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Everything posted by kimfelix

  1. I agree with cbrahma on this. I don't eat eggs myself because of the way in which so many chickens are kept and because the idea of what it is seems slightly repulsive. However, I do not regard the eating of eggs as a breach of the principle of ahimsa, which is the basis for Hindu Dharma's recommendation of a vegetarian diet.
  2. There is an interesting passage in the Karna Parvan of the Mahabharata in which Arjuna quarrels with Yudhishthira and even threatens to kill him. At that point Krishna gives a short talk on dharma that is very instructive. He says that whilst we should not ignore shastra, we must accept that dharma cannot be expounded in terms of rigid rules. He says that dharma is whatever brings benefit to living beings and anything that does this is therefore dharma. We do not have shariya, we use our intelligence and sense of morality. We will not accept cruelty even if it is supported by some smriti text. The text is our servant in our spiritual quest it is not our master. When you take recourse in a theory of interpolation, are you not following the same path in a milder sense? When we find passages that are unjust and give rise to cruel acts, I say that here we must not abide by the text. You say, "That must surely be an interpolation". The language is different perhaps, but essentially we doing the same thing. It is not really a question of 'modern egalitarian ideas' it is about the universal principles of sanatana dharma. This demands that we feel pure compassion for all living beings and that we do whatever we can to help those who are in distress. The smriti rules must be surrendered if they are no longer supporting the great virtues of sanatana dharma.
  3. Khelana means trembling or shaking or agitated. I think the phrase might be khelanotsuka, which would mean trembling and distressed but it is hard to be certain without the context. If it is utsukha that is an unusual compound but it might conceivably be used to mean a higher joy. In which case the khelanotsukha would mean 'trembling with a higher form of joy'.
  4. It is not so much an ancient culture I am criticising as the status of the Manu Smriti as an authoritative text. I would agree that it is interesting as a reflection of an earlier society but that is not the same as accepting it as scripture or as authoritative in any way. The prohibition on widow remarriage can be unjust particularly when it exists alongside the custom of child marriage. In 1921 there were 329,000 widows in India under the age of 15 who were not allowed to remarry; when Gandhi and other reformers campaigned against this prohibition the Manu Smriti was cited by their opponents to support traditional practice. To force girls to live their whole lives as widows, in many cases prevented from ever having children, is certainly unjust. According to the Mahabharata not harming any being with thought, word or deed is the highest dharma. On this basis I would argue that the prohibition on widows' remarrying is contrary to dharma. In Chapter 10 of the Manu Smriti, verses 47 to 55 insist that persons of the lowest castes be excluded from living in the village (v51) and that they must be identified by wearing marks on their clothing that show their low status. Up until the 1930s those born in the lowest castes were forbidden from entering many Hindu temples or even walking on the roads leading to temples. I don't think there are many who would want to see a return to this type of 'Vedic society' and the issue of arranged marriages is one that might be considered in the same category. There is a grey area between arranged and forced marriage with varying degrees of pressure being applied. The question on the Manu Smriti is whether it is to be regarded as a historical document that reveals to us the nature of ancient social customs or whether it is to be regarded as an authoritative text that dictates how society today should be structured.
  5. Raghu, I wasn't referring to arranged marriages as unjust and immoral. But Manu does advocate child marriage, does not allow remarriage for widows and he advocates forbidding the lowest castes from mixing with the rest of society. For these reasons it is hard to regard the Manu Smriti as a scripture or an authority on social issues.
  6. I am not quite sure what is meant by a Vedic society. Does that mean a society based on Dharma Shastras like the Manu Smriti? There are a number of injunctions given by Manu that are no longer acceptable and for that reason it has more or less been set aside today. In fact, some parts of Manu are clearly unjust and immoral. Perhaps arranged marriages are another of those customs. Economic and social change means that the rules governing society must also change.
  7. The Shiva Purana reveals that anyone who dies in Varanasi gains moksha. The Mahatmyas glorifying different sacred places found in the Puranas quite often make such claims. We were discussing this in our group a few weeks ago and most were very sceptical. Perhaps these passages were written by local priests trying to get more pilgrims to go there. The idea that the ultimate stage of spiritual realisation can be achieved by being run over by a truck in an Indian city is a little hard to swallow.
  8. Jijaji, the 7.18 reference from the Mausala Parvan is not present in the BORI critical edition and as you can see from the mention of Devaki, Rohini and Rukmini there is clearly some confusion there. Verse 24 of Chapter 8 in the Crit Ed mentions four wives of Vasudeva, Krishna's father, mounting his funeral pyre. Verse 31 of the same chapter describes Arjuna's burning of the bodies of Rama and Vaasudeva, but there is no mention at that point of their wives becoming sati. The reference from the Vishnu Purana is 5.38.2. Thank you for that.
  9. And in answer to your first question, I think you are right about intellectual wrangling over scripture. And of course Christianity has suffered most from that problem with all its heresies. Speaking personally I find, for example, commentaries on Upanishad and Brahma Sutra so stimulating intellectually. I think it has broadened my mind. And the reason why it has never entered my mind to convert away from Hindu Dharma is the way we are able to use scripture. My understanding is that in Christianity and Islam scripture is very authoritative, but for a Hindu it is not like that. We have a regular sangh and we read scripture but not everyone accepts what the text says. Some believe and some don't. For me scripture is a stimulus for my spirituality but it is not my master. Often I find a reading from an Upanishad provides the stimulus for a spiritual opening, it makes me think about the reality I inhabit and challenge my preconceptions. But the scripture is a tool that has been provided for me by the Rishis to help me in that movement, it is not my master. If that book doesn't help me at all, I can put it back on the shelf and look elsewhere. I can do that because I follow Hindu Dharma; elsewhere they seem to be bowing down and making the book their master. No offence intended here to yourself or your own beliefs.
  10. cbrahma, are you really a Christian? I have a bit of an anti-Christian bias myself although I think it depends on the brand of Christianity.
  11. The secondary gods such as Indra and Agni are named in the Vedic hymns which praise them. Avatars are mentioned briefly in the Mahabharata and more extensively in the Puranas. Ganesh is known mainly from the Puranas.
  12. Sandra, I know others will disagree with me and so what follows is just my own understanding. The Veda consists of a ritual portion, which includes just over 1,000 hymns dedicated to different gods who worshipped in the ritual. The gods who have the most hymns dedicated to them are Indra (about 25%), Agni, Varuna and Soma. These gods are not prominent in contemporary Hindu Dharma. Vishnu and Rudra (Shiva) are also praised by some Vedic hymns but they are not particularly prominent in Veda. The more philosophical portion of the Veda consists of a number of works called Upanishads. These suggest that there is a higher, transcendent reality that even the Vedic gods cannot fully comprehend. The Upanishads refer to it as Brahman and reveal that it is present within every living being as true self, the atman. The Atman is Brahman. Hence you might question whether it is a Deity in the sense of being a personal God as the Upanishads are mainly concerned with knowing Brahman rather than devotion or worship. There are other Sanskrit texts that are outside of the Veda but are still regarded as 'Vedic' and authoritative. These are the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas and especially the Bhagavad Gita. Here we do find an emphasis on a personal Supreme Deity who is named as either Vishnu or Shiva. It was this other strand of Hindu thought I was referring to, although it is not particularly prominent within the Veda itself.
  13. Avatars are also mentioned in the Mahabharata but not in much detail. The fullest acounts are to be found in the Bhagavata and other Puranas. The Vedic gods are regarded as higher beings of this world, whilst the Supreme Deity, is beyond this world and has absolute power over it. This is why Hindu Dharma can be said to be monotheistic and polytheistic at the same time without contradiction. In the Bhagavad Gita it is revealed that all the lesser gods are empowered by the Supreme Deity and exist as a part of his existence. However, that is not to say that the Vedic gods are on the same level as the Supreme Deity. He is utterly transcendent whilst they are trapped in the cycle of samsara like the rest of us; they have got to the top of the pile but they are still in the pile and will eventually start to come down.
  14. Dark Warrior, do you have a reference for the quotation from the Maha Narayana Upanishad? By the way, the instruction to 'Back off' sometimes implies a sort of threat but I am sure you didn't mean it like that. Word to the wise.
  15. Dark Warrior, do you have a reference for the quotation from the Maha Narayana Upanishad? There is another mention of Devaki Putra in the Chandogya Upanishad, but it does not suggest that this person is divine. Krishna is not one of the Vedic pantheon, which is what the original questioner asked, and none of the Vedic hymns address Krishna. I can't see why such an obvious answer would make you so cross. And just as a point of clarification, when you say 'keep your ignorance to yourself', does that mean that I should not post on here if my opinion is not the same as yours?
  16. Krishna is not one of the Vedic pantheon. He is not mentioned at all in the Veda. The worship of Krishna represents one of the strands of Hindu monotheism. Although it has a very different external form, the Vaishnava theology is very similar in many ways to Christian ideas of monotheism. Perhaps the main difference lies in the intensity of the love for Krishna that is advocated and in the idea that the world is a part of God and not just his creation.
  17. Lover of the Bhagavata, Ganguli's version is certainly regarded as the best rendition of the text as it is the only complete English translation of the Mahabharata. However, it is a translation of the Vulgate rather than the Critical Edition and he has a tendency to weave Nilakantha's commentaries into his translations. By the way, is there any textual basis for your statement about Rukmini becoming sati? As I said above, it is not in the Mahabharata.
  18. Verse 31 of Chapter 8 of the Mausala Parvan (Book 16) of the Mahabharata refers to Arjuna cremating the bodies of Rama and Krishna--sharire ramasya vaasudevasya chobhayoh/ anvishya dahayamasa. But there is no mention of Rukmini in that passage.
  19. Cremation is recommended for Hindus as it is important for any attachment to the body to be broken so that soul can transmigrate within the subtle body. Muslims and Christians prefer burial because of their belief in the resurrection of the body on the last day. Christian theology has changed a little in recent years towards a belief in a soul separate from the body and so some Christians cremate. Catholics and Orthodox are still reluctant to cremate and Muslims will always try for burial.
  20. Raghu, what is the context on the Shvetashvatara Upanishad that leads one to suppose that where it names Shiva it really means Vishnu? If it had been the other way round and Vishnu had been named would you not have claimed it as conclusive evidence from the shruti that Vishnu is the Supreme Deity? And can you dismiss any passage from the Mahabharata as interpolation just because it does not fit with what one would like to be there? All of these passages have been accepted by the critical editors who ruled out many others as interpolations. My point is that there is just as much evidence from shruti and smriti to show that Shiva is supreme as there is to show that Vishnu is supreme. One might therefore conclude that both Vishnu and Shiva are the Supreme Deity, otherwise one has to say that a text means Vishnu when it says Shiva and that passages of the Mahabharata should be rejected on no other grounds than that they do not confirm my own beliefs.
  21. Thank you for that explanation. It is rather similar to what Shankaracharya is saying. The Jiva is the unchanging Brahman but because of the influence of avidya it identifies itself as an individual person. Hence moksha is not a change of location or a change of the state of one's existence, it is just a change of perception from false to real.
  22. The same story is told by the Shiva Purana. There it explains that the linga represents Shiva in his ultimate nirguna identity; therefore it has not characteristic features. When Shiva takes the saguna form of Rudra he is represented by a murti, but linga worship is preferred because it represents Shiva in his highest form.
  23. This is also, I think, a problem for the Advaita Vada although the question is phrased a little differently. Here it is asked how it is that the absolute Brahman finds itself to be in a state of avidya and indeed whether avidya is Brahman. We are taught that we misidentify our own existence; we are Brahman but we conceive ourselves to be that which is not Brahman. But where did this illusion come from, how can it arise and why does it do so? I was listening to a very learned pandit from the Shankara Math lecturing on this subject and he said it was a subject that could not be known. And in a sense the present debate is parallel, albeit in a Vaishnava sort of way.
  24. Lover of the Bhagavata, I am not a Vaishnava but I think you are wrong to refer to Ramanuja's and Madhva's interpretations of sacred text as laughable. To assert that Shankara's commentary is superior without identifiable criteria of superiority has no meaning. You cannot construct a debate on that basis. My impression has been that Shankara is stronger on the Upanishads but not on the Gita where Ramanuja seems closer to the spirit of the text. But that is also just an opinion. And if you will accept a little advice: I think you should try to modify the way in which you address those you disagree with. You don't persuade people by rudeness and persons like myself who are more or less neutral get an unfavourable impression of your own path. If adhering to Advaita makes people rude, intolerant and aggressive then questions arise about its spiritual content. I don't think I would like to be that way inclined.
  25. Dark Warrior, you make strong assertions there about what is said in the Vedas but without proper references these don't carry too much weight. In the Mahabharata there are clear statements that show Shiva as the supreme deity. And of course I must find references to specific passages: you might look at the final two chapters of the Drona Parvan in which Krishna is referred to as a devotee of Shiva and generated by Shiva: sa esha rudra-bhaktas cha keshavo rudra-sambhavah. In the Sauptika Parvan Shiva manifests thousands of Vishnu forms from out of his body and again in chapters 14 to 17 of the Anushasana Parvan it is made clear that Shiva is the Supreme Deity. My point is not to refute Vaishnavism but to try to show that there is not a simple or easy conclusion to be drawn from sacred texts. There is plenty of evidence from both Shruti and Smriti to support a Shaiva theology just as there is to support the view that Vishnu is the Supreme Deity.
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