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This wiki site Veda is dedicated to understanding Sanatana Dharma (eternal way of life), prominently known as Hinduism, the oldest living religion on earth. It covers information related to Hindu (Vedic) concepts, teachings, philosophy, scriptures and everything that we can think of related to the Hindu Dharma.

Truth is One

Truth is one; only It is called by different names. All people are seeking the same Truth; the variance is due to climate, temperament, and name. A lake has many ghats. From one ghat the Hindus take water in jars and call it ‘jal’. From another ghat the Mussalmāns take water in leather bags and call it ‘pāni’. From a third the Christians take the same thing and call it ‘water’. Suppose someone says that the thing is not ‘jal’ but ‘pāni’, or that it is not ‘pāni’ but ‘water’, or that it is not ‘water’ but ‘jal’, It would indeed be ridiculous. But this very thing is at the root of the friction among sects, their misunderstandings and quarrels. This is why people injure and kill one another, and shed blood, in the name of religion. But this is not good. Everyone is going toward God. They will all realize Him if they have sincerity and longing of heart.

— Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

The Vedic Tradition
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The Vedic tradition of knowledge, based on the extensive Vedic literature, is the oldest tradition of knowledge in the world. Though it has been long preserved in India, this traditional wisdom has been almost lost in recent centuries—due in part to repeated foreign invasions. The Vedic tradition includes detailed information on a wide range of topics—from astronomy to music, architecture to health care, administration to economy. But it is all based on the knowledge of consciousness—including technologies of consciousness, and evolution to the highest state of consciousness (enlightenment).

Do you know?
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From the invention of the decimal system in mathematics to the noble philosophy of ahimsã, Hindus have contributed their share in all fields of knowledge and learning. Over five thousand years ago, when Europeans were only nomadic forest dwellers, ancient Hindus had established a civilization, known as the Harappan culture, in the Indus Valley, the northwestern region of India. When much of the world was still sunk in sleep, people of the Harappan culture were conducting trade workshops in weaving, bead-making, pottery, dying of fabrics, and metallurgy. read more...

The Game of Chess

The game of chess was invented in India and was originally called Ashtapada (sixty-four squares).

"Ashtapada" Sanskrit for spider -"a legendary being with eight legs" was played with dice on an 8x8 checkered board. There were no light and dark squares like we see in today's chess board for 1,000 years. Other Indian boards included the 10×10 Dasapada and the 9×9 Saturankam.

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Krishna and Radha playing chaturanga on an 8x8 Ashtāpada.

Later this game came to be known as chaturanga. The Sanskrit name Chaturanga means 'quadripartite' — the four angas (divided into four parts). The earliest known form of chess is two-handed chaturanga, Sanskrit for "the 4 branches of the army." Like real Indian armies at that time, the pieces were called elephants, chariots, horses and foot soldiers. Unlike modern chess, chaturanga was mainly a game of chance; results depended on how well you rolled the dice.

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Map showing origin and diffusion of chess from India to Asia, Africa, and Europe, and the changes in the native names of the game in corresponding places and time.

Chaturanga is well recognized as the earliest form of chess. Played on an authentic cloth game surface by 2, 3 or 4 players, Chaturanga combines the basic strategy of chess with the dynamic challenge of chance as each move is determined by the random roll of wooden dice. There is evidence of ‘chaturanga’ having been played with dice, which is still not uncommon, although it involved more skill than chance in this version. In fact, Yudhishthira and Duryodhana, in the Mahabharata, played a version of chaturanga using a dice. The game Chaturanga was a battle simulation game which rendered Indian military strategy of the time.

In 600 AD this game was learned by Persians who named it Shatranj. Shatranj is a foreign word among the Persians and the Arabians, whereas its natural derivation from the term Chaturanga is obvious. Again affix the Arabic name for the bishop, means the elephant, derived from alephhind, the Indian elephant.

Even the word 'checkmate' is derived from the Persian term Shah Mat which means 'the king is dead!'. The Sanskrit translation of this term would be Kshatra Mruta. Another term viz. 'the rooks' which is the name for one set of the counters used in chess, originated from the Persian term Roth which means a soldier. The Persian term is derived from the Indian term Rukh, which obviously seems to have originated in the Sanskrit word Rakshak which means a soldier from Raksha which means 'to protect'.

About the introduction of this game into Persia, the Encylopedia Britannica says that the Persian poet Firdousi, in his historical poem, the Shahnama, gives an account of the introduction of Shatranj into Persia in the reign of Chosroes I Anushirwan, to whom came ambassadors from the sovereign of Hind (India), with a chess-board and men asking him to solve the secrets of the game, if he could or pay tribute. The king asked for seven days grace, during which time the wise men vainly tried to discover the secret. Finally, the king's minister took the pieces home and discovered the secret in a day and a night.

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Chaturanga.

The Encyclopedia Britannica concludes that "Other Persian and Arabian writers state that Shatranj came into Persia from India and there appears to be a consensus of opinion that may be considered to settle the question. Thus we have the game passing from the Hindus to the Persians and then to the Arabians, after the capture V of Persia by the Caliphs in the 7th century, and from them, directly or indirectly, to various parts of Europe, at a time which cannot be definitely fixed, but either in or before the 10th century. That the source of the European game is Arabic is clear enough, nor merely from the words "check" and "mate", which are evidently from Shah mat ("the king is dead"), but also from the names of some of the pieces.

Local Variations

Tamil variations of chaturanga are ‘puliattam’ (goat and tiger game), where careful moves on a triangle decide whether the tiger captures the goats or the goats escape; the ‘nakshatraattam’ or star game where each player cuts out the other; and ‘dayakattam’ with four, eight or ten squares, a kind of ludo. Variations of the ‘dayakattam’ include ‘dayakaram’, the North Indian ‘pachisi’ and ‘champar’. There are many more local variations.

Veda
The Vedic tradition of knowledge, based on the extensive Vedic literature, is the oldest tradition of knowledge in the world.
Hinduism at a Glance
If you're new to this faith, here's where to begin. In this simple introduction to a complex religion, get your basic questions on Hinduism answered and explained in brief.
Hinduism
Overview of Hindusim.
Sanatana Dharma
Sanatana Dharma is is the original name of what is now popularly called Hinduism. Sanatana Dharma is the world's most ancient culture and the socio, spiritual, and religious tradition of almost one billion of the earth's inhabitants.
FAQs - Hinduism
Covers the frequently asked questions on Hindu Dharma.
Sanskrit
Sanskrit is considered to be the oldest language in human history. Sanskrit is the progenitor and inspiration for virtually every language spoken in India. Sanskrit has a tradition going back at least 5,000 years and is the language in which every ancient Hindu text, devotional or otherwise, is written in.
Do you know?
Little bits of information on amazing facts related to Hindus and India.
Pearls of Wisdom
A selection of quotes relating to various aspects of Hinduism on Vedas, Dharma, Athma, Ayurveda and others.
Glimpses
Glimpses through the lens on Hindu thought, culture, contribution, events and its global presence.
sūtras
sūtras metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or large a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual — is a distinct type of literary composition, based on short aphoristic statements, generally using various technical terms. Sūtras form a school of Vedic study, related to and somewhat later than the Upanishads.
sastra
The overview of Hindu Scriptures.
Vedas
The Vedas are the oldest extant Hindu texts. The ideas expressed in the Vedas were traditionally handed down orally from father to son and from teacher to disciple.
Agama
The Ãgamas are theological treatises and practical manuals of divine worship. The Agamas include the Tantras, Mantras and Yantras. These are treatises explaining the external worship of God, in idols, temples, etc
Purāṇas
The aim of the Puranas is to impress on the minds of the masses the teachings of the Vedas and to generate in them devotion to God, through concrete examples, stories, legends, lives of saints, kings and great men, allegories and chronicles of great historical events.
Bhagavad Gītā
The Bhagavad Gita is known as the Song Celestial. It is the most important sacred text in the Hindu tradition. It is Brahma-vidya, the knowledge of existence, as well as Yoga-shastra, scripture on the science of the Self.
Ramayana
The Rãmãyana has been a perennial source of spiritual, cultural and artistic inspiration, not only to the people of India but also to the people all over the world. It has helped to mold the Hindu character and has inspired millions of people with the deepest of love and devotion.
Mahābhārata
It is an historical epic about the great kingdom of Bharatavarsa, or the region of India. It contains 110,000 couplets making it the longest poem and greatest epic in world literature.
Upanishads
The Upanishads are epic hymns of self-knowledge and world-knowledge and God-knowledge. There is no book in the whole world that is so thrilling, soul-stirring and inspiring as the Upanishad. The philosophy taught by the Upanishads has been the source of solace for many, both in the East and the West. The human intellect has not been able to conceive of anything more noble and sublime in the history of the world than the teachings of the Upanishads.
vedāṅga
The Vedanga ("member of the Veda") are six auxiliary disciplines for the understanding and tradition of the Vedas.

Avasthas
The most comprehensive study of the Science of Consciousness. It expounds the various levels of consciousness, states of consciousness, the nature of consciousness at each level, the nature of Truth at each level of consciousness and methods to attain those levels.
Shariras
The vehicle of consciousness with which one passes from life to life.
Yoga Sutras
The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.
Lokas
The various planes of existence.
Vyuhas
Stages of Emanation of the Universe.
Sankhya
The Principles of the Universe.
Vedic Time System
In the Vedic Time System, kala (Time) is not a linear, single-directional movement, like an arrow speeding from past to future. The idea of Time itself was quite advanced in Hindu Heritage.
Srishti and Pralaya
Creation of the Universe — the cosmos follows one cycle within a framework of cycles. It may have been created and reach an end, but it represents only one turn in the perpetual "wheel of time", which revolves infinitely through successive cycles of creation and destruction.
Hindu Cosmology
Hindu Cosmology upholds the idea that creation is timeless, having no beginning in time. Each creation is preceded by dissolution and each dissolution is followed by creation.
Panchanga
The Hindu Almanac provides vital information about astrological factors, planets and stars — aspects of our subtle environment which are unseen but strongly felt. It is far more complex than the simple Gregorian calendar normally used in the West and far more useful.
Bhāgavata Purana
Bhāgavata Purana or also known as Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, or simply Bhāgavatam (Sanskrit: "Ancient Book of the Lord") — is the most celebrated text of a variety of Hindu sacred literature in Sanskrit that is known as the Purāṇas. The Bhāgavatam takes the form of a story being told by a great rishi known as Suta Goswami, to a host of assembled sages, who ask him questions in regard to the various avatars, or descents of Vishnu within the mortal world. Suta Goswami then relates the Bhāgavatam as he has heard it from another sage, called Sukadeva.
asat
Opposite of sat, non-being, impermanent, false, evil, unreal, sometimes used to refer to matter or to the body.
Kalpa Vedanga
Kalpa Vedanga or also known as the Kalpa Sutras (Sanskrit: "Procedural or ceremonial Veda-limb") — a body of three groups of auxiliary Vedic texts: 1) the Shrauta Sutras and Shulba Sutras, on public Vedic rites (yagna), 2) the Grihya Sutras (or Shastras), on domestic rites and social custom, and 3) the dharma-shastra (or Sutras), on religious law. Among all the literature related with the Vedanga, Kalpa holds a very prominent and primary place. Kalpa means the scripture, which contains the systematic imagination of all the activities as described in the Vedas. So the Kalpas are the 'precept scriptures' which systematically describe about the various religious activities and ceremonies like Yagya (oblation), marriage and sacred thread ceremony etc propounded by the Vedas. There are numerous sets of Kalpa Sutras, composed by various rishis. Each set is associated with one of the four Vedas.
tamas
tamas or thamas (Sanskrit: "dullness, ignorance, delusion, inactivity, passivity, inertia, sloth;"). tamasic — adjective form of tamas; dull, ignorant, passive. Associated with color black. See guna.
akasha
akasha or akash, aakaashá, ākāśa, (Sanskrit: आकाश) — meaning space or sky and is the basis and essence of all things in the material world; the smallest material element created from the sukshmaloka (astral world). It is one of the panchamahābhūtas (five great elements), the others being prthivi (earth), apa (water), agni (fire) and vayu (air). Its main characteristic is shabda (sound).
maharloka
maharloka: (Sanskrit: "Plane of greatness.") from mahas, "greatness, might, power, glory." Also called the Devaloka, this fourth highest of the seven upper worlds is the mental plane, realm of anahata chakra. See: loka.
ritukala
ritukala or "samskaras of adulthood" (Sanskrit: "Fit or proper season.") from coming-of-age to marriage. Time of menses. A home blessing marking the coming of age for girls. — keshanta: Marking a boy's first beard-shaving, at about 16 years. Both of the above are home ceremonies in which the young ones are reminded of their brahmacharya, given new clothes and jewelry and joyously admitted into the adult community as young adults. — nishchitartha "Settlement of aim." Also called vagdana, "word-giving." A formal engagement or betrothal ceremony in which a couple pledge themselves to one another, exchanging rings and other gifts. — vivaha: Marriage." An elaborate and joyous ceremony performed in presence of God and Gods, in which the homa fire is central.
sanyasin
(Sanskrit: सन्यासिन) One who has renounced the world and its concerns.
prana
prana (Sanskrit: प्राण, "life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath") from the root pran, "to breathe." — the vital breath, which sustains life in a physical body; the primal energy or force, of which other physical forces are manifestations. Prana in the human body moves in the pranamaya-kosha as five primary life currents known as vayus, "vital airs or winds." and described as having five modifications, according to its five different functions. These are prana (the vital energy that controls the breath), apana (the vital energy that carries downward unassimilated food and drink), samana (the vital energy that carries nutrition all over the body), vyama (the vital energy that pervades the entire body), and udana (the vital energy by which the contents of the stomach are ejected through the mouth). Each governs crucial bodily functions, and all bodily energies are modifications of these. Usually prana refers to the life principle, but sometimes denotes energy, power or the animating force of the cosmos. The word prana is also a name of the Cosmic Energy, endowed with activity.
satya yuga
satya yuga or sat yuga, also called krta yuga and krita yuga (Sanskrit: सत्य युग, "age of Truth and Purity") — is the yuga (age or era) of sat (Truth), when mankind is governed by divinity, and every manifestation or work is close to the purest ideal and mankind will allow intrinsic goodness to rule supreme.
lobha
lobha (Sanskrit: "covetousness; cupidity; avarice; greed; craving; possessiveness;") from the verbal root lubh (to desire greatly) — stands for impatience, eager desire for or longing after. It is regarded as one of the arishadvarga (six passions of mind) or enemies of desire, the others being kama (lust), krodha (anger), moha (delusion), mada (pride) and matsarya (jealousy).
tyaga
Abandonment, renunciation, the performance of actions without attachment to the results of action.
Truth
Truth — When capitalized, "ultimate knowing" which is "unchanging". Lower case (truth): "correctness", "according with fact", "honesty", "integrity"; "virtue". See: Satya.
Taparloka
Taparloka or Tapoloka (Sanskrit: "Plane of austerity.") The second highest of the seven upper worlds, realm of ajna chakra. See: loka.
mandala
mandala (Sanskrit: मण्डल, "circular; orb; diagram; region, sphere."). A circle, ball, wheel, ring, or circumference, as the orbit of a heavenly body, and hence a great circle in astronomy, an orb. Also one of the ten mandalas (circles, divisions) of the Rig-Veda Samhita.
paramātmā
paramātmā or paramātmān (Sanskrit: परमात्मा, "supreme atma;") from roots param, "supreme or highest", and ātman, "individual spirit or Self" — is the supreme ātman situated in the hearts of all living entities as the witness and source of remembrance, knowledge, and forgetfulness.
duḥkha
duḥkha or dukkha (Sanskrit: दुःख; literally means "bad-space"; "suffering"). A “bad” space is a closed and confined space which does not permit growth, learning, expansion of being and the unfolding of one’s potential. The opposite of duḥkha is sukha (good space) — is an open and free space, one in which there is growth, unfoldment, learning and freedom. Duhkha can also be defined as the deferential between our expectations and what we actually achieve. The greater the differential between expectation and outcome the greater the intensity of the suffering. Although duḥkha is often translated as "suffering", its root meaning is more analogous to "disquietude" as in the condition of being disturbed. As such, "suffering" is too narrow a translation with "negative emotional connotations".
panchamahayajna
panchamahayajna — five great daily yagna (sacrifices) that are to be performed by every householder. They are: (1) Brahma Yajna, called also Veda Yajna, "homage to Brahman or the Vedas or the sages"; (2) Deva Yajna, "homage to Gods and elementals."; (3) Pitri Yajna, "homage to ancestors"; (4) Bhuta Yajna, "homage to beings"; and (5) Manushya Yajna, "homage to men".
panchamahābhūtas
panchamahābhūtas (Sanskrit: ) from pancha (five) + maha (great) + bhuta (element), means "five great elements", which are prthivi (earth), apa (water), agni (fire), vayu (air or wind), and akasha (aether).
vidya
vidya: (Sanskrit) "Knowledge, learning, science." The power of understanding gained through study and meditation. Contrasted with avidya, ignorance.
Veda
Veda (Sanskrit: "Knowledge.") from the root vid, meaning to know without limit — the scriptures that are the basis of Hindu belief and practice. The Vedas were "heard" or "seen" by sages from a divine source and passed orally through the family line. The word Veda covers all Veda-sakhas known to humanity. The Veda is a repository of all knowledge, fathomless, ever revealing as it is delved deeper. It means knowledge. These and associated books contain knowledge on philosophy, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, navigation, music, dance, drama etc.
Grihya Shastras
Grihya Shastras or Grihya Sutras (Sanskrit: "Household maxims or codes") — an important division of classical smriti literature, designating rules and customs for domestic life, including rites of passage and other home ceremonies, which are widely followed to this day. The Grihya Sutras (or Shastras) are part of the Kalpa Vedanga, "procedural maxims" (or Kalpa Sutras), which also include the Shrauta and Shulba Shastras, on public Vedic rites, and the Dharma Shastras (or Sutras), on domestic-social law. Among the best known Grihya Sutras are Ashvalayana's Grihya Sutras attached to the Rig Veda, Gobhila's Sutras of the Sama Veda, and the Sutras of Paraskara and Baudhayana of the Yajur Veda.
kāma
kāma or kām, (Sanskrit: काम, "self-indulgence; sensual gratification; pleasure; lust") — the passionate desire for all sensual and material pleasures such as for riches, property, honor, status, fame, children etc. and abnormal desire which includes drugs, alcoholic drinks, tobacco, or foods eaten only for taste. It is the principle of sickness and degradation in the Kali Yuga. kāma is regarded as one of the four purusharthas (goals of life), the others are artha (worldly status), dharma (duty) and moksha (liberation). It is also one of the arishadvarga (six passions of mind) or enemies of desire, the others being krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (delusion), mada (pride) and matsarya (jealousy).
kárma
karma, kárma or kárman (Sanskrit: कर्म, "act, action, performance") — is a noun-form coming from the root kri meaning "to do," "to make." Literally karma means "doing," "making," action. Karma is pronounced as "karmuh," the "uh" being subtle. Karma can best be translated into English by the word consequence. It corresponds to the "action" or "deed" which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect (i.e., the cycle called saṃsāra). It applies to all levels of action, including thought, word, feeling and deed, and the effects of it.
arishadvarga
arishadvarga — the six passions of mind or enemies of desire, kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (delusion), mada (pride) and matsarya (jealousy), the negative characteristics which prevent man from realizing the atman (Reality that is his True Being).
adhyatma prasara
adhyatma prasara (Sanskrit: "evolution of the Self") — the Self's evolution is a progressive unfoldment, growth and maturing toward its inherent, divine destiny, which is complete merger with Brahman. In its essence, the Self is ever perfect. But as an individual soul body emanated by Brahman, it is like a small seed yet to develop. As an acorn needs to be planted in the dark underground to grow into a mighty oak tree, so must the Self unfold out of the darkness of the malas to full maturity and realization of its innate oneness with Brahman. The Self evolves by taking on denser and denser sheaths — cognitive, instinctive-intellectual and pranic — until finally it takes birth in physical form in the bhuloka. Then it experiences many lives, maturing through the samsara (reincarnation process). Thus, from birth to birth, the Self learn and mature. See: mala, moksha, samsara, vishvagrasa.
rishi
rishi (Sanskrit: "seer; one who sees") — is a word that simply means a sage or a divine seer in general. the great sages of ancient India who, in deep states of meditation (communion with the cosmos), and through spiritual experimentation, discovered the underlying, fundamental truths of the Universe, and whose teachings formed the basis for the spiritual culture of the ancient Vedic civilization. In more specific usage the rishis are divine beings distinct from devas (Gods), asuras (demons) and men who “heard” the Vedic hymns and passed them on down to mankind.
samsari
samsari (Sanskrit: "One in samsara; wanderer.") — the atman (Self) during transmigration, immersed in or attached to mundane existence, hence not striving for moksha (liberation). A samsari is someone who is not "on the path."
Lakshmi Puja
Lakshmi Puja is performed to propitiate Goddess Lakshmi and to thank her for the bestowal of her blessings on the humans.
Shulba Shastra
Shulba Shastra — practical manuals giving the measurements and procedures for constructing the sites of Vedic yajna rites. A division of the Kalpa Vedanga (Veda limb on rituals), these sutras employ sophisticated geometry and are India's earliest extant mathematical texts. Shulba means "string or cord," denoting the use of string for measuring.
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