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Thread: Svetasvatara Upanishad and temple visit

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    Svetasvatara Upanishad and temple visit

    Namaste,

    Thank you again to everyone in their willingness to help me understand things in context.

    I really enjoyed this text. It seems that in this text that Shaiva not seen primarily as a destroyer at all. Briefly he is described as a destroyer of evil or as both a creator and destroyer; lord of all things.

    Is Shaiva depicted as more a destructive entity in other texts, perhaps some of the epics? Or did westerns just completely misrepresent him?

    I have arranged to visit a local temple on Friday and plan to spend some time in meditation there, assuming that is okay. I don't know if mantra chanting is okay. What would you all recommend as far as how to allow for experiencing Shaiva's presence through a temple visit?

    Thanks, Liang

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    Re: Svetasvatara Upanishad and temple visit

    Vannakkan: It is my personal opinion that Siva is misrepresented, yes. I much prefer 'dissolution' to destruction. The dwarf that Nataraja is stepping on represents the ego, and the circle of fire represents dissolution, or form returning to formlessness.

    For Saivites like me, Siva is just the term we use for God. The encyclopedic trinity is largely a concoction.

    Temples vary in what they 'allow' or not. Silence is always a safe bet. If you want to chant a certain mantra out loud, or with any volume, it would be best to ask the priest first. Silent meditation is definitely not a problem, unless you choose a high traffic spot. Friday morning shouldn't have much of a crowd, but the evening could have. Again, depends on the temple.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Svetasvatara Upanishad and temple visit

    Namaste,

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    It is my personal opinion that Siva is misrepresented, yes. I much prefer 'dissolution' to destruction.
    +1

    Sometimes the Westerners choose the wrong words for describing certain Hindu concepts and sometimes Indians (Gurus) with a limited knowledge of the English language, do a great disservice to their own religion by choosing the wrong words. Case in point, a certain Guru wanted his followers to introduce the Hindu teachings to the westerners in one or more of a number of ways: Talk to them, offer them prasadam, invite them to the temple with no pre-conditions, give them free books etc. But his way of saying 'by any means' came out as 'by hook or by crook'. I am sure he did not know first of all that the phrase he used has a negative connotation and second, he was ignorant of the meaning of words 'hook' and 'crook' in this context. This is a phrase which many Indians use without really knowing what they are saying.

    Keeping all this in mind, one has to dig deeper to get the real translation/essence of Sanskrit words, rather than the superficial meanings used in common English language translations. This makes it so much harder for people new to the religion but I don't see a way around this problem.

    Pranam.

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    Re: Svetasvatara Upanishad and temple visit

    Namaste ji,

    Hi Liang Ch'an, sorry I haven't been around to add my welcome yet. Welcome! =)
    Quote Originally Posted by Believer View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    Vannakkan: It is my personal opinion that Siva is misrepresented, yes. I much prefer 'dissolution' to destruction.
    +1
    Another +1
    Quote Originally Posted by Believer View Post
    Keeping all this in mind, one has to dig deeper to get the real translation/essence of Sanskrit words, rather than the superficial meanings used in common English language translations.
    Also +1.

    Sanskrit is a deep language, with words that have a deep hierarchy of meanings. Some words have no actual translation or clear concept in English or other Western languages. Tamil as well. It is incredibly worthwhile to study either or both of them as much as you're able.

    I do japa at the temple I go to, but silently, as EMji suggests.

    ~Pranam
    ~~~~~
    What has Learning profited a man, if it has not led him to worship the good feet of Him who is pure knowledge itself?
    They alone dispel the mind's distress, who take refuge at the feet of the incomparable one.
    ~~Tirukural 2, 7

    Anbe Sivamayam, Satyame Parasivam

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    Re: Svetasvatara Upanishad and temple visit

    harih oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    Just a few ideas for one’s kind consideration...

    Who was śvetāśvatara ? The upaniṣad is named after him, this seer or ṛṣi (rishi). The term means he who has ( or is carried by/ drawn by)
    white mules or horses. It suggests he ( this seer) is lead by pure senses. This is to suggest his purity, his stainless level of being.

    Two śloka’s from the 4th chapter:
    sūkṣmātisūkṣmaṃ kalilasya madhye viśvasya sraṣṭāram anekarūpaṃ |
    viśvasyaikaṃ pariveṣṭitāraṃ jñātvā śivaṃ śāntim atyantam eti || 4.14

    this says in general,
    that person who knows/realizes this Being, the auspicious, gracious, benevolent one (śivaṃ)
    who is most subtle ( subtler than the subtlest or sūkṣmātisūkṣmaṃ) who encircles ( some say creates)
    this whole universe, who assumes many forms, that person ( who knows this Being) attains infinite peace.

    I use the term ‘encircles’ because the term śiva is rooted in the term śī , ‘in whom all things lie’ - all things known, unknown or yet to be are within this Being.

    ghṛtāt paraṃ maṇḍam ivātisūkṣmaṃ jñātvā śivaṃ sarvabhūteṣu gūḍhaṃ |
    viśvasyaikaṃ pariveṣṭitāraṃ jñātvā devaṃ mucyate sarvapāśaiḥ || 4.16

    this says,
    by knowing Him, the auspicious, gracious, benevolent one (śivaṃ), who is hidden in all beings,
    extremely subtle, like the essence of ghee ( that is hidden in milk) who envelopes the universe, ( that knowing person) is free from all fetters.
    The term ‘all fetters’ = sarvapāśaiḥ which means sarva or ‘all’ + pāśaiḥ = a snare, bond , cord , chain , or fetter.

    You ask
    Is Shaiva depicted as more a destructive entity in other texts, perhaps some of the epics? Or did westerns just completely misrepresent him?
    Briefly he is described as a destroyer of evil or as both a creator and destroyer; lord of all things.
    The West ( in my opinion only) tends to simplify things to the mundane level of understanding. This keeps things at the superficial level.
    That is good at times ( like in an elevator and you are asked to explain something before the 5th floor) , yet all the richness is
    lost to the mundane and trite view. One passes up a diamond and thinks it to be just a stone.

    Now pending one’s school of thought ( called dárśana or ‘view’ , sight, seeing, knowing) śiva takes on many-many different
    notions, qualities, and the like. My views are honed and structured ( on this matter) by the trika śaivism, it consists of 4 schools of thought:

    • pratyabhijñā ( SELF recognition),
    • kula ( a grouping and used for 'totality' , Universal Consciousness),
    • krama ( progress made step-by-step),
    • spanda ( the throb, movement, SELF-referral of the Divine).


    To suggest or infer I am competent in these 4 schools would be misleading. I consider myself the student (śiṣya).

    So you ask is it the destructive and creative power? Yes, but that is limiting. He is everything that can and cannot happen. He is not only lord of all things, (all things meaning seen, unseen or yet to come, thought of, never thought of, and impossible to think of) is none other than Him to begin with.
    Here is the view on this matter ( which takes some time to digest). I yield to the support offered by abhinanagupta-ji's work called bodhapañcadśikā or the 15 verses of wisdom. He informs us of the following:
    tasaivaiṣā parā devī
    svarūpāmarṣantosukā |
    pūrṅatvaṁ sarvabhāveṣu
    yasya nālpaṁ na cādhikam ||

    I will rely on svāmī lakṣman-jū for the proper translation of this śloka. This then says,
    The collective state of the universe is His supreme energy (or śakti) which He created to recognize His own nature.
    This śakti who is the embodiment of the collective state of the universe, loves possessing the state of God Consciousness.
    She is in the state of ignorance remaining perfectly complete (pūrṅatvaṁ) and full in each and every object.

    So, here is the insight and observation: śiva is rooted in the term śī , ‘in whom all things lie' + the collective state of the universe is His supreme energy =

    Nothing can be outside of Him. That suggests creation, destruction, maintenance, Grace, all possibilities, every possible outcome, every possible condition, action
    or non-action that can occur or not occur for ever. What does that mean ? you are Him ( as am I, my dog, cat, tree, quarks, molecules, electro-magnetic spectrum,
    the saint, sinner, good cop, bad cop, the weather, sun, moon, galaxies, and nothing at all or
    ākāśa
    (pure space).

    Our duty/dharma is to re-member who we are, that is why we have our chance of being human. You ( we) need to go no further than your SELF (
    ātmán) to
    make this discovery - it is not outside you.

    iti śivaṁ


    Last edited by yajvan; 01 February 2016 at 12:50 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  6. #6

    Re: Svetasvatara Upanishad and temple visit

    Yajavan,

    Thank you! I found the interpretion you shared very helpful. It is very compatable with my meager understanding of Reality I encounter in meditation. Especially "in whom all things lie." Where would you suggest I read further?

    -Liang

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    Re: Svetasvatara Upanishad and temple visit

    harih oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté


    Quote Originally Posted by Liang Ch'an View Post
    Yajavan,

    Thank you! I found the interpretion you shared very helpful. It is very compatable with my meager understanding of Reality I encounter in meditation. Especially "in whom all things lie." Where would you suggest I read further?

    -Liang
    One is usually guided by one's interests and intent... for this I am not sure I can discern. Yet if for some reason the notion of 'in whom all things lie' strikes a cord with you
    then I may have a few recommendations.

    I always recommend the 6 systems of Indian philosophy for one just putting their foot in the water ( getting one's bearing).
    It gives you a broad view of the core 6 systems of Indian thought. I count 16 schools, yet these 6 are core and will serve one well.
    The notion is getting comforable with is the 3 main views:


    • there is a dualistic view ( some call dvaita)
    • a dual-non-dual or mono-dualistic ( some call bhedābheda - see the next paragraph for a description )
    • and a non-dual view some call monistic (or advaita) and abheda-śruti applies


    The 6 schools are the following:

    • sāṁkhya
    • yoga
    • vedānta
    • mīmāṃsā
    • nyāya
    • vaiśeṣika

    The 6 darśana-s (seeing, looking, knowledge, traditional doctrine or precept , collection of such doctrines) are so complete in themselves, that many people took the 6 to be different views. This is not the case, it is the 6, when taken as whole give a 360º view of Reality. A book for these six ( a two volume set) is 'The Systems of Indian Philosophy' , by Subodh Kapoor. Are there others? No doubt, yet this one is well written as I see it and can be a reference book for some years to come.

    Now that said, my orientation of study & practice is around non-dual (advaita) kaśmir śaivism. I have listed the 4 schools in the last post. If this
    orientation resonates with you then it is best to start at the beginning. The book , Kashmir Shaivism The Secret Supreme, by svāmī lakṣman-jū is a treasure.
    From there one will begin to become grounded in the knowledge.

    I also cannot emphasize enough the importance of the bhāgavad gītā. Many think it is (only) a vaiṣṇava śastra. It is the ocean of knowledge ( the veda-s) contained
    in 18 chapters and 700 verses ( some say 701 and others translate it into 716). It is also the compressed version of the mahābhārata.

    Now I am quite aware that there are many-many translations of the
    bhāgavad gītā. For me I have read several to get many views. If you have interest here I will comment on a few of them. But the point to be offered ( as I see it) is do not settle on just one translation. This also infers one is becoming a student (śiṣya) and not a window shopper or general reader (praghaṭāvid – general reader, not a profound one).

    I leave you with the words of k
    ṣemarāja-ji from his work spandanirṇaya - "यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि or yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si - you (tvam) are (asi) identical (samaḥ) with śiva

    iti śivaṁ






    Last edited by yajvan; 02 February 2016 at 12:58 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  8. #8

    Re: Svetasvatara Upanishad and temple visit

    Yajvan,

    Thank you for the recommendations. I am going to read this next, mainly because it is available free on the net and I read most things on my iPhone anyways.
    http://cincinnatitemple.com/articles...et-Supreme.pdf

    I agree about the bhāgavad gītā. I am currently about halfway through it. It is an amazing profound work, though I wouldn't appreciated it as much as I do without having some background thanks to reading What is Hinduism? by Hinduism Today and from help from this forum, so thank you. I am sure that I appreciate only a small piece that a practicing hindu who studied multiple translations line by line would receive. For example, I have studied the heart sutra, a buddhist text that is rather short (only a page or two) for months.

    Since we are talking about the bhagavad gita, don't know if I should start a new thread for this, but what is your interpretation or what interpretation do you like of the battle as allegory? At face value, the participating in a war, particularly a senseless one seems very much against ahimsa and as a buddhist in particular I am pacifist. Now I understand that Hindus aren't pacifists, nor in reality are buddhist nations. I have read that some interpret the battle as representing an inner struggle or war with desire and attachment. I think the teaching of following your dharma and acting ethically without regard to failure/success is a profound teaching with many uses. But again I have trouble with this story in a literal sense. Any help?

    Thanks, Liang

  9. #9

    Re: Svetasvatara Upanishad and temple visit

    Namaste Liang Ji,

    Its a great question, my answer will only be superficial. If you like reading I could recommend a book, Ethics in the Mahabharata a Philosophical Inquiry for Today by Sitansu S. Chakravarti. Its not a big book but well worth the time, its very insightful for many reasons.

    Bhagavad Gita/MahaBharata and the war at Kurukshetra why would all this happen, and does it represent anything, is it symbolic to our struggle and so on, basically the more we know it ticks all the boxes, it was not a needless war, even though Maharaja Yudhistira and the Pandavas felt this way leading up to the war and after the war, but then the greatest teaching of Mahabharata comes into effect, and the whole glory of the epic is revealed.

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    Re: Svetasvatara Upanishad and temple visit

    harih oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    Quote Originally Posted by Liang Ch'an View Post
    Yajvan,

    Thank you for the recommendations. I am going to read this next, mainly because it is available free on the net and I read most things on my iPhone anyways.
    http://cincinnatitemple.com/articles...et-Supreme.pdf

    I agree about the bhāgavad gītā. I am currently about halfway through it. It is an amazing profound work, though I wouldn't appreciated it as much as I do without having some background thanks to reading What is Hinduism? by Hinduism Today and from help from this forum, so thank you. I am sure that I appreciate only a small piece that a practicing hindu who studied multiple translations line by line would receive. For example, I have studied the heart sutra, a buddhist text that is rather short (only a page or two) for months.

    Since we are talking about the bhagavad gita, don't know if I should start a new thread for this, but what is your interpretation or what interpretation do you like of the battle as allegory? At face value, the participating in a war, particularly a senseless one seems very much against ahimsa and as a buddhist in particular I am pacifist. Now I understand that Hindus aren't pacifists, nor in reality are buddhist nations. I have read that some interpret the battle as representing an inner struggle or war with desire and attachment. I think the teaching of following your dharma and acting ethically without regard to failure/success is a profound teaching with many uses. But again I have trouble with this story in a literal sense. Any help?
    Thanks, Liang

    Let me mention a few things on the bhāgavad gītā & the mahābhārata. These books are so complete, whole that they talk on 3 levels... that of the mundane world, that of the mind and consciousness and that on the spiritual. What do they talk of ? They are addressing the major philosophies ( I called out 6 above) and their different views. At first one does not see it. That is why there is bhāgavad gītā. It is the ocean of knowledge contained in a drop. In just 700 ( some like to call out 701 which = 7 + 0 + 1 = 8) verses one can, with the proper instruction OR a level of comprehension, see this view. Note this - that each and every verse of the bhāgavad gītā can be applied to the 6 philosophies. It is that profound. Yet it takes an enlightened eye ( my teacher) to point this out.

    Now if you have noticed the bhāgavad gītā &
    the mahābhārata both have 18 chapters. This is not by coincidence. Where else do we 18 ? The 18 purana-s. Where else ? In the number of days the war lasted, and the number of divisions of armies that fought . We have several posts on this matter on HDF - please take a look ( search) you will find it under 'The 5th veda' and also 'symbols of the mahābhārata'. Now why this 18 ? This is very interesting. Within the posts I just mentioned they address this ~18~ in a few ways. Yet I also need to append the posts offered and add additional knowledge I have been fortunate enough to study. This 18 is not just a ~ coincidence~ but is done for a reason. I will review this within the posts aforementioned as this knowledge ( really this way of thinking) has been lost for a while. Yet just a hint - the 18 has two meanings that have been applied - that of the ~symbol~ for the philosophies being discussed (debated, reviewed, exemplified) and also for the notion of cycles or yuga-s. Time periods when there is the brightest ( that of truth ) and its erosion over time.

    Another hint - note that krsna took one side and gave his total army to the other side... why so ? Just this point gives better view ( this will be reviewed in future posts). The other side then has 11 divisions and the pandava-s had 7 ( 11+7 = 18). Now this 11 = 6 + 5. These all represent ( by number) a specific philosophical point of view. It has taken me years to find this, but by His Blessings, it comes, and is revealed.

    So, I can tell you this - If one looks from event-to-event that occurs within the
    mahābhārata one becomes befuddled ( as I was and on many occasions) ; yet when one is told the overall endeavor that is being considered it brings new light to the whole story.

    iti śivaṁ
    Last edited by yajvan; 05 February 2016 at 06:44 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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