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*Learning*

Why do we light a lamp?

September 18, 2006 |
From “In Indian Culture, Why Do We…” by Swamini Vimalananda Radhika Krishnakumar.
Copyright: Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Chinmaya Mission UK, www.chinmayauk.org

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The Hindu Marriage – Vivaha Sanskara

June 6, 2006 | 1

Booking the hall, deciding on caterers, choosing the mandap and decorations, sending out the invitations, finding photographers, choosing the Priest – music, bridal outfits, nails, makeup, jewellery, matching colour schemes, groom’s outfit — Aaaaaaaah!! As the stress levels escalate and we strive to organise the wedding of the year, how much time do we get to step back and think about the rituals we are about to perform and appreciate the true meaning of the Hindu marriage ceremony?

According to Hindu Dharma, marriage is a sacrament. Its purpose is to create and develop a religious and spiritual outlook in life. Marriage influences the personality of man and woman as life partners, enabling them to take their rightful place in society.

Hindu marriage is solemnised in accordance with an approved ritual instructed by the VEDAS, the holy scriptures of the Hindus. According to Hindu Dharma the ceremony of marriage is a firm uniting of two souls such that after marriage the individual bodies remain as separate entities but the souls merge into one harmonious whole. The idea behind the institution of marriage in Hindu Dharma is to foster not self-interest, but love for the entire family (and society). It is the love and duty cultivated for the entire family that prevents break-ups. During the nuptial ceremony in a Vedic marriage, both the bride and the bridegroom take an oath for the practice of self-restraint, to work together for the welfare of the family & Dharma and to help each other attain spiritual peace. This lofty ideal of sanctity is a great gift of Hindu Dharma to the world at large.

The majority of a Hindu marriage ceremony takes place inside a four-pole canopy termed the mandap and takes place in different stages.

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Vaastu Shastra – Fact or Fiction?

December 22, 2005 |
You may have heard of the energy that the Chinese call “Chi”, the Japanese call it “Ki”, in English it is called “The Aura” and Hindus call “Praana”. You may have even experienced this energy when you really thought about it, like a wave of energy through the body as you walk through somewhere. This is the energy that vaastu is designed to locate and channel into our bodies and…into our house. It is said that everything is influenced by this energy, from our personal relationships to our ability to be creative to our moneymaking possibilities.

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Kali Yuga – Age of Darkness?

December 22, 2005 |

Time is expressed on many levels within Hinduism. It is not simply a linear concept as it is in the West. The entire universe is part of a natural process of recurring periodical cycles. These cycles are stratified to different levels from the years of mankind to the years of Brahma. The process of creation moves through four periods, namely Sata Yuga, Tretaa Yuga, Dwapara Yuga, and Kali Yuga.

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Naamkaran Samskar: that’s the name of the game

December 20, 2005 |

When I found out that my family were going to name me Kevin as opposed to Ketan, I must admit, I was in a state of hysteria. And if you really want to know why they were going to name me Kevin then hold on tight. They thought it would have been (invoke Auntyji accent) “so svweeet” to have my name rhyme with my older brother – Pravin! Beats me. It’s at times like that I appreciate being a Ketan and not a Kevin. Funnily enough though, one of my best mates at school turned out to be a Kevin. Anyways…

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Havan Yajna

December 20, 2005 |
The most ancient form of Hindu prayer is known as the Havan Yajna. It is a religious ceremony in which a sacred fire is lit and Sanskrit mantras are recited. Some scholars wrongly think that it is worship of fire, which it is not. It is based on the principle of sacrificing for the sake of others. These are the main purposes of Havan Yajna:

  • Lighting a fire and offering wood, ghee and herbs is a symbolic act of giving and teaches one not to be selfish.
  • Recitation of prayers in a group teaches one to live happily by sharing with others.
  • It represents the protection of the environment we all have to live in.

 

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Education, Education, Education!

December 20, 2005 |

Looking back at my educational experiences at school and university, it seems as if I was being trained to stuff my brain with excessive amounts of facts, figures and statistical information in order to simply pass examinations. What was lacking was an essential equipment of life, namely culture and character development. In the ancient Indian Gurukula System of education, the objective was to produce an educated individual with cultural and moral values. Performing samskaras before entering formal education and after completion of studies assists in the transition from one stage of life to another.

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Antyesthi

December 20, 2005 |

Antyesthi is the last rite for sanctifying the body in the material world. Antyesthi is performed to ensure that the departed soul does not remain roaming on this earth as a ghost (bhoot/preta) and to guide the soul to the best suited destination.

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Mahabharata: Abhimanyu and the Chakra-Vyuha

December 20, 2005 |
The following story is about Abhimanyu, the courageous son of the great Arjuna. Arjuna was married to Krishna’s sister, Subhadra, and this story begins just before Abhimanyu was born. When Abhimanyu was in his mother’s womb, Sri Krishna used to take Subhadra on excursions. To humour her, Krishna used to relate many of his adventures to the pregnant Subhadra. On one such excursion Krishna was narrating his experience with the technique of Chakra-vyuha and how step-by-step the various circles could be penetrated. Chakra-vyuha was a military formation which was an effective form of defence. The army would be arranged in the form of a circular grid and would then challenge the enemy to break that grid. Nonetheless, it seems that Subhadra did not find this topic interesting and she soon fell asleep. However, someone else was interested in Sri Krishna’s narration – the yet to be born Abhimanyu.

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