The word arth refers to all types of resources including material, human, animal, land
etc. Examples of material resources include house, grains, foodstuff, vehicles,
furniture, equipment, clothing, jewels, ornaments, money in the bank, cash in hand,
etc. Human resources include son(s), unmarried daughter(s), wife (wives), younger
brother(s), soldier(s), servant(s),and even friends. Animal resources include cattle,
horses, elephants and other domestic animals.
It is important to understand the comprehensive view of arth in Hindu thought.
Present-day western thought often tends to be focused on money to the exclusion of
everything else. In contrast, Hindu thought treats a man who has tons of gold but no
family as a poor man.
A person must take care of all his resources (arth); must make efforts to acquire
more of arth; and lastly must ensure that all his arth are deployed for Trivarg as per
the two rules mentioned earlier. It may be mentioned here that efforts to acquire
more arth must be in line with boundaries imposed by dharm. Above all the efforts to
acquire more arth must not be based on any of the items on the Negative List
Arth is said to be dependent on Dharm and also that Dharm is dependent on Arth.
Generally speaking, one who takes care of all his dharms sooner or later acquires
good amount of arth. Of course, it must be emphasized that all the three elements of
Trivarg are highly inter-dependent.
Kaam literally means desire. Very often, in common usage, the word refers to erotic
desire. But in its true sense, it refers to all types of desires including erotic. Some
examples of kaam are as follows:
Wearing gold ornaments
Wearing nice clothes
Embracing one’s beloved
Eating tasty food
Listening to nice music
Seeing a beautiful painting
Enjoying a dance
Kaam essentially refers to all pleasures and desires connected with pleasures. Kaam
is something that one experiences. It is not particular to any specific part of the body.
Aesthetics is dependent on kaam. Beauty has meaning for someone who
experiences kaam. All arts will cease to have any effect on someone who cannot
Kaam is an essential part of human existence. It is the intoxication of kaam that
enables human beings to indulge in sexual intercourse which is the basis for all
procreation and therefore human life.
Kaam is dependent on dharm and arth. But, in a way dharm is also dependent on
kaam. A person who ignores kaam completely will ruin his dharm and hence his arth
It must be stressed that kaam must receive the last priority after dharm and arth.
Kaam must also be within the limits imposed by dharm and arth. Going on a vacation
to see the beautiful sights of some foreign land is a satisfaction of my kaam. One
should do it only if one has no other obligations and if one has the resources for it.
Moreover, it is advisable that one takes care of dharm and arth while satisfying the
aesthetic feelings. So taking one’s family and friends along is surely better than
going all alone. And if one’s bank balance does not permit the whole family to go or if
there are some friends who cannot afford to go for such an expensive vacation,
cancelling the vacation may be the true dharm.
K. Examples of Application of Trivarg in Life
It was mentioned earlier that Trivarg touches human life most directly. In fact there is
no aspect of human life that is untouched by Trivarg. Understanding to apply Trivarg
to every moment of one’s life is an essential part of becoming a Hindu and also to
making one’s life more fulfilling, enjoyable, healthy, peaceful and prosperous. Let us
take a few examples to understand the practical application of Trivarg.
Food (including beverages)
Food is essential for life. It is a part of one’s deh-dharm (dharm towards one’s body)
to have food and beverages at regular intervals. Body sends signals of its need for
food and drinks by hunger and thirst. While one satisfies hunger and thirst, one must
choose food and beverages that contribute positively to the well-being of one’s body.
Simultaneously, the food that one consumes must also be such that it helps the mind
grow in a direction that is in line with one’s vritti (aptitude / vocation). The two
considerations – deh-dharm and vritti-dharm – obviously must get top priority in
deciding one’s food.
The second priority, while choosing food, surely has to be regarding the availability
and cost. Local resources, which are cheap and available in abundance, must be
preferred over equivalent expensive ones imported from overseas. This is the Arth
aspect of food.
Food, in addition to being useful and inexpensive, should also be tasty and attractive
in appearance. This is the Kaam aspect.
The theory of Trivarg tells us that Dharm must receive priority over Arth and Arth
over Kaam. In other words, one should consume a food if it is beneficial for one’s
body and / or mind even though one does not like its taste. In the western world, the
focus is in reverse order. Taste, flavor and appearance receive so much attention
that one forgets about every other aspect. Expensive foods like oysters, caviar,
truffle, foie gras and rare wines are declared to be desirable by the western
civilization even though the benefits of these for one’s body are either negative or
The fact that food and beverages contribute to one’s mental development is
unknown in western world. In Hindu traditions, some foods were prohibited for
scholars while the same foods were recommended for warriors. People who devoted
their life to intellectual pursuits were advised to shun meat, fish and alcoholic
beverages while these were considered an essential part of a warrior’s food. It may
be mentioned here that the violence involved in killing animals is not a consideration
for advising some categories of people to keep away from meat. The issue is only
vritti-dharm and nothing else. Hindu thought, contrary to what some so-called Hindu
leaders might say, does not advise vegetarianism, except for some selected
Hindu texts advise not just about what to eat, but also when to eat, with whom to eat
and whose food to accept and whose food to reject. In all countries, communities
and cultures, food is useful for building relationships. This aspect of food received
extensive attention from Hindu rishis. Discussing all aspects related to food from
Hindu ideological perspective will need a voluminous treatise. For the time being, let
us just mention a few principles based on Trivarg (and other elements of Hindu
thought) related to food.
a) Deh/Vritti Dharm – One should eat food that is beneficial for one’s body and
mind. The decision about beneficial qualities has to be based on one’s age,
health, vritti (aptitude / vocation), upbringing as well as on the weather and time
of the day. For deciding on this, one should take guidance from the learned
ones as well as from the accumulated experiences of one’s community.
b) Other Dharm(s) – Generally speaking, one should eat only with people whom
one loves. Except in an emergency, one should only eat food offered by a
person with whom one has a relationship of love and affection. Before eating,
one must make sure that everyone else in the house has adequate to eat. All
decisions regarding food should be such as to build and strengthen one’s
relationships with the people who are a part of one’s life and who make one’s
c) Arth – One must eat what one’s resources permit. This does not extend to only
what an individual’s pocket can afford. One has to keep in mind the resources
of the loved one who is offering one food. If my brother is poor and can only
give me dry bread, chilies and water, I must not demand anything else.
d) Kaam – This includes taste and beautiful appearance of food and beverages.
Kaam should be considered but only after Dharm and Arth have been duly
taken care of.
No one-book religion takes such an open matter-of-fact view of sexual relationships
as Hinduism does. Sexual attraction is accepted as a reality that one does not need
to be ashamed of. For a Hindu, sex is not a sin. However, Hinduism abhors the
concept of free sex.
Sexual attraction is a form of Kaam. As discussed earlier, kaam must be subordinate
to dharm. So, kaam removed from dharm is not acceptable. In other words, if a boy
and a girl are attracted to each other sexually, firstly the relationship should be such
that it does not interfere with the dharm of either of the two. For example, if the boy
and girl are siblings their sexual attraction cannot be permitted and will be severely
criticized. If no such restrictions are present, the kaam-based relationship between
the two is acceptable but it must simultaneously and quickly move into one
encompassing all three elements of trivarg. One can say that a kaam based
relationship is encouraged to become a marriage.
At this point it is important to understand the difference between one-religion concept
of marriage and Hindu marriage. In Christianity and in the western world, marriage is
a license granted by either the Church or by the State to a couple to engage in sex.
In Islam, a marriage is a contract. In Hinduism, marriage is a unification of two
individuals. The act of unification needs no permission from any authority. In ancient
Indian history, there is a story of Dushyant and Shakuntala. The two met, fell in love
in a jungle and a few months later Shakuntala gave birth to a beautiful healthy son
called Bharat. There was no priest and even no witness to their coming together.
Yet, their alliance is considered a sacred marriage.
From Hindu perspective, the moment a boy and a girl come together and share a
moment of mutual sexual attraction, the two are married. At this point, the Trivarg of
the two individuals converge. It becomes the dharm of the husband to take care of
deh dharm (body dharm – food, sleep, sexual intercourse etc.) of the wife and vice
versa. The wife is a resource for the husband and the husband is a resource for the
wife. The two share all resources – money, land, houses, animals, and even each
Hinduism does not accept a kaam-based relationship that does not extend to dharm
and arth. A one-night stand is condemned and reprimanded in the harshest terms.
The linkage must involve all three elements of trivarg and should be based on dev
lifestyle and must not be danavi.
In designing any product, the debate of functionality versus aesthetics is an
important one. One can buy furniture that is extremely beautiful but very
uncomfortable to use and has a short life. On the other hand, there is furniture that is
functional, very comfortable, lasts long but is neither fashionable nor trendy nor sexy.
Viewed from the perspective of trivarg, this is a debate of whether dharm should be
given priority or kaam should receive priority. From Hindu perspective, functionality
(dharm) must get priority over economics (arth) and both should get higher
consideration compared to aesthetics (kaam). In present-day world, unfortunately the
opposite holds true. People throw away their functional tough old furniture to buy the
Clothing is a typical example where functionality is often thrown to the winds and
fashion / aesthetics / titillation become the driving considerations. Hinduism, unlike
one-book religions, does not condemn display of flesh but is critical when dharm
takes the back seat and kaam becomes the key criterion. Hindu rishis saw clothes as
an important factor for building identity of a person and also for defining interpersonal
relationships. When a man meets a woman, there can be many possibilities
of non-kaam relationships such as brother-sister, son-mother, colleague, etc. All
non-kaam relationships between man-woman are based on dharm and/or arth.
Clothes that ignore the possibilities of such relationships and stress only the sexual
aspect of the woman are obviously harmful to dharm and arth. They are also harmful
to the status of women in society. They treat women as objects of sex and not as
complete human beings with whom one may link on all three planes – dharm, arth
The photograph above is typical of western social norms. A woman is expected to
dress up like a doll and attract sexual attraction of men, while men dress up
conservatively in business suits. This treatment of women is not acceptable to Hindu
To understand Hindu perspective on clothing, it is interesting to look at three different
views:- (1) Christianity believes that human body is full of sin and hence must be
hidden (2) Islam has a similar (though not identical) view. In Islam’s viewpoint,
uncovered body of a woman is like open meat that dogs are bound to jump upon
(3) Western modern (so-called) view treats exposure of woman’s body as her
liberation, though strangely men do not get liberated by jumping out of their clothes.
Hindu thought neither sees any sin in human body nor sees it as meat in a butcher’s
shop nor sees it as a path of liberation. Exposure when required for dharm is
accepted while exposure for the purpose of titillation of one and all is condemned.
For example, it is not unusual to see rural Hindu women breastfeeding their children
in public places. While feeding the child if a woman’s breast gets exposed there is no
hue and cry about it. She is doing a noble act and the exposure is not for seducing
anyone. So there is no criticism for such exposure. On the other hand, if a woman
dresses up in a manner that accentuates and displays her cleavage, the elders in a
traditional family will advise her to avoid such dresses. In the former case the action
is as a result of doing her dharm while in the latter case she is trying to attract
kaam-based attention to herself from men who are not permitted by dharm to enjoy
kaam with her. Obviously, the latter deserves condemnation while the former is
appreciated and protected.
Nothing distinguishes a place where Hindus live as much as the trees at the place
do. Hinduism treats all fruit-bearing trees and some shade-providing trees as sacred.
The sacredness of these trees arises from their dev nature. These trees are
beneficial to humanity.
Under the influence of western thought, it has become common to plant decorative
trees and herbs on public lands and also in personal gardens. A decorative tree or
plant appeals to one’s aesthetic sense or kaam. While a tree that gives fruits or
shade or medicinal benefits contributes to the well-being of the whole society.
Obviously, it is dharm to plant and take care of such a dev tree. One must give
priority to dharm over kaam. Hence, planting of dev trees (as against decorative
trees) has been adopted by Hindus for centuries.
It is interesting to mention here a practice that has been followed all over India and
probably even in some other countries. Owner of the land on which a fruit bearing
tree stands has no right on the fruit that falls to the ground. Anyone can pick up the
fallen fruit. The land-owner considers it a sin to deprive passers-by of fallen fruit.
That is dharm of the landowner towards the one who is passing by his farm.
One finds mentioned in Hindu texts that when dharm gets damaged in a society, the
landowners become so greedy that they start picking up even the fallen fruit. Sadly,
things have got even worse than that. Now, government authorities, educational
institutions and even temples do not plant fruit bearing trees. They plant royal palms.
What a shame!
Non-erotic Man-Woman Relationships
Every man / boy has large number of non-erotic relationships with different women /
girls – mother, sister, daughter, son’s wife, brother’s wife, teacher’s wife etc. Each of
these relationships must strictly have no component of kaam. The relationship must
be completely dharm and arth based.
Hindu thought lays great stress on such man-woman relationships remaining free of
kaam. Any man who approaches either mother or sister or daughter or son’s wife or
brother’s wife or teacher’s wife with an intention of kaam is viewed as no better than
an animal, with no human rights or dignity or protection of law.
It is interesting to note that the worst abuses (swear-words) in all Indian languages
are the ones that allege a man’s sexual relationship with his sister or mother or
daughter. It can be said that the swear-words have an educational purpose – to
convey the message that a person who has sex in a non-erotic relationship is the
worst possible type of creature.
On the positive side, there are festivals that celebrate non-erotic man-woman
relationships which are considered sacred since they are based on dharm.
Hunting of Golden Deer by Ram
Sita saw a golden deer in the forest and asked Ram to get it. In her own opinion, this
was a case of kaam. Sita acknowledged that she was sending Ram on a mission
inspired by kaam and also said that it was not the best of reasons for a wife to send
a husband for some act.
Ram differed from Sita. He was of the opinion that killing the deer and getting its
lovely golden skin was an act of arth.
At this point Lakshman argued that the deer was in fact a demon and there was a
danger in Ram’s going after the deer. Ram accepted Lakshman’s concerns and said
that if indeed the golden deer was a demon, his going in pursuit of the demon
became an act of dharm.
The above example illustrates the three aspects of trivarg in one situation and also
the complexity that may often be involved.
Arts & Literature
All arts (Painting, Sculpture, Music, Dance, Drama, Films, etc.) and literature appeal
to a person’s aesthetic sense and, hence, aim to provide kaam satisfaction to a
person. Hinduism accepts all arts and literature since it accepts kaam as an
essential part of life.
However, arts and literature, in addition to providing kaam satisfaction, inspire a
person to some way of life or some values. Any art or literature that incites a person
to do actions based on the Negative List (Lobh, Krodh, Ahankar, Maan, Abhimaan,
Moh, Pratishodh, Eirshya, Bhay and Ghrina) cannot be allowed. The argument that
every artist must be free to do anything and everything, irrespective of the effect his
work has on society, is not acceptable.
The purpose of all art and literature should be to inspire people to follow the trivarg,
to have faith in trividhan, to live dev style of life, to respect the learned and to
develop one’s knowledge based on trisutr. The dharm of an artist or poet or writer is
to inspire and lead people on the right path. An artist or poet or writer who does
otherwise deserves to be condemned.
L. God – One-book Religions versus Hinduism
Islam and Christianity largely share their concept of God (Allah for Muslims). The
concept of God in Islam and Christianity is not very different, except for the idea of
trinity. Both religions are essentially dualist. They believe in an invisible, omnipotent
God who has created the world and has also sent a chosen messenger (prophet or
son) for the benefit of mankind. God as the creator is distinct from the prophet or son
sent by Him as well as from the world created by Him. The prophet acts as a link
between the Creator and the created.
Monotheism is a characteristic of both Islam and Christianity. The concept of trinity
(Father, Son and Holy Ghost) has been the subject of much debate in Christianity.
There is a view that the concept of trinity was not a part of the original Christianity
but was adopted later under pagan influence.
Both, Islam and Christianity, accept the notion of a God, which is not
anthropomorphic and is in heaven rather than on earth. Islamic conception of God is
more clear and unambiguous while there is significant divergence of views among
various Christian theologians about the concept of God.
The following account makes the concept of Allah (God) abundantly clear:
“Allah is the personal name of the One true God. Nothing else can be called
Allah. The term has no plural or gender. This shows its uniqueness when
compared with the word god which can be made plural, gods, or feminine,
goddess. It is interesting to notice that Allah is the personal name of God in
Aramaic, the language of Jesus and a sister language of Arabic. The One
true God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God.
To a Muslim, Allah is the Almighty, Creator and Sustainer of the universe,
Who is similar to nothing and nothing is comparable to Him.”
The Christian Concept of God can be summed up by the following characteristics:
a) Omnipotent, having unlimited power.
b) Omniscient, having infinite awareness
c) As the Creator of all that exists
d) As benevolent and forgiving, rather than vengeful. This is the main tenet
of Christian faith. The first three characteristics stemmed from the beliefs
of the Hebrew culture and are also present in Islamic concept of God.
However, the Islamic God (ALLAH) is more judgmental than forgiving.
Confession and repentance of a sin does not make it pardonable in the
eyes of Allah. On the other hand for Christian God, confession and
repentance is sufficient and no further atonement is required.
While almost all sects of Christianity would accept the above, there are serious
differences of opinion beyond the above basics. Nevertheless, all schools of
Christianity believe in the dualist concept of God as distinct from the world, of a
schism between the Creator and the created.
In opposition to this developed a Judaistic and popular conception of God which
leaned to the anthropomorphic and which felt obliged to connect with all realities
(and thus also with God) the idea of a tangible substance.
The above image sums up the one-book religions’ concept of God as distinct from
the world and controlling the world, though, of course, depiction of God (Allah) as a
human being is not acceptable to Muslims and to most Christians. The existence of
an Almighty as distinct and separate from the world is something that all one-book
In contrast with the dualistic view of one-book religions, Hinduism is monistic.
The schism between God and the world is not acceptable to Hindu thought.
The development of the principle of Brahm is a unique feature of the Hindu thought.
Brahm, a gender-neutral term denotes the cosmic reality of which all devs like Agni,
Vayu, Marut, Indra etc. are merely forms or names. This concept of Brahm is an
abstract concept that is not defined in positive terms in the Vedas. It is defined only
as “Not this; Not even this”. In other words, Brahm is not this and not even this but it
is all that is. Vedas also say, “The Brahm is one, the learned call it by various
This concept of a Brahm, of which the world and all gods are merely forms, is the
foundation of monism in Hindu thought. Hindu looks for the unity in the diversity of
forms and shapes all around in nature. One worships each dev as Supreme with full
realization that the said dev is only a facet or form of the Brahm. To understand this
complex abstraction, an example is often given. A king called four blind men and
asked each one of them to touch and feel an elephant. One described the elephant
as a round pillar. The other who had touched the tail described it as a rope. The
elephant was one but the impression of each blind person was different. Similarly,
each dev is a facet of the Brahm.
A modern example will illustrate the point better. A car has many parts such as
wheels, bonnet, seats, doors, door-handle, engine, carburetor, petrol tank, steering,
suspension springs etc. Each part of the car is car. One can put one’s hand on the
seat of the car and say that it is car. That is true only partially. The seat, by itself
removed from the rest of the parts, is not car. Similarly each part is car when seen in
conjunction with the rest, but is not car when removed from the whole. The word car
is used for all the parts together. But if one were to collect all the parts and put them
into a big box, one would not get a car. One needs to assemble the car using a set of
rules and procedures. Without such an assembly, the parts do not become qualified
to be called a car. Even after the assembly is complete, a modern car has to go
through a process of image building through advertisements in print and electronic
media. Image or brand of the car is as much a part of the car as the seat or steering
is. Viewed in this manner, it may appear to some that “car” is an abstract complex
concept. Though, in reality car is not an abstract concept but is a real thing that we
can see, feel and operate.
A car is a finite entity, whose totality can be comprehended easily by human mind. In
contrast, universe or cosmos is infinite in space as well as in time. It has no
beginning and has no end either spatially or temporally. If comprehending holistically
a finite thing like a car poses problems, the comprehension of the infinite cosmos is
Hindu rishis realized that common people are not likely to be interested or even
capable of comprehending the cosmos holistically. So, while on one hand some
decided to look at Brahm as a shapeless, formless (nirgun) entity, others gave the
Brahm different forms, shapes and identities. It is important to underline the fact that
all such forms, shapes and identities are manifestations of Brahm and are not the
Brahm in its totality.
Apparently, it seems that Hinduism has many gods and deities. The reality is that in
Hindu schema of things, the Brahm or cosmic reality, which is undisputable one and
only one, manifests himself through infinite forms – human, animate, non-animate
including trees, stones, idols etc. As we saw in the example of car as a totality, every
part of the car is as much car as any other part. Similarly, every part of the cosmos is
a manifestation of the totality of the cosmos.
It has also to be accepted that human beings need an anthropomorphic God for
attachment at an emotive plane, for psychological support in times of crisis or in
other words for (what is referred to as) the religious experience. There are many
such anthropomorphic Gods in Hindu religious texts. However, it must be understood
that each such anthropomorphic God is only a form of the Brahm.
Talking of anthropomorphic manifestations of Brahm, the first and foremost of such
manifestation takes place through the Holy Trinity of Hinduism – Brahma, Vishnu
Brahma (left), Vishnu (centre) and Mahesh
Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are three facets of the cosmic being or Brahm. Brahma
is the creator, Vishnu takes care and Mahesh destroys what needs to be destroyed.
However, it must be mentioned that even though the personalities of the three are
distinctly different they are linked to each other. In Hindu mythology, one is
mentioned as the father of the other. This complex interrelationship between the
three arises because the three are one.
The Holy Trinity represents the Brahm or the cosmos in its entirety. Each person
who acts in a dev fashion can look up to either one or all three of them to seek help
when going gets tough. The Brahm or the Holy Trinity or either of the Holy Trinity
helps out every Dev when the situation so demands. This is in essence the Third
Fundamental Law of Trividhan.
It is also important to mention at this stage that each person who acts as a Dev is
considered as a manifestation of the Brahm and is considered fit to be worshipped.
Let us discuss the concept of worship and prayer in Hinduism in the next section.
Before we move to prayers and worship, for the sake of completeness it may be
mentioned that even in Christianity there is a mystical school of thought (and
probably Pantheistic too) that considers God almost in the same manner as Hindu
monistic thought. One may refer in this context to St. Augustine, the most significant
name in Western Theology. St. Augustine talks in his book The City of God about the
classical triad of virtues - truth, beauty, and goodness (satyam, shivam and
M. Prayer and Worship
There is an essential difference between worshipping as per one-book religions and
as per Hindu system. A believer of any one-book religion can worship only the Allah /
God who lives in heaven. All prayers of the believer must be addressed to the said
God / Allah and never to anyone else. The prayers must take the form as ordained
by the prophet and as given in the Holy Book. In Christianity, the prayers must be
routed through the proper channel of the Church and the prophet. In Islam, the
prayers are not routed through the clergy but the clergy has a right to decide on
various other things depending on which sect of Islam one belongs to. Any direct
communication or befriending of the Allah or God is strictly forbidden in all one-book
religions and may even be punishable by death.
In contrast, a Hindu treats the Almighty as his / her friend, mother, father and even
beloved. One can dance with the Almighty. One can even fight with Him just as the
way one does with a close friend. One can even claim to be a son or daughter of the
Almighty. All this will be considered as the worst form of blasphemy in all one-book
For a Hindu, the Almighty or Brahm is all around and is not someone living up there
in a heaven. A Hindu has the option of worshipping any form or manifestation of
Brahm. Generally speaking the form of Brahm that one chooses to worship is
identical to what one wants to be. For example, a warrior worships a deity that is
well-armed; on the other hand, the business community likes to worship the Brahm
either in the form of a child or in the form of a woman who is well-decorated with gold
and jewels. The deity may be represented by a stone idol or by a printed poster.
However, what is well understood is that the devotee worships a form of the cosmic
being and the idol or the poster is only a representation or symbol. This fine
difference must be understood by people who do not know Hinduism and accuse it
of being idol-worshipper.
At this point, it may also be pointed out that the freedom that a Hindu has in
choosing his deity or the form that he wishes to worship is immense. Every village
and every community can have its own deity. There are forms of the cosmic being
that might appear very strange to people who do not understand Hinduism. For
example, Bhairav or Bhairon is a dev which has a dog as its vehicle. In Ujjain, a
sacred town of Hindus, Bhairav is supposed to be the watchman (kshetrapal).
Surely, a watchman can make good use of a dog.
We have discussed earlier that every dev or one who gives is a form of the Brahm.
Surely, every dev deserves to be worshipped as much as any deity. Hence, a Hindu
worships Sun, Moon, rivers, dev trees, father, mother, and everyone else who
appears to him to be a dev. A Hindu child is taught to worship his text books. In India
a carpenter will not start work on a new work table till he has worshipped it (this
practice is followed even by Muslims). Hindu workers worship their tools once in a
year. Hindu builders worship the land before starting construction. This practice of
worshipping inanimate objects and animate beings to whom one is grateful is
common to all pagan religions. It shows the common philosophical ground on which
Hinduism stands with pagan religions of the world.
It is interesting to refer to a verse from Mahabharat at this point. In this verse (Sabha
Parv / Arghabhiharan Parv/ 36/23-24) Bhishm instructs Yudhishitr about the six
categories of persons who should be worshipped and given an offering if they come
to one’s house after a gap of one year or more. The six categories are as follows:
d) Learned Person
e) Dear friend
It may be pointed out that some of the persons whom one worships may in fact be
younger to oneself. For example, it is customary for a family to worship the family’s
son who returns home after a long time. Similarly, a daughter-in-law (or son-in-law)
is worshipped by her mother-in-law when she enters the home for the first time. The
worship of any individual need not be an elaborate affair. Its form may vary from
community to community. The important part is to understand the sentiment behind
The worship of an individual conveys many messages. The most important is to
recognize that the worshipped person is a dev (or a giver) for the worshipper. In
one’s capacity as dev one need not give anything material; one may only give love or
affection or good wishes. The worshipped by accepting the offerings agrees to act as
a dev and do his / her dharm as a dev should. The act of worshipping and giving
offerings builds a relationship between the worshipper and the worshipped which is
founded on dev principles of love and sacrifice instead of the danav principles of
selfishness and strife.
As the worshipped person acts like a dev, he / she becomes a manifestation of the
Brahm. The worshipper during the act of worship and offering establishes a link to
the Brahm thereby activating the part of his / her own self which is dev. The purpose
of all worship is to move closer to becoming dev oneself. We shall discuss this in
some more detail a bit later.
In the meanwhile, it may be pointed out that one must worship only a dev and never
a danav. The six categories of persons worthy of worship mentioned above must be
dev to qualify for being worshipped. A few minutes after Bhishm had instructed (as in
the verse mentioned above), Krishn killed Shishupal instead of worshipping him even
though Shishupal was Krishn’s relative.
Coming back to worship and prayer in Hinduism, the key is to understand that a
Hindu must always strive to align himself or herself with the cosmos or Brahm in
every action and at every moment of his / her life. The purpose of worship or prayer
is to ensure that one does not digress from the path.
Prayers, remembering the Almighty and worship of one / many / all manifestations of
the Brahm must be with the purpose of (a) ensuring that one’s mind does not move
away from the path of trivarg – dharm, arth and kaam (b) one does not do anything
under the influence of the Negative List (c) One’s faith in the Trividhan remains firm
(d) One continues to be a dev irrespective of the pain and suffering that it might
apparently involve and (e) One continues to seek guidance from the learned ones
and does not become a conceited egoist.
Prayer and worship are essentially means to help one to remain on the right path.
One can pray and ask for all that one wishes. However, a good person should
exercise extreme caution when asking for blessings. In Srimad Valmikiy Ramayan as
well as Mahabharat, one notices that many of the ones who do not follow dharm
spend immense amount of time praying and seeking favors of either Brahma or
Mahesh. They seek unusual powers from Brahma or Mahesh. The powers are
granted to them. After getting the powers, they misuse them. The cosmos has to act
to undo the damage that is done by the misuse of the powers. This leads to severe
punishment for the ones who prayed. In essence, both the sacred Hindu epics teach
us that prayers, worship and devotion are no substitute for deeds that are not in line
with trivarg principles. Prayers and worship that are motivated by the Negative List
(greed, anger etc.) bring more harm than good to the worshipper just as they brought
for Ravan, Indrajit, Karn etc. The same can also be said about visiting holy places,
taking bath in holy rivers and singing devotional songs.
If prayers and worship are conducted with good objectives, one can worship any
form or deity or individual. Of course, one may not worship at all as long as one lives
a life which is in keeping with the basic principles of Hinduism discussed earlier. The
freedom is truly unimaginable for a believer of any one-book religion. Hindus can be
seen praying at tombs of Muslim saints across India. A Hindu can even pray to
Jesus Christ or Gautam Buddha. Hindus see no problem in worshipping either of
these great men because they are seen as much a manifestation of the cosmic
being as any other deity.
A popular deity across India is Hanuman. Hanuman is an incarnation of Mahesh.
Hanuman is said to grant the wishes of the worshipper very quickly. Hanuman is also
considered the most powerful. Given his immense power and a tendency to grant
boons to anyone who prays to him, people from all strata of society pray to
Hanuman. It is not unusual for a person praying to Hanuman to submit a long
wish-list. One can hear stories from millions about how their wishes came true.
Without commenting on the instances of wishes being fulfilled or not fulfilled, let us
look at an instance that deserves to be mentioned in the context of our discussion
about what all one can pray for.
Hanuman is said to be the son of Pawan (air / wind). In Mahabharat, Bheem is also
the son of Pawan. In this way, Hanuman and Bheem are brothers. Bheem and his
brothers were moving around in forest after being cheated and insulted by
Duryodhan etc. Bheem was very upset and was waiting for the end of twelve year
period of forest living and one year of incognito living. At this point, Bheem happened
to meet Hanuman. Meeting his younger brother for the first time and seeing his sad
situation, Hanuman became emotional. Hanuman told Bheem that he had the
powers to do all that one can ever wish. Hanuman said that he could get for Bheem
any kingdom; could get any or all persons killed and could do anything that one can
imagine. Having thrown such obvious hints, Hanuman asked his younger brother to
ask for a boon. Bheem could have surely asked for Duryodhan and company killed.
Bheem could have also asked for the return of the kingdom that they had lost to the
dirty ways of Duryodhan and company. Instead, Bheem said that he did not want
anything unless he got it by his own efforts. Bheem said that he knew that such
benefits (received as a boon) are short-lived and harm the receiver. Bheem asked
Hanuman to bless him that whenever Bheem indulged in any endeavor the full force
of Hanuman backed up the efforts of Bheem. This way Bheem ensured that the full
force of cosmos backed up his efforts. Surely, success cannot elude a person who
has the strength of the cosmos backing him.
This has to be the guiding principle when we seek blessings in our prayers. Before
ending this section, let me look at what Goswami Tulsidas asked for in the prayer to
Hanuman in his famous verse – Hanuman Chalisa.
The positive blessings that are sought are as follows:
Bal (Strength) – This includes strength of all types – physical, mental, material
Budhi (Wisdom) – An ability to discern the difference between right and wrong
or in other words, what constitutes dharm and what does not.
Vidya (Knowledge) – Knowledge is what gives one the skills and expertise to
make efforts for any aim in life
After seeking the above three positives, the prayer asks for removal of two negatives
(a) klesh can be defined as discord in relationships and (b) vikar or distortions that
arise from the Negative List discussed earlier.
Is there anything else that one can ever seek? Surely not!
Let no one who understands the fundamentals of Hinduism ever pray to seek
anything else! Let no one pray except to align oneself to the cosmos! Let us worship
the Dev in each one of us! Let us worship and pray without greed to seek a good life,
a life where everyone around is a dev! Let us pray so that we never stray away from
the path of dharm!
Of course, if you disagree with me and wish to pray with some other objectives (for
example, if you wish to pray for getting a big car), you are surely free to do so. What
transpires between the cosmic being and you is entirely a private affair between the
two of you. The cosmic being may grant you all that you ask for. However, please be
sure that even the cosmic being cannot cross the limits set by fundamental laws of
N. Moving Forward Together – The Four Pitfalls
Worship and prayer prevent an individual from falling into the pitfalls of Negative list.
However, there are pitfalls that are faced by societies or communities as they move
collectively. As the world moves into a Global Hindu Renaissance, there is a need to
watch out for these danger spots. Let us look at each of the pitfalls one by one.
The pitfall of One Book means anything that constraints the mind to what is
contained in one or two or more books. It can also mean restricting the follower to
only one author or to only those authors who agree with that one author.
Christianity did not have a holy book for at least three hundred years of its existence.
One is not sure whether Jesus Christ would have agreed with the acceptance of two
holy books as the guiding principle for Christians. Surely, Jesus did not feel the need
to write a Bible. He preached. One does not know how much of his good words have
been included in the Bible. There is no evidence to indicate that Jesus
recommended the acceptance of Old Testament. The New Testament or Four
Gospels became an accepted book after many texts were burnt or otherwise
destroyed. The process of burning or destroying texts is surely not something that
Jesus would have countenanced.
Christianity is not the only religion where the leaders of the religion have constrained
the followers to only one book. We have seen a similar phenomenon in Sikhism, a
religion which is less than five centuries old. Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of
Sikhs, refers to Ram and Krishn at innumerable places. Naturally, one would have
expected Sikhs to be reading Ramayan and Mahabharat (stories of Ram and Krishn)
with as much devotion and enthusiasm as Guru Granth Sahib. Sadly, as Sikhism has
moved on the path to become a one-book religion, Sikhs have shunned reading
Ramayan and Mahabharat.
Within Hinduism, there are many cults and communities which have declared some
book or the other to be the one and only one that they follow. Some of these cults
are so strongly fanatical about their own one-book(s) that they attack anything
outside their own one-book(s).
The problem with one-bookisms is that they restrict the mind from seeing the truth
beyond the way it is explained in the holy book. Hinduism does not accept any such
constraints on mind. Let the flag-bearers of Hinduism be aware that the pitfall of
one-bookism is not something that is confined to Judaic religions only.
Arya Samaj, a Hindu revivalist movement, suffered because of its strong insistence
on acceptance of the writings of Swami Dayanand Saraswati as holy. Arya Samaj
rejected idol worship so strongly that it became a narrow cult and lost touch with the
mainstream of Hindu society.
Many organizations claiming to represent and organize Hindus have each their own
holy book. No one can criticize the holy book and hope to remain within the
The reason for mentioning about such so-called holy books is to illustrate the
process of start of one-bookism. Whenever a book or author becomes the binding
force for a group of people, there is a tendency to declare the book or author to be
holy or an object of faith and belief. This is the start of the process of closing minds
and accepting the writings blindly. The process can take place in any group or
Each of the so-called holy books may have some gems of wisdom that one may
benefit from. A Hindu is not against the book, but is against the mindset that treats
any book or author as holy and as fountainhead of all knowledge.
Clergy refers to a hierarchically organized body of men and / or women who have
some well-defined duties and enjoy special authorities by virtue of their position.
Almost all sects of Christianity have their own strong clergies, while Islam and
Judaism claim to have no clergy. Buddhism also has a strong clergy.
The clergy, of any religion, has a tendency to interpret the tenets of the religion for its
own benefit. The clergy, like any other organization of men (women have rarely
played much role in clergy) becomes an institution of power.
Much of blood stained history of Christianity was influenced by the desire of the
clergy to increase its power. Proselytizing became an essential part of Christianity
not because of Jesus but because the Church wanted to (and still wants to) grow.
Surely, clergy plays an important role in bringing the followers together. However,
the useful part is soon overshadowed by the agenda of power that clergy adopts.
Early Christianity did not have a clergy. The growth of a male dominated clergy
which stressed on celibacy to the point of becoming misogynist was a later day
At this point, it must be mentioned that there are organizations that claim to be Hindu
but imitate a Christian Church in all respects. The cadre of full-timers of such
organizations is no different from Christian clergy. The only difference is that these
full-timers have no religious authority. However, within the organizations the
full-timers enjoy an authority that is not unlike that of deacons, priests and bishops in
Catholic Church. The full-timers enjoy their authority not by virtue of any personal
capabilities but only by reason of the position held by them within the hierarchy. This
leads to elaborate games of intrigue, sycophancy and power play among the
full-timers. One can meet an insider from any such organization concerned and hear
Of course, one cannot say that all full-timers are bad. To the contrary, most of them
are highly devoted, committed and capable persons. The problem is not with the
individuals. The problem is any clergy in any denomination.
Global Hindu Renaissance must avoid clergy by whatever name called. The
underlying concept of clergy is that authority or status or respectability can stem from
position as against capabilities or strengths. This must be discarded and opposed in
the strongest possible terms.
Congregation / Sangh / Sangat
Congregation refers to assembly of followers or believers or worshippers. Sangh and
Sangat are usually the words used in Sanskrit, Hindi and other Indian languages for
While there can be no objection to people with common perspective on life coming
together, the problem arises when the assembly starts believing that by virtue of
numbers they can declare what is true and what is false. The problem also starts
when the congregation assumes powers and becomes an instrument of controlling
the members of the congregation.
Any assembly of people has a tendency to become a crowd. A crowd is moved by
mass hysteria. It sees no reason. Every member of a crowd enjoys the power of the
collective and loses the ability or strength to oppose a collective decision. This
makes a crowd mindless – moved by the most base instincts.
Religions which allow the collective body of believers to take decisions sooner or
later fall prey to ochlocracy (rule by the mob). Tribal assemblies are classic
examples of such ochlocracies. Most political parties, across the world, are
ochlocracies manipulated by a few individuals who know how to stir up the passions
of the mob.
Some so-called Hindu organizations who imitate Catholic Church often cite an
aphorism from some Hindu text – Sanghe Shakti Kalyuge. They interpret the
aphorism to mean that power lies in organization. While doing this interpretation,
they ignore the third word (kalyuge) of the aphorism. The real meaning of the phrase
is – In bad times, organizations or assemblies acquire strength. This has to be read
with the well-known dictum – Satyamev Jayate or Truth alone will win. Viewed in this
context, the real meaning of Sanghe Shakti Kalyuge is that in bad times
organizations get power but the ultimate victory is of truth and not of organizations.
A true Hindu must follow the path of truth which can be summed up as follows –
believe in trisutr and trividhan, respect the learned, and be a dev while following
trivarg. Anyone who becomes a slave of an assembly and surrenders his / her good
sense to the mind of the crowd or to the leader of the crowd has moved away from
the path of truth. Such a person cannot surely be a true Hindu.
The Cult Guru
It is important to differentiate between a Guru and a Cult Guru. A guru or a teacher is
a dev who gives knowledge without expecting anything in return. In contrast, a cult
guru gives knowledge with the intention to possess the learner. A guru liberates
while a cult guru seeks to enslave.
Let us look at the example from Mahabharat. Guru Dronacharya was a guru of
Pandavs. Yet, he did not stop the Pandavs from fighting against him in the war. In
fact, when before the war, Pandavs came to him to seek his blessings, he blessed
them to be victorious.
Compare the behavior of Guru Dronacharya with many saffron-robed so-called holy
men or god-men who aspire for the status of guru in present world. USA has a large
number of such saffron clad men and women roaming around and trying to collect
disciples who can help them collect riches and luxuries. Even in India, religion has
become a big business thanks to such so-called holy men and women who use the
power of media to build glamour and to amass wealth.
Let us be cautious of such false gurus! They are a danger to Hinduism as well as to
Global Hindu Renaissance.
O. Friends and Foes
Hinduism is a global religion with no foes except the forces who seek to enslave
mankind. The mindset of all one-book religions is the only enemy that Hinduism must
Every single thinker who has contributed to liberation of human mind from the
clutches of one-bookisms has to be respected. Hindus must respect Voltaire and
Nietzsche along with all those who have stood up for free thought anywhere in the
world. Let us remember the words that Voltaire wrote in February 1778, a few
months before his death - "I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my
enemies, and detesting superstition". These are words by a true Hindu.
Thanks to great thinkers like Voltaire, the iron-grip of Christian Churches on
European and American mind has considerably weakened. Most of the so-called
Christians in Europe and America may go to a Church for special occasions but they
do not let key decisions of their life to be governed by any Church.
Hinduism needs to address these so-called Christians. Hindus must tell them that
Hinduism is not opposed to Jesus Christ. Most of them have already liberated
themselves from the Church and the Bible. Hinduism provides them the freedom to
continue worshipping Jesus and God the way they have always done while adopting
Hindu philosophical framework for taking key decisions of their life.
It is important to assert that Hindus do not seek to convert or impose. There is no
attempt to even liberate. Each individual must walk the path of liberation oneself.
Hinduism and learned men and women of Hindu thought should only be glad to offer
assistance and guidance on the path of liberation seeking nothing in return.
Simultaneously, it must be pointed out that the Hindu path is not a path of complete
freedom from all bonds. Each individual is born as part of a family, a society and the
cosmos. Hinduism teaches one to be a better part of the wholes to which one
belongs. Anyone who propounds yadrichhawad or do-all-that-pleases-you must be
countered with all force. Yadrichhawad must be treated as an enemy no less than
the mindset of one-book religions.
While Hindus must counter and oppose Yadrichhawad and one-bookisms, it is
necessary to not lose the message of love and compassion for one and all. Let us
aspire to make friends, to make brothers, to make sisters and to love even those
who do not think like the way we do.
We do not wish to change anyone unless one wishes to do so. We do not wish to
impose our rituals and practices on anyone. Of course, if one wishes to seek and
understand one’s own religious practices – lost and buried by hundreds of years of
oppression of some one-bookism – we shall be glad to act as a friend. Hinduism
sees itself as a friend of all pagan religions.
P. Bon Voyage
The journey of Global Hindu Renaissance is not a political movement. It is not an
attempt to gain power over some individuals or communities or nations.
Hindu Renaissance is a major transition point in history. It is the end of kali-yug – the
thousand year period of human history when machines become supreme and dharm
weakens. We are fortunate to be living at a time when the change of epoch has just
However, there is also a challenge for all of us living through this transition phase of
human history. We have to be the flag-bearers of the change. We have to start the
spark that will brighten up the whole world. The sun that will illuminate the world has
to first rise in our hearts.
Hindu Renaissance is first of all an individual journey. While Christianity has its
Church, Islam has its mosques and Jews have their synagogues, Hinduism lives in
the hearts of Hindus. Let each one of us discover the Muni who lives in one’s heart
and appears when all the negativities of anger, greed, conceit etc. are removed. Let
us be guided by the learned ones while we keep listening and obeying the voice of
the Muni in our hearts.
This is a long journey that will be as much internal as external. The path is clear - get
over the negativities, become a dev and follow the path of dharm, arth and kaam.
Anyone who walks on this path will surely be rewarded with peace, love, prosperity
and happiness. The person who walks this path will have the support of the Cosmic
Being and all the forces of the Cosmic Being in all their manifestations. Let there be
no doubt about this.
Best wishes to all those who have decided to move on this path! They are the
chosen angels of the Cosmic Being who will bring new light to the world and will end
the pain and suffering of the past one thousand years.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to Sri Anil Chawla ji and hindu samskrit dot com for the collection)