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Posts Tagged ‘Adult’

Yeshivah Student

Posted by kathavarta on December 24, 2008

It seems this young (but not too bright) boy comes home from his first day at the Yeshivah (Hebrew School), and his father asks him what he learned. “We learned to say Kaddish, papa.”

Well, the father is none too happy to hear this, so he runs down to the synagogue and confronts the Rabbi. “Rabbi,” he says. “What is this about you teaching my son to say Kaddish? After all, he shouldn’t know about this at so young an age, and besides, I’m a young man myself, in excellent health, and I expect to live a long time yet!”

The Rabbi answered, “First of all, it’s not Kaddish, it’s KIDDUSH! and secondly, you should only live so long ’till he learns it!”

By: Jagadeesh, for http://www.19.5degs.com
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Bridge to Luxury

Posted by kathavarta on November 24, 2008

Once an Indian minister was on a tour to France and his French counterpart invited him for a dinner. When the Indian minister arrived at the latter’s residence, he was astonished to see that the latter was living in a very grand and luxurious bungalow and they had dinner in silver spoons and plates and all his bungalow were filled of precious antiques and other articles. He can not hold himself back and asked the French minister the reason for him living in such a grand style. On asking the French minister took him to a window.

French Minister : Do you see the river over there ?

Indian Minister : Yes.

French Minister : Do you see the bridge over it ?

Indian Minister : Yes.

French Minister : 10%.

After 5 years the same French minister got a chance to visit India and now it was the turn of our same Indian minister to invite him for a dinner. When the French minister arrived at the Indian minister’s residence, he was stunned to see that the latter was living in a palace like house and they had dinner in golden spoons and plates and he had hundreds of servants and all his bungalow were filled of jewelries and costliest furniture, antiques and other articles. Now it was his turn to ask, “Dear friend how could you afford to live such a grand style?”

The Indian minister took him to a window.

Indian Minister : Do you see the river over there ?

French Minister : Yes.

Indian Minister : Do you see the bridge over it ?

French Minister : No.

Indian Minister : 100 %

By: Jagadeesh, for http://www.19.5degs.com
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Guru-Disciple Relationship in Different Philosophies

Posted by kathavarta on November 9, 2008

The knowledge of the Self or mukti -spiritual liberation- is the subject of discussion in the Upanishads -sacred texts of Hindu thought, which form the concluding portion of the Vedas, sacred texts of India. In the Upanishads, the Truth is revealed by the teacher -Guru- to the student -sishya- through the method of inquiry, in which the student is led on to subtler levels of knowledge.

The Truth of the Self cannot come through one who has not realized that he is the Self. The intellect cannot reveal the Self, beyond its duality of subject and object. They who see themselves in all and all in them, help others through ‘spiritual osmosis’ to realize the Selfthemselves. This awakening you have known comes not through logic and scholarship, but fromclose association with a realized teacher -Guru. (Katha Upanishad -sacred book of Hinduism. Part 1, 2:9, p. 85).

Subtle philosophical concepts are interwoven in the different anecdotes related in the Puranas -Indian works of an historical and prophetic character- and the epics, which are usually in the form of a dialogue between a sage and another person who learns under him. This highlights the importance of Guru-Shishya (master-disciple) tradition for gaining spiritual knowledge.

In the Dhammapada -sacred Buddhist text- it is stated that when a man venerates those worthy of veneration, be they Buddhas or their disciples, who have transcended all obstacles and passed beyond sorrow and tears, venerating such as these, whose passions are extinguished and for whom there is no further source for fear, no one can calculate how great his merit is. Obviously this is the description of a fully realized soul -a Guru.

In the Hua Hu Ching, book written by Lao Tzu -Chinese philosopher who is traditionally regarded as the founder of Taoism- the author declares, “Find a teacher who is an integral being, a beacon who extends his Light and virtue with equal ease to those who appreciate him and those who don’t. Shape yourself in his mold, bathe in his nourishing radiance, and reflect it out to the rest of the Universe.”

In the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying it is stated that there is only one way of attaining liberation and of obtaining the omniscience of enlightenment: following an authentic spiritual master.

In the Chandogya Upanishad -sacred book of Hinduism– itself it is declared that only by the grace of the Guru, true knowledge is possible. It says “aacaaryavaan purusho veda” -only one who has a preceptor, gains true knowledge.

The sacred bond which exists between the Guru and the disciple, is unique to the Vedic tradition, wherein knowledge is passed on from one generation to the next, through the Guru-Sishya (master-disciple) tradition. The ultimate knowledge of God Almighty can only be grasped by the grace of the Guru, who removes the ignorance from the mind of the disciple, by kindling the spark of wisdom in him. The importance of the Guru is shown to us, by no less a person than Sri Krishna himself, who says he can never recompense his gratitude to his Guru, sage Sandipani .

In the Bhagavad-gita -sacred Hindu text- (18.66) Krishna instructs:

“sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayis yami ma sucah”

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.”

Also in the Gita it is stated that “Some realize the Self within them through the practice of meditation, some by the path of wisdom, and others by selfless service. Others may not know these paths; but hearing and following the instructions of an illumined teacher, they too go beyond death.”

In the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (p. 253), Ramakrishna -great Indian sage- declares that “If a man in the form of a Guru awakens spiritual consciousness in you, then know for certain that it is God the Absolute who has assumed that human form for your sake. The Guru is like a companion who leads you by the hand.”

In page 488 of the same book, Ramakrishna expresses, “The roof is clearly visible, but extremely hard to reach. But if someone who has already reached it, drops down a rope, he can pull another person up.”

Bodhidharma, famous Indian Buddhist monk, founder of the Zen school of Buddhism, declared: “If you don’t find a teacher soon, you’ll live this life in vain. It’s true, you have the Buddha-nature. But without the help of a teacher you’ll never know it. Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help.”

It is very clearly summarized by Sri Shankaracharya -great Indian philosopher who developed Advaita Vedanta, monism- in his book Viveka Chudamani, verse 3: “There are three things that are rare indeed and are due to the grace of God: the human birth, the intense desire for liberation, and the protecting care of a perfected sage -a Guru.” Sri Shankaracharya also points out that the one who having that yearning does not strive hard to achieve his liberation “is really committing suicide.”

In his discourse on the Upadesa Undiyar of Ramana Maharshi, famous Indian sage, Sri Muralidhara Swami said, the sage had clearly stated in this work that performance of karma -actions- by itself could not liberate man. Even if karma is performed without the expectation of results -nishkama karma- this will not completely bless one with Self-knowledge. It is here that the Guru plays an important role in the spiritual progress of an individual. Though man is subject to karma and cannot overcome it through his own efforts, he must understand that there is a greater power, a Guru who is Self-realized and is verily God Himself, will certainly illuminate the disciple when he makes himself eligible for Guru’s grace.

The great Indian sage Ramakrishna Paramahamsa stated that a real Guru was of a great importance in one’s spiritual evolution.

The spiritual significance of the word Guru is very vast. To quote Kabir, famous Indian mystic and poet, who was born Muslim and a man of great occult powers and who came under the tutelage of his chosen Guru, a Hindu. “Even if all the trees in the Universe are made into pens and the whole of the sea water converted into ink still it will be insufficient to illustrate fully the glory of the Guru.”

The sage Agasthiar -One of the Eighteen Tamil Yoga Siddhas has sung:

“Sasthirathin melirukkum
Sathguruve pottamal
Ahatthinude Anavatthal
Arivizhanthen pooraname!”

“The Satguru -realized spiritual master- is the perfect one who is above the descriptions and denominations, contained in the scriptures without paying my dutiful homage to that embodiment of perfection, I had depended on my own-self and vanity. This has deprived me of the attainment of wisdom.”

Sri Narayana Guru -famous spiritual master of South India– stated:

“Arivilumeri arinjidunnavanthan
Uruvilumothu purathumujjwalikkum
Karuvinu kannukalanchum ulladakki
Theruthere veenu vanagi othidenam”

“The disciple should prostrate himself before the Guru who is the embodiment of pure wisdom. For this, the disciple should bring his five senses fully under control. The Guru’s inner Light of wisdom is also displayed externally.”

I have quoted a few words of great souls who had arrived at correct conclusions, based on spiritual experience.

Source: www.santhigiri.com
Visit www.eTirth.com for Gurus information.
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Who is Adi Shankaracharya?

Posted by kathavarta on November 3, 2008

Adi Shankara also known as Sankara Bhagavatpadacharya, and Adi Sankaracharya was an Indian philosopher who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta, a sub-school of Vedanta. His teachings are based on the unity of the soul and Brahman, in which Brahman is viewed as without attributes. In the Smarta tradition, Adi Shankara is regarded as an incarnation of Shiva.

Shankara travelled across India to propagate his philosophy through discourses and debates with other thinkers. He founded four mathas (“monasteries”), which helped in the historical development, revival and spread of post-Buddhist Hinduism and Advaita Vedanta. Adi Shankara is believed to be the founder of the Dashanami monastic order and the Shanmata tradition of worship.

His works in Sanskrit, all of which are extant today, concern themselves with establishing the doctrine of Advaita (Nondualism). Adi Shankara quotes extensively from the Upanishads and other Hindu scriptures in support of his philosophy. Also, his works contain arguments against opposing schools of thought like Samkhya and Buddhism.

Life:

The traditional accounts of Adi Shankara’s life can be found in the Shankara Vijayams, which are poetic works that contain a mix of biographical and legendary material, written in the epic style. The most important among these biographies are the Madhaviya Sankara Vijayaṃ (of Madhava, c. 14th century), the Chidvilasiya Shankara Vijayaṃ (of Chidvilasa, c. between 15th century and 17th century), and the Keraliya Shankara Vijayaṃ (of the Kerala region, extant from c. 17th century).

Birth and childhood
Sankara was born to Kaippilly Sivaguru Nambudiri and Arya Antharjanam in the region of Kalady, in central Kerala. According to lore, it was after his parents, who had been childless for many years, prayed at the Vadakkunnathan temple, that Sankara was born.

His father died while Shankara was very young. Shankara’s upanayanaṃ, the initiation into student-life, was performed at the age of five. As a child, Shankara showed remarkable scholarship, mastering the four Vedas by the age of eight

Sannyasa
From a young age, Shankara was inclined towards sannyasa. But it was only after much compulsion that his mother gave him consent. Shankara then left Kerala and travelled towards North India in search of a Guru. On the banks of the Narmada River, he met Govinda Bhagavatpada, the disciple of Gaudapada. When Govinda Bhagavatpada asked Shankara’s identity, he replied with an extempore verse that brought out the Advaita Vedanta philosophy. Govinda Bhagavatapada was impressed and took Shankara as his disciple. The guru instructed Shankara to write a commentary on the Brahma Sutras and propagate the Advaita philosophy. Shankara travelled to Kashi, where a young man named Sanandana, from Choladesha in South India, became his first disciple. According to legend, while on his way to the Vishwanath Temple, Sankara came upon an untouchable accompanied by four dogs. When asked to move aside by Shankara’s disciples, the untouchable replied: “Do you wish that I move my ever lasting Ātman (“the Self”), or this body made of food?” Realizing that the untouchable was none other than god Shiva himself, and his dogs the four Vedas, Shankara prostrated himself before him, composing five shlokas known as Manisha Panchakam.

At Badari he wrote his famous Bhashyas (“commentaries”) and Prakarana granthas (“philosophical treatises”).

Meeting with Mandana Mishra
One of the most famous debates of Adi Shankara was with the ritualist Mandana Mishra. Mandana Mishra’s Guru was the famous Mimamsa philosopher, Kumarila Bhaṭṭa. Shankara sought a debate with Kumarila Bhaṭṭa and met him in Prayag where he had buried himself in a slow burning pyre to repent for sins committed against his Guru: Kumarīla Bhaṭṭa had learnt Buddhist philosophy incognito from his Guru in order to be able to refute it. Learning anything without the knowledge of one’s Guru while still under his authority constitutes a sin according to the Vedas. Kumarila Bhaṭṭa thus asked Adi Shankara to proceed to Mahismati (known today as Mahishi Bangaon, Saharsa in Bihar) to meet Mandana Mishra and debate with him instead.

Adi Shankara had a famous debate with Mandana Mishra in which the wife of Mandana Mishra, Ubhaya Bharati, was the referee. After debating for over fifteen days, Mandana Mishra accepted defeat. Ubhaya Bharati then challenged Adi Shankara to have a debate with her in order to ‘complete’ the victory. Later, Ubhaya Bharati concedes defeat in the debate and allows Mandana Mishra to accept sannyasa with the monastic name, Suresvaracharya as per the agreed rules of the debate.

Missionary tour
Adi Shankara then travelled with his disciples to Maharashtra and Srisailam. In Srisailam, he composed Shivanandalahari, a devotional hymn in praise of Shiva. The Madhaviya Shankaravijayam says that when Shankara was about to be sacrificed by a Kapalika, the God Narasimha appeared to save Shankara on Padmapada’s prayer to him. So Adi Shankara composed the Laksmi-Narasimha stotra. He then travelled to Gokarṇa, the temple of Hari-Shankara and the Mūkambika temple at Kollur. At Kollur, he accepted as his disciple a boy believed to be dumb by his parents. He gave him the name, Hastamalakacharya (“one with the amalaka fruit on his palm”, i.e., one who has clearly realised the Self). Next, he visited Śṛngeri to establish the Sharada Piṭham and made Toṭakacharya his disciple.

After this, Adi Shankara began a Dig-vijaya (missionary tour) for the propagation of the Advaita philosophy by controverting all philosophies opposed to it. He travelled throughout India, from the South to Kashmir and Nepal, preaching to the local populace and debating philosophy with Hindu, Buddhist and other scholars and monks along the way.

With the Malayali King Sudhanva as companion, Shankara passed through Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Vidarbha. He then started towards Karnataka where he encountered a band of armed Kapalikas. King Sudhanva, with his army, resisted and defeated the Kapalikas. They safely reached Gokarna where Shankara defeated in debate the Shaiva scholar, Neelakanta.

Proceeding to Saurashtra (the ancient Kambhoja) and having visited the shrines of Girnar, Somnath and Prabhasa and explaining the superiority of Vedanta in all these places, he arrived at Dwarka. Bhaṭṭa Bhaskara of Ujjayini, the proponent of Bhedabeda philosophy, was humbled. All the scholars of Ujjayini (also known as Avanti) accepted Adi Shankara’s philosophy.

He then defeated the Jainas in philosophical debates at a place called Bahlika. Thereafter, the Acharya established his victory over several philosophers and ascetics in Kamboja (region of North Kashmir), Darada (Dabistan) and many regions situated in the desert and crossing mighty peaks, entered Kashmir. Later, he had an encounter with a tantrik, Navagupta at Kamarupa.

Accession to Sarvajnapitha
Adi Shankara visited Sarvajnapiṭha (Sharada Peeth) in Kashmir (now in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir). The Madhaviya Shankaravijayam states this temple had four doors for scholars from the four cardinal directions. The southern door (representing South India) had never been opened, indicating that no scholar from South India had entered the Sarvajna Pitha. Adi Shankara opened the southern door by defeating in debate all the scholars there in all the various scholastic disciplines such as Mimamsa, Vedanta and other branches of Hindu philosophy; he ascended the throne of Transcendent wisdom of that temple.

Towards the end of his life, Adi Shankara travelled to the Himalayan area of Kedarnath-Badrinath and attained videha mukti (“freedom from embodiment”). There is a samadhi mandir dedicated to Adi Shankara behind the Kedarnath temple. However, there are variant traditions on the location of his last days. One tradition, expounded by Keraliya Shankaravijaya, places his place of death as Vadakkunnathan temple in Thrissur, Kerala. The followers of the Kanchi kamakoti pitha claim that he ascended the Sarvajñapīṭha and attained videha-mukti in Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu).

Dates
At least two different dates have been proposed for Shankara:

::~ 788–820 CE: This is the mainstream scholarly opinion, placing Shankara in mid to late 8th century CE. These dates are based on records at the Śṛṅgeri Śāradā Pīṭham, which is the only matha to have maintained a relatively unbroken record of its Acharyas; starting with the third Acharya, one can with reasonable confidence date the others from the 8th century down. The Sringeri records state that Sankara was born in the 14th year of the reign of “VikramAditya”, but it is unclear as to which king this name may refer. Though some researchers identify the name with Chandragupta II (4th. c. AD), modern scholarship accepts the Vikramaditya as being from the Chalukya dynasty of Badami, most likely Vikramaditya II (733–746 CE), which would place him in the middle of the 8th c. The date 788–820 is also among those considered acceptable by Swami Tapasyananda, though he raises a number of questions. It is also acceptable to Keay.

::~ 509–477 BCE: This dating, more than a millennium ahead of all others, is based on records of the heads of the Shankara Mathas at Dwaraka matha and Puri matha and the fifth Peetham at Kanchi. However, such an early date is not consistent with the fact that Sankara quotes the Buddhist logician Dharmakirti, who finds mention in Huen Tsang (7th c.). Also, his near-contemporary Kumarila Bhatta is usually dated ca. 8th c. AD. Most scholars feel that due to invasions and other discontinuities, the records of the Dwarka and Puri mathas are not as reliable as those for Sringeri.

Thus, while considerable debate exists, the pre-Christian Era dates are usually discounted, and the most likely period for Shankara is during the 8th c. CE.

Philosophy of Adi Shankara:

Shankara spread the tenets of Advaita Vedanta, the supreme philosophy of monism to the four corners of India with his ‘digvijaya’ (the conquest of the quarters). The quintessence of Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism) is to reiterate the truth of reality of one’s essential divine identity and to reject one’s thought of being a finite human being with a name and form subject to earthly changes.

According to the Advaita maxim, the True Self is Brahman (Divine Creator). Brahman is the ‘I’ of ‘Who Am I?’ The Advaita doctrine propagated by Shankara views that the bodies are manifold but the separate bodies have the one Divine in them.

The phenomenal world of beings and non-beings is not apart from the Brahman but ultimately become one with Brahman. The crux of Advaita is that Brahman alone is real, and the phenomenal world is unreal or an illusion. Through intense practice of the concept of Advaita, ego and ideas of duality can be removed from the mind of man.
The comprehensive philosophy of Shankara is inimitable for the fact that the doctrine of Advaita includes both worldly and transcendental experience.

Shankara while stressing the sole reality of Brahman, did not undermine the phenomenal world or the multiplicity of Gods in the scriptures.

Shankara’s philosophy is based on three levels of reality, viz., paramarthika satta (Brahman), vyavaharika satta (empirical world of beings and non-beings) and pratibhashika satta (reality).

Shankara’s theology maintains that seeing the self where there is no self causes spiritual ignorance or avidya. One should learn to distinguish knowledge (jnana) from avidya to realize the True Self or Brahman. He taught the rules of bhakti, yoga and karma to enlighten the intellect and purify the heart as Advaita is the awareness of the ‘Divine’.

Shankara developed his philosophy through commentaries on the various scriptures. It is believed that the revered saint completed these works before the age of sixteen. His major works fall into three distinct categories – commentaries on the Upanishads, the Brahmasutras and the Bhagavad Gita.

The most important of the works is the commentaries on the Brahmasutras – Brahmasutrabhashya – considered the core of Shankara’s philosophy of Advaita.

Mathas:

Adi Shankara founded four Maṭhas to guide the Hindu religion. These are at Sringeri in Karnataka in the south, Dwaraka in Gujarat in the west, Puri in Orissa in the east, and Jyotirmath (Joshimath) in Uttarakhand in the north. Hindu tradition states that he put in charge of these mathas his four main disciples: Sureshwaracharya, Hastamalakacharya, Padmapadacharya, and Totakacharya respectively. The heads of the mathas trace their authority back to these figures. Each of the heads of these four mathas takes the title of Shankaracharya (“the learned Shankara”) after the first Shankaracharya.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/ and From Manoj Sadasivan, for About.com
You can also visit www.etirth.com/ for many more religious information.
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The Eagle, the Cat, and the Wild Sow

Posted by kathavarta on October 25, 2008

An Eagle made her nest at the top of a lofty oak; a Cat, having found a convenient hole, moved into the middle of the trunk; and a Wild Sow, with her young, took shelter in a hollow at its foot.

The Cat cunningly resolved to destroy this chance-made colony. To carry out her design, she climbed to the nest of the Eagle, and said, “Destruction is preparing for you, and for me too, unfortunately. The Wild Sow, whom you see daily digging up the earth, wishes to uproot the oak, so she may on its fall seize our families as food for her young.”

Having thus frightened the Eagle out of her senses, she crept down to the cave of the Sow, and said, “Your children are in great danger; for as soon as you go out with your litter to find food, the Eagle is prepared to pounce upon one of your little pigs.”

Having instilled these fears into the Sow, she went and pretended to hide herself in the hollow of the tree. When night came she went forth with silent foot and obtained food for herself and her kittens, but feigning to be afraid, she kept a lookout all through the day.

Meanwhile, the Eagle, full of fear of the Sow, sat still on the branches, and the Sow, terrified by the Eagle, did not dare to go out from her cave.

And thus they both, along with their families, perished from hunger, and afforded ample provision for the Cat and her kittens.

Moral:
Gossips are to be seen and not heard.
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Diwali Puja Process

Posted by kathavarta on October 24, 2008

Diwali is the festival of Laxmi, the Goddess of prosperity and wealth. It is believed that Goddess Laxmi visit everyone during Diwali and brings peace and prosperity to all. On the night of Diwali “Lakshmi-Pujan” is performed in the evenings. A traditional Pujan is performed after sunset in all the homes.

Five pieces of ghee diyas (lamps) are lit in front of the deities, naivedya of traditional sweets is offered to the Goddess and devotional songs are sung in praise of Goddess Laxmi. After Deepawali Puja people light diyas (lamps) in their homes to usher in light and clear the darkness from the world.

In villages cattle are adorned and worshipped by farmers as they form the main source of their income. In south, cows are offered special veneration as they are supposed to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi and therefore they are adorned and worshipped on this day.

Step By Step Diwali Pujan:
:~~ First clean the Puja room and then Bathe each Deity (Lakshmi & Ganesh) first with water, then with panchamitra/or rose water, followed by water once more.

:~~ Now put Deepak (Lamp) in front of the Deities – As the tiny diyas of clay are lighted to drive away the shadows of evil spirits.

:~~ Make a Panchamitra with 5 ingredients of milk, curd, ghee (clarified butter), sugar & Honey.
:~~ Place Few Mithais (Sweet), snacks & fruits as a prashad.

:~~ Make offerings of flowers, Abir (red colour), Sindoor (vermillion) and Haldi (turmeric). Light the Agarbatti (incense sticks) and lamps filled with Ghee.

:~~ Now make offerings of Fruit, Sweet dishes (mithai), Salty snacks (Mathis, Ghathia, Namakpare) and offer Dakshina (token money), which could be given to the poor. In the end offer paan (betel leaves), cloves. Now pray to the deities to seek their blessings.

:~~ Ganesh Pooja: Ganesh Puja is a must for Diwali Puja. (Lord Ganesha is to be worshipped in all pujas before any other God or Goddess.) (Ganesh Aarti is sung).

:~~ Laxmi Pooja: Place Lotus and other flowers at her feet as an offering. A silver coin is placed in front of the Goddess during the puja. Now perform Aarti with flowers in hand (Lakshmi Aarti is sung). After Deepawali Pujan have the Prasad and go out to burst Diwali Crackers.

Source: www.diwalifestival.org, you can also visit www.etirth.com for more religious stories.
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