Sacred symbols in Hindu spirituality

What do the sacred symbols of the swan, lotus, turtle, and peepal tree signify in Hindu spirituality? To find out, please read my new article from the Speaking Tree section of the Times of India (Jan 27, 2020).

You can right click on the images below and select “View Image” to read the article.

Learning, detachment and sacred symbols

Connecting to the source of happiness

Whenever we do something for God, our effort becomes a means of bringing us closer to God — the source of all happiness. In other words, we can gain happiness from our simplest efforts by offering them to God.

Efforts that convert to fame and money may have their importance in the real world but are considered perishables in spirituality. On the other hand, if we read a prayer to God or light a candle in front an image of God, it may bring more permanent results in terms of happiness. Why? Because God, who dwells in every heart and is the real witness of all our karma, gives the fruits of every action according to his own wish. If we have done something that should attract happiness, God will eventually give it to us.

Even career-conscious human beings can gain permanent happiness by forming a relationship with God. One approach of connecting to happiness on the workplace is by forming a harmony with karma yoga. To trigger this yoga, we have to make sure that we trust God. By remembering God at times and by surrendering our actions to God, we can remain unmoved by success and failure. As we move forward, we will see that our trust on God makes God’s grace the source of our happiness, not material success.

Knowledge from scriptures and self-realized individuals has its importance in guiding us towards happiness. In fact, scriptures supposedly provide us with viewpoints of human beings, generally saints, who have already realized God.  Because God may directly guide a human being towards himself through inspirations and other means, personal experiences are equally important in spirituality. Personal spiritual experiences can range from chanting a name of God and listening to discourses to having a face-to-face meeting with God (darshan), where applicable. In our professional endeavours or our spiritual journey, whenever in doubt, we can always request God to guide us rather than making concrete assumptions about how the universe works or what our favourite scripture actually says.

Rama’s forgiveness for Kak Bhusundi

What is the role of Divine forgiveness in Kak Bhusundi’s story? How do chanting and the grace of God relate to our spiritual evolution? To find out, please read my new article from the Speaking Tree section of the Times of India (Sept 16, 2019).

You can right click on the images below and select “View Image” to read the article.

Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/the-story-of-an-enlightened-crow/

Prayers and Mantras for Lord Rama

The Bhagavad Gita classifies devotees into four types: (I) artharthi, (II) aarta, (III) jigyasu, and (IV) jnani (7: 16). These basically include (I) a person who wishes to gain material blessings, (II) a person who requests divine help during difficult times, (III) a person who wishes to gain knowledge about God, and (IV) a person who is God-realized, respectively. From this classification, we can infer that human beings pray to God with four different objectives. Moreover, a devotee who belongs to Category I today may become a Category III devotee tomorrow. Alternatively, someone may be a member of both Category I and  Category II at the same time.

God has applauded devotees from Category IV in the Bhagavad Gita; their devotion generally involves nishkama (without desire; selfless) prayers. At the same time, God does understand, as the abovementioned classification itself suggests, that human beings in need may opt for sakama (with desire) prayers. There is nothing wrong in asking God for money or rescue from sorrow when needed, but we must try to add elements of selflessness in our prayers whenever possible by not requesting material blessings. As spiritual seekers, our long-term objectives should include nishkama bhakti (devotion), liberation from the universe, and proximity to God.

Given below are some prayers for Lord Rama (God).

  • The name of Rama itself is admired as one of the biggest mantras in mainstream Hinduism. If you are looking for a longer mantra, one famous mantra is given below:

Sri Rama Jai Rama Jai Jai Rama

You can also check out some mantras on this page of the Divine Life Society.

  • The verses (chaupai) given below are two of the most famous verses from the Ramacharitamanasa, written by Goswami Tulasidasa. These two verses, together, can be used as a prayer.

मंगल भवन अमंगल हारी | द्रवउ सो दसरथ अजिर बिहारी ||

mangal bhavan amangal haari | dravau sau dashratha ajir bihari ||

(Bal Kand 111-2B)

Applied Meaning: May Lord Rama (God), the abode of auspiciousness and the destroyer of inauspiciousness, who plays as a child in the courtyard of King Dashratha, bestow his grace on me.

दीन दयाल बिरिदु संभारी | हरहु नाथ मम संकट भारी ||

deen dayal biridu sambhari | harahu nath mama sankat bhari ||

(Sundar Kand 26-2B)

Applied Meaning: O Lord Rama (God), please recall your glory of bestowing compassion on the needy and please remove my burdensome crisis.

  • Sri Ramachandra Kripalu Bhaja Mana is a famous devotional poem from the Vinay Patrika by Goswami Tulasidasa. This can be used as a prayer.
  • You can recite the popular Sanskrit verses given below as a prayer.

Ramaya Ramabhadraya Ramachandraya Vedhase

Raghunathaye Nathaye Sitayah Pataye Namah

  • There is a prayer called Sri Rama Bhujangam, written by Adi Shankaracharya, on this page.
  • You can read a prayer called Ramashtakam, written by Maharishi Ved Vyas, on this page.

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