This devotional faith is called bhakti, which means devotion to God or the love of God. The word bhakti comes from a Sanskrit root which means “to love, to be devoted, to share.” Bhakti expresses the relationship between human beings and the Lord. It is a relationship of shared being and of mutual love.
The bhakti tradition found a full expression in the ancient Bhagavad-gita, "The Song of the Lord." The Lord is Krishna, the Supreme Lord, who manifested Himself as the charioteer of the warrior Arjuna in the ancient era of the Mahabharata war. The Bhagavad-gita is the dialogue of Krishna and Arjuna at the edge of the Battlefield of Dharma (Right; Duty; Sacred Order) just as the battle is about to begin. It is an existential dialogue on some of the most deeply significant human questions, raised in this dramatic limit-situation: What is human life? What is transcendence? How can one be actively engaged in the world without being ensnared by it?
Krishna gradually reveals Himself to Arjuna as teacher, as friend, and finally as Lord. The Gétä has been heard and told and cherished by generations of Hindus, who have seen Krishna as the Supreme Godhead: one who is utterly and awesomely transcendent and who is, at the same time, personal, loving, and intimately related to human beings.
Like the New Testament, the Bhagavad-gita is a gently revolutionary treatise. It picks up and redefines many of the major terms of the ancient Vedic ritual tradition, making religious life accessible and meaningful not only to the elite few—the brahmana priests, the gurus, yogis, and monks—but also to the common people in the context of their ordinary lives of relationships and duties.
What is sacrifice? It is not the complicated and expensive ritual fire sacrifice described at length in the ancient scriptures and performed infrequently by dozens of priests. Rather, all of one's ordinary actions, done in an attitude of surrender to God, can be called "sacrifice:'
What is renunciation? It is not leaving the world behind to become a wandering monk or a hermit. Rather, it is active participation in the affairs of the world, renouncing only what is hardest to renounce: egotistical attachment to the fruits of one's labors.
What is worship? It is not elaborate ritual which only a few can afford, but simple offerings to God, made with a pure heart. As Krishna explains to Arjuna: “Whoever offers to Me a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water with devotion [bhakti], that person's offering of love made with a pure heart do I accept.” (Bg. 9.26)
What is yoga? It is discipline. That to which one "yokes" oneself is one's yoga. It is not only the spiritual discipline of those adepts who seek liberating wisdom (jnana-yoga). It is also the discipline of action without attachment to the personal rewards of action (karma-yoga). And it is also the discipline of devotion to the Lord in all one's activities (bhakti-yoga).
Who is the yogé? Who is the priest? Not just the privileged few may follow the path of yoga or make acceptable offerings in the temple. Everyone, men and women, high caste and low, may be a yogé of devotion or may offer the simple fruits of action to the Lord.
Among the many religious ideas which the Gita shapes for the later tradition, bhakti is one of the most significant: the love of God which gives life and meaning to all one does—ritual, spiritual discipline, the search for truth, and ethical action.
The tradition of devotional piety that began in India with the Gita is long, varied, and rich. The life of the incarnate' Lord Krishna is told in some of the great scriptures, particularly the Bhagavata Purana. He was born of a royal family—and rescued at birth from His uncle, the wicked king Kaàsa, who wanted to kill the baby Krishna.
He grew up in the care of foster parents in the village of Vrindavana in rural north India. In. His life among these simple villagers, Krishna's devotees have discovered meaningful paradigms for the human-divine relationship. Krishna was the child who grew up in their midst, and people loved the child Krishna with the spontaneous love of parents who delight in the playful exuberance of their children. Krishna was the heroic youth who conquered many a demon and protected the people of the land of Vraja. His companions loved Him—with the trusting, admiring love of friend for friend. To the young women of Vrindavana Krishna was the enchanting lover. Here one sees one of the most dramatic paradigms of human-divine love: the risking, serving, fervent, and sometimes anguished love of lover for beloved. Krishna and Radha are the divine pair, lover and beloved.
by Dr. Diana L. Eck
Brahman: Hindu god who represents the highest principle in the universe; the essence that permeates all existence. Brahman is the same as atman in the philosophy of the Upanishads.
- Yama (moral conduct): noninjury to others, truthfulness, nonstealing, continence, and noncovetousness
- Niyama (religious observances): purity of body and mind, contentment in all circumstances, self-discipline, self-study (contemplation), and devotion to God and guru
- Asana: right posture
- Pranayama: control of prana, the subtle life currents in the body
- Pratyahara: interiorization through withdrawal of the senses from external objects
- Dharana: focused concentration; holding the mind to one thought or object
- Dhyana: meditation, absorption in the vast perception of God in one of His infinite aspects — Bliss, Peace, Cosmic Light, Cosmic Sound, Love, Wisdom, etc. — all-pervading throughout the whole universe
- Samadhi: superconscious experience of the oneness of the individualized soul with Cosmic Sp
We learn what we need to know, and we understand what we have experienced. Only this narrowing of our awareness, coupled with a sense of individualized ego, allows us to look upon the world and our part in it from a practical, human point of view. Pasha is the soul's triple bondage: maya, karma and anava. Without the world of maya, the soul could not evolve through experience. Karma is the law of cause and effect, action and reaction governing maya. Anava is the individuating veil of duality, source of ignorance and finitude. Maya is the classroom, karma the teacher, and anava the student's ignorance. The three bonds, or malas, are given by Lord Siva to help and protect us as we unfold. Yet, God Siva's all-knowingness may be experienced for brief periods by the meditator who turns within to his own essence. The Tirumantiram explains, "When the soul attains Self-knowledge, then it becomes one with Siva. The malas perish, birth's cycle ends and the lustrous light of wisdom dawns." Aum Namah Sivaya.
All souls are destined to achieve moksha, but not necessarily in this life.
Hindus know this and do not delude themselves that this life is the last. While seeking and attaining profound realizations, they know there is much to be done in fulfilling life's other goals (purusharthas): dharma, righteousness; artha, wealth; and kama, pleasure. Old souls renounce worldly ambitions and take up sannyasa in quest of Parasiva, even at a young age. Toward life's end, all Hindus strive for Self Realization, the gateway to liberation. After moksha, subtle karmas are made in inner realms and swiftly resolved, like writing on water. At the end of each soul's evolution comes vishvagrasa, total absorption in Siva. The Vedas say, "If here one is able to realize Him before the death of the body, he will be liberated from the bondage of the world."
The food we eat has one or more of these qualities of energy and affects our mind, body and emotions accordingly. Hence, what we eat is important. Sattvic food is especially good for a contemplative life.
Tamasic foods include heavy meats, and foods that are spoiled, treated, processed or refined to the point where the natural values are no longer present. Tamasic foods make the mind dull; they tend to build up the basic odic energies of the body and the instinctive subconscious mind. Tamasic foods also imbue the astral body with heavy, odic force.
Rajasic foods include hot or spicy foods, spices and stimulants. These increase the odic heat of the physical and astral bodies and stimulate physical and mental activity. Sattvic foods include whole grains and legumes and fresh fruits and vegetables that grow above the ground. These foods help refine the astral and physical bodies, allowing the actinic, superconscious flow to permeate and invigorate the entire being.
People who are unfolding on the yoga path manifest the sattvic nature. Their path is one of peace and serenity. The rajasic nature is restless and manifests itself in physical and intellectual activities. It is predominant in the spirit of nationalism, sports and business competition, law enforcement and armed forces and other forms of aggressive activity. The tamasic nature is dull, fearful and heavy. It is the instinctive mind in its negative state and leads to laziness, habitual living, physical and mental inertia. As it is by cultivating the rajasic nature that tamas is overcome, so it is by evolving into the pure sattvic nature that the continual ramification of rajas is transcended. It is important to maintain a balance of our several natures, but to attain toward the expression of the rajasic and sattvic natures in as great a degree as possible.
As you examine a menu closely, you will find that you may allow your inner guidance to tell you what is most appropriate to eat. The desire body of the conscious mind may want one type of food, but the inner body of the subsuperconscious may realize another is better for you. It is up to you to make the decision that will allow a creative balance in your diet. This awakens the inner willpower, that strength from within that gives the capacity for discrimination.
The flagship sites are:
- Om refers to the Supreme Infinite Spirit or Person.
- Tat refers to ‘that’, or ‘all that is’.
- Sat refers to ‘truth’, that which is not evanescent or ephemeral, the underlying basis, which is most fundamental and universal.
Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung
Sa Ta Na Ma: The five primal sounds representing the complete cycle of life.
Sa: Impersonal Infinity
Sa Say: Totality of Infinity
So: personal sense of merger and infinity
Hung: Infinity vibrating and real. (So Hung: I am Thou)
Twenty Keys for Spiritual Living in Contemporary Times
The Ten Vedic Restraints, Yama
According to a legend of Lingodbhavamurthy narrated in Linga Purana, once Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma were fighting to prove who was the Supreme Being. At this point, Lord Shiva appeared as a flaming Linga and challenged the duo to measure the gigantic Linga (phallic symbol of Lord Shiva). Brahma and Vishnu decided to find one end each and declared that whoever returned first would be acknowledged as supreme. Vishnu assumed the form of a boar and went down. Brahma, in the form of a swan, flew upwards. They searched for days but in vain and returned to the starting point exhausted and bewildered. At that moment, the central part of the pillar split open and Shiva revealed himself in his full glory. Brahma and Vishnu realized their mistake and acknowledged Shiva as the Supreme Being.Since it was on the 14th day in the dark half of the month of Phalguna that Shiva first manifested himself in the form of a Linga, the day is especially auspicious and is celebrated as Mahashivaratri. Worshipping Shiva on this day is believed to bestow one with happiness and prosperity. Hindus believe that a sincere devotee who recites these 12 names regularly in the morning and evening washes all the sins committed in the previous seven births and attains all the powers and Siddhis.
Significance of Jyotirlinga: The Puranas vociferously sing the praises of the greatness of the Jyotirlingas. By reciting the name of this, one can eliminate all the sins. The Sadhaka becomes calm, chaste and pure. He becomes illuminated and enlightened with supreme and divine knowledge. The names mentioned for the benefits of all:
Twenty Keys for Spiritual Living in Contemporary Times
The yamas and niyamas are a common-sense code recorded in the final section of the Vedas, called Upanishads, namely the Shandilya and the Varuha. They are also found in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Gorakshanatha, the Tirumantiram of Tirumular and in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The yamas and niyamas have been preserved through the centuries as the foundation, the first and second stage, of the eight-staged practice of yoga. Yet, they are fundamental to all beings, expected aims of everyone in society, and assumed to be fully intact for anyone seeking life’s highest aim in the pursuit called yoga.
Sage Patanjali (ca 200 BCE), raja yoga’s foremost propounder, told us, “These yamas are not limited by class, country, time (past, present or future) or situation. Hence they are called the universal great vows.” Yogic scholar Swami Brahmananda Saraswati revealed the inner science of yama and niyama. They are the means, he said, to control the vitarkas, the cruel mental waves or thoughts, that when acted upon result in injury to others, untruthfulness, hoarding, discontent, indolence or selfishness. He stated, “For each vitarka you have, you can create its opposite through yama and niyama, and make your life successful.”
The following paragraphs elucidate the yamas and niyamas. Presented first are the ten yamas, the do not’s, which harness the instinctive nature, with its governing impulses of fear, anger, jealousy, selfishness, greed and lust. Second are illustrated the ten niyamas, the do’s, the religious observances that cultivate and bring forth the refined soul qualities, lifting awareness into the consciousness of the higher chakras of love, compassion, selflessness, intelligence and bliss. Together the yamas and niyamas provide the foundation to support our yoga practice so that attainments in higher consciousness can be sustained.
The Ten Vedic Restraints, Yama
1. Noninjury, Ahimsa
Practice noninjury, not harming others by thought, word or deed, even in your dreams. Live a kindly life, revering all beings as expressions of the One Divine energy. Let go of fear and insecurity, the sources of abuse. Knowing that harm caused to others unfailingly returns to oneself, live peacefully with God’s creation. Never be a source of dread, pain or injury. Follow a vegetarian diet.
2. Truthfulness, Satya
Adhere to truthfulness, refraining from lying and betraying promises. Speak only that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary. Knowing that deception creates distance, don’t keep secrets from family or loved ones. Be fair, accurate and frank in discussions, a stranger to deceit. Admit your failings. Do not engage in slander, gossip or backbiting. Do not bear false witness against another.
3. Nonstealing, Asteya
Uphold the virtue of nonstealing, neither thieving, coveting nor failing to repay debt. Control your desires and live within your means. Do not use borrowed resources for unintended purposes or keep them past due. Do not gamble or defraud others. Do not renege on promises. Do not use others’ names, words, resources or rights without permission and acknowledgement.
4. Divine Conduct, Brahmacharya
Practice divine conduct, controlling lust by remaining celibate when single and faithful in marriage. Before marriage, use vital energies in study, and after marriage in creating family success. Don’t waste the sacred force by promiscuity in thought, word or deed. Be restrained with the opposite sex. Seek holy company. Dress and speak modestly. Shun pornography, sexual humor and violence.
5. Patience, Kshama
Exercise patience, restraining intolerance with people and impatience with circumstances. Be agreeable. Let others behave according to their nature, without adjusting to you. Don’t argue, dominate conversations or interrupt others. Don’t be in a hurry. Be patient with children and the elderly. Minimize stress by keeping worries at bay. Remain poised in good times and bad.
6. Steadfastness, Dhriti
Foster steadfastness, overcoming nonperseverance, fear, indecision and changeableness. Achieve your goals with a prayer, purpose, plan, persistence and push. Be firm in your decisions. Avoid sloth and procrastination. Develop willpower, courage and industriousness. Overcome obstacles. Never carp or complain. Do not let opposition or fear of failure result in changing strategies.
7. Compassion, Daya
Practice compassion, conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings. See God everywhere. Be kind to people, animals, plants and the Earth itself. Forgive those who apologize and show true remorse. Foster sympathy for others’ needs and suffering. Honor and assist those who are weak, impoverished, aged or in pain. Oppose family abuse and other cruelties.
8. Honesty, Arjava
Maintain honesty, renouncing deception and wrongdoing. Act honorably even in hard times. Obey the laws of your nation and locale. Pay your taxes. Be straightforward in business. Do an honest day’s work. Do not bribe or accept bribes. Do not cheat, deceive or circumvent to achieve an end. Be frank with yourself. Face and accept your faults without blaming them on others.
9. Moderate Appetite, Mitahara
Be moderate in appetite, neither eating too much nor consuming meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs. Enjoy fresh, wholesome vegetarian foods that vitalize the body. Avoid junk food. Drink in moderation. Eat at regular times, only when hungry, at a moderate pace, never between meals, in a disturbed atmosphere or when upset. Follow a simple diet, avoiding rich or fancy fare.
10. Purity, Saucha
Uphold the ethic of purity, avoiding impurity in mind, body and speech. Maintain a clean, healthy body. Keep a pure, uncluttered home and workplace. Act virtuously. Keep good company, never mixing with adulterers, thieves or other impure people. Keep away from pornography and violence. Never use harsh, angered or indecent language. Worship devoutly. Meditate daily.
The Ten Vedic Practices, Niyama
1. Remorse, Hri
Allow yourself the expression of remorse, being modest and showing shame for misdeeds. Recognize your errors, confess and make amends. Sincerely apologize to those hurt by your words or deeds. Resolve all contention before sleep. Seek out and correct your faults and bad habits. Welcome correction as a means to bettering yourself. Do not boast. Shun pride and pretension.
2. Contentment, Santosha
Nurture contentment, seeking joy and serenity in life. Be happy, smile and uplift others. Live in constant gratitude for your health, your friends and your belongings, Don’t complain about what you don’t possess. Identify with the eternal You, rather than mind, body or emotions. Keep the mountaintop view that life is an opportunity for spiritual progress. Live in the eternal now.
3. Giving, Dana
Be generous to a fault, giving liberally without thought of reward. Tithe, offering one-tenth of your gross income (dashamamsha), as God’s money, to temples, ashrams and spiritual organizations. Approach the temple with offerings. Visit gurus with gifts in hand. Donate religious literature. Feed and give to those in need. Bestow your time and talents without seeking praise. Treat guests as God.
4. Faith, Astikya
Cultivate an unshakable faith. Believe firmly in God, Gods, guru and your path to enlightenment. Trust in the words of the masters, the scriptures and traditions. Practice devotion and sadhana to inspire experiences that build advanced faith. Be loyal to your lineage, one with your satguru. Shun those who try to break your faith by argument and accusation. Avoid doubt and despair.
5. Worship, Ishvara-Pujana
Cultivate devotion through daily worship and meditation. Set aside one room of your home as God’s shrine. Offer fruit, flowers or food daily. Learn a simple puja and the chants. Meditate after each puja. Visit your shrine before and after leaving the house. Worship in heartfelt devotion, clearing the inner channels to God, Gods and guru so their grace flows toward you and loved ones.
6. Scriptural Listening, Siddhanta Shravana
Eagerly hear the scriptures, study the teachings and listen to the wise of your lineage. Choose a guru, follow his path and don’t waste time exploring other ways. Read, study and, above all, listen to readings and dissertations by which wisdom flows from knower to seeker. Avoid secondary texts that preach violence. Revere and study the revealed scriptures, the Vedas and Agamas.
7. Cognition, Mati
Develop a spiritual will and intellect with your satguru’s guidance. Strive for knowledge of God, to awaken the light within. Discover the hidden lesson in each experience to develop a profound understanding of life and yourself. Through meditation, cultivate intuition by listening to the still, small voice within, by understanding the subtle sciences, inner worlds and mystical texts.
8. Sacred Vows, Vrata
Embrace religious vows, rules and observances and never waver in fulfilling them. Honor vows as spiritual contracts with your soul, your community, with God, Gods and guru. Take vows to harness the instinctive nature. Fast periodically. Pilgrimage yearly. Uphold your vows strictly, be they marriage, monasticism, nonaddiction, tithing, loyalty to a lineage, vegetarianism or nonsmoking.
9. Recitation, Japa
Chant your holy mantra daily, reciting the sacred sound, word or phrase given by your guru. Bathe first, quiet the mind and concentrate fully to let japa harmonize, purify and uplift you. Heed your instructions and chant the prescribed repetitions without fail. Live free of anger so that japa strengthens your higher nature. Let japa quell emotions and quiet the rivers of thought.
10. Austerity, Tapas
Practice austerity, serious disciplines, penance and sacrifice. Be ardent in worship, meditation and pilgrimage. Atone for misdeeds through penance (prayashchitta), such as 108 prostrations or fasting. Perform self-denial, giving up cherished possessions, money or time. Fulfill severe austerities at special times, under a satguru’s guidance, to ignite the inner fires of self-transformation.
So the Lord's Prayer, correctly uttered and understood, is a mantra of great power and can be used as such for the purposes of quietening destructive thought processes that have taken hold of the mind. It will be effective only if the significance of each of its component triads is borne in mind so that energies employed in negative imagination, self-pity, self-reproach or self-justification are diverted from these useless activities into creative channels.
The Buddhist mantra, "AUM MANE PADME HUM," can also be used as a basis for repetition by those who prefer "Buddhist" forms to "Christian" ones. (These religious tags are meaningless to one who thinks in terms of Creative Psychology.) The mantra is harmonized with the breathing, the outbreath corresponding to the "AUM," the inbreath to the "HUM." The significance of the mantric syllables is held in the mind. The "AUM," on the cosmic scale, symbolizes the process of outflowing, differentiation, the octave of becoming, progress from one to many, the Dancing Shiva, the Day of Brahma. The "HUM" on the cosmic scale stands for the octave of reunification, the indrawing, progress from many to one, the Meditating Shiva, the "Night of Brahma." The two words, "MANE" and "PADME" (generally translated as "the jewel in the lotus"), symbolize two states of being, nirvana and samsara, and enshrine the principle that, to the fourth state of consciousness, which is beyond dualism and the pairs of opposites, nirvana and samsara are one.