Srutis, Smritis and us

Before delving into the topics of Puranas, it is essential for us to have a basic understanding of how spiritual scriptures are classified in our Sanatan Dharm. There are the Vedas and Upanishads and then there are Ramayana and Mahabaratha with texts like Vishnu Purana and Shiva Purana tagging along. Often times we wonder why we have so many scriptures with a majority of thoughts and knowledge being repeated redundantly in many of them. Were our ancestors so idle to create so much content? Were they so mad to duplicate content and effort or is there a method to their madness? Read on to find out.

All these scriptures largely carry religious instructions in one form or the other. While there is a tendency to categorize scriptures like Srutis and Smritis and writings such as Kavyas and Natakas under the same umbrella of “Sanskrit Literature”, people in the thick of things will strongly disagree to this single umbrella approach.  Fortunately, our ancestors laid out a strong well-lineated framework for us to follow and learn from.

Religious instructions can come to us mainly in two ways.  Prabhu Samhita and Suhrit Samhita.

The Prabhu Samhitas are strict and compels the follower to follow instructions to the tee without any deviations. These Samhitas are named so since these proclamations are like the ones coming directly from a Prabhu or a higher authority. Whether or not we are able to appreciate this instruction and accommodate it in our practical life voluntarily is immaterial to the giver of the instruction. It has to be done whether we like it or not; and, also, it has not to be done whether we are agreeable to it or not. The Vedas (Sruti) and some parts of the Smritis come under this and are often called as the commanding treatises.

The Suhrit Samhitas are the instructions coming from a friend. Itihasas and the Puranas fall into this category and are also called as Friendly Treatises. These works explain the great universal truths in the form of historical narratives, stories and dialogues. These are very interesting volumes and are liked by all, from the inquisitive child to the intellectual scholar. While the compassionate sages Valmiki and Vyasa presented the high abstract philosophies of the Vedas and Upanishads in tasteful forms of analogies and parables in the Itihaasas, Vyasa composed and compiled the Puranas to impress the teachings of the Vedas on the minds of the masses through concrete examples, myths, stories, legends, lives of saints, kings and great men, allegories and chronicles of great historical events.

Now that we have a very basic idea of the framework of our religious scriptures, we should be able to appreciate them more than before and also be able to face inquisitive queries in a more informed manner.

In the next post we will dive deeper into the world of Puranas.

Ciao, until then…

Rama and Seetha, according to Maricha

Maricha paints a frightful picture of Rama to Ravana on hearing the idea of abduction that Ravana narrates to him. The demon-turned-saint goes on to explain how Ravana would play an important role in the eradication of all demons from the world through Rama’s hands if he goes further with his obsession of abducting Seetha. Maricha goes to the extent of exclaiming whether Seetha had taken birth just to ensure Ravana’s downfall!

He tries his best to dissuade Ravana by telling that Rama is neither ruthless nor un-scholarly and he has not definitely conquered his senses, but at the same time, Rama is identical to the thunderous Mahendra and tempestuous Varuna, the Rain-god. By this extolling, it is pretty clear that Maricha sees Rama both as a human and as God at the same time. He tells Ravana that Rama is the embodiment of righteousness, he is an equable person with truthfulness as his valour, and as with Indra to all gods, he is the king of the entire world.

Maricha wonders how Ravana could believe that he could rob Seetha from Rama which is equivalent to robbing the Sun of his resplendence. By bringing up this analogy, Maricha tells his king that Rama would make his life miserable just like how it would be if the Sun loses his resplendence and stops being the source of light for the world.

Then he explains to Ravana the beauty of Rama’s relationship with Seetha. Every time he talks about Rama’s resplendence, he continues to emphasize that the quality of almost unbelievably majestic beauty is not only inherent in Rama but is also augmented to a great extent due to Seetha’s presence near him. He elucidates on how Rama thinks of Seetha as his dearest and on how she, in turn, has avowed to follow him alone into eternity, wherever Rama went. He compares Mythili to a blazing ritual fire and expounds how she can never be abused just like the ritual fire!

Now Ravana is totally confused and flabbergasted. He is confused because he came to Maricha for help and gets a big lecture on the qualities of the very person whose wife he wanted to abduct. He is flabbergasted because of the fact that the very person  whom he thought would readily help him in his endeavour was expounding the greatness of the couple whose relationship he wanted to destroy.

But Maricha is not finished yet!

Prakrita Dissolution – the elemental one

After the 3 types of Dissolutions, It is time for us to look at the most elemental of them all – The Prakrita Dissolution.

The Prakrita Pralayam occurs at the end of the life of each Brahma (You can recollect that the life span of a Brahma is 100 divine years) after He completes two parârdhas. At the end of the Hundredth year, the seven basic elements – Mahat or Mahan, Ahankara and the 5 Tanmatras are subject to destruction.(We will see more about these elements in the next post). Thus this dissolution is called elemental annihilation, since it is elemental in nature. Then all calamities will occur one by one starting with extreme drought resulting in a great famine, followed by the fire of destruction. Then a terrible wind will blow for 100 years which will be followed by the last, but not the least, heavy rains for the next 100 years. At the end of this rain, the universal egg will be one big form of water.

Let us see now, how the Pancha Bhoota or gross elements are destroyed one after the other. Each element is associated with one very basic elemental character. Earth is associated with Smell, Water with Taste, Fire with Form, Wind with touch or feeling and Ether with Sound. Each element will be destroyed when this character is robbed off it. Let us see how.

The excessive water drives away the quality of fragrance of the Earth. Earth dissolves.

The great fire will take away the most basic character of water-Taste. Water dissolves.

The terrible Wind takes away the quality of Form from fire. Fire dissolves.

The Ether robs Wind of its basic character-touch or feeling. Wind dissolves.

The elemental nature takes Sound off from Ether. Ether dissolves into nature or Ahankara.

Ahankara dissolves into Mahaan and Mahaan dissolves into the Pradhana or the Root.

According to Srimad Bhagavatam – “This is the prâkritika pralaya or elemental dissolution wherein all the material elements of nature and energies of the unseen Original Person are completely dismantled by Time and helplessly merge.”

It is clear now from where we come and to where we all go and how helpless we are in the grand scheme of things. Yet we don’t realize all this and behave as if we are the greatest in this universe. How Silly, eh?

Enough of all the negative posts about Dissolution. In the next few posts we will see how creation happens and what happened at the very beginning.

Sankalpa Manthra and Geo Tagging

Anyone who has performed a religious function would have chanted a Sankalpa Manthra. Like any other Manthra, we would have chanted this without knowing its meaning. But this manthra is the one which enlightens us about our current position and how we got here from the beginning.

The Sankalpa Manthra goes like this.

“Aadhya Brahmanah, Dwdheeya Paraarthe, Swetha Varaha Kalpe, Vaivaswatha Manvantare, Astavikum Sathitha me, Kali Yuge, Prathame padhe, Jambooth Dweepe, Bharata Varshe, Bharata Kande, Sagaapthe Meroo, Dakshine parsve, AsminVarthamane, Vyavahaarike, Prabhavaathi Shasti Samvathsaraanam, Madhye …….(name of the year) nama samvathsare, Dakshinaayane /Uttarayane(movement of the SUN to Cancer to Capricorn),…….(Name of the season among the six seasons) Ritau,…..(Name of The Month) maase, …….pakshe(indicate the Waxing and Waning of the Moon) Punya Thithou …..(mention the Day) ”Vaasara  Yukthaayaam …mention the Nakshatra/Star Yukthaayaam…”.

Now let us see how we are tagged using this ancient Manthra.

dviteeya Parárddhae – in the 2nd half of Brahma’s life- We know that Brahma’s life consists of 100 years. We are in the second half.
Svetavaraha kalpe – in the Kalpa of Sveta-Varaha or the White Boar. The previous Kalpa –which was also the last of the first 50 years of Brahma-was called Padma while the first Kalpa of the dviteeya Parárddhae or the second half is called Sveta-Varaha.
Vaivaswatha manvantare – in the period of the current Manu Vaivaswatha who is the 7th Manu.
Ashta Vimsati tame – in the 28th Chathur Yuga of the current Manu
Kaliyuge – in this kali yuga
Prathame Padhe – in the current Yuga’s first quarter

The time tagging stops here and Geo-tagging starts.
Jambudvipe – The earth has seven great islands- Jambu, Plaksha, Shaalmali, Kusha, Kronch, Shaakh and Pushkar. The Jambudvip is situated at the center.
Bharata Varshe, Bharata Kande –  Bharata varsha is the first landmass towards the south of Sumeru/Meru Mountain.
Sakhabde Mero, Dakshine Parsve – to the South of the Meru mountain

Geo-tagging stops here and Calendar-tagging starts.

Asmin Varthamane Vyavaharike – in the current period now reigning
Prabhavadi Shasti Samvatsaranam Madya – in the middle of the cycle of 60 years according to Hindu calendar- starting with Prabhava
Nama Samvatsare – the name of the year in the 60 year Hindu calendar
….Ayane – Dakshinayane or Uttarayane (denoting the two halves of the year)
….Ritou – The rithus are six in number each consisting of 2 months.-Sisira, Vasantha, Greeshma, Varsha, Sarad and Hima. Thus 3 ritus make an ayana and 2 Ayanas make an year.
….Mase – one of the 12 hindu months
….Pakshe – either Shukla Paksham (Waxing moon) or Krishna Paksham(Waning Moon), denoting the part of the lunar month.

This is followed by one of the 15 days in the Paksham and the day’s star, thus completing the tagging.

We started with Brahma and reached our current day in about a minute (It takes just a minute to recite this Manthra). So many questions will arise, the minute we get to know the meaning of this Manthra. If we are in the second half of Brahma’s life, what happened to the first half? If we are under the 7th Manu, what happened with the previous 6?

We will see in the next post!

Understanding the four Yugas

In the last post, we saw the units of measurement as narrated by Parasarar in Vishnu Puranam. We also saw that 1 mortal year is equivalent to 1 divine day and that 12,000 divine years make one Chathur Yuga-comprising of Krita, Treta, Dwapara and Kali Yugas.

4,000 divine years make up one Krita Yuga. 3000 years make up one Treta Yuga, 2000 one Dwapara Yuga and 1000 divine years one Kali Yuga. Thus 10000 divine years are spread across the 4 Yugas, which results in 2000 years being left out of the original 12000 years. The period that precedes a Yuga is called a Sandhyá, and it is of as many hundred years as there are thousands in the Yuga: and the period that follows a Yuga, termed the Sandhyánsa, is of similar duration. One Chathur Yuga or the collection of 4 Yugas, is made thus.

400 (Sandhya before Krita Yuga) +4000 (Duration of Krita Yuga) +400 (Duration of Sandhyánsa after) = 4800

300 (Sandhya before Treta Yuga) +3000 (Duration of Treta Yuga) +300 (Duration of Sandhyánsa after) = 3600

200 (Sandhya before Dwapara Yuga) +2000 (Duration of Dwapara Yuga) +200 (Duration of Sandhyánsa after) = 2400

100 (Sandhya before Kali Yuga) +1000 (Duration of Kali Yuga) +100 (Duration of Sandhyánsa after) = 1200.

A thousand such Chathur Yugas make one day-time of Brahma. (You would be surprised to know that Brahma is actually a designation that is given to one Soul (or atman)). At the beginning of every creation, the Supreme Being or the Brahman(don’t mistake this with the word Brahmin, as both are different) appoints one soul to this post.  The age of a Brahma is 100 years.

So how does Brahma manage all of this? Well, these 1000 Yugas and His 100 years are divided between 14 Manus. The duration of each Manu is called a Manwantara. A half of his 100 years (or 50 years) makes one Parárddha.

In the next post, we will see our bread crumbs ( where and in which age we are, now) and about Pralayams.

Ciao, for now.

Units of Time according to Hindu Mythology

I wanted to write about Pralayams, but realized that it cannot be understood fully without first knowing the Units of measurements of time described in Vishnu Puranam.

According to Parasarar in Vishnu Puranam,

Fifteen twinklings of the eye make a Kásht́há; thirty Kásht́hás, one Kalá; and thirty Kalás, one Muhúrta. Thirty Muhúrtas make our one day (a day and night of mortals). 30 such days make a month and 12 such months make a year (360 days a year, only). One mortal year is divided into 2 parts or Ayanas, Uttarayana and Dakshinayana.

Let us now see how a mortal year translates to a divine year.

1 Uttarayana or the northern movement of the Sun in the celestial sphere is a day of the Gods and Dakshinayana or the Southern movement of the Sun, a night for them. This means that 1 year in our life is 1 divine day for the Gods. There are 360 divine days in one divine year.

12,000 divine years constitute the 4 Yugas – Krita, Treta, Dwapara and Kali and 4 Yugas make one Chathur Yuga. There are 1000 Chathur Yugas in a day-time of Brahma.

Let me stop with that for now- too many numbers to crunch and too much information to digest and remember from one post. In the next post, we will see about what constitutes a day for Brahma, how the 12000 divine years are spread across the 4 Yugas, and how Brahma administers the 4 Yugas.

Time travel in Srimad Bhagavatham

People who saw the movie Looper went all agog with the concept of time-travel used in the movie( When the mob wants to eliminate someone, it sends the target into the past, where a hit man known as a looper lies in wait to finish the job)

Something of the same sort happened to Markandeya once- which is described in Srimad Bhagavatham. As we all know, He is the immortal sage who gets his immortality from Lord Siva. He is the only survivor at the end of Brahma’s day when Pralayam happens due to this immortality. Pleased with his austerity and discipline in his immortal life, Lord Narayan appears before him. Markandeya is actually pleased, just to see Lord Narayan, but then wants to see a glimpse of His illusionary Potency (or Maya). Lord Narayan grants his wish and sends him off to his ashram.

One day Markandeya is doing his Sandhya Vandan in the evening, when suddenly there is a big deluge all around him. Water engulfs all that is existent around him. He realizes that it is the Pralayam. He is wandering in this Pralayam Ocean for millions of years. Suddenly he sees a small baby floating towards him in a big banyan leaf, with his toe in his mouth. The baby takes out his toe and inhales, drawing Markandeya into Him.

Inside the baby’s stomach, Markandeya sees the entire universe: the sky, heavens and earth, the stars, mountains, oceans, great islands and continents, the expanses in every direction, the saintly and demoniac living beings, the forests, countries, rivers, cities and mines, the agricultural villages and cow pastures, and the occupational and spiritual activities of the various social divisions. He also sees the basic elements of creation along with all their by-products, as well as time itself, which regulates the progression of countless ages within the days of Brahma. In addition, he sees everything else created for use in material life. All this he sees manifested before him as if it were real.

In this entire melee, he also sees himself in his ashram and performing his daily rituals! This is a completely different and a very advanced time travel concept, where HIS PAST is sent to ITS FUTURE for him to see IT from HIS PRESENT state.


Let us see what happens to our beloved Markandeya.

The baby exhales and throws him out and at that moment, everything around him vanishes and he realizes that he is still in his ashram doing his daily evening rituals. He realizes that Lord Narayan just displayed his illusionary powers, showing Markandeya what actually happens during the Pralayam, at the same time.

The simple truth that Time travel was not thought of as an advanced concept back then, but something that was normal, shows how advanced our ancestors were.(Srimad Bhagavatham which tells this story-is of primordial origins).

PS – If You want to see this baby in the banyan leaf, search for Gokul Santol powder Logo. He is Vada Badra Sayee.

We are not alone!

When NASA says  “We are not alone” what do we think? Would your interest be spiked if I tell that the same thing has been said thousands of years ago by a sage called parasarar?

Read on…

We all live on Earth which is called “Bhúr-loka” (or Bhu-Loka). There are 6 more lokas above us which form a higher level of existence. They are

  1. Bhur-Loka – Inhabited by us-Humans
  2. Bhuvar-Loka – Sphere of Sky right above us
  3. Swar-Loka – Planetary sphere where Devas and Indira live
  4. Mahar-Loka – inhabited by saintly souls – This is the intermediary Loka in between the lower 3 lokas and the upper 3 lokas.
  5. Jana-Loka – Sanandana and other pure minded sons of Brahma reside here
  6. Tapo-Loka – inhabited by the deities called Vaibhrájas
  7. Satya-Loka – This is inhabited by souls which never again know death and Brahma

The Vishnu Puranam dwells in detail about the distances between each loka and what actually exists in between them. That’s for another post though.

Now below us, we have

  1. Atala
  2. Vitala
  3. Sutala
  4. Talatala
  5. Mahatala
  6. Rasatala
  7. Patala

These are the regions that are inhabited by Yakshas, Rakshasas, Pisasas, Pretas and Bhutas. Then we have Naraka(m) or hell.

That is not all. If you consider this whole system as an egg (or Andam) then there are the following  layers of coatings, starting with Water and encompassed by layers of Agni(fire), Air(Vayu), Mind and Intellect. AND there ends the boundaries of one egg.

There are thousands and thousands of such eggs in the cosmos, with each egg having its own Brahma for creation and other celestial beings for performing their own duties.

The next time we hear someone say “We are not alone”, let us not laugh at that, but introspect a little to see how small a speck we are in the whole scheme of things.