One day I went to the temple. Bought flowers from a flower shop near the temple. The lady was making garlands from flowers with such mastery. Behind her, in an electronic device, a mantra was playing repetitively. It was one of my favourite mantras. I started reciting it and went inside the temple.
After finishing darshan I came back home. When climbing the staircase, I had to cross a house where a Christian couple lived. I could hear a Christian prayer in Tamil. Lyrics were so simple and because it was in Tamil it appealed a lot to me. I could relate to the prayer.
This is where my mind started comparing the mantra I had heard in the temple and the prayer I heard in this house. I knew the meaning of the mantra and it appealed to me, but what about a common person? The floral lady who was hearing it? What kind of benefit it could have given to her? She was playing it mechanically.
I tried convincing myself saying the vibration will help her and so on. From that day onwards, I started noticing so many churches near my home. Far more than temples. I saw temples as a place of mechanical things happening or overhyped place. I was getting confused. Christianity appealed to me more. I started viewing Hinduism as a religion full of superstitious rituals.
From that day all the flaws in Hinduism were more visible to me. Time, direction, stones, animals, colours everything was either auspicious or inauspicious. These beliefs hindered all my decision making. So many elaborate rituals done mechanically. I saw these practices as outdated, obsolete and old fashioned. Debates in social media were more pathetic. Claims like atom bombs used during Mahabharata and many more things. I am not contesting those claims. I feel these are irrelevant in our times.
The biggest question in my mind was, ‘What do I gain by continuing as a follower of Sanatana dharma’? Why shouldn’t I convert to Christianity which looked more modern?
This is when I decided to give Sanatana Dharma the last try. I decided to learn more about it. In this journey, I learned a lot from many gurus. Attended retreats on meditation, astrology, read books, listened to gurus on YouTube. Slowly I started noticing the good things about Sanatana Dharma and started writing about them. Let me list them below.
Patanjali Yoga Sutra
To succeed in our life we need a holistic approach. When I learned about the eight limbs of Patanjali yoga sutras, I started thinking about what more one needs?
1. Yama – our attitudes toward our environment
2. Niyama — our attitudes toward ourselves
3. Asana — the practice of body exercises
4. Pranayama — the practice of breathing exercises
5. Prathayahara — the restraint of our senses
6. Dharana — the ability to direct our minds
7. Dhyana — the ability to develop interactions with what we seek to understand
8. Samadhi — complete integration with the object to be understood.
Vijnana Bhairava Tantra
112 meditations of the vijnana bhairava tantra — Although meditation is a part of Patanjali Yoga sutra. It is such a vast subject and we need to learn it separately. Learning how to meditate from a guru who had practised it extensively is of paramount importance. Today, meditation is synonymous with Buddhism. Zen meditation, Vipasanna meditation, mindful meditation, breath meditation — all are linked to Buddhism.
After reading Vijnana bhairava tantra by Lakshman Joo. I came to know all types of meditation are already explored and followed. The book gave me the courage to attend meditation classes. Until then I used to think if I attend any meditation camp, I would be hypnotised and I would leave my family 😂. I enrolled for my first meditation retreat on kundalini meditation. Oh boy, what an eye-opener it was.
The Bhagavad Gita – This scripture is revered by all Hindus. But how many of us have read it? Some of us would have mugged up the mantra but never tried to learn the meanings. I was gifted a pdf version of a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by my friend and it entirely changed my life. I am trying to keep this blog short so I would like to highlight a few points alone.
1-Gunas (rajas, tamas and satvik). This became my go-to formula to solve my doubts. From what I should eat to what should I do. I started applying this formula of gunas and it gave me a clear perspective.
2-Various kinds of Yoga
Sankhya yoga – Krishna’s first teaching was about not taking the death of the physical body seriously. He affirms that death is not annihilation and that self of all is indestructible.
Karma yoga – it comprises of two interrelated facets — giving up of fruits of action, and equanimity.
Samatvam Yoga ucyate
Yogam karmas Kausalam addresses two facets of karma yoga.
Dhyana yoga – inhibiting Chitta
Bhakti yoga – while Jnana yoga is about establishing in self, Dhyana yoga is about inhibiting the Chitta, hatha yoga is about raising energies, karma yoga is about renouncing ownership of the actions, Bhakti yoga is about dissolving yourself.
Teachings on Swadharma and Swabhava
Sadhana Chatushtaya – (Vivekachudamani)
Requirements to read the scriptures:
1-Viveka – the power of discretion – On the path of self-discovery, accepting only that which leads us to our truth and rejecting everything else is Viveka.
2-Vairagya – living a meaningful life, with the understanding that everything is temporary, is a form of vairagya.
3-Shat Sampath –
Shama – some level of equanimity
Uparati – desisting mentally from the outer world
Titiksha – forbearance to ensure obstacle
Shraddha– faith on divine
Samadhana – absorption to revel in our inner world
4- Mumukshatva – Intense spiritual longing.
Vedanta – Studying Vedanta was so refreshing for me. I believed it gave the most scientifically accepted definition of God. Concept of bramhan. It’s existence in all things. Then I realised these concepts were present in many scriptures but mostly forgotten.
Sravana / Manana / Nididhyassna
Sravana – Using jnanendriyas hearing, seeing and growing to receive wisdom.
Manana – after receiving the words the seeker will have to sit and recall them. More and more he thinks about these concepts wisdom will reveal itself.
Nididhiyassna – profound and repetitive Meditation on Maha Vakyas
I would like to keep the blog short so I am not elaborating on more common mantras like Gayathri mantra, Shanti mantras. Concepts like Pancha koshas, Nirvana satakam, or brief on Maha Vakyas, esoteric meaning of deities, their weapon and rituals.
I know that I have only scratched the surface and what all I have found till now in itself has transformed me a lot. Sanatana dharma is huge, comprising of various paths and paramparas. It has something for everyone. All that you need to do is study the scripture sincerely, or follow a learned guru. It is a long path but worth exploring.
My request for you would be to read Sadhana Chatushtaya – (Vivekachudamani) again and again. When we do this, we would never feel the necessity to convert. In fact we will start reading scriptures of other religions without bigotry or hesitation.
Please do share in the comments section your learning from Santana Dharma that has inspired you or changed your life.