Art of Living Wisdom.

It is said that it is very difficult to capture the reality or Truth in words. Words try to create an impression or understanding about the reality but that understanding is not the experience of the actual reality. Truth is very elusive.

To take an example – “Advaita Vedanta” claims that there is an all pervading energy field or ‘consciousness’ or ‘chaitanya’ which is the basis of this creation.

God Particle - Art of Living Blog

Scientists at CERN have also experimentally confirmed the existence of so called ‘God Particle’. It is supposed to be an energy field which gives mass to other particles. It is present in everything having mass. Essentially what Scientists are confirming now and what Vedanta had postulated are one and the same thing.

 The same truth is understood by different people in different ways.

 

(1) Intellectual Understanding:

A scientist’s intellectual understanding that same energy field is present throughout the universe does not in any way affect the scientist’s outlook towards life. Often, mere intellectual understanding tends to slightly inflate the ego, because the knower thinks he knows more than others.

 

(2) Experiential Understanding:

Few years back, I did my first “Art Of Living” course and started practicing Yoga, Pranayama, ‘Sudarshan Kriya’, meditation etc. After a few months of regular practice I observed that there was a perceptible difference in my attitude towards life. I was more relaxed and natural with people. There was marked reduction in anger, hatred, jealousy and other negative emotions. I became happier and more responsible person. When I look back, now I realize that this has happened because of newly developed sense of belongingness in me. Somewhere along the way, I faintly realized that I am not separate from others. I realized that I am part of this environment and people around me. Due to these practices, at some deep level of my consciousness I might have got the glimpse of the truth that same energy field is pervading throughout this universe. This is experiential understanding. Experiential understanding of the truth changes the fixed behaviour patterns, habits and the outlook towards life.

 art of living pranayama

 

I am not alone. Thousands of people practicing yoga, pranayama, ‘Sudarshan Kriya’ and mediation all over the world have experienced the same thing which I have experienced. I am convinced that, if we make these practices as a part of school and college curriculum then we can leave behind a better world order for our future generations. We can have more tolerant, more loving, more compassionate, more caring, more sharing, more responsible, more stress free, more wise and more happy future citizens of this world.

Truth Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

 

(3) Existential Understanding:

Look at lives of enlightened Masters (of the past and present) like Parmhansa Yogananda, Sai Baba, Sri Ram Krishna Parmahansa, H.H. Dalai Lama, Sri Sri Ravi Shankaji and many more. These Masters have been living this Truth from moment to moment. Unconditional love and unfathomable knowledge have been two unmistakable aspects of lives of these enlightened Masters. Unconditional love can dawn only with the realization that the whole universe is one Consciousness. Unfathomable knowledge can only come when your consciousness is one with the universal consciousness. You are totally connected with the existence. This is existential understanding of the same TRUTH.

 

Art of Living Wisdom.

According to Hindu Mythology, both Manu and Shatrupa emerged on their own from the body of Brahma . Thus, there is an Equality of Sexes. All my life, I have heard my teachers and parents teach me that “God made it a point not to create woman from the bones or the feet of Adam, or from any tissue on his head” meaning that God did not want women to be dominated by men nor did HE want women to be above men.  Instead, he created Shatrupa or Eve in equality or parallel to Manu or Adam, to be by his side and walk equally with him, side by side.

art of living bog - happy woman day

That day of the year is here again. The day when we count and recount, collect and recollect all sacrifices, efforts, patience, fortitude the women in our life have put in forming us. Is that what we are saluting? Or are we just creating an inequality ourselves, by booing and shooing the men thus creating an automatic salutation! Our celebration of womanhood in most cases, if not all, is done by comparing the successes and achievements with the opposite gender.

Me thinks this is not about ascertaining equality or inequality. Women are just special, like mother Nature.  Period! And Men, they are the best thing that could ever happen to us. If the woman is a Dream, the Man is the Power to make it come true or vice versa. Their completeness rests in their co-existence.

A very feminist friend of mine once remarked, “some of us women are becoming the men we wanted to marry!” Women, do think about this one. I am sure you will strike a chord and men, see where we are getting to? The sooner we realize and understand the essence, meaning and reasons behind our creation the better it would be. Our Future lies not in fighting for Equality, it rests in understanding and appreciating the differences and inequalities in each other.

happy woman day

And so the battle of the sexes continues, the humor continues and the inequality (in good humor)…continues too.

To all my male buddies- try to be good to her all days of your life. Happy human’s day.

To all the women in my life, who’ve loved me, held me, inspired me, dealt with me, nurtured me, pampered me, coaxed me and criticized me, encouraged me and driven me, all those who’ve prayed for me and stood by me, to all those women– Happy woman’s day!!!

Btw  the International Men’s day is celebrated on the 19 Nov. Thank your stars, men are bad with dates and days!  :-)

 

Art of Living Wisdom.

Since time immemorial Indians have commemorated certain days and festivals as ways and means to reunite with the Universe and remember its Divine aspect. These festivals become gateways to connect with the Divine. Shivaratri is the festival to connect with Shiva or the Shiva Tattva.

Ithihasa Purusha-Historical Personages

Among the Indian pantheon of divinities, few are historical and many others are Tattva, principles, essence in nature.

avataar - significance of shiva

The prominent historical divinities are Rama and Krishna for which reason they are called as Ithihasa Purusha, historical personages and Avathara Purusha, those who came down to this Earth, to live with us.

Shiva, a Tattva

In contrast to this, Shiva is not an ithihasa purusha but is a tattva.

Shiva – A Tattva

Meaning of the term Shiva

The word Shiva simply means Mangalam, auspicious. Anything that is auspicious is Shiva. This auspiciousness which is all pervading throughout the universe, is a constant presence during the lifetime of this universe, before the creation of the universe and continues to be so after the dissolution of the universe.

Thus this Shiva, auspiciousness is the very life of the universe. Not just the life we see around us in a very limited perspective of life in humans, animals or plants but the very concept of life itself.

The traditional way of wishing “Goodbye” was through a phrase “Shivaasthe Panthaanaha” meaning “Let your ways be auspicious”. Ways here, meaning your paths, your deeds and ways of life.

significance of shiva

 

Shiva-Shava

From a metaphysical perspective, Shiva can be split as sha+ee+va where

  • sha stands for Shareeram, body,
  • ee stands for eeshwari, life giving energy and
  • vstands for vayu or motion.

Thus Shiva represents the body with life and motion. If the “ee” is removed from Shiva, it gets reduced to sha+va or shava.

Shava means a lifeless body.

Anything with Shiva is with life and anything without Shiva is Shava or without life. Shiva is the potential of life. Making this potential manifest as matter, life and the cosmos, is Shakti the energy tattva, the female counterpart of Shiva. Without Shakti, Shiva stays as the potential. It is Shakti that triggers Shiva into manifesting as life. Shiva along with Shakti together create the seen and the unseen universe.

Shiva is auspicious, Shiva is potential and Shiva is Life. Shiva is all encompassing – the universal soul or consciousness, Chaitanya. Realizing this Shiva Tattva leads to Ananda, bliss.

 

Understanding Night, Ratri

This Creation resonates with a rhythm or a natural heartbeat. Every object in this Creation has its own cycle or rhythm, in which it rises to a peak and ebbs to a low. This low is called the night, ratri.

The word Ratri means comfort giver”. It is derived from the root word “ram” meaning “to be content”, “to give contentment”.

 

3 Levels of Activities

Ratri is that which gives one comfort or rest from the 3 types of activities namely:

• Kayika or bodily actions,

• Vachika or speech

• Manasika or thoughts.

A person is afflicted physically, mentally and spiritually by 3 types of agents, namely

  • Adhyatmika – pertaining to the self, the Atma
  • Adhi Bhauthika – pertaining to the elements of Nature, the Bhuta
  • Adhi Daivika – pertaining to the cosmic, the Divya

During night, as man sleeps and gets regenerated, all 3 types of actions are subdued and mind is completely at rest, free from all types of afflictions.

Hence night is called ratri or the comfort giver.

It is during the ratri or night of any being, that the being gets rejuvenated and refreshed for its next cycle or day.

significance of Shiva

Celebrating Shivaratri

Maha Shivaratri or the Great Shivaratri is celebrated annually on the Krishnapaksha Chaturdasi night. i.e. the night preceding the New Moon, in the penultimate month of the year, the month of Magha or the month of Masi in Tamil calendar, which typically occurs in the month of February – March these days.

 Rishi Kahola Kaushitaki in his Kaushitaki Brahmana records that Maha Shivaratri was celebrated even during the Mahabharatha times, i.e. 5100 years ago.

 In cosmology, when the entire Creation starts contracting, it is expressed as the start of the night of Brahma and the final collapse is called the Maha Pralaya. This Maha Pralaya then leads to the start of the next cycle of Creation and is thus a regeneration of the entire Srishti, Creation.

 The interim state between a dissolution and a regeneration is a period of both serenity and tranquility when all bodies are calm and preparing for regeneration. Following this tranquility is the joy and celebration which comes with having been regenerated and refreshed.

Change through celebration

 The change that comes with dissolution can accepted with pain or celebration. When there is resistance to a change, there is pain. Where there is willful acceptance, there is no pain. When we understand and willingly accept that a dissolution is only for a regeneration, the dissolution or change ceases to cause pain.

Shivaratri is an occasion that makes us aware of the need to change along with the ever changing cosmos and to renew our cosmic connect.

Every Shivaratri, let us connect with the Shiva Tattva and get rejuvenated to face the coming phases of our lives.

 

More details on various aspects of Shiva can be found in our book, “Understanding Shiva”, and a series of Bharath Gyan films, “Understanding Shiva.”

 

 - D K Hari and Hema Hari

Also watch the 19 Short Films on ‘Understanding Shiva’ here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9QLcyiVla352leXqBX6smjKtdhJ7ZhOQ

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