The videos included in this post are the two mentioned in comments from the post before this. They are somewhat lengthy talks (as far as YouTube videos go) by a Doctor from the Oxford Center for Hindu Studies.

I this first video, which is the longer of the two, the speaker details pretty well how vast the collection of Hindu scriptures is and goes into some detail about selective Hindus can be in identifying which scriptures they will or will not adhere to. I found this interesting because it’s one of the aspects of the practice of Hinduism that I think really sets it apart from the other major world religions.

With many of the other major world religions there can be found a prevalent habit of picking-n-choosing which holy literature is most valid or applicable to today’s living. In their context (the context of the Abrahamic religions, for example), however, believers are quite literally talking from both sides of their mouth. They’ve already attributed ultimate sanctity and supreme authority to their holy texts and maintain that claim all the while they select which parts of the same text support the current goal or focus. Naturally, this leads to contradiction and hypocrisy – which I have found to be inherent in Abrahamic religions, specifically. You end up with a religion saying one and ONLY one text is holy (Only the Bible, or only the Q’uran), and then in that same text find them pointing to words that say you should kill someone wearing clothing made from cotton-polyester blends or who eats shrimp (Leviticus) while ignoring other parts of the same textual body that says we should love people as much as we love our own self (New Testament).

In Hinduism, according to the video, Hindus have an historic tendency to abandon entire bodies of scripture when then become irrelevant or create situations like the one mentioned above with the Abrahamics. An example cited in the video is of Gandhi’s stance on widow remarriage. The Manu Smriti / Dharma Shastras are clear that widows are not allowed to remarry. But this was challenged in a big way. Another example was that of wives seeing their husbands as gods – despite poor behavior on the husband’s part, including things like adultery. The speaker was among a group of Hindus and asked the women present about if they do this or would be willing to, and laughter was the answer he received in addition to a lady who went so far as to say that scripture was evil. For Hindus, it seems, the relationship to scripture is sacred insofar as the scripture itself makes sense and serves the purpose of benefiting the greater good, otherwise the scripture risks losing its sacred status in a very real way.

This next video is one in which worship itself is discussed a bit more. The speaker still touches a bit on scripture and its value, but relates it the actual process of worship within Hinduism. He points out that there are different varieties of Sanskrit, some of which are so poorly understood that there are yet words in our Vedas the meaning of which is not likely to be known ever. I appreciated this video because he discusses what murti wrship really means and does so in an intelligent way. He provides answers to some common questions that probably most Hindus would agree on and speaks some about the differences of belief within Hinduism in regard to prana, pranaprathistha, whether the murti is actually god or just the carrier, whether we really are in the presence of god when a murti is worshipped or whether we might be just as effective worshipping the god-amsha within instead. And I also really liked how he was knowledgeable about the Vedas and other better-know Hindu scriptures in regard to how little they actually “support” murti worship.

These videos are definitely informative and an overall good resources that may well answer a few questions for the wondering mind. If you have a free hour, or so, I would encourage you to watch these. If they don’t change your mind on one thing or another, then they may well at least help you understand the larger Hindu picture. It’s probably not entirely what you think.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti




The picture above is of something near-n-dear to me. It’s my “asana.” To be clear, the only definition most people know to apply to that word is along the lines of “body posture.” Everyone almost invariably thinks of Hatha Yoga and yoga mats and teachers at the front of the class twisting their bodies into poses the students could only hope to achieve. According to Patanjali, asana is a firm but comfortable posture. Wikipedia mentions some Purana (I think) wherein Shiva, the Supreme Yogi and guru of all yogis, provides 8,400,000 asanas. Of that number, 84 make up the “heart” of yoga poses, and of those 84 apparently only 32 are necessary here on Earth. However, another definition that I’ve encountered (although I forget where) is that an asana is the “mat” on which one sits during meditation (think of the animal skin Shiva is usually shown as sitting on during his meditation). And so, my asana. I came to me from Ikea and probably cost not more than $20, American. Methinks it’s made of cotton and is very durable but not terribly heavy.

I love my asana because of its weight and because of what it’s made of and its color. I usually wrap myself or my legs in it during meditation, but when it’s folded up it makes a great cushion on which to sit for the same purpose. I obviously keep it clean and I’ve been known to use things like Febreeze or other fabric sprays because the pleasantness of the smells seems to help facilitate meditation.

The Sahaj Marg employs a heart-centered meditation / transmission technique. The heart chakra (Anahata Chakra, अनाहत चक्र) is kind of like the “action center” for this sadhana and the color associated with that center of the body is green. Long before I came to Sahaj Marg, green was my favorite color. It’s the color of life and growth. It’s the color of some foundational plants in the vegetarian way of eating. And despite the common misunderstanding that red is the color of love, anyone familiar with any of the esoteric arts will advise you that green is actually the color of love which in my mind, in certain contexts, also makes it the color of God. I suppose this makes my association with Sahaj Marg somewhat serendipitous on a superficial level. I’m fine admitting that it might be entirely in my head, but wrapping myself comfortably in the “aura” of the chakra in question seems to help me dissolve into meditation more readily. Additionally, it’s important to keep items like this reserved for that one use only. This blanket will never be used to cover something up, or to wrap up in against the cold (unless I happen to be meditating in a cold place), my dogs / cat will never have access to snuggling up with this blanket.

I have lots of possessions but there aren’t many items in my life that hold a ton of meaning for me, from a spiritual standpoint. I have mandirs and murtis, ghantas and diyas, etc… many of which are quite special to me. But there’s only this lone asana. With all the symbolism I’ve attached to the object and all the “vibes” it’s been infused with (both from myself and my Guru), it’s no wonder this is a special thing to me and I kind of felt like a show-n-tell post might be warranted. I’ll close with a recent and short story that involved my asana.

I was at the home of a prefect recently for a sitting (in the Sahaj Marg sense of the term) and it was just the two of us (although another sitting was taking place in another part of the home). Their home is absolutely beautiful. The “ashram” part of their home has lots of natural lighting thanks to wonderfully placed and large windows. For my sitting I sat with my back to one of these windows – actually in my favorite place to sit when I’m there. The chair in which I sat is a retro-modern style: boxy and firm, but comfortable and possessing soft angles. Just outside the window are a couple larger bushes / smaller trees. While there, a short but intense summer thunderstorm rolled through with lots of thunder and heavy rain. After the sitting, my prefect painted a mental picture for me of a sight seen by herself: I was there in the chair, slightly wrapped in my green asana and sitting before the window – eyes closed in sadhana / meditation. The trees and sky were the backdrop and the storm passed through, with the sun still ahead of it. This allowed for a layering effect, I imagine: The chair, me, the asana, the window, the trees, the heavy rain, and the sunlight penetrating all of the scene. I jokingly and rather vaguely posted that night on Facebook that I was “nearly a vision” and “nearly glorious.” The greater Truth, though, is that “I” was actually a very small portion of the “vision” experienced by my prefect. In my interpretation, she saw the layering of Nature and the blessing of living in harmony with it – all things working together. This relates to some of the Maxims of Sahaj Marg and brings about a condition of joy and equanimity with myself. I’m exactly where I should be and I am headed, precisely on my own journey, to our common Goal.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti


Taken from Google Image search, "Gay Hindu"

Taken from Google Image search, “Gay Hindu”

Friday was an interesting day for me. The week has pretty much flew by, although Friday not so much. Russia’s been on my nerves in the worst way. It’s not often I recommend obliterating nations, but Russia is pushing it. Even the Middle East with all its own joys doesn’t get under my skin the way Russia is currently. In the Middle East at least they have “good reasons” for their dumb ideaologies. By “good reasons,” I mean religion. Everyone is dictated by Islam in those regions and while it’s not right to be that way either, per se, it’s at least a foundational starting point that can evolve. It’s spiritually misguided logic – it theoretically started out wholesome, and wherever it sits currently, it could also theoretically get back to square one. Russia is different though. The stuff coming out of Russia these days is just mean. Russia’s not saying that Jesus wants them to hunt gays. It’s saying its population is dwindling and gays pose a threat to reproduction and therefore the survival of the nation. That view violates so much common sense and even basic facts that I find it far more offensive than a Muslim who’s ignorant wanting to hunt gays. It’s a fine line, but a distinct one in my mind.

Along these lines, a friend on Facebook reposted something from Vaishnav literature wherein Prabhupad Swami had some pretty harsh words regarding gays, including that we’re lower than even the animals, which are already far lower than humans already. He went on and on as the devotees probed him on this. You can read that blissful knowledge here.

The best part of it all for me was that no one said, “Those are not true Vaishnavs!” One commenter did come close (he’s what another friend would rightly call Kraishnav), but otherwise it didn’t even show up on th radar. This is heard muchly within Abrahamic religions. Whenever Christians hunt people or Muslims bomb them, the other adherents of those faiths are quick to abandon their brothers and very loudly make sure everyone else knows, “They aren’t real Christians!” I’ve even heard a Buddhist monk do this in reponse to some other monks standing up against Muslim oppressors. It seems terribly egoic to me when people turn on their own brothers/sisters like that. It was nice that no one did that – today anyway.

Someone else commented that Vaishnavism is essentially “curried Catholicism.” I’m not sure that’s an entirely fair or accurate assessment, but it’s one I can relate to as having an element of truth to it.

But it all got me thinking… What if one keeps his mouth shut entirely? I mean, the whole event Friday on Facebook was really quite interesting. Somebody said something, others encountered that said thing and said something else in reponse, and then more and more people ended up saying more and more in reponse (in reaction?).

So if I have shitty or hateful or whatever views does it really matter so long as I keep my pie hole shut? My karmas are mine alone (mostly) and if I don’t project them in any manner externally (which, I’ll admit would be nearly impossible to do) then why should anyone else care about it?

I see this happen in the spa I work part-time at. One professional will be having a conversation and since the area is rather open and fluid, conversationsa are often blended and melted into each other, or at least overlapping. This often creates a “mind your own business, nobody asked you” kinda of situation. Prior to those interactions, relative peace is experienced. But is that really peace, or just relative, individualized ignorance?

Here’s what I think the REAL root of it all is: Jnana. And I mean both sides of the Jnana “coin.”

Jnana, I’ve said before, is experiential realization of Truth. It requires work on your part and no one else’s. If I want your advice to check my own thoughts against, that’s one thing. But if I haven’t invested enough work in my own Self, I won’t even really be (experientially) aware of what’s already inside me. This is simultaneously the starting place and the finish line, no joke. But if this doesn’t happen, a person not only has no secure foundation (afterall what’s clearer than your own personal, experiential, realization of Truth?), but also almost certainly has no clear idea of the Goal – also because they’ve not invested the work needed for experiential realization. So if one neglects the work that needs done, and has no realization of the secure foundation (not the same as having no foundation at all), and has no resultant sight of the Goal which would also need to be certain, then he/she is likely to rely on others in ways that the hope-filled think will give direction to their journey – this laziness is grave and is pretty much the reason the self-help industry is booming. Nothing wrong with a book telling you how to reach your higher Self, but just reading won’t work. This almost invariably means that the kind of ineractions I mentioned earlier take place.

To keep moving… What’s all the fuss about gayness and Hinduism? Superficially, Hinduism is pretty much literally the most liberating religion ever. Many religions are quite “free,” but within the context of history and orthodoxy, the freedom found in Hinduism simply can’t be surpassed.

Interestingly, Hinduism has a rich, albeit somewhat obscure, history of gayness. The Faithology website has a page on homosexuality within Hinduism which can be accessed by clicking here – and it does a fair job at detailing exactly what I’m talking about.

The site mentions the “third sex,” which everyone should read about. More popularly, though, the site also offers a few nuggets most might not know about. For instance, the Harihara aspect of God, is a male-male union of Shiva and Vishnu. This can’t exactly be said to be gay, but it’s definitely homosexual (according to a strict definition of the word) and stands in sharp contract to the more obviously hetero blending of “God” in the form of Shiva and Shakti. Also, Krishna’s own son, Samba, actually engaged in homosexual acts (which isn’t the same as being gay, but whatever) and is a known cross-dresser/transvestite. There’s also a version of the Ramayana that details the creation of the god Bhagiratha from lesbian intercourse.

Another WordPress post, also inspired by some of Friday’s interactionsw, was composed by the Facebook friend mentioned earlier who had reposted Prabhupad’s interview transcription. This post can be read here, and takes a myth buster form. In all actuality, the posted I just linked you (as well as my post here) could just about as easily contribute to the strife I was getting at in the beginning of this post.

In theory, we should all be able to hold any view under the sun about any subject under the sun, and it shouldn’t matter. Should it? Why does it? Have I already provided the answer, or do I need you to help enlighten me? Are you sure?

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

Aadi Pujya

big511052As I left Christianity, one thing I was glad to leave behind was the belief of a literal Heaven. Streets of gold, pearly gates, the whole bit. I recall in Revelation, the last book of the Bible as we know it currently, there are actual 3-Dimensional measurements of New Jerusalem as it sinks from Heaven down onto Earth to establish the new order of God on Earth. Nothing like the idea of repenting for every mis-step your entire conscious life to go and spend forever in a cube. Mystical or not, no way THAT sounds like jail. (note: sarcasm)

In that light, one of the appeals Hinduism held for me when I first encountered it a decade or so ago is that the destination of us all is the same place we started – an infinitely infinite Infinity that literally transcends any description our brawniest brains might conceive. To me, THAT notion/definition of God/Heaven seems to not only be the most satisfying and least human, but also the most logical and most likely. But it seems I’ve been wrong.

As I deepened my journey into Hinduism, I learned of MANY different so-called heavens. It’s been said that there are more religions within Hinduism than outside of it and that there are 330 million gods in Hinduism. I suppose each has His/Her own “loka” or Heaven where His/Her devotees potentially land after the finish of this life. The first of these lokas that I learned about, some time ago actually, was Vaikuntha. This, apparently, is the hopeful resting place of all the Krishna-centric worshippers in the world. In my unfair ignorance, and before learning much about the other lokas, I thought to myself, “Just figures. Typical!” Within the main branches of Hinduism (Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, & Smartism), it has always seemed to me that Vaishnavism has the highest number of parallels with the Abrahamic Faiths, namely Christianity. (Please note: that while that is still (mostly) my view, I’m also able to recognize immense differences between Vaishnavism and Christianity that I find very comforting.) Kailasha is the heaven dedicated to Shiva and even that seemed more reasonable to me. Afterall, we’re made of consciousness – which Shiva represents -and surely consciousness is where we’re destined to return to, so… But whatever, that kind of thinking could be classified as sectarian hair-splitting and ultimately is unproductive. Suffice to say, every god has a loka and we’re all best served to understand these lokas as something like, “literal, independent-but-nondifferent, … and certainly with a grain of salt.”

Having said all that, while catching up on posts from a secret Facebook group I belong to I came across some loka-vidya for the “heaven” where Ganesha and His devotees supposedly reside in the hereafter.

Ganesha’s lokah is known as either Swanandalokah or Nijalokah. This loka is located above Swarga lokah and is placed in the middle of an ocean of sugar cane juice (ikshu sagara). So above Swargalokah, in the middle of Ikshu Sagara, in the middle of a white lotus (swetha kamala), and on top of that on a silk sheet (ratna gambali) can be found Bala Ganapati being attended to by the Ashta Siddhis. Nearby is Samaveda Purusha reciting the Sama Veda.

And there you have it. The “heaven” I can look forward to.

Om Shanti