Vasthu : The Science To A Happy And Healthy Home

What is Vasthu?

Many people dismiss Vasthu as a waste of time and as a superstition. In reality Vasthu is an architectural science that deals with building houses in accordance with purpose, rules and best practices. While some of its recommendations may seem archaic and downright silly, Vasthu has a logical reason behind each of its principles.

For example, Vasthu recommends building houses with thresholds that face either the Northerly or Easterly direction. This is something that many would not even consider, yet history and experience shows that houses constructed with the principles of Vasthu appear more graceful, peaceful and flowing. This can be seen frequently in the buildings of South India.

Vasthu calculates rainfall, wind, sunrise and sunset to identify the ideal way to construct a house. If a house faces north then the effects of harmful UV rays from the sun on the threshold, where members of the house and guests congregate are highly minimized. Similarly an East facing house has the advantage of being graced by the rays of the rising sun which bring life, vitamins and nutrients.

Hence Vasthu is not a superstition and pseudoscience. It is rather a clever set of principles put together by our ancestors to bring betterment into our lives.

Position of Kitchen

Vasthu advises us not to set up a kitchen or place of cooking anywhere in the South East corner and the traditional belief behind this is that a house is more likely to catch on fire if the kitchen is placed in the South East corner. It was said that across the eight directions, various deities safeguard them and the south east direction belongs to Agni, the god of fire.

But a more valid reason could be that a South Westerly wind could pick up smoke and embers that rise up and set thatched houses on fire. While housing has become safe and strengthened in the years gone by, and people dismiss this as irrelevant tradition, the chances of South Westerly winds wreaking havoc still persists which is why kitchens and fire in general must be avoided in the South East corner of the house. Instead it is recommended to construct kitchens in the East or North East corners safe from the influence of rogue winds.

Reason for East facing window in Kitchen

Older buildings in India had their kitchens in the East or North Easterly direction as well as a kitchen window opening out in the East direction. This arrangement is practiced even today in modern construction.

The reasoning behind this is as follows. As with most kitchens cooking produces a lot of smoke that needs to be let out from the home and a window is the simplest form of doing so. The blowing wind takes out the acrid smoke through the window leaving the home fresh and healthy.

Furthermore, the kitchen is the key room of the house that starts buzzing with activity at the break of dawn. As the day’s food gets preparation gets underway, the sun also rises in tandem in the East. Opening the windows lets the sun’s early morning rays grace the food being made and enriches it with nutrients and vitamins.

Position of Bedroom

Vasthu recommends that a house’s bedroom be placed in the South East side. The deeper explanation is that since the bedroom is a place where we spent a lot of time in our house, it needs to be fresh and ensured plenty of air circulation and the South East winds make sure there is plenty of freshly circulated air if the bedroom is placed in this direction. A room with good circulation improves intimacy and resolves any marital problems that couples have.

Thus, it can be concluded that Vasthu which is considered as a superstition is cultivated on actual science that results in a healthier and happier home.

By Neel




Ear piercing ceremony

Karnavedha, or the ear-piercing ceremony, is a Hindu tradition that is being followed since ages. According to scriptures, this ceremony can be conducted on the child’s 10th, 12th or 16th day after its birth or it must be performed on the odd years of the child, like the 3rd year or the 7th year. This is one of the most important rituals in Hinduism and although it has a scientific basis behind it, it has been covered up with a religious excuse and been made compulsory for Hindus.

It is believed that the right ear of the boy child should be bored first and when it comes to a girl, her left ear must be bored first. The child should be made to sit on its father’s lap and must be made to face the east. The ceremony must happen in the first half of the day and can end in a feast.

Susruta, the great Indian surgeon, advocates ear-piercing by saying that it prevents diseases like hernia and hydrocele. It is also believed that ear-piercing regulates the menstrual cycle in girls and prevents hysteria and other diseases. The flow of current in the human body is maintained by wearing earrings.

It is believed that one can use a gold, silver or iron needle to pierce the ears. If the ear of a prince has to be pierced, the needle can be made of gold, if the ear of a Brahmin or a Vysha has to be pierced, the needle can be made of silver and if the ear of a Shudra has to be pierced, the needle can be made of iron. Although it seems discriminatory, this idea was conceived mainly because of the economic situations of these castes. However, the Smriti Maharnava says that a copper needle can be used for any child.

While Susruta advocates the use of a surgeon to pierce the ears of the child, it is usually done by a goldsmith. Priests usually chant holy mantras in the child’s ears before the actual piercing is done and once the piercing is done, a thin wire is inserted in the holes to prevent them from closing.

While many Hindu rituals are just ignored as superstitions, one has to delve deeply to understand the science involved behind prescribing every ritual rather than blindly follow it because it is a sin to do so otherwise.

The significance of Pradakshina


When we enter a Hindu temple, we see a lot of devotees going around the temple, with their hands folded in front of them and their eyes closed (mostly). Commonly known as pradakshina (circumambulation) this Sanksrit word means ‘moving around a sacred object for a good cause’. The reasoning behind going around in a circle is quite simple. The Lord is the centre point in our lives and a circle can only be drawn with a center; which means that we should keep the Lord as the focal point and go about our daily lives.

Scientifically speaking, every point on the circumference of the circle is equidistant from the centre which means that no matter where we are, we are always equally close to the Lord. And the pradakshina is always done in a clockwise manner because in Hinduism, the right side is more auspicious and the Lord is always present to our right.

The story of the first pradakshina leads to Lord Shiva, Ganesha and Karthikeya. Lord Shiva had instructed his sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya, to go around the world in the pursuit of knowledge. Kartikeya, hopped on to his peacock and went all over the world, while Ganesha, circumambulated his father, Lord Shiva, justifying his act by saying that the whole world is contained within Him.

There are a certain set of rules that one can follow while doing a pradakshina, to gain its full advantage. One has to fold their hands in front of their chest, take smaller steps and walk unhurriedly, chant a mantra of the deity at the temple and visualize the presiding deity at the temple in their heart. The feeling that arises then is one of total peace and absolute surrender.

Usually the pradakshina is done by circumambulating the whole temple but in Shiva temples, there is a slight variation. In a Shiva temple, one can go around the temple till the Gomukhi. The Gomukhi is the outlet where the water used for the Lord’s abhishekam is drained out. This Gomukhi is not to be crossed in a Shiva temple, as it is considered disrespectful to the deity. To complete the pradakshina, devotees have to turn around and go to the other side of the temple, to the other end of the Gomukha. The Gomukha should not be crossed under any circumstances.


There are a minimum number of pradakshinas that is set for each deity:

– Ganesha: 1

– Shiva: 2

– Vishnu: 3

– Ayyappa: 4

– Kartikeya: 5

– Durga: 6

– Peepal tree: 7


Each step of a pradakshina is said to eliminate sins that a person had committed in his present and past lives. It is not necessary that a pradakshina has to be only in a temple. There are various types of pradakshinas:

– Atma pradakshina : Circumambulating around oneself, acknowledging the atma in himself.

– Giri Valam: Circumambulating around a hill.

– Adi pradakshina: Circumambulating using very short steps; the heel of the foot touches the toes of the other foot and the person walks forward.

– Anga pradakshina: After bathing in the temple’s pond or well, the person, with wet clothes, rolls around the temple chanting the Lord’s name.

– Mutti podudal: Circumambulating the temple on one’s knees.

Apart from these, one can also circumambulate around pipal trees and Tulsi plants.

The Power Behind The Devi Mantra – Sarva Mangala Mangalye


In this post, let us understand the meaning of the renowned Devi mantra.

Sarva-Mangala-Maangalye Shive Sarvaartha-Saadhike
Sharannye Triambake Gauri Naaraayanni Namostute

Welcome to you O Narayani; Who is the positiveness in all the auspicious, one who is so auspicious herself and has all auspicious qualities,
The provider of protection, the one with 3 eyes and a beautiful face; We salute you, O Narayani.

Goddess Narayani is also known to be the power behind Lord Vishnu.

Let’s chant this powerful mantra:

Kita-Bhringi -NyayaThe Maxim of the Trapped Worm and the Wasp


Kita-Bhringi -NyayaThe Maxim of the Trapped Worm and the Wasp
By Hari Parsada Das | Nov 26, 2016

Hatred, envy or fear for another person often intimidates and consumes us. When the primary purpose of our existence becomes dictated by hate or rivalry towards a specific individual, it forces us to give up living our own lives and start imitating the life of the person we envy.

There is a popular maxim (logic) in the Sanskrit language which carries an important life-lesson for those of us who are at any point of time affected by such hatred or envy. This is the Kīṭa-bhṛṅgī-nyāya or the maxim of the trapped worm and the wasp. This maxim is quoted by Srila Shukadev Goswami in the Śrīmad-bhāgavatam (7.1.28):

kīṭaḥ peśaskṛtā ruddhaḥ
kuḍyāyāṁ tam anusmaran
vindate tat-svarūpatām

Translation: A worm (kīṭaḥ) who is trapped (ruddhaḥ) by the wasp (peśaskṛtā) in a hole in the wall (kuḍyāyām) keeps meditating repeatedly (anusmaran) on the wasp (tam) out of envy (saṁrabha) and fear (bhaya-yogena) and thus attains (vindate) the form of a wasp (tat-svarūpatām) in its next life.

Besides the Śrīmad-bhāgavatam, this logic is also quoted by Gauḍīya-vaiṣṇava ācāryas such as Sri Narayan Bhatta Goswam, Sri Rasikottamsa, etc.

This maxim carries the important lesson for us that if we become consumed by the negative emotions of hatred, envy or rivalry towards another person, then we start meditating on them repeatedly instead of meditating on our desired object – Krishna. We thus try to outsmart our rival in each and every possible way. We stop living our own lives and start living the life of our rivals.

For example, I may not be an expert in kīrtana but seeing the talented performance of a kīrtanīya attract various devotees, I may develop some envy or rivalry. If my negative feelings are not checked and addressed by me or my well-wishers in their nascent stage, they may turn into deep-seated hatred for that talented kīrtanīya. I may even give up my own fields of specializations and try to learn kīrtana and music simply to satisfy my burning desire to subdue, surpass and succeed over my rival.

I may start meditating upon that person day and night, and in my blind hatred I won’t even realize that I have actually turned into a clone of that person. I won’t realize that in my madness of conquering a rival, I’ve ended up losing my soul. Seeing my deep-seated desire to be an expert kīrtanīya, Krishna may give me another birth simply to satisfy my desire.

Krishna says in the Gītā (7.8) — pauruṣaṁ nṛṣu — I am the ability in a human being. In the Gītā (10.41) he reminds Arjuna again that all sorts of creativity and talents are sparks of his opulence. Thus, when we see some creativity, some talent or art in an individual, we should offer our respects to Lord Krishna who is manifesting his specific opulences through that individual.

Ultimately, talents and creativities are not the glory of those individuals, but rather are the glory of Lord Krishna. Knowing this, we should conquer our envy and hatred for that individual. If we keep going down that pathway of rivalry, we may end up taking another birth simply to satisfy our whims of acquiring a specific talent which we cannot possibly attain in this life. If at all we dislike a certain individual, the best we can do is to ignore them completely and move ahead in our lives, by serving god using our god-given natural propensities.


The Science of Katha Upanishad

Kaṭha (कठ) Upaniṣad is the fourth in the series of eleven Principal Upaniṣads that we have taken up for rational review. This Upaniṣad is unique in content, since it deals with, in detail, the question of what happens after death. Apparently to add authenticity to the assertions made, the Upaniṣad supposes that the issue is explained by the Lord of Death himself.

The subject-matter is presented as a dialogue between Lord of Death called Mṛtyu and a young boy by name Nachiketas. (The word mṛtyu – मृत्यु in Sanskrit means death; in the study of this Upaniṣad we use this word with the initial letter ‘M’ in capital to refer to the Lord of Death). Before going to this dialogue, let us recall the position we have assumed in the study of the previous three Upaniṣads. It is this: ours is an independent effort, far removed from the conventional theological interpretation of the Upaniṣadic literature and is made with the aim of bringing out the rational thoughts underlying the mystically presented texts in Upaniṣads. This may be borne in mind when we move forward.

This Upaniṣad is part of Kaṭha Brāhmaṇa of Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda. It contains six parts, each known as a Vallī (वल्ली) and these six parts are presented in two chapters of three Vallīs each. Vallīs are numbered from one to three in each chapter. To refer to a verse, both Vallī number and chapter number are often given; for example, 1.2.3 indicates the third verse of the second Vallī in the first chapter. Another method is to omit the chapter number and give the Vallī numbers continuously from 1 to 6; then, the first verse of the fifth Vallī is indicated as 5.1. Here, we follow the latter method.

Nachiketas was the son of one Vājaśravasaḥ (वाजश्रवसः) presumably belonging to the clan of Gautama. Vājaśravasaḥ was performing a sacrifice in which all his wealth had to be given away in charity. Seeing that very old and weak cows of no use were being distributed, Nachiketas thought that no good would accrue to his father from this sacrifice. As if suggesting himself as a better gift, he asked his father, “To whom will you give me?” The father didn’t say anything. Nachiketas repeated the question again and again. Getting annoyed at this, the father, in a fit of anger, told him that he would give him to Mṛtyu. The innocent boy on hearing the angry words of his father began to think how he could be useful to Mṛtyu. Without any clue therefor, he reached the abode of Mṛtyu, but had to wait there for three nights to have a meeting with Mṛtyu. As a recompense for this 3-night delay, Mṛtyu allowed Nachiketas to ask three boons from him…. This much is the background story narrated in the Upaniṣad, regarding how Nachiketas happened to meet Mṛtyu and had a discussion with him.

The first boon Nachiketas asked was that his father be pacified and no longer be angry with him; the second was for obtaining a ‘fire’ of the gods, which is capable of leading one to heaven and immortality; Mṛtyu readily gave him these boons. Then Nachiketas asked the third boon:

येयं प्रेते विचिकित्सा मनुष्येഽस्तीत्येके नायमस्तीति चैके
एतद्विद्यामनुशिष्टस्त्वयाहं वराणामेष वरस्तृतीयः || 1.20 ||

yeyaṃ prete vicikitsā manuṣyestītyeke nāyamastīti caike
etadvidyāmanuśiṣṭastvayāhaṃ varāṇāmeṣa varastṛtīyaḥ (1.20)

Meaning: ‘This is my third boon: On the question of a dead person, some say that he continues to exist, whereas others say that he ceases to exist (at death); I wish to be taught by you on this issue.’

The issue raised here is undoubtedly very important. Though being the most authoritative person to discourse on this topic, Mṛtyu did not respond positively in the beginning. We see in the next nine verses (from 21 to 29), the attempts of Mṛtyu, on one side, to dissuade Nachiketas from seeking the answer and the determination of Nachiketas, on the other, for getting it.

Mṛtyu says, “This is a very subtle issue; even the gods (deva) had this doubt in the past. It is not easy to know; ask for any other boon. Do not compel me”.

Nachiketas replies, “If even the gods had doubts, I see none other than you to tell me about this secret knowledge. So, I am not going for an alternative boon” (verses 1.21 and 1.22).

Following this, Mṛtyu tried to entice Nachiketas with offers of all kinds of worldly pleasures and possessions like wealth, horses, elephants, cattle, gold, longevity, sons, grandsons, etc. He also promised to fulfil all the desires of Nachiketas and asked him to desist from pressing the question. But Nachiketas spurned all these offers, saying that they were all ephemeral and therefore had no attraction for him; he remained firm in his resolve to know the secret of death. Seeing the unflagging determination of Nachiketas in pursuing the path of knowledge against the lures of worldly pleasures, Mṛtyu finally became pleased to impart the knowledge asked for. But, he did not go directly for answering the question. Instead, he discoursed at length on death and immortality and at the end came out with a brief answer in a single verse. He was actually following a well-designed scheme that culminates in delivering the intended answer. Let us see what his scheme and his answer were.

At first, Mṛtyu appreciates Nachiketas for his choosing the path of knowledge against the path of ignorance. In his opinion two mutually opposing options are open for man; one is śreyas (श्रेयस्) and the other is preyas (प्रेयस्). Out of these, śreyas is that which brings about inner enrichment and preyas is that which ruins the person by entangling him in worldly entailments. Only the wise men choose śreyas; Nachiketas did the same, rejecting all the trappings of preyas. This is what earned him the commendation of Mṛtyu and an opportunity to receive the desired instruction. Only men like Nachiketas can prefer śreyas to preyas. What about others? Mṛtyu says about them thus:

अविद्यायामन्तरे वर्तमानाः स्वयं धीराः पण्डितं मन्यमानाः
दन्द्रम्यमाणाः परियन्ति मूढा अन्धेनैव नीयमाना यथान्धाः || 2.5 ||

avidyāyāmantare vartamānāḥ svayaṃ dhīrāḥ paṇḍitaṃ manyamānāḥ
dandramyamāṇāḥ pariyanti mūḍhā andhenaiva nīyamānā yathāndhāḥ (2.5)

Meaning: ‘The foolish ones, thinking themselves to be intelligent and learned, despite being totally immersed in ignorance, wander around, going from one thing to another, like the blind being led by the blind’.

This verse implies that if one opts for the path of preyas, he is actually foolish, though he may think himself to be wise and learned. Being already ignorant, he is led by ignorance too; the phrase ‘blind led by the blind’ emphasises this fact, blindness being a reference to ignorance. (This verse appears in Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad also – verse 1.2.8 – with a single-word replacement).

In the next verse, 2.6, this idea about the ignorant is further developed and the idea of death is introduced ingeniously. Mṛtyu says,

‘न सांपरायः प्रतिभाति बालं प्रमाद्यन्तं वित्तमोहेन मूढम्
अयं लोको नास्ति पर इति मानी पुनः पुनर्वशमापद्यते मे || 2.6 ||

na sāṃparāyaḥ pratibhāti bālaṃ pramādyantaṃ vittamohena mūḍham
ayaṃ loko nāsti para iti mānī punaḥ punarvaśamāpadyate me (2.6)

Meaning: ‘Such inferior minds are intrinsically negligent and are stupefied by attachment to wealth; pursuit of that which is transcendent will never occur to them. To them there is nothing beyond the world of physical experience; such people come into my clutch again and again’.

Actually, in this verse Mṛtyu begins preparation of the ground for answering the question. His scheme of answering is a very indirect one; he first imparts what death is and then, what immortality is. In this verse Mṛtyu says about those who meet with death again and again; they are the ignorant ones who crave for worldly pleasures. This declaration about death is very important. It defines death as the state of being subjugated by desires for worldly pleasures (preyas). We have already come across this idea of death in our study of Bṛhadāraṇyaka (1.2.1) and Chāndogya (8.6.6) Upaniṣads. The same idea can be seen in Gīta 2.62 & 2.63. We saw it in more detail when we studied verse 8 of Īśāvāsya Upaniṣad.

The consistency of Upaniṣadic thoughts regarding the concept of death is evident from the above references; it cannot be otherwise for a philosophy which upholds the central idea that the whole universe is an appearance of the non-material, eternal, ultimate principle called Ātmā. Any other understanding of death as a total destruction of the physical form, retaining the individual identity of the person for further births is therefore invalid.

Having thus taught about the true import of death, Mṛtyu now moves on to the second part of his scheme; he introduces the concept of immortality. According to Upaniṣadic philosophy, immortality is not freedom from loss of physical body; it is dispossession of Kāma from inside, attained by realising the Ātmā. In order to introduce this concept of immortality Mṛtyu begins by drawing attention of Nachiketas to the entity of Ātmā which is very difficult to attain to; he says that many have not even heard of it and many of those who heard of it, do not know it. Those who know it and attain to it become happy; but, very rare are those who discourse on it and understand it (2.7). Since this subtle entity is variously thought by men with inferior intellect, it cannot be understood properly, if taught by them (2.8). So, the teacher must be properly qualified to impart the knowledge about this entity; so also the disciple should be duly qualified to receive it. Mṛtyu considers himself to be well conversant with the knowledge of Ātmā and further, he sees Nachiketas to be well qualified to receive the instruction. So he is happy to have a disciple like Nachiketas.

In the following verse Mṛtyu further eulogises the knowledge about that entity:

तं दुर्दर्शं गूढमनुप्रविष्ठं गुहाहितं गह्वरेष्ठं पुराणम्
अध्यात्मयोगाधिगमेन देवं मत्वा धीरो हर्षशोकौ जहाति || 2.12 ||

taṃ durdarśaṃ gūḍhamanupraviṣṭhaṃ guhāhitaṃ gahvareṣṭhaṃ purāṇam
adhyātmayogādhigamena devaṃ matvā dhīro harṣaśokau jahāti (2.12)

Meaning: ‘By inner meditation upon that unseen, secret, immanent, primal divinity which is seated in the innermost part of the heart, the enlightened man gets rid of the duality of pleasure-pain’.

Mṛtyu further adds in the next verse (2.13) that by attaining to that divinity, one enjoys bliss. Hearing the inducing words of these two verses, Nachiketas desires to know that divinity which is beyond dualities like virtue and vice, good and bad, and past and future (2.14). Mṛtyu replies:

सर्वे वेदा यत्पदमामनन्ति तपांसि सर्वाणि च यद्वदन्ति
यदिच्छन्तो ब्रह्मचर्यं चरन्ति तत्ते पदं सङ्ग्रहेण ब्रवीम्योमित्येतत् || 2.15 ||

sarve vedā yatpadamāmananti tapāṃsi sarvāṇi ca yadvadanti
yadicchanto brahmacaryaṃ caranti tatte padaṃ saṅgraheṇa bravīmyomityetat (2.15)

Meaning: I shall tell you about that, it is ‘Om’, the sound which all the Vedas extol, all deep meditations declare and the study of Vedas seeks to attain to.

Thus, the ultimate immortal entity is declared as ‘Om’, which sound symbolises Ātmā (vide verse 12 of Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad). Further, we have seen in verses 2.23.2 and 2.23.3 of Chāndogya that ‘Om’ was revealed on successive deep meditations on the worlds and the Vyāhṛti, which implies that ‘Om’ is the essence of phenomenal existence.

In the next ten verses Mṛtyu discourses on the nature of this ultimate principle. In 2.16, it is stated that this is the imperishable, supreme Brahma; if a person knows this, whatever he wishes for, would be his. This, however, does not mean that such a knowing person can command to his possession anything that he wishes for; it only implies that such a person will have nothing to wish for, since a feeling of oneness with everything will be generated in him by that knowledge, resulting in a state wherein nothing external will be there for him to wish for. This is the lesson we have learnt from verses 6 and 7 of Īśāvāsya and 4.4.12 of Bṛhadāraṇyaka. These verses underline the fact that a person who has attained to Ātmā, there would be nothing to wish for or aspire to.

Mṛtyu says in verse 2.17 that Ātmā is the support of all; he declares in verse 2.18 that Ātmā is immortal and eternal:

न जायते म्रियते वा विपश्चित् नायं कुतश्चित् न बभूव कश्चित् |
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोयं पुराणो न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे || 2.18 ||

na jāyate mriyate vā vipaścit nāyaṃ kutaścit na babhūva kaścit
ajo nityaḥ śāśvatoyaṃ purāṇo na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre (2.18)

Meaning: ‘This omniscient Ātmā is neither born, nor does he die; he has not originated from anywhere or anything. He is unborn, eternal, everlasting and ancient; he is not destroyed even when the body is destroyed.

We find the same verse in Gīta 2.20, with a one-word change. Again, Gīta verse 2.19 and Kaṭha verse 2.19 are identical, both saying that those, who consider Ātmā as killing or being killed, do not know the truth. In this connection, please also recall verse 8.1.5 of Chāndogya.

Mṛtyu says in verse 2.20 that Ātmā is subtler than the subtle and grosser than the gross and is seated in the heart of all beings. A desire-free person, with composed senses and mind, perceives his glory and gets freed from grief. We have learned about the subtlety and the seat of Ātmā in Chāndogya 3.14.3. Regarding the seat of Ātmā we had a detailed discussion while appreciating verse 8.1.5 of Chāndogya; please refer to that for further clarification. There are a number of verses in other Upaniṣads also highlighting the seating of Ātmā; we will see them all, in due course. Gīta verses 13.17, 15.15 and 18.61 also say about the seat of Ātmā.

Mṛtyu continues his discourse on Ātmā in verses 2.21 and 2.22. Wise men get rid of grief by knowing the great, bodiless, all-pervading Ātmā seated in perishable bodies (2.22). However, Ātmā cannot be known by oral instructions or by mere intelligence or by much hearing about it; it is known by him who is fully dedicated to it. To such a person Ātmā reveals its true nature (2.23).

Thus, in this Vallī we have been introduced to the concepts of death and immortality; we are also told about the entity, on knowing which one may attain immortality. In the next Vallī (3rd) the same line of thinking is pursued further. In verses 3.3 and 3.4, Ātmā is depicted as the lord of a chariot driven by Buddhi (the reasoning faculty), wherein the chariot is the body and the rein is Manas (mind). (Buddhi and Manas are two of the four antaḥkaraṇas – अन्तःकरण – organs of internal organs. The other two Antaḥkaraṇa are Chitta and Ahaṃkāra; the English equivalent of Antaḥkaraṇa is Psyche). The sense organs are the horses of the chariot. Where do they proceed to? They chase their respective objects (object of ears is the sound, that of eyes is the sight and so on). Ātmā, the senses and the Manas together are known as the enjoyer (3.3 and 3.4). These two verses are very famous and are therefore quoted below:

आत्मानं रथिनं विद्धि शरीरं रथमेव तु
बुद्धिं तु सारथिं विद्धि मनः प्रग्रहमेव च || 3.3 ||

ātmānaṃ rathinaṃ viddhi śarīraṃ rathameva tu
buddhiṃ tu sārathiṃ viddhi manaḥ pragrahameva ca (3.3)

इन्द्रियाणि हयानाहुः विषयांस्तेषु गोचरान्
आत्मेन्द्रियमनोयुक्तं भोक्तेत्याहुर्मनीषिणः || 3.4 ||

indriyāṇi hayānāhuḥ viṣayāṃsteṣu gocarān
ātmendriyamanoyuktaṃ bhoktetyāhurmanīṣiṇaḥ (3.4)

The idea sought to be presented here is the Ātmā-body relationship. It is same as we have already found in the first verse of Īśāvāsya Upaniṣad, “īśāvāsyamidaṃ sarvaṃ ….” It also furthers the concept that Ātmā is seated in the heart. It is the duty of Buddhi to guide the chariot by harnessing the horses of the sense organs, using the rein of Manas. The goal obviously is what the master directs. Since the master, the Ātmā, is the origin of everything, he attracts everything to himself; everything is attached to him just as the beads of a rosary (Gīta 7.7). So the final destination of the chariot is Ātmā himself (vide verse 3.11 mentioned below). It goes without saying, that if the rein or the horse is bad, or if the driver is negligent, the goal will not be attained (Verses 5 to 9).

The Ātmā-body relationship is further explored in verses 3.10 and 3.11. Verse 3.10 declares that sense-objects (such as sound, touch, etc.) are superior to (subtler than) senses; Manas is superior to the sense-objects; Buddhi is superior to Manas; that which is superior to Buddhi is ‘Mahān Ātmā’.

What is this Mahān Ātmā? It is the expanding state of Ātmā; mahat indicates that which expands. How is this expanding state like? As a prelude to manifestation of the physical world, Ātmā invokes Prakṛti which is its inalienable power to appear in different forms. With the Prakṛti invoked, Ātmā is known as Puruṣa. This Puruṣa- Prakṛti combine is called Brahma and it is the Brahma that expands and differentiates into various names and forms constituting the universe. Before this expansion starts, the state of Brahma is known as Avyakta (undifferentiated). When the differentiation is in process, it is called ‘Mahān Ātmā’.

From the above explanation, it is evident that Avyakta is superior to Mahān Ātmā (or Mahat) and Puruṣa is superior to Avyakta. Since Puruṣa is Ātmā himself, nothing is superior to Puruṣa. This is the position declared in verse 3.11. This comparison appears again in verses 6.7 and 6.8. Verse 3.11 also declares that this Puruṣa is the ultimate goal. What should one do to achieve that goal? Mṛtyu gives the answer in verse 3.14:

उत्तिष्ठत जाग्रत प्राप्य वरान् निबोधत
क्षुरस्य धारा निशिता दुरत्यया दुर्गं पथस्तत् कवयो वदन्ति || 3.14 ||

uttiṣṭhata jāgrata prāpya varān nibodhata
kṣurasya dhārā niśitā duratyayā durgaṃ pathastat kavayo vadanti (3.14)

Meaning: Be awake and be active; approach the learned and get enlightened.
The wise say that the path is very difficult to tread, like the sharp edge of a razor.

‘Be awake and be active’ means that one should first discipline his inner faculties and then strive for getting the necessary instructions. The rest is self-explanatory.

The goal to be achieved is once more highlighted in the next verse. It is a very important verse, as it asserts that, by attaining to Ātmā, one is freed from the mouth of death. See the verse below:

अशब्दमस्पर्शमरूपमव्ययं तथारसं नित्यमगन्धवच्च यत्
अनाद्यनन्तं महतः परं ध्रुवं निचाय्य तंमृत्युमुखात् प्रमुच्यते || 3.15 ||

aśabdamasparśamarūpamavyayaṃ tathārasaṃ nityamagandhavacca yat
anādyanantaṃ mahataḥ paraṃ dhruvaṃ nicāyya taṃmṛtyumukhāt pramucyate (3.15)

Meaning: By attaining to that which is without sound, touch, form, taste and smell, that which is imperishable, eternal, without beginning and end, and that which is superior to Mahat, one escapes from the prowl of death.

The implication is that one who has attained to Ātmā remains untouched by death; he never dies. Attaining to Ātmā means shedding all dualities which are essential features of physical existence; for, Ātmā is without any attributes as clarified in this verse. Even for a person who has attained to Ātmā in this way, the physical body is subject to decay and disintegration, which in common parlance is death. So, what is the justification for the declaration that he escapes death? The inference is therefore that what we consider as death is not the death which Mṛtyu intends here. The verse says that freedom from physical dualities is freedom from death. Conversely, capitulation to dualities is death. This capitulation takes place through the wandering senses to satisfy the Kāma within; Kāma is defined as reinforced attachment (vide Gīta 2.62). Thus, capitulation to dualities becomes capitulation to Kāma. This is the philosophical definition of death and Mṛtyu follows this definition in clarifying the doubt of Nachiketas. These new concepts of death and immortality are continued further in Vallī 4.

In verse 4.1 Mṛtyu declares that senses are intrinsically oriented outwardly and therefore they cognise the physical appearance only, not the inner principle; but, in order to attain to immortality, inward cognition is essential. We find a further clarification in the next verse; please see it here:

पराचः कामाननुयन्ति बालाः ते मृत्योर्यन्ति विततस्य पाशम्
अथ धीरा अमृतत्वं विदित्वा ध्रुवमध्रुवेष्विह न प्रार्थयन्ते || 4.2 ||

parācaḥ kāmānanuyanti bālāḥ te mṛtyoryanti vitatasya pāśam
atha dhīrā amṛtatvaṃ viditvā dhruvamadhruveṣviha na prārthayante (4.2)

Meaning: ‘Inferior minds pursue desires for external objects and get caught up in the wide-spread snare of death; but, the wise recognizing the eternal immortality underlying such ephemeral objects, do not harbour any desires’.

With this declaration, the position that death is capitulation to Kāma has become a settled one; it is also settled that immortality is the opposite of such death and that it is gained by renouncing Kāma. Evidently, Mṛtyu is going forward slowly with his scheme designed for clearing Nachiketas’ doubt.

How can we attain to the said eternal immortality? Is there any special tool for that? No, there is no special tool other than what we already possess. The tool with which the senses cognise the sense objects is verily the tool for cognising immortality also. Obviously, the tool is pure consciousness; this consciousness is capable of taking us beyond the sense objects to the ultimate and immortal entity. (4.3).

Here comes the final, concluding assertion on what constitutes death. See how Mṛtyu does it, in verse 4.10:

यदेवेह तदमुत्र यदमुत्र तदन्विह
मृत्योः स मृत्युमाप्नोति य इह नानेव पश्यति || 4.10 ||

yadeveha tadamutra yadamutra tadanviha
mṛtyoḥ sa mṛtyumāpnoti ya iha nāneva paśyati (4.10)

Meaning: ‘What is here is the same as what is there and vice versa. (That means, everywhere the same thing exists). He who sees differently meets with death again and again’.

The implied meaning is a re-assertion of what we are by now very familiar with. We know that Kāma overtakes us, if only we see something different from us and desire for it; if we perceive everything as a part of us, everything as belonging to us, then there will not be anything to aspire for; then there will not be any space for Kāma. In other words, when we see things other than us, we covet them, enabling Kāma to strike root in us. This will culminate in our death (death in the philosophical sense mentioned above). So long as we fail to see the unity of existence and continue to see things as separate from us, death occurs to us repeatedly; we go from death to death.

It has been declared above that only the same thing exists everywhere. What is that thing? Mṛtyu answers this question in verses 4.12 and 4.13; that thing is the Puruṣa who rules over both past and future; he is seated in the central part of the body and is only thumb-sized (4.12 and 4.13). The same idea is repeated in verse 6.17 also. The ‘central part’ is a reference to the heart, which we have seen previously as ‘Thalamus’ in modern parlance; ‘thumb-size’ indicates the size of Thalamus. The implications of this seating have been discussed in detail already in 8.1.1 of ‘The Science of Chāndogya Upaniṣad’.

The last verse (15) of this Vallī describes the transformation that happens to the person who gets enlightened; he becomes the Ātmā himself, just as when pure water is poured into pure water, both become identified with each other. That means, he attains immortality; for, Ātmā is immortal. See the verse below:

यथोदकं शुधे शुधमासिक्तं तादृगेव भवति
एवं मुनेर्विजानत आत्मा भवति गौतम || 4.15 ||

yathodakaṃ śudhe śudhamāsiktaṃ tādṛgeva bhavati
evaṃ munervijānata ātmā bhavati gautama (4.15)

Now we enter into the most important Vallī of the Upaniṣad, the Vallī in which the crucial question is finally answered. However, prior to answering the question, the Upaniṣad explores the essential constitution of living beings, in view of the fact that death occurs to such beings only. It is stated that living beings consist of the physical body that is inherently prone to degeneration and Ātmā which supports the body and the life therein; they owe their existence to Ātmā. We see these declarations in verses 5.4 and 5.5, extracted below.

अस्य विस्रंसमानस्य शरीरस्थस्य देहिनः
देहाद्विमुच्यमानस्य किमत्र परिशिष्यत एतद्वै तत् || 5.4 ||

asya visraṃsamānasya śarīrasthasya dehinaḥ
dehādvimucyamānasya kimatra pariśiṣyata etadvai tat (5.4)

न प्राणेन नापानेन मर्त्यो जीवति कश्चन
इतरेण तु जीवन्ति यस्मिन्नेतावुपाश्रितौ || 5.5 ||

na prāṇena nāpānena martyo jīvati kaścana
itareṇa tu jīvanti yasminnetāvupāśritau (5.5)

Meaning: 5.4 : Dehin (देहिन्) means that which possesses a deha or body; it is obviously Puruṣa. The verse says thus: that which remains to a Dehin when the body is separated, is ‘that’ (Ātmā). The implication is that living beings consist of a physical body and the Ātmā supporting life from within, pervading the entire body. We have seen this idea already, in Bṛhadāraṇyaka 3.7.3 to 3.7.23.

5.5: This verse says that man lives, not because of Prāṇa or Apāna (two functional divisions of the vital energy – breath – which we will study in detail in Praśna Upaniṣad), but because of something else on which these two are dependent. The implication is this: man is ultimately dependent on the power of Ātmā.

Mṛtyu now takes up the question, offering to tell Nachiketas about the eternal Brahma as well as how Ātmā exists when death occurs. He says:

हन्त ते इदं प्रवक्ष्यामि गुह्यं ब्रह्म सनातनम्
यथा च मरणं प्राप्य आत्मा भवति गौतम || 5.6 ||

hanta te idaṃ pravakṣyāmi guhyaṃ brahma sanātanam
yathā ca maraṇaṃ prāpya ātmā bhavati gautama (5.6)

In the next verse, his long overdue answer comes. It may be noted that 72 verses have passed since the question was put to him; the Upaniṣad has only a total of 119 verses. In all the verses so far passed, the subject matter was how and why one meets with death and also how and when he can make an escape from death and attain immortality. In all these instructions we have seen that death is perceived as not what we conventionally understand; disintegration of body is not total annihilation, since disintegration is only a change of form and name; that which exists can never cease to exist. That which exists will always be there, only the appearance may change, just as different ornaments successively made of the same ingot of gold. We have also seen that immortality is not the absence of disintegration of physical body. So, it is very important that we should receive the instruction, which Mṛtyu is now going to give, with all this background awareness. Actually, Mṛtyu was enriching the awareness level of Nachiketas through all these 72 verses of instruction so as to make him eligible for receiving the final reply in a higher plane of enlightenment. It is therefore incumbent upon us that we should also receive the ensuing instruction with the same enlightenment which Mṛtyu expected of Nachiketas while instructing him so far. And, what was the reply? Here it is:

योनिमन्ये प्रपद्यन्ते शरीरत्वाय देहिनः
स्थाणुमन्ये ഽनुसंयन्ति यथा कर्म यथा श्रुतम् || 5.7 ||

yonimanye prapadyante śarīratvāya dehinaḥ
sthāṇumanyeഽnusaṃyanti yathā karma yathā śrutam (5.7)

Meaning: yoni = origin (beginning); anye = another; prapadyante = assume, attain; śarīratva = the state of having a body; śarīratvāya = for the sake of body; dehinaḥ = dehins; sthāṇu = immovable, unchangeable; anusaṃyanti = go towards; yathā karma = according to karma (deed); yathā śrutam = according to what is heard (learnt).

So, the meaning of the verse is this: ‘(After death), some Dehins assume another beginning for the sake of body, while others go towards the unchangeable, in accordance with each one’s karma and knowledge’. We have seen that death is capitulation to Kāma; inferior minds follow the senses under the influence of Kāma and meet with death (verse 4.2). So, in this death, the body is not lost and the Dehin continues to be as such. If, in the light of his acquired knowledge, Dehin learns, from his fall, any lesson regarding the danger of Kāma, he tries to keep away from Kāma and, as a result, gains stability of mind; this would finally take him to the changeless entity, which is Ātmā. This is what is said here as going ‘towards the unchangeable’. Contrarily, if he does not learn any lesson and is not able to defy the calls of bodily pleasures, he opts for another beginning in the same line, finally landing in death’s trap again and again as stated in 4.2. This situation is depicted here as ‘assuming another beginning for the sake of body’.

This is the true meaning which is in conformity with the rational thinking consistently seen in all the Principal Upaniṣads; we have by now had first-hand knowledge on it. As against this rational position, the conventional interpretation of the verse is quite calamitous to the universally acknowledged concept of Ātmā; that interpretation is rather mythological, not in level with the superior wisdom of Upaniṣads. The advocates of this interpretation give the meaning of this verse thus: ‘some Dehins go to wombs for new bodies; others become immovables like trees, according to their karma and knowledge’. It is unfortunate that they ignore even the meaning of the word ‘Dehin’. When the Deha is gone, what is left is Ātmā only; then, we cannot call it Dehin (see 5.4). Since Ātmā is all-pervasive there is no question of it going from some place to another in search of womb; moreover, by the same reason, there cannot be a womb without Ātmā and waiting for it to come. Further, they commit a grave mistake in assuming that ‘sthāṇu’ in the verse is ‘immovable beings like trees’. The word ‘sthāṇu’ means that which is without change; it is Ātmā. In Gīta verse 2.24 Ātmā is described as sthāṇu; does it mean that Ātmā is only something like a tree? Above all, if it is to give this simple, trite, silly answer, Mṛtyu could have given it at the outset itself. Instead, he gave all these instructions on snares of death and on attaining to immortality in long 72 verses. He dissuaded Nachiketas by saying that even the gods do not know the answer and also by offering many enticing gifts. Moreover, it is a well-established principle that Ātmā never gets attached or smeared by anything. We will see this in verse 5.11 below; we see this fact in Gīta verse 13.32. The import of Gīta verses 2.23 and 2.24 is also the same. If Ātmā cannot be smeared by anything, it cannot be affected by the Karma and knowledge of the Dehin. All these make the conventional interpretation unrealistic and untenable.

The doubt raised by Nachiketas is now cleared. But Mṛtyu has in verse 5.6 offered to reveal what the eternal Brahma is. In the next verse he does it.

य एष सुप्तेषु जागर्ति कामं कामं पुरुषो निर्मिमाणः
तदेव शुक्रं तद्ब्रह्म तदेवामृतमुच्यते
तस्मिंल्लोकाः श्रिताः सर्वे तदु नात्येति कश्चन एतद्वै तत् || 5.8 ||

ya eṣa supteṣu jāgarti kāmaṃ kāmaṃ puruṣo nirmimāṇaḥ
tadeva śukraṃ tadbrahma tadevāmṛtamucyate
tasmiṃllokāḥ śritāḥ sarve tadu nātyeti kaścana etadvai tat (5.8)

Meaning: supta= sleeping, inactive; jāgarti= be awake; kāma= desire, wish; nirmimāṇaḥ= making, projecting; śukraṃ= resplendent; śritāḥ= dependent; atyeti= surpass, pass beyond. The verse says: “In the sleeping, inactive thing (Prakṛti), the Puruṣa remains awake and active; he projects thereupon all the objects of desire. This, the Puruṣa and the Prakṛti together, is the resplendent, immortal Brahma. The worlds are dependent on it and nothing surpasses it”. In this connection, please recall the discussion in the previous articles, regarding Brahma and see the convergence of thoughts.

In the next two verses (5.9 and 5.10), Mṛtyu explains how the one and only one Ātmā reflects different forms in different objects. It is just like fire or air acquiring shapes with reference to the objects within which they exist; when air is trapped in a container, its shape is that of the container and, likewise, when fire burns on a small object, it is small in size. In the same manner, the reflection of Ātmā in bodies is limited by their physical periphery. If Ātmā pervades all, what is the meaning in claiming that its reflection in bodies is limited by their physical periphery? The limitation of reflection consists in the peculiar attributes of the respective bodies. For example, in a piece of gold, the reflection pertains to the expression of the various features and qualities of gold; similarly in other things. Verse 5.11 says, as mentioned above, that Ātmā is not smeared by worldly experiences.

Mṛtyu asserts thus in verses 5.12 and 5.13: ‘those who realise that the same Ātmā shines in them and in all others, attain to eternal bliss and peace’. In the next two verses, he declares that Ātmā cannot be pointed out in the manner, “That is this”. It is the one that shines (exists) by itself and others shine (exist) because of it. See how verse 15, the last one of the fifth Vallī elaborates this idea:

न तत्र सूर्यो भाति न चन्द्रतारकं नेमा विद्युतो भान्ति कुतोഽयमग्निः
तमेव भान्तमनुभाति सर्वं तस्य भासा सर्वमिदं विभाति || 5.15 ||

na tatra sūryo bhāti na candratārakaṃ nemā vidyuto bhānti kutoഽyamagniḥ
tameva bhāntamanubhāti sarvaṃ tasya bhāsā sarvamidaṃ vibhāti (5.15)

Meaning: ‘No sun, no moon, no stars, no lightning and no fire shine there; it shines on its own and all others shine because of it’. (We see the same verse in 2.2.10 of Muṇḍaka and 6.14 of Śvetāśvatara also).

The next Vallī is the last one of this Upaniṣad. It opens with a depiction of Brahma in a slightly different way compared to what we have seen above in verse 5.8. See the verse below:

ऊर्ध्वमूलोഽवाक्शाख एषोഽश्वत्थः सनातनः
तदेव शुक्रं तद्ब्रह्म तदेवामृतमुच्यते
तस्मिंल्लोकाः श्रिताः सर्वे तदु नात्येति कश्चन एतद्वै तत् || 6.1 ||

ūrdhvamūloഽvākśākha eṣoഽśvatthaḥ sanātanaḥ
tadeva śukraṃ tadbrahma tadevāmṛtamucyate
tasmiṃllokāḥ śritāḥ sarve tadu nātyeti kaścana etadvai tat (6.1)

Meaning: aśvatthaḥ= holy fig tree. In this verse, Brahma is equated to an Aśvatthaḥ tree whose roots are above and branches are below; this tree is eternal. The rest is same as we have seen in verse 5.8 above. Gīta also says about this tree in verse 15.1 to 15.4 in greater detail. Look at this tree. The mention that its roots are above, gives an indication of the location of its source of strength and support; ‘above’ indicates transcendence. The all-transcendent entity is verily Ātmā; therefore, the tree has its source and support in Ātmā. Branches of a tree subsist due to the roots. Here the root is Ātmā and branches represent Prakṛti. The root and the branches together represent the Brahma as stated in verse 5.8. Gīta 15.2 explains further that the branches of this tree spread upwards also and the roots extend to bottom.

In the remaining verses, Mṛtyu repeats the concept of immortality and discusses aspects of attaining it. Those who realise this all-pervading Ātmā attain immortality (verse 6.2). Everything in this universe is under the control of Ātmā and follows its rules (6.3). Ātmā is the ultimate of all and is beyond the grasp of the senses; those who know it become immortal (6.7 to 6.9, 6.12, 6.13 and 6.18). Since Ātmā is not within the reach of senses, seekers have to rely on other means. They must refrain from going after the senses; instead, they have to control their activities; this control of senses is called yoga. This will take them to realisation of the ever-existing Ātmā (6.11). When one gets rid of all the Kāma within (through this control of the wandering senses) he will become immortal (6.14 and 6.15). Mentioning about the different types of nerves in the ‘Heart,’ verse 6.16 points out the particular nerve that lays down the path to immortality; we have already seen this in detail when we studied verse 8.6.6 of Chāndogya Upaniṣad.

With this, Mṛtyu concludes his discourses. He takes the concepts of death and immortality to a higher, rational plane, befitting the Upaniṣadic tradition.

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The Science of Upanishads

Upaniṣads are treasures of Indian spiritual thoughts of ancient times. The ten most ancient Upaniṣads belong to the period of 1500 BC to 600 BC, according to commonly agreed estimations. They are called the Principal Upaniṣads and are considered to be the most authentic ones.

There is another Upaniṣad by name Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad belonging to a later period, but viewed at par with the Principal Upaniṣads, considering the dexterity and erudition with which the subject matter is dealt with therein. In this discussion whenever we refer to Principal Upaniṣads, it may be understood to include Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad also. There are many other Upaniṣads written during later periods, the total number being 108 according to some, while others put the number at 200 plus. But in the present discussion we consult only the Principal Upaniṣads.

All the spiritual thoughts of ancient India which got accumulated through ages were existing in a single lump without any orderly arrangement or classification. It was Sage Vyāsa who successfully classified all into a proper order on the basis of specific topics dealt with in each piece and their comparative importance. This is how we got the four Samhita-s, the Brāhmaṇa-s, the Āraṇyaka-s and the Upaniṣad-s. Samhitas are mostly hymns for praising or invoking various gods for well-being and favours. Brāhmaṇas and Āraṇyakas mainly deal with ritualistic illustrations of the Samhitas. Upaniṣads represent philosophical postulations either extracted from these three or compiled independently. Of the eleven Principal Upaniṣads, one (Īśa Upaniṣad) is part of a Samhita (Śukla Yajurveda), four (Bṛhadāraṇyaka, Chāndogya, Kaṭha, Kena) are parts of Brāhmaṇas and two (Aitareya, Taittirīya) are parts of Āraṇyakas. The remaining four (Praśna, Muṇḍaka, Māṇḍukya of Atharva veda and Śvetāśvatara of Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda) are independent compilations. Why should the same contents of an Upaniṣad find a place in some Samhita, Brāhmaṇa or Āraṇyaka? Because the same text contains certain portions that qualify for inclusion in the Upaniṣad and some other portions suitable for Samhita, Brāhmaṇa or Āraṇyaka. While studying the Upaniṣads we have to make due allowance for this fact.

Upaniṣads are not like ordinary spiritual texts which dwell on glorification and appeasement of an almighty god through prayers, rituals and offerings with an intention to secure protection, prosperity, happiness and long life. The primary concern of Upaniṣads is not the physical life as such, but the ultimate principle that sustains the physical life. Upanishads recognize the existence of an entity beyond the phenomenal world. They advance the concept of reality from a relative plain to the absolute state, to the reality that is free from all limitations of time and space. This advancement is the greatest achievement that Indian meditative mind accomplished and it is the greatest ever height that human mind scaled in speculative thinking. It was with this advancement that, in India, mere spiritual thinking graduated into pure philosophical deductions.

It is therefore imperative that any attempt to understand the teachings of Upaniṣads must be with due consideration for this unique feature inherent in them. Any alternative attempt employing the traditional tools of interpretation is unwelcome as it would only obscure the scientific spirit of the Upaniṣads and degrade their sublime teachings to mere theological compositions. Moreover, being extracts from other three parts of the Vedas, most of the Principal Upaniṣads contain some portions that do not fit well with the main theme under discussion in that particular Upaniṣad. Therefore, while interpreting the Upaniṣads to derive lessons therefrom, these portions have to be omitted from detailed consideration. In the present endeavour we keep in mind these observations as a guide in explaining the contents of each Upaniṣad. That means, we concentrate on those teachings that a rational mind should take note of and assimilate into its own cognitive constitution; in this process we simply ignore those contents which are rather ritualistic or purely mythological in nature.

With these words let us approach the Upaniṣads one by one for enlightenment. In this endeavour we take up only the eleven Principal Upaniṣads mentioned above.

(Author: Karthikeyan Sreedharan)

The Science of Ishavasya Upanishad

Īśāvāsya (ईशावास्य) is the only one among the Principal Upaniṣads which is part of a Samhita. It is the end part of Śukḻa Yajurveda (Kāṇva recension), consisting of 18 verses in poetry. Being part of a Samhita is a testimony for the authenticity and ancientness of the Upaniṣad. While taking up the study of this very small Upaniṣad, we confine our analytical endeavour to the limits that we have already set, in the case of our previous studies.

This Upaniṣad derives its name from the opening word of its first verse. Īśāvāsya means abode of the Ruler; Īśa is Ruler and āvāsya is abode. The Upaniṣad describes who this Ruler is and how man should yearn to attain to the ultimate principle of this Ruler.

Let us now look at the first verse. It reads thus:

ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत् किंच जगत्यां जगत्
तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद् धनम् || 1 ||

īśāvāsyamidaṃ sarvaṃ yat kiṃca jagatyāṃ jagat
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā mā gṛdhaḥ kasyasvid dhanam (1)

Meaning: ‘All that is here in this ever-changing world constitutes the abode of the Ruler (He is the in-dweller in everything); therefore, when you take anything here to utilize for your benefit, do it with a sense of renunciation (rather than arrogation); you should not covet others’ means of living (dhana is prey, the thing on which one feeds on)’.

In other words, the world is subject to continuous change; it has a Ruler. The whole world is his abode; that is, He occupies everything here. Nobody has, therefore, any possession right over anything here, but only enjoyment right. So, don’t attempt to arrogate anything to yourself. Further, when you take something for your enjoyment, renunciation must be the guiding principle.

How should we understand these instructions? First of all, please take notice of the mention about ever-changing nature of the world. The westerners believe that it was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said for the first time about the world’s ever changing nature. 5th century BC was his life-time. But the declaration in this Upaniṣad must be about 1000 years prior to that, since this is part of Yajur Veda Samhita which belongs to that age.

Then, who is the Ruler mentioned here? The verse itself says that this Ruler is the in-dweller of everything. That is, everything is pervaded by him. We have already understood from our previous studies that the entity pervading everything is nothing but Ātmā which is the ultimate principle ‘SAT-CHIT-ĀNANDA’. It is declared in section 3.7 of Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad that Ātmā is the inner controller of all beings. Being the sole controller, he is called here as the Ruler; he is one without a second. Since he pervades and controls everything, the entire universe is said to be his body (vide 3.7.1 to 3.7.23 of Bṛhadāraṇyaka). With him remains vested all rights over his body, proprietary as well as possessionary. The physical bodies of all beings are only constituents of this universal body; as the Ruler of the whole, he is to see that all these constituents remain in their appropriate places and that they maintain an inter-connection promoting the sustenance of the whole. It is also essential that each constituent should have access to such of other constituents as are necessary for its survival. Therefore, if any particular constituent acquires everything that fancies him and keep the same under his possession and disposal, over and above its actual sustenance needs, it would spell break-down of the system, as some other constituents will be deprived of the essential resources for its survival. That is why this caution of renunciation: ‘enjoy, but don’t take away anything to own exclusive possession’ (tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā, mā gṛdhaḥ kasyasvid dhanam). It is worthwhile to state here that no socialist or other ethical ideas on welfare of the mankind can ever match this declaration in profundity of wisdom and logic.

All that we have seen advocates a reduced inclination to the pursuit of physical pleasures. It is only when we are increasingly prone to physical pleasures that we start to disregard the needs of others and get entangled in all corrupt and wicked practices which spell ruin for the whole system as well as for ourselves.

When we speak of renunciation, a question would naturally arise, “What should we renounce?” We should have something of our own to renounce; but, as clarified above, we have no true ownership or possession right on anything in this world. This dilemma is solved by the next verse which provides the precise answer; Karma (deed or action) is the answer. Our Karma is our own prerogative (karmaṇi eva adhikāraḥ te – कर्मणि एव अधिकारः ते – Gīta 2.47); it is our existential essentiality (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.1.8). Verse 2 insists that one should live by doing Karma; renouncing Karma is not by refraining from doing it, but by submitting the results thereof to the service of the whole. Such performance of Karma does not cause any bondage to the performer (न कर्म लिप्यते नरे – na karma lipyate nare). The verse points out that those who lived a full life in the past did so by doing Karma in this manner. Therefore, the instruction is to follow the same path. The most important thing to be taken in from this verse is that it asserts the compulsory performance of Karma; withdrawal from performing the Karma is not considered a virtue that would absolve us of bondage. What wards off bondage is the renunciation of the results of Karma; so one is not justified in giving up performance of Karma for the sake of detachment (mā saṅgaḥ astu akarmaṇi – मा सङ्गः अस्तु अकर्मणि – Gīta 2.47; see also Gīta 3.4, 3.9, etc). It was this idea, cumulatively occurring in verses 1 & 2, which the communists later re-discovered, after about 3000 years, in their declaration, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”.

Having thus laid down necessary instructions for proper living, in conformity with the ultimate principle of Ātmā, the Upaniṣad warns against negation of that principle, in verse 3. Those who defy Ātmā and pursue the ways of selfishness are cast into the worlds of utter darkness wherein the sun of enlightenment never rises; he gets more and more entangled in the whirlpools of worldly life and thus becomes ruined (Wisdom will never dawn on those who are carried away by indulgence in sensual pleasures and affluence – Gīta 2.44).

In continuation of this warning against disregard of the principle of Ātmā, the Upaniṣad presents a description about the nature of Ātmā in verses 4 to 8. Verse 4 says that Ātmā is unmoving and the only one entity; it is faster than the mind and ungraspable by the senses; unmoving, it transcends all that is moving and it is only upon Ātmā that Prāṇa projects all actions (of living beings). Ātmā is unmoving because it pervades everywhere and therefore no space to move into. It is only one, since everything is its manifestation and is pervaded by itself. Being not physical, it is not grasped by the senses and being the energy (consciousness) motivating the mind, it must be faster than the mind. Since every moving object is involved in Ātmā, it is said to transcend all; all actions occur as effects of consciousness part of Ātmā, aided by Prāṇa and therefore it is said that all actions are projected by Prāṇa upon it.

It is further explained in verse 5 that Ātmā pervades all. Verses 6 and 7 speak about how the world is viewed by a person, who sees unity in all beings such that all beings are perceived in himself and also himself in all beings; he cannot hate or reject any being and he cannot have either passion or grief.

Now, we come to the most important verse of Īśāvāsya, the verse 8, which describes the features of Ātmā thus:

स पर्यगात् शुक्रं अकायं अव्रणं अस्नाविरं शुद्धं अपापविद्धम्
कविः मनीषी परिभूः स्वयम्भूः याथातथ्यतोर्थान् व्यदथात् शाश्वतीभ्यः समाभ्यः || 8 ||

sa paryagāt śukraṃ akāyaṃ avraṇaṃ asnāviraṃ śuddhaṃ apāpaviddham
kaviḥ manīṣī paribhūḥ svayambhūḥ yāthātathyatorthān vyadathāt śāśvatībhyaḥ samābhyaḥ (8)

Meaning: ‘He pervades all; he is resplendent, bodiless, uninterrupted, without sinews, pure and devoid of evil; he is far-sighted, omniscient, transcendent and self-existing; it is he who ever sustains all realistic objects’.

This is self-explanatory.

In the next six verses, it is asserted that, together with pursuit of knowledge, Karma also is important in attaining immortality. We cannot choose anyone between these two, for the purpose. Those who exclusively pursue any one of these two will only fall into utter darkness. Through the practice of performing Karma, one should overcome Mṛtyu (Death) (mṛtyu is simply the surrender to temptations of Kāma) and through acquiring knowledge aspire to attain immortality (verses 9 to 14). These two, namely, performing Karma and acquiring knowledge go together, not one after another. Mechanical performance of Karma will not yield the required result; in order to draw lessons from experience, we should have sufficient knowledge also. The importance of performance of Karma lies in its serving as a practical exercise for establishing in the mind what is learnt in theory.

Further, immortality is verily the freedom from being felled by Kāma while Death is the state of being felled by Kāma. Gīta describes in 2.62 and 2.63 how a person faces death by submitting himself to Kāma; Bṛhadāraṇyaka says in 1.2.1 that hunger is death; hunger is the urge for devouring the desired things, which is Kāma only. The ignorant and the weak easily fall prey to the prowling Kāma, continuously. Sage Patañjali says in Yogasūtra 1.4 that we are what our state of mind disposes (वृत्तिसारूप्य – vṛttisārūpya). So, when Kāma overtakes us, we lose our true identity, and meet with death; such deaths occur frequently, many times even in a single day, for an unstable mind. After one death, there is a rebirth into an unenlightened form which again faces death and this chain of deaths continues for ever until we get enlightenment and become relieved of further death; this relief from death is called immortality. The deaths and rebirths evidently occur to the same physical person, not to different bodies; this is because when the body is lost, personal identity is lost for ever as we have already seen in Chāndogya (6.9.1 etc) and Bṛhadāraṇyaka (2.4.12, etc.).

The last four verses (15 to 18) of the Upaniṣad present an instance of an aspirant seeking to know and attain to the eternal truth. In verse 15, the seeker finds that the eternal truth is veiled by a golden plate and therefore, as an aspirant for enlightenment he seeks its removal, for which he makes an appeal to Pūṣan, who is responsible for its deployment. See the verse below:

हिरण्मयेन पात्रेण सत्यस्यापिहितं मुखम्
तत्त्वं पूषन् अपावृणु सत्यधर्माय दृष्टये || 15 ||

hiraṇmayena pātreṇa satyasyāpihitaṃ mukham
tattvaṃ pūṣan apāvṛṇu satyadharmāya dṛṣṭaye (15)

Satyadharma mentioned here means ‘eternal truth’. What is this golden plate and why is it an obstruction to knowing the eternal truth? The golden vessel is the ever-enticing sensual pleasures provided by physical entities. Gold symbolises that enticement. If we are carried away by this enticement, we would never be able to pursue the path of liberation. Pūṣan is the nourisher, the nourisher of physical endowments; obviously, he is responsible for the deployment of physical features that cause the said enticement. That is why the prayer for removal of enticement is directed to him; the prayer is to the effect that Pūṣan may make the endowments less attractive. This is just like removing the pricked thorn by another thorn.

The appeal in verse 15 is followed up in verse 16. The Pūṣan is entreated to employ the whole range of his reins (व्यूह रश्मिन् समूह – vyūha raśmin samūha) to contain the enticing features of this physical world supported by him, so that the aspirant may sight the real glorious Puruṣa within, who is nothing other than what he (the aspirant) really is. The implication is that the same principle (Puruṣa) pervades in all and he is attained on getting detached from the worldly entanglements of pleasure-pain and such other dual experiences.

Further, it is stated in verse 17 that the body will finally turn to ashes, while Prāṇa, which sustains life, is eternal (as it represents the ultimate principle of existence). Therefore, it is prayed that the thoughts about desires be extinguished.

(क्रतो स्मर कृतम् स्मर – krato smara kṛtam smara

kratu – desire; smara – memory, thought; kṛtam- done, extinguished).

Having thus laid down two paths (one of sensual pleasures and the other of enlightenment) to choose between, the Upaniṣad concludes the instructions with a prayer in verse 18 for being led in the right path. The prayer is directed to Agni, the omniscient Lord of all, for destruction of all deceiving evils. Agni is the symbol of knowledge and, therefore, the prayer directed to him implies seeking of enlightenment for distinguishing what is wrong and what is right. Please see the verse below:

अग्ने नय सुपथा राये अस्मान् विश्वानि देव वयुनानि विद्वान्
युयोध्यस्मज्जुहुराणमेनो भूयिष्ठां ते नम उक्तिम् विधेम || 18 ||

agne naya supathā rāye asmān viśvāni deva vayunāni vidvān
yuyodhyasmajjuhurāṇameno bhūyiṣṭhāṃ te nama uktim vidhema (18)

supathā rāye – supremely virtuous course; supatha – virtuous course, rāya – king, prince; vayunāni vidvān – having all knowledge.

Let us also pray for being led in the right path leading to enlightenment.

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The Birth of Kalki

Shambhala, which is a Sanskrit word meaning “place of peace” or “place of silence”, is a mythical paradise spoken of in ancient Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu traditions, including the Kalachakra Tantra and the ancient Zhangzhung texts of western Tibet & Hindu texts such as the Vishnu Purana (4.24) mention the village Shambhala as the birthplace of Kalki, the final incarnation of Vishnu who will usher in a new Golden Age (Satya Yuga).

According to legend, it is a land where only the pure of heart can live, a place where love and wisdom reigns and where people are immune to suffering, want or old age.

Shambhala is said to be the land of a thousand names. It has been called the Forbidden Land, the Land of White Waters, Land of Radiant Spirits, Land of Living Fire, Land of the Living Gods and Land of Wonders. The Hindus call it Aryavartha (‘The Land of the Worthy Ones); the Chinese know it as Hsi Tien, the Western Paradise of Hsi Wang Mu; and to the Russian Old Believers, it is known as Belovoyde. But throughout Asia, it is best known by its Sanskrit name, Shambhala, Shamballa, or Shangri-la.

Call it what you will, but let it be described as the home for immortals; a place where the Will of God is known; a celestial kingdom that holds our very destiny.

According to the Kalachakra Tantra Prophecy, a line of enlightened kings guard the highest wisdoms for the time when all spiritual values in the outside world are lost in wars and destruction.

At that time, a great king will come out of the Shambhala kingdom to defeat the forces of evil and establish the Golden Age.

The prophecy of Shambhala gives us a hint of the coming Golden Age. There will be 32 kings, each reigning for a 100 years. As their reigns pass conditions, of the world will deteriorate. Wars will break out in the pursuant of power.

Materialism will overcome spiritualism and spread over the world. Then the ‘barbarians’ who follow this ideology of power and materialism are united under one evil king, assuming there is nothing left to conquer. When this time comes, the mists will then lift to reveal the icy mountains of Shambhala.

Seeing the promised lands of Shambhala, the barbarians will then attack Shambhala with a huge army equipped with terrible weapons.

The 32nd king of Shambhala, Rudra Cakrin, ‘The Wrathful One with the Wheel’ will rise from his throne and lead a mighty host against the invaders destroying the army of barbarians.

After the battle has been won, the rule of Shambhala will cover the world, bringing in the greatest Age of all times. Food will grow without work, there will be no disease or poverty, hatred and jealousies will be replaced with love and the great saints and sages of the past will return to life to teach true wisdom of the Ages.

Tibetan religious texts tell us that the technology of Shambhala is supposed to be highly advanced; the palace contains special skylights made of lenses which serve as high-powered telescopes to study extraterrestrial life, and for hundreds of years Shambhala’s inhabitants have been using aircraft and cars that shuttle through a network of underground tunnels.

On the way to enlightenment, Shambhalans acquire such powers as clairvoyance, the ability to move at great speeds, and the ability to materialize and disappear at will.

As with many concepts in the Kalachakra, the idea of Shambhala is said to have outer, inner, and alternative meanings. The outer meaning understands Shambhala to exist as a physical place, although only individuals with the appropriate karma can reach it and experience it as such. The inner and alternative meanings refer to more subtle understandings of what Shambhala represents in terms of one’s own body and mind (inner), and during meditative practice (alternative).

These two types of symbolic explanations are generally passed on orally from teacher to student.

Over many centuries, numerous explorers and seekers of spiritual wisdom have embarked on expeditions and quests in search of the mythical paradise of Shambhala, and while many have claimed to have been there, no one has yet provided any evidence of its existence or been able to pinpoint its physical location on a map, however most references place Shambhala in the mountainous regions of Eurasia.
Ancient Zhang Zhung texts identify Shambhala with the Sutlej Valley in Punjab or Himachal Pradesh, India. Mongolians identify Shambhala with certain valleys of southern Siberia.

In Altai folklore, Mount Belukha is believed to be the gateway to Shambhala. Modern Buddhist scholars seem to conclude that Shambhala is located in the higher reaches of the Himalayas in what is now called the Dhauladhar Mountains around Mcleodganj. Some legends say that the entrance to Shambhala is hidden inside a remote, abandoned monastery in Tibet, and guarded by beings known as the Shambhala Guardians.

For some, the fact that Shambhala has never been found has a very simple explanation – many believe that Shambhala lies on the very edge of physical reality, as a bridge connecting this world to one beyond it.


Hitler’s Attempts to Find Shambala

Hitler also made attempts to locate and enter the gates of Shambhala… The idea of Shambhala and its occult knowledge was an obsession to him. The roots of his occult desires can be traced far back into his youth where he studied the occult and yoga in Vienna. The young Hitler received initiation into the American Indian Peyote Cult.

After he was introduced to The Secret Doctrine, he then turned his attention more to Theosophy. Later he joined the occult group in Germany called Ultima Thule, out of which the Nazi Party was born.

Upon assuming power, Hitler established the ministry of Ancestral Memories, headed by the Chairman of the Sanskrit Department at Munich University.

Through this connection with Sanskrit studies, the Nazis adopted the swastika, an ancient symbol of good luck and well being. Although many believe that Hitler designed this emblem it is a fact that the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain worlds had honored this symbol for thousands of years prior to the Nazi movement.

With the help of the explorer Sven Hedlin, Hitler sent several expeditions to Tibet. The Nazis claimed that although Shambhala was inaccessible to them, they also made contact and gained help from the mystical kingdom of Agartha. It was reported that the leaders held a ceremony led by a man with the keys to Argatha.


Azaan and Freedom of Expression: Are they compatible?

photo copyright – Hindustan Times

Sonu Nigam’s comments that modern technology offers the Muslims a chance to show grace to their non-Muslim brothers and respect their privacy and their fundamental right to NOT listen to the Azaan.
Pankaj.Saxena |

Sonu Nigam is what we would call a moderately famous personality in Bollywood. But on 17th April, he shot to fame once again when he inadvertently committed a cardinal sin according to Indian secularism. He criticized the self-arrogated right of the Muslim community to intrude into the personal space of the Hindu majority by blaring azaans on the loud speakers. [1]

He did not criticize Azaan per se. He only criticized the use of the loud speakers [2] but Indian secularists are not the subtlest of creatures. Nuances are not what you would expect of them. In their world, anyone who is not with them is at war with them.

A spate of angry denunciations and disappointments were shared on social media, with many thekedars of Indian liberalism and secularism criticizing him of ‘playing into the hands of communalists at the government’. [3] Some called it just a publicity stunt, blaming him of aspiring to become the ‘Anupam Kher of 2017’,[4] whatever that means.

The net result was that #SonuNigam was trending for most of the day on social media websites. Once again, somebody had violated the sacrosanct laws of Indian secularism and invited the wrath of the Indian liberal upon him. Was it really outrageous? What was so wrong with what Nigam said?

Loudspeakers and their use in public is an outrage, whether they are used in a religious or a social event. Their use without restraint is certainly a nuisance for any civilized society. They are banned by the Supreme Court in India. [5] Even some Islamic countries have banned its use. Saudi Arabia is one of them. [6] But in India, even after the ban, they are used without restrain. Their use should be curbed; there is no doubt about that.

But there was one more point that Nigam made. He said that even while he was not a Muslim, he was forced to listen to the Azaan, or the Shahada, the Declaration of Islam. To him it was something forced; something akin to ‘gundagardi’.

But is it?

What exactly does the Mullah say in the Azaan? What is it about?

Azaan is the Islamic call to worship, recited by the appointed Muezzin in the mosque. It calls upon the Muslims to prayer, reminding them of their allegiance to Islam, a faith which demands strict adherence. It starts with Takbir, and then follows with Shahada.

Takbir is the Islamic expression of faith, meaning “Allah is the greatest.” It is a statement of religious defiance, a declaration to everyone outside the religious fold of Islam. The Shahada takes it even further, making it a sort of religious warning. The Shahada says: “There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

Islam, it is well known, is a monotheistic faith like Christianity and Judaism. For the monotheists, worshipping many deities is not just wrong; it is the greatest sin possible. For Muslims, just like there is One True Holy Book, One True God, there is also One True Prophet, humanity’s only conduit to God.

Holding any view is acceptable if it is done in private. So even this extreme view is tolerable if it is kept private. However, if it is forced upon others then it should have no place in a civilized society.

Historically, the Azaan was meant to show the polytheists of the 7th century Arabia that Allah is greater than other gods worshipped by them. [7] It was not just a defiant declaration of Islamic faith. It was also meant as an insult; a denigration of other faiths. It was more concerned with the non-Muslims than Muslims.

From the beginning, it was meant to be intrusive, to make the non-Muslim aware of the might of Islam. From the beginning it violated the right of the non-Muslim to NOT listen to the Islamic Declaration of Faith. From the beginning, the non-Muslim had no choice but to submit to the aggressive tyranny of the Islamic call to prayer.

Islam does not really allow freedom of expression. Criticizing the Prophet is punishable by death. [8] Abandoning Islam is punishable by death.[9] The Muslims, advised by the Quran and the Hadith, consider that the Islamic god Allah is not just superior to other gods, but is the only God. Believing otherwise, is a cardinal sin.

The Azaan is the daily expression of this exclusivist and intolerant claim of Islam.

It is in direct abrogation of the freedom of expression. It was forced upon the non-Muslims of the seventh century Arabia and subsequently upon the rest of the world. It should have no place in a civilized modern society, based on true secular credentials.

The importance of Azaan to the Islamic faith is clear from the fact that Prophet Muhammad considered it critical for the survival and propagation of Islam. He appointed Bilal, the converted African, as the first ever Muezzin in Islam. Bilal had the loudest voice among his peers. He was thought fit to be appointed as the muezzin; to call Muslims to prayer through Azaan. That the Prophet chose someone with the loudest voice to do the Azaan shows, he considered it central to the new faith of Islam.

The intrusive nature of Azaan also becomes obvious from Islamic architecture and the minaret’s place in it. To a student of architecture, the minaret in the mosque is an intriguing thing.  More often than not, his aesthetic sensibilities are hurt at the sight of that out-of-place and often ugly turret which juts out from some of the most beautiful mosques in the world. In most cases the minaret just destroys the architectural symmetry of the mosque. Which makes us question? Why do mosques need the minaret?

They need the minaret because it is necessary for Azaan. A higher minaret would get the voice of the muezzin farther. In the seventh century Arabia, it was the minaret, which fulfilled the role of the loud speaker. Just like a bigger loud speaker takes the azaan farther, so did the minaret in ancient times.

And just as the loud speaker in a modern mosque is an intrusion into the privacy of non-Muslims, so were the minaret and the Azaan in the pre-modern times. This is the crux of the issue.

A Muslim woman suggested during the row over Sonu Nigam’s comments that modern technology offers the Muslims a chance to show grace to their non-Muslim brothers and respect their privacy and their fundamental right to NOT listen to the Azaan. They can put alarms in their mobiles which would personally sound the Takbir and the Shahada to them five times a day and nobody else would be disturbed. By doing this, they would fulfill the injunctions of their religion and at the same time respect the sensibility of non-Muslims as well.

The willingness of the Muslims to do this will be the ultimate test of the Islamic ideology about its compatibility with the notion of freedom of expression.


  1. Rawal Kukreja, Monika & Mukherjee Shreya. “Film industry stands divided on Sonu Nigam’s tweets about azaan.” Hindustan Times. April 18, 2017.
  2. Matthew, Suresh. “Not About Azaan or Aarti, It’s About the Loudspeaker: Sonu Nigam”. The Quint. April 18, 2017.
  3. Twitter handle of Rana Ayyub. “…the govt of the day wants us to be caught in a web of communal / nationalist issues to divert us from it’s failures.”
  4. Vij, Shivam. “When Will Indian Liberals Stop Falling Into The Right-Wing Trap?”. The Huffington Post. April 17, 2017.
  5. Philip, Christian Mathew. “Banned by SC, but loudspeakers still spring up in city, rob citizens of peace.” The New Indian Express. Oct 13, 2016.
  6. Arab News. “Mosques to mute external speakers during prayers.” Arab News. June 6, 2015.
  7. WikiIslam. “Adhan”
  8. Margoliouth, D. S. Mohammed and the Rise of Islam. New Delhi: Voice of India.
  9. Hadith Sahih Bukhari (52:260): “…The Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’”

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