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.

Krishna’s last lesson for Arjuna

As soon as Lord Krishna concluded his divine play on Earth and left the planet, Arjuna understood that it was not Arjuna’s own power that had won the Mahabharata war but that he was only an instrument that Krishna had nurtured to carry out parts of Krishna’s divine play. It is interesting to note that Arjuna, in spite of his nearness to Krishna, took an entire lifetime to understand this, reflecting the situation of a typical spiritual seeker.

Earlier, Arjuna had seen his own chariot turn into ashes after the Mahabharata war was over and had heard the Bhagavad Gita directly from Krishna’s mouth. Yet, being a human being, Arjuna could not understand some of the important points. Sometimes, difficult lessons in living may be understood by revising the related theoretical concepts again and again; when this approach does not work, we may have to learn lessons by experiencing difficulties and creating our own possible solutions. Now that Arjuna’s time to leave Earth was nearing, Nature delivered the final lesson: Arjuna lost a battle to ordinary thieves who were fighting with wooden clubs and running away with Dwarka’s wealth. To make it worse, Arjuna even forgot how to discharge his arrows from the bow. For a warrior who possessed most of the divine weapons reachable in the solar system, this defeat was a major blow to the ego — the biggest loss that Arjuna had ever experienced. Possibly, this event was much bigger for Arjuna than the destruction of the major Kaurava warriors in the Mahabharata war.

As the Vishnu Purana tells us, when Arjuna visited Maharishi Ved Vyas after losing this last battle and asked why this had happened, Vyas said, “Everyone that is born must die. Everyone that rises must fall. A union always ends in a separation, and all accumulation ends with a loss.” Vyas further advised the Pandavas to renounce everything, leave the kingdom, and spend their remaining days in the forest.

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