Learning of Life- Nachiketa and Yama

Vājashrava, desiring a gift from the gods, started an offering to donate all his possessions. But Nachiketa noticed that he was donating only the cows that were old, barren, blind, or lame; not such as might buy the worshiper a place in Heaven. Nachiketa wanting the best for his father’s rite, asked: “I too am yours, to which god will you offer me?”. After being pestered thus, Vājashrava answered in a fit of anger, “I give you to Death (Yama)”.

So Nachiket went to Death’s home, but the god was out, and he waited three days. When Yama returned, he was sorry to see that a Brahman guest had been waiting so long. He told Nachiketa, “You have waited in my house for three days without hospitality, therefore ask three boons of me”. Nachiket first asked for peace for his father and himself. Yama agreed. Next, Nachiketa wished to learn the sacred fire sacrifice, which also Yama elaborated. For his third boon, Nachiketa asked to learn the mystery of what comes after death.

Yama was reluctant on this question; he said that this had been a mystery even to the gods. He asked Nachiketa to ask for some other boon, and offered many material gains.

But Nachiketa replied that material things will last only till the morrow. He who has encountered Death personally, how can he desire wealth? No other boon would do. Yama was secretly pleased with this disciple, and elaborated on the nature of the true Self, which persists beyond death. The key of the realization is that this Self (within each person) is inseparable from Brahman, the supreme spirit, the vital force in the universe. Yama’s explanation is a succinct explication of Hindu metaphysics, and focuses on the following points:

  • The sound Om! is the syllable of the supreme Brahman
  • The Self, whose symbol is Om is the same as the omnipresent Brahman. Smaller than the smallest and larger than the largest, the Self is formless and all-pervading.
  • The goal of the wise is to know this Self.
  • The Self is like a rider; the horses are the senses, which he guides through the maze of desires.
  • After death, it is the Self that remains; the Self is immortal.
  • Mere reading of the scriptures or intellectual learning cannot realize Self.
  • One must discriminate the self from the body, which is the seat of desire.
  • Inability to realize Brahman results in one being enmeshed in the cycle of rebirths. Understanding the Self leads to moksha

Thus having learnt the wisdom of the Brahman from Yama, Nachiketa was freed from the cycle of births.


Taittirīya Saṃhitā – Black-Yajurveda on account of it being a vomited substance

Yājñavalkya was the son of Devarāta and was the pupil of sage Vaisampayana .Once, Vaisampayana got angry with Yājñavalkya as the latter argued too much to separate some latter additions to Yajurveda in being abler than other students. The angry teacher asked his pupil Yājñavalkya to give back all the knowledge of Yajurveda that he had taught him.

As per the demands of his Guru, Yājñavalkya vomited all the knowledge that he acquired from his teacher in form of digested food. Other disciples of Vaisampayana took the form of partridge birds and consumed the digested knowledge (a metaphor for knowledge in its simplified form without the complexities of the whole but the simplicity of parts) because it was knowledge and they were very eager to receive the same.It is believed that Yājñavalkya underwent this process at midday and became ignorant. Consequently, descendents of Yājñavalkya are not considered brahmins at mid-day.

The Saṃskṛt name for partridge is “Tittiri”. As the Tittiri (partridge) birds ate this Veda, it is thenceforth called the Taittirīya Yajurveda. It is also known as Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda or Black-Yajurveda on account of it being a vomited substance. The Taittirīya Saṃhitā thus belongs to this Yajurveda.

Then Yājñavalkya determined not to have any human guru thereafter. Thus he began to propitiate the Sun God, Surya. Yājñavalkya worshipped and extolled the Sun, the master of the Vedas, for the purpose of acquiring the fresh Vedic portions not known to his preceptor, Vaiśampāyana.

The Sun God, pleased with Yājñavalkya penance, assumed the form of a horse and graced the sage with such fresh portions of the Yajurveda as were not known to any other. This portion of the Yajurveda goes by the name of Śukla Yajurveda or White-Yajurveda on account of it being revealed by Sun. It is also known as Vajasaneya Yajurveda, because it was evolved in great rapidity by Sun who was in the form of a horse through his manes.The rhythm of recital of these vedas is therefore to the rhythm of the horse canter and distinguishes itself from the other forms of veda recitals. In Sanskrit, term “Vaji” means horse. Yājñavalkya divided this Vajasaneya Yajurveda again into fifteen branches, each branch comprising hundreds of Yajus Mantras. Sages like Kanva, Madhyandina and others learnt those and Śukla Yajurveda branched into popular recensions named after them.

It is important to note that within the hierarchy of Brāhmaṇas, certain sects believe in the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda while others practice from the Śukla Yajurveda.

Yājñavalkya married two wives. One was Maitreyi and the other Katyaayanee. Of the two, Maitreyi was a Brahmavadini (one who is interested in the knowledge of Brahman).The descendant sects of Brahmans are the progeny of the first wife Katyaayanee. When Yājñavalkya wished to divide his property between the two wives, Maitreyi asked whether she could become immortal through wealth. Yājñavalkya replied that there was no hope of immortality through wealth and that she would only become one among the many who were well-to-do on. When she heard this, Maitreyi asked Yājñavalkya to teach her what he considered as the best. Then Yājñavalkya described to her the greatness of the Absolute Self, the nature of its existence, the way of attaining infinite knowledge and immortality, etc. This immortal conversation between Yājñavalkya and Maitreyi is recorded in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

Wisdom of Yājñavalkya is shown in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad where he gives his teachings to his wife Maitreyi and King Janaka.He also participates in a competition arranged by King Janaka about the selecting great Brhama Jnani (knower of Brahman). His intellectual dialogues with Gargi (a learned scholar of the times) form a beautiful chapter filled with lot of philosophical and mystical question-answers in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad. He was then praised as the greatest Brahmajnyani by all the sages at the function organised by king Janaka.In the end, Yājñavalkya took Vidvat Sanyasa (renunciation after the attainment of the knowledge of Brahman) and retired to the forest.

Aether (Greek) : The Element consisting all Panchmahabhuta (Tattva)

Tattva is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘thatness’, ‘principle’, ‘reality’ or ‘truth’. According to various Indian schools of philosophy, a tattva (or tattwa) is anelement or aspect of reality conceived as an aspect of deity. Although the number of tattvas varies depending on the philosophical school, together they are thought to form the basis of all our experience. The Samkhya philosophy uses a system of 25 tattvas, while Shaivism recognises 36 tattvas.

In Shaivite philosophy, the tattvas are inclusive of consciousness as well as material existence. The 36 tattvas of Shaivism are divided into three groups:

Shuddha tattvas
The first five tattvas are known as the shuddha or ‘pure’ tattvas. They are also known as the tattvas of universal experience.
Shuddha-ashuddha tattvas
The next seven tattvas (6–12) are known as the shuddha-ashuddha or ‘pure-impure’ tattvas. They are the tattvas of limited individual experience.
Ashuddha tattvas
The last twenty-four tattvas (13–36) are known as the ashuddha or ‘impure’ tattvas. The first of these is prakriti and they include the tattvas of mental operation, sensible experience, and materiality.

The word aithēr in Homeric Greek means “pure, fresh air” or “clear sky.” In Greek mythology, it was thought to be the pure essence that the gods breathed, filling the space where they lived, analogous to the air breathed by mortals. It is also personified as a deity, Aether, the son of Erebus and Nyx in traditional Greek mythology. Aether is related to αἴθω “to incinerate” and intransitive “to burn, to shine”.

Medieval scholastic philosophers granted aether changes of density, in which the bodies of the planets were considered to be more dense than the medium which filled the rest of the universe. Robert Fludd stated that the aether was of the character that it was “subtler than light”. Fludd cites the 3rd-century view of Plotinus, concerning the aether as penetrative and non-material.

In Plato’s Timaeus  speaking about air, Plato mentions that “there is the most translucent kind which is called by the name of aether “.Aristotle, who had been Plato’s student at the Akademia, disagreed with his former mentor and added aether to the system of the classical elements ofIonian philosophy as the “fifth element”.

 In Aristotle’s system of classical elements, aether had none of the qualities the terrestrial classical elements had. Aether was neither hot nor cold, neither wet nor dry. Aether did not follow Aristotelian physicseither. Aether was also incapable of motion of quality or motion of quantity. Aether was only capable of local motion. Aether naturally moved in circles, and had no contrary, or unnatural, motion. Aristotle also noted that crystalline spheres made of aether held the celestial bodies. The idea of crystalline spheres and natural circular motion of aether led to Aristotle’s explanation of the observed orbits of stars and planets in perfectly circular motion in crystalline aether.

 It was used in one of Sir Isaac Newton’s first published theories of gravitation, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (the Principia). He based the whole description of planetary motions on a theoretical law of dynamic interactions. He renounced standing attempts at accounting for this particular form of interaction between distant bodies by introducing a mechanism of propagation through an intervening medium. He calls this intervening medium aether.

583px-Ptolemaicsystem-small 606px-Fotothek_df_tg_0007129_Theosophie_^_Alchemie The_5_Elements_of_Nature_(PanchaMahabhuta)

Kartavirya Arjuna, who defeated Ravana and Devotee to Lord Dattatreya

Kartavirya Arjuna  was a legendary king of an ancient Haihayas kingdom with capital at Mahishamati which is on the banks of Narmada River in the current state of Madhya Pradesh. He is described as having a thousand hands and a great devotee of god Dattatreya.

The Mahabharata introduces his divine origin, attributing it to the Padmini Ekadasi :

The king (Kartavirya Arjuna’s father) was very happy to hear this. Naturally he asked for the son he had desired for so long: ‘O master of the universe, O killer of the Madhu demon, kindly grant me a son who will never be conquered by demigods, human beings, snakes, demons, or hobgoblins, but whom only You can defeat.’ The Supreme Lord immediately replied, ‘So be it!’ and disappeared. The king became very pleased with his wife and returned to his palace in her company. Padmini soon became pregnant, and the many armed Kartaviryarjuna appeared as her son. He was the mightiest person in all the three worlds, and thus even tenheaded Ravana could not defeat him in battle. Except for Lord Narayana, who holds a club, a disc, and other symbols in his hands, no one could overcome him. By the merit that resulted from his mother’s strict and faithful observance of Padmini Ekadasi, he could defeat even the dreaded Ravana. This is not at all surprising, O Naradaji, for Kartaviryarjuna was the fulfillment of the benediction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” With these words, Pulastya Muni departed. The Supreme Lord, Sri Krisna, concluded, ‘O sinless Yudhisthira, as you have inquired from me, I have explained to you the power of this special Ekadasi. O best of kings, whoever observes this fast will surely attain to My personal abode. And similarly, if you want all your desires fulfilled, you should do likewise.

Kartavirya’s power is popularly told in the Ramayana. He was the contemporary of Ravana. The story goes that once when Kartavirya Arjuna was having a bath in the river Godavari along with his wives, he stopped the force of the river with his thousand arms from both the sides. Ravana (the Lord of Lanka), who was camping by the banks of the river was furious over this. Enraged, he challenged the former for a combat. Ravana was defeated and was put to humiliation.Then on request of his maternal grandfather Pulastya the great king Kartaviryarjuna released Ravana (the Lord of Lanka) . Another account states that when Ravana came “in the course of his campaign of conquest to Mahishmati (the capital of Kartavirya), he was captured without difficulty, and was confined like a wild beast in a corner of his city.” The Vayu Purana states that Kartavirya invaded Lanka, and there tookRavana as prisoner.

As per Vayu Purana :

Having worshipped a portion of the divine being called Dattatreya, sprung from the race of Atri, he sought and obtained these boons: a thousand arms and a golden chariot that went wheresoever he willed it to go; the power of restraining wrong by justice; the conquest of the earth and the disposition to rule it righteously; invincibility by enemies, and death at the hands of a man who was more powerful than himself. By him this earth was perfectly governed,” and of him it is said:-“No other king shall ever equal Kartavirya in regard to sacrifices, liberality, austerities, courtesy, and self-restraint.” “Thus he ruled for 85,000 years with unbroken health, prosperity, strength, and valour.

Killed by Lord Parshurama :

The Puranas recount that Kartavirya Arjuna and his army visited a rishi named Jamadagni, who fed his guest and the whole army with offerings from his divine cow Kamadhenu. The king demanded the cow for the betterment of his subjects; Jamadagni refused because he needed the cow for his religious ceremonies. King Kartavirya Arjuna sent his soldiers to take the cow. As the conflict developed among the Jamadagni and the King,Kartavirya Arjuna lost his cool and chopped off the head of Jamadagni .When Parashurama (Jamadagni’s son and one of the DaśāvatārasVishnu) returned to the hermitage,he was informed of the context by his mother.In revenge, Parashurama killed the entire clan of Kartavirya Arjuna and the King with the axegiven to him by Shiva, thus conquering the entire earth, which he gave to Brahamanas.

In another legend, Kartavirya Arjuna visited the hermitage of Jamadagni, and was received by that sage’s wife Renuka with all respect; but he made an ill return for her hospitality, and carried off by violence “the calf of the milch-cow of the sacred oblation.” For this outrage Parashurama cut off his thousand arms and killed him.

In another place a different character is given to him, and more in accordance with his behavior at Jamadagni’s hut. “He oppressed both men and gods,” so that the latter appealed to Vishnu for succor. That God then came down to the earth as Parashurama for the especial purpose of killing him.

Manusmrti- Laws of Manu, Manu (Similar time of Patriarch Noah )

The text presents itself as a discourse given by the sage Manu, to a congregation of seers, or rishis, who, after the legendary great floods in the vedic state of Brahmavarta in India some 10,000 years ago, beseeched him to guide them in how to face such calamities in future though an organized life with “guidelines for all the social classes”, His response was captured and preserved in memory as a dialog between himself and the sage Bhrigu in some 2685 ślokas, the compilation of which is called Manusmriti.

Different scholars have given a range of timings for creation of this text, from 1500 BCE to 500 AD. However, the basic fact of the time period of existence of flood-figure Manu  and Bhrigu, compatriot and contemporary of Saint Manu, who had his Ashram on the bank of ‘Vadhusar River’ in the Vedic state of ‘Brahmavarta’,who were the authors of Manusmriti, is ignored all together, which happens to be the period of great floods, 10,000 years ago, after last ice age having mentions in Persian book Avesta, Indian Sanskrit text Shatapatha Brahmana and now scientific evidence is available on various websites. Floods had ravaged the vedic state of ‘Brahmavarta’, located on the confluence of two huge Vedic rivers Saraswati and Drishadwati, where the Ashrams of Devas were located. The state ‘Brahmavarta’ is now identified on the borders of North Rajasthan and South Haryana, mainly in and around Shekhawati and Jhunjhunu region of Rajasthan and parts of Haryana in the districts of Mahendragarh and Rewari on the basis of images of paleochannals  of these rivers from satellites, geo-morphological studies of the soils, which confirm presence of soil particles of Himalayan rocks in the areas represented by Saraswati river, and mentions of the area in Mahabharata, Rigveda, Shatapatha Brahmana, Manusmriti and various Puranas. As per epic ‘Mahabharat’ Bhrigu Rishi had his Ashram at ‘Deepotsak’ on ‘Vadhusar’ river, and his son Chyavana, on Dhosi Hill  a tributary of Drishadwati river, in the Vedic state of ‘Brahmavarta’. As per Skanda Purana, Bhrigu Rishi had migrated to ‘Bharuch’, located on Narmada river later on. Even Archeological findings near Narmada river are dated more than 8500 years old and said to be belonging to post Bhrigu era, confirming that Bhrigu and Manu had existed some 10,000 years ago, and their creation ‘Manusmriti’ is that old.

The identity of place ‘Brahmavarta’, the Vedic state  where, sages Manu and Bhrigu had given the discourse, and Manusmriti was compiled is also confirmed by the fact that the nomenclature used to describe animals, birds, crops, trees, plants, house utilities, activities of people, geographical conditions etc. in ‘Manusmriti’ is still in use in the area, and these things exist physically also. The Khetri Copper Mines and Dhosi Hill are important landmarks in ‘Brahmavarta’. The Saraswati river, which had flown at the time of floods, made the western border of Brahmavarta state,while northern border was formed by Drishadwati river which had flown in along the inner side of Aravali hill from the pot of ‘Brahma’ called Pushkar lake near Ajmer in Rajasthan. Because of seismic activities in Aravali ranges 7–8000 years ago, Monsoon water from Ajmer district stopped flowing in to Drishadwati and migrated to Chambal River, however water from part of Jaipur, Sikar and Alwar districts in Rajasthan, still flows in the old Drishadwati river, presently known as ‘Sahbi river’ and finally goes in to Yamuna river near Delhi.

Great floods  which occurred after rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers at the end of last ice age, and higher rainfalls in Aravalli ranges,were devastating for habitants of Vedic state of ‘Brahmavarta’ and surrounding areas. Senior Rishis of the area gathered and decided to approach the oldest Saint or Rishi Manu, who had escaped the floods and is said to be 400 years old at that time, to advise the conference, from his memory (in Sanskrit and Hindi Smriti) and experiences, on ‘how to face such calamities in future and lead a peaceful and organised life’. Thus, the 2685 shaloks discoursed by Manu and Bhrigu to the conference on various aspects came to be known as ‘Manusmriti’, which some call ‘Laws of Manu’, while others consider it to be an ‘advisory’ only. This conference/congregation was also the beginning of organised living by Vedic people or formal launching of Vedic Sanatana Dharma. Olivelle says that Manu’s discourse was referred in all later Dharamshastras.

Though most scholars had previously considered the text a composite put together over a long period of time, Olivelle has recently argued that the complex and consistent structure of the text suggests a single author. However, no details of this eponymous author’s life are known, though it is likely that he belonged to a conservative Brahmin caste somewhere in Northern India.

Several countries in South East Asia and neighbouring countries, as shown in picture here, had followed Dharmasustra of Manu in the ancient times to form their laws, before the advent of Buddhism.

An earlier opinion generally dated composition of the text any time between 200 BCE and 200 CE. After the breakdown of the Maurya and Shunga empires, there was a period of uncertainty that led to renewed interest in traditional social norms. In Thapar’s view, “The severity of the Dharma-shastras was doubtless a commentary arising from the insecurity of the orthodox in an age of flux.

The dharma class of texts were noteworthy also because they did not depend on the authority of particular Vedic schools, becoming the starting point of an independent tradition that emphasiseddharma itself and not its Vedic origins.


Is varna of a person hereditary or acquired?

This is the topic that appears controversial in Manusmriti. There are several shlokas which explain the fluid nature of varna classification and how varna could be changed with acquiring knowledge. There are some others which advocate compartmentalised varnas.

For example, the Brahmins are considered the highest varna or caste, and are supposed to be engaged in learning, teaching and religious sacrifices. The Kshatriyas are the ‘guardians’ — the kings, the soldiers etc., the “Vaishyas” are the traders and farmers and the “Shudras” are the serving class. The first three classes are called “twice born” or Dvija. The first three wear the sacred thread on their body, while the Shudras do not.

Knowledge is more important than birth in a clan

Manusmriti assigns various roles for the four Varnas of the community on the basis of their knowledge of Vedic texts. Manu, the senior most saint at that time, did not issue an ‘ordinance’ on classification of community by birth, as Britishers made it out to be. Their wrong consideration of Manusmriti as an ordinance, compartmentalised the Varna system in to four rigid caste system and harmed the Indian community. Manu’s sermon to the congregation of Rishis was only an ‘advisory’. The concept of dwija and shudra, at birth of a human is not rigid or compartmentalised. It is fluid and flexible and can change with the type of work one adopts. Yajurveda says that at birth, all humans are born shudras, but the true birth or the second birth or true varna has to be achieved through education and profession. An important message is that a Shudra could qualify to a higher class by remaining clean, showing polite behaviour and by being in the company of other three higher Varnas. Manusmriti also says that a Brahmin would be degraded and classified as a Shudra if he consumes liquor even once. Also, if a Brahmin remains uneducated he will be equated to a Shudra

Knowers of Vedic texts, the ‘Brahmins’ are given the most important status for their enormous contributions to Dharm, Earth and Environment.Dharmic duties of Brahmins are defined as reading and gaining knowledge, teaching to others, performing Yajnas and rituals, give and accept donations Kshatriyas are told to provide security to people, give donations, hold yajnas, study and not to involve in discussions. while that of Vaishyas are, animal husbandry, giving donations, hold yajnas, to study, do business, charge interest and do agriculture,. Shudras, who are not educated at all, are given the task to serve the other three varnas. This division of community is strictly on ‘knowledge’ basis. Even among Brahmins, those who have higher and deeper knowledge of Vedas are considered superiors.

Lower classes can upgrade

There are several examples from history, that prominent Saints were born in lower varnas but qualified to higher varnas and were duly respected by all. Rishi Valmiki who was born in lower varna got education and qualified to become a religious writer and wrote, Valmiki Ramayana which is a revered document even today. Similarly, Aitareya saint or Rishi was son of a Daasa or criminal, but became a Brahmin of highest order and wrote one of classics Aitareya Brahmana and Aitareyopanishad. Aitareya Brahman is considered critical to understand Rigveda.

There are historical migrations of varna, in ancient history. Satyakaam Jaabal was son of a prostitute but qualified later on, to become a Brahmin. Allush Rishi was son of a ‘Daasi’, gambler and of low character but he did research on Rigveda and made several discoveries. Not only was he invited by Rishis but also made an Acharya 

Prishad who was son of king Daksha, became a Shudra because of his activities, had to do tapasya and achieve salvation after repenting. Vidur, who was a son of a servant, became a Brahmin and a prominent minister in Hastinapur empire. Similarly, Vatsa became a Rishi though born to a Shudra. Vishnu Puran says that Guru of Pandavas, Shaunak, was born in a Kshatriya family but became a Brahmin. Raavana who was born a Brahmin to Pulatsaya Rishi, is considered a ‘Raakshasha’.

During medieval period, in the 16th century, the Hindu king Hem Chandra Vikramaditya born in to a family of Purohits (Brahmins) got involved in business (Vaishya) and changed his profile again and became a warrior (Kshatriya) to win 22 battles continuously against Afghan rebels and Mughal forces throughout north India.

Nandi- Born from lord Vishnu

According to some puranas, Nandi was born out of the right side of Vishnu resembling Shiva exactly and given as a son to the sage Salankayana. Some puranas mention him as the son of the sage Silada who got him by the grace of Shiva.

It was Nandi who cursed Ravana that his kingdom would be burnt by a monkey (Vanara). And later Hanuman burnt Lanka when he went in search of Sita, who was kept prisoner by Ravana in Ashok Vatika. In one puranic story, it is stated that once Siva and Parvathi were playing a game of dice. For any game there has to be an umpire, who has to declare who is the winner. Siva and Parvathi agreed to have Nandi  as the umpire. Nandi is a favorite of Siva, as he is Siva’s vehicle. Although Siva lost the game, Nandi declared him the winner. It is stated that Parvathi was indignant over Nandi’s partiality for Siva and cursed him that he should die from an incurable disease. Thereupon Nandi fell at the feet of Parvathi and pleaded for forgiveness. “Mother forgive me. Should I not show at least this amount of gratitude to one who is my master? Is it not humiliating for me to declare that my master has lost the game? To uphold his honor I no doubt uttered a lie. But am I to be punished with such severity for so small an offence?” Nandi prayed for forgiveness in this manner. Parvathi forgave Nandi and taught him the means to atone for his lapse. She told him. “The Chaturdasi day in the month of Bhadrapada is the day when my son’s birthday is celebrated. On that day you have to offer to my son what pleases you most (green grass)”. This means that one atones for one’s sins when one offers to the Lord what is most pleasing and enjoyable to him. For Nandi the most enjoyable and relishing food is green grass. As directed by Parvathi Nandi worshipped Ganapathi by offering green grass. Nandi was then relieved of his dreaded disease. His health improved and by the grace of Parvathi he was redeemed.

When the positive forces, the devas, and the negative forces, the asuras, joined together on a rare occasion to churn the ocean with a mountain to obtain the nectar of immortality they utilized Vasuki, the serpent, as the rope. The devas pulled from one end and the asuras from the other. Lots of precious herbs and gems were produced during the Churning and one of them was a poison which became human karma. This “poison” was so dangerous that none of the devas or asuras wanted to go near it. It was extremely sticky and coming into contact with this poison, i.e., human karma, would drag the divinity down to the realms of human suffering and ego. As everyone else ran away, Lord Siva, followed by Nandi, came forward to help as he was the only one who could counteract this deadly poison. Siva took the poison into his hand and drank it, the descent of the poison was in turn stopped at His throat, by His divine consort. Siva is therefore also known as Nīlakaṇṭha and Viṣakaṇṭha . Nandi saw some of the poison spill out of Siva’s mouth and immediately drank if off the ground. The devas and asuras watching were shocked and wondered aloud what would happen to Nandi. Lord Siva calmed their fears saying, “Nandi has surrendered into me so completely that he has all my powers and my protection”.




Advaita Guru Parampara and Advaita Vedanta

In the Indian religious and philosophical traditions, all knowledge is traced back to the Gods and to the Rishis who saw the vedas. Thus, the advaita guru-paramparā begins with the Daiva-paramparā, followed by the Ṛṣi-paramparā, which includes the vedic seers Vaśiṣṭha, his son Śakti, his son Parāśara, his son Vyāsa, , and Vyāsa’s son Śuka. After Śuka, we turn to the Mānava-paramparā, which brings us to historical times and personalities.

Advaita (literally, non-duality) is a system of thought where “Advaita” refers to the identity of the Self (Atman) and the Whole (Brahman). Recognition of this identity leads to liberation. Attaining this liberation takes a long preparation and training under the guidance of a guru.

Mahavakya – The Great Sentences

Mahavakya, or “the great sentences”, state the unity of Brahman and Atman. There are many such sentences in the Vedas, however only one such sentence from each of the four Vedas is usually chosen. They are shown below

Sr. No. Vakya Meaning Upanishad Veda
1 प्रज्ञानं ब्रह्म (pragñānam brahma) Consciousness is Brahman Aitareya Rgveda
2. अहं ब्रह्मास्मि (aham brahmāsmi) I am Brahman Brhadāranyaka Yajurveda
3. तत्त्वमसि (tat tvam asi) That thou art Chandogya Samaveda
4. अयमात्मा ब्रह्म (ayamātmā brahma) This Atman is Brahman Mandukya Atharvaveda

Theory of creation

In the relative level, Adi Shankara believes in the Creation of the world through Satkāryavāda. It is like the philosophy of Samkhya, which says that the cause is always hidden into its effect—and the effect is just a transformation of the cause. However, Samkhya believes in a sub-form of Satkāryavāda called Parinamavada (evolution) — whereby the cause really becomes an effect. Instead, Adi Shankara believes in a sub-form called Vivartavada. According to this, the effect is merely an apparent transformation of its cause — like illusion. For example, in darkness a man often confuses a rope to be a snake. But this does not mean that the rope has actually transformed into a snake.

At the pragmatic level, the universe is believed to be the creation of the Supreme Lord Ishvara. Maya is the divine magic of Ishvara, with the help of which Ishvara creates the world. The serial of Creation is taken from the Upanishads. First of all, the five subtle elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth) are created from Ishvara. Ether is created by Maya. From ether, air is born. From air, fire is born. From fire, water is born. From water, earth is born. From a proportional combination of all five subtle elements, the five gross elements are created, like the gross sky, the gross fire, etc. From these gross elements, the universe and life are created. This series is exactly the opposite during destruction.

Some people have criticized that these principles are against Satkāryavāda. According to Satkāryavāda, the cause is hidden inside the effect. How can Ishvara, whose form is spiritual, be the effect of this material world? Adi Shankara says that just as from a conscious living human, inanimate objects like hair and nails are formed, similarly, the inanimate world is formed from the spiritual Ishvara.