Wednesday 26 Nov 2014
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Swami Tadatmananda's Short Articles in Question Answer form

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Thank you for your excellent questions. First of all, the Hindu doctrine of karma should not be confused with the concept of predestination. According to Hinduism, your future is not predetermined or predestined. Your karmas from past lives (and earlier in this life) do indeed affect you, but they do not necessarily determine your future. Why not? Because the Lord has blessed us all with the power of free will. This power or shakti is so strong, we can overcome the effects of most karmas if we make a sufficient effort. Read More ...

Creationism is based on a Biblical story in which God creates the universe in six days. According to this account, God created the Earth with its seas, vegetation, birds, fish, and animals before finally creating the progenitors of the human race, Adam and Eve. Evolution, on the other hand, is based on scientific observations about how living organisms evolve from simpler to more complex forms through a process of random mutation and natural selection. According to evolution, man has evolved from lower life forms over many millions of years. Read More ...

Even though God is indeed everywhere, we often find it difficult to recognize His presence in all places.   God is just as present in the middle of a busy highway as He is in the temple.  But do you feel God's presence driving down the highway?   Probably not.  On the other hand, when we enter a temple and see the Lord's sacred form on the altar, we can certainly feel God's divine presence.  So, going to the temple makes it easy for us to feel God's presence. Read More ...

We have many forms in which we worship God because it allows people to choose a form of God they prefer. If you went to a restaurant, would you be happy if the menu had only one item, and that item was creamed spinach?! Wouldn't you prefer a restaurant with a large menu of items from which you could choose? The menu has many forms of food because different people prefer different dishes. In the same way, Hinduism has many forms of God so people can choose the form they prefer for prayer and worship. Read More ...

Just as we can choose the form of God we worship, we can also choose the manner in which we worship God. We have two basic kinds of worship: puja and yagna. In yagna (also called homa or havan), we offer ghee and other things into a sacred fire. The fire consumes our offerings and symbolically transports them to the Lord. In puja, we invite the Lord to be present upon our altar and then we offer flowers, fruits, incense, arati and our prayers to Him. Both kinds of worship bless us by invoking God's grace upon us. Read More ...

Bhakti and jnana are as inseparable as two sides of a coin. Jnana means spiritual wisdom. To gain the highest jnana--knowledge of God--an extraordinary degree of effort will certainly be required. But will our limited efforts ever be sufficient to scale the lofty heights of jnana to finally know God? Without grace, without the Lord's blessings, those heights will forever remain beyond our grasp. Yet, when we invoke the Lord's grace with our prayers and worship, then our sincere efforts to gain jnana will be blessed. Thus bhakti helps us attain jnana. Read More ...

This question vexes many people. Earthquakes, famine, disease, and death all occur according to the laws of nature. These natural laws, like everything else in the universe, ultimately come from the Lord. Then why does it appear that the Lord's goodness not always expressed in nature? Read More ...

First, let us see the difference between shraddha and andha-vishwasa or blind faith. The great acharyas (teachers) of the Hindu tradition never demanded that their students should blindly believe or "swallow" anything. In fact, they didn't want their students to believe; they wanted their students to understand. A teacher wants students to understand, to know, unlike a preacher who wants listeners to believe. A physics professor doesn't want his students to believe in atoms; he wants them to understand. In the same way, Hindu teachers and spiritual texts do not command you to believe; they lead you to understand. Read More ...

How do the navagrahas affect our lives? According to the ancient rishis, our lives are shaped by two mighty forces: free will and karma. Through the use of our free will, we make choices. And based on our choices, we act. But our actions alone cannot fully account for all that happens to us in life. Many unexpected events take place that can only be explained by the doctrine of karma. Read More ...

The purpose of prayer depends entirely on a person's needs. Those who have financial, emotional, or health problems can pray for the Lord's blessings. Their prayers, if done with sincerity and faith (shraddha), will invoke the Lord's grace in their lives, helping them to manage or overcome their problems. Read More ...

This same question was asked by Arjuna at the beginning of chapter three in the Bhagavad Gita. There, Sri Krishna says that both lifestyles are equally meant for spiritual growth. Sannyasis are free to be totally committed to a life of sadhana (spiritual practice) because they have no other responsibilities. Householders, on the other hand, have many responsibilities. Therefore, they must resort to the practice of karma yoga. Read More ...

This question is trickier than it might seem. In modern times, professionals like physicians and attorneys must pass examinations and receive some kind of certification. Traditional gurus, however, follow no such conventions. Other standards must be applied. Appearance is certainly not one of those standards. A long beard and orange robes does not make one a guru Read More ...

It is certainly difficult to find what we seek when we look in the wrong place. Did you ever lose your keys or pocketbook and spend hours looking in so many wrong places? To discover anything, we must know where to look.

Where shall we look to discover God? The ancient rishis taught us that the Lord is everywhere, pervading the universe. Bhagavan is sarva-vyapaka, all-pervasive like space. There is no place where space is absent, and in the same way, there is no place where Bhagavan is absent. Read More ...

The ancient rishis taught us that unfulfilled desires cause suffering. The more desires we have and want to fulfill, the more we suffer when they remain unfulfilled. Therefore, freedom from desires leads to freedom from suffering. Read More ...

The four Vedas – Rig, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva – are not the work of any single author. In ancient India, there were many rishis (sages) living simple, contemplative lives in hermitages high in the Himalayas and along the banks of sacred rivers. The rishis had names like Angiras, Bhrigu, Yajnavalkya, and Gargi (Gargi was a woman). They sought to understand the fundamental truths of life – Why are we born? How did the world come into existence? How can we live a good life? Because of their intense inquiry and deep meditation, they received God’s blessings and were able to discover the answers to their profound questions. Read More ...

Hinduism began with the Vedas. The Vedas came first, so they are called the source scripture for Hinduism. Many other scriptures were written in ancient India, including the Ramayana, Mahabharat, and the Puranas. All of these scriptures were based on the teachings of the Vedas. Read More ...

Before answering your question, allow me to ask another: "Is it necessary to be competitive to succeed in the material world?" Competition always places individuals against each other; competitors must fight one another. And on the battlefield of competition, one competitor must lose for the other to win. Competition makes us treat others as enemies, as threats or obstacles that stand in the way of what we want to achieve. Read More ...

It is certainly true that most of your neighbors, co-workers, and fellow citizens are virtually clueless about Hinduism. Few people are well-informed about the people, cultures, and religions that lie beyond our borders. Ignorance and wrong ideas about Hinduism are widespread. Unfortunately, this ignorance can lead to problems for Hindus, especially with the fear and distrust that have arisen after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. People fear the unknown, and for most, Hinduism is utterly unknown. Read More ...

It is true that eating an unfertilized egg does not kill a chicken. But it is also true that chickens are treated very badly in modern chicken farms. They are kept in tiny cages, allowed no freedom of movement, and are fed with hormones to artificially stimulate the rapid production of eggs. So, eating eggs contributes to this cruel treatment of chickens. The same is true about milk produced in large commercial dairies -- cows often suffer significantly through the production of milk. Read More ...

There are a number of ways in which music can serve as sadhana, spiritual practice. The power of music goes far beyond conventional ideas about singing bhajans and other forms of devotional music. Read More ...
The food we eat seems to affect us not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. After overeating, for example, we not only add to our waistlines, but we also feel dull or listless. To give a personal example, I grew up in a family where eating meat and drinking alcohol were acceptable. As a young man, when I began to practice yoga and meditation, I soon noticed how much those foods disturbed my practice. They made my body feel numb and made it difficult to concentrate during mediation. I soon stopped consuming those items.Read More ...


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