Natya Shastra - Gadharva UpaVeda


Natya Shastra 
(Gandharva UpaVeda)

Natyashastra is the most detail and elaborate of all treatises on drama and acting ever written in any language and is regarded as the oldest surviving text on stagecraft in the world. Natyashastra demonstrates every facet of drama covering areas like music, stage-design, make up, dance and virtually every aspect of stagecraft. Natyashastra was attributed to the Sage Bharata (No connection with Bharata of Ramayan or King Bharata of Mahabharta).

Background of Natyashastra:

Natyashastra composed of two words, Natya means Dramaic Art, and Shastra means holy writ dedicated to a particular field of knowledge. The Natyashastra consists of six thousands sutras and has been divided into some thirty six chapters. The background of Natyashastra is framed in a situation where a number of Munis approach Bharata to know about the secrets of NatyaVeda. The answer to this question comprises the rest of the Natyashastra book.

Lord Brahma created the fifth veda called Natyaveda (Natya = Drama, Veda = Knowledge, thus the art of drama), which can be studied and practiced by everybody. Natyaveda was handed over to Indra and Indra handed it over to Bharata.  While creating this Natyaveda, Brahma adopted its constituents from four Vedas, such as:         

  •  Pathya (Text) including the art of Recitation and Execution in performance taken from the Rig Veda.
  • Geet (Songs) including instrumental Music from the Sama Veda
  • Abhinaya (Histrionics, Acting) the technique of expressing the poetic meaning of the text and communicating it to the spectator from the Yajur Veda,
  • Rasa (Sentiments) or aesthetic experience from the Atharva Veda

Subordinate vedas called Upavedas were also connected with Natyaveda such as:  
  • Ayur Veda was used to show expressions of diseases, their symptoms & certain mental moods
  • Dhanur Veda (archery) was made use of in the representation of fights on the stage
  • Gandharv Veda was used in the preliminaries and in the actual performance of drama
  • Shilpa Veda (architectural science) was necessary for construction of the playhouse

Sage Bharata says that all the knowledge of Natyashastra is due to Lord Brahma. At one point he mentioned that he has a hundred "sons" who will spread this knowledge, which suggests that Bharata may have had a number of male disciples whom he trained in dramatic art. However to play the role of male counterpart female, Lord Brahma created Apsaras (celestial maidens), who were experts in dramatic art.

Chapters of Natyashastra:

Concisely, Natyashastra covers every aspect of art and drama. In its first chapter, Bharata gives account of Natyashastra’s creation. The natya was created by Brahma, the god of creation, to meet the demand of a plaything a source of pleasure to minds; tired of strife, wants and miseries of daily existence. An art form like a drama does it very easily because it has a visual and aural appeal. Any piece of advice communicated through a visual-aural form has more impact on human mind than any other form. A drama, besides offering entertainment, can also influence and uplift the minds of spectators

Artha Shastra - Chankaya's Science of Politics



ARTHA SHASTRA

The "Arthashastra" is an ancient book written by Chanakya around 4th Century BCE on the art of politics, diplomacy, war, and national strategy. Chanakya (Kautilya, Vishnugupta) was scholar at Takshashila (Taxila). Later he became the Prime Minister of the Maurya Empire and was close associate and master of Chandragupta Maurya. Different scholars have translated the word "ArthaShastra" in different ways. Here are fews: "Science of Politics", a treatise to help a king in "the acquisition and protection of the earth"; "Science of Material Gain"; "Science of Political Economy" etc.

According to Chanakya, the primary duty of the king is to protect "Dharma" or righteousness in society. King who upholds righteousness and virtue will have happiness in this world. On the other side, king who uses his power improperly and unjustly deserves to be punished. The sacred task of a king is to strive for the welfare of his state’s people. The administration of the kingdom is his religious duty. His greatest gift would be to treat all as equals.

The Arthashastra is divided into fifteen separate books, each concerning a different aspect of statecraft.

According to Chanakaya:

"Sovereignty is possible only with assistance. A single wheel can never move, hence the king shall employ ministers and hear their opinion".
This bears a certain resemblance to modern business rules.

Two Great Devotees Of Supreme Personality of GodHead

Two Great Devotees Of Supreme Personality of GodHead
                Dhurava Maharaja Story        Prahlad Bhagat Story

RAMCHARITMANAS ~ Ramayana



RAMCHARITMANAS
(Ramayana)

Ramayan describes the Divine Lilas of Shri Ram who descended on the earth planet in Ayodhya from His Divine abode, Saket, along His brothers Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrugahn. The eternal consort of Ram, Goddess Sita, had descended in Mithila, the kingdom of King Janak, who was also called Videhi. Sage Valmiki wrote the Ramayan (called Valmiki Ramayan) in Sanskrit language, while living in his hut as he saw all the Lilas of Shri Ram from his Divine eyes. Ved Vyas, about 5,000 years ago, reproduced the Valmiki Ramayan.

The word Ramayana is composed of two words Rama (Lord Rama) and ayana ("going, advancing"), translating to "Rama's Journey". Ramayana explores human values and the concept of dharma.

The Ramayana takes place during a period of time known as Treta Yuga. Ramayana is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Sanatana Dharma in narrative parable, combining both philosophical and devotional elements. The Ramayana has been a continuing source of spiritual, cultural and artistic inspiration. The famous versions of Ramayana include Shri RamCharitManas by Goswami Tulasidas and Kambar’s Kambaraamayanam.

Ramcharitmanas, means "The Lake of Life and Deeds of Lord Shri Rama". Sri Ramcharitmanas is a great scripture and poetic classic written by Tulsidas Goswami. This scripture elaborates the divine life and deeds of Lord Rama. Sri Ramcharitmanas bestows upon its readers the gifts of Devotion (Bhakti), Divine Knowledge (Gyan) and Salvation (Mukti). Originally it was written in "Awadhi" (An Indo-Aryan Language) around 16th century at Varanasi, where Tulsidas spent his later part of life.
 
Statistically Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is composed of 24,000 verses called Slokas. These verses are grouped into around 500 chapters called Sargas wherein a specific event is told. These Sargas are groupd into seven books called Kaandas where a particular phase of story or an event in the course of story narration is enlightened. The verses in the Ramayana are written in a 32-syllable meter called Anustubh.

Srimad Bhagavatam


Srimad Bhagavatam
(Bhagavata Purana)

The Bhagavata Purana, also known as Srimad Bhagavatam, is considered as “the ripe tree of Vedic Literature”. Srimad Bhagavatam conveys the selfless devotion to Lord Shri Krishna, which ensures liberation from all the pains and miseries of the world. The Bhagavatam is like a crown jewel among all Sanatana Dharma scriptures.

Srimad Bhagavatam is the most unique and transcendental literature containing many stories glorifying the pure devotional service “Bhakti” to Supreme Personality of GodHead and His all incarnations including Lord Rama (Canto 9) and Lord Shri Krishna (Canto 10). In Kali Yuga, devotional service and chanting the Lord’s name in love; is the only way to be freed from the clutches of the evil nature of Kali Yuga.

The Srimad Bhagavatam declares itself as the essence of Vedanta:

The Srimad Bhagavatam is the very essence of all the Vedanta Literature.
One who has enjoyed the nectar of its rasa never has any desire for anything else.
(Canto 12)

Srimad means “beautiful(as Shrimati RadhaRani) and Bhagavatam means “related to Lord Hari”, thus Srimad Bhagavatam can be translated as “The Beautiful Story of Lord Hari”. The purest form of Bhakti described in the Bhagavatam is directed toward Shri Krishna as Supreme Personality of Godhead in human form. The 10th Canto, which is dedicated to Shri Krishna, takes up about one quarter of the entire Bhagavatam, includes the most comprehensive collection of stories about the life of Shri Krishna and, His Lilas.

“From beginning to end, the Srimad Bhagavatam is full of narrations that encourage renunciation of material life, as well as nectarean accounts of Lord Hari's transcendental pastimes, which give ecstasy to the saintly devotees and demigods. This Srimad Bhagavatam is the essence of all Vedatna philosophy because its subject matter is the Absolute Truth, which, while non-different from the spirit soul, is the ultimate reality, one without a second. The goal of this literature is exclusive devotional service unto that Supreme Truth”.
                             (SB Canto 12 Chapter 13: Translation by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

Statistically, Srimad Bhagavatam comprises Twelve Skandas (Cantos or Books), 335 Chapters and has some 18,000 verses; containing detailed account of Lord’s names, forms, nature, personality, devotees, activities, residences, and much more; all describing Supreme Personality of Godhead and our relation with Him. 

Srimad Bhagavatam credits to Sage Veda Vyasa with its authorship and was taught by his son Saint Shukdev Goswami, to King Parikshita

Shad Darshan - Darshan Shastra - Six School of Vedic Philosophy


Shad-Darshan (Darshan Shastras)
Six Schools of Vedic Philosophy

The Sanatana Dharma literature is so extensive that it is hard even for a Vedic genius to comprehend and remember the theme of all of entire literature related to Sanatana Dharma. So for the systematic process of understanding, the deep rooted philosophy of Santaana Dharma, the Great Sages wrote Darshan Shastras – defining six schools of Vedic Philosophy in the forms of Sutras.

These Shad-Darshans are the six instruments of true teaching or the six demonstrations of Truth. Each of these schools of philosophies differs in one way or the other in terms of its concepts, phenomena, laws and beliefs. Each philosophy has developed, systematized and correlated the various parts of the Vedas in its own way. Each system has its Sutrakara, i.e., the one great Rishi who systematized the doctrines of the school. It is important to know that the founders of each school of philosophy are sages of the highest order that have devoted their lives for the study and propagation of specify philosophy. Each system of is called a Darshana, thus the Sanskrit word ‘Shad-Darshan’ refers to ‘the six systems of philosophy’.

All six schools of Vedic philosophy aim to describe following three key features:

Nature of External World and its Relationship with Individual Soul

Relationship of World of Appearances to Ultimate Reality

Describing the Goal of Life and Means by which one can attain the Goal

Briefly outline of Shad-Darshan is given below: 

1. Nyaya - by Sage Gautam
Logical Quest of Supreme, Phases of Creation, Science of Logical Reasoning
It is a logical quest for God, the absolute Divinity. It tells that the material power “Maya”, with the help of God, becomes the universe. Nyaya Darshan is based on establishing the fact that only the Divinity (God) is desirable, knowable and attainable, and not this world. Nyaya philosophy is primarily concerned with the correct knowledge to be acquire in the human life and the means of receiving this knowledge.


2. Vaishesika – by Sage Kanad
Science of Logic, Futility of Maya, Vedic Atomic Theory
Its aim is to receive happiness in this life (by renouncing worldly desires) and finally to receive the ultimate liberation (through the attachment of the true knowledge of the Divine). According to this school of philosophy, there is no creation or annihilation but rather an orderly and morally systematized composition and decomposition of matter. Atoms (not we studied in our elementary science) are the smallest particle exists in the universe and are eternal in nature. 


3. Sankhya -  by Sage Kapil
Eliminate Physical and Mental Pains for receiving liberations, Nontheistic Dualism
The dualistic philosophy of Purusa and Prakrti; according to many followers of Sankhya philosophy, there is no such God exists. For them Purusa is sufficient to inspire the unconscious Prakrti to manifest herself in the form of universe. However, a section of Sankhya philosophers believed about the existence of Supreme Being who guides Prakrti independently accordingly to His will. The extent of mayic creation and Divinity beyond that; it tells that the entire mayic creation is worth discarding and only the Divinity is to be attained because that is the only source of Bliss.

Yoga Vasistha

Yoga Vasistha
Essence of Sanatana Dharma Sacred Texts- Bhagawd Geeta, Vedas & Upanishads

Yoga Vasistha, the spiritual teaching imparted by Spiritual Guru Vasistha to young Lord Shri Rama, has been dated between 11th and 14th century AD. Yoga Vasistha is regarded as one the longest texts after Mahabharta, containing 32,000 shlokas. Yoga Vasishta is also known as Maha Ramayana, Uttar Ramayana, Vasistha Ramayana etc. Yoga Vasishta in its original form written in Sanskrit language by Sage Valmiki (famous for writing Epic Ramayana).

Most of the scriptures in Sanatana Dharma were narrated by God to His devotees, but the Yoga Vasistha is one unique scripture that is narrated to God Himself, Lord Shri Rama.

Yoga Vasistha is a manual for the sincere spiritual seeker. Through the use of stories, parables and illustrations which hold many hidden depths within them, Guru Vasistha brings out the most subtle points, not for theorizing but for practice. The nature of the stories and their deep rooted philosophies are designed to open the levels of awareness.

Yoga Vasistha is in the form of replies given by Guru Vasishta, to young Lord Shri Rama’s queries regarding philosophical problems of life, death, human suffering etc. Guru Vasistha makes it very clear that, the problem is confusion of the real with the unreal, or change, due to the seeming reality of its appearance. Life is the field where this takes place and life must also be the field where this corrected.

The main theme of Yoga Vasistha:

The soul is undergoing a dream from which it must awake. This dream represents our association and identification with the world.

The sum total of pleasures of the whole world is a mere drop when compared to the bliss of Moksha
.

Background of Yoga Vasistha:

During the period when young Lord Shri Rama returns from touring the country, and becomes disheartened after experiencing the apparent reality of the world. King Dasaratha, father of Lord Shri Rama, expresses his concern to Guru Vasistha upon Rama's dejection. Guru Vasistha consoles the king by telling him that Rama's dis-passion (viragya) is a sign that the prince is now ready for spiritual enlightenment. Further the sage said that, Rama has begun understanding profound spiritual truths, which is the cause of his confusion; he needs confirmation. Guru Vasistha asks the king to summon Prince Rama.
Then, in King Dasaratha's court, the Guru Vasistha begins his discourse to young prince Rama (which lasts several days). The answer to Lord Shri Rama's questions forms one of the entire sacred Sanatana Dharma scripture namely called as Yoga Vasistha.
    
The conversation between Guru Vasistha and young prince Rama is that between a great, enlightened sage and a seeker who is about to reach wholeness. The text of the book leads to spiritual liberation and is said to be among those rare conversations which directly leads to Truth. The scripture provides understanding, scientific ideas and philosophy; it explains consciousness, the creation of the world, the multiple universes in this world, our perception of the world, its ultimate dissolution, the liberation of the soul and the non-dual approach to creation.

Lord Dattatreya and His 24 Gurus


Lord Dattatreya and His 24 Gurus

Lord Dattatreya is considered as among one of the 24 Vishnu’s Incarnations. Lord Dattatreya was born of Rishi Atri and Anausya. The name Dattatreya can be divided into two words, Datta (means Giver) and Atri (Sage Atri). Lord Dattatreya considered as guru of environmental education, gained enlightenment by his observation from surrounding, which provided him 24 gurus. These gurus explain the problems of mundane attachments, and teach the path towards the spiritual self-realization of the Supreme.

The core message of Lord Dattatreya is:

“Never judge by surface appearances but always seek a deeper Truth”.

Lord Dattatreya is imaged with three faces, six hands and single body. The three faces represented the Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). Each pair of hands carries two of the symbols of the three deities. The four dogs are shown with the image of Lord Dattatreya represents the Four Holy Vedas. A cow standing behind in the image represents the Mother Earth.




Narration of Story as in Srimad Bhagavatam

Shri Krishna the Supreme Personality of Godhead narrates the story of Lord Dattatreya and his 24 Gurus, in His final teaching to his dear friend Uddhava. This teaching is considered as second best teaching by Shri Krishna after Bhagavad Geeta, and is known as The Uddhava Geeta

Once King Yadu saw Lord Dattatreya (Avadhoot) wandering in a forest happily, free from worries. The king with humbleness asked the sage, about the secret of his happiness and the name of his Guru. Further said to sage, that despite you look capable and wise, why do you live in the forest. Even though you have no family, nor any loved one, how could you be so blissful and self-contented? 

To answer the Yadu’s enquired queries, the Lord Dattatreya (Avadhoot, one who have given up all worldly desires) replied:

"My bliss and contentment are the fruits of self-realization. Soul (Aatmaa) alone is my Guru, yet I have gained the necessary wisdom from the whole creation, via 24 individual who were therefore my Gurus. I shall elaborate the same for you". 

Further Lord Dattatreya said:

 (… I have taken shelter of twenty-four gurus, who are the following: the earth, air, sky, water, fire, moon, sun, pigeon and python; the sea, moth, honeybee, elephant and honey thief; the deer, the fish, the dancing girl Pingala, the kurari bird and the child; the young girl, arrow maker, serpent, spider and wasp…”.           
                                     (Srimad Bhagavatam: Canto 11: Chapter 7: Slokas 33~35)


 The 24 Gurus of Lord Dattatreya 

1. Earth (Prithvi) (Along with Mountain & Trees)

The Earth teaches course of Dharma, art of Tolerance, art of Performing Duty. One can learn Patience and Forgiveness from Earth. Like mountains and trees, one should devotedly dedicate self to the welfare of other living beings.

2. Air (Vaayu)

The Air being pure and odorless in its characteristics, move freely among all objects and yet remain unaffected. The Air teaches the value of being free from all contamination, and of staying clear of material world’s disturbances.

When Air blows out of control, the atmosphere becomes agitated, similarly if the mind is constantly attracted and repelled by material objects, it will be next to impossible to think of the Absolute Truth, Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna.

Brahma Samhita



Brahma Samhita
 
The Brahma Samitha (Praises by Brahma) is a Pancaratra Text (the Vaishnava Agamas dedicate to worship of Lord Narayana); composed of verses of prayer spoken by Lord Brahma glorifying The Supreme Lord Shri Krishna (Govinda) at the beginning of The Creation. Lord Brahma, the first disciple of the disciple succession started by Lord Shri Krishna. Lord Brahma, who has been given the task of material creation and checking the mode of passion, is himself created by Lord Shri Krishna, through His navel. 

Throughout Kaliyuga, the present age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the Brahma Samhita was relatively unknown, until the appearance of Lord Chaitanya, who recovered only Chapter 5 of the entire text. As a result, Chapter 5 is the chapter that is read, studied, and sung ever since. Spiritual initiation ceremonies are often began by chanting the fifth chapter of the Brahma Samhita in unison. 

Brahma Samhita presents methods of devotional service. Brahma Samhita explains the Garbhodakasayi Visnu, the origin of the Gayatri Mantra, the form of Govinda and His transcendental position and abode, the living entities, the Goddess Durga, the meaning of austerity, the five elements and the vision of transcendental love enabling one to see the Lord Shri Krishna

In Brahma Samhita, Lord Shri Krishna described the science of devotion to Lord Brahma. In the last two verses, Shri Krishna said:

Abandoning all meritorious performances serve Me with faith. The realization will correspond to the nature of one’s faith. The people of the world act ceaselessly in pursuance of some ideal. By meditating on Me by means of those deeds one will obtain devotion characterized by love in the shape of the supreme service. (Verse No. 61)

“Listen, O Vaydhi, I am the seed, i.e., the fundamental principle, of this world of animate and inanimate objects. I am pradhäna [the substance of matter], I am prakåti [material cause] and I am puruña [efficient cause]. This fiery energy that belongs specially to the Brahman, that inheres in you, has also been conferred by Me. It is by bearing this fiery energy that you regulate this phenomenal world of animate and inanimate objects.” (Verse No. 62)

Agamas



Agamas

The Agamas are a collection of Sanskrit scriptures, which means "a traditional doctrine or system which commands faith". Agamas also mean “acquisition of knowledge, received knowledge”. The Agamas deal with the philosophy and spiritual knowledge behind the worship of the deity, the yoga and mental discipline required for this worship, and the specifics of worship offered to the deity.
 
The Agamas include the Tantras, Mantras and Yantras. The Agamas are mostly in the form of dialogue giving a considerable amount of information on the earliest codes of temple building, image making, and religious procedure.

Each Agama consists of four parts. 

  1. The first part (Knowledge Janana) includes the philosophical and spiritual knowledge.
  2. The second part (Yoga Concentration) covers the yoga and the mental discipline.
  3. The third part (Kriya, Esoteric Worship) specifies rules for the construction of temples and for sculpting and carving the figures of deities for worship in the temples.
  4. The fourth part (Charya, Exoteric Worship) includes rules pertaining to the observances of religious rites, rituals, and festivals. 

Agamas also give elaborate details about cosmology, liberation, devotion, meditation, philosophy of Mantras, mystic diagrams, charms and spells, temple-building, image-making, domestic observances, social rules, public festivals, etc. 

The Agamas state three essential requirements for a place of pilgrimage
  1. Sthala (refers to the Temple),
  2. Teertham (refers to the Temple Tank) and
  3.  Murthy (refers to the deity or deities worshipped)

Two Mantras

OM NAMAH SHIVAYA

Om Namah Shivaya, Panchakshara (five-syllable mantra, excluding Om) is Beeja Mool Mantra for Lord Shiva. It is part of the Shri Rudram Chamakam, a prayer taken from the Yajurveda. Shivaya is the holy name of Lord Shiva. Om Namah Shivaya means "Om and salutations to Lord Shiva."  

“Namah Shivaya”:

There are different meaning of the two words Namah Shivaya in the mantra Om Namah Shivaya, such as: in Namah (Na is the Lord's hidden grace, Ma is the World) and in Shivaya (Si stands for Shiva, Va is Shiva’s revealing grace and Ya is the Soul).

Some texts refer to Namah Shivaya - five letters (Panchakshara) as the forms of Lord Shiva, such as: Na-gendra (one who wears a garland of snakes), Ma-ndakini (one who is bathed by the water of the Ganges), Shi (the supreme Lord Shiva), Va-shishta (one who is praised by the Sage Vashishta), and Ya-ksha (one who takes the form of Yaksha).

As we chant the five syllables Namah Shivaya, the five elements that comprise the body are purified. Each of the syllables corresponds to one of these elements, such as: Na to the Earth, Ma to the Water, Shi to the Fire, Va to the Air and the Ya to the Ether (sky) element. Each syllable purifies its corresponding element. As long as the body and the mind are not completely pure, one cannot fully benefit from spiritual practice. Therefore, Om Namah Shivaya mantra is there to help cleanse our mind and soul from impurity of material world.

Impact of Mantra, Om Namah Shivaya:

Om Namah Shivaya means "Om, I bow to Shiva – Salutation to Lord Shiva". Lord Shiva is the supreme reality, the inner Self. It is the name given to consciousness that dwells in all. Om Namah Shivaya is a very powerful mantra. Om Namah Shivaya mantra is free of all Vedic rituals and restrictions; no ceremonies, nor an auspicious time or a particular place is required to chant and repeat this mantra. It can be repeated by anyone no matter what state a person is in, it will purify person’s body, mind, intellect and soul. The mantra is most effective when synchronized with the breathing. The most effective way to use it is to repeat Om on the in-breath and Namah Shivaya on the out-breath.

The chanting of Om Namah Shivya is just like meditating upon the energy of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is often referred to as the part of the Trinity which has dominion over death and destruction. Lord Shiva is also considered the greatest of the yogis and the lord of meditation. The chanting of Om Namah Shivaya, brings Lord Shiva and all His energies to bless and lead us to the highest state of peace and meditation.


Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya

Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya is known as a Mukti, or liberation, Mantra. It is a spiritual formula for attaining freedom. Consistent chanting of this mantra will eventually, free from the cycles of rebirth. Thus mantra can be translated as:

 "Om and salutations to the Indwelling One, substance of the Divine"     OR

“O my Lord, the all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisance unto You”

The mantra is mentioned and elaborated clearly in the first verse of Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 1 Ch 1:

O my Lord, Shri Krishna, son of Vasudeva, O all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisance unto You. I meditate upon Lord Shri Krishna because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahma ji, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Shri Krishna, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth. 

Sources: Wikipedia, Google.com.