Hindus believes in reincarnation. What determines the state of an individual in the next existence is karma which refers to the actions undertaken by the body and the mind.
In order to achieve good karma it is important to live life according to dharma. This involves doing what is right for the individual, the family, the community and also for the universe itself.
Dharma is like a cosmic norm and if one goes against the norm it can result in bad karma. So, dharma affects the future according to the karma accumulated. Therefore, one's dharmic path in the next life is determined by their past karma. Read Full Article
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The Hindu calendar follows the lunar month, and Purnima and Amavasya or Full Moon and New Moon are auspicious days. Every fortnight, millions of Hindus observe a 'vrat' or fast on either or both these occasions.
From ancient times, Hindus have come to believe that the fortnightly cycle of the moon exerts a great influence on the human anatomy just as it affects the water bodies on earth resulting in tides and ebbs. So the Hindu scriptures recommend keeping a fast or taking light food on full moon and new moon days as it is said to reduce the acidic content in our system, slow down the metabolic rates, increase endurance. Read Full Article
Hanuman, the mighty ape that aided Lord Rama in his expedition against evil forces, is one of the most popular idols in the Hindu pantheon. The character of Hanuman teaches us of the unlimited power that lies unused within each one of us.
Hanuman's tale in the epic Ramayana - where he is assigned the responsibility to locate Rama's wife Sita abducted by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka -- is known for its astounding ability to inspire and equip a reader with all the ingredients needed to face ordeals and conquer obstructions in the way of the world.
Let's learn more about this simian symbol of strength on the auspicious occasion of Hanuman Jayanti which falls on Thursday, April 15, 2014.
Top 6 Hanuman Jayanti Links
- Hanuman Hymn: Aarti
- Hanuman Photo Gallery
- Hanuman Chalisa: Real Audio
- Hanuman Bhajan: MP3 Downloads
- Tuesday Rituals in Honor of Hanumanji
- Hanuman in the Ramayana & Mahabharata
Image © ExoticIndia.com
Although India's national calendar is the official almanac for the Hindus, popular regional variants prevail. As a result, we have a host of new year festivities that are unique to the particular regions on this vast country. Characteristic of the Indian cultural mélange, Hindus in various states of India celebrate the new year in their own ways. And not all of these fall on the same day!
In mid-April, Hindus celebrate Baisakhi in Punjab, Poila Baishakh in Bengal, Bohag Bihu in Assam, Vishu in Kerala and Puthandu Vazthukal in Tamil Nadu to welcome the new year. These regional celebrations fall between April 14 and 15 this year.
Learn about these various regional celebrations, and don't forget to wish your friends and family a happy new year, once again!
This story of Shri Rama by the great sage Valmiki is referred to as the Adi Kavya or original epic. Universally acclaimed and accepted as the first among Sanskrit poets, Valmiki was the first to discover a metrical expression of epic dimension and vision to match the emotional ecstasy of the story of Rama. About the Ramayana, Swami Vivekananda said: "No language can be purer, none chaster, none more beautiful, and at the same time simpler, than the language in which the great poet has depicted the life of Rama."
The seven episodes or 'kandas' of Ramayana are:
- Bal Kanda, the boyhood section;
- Ayodhya Kanda, Rama's life in Ayodhya, until his banishment;
- Aranya Kanda, Rama's life in the forest and Sita's abduction by Ravana;
- Kishkindha Kanda, Rama's stay at Kishkindha, the capital of his monkey ally, Sugriva;
- Sundara Kanda, Rama's passage to Sri Lanka;
- Yuddha Kanda or Lanka Kanda, Rama's battle with Ravana, the recovery of Sita, and return to Ayodhya; and
- Uttara Kanda, the section narrating Rama's life in Ayodhya as king, the birth of his two sons, Sita's test of innocence and return to her mother, and Rama's demise or 'jala samadhi' (water-tomb).
Image © ExoticIndianArt.com
Ramnavami - the birthday of Lord Rama, one of the most important festivals of the Hindus, particularly the Vaishnava sect, falls on the 9th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra (Tuesday, April 8, 2014).
On this auspicious day, devotees repeat the name of Rama with every breath and vow to lead a righteous life. Some observe a strict fast on the day. Temples are decorated and the image of Lord Rama is richly adorned. The holy Ramayana is read in the temples. At Ayodhya, the birthplace of Sri Rama, a big fair is held on this day.
The story of Mahabharata comprises 100,000 verses contained in 18 chapters. Author Dr Devdutt Pattanaik just created a record of sorts in a publicity exercise to promote his book Jaya - An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata from Penguin.
Recently, Dr Pattanaik appeared on Twitter and retold the hundred thousand verses of the Hindu epic in just 36 tweets - that is - 2 tweets per chapter in about 40 min.
According to the Saka calendar - India's national almanac, we are already in a New Saka Year of 1936. The Saka year of 1936 began on March 22, 2014, which fell in the first week of the Hindu month of Chaitra. To make things a little more complicated, a different Saka Calendar is followed in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Seemandhra according to which the new year of 1936 starts on March 31, 2014. This is celebrated as Gudi Padwa and Ugadi in these states.
Although it is quite popular in South East Asia, ironically, the Saka calendar is hardly followed in India barring fine-print mentions in government gazettes and circulars, and by the All India Radio at the beginning of the day's broadcast.
The Saka Era started in 78 AD, and the current Saka calendar was set up in 1957 by the Calendar Reform Committee that formalized a lunisolar calendar in which leap years coincide with those of the Gregorian calendar, and the months are named after the traditional Indian months. Read more about the Hindu Calendar System
Sshhh... it's Nyepi! Even as the Southeast Asian island of Bali celebrates 'Nyepi' - the first day of the new year - on March 31, life will stand still and quietude will descend on this one of its kind "Day of Silence".
Bali has over 90% Hindus! The Balinese Hindus believe that before ushering in the New Year, one should meditate for self introspection, which can be achieved by observing a fast, and maintaining silence with very little movement inside the house and none at all outside-virtually closing the gates, switching off light and fire for the day.
The local security patrols the roads and allows only emergency vehicles to pass. The airport is closed and tourists visiting Bali, too, observe this silence.
Read more about Nyepi and New Year celebrations in Bali.
Navaratri literally means "nine nights." This festival is observed twice a year, once in the beginning of summer and again at the onset of winter.
Vasanta Navaratri - the Spring Festival: The spring festival or Vasanta Navaratri starts on March 31 and climaxes on Ram Navami - April 8 - the birthday of Lord Rama. During Navaratri, we invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as "Durga," which literally means the remover of miseries of life.
The Story of Vasanta Navaratri: A long long time ago, King Dhruvasindhu of Kosala was killed by a lion while on a hunting expedition. Preparations were made to crown the prince Sudarshana, son of one of the queens of Dhruvasindhu. But, King Yudhajit of Ujjain, the father of Queen Lilavati, and King Virasena of Kalinga, the father of Queen Manorama, were each desirous of securing the throne of Kosala for their respective grandsons. They went to war with each other, and King Virasena was killed in the battle. So, Queen Manorama had to flee to the forest with Prince Sudarshana accompanied by a eunuch. They took refuge in the hermitage of Rishi Bharadwaja, the great sage.
The victorious King Yudhajit, then crowned his grandson, Shatrujit at Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala. He then went out in search of Manorama and her son, and reached Rishi Bharadwaja's abode. The sage said that he would not give up anyone who had sought protection under him. Yudhajit became furious, and returned to his capital.
Fortune smiled on Prince Sudarshana, and he obtained the grace of the Divine Mother by the repeated utterance of her mantra. Devi Durga appeared to him, blessed him and granted him divine weapons and an inexhaustible quiver. Thus, he started worshiping the Mother Goddess. Read full story
Sudarshana's descendants, Sri Rama and Lakshmana, also performed the worship of the Devi during Vasanta Navaratri. They were blessed with Divine assistance in the rescue of Sita from the evil clutches of the demon King Ravana of Lanka, as recounted in the great epic of Ramayana.