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Epic Hinduism

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Item Code: NAO071
Author: M.L. Varadpande
Publisher: Shubhi Publications
Language: English
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9788182904705
Pages: 168
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 12.0 inch x 11.0 inc
Weight 1 kg
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Book Description


Hinduism is hugely misunderstood phenomenon. Waves is not ocean. They are not indicative of the depth of it. They are just surface appearances. It would be deceptive to fathom ocean's depth on their basis.

Hinduism is not scriptures, it's pantheon, rituals and customs, sects and sub-sects. They are just surface signals. It's basic tenets are more deep and 'Loka' centric. Dharma according to Hindu concept is welfare of people, Loka. Dharma is Loka, in other words Lokadharma. It exists and functions for Loka. Loka does not exist for dharma. An adage says:

• Yaddapi Siddham
• Loka-viruddham
• Na-Karaniyam
• Na-charaniyam
Even if certain concept, idea, rule, custom, religious principle is 'Siddham, approved by scriptures but is against the way of life, nature of people, not condusive to their welfare, we should not act upon it, or bring it into practice.

In the Yakshaprashna Section of Mahabharata's Vanaparva we see divine Yaksha asking several questions to Dharmaraj Yudhisthira. One of them was: Kah panthah?

To this qestion: What way of life, Pantha, a person should follow? Dharmaraja says: Logic, Tarka, is not stable, Shrutis, Vedic scriptures are numerous, there is no single Rishi whose opinion could be held as Pram ana (standarad), principles of Dharma are obscure (Nihitam guhayam), confusing, self-contradictory under such circumstances one should better follow the Path taken by Mahajana - Mahajano yena gathah sa panthah.

Mahajana means multitude of men, the populace, great number of men, eminent men, in short 'the people', Loka.

Dharma is for Loka, Loka are not for Dharma, hence the Dharma should follow the Loka and not vice versa.

If we turn to Gita we find the terms Dharmasansthapana or establishment of Dharma. It means two things to Gita- Paritranayana sadhunam and vinashayacha duskritam. The main object of Dharma is to protect the good or virtuous men, that is Loka. Dharma is established for that. In the word Paritrana there is sence of welfre. Dushkritam means evil doing, Dharma should achieve the welfare of Loka by removing evil.

Again Gita in 11th chapter comes a concept of Vishavarupa which means universal form of divine. Vishvarupa means vision of universe, nature, Prakriti and Loka included. Gita says o Veda, Yajna, Dana (Charity) or Tapas (severe austerities) are able to understand universal nature of Loka because Loka is above them. Ritualistic approach or scriptures are subservient to Loka.

Vedas, the most ancient books of knowledge, are at the apex of all Hindu scriptures and basic source of Sanatana Dharma - Vedokhilam dharmamulam. The Vedas were composed for the welfare of Loka, they were Lokanuvarti. At the centre of these works is Loka, people, their welfare, desires, emotions, feelings, happiness, material prosperity.

Vedic Aryans were vibrant people, full of life, out to enjoy it's spiritual and mainly material pleasure, happiness. Their philosophy, as some western scholars think, was not life-nagative. Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya wrote: He was startled to find during his studies there is basic similarity between Lokayata tradition and the more archic stratum of the Vedic tradition. Lokayata was the cult of Charvaka.

As for Vedic materialism, through various hymns to different deities Vedic people asked for material prosperity-

In the very first hymn addressed to god Agni the poet says to him-Be with us for our welfare, wellbeing, prosperity. To Indra he demands multiple of cows, kine, wealth, power to defeat enemies. May he stand by us in our need and in abundance for our wealth, the poet says. He also requests him to be bountiful cloud and give rain. In yet another hymn poet requests Indra to give wide and lofty fame, wealthy in cattle and in strength, lasting our lifetime failing not.

In their hymns the Vedikas prayed Goddesses, wives of gods, to bestow upon them happiness and protection. To waters they say teemed with medicine keep their bodies safe and healthy so that he may see the sun for long.

This list of material benefits poets ask from their gods is virtually endless and incluses beautiful wife, progeny, intellect, wisdom, etc. Atharva Veda is virtually a Loka Veda. When Rig and Atharva Vedas considers Kama, god of desire, as the first born among gods no wonder ritual of Yajna, fire sacrifice, is performed by them to appease divine powers to fulfill all their desires. They are called 'Kamya', wish fulfilling ritual.

Vedic pantheon is extensive and includes divinities such as Surya, Vishnu, Indra, Varuna, Ushas, Rudra, Maruts, Vayu, Prithvi. Each god is earmarked for some or other kind of welfare activity, which is central to religion. They work in their sphere of influence and are called upon to look after human wellbeing.

Hinduism is not oppressive. It recognises the indivisual's freedom or right to action, Karma. But this does not mean freedom from action, Karma Sanyas. Action is inevitable for living person. Gita says: No one can stay for even a moment without working; he is compelled to perform action. Even simple maintenance of body would be impossible through inaction. Perform actions which are obligatory-Niyatam kuru karma or even Sharirayatra is impossible to run. Satatam karya karma samachara, advises Gita.

Gita endorses the view of Dharmaraja Yudhisthira which he expressed during his conversation with Yaksha. Gita says: Whatever Shrestha or Mahajana does people follow. Following his example Lok chart their way of life- Lokastadanuvartate!

Speaking in the Bhagavata Purana while refuting the authority of Indra or divinity Krishna says Karma is Guru, Karma is Ishvar. If at all there is a Ishvariya satta, it has no power to interfere in the freedom of indivisual to perform action as he deem fit. At the most he can give him reward or punishment of his good or bad actions.

The indiviual is not mere puppet in the hands of god or Prarabdha or fate. He creates his own fate which is nothing but accumulation of the results of his actions, done freely by him, with his own free will. Man is the master of his own destiny.

In Gita the Karma is connected with the concept of Yoga. Here yoga, as generally understood, is not of Patanjali variety which moves round Asana, Pranayama, Yama, Niyama, Dyana-dharana, and many spiritual or religious trivialities. He calls a Karma done skillfully as Yoga- Yoga karmasu kaushalam. Doing karma skillfully is liberating from it's side effects. Karma is comprised of two things - action and thought. Freedom of action means indivisual is free to act or think. Freedom of thought is greatest contribution of Hinduism along with freedom of action.

In the Verse 63 of chapter 18, after narrating Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that he had narrated secret of secret knowledge to him. Think about it but do what you think by your free will. yathecchasi Yatha kuru: Act as thou desire or think. Do what you wish. Here Krishna gives Arjuna all freedom to accept, partly accept or reject his narrative. I leave the decision to you which you may arrive after giving it your thought. Do what you desire, wish, inclined to. Shastras have their limitations. They are composed at certain time, under certain social condition and period of history. These factors did not remain constant, they are subjected to change with the passage of time.

Ultimate arbiter of Shastra is Lok.

Vedas, most ancient Indian books of knowledge, composed around 1500 B.C., considered to be the Mula-grantha of Hinduism, started losing their Shastic relevance from epic age due to social and historical changes. The Yajna their primary ritual lost its sheen.

In the third century A.D. Maharshi Vatsyayana wrote a world famous treatise on Love and Love techniques in details. At the end of one chapter, conceding how useless his treatise was, he says: Ratichakre pravrue to naiva shastra na cha krama which means once a man embarks in his intense passion in performing intercourse he did not pay heed to science of love or the sequence in which it advises one to proceed.

Bharata Muni wrote his Natya Shastra, Science of Dramaturgy, sometimes between second century B.C. to second century A.D. In his very extensive Shastra he elaborates upon modes of acting, gaits and movement of limbs but he knew he could not contain all knowledge in his Shastra. He humbly says: 'Whatever remains unsaid should be devised according to demand of circumstances.'

He furher says at the end of the treatise: 'Thus many practices sanctioned by Shastras have been described in connection with performance of dramas. Whatever remains mentioned should be included into practice by experts from an Observation of people.'

In the play, a Bhana, Padataditakam, we meet a Buddha Bhikshu who famously says: Shastras is one thing and Lokavyavahar another'.

What results we get from the interaction of Shastras, scriptures written in a certain point of time and Lok in subsequent periods spread over several centuries can best be illustrated by the evolution of Buddhism in India.

In earlier days the rules and regulations the Shaky a samanas required to obseve in their ascetic life were very severe, stict and difficult to observe. After the death of Buddha the Sangha broke into many sects, Therivada or Hinayana cults retaininng most of the original discipline.

Original character of Buddhism started changing gradually after it came in contact more and more with common people. Popular religious elements stated entering into mainstream Buddhism and the liberal Mahayana cult evolved. For the ordinary people religion consists of numerous divinities, and paraphernalia of folk customs and rituals.

The change is very perceptible when we look at the evolution of Buddhist sacred monument - the Stupa. Basically it was a stark hemispherial earthern mounds symbolizing Buddha. Later around second century B.C those were embellished with Gateways and railings decorated with the alluring figures of nude or semi-nude Yakshis of great physical charm. They were lokadevatas. Mathura Yakshis on stupa railings of Kushana period are extremely voluptuous and provocative.

How was that severely ascetic religion like Buddhism tolerated these figures of frankly erotic and sensuous nature?

This was the influence of folk cults that permeated in later Buddhism under e Mahayana sect.

Ananda Coomaraswami concedes that the Yakshi sculptures were far removed from ascetic Buddhism. He says: 'If we recognise in this very sensuousness with which the art is saturated, a true religious feeling, then it is religious far removed from that of aristocratic philosophy of Buddhism. It is religious in the very real of the ancient cults of mother goddesses and fertility spirits, not in the sense of great enlightenment.

But Buddhism further evolved into Mantrayana, Vajrayana and Tantrism. The earliest known Buddhist Tantra, Guhyasamajatantra, decrying early severe Buddhism said:' No one can succeed in obtaining perfection through process which is difficult and painful; but one can succeed easily through the satisfaction of all desires.'

Tantric Buddhism accepted all things it rejected in the early Buddhism. One day losing it's identity it practically vanished from India. Shakti is primordial divinity, a female principle of divine energy personified as the supreme deity, source of life and fertility. She embodies dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe. She is Devi, Great-mother who makes all nature brings forth. All existing things are eminations from her, perpetuating the vegetative force of which she is fountain head. She is supreme.

Shakti worship in India-predates history and is very ancient whose origin is shrouded in mystery.

One of the oldest representations of the goddes in India is in a triangular form. The Baghor stone found in paleolithic context in the Son river valley and dating to 9000-8000 B.CE, is considered as an early example of Yantra. Kenoyer, part of the team that excavated the stone, considered that it was highly probable that the stone is associated with Shakti.

India's first dated work of art of human origin is a small piece of female figurine of bone found in the Belan vally of Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh. It is about 8 c.m. high, between 1.5.c.m. broad and about 1 c.m. in thickness.

The face is featureless, a triangular formation, the trunk stick-like with triangular formation for the legs, probably extremely broken. The pendant, breast and broad loins definitely indicate that this is a female figure. It was created fifteen to twenty thousand years ago by an unknown artist.

We do not know if it was a work of art or veneration to Great Mother. This female figurine has a remarkable close affinity with female figurines identified as fertility or mother goddesses found elsewhere including Western Asia and Western Europe.

Dr. V.5. Wakankar found an image of mother goddess at Jawara in Madhya Pradesh, ascribed to mesolithic period.

Prof. Govardhandas Sharma found an image of mother goddess at Lohanandana in Belan valley of Uttar Pradesh ascribed to upper palaeolithic period.


I. Popular Hinduism 1
2Popular Entertainment 23
3Cult Of Serpent Worship 31
4Shalabhanjika : Bride of Tree 44
5Sankarshana - Balaram 57
6Veda of Love 64
7Ras : A fertility Ritual 83
8Pranishirshi Devata 94
9Mythology of Spirits 105
10Popular Mother Goddesses 115
II. Ahimsa in Epic of War 128
12Sun God Surya 132
13Ghatotkacha 136
14Shanti Path 141

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