Introduction to Aryan Culture and Spirituality
Aryavarta – Arya – Indra Deva – Arya Samaj
Ārya in sanskrit: ā́rya: noble/lord, pure, perfect, excellent – is a term used in Sanskrit that oftenly appears in Sanatan Dharma (Vedic Hinduism). The word Arya (Aryan) means “Noble”. Anyone following Sanatan Dharma (Vedic Hinduism) is called an Arya.The British/Arabs/Persians introduced the term Hindu.The word Hindu was a very respected word in Soudi Arabia for the people of India or Hind or Aryavarta. The word ārya (Pāli: ariya), in the sense “noble” or “exalted”, is very frequently used in Buddhist texts to designate a spiritual warrior or hero, which use this term much more often than Hindu or Jain texts. The Four Noble Truths are called the catvāry āryasatyāni (Sanskrit) or cattāri ariyasaccāni (Pali). The Noble Eightfold Path is called the āryamārga (Sanskrit, also āryāṣṭāṅgikamārga) or ariyamagga (Pāli). Arya means Aryan and mārga means path of an Aryan.Those who despise Buddhism are often called “anāryas”meaning not an Aryan. Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism are British names. They are eternal religion called Sanatan Dharma or Arya Dharma.
Ancient sanskrit scripture writes “praja arya jyotiragrah“ (Aryans people are led by the divine grace).In the Mahabharata, the terms Arya or Anarya are often applied to people according to their behaviour. Dushasana, who tried to disrobe Draupadi in the Kaurava court, is called an “Anarya” meaning not an Aryan or not a Hindu. The Ramayana describes Rama as: Arya sarva samascaiva sadaiva priyadarsanah, meaning “Arya, who worked for the equality of all and was dear to everyone.” According to Swami Vivekananda, “A child materially born is not an Aryan; the child born in spirituality is an Aryan.” He further elaborated, referring to the Manu Smriti: “Says our great law-giver, Manu, giving the definition of an Aryan, ‘He is the Aryan, who is born through prayer.’ Every child not born through prayer is illegitimate, according to the great law-giver: “The child must be prayed for. Those children that come with curses, that slip into the world, just in a moment of inadvertence, because that could not be prevented – what can we expect of such progeny?…”(Swami Vivekananda, Complete Works vol.8).The parents should be spiritually and mentally prepared for bearing a child and welcome the child to the spiritual world.
Āryāvarta – in sanskrit: आर्यावर्त, „abode of the Aryans” – is a name for India in classical Sanskrit literature. The Manu Smriti (2.22) gives the name to „the tract between the Himalaya and the Vindhya ranges, from the eastern (Bay of Bengal) to the Western Sea (Arabian Sea)”. The Vasistha Dharma Sutra I.8-9 and 12-13 locates Āryāvarta to the east of the disappearance of the Sarasvati in the desert, to the west of Kalakavana, to the north of the mountains of Pariyatra and Vindhya and to the south of the Himalaya. Baudhayana Dharmasutra (BDS) 22.214.171.124 gives similar definitions and declares that Āryāvarta is the land that lies west of Kalakavana, east of Adarsana, south of the Himalayas and north of the Vindhyas, but in BDS 126.96.36.199 Āryāvarta is confined to the Ganges – Yamuna doab, and BDS 188.8.131.52-15. Patañjali’s Mahābhāṣya defines Āryāvarta like the Vasistha Dharma Sutra. Some sutras recommend expiatory acts for those who have crossed the boundaries of Āryāvarta. Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra recommends this for those who have crossed the boundaries of Āryāvarta and ventured into far away places. The Gurjar Pratihar king in the tenth century was entitled as Maharajadhiraja of Aryavarta.
The English term is from Greek 'Iνδία (Indía), via Latin India. Indía in Koine Greek denoted the region of the Indus („’Iνδός”) river in Pakistan, since Herodotus (5th century BC) η 'Iνδική χώρη, hē Indikē chōrē; „Indian land”, 'Iνδός, Indos, „an Indian”, from Old Persian (referring to what is now known as Sindh, a province of present day Pakistan, and listed as a conquered territory by Darius I in the Persepolis terrace inscription). The name is derived ultimately from Sindhu, the Sanskrit name of the river, but also meaning „river” generically. Latin India is used by Lucian (2nd century). The name India was known in Old English, and was used in King Alfred’s translation of Orosius. In Middle English, the name was, under French influence, replaced by Ynde or Inde, which entered Early Modern English as Indie. The name India then came back to English usage from the 17th century onwards, and may be due to the influence of Latin, or Spanish or Portuguese. Examples of known Indian names are Nishtha, Nikita, and Navya. Meaning, respectively, Faith, Flower, and Goddess. Sanskrit indu „drop (of Soma)”, also a term for the Moon, is unrelated, but has sometimes been erroneously connected, listed by, among others, Colonel James Todd in his Annals of Rajputana. Todd describes ancient India as under control of tribes claiming descent from the Moon, or „Indu” (referring to Chandravanshi Rajputs).
The English word „Aryan” is borrowed from the Sanskrit word ārya meaning 'Noble’; but apparently, it was initially used as a national name to designate those who worshipped the Vedic deities (especially Indra) and followed Vedic culture (e.g. performance of sacrifice, Yajna). According to a 1957 theory by Laroche, Indo-Iranian ar-ya- descends from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) *ar-yo-, a yo-adjective to a root *ar „to assemble skillfully”, present in Greek harma „chariot”, Greek aristos, (as in „aristocracy”), Latin ars „art”, etc. Thus, according to this theory, an Aryan is „one who skillfully assembles”. In Sanskrit and related Indic languages, ārya means „one who does noble deeds; a noble one”. Āryāvarta – in sanskrit: आर्यावर्त, „the abode of the āryas” – is a common name for northern India in classical Sanskrit literature. Manusmṛti (2.22) gives the name to „the tract between the Himalaya and the Vindhya ranges, from the Eastern Sea to the Western Sea”. The title ārya was used with various modifications throughout the Indian Subcontinent. In Ramayana and Mahabharata, ārya is used as an honorific for many characters including Hanuman. Various Indian religions, chiefly Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, use the term ārya as an epithet of honour; a similar usage is found in the name of Arya Samaj. The term Arya is used 36 times in 34 hymns in the Rigveda.
The Hindu initiation ceremony like the Zoroastrian initiation ceremony is also called a thread ceremony. Hinduism calls the initiate a dvijas meaning twice born signifying that the initiate is „born again” into spiritual life. Zoroastrianism uses the term navjote meaning new life. The Hindu initiation is conducted during a person’s teen or early adult years. The Zoroastrian age for initiation was the age or reason, deemed by tradition to be fifteen years of age. In the Vedas, human history starts with Yama and Hindu reverence for Yama Deva. In RigVeda 9.63.5, ârya „noble, pious, righteous” is used as contrasting with árāvan „not liberal, envious, hostile”:
índraṃ várdhanto aptúraḥ kṛṇvánto víśvam âryam apaghnánto árāvṇaḥ ||
„[the Soma-drops], performing every noble work, active, augmenting Indra’s strength, driving away the godless ones.” (trans. Griffith). Arya is typically one who follows Dharmic principles. People are usually called Arya or Anarya based on their behaviour. The devas are the gods of the Hindu scriptures. The earliest of the Hindu scriptures, the Rig Veda provides us with information about pre-Zoroastrian Vedic-Aryan deva worship. Indra Deva is a principle deva in the Rig Veda where he has more verses addressed to him than any other deva. In the image to the right, Indra is seen riding his elephant Airavata. Indra’s arch foe was the asura Vritra Asura who was „manifested by the father of a youth killed by Indra”.
Indra, also known as Śakra in the Vedas, is the leader of the Devas or gods and the lord of Svargaloka or heaven in the Hindu religion. He is the god of rain and thunderstorms. He wields a lightning thunderbolt known as vajra and rides on a white elephant known as Airavata. Indra is the supreme deity and is the twin brother of Agni and is also mentioned as an Āditya, son of Aditi. His home is situated on Mount Meru in the heaven. He has many epithets, notably vṛṣan the bull, and vṛtrahan, slayer of Vṛtra, Meghavahana „the one who rides the clouds” and Devapati „the lord of gods or devas”. Indra is also called Śakra frequently in the Vedas and in Buddhism (Pali: Sakka). He is Vajrapani – the Chief Dharmapala or Defender and Protector of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha who embodies the power of the Five Dhyani Buddhas. Aspects of Indra as a deity are cognate to other Indo-European gods; they are either thunder gods such as Thor, Perun, and Zeus. Indra is, with Varuna and Mitra, one of the Ādityas, the chief gods of the Rigveda (besides Agni and others such as the Ashvins). The Rig-Veda frequently refers to him as Śakra: the mighty-one. In the Vedic period, the number of gods was assumed to be thirty-three and Indra was their lord. Some early post Rigvedic texts such as the Khilas and the late Vedic Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad enumerates the gods as the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the twelve Adityas, Indra, and Prajapati. As lord of the Vasus, Indra was also referred to as Vāsava.
In the Rigveda, Indra is the king of the gods and ruler of the heavens. Indra is the god of thunder and rain and a great warrior, a symbol of courage and strength. He leads the Deva (the gods who form and maintain Heaven) and the elements, such as Agni (fire), Varuna (water) and Surya (sun), and constantly wages war against the opponents of the gods, the demon-like asuras. As the god of war, he is also regarded as one of the Guardians of the directions, representing the east. As the favourite 'national’ god of the Vedic Indians, Indra has about 250 hymns dedicated to him in the Rigveda. In Hindu mythology, the rainbow is called Indra’s Bow – in sanskrit: indradhanus इन्द्रधनुस्). In Hindu myth, he is married to Shachi or Indrani or Pulomaja. Indra is a brother to Surya. In Buddhism and Jainism, Indra is commonly called by his other name, Śakra or Sakka, ruler of the Trāyastriṃśa heaven. However, Śakra is sometimes given the title Indra, or, more commonly, Devānām Indra, „Lord of the Devas”. In Jainism, Indra is also known as Saudharmendra, and always serves the Tirthankaras. Indra most commonly appears in stories related to Mahavira, in which Indra himself manages and celebrates the five auspicious events in that Tirthankara’s life. In Japan, Indra (Japanese: „Tai-shaku-ten”, kanji: 帝釈天) always appears opposite Brahma (梵天, Japanese: „Bonten”) in Buddhist art. Brahma and Indra are revered together as protectors of the historical Buddha (释迦, Japanese: „Shaka”, kanji: 釈迦), and are frequently shown giving Shaka his first bath.
From Vedic times, Indra is the supreme ruler of the gods, Devas. He is the leader of the Devas, the god of war, the god of thunder and storms, the greatest of all warriors, the strongest of all beings, like Archangel Mikhael in Jewish tradition. He is the defender of gods and mankind against the forces of evil. He have early aspects of a sun-god, riding in a golden chariot across the heavens, but he is more often known as the god of thunder, wielding the celestial weapon Vajra, the lightening bolt. He also employs the bow, a net, and a hook in battle. He shows aspects of being a creater god, having set order to the cosmos, and since he was the one who brought water to earth, he was a fertility god as well. He also had the power to revive slain warriors who had fallen in battle. Indra hold court at Svarga, his heaven in the clouds surrounding the highest peak of the sacred mountain Meru. This heaven could move anywhere at its lord’s command. In Svarga, there is an enormous hall when slain warriors went after death. Indra and the beautiful Indrani presided over their paradise. No sorrow, suffering, or fear were allowed in Indra’s home. Apsaras and Gandharvas danced and entertained those who attended court, and gaming and athletic contests were held. In Cambodian tradition he is known as Pah En the god of the sky and he is the most popular of the gods. In the Cham religion of Vietnam he is also the god of thunder and rides a white elephant. In Chinese tradition he is identified with the god Ti-shi. Finally, the god Indradeva is still worshipped today in the Rajasthan region of India in the festival of Inder Puja which calls for rains to prevent the frequent droughts prevalent in this desert state. Indra is frequently portrayed wielding a thunderbolt (vajra) but he may also carry the chakra discus, an ankusa or elephant goad and an axe, the tanka. He is often shown riding his white elephant Airāvata who was born from the churning of the seas when the world was created. In later Buddhism the god’s thunderbolt becomes a diamond sceptre, the Vajrayana.
Arya Samaj – in sanskrit ārya samāja आर्य समाज, Punjabi: ਆਰੀਆ ਸਮਾਜ „Noble Society” – is a Hindu reform movement founded by Swami Dayananda on 7 April 1875. He was a sannyasi who promoted the Vedas. Dayananda emphasized the ideals of brahmacharya (chastity). Between 1869 and 1873, Swami Dayanada Saraswati, a native of Gujarat, made his first attempt at reform in India. This attempt took the form of the establishment of „Vedic Schools” or „gurukuls” which put an emphasis on Vedic values, culture and religion to its students. The first was established at Farrukhabad in 1869, with 50 students enrolled in its first year. This initial success led to the founding of four additional schools in rapid succession at Mirzapur (1870), Kasganj (1870), Chhalesar(Aligarh) (1870) and Varanasi (1873).
Swami Vivekananda on Aryan Invasion Theory(1663AD-1902AD)
“Our archaeologists’ dreams of India being full of dark-eyed aborigines, and the bright Aryans came from – the Lord knows where. According to some, they came from Central Tibet; others will have it that they came from Central Asia. There are patriotic Englishmen who think that the Aryans were all red haired. Others, according to their idea, think that they were all black-haired. If the writer happens to be a black-haired man, the Aryans were all black-haired. Of late, there was an attempt made to prove that the Aryans lived on Swiss lake. I should not be sorry if they had been all drowned there, theory and all. Some say now that they lived at the North Pole. Lord bless the Aryans and their habitations! As for as the truth of these theories, there is notone word in our scriptures, not one, to prove that the Aryans came from anywhere outside of India, and in ancient India was included Afghanistan. There it ends…”
“And the theory that the Shudra varna were all non-Aryans and they were a multitude, is equally illogical and irrational. It could not have been possible in those days that a few Aryans settled and lived there with a hundred thousand slaves at their command. The slaves would have eaten them up, made chutney of them in five minutes. The only explanation is to be found in the Mahabharat, which says that in the beginning of the Satya Yoga there was only one varna, the Brahmins, and then by differences of occupations they went on dividing themselves into different varna, and that is the only true and rational explanation that has been given. And in the coming Satya Yuga all other varna will have to go back to the same condition.” (The Complete Work of Swami Vivekananda, Vol.III Page 293)
Introduction of Arya Samaj
Swami Dayananda Saraswati, one of the greatest leaders ever to emerge from India, founded the Arya Samaj in 1875. The most unique of his many contributions was to make a powerful and original commentary on the Vedas, which exposed serious errors in previous translations and interpretations of its Sanskrit texts. The Arya Samaj (movement) was begun to revive the study of the Vedas and to worship one God. Dayanand defined Aryas as those who are true in word, deed and thought, promote public good and are learned. In that it upholds the primacy of the Vedas as its only authoritative scriptures, the Arya Samaj is related to orthodox Hinduism. In many other ways, however, the Arya Samaj is a revolutionary movement. That there is only one God and one alone (monotheism) is a fundamental doctrine of the Arya Samaj. God is formless; hence you can make no picture, idol or image of him. Thus the Arya Samaj is vehemently against idolatry, statues and the worship of animals (e.g. cows) and humans because God is unchangeable (he cannot incarnate). Therefore Rama, Krishna and all other great prophets were men and not God and should not be worshipped as God.
Truth (truth in the soul, truth in the vision, truth in the intention and truth in the act) and morality (dharma) are the other fundamental bedrocks of Vedic teaching. The Arya Samaj also focuses greatly on the welfare of all humanity through altruism and charity (the Samaj opened the first non-Christian orphanages in India) and by teaching that all should be treated with love, justice and on their merits. Dayanand, therefore, was `heretical in his total rejection of the caste system or any form of discrimination based on social class. The eighth principle of the Arya Samajs creed states that ignorance must be dispelled and knowledge be disseminated. With this emphasis on education Dayanand argued passionately that the Vedas do not prohibit education of females (the Arya Samaj was the first to open girls schools in India) and of the lower castes, but insist on it.
He concluded his best-known book Satyarth Prakash (Light of Truth) by saying that I do not believe in sectarian wrangling since the clashing between various sectarian creeds has led people astray and turned them into each others enemies. The sole aim of my life is to help put an end to this mutual wrangling by preaching universal truths whereby they may cease to hate each other and instead may firmly love one another, live in peace and work for their common good and happiness . I believe in a religion based on universal principles which have always been accepted as true by mankind and will continue to command the allegiance of mankind in the ages to come, and that is above the hostility of all human creeds whatsoever. Arya Samaj, West Midlands, Birmingham is committed to meet the challenges of modern time. We welcome you all to come and join us to promote our efforts.
Understanding the term „ARYA”
The word Arya defines a person who has integrity, courage, honesty, gentleness, compassion, eagerness for knowledge and respect for the wise and learned. The Arya is one who is humane, dedicated to doing good to the world through the use of truth, love, protection of the weak and absolute fairness between men and men and nations and nations. He strives to overcome all outside him and within him that stands opposed to advancing justice, freedom and meritocracy in society. Self-conquest is the first law of his nature. He overcomes the mind and its habits and does not live in a shell of ignorance based on inherited prejudices, fashionable customs and hedonism. Instead he knows how to be pure, to be large and flexible in intelligence as well as being firm and strong in his will. The Arya is a worker and a warrior.
The 10 Principles of Arya Samaj
1. God is the primary source of all true knowledge and all that is known by its means.
2. God is existent, formless and unchangeable. He is incomparable, omnisicient, unborn, endless, just, pure, merciful, beginningless, omnipotent, the support and master of all, omnipresent, unageing, immortal, fearless, eternal, and holy, and the creator of the universe. To him alone is worship due.
3. Vedas are the scripture of all true knowledge. It is the paramount duty of all Aryas to read them, teach and recite them to others and hear them being read.
4. All persons should always be ready to accept the truth and to give up untruth.
5. All our actions should be according to the principles of Dharma, i.e. after differentiating right from wrong.
6. The primary aim of the Arya Samaj is to do good to the whole world i.e. to its physical, spiritual and social welfare.
7. All ought to be treated with love, justice, and according to their merits as dictated by Dharma.
8. We should all promote knowledge (vidya) and dispel ignorance (avidya).
9. One should not be content with ones own welfare alone, but should look for ones welfare in the welfare of all.
10. In matters which affect the well-being of all people the individual should subordinate any personal rights that are in conflict with the wishes of the majority; in matters that affect him alone he is free to exercise his human rights.
The Sixteen Sanskaars of Aryas
All religions have important sacraments i.e. important religious ceremonies such as the Christian baptism and the Jewish bar/bat mitzvah. The Vedas describe the following 16 sacraments for Aryas.
1. Garbhaadhaan sanskaar (The Sanskaar of conception):
This takes place after the wedding, when the couple pray for a healthy and noble child
2. Punsavan sanskaar (The sanskaar performed for the physical health of the foetus):
This is performed when the pregnancy is three months old. The parents pray for the normal development of the baby in the mothers womb
3. Seemantonnayan sanskaar (The sanskaar performed for the mental development of the foetus):
This is performed at 4, 6 or 8 months of pregnancy. The parents pray for the normal mental development of the foetus.
4. Jaatakarm sanskaar (The sanskaar performed on the day of the childs birth)
5. Naamakaran sanskaar (The sanskaar of giving the child a name):
It is performed on the eleventh day after birth, the 101st day or on the first birthday whereby the child is formally given its name.
6. Nishkraman sanskaar (The sanskaar of taking the infant outdoors into the open air for the first time):
Done at the beginning of the fourth month. The child is exposed to the health-giving rays of the sun and there is a prayer for long life.
7. Annapraashan sanskaar (The sanskaar of giving solid grain to the infant for the first time):
This is done between the ages of six to eight months, when its teeth begin to appear.
8. Choodaakarm sanskaar (The sanskaar of shaving the childs head for the first time):
It is done between the ages of one and three. A prayer is carried out for good health and sound mental development.
9. Karnavedh sanskaar (The sanskaar of piercing the ears):
It is done at the age of three, and a prayer is said for the childs physical well-being.
10. Upanayan sanskaar (becoming close to another person) (The sanskaar of introducing the child to the concept of having another parent-like figure, the teacher):
It is symbolized by giving the child the sacred thread (yajyopaveeta). It is performed between the ages of 5 to 8 to herald the childs introduction to the teacher. The thread consists of 3 separate strands each symbolizing the three disciplines of life; knowledge, action (conduct) and worship of god.
11. Vedaarambh sanskaar (The ritual of initiating Study of the Vedas and all branches of knowledge):
It is performed immediately after the Upanayan; in order that the child can prepare to seek progress in the material world, at the same time to become spiritually stronger.
12. Samaavartan sanskaar (The sanskaar of graduation i.e. completion of education):
This is performed between the ages of 21 to 25.
13. Vivaah sanskaar (The wedding sacrament i.e. moving into the next stage of life of being a married householder):
The male should be at least 25 and the female at least 16 years of age before they enter the Grihastha ashram.
14. Vaanaprasth sanskaar (The sanskaar of leaving household for a life or austerity):
It is performed at the age of 51 or at the time of birth of grandchildren. A person is now free to hand over all his family responsibilities to the next generation, and instead devote himself to a life of living austerety, by performing meditation and charitable work.
15. Sanyaas sanskaar (The ritual of renouncing all worldly attachments e.g. all wealth, family attachments and desire for fame):
The saffron robe of the sanyaasi is the symbol of a life of total austerity.
16. Antyeshti sanskaar (The cremation ceremony):
This is the last ritual and is performed when the body ends.
What are the views of the Arya Samaj?
According to the Vedas, women of all races should be given an equal opportunity to education as men. At the time of the creation of the Arya Samaj, Hindu women were not allowed to study religious scriptures; they were not allowed to be priests or preach the word of God; they were denied access to education; they were treated as second class citizens below men; widows were treated as outcasts; they had to burn themselves on their husbands funeral pyre; their families were forced to produce a dowry before a man’s family accepted them into their family; and they were forced into child marriages with older men. The Arya Samaj fought against all of these injustices then and continues to champion the rights of women all over the world. In many societies, you will find that only Arya Samaj women are given the opportunity to become Hindu priests.
The Arya Samaj believes that every individual shall be judged by his character and actions and not by his birthright. Due to the unscrupulous manipulation of the caste system, those of high caste families were given honour and respect and those of low caste and their children were deemed “untouchables” and were ill-treated and suppressed. The Arya Samaj fought against these injustices against the untouchables and embraced them, educated them and welcomed them in their satsangs and religious gatherings.
The Arya Samaj pioneers education for all. In India, many institutions of learning (schools, colleges, gurukuls) were created for men, women and children. The Arya Samaj is very vociferous in encouraging the common man to learn and read the scriptures. This society is against the practice of having only one selected group of individuals indulging in the reading and preaching from the scriptures.
The Arya Samaj plays an active role in the welfare of the needy. Many orphanages, homes for abused women and widows and homes for the elderly have been established in India and other parts of the world. The society is also involved in providing relief during times of famine, drought, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
The Arya Samaj propagates patriotism and dedication to serving the interest of one’s nation and motherland. In the times of the British Rule in India, the Arya Samaj was one of the foremost organisations to champion the cause for political freedom and independence.
The Arya Samaj propagates the motto “Back to the Vedas” and promotes these scriptures as the one true source of all knowledge. The Arya Samaj holds the Vedic principle of monotheism – that there is ONE GOD who is formless, ever-existent and all powerful. Due to the fact that God is all-powerful with many attributes he is referred to by many names such as Creator (Brahma), Preserver (Vishnu) and Dissolver (Rudra). For hundreds of centuries Hindu sects and scholars had accepted the Vedas as the original Hindu scriptures but due to passage of time and destruction of Hindu scriptures and the introduction of other texts and interpretations, many deviations to the original teachings crept into Hinduism. The Arya Samaj promotes the Veda as the original scripture of all mankind and teaches that the acceptance of this will bring about a unity in the religious thinking of Hindus. The Vedas promote universal peace and its teachings are universal in character and apply to ALL people at ALL times.
The Arya Samaj rejects the belief of blind faith, animal sacrifices, idolatry, priestcraft and superstitions brought about by ignorance and fear. It promotes the philosophy of Karma (receiving the fruits of one’s deeds). Suffering is the logical consequence of one’s action (the law of cause and effect) and hence, superstitious belief does not eradicate suffering.
Is the Arya Samaj a religion?
The Arya Samaj is NOT a religion. It is a society that was formed, not as a new religion, but as a coming together of men and women of noble thoughts and actions who (irrespective of their social, ethnic or racial origins) believe in the underlying principles of Vaidik Satya Sanatana Dharma (commonly called “Hinduism”). In simpler terms, the Arya Samaj is a society of Hindus that propagates selfless action for the development of humanity and congregates for the common purpose of preserving the pristine values of Hinduism.
As was said by Maharishi Swami Dayanand: „I have not come to preach a new dogma or religion, nor to establish a new religious order, nor to be proclaimed a new messiah or pontiff. I have only brought before the people, the light of Vedic Wisdom which has been hidden during the centuries of India’s thraldom.”
Satsang means to be with the truth. In the routine hectic life full of all cares and concerns every soul seeks peace, happiness, and bliss. God is the absolute truth. To attain peace and truth, find solace and support in God’s grace and good company, human beings join Satsang in the temples according to their beliefs and faith. He or she desires to listen to the Holy Scriptures and prays God, sing songs in His praise. Satsang begins with the Meditation, a very powerful means to ameliorate the restless wandering mind and enjoy the presence in one’s heart and life. Meditation is an essential step in the spiritual journey. It brings silence and solace, an inexpressible experience of peace to reach God.
Havan is performed completely in Vedic way with special Vedic Verses according to the occasion. Havan is also a weekly reminder to the present congregation that we must undertake all actions with a sense of sacrifice, love and devotion. Our deeds are our destiny. All good actions done with good intentions will always lead to good results. The message of Havan is „Idanna Mamma” which means this is not for me. All good actions are for the benefits of the society at large. For all the living creatures Satsang gives the congregation an opportunity to celebrate various occasions of achievements, birthdays or anniversaries together and remember the loved ones. Satsang fosters a sense of true belongingness and selflessness.
Bhajans (devotional songs) are an important part of our Satsang. These Bhajans are led by a professional teacher and talented singers among the members and sung in unison by the congregation. Bhajans remind us that while many paths lead to attain the bliss of God there may be none so enjoyable as singing His praise.
Another important feature of the Satsang is the Pravachan (discourse) by Acharyaj. The Pravachan is based on the verses from Vedas, Bhagwat Gita, Upnishads and other holy scriptures of Vedic Dharma. The objective of the Pravachan is to encourage members practice the sacred teachings to enhance their daily lives. The program ends with the Aarti sung in unison by the congregation.
If small children are with you, please keep them in control to maintain a peaceful atmosphere during the Satsang. Please keep your cell phones off in the main hall of Satsang. For the time we do meditation, we keep the main hall doors closed to maintain a serene environment. All Dakshina (donations) should be made to Arya Samaj and be handed to Acharya Ji or Guru Ji after the Satsang.
The meaning of „Om”
Omkar is a religious symbol of the Hindus and Sanatana Dharma. But it is omnipresent in almost all the major cultures of our world. Another way of saying Om is Aum. Aum is the sound of the infinite. Aum is said to be the essence of all mantras and Vedas, the highest of all mantras or divine word. By sound and form, AUM symbolizes the infinite Brahman and the entire universe.
A – stands for Creation.
U – stands for Preservation.
M – stands for Destruction or dissolution.
This represents the Trinity of God in Hindu dharma (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). The three portions of AUM relate to the states of waking, dream and deep sleep and the three guans (rajas, satva, tamas). The three letters also indicate three planes of existence, heaven, earth and the netherworld. AUM can represent all the words produced by the human vocal organ. A is produced by the throat, U & M by the lips. In the Vedas, AUM is the sound of the Sun, the sound of Light. It is the sound of assent. It has an upward movement and uplifts the soul, as the sound of the divine eagle or falcon. The pronunciation of the word „OM” is supposed to symbolize the totality of all sounds as it includes all other sounds that humans can utter. This idea of totality also exists in the English word „Omnipresent” that includes OM as its prefix. We also have words like Omnipotent and Omniscient, all of which have the concept of totality in their meanings.
The ancient Greek alphabet had Omega as its last letter. Omega written in the lower case of the Greek alphabet, if turned to its side, looks quite similar to the Sanskrit way of writing Om. It is from the Greek alphabet „Omega” that we have the English phrase „the alpha and Omega”, which means, „to include everything”. It is said that the word Om has been used to make other words. The Christian term „Amen” is said to have some link with „Om” as also the Islamic term „Amin”. Both of these terms are similar to Om. Om is a well-known symbol to Indians all over the world. Almost every Indian household owns some sort of Om symbol. The way I was taught Om is a symbol of God, Brahman.
Vedic Family Prayer
All the members of a family should meet once a day for family prayer God’s blessings comes to the family that prays daily as a unit. By daily family prayer, humility, good conduct, and love for God become apparent and mutual affection, goodwill and co-operative spirit lead to family solidarity. All the members of the family, big and small, must participate in the prayer at a convenient time. Visitors and servants present should be also included. All should assemble after washing their hands and face and sit or stand in a convenient posture with the palms of the two hands clasped in a “Namaste” position. Then a lamp should be lit and with quietness and peace of mind, the prayers should be said sincerely and solemnly.
The prayer set out here is made up Universal Prayer, Prayer for Family Welfare, Meal time Prayer, Arti and Shanti Path. Prayer for Health should be done for sick member in the family.
Om Bhur bhuvah swah, tatsavitur
varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.
O God, The Giver of life. Remover of pains and sorrows Bestower of happiness, and Creator of the Universe Thouart most luminous, pure and adorable .We meditate on Thee May Thou inspire and guide our intellect in the right direction.
Om vishwani deva savitar duritani parasuva; Yad bhadram tanna asuva.
O Lord! The Creator of the Universe, remove all forms of vice and sorrow from us. Give us those qualities that are enobling.
Om agne naya supatha raye asman vishwani; deva vayunani vidwan.
Yuyo dhyasma jjuhurana; meno bhuyishthane nama uktim vidhema.
O luminous God! Lead us to the noble path of Thy devotion and grace; Lord! Thou knowest all our deeds. Remove from us all our vice and sins. We offer in every way our homage and salutations to Thee
Om asato ma sad gamaya.
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya,
Mrityor ma amritam gamaya!
O Lord! Lead us from untruth to truth Lead us from darkness to light Lead us from death to immortality
Sarve bhavantu sukhinah
Sarve santu niramayah
Sarve bhadrani pashyantu
Ma kashchit dukha mapnuyat!
O Lord! in Thee may all be happy May all be free from misery may all realize goodness, and may no one suffer pain.
PRAYER FOR FAMILY WELFARE
Om anuvratah pituh putro matra bhavatu sammanah.
Jaya patye-madhu matim vacham vadatu shantivam!
Om ma bhrata bhrataram dwikshan ma swasara muta swasa.
Samyanchah savrata bhutva vacham vadata bhadraya!
Om samani prapa sahavo nna bhagah samane yoktre sahavo yunajmi.
Samyancho agnim saparyatara nabhimiva bhitah!
O supreme and merciful Lord, we, the members of this family, have assembled here to offer our prayers to Thee. Grant us wisdom and understanding for the promotion of mutual love and affection. May there be complete absence of hatred and may harmony prevail among all the members of the family. May the interaction between the members of this family and others be full of justice, love and mercy. May the younger members of the family be polite, respectable and dutiful and may all speak the truth seasones with sweetness.
O merciful Father/Paramatma, free us of ailments and worries and help us enjoy good health up to hundred years. May we work together with joint effort to achieve success in our undertakings with Your help. May we obtain all our earnings by honest means and may we enjoy them by sharing with others.
Om jay jagdish hare, swami jay jagdish hare,
Bhakt janon ke sankat, kshan men dur kare.
Jo dhyava phal pave, dukh vinse man ka,
Sukh sampati ghar ave, kasht mite tan ka.
Mat pita tum mere, sharan gahun kiski,
Tum bin our na duja, as karun jis ki.
Tum puran paramatma, tum antaryami,
Param brahma parameshwar, tum sab ke swami.
Tum karuna ke sagar, tum palan karta,
Mein sevak tum swami, kripa karo bharta.
Tum ho ek agochar, sab ke pran pati
Jis vidhi milun dayamay, aisi do sumati
Deenbandhu dukh harta, tum rakshak mere;
Karuna hasta badhao, sharan pada tere.
Vishay vikar mitao, pap haro deva,
Shraddha bhakti badhao, santan ki seva.
PRAYER FOR HEALTH
Om Bhur bhuvah swah; Tatsavitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi; Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat!
O God, The Giver of life. Remover of pains and sorrows Bestower of happiness, and Creator of the Universe. Thouart most luminous, pure and adorable .We meditate on Thee May Thou inspire and guide our intellect in the right direction.
Om tanupa agne si tanvam me pahi
Om ayurda agne syayurme dehi
Om varchoda agne si varcho me dehi
Om agne yanme tanva unam tanma aprina
O Lord, make my body healthy, Give me a happy, long life, make me strong, Remove from my body all ailments and weakness
Om tatchakshur devahitam purastat
chhukram uchcharat Pashyema
sharadan shatam jivema sharadah shatam
shrinuyama sharadah shatam prabravama
sharadah shatam adinah syama sharadah
shatam bhuyashcha sharadah shatat.
O Benefactor of Devotees, I concentrate on Thy pure energy. Give me perfect health. May my eyes, ears, tongue and the others organs function in a proper and healthy way for a hundred years. May I not become helpless and dependent during this time. Give me a hundred years of joyous life free from disease.
Om apah shivah shivatamah shantah
shantastama state krinvantu bheshajam!
O all pervading Shiva Lord, Thou art beneficent, make me good Thou art the Giver of Peace, cure me of my illness By Thy grace may the germ destroying medicines prove effective in curing me speedily.
Om tryambakam yajamahe sugandhim
pushti vardhanam urvarukamiva
bandhanan mrityor mukshiya ma amritat!
O sustainer of the Three Worlds, Destroyer of illness and Supporter of all! As a ripe fruit gets its release from its pedicel so free us from disease and give us immortal life.
MEAL TIME PRAYER
Om annapate annasya no dehyana mivasya
shushminah, prapradataram tarisha urjam no
dhehi dvipade chatushpade.
O Lord, the Giver of Food! May Thou provide us with healthy and energy-producting food. Grant happiness to those that give in charity. May all living beings be pleased with energy giving food.
SHANTI PATH (HYMN OF PEACE)
Om Dyauh shanti rantariksham shantih, prithivi shanti rapah shanti roshadhayah, shanthih.
Vanaspatayah shantir vishwedevah, shantir brahma shantih sarvam shantih, shantireva shantih sa ma shantiredhi.
Om Shantih, Shantih Shantih!
There is peace in the heavenly region; there is peace in the atmosphere, peace reigns on the earth, the water is cooling, the herbs are healing, the plants are peace-giving, there is harmony in the celestial objects and perfection in knowledge, everything in the universe is peace, peace pervades everywhere. May that peace come to me!
Agni-hotra is an integral part of the Vedic Heritage. Literally, Agni-hotra is the sacrificial fire, which is of three kinds: Gaarhapatya, Aahavaniya and Dakshina. The Vedas stand for the true knowledge, both physical and transcendental. The Vedic teachings are based on the intuition of the man, who meditated upon the Truth or Absolute to know what Paramaatman, Jivatman and Prakriti mean. Therefore the Vedas are said to be the guideline for Dharma, Artha, Kaama and Moksha, which can be attained through Purushartha and Praarabhdha. Purushartha stands for the actions based on morality, ethics and religious obligations.
In other words, Purushartha is based upon human actions associated with the will power. Praarabhdha is the fruits of our actions, which we are destined to have as a result of the actions we do in daily life. Every action corresponds to its fruit, i.e. equal and opposite reaction. Therefore, if we long for the serene life from today, we must go in for right actions, right deeds and right thoughts. The Agni-hotra is a way, which leads us to attain the highest. That highest is the attainment of Ishwara — to realize the Divinity in and around, both immanent and transcendent. Agni-hotra has its spiritual and materialistic values. It elevates our Spirit, lifts us from physical understanding to the blissful state of mind. It is a step by step approach to reach the highest dawn, from man to Rishi. It is the very concept of sat-chit-anand, or Truth, Consciousness and Bliss.
Etymologically, if we analyze the word Agni, it is the combination of A (aa), G (ga), N (na), and I (ee). A stands for the Immutable Lord Parmeshwara. Akaar is Vishnu, which pervades everywhere. It is the Primal sound — the sound that travels in the Universe, which is the very cause of existence. G or ga means what goes — the movement. The movement is the vibration which is present in the Universe. N or na means the integral universe and I represents compassion, wonder and to obtain. So,Agni,is to give us, what we need for a meaningful life. Agni is therefore the closeness of man with nature. It is to offer everything to Ishwara, who is none else but the Supreme Force of creation, preservation and dissolution.
To put our oblations, which belong to Agni, Soma, Prajapati, Indra etc. in the physical Agni, is Agni-hotra. It is the action or will to do. It is linked with samidha — the fuel got from the jungles, the ignition, samagri, Vedi/Kunda, jalam — water, shrucha — the spoon. What is needed is the knowledge of the four directions, as well. Agni-hotra involves geography associated with forestry, agronomy, oceanography, and metallurgy. Above all, the knowledge of Sanskrit is essential to know its meaning, so that we could commune with the WORD and its meaning.
The Agni-hotra stands for the integration of human resources with the spiritual knowledge. Agni is both physical and spiritual. Therefore, we must promote the concept of Agni-hotra, while reciting the Vedic Mantras. Agni-hotra is of social value. It gives us the basic concept of Samaj — the highest values governing the Vedic ethos, tradition and teaching. Swami Dayanand has referred to the Agnihotra in his famous work „Satyarth Prakash”.
Yoga for Body, Mind & Spirit
Yoga means joining the soul with God. Rishi Patanjali says, “Yogas chitta vrtti nirodhah.” Yoga is control and cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Yoga, an ancient science is designed to cure the modern day maladies of anxiety and stress. Yoga boosts a person’s capacity to bear stress, i.e. it augments one’s „stress stamina”. Yoga improves all the five states of our being through Hatha-yoga for our physical body, Pranayama for our breath, meditation for our mind, Jnana-yoga for our intellect and Bhakti-yoga for our soul. Regular practice of asanas increases flexibility and focus, reduces fat and flatulence, relaxes muscles, improves digestion and induces a feeling of well-being.
Pranayama makes us aware of the act of breathing, which all living beings engage in from birth to death. The methodical elongation of each breath during Pranayama has a direct and dramatic impact on longevity and good health. Meditation enables us to move away from the physical or gross level to the spiritual or subtle state of being, and gradually leads us to inner freedom, the most important component of our life. It enhances our peace of mind, concentration, sense of detachment, and helps manifest the divinity in man.
Upanishads & Geeta Classes
From the time man stepped on the canvas of world history, space-time has been shrinking continuously. Today, in the silicon and micro-processor age, the speed has picked up even more rapidly. For most people who have dedicated their lives in the pursuit of material knowledge and wealth with dedication and passion, there comes a time when they find their system overloaded with information. Sensory overload from the ever changing outside world creates a crisis, in the pause of the moment one asks; is there anything else beyond the material reference frame that is relatively more stable and permanent? This is not a new question for the human race. Long, long time ago in the Indus-Saraswati valley, a very small group of people (Rishis) asked the same question and came up with answers. They put forth their answers in a very logical and systematic way in the Vedas.
But before reading the Vedic scriptures one should ask the question; what is in the Vedas? This question is analogous to asking; how deep is the ocean? The answer is apparently; how far is one willing to go away from the land? The easiest and safest way is to get a good navigator who has been there before and has always come back safely ashore. At Arya Samaj we are very fortunate to have a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic teacher in Vedic philosophy and scriptures with a passion and dedication to learn and impart his knowledge to any and all who is willing to share it with him. Currently, we are working our way through Geeta which in essence is an extract of the knowledge in the Upanishads. A Chinese proverb says, “Every journey begins with the first step”. Anyone willing to join us in this journey is most welcome. All you need is an open mind, a life experience punctuated with happiness and sorrows, and a sincere desire to see what is (or is not!) beyond the material reference frame.
At Arya Samaj we hold an evening class for adults in Sanskrit grammar and simple conversation. This was started at the request a group of people who have been taking classes in the Upanishads for a while and felt the desire to get a little deeper into subject. The Vedas and the Upanishads are all originally written in Sanskrit. “In a Sanskrit sentence the position of a word relative to each other is unimportant”, that was the first statement by the teacher. It is a profound statement with very deep implications. Why? We know of no other language except one where this is true, and that other language is mathematics!
But why does one need a mathematical precision in day to day language, because human conversation is loaded with fuzzy logic and fuzzy mathematics? Expression of human thoughts in Sanskrit is not only poetry, a symphony of rhythms and beats, but carries the rigors and precision of thought process that does not allow multiple interpretations and remains invariant with respect to time and space. This precision comes with a price! That is why today Sanskrit is a nearly dead language. Very few people have the self discipline and are willing to work hard (just as in mathematics!) to learn this beautiful language. Sanskrit is the ideal language for this silicon age, so if you are desirous and willing to make the effort, there is wealth of knowledge waiting to be explored.
In order to relax and refresh our minds we hold a brief class for Pranayam, which is conducted by a certified Yoga Teacher Dr. Anjana Dhingra. The beauty of this class is that each Pranayam is explained from not only a mind and spirit perspective, but also from a physiological and psychological point of view. This approach lends itself to a very unique experience of one’s inner self and communion with the higher being.
Western Quotes about Vedas
Great India (through Veda) is the origin of everything intellect, religion and politics and even Greek Heritage seems pale in comparison. — Frederich Von Schlegel, German philosopher
India has created a special momentum in the world history as the country to search for Knowledge. — Friedrich Hegel
’The Veda is a Book of Knowledge and Wisdom comprising the Book of Nature, the Book of Religion, the Book of Prayers, the Book of Morals and so on. The Word 'Veda’ means Wit, Wisdom, Knowledge and truly the Veda is condensed Wit, Wisdom, and Knowledge.’ — Philosophy of Zoroastrianism by Dadachnji, P.100
Readers of the Vedas who do not know this wonderful characteristic feature of the Veda in determining the physical as well as the spiritual by means of the self same words, are apt to be misled by the false idea that the Veda looks upon fire, air, dawn, the sun and the other agent forces, phenomena or objects of nature as Divine beings to whom the Vedic Rishis, prayed for strength health, wealth, long life, brave sons, rich possessions and so on. But the Vedas teach nothing but mono-theism of the purest kind, the belief that this universe manifests the love, might, wisdom and glory of God who eternally evolves and dissolves alternately innumerable systems of worlds, for the benefit, discipline and well-being of Jeevatmas, according to the eternal laws of nature (called Rita in the Vedas) and also according to the Law of Karmas (as implied in it) etc. P. 10
Oh blessed land of Hind (India) thou art worthy of reverence for in thee has God revealed True Knowledge of Himself.
What a pure light do these four revealed books afford to our mind’s eyes like the (charming and cool) lustre of the dawn? These four, God revealed unto His prophets (Rishis) in Hind.
And He thus teaches all races of mankind that inhabit His Earth. 'Observe (in your lives) the knowledge I have revealed in the Vedas’ for surely God has revealed them.
4. Those treasures are the Saama and Yajur which God has published. O my brothers! revere these, for they tell us the good news of salvation.
The two next, of these four, Rik and Atharva (Atar) teach us lessons of (Universal) brotherhood. These two (Vedas) are the beacons that warn us to turn towards that goal (universal brotherhood). — (Translation of the Arabic Poem by Lavi-an Arabic Poet about 1700 B.C.)
’In the earliest records which have come down to us from the past, we find ample indications that accepted standard of morality and the conduct resulting from these were in no degree inferior to those which prevail to-day, though in some respects they differed from ours. The wonderful collection of hymns known as the Vedas is a vast system of religious teachings as pure and lofty as those of the finest portions of the Hebrew Scriptures. Its authors were fully our equals in their conception of universe and the Deity expresses in the finest poetic language.’ P.11
’We must admit that the mind which conceived and expresses in appropriate language such ideas as are everywhere present in those Vedic hymns, could not have been inferior to those of the best of our religious teachers and poets, to our Milton, Shakespeare and Tennyson.’ — (Social Environment and Moral Progress by Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, P. 14)
’After the latest researches into the history and chronology of books of Old Testament, we may safely now call the Rigveda as the oldest book , not only of the Aryan humanity, but of the whole world.
’It is evident then (1) That the higher upto the source of the Vedic religion, we push our enquiries, the purer and simpler we find the conception of God, and that (2) In proportion as we come down the stream of time, the more corrupt an complex we find it. We conclude therefore that the ‘Vedic Aryans’ did not acquire their knowledge of the divine attributes and functions empirically, as in that case, we should find at the end what we now find in the beginning. Hence we must seek for a theory which will account alike for the acquisition of that Knowledge, the God-like conception of Varuna, and for that gradual depravation which culminated. — (The Teachings of the Vedas by Rev. Morris Philip, P. 104)
’We have pushed our enquiries as far back in time as the records would permit, and we have found that the religious and speculative thought of the people was far purer, simpler and more rational at the farthest point we reached, than at the nearest and the latest in the Vedic age.
The conclusion therefore, is inevitable viz, that the development of religious thought in India has been uniformly downward, and not upward, deterioration and not evolution. We are justified, therefore in concluding that higher and purer conceptions of the Vedic Aryans were the results of a primitive Divine Revelation. — (The Teachings of the Vedas by Rev. Morris Philip, P. 231)
They (The Vedas) are without doubt the oldest works composed in Sanskrit. Even the most ancient Sanskrit writings allude to the Vedas as already existing. The Vedas stand alone in their solitary splendor standing as beacon of Divine Light for the onward march of Humanity. — (Historical Researches by Prof. Heeren, Vol. II, P. 127)
’The Rigveda is the most sublime conception of the greatest highways of humanity.’ — (Quoted in the Hindu Superiority by Har Bilas Sharada, P. 179-180)
’Only the gaze of the clairvoyant, directed upon the mysteries of the past, may reveal un-uttered wisdom which lies hidden behind these writings (The Vedas). P 9.’ 'Whence did our pre-historic ancestors in their supposed terrible state of ignorance and abandonment, derive these extra-ordinary intuitions-that knowledge and assurance which we ourselves are re-conquering.’ — (The Great Secret by Maeterlinck, P. 44)
’What extracts from the Vedas I have read fall on me like the light of higher and purer luminary which describes a loftier course through a purer stratum-free from particulars, simple, universal; the Vedas contain a sensible account of God.’ — (Quoted from Mother America, by Swami Omkar, O. 9)
’To love, to think, to do are in the Vedic conception, no transitory futilities touched with melancholy, but stimulations of the cosmic activity charged with the Joy of the Eternal. Shadows they are, cast dancing shadows by the Light of lights, that vision if the Eternal, shining through the temporal, humanity can find an ideal which would replace a periodical sanctimoniousness by a perpetual sense of the sanctity of all life. On that (Vedic) ideal alone, with its inclusiveness which absorbs and annihilates the causes of antagonisms, its sympathy which wins hatred away from itself, it is possible to rear a new earth in the image and likeness of the eternal Heavens.’ — (Path of Peace by Dr. James Cousins, P. 60.)
’As far as I can grasp the teachings of the Vedas, it is so sublime that I would look upon it as a crime on my part, if the Russian public becomes acquainted with it through the medium of a confused and distorted translation, thus not deriving for its soul that benefit which this teaching should give to the people.’ — (Quoted here from Sadhu T.L. Vaswani’s Torch-bearer, P. 143)
’If a Bible of India were compiled, if Sanskrit could find a group of translators with the same feeling for beauty of language and the same love for the sacred texts in the original as the Bible has found in England, eternal treasures of old wisdom and poetry would enrich the times of to-day.
Among those compositions, some of them living words before writing was introduced, the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita would rise above the rest like Himalayas of the spirit of man.’ — (The Himalayas of the Soul by J. Mascaro M.A., P. 151)
’It (Vedic Religion) recognizes but One God. It is a thoroughly scientific religion where religion and science meet hand in hand. Here theology is based upon science and philosophy.’ — (The Superiority of the Vedic Religion by W.D. Brown)
’In the whole world, there is no study so beneficial and elevating as the Upanishad. It has been the solace of my life. It will be the solace at my death.’
’Vedic hymns greatly confirm us in the impression that the Aryan Moral code, as mirrored in the Rigveda, bore on the whole, a singularly pure and elevated character. So nothing can be more nobly beautiful in feeling and wording than the following on almsgiving or rather on the duty of giving, or helping generally.’ — (Vedic India by Ragozin, P. 374)
’Astonishing fact! The Hindu Revelation (Veda) is all relavations the only one whose ideas are in perfect harmony with Modern Science, as it proclaims the slow and gradual formation of the world.’ — (The Bible in India by Jacolliot, Vol II, Chapter 1)
’We have all heard and read about the ancient religion of India. It is the land of the great Veda-the most remarkable works containing not only religious ideas for a perfect life, but also facts which all the science has science has since proved true. Electricity, Radium, Electrons, Airships all seem to be known to the seers who found the Vedas.’ — (Mrs. Wheeler Willox)
INDRA VEDIC WORSHIP MANTRAS
Indra Sahasranāma: Śrī Gaṇapati Muni (also known as Kāvyakaṇṭha) was a great scholar and a disciple of Śrī Ramana Mahaṛṣi, and he composed several devotional works devoted to Indra. The most well-known of these is the indrasahasranāmastotram.
The Indra Sahasranāma, the Thousand Names of Indra which Śrī Kāvyakaṇṭha compiled from Ṛgveda, may be downloaded from any Indra worship webpages.
Any, or all, of these names may be used for worship, by chanting each one with “oṃ” before and “namaḥ” after, e.g. „oṃ indrāya namaḥ”, „oṃ devatamāya namaḥ”, etc.
(The halting efforts at English translation are mine. I provided only very brief, general ideas for these names, so that the document didn’t get too long to be usable. It is a work in progress, as I’ve not been able to find every name – and as with everything else on my blog, I welcome corrections.)
Indra Bhagavan: The most well-known of the twelve-lettered “bhagavate” mantras is “oṃ namo bhagavate vasudevāya.” Variations of this mantra exist, two addressed to Indra:
oṃ namo bhagavate mahārājāya ||
Oṃ and salutations to the supreme lord of lords/king of kings.
oṃ namo bhagavate rājadevāya ||
Oṃ and salutations to the supreme king of Devas/divine ruler.
Indra Gāyatrī: One of the most sacred Hindu prayers/mantras is the Sāvitrī gāyatrī (Ṛgveda III.62.10 – tat savitur vareṇyam | bhargo devasya dhīmahi | dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt ||). Other mantras in the gāyatrī metre, similar in form to this well-known verse, are provided in later texts, each requesting a different Deva’s guidance and inspiration.
Indra Gāyatrī is recommended for those seeking protection and security, but may be used for general devotion as well. Here are a few versions of Indra Gāyatrī. First:
oṃ devarājāya vidmahe |
vajrahastāya dhīmahi |
tannaḥ indraḥ pracodayāt ||
“Oṃ, let us meditate upon the King of Devas. May that great God who holds the thunderbolt in his hand, inspire and illumine our mind and understanding.”
This version is chanted as track #6, “Indra Gayathri,” on the CD Zodiac Signs – Vrischika Rasi – Scorpio by Prof. Thiagarajan and Sanskrit Scholars. One may also chant the above mantra, replacing “devarājāya” with sahasranetrāya (“thousand-eyed one”). Another variant I have heard is to chant tatpuruṣāya (referring to the Puruṣa, the Cosmic or Universal Man) here. (This is chanted by Prakash Rao as track #27, “Indra Gayathri Manthram,” of the CD set Sakala Devatha Gayathri Manthravali.)
Another version is:
oṃ devarājāya vidmahe |
vajrahastāya dhīmahi |
tannaḥ śakraḥ pracodayāt ||
“Oṃ, let us meditate upon the King of Devas. May that mighty God, who holds the thunderbolt in his hand, inspire and illumine our understanding.” This mantra appears in the Linga Purāṇa, 2.48.18.
Indra-Stuti: This intriguing prayer is chanted by Utaṇka in the Pauṣya Parva, Adi Parva of the Mahābhārata. Here are its last two verses, with translation:
vajrasya bhartā bhuvanasya goptā vṛtrasya hantā namucernihantā |
kṛṣṇe vasāno vasane mahātmā satyānṛte yo vivinakti loke ||
Oh wielder of the Vajra, protector of the universe, the slayer of Vṛtra and Namuci.
Oh illustrious one, who wears the black cloth, and displays the truth and untruth of the universe.
yo vājinaṃ garbham-apāṃ purāṇaṃ vaiśvānaraṃ vāhanam-abhyupetaḥ |
namaḥ sadāsmai jagadīśvarāya lokatrayeśāya purandarāya ||
Who has for your vehicle, the horse received from the ocean’s depths, the fiery Vaiśvānara,
I salute you, supreme lord of the universe, lord of the three worlds, destroyer of strongholds.
Mantras for particular purposes
Gaṇeśa Pūjā: The Himalayan Academy’s Gaṇeśa pūjā invokes Indra’s protection and grace, near the end of the ritual.
After offering water and rice to Gaṇeśa, the devotee should circle a flower over the lamp flame three times, praying Indra with this mantra (from Āśvalāyana Śrauta Sūtra, 4.12.2c):
indra stomena pañcadaśena
madhyam idam vātena sagareṇa
rakṣa rakṣāṃ dhārayāmi ||
The flower should be gently dropped towards the Deity in offering, the hands placed in namaskāraṃ, and then the lamp flame taken by all devotees present.
Marriage: To secure a harmonious marriage, and particularly in cases of delayed marriage, Indra and his wife Śacī are worshipped together with the mantras „oṃ laṁ indrāya namaḥ” and „oṃ līṁ indrānyai namaḥ”. (See also “bīja mantras” below for more information about seed-syllable “laṁ”.)
Another mantra to worship the Lord and his Śakti together comes from Śiva pūjā; it is „oṃ śacīpuraṇdarābhyāṃ namaḥ”.
Indra Dikpāla: Indra is worshipped, particularly in Tantric ritual, as a directional guardian (Dikpāla); the mantra to invoke him in the East is „oṃ indrāya pūrvāyai namaḥ”. The Svacchanda-tantra lists another invocation as „oṃ indrāya vajrahastāya namaḥ”.
Protection from nightmare and/or lightning-strike may be secured by gaining the aid of Indra. Praise his son Arjuna with the recitation of Arjuna’s ten names:
Arjuna (bright, shining)
Phālguna (one born under nakshatra Uttara Phālgunī)
Jiṣṇu (unconquerable, leader of the heavenly host)
Kirīti (who wears the shining diadem)
Śvetavāhana (whose chariot is drawn by shining steeds)
Bībhatsu (fair fighter, terrifying to behold in battle)
Pārtha (scholar-student, son of Kuṃtī)
Savyasāci (ambidextrous one)
Dhanañjaya (winner of great wealth).
I have read in several sources that bīja mantra meditation may not be the ideal exercise for a beginner, as a bīja (seed) mantra is something like a pure distillation of the deity’s essence. If one is new to Lord Indra and/or mantra meditation, it may be better to start with a simple mantra (one of those given in Indra’s sahasranāma, for example) to understand Indra personally, before approaching a bīja mantra that will convey his subtle nuances, higher wisdom, and powerful energies. These mantras and their meanings come from the works of Śrī Gaṇapati Muni and Paṇḍit Vāmadeva Śāstrī; relevant passages from the latter are taken from the article “The Mantric Approach of the Vedas” and the book Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound. All writings in quotation marks are the words of Vāmadeva.
“Hīṃ refers to the power of the Vajra or the lightning bolt of pure perception that Indra, the deity of cosmic prana, wields.”
“Hūm is more an Agni mantra as Hota, but can be used for Indra as Vidyut-Agni.”
It “is a mantra of the inner fire or thermogenic force. It both calls the divine down into us and offers our soul upward to the Divine for transformation in the sacred fire of awareness…It is used to destroy negativity and creates great passion and vitality. As a powerful mantra it should also be used carefully. Yet it can be used in a more gentle manner to invoke divine grace and protection. Through it we can offer ourselves or our afflictions into the Divine for purification and transformation.
“Hūm is a Vedic mantra of Agni or fire. It is the mantra used to make offerings into the sacred fire. It also is used to call or invoke the fire and to make it flame up more brilliantly. It represents the soul hidden the body, the Divine immanent in the world. It governs the earth and the material sphere in general.”
“Another important mantra for Indra is īṃ, as the lord of higher perception. That is what Ganapati and Daivarata call the Rigvedic Pranava.” (Pranava is “the Cosmic Word: through its power, the secret of all Vedic mantras can be revealed.”)
“It is the power of Divine light and seeing…It projects an energy and power of perception, the electrical force of seeing. It is the mantric sound of the eyes in the Mantra Purusha. The mantra īṃ allows for the awakening of the Shakti of any mantra, and also provides the vision behind the mantra, its knowledge component.”
Krīṃ is “Vidyut Shakti, which is associated with Indra and the supreme Prana.”
It “is a mantra of Indra, the supreme deity of the Vedas, the Divine as the cosmic lord and enlightenment force. Krīṃ is the thunderbolt or Vajra that destroys the serpent of ignorance and releases the light of absolute truth. It represents the force of the atmosphere…and carries the supreme life force.”
Laṃ is “mainly a mantra for Indra as a directional deity, though [it] also relates to the Vajra.”
It is also the bīja mantra for the mūlādhāra (first/root) cakra.
It is the “power of divine prana and hearing.” It is also associated with Indra as “chhandasama rishibha, the bull of the chants.”
Full and New Moon Days
Significance: Some people (including me) fast for Full and/or New Moons; they are the junctions of each lunar month and are sacred for many reasons – including their ancient associations with Indra. (The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa text tells the stories of both Full and New Moons, as they relate to Indra. You may read them here and here, respectively, or else tackle this long but interesting essay, that discusses both tales and then carries them forward in time towards an understanding of Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa.)
Activities: The fast for All Pūrṇimā (Full Moon) day begins at sunrise and ends after seeing the moon in the sky at nightfall. Vratas (vows) are often taken at this time. Pūrṇimā is generally auspicious.
Significance of all Amāvasyā (New Moon) : I have written my thoughts about New Moon, or Amāvasyā, in a series of posts; these essays may be found by searching the phrase Amāvasyā and the Sānnāyya on this blog.
Activities: While no new beginnings or journeys are to be undertaken on all Amāvasyā (New Moon) day, it is an excellent time for fasting, meditation, and deepening of one’s sādhanā. Mauna Amāvasyā (30 January 2014) is particularly special for these purposes, as it is traditional to take a vow of silence for this day and devote the time to spiritual practice.
Notes: The most important of these days (vis-à-vis Indra) is the Śakra-devatā Amāvasyā (Āśvin Amāvasyā/23 October 2014), which is specially dedicated to Indra’s worship. It originally was the occasion of the great feast of Indra which was ended by Lord Kṛṣṇa. This festival centered around Indra’s victory flag and honoured the Deva’s original defeat of the covering-darkness Vṛtra, the central tale of Ṛgveda.
Om Indraya Namah!