Questions And Answers Indian Civilization By Sanjeev Nayyar -2

Questions And Answers Indian Civilization
By Sanjeev Nayyar  

Q8 Is not Hinduism confusing and contradictory?
Since Hinduism is subject to so many interpretations, to the ignorant it may appear to be
confusing. But the Rishis worked on different aspects to unravel the riddles of the universe. Hinduism has a never had a cleaning up in its history, unlike Christianity. Since the first council in 325 a.d. it has thrown out anyone who did not literally follow the church. Contradictions are seen in every scripture in the world. The Old Testament is in direct contrast to the New one in certain aspects. The Old details all types of sexual activity while the New upholds high morality. The Old demanded and allowed human sacrifices while the New shows a very compassionate God.
Every religion has its share of contradictions. It is incorrect to criticize other religions on the basis of half-baked knowledge. Like Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism are offshoots of Hinduism so also Christianity, Islam are oddshooots of Judaism (religion of the Jews).
Q9 Mama tell me something about the Vedas?
There are four Vedas. The Rig Veda (of Hyms 1028 in number dedicated to gods like Indra and Agni), Yajur Veda (knowledge of rites or can be called a priestly handbook), Sama Veda (Veda of Music) and the Atharva Veda is used as a manual by chief sacrificial priests and Brahmins.
The Rig Veda talks of the cosmic order called RTA. It means cosmic and sacred order. Later it came to be known as Dharma or righteousness forever.
Q10 Who were the first Law Givers of Hinduism?
They were the sages Manu, Yatnavalkya, Parasara and Gauthama. Their books were called Dharma Sutras, the most important one being Manusmriti. The name Manu means, Patriarchal Earth Ruler.
Q11 Were not the statements on women deplorable and those on the caste system even worse?
Darling, do not get excited. Please understand that Manu's code was for a society that was just taking birth in North India and not modern day India. In fact on women Manu said “They are to be honored and adorned by fathers and brothers alike. When women are honored Gods rejoice, where they are not all rites are fruitless." You see every religion has put man on a higher pedestal. Man was physically and emotionally stronger. Things have changed today. I believe that the Indian women are emotionally far stronger than the man. She has to take care of work, house, children, hubby and sometimes in-laws.  If you read the Old Testament esp Exodus you will see the statements regarding the treatment of slaves. History is a part of every scripture. Every evolving society makes mistakes, thus one cannot pass judgement hastily.
In today’s kalyug we admire and envy the prosperity of America and keep on criticising India without realizing that they have become what they have after over 250 yrs of independence while we are in our 52 nd year.
Q12 Like the Christians have the Bible and the Muslims the Quoran is there a Hindu equivalent?
Hindus consider the Bhagwad Geeta as the bible equivalent. It is the essence of the Vedas, a summation of the Upanishads. Having read the Geeta once, I can say that it has a solution to every problem. Sometimes, I feel it has more to do with human psychology and less with religion. The Geeta tries to show you the right path without imposing its thoughts on you.
I try and live my life by the following slokha (verse) of the Geeta. “Life is full of opposites, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, heat and cold, are impermanent in nature, have a beginning and an end, face them bravely, Oh Partha." What it says that our lives will have good days and bad ones, there would be times when we are happy and  unhappy. We should not be affected by either of the two situations but learn to live life in equanimity. Its like saying what goes up will always go down.
Two other noteworthy things that I have learnt are the importance of removing desires and selfless work. If I desire, I expect, if I do not get what I want I become unhappy. Then why must I desire. Desires get the mind agitated making me loose peace of mind. If I work, only with the intent of earning the fruits of my action I would be unhappy as I am always expecting success. As we all know none of us can succeed all the time. The Geeta says karm karte jahao without worrying about the fruits of your actions. I have tried to put it simply for you.
,Q13 Did Christianity ever believe in rebirth?
The doctrine of reincarnation is taken for granted in most parts of Asia. In the West it was widely accepted before being anathematized by the Church at the council of Constantinople in 543 a.d. On account of its reasonableness it is gaining acceptance in the West again.
Q14 Is the doctrine of Bhakti (the love of divine) in Indian the result of Occidental influence?
The bhakti in India is not like the Western bhakti. The central idea of ours is that there is no thought of fear. There is no worship through fear but through love God from the beginning to the end. Bhakti is spoken of in the oldest of the Upanishads which is much older than the Christian ka Bible. The terms of Bhakti are even in the Samhita (Vedic hymns). The word bhakti was suggested by the word Shraddha.
Q15 Mama is there a Hindu calendar. Tell me something about it?
Yes, Pooja there is a Hindu calendar. The names of the months most prevalent in the North are Chaitra - first month ( 30.3.99), Vaishak, Jyesth, Jyesth, Jyesth, Aashad, Sravan ( 26.8), Bhadrapath, Ashwin, Kartik, Margshirish, Paush, Magh, and Phalgun (20.2. to 21.3.2000). In Gujarat, the New Year starts at Diwali time. The months are Maksar (20.11. to 18.12.98), Posh, Maha, Phagan, Chaitra, Vaishak, Jeth, Bijo Jeth, Ashad, Sravan (12.8. to 9.9), Bhadarwoh, and Aaso (10.10 to 8.11.99). Since the Gujaratis are mostly a trading community, they used to close their books at Diwali and start the New Year from then. In Tamil Nadu the months are Chithirai (14.4 14.5.99), Vaikash, Ani, Adi, Avani (18.8. to 17.9.99 is holy month), Pureattasi, Iyappasi, Karthikgai, Margazhi, Thai, Masi, Panguni (14.3 12.4.2000). In Maharashtra, the New Year is called Gudi Padwa, the first day starting on 18.3.99. A closer perusal of the above indicates that the names of months in various parts of the country are similar, the difference being in the language only. India being an agricultural country, a new year invariably indicates the end of the harvest season like the Baisakhi in Punjab.
Q16 Mama, why do we see a large number of people visiting temples in August September.
Sweety, they do so because it is the holy month of Sravan. The month of August is a beautiful month. Monsoon changes the entire landscape, and so also the mindset of the people. The farmers are free and the scorching heat has disappeared. The advent of the month of sravana invokes joy & playfulness, the koel singing on mango trees, children enjoying the swings, the otherwise inaccessible mahatmas becoming accessible and exuding the elixir of timeless eternal truths during their Chaturmasa, the Shiv bhaktas dedicate the month for some special worship of Lord Shiva, and the Joyous Janmashtami - the birthday of the smiling, dancing blue-boy of Vrindavan is also round the corner. The month also has the festival of Rakhi, sisters tying the thread on the wrists of their brothers to express their love & wishes. It signifies the onset of the festival season. Good monsoons mean good crops. The farmers thanked God for the rains and pray that it rains well next year too. Since India is an agricultural country this reason sounds logical.
Q17 I was at the traffic signal and saw this boy tying limbo and mirchi to the car why?
This has nothing to do with any religious injunction, and is more of a practice started at a later date to ward off any possible evil. More of a Tantric practice.
Q18 Which trees are sacred and why? 
The Tulsi is the most sacred. In Sanskrit that which is incomparable is called Tulasi. Impressed by her devotion and adherence to righteousness, Tulasi the wife of a celestial being was blessed by Lord Krishna that she would be worshipped by all, offerings would be incomplete without the offering of Tulasi. She also symbolizes Goddess Lakshmi. Those who wish a righteous life also worship Tulasi. It symbolizes, Kalyani - Normally poisonous snakes and mosquitos do not come close to it due to some smell that it emitts. That explains why it is a must in every house. The leaves as well roots are a cure for several diseases like malaria, cold, fever. The wood of this plant is used for Mala, ie a rosary for worship of Lord Vishnu and when worn in the neck it prevents diseases of the throat.  Visnu Priye - T has been described as the beloved of Lord Vishnu since he is the creator and T helps the health of human beings and animals, prevents soil erosion. Moksa - prade - By keeping the body healthy, it keeps the mind healthy and free of worries enabling us to concentrate on worship of the Ultimate Reality in comfort.
Pipal tree is sacred believing that Brahma resides in its trunk.  The Neem tree on the other hand is worshipped because of its infinite medicinal values. The Bel tree is associated with the worship of Lord Shiva.
Q19 Before we move on tell me something about the World Religions?
There were three religions. Judaism, Sanatan Dharm, Taoism started by Moses, Rishis, Lao-Tse. From Judaism came Christianity, protestants and catholics, Islam, Sunni, Shia, Wahhabi, madhi, Shia, bahai, amasdhi. From Hinduism came Saivism, Vaishnavism, Saktism - worship of mother goddess, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism. Taoism + Confucianism + Buddhists influences gave Shintoism. Buddhism as preached by Emperor Ashoks got split into Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana got split into Zen Buddhism of Japan and Vajtayana Buddhism of Tibet.
Q20 Mama you just talked about Sanatan Dharma being the original Indian religion, then what is Hinduism?
There was no such religion as Hinduism till the Muslim invasion. It was called Sanatan Dharam.  Hindu is a modified version of Sindhu, was a term to indicate the region round the Sindhu river (modern day Indus) and then the whole of India. The Iranians substituted H for S making it Hindu.  When the Muslims came in, there became two sets of people, one the Muslims and two the Hindus and so came the word Hinduism.
Some attempts have been made to say that Muslims are sons of the soil. An analogy has been drawn between the Saxon and Norman invasions of England and the Turkish invasion of India to prove that  since the invaders became the sons of the soil they can hardly been classifies as foreigners. This argument is erroneous since after a century or two nobody could distinguish a Saxon from a Norman while it is possible to distinguish a Hindu from a Muslim to this day

Om Tat Sat

(My humble salutations to  Sri Sanjeev Nayyar ji and hindu samskrit dot com  for the collection)


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