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Sanatana Dharma - Aka Hinduism (1st Bin)

See if we can find somewhere "A History of Dashnami Naga Sanyasis" By Jadunath Sarkar. Book is not there on http://dli.iiit.ac.in/ nor on googlebook. I am hopeful that book will throw more light on historical aspects of Adi Sankar.

Meanwhile, I am reading a Jaina book that certainly mentions life and works of a monk known by name Bodhkirti or Dharmakirti, a great scholar and Brahman-turned-Jaina-turned Bauddha monk, who lived in the times of Bhagwan Mahaveer, in a city of 'Palashpuram' on the bank of Saryu river, and prepared several works on Bauddha/Jaina philosophy. So this may support what you had quoted about the time of Dharmakirti. Sankara may have very well quoted him, rather than Bodhakirti/Dharmakirti of 7th century. (But since I have not studied what he has quoted and in which context, I am not concluding anything - just pointing out that multiple scholars with the same name/title have been commonly found in Bauddha/Jaina traditions.)

(The story of this great scholar Bodhakirti is very interesting. I will post that later.)
Not sure where to post this but this is a cool site

Browsing I came across this article

Kashmir Shaivism at Oxford

BY Mrs. C.S. Garyali IAS.

Swami ShivaBalaYogi

<b>After 12 yrs of meditating 23 hours a day (starting in 1949), and 4 more yrs of meditating 12 hours a day, he attained mahasamadhi in 1994. A month before his mahasamadi, he said that the world would have a single spiritual tradition within 40 years.</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->he said that the world would have a single spiritual tradition within 40 years.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Wish the great Yogi would have told us which one it would be. I fear for what that might be ... <!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo-->
But then, he said 'spiritual tradition' - and christoislamism is not spiritual (nor is it any kind of tradition) <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo-->
And yet, Hindus often refer to all religions with such terms as 'spiritual tradition' <!--emo&:unsure:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/unsure.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='unsure.gif' /><!--endemo-->

I wish we could know what exactly he saw. Knowing that there'll be only one belief system, but not knowing which one, is worse than the uncertainty there was before. Oh well. The 40 years will pass.
<!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> Huskyji,

Since Swami himself started meditation after having a vision of Shiva, and since he says "meditate and you will find your religion" (and I don't know how anyone can become cultistic -ie christoislamofascist- after meditation), I am pretty sure he means the only spiritual tradition in the world..

Har Har Mahadev! Bam Bam Bhole! Hare Krishna! Jai Mata Di!

<!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo-->
Bhagavad Gita - Geetasaar
Dr. Harivansha Rai Bachchan (father of Amitabh Bachchan) had translated Geeta in Hindi Dohas (in footsteps of Sant Sri Tulsidas, even style and language is similar to Ram Charit Manas) creating a beautiful "JanaGeeta" (People's Geeta).

This is really awesome, is in form of Hindi Doha, Chhand and Chaupai, which common people can very easily memorize and understand.

Just found one part of it: Karma-yog and Gyan-Karma-Sannyasa-yog:

If someone has the link to the whole book, please share.
Bhakti Nivedana - Google video
<b>Homa - Fire Ceremony</b>

Can these healing methods really work? Are they scientifically provable? Do these practices help only in treating psychological disorders or do they mean much more? Why did our seers give these rituals so much of importance? What could these Vedic rituals mean today — in this scientific era of CT scan, atomic energy, exploration & expedition to Mars?

From ancient times, Ayurveda & Vedic sciences have made significant contributions to the world civilization, culture and knowledge in all areas of human pursuits. These contributions, mostly unknown to the wider world, are often un-acknowledged and this wisdom often distorted. Their ideas require attention for better understanding and appreciation of the human past.

Homa is a collective term for the various Vedic techniques used in the purification of the atmosphere: (yainas, yvharutis and Agnihotra.) The healing and purifying effect of Homa was used in the ancient Vedic system of knowledge, in spheres such as bioenergetics, psychotherapy, medicine, agriculture, including biogenetics, climate technology and interplanetary communication.

Today it is obvious that we live in an age of massive ecological and psycho-spiritual pollution. The ancients called this Kalki age. (Kalki is Sanskrit for pollution). Without human intervention, the Earth is no longer able to recover from the disturbance of the ecosystem.

‘Agnihotra's (also a type of Homa) meaning is derived from two words; ‘agni' or ‘fire', and ‘hotra' or ‘healing'. All factors in the ritual play an important role.
At both sunrise and sunset dried cow dung, ghee, and rice are burnt in a pyramid-shaped copper receptacle of a prescribed size, along with the chanting of a mantra. During the burning the pyramid shape and the copper act like a generator to produce negative ions which have a harmonizing effect on both the environment and human well being. The healing energies and substances which come into being during the combustion of the initial organic material are released into the atmosphere though some also remain in the ash.

a) Cow dung contains a substance similar to penicillin, which has a disinfecting effect and reduces bacteria that cause disease. In all ancient cultures cow dung was used to combat a whole series of illnesses its property of reducing radioactive radiation is described in Vedic writings. After the Chernobyl catastrophe (refer to author's article-"Answers from Ayurveda to the problems of Chernobyl-published) a group of scientists experimented in Yugoslavia with Agnihotra and after discovering that there was no longer any sign of radioactivity in the immediate vicinity, following the combustion of the required ingredients in the copper pyramid.

In the area bordering the Soviet Union people threatened by radioactive fallout sealed their huts with cow dung and was thus able to protect them from radiation. It is also known that NASA's manned space capsules are coated with a thin layer of cow dung to protect them against radiation.

b) Ghee also has properties of detoxification. During combustion, nutrients for plants are released in both fine and coarse forms Ghee undergoes many chemical combinations and dissolves toxic compounds. It is the only substance known to modern science, which defies certain laws of chemistry: when ghee is burned under ideal conditions its weight does not alter.

c) Rice has a balancing yin and yang effect. Many ethereal oils are released during the process of combustion and chemical reactions are set off.

d) The mantra sung at sunrise and sunset stands, as mentioned, in resonance with the biorhythm. The notes, which are chanted, activate special vibrations, which create a specific atmosphere aimed at achieving the desired results. Such vibrations exist for everything, and everything can be activated, controlled and transformed by mantras.

The atoms structure themselves anew.

When mantras are chanted during Homa, the vibrations of the mantras are enclosed in the ash, and the ash as the medium for these vibrations is even more effective in achieving the aspired goal. The purification of the atmosphere through Homa leads to an intensification of the life energy (prana); not only does it influence the physical health of all living things, but also the human psychic constitution.

The state of the psyche is directly dependent on the quantity and quality of the prana available; thus the intensified absorption of prana has a positive effect on the psyche. In the Homa atmosphere psychic tensions are set aside. Those who regularly practice Agnihotra soon experience a decrease in anger and greed; mood changes are less vehement and one feels calmer altogether.

Why does Agnihotra have a positive effect on the deplorable ecological situation? As well as enriching the surroundings of the Agnihotra pyramid with nutrients, the fire technique induces a powerful energy field, which neutralizes negative energy types and strengthens positive ones. The Agnihotra smoke binds detrimental bits of radiation in the atmosphere and neutralizes their radioactive effect.

In Agnihotra nothing is destroyed, only transformed. In a polluted environment the elements of the earth begin to change: the structure of the chemical elements and their connection to molecules are restructured. These fine material changes during Agnihotra can be seen with the help of Kirlian photography.

The entire ecosystem benefits from the use of Homa. Plants in the Homa atmosphere develop cylindrical veins (vascular tissue or bundles) with an above average diameter. Through these optimized "pipes" water and nutrients can reach all parts of the plant more easily, which supports their growth and reproduction.

The Homa atmosphere also fosters both the photosynthesis in the leaves and the respiration of the plant, thereby fostering the entire oxygen cycle. The Agnihotra smoke works as a catalyst for the production of chlorophyll. The roots of the plants remain small due to their optimal absorbency and the excellent nutrients in the ground.

As a result the vegetables and fruits grown in a Homa atmosphere are of an outstanding quality with respect to texture, taste, color and size of kernel or seed. The energy field produced in the process of Agnihotra, which can be proved with Kirlian photography, stimulates the plants to maximum growth and maximum yield. Fruit trees bear fruit, which is twice as big, with twice as much fruit; the fruit of pear trees is sweeter.

When Agnihotra is carried out nearby, some fruits begin to accelerate their cycle of reproduction and yield more seeds, which also germinate more easily. Oranges are ideal for experimentation with Agnihotra as, like mandarins, they show rapid and good results. It is clear that pests don't have much of a chance with such healthy plants, which are able to protect themselves in natural ways. If harmful insects do persist in the garden or the fields, a mixture of Agnihotra ash, dry cow dung and water sprayed on both the ground and the plants helps.

An important part of the work in the garden or on the field is the introduction of air and Homa ash into the ground. Not only does this enrich the ground with life-fostering vibrations, it also helps to stabilize the amount of potassium, nitrogen and trace elements in the ground. Earthworms also multiply faster due to a rise in the hormone production, guaranteeing more humidity and humus. Bees too are attracted by Homa energies, and with their help achieve their pollination even more efficiently. Bees produce a particular hormone in the Homa atmosphere, which, if consumed in honey, strengthens the human immune system.

In the area of Alto Huallaga, an organic and ecological technique called Homa Therapy is being applied in the rejuvenation of the crops of the region, substantially reducing the existence of different pathogenic agents. As a consequence, plagues and sicknesses were eradicated, the yield of the harvest was increased, the fruit grew healthy with better color, taste, weight, texture, etc.

Since many years ago efforts have been made to try to get out of the situation of emergency concerning the health of plants with methods such as: cultural control, chemical control, biological control, legal control, etc., without having achieved any success.

The main idea is: "Heal the atmosphere and it will heal you". Agnihotra is a scientific process of purification of the atmosphere with the agency of cosmic element -fire, it creates pure nutritional and medicinal atmosphere and prevents growth of pathogenic bacteria. The subtle vibrations emanating from it creates and fills the surroundings with love, peace and purity. The atmosphere improves family relationship, health of children by causing a soothing calming effect on them.

Agnihotra can be performed daily by anyone who wishes to be happy and prosperous irrespective of religion, caste, creed, class, color, nationality, age, sex etc. as it's a savior for it's a answer all problems posed universally by present day stress and strain.

So Agnihotra could be utilized with much more benefits in following conditions –
1) Labor rooms before and after conducting deliveries 2) Operation theatres -before and after surgeries 3) In intensive care units before admission and after discharge of a patient 4) In wards where patients are treated with compromised states of immunity. 5) In-patient wards where chronic respiratory conditions, terminal stages of cancer, all stages of AIDS, are being treated.

These methods have been proven to create sterile, hygienic atmospheres, conducive to faster recovery of all sorts of ailments and at a very miniscule cost. In epidemics, poor hygienic conditions polluted environment etc, by suitably adopting Agnihotra Homa. One could prevent many ills as this is very cost effective, natural and is a locally available alternative.

Regularly practice or being present in the atmosphere of Agnihotra has been found to have very soothing and therapeutic effect on alcoholic and drug addicts.

The practice of Agnihotra gives a strong push to the mind in the positive direction, promotes pure thoughts, bestows mental peace, stability, tranquility prevails in the atmosphere, imparts power of wisdom, increases intelligence, devotion to attain higher goals and also physical strength. Should we not readopt the last principles into Ayurveda to make it as meaningful as in the original?

<i>This article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe. It in no way is intended to substitute for care from duly licensed health professionals.</i>

<i>©2001 Dr. T.R. Priyadarshini, BAMS, MA (Sanskrit); MS (Shalakya), teaches at the Mysore Ayurvedic Medical College and is also involved with clinical & theoretical research. She has been practicing Ayurveda for the past 15 years and may be reached at shantala301@rediffmail.com </i>

Huge list of stotras, mantras etc..all free.

<!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Also: Saligram, narmada linga, parad linga, vaastu ganesh, meru/sriyantra..all with scriptural references..informative!
Thanks Shambhuji.

From the same site:

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->I am involved with an organisation, Aadhyatmik Chetana Samiti (Reg), which makes Vedic scriptures for the blind in Braille script and gives them free to the blind schools and students.

<span style='color:blue'>You'll be surprised to know that till now there were no Braille script scriptures or stotras for the blind people of India to read and learn. This is the first organisation which has undertaken this task.  Pt. Ram Kumar Sharma, who is a Sanskrit teacher at the School for the blind New Delhi, started this with the help of a few other like minded people and is providing the scriptures and stotras etc. to the blind schools and students freely.</span> Already a total of 1200 copies of Hanuman Chalisa, Sundara Kanda, Durga Chalisa have been distributed to blind students.

<span style='color:red'>Adi Shankara and Hindu revival</span>
By Swami Gyananand Saraswati

Adi Shankara provided the divine light of enlightenment to the people of India, especially at a time when they were badly mired in the narrow confines of regionalism, orthodoxy, weakness, sectarianism and excessive ritualism. Adi Shankara’s sheer brilliance and far-sightedness of vision, plus his strength and strategic acumen of organisation resuscitated the Indian nation.

ADI Jagadguru Shankarachaya’s message is the very embodiment of our national dharma. Born in Kerala 2,515 years ago, Adi Shankara, during his brief life span of only 32 years, 6 months and 10 days had endeavoured to bind our nation in the bond of cultural values and enlightenment.

His mighty endeavour is reflective of his total commitment to the supremacy of national dharma. This is the prime reason why Adi Shankara’s divine vision provides us constant inspiration of national integration, realising the innate oneness of the Supreme Being and the soul, self and national esteem. In the realm of universal peace and national unity, he will forever shine as the radiance, whose lustre will illuminate the path of the human world in its journey.

Adi Shankara, who held the ideal of national dharma to be Supreme, traversed the entire country and also established four mutts in the four different corners of the country with the purpose of preserving and strengthening national unity and integrity. Adi Shankara, through his unique and unparalleled act of his, firmly put his belief into action, that the moral development and advancement of the nation was possible only through two ways. One was through the spiritual messages of saints and acharayas, and the other was the might of the sovereign state.

Adi Shankaracharya clearly instructed the acharyas who headed the peeths (seats) established by him in the four corners of the country: Mathey tu niyato vâsa âchâryasya na yujyatey (acharays must never stay in their respective mutts for too long a period or continuously). Their duty was to be constantly on the move, and engage themselves in nation-building. Yet another message of Adi Shanakara to his disciples and coming acharyas was: Swa swa râshtra pratishtityai sanchâraha suvidhiyatâm (examine one’s own self and the state of the nation while being constantly on the move.)

The political and spiritual centres of the nation must today draw inspiration and sustenance from the philosophy that Adi Shankara initiated and must resuscitate those very values, which alone can provide the wherewithal for the perseverance of India’s spiritual, religious, social, historical and geographical integrity. Today, when our national flag can be lowered in observance of grief for the demise of persons belonging to a particular faith, why then cannot we, as a nation resolve that the birth anniversary of Adi Shankaracharya, who was a pioneer of universal dharma and philosophical vision, a progenitor of united India, be consecrated as a national festival? Adi Shankara’s universal persona and his achievements must form an inseparable part of central and state government schools in both their primary and secondary syllabi/curriculum.

It was Adi Shankara who provided the divine light of enlightenment to the people of India, especially at a time when they were badly mired in the narrow confines of regionalism, orthodoxy, weakness, sectarianism and excessive ritualism. Adi Shankara’s sheer brilliance and far-sightedness of vision, plus his strength and strategic acumen of organisation resuscitated the Indian nation and made it shine with renewed luster in the world. Shankara’s life-journey was responsible in immortalising the social, historical, geographical, spiritual unity and integrity of our nation that had earlier been badly divided into no less than 72 different seats like Vedic, Buddhist, Jain, Shaiva, Kâpâlik, Pânchrâtra and so on.

The four different mutts that Adi Shankara established in the four corners of the country, namely Jyotirmutt at Badrinâth in the Himalayas, Govardhan Mutt at Jagannâth Puri in Orissa, Shringa-giri (Shringeri) Shârdâ Mutt at Karnataka and the Dwârakâ Mutt in Dwârakâ, Gujarat, and the Kânchi Kâmakoti Mutt for penance and worship, are even today, centres revered and held in awe by the people of India.

Lord Krishna, through the Geeta, provided philosophical and metaphysical template to integrate all different sects and ideologies into a single unit. For this purpose, he also established Yudhishtir as the emperor of a vast empire that straddled practically all of Asia. Adi Shankara, though not choosing any sovereign ruler or monarch to represent the political unity of India, left the imprint of his effort in engineering unity in every walk of national life, also strengthening the traditions and values that lent sustenance to this unique oneness of India. Shankara’s mighty endeavour in strengthening the cultural unity of our nation has ensured that despite many adverse and hostile transgressions upon this land, the underlying and innate unity of the land of Bharat has always re-manifested itself time and again.

Shankara’s philosophy drawn from Advaita Vedânta is today held in reverence throughout the world due to its message of universal peace and the welfare of humanity. It is Shankara’s untiring and ceaseless efforts that saved India from being caught in the trap of rigid ritualism on one hand and from falling into the abyss of empty materialism devoid of spiritualism, on the other. Adi Shankaracharya thus was the saviour of India at a very critical juncture in its history.

The advent of Adi Shankara took place at that particular juncture in the history of Vedic dharma, which can be indeed termed as the dawning of a new era. The pristine land of Bharat was being bogged down in a morass of non-Vedic influences; the dark demons of vice and sin were eager to devour it from all sides. The land and its people were sunk in laziness, inaction and fatalism. It was at such a period in time that Bharat witnessed the advent of Adi Shankara. The flickering lamp of dharma, which was in real danger of being extinguished by the gust of the winds of adharma and looked to be in its last throes, was protected, preserved and then nurtured into a mighty radiant light by this supreme savant, and it then spread its illustrious light of dharma throughout the entire country. The whole land resonated with the victorious proclamation of the triumph of Sanâtan Vedic Dharma.

Âdi Shankara’s immortal messages of Jeevo brahmaivanâparâhâ (The soul and the Supreme are not different from each other) Tattvamasi (Thou Art That meaning the Supreme One), Pragyânâm Brahm meaning the ultimate wisdom is the Almighty), Aham Brahmâsmi (I am verily the Brahman) and Sarvam Khalvidam Brahm (The entire universe is the manifestation of the Supreme One), which are drawn from the Upanishads, began to resonate throughout the country. The Geeta’s wisdom, so aptly reflected and enunciated through Adveshtâ sarva bhootânâm, maitra karuna eva cha” (Hating no living being, but harmonious and kind towards all) was thence made available to the people of this nation, making them aware of the significance, hoariness and the sheer power of our wisdom. More importantly, social and religious lethargy and sloth had to yield place to valour and enterprise from out of a reawakened spirit of nationalism. This was truly a new era in the history of our national dharma. Which Indian therefore, does not worship Adi Shankara, the individual who brought about this epoch, the great savant responsible for the resurrection of Sanatan Dharma in every heart?

It is for this precise reason that the Shreemad Adya Jagadguru Shankarachaya Vedic Shodh Sansthanam, Varanasi, is whole-heartedly engaged in and dedicated to the strengthening of those very national values and presenting before India’s students and our coming progeny, the actual period of Adi Shankaracharya’s advent, the complete events of his life and his comprehensive accomplishments, his illustrious person, his supreme character and his total independence of action and karma.

(The author is engaged in research on Adi Shankaracharya for several years.)

Hauma Hamiddha Ji, Sundereshwarji, and others,

Brahmakhand chapter of Sri Skanda Purana, talks about the importance Ramasetu. I have one doubt about one sUkta, which says this:

... यस्यास्थि सेतुमध्ये तु स्थापितम पुत्रपौत्रकैः...
(...whose bones are established/immersed in mid of the setu by the son or grandson...)

so, doesn't सेतुमध्ये literally mean in MIDDLE of setu? Or by "setumadhye", sUkta refers to Rameshwaram? If it does literally mean 'mid of setu', then is there any record of such a tradition of asthi-visarjanam (immersing the last ashes)?

Quick response highly appreciated.
Swami Sri Brahmanand Saraswati was an earlier Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath, Uttaranchal, guru of Yogi Mahesh, and a great spiritual leader of his time.

amrit kaN is a rare collection of some snippets of his excellant sayings. Although it has English translations, but original Hindi words are particularly great.

Can be downloaded from here:

After compiling Ram Charit Manas, Goswami Tulsidas ji lived for many years, primarily in Varanasi, but also traveled to different pilgrim centers like Vrindavan, Mathura, Chitrakut, Ayodhya etc. He recorded several of his experiences in different compilations. Kavitavali ('garland of poems') is one such compilation in which he recited not only story of Rama in Kavitta form (as opposed to Chaupai form of Manas), but also appended it with his anecdotal experiences.

One such is this:

आँधरो अधम जड़ जाजरो जराँ जवनु सूकर कें सावक ढकाँ ढकेल्यो मगमें ।
गिरो हिएँ हहरि ‘हराम हो, हराम हन्यो, हाय ! हाय ! करत परीगो कालफगमें।।
तुलसी’ बिसोक ह्लै त्रिलोकपतिलोक गयो नामके प्रताप, बात बिदित है जग में।
सोई रामनामु जो सनेहसों जपत जनु, ताकी महिमा क्यों कही है जाति अग में।।

Very crude translation:

Blind wretched old senile yavan that, pushed by a piglet, fell to the ground
fallen by pig, croocked shouted, 'Haram! Haram! Hay! Haram!' and died
Beholds Tulsi in amazement! Yavan went to trilok-pati-lok, aha! such is indeed that name, even concealed in 'Ha<b>ram</b>', know all
Who shall then say, where go those, who say Ram, again and again, with love in their hearts!

Goswamiji did comment on the happenings of his contemporary times, in somewhat abstract form.
This does not exactly fit here, but not sure where else to collect.

Siddhas and Sufis : A Critical Study of Siddhas and Sufis in Historical Perspective by K. V. Ramakrishna Rao.

This awesome article completely tears apart all the pinko-dravidist propoganda about the notions like 'muslim tamil sufis' and 'non-/anti-Hindu Tamil siddhars' and their interplay.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->About Siddhas and Sufis, so far Mohammed Abdur Rahman (1924), M. Shams (1976), A. M. Parimanam (1976), R. Manickavacagam (1983), C. Nayinar Mohammed (1993), P. Kamalakkannan (1993), M. M. Ajmal Khan & P. M. Uvwais (1997), M. S. Bhasir (1999), Mohammed Ibrahim (1999), have conducted their studies directly and indirectly1. Here, the comparative studies made about Hindu-Islam religions also are considered, as they contain references about Siddhas and Sufis2. Originating in the middle-eastern countries, developing in Iran, coming to India and mixing with the factors of local tradition, culture and heritage, Sufism has evolved into a syncretic system in India. The origin of Siddhas has much more antiquity than that of Sufis. Though, Siddhas and their traditions have been spread throughout India, and even in the entire world, as for as the Siddha literature is concerned, the study has to be restricted to Tamizhagam. The literature of Sufis is also available in many other languages, but it is studied within the limits of Tamil literature, and many interesting details are revealed about them. As here, the Siddhas and Sufis are studied in historical perspective, their original texts are taken as source material. The secondary sources are used for interpretations in the relevant contexts.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Buddha: The Refiner of Hinduism
Exploring Hindu-Buddhist Connections

The Buddha's relation with Hinduism is so close that it's easy to confuse Buddhism with Hinduism. The two religions have close connections, and yet they are distinct. This was because of Buddha's reform movements and his refining of Hindu beliefs. It would not be wrong to state, then, that Buddha founded a noble religion by distilling Hinduism, and offering a commonsense approach to self-betterment to which the people can relate easily.

Swami Kriyananda (J Donald Walters) in his book The Hindu Way of Awakening, perspicaciously notes how Westerners confuse between these two closely connected religions, and why people mistakenly consider Buddhism and not Hinduism as the religion of India:

"Hinduism is often omitted from rosters of the world's great religions. Everyone knows, of course, that Hinduism exists. Even so, it is confused in many people's minds with what they think of as Buddhism. For Buddhism fits into their concepts of what a religion ought to be...

"Even if the Westerner holds good intention towards India… he may see Hinduism as containing some of the worst examples of Paganism. Small wonder, then, that many people look upon Buddhism as the noblest representative of India's religion, and turn to it when wanting an Indian religion to place among the great religions of the world.

"While Buddhism is relatively simple, Hinduism is complex…Buddhism seems, to Westerners especially, to offer a benign and palatable form of the Indian religious experience. Most students of religion know that Buddha tried to reform some of the ancient practices; they think of him as having brought order and sophistication to primitive chaos. When they prepare lists of the great world religions they think of themselves as demonstrating respect for the religion of India by calling it Buddhism. Most of them are not conscious of their mistake."

Buddha, as we know, began his meditation as a Hindu. He was awakened with a new enlightenment only to denounce Hinduism and emerge as the founder of a new religion. Therefore, to understand Buddhism fully, one should not separate it from Hinduism; while at the same time view it separately from Hinduism. Buddha's way of life was "the golden mean" and a relief from the pagan stigmas and caste system prevalent in Hinduism.

The Hindu caste system defined a person's position in society as determined by their birth. Buddha condemned the Hindu caste system and said that it is karma or the good and bad actions of a person and not birth that should determine a person's caste. He introduced the idea of placing morality and equality on a higher place than genealogy of a person.

Jesus had the same relationship to Judaism as Buddha to Hinduism. Both Hinduism and Judaism are ethnic and non-missionary traditions, and are characterised by an element of segregation between the castes and races, unlike Buddhism and Christianity.

Swami Kriyananda compares Buddha's position relative to Hinduism with Martin Luther's to the Roman Catholic Church: "Both men were reformers, and the structure reformed by each was not supplanted by his teachings. The Catholic Church survives to this day, and has in many ways been strengthened by Luther's reforms. Hinduism similarly was purified and strengthened by the teachings of Buddha, and was in no way replaced by them. Most Hindus today look upon Buddha as one of their own Avatars or Divine Incarnations."

Hindus believe that the purpose of the avatar of Buddha, like all divine avatars, was to re-establish dharma where "adharma" (irreligiousness) had become prevalent. Buddha is regarded by some sects of Hindus as an incarnation of Vishnu, or even as a Hindu. This is because Buddha's theistic beliefs are not contrary to Hinduism, but only a step ahead. This is also because the nature of Hinduism itself is such that all beliefs are recognized as being facets of the Ultimate Truth. It is interesting to note that the word "Nirvana" — used by Lord Buddha to describe the state of permanent bliss — is indeed a Vedic term.

The great unification of Buddhism and Hinduism is still prevalent in Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha. Ironically, Nepal is the world's only Hindu nation, where people don't consider the two religions distinct from each other.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Ironically, Nepal is the world's only Hindu nation, where people don't consider the two religions distinct from each other.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Those Nepalis obviously have it all wrong. Maybe Nepalis need to learn the real religion from Kriyananda aka Swami J Donald Walters.

Hindus desperately need to work on a few hypotheses on why Buddhism is not a "missionary religion" in the same form as Christianity. Does anyone say that Psychology is a missionary religion? What about Taylor algorithms for assembly lines? The distinction can be made when we accede that the knowledge value of christianity in next to zero.

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