The relationship between darshan and bhakti

What did God-incarnate Lord Rama tell Shabri when Rama visited her? What does a face-to-face meeting with God (darshan) involve and how does bhakti relate to it? To find out, please read my new article in the Speaking Tree section of the Economic Times.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/blogs/the-speaking-tree/when-rama-met-shabri/

Thanks.

Aims of human life and their relation to Astrology

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 [1].

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; [2]).

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

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.

SlideShare Presentation: Basic beliefs and concepts in Hinduism

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Free eBook: Hanuman’s Adoration for Lord Rama

I have put together a free eBook (through Draft2Digital) that includes an English translation of the Hanuman Chalisa (with my notes added) from this blog and my summary of the Sundar Kand from the Ramayana. It is available at Nook, Kobo, and Scribd. The links are given below:

Nook

Kobo

Scribd

When Krishna accepted Sudama’s rice

Sudama was a poor Brahmin who had been Lord Krishna’s classmate as a child. Following his schooling, Sudama spent most of his time in remembrance of the Lord. Because his family did not even have enough for food, once his wife asked him if he could visit Krishna’s palace to ask for some alms. Sudama accepted the proposal, not for the monetary gain, but for the darshan [1] of Krishna, the Supreme Being, that the visit would lead to. As soon as Sudama reached Krishna’s palace, Krishna, along with his queen Rukmini, started serving Sudama. Krishna gave the frail jiva [2] a hug and washed his feet.

After giving Sudama a majestic reception, Krishna inquired if Sudama had brought any gifts for Krishna. Sudama had brought some puffed rice for Krishna but hesitated to offer it to Krishna, the wealthiest amongst kings. Krishna, the knower of all, understood what was in Sudama’s mind. Krishna immediately grabbed the rice and ate some of it. Sudama was over-whelmed at how Krishna treated him, a weak jiva, in his palace. The love for Krishna in Sudama’s mind did not allow Sudama to ask Krishna for a monetary loan. Consequently, Sudama left the palace empty-handed. He was, in fact, pleased by not receiving any monetary gifts from Krishna, for this implied, in Sudama’s mind, that Krishna did not want Sudama to be trapped in materialism, according to the Srimad Bhagavat Purana.

As soon as Sudama reached home, Sudama was surprised to see that his hut had turned into a grand and luxiruious palace, and his family had been blessed with incomparable status, wealth, and servants. He at once understood that Krishna had blessed him with riches. The Srimad Bhagavat Purana says that when Krishna blesses his devotees, he does not inform them beforehand, for Krishna considers many of his blessings humble. On the other hand, when he receives a tiny gift, like fruits or rice, from an individual soul, he accepts it as an enormous offering because it is laden with devotion for him. Because Sudama was already saturated with love for Krishna, Sudama accepted all the material benefits that Krishna gave him but his mind never got attached to them and his love for Krishna increased progressively. This interaction between Sudama and Krishna supports Krishna’s statement in the Bhagavada Gita that Krishna accepts any gift that is offered with devotion (Bhagavad Gita 9.26).

[1] face-to-face meeting with God

[2] individual soul