One thing most people know about Hindus is that they show reverence for the cow, but few really understand the reason for this, and as a result it has been ridiculed at times, with ‘sacred cow’ being used as a metaphor for any object or idea that is pointlessly respected. On a number of occasions the Mahabharata emphasises the view that cows should be respected and even worshipped, and here some of the reasoning behind this custom is explained. Like one’s parents, the cow provides human beings with food in the form of milk and dairy products, and so it is natural that one should reciprocate this bounty by showing respect and providing for the wellbeing of the giver. In the western world, too often animals are treated purely as a resource to be exploited as fully as possible, but here we get a different perspective based on reciprocation rather than one-sided exploitation. At a broader level, one can apply this same mood of reciprocation to the whole of the natural world, and in India the Earth is often represented in the form of a cow. We ruthlessly exploit the resources of the Earth to the point of causing harm to the environment and hence to our own wellbeing. If we could only learn the lesson embodied by the Hindu devotion to the cow then perhaps our world could be a more wholesome place to inhabit.
Cows are always fragrant with the sweet aroma of the Guggulu perfume. Cows are the foundation for all living beings, and cows are supremely auspicious.
Cows are the past and the future; cows represent constant well-being; cows are the basis of prosperity, and the benefit of charity given for the sake of cows is never lost. Cows are a constant source of nourishment and provide the best offerings for the gods.
26. Mahabharata (13.77.5-6)
This verse and commentary is one of many included in a book I am currently working on which aims explores Hindu ideas and values through scriptural verses.
We all know the basic doctrine of action but how does it work?
Is it a law of the universe, like gravity, or is it determined and dispensed by the Supreme Deity, as Chapter 16 of the Gita seems to suggest? The Yoga Sutras seems to have an interesting alternative perspective.
Patanjali explains that as every action we perform or word we speak is based on a particular state of mind, it leaves a subtle impression on our consciousness. It is this impression, a samskara, that is carried forward with the transmigrating atman, and which produces the future reaction to the action performed. I thought this was an interesting explanation to the concept of Karma.
If you would like to study Yoga online you may find the course I produced together with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies interesting. The course is a detailed study of the history and origins of Yoga and you can find more information on the link below.
As of today, India has placed a country wide ban on animal testing for cosmetics. This is part of a significant move towards improving conditions for animals in the world, it should be celebrated as a great breakthrough in a long walk to freedom from suffering for animals. Much of the credit for this success has to go to the Global Be Cruelty Free campaign.
Alokparna Sengupta, Humane Society International’s Be Cruelty-Free India campaign manager said,”Effective today, the animal testing for cosmetic products and ingredients is outlawed throughout India. This is a huge victory for animals in laboratories.”
This is an example of what can be acheived when we all get together and work together, celebrities, politicians, activists all contributed and India has moved forward, in line with Dharma to make the world a better place.
Often when one thinks of how science and spirituality (especially pertaining to Hinduism) interact with each other, the thoughts that come up are of how diametrically opposed the findings of science are to those of spirituality. As a result, one is often studied at the exclusion of the other.
However, in the following video, Jay Lakhani, Head of the Hindu Academy, Education Director for the Hindu Council UK and a theoretical physicist, gives an interesting perspective that this isn’t always the case. In fact, he espouses how some of the findings of modern science are validating many of the concepts that the sages of ancient India have postulated centuries ago. Therefore, instead of science being contradictory to spirituality, it should be studied side by side with it.
Published by TEDx Talks
Oftentimes these days, there is a bit of apprehension towards people outside of the Hindu faith practising yoga. While yoga is indeed associated with the Hindu faith – and more effort should be made to get people to recognize the Hindu roots of yoga – that doesn’t necessarily mean that yoga can only be practices by those born into the faith of Hinduism.
Just like Hinduism isn’t meant to be confined to people of specific ethnic or geographic origin, neither is yoga meant to be only practiced by a select group of people. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living, in the following video, gives compelling reasons as to why yoga can be practiced by anyone – and while yoga shouldn’t be disassociated from its Hindu roots, neither should its practice be exclusionary.
Published by Art Of Living TV
Sri Ganapati is one of the most popularly worshiped deities in the Hindu pantheon, and for me He holds a special place in my heart. He holds authority over the obstacles in one’s life, and can teach devotees important lessons through them. Sri Ganapati is worshiped before the undertaking of any important task, including other Hindu religious ceremonies!
The prayer recited in the video below is among the most popular prayers to Sri Ganapati, but it is nonetheless moving and powerful to one’s heart. When one translates the prayer into English, one can see why:
Oh Lord Ganapati, of Curved Trunk, Large Body, and with the Brilliance of a Million Suns,
Please make all my works free of obstacles, always.
It is simple in its appeal to Sri Ganapati to remove the obstacles of one’s life, but simplicity can hold power. In a few simple Sanskrit phrases, the prayer highlights the virtues of Sri Ganapati and asks for the most basic yet essential of prayers.