IIHS’ Huge Collection of Audio Lectures on Hindu Practices

Posted on December 31, 2006
Filed Under Hinduism, guides, lists | Leave a Comment

I happened across this collection of mp3 files with audio lectures on Hinduism, and Indian Tradition. I would love to see the speeches transcribed, since I can read faster than I can hear. The difficult thing about audio files is that you have to listen at the pace of the speech, and can’t skim over the less interesting parts.

Maybe, someday, I will listen to the audio files and transcribe them, but till then this post will act as a placeholder.

Tantra in Hinduism

Posted on December 29, 2006
Filed Under Hinduism, sex, tantra | 2 Comments

Tantra, along with Karma and Dharma, is one of the most widely abused and misunderstood terms in the West. It still carries with connotations of sex, and the “dark arts”. While I cannot possibly define or exhaustively write about all the aspects of tantra in a page, it irks me whenever I have a discussion with someone and the mention of the word tantra almost automatically triggers the response, “oh, sex?”. Online too, a search for tantra leads one to “tantric sex” with a ridiculously high frequency.

Here’s what I understand Tantra to address:
The universe has an inexhaustible supply of Energy – something that flows through it. Since we are a part of the Universe, the energy flows through us and can be channelled. For this, you need to be aware of your own being, conscious of this energy and yourself, and such channelling can lead to bliss, and well being.

What has this got to do with sex? Well, that is an open question. The discourses in the Upanishads and Vedas that discuss Tantra make us aware of the male-female dichotomy as also the “togetherness” of the opposite sexes. Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati are prototypical male and female. Practitioners of the principle of Tantra are often devotees of the Lord Shiva. Parvati, in the Tantric tradition is called “Shakti”, which is also a word that means, quite literally, “Power”.

Tantra is about the unity of the microcosm(the human body) with the macrocosm(the universe) through processes(rituals and practices) that encourage self-evolution and self-involution. The ultimate goal of tantra is to elevate the being to a state of pure consciousness and identity.

As you can see, Tantra has to do with a lot more than sex, so it is painful to see it degenerate into a fancy “way” of having sex.

V. Gangadhar – Slice of Life Archive

Posted on December 27, 2006
Filed Under Hindu Gods, Hinduism, mythology, stories | 13 Comments

One of the simple pleasures of a Sunday used to be reading V. Gangadhar’s column “Slice of Life” in The Hindu on Sundays.

I now get to to relive the experience, thanks to Rediff. The archive of Gangadhar’s Slice of Life provides for very interesting reader. He mostly writes about one-off topics related to his life in Ahmedabad, about the India of the past etc.

Here’s an excerpt from his article suggesting we celebrate Manmadan, the Hindu God of Love instead of Valentine’s Day:

Manmadhan was in the habit of shooting arrows made of fragrant flowers at his victims, making them fall in love. Somewhat like Cupid of Greek legend. Unfortunately, Manmadhan once fooled around with Shiva, the Angry Young God, who was not known to be particularly romantic. On being struck by the romantic arrow, Shiva reacted strongly. He opened his third eye, discharged the requisite fire reducing poor Manmadhan to ashes. I do not know when this exactly happened but it would be nice to celebrate the martyrdom of Manmadhan as our version of Valentine’s Day.

I guess that is enough linkage for you to waste a couple of hours. Have fun!

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