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Subhamoy Das

Subhamoy's Hinduism Blog

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World No Tobacco Day: Is Smoking Sinful?

Friday May 30, 2014

Yes. Harmful habits like consuming tobacco is considered immoral and sinful in Hinduism. The Chandogya Upanishad rightly says: "From purity of food follows the purity of the internal organ."

Can religion, in any way, help smokers quit the habit? On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day (May 31), find out what the scriptures say about smoking, and how religion, religious organizations and gurus can help in achieving the WHO dream of a tobacco-free world.

Nearly 6 million people die from tobacco-related illness each year. Only 8% of the world's population live in countries with sufficiently high tobacco taxes. This World No Tobacco Day, the WHO is campaigning to raising taxes on tobacco is both the most effective and cost-effective way of reducing tobacco use around the world.

Anyway, one should desist from the pleasure of smoking out of consideration for others, for "doing good to others is an act of merit; harming others is a sinful act". If you believe in this dictum you should abstain from smoking and encourage fellow-smokers to quit this habit... Read Full Artilce

What is Vaastu Shastra?

Monday May 26, 2014

Vaastu Shastra is the ancient Indian science of architecture, which governs town planning and designing of man-made structures. A part of the ancient Hindu scriptures, the word 'Vaastu' in Sanskrit means 'dwelling', and in the modern context it covers all buildings. Vaastu developed during the period of 6000 BC and 3000 BC and was handed over by ancient architects through word of mouth or hand-written monographs.

This ancient Indian science of geopathy can help you live a happy and healthy life if your house is compliant to certain natural laws. Hindus believe that for peace, happiness, health and wealth one should abide by the guidelines of Vaastu while building a house. It tells us how to avoid diseases, depression and disasters by living in structures, which allow the presence of a positive cosmic field.

Read Full Article

Illustration by Sid Ghosh

Shani Amavasya - May 28, 2014

Monday May 26, 2014

ShaniShani Amavasya is celebrated in honor of Shani Dev - one of the most popular deities that the Hindus pray to ward off evil and remove obstacles. People are under fear of evil from his planet - the Saturn - and anyone born under his influence is believed to at risk. Even the day named after him, Shanivara or Saturday, is sometimes considered inauspicious.

On Shani Amavasya, most people visit Shani temples and also observe a special fast similar to the Shanivar Vrat or Saturday fast. Many devotees, who are under the influence of Saturn in their horoscope, perform rituals like Shani yagna or homam on this day in order to appease Shani and smoothen the rough patches of life.

According to myths, Lord Shani oversees the "dungeons of the human heart and the dangers that lurks there." Stories about his evil influence abound. He is said to have chopped off Ganesha's head... Read more about Shani

POLL: Who's your favorite deity?
MORE ABOUT: Hindu Gods & Goddesses

Image © Exotic India

Swami Tirtha's Tips on Managing Stress for College Students

Sunday May 25, 2014

Most college students find it difficult to cope with stress that come in the form of managing tremendous workload, finances, social life, physical and emotional health, and most importantly self-worth. College is not only a new academic venture for the students but also a leap into the unknown. It is a constant search for one's value in society - search for identity, and search for a sure footing among peers. These young minds are often riddled with questions on stress management but find no answers.

Swami Sadashiva Tirtha, D.Sc., a Hindu American spiritual guru and best selling author has dedicated his latest book to students in colleges and universities around the world, who are experiencing perhaps the highest levels of stress on campus.

Swami Tirtha provides natural stress-management therapies in this easy to read book by delving deep into time-tested ancient Eastern wisdom to help students realize that they can reduce their stress naturally, safely, and almost instantly.

Through simple tips The Stress-Free College Student promise to give back students a rewarding educational and social campus life that they will cherish forever, and ultimately, build a foundation for graduating to the meaningful career of their dreams. Read Full Review

Why is the Cow Sacred to Hindus?

Monday May 19, 2014

India has 30 per cent of the world's cattle. There are 26 distinctive breeds of cow in India. Here cows are everywhere! Because the cow is respected as a sacred animal, it's allowed to roam unharmed, and they are pretty used to the traffic and the rhythm of the city. So, you can see them roaming the streets in towns and cities, grazing unmindfully on the roadside grass verges and munching away vegetables thrown out by street sellers. Stray and homeless cows are also supported by temples, especially in southern India.

As opposed to the West, where the cow is widely considered as nothing better than walking hamburgers, in India, the cow is believed to be a symbol of the earth - because it gives so much yet asks nothing in return. They are guileless in their behavior and from them flow sacrifices... and milk and curds and butter. It acts as a surrogate mother by providing milk to human beings for the whole life.

The cow is sacred for many reasons. Find out the history and the religious significance of the holy cow. Read Full Article

Join the Discussion: Does it make any sense to consider cows as sacred?

Image © ExoticIndia.com

Lotus, Saffron Flag & Other Sacred Symbols of Hinduism

Sunday May 18, 2014

Wondered what the Hindu symbols of the lotus or the saffron flag signify? Rooted in the mud, the lotus is a promise of purity and development; the flag is a symbol of victory, a signal to all that "Sanatana Dharma shall prevail," and its bright saffron color betokens the sun's life-giving glow.

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami in his book Dancing With Siva writes that the endearing images embodying intuitions of the spirit that adorn Hindu art, architecture and iconography symbols adorn our world and mind at every turn -- in our spiritual, social and political experience.

Hinduism has amassed a range of didactic icons from thousands of years back. Coins found in the Indus Valley have carried the symbols of the cow and of the yogi seated in meditation across a 6,000-year corridor of time. Many images from the Vedic age have become popular motifs in Kashmiri carpets and Chidambaram saris. These serve, significantly, to identify and distinguish members of a sect or community.

The simple red dot or bindi worn on the forehead of many devout Hindus is both the mark of our dharmic heritage and the personal reminder to all who wear it that we must see things not only with our physical eyes, but with the mind's eye, the third eye.

In this article the Satguru lists and describes 38 such symbols of Hinduism. Read Full Story...

Don't miss the beautiful illustrations by A Manivel in this Image Gallery of Hindu Symbols.

Buddha: The Refiner of Hinduism

Monday May 12, 2014

In Hinduism, Buddha is often mentioned as the 9th avatar of Vishnu. We celebrate Buddha's birthday - "Vaisakhi Purnima" or "Buddha Jayanti" - which falls on May 14, 2014 - with this article on the Buddha's relation with Hinduism, his reform movements and his refining of Hindu beliefs.

Buddha, as we know, began his meditation as a Hindu. He was awakened with a new enlightenment only to denounce Hinduism and emerge as the founder of a new religion. Therefore, to understand Buddhism fully, one should not separate it from Hinduism; while at the same time view it separately from Hinduism. Buddha's way of life was "the golden mean" and a relief from the pagan stigmas and caste system prevalent in Hinduism.

Jesus had the same relationship to Judaism as Buddha to Hinduism. Both Hinduism and Judaism are ethnic and non-missionary traditions, and are characterized by an element of segregation between the castes and races, unlike Buddhism and Christianity. Swami Kriyananda compares Buddha's position relative to Hinduism with Martin Luther's to the Roman Catholic Church. Read Full Article

What Makes Varanasi A Holy City?

Sunday May 11, 2014

Varanasi ElectionsThe current general elections in India is by far the largest democratic exercise in world history with 814.5 million people voting at 930,000 polling booths across the country - and its 'religious capital' Varanasi has turned out to be a key political battleground with the most keenly-watched seats.

The 'eternal' city of Varanasi, arguably the world's oldest continually inhabited city, has become the eye of the poll storm as it is here the most important three-way duel will be fought among the newly emerged Aam Aadmi or Common Man Party (AAP), the Congress Party, which has been in power since 2004, and the main opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by India's famous Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

Even as the people of Varanasi get ready to cast their vote on May 12, 2014, it is as if the holy city is trying to relive its mythological past of once being the war field of a fierce fight between the Gods and Demons. The narrow streets leading down to the famous ghats of the holy river Ganga are abuzz with political slogans, heated debates, and endless discussions. This time around, the people of Varanasi, along with the rest of India - the world largest democratic republic - are going to decide who will be God and who Demon.

More About Varanasi

Photograph: A Hindu Brahmin Priest performs the evening Ganga Aarti as devotees wear masks showing Narendra Modi at Assi Ghat on the Ganges River on May 9, 2014 in Varanasi, India. India is in the midst of a 9-phase election that began on April 7 and ends May 12. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

153rd Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore

Monday May 5, 2014

This year, the birthday celebrations of Rabindranath Tagore - the first Hindu Nobel Laureate - will be held on May 9.

Tagore's native state in India, West Bengal is celebrating the 153rd birth anniversary of  Tagore with customary grandeur. In the Hindu Calendar followed by the Bengali people in both India and Bangladesh, the day is no less than any religious festival. Known as 'Panchishe Baishakh,' Tagore's birthday is a bona fide holiday in the State.

To mark the occasion, the Tagore societies and literary associations around the globe have organized cultural events where major exponents of music, dance, drama, poetry and literature will converge and perform shows based on Tagore's works. Joining them will be many a Bangla music band that have modernized Tagore songs to make them more appealing to the Gen Y crowd.

Tagore's university at Shantinekatan, the Visva-Bharati will celebrate their 'Gurudev's birthday with traditional rituals and offerings to pay homage to the legendary literary figure of Bengal.

On this occasion, read some of his thoughts on god and religion taken from his various works.

See also: The Mysticism of Tagore

Parasurama Jayanti: May 1, 2014

Monday April 28, 2014

Lord Parasurama, also known as the "axe-wielding Rama," was the sixth avatar of Vishnu, whose main objective was to deliver the world from the oppression of the Kshatriya rulers or unrighteous kings who strayed from the path of dharma.

Parasurama Jayanti or the birthday of Lord Parasurama is an major festival for the Brahmin or the Hindu priest class. On this day, devotees worship Parasurama and observe a ritual fast in his honor. Parasurama Jayanti usually coincides with Akshaya Tritiya, which is considered one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu calendar. This year, the festival falls on May 1.

Read more about Parasurama and lessons from his life

Image © ExoticIndianArt.com

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