Thursday, 27 March 2014

Tantra - More Than Just Sex



Sex is the first thing that comes to our mind whenever the word Tantra is mentioned. We have been brainwashed by Western definition to think in this manner. 

Because the Western interpretation of Hinduism is solely based on their own limited perspective. You cannot define Hinduism the same way you define Abrahamic religions.

What is Tantra?

Tantra is actualy a system of thought or a set of doctrines. It can also be interpreted as governance. 

To make it sound simple, any branch of Hindu knowledge is Tantra. There are many types of Tantra. Tantric works are written in Sanskrit. Like the Vedas, Tantras are believed to have been revealed by God to various Sages. 

Although the Hindu knowledge systems were originally known as Tantra, the word Tantra itself was replaced with other words. The Shaktas still call it Tantra but the Saivites call it Agama. 

The Buddhist have their own school of Tantra in the form of Vajrayana. 

The Saivite Tantra/Agama are divided into Siva (10), Rudra (18) and Bhairava (64). Each of the Agamas are further divided into Upa Agama (sub Agama). Many temples built by Tamils follow the Kamika Agama. It is one of the 10 Siva Agamas. 


Click to view the list of Upa Agamas  http://shaivam.org/agaupaga.htm

Each Agamas can be further categorised as Charya, Kriya, Yoga and Jnana. Constructions of temples is based on the rules laid out in Kriya. We cannot simply build temples as we like. There are rules to follow. One has to be well trained in all these. 

This is why in the olden days, the Hindu society had a dedicated sect of people to do it. But nowadays, every Tom Dick and Harry is building temples as he likes. They don't follow the rules. 

The holy scripture of the Tamil speaking Saivites is known as Tirumurai. It is written in Tamil. The Tirumurai is divided into 12 books. 

Tirumurai #10 is known as Tirumantiram. It was written by Sage Tirumular. He divided the chapters into 9 and each of it is known as Tantra (Tantra 1-9). The verses within each chapter is known as Mantra.

The various Tantras have Dakshinacara (right hand path) and Vamacara (left hand path). The left hand practice has something known as Pancha Makara or the Five Makara. 

Matsya (Fish)
Maithuna (Sex)
Mamisa (Meat)
Mudra (Gesture)
Madya (Liqour)

The Westerners who studied Tantra took bits and pieces from the left hand practices. They then wrongly projected Tantra to the world by only highlighting about some aspects of Maithuna. The world then thinks that Tantra is a perverted sexual ritual.

Tantra is an ocean. It is not right to take a drop from the ocean and claim it to be the whole Tantra. There are many schools of Tantra. Tantric text contains hundreds of thousands of verses. 

This entire thing we know about Tantra is just the tip of the iceberg. It will take a lifetime for someone to fully learn Tantra. 

Even our Saivite temple priest who are well trained in Kamika Agama may have not fully studied the remaining 9 of Siva, 18 of Rudra and 64 of Bhairava Tantras. 

Probably it is simply impossible to learn every single Tantra in Hinduism. Therefore, never let yourself to be fooled again by the misinterpretation of Tantra. 

Tantra is not just about sex. It is more than that as Tantra covers many things. Sex is part of life but it is neither the objective nor the definition of Tantra. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Padmapada - The Narasimha Devotee (Part 2)

For Part 1, click here

http://sharmalanthevar.blogspot.com/2014/03/padmapada-narasimha-devotee-part-1.html

The previous story of Sanandana and the hunter happened during his Purvashrama. Purvashrama is the life period just before a person enters Sanyasa. Sanyasa is the period in life when someone becomes a complete renunciate.

Sanandana enters Sanyasa with the blessings of his guru, the great Adi Sankara.

Once Adi Sankara called his disciples for help from across the river. The disciples, including Sanandana was on the other side of the river. Adi Sankara wants to cross the river but there was no boat at that time.

So the disciples were not able to help him. But the devoted Sanandana walked towards the river with pure devotion and love towards his Guru. Seeing this, the Goddess Ganga sent lotus flowers towards Sanandana. Sanandana stepped on the lotuses to cross the river and bring his Guru to the other side.

In order to commemorate this incident, Adi Sankara renamed Sanandana as Padmapada. In Sanskrit, Padma is lotus and Pada is foot or step. So Padmapada is he who stepped on the lotuses.

Sanandana then becomes Padmapada.

On one fine day, a Kapalika approaches Adi Sankara. Kapalikas are those who worship Shiva in a very fierce form. They conduct human sacrifices and use the Kapala (human skull) in their rituals.

Now you know how the Malay language got the word Kepala for head? 

Out of jealousy for his fame and debating skills, the Kapalika wanted to kill Adi Sankara. So he hatched a plot.

He told Adi Sankara:

"Oh wise Guru! I seek your help and blessings. I am a Kapalika. I was given a boon by Shiva. If I offer the head of a king or a head of a learned man, Shiva will grant me moksha"

Adi Sankara being the very merciful one could not say no. So he accepted it but with a condition:

"How can I say no to you oh great worshipper of the Lord? I agree to give my head but the sacrifice must be conducted in a secluded place without anyone knowing about it"

The Kapalika agreed.

On the agreed time and date, they both met. Adi Sankara entered the state of Samadhi to prepare for his head to be chopped. The Kapalika, dressed with bones and skulls took his sword, with the intention of killing Adi Sankara.

Nobody knew what was happening but at that time, Padmapada, the dutiful disciple of Adi Sankara saw the whole thing through meditation. He became furious, he was overcome by trance of the Narasimha.

He leaped and ran to the spot. Cought the Kapalika, roared like a lion and tore open his chest with his bare hands.

The loud noise shook Adi Sankara awake from his state of Samadhi. He saw a different Padmapada. He saw  Narasimha in him. With his golden skin, glorous white mane, the flesh of Kapalika and blood smeared all over him.

Padmapada's devotion towards his Guru and sincere worship towards Narasimha saved his Guru, the great Adi Sankara from being sacrificed by the Kapalika. The Kapalika, having being killed by none other than the Lord himself, attains moksha.

Adi Sankara will then go on and compose Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Karavalamba, a hymn dedicated to Lord Narasimha.

I am a Saivite and this article is dedicated to the Vaishnavites who read my blog.

May Lord Narasimha showers his grace on all of us!


Prahlada and Narasimha



Padmapada - The Narasimha Devotee (Part 1)


About 1,200 years ago, there was a Narasimha Upasaka who lived in the Chola kingdom. His name was Sanandana. Upasaka is a word used to describe worshippers or followers of a deity. The word is also used by the Buddhist. Females are known as Upasika.

A Narasimha Upasaka is a person who worships Narasimha as his favourite deity or Ishta Deva. All concentration on Him alone. Narasimha is the 4th Avatar of Vishnu.

For many months, Sanandana was meditating upon Narasimha in a forest. He wished to see his Lord. But it was not easy to live in a forest. Despite all this, Sanandana continued with his meditation in the forest.

On one fine day, a hunter passed by Sanandana. He asked : 

Hunter: "Hey you! What are you doing in the forest?"
Sanandana : "I am meditating so that I get to see Narasimha"
Hunter: "Narasimha? What is that?"

Sanandana then describes the physical attributes of Narasimha. Body of a man, head of a lion. The hunter then mentioned that he has hunted in the forest for many years and never seen such being. He swears to return only after capturing the Narasimha.

Sanandana continues with his daily routine.

After a few days, the hunter returns. He helds a long rope. The other end of the rope is tied to something but it is invisible. The rope moved, there were thunderous roars.

Hunter: "Here. I have captured your Narasimha"
Sanandana: "Where? I cannot see it"
Hunter: "Can't you see it? I tied it with this rope"
Sanandana: "No! I see nothing. I hear roars, I realise there are movements but I cannot see it"

Sanandana then cries.

"Oh Lord! I spent many many months in this forest. Meditating upon you. You chose not to reveal yourself to me. But the hunter who did no penance is able to see you. What is this?"

At that moment, Narasimha responds.

"Blessed devotee of mine. You did meditate upon me but your meditation was not continuous. In between, you did your daily chores. You ate, you drank, you slept, you bathed. But this hunter who seeked me for days, did not sleep, did not bathe, did not eat, did not drink. He only had me in his mind and he was continuously thinking about me for the last few days. This is why he saw me first"

It then clicked! Sanandana realised that it is not the duration of worship that matters, it is the intensity of the worship that matters the most.

He fell on the Lord's feet and asked for his blessings.

At this point of time, you would have realised that the title says Padmapada but I kept using the name Sanandana in this article. You will know why in Part 2.

Click below for Part 2

http://sharmalanthevar.blogspot.com/2014/03/padmapada-narasimha-devotee-part-2.html

Friday, 21 March 2014

The Formless Multiple Forms of God

I wrote this article back in 2009. That is 5 years ago. I didn't know until recently that it is still being circulated in the internet. This article was actually an email which I sent out to my friends. 

My perception on certain aspects of Hinduism may have changed over the time. One being the clear distinction between Muniswaran and Siva, the former being a Spirit and the later as Almighty.

Nevertheless, you may still read this article to understand my thoughts back then and now. A short version of my thoughts for the Hindus was written yesterday. It can be read at this link:

http://sharmalanthevar.blogspot.com/2014/03/hinduism-keep-it-simple.html






Thursday, 20 March 2014

Hinduism - Keep It Simple

These are the basics for all Hindus to practice.

1.CHOOSE A PATH
There are various paths in Hinduism. This can be determined by your choice of Principal Supreme Being. Shaktam, Shaivam, Vaishnavam are the main paths. Each of these paths have their own set of schools. They may differ with each other but all believes in Karma. Choose what suits you best.

2.ACCEPT THE SCRIPTURES
There are various scriptures. Vedas are Supreme. We also have Samhitas, Agamas and Tantra. They all have their own doctrines and divisions. There are also scriptures in Tamil such as Thirumurai and Nalayra Divyaprabandam. Accept the scriptures as the source of your religious affiliation. Don't be a language fanatic who throws away certain scriptures as alien scriptures.

3.BELIEVE WHOLEHEARTEDLY
Always analyse before deciding. But when you have decided on the path, you need to believe in it wholeheartedly. Do not choose for the sake of choosing. It is better to just be an Atheist who does not believe at all than to be a believer who do not believe fully.

4.RESPECT THE DIFFERENCES
We have many schools within Hinduism. Each with its own do's and don'ts. Sometimes they share a common ground, sometimes they disagree on certain things. Realise that your school of thought may not necessarily be the same as my school of thought. But the path chosen must be based on genuine scriptures, not any blind assumption or opinion.

5.KNOW THE LEVELS
You must understand the differences within Hinduism. Praying to the Almighty is not the same as praying to a Muniswaran under a tree. The former is God, the later is a Spirit. Shirdi Sai is a Guru, not God. Vallalar is a Guru, not God. There are different types of worship for different purposes. They exist at different levels. Never equate everything as the same because they are not the same. 

6.LEARNING NEVER ENDS
Learning about Hinduism is a journey with no end. You will continuously come across new things as you progress. The more you learn, the more you come closer to truth.


Remember that #1 is the core. 
When the core is strong, nothing will go wrong! 
Even the richest Guruji will not be able to con you. 
Even the most influential missionary will not be able to convert you. 

These simple steps are more than good enough. You don't have to become a Guruji yourself or dream of becoming a Siddhar or Rishi.

Just keep it simple and do good!

The Ashta Bhairavas and Mahakala Bhairava. Individual picture taken from Kaga Ashram and later merged as one.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Mamak, Kaaka & Tulukan

PICTURE CREDIT  adoi-means-ouch.blogspot.com
The present generation of Malaysian Indians (mostly Tamils) use English terms when refering to elderly people such as parents of their friends. We often hear this

"Hello Uncle, saptacha?" (Hello Uncle, have you eaten?)
"Hi Aunty! Sundar irukara?" (Hi Aunty! is Sundar in?)

Back in the olden days, at least before the 1980s, people communicated more often in Tamil. Due to this, Tamil kinship terms like Mama (mother's brother) and Athai (Mama's wife) were used regardless of whether we were all related to each other.

My mother still calls her former neighbors as Athai and Mama even though they are not related.

As we all know, most of the bistro which we see today are owned by Indian Muslims. Previously, they were just called as the "Mamak Stalls" . 

It had a humble origin. No air cond, no Wifi, no fancy names and obviously, way cheaper. Just a few tables with stools. We still see some today. It all changed when they started including television often broadcasting Dunhill football cup as part of the "Mamak Stall" atmosphere.

Why do we call it Mamak?

Well as I said earlier, we never used Uncle or Aunty in the olden days. The stall owners were called as Mama.

"Mama! Oru mee goreng podungga"  (Uncle! make one mee goreng)
"Mama, oru tea sollungga" (Uncle, one tea please)

So the word Mama got stuck and localized as Mamak because the non-Indians began to use it too. Just like how Anna (elder brother), pronounced locally as Anney, and Macha (brother in law) is now being used.

The other words used for the Indian Muslims are Kaaka and Tulukan. Kaaka is a Hindi word which has the same meaning as Mama but I have seen it being used for Malayalee Muslim stall owners. Not the Tamil Muslims. 

What about Tulukan?

Few hundred years ago, the Turks were ruling large parts of India. There was a dynasty known as the Tughlaks or Tughluks. They were Muslim Turks. 

The Indian Muslims who had Turkish ancestry (or without) came to be known as Tulukan. The females were known as Tulukachi. In Malayalam, the Turkish language is known as Tuluk Basha.

This is the origin of the word Mamak, Kaaka and Tulukan. Today, all Indian Muslims in Malaysia are addressed as Mamak.

I mentioned earlier about the word Athai. Another word for Athai is Mami. This word is more commonly used by the Ceylonese Tamils and some Thanjavur Tamils. 

This is why in Malaysia, girls of Indian Muslim-Malay parentage are called Anak Mami which simply means Athai Ponnu (Aunt's Daughter).



Monday, 10 March 2014

MH370 - Wrong Time to Joke or Take Revenge

A noble effort :) 

The world is aware that Flight MH370 is missing. The fate of over 200 humans is not known. To know more about what happened and what is happening, please search for reliable news in the media.

Everyone who knows about it is upset with what has happened. When a family member does not return home on time, we will immediately pick up our phones and start calling even if it is just a 10 minute delay. 

The family members of those in MH370 are in a much more critical situation. The best we could do at this moment is to pray for them or at least, not make a mockery of this entire situation.








Many heartless people in Facebook are taking advantage of this. They put up status updates which are insensitive to the current situation. To make matters worse, some irresponsible page admins share screenshots of such status updates.

Take a look at some of these screenshots, it is fake. It is very obvious that someone purposely made those to take revenge on people who they hate. 

They then share it on their troll pages which has thousands of fans so that it goes viral. As usual, those fans never use their brains to question the validity of the image.

Monkey see, Monkey do!




Why is this done? There are only 2 main reasons.

The first is to tarnish the name of the victim via cyber attack. The second reason is of course to increase the "LIKES" of that particular page so that it becomes more popular with even larger following.

Because God opens the gate of Heaven for those with the highest number of LIKES in Facebook. The admin of the most popular Facebook page will be blessed with immortality up in the sky. 

Therefore, they will go to any extend just to achieve it.