Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Brahma Vidya - Lesson 1

Following is an attempt to create a repository of class-room lessons on Hindu Vedanta.

Experiment - Part 1:
Close all the doors and windows of the class and make the room as dark as possible. Then put a lamp (preferably a ghee/castor oil lamp) in the middle of a pot with lot of holes. The light from the lamp shall brighten different places in the room.

Ask the students what they see. Some see parts of the board, windows, someone's nose, someone's hand, someone else's chest etc.,

Ask the students why they see only parts of the room.
Ask the students if other sections of the room exist even though they are not visible.

Ask the students who/how they see things.


Experiment - Part 2:
Ask the students to close their eyes.


Do they see the different spots of light?
Do they exist even though the light or room is not visible?


Experiment - Part 3:
Ask the students to keep their eyes closed. Make a sound by hitting one of the objects in the room with a stick.


(Note: For better results preset the class room with different sound making objects like drum, bell, water pot etc)

Ask the students if they hear anything.
Ask them if they see the sound.
Ask the students if they can identify the object you hit just by using sound.

Repeat this experiment with different objects

Ask the students who/how they hear things.


Experiment - Part 4:
Ask students to open their eyes and close the ears. Then make sounds using different objects.


Ask the students if they hear the sounds.
Ask the students if they see any sounds.
Ask the students what they see.


Experiment - Part 5:
Ask the students close their eyes and ears. Light an incense stick


Ask if they see anything.
Ask if they hear anything.
Ask them if they can guess what is happening.

Repeat this experiment with different smells.

Ask students who/how they figured out what is happening.


Experiment - Part 6:
Ask the students to close their eyes and ears. Take a warm-air blower and expose the warm air to students.


Ask if they see anything
Ask if they hear anything
Ask if they smell anything
Ask what is happening in the class room.

Ask who/how they figured out.


Experiment - Part 7:

Ask the students following questions.
Ask if/how their perception of the class room different when they used different sensory organs.

Ask if there is any common thing that is knower in all these experiments.


Experiment - Part 8:
Show the students images of how Sun/Sky looks in different electromagnetic spectra (visible, thermal, x-Ray etc)

Ask why they cannot see any other views of the sky/sun except visible spectrum.
Ask what could be the real existence of the universe (when combined with all these spectra)

Ask the students what is the real source of the knowledge of existence of different parts (the light, or the eyes that see or the objects in the room?)


Experiment - Part 9:
Prep one of the student to tell a story of his dream last night. Ask him to select of his classmates and tell them that he gave them Rs5 in his dream last night and ask when can he expect the money back. Let the dialogue play out.


Ask the students what's happening. Ask them if/who is wrong for what reason.
Ask them if the people in their dreams were real.
Ask them if the things done in the dream carry over reality once they wake up.


Experiment - Part 10:
Explain the students deferent states of consciousness - Jagrut, swapna, Sushupti and the consciousness that is common in all states of being.


Ask them how each state is different, what works and what is inactive.
Ask them who/what stays in all these states and how.

Explain the students about the consciousness (Atman) that is common in all states of being.

Teach the following sloka (from Dakshinamurti Stotram) and explain its meaning.

नानाच्छिद्र घटोदर स्थित महादीप प्रभाभास्वरं 
ज्ञानं यस्य तु चक्षुरादिकरण द्वारा बहिः स्पन्दते । 
जानामीति तमेव भान्तमनुभात्येतत्समस्तं जगत्  
तस्मै श्री गुरुमूर्तये नम इदं श्री दक्षिणामूर्तये ॥


Monday, August 22, 2016

Manu Smriti - Anuloma/Pratiloma

Note: I request readers to read this post in conjunction with my post on Sa-Varna and Sa-Kula Marriages.

Often, we hear people quoting Manu Smriti on Anuloma and Pratiloma relationships between different Varnas claiming that as proof of in-built prejudice in Hindu Dharma Sastras.

Here is my attempt to give a different perspective on that topic. As always, appreciate comments/feedback.

In general, Anu & Prati (in Anuloma & Pratiloma) have been translated as Natural/preferred order & Unpreferred/adverse/lower order. I think this is not entirely correct & is a Indic middle age (read Charwaka era) imposition. Both Anu/Prati in AnuSarga & PratiSarga mean successive or secondary additions.

So I would translate Anuloma as one type order (patrilineal) & PratiLoma as a secondary/different (matrilineal) order.

ManuSmriti just says what the progeny of different orders are called.   Very mention of these in a treatise like ManuSmriti indicates the prevalence of such marriages in that time.

At this point it is very important to note that ManuSmriti is just a Smriti defined to create order in then prevalent social system, not some outsider imposition. Manusmriti is compilation and structuring of that era's socio-political order, same as how BR Ambedkar's Constitution of India is reflective of Indian society in mid-20th century. Like Manu of Manusmriti, BR Ambedkar too didn't find any new truth in his constitution. Both of them just laid down a reasonable structure for the society to prosper given the prevailing socio-political conditions. As these socio-political conditions change, it is our duty to write new Smritis/Dharma-Sastras/Constitutions instead of distorting those treatise.

Now let's come to science...

In nature, we can observe two aspects, seed & kshetra/soil. When we plant a mango seed we will always get a mango tree. The nature of the soil only determines the characteristics such as size, color, taste etc of that mango fruit. Different soil types create different varieties & tastes of mango fruit; some good for pickle, some as fruits, some for juice etc.

ManuSmriti considers the man in a couple as seed contributor & woman as soil contributor. It & other dharmasastras only propose what variety of mangos are generally good for what purposes. 

It doesn't mean one can't make pickle from Alfanso mango & enjoy it.