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TruthSeeker
04 May 2006, 06:26 AM
This is my take on Itihasas.

The Four Yugas:

Puranas describe a model of periodic time cycles in the following:

The smallest unit of time is taken a Yuga.
There are four Yugas that happen in succession - the Krita Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. Kali Yuga is 432,000 years, Dvapara is 2 X 432,000, Treta is 3 X 432,000 and Krita is 4 X 432,000 years

All these Yugas taken as a whole is called a Chatur Yuga, and is 432,000 X 10 = 4,320,000 years ( 4.32 million) 1000 Chatur Yugas make a kalpa. The Kalpa is one day of the creator Brahma. This is followed by a night of Brahma of equal duration. The universe is born and destroyed periodically this way, until Brahma ceases to exist. Brahma lives for a hundred years in his own scale.

The process has been going since eternity and numerous Brahmas are born and destroyed every instant of time. There are countless Brahmas and Brahmandas in the cosmic universe at any given moment. All these countless universes with their Brahmas arise from the supreme Isvara in his role as Brahma.

Each Kalpa is divided between 14 Manus, and each Manu presiding over 71 chatur yugas. In the particular Brahmanda in which we live, the Brahma is 50 years old. The current time is presided over by the 7th Manu, and we are in the 28th kali yuga.


Are these time divisions supposed to be science or spiritual? According to calculations from the above, we have the model of a pulsating universe in cycles of 1 kalpa, that is 4.32 billion years, follwed by pralaya for 4.32 billion years. Modern science says that the universe is atleast 15 billion years old, while by the above calculations it will be around 2.17 billion years. Oldest rocks on earth have been dated to 5 billlon years.

It should be noted that the figure 432,000 is not arbitary. It is the approximate period over which the planets of the solar system return to initial conditions. It is merely applicable only to the solar system, and so why should this be applied to the entire universe? The errorneous figures, and the sheer artifificial nature of the numbers hardly look scientific. Also, the chaturyuga is in the order Krita, Treya, Dvapara and Kali. Why should it be given in the reverse order, when it should have been Kali, Dvapara, Treta, and Krita. Note that Dvapara stands for second, and Treta stands for third, and why should Yugas be numbered 4,3,2,1,4,3,2,1,....?

Also, a good look at Vishnu Purana is sufficient to conclude that the planets, yugas etc described in the cosmology has nothing to do with astronomy. For instance, the Sun is mentioned to be nearer than the moon? Why is it so? Also the moon is described to be twice as big as the sun. This is neither true visually nor in reality.

Also, it is stated that dvapara should be multiplied 10 fold, treta 100 fold and krita 1000 fold to get equivalent time periods. If we go by this method, we arrive at the age of the universe being 3.637 trillion years. It is quite possible that if this is correct, we could assume that modern science is still lagging while dealing with such stupendous periods of time. Yet, there are many other inconsistancies to be resolved.

All these are pointers to the fact that these could be merely spiritual descriptions, and may have nothing to do with science. All attempts at reconciling the puranas historically and scientifically would be futile, and we wont be able to answer many questions. Puranas are nothing but commentaries for the spiritual science in vedas. Unfortunately, it is a commentary which will need an extensive commentary to be useful. Similarly, Itihasas are nothing but the various stages of spiritual development of a Yoga towards moksa. Puranas and Itihasas maybe part of history, and there is nothing that prevents God from incarnating on earth, but there is no need to consider them to be infallible historical or geographical accounts, and meant to convey something deeper.

For eg, we have a verse in Skanda Purana that clearly identifies various geographical locations with bodily organs and chakras. Bharatavarsha itself only refers to the human body and not this piece of land we now call as India.

Kurma Purana openly states thar the four Yugas are applicable only to Bharatvarsha, and nowhere else:

cAtvAri BhArate varshe yugAni kayayO vidu:
krtam treta dvAparam ca kalischAnyatra na kacit (Kurma Pur)

How is to possible by human logic that if the Yugas were time periods as understood nowadays, that it could be applicable only to this piece of land called India?

All puranas and Itihasas refer only to Bharatavarsha, or only the human birth, which is the only way to salvation. All incarnations of the Lord, also happen in our own bodies when we awaken spiritually, and that is why Vishnu incarnates only in Bharatvarsha -it is not like Vishnu likes this piece of land called India.

Yugas are decided solely by the people, and not people by the Yuga. Which means if I am able to see Krishna like Arjuna, I am in Dvapara, and if I can see Rama as in Ramayana and in posession of Maya(Sita), I am in treta yuga. If I merge into the absolute Shiva, I am in Krita Yuga.


With all this in mind....

What exactly is a Yuga?
Yuga is one stage of spirtual develoopment of a Yogi.

Why there are four Yugas?
These are four stages of Yogic realization starting from Kali and ending with Krita. Note how the natural order for Dvapara and Treta is justified now.

(continued in next message due to length)

TruthSeeker
04 May 2006, 06:29 AM
What are these four stages?

Kali is the first stage that is a preparatory stage for Yoga. Kali means strife or confusion or struggle. This is the stage where the Yogi wades through all obstacles in the path of Yoga. He comes under all kinds of delusions, doubts and disbeleifs on the existance of God, and the true meaning of life. In this stage, the lower Bhakti Yoga(bhakti without jnana) is prescribed for the Yogi to get mentally purified and be qualified for performing Yoga of liberation.

Dvapara is the second stage of Yogic realization, and is the true entry into Yoga. The Itihasa for Dvapara is Mahabaratha. Mahabaratha stands for Karma Yoga as evinced by its 18 parvas, 18 chapters in Gita, 18 days or war etc. The number of 18 is a very critical point in attaining mukti, as it refers to the control of 18 tattvas(sometimes expanded as 19 as in Mandukya by adding ahamkara tattva). For this reason, we also have 18 puranas and also 18 upapuranas. Karma Yoga technically is overcoming avidya, and it is the jiva tattva. Karma Yoga also leads to partial masterry of higher tattvas. A Karma Yogi has not achieved control over the Ahamkara, which will lead to periodic downfalls from position and hence will need to keep a close watch over himself until complete Jnana is obtained. We are all aware of how Visvamitra fell into the traps of his senses, several times even after becoming a Rajarishi. In short, Mahabaratha descibes the story of a Yogi ( represented by the five Pandavas) who are guided by the Lord in the form of Partasarathy towards attainment of the knowledge of 18 tattvas. Adhyatama Ramayana states that Arjuna, with the practice of the teachings of Krishna, reached the stage of asamsakti or jeevan mukta. Bhagavad Gita, deals with Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga, and the final attainment depends on the individual qualification. Karma Yoga deals with stula deha, whereas Jnana Yoga deals with the sukshma and linga dehas. In Karma Yoga, the tattvas dealt with are the five bhutas tattvas, the 10 indriyas and the mind. Karma Yoga also deals with the theoretical knowledge of ahamkara and buddhi tattvas. Jnana Yoga, on the other hand deals only with the five tanmatras, ahamkara and Mahat tattvas. The final goal of Karma Yoga is complete sense and mind control, also called as the destruction of mind.

Treta is the third stage of Yogic development. The Itihasa for Treta Yuga is Ramayana, which is Jnana Yoga. Jnana Yoga includes seven tattvas as indicated by the seven kandas in Ramayana, which are nothing but seven Jnana Bhumis conisiting of subeccha, Vichararana, tanumanasi, Satvapati, Asamsakti, Padarta Bhavana and Turiya. If Jnana Yoga is taken as an independent discipline apart from Karma Yoga of Bhagavad Gita, the first three stages upto tanumanasi are equivalents of Karma(Vairagya) Yoga. Ramayana can be interpreted in both ways. The 24,000 verses in Ramayana are an expansion of the Gayatri Mantra which has 24 syllables, which just denote the 24 tattvams. The final goal of Jnana Yoga is elimination of ahamkara, which will automatically effect an involution into the Mahat and Isvara tatvas, and subsequently (at the will of Isvara) into the absolute.


Krita Yuga is the last stage. Kritam simply means Done or Completed, and just indicates the completion of the Yoga. Technically, Turiya or videha mukti does not happen until physical death. This is a stage where the Yogi awaits his physical death, and continues to live due to his prarabhda karma. There is nothing mfor the Yogi to do now, and hence Yoga is completed.


Yogic interpretation frees us from the need to answer illogical and often ridiculous questions against Hindu scripture, many of which can be answered only by showing displeasure or indifference.
Yogic interpretation is perfectly consistant in itself.

Take some of the charges against Ramayana....

1. Rama's killing of Shambuka.
2. Rama's horoscope furnished in Ramayana, is astronomically flawed. Was Valmiki so ignorant?
3. Rama's killing of Vali from hiding.
4. Rama's and Laxmana's occasional defeat in the war, as by Indrajit.
5. Sita's Agnipravesha.
6. Rama's abandoning of Sita.
7. The ages of Rama and Sita, often confused and altered without any justification throughtout the story.( Did Valmiki forget the ages at various kandas in Ramayana?)
8. Geographical absurdities in the story.

And in Mahabaratha:

1. Why did the five Pandavas marry Draupadi, and was it an accepted custom of those days?
2. Why is a wicked soul like Dritarashtra allowed to have a vision of Krishna when Krishna goes as a messenger to Hastinapura?
3. What is the significance of 12 years of exile, and one year of living in hiding? How is related to the exile of Rama for 14 years, and why is it less? What is the significance of every story teaching banishment?
4. Why are there too many obsceneties seen in Puranas and Itihasas that can apparently put Hinduism to shame?
5. Why are rishis often described as being born in unnatural ways, sometimes from snake, pot etc?
6. Why were the 16,000 wives of Krishna carried away by mlecchas after the death of Krishna?
.

All these questions are answered without any problems whatsover in the Yogic interpretation of Ramayana.
Everything alludes to the Yogic interpretation, the significance of every name, every personality, every number like 14, 17, 10, 24 all are explained with respect to tattvams.

Are we justified in trying to locate the bridge built by varanas in the treta yuga? First of all a bridge was never built, as Nala and Nila had the ability to make rocks float on water. Lord Rama is the jivatma inside every one of us. When proper conditions are met, viz, controlling of the senses, mind, ahamkara etc, he reveals himself in all glory to his bhakta.

Rama incarnates in our hearts, in every treta yuga, that is right, in the treta yuga of every Yogi. Rama avatar takes place in the Yogi's heart in his treta Yuga. The karma Yogi represented by Arjuna in Dvapara, becomes Rama the Jnana Yogi in the treta Yuga, who is finally united with the absolute Shiva in the Krita Yuga. The yugas roll on endlessly and just indicate the infinite number of Yogis who cross these Yugas in their quest for liberation.

Bhavgavatam is even more beautiful than Mahabaratha and Ramayana, as it combines the themes of Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga into the Vairagya(Karma) Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Bhakti Yoga, an attractive combination which will be accessible only to a very few Yogis.

Advaita of Sri Shankara essentailly deals with the theme of Ramayana. It places very high qualifications on the aspirant as evident by Shankara completely deprecating Purva Mimamsa. For those not qualified for Jnana Yoga, Sri Shakara prescribed the upasana marga or the path of action and devotion. This was the theme taken up by post Shankara sages, who have placed more emphasis on Karma Yoga than Jnana Yoga. Since Rama is inaccessible until the third and fourth stage, and Krishna is not accessible until the second stage and above, we can solely access God through our imaginations in various forms in idols and pictures - that is precisely what current Hinduism is all about. Even the various forms of God, as described by Vishnu, Shiva or Durga have deep spiritual signficance, they only represent various tattvams that can be used for meditation.

I will try to post a brief Yogic commentary of Ramayana, Bhagavatam and Mahabaratha, if time permits. If time pernits, I will elaborate every important incident in these Itihasas from a Yogic perspective.

Singhi Kaya
04 May 2006, 07:18 AM
Thanks for the posts~they are very informative. However what is spiritual should not have to be sans reality. The exact calculations or descriptions of puranas doesn't match modern ones doesn't mean they were meant to solely yogic or "spiritual". It may also mean that the symbols are not well understood or misunderstood in today's language and symantics. Again my knowledge of scriptures is much much less compared to yours~but for examples what is called graha or planet in our scripture is not planet as we mean today. Sun is not a planet in todays understanding, but it is in astrology~because astrology defines planets to be some sort of reference points in time.

I'm fully with yogic understanding of puranas and itihasas, but I hope it doesn't have to come with the premise that they don't mean anything else. Itihasas hold many other keys to life and society than what we today "understand" as yoga. Seers vision was complete and our vision is fragmented. What is yoga to us was yoga to seers. What is politics to us was also yoga to seers and so on. We are necessarily limited by our fragmanted vision of the cosmic continum. In such circumstances all fragments and ways of looking must be considered without any notion of superiority of one over the other. I think with increasing awareness it is possible to see the unity.

That said, some things (the astrological calculations for example) doesn't make sence in moder symantics. Being rational, my view will be to park them as not-understood and thus not draw any conclusion from them.

Many other social aspects of Itihasas are very easily understood, lets take them for what they mean at all levels and not just yogic. For example Rama is not regarded in some schools as the full perfection of Godhead. There are some instances in his life which contradicts his otherwise pure and loving character of God. Analysed this will to a missing aspect of the supreme Iswara. We regard Krishna as the complete aspect of Godhead incarnation. Verily he is achuta and flawless~as he comes out in Mahabharata.

I welcome this yogi exposition~such I have seen elsewhere before as well, but wanted to add my 2 cents of not to take one fragmanted veiw to be the sole meaning. Verily we have very technical concrete yogic texts which are as ancient as puranas. If purana aims to mean yoga only (inspite of yoga sutras being already there), then it would have to be a very complicated way of presenting the stuff. But I don't deny the yogic interpretation. The language of sanskrit is flexible enough to admit a complete picture of the cosmos~or close to it:)

Singhi Kaya
04 May 2006, 07:42 AM
I will try to post a brief Yogic commentary of Ramayana, Bhagavatam and Mahabaratha, if time permits. If time pernits, I will elaborate every important incident in these Itihasas from a Yogic perspective.


Can you also refer to texts, philosphies and teachers who expound these yogic view points of puranas and itIhasas? I know the kriya yoga tradition of lahiri mahasaya in bengal has several books on this line most dealing with yogic explanation of Gita.

Thanks,,
S

TruthSeeker
04 May 2006, 10:08 AM
Thanks for the posts~they are very informative. However what is spiritual should not have to be sans reality. The exact calculations or descriptions of puranas doesn't match modern ones doesn't mean they were meant to solely yogic or "spiritual". It may also mean that the symbols are not well understood or misunderstood in today's language and symantics. Again my knowledge of scriptures is much much less compared to yours~but for examples what is called graha or planet in our scripture is not planet as we mean today. Sun is not a planet in todays understanding, but it is in astrology~because astrology defines planets to be some sort of reference points in time.


No, this is only one of the views. I am not disputing the fact that there is nothing historical in there.



I'm fully with yogic understanding of puranas and itihasas, but I hope it doesn't have to come with the premise that they don't mean anything else. Itihasas hold many other keys to life and society than what we today "understand" as yoga. Seers vision was complete and our vision is fragmented. What is yoga to us was yoga to seers. What is politics to us was also yoga to seers and so on. We are necessarily limited by our fragmanted vision of the cosmic continum. In such circumstances all fragments and ways of looking must be considered without any notion of superiority of one over the other. I think with increasing awareness it is possible to see the unity.


They are meant to be used by different people. For a devotee, it is meant to emphasise the concept of devotion, for a philosopher about philosophy, and for a Yogi about Yoga. Ramayana can be viewed in many ways - as a moral guideline, as a text that preaches devotion, as a text that teaches Yoga, perhaps some history too - but I doubt this part. There are too many inconsistanices in that approach, and I will try to present that later.




That said, some things (the astrological calculations for example) doesn't make sence in moder symantics. Being rational, my view will be to park them as not-understood and thus not draw any conclusion from them.


Why? If Rama's horoscope is given in Ramayana, should it not be a valid one? Atleast a logical possibility? Such a planetary combination is impossible astronomically, as I will show later.

Again, it is my opinion that we must explore the science in vedas as well. What are these pancha bhutas and tanmatras according to modern science? What are their equivalents? They simply cant be akasa, agni, vayu, apa and priitvi literally?




Many other social aspects of Itihasas are very easily understood, lets take them for what they mean at all levels and not just yogic. For example Rama is not regarded in some schools as the full perfection of Godhead. There are some instances in his life which contradicts his otherwise pure and loving character of God. Analysed this will to a missing aspect of the supreme Iswara. We regard Krishna as the complete aspect of Godhead incarnation. Verily he is achuta and flawless~as he comes out in Mahabharata.

I welcome this yogi exposition~such I have seen elsewhere before as well, but wanted to add my 2 cents of not to take one fragmanted veiw to be the sole meaning. Verily we have very technical concrete yogic texts which are as ancient as puranas. If purana aims to mean yoga only (inspite of yoga sutras being already there), then it would have to be a very complicated way of presenting the stuff. But I don't deny the yogic interpretation. The language of sanskrit is flexible enough to admit a complete picture of the cosmos~or close to it:)

Is is not safe to assume that scriptures concentrate on their very purpose - moksha? Who are these Asuras and Devas who are frequently mentioned? Are they still present on earth? If they were present 2000 years ago, why not now? All religions draw a blank here - just unable to explain all supernatural things that existed at the times of the formation of their relgion, with almost no trace of proof now.

Why they have concealed knowledge cannot be difficult to seek. Just imagine an unqualified aspirant performing Yoga, obtaining some siddhis and then uses his powers to take over the world? Scriptures are very brutal in this respect - they hide all secrets in code words. It just happens that different people are able to unlock this secret in different ways.

Thus, true knowledge of the vedas can be obtained only from a truly realized soul and nobody else. Only a Yogi can actually decode the Yogic secrets contained in it. In olden days, knowledge was also orally trasmitted, and ensured that there was no easy ways to access it. Only if your guru found that you are trust worthy and sincere in your goals, will true knowledge be ever taught to you.

All great Acharyas have always known everything. What is the need to teach it to everybody? A few close disciplies would be given more instruction than others, and so on. But times are different now. We are now in a different era, where are actually in a position to verify these things with the help of modern science. Traditionalists and orthodoxies always oppose such things. But science and religion are inseperable. True Yogic knowledge begins with avidya, which is nothing but physical sciences.

Singhi Kaya
04 May 2006, 04:37 PM
Is is not safe to assume that scriptures concentrate on their very purpose - moksha? Who are these Asuras and Devas who are frequently mentioned? Are they still present on earth? If they were present 2000 years ago, why not now? All religions draw a blank here - just unable to explain all supernatural things that existed at the times of the formation of their relgion, with almost no trace of proof now.

Analysing the charaters of asuras reveals that they are present in modern world more than any time before~asuriks rule the world now!


Why they have concealed knowledge cannot be difficult to seek. Just imagine an unqualified aspirant performing Yoga, obtaining some siddhis and then uses his powers to take over the world? Scriptures are very brutal in this respect - they hide all secrets in code words. It just happens that different people are able to unlock this secret in different ways.

Thus, true knowledge of the vedas can be obtained only from a truly realized soul and nobody else. Only a Yogi can actually decode the Yogic secrets contained in it. In olden days, knowledge was also orally trasmitted, and ensured that there was no easy ways to access it. Only if your guru found that you are trust worthy and sincere in your goals, will true knowledge be ever taught to you.
True


All great Acharyas have always known everything. What is the need to teach it to everybody? A few close disciplies would be given more instruction than others, and so on. But times are different now. We are now in a different era, where are actually in a position to verify these things with the help of modern science. Traditionalists and orthodoxies always oppose such things. But science and religion are inseperable. True Yogic knowledge begins with avidya, which is nothing but physical sciences.
I'm not a traditionalist nor a orthodox~so I welcome this yogic exposition. I only wanted to mention that there are many levels of understanding including yogic ones you mention. The reason to mention this is nothing other than the fact that OP's started with few flaws on the normal understanding to put forward the yogic understanding. My only pont here is yogic understanding can be expounded without critisizing the normal understanding~which you also seem to agree. Science, religion, psychology, society, politics are all inseperable. Knowledge of God is knowledge of everything

So please continue your discourse.

TruthSeeker
04 May 2006, 06:12 PM
Analysing the charaters of asuras reveals that they are present in modern world more than any time before~asuriks rule the world now!


So are you conceding that Asuras in the scripture are just equivalents of these modern asuras, and not ten headed monsters?



I'm not a traditionalist nor a orthodox~so I welcome this yogic exposition. I only wanted to mention that there are many levels of understanding including yogic ones you mention. The reason to mention this is nothing other than the fact that OP's started with few flaws on the normal understanding to put forward the yogic understanding. My only pont here is yogic understanding can be expounded without critisizing the normal understanding~which you also seem to agree. Science, religion, psychology, society, politics are all inseperable. Knowledge of God is knowledge of everything


I am particularly referring only to Itihasas - not puranas, which maybe just stories.

Ideally you need good reasons to even explore a Yogic explanation. If everything fits perfectly in place, why do people bother?

I have been reading a few critics directed against Hindu scripture by foreginers. It is exceptionally difficult to counter some of the charges - people simply make claims as if Mahabaratha was composed in pieces, and that Uttara Kanda was later added etc. None of these arguments would even stand a chance in the Yogic interpretation. Infact, charges against Rama's fake horoscope, and even against Adi Shankara's horosocope given by Sri Vidyaranya( which is impossible again) were raised by a Christian missionary.

Also, people who are against Hinduism really find exceptionally good reasons to target various mythologies and even obsceneties in our itihasas and puranas. Beleive me, there is not a single charge that would hold against this interpretation. Has any Hindu been able to explain the spiritual significance of the Asvamedha Yaga properly? Are we properly explaining the rituals behind the Gayatri Japa, which apparently appear to be mere myth? Blind faith is good, but we should convince ourselves that there is nothing absurd in itihasas, not even if they appear so.

I can give you a classical example of how it would be too difficult to historically reconcile Itihasas:

Shakuntala was the daughter of Visvamitra, who was born to him of Menaka, during his early days as a Kshatriya and Rajarishi. Many thousands of years later Vishvamitra became a Brahmarishi by virtue of his penance. Yugas later, he encounters Sri Rama at Ayodhya.

Thousands of years later, the king named Dushyanta weds Shakuntala. Dushyanta belongs to the lunar dynasty(10th before King Kuru) so you can imagine the time lapse between Rama and Dushyanta. So how old was Shankuntala at the time of this marriage? And how old was Dushyanta? And some of our historians are trying to set dates for these events?

The list is endless.

atanu
12 January 2007, 01:43 PM
So are you conceding that Asuras in the scripture are just equivalents of these modern asuras, and not ten headed monsters?



I am particularly referring only to Itihasas - not puranas, which maybe just stories.

Ideally you need good reasons to even explore a Yogic explanation. If everything fits perfectly in place, why do people bother?

-------
The list is endless.


Dear TS,

Please continue, if possible.