Friday, March 27, 2015

Kunal Singh: What is Hinduism?

Hinduism is not concerned with relative opinions of 'goodness' which varies from person to
person, but the absolute truth described by the structure and relationships of its various deities.  Any cursory reading of the Upanisads will make it
clear that the greatest emphasis in Hinduism is on performing penance to
acquire the Brahman.  Most people so far have had trouble on the definition
of 'penance' and the meaning of the acquisition of Brahman or even a minor
deity in Hinduism.  However, if you search the Vedas and the associated
Upanisads, you will find that Hinduism describes the universe as comprising
of the three-fold realm: the heaven, the middle, and the earthly.  So for
the manifest world for every deity there is a heavenly realm, thus the
planets and their association with Hindu deities.  Then there is the
intermediate realm, thus the seasons, the external elements and their
association with the deities etc.  Then there is the inner realm, the
effects of the planetary rotations on the seasons and the inner body, its
shakti or energy flow, thus the body's association with the deities.  Thus
the definition of penance in Hinduism is 'yoga' or that which unifies the
three, allows the practitioner to realize the unity of all three realms.  A
yoga practitioner is expected to understand the earth realm, both outer and
inner, in other words the effects of the outer on the inner.  He is expected
to understand the middle realm, the effects of the elements on the inner.
And then he is expected to understand the effects of the heavenly realm on
the inner.
Rules and recommendations relating to dietary control, sexual control, mood
control, are all intended to enable penance so that a person does not give
up penance in pursuit of some personal desire which he enjoys more than
penance.  If a Hindu performs penance, but kills, its OK.  If he continues
to perform penance and has sex, that's OK.  If he continues to perform
penance and drinks alcohol that's OK.  As long as he remains sufficiently in
control to continue performance of penance, he is fine.  Without performing
penance, if he abstains from any kind of food or even sex, his efforts will
be largely in vain.  For he is following the restrictions without performing
what the restrictions were supposed to enable in the first place.  Thus you
have all kinds of vegetarians who despite becoming quite degenerated do not
acquire to any Hindu deity.  You have 'brahamachari' celibate religious
figures who cannot even explain the effects of various yoga techniques.  You
have many book readers well versed in the 'shashtras' who cannot even figure
out what the words mean, at best they can attempt the 'best sounding'
Hinduism had been handed down to the Hindu priests from ancient Kshatriya
kings who were extremely physical in nature.  Their physical nature, and
their prolonged physical pursuits enabled them to feel the effects of the
planets on the body, the effects of the elements on the body, the effects of
the yoga techniques on the body.  None of the practices recommended in
Hinduism to acquire to various deities are a result of 'empirical' or
'statistical' determination or guess work or worse yet some kind of
superstition.  They are literally the result of being able to feel the
effects on the body, and then have its understanding integrated into the
larger understanding of the universe.  In the beginning there were many
Kshatriyas who were well versed in the science of 'internal training' or
'internal/spiritual energy.'  They taught many techniques to the Hindu
Brahmins so that they could verify their experiences for themselves, thus
you have people such as Ashtavakra or Yajnavalkya in the Upanisads almost
being raised by the Kings in their courts and finally 'acquiring to the
Brahman' by following their teachings.  But as time passed, political
upheavals took their toll, foreigners invaded, and the original kings and
their traditions were largely destroyed and the Brahmins were left with
voluminous works, but no understanding of them.  Thus Hinduism became a
collection of 'rites and rituals.'
 Let's take a subject such as astrology, the much maligned and perhaps
considered the most riddled with 'superstition.'  Astrology does not begin
in Hinduism with a rather random guess at what could perhaps be the effects
of the Sun in this position and perhaps sampling about a thousand people to
see if that is indeed true!  Astrology begins with first identifying which
part of the body is affected by the Sun whose position is determined by its
backdrop against the zodiac.  Then recommendations are made for a person
born with the Sun in that position.  Even the mind is deemed controlled by
the planetary positions, certain parts of the body are deemed to lead to
certain kinds of thoughts.  Thus over time, it becomes possible to determine
if a person would tend towards material, sexual, or perhaps sensory
fullfillment.  And before you 'pooh pooh' all astrology because most
astrologers couldn't tell where the Sun is in the zodiac if they weren't
allowed to look at the sky, Capricorns like Vajpayee will tend to have weak
knees!  As to why that would be so, I leave that as an exercise for the
famed vegetarian astrologer Jai Maharaj.  But rest assured that if you
progress in your path of penance for at least three years and if you have a
good understanding of what comprises effective 'penance' then you will be
able to tell where the Sun is in your body!  Finding the 'apsaras' will
probably take a longer time. Similarly the subject of Ayurveda or traditional Hindu medicine also relies
on this understanding of the universe, understanding of the Hindu deities,
their placement within the body, the effects of various substances on the
The subject of yoga provides the very understanding which is employed
in both astrology and ayurveda.  Thus the understanding of Hindu deities is
central to the understanding of either subject.  And yet, it seems that it
is this understanding which is thoroughly absent from most of the 'renowned
Hindu religious leaders.'  Though some of the early Hindu religious leaders
were quite excited about yoga, they failed to connect their understanding of
the yogic practices with the various Hindu deities.  Many even recommended
abandoning the deities and particularly the rites and rituals associated
with them.  Even men such as Vivekananda were not able to understand the
relationship.  The reason was, they were not trained Kshatriyas and their
physical capacity was quite limited, their physical purity was nowhere even
close to that of the ancient Kings. Thus let us proceed to the 'mystical' world and make it less 'mystical.'
The subject of Hinduism cannot be even broached without an understanding of
'spiritual power' or 'shakti' termed in other Eastern religions as 'internal
energy.'  I used to think that there were three clear levels of
accomplishment in the realm of 'internal energy' but now I think there are
indeed five.The first stage is that of total ignorance.  You rely entirely on faith and
continue certain practices.  At this point most people view meditation as
some kind of trained visualization technique, perhaps a self-induced
hypnosis.  At this stage the practitioner doesn't really feel anything,
other than the much proclaimed and highly exaggerated 'calming influence.'
However, the practitioner derives some minor health benefits from it, such
as improved circulation etc.  Many such practitioners insist that they felt
this or that sensation, but most such effects do not reproduce easily and
seem quite diverse for various practitioners, as various nerves in their
bodies adjust to the practice causing various 'feelings.'  This feeling, if
proper training is carried on, should not last for more than two years.
After two years, you begin to have an inkling that there is something quite
'real' in the practice, but it comes and goes. 
The second stage is that of the opening of the kundalini, typically occurs
close to three years or so.  Yes, I know that quite a few people believe
that the opening of the kundalini is the 'highest stage' but I no longer
believe so, it seems to be the beginning stage.  The opening of the
'kundalini' associated with the 'serpent power' is accomplished when one can
circulate the energy along the spine.  This for the first time is a very
real and distinct experience and is common to all practitioners, there is no
longer any variance of experience once it is accomplished.  The practitioner
can now move his internal energy along various energy centers along the
spinal column.  He can tell that if he moves his energy to a particular
point, he has a great sense of that region and he loses sense of the other
regions.  Thus he can determine that if a person was born with his energy
predominant at a certain region, he would be greatly influenced by the
desires of that region.  At this point, the experience of kundalini itself
is uniform, however, as the energy strengthens different practitioners may
feel different regions of the body adjusting.  Some may feel their face
tingling for days, others may find that some physical activity causes energy
to rush to their heads etc.  At this point they cannot move the energy
beyond the region of the spine.  In the realm of Hinduism, the spine is
called the 'Meru danda' and the head 'Mount Meru' the abode of the deities.
In the Chinese martial culture, which to a great extent has been influenced
by the Buddhist traditions of India as well, this stage is termed achieving
the 'small circulation.' The third stage is that of achieving circulation within the inner body,
excluding the muscles or the skeletal system considered the 'external' body.
Thus within the torso region, one can circulate the energy and move it to
various regions, different organs and feel it quite strongly or sometimes
weakly, depending on the phase of the moon, but with no doubt regarding the
movement..  This point enables the practitioner to achieve greater longevity
and in the Chinese martial tradition is termed achieving the 'grand
circulation.'  At this point from a Hindu point of view, or perhaps I should
say from my personal point of view, ALL MUDRAS, EFFECTS OF DIRECTIONS, HINDU
RITES AND RITUALS, BECOME APPARENT!  It becomes apparent as to what the
purpose of those activities are as one can FEEL THE CHANGE IN THE INTERNAL
APPLICATION!  At this point, the practitioner is nowhere close to an ancient
Kshatriya.  But he is better positioned to understand the various religious
rites and rituals.  This was the stage commonly achieved by many Hindu
Brahmin officiating priests, actually it would have been a minimal
requirement.  This is also the minimal achievement if one wanted to be a
sorcerer or witch or cast spells.
 The fourth stage is that of being able to bring the internal energy to the
external body, giving it unusual physical properties.  And thus it should
become clear why the ancient Kshatriyas pursued this knowledge.  This is the
stage at least desired by many Kshatriyas in Hinduism who wanted to acquire
'divine weapons' or 'divyastra!'  This stage enables a person to possess
unusual strength and stamina.  A person could be hit with a blunt weapon
without incurring injury, sometimes even with sharp weapons and still
protect himself from being pierced.  There are still people in both India
and China who have achieved a level of training within this class.  They can
often be seen pulling trucks etc. have vehicles go over them, tearing some
thin metals, have spears bent at their throats, suspending themselves over a
spear etc. The last stage is that of being able to strike someone with internal energy
from a short distance without any physical contact whatsoever.  This
provides the ability to affect the external world directly with internal
energy with immediate effect.  Thus one can disrupt the energy flow of
another's body without any external implement.  Only martial artists have
been known to possess this for obvious reasons.  Their internal training
combined with the external enables them to externalize the energy over time.
Though I've seen my own Kung Fu Grandmaster make people lose physical
control over time, I have never heard of him striking anyone with directed
energy.  The only ones who seem to have publicly demonstrated this ability
are Japanese Buddhist monks. And thus the final point.  Penance is the cultivation of internal energy.
Hinduism enables such cultivation.  However, there is no restriction as to
its usage.  For who will tell such a disciplined person, who will
distinguish for him right and wrong better than him!  It would be like
children trying to teach the master.  Thus the energy can be used to heal
and it can be used to kill and neither is good or bad, it all depends on the
circumstance and the person's judgement.  A person who achieves it is
entitled by definition to use it.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. YSV an interesting article by Kunal Singh and thanks for sharing this.

      I agree with Kunal on everything mentioned in this article except the portion where he is saying that a practitioner can direct and intensify the awareness of a particular part in his body. I think this has nothing to do with Kundalini as such.It is the cultivation and control over Prana Shakti which gives such abilities.Kundalini,I believe,has nothing to do with such things like shifting awareness to different regions etc.Kundalini awakening puts us on the path of realisation of nature.
      YSV I had read in one book on spirituality about the difference between an yogi and a sadhak.A sadhak aspires for his mukti and nothing else,but a yogi aspires to comprehend the complexity of creation in its entirety.Mukti might come to the yogi as a side-effect of his striving but he doesn't aim for Mukti.

  2. A very informative piece ysv, thanks for posting it.

    "If a Hindu performs penance, but kills, its OK."

    That's a bit vague. Is that kill, as in slaughtering or hunting animals for food? Or killing hardened criminals to protect society? Or the hardened criminal himself doing the killing?

  3. Technically Karma will cease to hold weight on you if you can persue it with complete dispassion or with absolute lack of ego.Even a crime done with zero desire will not be a Karma.As a corollary to this propostition,the theory of Karma also says that if you do good karma with the inner desire of getting rewarded,then you will have to take rebirth to enjoy even the effects of that good karma.So the proposition is that do the inevitable but without the desire of ego.Purna avatars of God like Krishna or Rama lived life this way.

  4. Fossil finds from China have shaken up the traditional narrative of humankind's dispersal from Africa.

    1. Irrespective of how early humans were present outside Africa, it is an indisputable fact that the common ancestor of all humans lived in Africa.

    2. @Prem Chand
      What you assumed was never actually my claim.

      I just wanted to share a new finding which apparently pushes back in time present theory of migration.

    3. I understand. Its just that it has become common among 'race realists' and occasionally Hindutvadis to dispute the African origin of humans because they just cant stand the thought of sharing genes with Africans.