Friday, September 16, 2011

Some Great Women in Hindu History

Hindu history is full of beautiful, faithful, and dutiful women. if one listens to their stories, they still inspire us to sacrifice our own interests for others. And the greatest thing, that they were not illiterate or came from a low families, rather they were all wise with wisdom and came from royal or good families, still they were dutiful. Their stories are many and long, but I will quote here only a few such names and their main life incidents for those who do not know our history.

Anasooyaa was the wife Maharshi Atri, and the daughter-in-law of Brahmaa Jee. She was very famous for her Paativrat Dharm (to be faithful to one's husband by heart, speech and action). Once all three Devtaa - Brahmaa, Vishnu and Shiv, thought to test her Dharm. So they assumed the form of Braahman and went to her when Atri Rishi was not there and asked her to give them Bhikshaa (alms). When she was going back to her hut to bring some food for them, they said - "We do not want food like this unless you take all your clothes off and then give us the food." Now this condition put by Braahman was very strange  and Anasooyaa was in a flux "what to do", as she could not do so. How could she give them food without wearing any clothes? Neither she could feed them without clothes, nor she could send them back without food as they were hungry, and sending back hungry Braahman without food was a sin. The three Devtaa were also anxious to see how she dealt with such a situation.

She thought for a while and said to Braahman to wait till she comes out with food. She went inside, meditated upon her husband and prayed him "If I am faithful to you by heart, speech and action, then please turn these Braahman into newborn babies." After praying thus she took off her clothes, came out of her hut and saw three babies crying for milk. She took them one by one, breastfed them and satisfied them. She laid them on a mat after feeding, went inside and came out wearing her clothes. She saw three Braahman still standing at her door. They blessed her and asked her to ask for a boon. She said - "Be my children forever." All three were born to her as Dattaatreya (Vishnu), Durvaasaa Jee (Shiv) and Chandramaa (Brahmaa Jee). This is trhe story of Anasooyaa.

When Raam was in His exile period, he visited Atri Muni's Aashram. There Atri Muni introduced Anasooyaa to Him like this - "When it did not rain for 10 years and the whole world started burning in Sun's heat, only she produced fruits and flowers and brought Gangaa Jee here. Sha has performes penance for 10,000 years and with the effect of that penance Rishi got relieved from troubles.

Who doesn't know Saavitree? She is famous for bringing back her dead husband (Satyavaan) alive, , to get back the lost kingdom for her father-in-law and 100 sons for her father and for herself after defeating Yam Raaj (the god of Death). In northern India, even today, married woman keep fast on the day she brought back her husband alive, it is called Bad Maavas or Vat Amaavasyaa. It falls on Jyeshth Amaavasyaa day.

Damayantee and Raajaa Nal's story is also very famous. Damayantee did not leave her husband because her husband lost his everything in the Dice game. She was always with him, took care of her children, and later when Nal had left her sleeping in the forest, she sought him out from nowhere. 

Gaargee was a very wise woman. She was so much knowledgeable that she was the leading wise woman in Raajaa Jaank's (Seetaa's father) court. Janak used to invite many wise people and listened to them and their arguments on various complex subjects. Once Yaagyavalkya Jee came to his court and dominated the court on a certain topic. During the conversation a naked woman entered the court and introduced herself as Gaargee. All men looked at her body and were astounded to see her walking like this. Then Gaargee asked Yaagyavalkya many questions. After a while Yaagyavalkya said to her - "Do not ask too many questions on which is difficult to comprehend lest your head falls off." Gaargee then declared Yaagyavalkya the wisest. She was such that she reached the height of scholarship in the debate in her time that she could stand against Yaagyavalkya - the greatest of the Vaidik scholars.

Draupadee who wanted to get married to Arjun, luckily was married to Arjun, still her mother-in-law married her to her five sons and she accepted that without speaking any word. Draupadee whom her husband Yudhishthir had lost in the Dice game unlawfully, still got everything back to him. Unfortunately he lost the game again and they had to go to forest again. She again had to live like a maid for one year in Viraat's kingdom and had to tolerate many atrocities in her life - molestation by Jayadrath, and Keechak, killing of her five innocent sons by Ashwatthaamaa in their sleep. She forgave Jayadrath because she did not want that her sister-in-law should weep over her husband, and Ashwatthaamaa too as first he was Braahman, second he was Paandav's Guru's son and third after killing him she would not get her sons back.

Gaandhaaree, Taaraa and Mandodaree
All three women were very intelligent. Gaandhaaree tied a strip of cloth on her eyes just because her husband could not see. She said - "I have no right to see that world which my husband cannot see." Taaraa was loved by two suitors, then Brahmaa Jee had to decide her husband. All of them tried their best to explain their husbands not to do what they were going to do, but nobody listened to them and all had to bear the consequences? Gaandhaaree lost her all sons, Taaraa and Mandodaree lost their husbands. But they never left their families.

There comes a story of Sandilee named woman in Mahaabhaarat. She was living an ascetic's life. One day Garud came there and wanted to take her away. When she came to know this she cut his wings and he fell down. he then assured her that he did not want to molest her, at this she restored his wings.

Ratnaavalee and Vidyuttamaa: who made the lives of their husbands
They were the wives of Tulasee Daas Jee and Kaali Daas. They made the lives of their husbands by rebuking them. Once Ratnaavalee went to her father's house. Tulasee could not live without her so he followed her to his in-law's house. On that day it was raining heavily. There was a river on the way to her house. it got dark also. Tulasee could not cross it just by walking and he could not see any boatman also who could take him across, so he started looking for something so that he could cross the river. he found a dead body floating in the water, he though that it was a wooden log and he crossed the river holding it. When he came to the house he did not want to use main door, so he tried to climb the roof of the house. now how to climb there? he found a dead snake. he thought it was a rope and he used it to climb the roof of the house. When Ratnaavalee came to know about all this, she told him - "if you had even 1/100th part of this love towards Raam, your life had been successful." Tulasee thought over it, left his wife then and there and went away leaving his home. Everybody knows what happened to Tulasee then.

Vidyuttamaa was a very wise and intelligent woman. She had declared that she would marry nly that manw who could defeat her in Shaastra discussions. Many suitors came and got defeated. This frustrated them and out of frustration, they decided to fool her. So they got hold a very foolish boy Kaali Daas and took him to her for Shaastra discussions. Since he was first class fool, they had convinced him that he would not speak at all and would talk only by signs. The condition was conveyed to Vidyuttamaa that the boy would not speak and would discuss only by signs. Vidyuttamaa felt very odd but agreed. The discussion began. Vidyuttamaa showed one finger ofr that God is one. Kaali Daas thought that she wants to pierce my one eye, so he showed her his two fingers. Vidyuttamaa could not undrstand this so she asked his friends what he meant by that. They gave several explanations and convinced her that she had lost and married her to Kaali Daas. The she came to know that she was cheated and married to a fool. She pushed him out of her house on the first night saying - "Do not show your face unless you make yourself able to talk to me."

Poor Kaali Daas left the house in the dark night. Then out of frustration of this insult he got educated and returned home to his wife. he knocked the door. On asking who it was, he replied in a very pure Sanskrit in a cultured way. Vidyuttamaa recognized her husband's voice, she opened the door and fell on his feet. This Kaali Daas is considered a very eminent poet of India today.

They all stood up against men and won. Thus our women are not weak, it is just that they have made themselves weak. But even after being wiser, stronger and more intelligent than their counterparts they did not leave their husbands and family and always considered their husband's house their own house.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Karm - A Fundamental Belief of Hindu

The doctrine of Karm is a fundamental belief in Hindu Sanaatan Dharm. Karm is the central concept even of the birth and death cycle.
What is Karm? 
What is Karm? Karm is any activity which is performed by Jeev through its 11 Indriyaan (senses - 5 Karm Indriyaan - hands, feet, mouth, excretion etc; 5 Gyaan Indriyaan - eyes, ears, tongue, skin, nose; and one mind) in this world.  Karm is also "an action that binds one to the trans-migratory existence.This can be got by mind or by speech or by body (Manasaa, Vaachaa Karmanaa). In other words these are termed as Kaayik (physical), Vaachik (speech) or Maanas (mental) Karm. The very special characteristic of Karm is that nobody can live without doing any Karm. Karm is not only doing anything, but also not doing anything is also a Karm.

Classification of Karm
Although Karm may be classified in many ways but the simplest classification of Karm is of two types -
(1) Voluntary Karm- Voluntary Karm are those which are performed knowingly and intentionally, such as doing Yagya, lying, go on pilgrimage, even taking bath, etc.
(2) Involuntary Karm - These Karm are those which are done unknowingly or automatically or without doing intentionally, or without doing them we cannot survive on this Earth, such as breathing, blinking eyes, eating and drinking (doesn't matter what we eat or drink, but we have to eat and drink; although what we eat intentionally does not come under under involuntary Karm, as it is our control), excretion etc. Although they are very few but still we cannot live without them and in my opinion they should not be counted as Karm because we cannot control them.

Now remain voluntary Karm. They can be divided in several ways --

(1) A Simple Classification
A simple classification is - Dainik Karm (Daily activities), Naimittik Karm (activities performed with some objectives), Kaamya Karm (activities performed to fulfill some desire) and Praayashchit Karm (activities performed to repent for some sin or crime).

(2) Classification by Gun
According to another classification, all Karm are governed by Gun. As there are three Gun, Saattwik, Rajas and Tamas, all Karm under either of these Gun. Thus all Karm are of three types. Actions taken without likes and dislikes or selfish motives are called Saattwik Karm. If they are tainted with these, they become Raajasik Karm. If they are done with evil intentions, they become Taamasik.

(3) Another Classification
Karm, A-Karm and Vi-Karm. Karm are those which are prescribed according to one's Varn and Aashram. A-Karm are those Karm which are opposite to normal Karm, for example telling lies, stealing etc. A-Karm has one another meaning, not 'no action' or 'inaction' or remaining without doing any physical activity or stopping all activities, but it means inactive Karm. These inactive Karm are those which do not bind us to this world. They have no binding Kaarmik reactions or consequences. Vi-Karm are those Karm which are Shaastra Vihit or Shaastra Nishiddh, or opposite to Karm worth doing, means which have been prohibited by Hindu Shaastra, for example if a student starts living a householder's life is called Vi-Karm. It is also notable that Geetaa also supports the idea that it is always better to do one's own Karm according to his Varn and Aashram.

(4) Yet Another classification of Karm
Sanchit Karm (stored), Praarabdh Karm (destiny) and Aagaamee Karm (future).
--Sanchit Karm - are referred to those Karm which are in store or we have already performed in our previous lives. They are stored to give us fruits in future. When they start giving us fruits, they become our Praarabdh Karm.
--It is these Karm, Praarabdh Karm, which have caused our present birth. Praarabdh Karm also decide on the duration of time as well as various experiences - good or bad. Like an arrow once released cannot be taken back, even Jeevan-mukt are seen to suffer with the effects of these Karm. So Praarabdh Karm are those Karm which are in store and now are giving us fruits in this life. It is because of those Karm we enjoy and suffer in this life.
--Aagaamee Karm are referred to those Karm which we have accumulated in previous lives and not yet enjoyed their fruits and Karm done in this life also for which we have not got the fruits yet. We are yet to enjoy there fruits in our future days or lives.

The effects of Karm of one life cannot be exhausted in this life itself. Hence, Punar-Janm or rebirth becomes necessary to bear their fruits. While you are trying to finish the past one life's Karm, some other new Karm get created in this life, which again compel one to take rebirth to bear those Karm's fruits and thus this cycle never ends. Thus our Karm compel us to take rebirth unless we enjoy the fruits of our all Karm, but the problem is that as we finish a few Karm's fruits, other new Karm get created to give their fruit to us, and so our rebirth goes on and on.

Varn and Aashram
As Karm are classified as Karm, A-Karm and Vi-Karm. Karm are defined are those actions which have been assigned to a person according to his Varn and Aashram. There are four Varn and four Aashram in  our Hindu system. Varn system is based on the types of the Karm assigned to them and the Ashram system divides the age of a human being to perform his Karm accordingly. So to perform Karm and not to do A-Karm and Vi-Karm (according to our Shaastra) we should know what are our Varn, and what are our Aashram. There are for Varn and four Ashram in our society. The four Varn are --
(1) Braahman - whose Karm is to teach and study, to do Yagya and to do Yagya for other Varn and accept donation
(2) Kshatriya - whose Karm is to protect the rest of the society, to expand their kingdom
(3) Vaishya - whose Karm is to do farming, trading and feed the rest of the society
(4) Shoodra - whose Karm is to serve the rest of the members of the society

One should note that in this system neither any Varn is higher, nor the other one is lower, but still there is a distance between them because of the nature of their Karm.

Human age has been assessed as 100 years in Kali Yug, and these 100 years have been divided in four periods (Aashram). These four Aashram are --
(1) Brahmcharya - From the birth till 25 years the man devotes his time in his education. During this period he studies and obtains knowledge following Brahmchary's rules.
(2) Grihasth - From 25 years of age to 50 years of age, the man follows Grihasth Dharm. During these period he produces children, performs Yagya, gives donations and alms, marries his children etc.
(3) Vaanprasth - From 50 years of age to 75 years of age. During this period he tries to detach himself from worldly things, family matters and enjoyments etc still living in the house.
(4) Sanyaas - From 75 years of age to 100 years of age or till he is alive. During this period he prepares to meet God. He keeps no relationship with family or family affairs, remembers God, keep his needs minimum, keeps busy in Lok Kalyaan (general welfare) without any expectation of any kind of return.

Thus one should perform his Karm according to his Varn and Aashram with Saattwik Bhaav (intentions)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why should we worship Raam with Seetaa?

When one thinks of the Sun, he thinks of its radiance, its brightness. Just as brightness and the Sun can never be separated, in the same way Seetaa and Raam also can never be viewed separately, and should not be viewed separately. Raam with Seetaa is benevolent. Raam without Seetaa is dangerous.

One can see this in Raamaayan. Whenever Raam has killed any Raakshas, Seetaa was not with Him. He killed Taadakaa, Subaahu, before marriage to Seetaa. When He had to kill Khar and Dooshan, He asked Lakshman to take Seetaa away from the place. He killed Baali, Kumbhkarn, Raavan etc when Seetaa was already abducted. Thus whenever he killed any Raakshas he killed only when Seetaa was not with Him.

But there comes one incident in Raamaayan (as well as in Maanas - Aranya Kaand, although with a different version) and that is the incident of Indra's son Jayant when he assumed the form of a crow (Kaag) and pecked at Seetaa's breast. Raam did not kill that Kaag just like that because Seetaa was with Him at that time. This is a very interesting episode, which highlights the importance of approaching Raam only when He is with Seetaa. It appears in Sundar Kaand, Chapter 67 when Hanumaan is telling Raam his description of Seetaa's meeting. Thus it is a shorter version and casual mention in Vaalmeeki Raamaaayan.

Raavan's sin of coveting another man's wife and then carrying Her away was certainly unpardonable. This is another matter that he did not cause Seetaa any physical harm in Lankaa, but still he abducted her. The Crow, on the other hand, pecked at Seetaa's breast. If compared with Raavan's act of kidnapping Seetaa, the Crow's sin is more serious. One, he pecked at her breast, two he dared this to do in the presence of Raam, while Raavan abducted Seetaa only in the absence of Raam. Yet the Crow got spared by Raam by just piercing his only one eye.

Then how did that Crow get away with that mild punishment? The answer lies in the fact that it was because Seetaa was with Raam, when the Crow surrendered himself to Raam. It should be noted here that Raam sent a message of this matter to Raavan also that if he surrendered Seetaa to Him peacefully He would go back, but Raavan did not listen to it.  But when the Crow had wandered everywhere in the Universe and could not get protection even with his father Indra, he had to come back to Raam for His forgiveness.

I read somewhere the following - "In fact, even this surrender of the Crow was deficient, for instead of placing his head at the Lord's feet, the demon placed his feet at the Lord's feet. This is not the way to surrender, for the act of surrender must be done with humility, by placing one's head at the feet of Raam. Seetaa, noticing that the Crow had not surrendered as required, turned him over so that his head now rested near the Lord's feet. Thus it was through Seetaa's act of kindness that Crow was saved." But I am sure that this version is not in Vaalmeeki Raamaayan. Did I miss it somewhere?

Tulasaee Daas Jee gives this incident as a full version and main incident in Aranya Kaand where it really happened. He could not have dared to let the Crow peck his beak on Seetaa'a breast. He describes that the Crow pecked his beak on Her foot, and when Raam shot the arrow of the straw at him, it followed him all around the Trilok. Then Naarad Jee got pity on him and advised him to go back to Raam, so he came back to Raam and fell on His feet. Then Raam forgave him but pierced his one eye and he went away praying King Dasharath and Raam.

Raam is the Lord of the universe, yet it is the presence of Seetaa that makes Him our protector. Raam is every inch a king, and the way Raam sits on His throne definitely indicates His Supremacy. Such is His bearing. But Raam is like a cool ocean. Just as we retire to the seaside on a hot day and find the sea breeze soothing, so can we approach Raam too, for His mercy will rid us of the heat from our sins. The feeling of safety we get in His presence comes only from the fact that Seetaa is with Him.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

10-Year Old Boy Died of Not Getting Water to Drink

I write this blog with a very heavy heart. I cannot forget this incident and I have been thinking about it since the day I have read it. I thought I cannot live without writing on this incident in my blog, hence this blog.

I read a news in Yahoo that a parents (in Dallas, TX, in the United States of America) locked their 10-year old son in a room and did not give water to him for 5 days - they were giving him food though. The temperature was 100 degree F. His room was not air-conditioned. The fourth day he died. he had a twin brother and a 12-year old stepbrother also. On the 5th day when they gave him peanut butter sandwich to eat, he could not swallow it and they did not give him anything to wash it down.His twin brother could not help him thinking that he would also have to face the same music.

And just ask why he was treated like this? Because he wetted his bed in the night.

My heart cried and cried for him. Such a small boy and such an immaterial matter and so big punishment? Oh, How human beings can behave like this? Killing an innocent child by not giving him water for four days? Is there anybody in the world who can ask those parents if they could live without water even for one day?

I do not know which Dharm they follow? In many Dharm, people establish drinking water places along with a person who helps them to drink water. In Hindi in Northern India such places are called Pyaaoo where thirsty people are offered cool water especially during summer time. In western countries and other places they are known as "Drinking Water". This offering of water to thirsty people gives lots of merits (Punya) to the people who establish these drinking water places. And instead of doing this Punya they committed such a grave sin to kill their own innocent child? And that also by not giving him water? Oh... Oh.... my God.

I remembered how our Hindu Dharm describes many kinds of Hells in which many souls have to pass their lives due to their grave sins in their past lives. So we don't know what sin he committed that his own parents became the murderer for him and he had to suffer for his sin. I think even butcher is still a  better man than them, because he does not kill his own children and he does not kill the animals like this.

I don't know what to say about such parents?
Are they happy now that now they are free from the child who bed wetted?
Are they satisfied now that they have removed the obstacle of their lives?
Ask them them to throw parties for this daring work?
Ask them to advice this method to others too so that others can also set an example like this?