VEDAS There are four Vedas They are the main source of all Hindu knowledge and spiritual teachings.
RIG VEDA 10,589 VERSES deals with knowledge or JYANA
YAJUR VEDA 1975 VERSES deals with the concept of KARMA
SAMA VEDA 1875 VERSES deals with the practice of BHAKTI
ATHARVA VEDA 5977 VERSES deals with the various SCIENCES
THE VEDAS ARE FURTHER DIVIDED INTO FOUR SECTIONS.
1. SAMHITAS: MANTRAS AND HYMNS
2. BRAHMANAS: CEREMONIAL PROCEDURES.
3. ARANYAKAS: RITUALS AND INTERPRETATIONS.
4. UPANISHADS: PHILOSOPHICAL DISCOURSES
The Upanishads are the main texts for all philosophical and spiritual knowledge in Hinduism. There are 108 Upanishads but only the following ten are the most widely quoted. Each Upanishad expounds on one or two specific philosophical concepts.
UPANISHADS One line summary of the 10 major Upanishads ISHA : Karma without attachment. KENA : God exists behind natural process. KATHA : Immortality is simply union with God. PRASNA: Discourse on Prana. AITAREYA: Creation and pure consciousness. MUNDAKA: Knowledge and Wisdom TAITTIRIYA: Thou art Brahman. MANDUKYA: Meaning of AUM CHANDOGYA: Tat Tvam Asi. SWETASVATARA: Meditation the way to God
The Puranas Most of the knowledge acquired during the Vedic period was lost after the destructive Mahabharata war. The Puranas written between 100 A.D. And 1300 A.D not only revived the knowledge from the Vedas and the Upanishads but also popularized the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The Puranas are extensive mythological and philosophical texts written by
anonymous authors and sages. In addition to mythology, which is its major
component, the Puranas have a wealth of didactic, legal, moralistic, ritual
and devotional material for poojas and “vratas”.
The Puranas are also the main source for the development of poetry, art,
music, rituals for worship, folk drama and classical dance forms like Kathak
Hinduism as practiced today is almost predominantly influenced by the teachings from the Puranas. THE 18 PURANAS ARE: The puranic texts run into innumerable volumes. However, only 18 Puranas have been thoroughly studied and translated. The Puranas are written in Sanskrit in the form of shlokas BRAHMA PURANA VISHNU PURANA SHIVA PURANA BRAHMANDA PURANA BHAGAVATA PURANA LINGA PURANA BRAHMAVAYVARTA PURANA NARADIYA PURANA SKANDA PURANA MARKANDEYA PURANA GARUDA PURANA AGNI PURANA BHAVISHYA PURANA PADMA PURANA MATSYA PURANA VAMANA PURANA VARAHA PURANA KURMA PURANA
Hindu philosophy from the Puranas revolves around the following five concepts. These have become the cornerstones of Hindu traditions and beliefs.
The Satyanarayan Pooja is described in detail in the “ Reva Khanda” section of the “ Skanda Purana” and the “ Bhavishya Purana” The above shloka summarizes the essence of the Satyanarayan Pooja and states that to attain moksha Observe and follow the principles of BHAKTI KARMA DHARMA JYANA
To understand the Satyanarayan Pooja one needs to recognize and appreciate the mythological background of the Purana period. What is this mythological backdrop?
In the conventional sense, mythology is a narration that tells us how people lived and thought in a previous era.
Mythology brings to light achievements of that society and culture. Their manners, customs, religion, superstitions and fears.
Around 500 B.C. Buddha’s teachings were bringing about significant changes in peoples attitude towards religion and religious practices and the status of women in the society.
In addition to the “trinity” people wanted personal gods to keep them company in their daily lives. Soon there was no job or social need that was not connected to the worship of some god. This holds true even today.
However, these new mythological gods shared all of mankind’s frailties, virtues and faults. Certain gods were more carefree and fun loving like Krishna. Others were very strict and serious, like Shiva and kali. Yet others were dignified and proper like ram and Vishnu.
The Puranas gave the people the freedom to choose their own deities for worship. Rituals were then designed to satisfy every need.
For the sake of tradition we still continue to follow the same rituals and ceremonies. The option to alter, modify or change has never been denied to us in our scriptures. The beauty of Hinduism lies in this absolute freedom and flexibility of religious practice.
The teachings from the Puranas concentrate on two Major Hindu
Bhakti: dealing with devotion and love
Dharma : dealing with social duty
The essentials in the practice of Bhakti are:
Pooja: prayers, aarti and reciting ceremonial hymns
Danna: gifts to be given to the Brahmin and gods
Vratas: vows and contracts undertaken in the service of god for fulfillment of desires.
Bhajans: singing devotional songs
Yatras: pilgrimages to sacred shrines and rivers.
During the Purana period, India was primarily an agricultural country. Hence, all the rivers enjoyed a special status in peoples lives. The economic might from the waters of these rivers soon elevated them to a divine level and all the rivers of India attained a spiritual status and were revered and worshipped. That is why all the tirtha and yatra sites are found all along the major rivers in India. THE RIVERS ARE: GANGES YAMUNA NARMADA GODAVARI KRISHNA CAUVERY
DHARMA encompasses a wide scope of social duties and accountability for all your actions.
BHAKTI AND DHARMA are thus two distinct but interrelated pathways.
Entwined in theses are the stories of various gods and their interactions
with humans. The melodrama in the tales from the Puranas becomes the
basis of all moral and ethical teaching.
The five stories in the Satyanarayan Katha are designed using this
platform. They all have within them the threads of punishment and
reward, guidelines for good social and personal behavior, rules for
domestic and work ethics and reminders of the powers of the divine.
After the great destructive battle of Mahabharata around 3000 B.C. The teachings from the Vedas were lost. Ignorance and illiteracy prevailed in the general society. Religious practices and worship came to a standstill.
Furthermore, around 100 B.C. The Turks, Greek, and the Europeans repeatedly invaded India. Their Islamic, pagan and later the Christian faiths had begun to undermine Hindu religious practices.
As Hinduism was never a congregational religion, to re-establish the practice of worship and prayer on a regular basis, the Brahmins of the Purana period, 300 A.D. To 1300 A.D., designed the “Satyanarayan Pooja” and the “Katha”.
The main objective of the Katha was to popularize abstract spiritual concepts from the Vedas and the Upanishads into simple down to earth values.
The Satyanarayan “Katha” consists of five chapters, and the content of each chapter combines storytelling with philosophical discourse.
The stories divulge their message through metaphors and allegorical tales. These are stories idealizing “Bhakti” and “Dharma” leading to “Moksha”.
They are alive with the earthly needs of ordinary people. These stories from the “Skanda Purana” have been part of Hindu scriptures for the past fifteen hundred years. The moral values and sermons in them are still the main foundation of Hindu religion and culture in present day India.
The teachings from these stories are aimed at strengthening the faith of its audience. To enforce the practice of a structured Pooja with all its spiritual values and rituals, elements of punishment and reward were incorporated into the melodramatic stories of the Katha. These may appear outdated now but they have been part of our scriptures for over 1500 years. Hence to maintain the tradition we still continue to read them in their original format.
The following poem sums up the spirit of any Pooja Celebrate this sacred space Not because this space is sacred Any space, anywhere could be Celebrate because this space Is where the veil hiding my face dropped And let the healing grace of this puja Invade my secret spaces.