Category Archives: Hindu Dharma

Narada Muni

There are many devatas and rishis who are wrongly depicted in movies and modern books. The roles of nArada, Yama, Indra, Chitragupta are the usually portrayed by comedians.
Laughing at any jokes, nay, even the mere act of watching these silently means you have accumulated sin.
In reality, we must forever be indebted to these devatas.

The etymology of the name nArada is — “nAram j~nAnam dadAti iti nAradaH” — bestower of wisdom and thus nArada. Most of the important literature that Hinduism rests on today has
a contribution from nArada. The first shloka of Ramayana starts with — tapaswAdhyAya niratam, tapsi vAkvidAm varam*, nAradam paripappracha vAlmikirmuni pungavam.

Observe that the first proper noun that occurs in Ramayana is that of nArada’s. Observe also the adjectives that are used for nArada- “ever engrossed in study of vedas and meditation”, “excellent among knowers of veda”, “eminent among sages”. Hindu literature gives a lot of importance to the mangalacharana shloka — no wonder then, that by taking the name of nArada in its first shloka
Ramayana has outlived all history books in the world and will be there for as long as the Sun and Moon. In the conversation that takes place, Valmiki asks nArada questions
and nArada preaches Valmiki the story of entire Ramayana. The first 100 shlokas of Ramayana which describe this condensed conversation are popularly called as Baala ramayana.
In one of the versions of how the robber Ratnakara got transformed into sage Valmiki, it is nArada who teaches “mara mara” to Valmiki.

It is nArada again who requests VedaVyAsa to compose BhAgawata purana. In the same BhAgawata, nArada describes his own story of a previous birth.

ucchiṣṭa-lepān anumodito dvijaiḥ
sakṛt sma bhuñje tad-apāsta-kilbiṣaḥ
evaṁ pravṛttasya viśuddha-cetasas
tad-dharma evātma-ruciḥ prajāyate

Highlighting the importance of good company and serving the wise rishis. nArada was a servant boy and served the rishis with a pure heart. The rishis blessed the boy with spiritual knowledge.

nArada was the guru of both prahlAda and dhruva. prahlAda is taught by nArada even while he in his mother’s womb. The child grows up to be a great bhagavadbhakta when he is born.

In the case of Dhurva, nArada first tests dhruva’s resolve and then gives the mantropadesha of Om Namo Bhagavate VAsudevAya.

on the instruction of Lord viSHnu, nArada also leads the ignorant and tAmasic souls to further ignorance . e.g nArada puts a doubt in Kamsa’s mind that any of the children born
to Devaki could be the cause of Kamsa’s death This makes kamsa develop further hatred for the lord and commit child killings. Many mistake this as a cruel act of nArada.
In reality, nArada has only brought out the true colors of kamsa.

The popular satyanArAyana kathA found in skanda purANa starts with nArada approaching viSHnu and asking for a simple solution for people on earth especially of kaliyuga.

In summary, devarishi nArada’s role in origins of Itihasas and Puranas, spread of namasankirtana, mentoring of other bhaktas is truly an act of benevolence upon
those who are on the path of spiritual progress.

The next time you or your well-wishers watch a movie and see any of our spiritual gurus being depicted in wrong light, just change the channel or lodge a protest if possible.
May nArada bless us all with sadbuddhi and take us on the right path. Jai Sriman Narayana.


-Arun Harnoor


Credit for Electoral Reforms goes to Mahaswamigal! — TN Seshan

Shri TN Seshan had gone to meet Paramacharya in the early 90s, after he was transferred from the post of Home Secretary to the post of Chief Election Commissioner – considered a sinecure among Indian civil servants in early 90s.

Paramacharya, who was 97 when a visibly disappointed Seshan came to meet Him, immediately sensed the cause of his disappointment and counseled him to treat the transfer as an opportunity granted by God to serve the Indian public. He had suggested that Seshan visit the Uthiramerur temple (~15 kms from Kanchi Sri Matam) and read through the details of electoral regulations prevalent in India about 1000 years ago, including qualifications of candidates that can contest elections.

In the words of Mr. Seshan, ‘The credit for Electoral reforms must go to Kanchi Mahaswami, but for who this would not have been possible. At 97, He had such clarity and described minute details of the electoral rules embossed on the northern walls of the Uthiramerur temple. And mentioned to me that even implementing a tenth of these reforms, would be a great service to India”.

The rest as we know is history. An inspired and reinvigorated Seshan went back to reform the Indian electoral system, ultimately resulting in the coinage – ‘Seshan vs Nation’3 A key takeaway for all next-gen managers from our Guru, is to develop a historical perspective in our respective fields of endeavor both to avoid repeating mistakes and to stay inspired.



Precious and Pious Personality, Sri Rama Chandra!

Sage Valmiki asks Narada, “Who is the one person in the world…with high attributes – affable to everyone, valiant, virtuous, principled, thankful, true to his word, determined in his deed highly adept, benign to all beings, scholar with adorable ability and admirable personality, and who is pleasant to look at who is a courageous one, who has controlled ire, who is non-emulative, non-jealous and by whom, even the gods are afraid, when angered in a battlefield?” [SIXTEEN prime qualities]

In response to Valmiki’s question, Narada gives a beautiful, powerful, and impactful synopsis named: Sankshe:pa Ramayanam.

This synopsis lets one quickly experience the life of Rama Chandra. An interesting aspect that one can observe throughout this historical epic is how he captivated everyone through His qualities. These qualities are the reason why He is worshipped till date.

Sri Rama Chandra was admired not only by one section of people but all sections. He was adored by everyone not only in his physical presence but also in his absence.

He was loved not only by human beings but also all other beings and nature. He was revered not only in the past but also worshipped in the present and will be in the future.

He impressed not only his friends but also his foe like Ravana!

Maha Vishnu descended as Rama (vibhava avatar) to pacify sages from the atrocities of Ravana. How did He do that? Definitely not magic, only through qualities of a perfect human being!

He was an embodiment of primely 16 glorious guna:s (qualities).  The true sampada (wealth) of the Rama avatar constituted His mesmerising qualities, and of course all the abilities driven by those qualities. Such incarnations are also therefore called ‘vibhava avataaras’ (vibhava means wealth).

How is this knowledge about vibhava avataras beneficial to us?

If you want to lead a life making the right choices, then Sri Ramayanam is your guide book!


– From the discourse of Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji


Why SC Should Review Its Decision in Sabarimala Case

In its decision in Indian Young Lawyers Association Vs State of Kerala, Supreme Court of India lifted the restriction on entry of Women of a certain age in Sabrimala temple in Kerala. In one the most intricate cases which the Hon’ble Court has faced since its inception, the Court ruled to satisfy the perpetually unsatisfied liberal conscience of Constitutional morality by scrutinizing the rationality of a practice based on religious belief on the touchstone of Fundamental rights. A typical Matrilineal society like Kerala is witnessing massive protests after this decision, women of the prohibited age group have themselves come on the streets and are ready to wait to protect the celibacy of their devote God. Unfortunately this sentiment has been completely blacked out by Local and National Media.

A Review Petition has also been filed in the Supreme Court, which the Court has decided to hear after Dusshera. A case which lacked competent petitioners in the form of genuinely aggrieved parties, a case where rationality determined religious practice and a case where Supreme Court assumed immense power to even dictate the dimensions of people’s faith should be urgently scrutinized in the interests of justice for the sake of the consequences which it will have. In that context it becomes pertinent to point out why the Supreme Court is legally wrong in Sabrimala judgement and why it needs to review its decision at the earliest.

Though arguments as to devotees of Ayappa being separate denomination and practice constituting an essential and integral one has already been rejected by the majority judgement of the Court but irrespective of rejecting the protection under Article 25 & 26 of Constitution, the legal arguments forwarded by the majority in this judgement do not substantiate the decision of the Court on the following counts-

1. Petitioners had no Locus Standi in this Case
The Writ petition in this case has been filed by a registered Association of Lawyers which has been followed by Intervenors working around the area of Punjab focusing on issues of gender equality and justice, none of them are devotees of Ayappa, none of them have ever seen where the Sabrimala shrine is and would not even bother to go there after the restriction on entry has been lifted. It is astonishing to know that petitioners in this case have said that they learned about such a restricting practice in Sabrimala by from three newspaper articles, written by Barkha Dutt, Veer Sanghvi and Sharvani Pandit in July 2006. In the absence of any genuine aggrieved petitioner the Writ Petition does not deserve to be entertained for want of standing (locus standi ?) at in the first place. The grievances raised are non-justiciabl ande at the behest of the parties who are not at all devotees of Ayappa, they cannot claim violation of their Freedom of Religion and Right to Practice in a case where they do not believe in the Deity itself at the first place.

2. Plurality of Traditions and not Gender Discrimination
In a culturally diverse Country like India, which revers millions of deities, almost every place of worship has some distinct and diverse beliefs, rituals and practices. This is the beauty of traditional plurality of Hindu religion unlike the Abrahamic ones which have been streamlined under the unified command of One Book, One Prophet and One Religion. In one of 51 Shakti Peeths in India is a typical example of Maa Kamakhya Temple in Assam, where a menstruating Goddess is worshipped as a deity, women are allowed to enter the premises during their menstrual cycle and no men are allowed in this temple. Only female priests or sanyasis maintain the temple where the menstrual cloth of Goddess Sati is considered highly auspicious and is distributed to the devotees. So the whole argument constructed around the notion of menstruation being impure and considered as a polluted state of body where over-enthusiastic petitioners have gone to an extent of comparing it as Untouchability under Article 17 of the Constitution in Sabrimala case is nothing but convenient misconception. There are several Hindu Temples like Attukal Bhagvathi temple in Kerala, Jagat Pita Brahma temple in Puskar, Rajasthan or Bhagvati Maa temple in Kanyakumari which do not allow men to enter into the temple premises but that does not make it a case of “Discrimination based on Sex” prohibited under Article 15 of the Constitution but is a perfect example of “traditional plurality” existing in Hindu modes of worship.

Similarly the restriction in Sabrimala is never intended to perpetuate any gender discrimination or undermine a menstruating women as an impure physical existence of a body. The basic Customary practice mandates a 41 days Vratam to enter into the premises and since women ranging from puberty and menopause cannot observe this Vratam, therefore they are not allowed, even men also who do not observe this cannot be allowed. The logic behind this practice is that since menstruation is a painful time where stringent conduct of Vrithum cannot be observed and since deity himself has appeared in a strict Celibate form cannot be compromised women belonging to a certain age group are not allowed. This is not the case with almost 1000 other temples of Ayappa because the form of the deity there is not celibate. So the intention behind the practice is to necessitate the observance of Vratam, it is believed that Lord Ayappa himself observed this 41 days strict ascetic conduct before he entered into the idol and since the restriction is not on the entire class of women (limited only to a certain age group) it would never amount to gender based discrimination under Article 15 of the Constitution. It is as simple as this.

3. Problems of Essential practices doctrine
Though Court in this case has rejected both the arguments as to separate denominational status of devotees of Ayappa and the practice as being an essential one but contrastingly the very nature of practice is so important to the very existence of the temple that it will be catastrophic to the faith of devotees who believe in the absolute celibacy of Lord Ayappa, for them it would be an end to their faith and devotion in the form of deity. Though Our Supreme Court has always been fond of assuming the role of clergy but the kind of power they have subsumed here is problematic, the decision in Sabrimala has given the power to the Court to decide How Our God should be? They have acquired an unrestricted power to determine belief, faith and forms of worship of an individual and a community by this decision. This might not look so problematic when it comes to Hindu religion which believes in polytheism but we would face serious consequences of this decision when it will come to decide the form of God of other religions. Sabrimala is a perfect case of penetration of State through instrumentality of Courts into people’s life right upto the level of determing the rationality of the faith of the people and subverting freedom of Conscience under artificial conceptions of Constitutional Morality.

We know that this is an Era of Nationalization of Hindu Temples and bravery of Courts in India is limited to Hindus only. They have always been selective in their approach of reforms in Religions. In a very astonishing Case, Supreme Court, in Zoroastrian Co-operative Housing Society Vs District Registrar Co-operative Societies ruled in favour of by-laws of a society registered under a statute which provided that flat owners in the Parsi society can sell their flats only to people belonging to Parsi Religion and nobody else. Now this is a clear violation of Article 15 of Indian Constitution which prohibits discrimination on the ground of religion but Hon’ble Supreme Court went on to upheld it on the flimsy arguments of freedom of contract despite the fact of the public nature of Housing society and such discriminatory practice would give rise to ghettoization in the country perpetuating communal divide. It is sad but true, we are living in an age where Housing Societies in India have more rights than Hindu Temples.

It looks very strange when somebody tells a matrilineal society like Kerala in general and Hindu Culture in particular to treat women equally. Ours is the only cultural in the world which revers female existence as Goddess and if you will look at the entire cabinet of Hindu deities, Finance Ministry belongs to Lakshmi, Education Ministry to Saraswati and defense Ministry to Kaali. We Hope that our Supreme Court would realise that a religion which believes in “Ardhnarishvara Swaroop” of God i.e., synthesis of masculine and feminine energies of the universe and illustrates how Shakti is inseparable from Shiva would never allow Gender discrimination within its sanctorum sanctums. Sabrimala is nothing but a typical example of plurality of ritualistic traditions and beliefs in diverse Hindu ways of worship which must be respected, it has nothing to do with gender based discrimination or artificially crafted notions of pure or polluted body, hopefully Hon’ble Supreme Court in its wisdom considers it in review of its decision.
– Shubham Tiwari
(The writer is a student at NALSAR, Hyderabad)

Is Hindutva the same as Hinduism?

Is Hindutva the same as Hinduism?

  • Skanda Veera

“I am not anti-Hindu but anti-Hindutva”, “Hindutva is not the same as Hinduism” and several flavors of such distinction are heard, while prominently from the sec-lib camp, also among a fraction of confused Hindus.

While the words are not exactly synonymous, the difference is not really what it is made out to be in public discourse. Here is a brief inquiry into these terms and the phenomena represented by these.

Semantics and Reference – Hindutva

The semantics are simple. Hindutva literally means Hinduness. It doesn’t denote people or organizations but to a phenomenon. Hindutva is known in popular perception to be a movement. While Savarkar is known to have coined the word, it “refers” to several movements and organizations including RSS and VHP not just HMS of yore. However if we look through the self-references with this word, none of these indicate that this word is used to represent movements or organizations but to represent Hindu self-assertion. Importantly, it is a self-referential term and not an attribution. The word Hindutva therefore, applies to any Hindu who thinks of and stands for being Hindu, whether or not one uses that word for oneself. In fact it is not applied to individuals in any case.

Associated words like “Hindutva-vadi” are not self-referential and attributions to individuals by those who have a problem with Hindu self-assertion and hence Hindutva. This is like calling individuals “Manu-vAdi”. Calling someone “jAti-vadi” has some inaccuracy and mischief, because “jAti-vad” in its negative connotation refers to casteism and caste bigotry, not really the phenomenon of jAti. This is camouflaged to attack the phenomenon instead of perversion. But in case of Hindutva, the phenomenon is itself made to mean negative not because of any negative with the phenomenon but because of the inherent hatred for Hindu self-assertion. Thus comes about the word Hindutva-vAdi. The problem with it is the same as with using an “ism” – it attributes an argument in favor of something while there is none. There is no argument, and no need for an argument in favor of Hindu self-assertion, it is merely the survival instinct of a people. It can hardly be called an ideology for the same reason. Yes, it is definitely a visible phenomenon. There is a Hindutva. There is hardly, however, a Hindutva-vAda and there is no Hindutva-vAdi. If there is any, any Hindu owning a Hindu identity is a Hindutva-vAdi. Obviously this is not the sense in which the term is used by those that attribute the word to individuals.

Semantics and Reference – Hinduism

Hinduism is known to be a “religion”. Hinduism is an abrahamic coinage that is mistakenly attributed. For all its “broader application to all Hindus not just fundamentalist Hindutva brigade“, Hinduism is an external attribution and not self-referential. The inherent mischief behind the word is quite apparent while not paid attention to. If Hinduism were a religion, how is the word coined? If the religion of Christ is Christianity, why is the religion of “Hindus” called Hinduism, putting it on par with some ideology (as in Marxism) or an organized system (as in feudalism) and why is it not given a word that indicates its “religious” nature? If “ism” is indeed applicable to religion, why is there no “ism” with Christianity? Of course, this mischief isn’t limited to Hinduism, the occident played this mischief with entire orient – Shintoism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Sikhism are all referred to as “ism”. Being a closer sibling, Islam overcame this easily and became that instead of Mohamedeanism.

That aside, is Hinduism really a religion? It is a religion as a religion (Christianity) saw it. Hindus really haven’t identified themselves as a religion in the sense that religions of the world identify themselves. That also doesn’t make it a non-religion either. It is a comprehensive eco-system with various kinds of traditions spiritual or otherwise, social & cultural units thrive in harmony. This system has seen full life cycles (inception, rise, fall, dissolution) of several traditions, philosophies, groupings. It is therefore a dharmic system, often wrongly used as an alternative to the word religion. It would however be wrong to say there are dharma-s just as there are religions, for dharma is singular for ecosystem and plural for category. For instance, there is just dharma, there is nothing like Hindu dharma or Sikh dharma. In that sense, it is singular. But when it comes to the roles individual plays in life, there is a rAja dharma, vyakti dharma etc, In this sense it is plural. It is accurate however, to say nigamAgama, jaina, bauddha etc are all dhArmic traditions, more like a forest where trees grow and branches (child-traditions) grow out of them.

Several of traditions in this ecosystem are knowledge traditions, several have been martial too. Any attempt to disassociate the “deep philosophy of Hinduism” from its martial element is to be seen as mischief, intended (in most cases) or otherwise. There are out-facing elements that defend the ecosystem just as there are in-facing elements that enrich it.

It is not as if Hindutva brought with it any intolerant or violent element which did not already exist in “Hinduism”. The amount of blood Hindus have shed for the defense of dharma, and the amount of gore Hindus withstood is unparalleled in human history. As a matter of fact Hindutva doesn’t even rank as a genuine martial uprising, an overwhelming majority of Hindutva activity is defensive and service oriented. It is the very fact that it represents a defense and assertion of Hinduness that makes the enemies of dharma hate it.

Who has problem with Hindutva

Simply put, one who is saying he has problem with Hindutva but not Hinduism, is saying that he has a problem not with Hindus but has problem with those who stand for being Hindu and those who stand for Hindu causes.

Valentine Chirol’s hate for Tilak, missionary hate for traditional Hindus are not very different from sec-lib hate for Hindutva. All these have made their best attempts to isolate their hate targets from the Hindu ecosystem. They only make it look like their hate target is a separable entity from the ecosystem.

Camouflage and calumny can be overcome by clarity and awareness. So it comes back to Hindus being self-aware, being aware of their own ecosystem, collective identity and collective craving, that holds key to overcoming these problems.