Tag Archives: India

Hindu Holi Festival

Holi CalcuttaHoli

Holi (Hindi: होली Punjabi: ਹੋਲੀ) is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus as a festival of colours.

Every year, thousands of Hindus participate in the festival Holi. The festival has many purposes. First and foremost, it celebrates the beginning of the new season, spring. Originally, it was a festival that commemorated good harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colors and saying farewell to winter. It also has a religious purpose, commemorating events present in Hindu mythology. Although it is the least religious holiday, it is probably one of the most exhilarating ones.

During this event, participants hold a bonfire, throw colored powder at each other, and celebrate wildly. As one of the major festivals of India and Nepal, Holi is celebrated with enthusiasm and gaiety on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun which is the month of March as per the Gregorian calendar. Continue reading

Jati – Indian Caste System

Caste SystemIndian Caste System

If a Hindu person were asked to explain the nature of the caste system, he or she might start to tell the story of Brahma — the four-headed, four-handed deity worshipped as the creator of the universe.

According to an ancient text known as the Rigveda, the division of Indian society was based on Brahma’s divine manifestation of four groups. Priests and teachers were cast from his mouth, rulers and warriors from his arms, merchants and traders from his thighs, and workers and peasants from his feet.

Even today, most Indian languages use the term “jati” for the system of hereditary social structures in South Asia. When Portuguese travelers to 16th-century India first encountered what appeared to them to be race-based social stratification, they used the Portuguese term “casta” — which means “race” — to describe what they saw. Today, the term “caste” is used to describe stratified societies based on hereditary groups not only in South Asia but throughout the world. Continue reading

Abhidhamma Pitaka

Tripitaka LibraryAbhidhamma is the third great division of the Piṭaka. It is a huge collection of systematically arranged, tabulated and classified doctrines of the Buddha, representing the quintessence of this teaching. Abhidhamma means higher teaching or special teaching; it is unique in its analytical approach, immensity of scope and support for one’s liberation.

The Buddha Dhamma has only one taste, the taste of liberation. But in Suttanta discourses, the Buddha takes into consideration the intellectual level of his audience, and their attainment in pāramīs. He therefore teaches the Dhamma in conventional terms (vohāra vacana), making references to persons and objects as I, we, he, she, man, woman, cow, tree, etc. But in Abhidhamma the Buddha makes no such concessions; he treats the Dhamma entirely in terms of the ultimate reality (paramattha sacca). He analyses every phenomenon into its ultimate constituents. All relative concepts such as man, mountain, etc., are reduced to their ultimate elements which are then precisely defined, classified and systematically arranged. Continue reading

Vinaya Pitaka

Four Noble TruthsThe Vinaya Piṭaka is made up of rules of discipline laid down for regulating the conduct of the Buddha’s disciples who have been admitted into the order as bhikkhus (monks) and bhikkhunis (nuns). These rules embody authoritative injunctions of the Buddha on modes of conduct and restraints on both physical and verbal actions. They deal with transgressions of discipline, and with various categories of restraints and admonitions in accordance with the nature of the offence.

Seven Kinds of Transgression or Offence (Āpatti)

The rules of discipline first laid down by the Buddha are called mūlapaññatti (the root regulation). Those supplemented later are known as anupaññatti. Together they are known as sikkhāpadas (rules of discipline). The act of transgressing these rules of discipline, thereby incurring a penalty by the guilty bhikkhu, is called āpatti, which means “reaching”, “committing”.

The offences for which penalties are laid down may be classified under seven categories depending on their nature: Continue reading

Suttanta Pitaka

PitakaThe Suttanta Piṭaka is a collection of all the discourses delivered by the Buddha on various occasions in their entirety. A few discourses delivered by some of the distinguished disciples of the Buddha, such as the Venerable Sāriputta, Mahā Moggallāna, Venerable Ānanda etc., as well as some narratives, are also included in the books of the Suttanta Piṭaka.

Although the discourses were mostly intended for the benefit of bhikkhus and deal with the practice of the pure life and with the explanation of the teaching, there are also several other discourses which deal with the material and moral progress of the lay disciple.

The Suttanta Piṭaka is divided into five separate collections known as nikāyas. They are Dīgha Nikāya, Majjhima Nikāya, Saṃyutta Nikāya, Aṅguttara Nikāya, and Khuddaka Nikāya.

Observances and Practices in the Teaching of the Buddha Continue reading

Tripitaka – The Three Baskets

Tripitaka OutlineThe Tripitaka means three baskets in Sanskrit and Tipitaka is the writing in Pali. The word Tripitaka is used to define the canonical texts or Buddhist scriptures.

The Tipitaka is divided into three parts: the Vinaya-pitaka or code of ethics, the Sutra-pitaka or basket of Buddha teaching, and the Abhidhamma-pitaka or ‘basket of scholasticism’.

The Tripitaka is the Canon of the Buddhists, both Theravada and Mahayana. It is possible to speak of several Canons such as the Sthaviravada, Sarvastivada and Mahayana, as well as in term of languages like Pali, Chinese and Tibetan. The word is used basically to refer to the literature, the authorship of which is directly or indirectly ascribed to the Buddha himself.

Continue reading

The Twelve Links – Nidanas

Wheel_of_life WikiThe Twelve Nidanas

The twelve links of dependent origination, are the twelve nidanas in the chain of the causation of samsara. The twelve nidanas are usually depicted in Tibetan Thankas as the ‘Wheel of Life’ drawn with twelve scenes forming a circle.

In the center of the circle, passion, aggression and ignorance, usually depicted by a chicken, snake and a pig respectively, represent the basic pull-push-ignore dynamic intrinsic of a dualistic ‘I’ and ‘other‘ relationship. As the ego and its projections need constant maintenance, the nidanas constantly spin.

1. Ignorance – Avidya (Skt), Ma-rig-pa (Tb)
(Image: An old blind person groping for his way with a cane.)
Avidya is the fundamental ignorance of the truths and the delusion of mistakenly perceiving the skandhas as a self. Avidya represents the very beginning of the formation of ‘I’ and ‘other’. ‘I’ and ‘other’ arise together and with dependence on each other. The formation and relationship between ‘I’ and ‘other’ occurring in an atmosphere of ignorance leads to the ever-recurring conceptual phantoms that rule the life of being in samsara. Avidya marks the beginning of self-consciousness. Continue reading

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