Vedic Contributions in the Orient, by Stephen Knapp

This is an overview of the Vedic contributions in the Orient, and is written to inspire more confidence in the people who follow the Vedic tradition, and to then be more assertive in protecting it.

Bharatvarsha’s beginnings go back to a very long way in time and it is almost certain that the results or influence that is seen today around the world, in the main, were not achieved by military expeditions or conquest, but by peaceful trading and religious teaching, and thereby all the more permanent. This is especially the case when it is generally seen that people who are forced to change cultures or religions often divert to something else as soon as the opportunity arises. But here you can still see much of the Vedic influence that still hangs on in various regions of the world, in the east in this case.

For example, Philip Rawson writes about how Vedic culture can be recognized throughout Southeast Asia. He says, “The culture of India has been one of the world’s most powerful civilizing forces. Countries of the Far East, including China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, and Mongolia owe much of what is best in their own cultures to the inspiration of ideas imported from India. The West, too, has its own debts. But the members of that circle of civilization beyond Burma scattered around the Gulf of Siam and Java sea, virtually owe their very existence to the creative influence of Indian ideas. Among the tribal peoples of Southeast Asia these formative ideas took root, and blossomed. No conquest or invasion, no forced conversion imposed (upon) them. They were adopted because the people saw they were good and that they could use them” (Rawson, Philip, The Art of Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Java, & Bali, New York, Thames and Hudson, Inc. 1990, p. 7-8.)

Evidence of the Vedic influence can be found in many areas of the Asian Southeast, as Nehru writes, “From the first century of the Christian era onwards wave after wave of Indian colonists spread east and southeast, reaching Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Siam, Cambodia, and Indo-China. Some of them managed to reach Formosa, the Philippine islands and Celebes. Even as far as Madagascar the current language is Indonesian with a mixture of Sanskrit words.” (Nehru, Jawaharlal, The Discovery of India, Calcutta, The Signet Press, 1946, p. 202)

Nehru continues: “Indian civilization took root especially in the countries of southeast Asia and the evidence for this can be found all over the place today. There were great centres of Sanskrit learning in Champa, Angkor, Srivijaya, Majapahit, and other places. The names of the rulers of various states and empires that arose are purely Indian and Sanskrit. This doesn’t mean they were pure Indian, but it does mean that they were Indianized. State ceremonies were Indian and conducted in Sanskrit. All the officers of the state bear old Sanskrit titles, and some of these titles and designations have been continued up till now, not only Thailand but in the Moslem states of Malaya.” (Ibid., p. 207)

Jagat K. Motwani, Ph.D., writes (in India Reborn, 2012, p. 244): “According to Nehru (Discovery of India, 1946, p. 205), the greatest of these states [in Southeast Asia] was the Salendra Empire, or the empire of Sri Vijaya, which became the dominant power both on sea and land in whole of Malaysia by the eighth century. At the height of its power it included Malaya, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Sumatra, part of Java, Borneo, Celebes, the Philippines, and a part of Formosa, and probably exercised suzerainty over Cambodia and Champa (Annam), which was a Buddhist Empire. A great ruler, Jayavarman, united the small states in the ninth century and built up the Cambodian Empire with its capital at Angkor. The Cambodian state lasted for nearly four hundred years under the succession of great rulers like Jayavarman, Yashovarman, Indravarman and Suryavarman (all four were Hindus).”

 

BURMA

As explained by Upendra Thakur, “In addition to Buddhist remains found in large numbers in various parts of Burma, Hindu images have also been discovered over a wide area, including Vishnu, Ganesh and Brahma at Hmawza; Vishnu, Garuda and Hanuman at Mergui, and Surya, Durga and Vishnu in Arakan, as well as symbolical coins and terracotta tablets with Hindu objects on them. Again, in the village of Kalagangon nearby, were found the remains of a linga 1/4 inch high, showing that Shaivism existed side by side with Buddhism. In another mound of Hmawza were discovered Bodhisattvas in Pala style, which are later in date but similar to those well known from Bodhgaya of the ninth to tenth century CE. Thus, it is clear that from the fifth to the eighth or ninth century CE, all the three types of religion were practiced in Burma and both Buddhism and Hinduism existed peacefully side by side.” (Thakur, Upendra, A Historical Survey of the Elements of Hindu Culture in Burma, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.439.)

As we look around Myanmar, though it is permeated with Buddhism now, we can see other remnants of the Vedic culture that still has a little influence in the region. For example, in the city center of Yangon, in the Botatuang Paya Buddhist temple, on the grounds is a nat pavilion which contains the images of Thurathadi, which is the Vedic image of Saraswati, the goddess of learning, and of Thagyamin, which is the Vedic Indra, king of heaven, and in Myanmar is the king of all nat, or spirit beings who can either protect or harm humans. So some of the Vedic divinities are still held within the tradition of the nat, or the Myanmar acceptance of spirit beings that are sometimes still worshiped for various purposes. The tradition of the nat is part of the pre-Buddhist custom of the area.

Bagan (Pagan) is known for its 3000 or more Buddhist temples that crowd its plains, which make for some wonderful photographs. During the temple building that went on in Bagan, in the 11th to the 13th centuries, was the transition of the region from the Vedic traditions to Mahayana Buddhism. However, the Vedic influence still exists. Inside one of its tallest temples is beautifully decorated with frescos and topped with gilded pinnacles. You can see a mixture herein of both Vedic and Buddhist deities along with local nat spirits in the nooks.

In Bagan is also the Nat Hlaung Kyaung, the last remaining Vedic temple in the town. A sign dates this temple back to the 11th century, yet others say it was built in 931 by Taunghthugyi. This means it was built about a century before the southern school of Buddhism came to Bagan. It is also explained that King Anawrahta stored all non-Buddhist images, especially the nat spirits, as he tried to enforce Buddhism over the land.

It was built in the form of a sanctuary tower. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is decorated with the ten avataras in stone figures, Buddha being the ninth, though these are in disrepair. Herein we can also see how Buddhists in Burma adopted the Vedic style of building.

The mandapa is no longer in existence, but you can see evidence of it in the two large holes at the entrance. The mandapa or the porch rested on two large beams which were fixed in the two large holes. The outer plaster has peeled off, and the shikhara has undergone repairs.

When Col. Henry Yule first visited the Nat Hlaung Kyaung, he came across two stone images which were lying on the corridor floor. One of them was standing and the other seated. The standing one is an image of Shiva, now placed in the Ananda Museum in Bagan. The seated one is that of Vishnu riding on Garuda. It is four feet high and has found its way to the Berlin Museum. This may have been the central or main image of the temple. Vishnu is crowned by a beautiful kirita flanked by fluttering scarves on two sides. In His upper hands He holds the disc and conch respectively. (Bhise, Usha R., A Temple of Vishnu in Burma, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.449.)

 

THAILAND

Thailand was once known as Siam. On July 20th, 1948, the Siamese constituent assembly voted to change the name of Siam to Thailand, the change would come into effect the following year. Of course, Siam was a derivative of Shyam, which is a name for Krishna, meaning the color of dark blue, the complexion of Lord Krishna.

Evidence shows that it was at least by 380 BCE when the Iron Age communities in central Thailand had already opened trade relations with India. The Sa Huynh people of coastal Vietnam were highly competent navigators, and had arrived in that region by 500 BCE. A writing system was in a script resembling that of the Hu, who were in turn influenced by India. (Higham, Charles, The Civilization of Angkor, Phoenix, London, 2001, p.23-4.)

Sanskrit words are still very much in the Thai language. C. B. Pandey explains the influence in the language of Thailand. “The Thai language has 18 vowels and 23 consonants, specially in Northern Thai. … Indian cultural impact in Siam has left a deep-rooted influence on the language of the country. ‘Anyone visiting the country today’, says S. R. Sehgal, ‘would be amazed by the multitude of words in every-day speech which are derivatives from Sanskrit.’ (Sehgal, Dr. S. R., Sanskritistic Culture in South East Asia, in Sanskriti, Vol. III (English), p. 474.)

Anyone listening to the radio broadcasts of these countries will be struck by the frequent occurrence of these words. It is in the Thai language that we have more Sanskrit elements. The Sanskrit words have undergone such phonetic changes that at times it is rather difficult to notice their Sanskrit origin.

“A few examples of Sanskrit words will not be out of place. A popular word for greeting in Thailand is Sabayadi Khap which has its origin in the Sanskrit word Svasti, which finds mention as early as the Rig Veda. The word vela is used in the same sense of time as in India. The leader of the Buddhist monks blesses the devotees with the words Sukhi Hotu, ‘may you be happy.’ The words for wedding in Thailand and Laos is viviha. The illustrations can be multiplied. Thus we see that there are thousands of Sanskrit words which are adopted by the Thai people without any phonetic modifications.” (Pandey, C. B., Indian Influence in Siam, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.465.)

Vedic festivals like Dusherra, the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana, are still observed in Thailand. They still hold honor for Lord Vishnu, Narayana, Mahadeva and other Vedic divinities. The Ramayana and Mahabharata and other Sanskrit texts have formed the basis of outstanding literature in Thailand. The Ramayana in Thailand is known as Rama-Akhyan or Ramakien, in which akhya is Sanskrit for “rendition of the story.” Knowledge of this was as essential for a cultured Siamese as Homer was for a European. The epics and Puranas of India were the basis of much inspiration for all of Southeast Asia, and the theme for classical theater, Shadow theater, and marionette shows. This influence can still be seen in Siamese dance, drama, and music. (Shah, Niranjan, Kings of Thailand Bear the Title of Rama, India Tribune, January 1, 2005.)

The name of the Thailand city of Ayutthaya, the ancient capital a few hours north of Bangkok, is known for its many temples. The name is derived after the name Ayodhya, the capital of the kingdom and birthplace of Lord Rama in India. And the Kings of Thailand still call themselves Rama along with their own Thai names. Rama is also found on the expressway connecting Bangkok to the international airport. Plus, the Bangkok airport has the display of the Vedic story of the devas and demons churning the ocean for the nectar of immortality, as described in the Puranas, which certainly shows their high regard for their Vedic connections.

 

CAMBODIA

It is suggested that many of the elements of India or Vedic culture were incorporated into the Khmer civilization at an early stage, even back from 2000 to 1000 BCE, because of the Indian traders who were active along the southern coast of what is now Cambodia. This included various implements for farming as well as numbers, writing, art, and literature, such as the Ream Ker or the Ramayana, which had a tremendous influence. The worship of Vishnu and Shiva was also adopted. They had also took up the Indic traditions of administration, architecture, court ceremony, economy, and the Cambodian New Year coincided with the start of the Vedic solar calendar.

This is barely the tip of how Cambodia has always had a close link with India and Vedic culture. The amazing temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom are testimony to that and show much deeper areas of Vedic influence. Most people know about these temples, which are built as a microcosm of the Vedic universe, which displays all kinds of depictions of the knowledge inherited from India. One of the most noted panels is on the east side of the third gallery which displays the Devas and Asuras churning the ocean of milk for the nectar of immortality, a story right out of the Vedic Puranas.

Angkor Wat is a true wonder of the world. Historian Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru wrote: “Let it be said immediately that Angkor, as it stands, ranks as chief wonder of the world today.” To explain a little about it, it occupies about 500 acres surrounded on all four sides by a wall and an enclosed water tank. The causeways, flanked by enormous naga and lion statues, represent rainbows. The temple is 65 meters tall, made up of three platforms, progressively smaller, with covered galleries defining the borders, and is a replica of the cosmos. The first level contains 1200 square meters of carved sandstone galleries illustrating scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranic stories. (Shah, Niranjan, The Largest Hindu Temple is in Cambodia, India Tribune, January 29, 2005.)

We can only get an idea of the greatness of Angkor Wat from what we see of it today. It is truly an amazing temple, but from the descriptions described by Charles Higham, we can only guess at how much greater it was years ago. He describes it as follows: “Angkor Wat today is but a pale reflection of its former state. Traces of gilded stucco survive on the central tower, and a Japanese visitor in the early seventeenth century noted gilding over the stone bas-reliefs. It must in its heyday have literally been a golden temple. A 4-meter-high statue of Vishnu, which might have once been located in the central sanctuary tower, is still to be seen in the western entrance building. It remains venerated to this day.” (Higham, Charles, The Civilization of Angkor, Phoenix, London, 2001, p. 115.)

 

VIETNAM

From the 1st to 6th centuries CE, Vietnam was part of the Indianised kingdom of Funan, as it was called by the Chinese. The Funan people produced remarkable art and constructed an elaborate system of canals which were used for both transportation and the irrigation of wet rice agriculture. In mid-6th century, Funan was attacked by the pre-Angkorian Kingdom of Chenla, which gradually absorbed the territory of Funan into its own. Later, the area would be called Champa.

The name Champa is clearly Indian, whether it was named after the capital of the Anga country in the lower Ganges Valley, or after the Chola capital of the same name. The influence is obvious. (Shah, Niranjan, Ancient Indianization of Vietnam, India Tribune, October 16, 2004.)

Like Funan, it became influenced by the Vedic culture through continued commercial relations with India and the immigration of Indian literature and priests. Sanskrit was used as a sacred language, and the Vedic influence dominated art and agriculture, as is evidenced by the ruins of a Cham city in the province of Quang Nam, and the collection of Cham art in the museum of Danang. Brilliant examples of Cham sculpture can be seen in the Cham Museum, which exhibits numerous Vedic artifacts that have been found in the region, some of which go back more than a thousand years from the Champa period. These include sculptures of Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, Brahma, Nandi, and others.

As reported by Pamod Kumar, in June 2013, Vietnam’s prime minister officially identified 30 National Treasures of Integral Import to the Nation. The report from Vietnam features images of Vishnu and Surya, but especially an exquisite and very ancient sculpture of Lord Vishnu. According to a press release from the Communist Party of Vietnam’s Central Committee (CPVCC) the Vishnu sculpture is described as a “Vishnu stone head from Oc Eo culture, dated back 4,000-3,500 years.” This would make it the oldest Vedic artifact in the world. Recently the Government of Vietnam, despite its official Communist doctrine, has developed many programs and projects highlighting Vietnam’s ancient religious heritage. This discovery of a 4,000 to 3,500 year old Vishnu sculpture is truly historic and it sheds new light upon our understanding of the history of not only Hinduism but of the entire world.

The fact is there are no other “officially” recognized Vedic artifacts that have been dated back to such an early date. This would make Vietnam home to the world’s most ancient Vedic artifact. While there are indeed many other ancient artifacts that represent the same deity, they are not presented in the “Indic” tradition and cannot be directly recognized as the Vishnu of the Indic Vaishnava tradition.

The 4000-3500 year old Vietnamese Vishnu sculpture is part of an exhibit featuring some of Vietnam’s most ancient artifacts. It was discovered in the region of Southern Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. The Mekong River is named after the Ganges River (Ma Ganga) of India.

The significance of this discovery cannot be overestimated. The entire history of Hinduism and Vedic culture, as taught in the academic institutions of the world, has been built upon a false construct. According to mainstream academia, Vedic “religion” or Hinduism did not exist until the alleged “Aryans” invaded India circa 1500 BCE. An even later date is given to Vaishnavism which is speculated to have been derived from animist Sun worship. Yet here we have a highly evolved art form depicting Lord Vishnu in the Far South East region of Asia dated to somewhere between 2000 BCE to 1500 BCE.

This completely undermines the entire historic timeline developed by mainstream academia in regards to the development of both Vedic/Hindu civilization and Indian history. The region of modern India has always been the epicenter of High Vedic/Hindu Civilization and culture. No one anywhere has ever suggested the region of modern Vietnam to be the origin of Hindu civilization, yet it is in Vietnam that we now have the world’s most ancient example of Indic style Vedic Vaishnava art. Thus it stands to reason that if Vedic Vaishnava art, culture and religion flourished 4000 years ago in prehistoric Vietnam, it was undoubtedly flourishing in ancient India as well.

Once again science and archeology have confirmed the Vedic conclusion. As the Vedic literature states, 5000 years ago India was home to a highly evolved and advanced civilization. This civilization was centered on its sacred traditions. The worship of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Lakshmi, and Durga was widespread and in fact spanned the entire globe.

These traditions presented themselves in diverse manners, as seen in modern India, yet among this diversity was a commonality based upon the authority of the Vedic scriptures and traditions. The recognizably Indic forms of the Vedic traditions spanned the globe from the Philippines to the Middle East and Siberia to Australia. Yet the same Divinities were worshiped and the same traditions were practiced throughout the world.

Perhaps today, as India itself is reeling under the onslaught of enforced “secularism” and as Hinduism has been relegated to the realm of just one of many religions (rather than being recognized as the heart and soul of India), we are fortunate that the former Hindu lands of Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Kampuchea are leading the way towards the reclamation of our ancient Vedic heritage. (http://www.speakingtree.in/spiritual-blogs/seekers/mysticism/4-000-year-old-vishnu-statue-discovered-in-vietnam)

Also: (https://rodpush.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/4000-year-old-vishnu-statue-discovered-in-vietnam-by-pramod-kumar-on-jan-21-2015-1479-views/)

Also reported in Hinduism Today, April/May/June, 2014, page 37.

 

PHILIPPINES

Vedic cultural influence went well beyond Bali, which shows many aspects of Vedic influence, and also reached the Philippines. Alfred L. Kroeber, a leading American anthropologist, wrote in Peoples of the Philippines: “There is no tribe in Philippines, no matter how primitive and remote, in whose culture today, elements of Indian origin cannot be traced.”

Filipino historian Gregorio F. Zaide describes in Philippine Political and Cultural History: “Basically Malay (Indian) in might, Hinduistic in culture, and Buddhistic in religion.”

American archeologist Henry Otley Beyer, a dedicated scholar on the Philippine civilization, carried out a series of remarkable excavations in the late 1920s at Novaliches in the Philippines. His work was systematic and concluded that all the artifacts found, including a large quantity of pottery, iron implements and weapons such as knives and axes, glass beads and bangles, and beads of semiprecious stones, such as carnelian, agate and amethyst, were brought to the Philippines from India over a long period of trade, well before the beginnings of the Christian era. He confirmed this by saying: “India has most profoundly affected the Philippine civilization.” (Shah, Niranjan, India’s Influence in Philippines, India Tribune, August 28, 2004.)

 

INDONESIA

It is hard to say when India started to spread its influence in Indonesia, but evidence shows it was no later than the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. (Francisco, Juan R., A Survey of Palaeographic Relations Between India and the Philippines, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.565.) The spread of Vedic culture was caused and stimulated by the trade expeditions which were organized from the subcontinent. Indonesian princes accepted the religious and cultural notions of the voyagers and began to invite Brahmanas to their courts. Afterwards the Vedic culture spread among the upper classes of Indonesian society. (Goudriaan, T., Sanskrit Texts and Indian Religion in Bali, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.563.)

The whole area of Indonesia, namely Java, Sumatra, Burma, Sukarta, Bali, Champa, Malaya, and up into Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam are countries that had all been ruled by Hindu or Buddhist kings. The earliest seems to be Java back in the first century CE, starting with King Devavarman, based on the inscriptions that have been found in the area. Relations between ancient India and Java seems to have been quite close, and inscriptions indicate that in 850 CE the Sailendra kings of Java created an endowment for the Nalanda University. Temples built in Java are quite similar in style to those of South India, along with often having panels of sculpted impressions from the Ramayana and Mahabharata on the temples. East of Jakarta you can find three temples dedicated to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Even the Indonesian currency notes has carried the image of Ganesh on them, and Ganesh, known as Vinayaka, is still worshiped in many places there. Much more of the Vedic influence in Indonesia would still be present if not for the devastation by the Muslims and European colonialists. Now it is a major Muslim area, but many Indonesian Muslims do not find it strange to name their children with Sanskrit-based names. (Kapur, Kamlesh, Portraits of a Nation: History of India, Sterling Publishers, Private Limited, 2010, pages 444-45.)

Indonesian dance and music are also of Vedic origin, and still hold much of its influence. Names of both persons and cities and towns bear names of Vedic or Sanskrit origins. The language itself is a dialect of Sanskrit known as Bahasha. Of 25,500 entries in the 1982 dictionary of Kawi, 12,500 are Sanskrit loan words. Even the Indonesian flag is called Dwi-Varna (two colors) which is Sanskrit. The cardinal points of the Indonesian Constitution are also designed in accordance with the Sanskrit word Panchshila.

In this regard, Wilhelm Von Humbolt, German Indologist, Prussian Minister of Education, the founder of the science of general linguistics wrote: “Kawi language is Javanese and contains a number of Sanskrit loan words, which prove the literary and political superiority of the Hindus. The historical background has the emigration of Brahmins, who brought the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and other works of Sanskrit literature.” He also showed that no Prakrit words are found in Old Javanese, and, thus, he deduced from this that the Indian immigrants must have come to Java at a time long ago before the more recent Indian language had separated from Sanskrit.

Modern Indonesia, sometimes called Nusantara, especially Bali, is another ancient center of Vedic culture and civilization. The name of the island of Bali was once Balidvipa, which goes back well over 1000 years. It is accepted that this is in connection with Bali Maharaja, the warrior king and devotee of Lord Vishnu from ancient times. Vamanadeva was the form of Lord Vishnu who Bali surrendered to, and Vamanadeva is the name of one of the great historical royal dynasties of Bali.

Contact between India and Indonesia go back many hundreds of years. In fact, pepper plants, which are originally from India, were found in Indonesian food as early as 600 BCE. Cotton was also brought from India by the 2nd century BCE. So trading and cultural exchanges were taking place from that time. It was a natural transition and an attraction to the Vedic culture by the people of Java, Sumatra, and Kalimantan, who adopted the Vedic customs. Some Indian traders built new Vedic temples, and even brought in priests, monks and teachers. Then later, the local leaders continued the practices. In fact, local rulers began to use Indian titles like Raja or Maharaja, or add the royal suffix of varman (protector) to their names. The major Indonesian states, from the 5th century to the 15th, were all Vedic or Buddhist.

Throughout Bali you will find Vedic and Sanskrit names, especially for the capitals of the provinces. Regarding other forms of Vedic evidence that still exist today, the Indonesian coat of arms, the Garuda Panchasila, is also derived from Javanese Vedic elements. Indonesia’s National airline is named Garuda Airlines, Garuda being Lord Vishnu’s carrier. Also, the Nation chose Indonesia to be the name for their new Nation over the native name of Nusantara (Entire Islands) in recognition of their ancient links with Mother India. Furthermore, the modern capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, features a magnificent sculpture of Partha Sarathi Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. This shows the immense popularity and respect for Hindu culture that can still be found amongst the people of Indonesia. Plus, according to the Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia, a Hindu revival movement, the Indonesian Hindu population is closer to 18 million rather than the 6 million claimed by the Government.

 

CHINA

It is known that China in India and in Indian ancient texts like the Puranas was known as Cina, and the residents were also known as Cinas or Chinas. The genealogists of China and Tartary declare that they were descendants of Indian Kings. The Kiratas and Chinas moved out of India towards the East, beyond the Himalayas, and founded colonies there. The Kshatriyas or warrior classes from India first inhabited the area of China. These settlers were originally inhabitants of the Vedic lands, such as Sapta Sindhu, which included Kashmir, Ladakha, Tibet, and the Punjab of ancient India. From then on, ancient India had continuous contact with China. The Manusmriti mentions that when the Chinas, Kiratas and other communities became decreasingly Vedic (Manu-samhita, 10, 43-44), they were pressured to leave the Vedic lands. However, in the Mahabharata period, they brought gifts to the Pandava king Yudhisthir at his coronation. Also, a king of Assam is mentioned in the Mahabharata as having an army of Kiratas and Chinas, of yellow color. (Shah, Niranjan, Indian Origins of Ancient Civilizations, International Vedic Vision, Sand Point, New York, 2012, p.105.)

Herein it is clear that connections between China and India go back thousands of years. From the Vedic literature, we see that the Mahabharata mentions China in a few places, such as when the people brought presents to the Rajasuya ritual of the Pandavas. In the Sabha Parva, the Cinas appear with the Kiratas among the armies of King Bhagadatta of Pragjyotisa or Assam. China is also mentioned in the Arthasastra and the Manusrmiti.

In the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata, the Pandava brothers are said to have crossed the country of the Cinas in course of their trek through the Himalayan territory north of Badrinath and reached the realm of the Kirata king Subahu. The Cinas are brought into relations with the Himalayan people (Haimavatas) in the Sabha Parva of the Mahabharata also. The land of the Haimavatas is likely to be Himavantappadesha of the Pali texts, which is identified with Tibet or Nepal.

 

JAPAN

In the Shingon pantheon of Japan, we can also recognize a large number of Vedic gods. These include Shoten sama (Ganesh), Taishaku (Indra), Katen (Agni, the Vedic fire god), Emma-o (Yama, the Vedic god of death and the afterlife), Benzaiten or Benton (Sarasvati, the Vedic goddess of learning), Suiten (Varuna), Futen (Vayu), Ishana, Bonten (Brahma), Jiten (Prithvi), Nitten and Gatten (Surya the Vedic sun god and Chandra the Vedic moon god), and many others. “Though most of the deities are venerated only as forming part of Mandara [mountain], some of them such as Shoten sama, Emma-o, Suiten and Benten are popular objects of worship and have temples dedicated to them.” (Eliot, Sir Charles, Japanese Buddhism, London, 1935, p.355) Therefore, the worship of their interpretation of the Vedic deities continues to this day.

According to author Hisashi Nakamura, there is no country in the world other than Japan where students are learning a rudimentary knowledge of Sanskrit language. (Shah, Niranjan, India’s Influence in Americas, China, Greece and Southeast, India Tribune, December 4, 2004.)

Even today, 15 miles from the heart of Tokyo is a Vedic temple of Indra with two figures of Hanuman guarding the image. Large crowds also visit the temple of Saraswati. Fudo is another form of the terrible form of Shiva, wherein he possesses a third eye, a trident, and a lasso of snakes. You can still recognize Vedic deities of Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Durga, Ganesh, and others in the temple at Kyoto, Nara, Miyajima, and other places. Nara was a center of Sanskrit learning in 700 CE and earlier. In some Japanese temples, very ancient Sanskrit manuscripts are preserved intact, some of which are much older than those preserved in India. (Shah, Niranjan, India’s Influence in Americas, China, Greece and Southeast, India Tribune, December 4, 2004.)

Much more of this kind of information can be found in my books “Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence,” and “Mysteries of the Ancient Vedic Empire: Recognizing Vedic Contributions to Other Cultures Around the World,” as well as “Advancements of Ancient India’s Vedic Culture.”

Ramayana Sites in Sri Lanka

      The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic attributed to the poet Valmiki and an important part of the Hindu canon. One of the most important literary works of ancient India, the Ramayana consists of 7 chapters (Kanda), and narrates the story of Rama’s wife Sita being abducted by Ravana, the demon (Rakshasa) king of Lanka.
      According to the Ramayana, King Ravana brought Sita Devi from India in a Pushpaka Vimana” which is widely known in Sri Lanka as the “Dandu Monara Yanthranaya,” or Large Peacock Machine in Sinhala.
      The Ramayana has fascinated many generations, and had a profound impact on art and culture in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
      For over thousands of years, the Ramayana, epic of Asia, has had an unshakeable hold on the beliefs of vast multitudes of Asia’s teeming millions. As diverse span of humanity as Kashmiri pandits and Cambodian fishermen, it is the universal heritage of all humanity.
      A rich legacy of sites and temples in the country where the most significant events of this epic took place – Lankapura – Sri Lanka. Though some people do not believe that the present Sri Lanka is the one mentioned in the Ramayana, when we investigate the area, there is still much convincing tradition therein and many sites identified with the Ramayana.
      Sri Lanka is the proud custodian of more than 50 Ramayana sites from the place of Sita Devi’s captivity to the battlefields where vast armies clashed, to the groves of exotic herbs dropped by Hanuman, to the ultimate theater of war where Lord Rama slew Ravana, the ten-headed demon-king.
      People living in the areas where great events took place remember to this day the connection of their soil to the great epic. An oath taken at the spot where Sita Devi undertook “Agni Pariksha” is still considered valid in village courts or grama sabhas. The color of the soil of the ancient battlefield is still red today, and is still surrounded by lighter colored earth. One of the airports of Ravana, torched by Hanuman when he came looking for Sita Devi, still has a scorched-earth look. A patch of darker soil surrounded by brown earth. Exotic alpine Himalayan species are found suddenly amidst tropical Sri Lankan vegetation, the legacy of Hanuman’s heroic voyage carrying a mountain with life-restoring herbs.
      Incredibly, the names of places have come down to modern times unchanged. Though great social, cultural and religious changes have taken place in Sri Lanka since.
      Sri Lanka shares a special bond with India geographically, historically, culturally and spiritually. The Ramayana begins with Ayodhya in India and climaxes at Lankapura.
      People in Sri Lanka through generations believed that king Ravana ruled this country. There are many sites in Sri Lanka which are connected to the Ramayana. Below is a list of places which have been identified as connected to the Ramayana and listed in sequential order.

The Kidnapping of Sita by Ravana

      Ravana was the king of Lanka and another 9 kingdoms. He was known as Dasis (or Dasa Shirsha) meaning 10 heads, because he had ten crowns, one each for his ten kingdoms.
      His sister Surpanakha went to Jambudweepa for some business. Surpanakha chanced upon Rama at his hermitage and became enamored with the handsome prince. Rama being faithful to his wife, Sita, did not respond and asked Surpanakha to approach Lakshmana who was unmarried. Surpanakha, who felt humiliated by this, tried to attack Sita in anger saying Sita was the cause of the men’s contempt for her. Lakshmana then intervened and cut off Surpanakha’s nose.
      Surpanakha, terrified and in pain, flew at once to Lanka to seek the protection of Ravana. When Ravana asked his sister for the cause, Surpanakha said that she had seen Sita, a lady of incomparable beauty, and wanted to bring her for Ravana. Ravana resolved to take revenge for the insult his sister had suffered, as well as to get lovely Sita for him self, and set out to abduct Sita and bring her to Lanka.
      Ravana, using a golden deer as a decoy, visited Sita when she was alone. In the guise of an old sage, he abducted and brought her to Weragantota in Lanka in his plane, the Pushpaka vimana.
      Weragantota means the “place of aircraft landing” in Sinhala. This is the first place Sita Devi was brought to Lankapura (capita city of king Ravana). These jungles are the place where the city of Lankapura once stood. The city had a beautiful palace for Queen Mandothari surrounded by waterfalls, streams and varieties of flora and fauna. Sita Devi was kept at Queen Mandothari’s palace at Lankapura. The place Sita was held captive is called Sita Kotuwa, which means “Sita’s Fort” in Sinhala. It is believed Ravana had an aircraft repair center at Gurulupotha close to Sita Kotuwa. Sita devi was kept in queen Mandothari’s palace until she was moved to Sita Kotuwa and then on to Ashoka Vatika. The remains that are found here are the remnants of later civilizations. In Valmiki’s depiction, King Ravana’s vimana resembled a huge peacock. The vimana in Sinhala language means “Dhandu Monara” which is known as “flying peacock,” and hence the name Gurulupotha, which means “parts of birds” in Sinhala. This is also called Gavagala.

Sita Taken from Sita Kotuwa to Ashok Vatika (also known as Ashoka / Asoka Vanam)

      Ravana moved Sita from Sita Kotuwa to Ashok Vatika the salubrious garden in the mountains. The route too was said to be spectacularly beautiful, as Ravana wanted to show Sita the beauty of his kingdom. The barren land atop the mountain range is believed to be the route in which King Ravana took Sita devi from his capital city Lankapura to Ashoka Vatika, which was a paradise on earth. The Chariot Path atop the mountain range is still visible. Till date no vegetation grows on this passage except grass. King Ravana is believed to have taken this passage on top of these hills to show Sita devi the beauty of his kingdom.

      Ashok Vatika is the garden where Ravana held Sita captive. This is in the area of Sita Eliya, close to the city of Nuwara Eliya. The stream that runs from the hill catered to the needs of Sita devi during her stay at Ashok Vatika. She is said to have bathed in this stream.       The Hakgala Gardens located at the base of the Hakgala Rock forms part of the famed Ashok Vatika. The Sita Pokuna is a barren area atop the Hakgala Rock Jungle where Sita was kept captive. The Sita Amman Temple is located at this spot. It is interesting to note that foot prints akin to Hanuman’s are found by this river and some are of small size and some are of large size, which tells us of the immense powers of Hanuman transforming himself into any size.
      About a century ago three images were discovered in the stream, one of which was that of Sita. It is believed that the deities have been worshipped at this spot for centuries. Now there is temple for Lord Rama, Sitadevi, Lakshmana, and Hanuman by the side of this stream.
      The summit of the mountain next to the mountain range overlooking Frotoft Estate in Pussallawa is the place where Hanuman first set his foot on mainland Lanka. This mountain known as Pawala Malai is visible from this mountain range. These hills stand tall in-between King Ravana’s capital city and Ashoka Vatika.
      The Sita tear pond is found en route by the chariot route, and is believed to have been formed by the tears of Sita devi. It has not dried up since, even during severe droughts when the adjoining rivers dry up. Visitors could also see the famed Sita Flowers which are endemic to this area. In this area there are many large trees whose bright red blooms add color to the scenery. These flowers are called Sita flowers. The peculiarity of these flowers is the configuration of the petal’s, stamen and pistils, which resemble a human figure carrying a bow, and is said to represent Lord Rama. These flowers are unique only to this area in the whole of Sri Lanka.

Search for Sita

      Sugriva, ruler of the Vanara or special monkey kingdom, ordered his monkey armies to search for Sita in all four corners of the earth. Hanuman, Angada, Jambavan and other heroes traveled southwards. Hanuman was the only one strong enough to cross the ocean to reach Lanka. Whilst crossing the ocean, Hanuman was tested by Surasa Devi, the Naga maiden en-route to Lanka. This place is now called Nagadipa.

Hanuman meets Sita at Ashok Vatika and is Captured by Ravana

      Hanuman after meeting Sita at Ashok Vatika, decided to test the strength of King Ravana and his army of Rakshasas. He invited battle by uprooting trees and destroying the garden. Upon being captured by the Rakshasa guards, Hanuman was brought in the presence of Ravana. As a punishment, Hanuman’s tail was set on fire. Hanuman in turn set fire to the houses in the city. Ussangoda is one such torched area.
      On the way back to India Hanuman rested at Mani Kattuthar. The hilltop where Hanuman is believed to have rested after meeting Sita devi is known as Mani Kattuthar. This is a rock in the Labookelle estate. Hanuman met Sita devi and on his way to announce this happy information to Lord Rama, rested on this hilltop. Today an open temple with statues of Lord Rama, Sita devi, Lakshmana, and Hanuman stands on top of it. Locals visit the temple often.
      Near by is the village of Kondagala, known as Kondakalai in Tamil, where Sita is said to have deranged her hair whilst passing the place. Kondakalai (Kondagala), like many other cities and villages in Sri Lanka, also derives its name from the Ramayana. When King Ravana took Sita devi in a chariot to Ashoka Vatika, her hairs got deranged because of the speed of the chariot. “Konda kalai” in Tamil means “deranging of hair.” Till date the villagers live with the legacy of this event.
      The village also contains Sita Gooli which are rice balls offered by Ravana to Sita; which she refused and threw away. When King Ravana carried Sita devi on his chariot to Ashoka Vatika, he provided her with vitaminized rice balls for refreshment. But Sita devi who did not want to consume anything provided by King Ravana, scattered the rice balls all over the place during her journey, and they are found till date along the chariot track. The local people call these rice balls Sita Gooli and they prescribe them for their children as a cure for stomach disorders and headaches. The farmers too keep them in their cash boxes or grain pots for prosperity. It is claimed that carbon dated testing has been done in Tokyo and Delhi on these rice balls and ascertained them to be more than five thousand years old.

Sita is Hidden after the visit of Hanuman

      Upon hearing Hanuman’s threat and seeing his capabilities, King Ravana decided to hide Sita at various secret locations as a precautionary measure. Ravanagoda, which means Ravana’s place in the Kotmale area, is one such complex of tunnels and caves.

      Istripura is another ingenious network of paths which are interconnected with all major areas of king Ravana’s city. Istripura means “Area of Women” in Sinhala. This refers to the retinue of ladies Ravana made available to look after Sita.

      Konda Kattu Gala refers to the many intruding tunnels and caves in this area. This seems to be a part of a great ingenious network of paths, which is interconnected to all the major areas of King Ravana’s city. Sita devi took bath in this very stream and had dried her hair sitting on a rock and put clips to her hair, hence this rock is known as Konda Kattu Gala. This is situated in the Welimada Area.
Tunnel Network
      This tunnel network proves beyond doubt the architectural brilliance of King Ravana. These tunnels served as a quick means of transport through the hills and also as a secret passage and networked all the important cities, airports and dairy farms. A close look at these tunnels indicates that they are man-made and not natural formations. The Buddhist shrine at Kalutara was once where King Ravana’s palace and a tunnel existed. Additional existing tunnel mouths are situated at Welimada, Ravana cave at Bandarawela, Senapitiya at Halagala, Ramboda, Labookelle, Wariyapola/Matale, and Sitakotuwa/Hasalaka, along with many more tunnels. Some have also said that Ravana had a tunnel that went all the way to South America, in which he had stored much of his gold and treasury.

Preparing for Battle

      Gayathri Peedum is believed to be the place from where King Ravana’s son Meghanath propitiated Lord Shiva with penance and pujas, and in turn was granted super natural powers by Lord Shiva prior to the battle. Neelawari is located in the North of the country in the Jaffna peninsula and is where Lord Rama shot an arrow to the ground to obtain water for his army upon arriving at Lanka.
      Dondra, Seenigama & Hikkaduwa are places in the South of Lanka where Sugriva (king of Vanaras, the special species of monkeys) prepared for his onslaught on King Ravana’s forces from the Southern flank.

War Breaks Out

      During the height of the battle Indrajit, elder son of Ravana beheaded a lookalike of Sita Devi in front of Hanuman to break his spirit. This place is known as Sitawaka in the Avissawella area.
Yudhaganawa, meaning battlefield in Sinhala, is a place in Wasgamuwa where the major battles took place.
      Upon being hit by Indrajit’s Brahmastra, both Rama, Lakshmana and the monkey army lay unconscious on the battle field. To cure them, Jambavan the veteran monkey instructed Hanuman to go to Sanjeevani Parvatha, the hill of herbs between Rishhaba and Kilasa peaks in the Himalayas and bring the necessary medicinal herbs. As he could not identify which herbs to select, Hanuman uprooted the entire peak with all the herbs growing there from the mountain and returned to Lanka.
      Parts of the hill fell on five places in Sri Lanka; namely Rumassala in Galle, Dolukanda in Hiripitiya, Ritigala close to Habarana on the Habarana Anuradhapura road, Talladi in Mannar, and Katchchathivu in the north.
      Lord Karthikaya Subramaniyam was requested to go to battle by Lord Indra to protect Lord Rama from king Ravana’s Brahmastra. This was at Kataragama, which is now a very popular place for worship among Sri Lankans.

The Fall of Ravana

      Dunuvila lake is a place from which Lord Rama fired the Brahmastra arrow at king Ravana who was directing the war from Laggala. It is here that King Ravana was killed by Lord Rama’s brahmastharam. The top of Laggala is flat and is believed to have been affected by the power of the brahmastharam. “Dhunu” means “arrow” and “Vila” means “Lake,” so it gets its name from this pastime.
      The name Laggala is derived from the Sinhala term “Elakke Gala“, which means Target Rock. Laggala served as a sentry point to observe Lord Rama’s army. The cartels behind the Dunuvila lake are called Laggala. It was from this rock the first glimpse of Lord Rama’s army was sighted and informed to King Ravana. This hill is geographically the highest part of the northern region of King Ravana’s city and on a clear day the north east side that is Thiru Koneshwaran and north west side that is Talai Mannar can be seen even today. King Ravana is believed to have done meditation on this rock and prayed to Lord Shiva at Thiru Koneshwaran from this point.
      After Ravana’s death, his body was kept at Yahangala, meaning “Bed Rock” in Sinhala. This is situated along the Mahiyanganaya – Wasgamuwa road. King Ravana’s body was kept upon this rock so his countrymen could pay their last respects to their dear departed king. Geographically this rock is visible from miles away on its 3 sides.

After the War

      Sita met Rama after the war, and Divurumpola is the place she under went the “Agni” test of fire where she proved her innocence and purity to Rama. Divurumpola means the “Place of Oath” in Sinhala. She came out unscathed and proved her innocence and purity.
The message of Rama’s victory over Ravana was sent to Sita. After a bath and adorned with jewels she was taken on a palanquin before Rama. Meeting her husband after such a long time she was overcome with emotion, but Rama seemed lost in thought. At length he spoke, “I have killed my enemy. I have done my duty as a true king. But you have lived for a year in the enemy’s abode. It is not proper I take you back now.”
      Sita was shocked. “You have broken my heart” she said, “only the uncultured speak like this. Have you forgotten the noble family I come from? Is it my fault Ravana carried me off by force? All the time, my mind, my heart, and soul were fixed on you alone, my lord!”
She turned to Lakshmana and said with tears streaming from her eyes, “prepare for me a fire. That is the only remedy for this sorrow of mine.” Lakshmana, in suppressed anger, looked at Rama’s face, but there was no softening, he lighted a big fire. Sita reverently went round her husband and approached the blazing fire. Joining her palms in salutation, she said, “if I am pure, O fire, protect me.” With these words she jumped into the flames. Then arose from out of the flames, Agni the fire-god, whom she had invoked. He lifted Sita from the flames unharmed, and presented her to Rama. “Don’t I know that she is spotless and pure at heart?” cried Rama, standing up to receive her. “It’s for the sake of the world that I made her go through this ordeal of fire, so that the truth may be known to all.”
      The spot was initially fenced and walled to protect it from the surrounding wilderness. Then a sapling of the Anuradhapura bodhi tree (one of the 30 original saplings) was planted as a mark of respect for the place. A small pagoda was built subsequently under the Bodhi tree. The temple depicts paintings of the Ramayana epic.
      Today the temple is revered for the oath taken by Sita devi and even the legal system permits and accepts the swearing done at this temple while settling disputes between parties.
      Vantharamulai is a place that Lord Rama, Sita Devi, Lakshmana, and Hanuman rested after the turmoil of the war. Amaranthakali is believed to be the place where they had the first meal after the war.
      When returning to India in one of King Ravana’s vimanas, Rama felt he was followed by a Brahmahasti Dhosham, a malevolent black shadow or dark cloud capable of taking His life, as He had killed Ravana, a Brahmin. When the vimana was passing over Munneswaram, He felt the vimana vibrating, and at Muneswaram realized the “Brahmaasthi Dosham” was not following him at this particular point. So Rama felt safe from the “Brahmahasti Dhosham” at Munneswaram. So Lord Rama stopped the vimana at this juncture and asked Lord Shiva for a remedy. This is the place where Lord Rama prayed to Lord Shiva and where Shiva blessed Lord Rama and advised installing and praying to four lingams to get rid of the Dhosham. The first Lingam was installed at Manavari about 5 Km from here, near the banks of Deduru Oya. This was followed by the lingams at Thiru Koheneshwaram, Thiru Ketheshwaram, and Rameshwaram in India.
      It is believed that Munneswaram predates the Ramayana and a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was located here. Munneswaram means the first temple for Shiva (Munnu + Easwaran). A Shiva Lingam was already here when lord Rama visited the place.
After King Ravana’s death, Ravana’s brother Vibhishana was coroneted as a king of Lanka by Lakshmana at Kelaniya. Kelaniya is the closest site to Colombo connected to the Ramayana.
      There exists a Buddhist temple, the Kelaniya Buddhist Temple and shrine for King Vibishana. There are murals enshrined outside the Buddhist temple depicting the crowning of Vibishana. Vibishana is considered one of the four guardian deities of Sri Lanka, and temples for Vibishana are found throughout Sri Lanka. A painting of King Vibishana also adorns the new Parliament of Sri Lanka. In fact, there are no temples dedicated for Ravana, but many exist for Vibishana; this goes to prove that his stand towards Vedic Dharma & justice made people to revere him as a god in Sri Lanka.
      The Kelani River is mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana and Vibishana’s palace was said to be on the banks of this river. The reason Lakshmana crowned Vibishana was because Lord Rama had to return to India to continue his self-exile of 14 years to honor the commitment to His father, King Dasarath of Ayodhya. King Vibishana was considered a fair king, as he supported Rama against his own brother’s injustice. Many devotees that visit King Vibishana’s shrine pray to him asking his intervention to a fair recourse to their problems.
Other Places of Interests Connected to the Ramayana in Sri Lanka
1. Kanniya – The place where King Ravana carried out the last rites for his mother.

2. Gavagala or Ghoushala – King Ravana’s dairy farm.
3. Airports of King Ravana:
Thotupolakanda (means “Mountain Port” in Sinhala) at Horton plains
Weragantota (means “Place of Aircraft” landing in Sinhala) in Mahiyangana
Ussangoda (means “Area of Lift” in Sinhala) in the Southern coast
Wariapola (means “Aircraft Port” in Sinhala) in Matale and Kurunagala.

4. Neelawari — A place where Lord Rama aimed an arrow to obtain water.

5. Panchamukha Anjanaya Temple, Kalubowila – This is the first Anjaneyar Temple in Sri Lanka and also the only Panchamukha (five faced) Anjaneyar Temple in Sri Lanka. It is the only temple in the world to have a chariot for Ajanyar. The chariot festival is held annually at end of December to the beginning of January. Hanuman’s mother is Anjan. Hanuman is known as Anjan + Aiyar = Anjaneyar in South India (Hamuman in North India).

6. Rama Temple at Rattota — One of the few Rama’s temple in Sri Lanka.

7. Maha Ravanagoda / Kuda Ravanagoda — Ravana’s places in the south.

8. Veedurupola – Buddhist temple dedicated to research on Ramayana.

9. Sri Baktha Hanuman Temple — on the hills of Ramboda is a place where Hanuman was searching for Sita Devi. The name is also associated with Rama’s army. Rampadai means Rama’s force in Tamil. The Chinmaya mission of Sri Lanka built a temple with Hanuman as the presiding deity. On every full moon day special pujas are conducted and witnessed by thousands of devotees.
10. Manavari Temple is the first lingam installed and prayed to Lord Rama and till date this lingam is called as Ramalinga Shivan. Rameshwaram is the only other lingam in the world named after Lord Rama.
11. Rama Temple – Rattota. There are a few Rama temples in Sri Lanka, this is one of them. This is the only Rama temple in this area. This is a privately managed temple. This is one of the most scenic routes to travel from Matale to visit Laggala (on the northern side of Knuckles).
12. Kataragama Temple – This is the temple of Lord Karthikeya Subramaniam at Kataragama. Lord Karthikeya was requested to go to the battlefield by Lord Indra on the last day of war. This was done to protect Lord Rama from the wrath of the Brahmastra aimed by King Ravana which otherwise would have weakened Lord Rama. The benefit was that the most powerful brahmasthra weapon aimed at Lord Rama for the second time was rendered useless by the presence of Lord Karthikeya.
13. Ussangoda – According to the Ramayana, after meeting Sita devi, Hanuman dedicated to test the strength of the mighty King Ravana and his army of Rakshasas. In the events that unfolded, Hanuman’s tail was set on fire by the Rakshasas, who in turn went on to torch some parts of King Ravana’s empire. Ussangoda is one of the torched areas, which is said to have been an airport used by King Ravana.
14. Vishnu Devala, Dondra – These are the places from where King Sugriva of the Vanara’s started his onslaught on King Ravana’s force.
15. Ravana Goda – This is a place where Sita devi stayed during her transit. This area is also linked with tunnels and caves, which runs through to other parts of King Ravana’s kingdom. This is situated in the Kotmala area opposite to Ramboda rock. The main cave entrance was closed by an earth-slip in 1947. Locals believe this part of the complex was used as a prison by Ravana. The cave complex has not been fully explored.
16. Ravana’s mummy – An additional site connected to local belief, but yet to be discovered is the place where locals believe Ravana’s mummified body is hidden within the mountain range of Harasbatha, Ragala and Walapane.
References
[This article and more information at  www.stephen-knapp.com]

How Yoga can Lead to a Universal Vision of Humanity, by Stephen Knapp

        First of all, yoga is not a religion, it is a spiritual science that has been practiced and developed over thousands of years. Archeological evidence shows figures in yogic positions from the Indus Valley region that date as far back as 3000 BCE. Yoga is also mentioned in various Vedic literature, such as some of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-gita, the Bhagavata Purana, and others, all of which date back thousands of years.
Religion often deals with externals, such as how we act, what we do, and customs and rituals. Spirituality, on the other hand, may also use rituals and practices, but is focused on our internal changes and development, and is, thus, more personal and individualistic. It does not depend on a church or our connection with an institution. Neither does it depend on a strict dogma, but it  goes beyond all that. This is the Vedic system. The goal of religion may be to reach heaven, but the goal of Vedic spirituality, from which originates the yoga system, is moksha, or liberation from all forms of materialistic limitations, providing a reawakening of our real spiritual identity, and even complete  entrance into the spiritual dimension.
The purpose of any true spiritual path is to raise our consciousness to the point of allowing us to directly perceive the spiritual strata. Being spiritual means to recognize one’s spiritual identity and practically see the transcendental essence of all others. It also means to see that we are all parts and parcels of God and to respect each other in that light. That is one of the goals of yoga.
We need to understand that all things that are spiritual function on a higher plane of existence, one that is hardly perceptible by our mind, intelligence, or senses. The spiritual dimension can only be detected when our consciousness reaches a higher level of awareness. It is similar to radio and television waves. These are not perceptible by our mind or senses. They remain invisible, yet they are all around us. In our base level of awareness, or unawareness, we may think that such things as radio waves and television frequencies are not real. Of course, we may be viewed as quite uneducated by those who are familiar with their existence. So the thing is, even if you cannot perceive them, if you have a receiver that can detect or even utilize such subtle waves or frequencies, then you will know that radio and television waves are not only a fact, but can be used for many practical purposes.
The same thing goes for a genuine spiritual path. It is meant to bring our consciousness up to a higher level of awareness, to fine tune it so that we can receive or perceive the higher vibrations of the spiritual strata. As we practice a genuine spiritual tradition, then our consciousness can become refined and focused enough so we can receive the subtle frequencies and perceive the reality of the spiritual domain. Then we can have our own spiritual experiences. The point is that the more spiritual we become, the more we can perceive that which is spiritual. As we develop and grow in this way, the questions about spiritual life are no longer a mystery to solve, but become a reality to experience. It becomes a practical part of our lives. And how to reach that level of perception is supplied in the Vedic methodologies that have been preserved and handed to us by the previous sages who have also used them for their own development and spiritual experience. And that is what the Vedic process has been giving to humanity for thousands of years.
The Vedic system is practically non-denominational. It is not for any one culture or ethnic group. It is for all of humanity and is called Sanatana-dharma. Sanatana-dharma is both a path and a state of being. It means, essentially, the eternal nature of the soul, that which always exists. We are all spiritual beings within material bodies, so the goal and our main duty of human existence is to regain that spiritual identity. This is attained by a reawakening of our higher consciousness and the perception of our spiritual identity. It is through the process of yoga and the path of Sanatana-dharma that we can reach this higher awareness and perceive exactly who we are. This is precisely the purpose of yoga.
The Sanskrit root of the word yoga is yuj, which means to bind, link, or unite with the object of our meditation. Thus, it is to unite the mind, intellect, the will, body, and soul to God, or the jivatma to the Paramatma, the individual soul to the Supersoul, through the discipline of yoga. Furthermore, the word religion comes from the Latin word religio, which also means to bring back or bind to God. Thus, there is no difference between the goal of yoga and the deeper goal of religion.
Nowadays people often practice yoga merely for improving their physical fitness, or for their mental and overall well-being. There is nothing wrong with that, and yoga can do that most efficiently. But there is also a higher aspect of yoga, which for some has been forgotten. The great rishis of old in India gave it for our preparation to reach higher states of consciousness. And such training was performed for years to attain more developed states of being. Thus, the process of hatha yoga was given to prepare one for entering the elevated stages of meditation. Hatha yoga is a beginning process for preparing the body and mind for spiritual awakening through the practice of raja or astanga yoga. Thus, it is also quite effective in reducing any diseases, physical defects, or mental disturbances. And this is why some people use it as a preventative medical therapy. It is the imbalance in the energy system that contributes much of the psychic or mental diseases that people suffer. Hatha yoga, along with breathing exercises,  pranayama, can eliminate many such problems. However, it is not enough to use only particular asanas or yoga postures to remedy certain problems. It must be used holistically to treat the whole person so the student, or the sadhaka, can rise to a higher level of being. The person’s character, thought processes, mind, senses, and physical nature, must all rise to a more refined level of existence. That is what is needed, otherwise the goal of yoga remains incomplete. This, it seems, is what has been forgotten by many modern yoga teachers.
In order for the mind to be purified, the body also has to be purified, or prepared spiritually. Hatha yoga is that preliminary process by which we prepare the body, nervous system, mind, lungs or breathing, and nadi channels so the energy within can flow most efficiently for states of deep meditation. As we increase our ability for deeper meditation, naturally higher awareness also develops, and our consciousness will operate on a higher frequency level, a level in which we begin to perceive the spiritual strata. And this also means that we can perceive our real spiritual identity beyond the physical body, both of ourselves and all others.

SEEING THE DIVINITY IN EACH OF US

Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of the Aikido method of martial arts said: “Above all, one must unite one’s heart with that of the gods. The essence of God is love, an all-pervading love that reaches every corner of the universe. If one is not united to God, the universe cannot be harmonized. Martial artists who are not in harmony with the universe are merely executing combat techniques, not Aiki (Ai–uniting harmony and love with ki–the universal energy).”
This understanding is very important even in ordinary, everyday life. If we are not working in harmony with love and universal energy, we are simply going through daily routines that are ineffectual and empty. We need to practice the methods which also awaken the connection we have with God, the universe, and each other. This is the way we can fully grow and develop. Then our life will have meaning and purpose. We will be guided by our own upliftment and will be able to assist in the upliftment of others. We will also be able to recognize the all-pervasiveness of the Supreme Being.
The essence of this perception has been related in the ancient Vedic texts, as we find in the Svetasvatara Upanishad (6.11) which states, “He is the one God hidden in all beings, all pervading, the self within all beings, watching over all worlds, dwelling in all beings, the witness, and the perceiver.” If one can truly understand this and become enlightened in this way, he will see that he is a part of the Supreme Reality and realize his union with all beings. Within that enlightenment one can reach Divine Love. This love is based on the spiritual oneness and harmony between all beings, which is sublime. It is a source of spiritual bliss. It is a love based not on bodily relations or mutual attraction, but it is based on being one in spirit, beyond the temporary nature of the body. This is the love for which everyone searches, from which springs forth peace, harmony, and unity, of which all other kinds of love are mere reflections. This state of being is reached only through spirituality, which is one of the main goals of yoga. Therefore, a life without spirituality is a life incomplete. All have the need to fill their souls with spirituality, or the presence of God, in order to feel fullness, peace, contentment, and unity.
As the Supreme says in the ancient Vedic text of Bhagavad-gita (6.30): “To him who sees Me in everything and everything in Me, I am never lost, and he is not lost to Me.”
In this way, a person who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, and who sees all beings as His parts or extensions, and who sees the Lord within everything, never hates anything nor any being. One who thus sees all living beings as inner spiritual sparks, having the same spiritual quality of eternal nature with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. Thus, how can there be illusion or anxiety for him? This is the yoga vision.
To begin seeing how things really are, and to recognize the Divinity in each of us, we have to start adjusting our consciousness. This takes place by being trained in spiritual knowledge and by the practice of yoga which purifies the mind. When the mind becomes purified and the false ego no longer influences our vision, we become sensible people. As the Bhagavad-gita (13.31-32) says, when a sensible man ceases to see different identities due to different material bodies, he attains the spiritual conception. Those with the vision of eternity see that the soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite being within the material body, the soul is above material contact.
As the son is a part and parcel of the father, similarly, we are all individual parts of the supreme spiritual Father. In fact, the whole creation displays different energies which are expansions of the Supreme Energetic. Thus, there is diversity within the variegated material energy which expands from the Supreme Being. These expansions manifest in millions of species of life, as explained in the Vedic literature. Therefore, although we are in different material bodies, we are all expansions of the same spiritual energy. This is oneness and unity in diversity. On the spiritual platform, which is absolute, we are all the same. We are all spiritual beings, servants of the Supreme Being, undergoing life in the material creation. That is real unity. This perception is the perfection of the spiritually conscious person. He sees all living beings as reflections of the One, the Supreme Being. Thus, in a broad sense, there is one interest. Spiritually there is never any clash.
We are all but small reflections of the Supreme Consciousness. When we put the greater whole above ourselves, and realize that we all contribute to the condition of this planet, then uniting with a common cause and with that Supreme Consciousness will be easy.
This planet does not allow us to be isolated. We all must work together and interface with others on some level. One lesson that this school of existence on this planet forces us to learn is that when we come together willingly to communicate, with a positive purpose, or to pray together, and to unite for the good of the whole, then harmony and peace can exist. That peace forms and manifests when we focus on our spiritual nature, which brings between us our unity in the Supreme. Making this the center of our existence will easily bring peace, unity, and harmony in this world because it brings in the spiritual vibration that emanates from the Supreme. That vibration is one of spiritual love. It is all that is eternal. All else is temporary. Therefore, focusing on and using our energy on temporary emotions such as envy, jealousy, and anger, will only keep us far away from the Supreme, and from reaching any peace or unity between us.
We have to recognize how similar we are in order to expand our heart toward others we may have previously rejected. This is how love and understanding can dissolve the boundaries that keep us stifled as a society and individuals, and keep us from entering higher dimensions of consciousness. There is no other way to grow spiritually. A lack of love for each other is a reflection of a lack of love for God.
When we think in spiritual consciousness, we do not recognize others by their differences. We see our similarities. This is easy when we think in terms of being sons and daughters of the same Supreme Father. We all belong to the One. Only in this way can there be universal love among all living entities. Only in this way can we begin to think that we are all related to each other. Once we establish our relationship with the Supreme, then we can establish our true relationship with everyone else. Our spiritual nature is eternal, and our spiritual relation with the Supreme is eternal. Therefore, our spiritual relationship with each other is also eternal. It is not subject to time and circumstances. This central point has to be established in order for there to be universal peace, brotherhood, equality, and unity in the world. This central point must be a part of every religion or it remains incomplete.
In essence, we are all consciousness in material forms. Consciousness cannot be destroyed. It is the essence of God in each of us. We are all spiritual beings, reflections of the Divine. We are not our beliefs, our cultures, or our minds and bodies. We are all divine souls on a wondrous journey through Truth. We have all manifested from God, the Supreme Truth, and we are all evolving back to God. As the Manu-samhita (12.125) relates, “Thus, he who by means of Self sees the self in all created things, after attaining equality with all, enters into Brahman [spiritual consciousness], the highest place.” That is the ultimate goal, and that is the vision by which we can attain unity with one and all. This spiritual perception can automatically be facilitated through the practice of yoga and meditation.

[From www.stephen-knapp.com]

Krishna’s Eternal Spiritual Abode–Our Ultimate Goal, by Stephen Knapp

The Vedic texts describe that there are innumerable spiritual planets in the spiritual sky beyond this material creation, each having one of the unlimited forms of the Lord with countless devotees engaging in His service. In the center of all the spiritual planets of Vaikuntha (meaning the spiritual sky where there is no anxiety) is the planet known as Krishnaloka or Goloka Vrindavana. This is the personal abode of the original Supreme Personality of God, Sri Krishna. Krishna enjoys His transcendental bliss in multiple forms on that planet, and all the opulences of the other Vaikuntha planets are found there. This planet is shaped like a lotus flower and many kinds of pastimes are taking place on each leaf of that lotus, as described in Brahma-samhita, verses two and four: “The superexcellent station of Krishna, which is known as Gokula, has thousands of petals and a corolla like that of a lotus sprouted from a part of His infinitary aspect, the whorl of the leaves being the actual abode of Krishna. The whorl of that eternal realm, Gokula, is the hexagonal abode of Krishna. Its petals are the abodes of gopis [friends] who are part and parcel of Krishna to whom they are most lovingly devoted and are similar in essence. The petals shine beautifully like so many walls. The extended leaves of that lotus are the garden-like dhama, or spiritual abode of Sri Radhika, the most beloved of Krishna.”

The only business that Sri Krishna has in the spiritual realm is transcendental enjoyment. The only business of Krishna’s eternal servants or devotees is to offer enjoyment to Him. The more enjoyment the devotees offer to Krishna, the happier He becomes. The happier Krishna becomes, the more His devotees become enlivened and taste eternal, transcendental ecstasy. In this way, there is an ever-increasing competition of spiritual ecstasy between Krishna and His parts and parcels. This is the only business in the spiritual world, as confirmed in Brahma-samhita, verse 6: “The Lord of Gokula is the Transcendental Supreme Godhead, the own Self of eternal ecstacies. He is superior to all superiors and is busily engaged in the enjoyments of the transcendental realm and has no association with His mundane [material] potency.”

Though it is not possible to experience spiritual pastimes or to see the form of the Supreme with ordinary senses, by spiritualizing our senses by the practice of devotional yoga we can reach the platform of perceiving the Supreme at every moment. At that time we start becoming Krishna conscious and can begin to enter into the pastimes of Krishna, although we may still be situated within this material body. If we become fully spiritualized in this manner, there is no doubt that when we give up this material body, we will return to the spiritual world. Until then, we can continue studying the Vedic texts to remember and be conversant about the beauty and loveliness of the spiritual world, as described as follows:

“Vrindavana-dhama is a place of ever-increasing joy. Flowers and fruits of all seasons grow there, and that transcendental land is full of the sweet sound of various birds. All directions resound with the humming of bumblebees, and it is served with cool breezes and the waters of the Yamuna River. Vrindavana is decorated with wish-fulfilling trees wound with creepers and beautiful flowers. Its divine beauty is ornamented with the pollen of red, blue and white lotuses. The ground is made of jewels whose dazzling glory is equal to a myriad of suns rising in the sky at one time. On that ground is a garden of desire trees, which always shower divine love. In that garden is a jeweled temple whose pinnacle is made of rubies. It is decorated with various jewels, so it remains brilliantly effulgent through all seasons of the year. The temple is beautified with bright-colored canopies, glittering with various gems, and endowed with ruby-decorated coverings and jeweled gateways and arches. Its splendour is equal to millions of suns, and it is eternally free from the six waves of material miseries. In that temple there is a great golden throne inlaid with many jewels. In this way one should meditate on the divine realm of the Supreme Lord, Sri Vrindavana-dhama.” (Gautamiya Tantra 4)

“I worship that transcendental seat, known as Svetadvipa where as loving consorts the Lakshmis, in their unalloyed spiritual essence, practice the amorous service of the Supreme Lord Krishna as their only lover; where every tree is a transcendental purpose-tree; where the soil is the purpose-gem, water is nectar, every word is a song, every gait is a dance, the flute is the favorite attendant, effulgence is full of transcendental bliss and the supreme spiritual entities are all enjoyable and tasty, where numberless milch-cows always emit transcendental oceans of milk; where there is eternal existence of transcendental time, who is ever present and without past or future and hence is not subject to the quality of passing away even for the duration of half a moment. That realm is known as Goloka only to a very few self-realized souls in this world.” (Brahma-samhita, 5.56)

By studying and hearing about the beauty of the spiritual world, we will understand that everything we are looking for in life has its origin in that eternal realm. There, as it is described, one finds freedom from all pains and suffering, and the atmosphere is unlimitedly full of ever-expanding beauty, joy, happiness, knowledge, and eternal, loving relationships. It is a world full of recreation only, without the struggle for maintaining our existence. There is never any hunger, and we can feast and never get full. Neither is there any lamentation over the past or fear of the future. It is said that time is conspicuous by its absence. Thus, the needs of the soul for complete freedom and unbounded love and happiness are found in the spiritual atmosphere. That is our real home.

For more information and paintings and photographs of Krishna, go to the Krishna Darshan Art Gallery at http://www.stephen-knapp.com, which presents a collection of photographs of lovely Radha-Krishna Deities from around the world, as well as paintings and prints of Krishna’s pastimes and His incarnations.

[From www.stephen-knapp.com]

Krishna–The Ever-Loving God, by Stephen Knapp

        When it comes to humanity’s conception of God, it seems that each religion and culture describes the character of God differently. In some we find God described as an angry and jealous God. Or we find the God of the Old Testament of the Bible with lots of rules but little mercy. Or in other religions we read about a God who is heartless to any nonbelievers, even if they merely lack understanding. In other cultures, God recommends killing all that do not wish to surrender to the local faith. Others may describe that there is a just and loving God watching over you. So, what are we to believe?
 
        Naturally, God will reveal Himself differently to those who are more devoted. He will reciprocate to the degree in which we love Him. But we are all parts and parcels of Him, so He is our Supreme Father who should have unconditional love for His children, even if we do go astray or get confused. So, it makes no sense how a God who is supposed to be all loving and merciful can send His children to an eternal hell or some damnation without the means of retribution or correcting themselves. Of course, we often find mankind putting his own fears and tendencies into the character of God, without true understanding. However, we find a very different and more loving God in the Vedic tradition in the form of Lord Krishna. So, let us find out the nature of this more loving form of the Supreme Being.
 
        Lord Krishna describes His ever-loving nature towards one and all, but especially for those who engage in loving Him. This is not favoritism but a natural reciprocation with those who are filled with loving feelings for Him. Lord Krishna explains Himself this way:
 
        “I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him. Even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in devotional service, he is considered saintly because he is properly situated. He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti [Arjuna], declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes. Those who take shelter in Me, even though they be of lower birth, or women, or simple merchants, or ordinary workers, all can approach the supreme destination.” 1
 
        This is further explained by Narada Muni in his talks with Maharaja Yudhisthira. He says that Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Personality, is the supreme controller and Supersoul within all living beings. Because He has no material body, he has no false conception of who He is, or of “I” and “mine.” So, it is not accurate to think that He feels pain when blasphemed or happy if offered prayers. This is impossible for Him. He has no enemy and no friend in that respect. When He chastises the demons or the envious it is for their own good. When He accepts the prayers of the devotees, it is also for their own good. He is affected neither by prayers or blasphemy. Therefore, by enmity or by devotional service, by fear or affection, or even lusty desires, if the materially conditioned soul can concentrate his mind on the Lord by any method, the result is the same for one’s benefit. The Lord, because of His blissful position, is never affected by enmity or friendship. 2
 
        So, if the conditioned souls somehow or other think of Krishna, who is sac-chit-ananda-vigraha [the eternal form of knowledge and bliss], they will become free from their sins. Whether thinking of Him as their worshipable Lord or enemy, because of constantly thinking of Him they will regain their spiritual bodies. 3
 
        In this way, it does not matter how we think or focus our attention on Krishna, He is nonetheless all powerful and purifying. His form alone and any thoughts of Him will uplift our spiritual awareness and purity.
 
        When Akrura was praying to Lord Krishna, he also asked what learned person would approach anyone but Him for shelter, since He was the affectionate, grateful and truthful well-wisher of His devotees. To those who worship Krishna in sincere friendship, He rewards them with everything they desire, even His own self (which is the rarest of attainments). 4
 
        It is explained by Sri Havir to King Nimi that the Supreme Personality is so kind to the conditioned souls that if they call upon Him by chanting His holy names, even unintentionally or unwillingly, the Lord is willing to destroy innumerable sinful reactions in their hearts. Therefore, when a devotee who has directly taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord chants the holy name of Krishna with genuine love, the Supreme Lord will never give up the heart of such a devotee. One who has captured the Supreme Lord within his heart is most exalted, and called a bhagavata-pradhana devotee. 5
 
        Sudama, the garland maker, also prayed to Lords Krishna and Balarama when They went to see him at his house because They are the well-wishing friends and Supreme Soul of the whole universe. They regard everyone with an unbiased vision. Although They reciprocate Their devotees’ love and worship, They always remain equally disposed toward all living beings. 6
 
        As Lord Krishna says in this regard, “To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” 7
 
        Lord Krishna loves His devotees so much that He doesn’t descend into this world without them. They all appear in the world to make preparations whenever He is ready to descend. And they all leave this world whenever the Lord again wraps up His pastimes. He gives Himself to them in such a way that no one feels neglected, and they actually feel that they are getting extra and exclusive attention from the Lord.
 
        In His instructions to Durvasa Muni, the Lord explains how much He loves His devotees. He says that He is completely under the control of His devotees. He is not independent of their love. Because His devotees have no material desires, He sits within the core of their hearts. But not only His devotees, but those who are devotees of His devotees are very dear to Him. Without the saintly persons, for whom He is the only destination, He has no desire to enjoy His own transcendental bliss or supreme opulences. Since these devotees give up so much for Him, such as homes, families, even riches and their own lives if need be, how can He give up such devotees at any time? So, just as a chaste wife brings their gentle husbands under their control by service, such pure devotees also bring Him under control.
 
        The Lord explains that His devotees are simply satisfied by engaging in service to Him. They are not even interested in liberation, though this is automatically achieved by their service. And they are certainly not interested in the perishable happiness of reaching the heavenly planets that exist within this universe. The pure devotees are always in the core of His heart, and He is always in the heart of His pure devotees. His devotees do not know anything else but Him, and He does not know anything else but them. 8
 
        When instructing the brahmana ladies who came to render service to Him, Lord Krishna said that those expert personalities who can see their own true interest in life, render unmotivated and uninterrupted devotional service to Him, because He is the most dear to the soul. 9
 
        In discerning Krishna’s love for us in this life, it is said that if Krishna likes us, He will give us everything. But if Krishna loves us, He will take everything away from us. This does not necessarily mean that He leaves us with nothing. But what gets in the way of our devotional life and spiritual advancement may be taken away. As Krishna Himself explained to Indra, the proud King of Heaven, that a man who is blind with the intoxication of power and opulence cannot easily see Him with the rod of punishment in His hand. If He desires someone’s real welfare, He will drag such a person down from his materially opulent position. 10
 
        When a person is deprived of unnecessary material benefits, he will at first become morose, but then he will have little else to distract him from understanding his real position in life and the spiritual purpose behind it. This is extremely fortunate, otherwise a person with power and money is often preoccupied with the materialistic aspects of life all the way until the moment of death. Then he still loses everything. So, it is better to be deprived of such preoccupation before then so that a person can make inquiries into the Self and thus have a chance to prepare oneself for leaving the body. That way one can take care of death before death takes care of him. The joyful process of spiritual advancement is the real benefit that Krishna wishes for everyone, and not the blindness that comes from the preoccupation of a materialistic lifestyle. As Lord Krishna Himself says, “the wealthy hardly ever worship Me.” 11  In other words, having many dollars or many rupees usually means many lives. An intelligent person will try to prevent that.
 
        Krishna continues to explain this aspect of His display of love in His instructions to the gopis, the cowherd girls of Vrindavana. He explains that the reason He does not always immediately reciprocate the affection or worship of living beings is that He wants to intensify their loving devotion. Then they become like a poor man who had gained some wealth but then loses it, and who then becomes so anxious about it that he can think of nothing else. This does not mean that Lord Krishna stops loving us, and we should certainly not harbor any bad feelings toward Him. 12
 
        We need to understand that in the broader picture of things, He never stops loving and caring for us, but He understands what is best for us and what we need to learn through the experiences that are sent our way. Our progress toward higher understanding is all that we take with us into the next life, while everything else must be given up or forcibly taken away. For most people it is hard to understand this, which is why we sometimes must learn it by force of nature, or the deliberate arrangement of Krishna.
 
        Lord Krishna further explains this point wherein He says that if He especially favors someone, He gradually deprives that person of his wealth, at least if it is getting in the way. Then someone who was wealthy but becomes poverty-stricken will be abandoned by his relatives and friends. So, he suffers one distress after another. When he becomes frustrated in his endeavors to make money and instead befriends the Lord’s devotees, then the Lord bestows His special mercy on him. Such a person then can become sober and fully realize the Absolute as the highest truth. Realizing the Supreme Truth as the basis of his own existence, he is freed from the cycle of birth and death. However, Krishna admits that because He is difficult to worship, people often avoid worshiping Him and instead worship the other demigods who are more easily satisfied. Then when such people receive rich opulences from these deities, they become arrogant and intoxicated with pride, and then even neglect their own duties. They may even offend those who gave them their blessings. 13
 
        One point to remember is that Lord Krishna’s teachings are for anyone. His love and affection showers down like the sunshine from the sun planet. Yet, if someone persists in living in a cave, the sunshine cannot reach that person. Similarly, if someone insists on living in ignorance of the Lord, or without devotion to Him, how can such a person feel the Lord’s love?
 
        The Lord showed everyone the path of spiritual progress, which is the way to follow dharma, the balanced path to righteousness and personal well-being and development. Lord Krishna never exhibited special attachment toward one person over another. When Duryodhana wanted Krishna’s army to fight for him, Krishna gave it to him. And when Arjuna wanted only Krishna on his side, Krishna accepted that but told Arjuna He would not take up arms during the battle. He would only act as Arjuna’s charioteer. But that was enough for Arjuna.
 
        The same thing goes for the reason why Lord Krishna killed Kamsa, the demon king, even though Kamsa was Krishna’s own uncle. Kamsa used everyone for his own agenda and terrorized the area of Vrindavana. He could not stand the thought of dharma. He made so many arrangements in his attempts to kill Krishna until finally Krishna killed him. But ultimately only the body was destroyed while Kamsa’s soul not only lived on but was purified by Krishna’s touch and attained immortality. So, this is also Krishna’s ultimate level of mercy and care. If Krishna gave His mercy even to the demoniac like Kamsa, then we can understand how much more He will give His love and care to His devotees. So, all we really have to do is to become and act as one of Lord Krishna’s devotees, and soon we will experience Krishna’s loving nature.
 
CHAPTER NOTES
1. Bhagavad-gita 9.29-32
2. Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.1.25-26
3. Ibid., 7.1.28-29
4. Ibid., 10.48.26
5. Ibid., 11.2.55
6. Ibid., 10.41.47
7. Bhagavad-gita 10.10-11
8. Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.4.63-68
9. Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.23.26
10. Ibid., 10.27.16
11. Ibid., 10.60.14
12. Ibid., 10.32.20-21
13. Ibid., 10.88.8-11

 

Bhagavad-gita’s Ultimate Purpose, By Stephen Knapp

The Bhagavad-gita is the essence of all Vedic philosophy and is composed of 700 verses and explains such topics as the nature of the soul, God, the material universe, the nature of activities and karma, reincarnation, the process of yoga, the purpose of life, and more. Within the Bhagavad-gita we can find the teachings for such additional topics as how to have a peaceful life, how to gain stability of mind, how to understand the workings of material nature, or even get insights into principles of management. When we really analyze it, there are so many different levels of understanding that can be found within it. Nonetheless, in the Bhagavad-gita we find a recurring theme which puts emphasis on what Lord Krishna taught and expected of Arjuna, and all readers of it, for what we really need to accomplish, and the real purpose of it. Out of all of the teachings we find within, Bhagavan Sri Krishna continues to emphasize the need to end our karma, to stop the cycle of birth and death in this material existence, and to ultimately reach the spiritual world, His abode, where we belong.

 

These verses form what can be called part of the foundation of the bhakti movement in emphasizing devotion to Krishna as the Supreme Being, which also provides the means to free ourselves from samsara, repeated birth and death in this material creation, and attain the highest spiritual destination. This would also place attention on Kurukshetra, the Dharma-dhama, since this is the place where Lord Krishna taught this most crucial of information, as found in the Bhagavad-gita. Therefore, the land of Kurukshetra should be considered one of the most important places for not only the bhakti movement, but also as the historical place of origination for these most essential teachings on Vedic Dharma, and where these teachings were most effectively put into action with the battle of Kurukshetra. What follows are a number of the verses which explain this most essential recurring theme as emphasized by Lord Sri Krishna.

 

Starting in Chapter 2, Content of the Gita Summarized, after Bhagavan Sri Krishna begins to teach the essential aspects of understanding the soul, He says in verse 72 the real purpose of this knowledge, which is how to follow this path to lead a life that will bring a person to the highest destination possible, “That is the way of the spiritual and godly life, after attaining which a man is not bewildered. Being so situated, even at the hour of death, one can enter into the kingdom of God.” This is the beginning of recognizing that Lord Krishna wants Arjuna and all of us to ultimately attain the spiritual realm. This is the real purpose of His teachings in Bhagavad-gita.

 

Then in Chapter 4, Sri Krishna continues to clarify this in the explanations of what is Transcendental Knowledge and how to begin to comprehend Krishna as the Absolute Truth. In verse 9 He says, “One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”

 

In this way, understanding the truth and characteristics of Bhagavan Sri Krishna is one method that can bring a person to the spiritual world. But attaining the spiritual world is the main point.

 

Then in verses 23- 24 of the same chapter, Lord Krishna again emphasizes that, “The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature, and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge, merges entirely into transcendence. A person who is fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness is sure to attain the spiritual kingdom because of his full contribution to spiritual activities, in which the consummation is absolute and that which is offered is of the same spiritual nature.”

 

In other words, by engaging in bhakti-yoga, or the devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, such activities are on the spiritual platform, cutting one off from material activities and their reactions, and spiritualizes one’s consciousness, which is the goal, for that is the process for perceiving and then entering the spiritual abode.

 

Then in verse 30 of the same chapter, Lord Krishna makes it even more clear by explaining that when a person attains an attraction to performing loving devotional activities to Him, that attraction overcomes any material desires and takes one to the spiritual realm. As He says, “All these performers who know the meaning of sacrifice become cleansed of sinful reaction [meaning freedom from karma], and, having tasted the nectar of the remnants of such sacrifice [meaning to attain the attraction to performing spiritual activities], they go to the supreme eternal abode.”

 

In verse 32 we find that He elaborates by saying, “All these different types of sacrifice are approved by the Vedas, and all of them are born of different types of work [meaning physical, mental, or intellectual]. Knowing them as such [to bring you above the bodily platform], you will become liberated.”

 

In Chapter 5, when Krishna explains the process of Karma-yoga–Action in Krishna Consciousness, verses 24-26, Krishna again explains the spiritual goal of all such activities, which is the purpose of Karma-yoga, “One whose happiness is within, who is active within, who rejoices within and is illumined within, is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme. One who is beyond duality and doubt, whose mind is engaged within, who is always busy working for the welfare of all sentient beings, and who is free from all sins, achieves liberation in the Supreme. Those who are free from anger and all material desires, who are self-realized, self-disciplined and constantly endeavoring for perfection, are assured of liberation in the Supreme in the very near future.”

 

Here again the purpose of focusing all of our actions on the transcendental nature of who we are, and the means to free ourselves from all karma, is to ultimately attain liberation or freedom from the continuation of any more material existence.

 

Then in Chapter 7, Knowledge of the Absolute, Bhagavan Sri Krishna explains His different energies and to which energy the individual soul belongs. However, in verse 18, Lord Krishna emphasizes the central purpose of being His devotee, and how to most favorably reach the supreme goal: “All these devotees are undoubtedly magnanimous souls, but he who is situated in knowledge of Me I consider verily to dwell in Me. Being engaged in My transcendental service, he attains Me.”

 

To elaborate further, in Chapter 8, Attaining the Supreme, verses 5-8, Lord Krishna clearly expresses the purpose of meditation and the ultimate goal for which we should practice through all the phases of our life. “And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt. Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail. Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krishna and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt. He who meditates on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Partha [Arjuna], is sure to reach Me.”

 

Again Lord Krishna further explains in Chapter 8, verses 13-14, the ultimate way to prepare for leaving this body so we can attain the highest destination after this life: “After being situated in this yoga practice and vibrating the sacred syllable om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the spiritual planets. For one who remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Partha, because of his constant engagement in devotional service [bhakti-yoga].”

 

Lord Krishna makes the ultimate purpose of all of His instructions in the Bhagavad-gita very clear by again, in Chapter 8, verse 21, explaining that He expects us to ultimately attain His spiritual abode: “That supreme abode is called unmanifested and infallible, and it is the supreme destination. When one goes there, he never comes back. That is My supreme abode.”

 

Therefore, in Chapter 9, The Most Confidential Knowledge, verse 25, Lord Krishna relates the destination of those who meditate on other objects of worship, while the real goal is to reach the spiritual realm of Lord Krishna. “Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me.”

 

Then in the same chapter, verse 28, Lord Krishna points us in what He considers the right direction to attain the highest goal, when He says, “In this way you will be freed from all reactions to good and evil deeds, and by this principle of renunciation you will be liberated and come to Me.”

 

However, Lord Krishna is not yet finished in emphasizing the ultimate purpose of these instructions of Bhagavad-gita. He reiterates in verse 34, “Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.”

 

In this way, He explains the real objective, as He again points out in Chapter 13, verse 24, when speaking about Nature, the Enjoyer, and Consciousness, “One who understands this philosophy concerning material nature, the living entity and the interaction of the modes of nature is sure to attain liberation. He will not take birth here again, regardless of his present position.”

 

Later in verse 35 of the same chapter, Lord Krishna points out that by perceiving the difference between the body and the person who resides in the body, the soul, leads us to becoming free from bodily existence. He says, “One who knowingly sees this difference between the body and the owner of the body and can understand the process of liberation from this bondage, also attains to the supreme goal.”

 

This is the process of becoming free from illusion, in which Arjuna was temporarily entrapped by his confusion about what he should do. So to provide the whole purpose for attaining freedom from illusion and such misconceptions, Lord Sri Krishna instructs in Chapter 15, The Yoga of the Supreme Person, in verses 5-6, “One who is free from illusion, false prestige, and false association, who understands the eternal, who is done with material lust and is freed from the duality of happiness and distress, and who knows how to surrender unto the Supreme Person, attains to that eternal kingdom. That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.”

 

Finally, after explaining the whole Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna, Lord Krishna reaches the culmination of all such Upanishadic knowledge by summarizing the ultimate goal of any devotee, when He says in Chapter 18, Conclusion–The Perfection of Renunciation, verses 55-56: “One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service [bhakti-yoga]. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God. Though engaged in all kinds of activities, My devotee, under My protection, reaches the eternal and imperishable abode by My grace.”

 

Therefore, the ultimate position of any transcendentalist or yogi is to attain the grace of the Lord if we want to enter the spiritual world or kingdom of God. And to do this most effectively, Lord Krishna clearly says, again in Chapter 18, verses 65-66: “Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend. Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.”

 

Herein is the final conclusion of the purpose of all spiritual activities, without which, we have still not quite attained or understood the goal. And for those who help illuminate this, Lord Krishna says in Chapter 18, verses 68-69, that such a person can certainly attain the goal of the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, “For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” So, in other words, teaching this knowledge is itself devotional service or bhakti-yoga, which is the basis for spiritualizing our consciousness, and which is the method for entering the spiritual abode of Lord Krishna.

 

In addition to this, simply by studying the Bhagavad-gita will lead to great achievements on our path of spiritual progress, as Lord Krishna explains in Chapter 18, verses 70-71: “And I declare that he who studies this sacred conversation worships Me by his intelligence. And one who listens with faith and without envy becomes free from sinful reaction and attains to the planets where the pious dwell.”

It can’t get more easy than that.

* * *

To conclude, all of these verses quoted above, and many others from the Bhagavad-gita indicate the ultimate purpose of its teachings, and, quite honestly, the ultimate purpose behind all of Vedic knowledge. We are not really a product of this material creation, nor is it our real home, nor will we ever be able to stay here forever. So Lord Krishna emphasizes the real goal of life within this recurring theme in the Bhagavad-gita, which is to reach freedom from any further existence in this material world and attain Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s supreme spiritual abode. That is our ultimate destination where we can attain the real nature of the soul, which reveals our true identity, and where we can finally be truly happy and blissful.

REFERENCE

The Bhagavad-gita As it Is, translated by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, New York/Los Angeles, 1972.

 

 

Becoming a Dharmic Leader, By Stephen Knapp

Becoming a Dharmic leader, or one who truly represents the Vedic path of Sanatana-dharma, is similar to becoming the ultimate revolutionary, but a spiritual revolutionary. It is being an agent of reality in a world that still lacks reality, meaning the genuine basis of what is our true spiritual identity. This is beyond politics or a violent revolution against the typical establishment construct, or anything like that. But it is working to bring in a new dimension, a higher consciousness, and a loftier awareness of who and what we are. It is like the saying by George Orwell: In a time of deceit, telling the truth itself becomes a revolutionary act. In this way, in this age of Kali-yuga, a time when the basis of most business transactions, politics, or relations in general is deceit and dishonesty, becoming truthful enough to speak the deeper truth of spiritual reality and following Vedic Dharma itself becomes revolutionary.

Of course, “revolution” is a word which invokes many images or ideas. But in the sense in which we are speaking, it has nothing to do with promoting some kind of uprising against the present establishment, government, dictators, or the like. It is much more refined. It is an internal quest of an individual to reach one’s real identity as a spiritual being and then assist others in doing the same. It is a matter of reaching the ultimate freedom a person can attain. Only after becoming truly free can a person help others also become free. You cannot free others if you are tied up or confined in the same trap of ego and ego-based conceptions that are promoted and perpetuated in much of society. In the end truth prevails, thus the main endeavor of a Dharmic leader is to never stop finding the ways to present the real truth and meaning of the deepest spiritual knowledge, which is the Vedic philosophy, for this is what can overcome all obstacles in time. Therefore, Dharmic leaders must operate on many different levels and help others in many different ways.

Therefore, Dharmic leaders and Agents of Reality are:

  1. Always working to be in touch with their higher spiritual realizations and perceptions. A Dharmic leader, teacher or guide always makes sure that he works on his own spiritual development in order to stay in touch with the spiritual dimension. That is his foundation, his inspiration, and the basis for his insights and his motivation in helping all others. Without that he knows that he cannot be free enough to lead others to the same freedom.
  2. A Dharmic leader must know how to free others from being a prisoner of the false aims and perspectives that are commonplace in materialistic life. Because a true Dharmic leader has a connection with the spiritual realm through his own spiritual development, he naturally wants to give the same to others, and works for that purpose. This kind of freedom cannot be fully appreciated until it is experienced. And that is the object of everything that a Dharmic leader does. Through this process, a Dharmic leader works to help free others from the illusions, the bodily concept of life, and find the ways to deliver the higher perception of the purpose of life in a way that others can understand. This must include everyone so that no one is left behind. Thus, he lives for the benefit of others.

As Dharmic leaders, we are trying to free others from this limited dimension of existence and bring them to a higher level of spiritual reality, at least for those who are acceptable to it. Here the material existence is like a temporary dream from which we need to awaken and of which to be free, and we must know how to maneuver our way through it.

  1. A leader also has to fully understand the importance of the Vedic spiritual knowledge and its culture, follow it appropriately, and show by example how others can also benefit from it.
  2. A Dharmic leader must also be properly educated in the Vedic spiritual knowledge and to work to spread that genuine spiritual information and culture for everyone’s well-being. When questioned about Vedic philosophy and culture, he must know how to answer with an equipoised mind and with proper responses. He must know how to deal with practical issues, both in the temples and how they operate and are managed, and also in regard to social issues, like casteism, caring for the poor, dealing with discrimination, and other matters that are often found in India.

He must know how to educate others so that they also understand, in whatever way is best for them, the importance of this information and how to apply it to their lives. It cannot be given in a way that appears overly lofty, impractical or too unapproachable by the average person. The point is that if a person does not understand this knowledge, they will never be able to remember it, and if they cannot remember it, they will never be able to apply it to their lives. Thus, the importance of receiving this spiritual knowledge from a Dharmic leader who has the cultivated knowledge from proper references and is also experienced or realized and knows how to explain it in practical terms is most important.

Furthermore, Dharmic leaders must know how to explain the customs and their purpose to others, not merely go through the rituals without describing the reasons for them or what is going on. He must be able to explain the objective of the rituals and the benefits of performing them so that people comprehend their purpose. Otherwise, if such rituals do not make sense, or if people do not appreciate their purpose, soon they will be given up and forgotten.

  1. A Dharmic leader must not be afraid to be inventive and look at and try to use new ways to infuse the message of Vedic Dharma that can be fun, enjoyable and entertaining for both the young and old in order to invoke their desire to learn more. There are so many ways to do this. Otherwise, the message can seem to get old and boring, and then people lose interest. Another problem with many Hindus is that they think they already know all they need to know, and there is no longer any reason to learn, study, or take guidance. But when it comes time for them to explain the Vedic culture to someone else, they are at a loss for what to do. This means that, if they cannot even remember enough to repeat or present to others, then actually they have a long way to go, but may refuse to admit it. A Dharmic leader, however, can even invent new ways of teaching the message, while maintaining the proper and traditional standards. The fact is that there will need to be new variations in the approach of teaching it for each succeeding generation to make it interesting.
  2. A true Dharmic leader knows that all religions are not the same. Dharmic leaders must understand the profound and deep nature of the Vedic philosophy and not resort to some wimpy idea that all religions are the same. They are not, and you will know that if you seriously study each one. They all take you to different levels of consciousness and understanding of who you are, the purpose of life and the universe, what is God, what is the soul, and so on. Some consist mostly of moralistic principles and rules for living, and hardly touch the higher principles of deep spiritual realization. Others are more like forced dogmas which must not be questioned too much, whereas the Vedic system is to guide a person to their own ability to perceive their spiritual identity and the higher dimension, not to merely depend on blind faith. Thus, all religions are not the same, and a Dharmic leader must know how to distinguish the differences between them.
  3. Dharmic leaders understand the need to bring in the spiritual energy and infinite love that is so essential for us to become complete while living in a world that is increasingly ruled and controlled by the darkness of materialism and all the negative qualities that come with it, such as anger, jealousy, envy, prejudice, competition, hatred, etc. Infinite love is the love coming from the Supreme Being. We must be clear mediums through which that love may come so that it can be received and experienced by others.
  4. A Dharmic leader will also help free others from false or misleading political views and its corruption, and from sham economic strategies and promises that are often promoted by the agents of this ignorance that misleads the general masses in a way that benefits the few for profit and power at the expense of the many. This is part of the false aims of life that distract one from the spiritual goals that are the real purpose of human existence.

We need to work to set up a life of simplicity as an alternative to the oncoming crisis of peak oil, water shortages, environmental collapse, or other economic or political disasters, the likes of which few are working to prevent. However, if a Dharmic leader becomes successful at receiving large donations of money or land, he shows the proper example by using it for the highest good to help others both spiritually and materially, while he lives a simple life. This leads to the next point:

  1. Any Dharmic leader must be beyond suspicion of inappropriate activities or association. They must act in such a way to be free from any rumors or the appearance of any improprieties.

Especially if one is wearing saffron, which is the color of renunciation, he must be free from the association of women. (If such a leader is a woman, then she must be free from unnecessary association with men.) A person wearing saffron should never be alone with a woman. That is the proper etiquette, but also because there may be those who are simply looking for a reason to spread accusations, or who try to bring an important person in the Vedic community down and ruin his or her reputation, influence, position, or life, which thus reflects back on the culture or tradition he represents in negative ways. Therefore, Dharmic leaders must be pure in all of their actions so that they do not become vulnerable to false appearances and so that they may lead by example.

Nonetheless, a Dharmic leader knows the spiritual equality between the sexes, that both men and women are spiritual beings inside different material bodies that are like various costumes or appearances. He realizes and knows the different roles that they can play in family life, temple management, and the importance of women role models in the community and in temples. But he also knows he must never exploit others or use his position to his advantage, and, thus, is never seen in situations that can be controversial, or become food for rumors. He must be beyond suspicion of any kind.

  1. Dharmic leaders must know how to collaborate with those who are from various Vedic affiliations so they can all work together to achieve the protection and preservation and practice of the Dharma. Then we can join together as one unit by using each other’s various experiences and talents for reaching something extraordinary.

In this way, unity amongst other Dharmists is also extremely important because there is strength in numbers. And the more who work together, the more force there is for the preservation and proper promotion or defense of the Vedic culture from those who try to unnecessarily criticize it or even try to bring about its extinction. The more we work together, the easier everything becomes.

Therefore, collaborating with the larger community, and with other Vedic organizations, temples, etc., and working with the power of the collective as opposed to small groups, much more can be accomplished. Dharmists in general must let go of their ego and show how to work together. The entire Vedic community, when working in a united way, can more effectively help pass laws, institute changes to suite their needs, get the attention of politicians, and show that their vote can and will make a difference. That will provide much more influence when dealing with local government agencies. This can also help provide assistance for the whole community in times of need. Working with the collective with proper leadership will always show much more efficiency, power, and speed at getting things done than merely working alone or as only one temple or one small group.

  1. A Dharmic leader must be able to delegate duties and activities to others who are also enthused to participate in working for Sanatana-dharma. Such people can then become enlivened to continue in their work and endeavors with confidence.

In this regard, a Dharmic leader must also know how to enhance the Hindu/Vedic Community through the temples. This means to understand the importance of uniting the community with festivals, holidays, customs, and through the performance of seva. This seva or service that can be performed by other Dharmists in the community can include helping manage the temple, serving the deities in the temples, providing the means for making the temples more effective and useful to the community, and so on. Community services, such as health fairs, or prasada and food distribution, distribution of clothes to the needy, or so many other programs, can be parts of that seva in the mood of service.

Dharmic leaders must know how to coordinate activities for the protection and promotion of the Dharma, whether it is writing letters, establishing promotional campaigns, doing radio shows, television programs, or producing videos, newsletters, websites, and so on. Each leader may not know all of the ways or details to do each endeavor, but he should know how to coordinate and inspire those who do in order for everyone to work in unity for the ultimate goal.

In this way, a Dharmic leader should recognize and unite people around a common set of Vedic values, concepts and traditions that can be the universal uniting factors between all Hindus or Dharmists.

  1. A Dharmic leader must also know that many people everywhere are looking for a higher level of spiritual perception and experience, but they simply do not always know where to look. This may include Indians and westerners alike. Many are those who are looking for deeper spiritual knowledge to which they can feel a stronger connection, and many are those who become attracted to the Vedic spiritual path once they know what it is and learn more about it. It is not proper for Hindus to feel that they are some exclusive group that few others can join. Such an attitude is but a prescription for a slow extinction of Vedic culture, at least in this world. Sanatana-dharma includes everyone as spiritual beings. So a Dharmic leader provides the means and openness so others, meaning non-Dharmists, can learn about the Vedic tradition, its spiritual knowledge, temple rituals and customs, or even attend yoga classes, instruction on meditation, temple festivals, and so on, to see what it has to offer, and how it may assist them in their own spiritual progress, or even bring them a deeper level of joy and happiness. There have been many instances when such people have taken a strong attraction to the Vedic culture to lend much support to other Dharmists and the tradition itself, or who have fully taken it up in their lives and now recognize themselves as Hindus or Dharmists. Such access has often lead to greater degrees of harmony and understanding with the local community.

From this mind-set, from this perception, and from the infinite love that manifests in a true Dharmic leader’s heart, comes the attitude as summarized by the phrase “No Hindu left behind.” No Dharmist or devotee should be left behind. A true Dharmic leader will feel this in the core of his heart. He knows that he is merely mirroring the love of God to all others in the life he leads and in the actions he performs, and in the love and patience he shows to everyone. He is concerned for all living entities, but especially for those who are already following the Dharmic path. Thus, it is in his heart where he feels that no Hindu can be left behind. There is space for everyone, just as there is space for everyone in the spiritual world. No one can be left behind. Everyone is a part of the whole, the Complete. We merely have to awaken that completeness within ourselves. When everyone shares this vision, when it is shared amongst the whole community, that community becomes extremely powerful. When everyone is imbibed with such spiritual unity, concerned for the welfare of all, then the spiritual vibration is no longer something to acquire but it is something to witness, to experience, and to bring together through all like-minded people who work in that unity to expand that spiritual vibration, that higher energy that exists within us all.

The key to this love is in everyone, but a Dharmic leader knows how to draw it out and provide the means for everyone to focus on it and perceive it as their own ultimate value, self-worth, and their own offering to God and the community. Everyone in the Vedic community must see all others as Dharmic brothers and sisters who are eligible to make the same spiritual progress as anyone else.

No Hindu left behind. Actually, we do not want to leave anyone out. That means everyone is eligible to enter the temple, everyone is eligible to participate in the rituals, the sadhana or spiritual practice, and the core identity of being a Hindu, Dharmist and devotee. Everyone should feel they have a place and are valued and have something to contribute. This is the basis of enthusiasm, which everyone should feel. This is the power a united Dharmic community. When this is established, it creates a most positive atmosphere in all who participate, it creates a very positive future, and it creates a winning team in which many others will want to join. Who would not be attracted? Everyone wants to be in a warm and loving environment, and there is no reason why Hindus cannot create that for the whole community. And if someone cannot accept this, if someone cannot see the unity that we all share spiritually on the Vedic path, then they have not yet understood the basic Vedic principles of Sanatana-dharma. It means that they are still in the illusion, they are in the depths of maya. Yet, no one should be left in such a condition. Everyone should be taught and shown how to raise their own vision, consciousness and spiritual perception of who they are and the spiritual unity they share with everyone else. We must raise everyone up to higher and higher levels of consciousness, higher and higher levels of perception. Then we all become very powerful in our ability to change this world, and bring in the spiritual vibration for one and all. That is the purpose of the Vedic philosophy and its peaceful and joyful traditions.

With that ideal of no sincere Hindu left behind, the Dharmic leader knows how to instill the unity for everyone to take a stand, to defend and preserve the Vedic culture and all who participate in it. The usual apathy amongst Hindus is what must be given up and cast aside as we all gather momentum to make sure we all have our freedom to follow the principles, the customs, and the traditions of the Vedic path well into the future.

Isn’t this worth working for? Isn’t this worth fighting for? What else is the purpose of life other than to benefit the spiritual well-being of others?

  1. Finally, a Dharmic leader must create the means so that others can become future Dharmic leaders. It is not enough to be a leader, but such a person must also encourage and provide the means, the example and inspiration for others to become Dharmic leaders. We all grow old and eventually leave this world. So there must be those who are younger, who are trained, educated, experienced, and inspired to take up the cause and the position as a new Dharmic leader who can also work to preserve, protect and promote the Vedic tradition well into the future.

Naturally, not everyone may have the qualities, characteristics, or even inclination to be a Dharmic leader, but everyone can instead be a “Vedic Ambassador,” for which there is also a huge need. Everyone can join forces in the ranks of being a Vedic Ambassador, and all work together to show the benefits and advantages we all had the fortune to acquire through the practice and development of the Vedic tradition in our lives. How to do this is easy, and has been described in my article, “A Call to be Vedic Ambassadors,” which can be found on my website at www.stephen-knapp.com.

Dharma Rakshati Rakshitah, and Jai Sri Krishna.