundly from men. Every one of her body cells bears the mark of her sex. Thus Hindu society has divided the areas of activity between males and females, depending upon their physical characteristics resulting in slightly different modes of life and discipline.

As per Hinduism the family sustains the strength of every society, and women play the pivotal role in the family. The role model placed before the Hindu women is that of the ideal Home Maker (Grihini), who is expected to be an ideal wife, an ideal friend, and an ideal mother – all rolled into one. Role models for Hindu womanhood are of Sita, Savitri, Damayanti and Gandhari, and not the likes of Helen, Juliet or Laila. Women can mould themselves as Lakshami, as a householder, as Sarsawati in the form of learned, and Durga as social reformer and defender of the oppressed.

There are several incidents in Purana as well as in history, where women such as Shakuntala, and Jijabai raised their sons against odds, when separated from the husband.

Conflict with Western Culture 

The impact of western civilization has caused confusion on the role of women today. Some women seem to be getting discontented with their role of child-bearing and home making. They wish to devote to some other outdoor activity. Consequently, hotels are slowly replacing homes. In the name of economic independence, life is tending to become more and more hectic, irregular, and even vagrant. Children are being brought up in child caring centers and thus being deprived the affection of caring mothers.

Modern Hindu woman is coming into conflict with her own inner nature. One can look around in his neighborhood to assess for himself that the upbringing of children is better organized where wife has donned the role of home maker, in comparison to the couple in external competition.

Companion, not Competitor

The division of duties all over the world followed a pattern that while males generated resources, females conserved and put them to optimal use of the family. However, of late some activists propagating gender equality between males and females are misleading Hindu society towards aping of Westernized identity for the role of women. Thus instead of being companions, women are being put up as competitors to men.

The irony is that every ‘liberated woman’ also desires to have a husband who is ‘superior to her’ in all attributes. This reality proves the point!

The remedy lies in resorting to the kind of female education with natural role of women as its center. All other training should be secondary to this role that nature has prescribed for their gender. In Hindu household freedom for development was available to Women in India since Vedic age. Such facility was not available to women in other parts of the world till beginning of twentieth century. Today Indian women can contest for all the seats in Parliament and can enjoy total empowerment.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 25/72 –Sati and Female Infanticide)

Splashes: 12/72 Philosophical Darshana Shastra

The innate curiosity of man has always been urging him to explore the mysteries of the universe. Who created this universe? Who am I? Where did I come from? Where do I go after death? The relentless search for an answer to such basic questions has led to the origin and evolution of philosophy in the world. To satisfy subtle queries, Hindu sages turned their gaze inwards and discovered their own answers through meditation and mysticism.

Visualization of truth by the sages is called ‘Darshana’. Although according to Indian tradition there is only one Ultimate Reality, but Hinduism has provided six fundamental interpretations of the same. The Sages carried out six dimensional review of the knowledge compiled in Vedas and Upanishads in the form of six Darshan Shastras. These six Philosophies constitute the philosophical thought of India. Often called Shat (Six) Darshanas and have many characteristics in common. All of them grew out of the Upanishads.

The style of Darshan Shastras

Darshana Shastras are delivered in Sanskrit Sutras. A Sutra is an aphorism, extremely concise, avoiding all unnecessary repetition by exercising economy of words. Some times that makes it difficult to understand them correctly in their original form. Fortunately, Hinduism has given rise to numerous outstanding commentators, and many of their works are now easily available. The renewed interest in Hinduism has produced many new commentators also. There is general acceptance on the following principles among all schools of Hindu philosophy on the following:-

  • The eternal cycle of nature is without any beginning and end. This cycle consists of vast periods of creation, preservation and dissolution.
  • The principle of reincarnation of the soul implying rebirth after death.
  • Dharma is the moral law of the Universe that accounts for the eternal cycle of nature as well as the destiny.
  • Knowledge is the path to freedom and that Yoga is method to attain final liberation.

Methodical and Rational Approach

Darshan Shastras are primarily treatise of philosophical nature but they contain ample study material concerning multiple subjects like psychology, physics, hypnotism, mesmerizing, and Hatha Yoga. Many subtle concepts have been explained with suitable examples. As a matter of fact they qualify to be the encyclopedias of knowledge complied by humanity during ancient period.

For instance, it has been explained that all living beings ranging from the smallest worm to mighty emperors, continue their efforts to seek freedom from worries all the time, but their efforts end up in vain. Instead of rational appreciation of the situation, they continue chasing mirage and tend to misinterpret pertinent aspects of the problem. The suggested approach is to analyze following aspects:-.

  • Worry – Identifying exact form of worry, pain or stress.
  • Source of worry – Identifying the source of worries and pains.
  • Worry-less condition – Clear perceptions about worry-less condition.
  • Remedial Action – Remedial action.

For evaluation of the above aspects, Darshan Shastras have further dissected the subject into smaller parts such as:

Element of Awareness – Identifying that ‘element’ in living being that is subjected to worry, pain or stress. It could be mental or physical, or both.

Unaware Element in Source – This is related to the ‘source’ of worry. The source causing worry may not be aware of its action. The act causing worry may fall in the charter of natural duty, implying ‘Prakriti’ of the source. Once this is properly understood, questions related to worry and source of worry get automatically resolved. ‘Distancing from the source’ is the remedy.

Act of Vis-Major – Apart from the element of awareness and unaware element in source; it is necessary to accept the third element also. It is the act of Vis-Major, the act of God or Destiny. Realization and Reconciling to this element is the answer to all the worries, pains and sufferings.

The Six Texts of Philosophy

The Six Systems of Philosophy are Mimansa, Vedanta, Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Sankhya and Yoga; as explained in brief as follows.

  1. Mimansa Shastra

Mimansa Shastra is the largest among Darshan Shastras and contains 2644 sutras spread out in 909 chapters (Adhikarans). It was authored by Rishi Jaimini during 600-100 BC. The part dealing with knowledge about God and soul is referred as Gyanakand. Deliberations on this part are called Uttari Mimansa.

The part dealing with procedures is called Karamkand, and deliberations on this part are called Poorva Mimansa. The routines of Karmakand are divided into three categories such as: daily, on occurrence, and those undertaken for some specific purpose on ‘as required basis’. The subtle substance of Mimansa Shastra is that unless acted upon, mere attainment of knowledge is fruitless.

  1. Vedanta Shastra

Rishi Badrayana is the author of Vedanta Shastra and the work dates back to 600-200 BC.

The central idea of this treatise is that differentials are only outward, while all creations reflect the image of Master Creator. Knowledge is ever growing and its acquisition is an un-ending and continuous process. This approach is truly an inspiration of modern scientific thought.

  1. Nyaya Shastra

Rishi Gautma is the author of Nyaya Shastra that is founded on the principles of reasoning. It is also known as Tark Vidya (Knowledge of Reasoning) and suggests testing of every issue according to reasons and proof in support.

It is divided into five chapters. The central idea here is that true knowledge is subject to proof, which are classified into four types, such as:

  1. Pratyaksh (direct) perceived through own senses,
  2. Anuman (estimation) based on past experience or circumstantial evidence,
  3. Upman, and
  4. Agam.

The same are today at the foundation of modern jurisprudence all over the world. Control over senses and passion is suggested as sure cure for all worries and miseries.

  1. Vaiseshika

Vaiseshika Shastra is the creation of Rishi Kanad, who can be rightly called that Father of Atomic knowledge in modern science. It has 370 Sutras divided into ten chapters.

The word Vaisesh refers to specific differentials between two objects under examination. If the same are correctly identified, they lead to the foundation of true knowledge. Due to improper evaluation of the situation we continue suffering miseries in day to day life.

For example, merely looking at the height property of a pole, someone may take the same to be a thief and feel afraid, but that will not be a rational appreciation. If other properties of pole and thief had also been taken into consideration, unnecessary fear could have been overcome.

  1. Sankhya

Sankhya is the oldest school of Indian philosophy founded by Kapil Rishi around 600 BC. It contained 527 Sutras spread over six chapters, but many scripts of this philosophy have been lost over the period and now only one is available.

The approach of Sankhya Shastra is also fully scientific. The cause of worries has been classified into:

  1. Adhyatimic, mis-understanding between mind and body,
  2. Adhibhoutik – caused by others, and
  3. Ati daivik-due to natural calamities.

Interpreting the causes reasonably can mitigate worries and miseries. An awakened person does not consider dreams to be reality. Similarly an enlightened person considers worries to be feeling of the body, separate from soul. Bad effects are curable by good action. The Sankhya philosophy influenced Greek philosophy more than the other schools of Indian philosophy.

  1. Yoga

Yoga Sutra of Rishi Patanjili dates back to 300 BC. While Study of Darshan Sastras primarily provides philosophical knowledge to mind, but it is through the Yoga Sutra of Rishi Patanjili; that transformed the philosophical knowledge into practical application. Thus, both are complimentary to each other.

One can get the feel of internal energies provided by nature in the body through regulating proper food intakes, breathings, exercising control over senses and other body part, and then concentrating mind within. Yoga is thus a combination of science and art to have perfect control over mind and body for optimal performance and longevity.

Yoga Sutra of Rishi Patanjili is divided into eight parts and is called Ashtang Yoga.

  • The first part contains ethical philosophy to be inculcated in thought and practice, and is called Yama,
  • The second part consists of Niyama and tells the methodology to practice
  • The third part Asana prescribes body postures to retain the body in proper fitness for optimal performance.
  • Fourth part Pranayama deals with proper breathing techniques,
  • Fifth part Pratyahar tells about control over senses,
  • Sixth part Dharna tells about focusing of mind,
  • Seventh part Dhyana teaches proper meditation and leads to the ultimate
  • The eighth part is total perfection in the state of Samadhi.

One can feel the awakening of cosmic power of Kundalini power only after perfecting control over preceding eight parts of Yoga.

For the purpose of study the six Darshana Shastras can be clubbed into three groups as follows:

  • Group I: Nyaya and Vaisheshika lay down methodology of science to explain how the manifestation of various phenomena comes into being.
  • Group II: Sankhya and Yoga give an account of cosmic evolution on purely logical principles. Srimad Bhadvad Gita has greatly amplified the concept of this group further.
  • Group III: Mimamsa and Vedanta critically analyze the basic principles in greater detail.

These commentaries facilitate understanding of Vedas to those who have the interest and aptitude. It is up to an individual, whether to reconcile with all, or any particular school of philosophy or with none. The Vedanta philosophy endeavors to sum up all human knowledge, presenting as Truth. However, Hinduism does not accept anything as final, dogmatic or as the last word on that subject. Instead it encourages investigation, analysis and criticism.

Darshan Shastras are individual thesis written by great Rishies on Vedic knowledge and accumulated wealth of human inquiry. They are not an end of learning and reasoning as descent is acceptable in Hinduism. It is really disgusting to see that such ancient texts packed with wisdom of our great intellectuals are lying excluded from the curriculum of our own universities in India.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 13/72 – Ramayana is First Historic Epic)

Splashes: 11/72- Upanishads are Commentaries on Vedas

Many faiths do not allow critical examination or review of their scriptures. Even death penalty can be inflicted upon the offenders for violation of this dictate, but Hinduism has allowed cross examination of concepts. Every individual is free to accept or reject the dogma of his predecessor or contemporary and offer his own thesis for acceptance to others. Because of total freedom of thought and expression, there has been no fundamentalist mindset in Hinduism. Every view is open to reasoning. That is how many off shoots have kept emerging in Hinduism from time to time. In Upanishdas Vedic concepts have been critically evaluated and dwelled upon.

Relevance of Upanishads

Every Veda consists of three parts. The first part is known as Gyan Khand; second part is called Mantra part, and the third part is called Brahmanas. Vedas contain subtle truth referred as Brahma Gyana. Knowledge about 1180 subjects has been dealt in the Vedas which is compressed in language and style of Mantras, composed within the constraints of poetic meters called Chhandas. Many Chhandas are complex to be understood and require further elaboration or explanation. Therefore subject matter of every part of Veda had one or more Upanishad to deal with the subject in detail.

After Vedas were compiled, subsequent Rishies continued not only adding to the knowledge of Vedas, but they critically reviewed, interpreted, and elaborated the Vedic knowledge subjectively by commenting upon the same. To bring out all aspects of the subject with clarity, the Upanishads have followed the format of discussion between the learned Rishi and his inquisitive disciples. The compendiums of such interpretations are called Upanishads. They were estimated to be numbering 108 to 200, but now only eleven Upanishads are available today. The rest have been thoughtlessly destroyed by invaders.

In Upanishads large numbers of Rishies appear in discourse with their disciples pondering over complex subjects like – What is Soul? What is its relationship with God? How life is sustained? What is the purpose of life? Who motivates all living beings to live and act? The discussions go on around several topics. Disciples ask and Rishies answer. That way several scientific, philosophical, spiritual concepts are seen taking shape. For explaining the subject in detail, Rishies often illustrate their views by citing suitable narratives and examples. The philosophy of Upanishads was further carried forward in Darshan Shastras and simplified in Puranas through narratives and pictorials. Thus Vedas, Upanishads, Darshan Shastras and Puranas are inter linked and are referred as Vedas, Vedantas, and Vedangas.

Existing Upanishads

A brief account of existing Upanishads is as under:-

  1.        Isavasopanishad: This is the briefest. It is related to Shukla Yajurved. There are 18 Mantras. It contains knowledge and discussions about soul, the Almighty, states of wisdom and ignorance. Discussions related to material and immaterial matters are also given. According to the discussions regarding the science of Yoga, human longevity is assessed to be one hundred years. It is also explained that human heart has 72 veins. There is detailed account of the process of soul leaving the body at the time of death. It is significant to say that when this kind of knowledge was compiled there was no trace of allopathic or any other kind of Medical Science in the world, except Ayurveda.
  2.       Kenopanishad: The word ‘Ken’ implies “Who does”? Kenopanishad is made up of four chapters, which contain 34 Mantras. Beginning with an ‘OM’ Mantra, it goes on to ask questions: who controls the mind – and the final answer given there is that – all things happen because of the power of the Ultimate Reality.
  3.       Kathopanishad: Authored by Katha Rishi, this treatise is affiliated to Yajurveda. It is made up of two chapters. The famous ‘Nachiketa Upakhyana’ is included in it. The important theme of this Upanishad is the spirited education given by God ‘Yama’ to Nachiketa. As per discussion all our senses gather outward knowledge, and until our senses are shut outwardly and concentrated inwardly the realization of soul is not possible. God is regarded as being in all things. He is the bodiless among bodies. He is the inner soul of the things. Further knowledge about five Koshas (Awareness Centers) in human body has also been explained. They are called Annamaya Kosha, made up from the food intake, Pranamaya Kosha – sustained through our breath, as there are 14 types of wind energies residing in human body, Manomaya Kosha – supported by our senses, Vigyanmaya Kosha – knowledge acquired through action of senses, and Anandamaya Kosha – the ultimate bliss of knowledge. The position of soul in body is like invisible butter present in milk. In another part of this Upanishad Rishi Piplada has explained the development process of human body in womb right from conception to birth. Awakening of Kundalini power in human body has also been elaborately discussed.
  4.       Prashnopanishad: This Upanishad is affiliated to Atharvaveda primarily concerning medical science. It has six divisions and 64 Mantras. In this Upanishad, six Rishies namely Bhradwaj, Sathyakam, Gargi, Aswalayan, Bhargava, and Katyayna are asking questions to Maharshi Pipalada. In response to their questions the Maharshi teaches them the Brahmavidya. He explains five kinds of wind present in human body. The breath inhaled in lungs purifies blood in heart, the part of breath affecting nerve center in umbilicus is identified as Smaan, and the wind affecting rectum part is called Apaan. The wind felt in nerves cells is Dhyana, and in Sushmana wind pipe it is called Udyana. All the aforesaid winds reside in semen which should never be wasted. For this reason Brahmcharya is recommended for enjoying longevity. The description of Northern and Southern Hemispheres is also explained in this document.
  5.       Mundakopanishad: This Upanishad is also affiliated to Atharvaveda In this Brahma teaches Brahmavidya to his son Atharva, who afterwards passed this knowledge to Rishis Angira and Rishi Shounaka. There are two parts in Mundakopanishad, one dealing with worldly knowledge and other dealing with spiritual knowledge.
  6.       Mandookyopanishad: Another Mandookyopanishad is also affiliated to Atharvaveda This Upanishad has four branches. They are ‘Agama’, ‘Vaidadhya’, ‘Advaita’, and ‘Athalasanthi’. The conditions of mind such as jagrati and sushupti are explained in it. Explanation of OM mantra is also given in this treatise.
  7.      Taiteropanishad: This Upanishad is philosophical in content and affiliated to Krishna Yajurveda. This document contains doctrines concerning Adiloka, Adi-jyothisha, Adi-pragyaa, Adi-vidya and Adhyatma.
  8.      Eiteropanishad: There are three chapters in Eiteropanishad. It is affiliated to Rigveda. Besides creation of Universe, the subject matter of this Upanishad deals with development of spiritual powers, the working of Indris (senses), spiritual awakening, the birth and rebirth in detail. 
  9. Chhandogyaupishad: This Upanishad is affiliated to Samaveda. It is voluminous and contains elaboration of Onkara. In addition, several subtle matters like post death, rebirth, Yama , Niyams, body parts and various Chkras located in human body have also been described in detail.
  10. Brihadaranyakaopanishad: It is the largest Upanishad of all and it is affiliated to Shukla Yajurveda. There are six chapters on various subjects. The dialogue discussions takes place between Rishi Yaglavakya and his learned wife Maitri on matters like Sandhya, Karma, Vichara, Brahma, Saguna, Nirguna, Prajapati, Devas, Asuras, Jiva and Gyana.
  11. Swetaswataropanishad: This Upanishad was written in around 250-200 BC by some un-identified author. It is the last of the classical Upanishads. It can be studied as a human document describing the struggles, longings, failures, and achievements of an earnest soul.

The Upanishads played a very significant role in the formation and evolution of Indian philosophical thought. Over and above they have made significant contribution towards scientific element in Hindu thought. Many schools of Hindu philosophy, sectarian religions like Buddhism and Jainism derived richly from the knowledge contained in the Upanishads.

Even Islam also could not remain unaffected from the influence of Upanishads. The Vedanta philosophy found its expression through Sufism in Islam. During seventeenth century, Emperor Shahjehan’s eldest son Crown Prince Dara Shikoh was so much impressed by Upanishads that he got them translated. An Upanishad known as Ilo-Upanishad is attributed to have been authored by Dara Shikoh himself. However the noble prince paid the price for subscribing to un-Islamic views. He was denounced as Kafir and beheaded on orders from his younger brother Aurangzeb.

As a matter of fact Upanishads are the oldest philosophical literature in search of scientific truths. They deal with secular knowledge applicable to entire humanity and by no stretch of imagination have any communal bias. Upanishads are treasure of earliest scientific thought and concepts for the mankind.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes -12/72 – Philosophical Darshana Shastra )


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