Rudraksha: The Beads Known as Shiva’s Tears

Rudraksha

The Beads Known as Shiva’s Tears

By Stephen Knapp

 

            According to legend, when Lord Shiva looked upon the suffering world, he shed a tear of compassion. From that tear grew the Rudraksha, which literally means “Rudra’s (Shiva’s) tears”. The name also means “Under the protection of Lord Rudra.”

            Rudraksha beads are naturally occurring seeds of the Elaeocarpus ganitrus tree. Each is identified by the number of “faces” or “mouths” (called mukhis in Sanskrit) that it has, which are the furrows that run the length of each seed. The Vedic texts speak of beads with one to up to 38 faces, but normally there are one to 14 faces that are used. In ancient times these naturally forming beads would have been appreciated by the forest dwelling sages for the ease with which meditation beads could be made from them. They only need to be picked from the ground and cleaned before being strung. The holes by which they are strung are natural in all beads with four faces or more.

            After some time it was noticed that the seeds had different features, like the various Vedic gods, such as four-headed Brahma, the six-headed Karttikeya, etc. Thus the number of faces indicate the presiding deity of that particular Rudraksha and the powers it was said to possess. The traditional attributes given to the Rudraksha bead were then recorded in the ancient Puranic histories which date back to the third millennia BCE.

            Rudrakshas are thought to possess many healing properties as well as magical powers. Their use as medicine, whether ground up and combined with other medicines or worn, has been documented far into ancient times. Today most people choose to avail themselves of those medicinal effects by wearing Rudraksha garlands or malas. A Rudraksha mala is said to lower blood pressure, calm the nerves, cool fevers, quiet the disturbed minds of those affected with insanity and other mental disorders. Rudraksha malas are worn by pregnant mothers to protect their unborn children and cool the body. In Ayurvedic terminology Rudraksha lowers Pitta, reduces Kapha and calms Vata. Drinking water in which a single bead has soaked overnight is thought to introduce these medicinal effects as well.

            It is most likely that in India you will see many yogis, munis, swamis and saints wearing strings of Rudraksha beads. The brown red bead has become quite popular. Today you will also see Rudraksha shaped into jewelry in the form of earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants and even buttons. It is also quite popular with Indian students as it is said to please the goddess Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, thus increasing the intellectual skills and communicative powers. It is also said to have anti-aging properties, and rejuvenate and revitalize the body, soul and mind.

            Each Rudraksha has particular mantras and certain days of the week for its use. Radraksha can be worn or kept in a place of worship. They should be honored as a manifestation of the Divine. One should not wear Rudraksha to the toilet or during sex, and ideally they should be bathed in scented oil and worshiped daily.

Another story of how the Rudraksha came to be is described in the Devi Bhagavata, Skandha 11. Once there lived an asura demon chief who was mighty and valiant. His name was Tripura. He defeated Devas and deva chiefs and became emperor of the asuras. The Devas were much grieved because of him. They went to Lord Shiva and represented their grievances. Shiva thought for a while about how to kill Tripura, and sat with open eyes. This sitting continued for a thousand divine years. After this pro­longed time Shiva winked his eyes and tears fell down from them. The Rudraksha tree originated from these tears. From the Sun-eye [the right eye] of Siva twelve types of Rudraksas came into being, from the moon-eye [left eye] sixteen kinds of Rudraksas developed, and from the fire-eye [in his forehead] ten kinds of Rudraksas originated. Those which originated from the Sun-eye are blood colored, those from the moon-eye are white Rudraksas, and from the fire-eye are black Rudraksas. It is said that boiled Rudraksa beads are considered for the Brahmins, red Rudraksa are for Kshatriyas, while white ones are for Vaisyas, and the black Rudraksha are for the Sudra varnas.

            Genuine Rudraksha are quite rare, especially the more exotic varieties. Some beads are much rarer than others and therefore demand a higher price. The special traits of the different Rudraksha beads are described as follows:
Single Faced Rudraksha

            The single faced Rudraksha is quite rare and is considered to be a manifestation of Lord Shiva. Hence the one faced Rudraksha bead should be  worn on the neck or kept in a place of worship and should certainly be rubbed with pure scented oil daily. The daily morning worship of the single faced Rudraksha is said to bring about all auspiciousness.

            Persons who keep one faced Rudraksha never run short of money, suffer from catastrophic diseases or sorrows. They become famous, wealthy and powerful. These Rudrakshas bring respect and honor to their wearers and create a general aura of favorable circumstances in all walks of life.

            The one faced Rudraksha should be worn on a red thread or string enclosed in a gold or silver cap. The mantra om namo shivaya should be chanted when worshiping or wearing this Rudraksha and the best day to wear it is said to be Monday.

            First rate quality single faced Rudrakshas are expensive and can be as high as $500 or more when available. The texts that describe Rudraksha state that there should be no consideration in the mind of the devotee that one bead may be stronger than another due to pricing in the market, size or other mundane attempts to measure the value of Rudraksha, which are directly Shiva himself, complete, absolute and immeasurable. Second rate quality seeds are said to possess the same powers. They are also available with silver caps ready for stringing.

Two Faced Rudraksha

            The two faced Rudraksha is said to represent Shiva-Shakti, the Cosmic Creative Principle and His Consort, the Manifestive Material Potency. Shiva and Parvati Devi are the two greatest bhaktas (practitioners of the yoga of devotion) and this Rudraksha is said to be of use to those who wish to advance on this path.

            The two faced Rudraksha should be worn on a red thread or a gold or silver chain. After touching it to the feet of a Shiva Linga or a deity of Durga Mata, it can be worn with reciting the mantra sri gauri shankaraya namaha.

Three Faced Rudraksha

            The three faced Rudraksha is said to represent the manifest trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the presiding deities of Creation, Maintenance and Destruction respectively. Those who wear the three faced Rudraksha are said to please all of the gods, and nullify all inauspicious planetary influences.

            The three faced Rudraksha should be washed in Ganges water and worn on three threads, white, yellow and red. It should be put on a Sunday after sunrise with the mantra om brahma vishnu mahesh devaya namaha.

Four Faced Rudraksha

            Four faced Rudraksha is considered to be a representation of four headed Brahma, the Creator of the material universe. Students, poets, scientists and those seeking academic posts, are advised to wear this Rudraksha. Those who wear it will become esteemed in social circles, learned, respected and honored, people will seek them out for advice and they will be given great responsibility. It should be strung on a red thread and worn on a Thursday with the mantra om brahma devaya namaha.

Five Faced Rudraksha

            The five faced Rudraksha is a manifestation of the five-headed Lord Shiva. It is the most common form of Rudraksha beads. Wearing it is said to satisfy all of one’s desires. It should be worn on a red thread after touching it to a Shiva Lingam while chanting the mantra om namaha shivaya on any day of the week. Japa (recitation of mantras) performed on a rosary of five faced Rudrakshas is always fruitful. The wearing of such a garland is also considered to be of great benefit.

Six Faced Rudraksha

            The six faced Rudraksha is said to represent Lord Shiva’s powerful and benevolent son, Kartikeya. Kartikeya, who has six heads, is the Commander-General of the celestial armies. Known to protect children from childhood diseases caused by witches, ghosts and other subtle causes, he is quite fierce in the protection of those who take shelter of him.

            Diseases of fire and blood are said to be alleviated by wearing this Rudraksha, including high blood pressure, all kinds of fevers, headaches, stomach problems, etc. For students and intellectual types the six faced Rudraksha is also recommended. It is also considered very useful in cases of mania and other mental disturbances, especially those with supernatural overtones.

            Three seeds should be worn together for the greatest effect on Monday after touching it to a Shiva Lingam with the mantra om shivaya kartikeyaya namaha.

Seven Faced Rudraksha

            The seven faced Rudraksha represents the seven forms of the Supreme goddess of Fortune, the Mother of the Universe, Sri Maha Lakshmi. This Rudraksha is said to bring money, luck and power to those who wear it. Those who are interested in success in business are recommended to wear this Rudraksha. The Lakshmi Rudraksha should be worn on a red thread after touching it to a Shiva Lingam while reciting the mantra om sri mahalakshmi namaha.

Eight Faced Rudraksha

            The eight faced Rudraksha represents the popular elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva, Ganesh. Lord Ganesh, who possesses eight forms, is the god of talents, opportunity, marriage and good luck. He is said to remove obstacles from our life’s path as well as make smooth and strong our determination to succeed. Useful on special occasions as well as for daily use, the eight faced Rudraksha should be worn on a red thread on any day of the week with the mantra sada mangalam ganeshaya namaha.

Nine Faced Rudraksha

            The nine faced Rudraksha represents the Goddess Durga, whose name means a “fortress” or “citadel”. Mother Durga, the Consort of Lord Shiva and who appears in nine forms, is the Great Goddess of the world and serves as the superintendent over those who are incarcerated here in this world. She wields twenty different weapons in ten different hands as well as her famous trident which represents miseries inflicted by the mind, the environment and other living beings. By wearing the nine faced Rudraksha it is said that she may relieve us of our burdens somewhat. This Rudraksha is especially recommended for women and Goddess worshipers and is said to grant them magical powers.

            The nine faced Rudraksha should be worn on a Monday on a red thread after washing it in Ganges water with the mantra maha shakti nava durgaya namaha.

Ten Faced Rudraksha

            The ten faced Rudraksha is sacred to Lord Vishnu, the worshipful deity of Shiva and Parvati. This Rudraksha is of greatest benefit to the worshipers of Lord Vishnu. Each face represents one of the ten principal incarnations of the Supreme Lord Krishna, which include the Tortoise, the Fish, the Boar, the half-lion and half-man, the Dwarf, Sita-Rama, Parashurama, Krishna Himself, Buddha, and Kalki.

            This Rudraksha is said to relieve the wearer of mental disease and anxiety, nullify all inauspicious planetary influences and cure insanity. Those who wear the ten faced Rudraksha also become truthful, sharp-minded and pure. It should be worn on a red thread on a Sunday or Thursday with the mantra om namo bhagavatey vasudevaya.

Eleven Faced Rudraksha

            Eleven faced Rudraksha represent the eleven Rudras, or the personification of universal anger that manifests at the end of the universe to destroy the cosmic manifestation. This Rudraksha is considered an acceptable substitute for the rare one faced Rudraksha. This Rudraksha removes all sorrows and disease and endows its owner with a long and happy life.

            The eleven faced Rudraksha should be worn on a red or yellow thread before sunrise with the mantra sarva shaktim ishta devaya namaha. No more than one eleven faced Rudraksha should be worn at a time.

Twelve Faced Rudraksha

            The twelve faced Rudraksha represents Surya, the Sun god who lives in twelve houses (the zodiac). Those who wear this Rudraksha are blessed with progeny, health, radiance, good fortune, beauty and eloquence. This Rudraksha should be worn on a yellow thread with the mantra om surya narayanaya namaha.

            The Surya Rudraksha should be worn or put on during a Sunday at sunrise. Only one twelve faced bead should be worn at a time.

Thirteen Faced Rudraksha

            The thirteen faced Rudraksha is a representation of Rajendradev, or Indra, the king of the gods. This Rudraksha affords the wearer all regard. It is said to advance a person into positions of leadership and is very important for those in administrative positions. It is also said to confer wealth, land and titles upon the wearer. It should be worn on a yellow thread, near the heart, with the mantra devya indra devaya namaha.

Fourteen Faced Rudraksha

            The fourteen faced Rudraksha is an extremely rare manifestation of Lord Shiva, Mahadeva. Second only in potency to the one faced Rudraksha they often are more difficult to find. Considered to confer perfect health and happiness on those who wear it, the fourteen faced Rudraksha is very beneficial and extremely auspicious. For those who desire a radical change in their lives, this rare talisman can create a wondrous effect.

            The fourteen faced Rudraksha should be worn on a Monday morning after washing it with Ganges water and touching it to a Shiva lingam with the mantra om nama shivaya.

Gauri-Shankara Beads

            Gauri-Shankara seeds are rare. They are two beads that have grown together in a pair. It is said to bring wealth, health and marital happiness into the home where it is worshiped. It is considered, by authorities, to be more effective than the one faced Rudraksha. Scented oil should be put on the Gauri-Shankara bead daily, and it should be worn on a red or yellow thread, after touching it to a Shiva Lingam, with the mantra om shiv shakti rudraya namaha.

Thirteen Bead Mala

            This is a special Rudraksha collector’s talisman of great rarity, power and beauty. A mysterious and fascinating gift. It consists of one of each of the 13 different Rudraksha beads strung on a thread, spaced with smaller beads. It can be worn around the neck.

Religious Unity: Why There Could be a One World Religion

Religious Unity:

Why There Could Be a One

 World Religion

By Stephen Knapp

Is religious unity a dream that can never be fulfilled? Can it never be a reality? I feel that it can be.

If we are mature enough to see the purpose of each religion or spiritual path, we will recognize that there is very little difference between them. Once we get past the superficialities and variations, like dress, language, rituals, diet, or architectural styles of churches or temples, we can see that the essence of each religion is the same. That is to pray to God, sing His praises, discuss His pastimes and instructions, study the guidance of the prophets or messengers of God, and to think of God or meditate on Him in any number of ways. The process is the same, summarized as hearing about God, chanting or singing about Him, and remembering and serving God. That’s it. Anything else is an expansion of these items. The goal is the same: To learn how to surrender to God and love Him with all our hearts and minds, and then to treat and love others as parts and parcels of God. Simple.

Why do we gather at temples, churches or mosques? Simply to learn and practice how to do this, and associate with others who wish to do the same. Thereby we all help each other in this direction.

Though the essential spiritual process is no different, there may be regional variations. There may be differences in dress, but that often depends on climatic necessities and customs. However, in religious dress, though it may be dissimilar from one religion to the next, it is nonetheless for the same purpose: To remind each other of God, and to indicate one as a man or woman of God, or to show that the human body is the original temple of God. Thus, by this means we all become more conscious of God. Some also shave their heads, or leave a tuft of hair on top, or put markings on the forehead. This is also to indicate that the body is a temple, or that one may be a monk who is following a particular code of conduct or school of spiritual thought. Every religion has particular marks or expressions to indicate the same meanings. It is merely a matter of understanding them. Once something is understood, it no longer seems so strange.

Rituals may also be different, and people of another culture may misunderstand what they see. Nonetheless, all of it is actually worship of the same God, or different ways to acquire spiritual merit or blessings. Naturally, there is only one God. Every religion says that.

However, we also find that the names of God may change according to locality. Yet, when interpreted, they invariably have similar meanings. We also may see different images or representations of God in temples or churches. In Christianity, you have the cross, images of Jesus, or even his servants and devotees like Mother Mary, the apostles, etc., who are all given worship or respect in the church. While in the Hindu temples you may have Deities of Krishna or Vishnu and His incarnations, all of which represent or are expansions of the same God. You may also see images of the demigods, the Lord’s administrative assistants and servants, who are given respect because they can also give blessings to one on the road to devotion and spirituality. Thus, these religions are not much different. It only requires the open-mindedness to recognize the similarities.

Therefore, a sincere Christian or sincere Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist, Sikh, Jain, etc., can easily get along with one another because they can see that they are all men of God with the same purpose. And that is to help one another toward greater heights in their understanding and devotion to the Supreme Being.

In this way, we can see that the purpose of each religion is the same, and there is no need to make everyone of the same particular faith. There is no reason to make a conversion campaign. Everyone can stay loyal to the religion of their own preference while recognizing and being open to understanding the ways of other cultures and spiritual paths. Being open-minded to learning about other religions will actually increase our understanding of God. Each religion essentially has the same purpose, but they may also have different levels of knowledge and realizations of the nature of God. Some are more aware of His fearsome and controlling aspects, and may refer to Him as an angry or jealous God. Other religions, such as the Vedic path, are more aware of God’s loving pastimes, and elaborate on them. So, each religion points toward God but may provide a different view of His character, personality and traits. Thus, as we study the different religions, our understanding of God increases.

The core differences between any genuine religion is the time in history it appeared, the place where it originated, and the people who were involved. According to the people who were taught and their ability to comprehend spiritual topics, they were given different levels of understanding God. These are the reasons for the cultural differences and varying levels of spiritual knowledge between them. However, from a spiritual perspective these differences are not very deep. They all point in the same direction and are for the same purpose. So every path shares a greater common ground than most people are aware of until they begin to understand each other better. As I’ve said, take any religion and you will see that the customs may be somewhat different, yet the essential purpose is the same. That’s what we must focus on. When we do that we will see that we are all children of the same God, and, thus, we are all spiritual brothers and sisters of the same Supreme Father. In essence, everyone is a spiritual being. We are all the same. And any religion is meant to reawaken that realization and perception. When we actually see that, then we should be able to reconnect ourselves to God, or express our devotion, no matter whether we go to a Christian church, Hindu temple, Muslim mosque, or Sikh gurudwara. We will see that they all offer the same opportunity, in essence, and that is, as I’ve said, to pray to God, sing His praises, discuss His pastimes and instructions, study the guidance of the prophets or messengers of God, and to think of God or meditate on Him in any number of ways.

The only thing we have to do is to increase our own spiritual understanding and relate to all people and all beings in that way. To practically see the Divinity of God in all, without judgmental bias or prejudice, is the true way to establish peace and harmony on earth. It is the essence of all religions in which we can all practice and participate. In this spiritual direction, which has been recommended the world over, other than one’s own immature prejudice, there are no superficial differences, such as race, creed, nationality, tradition, sex, age, etc., that can interfere or stop the people of the world from being united and engaging in this process together, for this is the One World Religion.

(Read my article, “When Religions Create Divisions and How to Avoid It” for more thoughts on this matter.)

Reincarnation: A Simple Explanation

Reincarnation: A Simple Explanation

By Stephen Knapp

  

            Reincarnation is called samsara in the classic Vedic texts of India. The word samsara is Sanskrit and means being bound to the cycle of repeated birth and death through numerous lifetimes. How this works is that those who are materially conditioned transmigrate through different bodies according to one’s desires and past activities (or karma) and familiarities. Their desires, if materially motivated, requires a physical body to enable them to continue to work out their material longings in various conditions of life.

            Generally, in the Eastern traditions it is considered that all forms of life or species have souls, which is the entity who reincarnates. Previous to when an entity is ready to incarnate as a human being on Earth, the soul may have gone through a whole series of lives in order to experience various levels of existence and consciousness. The principle is that an entity may actually progress through the different species of life, gradually working their way up until they reach the human form. Of course, the body is only the covering of the soul in which it appears. The living being will continually move upward in its cycles of reincarnation until it has experienced all the main varieties of existences that the material realm has to offer. This way the living being is fully experienced in working out material desires or longings in all kinds of forms by the time it reaches the human stage. Of course, not every being may have to go through all of this.

            How reincarnation works is most elaborately described in the Vedic texts of India. The Bhagavad-gita (8.6) explains that whatever state of consciousness one attains when he or she quits this body, a similar state will be attained in the next life. This means that after the person has lived his or her life, the numerous variegated activities of the person forms an aggregated consciousness. All of our thoughts and actions throughout our life will collectively influence the state of being we are in at the time of death. This consciousness will determine what that person is thinking of at the end of one’s life. This last thought and consciousness will then direct where that person will most likely go in the next life because this state of being carries over from this life into the next.

            As it is further explained, the living entity in the material world carries the different levels of consciousness from one body to another in the same way the air carries aromas. In other words, we cannot see the aromas that the air carries, yet it can be perceived by the sense of smell. In a similar way, we cannot see the types of consciousness that the living being has developed, but it is carried from this body at the time of death and proceeds to another body in the next life to take up where it left off from the preceding existence. Of course, the next life may be in another physical body or in a subtle body in between births, or even in heavenly or hellish states of being. 

            After death, one continues the consciousness that was cultivated during life. It is our thought patterns that build the consciousness, which then directs us toward the required experience after death. One’s state of consciousness or conception of life exists in the subtle body, which consists of mind, intelligence and false ego. The soul is covered by this subtle body, which exists within the gross material form. When the physical vehicle can no longer function, the subtle body and soul are forced out of it. Then, when the time is right, they are placed in another physical frame which properly accommodates the state of mind of the living entity. This is how the mental state which attracts the dying man determines how he begins his next life. If the dying man is absorbed in thoughts of material gain or sensual pleasures of wife, family, relatives, home, etc., then he must, at some point, get another material body to continue pursuing his worldly interests. After all, how can one satisfy his material desires without a material body?

            For this reason, it is best that a person always cultivate pious activities and spiritual thoughts to help him or her enter a better life after death. If a person has tried to cut the knots of attachment to materialistic life, and engaged in spiritual activities, to the degree of advancement the person has made, he or she can go to a heavenly realm after death, or even reach the kingdom of God.

       In any case, we can begin to understand that dying in the right consciousness in order to become free from the cycle of birth and death is an art that takes practice. We have to prepare for the moment of death so that we are not caught off guard or in an unsuitable state of mind. This is one of the purposes of yoga.

            After what can be millions of births and deaths through many forms of life, trying to satisfy all of one’s material desires, the soul may begin to get tired of these continuous attempts for happiness that often turn out to be so temporary. Then the person may turn toward finding spiritual meaning in life. In one’s search for higher meaning, depending on the level of consciousness that a person develops, he or she can gradually enter higher and higher levels of development. Finally, if a person detects that he is actually not this body but a spiritual being within it, and reaches a spiritual level of consciousness, he can perfect his life so that he will enter the spiritual strata and no longer have to incarnate in the physical world. Thus, liberation is attained through Self-realization and the development of devotional service to God, which is the perfection of the spiritual path. Through human existence on Earth, the doorway to many other planes of existence is possible, including entrance into the spiritual world. It only depends on how we use this life.

            The idea that a person has only one life to either become qualified to enter heaven or enter eternal damnation offers the soul no means of rehabilitation and only endless misery. This is not reasonable. The doctrine of reincarnation gives anyone   ample scope to correct and re-educate himself in future births. An eternity in hell means that an infinite effect is produced by a finite cause, which is illogical. God has not created men to become nothing more than ever-lasting fuel to feed the fires of hell. Such a purpose in His creation would not come from an ever-loving God, but comes from the faulty ideas of man and his imperfect conceptions of God. After all, how many spotless men could there be in this world?  Who  has  such  a  pure  character to receive an immediate pass to heaven? The Bhagavad-gita explains that even the worst sinner can cross the ocean of birth and death by ascending the boat of transcendental knowledge. We simply have to be sincere in reaching that boat.

            Furthermore, a person reaps the results of his sinful deeds for a limited amount of time. After being purged of one’s sins, meaning suffering the painful reactions from one’s bad activities, a person, knowing right from wrong, can have a fresh chance to freely work for his emancipation from further entanglement in material life. When he deserves and attains such freedom, the soul can enjoy perfect and eternal bliss in its devotional union with the Supreme Being. This is why it is always encouraged for one to strive for spiritual knowledge and the practice of enlightenment. By developing sincere and purified devotion for the Lord, one does not have to worry about one’s future birth. Once a person has started this path of devotion, each life will take one closer to spiritual perfection, in whatever situation one finds him or herself. 

            So a person is encouraged to repent for one’s sins or ill choices that were made while under the influence of lust, anger or greed, and cultivate forgiveness, purity and generosity. A person should also engage in charity, penance, meditation, japa (personal chanting of the Lord’s holy names), kirtan (congregational singing of the Lord’s holy names), and other spiritual practices, which destroy all sins and removes all doubts about spiritual knowledge. Then through steady practice one can gradually reach the spiritual world and be free from any further entanglement in reincarnation. 

            [Reincarnation is a complex topic in which much more information is needed to get e better grasp of the topic. You can find this additional Vedic knowledge about it in the books “Reincarnation and Karma: How They Really Affect Us” as well as “The Secret Teachings of the Vedas”, and “The Heart of Hinduism”.]

Reestablishing the Date of Lord Buddha

Reestablishing the Date of

 Lord Buddha

by Stephen Knapp

(Excerpt from Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence)

Most of us are taught that Buddha was born around 560 to 550 B.C. However, once we start doing some research, we find evidence that this date may be too late. Buddha may have been born much earlier.

For example, in Some Blunders of Indian Historical Research (p. 189), P. N. Oak explains that the Puranas provide a chronology of the Magadha rulers. During the time of the Mahabharata war, Somadhi (Marjari) was the ruler. He started a dynasty that included 22 kings that spread over 1006 years. They were followed by five rulers of the Pradyota dynasty that lasted over 138 years. Then for the next 360 years was the 10 rulers of the Shishunag family. Kshemajit (who ruled from 1892 to 1852 B.C.) was the fourth in the Shishunag dynasty, and was a contemporary of Lord Buddha’s father, Shuddhodana. It was during this period in which Buddha was born. It was during the reign of Bimbisara, the fifth Shishunag ruler (1852-1814 B.C.), when Prince Siddhartha became the enlightened Buddha. Then it was during the reign of King Ajatashatru (1814-1787 B.C.) when Buddha left this world. Thus, he was born in 1887 B.C., renounced the world in 1858 B.C., and died in 1807 B.C. according to this analysis.

Further evidence that helps corroborate this is provided in The Age of Buddha, Milinda and King Amtiyoka and Yuga Purana, by Pandit Kota Venkatachalam. He also describes that it is from the Puranas, especially the Bhagavat Purana and the Kaliyurajavruttanta, that need to be consulted for the description of the Magadha royal dynasties to determine the date of Lord Buddha. Buddha was the 23rd in the Ikshvaku lineage, and was a contemporary of Kshemajita, Bimbisara, and Ajatashatru, as described above. Buddha was 72 years old in 1814 B.C. when the coronation of Ajatashatru took place. Thus, the date of Buddha’s birth must have been near 1887 B.C., and his death in 1807 B.C. if he lived for 80 years.

Professor K. Srinivasaraghavan also relates in his book, Chronology of Ancient Bharat (Part Four, Chapter Two), that the time of Buddha should be about 1259 years after the Mahabharata war, which should make it around 1880 B.C. if the war was in 3138 B.C. Furthermore, astronomical calculations by astronomer Swami Sakhyananda indicates that the time of the Buddha was in the Kruttika period, between 2621-1661 B.C.

Therefore, the fact that Buddha lived much earlier than what modern history teaches us has a number of ramifications. First, the time of the Buddha’s existence is underestimated by about 1300 years. Secondly, this means that Buddhism was in existence in the second millennium B.C. Thirdly, we also know Buddha preached against the misused Vedic rituals of animal sacrifice. Such misuse or misinterpretation of something in a culture generally only happens after a long period of prominence. So the purer aspect of Vedic culture must have been around for many hundreds if not thousands of years before its tradition began to be misused. Therefore, this pushes the Vedic period to a much earlier time from that of Buddha than originally figured, and much earlier than many people have calculated. And lastly, everything else we have figured according to the time frame of the appearance of Buddha now has to be re-calculated. Again we find that history has to be adjusted away from the speculations of modern researchers, and that many of the advancements in society and philosophy, as outlined in the Vedic texts, had taken place much earlier than many people want to admit.

The Ramayana Summarized

THE RAMAYANA SUMMARIZED

 

Telling the story of Rama during Rama-Navami or Navaratri bears a special significance. The present day celebration of Durga worship (puja) and Dasshera are related to Rama’s life. The traditional Durga worship was performed in the spring season now known as Basanti puja. Rama worshiped the divine mother Durga and prayed to her to give him the strength to slay Ravana. Ravana was slain on the day of Dasshera, the tenth day of Navaratri. The coronation of Rama was held on the Diwali day, the following New moon day, that comes about three weeks after Dasshera.

 

As of today, the celebrations of Navaratri, Dasshera and Diwali come sequentially. Navaratri marks the beginning of Rama’s prayer to Goddess Durga to obtain the divine power to kill Ravana. Then Rama received the divine power on the eighth day of Navaratri (Ashthami). Finally, Ravana was killed on the day of Dasshera. Diwali celebrates Rama’s triumphant return to Ayodhya and his coronation.

 

Our story of Rama is divided into four parts:

 

1. Early life of Rama.

 

2. Rama’s exile.

 

3. Abduction of Sita (Rama’s wife) and

 

4. Slaying of Ravana, the abductor of Sita, and Rama’s coronation.

 

 

Dasharatha was the king of Kosala, an ancient kingdom that was located in present day Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya was its capital. Dasharatha was loved by one and all. His subjects were happy and his kingdom was prosperous. Even though Dasharatha had everything that he desired, he was very sad at heart; he had no children.

 

During the same time, there lived a powerful Rakshasa king in the island of Ceylon, located just south of India. He was called Ravana. His tyranny knew no bounds, his subjects disturbed the prayers of holy men.

 

The childless Dasharatha was advised by his family priest Vashishtha to perform a fire sacrifice ceremony to seek the blessings of God for children. Vishnu, the preserver of the universe, decided to manifest himself as the eldest son of Dasharatha in order to kill Ravana. While performing the fire worship ceremony, a majestic figure rose from the sacrificial fire and handed to Dasharatha a bowl of rice pudding, saying, “God is pleased with you and has asked you to distribute this rice pudding (payasa) to your wives – they will soon bear your children.”

 

The king received the gift joyfully and distributed the payasa to his three queens, Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra. Kausalya, the eldest queen, gave birth to the eldest son Rama. Bharata, the second son was born to Kaikeyi and Sumitra gave birth to the twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Rama’s birthday is celebrated now as Ramanavami.

 

The four princes grew up to be tall, strong, handsome, and brave. Of the four brothers, Rama was closest to Lakshmana and Bharata to Shatrughna. One day, the revered sage Viswamitra came to Ayodhya. Dasharatha was overjoyed and immediately got down from his throne and received him with great honor.

 

Viswamitra blessed Dasharatha and asked him to send Rama to kill the Rakshasas who were disturbing his fire sacrifice. Rama was then only fifteen years old. Dasharatha was taken aback. Rama was too young for the job. He offered himself, but sage Viswamitra knew better. The sage insisted upon his request and assured the king that Rama would be safe in his hands. Ultimately, Dasharatha agreed to send Rama, along with Lakshmana, to go with Viswamitra. Dasharatha strictly ordered his sons to obey Rishi Viswamitra and fulfill all his wishes. The parents blessed the two young princes. They then departed with the sage (Rishi).

 

The party of Viswamitra, Rama, and Lakshmana soon reached Dandaka forest where the Rakshasi Tadaka lived with her son Maricha. Viswamitra asked Rama to challenge her. Rama strung his bow and twanged the string. The wild animals ran helter-skelter in fear. Tadaka heard the sound and she became incensed. Mad with rage, roaring thunderously, she rushed at Rama. A fierce battle ensued between the huge Rakshasi and Rama. Finally, Rama pierced her heart with a deadly arrow and Tadaka crashed down to the earth. Viswamitra was pleased. He taught Rama several Mantras (divine chants), with which Rama could summon many divine weapons (by meditation) in order to fight against evil

 

Viswamitra then proceeded, with Rama and Lakshmana, towards his ashram. When they started the fire sacrifice, Rama and Lakshmana were guarding the place. Suddenly Maricha, Tadaka’s ferocious son, arrived with his followers. Rama silently prayed and discharged the newly acquired divine weapons at Maricha. Maricha was thrown many, many miles away into the sea. All other demons were slain by Rama and Lakshmana. Viswamitra completed the sacrifice and the sages rejoiced and blessed the princes.

 

The next morning, Viswamitra, Rama, and Lakshmana headed towards the city of Mithila, the capital of the kingdom of Janaka. King Janaka invited Viswamitra to attend the great fire sacrifice ceremony that he had arranged. Viswamitra had something in mind – to get Rama married to the lovely daughter of Janaka.

 

Janaka was a saintly king. He received a bow from Lord Siva. It was strong and heavy.

 

He wanted his beautiful daughter Sita to marry the bravest and strongest prince in the country. So he had vowed that he would give Sita in marriage only to the one who could string that great bow of Siva. Many had tried before. None could even move the bow, let alone string it.

 

When Viswamitra arrived with Rama and Lakshmana at the court, King Janaka received them with great respect. Viswamitra introduced Rama and Lakshmana to Janaka and requested that he show the bow of Siva to Rama so that he could try to string it. Janaka looked at the young prince and assented doubtfully. The bow was stored in an iron box mounted on an eight-wheeled chariot. Janaka ordered his men to bring the bow and place it in the middle of a big hall filled with many dignitaries.

 

Rama then stood up in all humility, picked up the bow with ease, and got ready for the stringing. He placed one end of the bow against his toe, put forth his might, and bent the bow to string it-when to everyone’s surprise the bow snapped in two! Sita was relieved. She had liked Rama right at the first sight.

 

Dasharatha was immediately informed. He gladly gave his consent to the marriage and came to Mithila with his retinue. Janaka arranged for a grand wedding. Rama and Sita were married. At the same time, the three other brothers were also provided with brides. Lakshmana married Sita’s sister Urmila. Bharata and Shatrughna married Sita’s cousins Mandavi and Shrutakirti. After the wedding, Viswamitra blessed them all and left for the Himalayas to meditate. Dasharatha returned to Ayodhya with his sons and their new brides. People celebrated the marriage with great pomp and show.

 

For the next twelve years Rama and Sita lived happily in Ayodhya. Rama was loved by all. He was a joy to his father, Dasharatha, whose heart nearly burst with pride when he beheld his son. As Dasharatha was growing older, he summoned his ministers seeking their opinion about crowning Rama as prince of Ayodhya. They unanimously welcomed the suggestion. Then Dasharatha announced the decision and gave orders for the coronation of Rama. During this time, Bharata and his favorite brother, Shatrughna, had gone to see their maternal grandfather and were absent from Ayodhya.

 

Kaikeyi, Bharata’s mother, was in the palace rejoicing with the other queens, sharing the happy news of Rama’s coronation. She loved Rama as her own son; but her wicked maid, Manthara, was unhappy. Manthara wanted Bharata to be the king so she devised a heinous plan to thwart Ramas coronation. As soon as the plan was set firmly in her mind, she rushed to Kaikeyi to tell her.

 

“What a fool you are!” Manthara said to Kaikeyi, “The king has always loved you more than the other queens. But the moment Rama is crowned, Kausalya will become all powerful and she will make you her slave.”

 

Manthara repeatedly gave her poisoned suggestions, clouding Kaikeyis mind and heart with suspicion and doubt. Kaikeyi, confused and distraught, finally agreed to Mantharas plan.

 

“But what can I do to change it?” asked Kaikeyi with a puzzled mind.

 

Manthara was clever enough to chalk out her plan all the way. She had been waiting for Kaikeyi to ask her advice.

 

“You may recall that long ago when Dasharatha was badly wounded in the battle field, while fighting with the Asuras, you saved Dasraratha’s life by swiftly driving his chariot to safety? At that time Dasharatha offered you two boons. You said you would ask for the boons some other time.” Kaikeyi readily remembered.

 

Manthara continued, “Now the time has come to demand those boons. Ask Dasharatha for your first boon to make Bharat the king of Kosal and for the second boon to banish Rama to the forest for fourteen years.”

 

Kakeyi was a noble-hearted queen, now trapped by Manthara. She agreed to do what Manthara said. Both of them knew that Dasharatha would never fall back on his words.

 

The night before the coronation, Dasharatha came to Kakeyi to share his happiness at seeing Rama the crown prince of Kosala. But Kakeyi was missing from her apartment. She was in her “anger room”. When Dasharatha came to her anger room to inquire, he found his beloved queen lying on the floor with her hair loose and her ornaments cast away.

 

Dasharatha gently took Kakeyi’s head on his lap and asked in a caressing voice, “What is wrong?”

 

But Kakeyi angrily shook herself free and firmly said; “You have promised me two boons. Now please grant me these two boons. Let Bharata be crowned as king and not Rama. Rama should be banished from the kingdom for fourteen years.”

 

Dasharatha could hardly believe his ears. Unable to bear what he had heard, he fell down unconscious. When he returned to his senses, he cried out in helpless anger, “What has come over you? What harm has Rama done to you? Please ask for anything else but these.”

 

Kakeyi stood firm and refused to yield. Dasharatha fainted and lay on the floor the rest of the night. The next morning, Sumantra, the minister, came to inform Dasharatha that all the preparations for the coronation were ready. But Dasharatha was not in a position to speak to anyone. Kakeyi asked Sumantra to call Rama immediately. When Rama arrived, Dasharatha was sobbing uncontrollably and could only utter “Rama! Rama!”

 

Rama was alarmed and looked at Kakeyi with surprise, “Did I do anything wrong, mother? I have never seen my father like this before.”

 

“He has something unpleasant to tell you, Rama,” replied Kakeyi. “Long ago your father had offered me two boons. Now I demand it.” Then Kakeyi told Rama about the boons.

 

“Is that all mother?” asked Rama with a smile. “Please take it that your boons are granted. Call for Bharata. I shall start for the forest today.”

 

Rama did his pranams to his revered father, Dasharatha, and to his stepmother, Kakeyi, and then left the room. Dasharatha was in shock. He painfully asked his attendants to move him to Kaushalya’s apartment. He was waiting for death to ease his pain.

 

The news of Rama’s exile spread like a fire. Lakshmana was furious with his father’s decision. Rama simply replied, “Is it worthwhile to sacrifice your principle for the sake of this small kingdom?”

 

Tears sprang from Lakshmana’s eyes and he said in a low voice, “If you must go to the forest, take me along with you.” Rama agreed.

 

Then Rama proceeded to Sita and asked her to stay behind. “Look after my mother, Kausalya, in my absence.”

 

Sita begged, “Have pity on me. A wife’s position is always beside her husband. Don’t leave me behind. Ill die without you.” At last Rama permitted Sita to follow him.

 

Urmila, Lakshamans wife, also wanted to go with Lakshmana to the forest. But Lakshmana explained to her the life that he plans to lead for the protection of Rama and Sita.

 

“If you accompany me, Urmila,” Lakshmana said, “I may not be able to fulfill my duties. Please take care of our grieved family members.” So Urmila stayed behind on Lakshmana’s request.

 

By that evening Rama, Sita and Lakshmana left Ayodhya on a chariot driven by Sumatra. They were dressed like mendicants (Rishis). The people of Ayodhya ran behind the chariot crying loudly for Rama. By nightfall they all reached the bank of the river, Tamasa. Early the next morning Rama awoke and told Sumantra, “The people of Ayodhya love us very much but we have to be on our own. We must lead the life of a hermit, as I promised. Let us continue our journey before they wake up.”

 

So, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, driven by Sumantra, continued their journey alone. After travelling the entire day they reached the bank of the Ganges and decided to spend the night under a tree near a village of hunters. The chieftain, Guha, came and offered them all the comforts of his house. But Rama replied, “Thank you Guha, I appreciate your offer as a good friend but by accepting your hospitality I will break my promise. Please allow us to sleep here as the hermits do.”

 

Next morning the three, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, said goodbye to Sumantra and Guha and got into a boat to cross the river, Ganges. Rama addressed Sumantra, “Return to Ayodhya and console my father.”

 

By the time Sumantra reached Ayodhya Dasharatha was dead, crying until his last breath, “Rama, Rama, Rama!” Vasishtha sent a messenger to Bharata asking him to return to Ayodhya without disclosing the details.

Bharata immediately returned with Shatrughna. As he entered the city of Ayodhya, he realized that something was terribly wrong. The city was strangely silent. He went straight to his mother, Kaikeyi. She looked pale. Bharat impatiently asked, “Where is father?” He was stunned by the news. Slowly he learned about Ramas exile for fourteen years and Dasharathas demise with the departure of Rama.

 

Bharata could not believe that his mother was the cause of the disaster. Kakyei tried to make Bharata understand that she did it all for him. But Bharata turned away from her with disgust and said, “Don’t you know how much I love Rama? This kingdom is worth nothing in his absence. I am ashamed to call you my mother. You are heartless. You killed my father and banished my beloved brother. I will not have anything to do with you for as long as I live.” Then Bharata left for Kaushalyas apartment. Kakyei realized the mistake she made.

 

Kaushalya received Bharata with love and affection. Addressing Bharata she said, “Bharata, the kingdom is waiting for you. No one will oppose you for ascending the throne. Now that your father is gone, I would also like to go to the forest and live with Rama.”

 

Bharata could not contain himself any further. He burst into tears and promised Kaushalya to bring Rama back to Ayodhya as quickly as possible. He understood the throne rightfully belonged to Rama. After completing the funeral rites for Dasharatha, Bharata started for Chitrakut where Rama was staying. Bharata halted the army at a respectful distance and walked alone to meet Rama. Seeing Rama, Bharata fell at his feet begging forgiveness for all the wrong doings.

 

When Rama asked, “How is father?” Bharat began to cry and broke the sad news; “Our father has left for heaven. At the time of his death, he constantly took your name and never recovered from the shock of your departure.” Rama collapsed. When he came to senses he went to river, Mandakini, to offer prayers for his departed father.

 

The next day, Bharata asked Rama to return to Ayodhya and rule the kingdom. But Rama firmly replied, “I cannot possibly disobey my father. You rule the kingdom and I shall carry out my pledge. I will come back home only after fourteen years.”

 

When Bharata realized Ramas firmness in fulfilling his promises, he begged Rama to give him his sandals. Bharata told Rama the sandals will represent Rama and he would carry out the duties of the kingdom only as Ramas representative. Rama gracefully agreed. Bharata carried the sandals to Ayodhya with great reverence. After reaching the capital, he placed the sandals on the throne and ruled the kingdom in Ramas name. He left the palace and lived like a hermit, as Rama did, counting the days of Ramas return.

 

When Bharata left, Rama went to visit Sage Agastha. Agastha asked Rama to move to Panchavati on the bank of Godavari River. It was a beautiful place. Rama planned to stay at Panchavati for some time. So, Lakshamana quickly put up an elegant hut and they all settled down.

 

Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana, lived in Panchavati. Ravana was then the most powerful Asura king who lived in Lanka (today’s Ceylon). One day Surpanakha happened to see Rama and instantly fell in love with him. She requested Rama to be her husband.

 

Rama was amused, and smilingly said, “As you see I am already married. You can request Lakshmana. He is young, handsome and is alone without his wife.”

 

Surpanakha took Rama’s word seriously and approached Lakshmana. Lakshmana said, “I am Rama’s servant. You should marry my master and not me, the servant.”

 

Surpanakha got furious with the rejection and attacked Sita in order to devour her. Lakshmana swiftly intervened, and cut off her nose with his dagger. Surpanakha ran away with her bleeding nose, crying in pain, to seek help from her Asura brothers, Khara and Dushana. Both the brothers got red with anger and marched their army towards Panchavati. Rama and Lakshmana faced the Rakshasas and finally they were all killed.

 

Surpanakha was terror stricken. She immediately flew to Lanka to seek her brother Ravana’s protection. Ravana was outraged to see her sister mutilated. Surpanakha described all that happened. Ravana was interested when he heard that Sita is the most beautiful woman in the world, Ravana decided to abduct Sita. Rama loved Sita very much and could not live without her.

 

Ravana made a plan and went to see Maricha. Maricha had the power of changing himself into any form he wanted along with the appropriate voice imitation. But Maricha was afraid of Rama. He still could not get over the experience he had when Rama shot an arrow that hurled him far into the sea. This happened in Vashishtha’s hermitage. Maricha tried to persuade Ravana to stay away from Rama but Ravana was determined.

 

“Maricha!” shouted Ravana, “You have only two choices, help me to carry out my plan or prepare for death.” Maricha preferred to die in Rama’s hand than be killed by Ravana. So he agreed to help Ravana in the abduction of Sita.

 

Maricha took the form of a beautiful golden deer and began to graze near Rama’s cottage in Panchavati. Sita was attracted towards the golden deer and requested Rama to get the golden deer for her. Lakshmana warned that the golden deer may be a demon in disguise. By then Rama already started to chase the deer. He hurriedly instructed Lakshmana to look after Sita and ran after the deer. Very soon Rama realized that the deer is not a real one. He shot an arrow which hit the deer and Maricha was exposed.

 

Before dying, Maricha imitated Ram’s voice and shouted, “Oh Lakshmana! Oh Sita,! Help! Help!”

 

Sita heard the voice and asked Lakshmana to run and rescue Rama. Lakshmana was hesitant. He was confident that Rama is invincible and the voice was only a fake. He tried to convince Sita but she insisted. Finally Lakshmana agreed. Before his departure, he drew a magic circle, with the tip of his arrow, around the cottage and asked her not to cross the line.

 

“As long as you stay within the circle you will be safe with the grace of God” said Lakshmana and hurriedly left in search of Rama.

 

From his hiding place Ravana was watching all that was happening. He was glad that his trick worked. As soon as he found Sita alone, he disguised himself as a hermit and came near Sita’s cottage. He stood beyond the protection line of Lakshmana, and asked for alms (bhiksha). Sita came out with a bowl full of rice to offer to the holy man, while staying within the protection line drawn by Lakshmana. The hermit asked her to come near and offer. Sita was unwilling to cross the line when Ravana pretended to leave the place without alms. As Sita did not want to annoy the sage, she crossed the line to offer the alms.

 

Ravana did not lose the opportunity. He quickly pounced on Sita and seized her hands, declaring, “I am Ravana, the king of Lanka. Come with me and be my queen.” Very soon Ravana’s chariot left the ground and flew over the clouds on way to Lanka.

 

Rama felt distressed when he saw Lakshmana. “Why did you leave Sita alone? The golden deer was Maricha in disguise. “

 

Lakshman tried to explain the situation when both the brothers suspected a foul play and ran towards the cottage. The cottage was empty, as they feared. They searched, and called out her name but all in vain. Finally they were exhausted. Lakshmana tried to console Rama as best as he could. Suddenly they heard a cry. They ran towards the source and found a wounded eagle lying at the floor. It was Jatayu, the king of eagles and a friend of Dasharatha.

 

Jatayu narrated with great pain, “I saw Ravana abducting Sita. I attacked him when Ravana cut my wing and made me helpless. Then he flew towards the south.” After saying this, Jatayu died on the lap of Rama. Rama and Lakshmana burried Jatayu and then moved towards the south.

 

On their way, Rama and Lakshmana met a ferocious demon, called Kabandha. Kabandha attacked Rama and Lakshmana. When he was about to devour them, Rama struck Kabandha with a fatal arrow. Before his death, Kabandh disclosed his identity. He had a beautiful form which was changed by a curse to the form of a monster. Kabandha requested Rama and Lakshmana to burn him into ashes and that will bring him back to the old form. He also advised Rama to go to the monkey king Sugrive, who lived in the Rishyamukha mountain, to get help in regaining Sita.

 

On his way to meet Sugriva, Rama visited the hermitage of an old pious woman, Shabari. She was waiting for Rama for a long time before she could give up her body. When Rama and Lakshmana made their appearance, Shabari’s dream was fulfilled. She washed their feet, offered them the best nuts and fruits that she collected for years. Then she took Rama’s blessings and departed for the heaven.

 

After a long walk, Rama and Lakshmana reached the Rishyamukha mountain to meet Sugriva. Sugriva had a brother Vali, the king of Kishkindha. They were once good friends. This changed when they went to fight with a giant. The giant ran into a cave and Vali followed him, asking Sugriva to wait outside. Sugriva waited for a long time and then returned to the palace in grief, thinking that Vali was killed. He then became the king upon the request of the minister. After sometime, Vali suddenly appeared. He was mad with Sugriva and blamed him to be a cheater. Vali was strong. He drove Sugriva out of his kingdom and took away his wife. Ever since, Sugriva had been living in the Rishyamukha mountain, which was out of bound for Vali because of a Rishi’s curse.

 

On seeing Rama and Lakshmana from a distance, and not knowing the purpose of their visit, Sugriva sent his close friend Hanuman to find out their identity. Hanuman, disguised as an ascetic, came to Rama and Lakshmana. The brothers told Hanuman of their intention to meet Sugriva because they wanted his help to find Sita. Hanuman was impressed by their courteous behavior and removed his garb. Then he carried the princes on his shoulder to Sugriva. There Hanuman introduced the brothers and narrated their story. He then told Sugriva of their intention to come to him.

 

In return, Sugriva told his story and sought help from Rama to kill Vali, otherwise, he could not help even if he wanted to. Rama agreed. Hanuman then kindled a fire to bear witness to the alliance made.

 

In due course, Vali was killed and Sugriva became the king of Kishkindha. Soon after Sugriva took over the kingdom of Vali, he ordered his army to proceed in the search of Sita.

 

Rama specially called Hanuman and gave his ring saying, “If any one finds Sita, it will be you Hanuman. Keep this ring to prove your identity as my messenger. Give it to Sita when you meet her.” Hanuman most respectfully tied up the ring to his waist and joined the search party.

 

As Sita flew, she dropped her ornaments on the ground. These were traced by the monkey army and it was concluded that Sita was carried southwards. When the monkey (Vanara) army reached the Mahendra Hill, located on the south shore of India, they met Sampati, the brother of Jatayu. Sampati confirmed that Ravana took Sita to Lanka. The monkeys were perplexed , how to cross the huge sea that stretched in front of them.

 

Angada, the son of Sugriva, asked, “Who can cross the ocean?” silence prevailed, until Hanuman came up to give a try.

 

Hanuman was the son of Pavana, the wind god. He had a secret gift from his father. He could fly. Hanuman enlarged himself to a huge size and took a jump to cross the ocean. After overcoming many obstacles, at last Hanuman reached Lanka. He soon contracted his body and alighted as a tiny insignificant creature. He soon passed through the city unnoticed and managed to enter the palace quietly. He went through every chamber but could not see Sita.

 

Finally, Hanuman located Sita in one of the gardens of Ravana, called Ashoka grove (Vana). She was surrounded by the Rakshashis who were guarding her. Hanuman hid on a tree and watched Sita from a distance. She was in deep distress, crying and praying to God for her relief. Hanuman’s heart melted in pity. He took Sita as his mother.

 

Just then Ravana entered the garden and approached Sita. “I have waited enough. Be sensible and become my queen. Rama can not cross the ocean and come through this impregnable city. You better forget about him.”

 

Sita sternly replied, “I have repeatedly told you to return me to Lord Rama before his wrath falls upon you.”

 

Ravana got furious, “You have gone beyond the limits of my patience. You give me no choice than to kill you unless you change your mind. Within a few days I shall be back.”

 

As soon as Ravana left, other Rakshashis, who were attending Sita, came back and suggested her to marry Ravana and enjoy the enviable wealth of Lanka.” Sita kept quiet.

 

Slowly the Rakshashis wandered away, Hanuman came down from his hiding place and gave Rama’s ring to Sita. Sita was thrilled. She wanted to hear about Rama and Lakshmana. After conversing for a while Hanuman asked Sita to take a ride on her back to return to Rama. Sita did not agree.

 

“I do not want to return home secretly” said Sita, “I want Rama to defeat Ravana and take me back with honor.”

 

Hanuman agreed. Then Sita gave her necklace to Hanuman as an evidence confirming their meeting.

 

Before departing from the Ashoka grove (Vana), Hanuman wanted Ravana to have a lesson for his misconduct. So he began to destroy the Ashoka grove by uprooting the trees. Soon the Rakshasa warriors came running to catch the monkey but were beaten up. The message reached Ravana. He was enraged. He asked Indrajeet, his able son, to capture Hanuman. A fierce battle ensued and Hanuman was finally captured when Indrajeet used the most powerful weapon, the Brahmastra missile. Hanuman was taken to Ravana’s court and the captive stood in front of the king.

 

Hanuman introduced himself as the messenger of Rama. “You have abducted the wife of my all powerful master, Lord Rama. If you want peace, return her with honor to my master or else, you and your kingdom will be destroyed.”

 

Ravana was wild with rage. He ordered to kill Hanuman instantly when his younger brother Vibhishana objected. “You can not kill a king’s envoy” said Vibhishana. Then Ravana ordered Hanuman’s tail to be set on fire.

 

The Rakshasa army took Hanuman outside the hall, while Hanuman increased his size and lengthened his tail. It was wrapped with rags and ropes and soaked in oil. He was then paraded through the streets of Lanka and a big mob followed to have fun. The tail was set on fire but because of his divine blessing Hanuman did not feel the heat. He soon shrank his size and shook off the ropes that bound him and escaped. Then, with the torch of his burning tail, he jumped from roof to roof to set the city of Lanka on fire. People began to run, creating chaos and hideous cries. Finally, Hanuman went to the sea shore and put off the fire in the sea water. The he began his homeward flight.

 

When Hanuman joined the monkey army and narrated his experience, they all laughed. Soon the army returned to Kishkindha.

 

Then Hanuman quickly went to Rama to give his first-hand account. He took out the jewel that Sita gave and placed it in Rama’s hands. Rama burst into tears when he saw the jewel.

 

He addressed Hanuman and said, “Hanuman! You have achieved what none else could. What can I do for you?” Hanuman prostrated before Rama and sought his divine blessing.

 

Sugriva then discussed in detail with Rama their next course of action. On an auspicious hour the entire monkey army set out from Kishkindha towards Mahendra Hill, located on the opposite side of Lanka. Upon reaching Mahendra Hill, Rama faced the same problem, how to cross the ocean with the army. He called for a meeting of all the monkey chiefs, and sought their suggestions for a solution.

 

When Ravana heard from his messengers that Rama had already arrived at Mahendra Hill, and was preparing to cross the ocean to Lanka, he summoned his ministers for advice. They unanimously decided to fight Rama to his death. To them, Ravana was indestructible and they, undefeatable. Only Vibhishana, the younger brother of Ravana, was cautious and opposed to this.

 

Vibhishana said, “Brother Ravana, you must return the chaste woman, Sita, to her husband, Rama, seek his forgiveness and restore peace.”

 

Ravana became upset with Vibhishana and told him to leave the kingdom of Lanka.

 

Vibhishana, through his magical power, reached Mahendra Hill and sought permission to meet Rama. The monkeys were suspicious but took him to Rama as a captive. Vibhishana explained to Rama all that happened in Ravana’s court and sought his asylum. Rama gave him sanctuary and Vibhishana became the closest adviser to Rama in the war against Ravana. Rama promised Vibhishana to make him the future king of Lanka.

 

To reach Lanka, Rama decided to build a bridge with the help of the monkey engineer Nala. He also summoned Varuna, the God of the Ocean, to cooperate by staying calm while the bridge was in the making. Immediately thousands of monkeys set about the task of gathering the materials to build the bridge. When the materials were piled up in heaps, Nala, the great architect, started to build the bridge. It was a stupendous undertaking. But the entire monkey army worked hard and completed the bridge in just five days. The army crossed over to Lanka.

 

After crossing the ocean, Rama sent Angada, the son of Sugrive, to Ravana as a messenger. Angada went to Ravana’s court and delivered Rama’s message, “Return Sita with honor or face destruction.” Ravana became enraged and ordered him out of the court immediately.

 

Angada returned with Ravanas message and preparation for the war began. The next morning Rama ordered the monkey army to attack. The monkeys rushed forward and hurled huge boulders against the city walls and gates. The battle continued for a long time. Thousands were dead on each side and the ground soaked in blood.

 

When Ravana’s army was losing, Indrajeet, Ravana’s son, took the command. He had the ability to fight while staying invisible. His arrows tied up Rama and Lakshmana with serpents. The monkeys began to run with the fall of their leaders. Suddenly, Garuda, the king of the birds, and the sworn enemy of the serpents, came to their rescue. All of the snakes slithered away leaving the two brave brothers, Rama and Lakshmana, free.

 

Hearing this, Ravana himself came forward. He hurled the powerful missile, Shakti, at Lakshmana. It descended like a fierce thunderbolt and hit hard at Lakshmana’s chest. Lakshmana fell down senseless.

 

Rama wasted no time to come forward and challenged Ravana himself. Following a fierce fight Ravana’s chariot was smashed and Ravana was sorely wounded. Ravana stood helpless before Rama whereupon Rama took pity on him and said, “Go and rest now. Return tomorrow to resume our fight.” In the mean time Lakshmana recovered.

 

Ravana was shamed and called upon his brother, Kumbhakarna for assistance. Kumbhakarna had the habit of sleeping for six months at a time. Ravana ordered him to be awakened. Kumbhakarna was in a deep sleep and it took the beating of drums, piercing of sharp instruments and elephants walking on him to awaken him. He was informed of Rama’s invasion and Ravana’s orders. After eating a mountain of food, Kumbhakarna appeared in the battlefield. He was huge and strong. When he approached the monkey army, like a walking tower, the monkeys took to their heels in terror. Hanuman called them back and challenged Kumbhakarna. A great fight ensued until Hanuman was wounded. Kumbhakarna headed towards Rama, ignoring the attack of Lakshmana and others. Even Rama found Kumbhakarna difficult to kill. Rama finally discharged the powerful weapon that he obtained from the wind God, Pavana. Kumbhakarna fell dead.

 

Hearing the news of his brother’s death, Ravana swooned away. After he recovered, he lamented for a long time and then called Indrajeet. Indrajeet consoled him and promised to defeat the enemy quickly.

 

Indrajeet began to engage in the battle safely hidden behind the clouds and invisible to Rama. Rama and Lakshmana seemed to be helpless to kill him, as he could not be located. Arrows came from all directions and finally one of the powerful arrows hit Lakshmana. Everyone thought this time Lakshmana was dead and Sushena, the physician of the Vanara army, was called. He declared that Lakshmana was only in a deep coma and instructed Hanuman to leave immediately for Gandhamadhana Hill, located near the Himalayas. Gandhamadhana Hill grew the special medicine, called Sanjibani, that was needed to revive Lakshmana. Hanuman lifted himself in the air and traveled the entire distance from Lanka to Himalaya and reached the Gandhamadhana Hill. As he was unable to locate the herb, he lifted the entire mountain and carried it to Lanka. Sushena immediately applied the herb and Lakshmana regained consciousness. Rama was relieved and the battle resumed.

 

This time Indrajeet played a trick on Rama and his army. He rushed forward in his chariot and created an image of Sita through his magic. Catching the image of Sita by the hair, Indrajeet beheaded Sita in front of the entire army of the Vanaras. Rama collapsed. Vibhishana came to his rescue. When Rama came to senses Vibhishana explained that it was only a trick played by Indrajeet and that Ravana would never allow Sita to be killed.

 

Vibhishana further explained to Rama that Indrajeet was realizing his limitations to kill Rama. Hence he would soon perform a special sacrificial ceremony in order to acquire that power. If successful, he would become invincible. Vibhishana suggested Lakshmana should go immediately to obstruct that ceremony and slay Indrajeet before he became invisible again.

 

Rama accordingly sent Lakshmana, accompanied by Vibhishana and Hanuman. They soon reached the spot where Indrajeet was engaged in performing the sacrifice. But before the Rakshasa prince could complete it, Lakshmana attacked him. The battle was fierce and finally Lakshmana severed Indrajeet’s head from his body. Indrajeet fell dead.

 

With the fall of Indrajeet, Ravanas spirit was in complete despair. He wailed most piteously but sorrow soon gave way to anger. He furiously rushed to the battlefield to conclude the long drawn fight against Rama and his army. Forcing his way, past Lakshmana, Ravana came face to face with Rama. The fight was intense. Finally Rama used his Brahmastra, repeated the mantras as taught by Vashishtha, and hurled it with all his might towards Ravana. The Brahmastra whizzed through the air emitting scorching flames and then pierced the heart of Ravana. Ravana fell dead from his chariot. The Rakshasas stood silent in amazement. They could scarcely believe their eyes. The end was so sudden and final.

 

After Ravana’s death, Vibhishana was duly crowned as king of Lanka. The message of Rama’s victory was sent to Sita. Happily she bathed and came to Rama in a palanquin. Hanuman and all other monkeys came to pay their respect. Meeting Rama, Sita was overcome by her joyous emotion. Rama, however, seemed to be far away in thought.

 

At length Rama spoke, “I am happy to rescue you from the hands of Ravana but you have lived a year in enemy’s abode. It is not proper that I should take you back now.”

 

Sita could not believe what Rama said. Bursting in tears Sita asked, “Was that my fault? The monster carried me away against my wishes. While in his residence, my mind and my heart were fixed on my Lord, Rama, alone.”

 

Sita felt deeply grieved and decided to end her life in the fire.

 

She turned to Lakshmana and with tearful eyes she implored him to prepare the fire. Lakshmana looked at his elder brother, hoping for some type of reprieve, but there was no sign of emotion on Ramas face and no words came from his mouth. As instructed, Lakshmana built a large fire. Sita reverently walked around her husband and approached the blazing fire. Joining her palms in salutation, she addressed Agni, the God of fire, “If I am pure, O fire, protect me.” With these words Sita stepped into the flames, to the horror of the spectators.

 

Then Agni, whom Sita invoked, arose from the flames and gently lifted Sita unharmed, and presented her to Rama.

 

“Rama!” addressed Agni, “Sita is spotless and pure at heart. Take her to Ayodhya. People are waiting there for you.” Rama delightfully received her. “Don’t I know she is pure? I had to test her for the sake of the world so that the truth may be known to all.”

 

Rama and Sita were now reunited and ascended on a air chariot (Pushpaka Viman), along with Lakshmana to return to Ayodhya. Hanuman went ahead to apprise Bharata of their arrival.

 

When the party reached Ayodhya, the entire city was waiting to receive them. Rama was corronated and he took up the reins of government much to the great joy of his subjects.

 

Radha Kund: The Holy Place of Srimati Radharani

Radha Kund: The Holy Place of Srimati Radharani

By Stephen Knapp

 

Radha Kund is the bathing place of Radharani and Her most elevated assistants, the gopis or cowherd girls. Radha Kund is located on the northern end of Govardhan Hill in the area of Greater Vrajamandala, not far from Vrindavana or Mathura. Sri Rupa Gosvami explains in verses 9 and 10 of his Sri Upadesamrita that out of all the places in Vraja, Radha Kund is superior to them all because it is flooded with the ambrosial nectar of Krishna prema, ecstatic love of God. Therefore, those who live here are the most fortunate in the universe. The Padma Purana also explains that just as Radharani is most dear to Krishna, Her bathing place of Radha Kund is also dear to Him.

       Across from Radha Kund is Shyama Kund, Krishna’s bathing place. Krishna dug Shyama Kund when Radharani insisted that He purify Himself by bathing in all the holy rivers after He had killed the Aristasura demon who was in the form of a bull. So rather than going to all the sacred rivers, He simply dug His heel into the earth and called the presiding deities of the various holy rivers of India to merge their waters into the pool. After bathing, He explained to Radharani and the gopis that the bull was actually a demon, so they should also take a purifying bath to rid themselves of the sin of siding with a demon. Radharani became upset and decided She could also make a kund or lake. Thus, She and the gopis broke their bangles and dug a hole, but it remained dry to Krishna’s amusement. However, by using water from the nearby Manasi Ganga lake and the waters from the presiding deities of the holy rivers who appeared, Her kund also filled up. Thus, these kunds are very special to pilgrims who visit. It is said that anyone who bathes here will get the perfection of Krishna prema, which is far beyond mere liberation from material existence. It is said that Radha Kund is the liquid form of Radharani’s ecstatic love for Krishna. And since Radha Kund is Lord Krishna’s favorite bathing place, anyone who bathes in Radha Kund gets the mercy of Lord Krishna and will attain Krishna prema, ecstatic love for Lord Krishna. Similarly, Radharani also said that anyone who bathes in Shyama Kund will get Her special favor. Therefore, Radha Kund is difficult to attain.

       To recognize the spiritual significance of Radha Kund may not be so easy for neophytes. As I said earlier, in order to perceive the spiritual atmosphere in Vrindavan you have to receive the blessings of the resident devotees and become qualified so that Vrindavan reveals itself to you. An example of this was related to me by a friend. When he visited Radha Kund he met an old sadhu, a saintly man who had retired from material life and was now living at Radha Kund. My friend asked the sadhu some questions and at first the man hesitantly explained that he did not work or attempt to maintain himself. He simply depended on Krishna and chanted the holy names at Radha Kund. How he got his food was that a small boy would come by and give him some food every day. The man explained that as a person becomes more and more spiritual, he will recognize the eternal atmosphere that pervades Vraja, especially at Radha Kund, and he will not feel the need to take so much care of the body. My friend then asked him if he could actually see the spiritual world or if he had ever seen Krishna at this holy place. The old man said he had not seen Krishna, but sometimes he could here the gopis talking with Krishna or discussing amongst themselves how Krishna looked and what He was doing.

       My friend then asked the old sadhu how it was possible for him to perceive such things? The man then began talking quite readily and convincingly told my friend that Radha Kund was indeed the spiritual world; you simply had to remove your materialistic vision. Then the old man took my friend’s hand and pushed it flat to the ground on the banks of the Radha Kund and said, “Just touch this land and you can feel the spiritual nature of it.” My friend told me that at that moment a charge went up his arm from the ground and he could actually feel the difference, that this was indeed a spiritual place. But before my friend got the blessings of this sage, he could not really feel the difference. And that is what is necessary. Until you can actually perceive it, all you can do is to try to understand with your mind and imagine how Krishna performed so many pastimes here, and how this place is spiritual. But the actual realization of such things goes much further than that. It is a matter of re-establishing your spiritual identity and connection with the spiritual realm. It is the reawakening of your spiritual consciousness and actually perceiving the subtle nature of spiritual reality.

       In the area of Radha Kund as you circumambulate the area, you can find numerous temples and important places. To describe a brief tour around Radha and Shyama Kunds, we first enter the area from the bus stop, and on our way along the road we come to the Radha-Gokulananda temple, which has the pratibhu or representational deities that belonged to Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur. Going farther along, we next come to the Kundesvara Mahadeva temple and the sacred peepul tree. Mahadeva  Shiva is one of the guardians of the holy dham. Then we soon get our first view of Radha Kund, and pay our respects by bowing our heads toward this form of Radharani. Farther down across from the vegetable market is the lane on the left that goes to the Purana Mandir, which has a lovely set of Radha Krishna deities. These were found by Raghunatha dasa Goswami when he was excavating the kunds. Continuing on, we come to the road that leads to the left. This can take us to the Gaudiya Math temple with the beautiful deities of Radha-Kunjabihari. Farther on we can also reach the Shiva Khor or kund, and the Ramesvaram Shiva temple.

       Back to the main parikrama path, we can next see the Radha Kanta temple right at the corner of Radha Kund. Across from that on the left of the road is the Sri Gopal temple. Then just down the street on the right is the Radha-Gopinatha temple, which also has at the far end the samadhi tomb of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. Exiting through the door on the south side, we are now along the water of Radha Kund where many people take a holy bath. This is near the private bathing place of Jahnavi, the wife of Lord Nityananda when She lived here at Radha Kund nearly 500 years ago, which you can see there.

       Going farther along the main parikrama road, we next see a circular platform, which is a rasa-sthali where dances are performed at times. There we take a right turn. Going down the path we can find the bhajan kutir of Gopal Bhatta. Around the corner is also Krishna dasa Kaviraja’s bhajan kutir, the small living quarters where he wrote the Caitanya-caritamrta and several other important spiritual books. Then there is Raghunatha dasa’s bhajan kutir and the cremation place of these Swamis used when the Muslims were coming into the area. Rather than taking the chance of having their bodies disturbed in case the Muslims would dig them up, they cremated them instead. On a side road there is the bhajan kutir of Bhaktivinoda Thakur where he and Bhaktisiddhanta would stay when visiting the area. Farther along the parikrama road we next find Lalita Kund on the left, across from which is Jiva Gosvami’s bhajan kutir. Next along the road and down a lane on the right toward Shyama Kund there is the place of Madhavendra Puri’s sitting place, and around the curve we come to Lord Chaitanya’s sitting place. This used to be like a little hut or bhajan kutir, but now they have expanded it and put a roof over it. After that we continue our walk down the lane and other temples can also be found, such as Asta Sakhi Mandir, Nitai Gauranga Sitanatha Mandir, Manipur Maharaja Mandir, Radha Gopinatha Mandir, a Gaura Nitai Mandir, Radha Govindaji Mandir, and other temples that are located around the kunds. Then we go to the sangam or meeting place of the two kunds where many people take a holy bath or do some special worship or pujas to the kunds, since they are non-different from Radha and Krishna. If it is not crowded and somewhat peaceful, it is also nice to sit and meditate or chant japa for a time, contemplating our good fortune to be here. Then returning to the path and going through some shops we pass a deity of Hanuman and pray that he relieves us of whatever offenses we may have committed while visiting, and then we return to where we started.

       These temples and holy places can be located with the help of local residents, or guides may present themselves to show you around or to help you do some rituals or puja to Radha Kund and Shyama Kund. They are called Tirtha gurus, or the local pandits who know all about these special tirthas, holy places. This is alright, but be sure to establish a price before you accept their service. Presently you can also get guidebooks of these specific areas. You can find them at the Krishna-Balarama Mandir, or in a few of the shops in Loi Bazarr at Vrindavana. These will have photographs, maps to show you around, and more detailed stories of the pastimes that have taken place here. You must definitely visit these places if you are in the area.

       One word of caution: this is certainly a holy place but when there are crowds of people here, do not take any valuables with you or keep wallets in your pockets, especially if you will bathe in the water. It is not uncommon that such things end up missing. And the road between Vrindavana and Radha Kund is closed at night because of thieves and dacoits. So if you plan on visiting Radha Kund, do not wait too late at night or you may up having to spend the night or taking a longer route through Govardhana to Mathura to get back to Vrindavana.   

    Also read the article “Srimati Radharani” to learn more about Her.

The Purpose of Defending Dharma

The Purpose of Defending Dharma

 by Stephen Knapp

(An excerpt from his book “Crimes Against India And the Need to Protect its Ancient Vedic Traditions”)

  

            What has happened in the past is a matter of history, and the real history of India can show us how far the country and its culture has come, the many challenges it has endured, and how the greatness of India and its culture has remained, in spite of how much it has been attacked through the years. But the culture and people of India (Bharata Varsha) remain only after many courageous episodes, sacrifices, trials and tribulations of the common residents of the land. But such determination to never give up their culture and traditions makes them highly uncommon and commendable. It is also due to the credit of the heroes who fought and died for the privilege and freedom we have today that allows us to practice and take advantage of the Vedic culture that still exists.

            Why should we review the history and development of India over the past 1000 years? To help show how fortunate we are and how important and relevant Vedic culture has been and still is to humanity at large. Plus, to show that only through our concerted efforts will there be the continuation of the Vedic traditions, Sanatana-dharma, or Hinduism as many people call it today. Thus, we should not take this lightly, but reflect on and learn the significance of India’s ancient traditions, and also participate in upholding them. That is what Dharma means, the natural laws that maintain all else, and Dharma is our duty to act in a way to help maintain Dharma. There are two parts to Dharma: the state of Dharma and the path of Dharma. The state of Dharma, or Sanatana-dharma, is our eternal Dharma, or our natural state of being as an eternal spiritual entity. Whereas the path of Dharma means the appropriate thoughts, words, actions, and attitude in the varying situations of life that help us enter into that state of Dharma.

There is now a growing interest in various aspects of Vedic culture in the West. For example, there has been a revival of the ancient medical system of Ayurveda, not only within India but also in the West, which is one of the greatest medical systems ever devised. This system is free from the allopathic medicines that often have harmful side effects and force the user to be dependent on drugs that merely make the huge foreign companies wealthy. The yogic sciences, such as pranayama, hatha-yoga, meditation, etc., that have been practiced for the development of body, mind and soul for thousands of years are also found nowhere else but in this great Vedic culture. Kerala’s kalaripayat system of martial arts is the great ancestor of the Asian techniques of karate, judo and others. This is because it was taken to the orient by Buddhist monks who had become familiar with it and then developed their own systems. The kalaripayat martial arts brought many instruments together, such as swords, knives, spears, flexible two-sided swords, etc., into a single system. Though these arts and practices are still used and alive in the ashramas across India, and in the homes of numerous people, they are not recognized by the government, nor promoted in a way wherein the people in general can be proud of what India and its ancient rishis have provided. Furthermore, the “secular” government of India even demeans many of these Vedic sciences and practices as ancient myths or remnants of the old ways as if they should be given up or left behind. Nonetheless, if children were trained in such things as hatha-yoga, pranayama, meditation, and Ayurveda, they would grow to be some of the healthiest and strongest individuals on the planet. And those that are trained in such a way are often just that, extremely intelligent, healthy, and strong individuals. This is what needs to be preserved.

            Therefore, this book is to honor the efforts that have been shown by those in the past who fought and worked to protect India and its culture, and to help preserve India as the homeland of a living and dynamic Vedic tradition of Sanatana-dharma (the eternal path of duty and wisdom). Yet, there are many people who do not know of the many angles and ways in which this profound culture is being attacked and threatened. There is much to do to protect this culture, and until we are aware of how it has been assaulted in the past, and how it is threatened in the present, we will not have the motivation to take a stand and defend it. [This is what we cover in “Crimes Against India”.]

            What is the true heritage of India, the basis for its existence? It is the law of Dharma, Sanatana-dharma. This is the foundation that has preserved the rights of humanity and the spiritual development of its people. This is the essential greatness of India. And this is also what its children from an early age should learn and understand about the great heritage of India. They should learn to honor and respect the Vedic literature, from the Vedas to the Mahabharata, Upanishads, Ramayana, and up to the Puranas. They should know that when the West was still in its developing stages, the land of India, Bharata Varsha, was already unsurpassed in what it would contribute to the world. And this is why India should never cut itself off from its profound past. It is what has built India into the great nation that it is.

Especially, India’s wonderful and immense Vedic spiritual knowledge is what has provided the deepest insights into the real identity and purpose of humanity. No other culture has provided such knowledge and realizations about who and what we really are. It has provided the profound keys to the mysteries of life, such as why we are here, where we have come from, what happens after death, what is the soul, what is the spiritual dimension, what is God, and so on. India has kept this truth, in spite of all the invasions and disruptions in her civilization, and the genocides and attempts to cause the complete demise of Sanatana-dharma. The spiritual knowledge and developmental processes remain. But we must make sure that it stays with us, which it can only do if it is held sacred in the heart of every Indian, and every person who values what India and her great rishis of ancient times have given to us. In the darkest of eras that this world has seen and will see in the future, this will remain India’s gift to the people who inhabit this planet. It is this spiritual culture of Sanatana-dharma that remains the ultimate spiritual guide of humanity with the freedom to investigate it in whatever way is best for each individual. This is the reason why India is here, and for the contribution that she makes, and the reason why we must work to protect it.

The fact remains that through the Vedic spiritual knowledge, there is more information about God and the many forms of God, the qualities and characteristics of God, the nature of the soul and our relationship with God, the spiritual dimension, and the purpose of this world than you can find most anywhere else. The Vedic culture does not have just one book upon which it depends, but has a library of Vedic literature, extending from the four Vedas, Upanishads, Vedantasutras, Bhagavad-gita, and through the Puranas, and more. Only those who fully study the contents of these texts, or even the essence of them compared to other religious books, can understand and support this point of how much more the Vedic culture and wisdom has to offer.

Therefore, everyone should engage in a preliminary study of such texts to find out the value of what they have given to the human race. If humanity had learned the true depth of knowledge held within the Vedic scripture, there would have been a decidedly different atmosphere and direction in society. Instead, India and the great sages have held onto this knowledge and presented it for everyone’s benefit, but there needs to be more than that. We can see that many have misunderstood this knowledge, or allowed themselves to become distanced from truly comprehending and utilizing this sacred and fathomless wisdom. For example, I have traveled all over India and I will say that most of India’s social problems are not because of its culture, but because of the forgetfulness and distancing itself from this culture and knowledge. At the core of the Vedic spiritual information, as found in its Vedic texts and insights provided by the rishis, is the true guideline for the development of the planet and the direction and spiritual destiny of all human beings. Fortunately, this is still available and waiting for the attention of people everywhere, if they will only dive deeply enough into it to perceive it.

            For this reason, defending the Vedic culture is part of our Dharma, part of our duty and religious principles for the future benefit of India and humanity at large. Or, you could say that defending Dharma is our Dharma.

India is facing numerous threats from such directions as Pakistan and China on the political front, but also from within by those who would prefer to see the demise of India’s culture for their own agenda, be it political, religious, or otherwise, which we will point out more carefully as we go through this book. For this reason, India must keep its options open and learn to rely on its own resources, being as self-sufficient as possible, regardless of what the rest of the world may think. India is certainly one of the oldest and most profound civilizations on earth, and there is no reason why it should not be proud of its past, its great history, its development, and its potential for a bright and positive future. But India and all Indians must be ready to stand up and protect their country and its culture from all external and internal threats with great determination.

            However, to do this there may be a need to use strong measures against extreme situations. We are all for establishing peace in the world, for that is a state of Dharma, but some violence may be necessary to preserve Dharma from violent forces, to bring about peace, as we have seen from the past. This does not mean we use violence that is based on ego, or a political agenda, or for revenge. But it is for the defense and protection of Dharma. This was the reason for the Kurukshetra War, which lead to the speaking of the Bhagavad-gita by Lord Krishna to His friend and warrior Arjuna. In this way, Arjuna understood that the purpose of acting as a warrior was to preserve the moral and religious principles as held and presented in Sanatana-dharma. But part of that included the destruction of the asuric or demoniac elements that were determined to ruin society by neglecting or even demolishing and annihilating the great spiritual lifestyle as found in Sanatana-dharma, the great Vedic culture.

            This need can be seen as recently as during the establishment of independent India in 1947. Passive resistance or constitutional agitation was never enough to achieve an independent India. Firm actions or even some violence is also occasionally necessary, but only when it flows from the cause to defend, preserve, and protect the Dharmic and Vedic or spiritual path of life. And today’s Dharma is to safeguard it and keep it free from all demoniac forces who would wish to see it destroyed, or who wish to control the population for their own irreligious or adharmic agenda. This is also the real liberation of India, which is not only a theory, but a practical application for directing it on the path to its higher destiny. And that destiny and purpose is to remain the homeland of a dynamic and thriving Vedic culture. To do this will take more than mere physical strength, but the strength of higher knowledge, deep inner and spiritual realizations, and a collective cooperation amongst all Hindus and followers of Vedic culture. We must work together as fellow practitioners of Vedic Dharma. We must view ourselves as equal members of a Global Vedic or Dharmic Community, a worldwide Hindu family. I have often said, if the global Hindu society could ever become truly united, there would be no force strong enough to conquer it from outside. It is only the divisiveness or lack of cooperation from within that creates the weaknesses that make it vulnerable.

            However, over the long term, a cultural revolution is better than a military or militant revolution. Or, as they say, the pen is mightier than the sword. This means that the Vedic spiritual knowledge is what can help people understand, maintain, and be convinced of the importance of the Dharmic culture. This is actually what has kept the Indian people dedicated to the Vedic traditions for so long, in spite of how they had been persecuted by so many invaders. Working together in this way to promote the Vedic universal spiritual truths is what can bind people to the cause of preserving the culture of Sanatana-dharma, as long as we also allow everyone to participate. This is how people develop the determination and sincerity to follow it and uphold its standards. This is how people remain resilient to keep it in their hearts no matter what else may happen.

            This resilience of Vedic society has already been shown by its ability in passing the tests of time. It is one of the oldest living indigenous cultures in the world, and certainly the largest, and has withstood numerous attacks and invasions, especially through the past 1000 years. But why the area of India was ultimately conquered for a time was because of its weaknesses, which were due to a lack of unity amongst the kingdoms to work together, which we will also more fully explain in later chapters. It was this lack of cooperation that allowed the adharmic forces to come in and create havoc for the millions of people in India.

In this way, we must not repeat the same mistakes as in the past. We will never be able to completely analyze the immense physical and emotional harm done by the long history of Islamic invasions and attacks, and the enormous amount of destruction of Vedic temples and the slaughter of Hindus. We also can not properly estimate the damage done to the spiritual culture of India and its people. So many sacrifices had to be made merely because of the Muslim invaders who so wanted to demolish the culture of India and all representations of it. Or of the British who wanted to possess and control it. The damage and harm that was done still exist in many ways, such as the more than 90% of converted Muslims in India whose families were once Hindus. Or in the form of Pakistan which has been an enemy to India ever since its creation. Or in the form of trouble found in Ayodhya and Kashmir where the militants cry for an Islam separate from what was once their motherland of India. We cannot allow for the reappearance of these same mistakes that permitted these things to happen. We must be stronger than that if we are to keep India as the homeland of a dynamic and thriving Vedic tradition. We must be pro-active, cooperate, and work together, and must recognize ourselves as members of the Global Vedic Community working to protect our freedom to practice Vedic Dharma. 

 

Conclusion

             In the end truth prevails, and this book and the information within it is an indication that the truth of India’s history and the greatness of its Vedic traditions are finally coming to the fore again. As I stated in the beginning of this book, this is not an attempt to invoke old hatreds or vengeance, but it is a matter of making sure we remember what really happened to India and her people, and do not allow for the same mistakes to occur again, and to take notice of the freedom fighters who have worked and fought hard and even gave their lives for the future of India and our right to continue to observe and participate in the Vedic tradition. This is the real history of India, which must be retained. After all, the world remembers only what you let it not forget. These heroes who fought for the future of Sanatana-dharma are the examples of fearlessness and dedication, who were focused, strong, assertive, self-controlled, virtuous, self-reliant, and who strove for excellence in the same way we should be as taught by the principles of Vedic Dharma. This is the importance of truly following the Vedic path.

            Within the Vedic system of daily practice or sadhana are the tools, such as puja, worship, yoga and meditation, bhakti or devotion, pranayama, philosophical understanding, etc., that can provide the means for us to perfect ourselves and reach a higher dimension of perception of who we are and our purpose in this world. This naturally brings with it fearlessness, self-confidence, assertiveness, inner peace, freedom from ignorance and limitations, and the empowerment to continue with our development and progress, and attain the Grace of God by our devotion. This will also allow us to work toward and attain any constructive goal, as we can see from the examples of the many previous acharyas and spiritual masters who have already done the same thing. This only shows that on the spiritual course of Sanatana-dharma and in the service of the Divine, anything is possible, up to and including moksha, or complete liberation from any further material existence and all its limitations.

If we can spread this consciousness, this will also bring about a new Era of Dharmic influence, free from the oppression of adharma or non-Dharmic cultures and religions who try to oppress anything different from them. But for this to happen, Dharmists or Hindus need to see clearly that there is nothing wrong with standing up for and working to preserve, protect, promote, and perpetuate the Vedic heritage and its traditions. Other saints and Indian heroes have already shown this example. There is nothing wrong with sharing the profound and spiritual nature of the Vedic teachings, knowing that they have already benefited thousands and millions of people, and can continue to benefit all of society. It is all in the presentation. If we can present this in an intelligent manner, or even simply share the basics of it from one person to another, then it will naturally be attractive, and people will want to know more about it. Not everyone may be ready for it, but everyone can use some aspect of it.

            It is not the Vedic style to make unwilling converts, but the universal spiritual truths within can be useful for anyone, regardless of a person’s background, culture, or religion. Thus, everyone can participate to whatever degree is right for them. That is the liberality, flexibility, and beauty of the Vedic system.

            However, we need to realize that the Vedic culture is often more respectful toward other spiritual paths and the people who follow them than they are in return. Vedic Dharmists or Hindus have often gotten themselves into trouble because of this. Thus, there is a need to defend the Vedic tradition from those who, in their ignorance and lack of understanding, may want to destroy it. Dharma must be protected from adharma. We cannot be such humble Hindus that we allow others to come in and destroy us. What good would that do? We cannot humble ourselves out of our own existence. We must be willing to stand strong for Dharma. As Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

            Hindus, Vedic Dharmists, prefer to live in peace. They do not want to be aggressive toward others, and are usually not, but they also do not want to see people from other religions come to their country and try to make converts by falsely denigrating the Vedic culture. Why should they be provoked when they do not go around purposefully trying to provoke others by demeaning ones religion? Nonetheless, there may be times when we must be willing to stand up for what is right.

We have to remember that the method of destroying a country and its culture, and then controlling it, can be done in one of two ways. One is to go in as invaders and bomb it and engage in a military operation, which is not so efficient. Or you can develop the propaganda to create divisions amongst the society and enflame all sides against the others so they kill one another, thus causing complete disunity amongst the people so they cannot gather the strength to fight the real enemy. Thus, they also become vulnerable to domination by outside forces because of the weaknesses within. The British did this masterfully to India and its people. However, the best way to counteract such an endeavor is to develop a cultural revolution by which people in the society become united by a common identity, a common cause in a fully cooperative effort that excludes no one, but welcomes all. Nothing could provide such a vehicle for this sort of unity more effectively than to focus on the unifying and universal spiritual principles of the Vedic tradition of India. Herewith, by spreading such knowledge freely and effectively, using all avenues of promotion and distribution, a unifying spiritual revolution, gathering people from all walks of life and offering peaceful coexistence with one another, along with inner spiritual strength and support amongst all people, could be started. This could offer the ultimate defense of any outside force by merely failing to give it any recognition or acknowledgement, other than pushing it back and out of the way where it belongs.

The way we can best make a stand for Vedic Dharma is to spread the Vedic spiritual knowledge and encourage people to participate in it. That can help people understand, maintain, and be convinced of the importance of the Dharmic culture. This is what I mean when I say that over the long term, a cultural revolution is better than a militant revolution. This is actually what has kept the Indian people dedicated to the Vedic traditions for so long, and it can continue to do so well into the future if we do our duty and promote the Vedic spiritual knowledge and welcome anyone and everyone to participate. We can all be Vedic Ambassadors in this way.  

            Followers of Vedic Dharma must also become united. We must see beyond ethnic, national, class or caste divisions, and see ourselves as members of the Global Vedic Community, one family united in the universal spiritual knowledge that the Vedic scriptures advocate. We must see with this vision so our true spiritual potential is realized. This will create an air of positivity, which lends to an optimistic and constructive future for ourselves and the whole world. It is not enough to keep it to ourselves. But it is to our advantage when we work for the benefit of others and provide the means so that they can learn and participate in the Vedic traditions. This is Dharma, our Dharma, and Dharma will protect those who help protect it. That is one reason why it is sanatana, or that which exists eternally. Now let each of us do our part.

 Dharma Rakshati Rakshitah