Right hand counting (explained in text). Click on image to see lager view.
Hindu mantras are traditionally repeated 108 times, using mala beads to count the repetition. Shaivites traditionally count on rudraksha beads, whereas Vishnavites us beads made from the stems of the tulsi plant.
There are times when it is useful to chant japa without mala beads. I recently read a facebook post that described a fairly complicated way of counting to 108 using your fingers. I found this method rather confusing, so I thought that it might be useful to describe a method that I use.
Many people think of Hinduism as polytheistic. In fact most Hindus are monotheistic, and Shaivas, fall into this category. How do the other Hindu deities, Vishnu, Ganesha, Krishna, etc. fit into this perspective. Ultimately there is nothing but Shiva. All the other Gods, in fact everything is a creation, emanation, or view of Shiva. The way that the multiplicity of different Gods are viewed.
Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva, (the Trimurti)
Probably the most iconic image in Shaivism is the Nataraja, Shiva as Lord of the Dance. This pictures Shiva in the dance of creation, preservation and destruction. In this form Shiva holds a drum in one hand, representing creation, the fire of destruction in another. One of his right arms is in the Abhayaprada Mudra, a gesture meaning “no fear”, signaling preservation. His fourth arm is held in an elephant trunk like posture, alluding to Ganesha, the removal of obstacles, again showing help and preservation to all people. It is clear from this that Shiva holds the properties of Vishnu and Brahma. In other words Vishnu and Brahma are alternative views of Shiva. Whereas a Vishnava or would see things differently I don’t think it is useful to talk about better or correct views; this is out view as Shaivas and we acknowledge that others may see things differently. Shaivas (and Vishnavas) believe in a good and merciful God, and all will be redeemed so this means there is no need for the type of conflict with other beliefs that we see in Islam and Christianity. Continue reading
The Himalayan Academy master Course Books
I previously wrote that after completing the Chinmaya International Foundation’s “Foundation Level” e-vedanta course”, I was not going to continue with their advanced course but take the Himalayan Academy’s Master Course. I thought it might be useful to give some first impressions of the course, though I have been following it for just over two weeks, so it is a very early impression. I have not even completed my first self-assessment yet!
I ordered the books and the self-assessment PDFs, which are sent via email. When I ordered the books I had thought that they seemed rather expensive, but when they arrived the size, weight and sheer quality Continue reading
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Tagged conversion, himalayan academy, hindu, master course, saiva, saivism, shaiva, Shaiva Siddhanta, shiva, spirituality