Friday, May 1, 2015

Are rituals linked to Science?

There are many rituals being followed by Hindu households. Not everyone knows why they are being followed and how they are linked to Science. Compiling a list of some of them. Please post the ones you know about in the comments below :

1. Ekadashi/Gyaras vrat – Human physiology goes through a cycle called a ‘mandala’ approximately every 40 to 48 days. Within this cycle, there are 3 specific days when the body does not demand food. Fasting on these days creates a conducive situation for health and spiritual growth. These days may differ from person to person and need to come with equal spacing. Most people can identify this cycle if they listen to their body. For those who do not have awareness, Ekadashi or 11th day after full moon and new moon is used for fasting. Eating amla or lemon reduces hunger for 3 hours or so. It helps to settle down the digestive juices that may be secreted. 

2. Tulsi patta or basil leaves should not be chewed – Tusli is considered Goddess Lakshmi and the religious priests ask not to chew the leaf that is given as part of prasaad or gift after a puja/prayer. This is actually so because tulsi leaves contain mercury that will be harmful to the enamel if chewed. There is also a custom to light a diya/lamp near the tulsi plant in the evening. This is also in order to reduce the intensity of mercury content in the plant.

3.  Throw coins in the river – It was a custom to make a wish and drop coins in the river. In the earlier days, coins were made of copper. The river water was brought to the homes for drinking. We now know that drinking water in a copper vessel is healthy to drink due to the anti-bacterial properties of copper. This water neutralizes the toxic influences. By making it a ritual, people followed it and even if they did so without knowing the reason, health benefits came to them.

4.   Not to eat during lunar eclipse – During the eclipse, the moon goes through it’s entire 28 day cycle within the 2 hours of eclipse. During the time, the food gets spoiled just like it would during the 28 day moon cycle. So if that food is consumed, it will be within the body and get spoilt. Hence it is advisable not to eat during that time. Eating during that time would not make people die instantaneously. Had that been the case, it would have been easy to make people understand and possibly pass a law! The harm done is subtle and slow. 

5. Worshiping of Banyan tree – People in India worship the banyan tree. Did you know that it is the only tree or among the few that gives oxygen even at night? The tree however does not give any flowers and fruits. So, if it was not called sacred and people made to worship it, there was a risk that people might have cut them down.  So it was made a ritual to worship the banyan tree thereby ensuring clean air to breathe for the inhabitants.

6. Ringing the bell at temple - As people enter the temple, they ring the bell. When they raise their hand and ring the bell while standing underneath it, the sound vibrations produced travel at 330 meters/second and travel through the body to the ground. With it, it takes the thoughts and emotions being felt by the person ringing the bell. So if there are feelings of stress, sadness, tension etc. - any negative emotions, they will go away by the vibration of the sound. It brings a blankness in the mind that would help to concentrate and focus. 

In the recent times, the people are slowly letting go of rituals and customs. In part it is because they do not know the reason or benefits thereof. Do you know of any rituals and the reasons they are followed? Share with us in the comments below. It is important to preserve the ancient knowledge. What do you think?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The present is the future's past

The present is the future's past

In the Bhagvad Puran (3: 11), the elements of time are described :

Parmandu is the smallest unit of time, that which cannot be further subdivided.
2 parmandu = 1 andu
3 andu = 1 trasrendu
The amount of time it takes for the sun to cross 3 trasrendu is called a truti
100 times truti = 1 vegha
3 vegha = 1 love
3 love = 1 nimesh
3 nimesh = 1 shand
1 shand is a moment as we know it. Have always thought of a moment as so small that it comes and goes before we can blink an eyelid. To think that there are many smaller scales of measurement of time even before that is humbling to know.
5 shand = 1 kaashtha
15 kaashtha = 1 laghu
15 laghu = 1 naadika or danda
2 naadika = 1 mahurat

We know mahurat as the time pandits suggest for performing special auspicious rituals.

6-7 naadika =1 prahar = 1 yaam
1 yaam = ¼ of day or night
4 prahar = 1 day and night
15 day and night = 1 paksha that could be either Shukla paksha or Krishna paksha
2 paksha = 1 maas or month
1 month for human = 1 day and night for pitra
2 months for human = 1 ritu or season
6 months for human = 1 ayan that could be either dakshinayan or uttarayan
2 ayans = 1 day and night for Devtas, Gods
1 day and night for Devtas = 1 year in manushya lok or Earth
100 years = param aayu or ideal life span of man

There are 5 kinds of years

  • Sanvatsar
  • Parivatsar
  • Idavatsar
  • Anuvatsar
  • Vatsar
These 4 yugas - Satyug, Treta, Dwapar and Kalyug last for Devta’s 12 sahastra years.

Satyuga = 4 sahastra divya years = 4800 human years
Treta = 3 sahstra divya years = 3600 human years
Dwapar = 2 sahastra divya years = 2400 human years
Kalyug = 1 sahastra divya years = 1200 human years

1 year of humans = 1 day for Devtas, so 1 year of Devtas = 360 human years. Therefore, Kalyug which is the yug in which we currently are, has 4,32,000 years. Hence, Dwapar has twice these many years, Treta has thrice these many and Satyug has four times these many human years.

Time, the element keep goes on. It is not a man-made concept. It is present in the very core of the Universe (more about how in another post). Whether we ride this time and live a beautiful meaningful life or get trapped and fritter it away is completely up to us. If we understand the significance and laws of time, we will stay connected to the planet, solar system and ourselves.

Photo and quote/title credit : Atreyam Sharma, 13 years

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