Gautam Buddha

Gautam Buddha is the founder of Buddhism, the religion practiced by millions in this world. Hindu religion considers him as an avatar of Vishnu. He was born to Mahamaya the chief wife of King Suddhodhana of Sakyas.

His mother had a dream in which she was carried by demigods to divine lake called Anavatapa in Himalayas. She was bathed by heavenly guardians. A great white elephant holding a lotus in his trunk came and entered her side.

The dream was interpreted by king’s astrologers that a child would be born to her who shall either become a great emperor or a great teacher. Other interpreted the dream that the boy will see four sad events and decide to renunciate the world’s wealth and luxuries and riches.

Gautam Buddha

He was born as Siddhartha and Gautam was his Gotra. When he was born he immediately stood up and walked 5 steps and declared that this is his last birth. King was worried and tried every means to keep the boy away from all the events that can pain the boy and make him take up the path of renunciation. He was to married his cousin Yashodhara in a contest showing great skills and strength.

As the destiny would have it, he happened to see the four events predicted by the astrologer. First was when he saw an aged man in last stages of infirmity and decrepitude- actually the God himself in the disguise.

Siddhartha asked his charioteer Channa who this repulsive man was. Channa explained that everyone who is born has to pass to this state. Then he saw very sick man, then a dead man which was the last straw to break his resolve and last one was a ascetic in red robes with peaceful face.

He returned to his palace and was in great pains. Even the news of the birth of his son Rahul did not bring any peace to his mind. That night he left his home with Channa and his dear horse Kanthaka and on reaching the forest cut off his flowing hair and removed his jewelery and robes and gave it to Channa to give it all to his father. The horse died instantly on parting with his master.

Then for years he wandered here and there. He practiced great penances and tortured his body and was reduced to a skeleton. He realized that this is not leading him anywhere. He began begging for food and regained some strength.

He sat under a Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya and a village girl Sujata gave him rice boiled in the milk. He partook them and bathed and for next 49 days sat in meditation and at the end truth was revealed to him and he became Buddha.

After initial reluctance he started spreading his peace message and made so many people his disciples and many Kings who could not appease the Brahmins as they did not belong to warrior caste patronized Buddha. He toured all the North India from one end to another. He also converted his father, son Rahul to Buddhism and allowed his mother and other women to become Buddhist nuns.

Buddha in Bodh Gaya, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When his end was near, he knew it and told his followers not to continue with the process of new successor. As was his nature, he would beg one house and whatever they gave him never refused. He was given contaminated pork meat by Chunda the smith. He ate it and was attacked by dysentery. He moved to Kusinagara and left this world there.

The Mother Godess

Mother Goddesses have been worshiped at all the times of history by the Hindus. They were mostly worshiped as the spouses of the Gods. From Harappa period to Gupta Period, their worship was only little known. Only in the Middle ages they emerged from obscurity as the upper classes of society began worshiping them.

She was considered as the Sakti, the strength or potency of her male counterpart. While the God was inactive and transcendent, she was active and immanent.

Mother Goddess

By Gupta period, many of these Goddesses acquired their own independent identity and began to be venerated at special temples. Even today their cult is most strong in Bengal and Assam.

Chief form of the mother Goddess is Parvati, the wife of God Siva. Parvati means the daughter of mountain. Other names are Mahadevi- the great goddess, Sati- the virtuous, Gauri- The fair one, Annapurna- giver of much food, or simply the mother (Mata) or Ammai as in Tamil.

The mother goddess has another form which is grim aspect. Here she is known as Durga- inaccessible, Kali- the black one and Chandi- the fierce. In Tamilnadu, another goddess called Koravai- the war goddess who like Kali danced among the slain on the battlefield and ate their flesh.

In her fierce aspect she is depicted as a horrible hag, frequently having many arms in which she holds many weapons, a red tongue lolling from her mouth and sometimes as a stern beautiful woman riding and lion and shown slaying a buffalo-headed demon.

She has gentle aspect in which she is a beautiful woman sitting along with her husband Siva. As Lord Siva is worshipped in the form of a phallic emblem, she is worshipped as a Yoni emblem.

There is a legend, Parvati in her early incarnation was born as Sati to sage Daksha who gave her hand very grudgingly to Lord Siva. But he never missed any opportunity to humiliate Siva.

During one such occasion in which a puja was being conducted, only she was invited by her father. In a fit of rage, she flung herself into flames. Siva became so numb with pain on her death that he carried the dead body of Sati all the times.

It was feared that if Siva began his cosmic dance of Tandava whole universe shall collapse. So Vishnu cut the body of Sati into many smaller parts and scattered them all over the earth. The places are called pithas or sacred shrines.

Sacred Rivers

In Hindu religion, anything can become pious. God pervades everything ranging from the mammoth stars to the tiniest atoms. All the innate things are the forms of the God.

God is everywhere, omnipresent. Therefore even stones can become the objects of veneration. So many kinds of trees, rivers, hills and mountains are revered in Hinduism. Many of them have some form of association with the Gods.

For example, the rat is the vehicle of Lord Ganesha. Siva mounts the bull Nandi which can be seen in the stone casts squatting outside the temples of Siva. There is a mammoth statue of Nandi bull in the Chamundi Hills of Mysore. The pedestrian journey to the temple atop the hill begins from here.

Rivers are considered sacred. This is logical also because they provide us with the water which sustains the life by helping grow the crops, drinking, bathing and transporting. In fact many great cities and civilizations flourished on the banks of the great rivers.

The most prominent example is the Indus valley civilization which existed on the rivers in Punjab. Thus many rivers are held in most esteem by the Hindus.

Ganga is one such river. It is thought to have sprang from the foot of Vishnu, flowed over the sky in the form of milky way(Mandakini) and descended to earth with great force. The terrific effect of its impact was smothered by Siva who absorbed its great strength in his matted locks.

Like her tributary Yamuna it is revered as a Goddess. Other river like this is imaginary river Saraswati which was supposed to flow underground and meet the Ganga and Yamuna at the Prayag sangam which is a most holy place for Hindus.

Mughal emperor Akbar was so impressed by the great Kumbh fair there that he named the city as Allahabad. Other rivers held in esteem are Krishna (also called Kistna), Godavari and Cauvery.

Certain lakes, notably Manasa in the high Himalayas near mount Kailash and lake Puskara near Ajmer in Rajasthan are held divine.

Shiva: The Most Adorable God

Shiva or Siva is a great ascetic. He is like a bridge between the humans on the earth and Gods in the heaven. The great Yogi sits in meditation on the tiger skin on the high slopes of Mount Kailash in Himalayas. Through his deep meditation the world is maintained. He wears his long matted hair (Jata) in a topknot with crescent moon fixed on his forehead and sacred river Ganga flows from the knot. His neck is black, scarred by the poison which was the last product of churning of the cosmic ocean and which he drank to save the other Gods. Snakes encircle his neck and arms. His body is covered with ashes. Besides him is the trident and his wife Parvati and his mount Nandi bull.

Shiva

Although he always seems to be wrapped in meditation, he can, in his divine power divide his personality. He is the lord of dance (Nataraja). In this aspect he is very popular in Tamil country. He dances in his heavenly palace at Mount Kailasa and Chidambaram temple. He is said to have developed no less than 108 different forms of dances, some cal and gentle, others fierce, orgiastic and terrible. Tandava is the form of latter. In this dance he he dances and beats a wild rhythm which destroys the world at the end of cosmic cycle.

Another form which he is seen is called Daksinamurti a universal teacher and is depicted is an informal pose, with one foot on the ground and other folded on the throne on which he sits and one hand raised in a gesture of explanation.

Above all these, he is worshiped in the form of linga, usually a cylindrical pillar with rounded top. This form seems to be popular even in Harappa civilization thus constituting an element from non-Aryan culture. Shiva evolved from the fierce Vedic god Rudra with whom elements of non-Aryan fertility were merged.

In South India, story of the marriage of Shiva and Meenakshi, daughter of a Pandiyan king of Madurai is an event celebrated in one of the most famous and splendid of the temples.

Rama

Rama is the hero of epic Ramayana. Ramayana which is revered in India is little more than a quarter of Mahabharata. It is different in style and content from Mahabharata which contains many interpolation. The style of Ramayana bears some kinship to that of classical Sanskrit poetry.

Lord Rama

Ramayana is older than Mahabharata but major narrative portions of Mahabharata are said to be appreciably older. Some scholars think that Mahabharata is older than Ramayana. Ramayana was composed by sage Valmiki who was contemporary of Rama.

The central scene of the poem is Ayodhya which was the capital of old kingdom of Kosala. It shows that it grew in a milieu which was to the East to that of Mahabharata which mostly happened to the East of Ganges. In fact the war of Mahabharata was fought in Kurukshetra and the capitals of both the antagonistic parties Kauravas and Pandavas were around modern day Delhi.

Dasaratha, the king of Kosala, had three wives which bore him 4 sons namely Rama, Bharata, Laksmana and Satrughna. Rama won the hand of Sita in a great archery contest which was contested at Videha and was organized by King Janaka.

When Dasaratha became old, he decided to hand over the reins of kingdom to Rama his eldest son. But one of his wives Kaikeyi, reminded him of a boon which he had granted her long back and demanded to be fulfilled in the banishment of Rama to jungles and installation of her son Bharata as the king.

Rama accompanied by Sita his wife and his younger brother Lakshmana dwelt as hermits in forests of Dandaka and destroyed many demons who harassed the ascetics and villagers. Ravana the lord of demons decided to avenge this and came to collect the alms in the guise of a Sadhu and abducted the Sita and flew her to his capital at Lanka where he kept her in a garden. He did not touched her or maligned her.

With the help of Hanumant and his army of Monkeys Rama located Sita and constructed a bridge over the across sea to Lanka. The Ravana and his kin were killed by Rama and Sita reunited with Rama.

They returned to Ayodhya after the completion of banishment period. Although Sita was treated with respect by her captor and had in no way yielded to his blandishments. But Rama put her to the test of chastity and she threw herself into a funeral pyre but the Agni refused to take her thus proving her innocence.

Hinglaj

North West of Indian subcontinent has been the cradle of one of the great civilizations that flourished in the world once upon a time. The great Indus Valley Civilization existed here. Although the name suggests that it might have been situated along the coast of Indus valley because two sites namely Harrapa in Punjab and Mohenjo Daro have been found along the great river. And why on the river? Because river nourishes life. Early civilizations when population pressure was not much tended to settle down near the rivers.

It has been now established that the civilization was not confined to this small area but spread over a much bigger area extending almost to Gujarat coast and west side of Ganges. It is also taught to us from school that this civilization was run over by the hordes of people who entered India from West and were called Aryans. There are no conclusive proofs of this. Indus civilization was urban in nature which results when there are people who have become powerful and can control much larger population. Agriculture surplus provides the food for people in cities. There are specialists like goldsmiths, iron smiths etc which have their works inside the city’s boundary.

At that time there were Gods which were venerated to keep the good times going on. There were Gods for every occasion and which controlled the nature’s activities. Like Gods of water called Varuna, Sun and Moon (Soma), rivers were mostly female deities. One such God is Lord Shiva who is the most loved God in the Hindu mythology. He is a complete ascetic and most of the times shown meditating on the Kailash mountain with his eyes closed for hundreds of years.

Shiva has Sati, also called Dakshayani, as his wife. She has earned the displeasure of his father Daksha in marrying Shiva whom he thought as an ash smeared ordinary Sadhu. He did not approve of Shiva because of his unusual attire and ascetic nature. But it was preordained by Brahma that Sati shall marry Shiva and bring him back to the worldly ways to have a son by him who was supposed to kill some demon. Anyway, both loved each other and she was very happy.

But Daksha, the father of Sati, once arranged a yagna for which he invited everyone except Sati and Shiva. Sati assumed out of fatherly love that her father might not have felt the need to formally invite them because she was his daughter and there was no place for formality. Shiva dissuaded her but she went to her father’s home. But she was wrong because her father began denigrating Shiva. She could not tolerate and performed the self immolation. 

Shiva who knew everything was in a rage on hearing the news. He went there and carried the body of Sati and began the Tandva dance. When the God who is so gentle and gullible is in rage then he can destroy the world. Fearing the end of world, Vishnu cut the body of Sati into 51 parts and scattered them in different directions. With this the anger of Shiva subsided. The places where the severed limbs fell are known as Shakti Peethas and are places where Sati is venerated. One such place where her head replete with vermilion fell is called Hinglaj and is now situated in Baluchistan province of Pakistan. But despite the fact that the inhabitants of Pakistan who does believe in idol worship and revere only one God, the temple has survived. The few Hindus who are still in Pakistan visit the place. The area is very inhospitable with scorching heat and flash floods. There are goats and scorpions and snakes infesting the area. Even the Muslims respect the Sati and call the temple “Nani Ki Mandir”.

A Bengali tantrik Kalikananda Abhadut who made the journey to the pilgrimage wrote a book called “Marutiratha Hinglaj” based on his experiences during the journey. A very successful movie of the same name was made starring Uttam Kumar. The background music was scored by Hemanta Kumar who created some immortal songs.  Later on when he scored the music of Hollywood film “Siddhartha”, he used the song for background echoing the longing and restlessness of the protagonist during his search for the truth. He is on the river for long long while and still his destination seems to elude him.  In the song, the pilgrim also beseeches the Goddess to appear and bless him.

Poster of Bengali Movie Maruthiratha Hinglaj

Baluchistan is the sore of Pakistan with its people being unbridled and fiercely independent. Even the British could not subdue them. Pakistan accuses India of fomenting the dissensions among the populace. The area is out of bound for all the foreigners. So many of the Hindus devotees in India, particularly in Rajasthan, must be longing to visit the pilgrimage. It is just like the restrictions faced by Sikhs in India who wish to visit the birth place of Guru Nanak which is called Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.

Milking the Great

In India, there are always plenty of people with vested interests. They hijack the name of some great man and exploit it for religious, political and other interest by creating the frenzy among the gullible people. But ultimate aim is to create a life of riches and comfort for themselves and their coming generations. For this they even don’t spare their own innocent people.

Take for example, Mahatma Gandhi. He tried his best to become apolitical and urged to disband the congress on the logic that its role is over once the country became independent. No one bothered to listen to him because everyone from Jawahar Lal Nehru to Jinnah were busy in hastening the partisan of India on the lines of religion. His death, conspired or caused by Hindu fanatics as is taught, proved even a greater boon to Indian Congress party. It ruled the country in his name for years. So a great man is even more useful as a martyr than when alive as is said of the elephants whose tusk is invaluable.

Not only he, history brims with such cases. BJP of India grabbed the Hindu Gods like Rama, Sita & Krishna. Like Arjun, their leader Lal Krishna Advani whose lifelong and unfulfilled desire was become the Prime Minister of India, went on a Rath (chariot) yatra all over the country causing riots and destruction of a already dilapidated Masjid called Babari Masjid which they claimed have been constructed by destroying a temple of Rama. He shall not rest peacefully till he again regains the glory fro Rama by constructing the temple there.

There is another example of the saint Sai Baba. He lived the life of a Fakir getting his food of two times as alms. He lived in utter simplicity in Shirdi village of Maharashtra. All his life he blessed the people irrespective their caste, creed, social and economic status. Many people who were jealous of his popularity tried to defame him but every time he came out victorious. But now everyone knows about the riches that are showered daily on his statue. There is hard cash, gold and what not. The Prasad is recycled. Thousands of people wait in the queues for hours to go before the statue and offer whatever is their capacity. So some clever people made a well thought of program and propaganda and publicity about the miracles Baba performed to heal the ill, to free them from the yolk of debt and make their land fertile and make the barren women bear the children, lured the today’s gullible and poor and unhappy people into believing the same for themselves. Rich people come for another reason, to ask the Baba for sheltering them against the law and other problems.

And most of the people living in India are so incredulous and hope to strike it rich without putting in the hard work resort to these shortcuts.

Another famous man is Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar who is termed as Messiah of downtrodden and outcasts of India. The Aryans who created the four classes of people based on the kind of the profession they and their families have been carrying out since generations. Since Aryans are supposed have come from outside and subdued the indigenous people put themselves in upper classes and the vanquished into menial class for doing the lowest of jobs in the society. Dr. Ambedkar fought for them. Himself hailing from humble family, he worked hard and studied and won many merit scholarships and qualified as a lawyer from England. When the India became independent, he became the father of the constitution of India.

The number of such outcast class people in India is very high and again it was congress first which captured the Ambedkar’s name and exploited it for its votes. Reservations were created for these people in every Government Job and availing of other facilities like loans to uplift their economic condition and bringing them back into the social fold on equal footing by compensating for the injustice meted out to them over centuries. In reality, only a few of them have benefited from these measures and the lot of most others still is bad.

Then came Mayawati who was even more shrewd. She played the game that why should people from higher castes and classes take in their hands the lot of downtrodden. I am here and I shall improve the lot of such miserable who are from my community, no one else is authorized. So with this brainwashing she and her Godfather Kanshi Ram founded a party called Bahujan Samaj Party and won the elections and became the chief minister of the most populous state of India and ruled like a queen. Her lifestyle could put the natural queens to shame. She had hundreds of security guards, food tasters, latest luxury vehicles at her disposal. But what the people whose leader she is and whom she promised a good respectable life did get? Nothing but disappointment. Only the sharks benefited along with herself and people close to her.

The list goes on………………………..

Smallest Koran

Some people in India can write on a rice. It is a very painstaking work. Similarly there are copies of Holy books which are miniatures. One such smallest copy of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, is kept at Ningxia Museum in Northwest China’s. It has been identified as the smallest Koran in the world.

The copy weighs just 1.10 grams. Its dimensions are 19.6 mm length, 13.2 mm width, and 6.1 mm thickness. It is covered with mauve Kraft paper with ethnic designs, the Egyptian National Emblem and Arabic text which reads .

“This is a worshipful Alcoran, only people with clean mind and body can carry it, Islamic Calendar 1312 (1892 A.D.)

Despite its small size it has clear print. It is preserved in a small iron box. According to a researcher, He Xinyu, mini Koran was carried by a Chinese Muslim pilgrim from Mecca in present-day Saudi Arabia to Ningxia. But no solid proof exists.

All signs indicate that the book came to Ningxia before 1949. It was excavated in 1959 and has since then stayed in the Ningxia Museum except when it has been on exhibition tours.

The Koran was appraised as a State-level cultural relic in 1996 by the State Bureau of Cultural Relics.

He said that the Ningxia Koran was much smaller in size and weight than the Koran discovered in Zhengzhou in central China’s Henan Province, which was listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest in the world.

This is taken from the following page

http://english.people.com.cn/200205/17/eng20020517_95885.shtml

Mr. Hanif Choudhary, who lives in Silchar district of Assam India also claims to be in possession of the smallest copy of Koran, smaller than the one in Iran. The copy was brought to India by his uncle while he was serving in British Army in the Iran. He wants the copy to be registered for Guinness book.

Rastafarians

Remember Bob Marley with a special hairdo. He was called a Rasta because he practiced Rastafarian religion which began in Jamaica in 1930. Most followers were poor people of African descent brought by the British in West Indies as labours. It is both a religion and a social movement. They were oppressed and it was a reaction to this oppression.

Rastafarians believe that their God is Jah who is in fact Haile Sellassie, the king of Ethiopia. They believe that Christ was black. The religion is not strictly religion but a way of life. It says that in every living being, a part of Jah lives and love and compassion for every human being.

Their prefer to eat the food is almost organic vegetarian self grown. They smoke the cannabis like many Sadhus in India and consider it as a very pious substance. It calms the mind and helps the smoker to introspect the self.

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