Corona Virus and Its Crazy Healers (The Religious Fanatics from Hinduism, Christianity and Islam)

Once the new coronavirus strain was detected in China’s Wuhan City in December 2019, conspiracy and pseudoscientific theories have started to circulate. There has been many from religious fanatics.

Christian fundamentalists have bizarrely linked the epidemic to prophecies in the last book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation.

Coronavirus has been likened to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as well as cataclysms that will supposedly strike before the end of the world and the Messiah’s second coming.

Twitter user Alchemo A. Lozano said: “@kershaw_martin The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse representing War, Famine, Pestilence and Death as depicted in the Bible on Revelation 6:2-8 are most likely causing this coronavirus worldwide. We don’t see them but we can feel their wrath everywhere.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/1244059/Coronavirus-plague-predicted-Bible-Book-of-Revelation-prophecy-coronavirus-end-of-world

An Instagram-famous bikie and convicted killer has claimed the Wuhan coronavirus sweeping across the world is ‘Allah’s revenge’ for China’s persecution of millions of Muslims.

Retired Nomads president Moudi Tajjour took to Snapchat saying Allah ‘created’ the killer virus which has killed 41 around the world and infected at least four in Australia.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7928151/Moudi-Tajjour-says-Coronavirus-Allahs-revenge-Chinas-persecution-Muslims.html

I am sorry to hear about the Muslim persecution though. At one hand, there are extremist Muslims around the world who have fanatic views that are inhumane. On the other hand, an innocent Muslim gets blamed for something he did not do, just because he is a Muslim. This is very disturbing. In fact, Muslims who advocate inhuman laws against fellow humans for religious reasons should realize that this is all the consequence that they created. No, I am not supporting any negative reactions towards Muslims; tit for tat wont work apart from a vicious circle of violence. But I am saying that peaceful Muslims should unite against those who advocate anything that violates human rights and raise their voice!

Swami Chakrapani Maharaj, president of Hindu Mahasabha, on Friday said cow urine and cow dung can be used for treating novel coronavirus disease. He also said that a special yagna will be performed to “kill the novel coronavirus and end its effects on the world”.

“Consuming cow urine and cow dung will stop the effect of infectious coronavirus. A person who chants Om Namah Shivay and applies cow dung on body, will be saved. A special yagna ritual will soon be performed to kill coronavirus,” said Chakrapani.

https://www.news18.com/news/india/from-cow-dung-to-urine-hindu-mahasabha-suggests-bizarre-treatment-for-coronavirus-2483153.html

This is another nonsense by BJP. Many people who support BJP or inclined towards Hindutva are prone to make such ridiculous statements of pseudoscience: https://gulfnews.com/photos/news/shocking-words-of-wisdom-from-indian-gurus-and-hindutva-brigade-1.1582048210370

I came across a meme today in Facebook and that also made me more thoughtful:

Only to those joker guys in Church who makes comedy show with people acting like possessed and crazy! They don’t realize that they are not only shaming Jesus and Indian Christianity, but also give way to criticism by Hindutva and RSS guys who are looking for a chance to mock you people…

Sane, United and peaceful Hindus, Christians and Muslims should stand against all the fanatic and shameless Hindus (Hindutva guys), shameless Christians (the crazy exorcists who misunderstand Indian iconography and call it Satanic, thus inviting trouble) shameless Muslims (those who promote Terrorism, promote killing for apostasy and everyone else that is inhuman). Peace, love and Truth always wins!

Also read:

Pappankulam – A Village of Brahmins and Four Vedas

Who is Anti-Hindu and Anti-Indian? Some Logical Questions

Why is there so much hate between Hindus and Muslims in India?

Prophet Muhammad Exposed – A Different Perspective That Everyone Should Read

Hinduism and Dharma: The Distinction between a Religion and a Way of Life

Did Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism Copy from Each Other?

12 Shocking Truths About Religions

Who is Anti-Hindu and Anti-Indian? Some Logical Questions

Pseudoscience, Religious intolerance, Injustice, Hindu Muslim Disunity, Fake spiritual babas like Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev & Nithyananda, harmful ideas like Hindu rashtra etc in a country like India is a shame for all of us.

The complete surrender, complete karma yoga and a permanent state of flow with a feeling of boundlessness, peace, fulfillment, balanced energy state, highest possible clarity, a mind devoid of conflicts and wandering incessant flow of thoughts, a feeling of harmony and synchronicity towards existence, and a feeling of oneness in everything as if one is immersed in an ocean of consciousness with blurred or fuzzy distinction and more and more and more are the gifts of the Holy Spirit or Shakthi! There is a precise science to make it true in one’s experience and being, which has been lost because of lack of royal patronage for nearly 300 years. Once Colonial movements imposed a concept called religion in India, everything has become distorted, just leaving a mess that is guided by fake gurus and power hungry politicians.

Pseudoscience in the land of Aryabhatta? Religious intolerance in the land of Shankara, Ramakrishna, Akbar, Guru Nanak, Vivekananda, Gandhi, Tirumular, Thiruvalluvar and Abdul Kalam? Injustice in the land of Manu Needhi Cholan? Provoking Hindu-Muslim disunity in the land of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Dr. Zakir Hussain, Mohammad Sharfuddin Quadri, Asaf Ali, Maulana Mazharul Haque, Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, Maghfoor Ahmad Ajazi, Abid Hassan etc who fought against the British rule? Speaking without logic and with whataboutery and ad hominem in the land where Nyaya Shastra, the ancient Indian school of logic thrived? Fake spiritual gurus in the land of Adi Shankara? The idea of Hindu Rashtra in the land which said Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam or the entire earth is a family? Constant ‘We’ vs ‘You all” fights in the land which proclaimed “Yadum Ure, Yavarum Kelir (Every village/town is my village. Everybody is my relative)”? Who are Anti-Indians and Anti-Hindus then? Who is actually shaming India?

Also read:

Pappankulam – A Village of Brahmins and Four Vedas

Why is there so much hate between Hindus and Muslims in India?

Prophet Muhammad Exposed – A Different Perspective That Everyone Should Read

Hinduism and Dharma: The Distinction between a Religion and a Way of Life

Did Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism Copy from Each Other?

12 Shocking Truths About Religions

Did Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism Copy from Each Other?

Every culture has influenced every other culture during mutual interactions. It is only because of this influence that humanity has achieved a lot. But many people today call such cross-cultural interactions, influences, adaptations etc as ‘copying’ or ‘plagiarism’ which is both sad and stupid.

For example, today Indians wear shirt and pant, celebrate birthdays using English calendar, cut cakes and blow candles etc. Should we say India copied this from West or West influenced India?

Of course, a lot of Catholic churches and many Sufis have adapted certain cultural things from India as well. So yes, Indian culture has influenced Indian Christians and Indian Muslims. There is no question about it. Have you ever wondered why the Bible is called as Vedagamam in Tamil? It is not plagiarism but influence! Plagiarism or copying means a person using somebody’s work without attribution. This doesn’t apply to cultures.

Let me give you a lot of examples:

  1. The story of Adam in Bible is heavily influenced by Enkidu from the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh.
  2. The story of Noah and Manu was influenced by the great flood in the epic of Gilgamesh.
  3. The old testament doesn’t have the concept of hell or heaven. The divine justice is delivered on earth itself, which is indicated by fall or rise of states. This idea of divine justice was also borrowed from Sumerian-Mesopotamian cultures.
  4. The idea of Good and evil (Satan) in Bible was adapted from Persian religion; and Persian religion itself heavily borrowed from early Vedic religion.
  5. Vedic religion itself adapted many deities from other cultures: Dyaus, Usas and Ashvins come from proto-Indo European culture. Indra and Soma come from Bactria-Margiana culture. And according to Asko Parpola, Varuna was a deity native to Indus valley civilization ( I am a little skeptical of Parpola’s claim though).
  6. There was an ancient University in Taxila founded in 10th century BCE which should have certainly attracted students from all over the world, Even though majority of the people were unaware of other states and empires, there were certainly elites and traders who travelled long distance from the Near East. It is through the influence of this University, many ideas which existed in cultures close to it has travelled to far away lands. A lot of such ideas got distorted, modified, re-interpreted and even developed in the places where they reached. I see no other reason for development of new ideas during Axial age ( 800 BCE to 300 BCE) all over the world.
  7. Early Vedic religion did not have the concept of samsara, moksha or karma. But some individual rishis of Rig Veda might have been aware of such ideas already. These ideas were influenced by Sramana traditions and re-interpreted within Vedic context. Also, early Vedic religion neither had temples or idols.
  8. The stance against idolatry in Judaism was strongly influenced by the representation of the king and the state through images in Egypt . So, the stance against idolatry has a hidden and lost message: Do not consider a human being as infallible authority! But the Hebrew Bible is a theological and mythological narrative to explain real political events, such as the conquery of Israel by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and others. Along with this, Jewish mysticism which is close to Eastern traditions existed and their ideas also influenced the old Testament.
  9. Followed by Taxila university, Plato’s academy was established in Greece in c. 387 BC in Athens. The idea of eternal hell was developed by Plato as a social tool to discipline people who wouldn’t listen to reason. Later it was adopted by Abrahamic traditions. Plato’s allegory of cave is another metaphorical distinction between real and unreal, just like Vedanta.
  10. Muhammad travelled from Mecca to Damascus every year for trading. In Damascus, he must have been exposed to various mystical traditions. No, he didn’t copy them. He simply brought it to Arabia which by that time had no state, no law, and no justice; People had primitive social norms, killed female infants, raided caravans, married irresponsibly and abandoned orphans and widows. Once thing I can infer is, the intellectual gap between Muḥammad and his followers was very large. As historians agree, Islam indeed improved the status quo of pre-Islamic Arabia and was an improvement to the existing conditions . So many ideas which we think from Islam were already existing before Islam; Muhammad just managed to reform some of them but compromised and adapted some olden values too.
  11. Vedic religion had a concept of Rna or indebtedness. It simply means human beings are obligated to follow a law or Dharma and settle the debts he owes for the society and nature. Failure to do so simply means a lack of gratitude. Dharma means law or way of life. Initially, Dharma was only about ethics and order, wealth and pleasure. But after being influenced by Sramana traditions, Dharma also included the way to attain eternal peace. They came up with three means to do that: karma (doing your obligatory duties without being too attached to the fruits of actions), Jnana (a direct inquiry into the nature of existence) and bhakti (surrender and love to one and only supreme God). Now let us see how all this fits into Islam. Muhammad did not call Islam as a religion but called it as Deen. It means law or way of life, just like Dharma. And the word comes from Arabic for ‘dayne’ which means ‘debt’ (just like rna). And Muḥammad insisted that submission to God as true form of worship. Jihad means struggle, which is the same as Srama in Sramana. And the word ‘khafir‘ originally meant someone who lacked gratitude or someone who hides the truth. If you put together all the pieces and see the whole picture, it will make a lot of sense.

12. Muhammad did not claim that he was bringing something new. He simply claimed he was restoring the original form of worship by Abraham. Who is Abraham? People have noticed strong similarity between Abraham and Brahma and have suggest that Jews and Brahmins were the same. A passage that is quoted often for this is:

“The similarities between the names of Abraham and Brahma have not gone unnoticed. Abraham is said to be the father of the Jews, and Brahma, as the first created being, is often seen as the father of mankind…’ We might also note that the name of Brahma’s consort Sarasvati seems to resonate with that of Abraham’s wife, Sarah [… each one’s identity as a wife and/or sister]. Also, in India, the Sarasvati River includes a tributary known as the Ghaggar…. According to Jewish tradition, Hagar was Sarah’s maidservant…. Both Brahmins … and Jews see themselves as the ‘chosen people of God.’ The Hebrews began their sojourn through history as a ‘kingdom of priests’ (Exodus 19:6). Likewise, Brahmins are also a community of priests. — Rosen in Essential Hinduism, p. 12.”

But I don’t think it is true; there is strong evidence against it. It will make more sense to consider Abraham as a metaphor for a Brahmin who lives between the rivers Sarasvati and Ghaggar. So who is the God of Abraham? It is more likely to be the fusion of aspects of Vedic deities Rudra and Varuna. When I was researching the origins of devotion or bhakti, I was able to trace it back until Varuna, who is described as the Lord of justice, expects surrender and repentance, just like Abrahamic God. And just like God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Varuna asks Harischandra to sacrifice his son. Later, the benevolent deity Yahweh (who is similar to Rudra, later syncretized with Shiva) absorbed all aspects of hundreds of older Jewish deities and the aspects of God of Abraham too. This also makes sense, because the same story about human sacrifice make a re-entry in India through a Tamil Text ‘Periya Puranam’ several centuries later. And this time it is Shiva (who absorbed Vedic Rudra) who comes in disguise as a sadhu and asks for human sacrifice of his son. Makes sense?

13. The lost or unknown years of Jesus in the Bible between the age 12–30 has been explained by many by saying that he has travelled the world, including Indian subcontinent. There is a document in monastery in ladakh which actually talks about Jesus studying there and it has been witnessed and translated by many. Jesus also said that he came to establish the Law (Halakha in Hebrew, which means the same as Dharma).

14. All cultures evolve their dharma like this: an animistic tradition that doesn’t have a concept of God but only believes in various spirits inside real world objects —-> Clan deities of various tribes forming a pantheon, sacrificial rituals and accompanying poetry — Evolutionary monotheism which happens by syncretism of various deities into one —-> Worship and surrender to one supreme God with names like Ishvara, Allah, Narayana etc. —-> The mystical path that involves realizing God as all that exists (Brahman, which is usually thought a direct result of worship and surrender to one God, along with Karma and Jnana. In Islam, there is Sufism; in Christianity there is Christian Mysticism; in Judaism, there is Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism. They all start with surrender and worship in the beginning of the path but also talk about the higher truth of oneness of Brahman; But since they use different names and concepts, use different teaching methods, enumerate the contents of consciousness differently (which is nothing but the actual meaning of Samkhya) and also define the stages of the spiritual paths differently, they all seem different. In addition to it, there are cultural, historical, political, linguistic, and geographical differences which has all been wrapped as a package to come up with the modern concept of religion .

15. Apart from Vedic and Sramana traditions, there were thousands of folk traditions with thousands of deities in India. Many were benevolent but absorbed into Buddhist mythology as yakshas and yakshinis who were the disciples of Buddha. They are also seen as various extensions of one reality in meditation. Vedic religion did the same thing by Sanskritizing all these deities and absorbing them into Shiva or Vishnu; if they were female deities, they merged with Shakthi or Lakshmi. And Shiva and Shakthi are again considered as two aspects of one divinity. Many people, especially from South of India think that this is bad. No, it is really not; the only negative consequence of this was denying entry and access to temple worship to people of specific social class. This is similar to ancient Egyptian tradition in which priests were the only ones who had access to temples and other people can only see the deity during processions. This Sanskritization of folk deities led to various monotheistic traditions like Shaivism and Vaishnavism, which were all united by Adhi Shankara as various paths of single dharma.

16. If you stop seeing things with modern lens using modern concept of religion, you can see the truth; if you take this modern concept as your identity and tend to feel superior towards it, it will certainly lead to intolerance. But if you go to the roots and see that it is all about dharma and its three aspects (bhakti, jnana and karma), then everything will be clear. You will agree with what I have written in this post: Shanmugam P’s answer to Why is Hinduism spreading so fast all over the world?

An article that you may be interested in: Pappankulam – A Village of Brahmins and Four Vedas

A Rebuttal to Ram Ablo’s answer on Hindu Misconceptions – Quora

I recently came across the answer of Ram Ablo who says that people who claim that all religions lead to the same truth are some confused and ignorant Hindus. Well, then looks like the list would include the following people too: The list of Ignorant and confused people who claimed that all religions lead to the same goal (according to Ram Ablo): Guru Nanak, Kabir, Rumi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Shirdi Sai Baba, Vivekananda, Sivananda, Gandhi, Abdul Kalam and many others.

I see a group of people teaming up and supporting each other for promoting Hindu superiority, an illusion that was created in the recent modern past. This blog or this post is not intended to personally offend them but only refute the ideas they are promoting. And comparing this clash of cultural identity with Adhi Shankara’s debates is the biggest insult to Adhi Shankara.

Let me first quote his answer:

“The biggest misconception about being a Hindu is that there is no difference or distinction between the mundane material world and the spiritual world.

I see a vast majority of Hindus being utterly confused about this real and harsh distinction between the mundane affairs of the world and what is considered spirituality. Most Hindus mix up the two, and inappropriately apply the conclusions of abstract philosophical spiritual teachings to real-world problems.

For example, these ignorant Hindus say that all religions are the same, all religions teach the same thing, so people of all religions should be treated the same way, innocently, without caring about what these different religions say, and what the followers of these religions do in the real world.

This confusion comes from the unfortunate availability of all scriptures to everybody, irrespective of qualifications. Everybody reads books on Advaita and Brahman, and without the full understanding of the appropriate application of teachings to appropriate situations, they start talking bullshit about everyone being the same, everything being the same, no need to maintain Hindu identity, no need for any action, no need to protect and defend Hinduism against predatory religions, etc.

Here’s an episode from the life of Adi Shankara, the greatest teacher of Advaita:

Once during his travels across India, teaching and debating, Adi Shankara had a discussion with a king. The king misunderstood Advaita and thought that Shankara was teaching that the world is unreal, and nothing has any value. To mock Shankara, the king ordered his attendants to release the wildest elephant in his stable just as Shankara was walking down the path of the royal garden. As soon as he saw the elephant charging, Shankara broke into a sprint and quickly climbed up the tallest coconut tree nearby.

Seeing this apparently hilarious spectacle, the king laughed and asked Shankara, why he ran from the imaginary elephant, as according to Advaita, everything is unreal? To this, Shankara gave a witty reply that what the king saw as Shankara running was also equally as imaginary as the charging elephant.

This witty episode really explains the true philosophy of Advaita.

Adi Shankara was not a fool to ignore the real-world threat of the charging elephant at the physical mundane level of existence. He protected himself with all his physical capabilities. At a higher level of consciousness, the physical level is less real, but these two levels do not interact. This was the misunderstanding of the king, who mixed the two levels of consciousness and mocked Advaita.

But today, Hindus are getting confused from the opposite side — in their immense faith, they apply their naive and dangerously wrong understanding of Advaita to the real, physical, mundane world.

I have said this in many answers and comments — Hindu philosophy guarantees the spiritual equality of everyone “up there” in the sky. But on the ground, in the physical world of flesh and blood — conflict, aggression and predation are real things that need to be guarded against if this beautiful Hindu philosophy needs to survive.

If Adi Shankara did not see the significance of debating and defeating real-world flesh-and-blood people, and re-establishing Hindu Vedic religion in a physical sense, he would not have taken the pains of travelling through the length and breadth of India and establishing real physical maThas and temples and rituals. He would have just sat in his home in Kerala, thinking, “Everything is the same, so there is no difference whether I go and preach Advaita or whether Hinduism dies.”

As Kalidasa says in Raghuvamsham, “sharIram Adyam khalu dharmasAdhanam शरीरमाद्यं खलु धर्मसाधनम्” — “The body is the primary and only means of conducting Dharma’.

For the Hindu dharma and philosophy to survive, the “body” of Hinduism needs to not only survive but thrive in robust physical forms in the real physical world of flesh-and-blood. This requires protection and defence against real physical world flesh-and-blood threats of various kinds. This protection and defence can only happen when there is unambiguous recognition that everything is not the same. There are real differences, which is why there is conflict.

There is a Sanskrit saying — “pishAcAnAm paishAcabhAshayA uttaram deyam पिशाचानां पैशाचभाषया उत्तरं देयम्” — “Villains only understand the language of villainy, so they need to be answered back in the language of villainy.”

In other words, violence and aggression do not understand the language of peace and civility, and they should be retaliated in the same way that they act.

Let us not repeat the mistake of Prithviraj Chauhan who showed foolish and innocent mercy to the ruthless and cunning Muhammad Ghori.

Innocence is not a quality that is praised in Hindu scriptures. Knowledge and intelligence (of all kinds) are praised.”

https://qr.ae/Tz8WXN

My reply, which I also left as a comment:

The list of Ignorant and confused people who claimed that all religions lead to the same goal: Guru Nanak, Kabir, Rumi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Shirdi Sai Baba, Vivekananda, Sivananda, Gandhi, Abdul Kalam and many others…

All confusion arises because religion, as it is segregated now, is a modern Western concept. The term ‘religio’ was initially used to call various sects of Christianity. During protestant reformation, they actually defined what religion is, and for the first time in the history, religions were defined based on beliefs, rather than way of life. When the word Hindu was first used in colonial period, it was spelt as Hindoo and used strictly as a geographical identity. Terms like Hindoo Christians and Hindoo muslims were very common. : 12 Shocking Truths About Religions

I grew up as a devotee, and due to intense suffering I went through, I surrendered and finally became a spiritual seeker, going through self-inquiry and mindfulness for nearly 12 years. Even before that I was devotee inquiring about life and throughout my life I have always received divine guidance.

I knew this similarity between religions by studying sufism and Christian mysticism, which say the same thing. And I also did a thorough research on life and teachings of Muhammad and Jesus. What happens in today’s world in the name of religions is not what I am pointing to when I say all religions lead to to the same goal; nor am I using this term as a ‘negative terminology’ given by British. The original word for Hinduism was ‘heathens’, and it was changed to Hinduism since it was offensive.

I studied in Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal Golden Jubilee matriculation school, Sankarnagar and I guess you can see the relationship with Adi Shankara. That school was indeed a blessing. Even if someone is not convinced by my logic when I say the original Islam and the teachings of Muhammad were the same as the paths in our own scriptures, they will be convinced by faith if they go through the story of my life. So it is not that I am talking about Advaita simply after reading some easily available material on the internet; I can backup what I am saying by science (psychology), scriptures and faith. I myself have written a detailed article for beginners about sadhana chatushtaya, the qualifications that you are talking about: What is Advaita Vedanta? – Advaita For Dummies

Since you mentioned Adi Shankara, let me quote from one of my answers:

Adi Shankara has never heard of Hinduism. Hinduism is a modern concept popularized by Irish missionary Charles Grant.

Adi Shankara debated with many people and made them his disciples once they were defeated in the argument. He did not convert anyone as there was no such concept called conversion or even Hinduism.

For your information, he not only refuted some ideas held by Buddhist monks but also refuted many ideas from the school of yoga, samkhya, pancharatra. If he existed today and came up with the same arguments, he would have been called as ‘Anti-Hindu’…

Shankara was not interested in defending any identity. Hinduism is an identity; that is how Hindus see it. But Vedanta that Shankara was teaching is a path.

If Shankara indeed defended Hinduism just like today’s Hindus do, this is how it would have been:

“Shankara: Buddhists are destroying Hinduism. That is because Hindus are not united.

Buddhist: yeah.. so it has got nothing to do with treating Shudras as third class citizens.

Shankara: look who is talking.. the follower of a person who left his wife and children to forest. No sane person would do that.”

But Shankara was not debating like that. He was not a right wing troll. His debates were more like this:

“The purvapakshin (opponent) says that universe orginated from unconscious principle called pradhana. But it is not possible because conciousness cannot arise from something that is unconscious.”

So he was dealing with ideas; not identities.

If he was alive today, it wouldn’t take much to refute the ideas in Christianity, Islam and even within Hinduism which are contradictory to Advaita. His arguments would go more like this, as seen in his commentaries:

“The purvapakshin says that those who reject the message in Quran will go to eternal hell. But it contradicts the idea of the most merciful and most gracious God which is mentioned in Quran itself. “

If you want to get a taste of how his debates sounded like, read his commentaries on Brahmasutras. it is available for free on the internet.

…………………………………………

What I see that is happening in the name of Hinduism today is just a plain hatred towards people of Abrahamic faith, shaking one of the very foundations of what this so called ‘Hinduism’ is based on: tolerance. Shankara was not fighting for a Hindu identity; this equates my Guru Shankara to a right wing troll who mindlessly abuses people without logic. Sorry… Adhi Shankara was not campaigning for BJP; in fact, he criticized many things which we would call today as an aspect of Hinduism.

An article that you may be interested in: Pappankulam – A Village of Brahmins and Four Vedas

What is Advaita Vedanta? – Advaita For Dummies

You may have already heard that advaita talks about oneness, the oneness of the existence that exists without a second; it says that this oneness is your true nature! But this is not a theory and not something that is meant to be just intellectually understood. This oneness is realized in one’s living experience which not only transforms you but also liberates you from all psychological bondages.

I will give you a short introduction on Advaita Vedanta but will also let you know about some pitfalls that one can encounter if certain things are not understood. Before Advaita Vedanta is taught, the disciple is expected to develop four-fold qualifications called sadhana chatushtaya. I will also quickly go over them in this post.

Adhi Shankara

First, advaita (non-duality) doesn’t really have a contradiction with dvaita (duality). And there was a reason why various dvaita (dual)) schools emerged after Shankara’s time. What is usually described as advaita philosophy or the non-dual oneness is the fruit of the spiritual path. What is described as dvaita philosophy (the duality of God and devotee) is actually a path. In the beginning of bhakti, there is duality; but it always ends with non-dual oneness.

In Advaita Vedanta, bhakti or devotion is considered as one of the means to purify oneself and develop sadhana chatushtaya or four-fold qualifications. But the problem with Advaita Vedanta is usually this: people directly go for the theory or the higher teachings in Vedanta without developing these four-fold qualifications. It is developing the four-fold qualifications that takes the most part of a person’s journey.

This mere intellectual understanding sometimes results in pure arrogance with absolutely no transformation. When you tell someone that sounds like “You are God”, it is very likely that it will be misunderstood; the person may also forget his duties and become very careless; because from the perspective of Advaita, nothing really matters. But in practical life; everything matters. Even after realizing the truth in your experience, you still have to play the role in the real world. You would certainly live like a water drop on a lotus leaf, but the world still sees you as an individual bound to the obligations of the society.

Advaita and Dvaita

People like Ramanuja and Madhva who came after Shankara addressed the above mentioned problem. If you see the traditions in the world which see God and devotee as separate, you will notice that they all promise a place after death where they can live in God’s presence. We often hear vivid descriptions of vaikunta, paradise or heaven. This was just used as a trick or a social tool. To the general public, it was this teaching which was appropriate: develop loving devotion to God and surrender to him; after death, you can live with him forever. This was like tricking a child. By saying this, they can lure them into showing devotion. This in turns purifies the mind. According to the tradition, even if liberation is not possible for a person in this life, the spiritual development that he went through is carried forward to the next birth.

There have been many places in the world where people were quite primitive and completely lacked any moral sense or obligation towards society. Just imagine a vast peninsula which has no empire, no state, no kings and no public laws. 5th century Saudi Arabia is one of them. Many people, as a reaction to how things have turned out in the name of Islam and how Muhammad’s life was described in Hadiths written down many decades after his death, have come to a conclusion that Muhammad was a power hungry warlord, who was just after power, women and sex. But that will contradict many things in Islam itself.

Even the critics of Muhammad agree that Muhammad was a genius. Also, historians suggest that he was not illiterate as it is believed by Muslims. Muhammad also played tricks; he made compromises too. The idea of eternal hell was actually a social tool developed by Plato, a disciple of Socrates; it is not there in old Testament of Bible. Muhammad used this concept to discipline the people of Arabia. He was against female infanticide and many other social problems. Most importantly, Muhammad asserted that surrender or submission to one supreme God is the true form of worship. There was no concept of religion those days, even though people had various beliefs. People only had a concept called ‘deen’ which meant ‘the way of life”. Muhammad asserted that Islam or surrender to God is the right way of life or deen.

Islam stands on five pillars which basically is: oneness of God and submission to God; 5 prayers a day which has different postures just like yoga, a way to convey submission and also to focus one’s attention; fasting for a whole month with an attitude of devotion and love; going on a sacred pilgrimage where various devotees from different races and places gather as a symbol of equality and charity to the poor. But Muslims later became too sensitive towards their faith; even though Muhammad improved the status quo of Arabia as per historians, he couldn’t improve it completely in his lifetime. So, only Sufi tradition preserved the original teachings more clearly, which the mainstream Islam rejects as heresy.

Jesus also insisted that love towards God and love towards human beings are his two commandments.

So the bottomline is devotion is one of the ways to purify oneself. And a personal God or a personification is required for it; this divine has to be one and not many, so that one can surrender to it. It is the same as prapanna as described in Gita.

Apart from devotion, karma yoga, or doing one’s duties without attachment to the fruits of actions, also purifies the mind and develops the four-fold qualifications. Karma yoga is about focusing on the action rather than the result, on the present rather than the future; it teaches to develop love towards one’s actions and do the actions with focus and involvement, not with a mind that is daydreaming about the results. Pure Karma yoga produces states of flow quite effortlessly. Other sitting meditations and kundalini yoga also comes under karma yoga.

Four-Fold Qualifications – Sadhana Chatushtaya

So now you may ask; what are the fourfold qualifications that one should develop?

  1. Shad-Sampat

Out of those four, let us just see one for now, which is Shad-Sampat or six virtues. So this one among the fourfold qualifications is further divided into six:

Sama: calmness of the mind;

Dama: gaining control over the mind and senses.

Uparati: The tendency to naturally drop certain conditioned behaviors and habits; for example, you may lose interest in certain habits.

Titiksha – forbearance. Not getting too excited in pleasure and ability to withstand suffering.

Sraddha – trust; This is a trust in spiritual path and see it as a working method; this trust naturally develops once you start feeling some changes in your mind and experience.

Samadhana: Resolving all the internal conflicts so that you gain the ability to focus.

The most practical way to go for is to first slowly develop these six virtues; don’t give any deadline. The practice has to be taken slowly and gradually so that you also live your social life in the meantime. For example, a person who starts with can first work on forbearance or titiksha. This means that whenever you go through suffering, you should go through it willingly since there is no choice and try to bear the suffering without getting too distressed about it. You can also develop shraddha, or a faith that you would be able to grow spiritually as the time goes by.

Focused attention meditation that involves focusing on an object (like dhyana or shamata) can bring calmness to the mind and develop sama. It will also slowly develop dama or self-control. That is essentially about bringing the wandering mind under control without letting the mind distracted by sense objects. Uparati is something that would happen naturally when other virtues are developed. Samadhana is something you develop last.

2) Vairagya – Non-attachment

The next thing in four-fold qualifications that I am going to explain is vairagya or non-attachment. Many people mistake that non-attachment is renouncing one’s possessions. But one can lead a normal worldly life and still develop non-attachment,. This is usually symbolized as a metaphor: one lives like the lotus leaf in water; even though the leaf resides in water, it doesn’t get wet or the water doesn’t stick to it. Vairagya also refers to a certain state of mind; To understand that we have to learn about a concept called ‘hedonic treadmill”.

Hedonic treadmill theory is a psychological theory that states that regardless of the objective outcomes of lives such as success and failure, the experience of life always returns to a base-level happiness. Happiness never increases as time goes by; the base level happiness always remains the same but it keeps us in the hedonic treadmill, chasing for objective outcomes without actually reaching anywhere. This base-level happiness is a limited happiness and one is not satisfied with it. It is only self-realization or the realization of the truth about one’s own nature which can make the limited level of happiness to blossom fully, giving an individual the absolute sense of fulfillment and liberation. When one realizes that running on this hedonic treadmill is fruitless and is not interested in the objective outcomes, he has developed vairagya.

Now one may ask, if one chooses to not to be interested in the objective outcomes, won’t he stop working or performing? No; this will increase the performance. Because it will actually make the karma yoga to mature. Since you are not interested in objective outcomes, you can be fully devoted to action, while doing your obligatory duties. As I said, flow states are very normal when one is in karma yoga; so actions actually give a sense of enjoyment at this point.

3. MumuksutvaDesire for liberation

Now you know that self-realization and the liberation that happens because of it while living is the only thing which will give you the absolute fulfilment. So, your concern shifts automatically from worldly desire to the desire for liberation. Your calm mind, non-attachment and the desire for liberation will make you more focused on the practice and also make you qualified to understand what Viveka is. It might have taken a few decades to reach up to this point. But there are exceptions, like people who get vairagya and mumuksutva in a very early age in life.

4. Viveka – Discrimination of the observer and observed.

One need to realize something that is self-evident. You know the existence of anything because you are conscious of it. You know that a tree you see exists because it is a perception perceived by the consciousness. Consciousness is what that knows everything; that knows that this world exists. So, existence of anything is only known by the existence of consciousness. You are also aware of your own thoughts, emotions, subtle mental movements and mood changes as they float as the contents of your consciousness. When you see everything from a totally subjective perspective, you will see that this world itself appears as a perception in your consciousness; it is as if everything is happening within consciousness.

It takes a great deal of objectivity to understand and develop viveka. Usually a human being is too attached to the concept of ‘me’ or ‘self, which gives him a sense of separation from the world. But when you develop non-attachment, it will be very easy to see this concept of little ‘me’ as an object of consciousness, which only appears to exist because the thoughts flow in the mind in a high speed. Just like a fan which is running in a high speed creates an illusion that there is a circle, the thoughts when moving fast gives a continuity and creates the illusion of self.

But if you take a step back from your thoughts and just observe what they do, sometimes they may slow down and you may be able to silence your mind for a few seconds. In that few seconds, you would just exist as consciousness simply perceiving sense perceptions. You can now see that you are actually consciousness itself, and that the thoughts, emotions, body and everything you perceive in consciousness is not you; But consciousness, which is the true Self, is now identified with the body, mind and many other concepts like one’s beliefs, one’s nationality, one’s religion etc. It mistakes a selective part of what is observed as self. This idea of mistaking the body and mind as one’s self is avidya or root ignorance, which is considered as the root cause of all suffering.

Since it is because of consciousness that the world is perceived, consciousness is seen more real than what appears on the consciousness. This consciousness or the pure awareness has no attributes and gives space for the life experience to occur and the perceptions to exist. Whether you are sleeping, dreaming or in a waking state, it is consciousness which pervades all these three!

With this understanding you can inquire everything that happens in your consciousness and see that it is not you; because you as the pure awareness that observes a thought or emotion should be separate from what is observed.

Since you can observe the thought, the thought is not you. This discrimination or clear identification of the observer or the pure awareness (the real you) and the objects of observation (thoughts, emotions, perceptions etc) is viveka.

Now this may raise a question. Doesn’t Vedanta say that everything is one and there is no two? Doesn’t the discrimination of observer vs observed promote duality? No.. Actually, this discrimination is necessary to remove the attachments and the selective identification of consciousness with body, mind and certain mental concepts related to the egoic self (my beliefs, my religion, my country etc).

The concept of oneness doesn’t have to be promoted as a teaching, belief or a philosophy. This is the reason some traditions do not talk about oneness or the absolute Brahman that exists without a second. It may actually confuse people at the earlier stages. Brahman is the same as your real self. Upanishads say prajnanam Brahman, which means consciousness is Brahman.

You can imagine your consciousness as a screen and everything that is observed in consciousness as moving pictures on the screen, In a sense, the screen and the pictures are different; but the pictures do not have any independent existence on their own, So the picture part is called as maya and the screen part is brahman. But you need to understand that the screen can exist without picture. The pictures are just modifications of the same reality. You may see thousand men marching in a screen but the screen is one. But until or unless this oneness of Brahman becomes living experience, theoretical understanding of what is Brahman is of no use. When the final realization dawns, both observer and the observed is realized as one and the same; this is Advaita. If you want to really understand oneness, it has to start with developing sadhana chatushtaya first.

The final stage of Vedantic path involves to be completely established as a witness or awareness; It is called as shakshibhava or nididhyasana. This is the same as mindfulness in Buddhism. It requires just being a witness and passive observer of everything that passes by in consciousness. You just let the mind happens by itself; you neither give force to the thoughts, emotions and subtle movements of mind nor suppress them. You simply let anything arise and pass away in your conscious experience. Your focus is more on silent gaps between thoughts and mental movements. these gaps keep increasing until the observer and observed converges and all the distinctions disappear,

There are many other things taught in Advaita like karma and creation of the universe. But they are not really much important, Understanding karma helps, but many things can be learnt in the later stage. The only thing one can focus on as a starting point is to work on purifying one’s mind.

I have explained more about Sadhana chatushtaya here:

An article that you may be interested in: Pappankulam – A Village of Brahmins and Four Vedas

You can read my book “The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta” to learn more.

Also read: Buddhism and Vedanta are the Same – A Detailed Comparison

Shanmugam P’s answer to What’s the essence of non-duality?

Real Life Lessons in Bhagavad Gita – Things that can be Taught to Children

(I am republishing an answer that I wrote on Quora)

Bhagavad Gita – The conversations between Krishna and Arjuna

The concept of karma yoga in Bhagavad Gita actually insists that one should do the required action without getting attached too much on the results.

Because getting hung up and attached to the fruits of action rather than giving your full attention on the actions you do will be actually a hindrance to the performance of action itself.

I actually read the same advice in a Forex trading website which asks traders to focus on action instead of results, and treat losses and profits alike because losses do happen in trading (like Gita teaches that one should have a calm and same attitude towards success and failure).

If anyone is having a goal but focused more on daydreaming about the fruits of actions, then he won’t focus on the action with full attention, involvement and love. Doing an action for the pure joy of doing it rather than doing it only for the results it gives, will also make the action easy. Because you are doing what you love to do. This is the essence of Bhagavad Gita.

The situation of Gita is very complicated. It is a fight between the relatives. One side has more people and one side has less. The beauty of Mahabharata story is that it doesn’t show reality as black and white as some middle age Tamil movies do.

In some slightly old Tamil movies, we would have a hero who loves his mother and sister, helps the poor, works hard, gets humiliated but first responds with peace then in climax fights like Bruce Lee, can dance and sing well and cannot see a single flaw. Then there is a villain who is the most cruel person that you will ever see.

But in the epic, it is different. First, both sides have good people and bad people. But none of the good people are shown without any flaws; this applies to Dharma and even Krishna. And none of the bad people are shown entirely evil. Duryodhana helps Karna when others reject him and Karna helps poor with charity. So, the it is quite realistic.

Now, one side grabs a state/land because of jealousy and greed, and other side loses it because of the temptations to gamble. All these are human weaknesses that one should overcome. Also, the war in the epic represents symbolically the struggle that an individual goes through in overcoming these, purifying the mind, conquering the ego and living the rest of the life with full contentment and peace. And Gita tells us to do all these without withdrawing from the world, without renouncing it and without stopping your actions and duties which are obligatory.

Then, Arjuna’s dilemma is this: His gurus are standing in the other side. He is asking, “How can I wage a war against my own gurus Drona and Bhishma? Instead, it is better to beg and live (those days it means nothing but taking sannyas).

As soon as Arjuna refuses to fight, Krishna talks about something practical. He is not interested in talking about spirituality at this moment. He just says casually in two slokas, ‘come on, Arjuna.. From where are you getting all this at this moment. This will only bring defame. This doesn’t suit you. Get up and fight’.. This is a very practical advice.

The very first thing Arjuna utters after that is, “How will I fight Bhishma and Drona with my bow and arrow? They deserve to be worshiped. It is better to beg and eat rather than ruling this world and the next world by killing my own gurus.”

Looking at it superficially, Arjuna sounds wise. But the two armies are ready to fight and the war is about to begin (in spite of many attempts to avoid the war). This is not the right time to say ‘I won’t fight’. That is why Krishna says that the war has happened by chance ( ‘yadruccaya ca upapannam – Gita 2–32’). A person who refuses to fight after coming to the war field will be seen as a coward rather than a non-violent man. When the army general refutes to fight for India, in India- Pakistan war by saying that his high school teacher is fighting for Pakistan army, especially when the war is ready to begin the next moment, it doesn’t look practical. In fact, the duty of the army general is to fight and that is his responsibility.

It also talks about svadharma. The essential meaning of this is one should only do the work or pursue a career that one is qualified for, the work that suits one’s personality and abilities. This very well applies to the modern day situation., People choose higher studies and careers based on its scope, based on money etc. Money is important; but what is more important is enjoying your work. If you are in a profession that doesn’t suit you, a job that doesn’t satisfy you, than obviously you are doing some job that is not compatible with your svadharma.

Many people link svadharma to varna but the inner and original or intended meaning of svadharma is just this. And that is one of the important messages in Gita.

Since Arjuna’s svadharma is being a warrior Krishna reminds him that it is people like him who are needed for the society when such a war occurs. A lot of attempts have been made to avoid the war and it is of no use.

Also, since this is about waging a war in an emergency situation even if our favourite people are on the other side, it teaches that one should be impartial, unbiased and neutral minded.

Then it gets into deep spiritual discussion. Krishna says, “you sound wise; but you forget that true jnanis do not worry about birth and death. (which means Bhishma and Drona themselves do not worry about death). wise people understand the impermanence of things in life”

But without getting into the deepest philosophy of Gita, this much can be taught to school children.

I have a 3 year old son. I have taught him a Gita verse, a Tirukkural, and a few other lines like, “yadhum ure, yaavarum kelir’ ‘anbe sivam’ and ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam. You can watch him telling these lines by heart here: Shanmugam Piramanayagam was live.

An article that you may be interested in: Pappankulam – A Village of Brahmins and Four Vedas

12 Shocking Truths About Religions

  1. Religion, understood as something related to ‘beliefs’ is a modern Western concept which did not exist 300 years before. {Nongbri,Brent (2013). Before Religion – A History of a Modern Concept. Yale University}.
  2. Religion as a modern concept arose during Protestant reformation, when many people began to emphasize ‘what they believed in’ more than the kind of life they lived.
  3. None of the religions have a word for ‘religion’ and none of them identified themselves based on beliefs. The religions used a different word to call themselves, which is Dharma in Sanskrit, Deen in Arabic and Halakha in Hebrew. All these words mean ‘Law’ or the way of life. It focuses on a way of life that brings ultimate happiness both to yourself and others.
  4. Hinduism as a religion is a modern concept popularized by Irish missionary Charles Grant in 1787. Before that, no one identified themselves as a ‘Hindu’. So in a sense, Hinduism is the youngest religion on the planet. Dharma was never based on an identity, whereas the modern notion of Hinduism is based on identity.
  5. Most of the attempts to define religion is based on the unconscious assumption that it should sufficiently resemble Protestant Christianity. When people debate about whether a particular ‘ism’ such as Marxism is a religion, they are debating whether it is sufficiently similar to Protestant Christianity.
  6. But essentially, all these so called religious traditions are the offshoots of a central wisdom which developed during axial age (8th to the 3rd century BCE). This was developed by inquiring into the nature of human suffering and finding liberation from it.
  7. The central wisdom of axial age was based on inquiry rather than blind faith. They kind of had their own peer review just like we have in science. Their conclusion about human psychological suffering and the way out of it had more to do with the sense of a separate self in human beings rather than belief in supernatural things.
  8. The central wisdom of axial age found that the key to permanent peace in this life is to get rid of the sense that you are a person or entity that is seperate from the rest of the existence. They found three ways that helped: Mindfulness and insight related practices (Jnana Yoga), practices based on unconditional love and devotion (Bhakti yoga), practices based on doing the required actions without being attached to the results (Karma yoga).
  9. Christianity is pure Bhakti yoga; Islam is a combination of Bhakti and Karma; Buddhism is focused mainly on Jnana. But the mystical traditions of these schools also have Jnana Yoga or practices based on insight.
  10. What we call ‘sanatana dharma’ or Hindu Dharma is a school which recognizes all three methods. It is not polytheistic though; Surrender is not possible with two divinites. So Hinduism as a polytheistic religion is a recent myth; we only had monotheistic schools like Shaivism, Vaishnavism etc.
  11. The various monotheistic schools of Indian subcontinent were connected by a single dharma by Adhi Shankara. Many folk traditions were also creatively absorbed within the context of Dharma and their elements were used as psychological aids. All these schools recognize different divinities as aspects, manifestations and various forms of one Supreme reality. If thought as formless, it is called Nirguna Brahman. If imagined with form, it is Saguna Brahman.
  12. So, all religions, if understood properly, lead to the same goal. This has been repeatedly asserted by people like Guru Nanak, Kabir, Rumi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Shirdi Sai Baba, Vivekananda, Sivananda, Gandhi, Abdul Kalam and many others.

An article that you may be interested in: Pappankulam – A Village of Brahmins and Four Vedas

Also read:

Why is there so much hate between Hindus and Muslims in India?

Prophet Muhammad Exposed – A Different Perspective That Everyone Should Read

Hinduism and Dharma: The Distinction between a Religion and a Way of Life

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