THE ETERNAL SEARCH - Paths for the Daily Practice of a Sanatan Hindu Dharma

Prayer Offerings to Ma Ganga
Prayer Offerings to Ma Ganga
Analyzing various forms of the Supreme and the methods of Prayer Offerings
A series of Essays analyzing the Truth about Spiritual Realization
Through different paths with Karma Rituals, Devotional Prayers,
Following Meditation with Yoga and Study for Wisdom  

The Truth about various Paths for the Daily Practice of a Hindu
The Eternal Search with questions and looking for answers about human life and a controlling force behind all of them have been there ever since the Human race in the neo-lithic age came out of their cave dwellings. After a heavy freeze of an ice-age, the fire gave them the warmth of life. After the clouds of darkness with winter-storm, the Sun was a welcome to sign. The agricultural community depended on the seasonal rains. At the same time also the fear of flood devastation, the lightning and thunder gave them the sight of the fury of nature. This started with the civilization developing with group living and with social leaders. They started praying to the Supreme Force to bless then with happiness and prosperity, sunshine, pleasant wind and rain for plenty of food harvest.

Around the world, many civilizations and tribal cultures were worshipping the natural forces in various forms, praying for protection and prosperity. They had their local leaders who guided them and often controlled the masses. In the West, the Abrahamic faith introduced the concept of One God eliminating all other forms of nature worship. The believers had several schools, later labeled as the Orthodox, the Gnostics, and the Heretics. They came up with many theories about the Supreme God and also a God who is all merciful and loving that will also punish those who go against His Will and a Satan who will take people to hell. They had several versions of their history and several texts and Gospels. Later, many of them not liked by some leaders were destroyed after several centuries; to create a new form of faith. They also had an idea of heaven and the messenger Angels along with their Messiah and local priests controlling the followers with one dogmatic message as their faith.

Sri Ãdhi Sankara
Sri Ãdhi Sankara 
In the Eastern faiths in the Indian sub-continent, there were several forms of worship practice including prayers to images as icons in Temple, Musical prayers of devotional practice as well as the ritualistic practice with fire and water as explained in the Vedas. Almost about 10,000 years back, King Vaivasvatha Manu re-organized the faith combining all these practices as one Sanatana Dharma that evolved as the Hindu Dharma that we practice now. Later, sages like Vyasa, Vashista, Bharadhvaja, Viswamithra and several others improved on them. Sage Jjaimini explained the Karma path of rituals to upa-Devathas as the main for practices of the teachings of Veda. When ritualistic practice was ignoring a Divine Supreme Paramatma and other atheistic practices were becoming popular, Sage Vyasa gave us the Vedãntha path of Philosophy. Later, Sri Ãdhi Sankara established new norms for the practice after Jaimini's Mimãmsa was losing popularity and Gautama Buddha and Mahavira established their faith of Dharma which ignored a Supreme. Sri Sankara's theories combined Vedantha with Adhvaitha and Vedic Rituals along with devotional prayers for six forms of manifestations of the Supreme.

Among most well-educated Hindus, in their daily religious practice, many of us often get the misinformation that the Sãthvika form of Ekãntha Bhakthi and prayers to the Formless Supreme in every prayer is Superior and that is the only path to follow. Most scholars insist on our getting that Spiritual Wisdom to know the Eternal Reality as the Supreme Power of the Universe. They often feel that the Thãmasika paths are foolish methods for ignorant people. The reality is that the Bhaya Bhakthi of the Thãmasika Path, the Ananya Bhathi of a Rajasika as well as the Ekãntha Bhakthi of a Sãthvika are all important. As one learns the higher forms, one should not discard the other.

The Bhaya Bhakti forms of prayers in Temples, doing home Pooja for the various Deities as manifestations of Pramãthma and doing Vedic rituals to upa-devathas like Varuna are all equally important for everyone. This is like a soldier who is trained to use his guns to fight the enemy in a war, which is the ultimate purpose of his service, is also trained to march in a parade and salute that gives him the discipline and do weight lifting exercises that gives him the necessary strength. So, here Bhaya Bhakti gives us the discipline and mind control like meditation, Ananya Bhakti gives us the strength in our prayers with single-pointed concentration and Ekãntha Bhakti gives us that true wisdom for Spiritual Realization. Even here, doing any Karma rituals or studying holy books or performing any religious work should not be done expecting any benefits. We must realize these are to be performed just as our Dharma.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita
In Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna reiterates that doing ones Karma without attachment and worshipping the Divine with full devotion and total surrender and praying to any of the upa-Devatha while realizing that this Supreme is behind all these forms will give that supreme bliss of Realization. Kanchi Paramacharya, Sri Chandrasekhara Saraswathi mentions that Dharma is the root of our faith, but the Karma Rituals and Devotional prayers are like the flowers and fruits. All of them are essential in practice. This is like Firewood and a Utensil with water is needed to cook rice in a fire to make it suitable to digest though Rice is the only essential nutrient for us.

When we perform the proper dharma and study and understand the teachings the Divine Supreme reveals Himself as we attain our spiritual wisdom. Here meditation, concentration, discipline, total commitment in performing our prescribed rituals, total surrender to the Supreme through our devotional prayers, practicing all four Yogas improving the knowledge of the supreme through deep study and getting that Spiritual wisdom is all essential to get the true vision of the Parmãthma.

This has been the eternal search that every Hindu is doing to get the realization. This is the basic aim of the villager worshipping a Grama Devatha in a makeshift temple as also a learned person performing an elaborate ritual or a devotional prayer in a Temple. The following lessons deal with analyzing the various form of our concepts of one God in many forms and the many upa-devathas or sub-ordinate forces that we offer prayers. These lessons will explain in detail about the eternal search to know and realize that Supreme Energy through several of these paths.

yadhaa yadhaa hi dharmasya glaanir bhavathi bhaaratha |
abhyutthaanm adharmasya thadhaathmaanam sr.jaamyaham || -IV - 7 ||
Chapter IV - 7 -- Whenever there is decline of righteousness, and ascendance of unrighteousness,
then with My Maya, I manifest Myself forth.

parithraanaaya saadhoonaam vinaasaaya cha dhushkr.thaam |
dharma-samsthaapanaarthaaya sambhavaami yuge' yuge' || -IV - 8 ||
Chapter IV -8 -- For the protection of the virtuous, for the destruction of evil-doers,
and for establishing the rule of righteousness (Dharma),
I am born from age to age [in every age].

By: - Dr. Bala N. Aiyer, M.D.

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