What do the Shiva Purana and the Bhagwad Gita tell us about prasadam? How is offering food to God related to bhakti (devotion)? To find out, please read my new article from the Speaking Tree section of the Economic Times.
I have already talked about the four aims of human life in a previous post. Interestingly, principles from Vedic astrology can be used to learn what the four aims of life involve in the Hindu way of living. Moreover, some astrological principles can be learned and applied even if we do not believe in future telling.
The four aims of life include dharma (righteousness and fulfilment of duties), artha (wealth), kama (desires and fulfilment of dreams), and moksha (liberation). Out of these, eventual liberation or reaching God happens to be the ultimate aim of Hindu life. And artha and kama may have to be coupled with dharma to maintain the former two objectives on the right track.
Everything belonging to Taurus-Virgo-Capricorn (artha trikona or wealth triangle; earth signs) can be categorized within artha. Accordingly, earning money, employment, professional growth, aspiration for recognition, honesty, discipline, perseverance, perfection, and a realistic or down-to-earth approach in life are artha influences.
Communication, expression, aspiration for emotional relationships, entrepreneurship, owning a business, team work, nurturing artistic talent, technological pursuits, aspiration for a new electronic gadget, philanthropy, and a logical-analytical approach to problem solving are Gemini-Libra-Aquarius influences (kama trikona or desire triangle; air signs). Accordingly, they belong to the domain of kama .
Dharma includes the love of God, creativity, education, work ethics, a traditional outlook, leadership, aspiration for learning philosophy, enthusiasm, kindness, guidance by a spiritual guru, and an idealistic-creative approach in life, which are all Aries-Leo-Sagittarius influences (dharma trikona or righteousness triangle; fire signs). On the other hand, seeking happiness, finding peace in the world, caring for humanity, research, aspiration for learning occult, transformation, meditation, renunciation, and an emotional-intuitive approach in life are moksha objectives, belonging to the domain of Cancer-Scorpio-Pisces (moksha trikona or liberation triangle; water signs; ).
 We should carefully note that kama in the context of the four aims of life means desire, not lust, and does not have an inherent negative connotation. On the other hand, in the Bhagavad Gita, when Lord Krishna describes kama in the context of the three gates to hell, he is talking about lust (16:21). Context can definitely change the meaning of a word.
 Every astrology chart has a balance of qualities from the four types of astrological signs. Relatively more planets in the liberation triangle does not directly correlate with higher chances of liberation. Being born in a specific sign of the zodiac will not supposedly create an advantage (in any sphere of life) over individuals from the other zodiac signs; the different signs probably reflect differences in disposition.
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
After a gap of about five years, this blog is back with a new name — Hindu Routes to God.
In the process of migrating this blog from the previous web address, some of your comments may have been lost. Your comments are valuable to this blog; feel free to post new ones.
Edited on May 5, 2019.
Describing his own vision of a great dissolution from a kalpa  of the past, Rishi Vasistha, in this scripture, explains that the Tandava concluded when Rudra engulfed the entire universe as if it were a leaf. Rudra, beyond comprehension, then turned invisible, according to this book. As of the universe, nothing but absolute peace and consciousness remained, which is the true nature of Shiva .
 Note that the Yogavasistha supports the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. Hinduism involves multiple philosophies, and alternate and more detailed descriptions about the universe’s dissolution can be found in other Hindu scriptures.
 According to popular Hindu theories, following the dissolution of the universe, numerous abodes (loka) of God continue to exist, where beings live permanently with God.
God takes care of his devotees’ security and needs. He inserts difficult lessons in our lives, at times, to create ways for our liberation.
While God takes care of every being in his creation, desire for money and its accumulation becomes irrelevant for the advanced spiritual seeker who has learned to think about God fulltime, leaving all worries about his or her future to God. In contrast, beginners in spirituality may find it difficult to leave their liking for money or may be bound by circumstances to work for money.
According to the Bhagavad Gita, God has given us the freedom to work or perform actions but has not given us the right to its results. Also, we must remember that God works according to his own calendar, not that of individual souls. A lag may exist between our hard work and our returns. And what we gain at the end of the day may be unrelated to the intensity of our desires.
To teach us some lessons, God may, at times, deliberately delay the results of our hard work or not fulfil many of our wishes. If we request God to give us a chocolate, God may give us an ice cream. If we ask for an ice cream, God may provide us with chocolate. The actual choice of food becomes only available to the seeker who no longer wishes for chocolate or ice cream but can observe that it is God who provides everyone with food. Many advanced seekers become naturally trained in leaving the results of their work to God, which is one of the classical paths of yoga (karma yoga) by which individual souls can escape the universe to reach God.
The path of devotion (bhakti) takes a somewhat different approach towards renouncing the results of our karma to God. On this path, we are expected to hand over or surrender our soul to God. When this happens, separate surrender of karma is not required. Surrender of the self includes surrender of our karma. It includes recognition of God as the real doer. In other words, bhakti yoga, in some its versions, includes karma yoga as an internal part. This devotional approach may begin with simple prayers, remembrance of God, and learning some basic spiritual principles. Later, we may also have to learn lessons by experiencing difficulties and creating our own possible solutions while remembering God. A well-developed habit of remembering God may make it easier for us to surrender ourselves to God.
Workplace spirituality involves a delicate balance between desire for money and remembrance of God; the two cannot exist together in the same mind at the same moment. Once we recognize that God is omnipresent and always watches us from within our heart, we may become more vigilant in making ethical decisions and may develop the power to counter yearning for money. The more often we remember God, the better are our chances of triggering karma yoga involuntarily.
When we only have God in our mind, we no longer absorb negative energies like anger from the environment. Our remembrance of God eliminates all negative thought processes that create a major separation between the individual soul and God, who is the source of all knowledge and infinite virtues. Consequently, the karmic cycle breaks and we recognize our own divine origin.
When we are spiritual beginners, our prayers to God can include requests for forgiveness for our bad karma, requests for spiritual guidance, and requests for God’s proximity (liberation). Because prayers are karma of the present moment, prayers can always overcome some of our negative karma from the past. Moreover, every prayer to God is responded to by both God and Nature, demonstrating the love from God for the individual soul.
God, being the perfect parent, does not make the parenting mistakes that human beings can make. By nurturing the universe according to his own plan and by inserting difficult lessons at times, he creates ways for the liberation of every soul.
Last edited on July 31, 2019.