Q & A: What is Soul (Atman); difference between Soul & Kundalini?
In Hinduism, the soul is usually referred to as the Self. . practice and its correlation with different parts and functions of the human body to suggest sacrifice as a. As part of this cyclic process the soul (ātman) is believed to be In popular or folk Hinduism the body is important as the locus of a This book examines the self-body relationship in Chinese, Japanese, and Indian traditions. RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER RELIGIONS: What is the prescribed manner in which People who engage in wrestling, body building and other physical sports Hindus normally cremate their dead ones, so that the soul of the dead would go to.
The Puranas were composed after the epics, and several of them develop themes found in the epics for instance, the Bhagavata-Purana describes the childhood of Krishna, a topic not elaborated in the Mahabharata. The Puranas also include subsidiary myths, hymns of praise, philosophies, iconography, and rituals.
Most of the Puranas are predominantly sectarian in nature; the great Puranas and some subordinate Puranas are dedicated to the worship of Shiva or Vishnu or the Goddess, and several subordinate Puranas are devoted to Ganesha or Skanda or the sun. Philosophy Incorporated in this rich literature is a complex cosmology. Hindus believe that the universe is a great, enclosed sphere, a cosmic egg, within which are numerous concentric heavens, hells, oceans, and continents, with India at the center.
They believe that time is both degenerative—going from the golden age, or Krita Yuga, through two intermediate periods of decreasing goodness, to the present age, or Kali Yuga—and cyclic: At the end of each Kali Yuga, the universe is destroyed by fire and flood, and a new golden age begins.
Human life, too, is cyclic: After death, the soul leaves the body and is reborn in the body of another person, animal, vegetable, or mineral. The precise quality of the new birth is determined by the accumulated merit and demerit that result from all the actions, or karmathat the soul has committed in its past life or lives.
Hindus may thus be divided into two groups: The principles of the first way of life were drawn from the Vedas and are represented today in temple Hinduism and in the religion of Brahmans and the caste system. The second way, which is prescribed in the Upanishads, is represented not only in the cults of renunciation sannyasa but also in the ideological ideals of most Hindus.
To the first three Vedas was added the Atharva-Veda. The first three classes Brahman, or priestly; Kshatriya, or warrior; and Vaisya, or general populace were derived from the tripartite division of ancient Indo-European society, traces of which can be detected in certain social and religious institutions of ancient Greece and Rome. To the three classes were added the Shudras, or servants, after the Indo-Aryans settled into the Punjab and began to move down into the Ganges Valley.
The three original ashramas were the chaste student brahmacharithe householder grihasthaand the forest-dweller vanaprastha.
They were said to owe three debts: The three goals were artha material successdharma righteous social behaviorand kama sensual pleasures. Shortly after the composition of the first Upanishads, during the rise of Buddhism 6th century BCa fourth ashrama and a corresponding fourth goal were added: Each of these two ways of being Hindu developed its own complementary metaphysical and social systems.
Svadharma comprises the beliefs that each person is born to perform a specific job, marry a specific person, eat certain food, and beget children to do likewise and that it is better to fulfill one's own dharma than that of anyone else even if one's own is low or reprehensible, such as that of the Harijan caste, the Untouchables, whose mere presence was once considered polluting to other castes.
The primary goal of the worldly Hindu is to produce and raise a son who will make offerings to the ancestors the shraddha ceremony. The second, renunciatory way of Hinduism, on the other hand, is based on the Upanishadic philosophy of the unity of the individual soul, or atmanwith Brahman, the universal world soul, or godhead. The full realization of this is believed to be sufficient to release the worshiper from rebirth; in this view, nothing could be more detrimental to salvation than the birth of a child.
Many of the goals and ideals of renunciatory Hinduism have been incorporated into worldly Hinduism, particularly the eternal dharma sanatana dharmaan absolute and general ethical code that purports to transcend and embrace all subsidiary, relative, specific dharmas. The most important tenet of sanatana dharma for all Hindus is ahimsa, the absence of a desire to injure, which is used to justify vegetarianism although it does not preclude physical violence toward animals or humans, or blood sacrifices in temples.
In addition to sanatana dharma, numerous attempts have been made to reconcile the two Hinduisms. The Bhagavad-Gita describes three paths to religious realization. To the path of works, or karma here designating sacrificial and ritual actsand the path of knowledge, or jnana the Upanishadic meditation on the godheadwas added a mediating third path, the passionate devotion to God, or bhaktia religious ideal that came to combine and transcend the other two paths.
Bhakti in a general form can be traced in the epics and even in some of the Upanishads, but its fullest statement appears only after the Bhagavad-Gita. It gained momentum from the vernacular poems and songs to local deities, particularly those of the Alvars, Nayanars, and Virashaivas of southern India and the Bengali worshipers of Krishna see below.
Therefore, most Hindus are devoted through bhakti to gods whom they worship in rituals through karma and whom they understand through jnana as aspects of ultimate reality, the material reflection of which is all an illusion maya wrought by God in a spirit of play lila. Gods Although all Hindus acknowledge the existence and importance of a number of gods and demigods, most individual worshipers are primarily devoted to a single god or goddess, of whom Shiva, Vishnu, and the Goddess are the most popular.
Shiva embodies the apparently contradictory aspects of a god of ascetics and a god of the phallus. He is the deity of renouncers, particularly of the many Shaiva sects that imitate him: Shiva is also the deity whose phallus linga is the central shrine of all Shaiva temples and the personal shrine of all Shaiva householders; his priapism is said to have resulted in his castration and the subsequent worship of his severed member.
In addition, Shiva is said to have appeared on earth in various human, animal, and vegetable forms, establishing his many local shrines. To his worshipers, Vishnu is all-pervasive and supreme; he is the god from whose navel a lotus sprang, giving birth to the creator Brahma.
Vishnu created the universe by separating heaven and earth, and he rescued it on a number of subsequent occasions. Several of these are animals that recur in iconography: Others are the dwarf Vamana, who became a giant in order to trick the demon Bali out of the entire universe ; the man-lion Narasimha, who disemboweled the demon Hiranyakashipu ; the Buddha who became incarnate in order to teach a false doctrine to the pious demons ; Rama-with-an-Axe Parashurama, who beheaded his unchaste mother and destroyed the entire class of Kshatriyas to avenge his father ; and Kalki the rider on the white horse, who will come to destroy the universe at the end of the age of Kali.
Most popular by far are Rama hero of the Ramayana and Krishna hero of the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata-Puranaboth of whom are said to be avatars of Vishnu, although they were originally human heroes. Along with these two great male gods, several goddesses are the object of primary devotion.
They are sometimes said to be various aspects of the Goddess, Devi. In some myths Devi is the prime mover, who commands the male gods to do the work of creation and destruction.
As Durga, the Unapproachable, she kills the buffalo demon Mahisha in a great battle; as Kali, the Black, she dances in a mad frenzy on the corpses of those she has slain and eaten, adorned with the still-dripping skulls and severed hands of her victims.
The Goddess is also worshiped by the Shaktas, devotees of Shakti, the female power. This sect arose in the medieval period along with the Tantrists, whose esoteric ceremonies involved a black mass in which such forbidden substances as meat, fish, and wine were eaten and forbidden sexual acts were performed ritually.
In many Tantric cults the Goddess is identified as Krishna's consort Radha. More peaceful manifestations of the Goddess are seen in wives of the great gods: Lakshmi, the meek, docile wife of Vishnu and a fertility goddess in her own right; and Parvati, the wife of Shiva and the daughter of the Himalayas.
The great river goddess Ganga the Gangesalso worshiped alone, is said to be a wife of Shiva; a goddess of music and literature, Sarasvati, associated with the Saraswati River, is the wife of Brahma.
Many of the local goddesses of India—Manasha, the goddess of snakes, in Bengal, and Minakshi in Madurai—are married to Hindu gods, while others, such as Shitala, goddess of smallpox, are worshiped alone. These unmarried goddesses are feared for their untamed powers and angry, unpredictable outbursts.
Many minor gods are assimilated into the central pantheon by being identified with the great gods or with their children and friends.
Hanuman, the monkey god, appears in the Ramayana as the cunning assistant of Rama in the siege of Lanka. Skanda, the general of the army of the gods, is the son of Shiva and Parvati, as is Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of scribes and merchants, the remover of obstacles, and the object of worship at the beginning of any important enterprise. Worship and Ritual The great and lesser Hindu gods are worshiped in a number of concentric circles of public and private devotion.
Because of the social basis of Hinduism, the most fundamental ceremonies for every Hindu are those that involve the rites of passage samskaras. These begin with birth and the first time the child eats solid food rice.
Later rites include the first haircutting for a young boy and the purification after the first menstruation for a girl ; marriage; and the blessings upon a pregnancy, to produce a male child and to ensure a successful delivery and the child's survival of the first six dangerous days after birth the concern of Shashti, goddess of Six. Last are the funeral ceremonies cremation and, if possible, the sprinkling of ashes in a holy river such as the Ganges and the yearly offerings to dead ancestors.
The most notable of the latter is the pinda, a ball of rice and sesame seeds given by the eldest male child so that the ghost of his father may pass from limbo into rebirth.
In daily ritual, a Hindu generally the wife, who is thought to have more power to intercede with the gods makes offerings puja of fruit or flowers before a small shrine in the house. She also makes offerings to local snakes or trees or obscure spirits benevolent and malevolent dwelling in her own garden or at crossroads or other magical places in the village. Many villages, and all sizable towns, have temples where priests perform ceremonies throughout the day: The temple is also a cultural center where songs are sung, holy texts read aloud in Sanskrit and vernacularsand sunset rituals performed; devout laity may be present at most of these ceremonies.
In many temples, particularly those sacred to goddesses such as the Kalighat temple to Kali, in Kolkatagoats are sacrificed on special occasions. The sacrifice is often carried out by a special low-caste priest outside the bounds of the temple itself.
Thousands of simple local temples exist; each may be nothing more than a small stone box enclosing a formless effigy swathed in cloth, or a slightly more imposing edifice with a small tank in which to bathe. In addition, India has many temples of great size as well as complex temple cities, some hewn out of caves such as Elephanta and Ellorasome formed of great monolithic slabs such as those at Mahabalipuramand some built of imported and elaborately carved stone slabs such as the temples at Khajuraho, Bhubaneshwar, Madurai, and Kanjeevaram.
On special days, usually once a year, the image of the god is taken from its central shrine and paraded around the temple complex on a magnificently carved wooden chariot ratha.
Certain shrines are most frequently visited at special yearly festivals. For example, Prayaga, where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers join at Allahabad, is always sacred, but it is crowded with pilgrims during the Kumbha Mela festival each January and overwhelmed by the millions who come to the special ceremony held every 12 years.
Some festivals are celebrated throughout India: Diwali, the festival of lights in early winter; and Holi, the spring carnival, when members of all castes mingle and let down their hair, sprinkling one another with cascades of red powder and liquid, symbolic of the blood that was probably used in past centuries. History The basic beliefs and practices of Hinduism cannot be understood outside their historical context. Although the early texts and events are impossible to date with precision, the general chronological development is clear.
By about BCwhen the Indo-Aryan tribes invaded India, this civilization was in a serious decline. It is therefore impossible to know, on present evidence, whether or not the two civilizations had any significant contact. Many elements of Hinduism that were not present in Vedic civilization such as worship of the phallus and of goddesses, bathing in temple tanks, and the postures of yoga may have been derived from the Indus civilization, however.
By about BCthe Indo-Aryans had settled in the Punjab, bringing with them their predominantly male Indo-European pantheon of gods and a simple warrior ethic that was vigorous and worldly, yet also profoundly religious. The Self is described in the Upanishads as infinite, eternal, indestructible, indescribable, indivisible, indistinguishable, pure, radiant, free, pure consciousness, highest intelligence, like a particle, smaller than the smallest or larger than the largest, pure light of the size of the thumb, and so on.
As you can see, these abstract descriptions do not help us much to understand the true nature of the Self. The Upanishads also suggest that the Self resides either in the heart or between the eyebrows but pervades the whole body and beyond. Silence and the soul The scriptures unanimously agree that the soul is pure consciousness, without distinguishing qualities, modes or gunas, and any individuality.
It is the substratum of your consciousness or the deepest aspect of your being. You cannot reach the Self except through the doors of silence. In yogic terms, silence means the silence of the mind and body, of all desires, cravings, attachments, yearnings, needs, wants, dependence, emotions, fears, care and concerns and so on.
When you become a muni the silent hermityou are truly qualified to know the Self. Hence, the practice of silence has such a great significance in the spiritual practices and yogic methods of Hinduism. Silence is the support for the aspiring souls. Through silence one goes beyond the mind and the senses into the realm of the transcendental Self. If you silence the outer layers of your consciousness, which are mostly the creations of the mind and the senses, and if you strip your consciousness of all notions of individuality, duality, movement, separation, desire, distinction, ownership, attachment, limitation, emotion, feeling, instinct, name, form, relationships and such other modifications, whatever remains thereafter in a stable state may be considered the representative state of your soul.
It is perhaps the nearest approximation to the state of the Self from the mental or intellectual perspective. Hence, as the Yoga tradition upholds, as long as your mind and body are active you cannot experience the Self. To become the Self or experience it, you must completely silence your mind and rest it in tranquility. When the not-self is completely silenced through dhyana and other transformative practices, the Self appears. When the modifications of the mind citta are completely suppressed, one becomes absorbed in the Self.
God and soul A diversity of opinion exists about their relationship between God and individual souls. According to some traditions, God is the creator, and the individual souls are either his creations or projections. They depend upon him for their existence as well as liberation and are withdrawn at the end of each cycle of creation.
They are either the same or notionally different or entirely different from God. Some schools of Hinduism such as the Samkhya and Yoga schools do not believe in the existence of God or his role as the Creator.
According to them, only the individual souls exist. They are eternal, uncreated, self-existing, infinite and imperishable. Through a random process, they are drawn into the field of Nature and subject to bondage, from which they can escape only through an arduous, transformative process. Soul confusion It is difficult to prove which of these schools of opinions are correct, because no one can truly translate the subjective experience of the Self into objective terms.
In other words, you cannot objectify the Self which is transcendental and beyond the intellect. It is more problematic than even remembering your dreams.
If two individuals go through the same transcendental experience, the chances are they may differently describe it according to their knowledge, awareness and intelligence. The human mind is like a sieve.
It has a tendency to filter the sensory information according to its vocabulary, idiom and imagery. If you do not know something, probably you may not even recognize it or you may mistake it for something else. Probably a similar mechanism filters our transcendental experiences and translates them into the language we understand. For example, a child, an illiterate person and a scientist may all witness the same meteorite in the sky and draw different conclusions.
The Body - Hinduism - Oxford Bibliographies
After an intense spiritual experience, a worshipper of Shiva may attribute his experience to him and use the knowledge and imagery associated with him or his sect to interpret it.
In almost all spiritual experiences, when a person returns from a transcendental state, his subconscious mind throws up appropriate imagery to reinforce his knowledge and beliefs or his methods.
You can see your own subtle body. Why does the Life span of each of the bodies is different in different people? Why does Sukshma sharira Subtle body called as Linga Sharira? They refer to two slightly different things.
Descriptions of Soul or Atman In The Bhagavadgita
The Linga Shariras consist of seventeen component parts; the five organs of perception, the intellect, the mind, the five organs of action, and the five vital forces Vedantasara These make up the parts of the three sheaths that compose the Sukshma Sharira subtle body. The subtle body consists of three parts - the vijnanamayakosa, the manomayakosa, and the pranamayakosa.
The vijnanamayakosa consists of the intellect buddhi and the five organs of perception. The manomayakosa consists of the mind manas and the organs of perception. The pranamayakosa consists of the five vital forces and the five organs of action.
Can living beings other than human also consist of these 3 Bodies? The Chhandogya Upanishad V. After falling as rainwater the jiva is born as rice, barley, plants, trees, etc. If a human eats the plant you are born human. Now, plants and animals especially plants have a limited or non-existent physical brain. Plant life is more akin to a dream world.
- The Soul Facts of Hinduism
- Descriptions of Soul or Atman In The Bhagavadgita
I think there needs to be clarification on two other points you write. Man must take birth again and again with the help of gross body till all the Samskaras are consumed.