Random Hindi / Sanskrit Words and Their Meaning

dinker-charak-ddiinnxx-sanskrit

A

Amrit: (Also: Amrut) Holy water. Giver of life, youthfulness and hence immortality. Nectar. Something sweet.

Adharam: Opposite of Dharam. See understanding dharma.

Aakashvani: (Also: Akashvani, Akas Vani) Voice from sky. Celestial voice. Divine voice.

Ashwamedh Yagya:

B

Bhagwan: A generic term for God, Devas, gods, great sages, etc.

Bhakti: Devotion.

Bhram: Doubt, confusion.

Bajpae:

C

Crore: (Also: Karore) 10^7. 10 millions.

D

Devtas: (Also: Devs) Personification of forces of nature. At times, it is used to personify any divine being and at times to refer to a very respected personality.

Devi: Female who resides in heaven. One who is so good, that she will go to heaven. Godess. Way to respectfully address a female.

Daas: Servant. Slave. Used by devotee to express immense devotion.

Danav: Demons.

E

F

G

Gandharva:

Gulal: Pink colored powder. Used in festivity. Used in Holi festival too. Is considered very auspicious.

Gayatri: See gayatri mantra.

H

Hari: (Also: Govind, Madhav) Name of Sri Krishna

Hari Sharnam: (Also: Harihi Sharnam) A mantra. In the Sharan of Hari

I

J

Ji: Suffix added to a name to show respect.

K

Katha: Tale, story.

Kalikaal: (Also: Kal yug, Kliyug, Kaljug) The fourth age. One in which there is lot of violence and falsehood. The current age is Kalyug. It started with demise of Sri Krishna. See yug.

Kalpvriksh: A tree which grants all wishes.

Kirtan: (Also: Keertan)

Kaal:

L

M

Muni: A sage

Mukhti: (Also: Mukti, Moksha, Nirvana) Deliverance from cycle of birth and death.

Maya: Illusion. Illusion of peace generated by wealth.

Mahatma: Maha – Great, Atma – Soul. A sage. One who has done lot of good Karmas

N

Namaskar: Formal way to greet some one. Way to show respect to all living creatures as beings of God.

O

Omkaar:

P

Pandit: A learned person.

Param Gati:

Purush Sootra:

Q

R

Raja: King

Rishi: Sage

S

Shastra: A book of knowledge

Satchitanand: Sat – Truth, Chit – State, Anand – Bliss. A blissful state due to following truth

Sri: Prefix added to a name to show respect.

Satsang: Right company. Gathering of people who do good deeds. Gathering where Sages come and share knowledge. Such gathering can be musical or oratory.

Siddha: Those who have attained Siddhi. See siddhi

Siddhi: Those who have gained self-realization. The stage of knowledge after which every person leaves the body at will and attains Moksha.

Sadhu: A learned person. A sage. A way to address some one when the person has shared something very sensible with you.

Sharan: (Under) protection, guidance, watch, tutelage.

Shalok: (Also: Shlok, Shrlok) A unit of text from a Sanskrit texts.

Shetra: (Also: Kshetra) Area, location, site.

Sanyasi: Those who have taken Sanyas. Given up worldly attachment to follow the path of Self-Realisation.

Surya: Personification of the Solar Forces, the Sun Devta.

T

Tapodhan: Fruit (in form of blessing, meeting a very learned saint, freedom from worldly problems, boon, etc) of austere aesthetic practices.

U

Upanayana: See Yagnopavith.

Uvach: Said.

V

Vaisnav: Religion of followers of Vishnu. (Hinduism is not a religion but a social setup or a way of life. Inside it, lie many way to realise the true nature of God. One of the way is the way of religion. There are many religions one can follow while being a hindu.) Vegetarian people.

Vimaan: Air Plane. Aerial transportation referred to in ancient Hindu books.

W

X

Y

Yagnopavith: (Also: Upanayana) Thread ceremony. Start of student life. Three threads are grouped together and one wears it. They are symbol of set of three guidelines. One of them is the loan. One loan is to God for creating this universe. We repay that loan by respecting the universe and all the creatures. The second loan is to all learned people who came before us for the knowledge they gave us. We repay their load by reading their books and learning what they have taught. The third load is of our parent for giving us birth and rearing us. We can not repay that loan, such great is their act. We can do our best by being good parent when our time comes. See Understanding Dharma.

Yug: Era. Each universe under goes four eras. Sat Yug (when truth and peace reins), Treta Yug, Dwapar Yug and Kal Yug. All Kal You the cycle begins.

Yogi: Practicer of yoga. One who has achieved a high level of spirituality.

Yagya: Method. Technique. Ceremony where offerings are made to fire

On ‘Vakra Tund’ Mantra

dinker-charak-ddiinnxx-vakra-tund-ganesha

Vakra Tund Maha Kaay Surya Koti Samahprabah
Nirvighnam Kurumaydeva Sarvkarya Shu Sarvada

 

Vakra
Bent
Tund
Elephant’s Trunk. Vakra Tund is the name given to Ganesha as most of his portraits and pictures have his trunk in bent form.
Maha
Big. Huge. Greater. More than regular.
Kaaya
Form. Thus, Maha Kaaya means one of large or huge form. Ganesha is often shown to be heavier and pot-bellied as compared to other Devas and Gods who are shown to have excellent human form.
Surya
Sun
Koti
Many. Nowadays, it is equated to ‘million’. Often people say, ‘koti koti pranaam’ (many many salutes) to ones they respect a lot.
Samah
With
Prabah
Prabah is brilliant like sun’s shine. Sun is also called Prabhat at times.
Nir
A negation
Vighnam
Obstacle. So, Nir Vighnam is removal of obstacles.
Kuru
Do
May
My
Deva
Devta, divine being, highly revered one
Sarv
All
Karya
Actions, work, jobs
Su
Sarvada
Always

 

Sanskrit does not map into English. Nor the words or the sentence formation. It is always recommended to learn Sanskrit or at least Hindi to understand the mantras.

As is typical, the first line addresses the deity/devi/deva the mantra is addressed to. It usually takes form a praise describing some aspect of the deity that the mantra’s composition is based on. Here the focus is on Ganesha’s Maha Kaaya which denotes well-being, sufficiency, wealth, have more of and goodness in abundance.

Here is an attempt to translate it using words explained above:
Bent-trunk one, huge form one, one who shines like a million suns; remove obstacles my deva always in all tasks I do.

Image: Onlineprasad.com

‘Universal Religion’ Paradox

dinker-chark-ddiinnxx-universal-religion-paradox

A believes that all beliefs are valid. B believes only its belief is valid. Does A believe that B’s belief is valid?
To elaborate: If A believes that all beliefs are valid, then A also believes that B’s belief is valid. But B’s belief is that only B’s belief is valid.

Then does A believe in the belief that only B’s belief is valid? If yes, then it is in direct conflict with A’s belief that all beliefs are valid, the belief due to which A believed that B’s belief is valid. Hence, A can not believe in B’s belief?

Then does A not believe in the belief that only B’s belief is valid? If so, then again it is in direct conflict with A’s belief that all beliefs are valid.

Image: Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

Agnosticism – A Way to Self-Realisation?

dinker-charak-ddiinnxx-agnosticism

Introduction or Lost without a Guru

“Guru bina gati nahi hoti!”
Without a Guru, there is no speeding up (to Self-realization)!

The closest translation of word ‘Guru’ in English language is ‘Mentor’, especially in the context of this essay. Ideally, a guru lets a student be what one is and impart an impartial and complete knowledge. When the time is right and the student is ready, the guru will prompt the student to question until the doubt’s content.

Given an open learning environment, the iconoclastic intent of such questioning and the richness of their answers that follow, can only be realized by knowing the fact that books like the Katha Upanishads, Bhagwat Gita, Uddhav Gita follow such a format of questions and answers to impart their wisdom.

Incessant questioning is the basis on learning in these books. Incessant questioning and skepticism, which only the agnostics and the scientists are known for.

Such books are good guide for anyone who seeks wisdom. For anyone who seeks wisdom, and not justifications! Before starting any expedition to the world of knowledge, presence of such a guru is essential. I feel such books are ideal for the role of a guru for an agnostic.

In this essay I discuss what I understand is agnosticism. I discuss why I think Vedic rumination promote not just seeking knowledge but also clear understanding of matters. In the end I discuss how all this is comparable to the agnostic ways.

Given, a guru not just gives the push but the direction to the student’s intellect; a better translation of the quote in the start of this eassy, “Guru bina gati nahi hoti,” would be, without a Guru, there is no velocity!

The reason why I revisited this translation will be discussed later in this essay.

Lost in the Personifications

“(Addressing) Earth, Sky, Heavens, ‘Tat’ (that), which is worth varan (to worship, praise, taught and talk about) and from which all was created.
We mediate upon the divine radiance of knowledge.

So guide out intellect towards illumination.”

– Broad translation of the Gayatri Mantra
This Gayatri Matra mentions an entity referred to by the pronoun ‘Tat’, which broadly translates into ‘That’. ‘That’, according to this mantra, is an entity, which deserves our attention and meditative thought.

Hindu traditions have been pretty intense in personification of all that exists in nature and all that is believed to exist beyond it. Hence, the Hindus have innumerable gods. Each one is a personification of an aspect of nature or an element in nature.

In the same spirit, the entity ‘Tat’ has been personified as ‘Prajapati’. It is this personification ‘Prajapati’ and not the pronoun ‘Tat’ that maps to the English term ‘God’. Though this is a subtle difference, but it has a very expansive consequences.

So how does this connect to Agnosticism, one may ask? And how can Agnosticism be a way to ‘Bhrama-Gyan’ (the knowledge possessing which is goal of self-realization)?

Once Bertrand Russell was arrested. In the jail, while filling a form, an officer asked him what his religion was. “Agnostic,” Bertrand Russell replied. The officer was puzzled and is said to have remarked something like, “I guess in the end we all believe in the same God.” Bertrand Russell later said that the remark kept him amused for days to come.

All Indians are taught the same thing since childhood. “In the end, it is the same God we all believe in.” While the religious follow their own interpretation God, the focus has shifted from seeking ‘That’ to seeking various interpretations of ‘That’ as God. As God defined in various beliefs and religions.

Staying agnostic is the only way to keep one’s mind and thought clear of interpretations and to stay focused on understanding ‘That’. Staying agnostic bring us to incessant questioning, seeking and skepticism, which the religiosity or atheism does not.

In the end if we focus on seeking or understanding ‘That’ and ignore the various interpretations, the cacophony of religion and atheism will subside and the focus will shift back to ‘seeking to know’. For is the end ‘That’ is the same. Or maybe not.

Lost without Skepticism

Then was not non-existent nor existent;
there was no air, no sky beyond it.
The gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen.
Whether That fashioned it or whether That did not,
That who surveys it all from highest heaven,
That knows–or maybe not.

– Rig Ved
Questioning, seeking knowledge and skepticism are the tools and method of an agnostic. There is a sense of wonder for all that is and sense of enquiry for why all that is, is the way it is.

There is a hint of knowing all possible reasons and there is realization of existence of reasons we do not know of yet. There is the belief that one day we will know and there is the doubt that maybe we will not know.

There is a chance that ‘That’ exists. There is an equal chance, that it may not be so. The way the above quote from the Vedas goes, it seems so similar to the ways of an agnostic.

Religion and spirituality have been the most powerful terms in history of humans. Each moment in history, tragic or exuberant, was controlled by human belief and understanding of the above two terms. However, what does religion and spirituality mean?

Spirituality is, when we seek something in our own ways. One may fall, turn back and take another way. Always, the guiding light is inside. One is always a seeker.

Religion is when we dwell the path of other’s telling. When our quest is guided and often controlled by what we are told by books, beliefs or people. One is always a follower and not a seeker. And there, lies the distinction.

The road map for graduating into a standard human being will have to include.

b) religions graduating into spirituality.

– APJ Kalam

Spirituality can be been considered a purer form of religion, just as philosophy is considered a purer form of science. Taking spirituality in even purer form would be being agnostic.

Spirituality, as I had expressed above, is when we seek for something, say ‘That’ and when we dwell on the path as a self-guided and self-driven journey.

Taking it further would mean same passion to find out the truth, without letting the pre-conceived perception of what destination of this journey maybe, cloud your mind. ‘That’ may not be radiant with light of knowledge. ‘That’ may have form we do not understand. Or even, ‘That’ may not be.

With that openness of mind, a seeker may realize not just what or what not ‘That’ is, but, maybe what lies beyond ‘That’ if there does anything. Or maybe the seeker won’t. That is the state of agnosticism.

Lost in Moralities

A confused mind sees a world of multiplicities,
A world of good or bad.
This creates a compulsion to act
Or to refrain from acting,
Depending on what will bring gain
And what will cause loss.
– Uddhav Gita
How much is one ready to challenge one’s sense of decency? One’s Morals? Any one we meet, who claims to be a good human being will have a set of rules to help differentiate between what is right and what is wrong. Any one we meet, who claims to be a broad minded human being will have more than a few examples of people he considers as narrow minded. These standards may be in the form religion, society or personal experiences.

The relativism of such absolute stands is the bane of religion.

How come there are as many Morals as many groups that people can form? Why are some Morals believed to be right and other wrong?

How does an agnostic choose between such morals? Are there Morals ‘Morals’ to be sought and Immoral ‘Morals’ to be dropped? Can a Moral be, in fact, Immoral? Is there something that is universally Moral or Immoral?

An agnostic never takes sides. An agnostic stands in middle, though not with any devious or diplomatic intent. But to stand at a distance and take human nature as it is – full of multiplicities. Stand at a distance and see things as entire one.

Morality has never stood the test of time. What was Immoral once becomes ‘grey area’ between Immoral and Moral and even be accepted as a Moral behavior! An unattached viewer of history and knower of self will never fall for traps of seeing relative and temporal aspects of world in groups of good and evil.

Lost in the Translation

If we have got lost in interpretations of ‘That’ as ‘God’, are there other things that can cause one to stray from the agnostic ways? Especially, if we use books as Vedas and Gita as our gurus?

As a skeptic, I find it hard to believe that the translations (even my own ones) I have quoted from Veds and other ancient text are correct. After all, a translation is a translator’s interpretation. Countless people have fallen victim to this err and end up understanding “wrong” text.

If such books have to be made guru, we have to understand the language and cultural context in which the language exists.

Lost without Purpose

There is a story about a Sufi who called upon Allah all day. He went on like this for a very long time. Then one day, he said, “How long I have been calling and you do not answer!” The he heard a voice reply, “Who do you think has been making you call me?”

Should one believe that if one is looking for something that in itself is a proof that that thing exists? Maybe, it does not exist in the form one is looking for. Or maybe it does.

If we already knew everything, why do we discover so much every day? Religion may have us believe that we are doing it in the wrong way and should do things its way.

However, doing it their way has not yielded the same results yet.

The resilience of science is not that is a fine collection of knowledge but is that science is a method that led to finding of those facts. And this method similar to ‘agnostic seeking’ and self-correction has yielded amazing discovery of nature in form of biology, physics, chemistry and various forms of science.

What if we seek the knowledge of self with the same spirit? Answers to the most basic question all of us one day ask, “why life?” may also lie in the agnostic ways.

Self will not be realized unless we know the answers. An answer does not exist unless a question has been asked. An agnostic is not agnostics till she or he learns to question.

A human cannot be religious unless one has a desire to seek beyond what one comprehends.

A religious person does not become spiritual until she or he question how and why when told things are they way they are given to believe.

A spiritualist does not become an agnostic until she or he wonders why and what is that seek.

And that is the first step towards self-realisation.

On Diwali

dinker-charak-ddiinnxx-diwali-rangoli

Why this essay

Simplification, unless done carefully, is same is distortion. The over-simplified, “Diwali is celebration of the victory of the Good over the Evil”, is not only a distortion, but a misleading statement. It actually is exactly what Diwali is not about. Diwali is the celebration of the victory of the right action over the wrong action.

Most of us know the background, the subtle assertions and philosophy. So, the over simplified statement looks like an agreeable statement. But for the aliterate and many non-Hindus, it creates a wrong impression of how things are to be understood. Hence, this essay.

About Ravana and the War

Also, called Deepawali, the festival of Diwali started off from the Ramayana.

Ravana (or Ravan) was the king of Lanka (Some scholars disagree that the Lanka in Ramayana is same as today’s Sri Lanka. But some claim it to be so. Unfortunately, there has not been any extensive study, aiming at finding any information on this subject). He propounded a life of materialism. The kingdom was prosperous, well defended and did not have many enemies.

He was also a very learned and accomplished person. He was great devotee of Lord Shiva, and had obtained many boons He was well versed in Vedas, and other scriptures. He used to worship Lord Shiva daily. His bravery, courage, administrative abilities and expertise in weaponry was admired by all. He had great skills in using Mayawi-Shakti (that let him fly in the air, become invisible, create rains of water or fire, etc).

Then what went wrong!

Driven by excess of selfishness, egoism and pride (which he promoted all over his kingdom too), he kidnaps Devi Sita, wife of Bhagwan Ram.

That brings Ram and his allies to Ravana’s kingdom. Before the war ensues, Ram offers a peaceful alternative. If Sita was returned immediately, the kingdom would not have to face a war and pay for Ravana’s mistakes.

But Ravana, having committed a mistake, opts not to rectify the situation. He refuses the offer. The war starts.

Ultimately, on the Dusshera day, Ravana dies and Devi Sita is rescued. It is on the day of Diwali, that on the end of the exile, Bhagwan Ram and Devi Sita return to their home in Ayodhya. That is why the lights, festivities and sweets.

The Lessons and the Morals

Whenever the story of Ramayana is told, the accomplishments of Ravana are stressed upon. Also, stressed upon is the fact that when he is about to die, Bhagwan Ram asks his younger brother, Laxman to learn as much as he can from Ravana. All this to emphasise the fact that Ravana was a very learned person. And to emphasise the fact, that no one is immune to making mistakes.

That is the most important lesson that is passed on every year during Dusshera and Diwali.

While Ravana implemented his knowledge of administration well, he did not implement his knowledge of right action when, driven by ego and pride, he kidnapped Devi Sita. Mere possessing knowledge does not guarantee good actions. That knowledge has to be implemented well.

There is no Good or Evil. A person is as good or as bad as that each action he or she performs. It is the action that have good or bad effects.

We are all prone to make mistakes. Even a very learned person, unless careful, can make a mistake that will lead to bad result. Once committed, by not rectifying it, commit another action that has bad effect. By kidnapping Devi Sita, Ravana brought war to the gates of his prosperous kingdom. By not taking the peaceful offer, he refused to rectify his mistake, bring war and end to his kingdom and family.

Hindus burn the effigy of Ravana on Dusshera every year. If Ram killed Ravana, then why do we have to burn the effigy every year? The answer is simple. To remind us that we can make the same mistakes and pay for them. And unless we act on not to commit them or to rectify them, we will become like Ravana and face end in hands of someone like Bhagwan Ram. That is the lesson of Ramayana that is still relevant today.

The lesson of Diwali is same as it ever was and has not changed. Those who always choose to act right and rectify their mistakes, prevail.

Diwali is the celebration of the victory of the right action over the wrong action.

Another Over-simplification

In order to explain Diwali, I have read and heard people say, “Diwali is like Christmas”, or something like that.

Unless you are specifying that the comparison is just in term of desire to celebrate and share celebratory mood, there are no apparent similarities. Actually, it is Diwali celebration that is like Christmas celebration. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the many festivals that teach a lesson and have some cultural significance gelled in.

And not all Hindus celebrate Diwali is same manner, that is if they celebrate it. The dates are definitely auspicious and festivals like Onam and Durga pooja coincide with the period.

One-liners for the Impatient

There is no Good or Evil.

A person is as good or as bad as that each action he or she performs.

Diwali is the celebration of the victory of the right action over the wrong action.

Diwali celebration is just like Christmas celebration.

Image: Subharnab Majumdaroriginally posted to Flickr as The Rangoli of Lights

On Meditation

dinker-charak-ddiinnxx-meditation

 

Asato Ma Satgamaya
Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamaya
Mrityor Ma Amritamgamaya
from untruth lead us to truth
from darkness lead us to enlightenment
from death lead us to immortality

Why this essay

I have been asked many times that being a Hindu, if I meditate and if I do, then how. Though not regularly, I do meditate and it seems like a good idea to share my thoughts on it with people. This article is part of my attempt to share and hence understand the meaning of being Hindu.

Introduction

We take in the physical elements of the environment into our body in two ways.

One way is in the form of food. We eat to nourish ourselves. The food we eat, the time which we eat our food at and the quantity we eat out food directly affects our body. The act of eating is a conscious effort and its effects are very much apparent. One can say that this intake belongs to the conscious realm. That this intake belongs to the physical realm. That this intake belongs to the materialistic realm.

The second way is in the form of breath. Unlike eating, breathing is not a conscious effort. We breathe even when we are sleeping or working diligently on something that has our mind and body engrossed. One can say that this intake belongs to the unconscious realm. That this intake belongs to the mental realm. That this intake belongs to the spiritual realm.

To understand breathing is the first step in understanding meditation.

Just like understanding food products and habits is a way to good eating habits so we stay physically fit, understand breathing is the way to proper meditation so we stay mentally and spiritual fit.

Places, Postures and Period

Now we realise the importance of breathing in meditation, we can move to the next set of issues. First is where to meditate, the second is, what posture to meditate in and the third is, for how long to meditate.

Broadly speaking, you can meditate anywhere. Once you have understood the philosophy and method of meditation you want to follow, the places where you won’t be able to meditate will be clear to you. It would be hard to meditate in a smoke filled room, noisy environments, etc. (Though once you have had a lot of practice, all this may not really matter.)

Broadly speaking, you can meditate any posture. Choose one that is comfortable and one that facilitates breathing with ease. A straight spine helps keep rib cage free of any undue pressure and hence facilitate breathing.

Broadly speaking, you can meditate as long as you want. You should try to meditate till you feel relaxed. After meditating a number of times, you will recognize that point in your state of mind where you would feel yourself to be in a meditative state. Try to get there often and if possible, stay there as long as possible.

Also, it is a very good idea to follow the tradition. The sages who gave us concepts of meditation also gave us suggestions on postures and places.

A well ventilated place, a religious place or an open place if good for meditation. Also, places close to nature like a park, lakeside or a forest are a good idea. Sit cross-legged, keeping your spine straight and with hands in your lap or on your knees. Palms can be facing up or down as whatever you feel comfortable then.

Or you can strictly follow some Yoga Aasan recommended for meditation.

So Hum

‘So Hum’ is a chant from the Vedas. Translating from Sanskrit, ‘That is me’, ‘So Hum’ is supposed to be the simplest chant that all living being chant. The sound of incoming breath is that of ‘So’ and the sound of outgoing breath is ‘Hum’.

Meditating

Close your eyes.

Pay attention to you breathing. Watch it and follow it. Monitor it as you breathe in and breathe out. Do not force a breathing pattern. You breathing pattern will keep changing. Throughout, keep paying attention to your breathing. The intake, the pause, the outgo and the pause. Just be a witness to this unconscious activity.

Hear and feel your breath make gentle sounds. Watch your breath with a ‘So Hum’ in your mind. ‘Soooo’ as you breath in and ‘Hummmm’ as you breathe out.

Do not force or control thoughts that come to you. If any of them grab your attention, the moment you realize this, move you attention back to breathing. Thought will keep coming to you. Don’t resist them. Just keep going back to ‘So Hum’ and pay attention to the breathing.

A Beginning

There are as many ways to meditate, as there are people willing to meditate. Once you understand the philosophy and disciple behind this concept, your own self can be your guru.

Meditation is relaxing. It is way to understand yourself, the world around you and beyond. It is a simple beginning to a long journey.

Understanding Dharma

dinker-charak-ddiinnxx-understanding-dharma

Introduction

Dharma broadly refers to a universal value system. The word ‘dharma’ is derived from ‘dhr’, which means support or to sustain. Thus the meaning of the word is – that which supports. However, with time and after much evolution of this system, it now conveys a sense of duty and responsibility, which is based on virtues.

The concept of dharma comes to us from various Dharamasastras that were written by many sages at different times. Hindus do not consider these Sastras as the final and binding word on ones dharma. In fact, as these Sastras were written over a long period, each one builds on the previous ones or elaborates on one aspect of dharma or the other. These sages have always held that the society is always free to accept, modify or reject their views, which the Hindus have!

Dharma has three broad aspects:

  • Aacara
  • Vyavahara
  • Prayaschitta

Aacara

Aacara talks about the cleanliness and purity of both body and mind in physical manner and in ceremonial manner. Without abiding by this dharma, one cannot attain abhyudaya (worldly progress) or nissreyasa (spiritual wellbeing).

Thus, there are two kinds of aacaras: sad-acara (good conduct) and dur-acara (bad conduct).

The sad-acara includes the sat-karmas (six daily rituals). These are:

  • Snana & Sandhya (bath and Morning Rituals)
  • Japa (chanting or repetition of Mantras or name of God)
  • Homa (making offering to sacred fire)
  • Devapuja (worshiping gods)
  • Aatithya (taking care of the guests)
  • Vaisvadeva (offering food cooked to gods)

The sad-acara also includes sodasa-samskaras (sixteen sacraments during ones life). The important ones are:

  • Upanayana (the sacred thread ceremony or the yajnopavita during with the gayatri Mantra is imparted)
  • Vivaha (marriage)
  • Antyeshti (cremation and other rituals)

The sad-acara also includes living ones life in accordance to the varna-ashrama-dharma. The four ashrams are:

  • Brahmacharya (studentship, spiritual disciplines maintaining chastity with all focus on gathering knowledge)
  • Grihastha (married state of a householder)
  • Vanaprastha (retirement and living with detachment as an anchorite with or without the spouse in a secluded place or ‘forest’)
  • Sannyasa (renunciate living alone as a monk or nun)

The varna aspects differs as per our position, place and use in the society. Each person who belongs to one varna or the other has to abide by the duties. As a computer programmer, it is my dharma to deliver my output in accordance to expectations in terms of time, efficiency and quality!

Another Sad-acara is Tarpana. The symbolic or ceremonial offering of water with appropriate mantra to devas (gods), rishis (sages) and pitrs (souls of the ones who have died).

Vyavahara

Vyavahara refers to ones conduct. In some Dharamasastras, there is more of legal discussion on this, laying out civil and criminal laws to define ones vyavahara. There are around eighteen aspects:

  • Rinadana (debts)
  • Sambhuya-samutthana (partnership)
  • Samvid-vyatikarma (breach of promise or contract)
  • Kraya-vikraya (purchase and sale)
  • Svami-pala-vivada (dispute between employer and employee)
  • Simavivada (boundary disputes)
  • Dandaparusya (assault)
  • Vakarusya (libel)
  • Steya (theft)
  • Strisangrahana (abduction of women)
  • Stripumdharma (relation between husband and wife)
  • Vibhaga (partition)

Prayaschitta

Humans will always make mistakes. Nevertheless, one has to remedy and reform. This means one has to repent, resolve not to repeat the mistake and under go penance to get over the guilt and guilty feeling.

Thus, if one commits a paapa (sin) one has to commit prayaschitta (expiation or penance to get over the guilt and guilty feeling).

The prayaschitta depends on the paapa. The paapas are categorized into two:

  • Mahapatakas
  • Upapatakas

Mahapatakas include brahmahatya (killing a person of knowledge – bhramana), surapana (drinking wine and other intoxicating liquids – and given the advent modern times and a hindus right to modify specifics for oneself, I add smoking and taking intoxicating and mind/mood altering drugs to this) and incest.

Upapatakas include forsaking sacred fire, offending ones Guru (Vedic teacher, mentor), thefts, nonpayment of debts, selling prohibited articles, cutting down trees or killing harmless animals.

Prayaschitta include tapas (austerities) like fasting, japa) chanting or repetition of Mantras or name of God), daana (giving away gifts, charity or donations), pilgrimage, etc.

The philosophy in brief

The Dharamasastras recognize the importance of physical wellbeing. Our health, strength and energy are important for any achievement in life. Thus, they advise us to stay in best of health.

Equal importance is given to cultivations of values. These values include samanya-dharma (universal principles), self-control, decent and dignified behaviour to men and women, honesty, earn livelihood in right way, performing ones duty at work, to the family and the society, not harm others, keep environment clean and not abuse nature, study and listen to works of sages, austerity and work towards self-realization.

List of Dharamasastras

Some of these texts are believed to be as old as 450-300 BC and as latest as 1600 AD. Here is a list of some:

Dharmasutras

  • Apastamba
  • Ausanasa
  • Baudhayana
  • Gautama
  • Harita
  • Hiranyakesi
  • Vaikhanasa
  • Vasistha
  • Vishnu

Smritis

  • Angirasa
  • Atri
  • Brahaspati
  • Brhat-Parasara
  • Daksha
  • Devala
  • Gobhila
  • Katyayana
  • Manu
  • Narada
  • Parasara
  • Samvarta
  • Vyasa
  • Yajnavalkya
  • Yama

Nibandhas

  • Caturvargacintamani
  • Kalpataru
  • Nirnayasindhu
  • Smrticandrika
  • Smrtikaustubha
  • Smrtiratnakara
  • Smrtitattva
  • Viramitrodaya