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rainbowlotus
12 November 2011, 12:18 PM
I'm having a hard time finding a fulfilling way to study the scriptures. I have only read religious texts because I was curious and I have never studied scriptures. Currently I'm attempting to read a Bhagavad Gita from my local library. I realize I have just been passively reading but I honestly don't know how to study scriptures. How do you study scriptures?
Thanks

Jainarayan
12 November 2011, 01:54 PM
I've never read the Vedas. I'd like to but I don't think that will happen. My understanding is that they are pretty deep. I read the Upanishads a long time ago, but they are also pretty deep.

So what to do?

I've read synopses of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. I've begun reading Canto X of the Srimad Bhagavatam (the stories of Sri Krishna's life).

You can start by reading synopses and then read the entire epic(s) as your interest piques. You may have to read the synopses over and over again to get a feel for the characters and plots. One character could have a number of names. It could make your head spin.

I read the Bhagavad Gita on-line, though I have two printed copies. I use this site http://www.bhagavad-gita.us/ It has a search if you are looking for a particular verse or idea.

I think the best way, and it's just my opinion, is to read them and enjoy them. You'll see the lessons being taught.

yajvan
12 November 2011, 01:58 PM
hariḥ oṁ
~~~~~~

namasté


How one studies is very personal as it is based upon comprehension, attention span, interest, and the like. That said let me share my approach for what it may be worth.


What I have found useful is to aways find a good translation of what I wish to study i.e. various śāstra-s. I myself always look for books that :

have saṃskṛtam & devanāgarī ( sanskrit as the language, devanāgarī is the script) and;
I look for transliteration - the conversion of the devanāgarī script into words with proper marks applied e.g. विष्णु = viṣṇu.
Note I do not read saṃskṛtam fluently so an excellent translation is key. How do I know if I have an excellent translation ?
I read the same book from multiple authors so I can compare and contrast views.
the translation lifts me up and gives me insights and offers an ahhha! moment.
I usually re-read the book after setting it down for a month or two - sometimes even after a year or two and find new insights.
I always look-up words I do not know and write them down for future use and reference.
I ~study~ the śāstra-s by bringing the subject matter to different conversations ( here on HDF and with friends).
I am okay with having doubts as that fuels my interest to go deeper and wider into the matter. I do not let go of an idea, but may postpone the answer for some time ( even years) but will sooner or later find the answer - i.e. diligence is needed.
I make sure I comprehend what the subject matter is about within the book - this is offered in the title of the book. Seems simple enough but many miss this simple idea.

There are 4 indispensable elements to any śāstra - this HDF post will help explain the 4 : http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=26187&postcount (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=26187&postcount)
I study daily - its a joy not a chore for me; I also do not try and boil the ocean. I read, think, ponder, re-read, look for other ideas in othe books. I try and connect the dots from one theme to another and find many-many connects - the same connections then get ingrained in my mind.
Above all I continue to expand the container - comprehension is structured in consciousness. That is, one continues to keep the faculties of comprehension ( mind, intellect, consciousness, awareness, etc) growing, clear, etc. This is a key for successful study - > hone the appratice of learning - that is consciousness.praṇām

Eastern Mind
12 November 2011, 05:11 PM
I'm having a hard time finding a fulfilling way to study the scriptures. I have only read religious texts because I was curious and I have never studied scriptures. Currently I'm attempting to read a Bhagavad Gita from my local library. I realize I have just been passively reading but I honestly don't know how to study scriptures. How do you study scriptures?
Thanks


Vannakkam Rainbowlotus: This is an excellent question. Yajvan has given excellent advice. All I can add is not to be impatient. Personally, I commit to short bits per day. Things seem to sink in better that way. (for me) I like the approach in Subramuniyaswami's Trilogy ... one lesson per day for 365 lessons. So it takes 3 whole years to go through just His stuff, and its in American English, not Sanskrit or interpreted Sanskrit or translated stuff. That's just an indicator of how vast our scriptures are. You'd have to be some kind of whiz kid speed reader to get through much of it, let alone comprehend, and worse yet apply it.

Best wishes on a daunting task. :)

Aum Namasivaya

yajvan
12 November 2011, 07:15 PM
hariḥ oṁ
~~~~~~

namasté

EM gives excellent advice... another idea that I practice that works well is the time of day to read/study. Try different times of the day. I have found some times that are very conducive ( for me) that improve comprehension. Note the times and consider that a reading time. It's almost like a favorite spot - one finds this spot and goes there to sit or think or relax. Different times of the day also have this influence on study.


praṇām

Eric11235
12 November 2011, 08:27 PM
Vannakam,

Personally, I'm trying to work my way through as much of the Hindu Canon as I can. Because of this I have read the Ramayana, am reading the Mahabharata (Shanti Parva at this point) and have the puranas, vedas, and muktika upanishads in tow.

My own personal way of studying is to read, and afterwards dwell on concepts that stuck out. Since I have only read the Ramayana once I am sure to reread, much as I will the Mahabharata.

I think studying isn't so much looking over as it is contemplating. So if you read for comprehension and try to wrap your mind around concepts it should be much more rewarding as I have found it.

Of course, reading the english is a very different experience from the original Sanskrit but that is something I am not fit to comment on

I apologize for any pretentious that results in this posting. I am simply trying to be helpful\

Namaste

Friend from the West
13 November 2011, 12:42 AM
Namaste,
Rainbowlotus,
So much good advice has already been given already and by portions that I learn so much from and am humbled in most sincere way with the time they take to share so much with us and with path they help clear for us. The only thing I would add is to take the time to develop meditation practice. Things that will develop from this will help make your reading and hopefully even studying be more than just a pure cognitive thing.
With this, to piggy back on something YajvanJi states, to understand that the time spent on study, worship, and meditation, is a gift, not a chore, is a blessing within itself.

Om Shanti,

FFTW

charitra
13 November 2011, 01:16 AM
As EM said, for newcomers the Himalayan academy books are a good starting point. Going straight to Vedas and Upanishads may be bit overwhelming, and may also lead to some confusion. Once one gets a handle on basic concepts of hinduism, then further exploration will yield fruitful results. Himalayan academy is a shaivite sampradaya, but has a failry balanced take on other sampradayas as well. For a quick glimpse at hindudharma one can start with Gita, especially one with a good english translation.

Also as others said Ramayana and mahabhrata make a wondeful reading but they are the epics and hence are rated below vedopanishads.

Rainbow, go ahead send email to himalayanacademy.com and subscribe for free daily newsletter straightaway to get an idea of whats there in the books, excerpts are given in small doses in the mails. Namaste.

rainbowlotus
13 November 2011, 01:34 AM
Vannakkam Rainbowlotus: This is an excellent question. Yajvan has given excellent advice. All I can add is not to be impatient. Personally, I commit to short bits per day. Things seem to sink in better that way. (for me) I like the approach in Subramuniyaswami's Trilogy ... one lesson per day for 365 lessons. So it takes 3 whole years to go through just His stuff, and its in American English, not Sanskrit or interpreted Sanskrit or translated stuff. That's just an indicator of how vast our scriptures are. You'd have to be some kind of whiz kid speed reader to get through much of it, let alone comprehend, and worse yet apply it.

Best wishes on a daunting task. :)

Aum Namasivaya

You always give wonderful insight. I love the Himalyan Academy writing style but I have read most of the publications and I am trying to move on to something else. I hope that made sense :)

Eastern Mind
13 November 2011, 05:14 AM
You always give wonderful insight. I love the Himalyan Academy writing style but I have read most of the publications and I am trying to move on to something else. I hope that made sense :)

Vannakkam: Yes, it makes sense. Key word for me is 'apply'. So I can read the same passage, say about doing japa, or seeing God everywhere, or meditating with fruits of that labour, etc. over and over. I'm a slow learner.

My wife and I will have read the same books, and she or I will quote something we read, (if you can quote it, you've actually retained it) and the other will say, "I've never read that." with a hint of not believing, and then the other one will go get the book and prove it.

Aum Namasivaya

c.smith
13 November 2011, 08:25 PM
Hari Om!

If I may humbly suggest the following two books, both by Sri Swami Satchidananda - "The Golden Present" and "The Living Gita". Both of these can be read in small bites though you may not want to put them down. It is sort of a "contagious" way to study both the Bhagavad Gita and a Daily Lessons format type of book. I used them when I was new to SD and still refer to them today.

Another favorite is Eknath Easwaran. Another forum member was generous enough to bring him to memory and I have returned to his work - certainly a classic to many. He has a 3 volume set of commentary on the Bhagavad Gita with stories from his life that reads like silk. I also have a simpler 1 volume addition that I've yet to read but it is in the bin for this week.

And please don't overlook the sage advice offered by other forum members. Often just re-reading something will add a spark that wasn't there before.

All the best to you in your ventures and in your studies!

Om Namah Sivaya
Jai Hanuman!

jayramas
19 January 2012, 11:29 AM
Hello,

His divine grace, A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, has mentioned that
"For example, the epics or the histories of Ramayana and Mahabharata, which are specifically recommended for the less intelligent classes (women, sudras and unworthy sons of the higher castes), are also accepted as Vedic literature because they are compiled in connection with the activities of the Lord"

"Mahabharata is accepted as the fifth division of the Vedas after its
first four divisions, namely Sama, Yajur, Rg and Atharva. The less
intelligent do not accept Mahabharata as part of the Vedas, but great
sages and authorities accept it as the fifth division of the Vedas.
Bhagavad-gita is also part of the Mahabharata, and it is full of the
Lord's instruction for the less intelligent class of men."

"So Bhagavad-gita, although containing the high philosophy of the Vedic
wisdom, is for the beginners in the transcendental science, and Srimad-
Bhagavatam is for graduates and postgraduates in the transcendental
science. Therefore literatures like Mahabharata, the, puranas and similar
other literatures which are full of the pastimes of the Lord, are all
transcendental literatures, and they should be discussed with full
confidence in the society of great devotees."

"The difficulty is that such literatures, when discussed by professional men, appear to be mundane literature like histories or epics because there are so many historical facts and figures. It is said here, therefore, that such literatures should be discussed in the assembly of devotees. Unless they are discussed by devotees, such literatures cannot be relished by the higher class of men. So the conclusion is that the Lord is not impersonal in the ultimate issue. He is the Supreme Person, and He has His different activities. He is the leader of all living entities, and He descends at His will and by His personal energy to reclaim the fallen souls."