God lives in our hearts and homes as well

Image is from Pixabay

Which is the best place to start our search for God? Because there is no single correct answer, the workable answer depends on our disposition. We can search for God in churches, mosques, and temples — which are all traditional and established places for spiritual connectivity. These places can transfer positive energies as well as blessings from priests and saints who regularly visit them. We can also search for God in our homes. In fact, while we pray, we can request God to meet us in person one day.

Among all beings in the universe, God, the Supreme Being, is the most accessible to all. Because God is omnipresent, we can even remember Him periodically at our workplace and say a word or two to Him whenever we feel like. We can talk to Him while assuming that He lives in our own hearts and always listens.

Some saints believe that the power of God is present not only in every living being but also in every object. In one of his poems, Saint Kabirdasa says that humans often “forget that just like scent, which resides in flowers, it is the Divine who pervades every object and being” [1]. Along these lines, we can start our search for God by appreciating that God is the nourisher of every soul. At the same time, we should remember that God, being transcendental, is beyond every object and living being.

[1] I have mentioned this previously in a blog post.

When Vishnu blessed Dhruva

Once upon a time, a five year old prince named Dhruva lived in a palace with his father, who was the king, his mother, and his step-mother. While the child was well supported by his mother, his father and step-mother, at times, mistreated him. Depressed, the child consulted his mother about how he could obtain better care from his father. Dhruva’s mother said, “Our ill luck may be behind what is happening with us. But there is a solution to every problem. Why don’t you consult a sage?”

Dhruva met a sage, who clearly understood what the problem was. The sage said, “Changing the attitude of people towards you is not an easy task. You can make yourself more worthy of your family’s love by worshiping Vishnu, the Supreme Soul. Vishnu will change your destiny. He will also give you a designation in this universe that you truly deserve.”

Dhruva followed the sage’s advice and started worshipping Vishnu regularly. After a few months, Vishnu appeared and blessed Dhruva with spiritual knowledge, love of his family, and an improved fate. God liked his new child devotee so much that He blessed Dhruva with a position in the universe that none had; Dhruva was blessed with thousands times more radiance than the sun. Even today, the pole star in the night sky, which represents a fraction of Dhruva’s manifested energy, reminds us of God’s enormous grace on Dhruva.

Sacred symbols in Hindu spirituality

What do the sacred symbols of the swan, lotus, turtle, and peepal tree signify in Hindu spirituality? To find out, please read my new article from the Speaking Tree section of the Times of India (Jan 27, 2020).

You can right click on the images below and select “View Image” to read the article.

Learning, detachment and sacred symbols

Connecting to the source of happiness

Whenever we do something for God, our effort becomes a means of bringing us closer to God — the source of all happiness. In other words, we can gain happiness from our simplest efforts by offering them to God.

Efforts that convert to fame and money may have their importance in the real world but are considered perishables in spirituality. On the other hand, if we read a prayer to God or light a candle in front an image of God, it may bring more permanent results in terms of happiness. Why? Because God, who dwells in every heart and is the real witness of all our karma, gives the fruits of every action according to his own wish. If we have done something that should attract happiness, God will eventually give it to us.

Even career-conscious human beings can gain permanent happiness by forming a relationship with God. One approach of connecting to happiness on the workplace is by forming a harmony with karma yoga. To trigger this yoga, we have to make sure that we trust God. By remembering God at times and by surrendering our actions to God, we can remain unmoved by success and failure. As we move forward, we will see that our trust on God makes God’s grace the source of our happiness, not material success.

Knowledge from scriptures and self-realized individuals has its importance in guiding us towards happiness. In fact, scriptures supposedly provide us with viewpoints of human beings, generally saints, who have already realized God.  Because God may directly guide a human being towards himself through inspirations and other means, personal experiences are equally important in spirituality. Personal spiritual experiences can range from chanting a name of God and listening to discourses to having a face-to-face meeting with God (darshan), where applicable. In our professional endeavours or our spiritual journey, whenever in doubt, we can always request God to guide us rather than making concrete assumptions about how the universe works or what our favourite scripture actually says.

God’s grace may be essential for liberation

No matter how focused and self-assured we happen to be in our spiritual pursuits, our own potential may not be adequate to give us deliverance from the universe. This is one reason why devotional saints have considered the grace of God so important in the context of liberation. Surrender of the self to the Divine makes us more worthy of His grace, which is our ticket to gaining eternal proximity to God.

Reflecting on the glory of God’s grace, Saint Tulasidasa has said, “Ja par kripa Rama ki hoi, ta par kripa kare sab koi,” which basically means, “Whoever is blessed by the grace of God wins the grace of every single being in the universe.” For human beings, it is the grace of God that transforms as guidance and blessings from mentors and saints, as guidance from scriptures, as positive energy from places of worship, and as the development of virtues like forgiveness and patience.

It is God’s grace that protects us from all kinds of sufferings, brings us in contact with true and spiritual friends, gets reflected as selflessness in our work, and provides us with food and other basic needs. God’s grace, in one of its highest forms, becomes bhakti (devotion), the basis of our spiritual connection to God. Once bhakti — the love of God — is granted to us, peace, bliss, and liberation always follow it.

What nurtured the caste system in ancient India?

I am sharing my answer to a Quora question. Casteism is a sensitive topic for many human beings. Please feel free to put your views in the comments section.

  • In ancient India, caste system became a social problem when members of the Indian society lost freedom in selecting their professions. Downward mobility was allowed; you could not move upwards. As an example, a priest or ruler could become an employee in a bookstore, but a bookstore employee could not become a ruler if he or she wanted to. The ancient hierarchy is as follows: Educators and Priests (Class I; Brahmin) → Rulers and Defence Professionals (Class II; Kshatriya) → Entrepreneurs (Class III; Vaishya) → Employees (Class IV; Shudra)
  • Casteism was not a problem created by the so-called higher caste individuals; it was more about people in political power misusing their power. However, in earlier times, unlike today, most people in power came from the higher castes (mainly Brahmins and Kshatriyas). Accordingly, Brahmins and Kshatriyas, in general, can’t be held responsible for casteism; only the individuals who misused power in ancient times can be partly blamed for it.
  • If we look at ancient World History, selected people in political power have misused power even in Europe. Misuse of power is always immoral, even when the phenomena involved is not labelled as casteism by historians.
  • Today’s India has been facing a faculty shortage for a while, maybe due to lesser perks. This indicates that people are not that interested in teaching — a job that Brahmins used to do in the past. People in ancient times were more interested in the privileges that came with it, say the permission to ride palanquins and elephants.
  • Casteism has been a social-political problem of the Indian subcontinent; it is not a problem of Hinduism, which is a global democratic religion. The saints of the Bhakti Movement, most of whom were from the so-called higher castes, ensured that casteism remains eliminated from true Hindu spirituality.
  • It appears that many ancient scholars may have even altered some of the scriptures to suit their needs. Many passages in Hindu scriptures are unnecessarily Brahmin-centric and appear out of context; they may be later additions. Because internal inconsistencies and interpolations may be present in scriptures of every world religion, we need to avoid the My scripture is perfect paradigm while reading scriptures and read them selectively.
  • We must understand that God does not discriminate on the basis of caste. At the same time, Brahmin-bashing is immoral.
  • We should remember that many of the devotional saints who handed over spiritual knowledge to society, like Sri Ramananda, Saints Tulasidasa, St. Thyagaraja, Sri Ramanujacharya, Sri Adi Shankarahcarya, St. Gyaneshwar and others were all born in Brahmin families. (Saints were considered beyond caste, but that is a different issue.) In North India, Sri Ramananda had the biggest role in opposing casteism. This shows that many people from the higher castes did think differently and supported goodness as opposed to casteism.
  • Many human beings from the so-called higher castes sacrificed their lives between 1200-1947 to free India from foreign rule. The period between 1200-1850 could have been politically and economically the worst for India, and foreign rule was unfortunate for everyone in India, irrespective of their castes.
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