Pitru Paksha (Sanskrit: पितृ पक्ष, Pitṛ pakṣa; lit. "fortnight of the paternal ancestors") is a 16–lunar day period in Hindu calendar when Hinduspay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. The period is also known as Pitri Paksha/Pitr-Paksha, Pitri Pokkho, Sorah Shraddha ("sixteen shraddhas"), Kanagat, Jitiya, Mahalaya (in Bengali), Apara Paksha and akhadpak, Pitru Pandharavda or pitru paksh (in Marathi).
Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or Tarpana. In southern and western India, it falls in the 2nd paksha (fortnight) Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada (September) and follows the fortnight immediately after Ganesh Utsav. It begins on the Pratipada (first day of the fortnight) ending with the no moon day known as Sarvapitri Amavasya, Pitri Amavasya, Peddala Amavasya, Mahalaya Amavasya. The end of Pitru Paksha and the beginning of Matri Paksha is named as Mahalaya. Most years, the autumnal equinox falls within this period, i.e. the Sun transitions from the northern to the southern hemisphere during this period. In North India and Nepal, and cultures following the purnimanta calendar or the solar calendar, this period may correspond to the waning fortnight of the luni-solar month Ashvina, instead of Bhadrapada. (Full article...)
Its core beliefs are based on Hindu scriptures, particularly the Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagavata Purana. ISKCON is "the largest and, arguably, most important branch" of Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, which has had adherents in India since the early 16th century and American and European devotees since the early 1900s. ISKCON was formed to spread the practice of Bhakti yoga, the practice of love of God in which those involved (bhaktas) dedicate their thoughts and actions towards pleasing Krishna, whom they consider the Supreme Lord. Its most rapid expansion in membership has been within India and (after the collapse of the Soviet Union) in Russia and other formerly Soviet-aligned states of Eastern Europe. (Full article...)
Hindu mythology has many examples of deities changing gender, manifesting as different genders at different times, or combining to form androgynous or hermaphroditic beings. Gods change sex or manifest as an avatar of the opposite sex in order to facilitate sexual congress. Non-divine beings also undergo sex-changes through the actions of the gods, as the result of curses or blessings, or as the natural outcome of reincarnation. (Full article...)
Sanskrit generally connotes several Old Indo-Aryan language varieties. The most archaic of these is the Vedic Sanskrit found in the Rigveda, a collection of 1,028 hymns composed between 1500 BCE and 1200 BCE by Indo-Aryan tribes migrating east from what are today Afghanistan across northern Pakistan and into northwestern India. Vedic Sanskrit interacted with the preexisting ancient languages of the subcontinent, absorbing names of newly encountered plants and animals; in addition, the ancient Dravidian languages influenced Sanskrit's phonology and syntax. Sanskrit can also more narrowly refer to Classical Sanskrit, a refined and standardized grammatical form that emerged in the mid-1st millennium BCE and was codified in the most comprehensive of ancient grammars, the Aṣṭādhyāyī ('Eight chapters') of Pāṇini. The greatest dramatist in Sanskrit, Kālidāsa, wrote in classical Sanskrit, and the foundations of modern arithmetic were first described in classical Sanskrit. The two major Sanskrit epics, the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa, however, were composed in a range of oral storytelling registers called Epic Sanskrit which was used in northern India between 400 BCE and 300 CE, and roughly contemporary with classical Sanskrit. In the following centuries, Sanskrit became tradition-bound, stopped being learned as a first language, and ultimately stopped developing as a living language. (Full article...)
Image of the temple showing the tower and worship hall in the foreground
Parsurameswara Temple (IAST: Paraśurāmeśvara) also spelt Parashurameshvara, located in the East Indian city of Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, India, is considered the best preserved specimen of an early Odia Hindu temple dated to the Shailodbhava period between the 7th and 8th centuries CE. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and is one of the oldest existing temples in the state. It is believed to have been built around 650 CE in Nagara style and has all the main features of the pre-10th century Kalinga Architecture style temples. The temple is one among the Parashurameshvara group of temples.
Parashurameshvara Temple has a vimana, the sanctum, and a bada, the curvilinear spire over its roof, rising to a height of 40.25 ft (12.27 m). It is the first temple to have an additional structure called jagamohana, compared to the earlier temples that had only the vimana. Though the temple is dedicated to Shiva, it contains sculpted images of Shakta deities, which are otherwise normally part of Shakta temples. The temple is the first in Bhubaneswar to contain depictions of Saptamatrikas, namely, Chamunda, Varahi, Indrani, Vaishnavi, Kaumari, Shivani and Brahmi. The temple is maintained and administered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as a ticketed monument. Parashurashtami is the major festival celebrated in the temple during June–July every year. The temple is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in the state of Odisha. (Full article...)
Vithoba (IAST: viṭhōbā), also known as Vitthala (IAST: viṭṭhala), and Panduranga (IAST: pāṇḍraṅga), is a Hindu god predominantly worshipped in the Indian state of Maharashtra and Karnataka. He is a form of the god Vishnu. Vithoba is often depicted as a dark young boy, standing arms akimbo on a brick, sometimes accompanied by his consort Rakhumai.
Vithoba is the focus of an essentially monotheistic, non-ritualistic bhakti-driven Varkari faith in Maharashtra and the BrahminicalHaridasa sect established in Dvaita Vedanta in Karnataka. Vithoba Temple, Pandharpur is his main temple. Vithoba legends revolve around his devotee Pundalik who is credited for bringing the deity to Pandharpur, and around Vithoba's role as a saviour to the poet-saints of the Varkari faith. The Varkari poet-saints are known for their unique genre of devotional lyric, the abhang, dedicated to Vithoba and composed in Marathi. Other devotional literature dedicated to Vithoba includes the Kannada hymns of the Haridasa and the Marathi versions of the generic aarti songs associated with rituals of offering light to the deity. The most important festivals of Vithoba are held on Devshayani Ekadashi in the month of Ashadha, and Prabodhini Ekadashi in the month of Kartik. (Full article...)
The Yogini temples of India are 9th to 12th century roofless hypaethral shrines to the yoginis, female masters of yoga in Hindu tantra, broadly equated with goddesses especially Parvati, incarnating the sacred feminine force. They remained largely unknown and unstudied by scholars until late in the 20th century. Several of the shrines have niches for 64 yoginis, so are called Chausath Yogini Temples (Chausath Yogini Mandir, from चौसठ, Hindi for 64, also written Chaunsath or Chausathi); others have 42 or 81 niches, implying different sets of goddesses, though they too are often called Chausath yogini temples. Even when there are 64 yoginis, these are not always the same.
The extant temples are either circular or rectangular in plan; they are scattered over central and northern India in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha. Lost temples, their locations identified from surviving yogini images, are still more widely distributed across the subcontinent, from Delhi in the north and the border of Rajasthan in the west to Greater Bengal in the east and Tamil Nadu in the south. (Full article...)
Dasanami (IASTDaśanāmi Saṃpradāya "Tradition of Ten Names"), also known as the Order of Swamis, is a Hindu monastic tradition of "single-staff renunciation" (ēka daṇḍi saṃnyāsī) generally associated with the four cardinal mathas of the Advaita Vedanta tradition and, according to tradition, organized in its present form by Vedic scholar and teacher Adi Shankaracharya.
A swami, as the monk is called, is a renunciate who seeks to achieve spiritual union with the swa (Self). In formally renouncing the world, he or she generally wears ochre, saffron or orange-colored robes as a symbol of non-attachment to worldly desires, and may choose to roam independently or join an ashram or other spiritual organizations, typically in an ideal of selfless service. Upon initiation, which can only be done by another existing Swami, the renunciate receives a new name (usually ending in ananda, meaning 'supreme bliss') and takes a title which formalizes his connection with one of the ten subdivisions of the Swami Order. A swami's name has a dual significance, representing the attainment of supreme bliss through some divine quality or state (i.e. love, wisdom, service, yoga), and through a harmony with the infinite vastness of nature, expressed in one of the ten subdivision names: Giri (mountain), Puri (tract), Bhāratī (land), Vana (forest), Āraṇya (forest), Sagara (sea), Āśrama (spiritual exertion), Sarasvatī (wisdom of nature), Tīrtha (place of pilgrimage), and Parvata (mountain). A swami is not necessarily a yogi, although many swamis can and do practice yoga as a means of spiritual liberation; experienced swamis may also take disciples. (Full article...)
18th-century painting of Durga slaying the buffalo demon Mahishasura
Durga (Sanskrit: दुर्गा, IAST: Durgā) is a major Hindugoddess, worshipped as a principal aspect of the mother goddess Mahadevi. She is associated with protection, strength, motherhood, destruction, and wars.
Durga's legend centres around combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, prosperity, and dharma, representing the power of good over evil. Durga is believed to unleash her divine wrath against the wicked for the liberation of the oppressed, and entails destruction to empower creation. Durga is seen as a motherly figure and often depicted as a beautiful woman, riding a lion or tiger, with many arms each carrying a weapon and often defeating demons. She is widely worshipped by the followers of the goddess-centric sect, Shaktism, and has importance in other denominations like Shaivism and Vaishnavism. (Full article...)
Image 2Ishvara is, along with Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, one of the 17 deities commonly found in Indonesian Surya Majapahit Hindu arts and records. However, Ishvara represents different concept in various Hindu philosophies. (from Hindu deities)
Image 3The ten avatars of Vishnu, (Clockwise, from top left) Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Vamana, Krishna, Kalki, Buddha, Parshurama, Rama and Narasimha, (in centre) Radha and Krishna. Painting currently in Victoria and Albert Museum. (from Hindu deities)
Image 5Six Hinduism deities. Surya, Parvati, Hanuman, Lakshmi, Vishnu, and Indra. All of these statues came from India, except Vishnu (from the Thai-Cambodian border). Various eras. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh (from Hindu deities)
Image 6Goddess Durga and a pantheon of other gods and goddesses being worshipped during Durga Puja Festival in Kolkata. (from Hindu deities)
Image 11Upanayana samskara ceremony in progress. Typically, this ritual was for eight-year-olds in ancient India, but in the 1st millennium CE it became open to all ages. (from Samskara (rite of passage))
Image 13Samskaras are, in one context, the diverse rites of passage of a human being from conception to cremation, signifying milestones in an individual's journey of life in Hinduism. Above is annaprashana samskara celebrating a baby's first taste of solid food. (from Samskara (rite of passage))
Image 14A new born's Namakarana ceremony. The grandmother is whispering the name into the baby's ear, while friends and family watch. (from Samskara (rite of passage))
Image 15Shiva (left), Vishnu (middle), and Brahma (right) (from Hindu deities)
Image 16A Tamil Hindu girl (center) in 1870 wearing a half-saree, flowers and jewelry from her Ritu Kala samskara rite of passage (from Samskara (rite of passage))
Image 17Vaishnavism focuses on an avatar of Vishnu, such as Krishna above (from Hindu denominations)
Image 18Annaprashanam is the rite of passage where the baby is fed solid food for the first time. The ritual has regional names, such as Choroonu in Kerala. (from Samskara (rite of passage))
“If I were asked to define the Hindu creed, I should simply say: Search after truth through non-violent means. A man may not believe in God and still call himself a Hindu. Hinduism is a relentless pursuit after truth... Hinduism is the religion of truth. Truth is God. Denial of God we have known. Denial of truth we have not known.”
Madhvāchārya (IAST: Madhvācārya; pronounced[mɐdʱʋaːˈtɕaːrjɐ]; CE 1199–1278 or CE 1238–1317), and also known as Purna Prajna (IAST: Pūrṇa-Prajña) and Ānanda Tīrtha, was an Indian philosopher, theologian and the chief proponent of the Dvaita (dualism) school of Vedanta. Madhva called his philosophy Tattvavāda meaning "arguments from a realist viewpoint".
Rambhadracharya is the founder and head of Tulsi Peeth, a religious and social service institution in Chitrakoot named after Saint Tulsidas. He is the founder and lifelong chancellor of the Jagadguru Rambhadracharya Handicapped University in Chitrakoot, which offers graduate and postgraduate courses exclusively to four types of disabled students. Rambhadracharya has been blind since the age of two months, had no formal education until the age of seventeen years, and has never used Braille or any other aid to learn or compose. (Full article...)
Arjuna (Sanskrit: अर्जुन, IAST: Arjuna), also known as Partha and Dhananjaya, is the central figure, a protagonist of the Hindu epicMahabharata. In the epic he is the third of five Pandava brothers, from the lineage of the Kuru. In the Mahabharata War, Arjuna was a key warrior from the Pandava side and killed many warriors. Before the beginning of the war, his mentor Krishna gave him the supreme knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita to overcome his moral dilemmas.
Arjuna was the son of Kunti, the wife of Kuru King Pandu, and the god Indra, who fathered him due to Pandu's infertility. In the Mahabharata, Arjuna is depicted as a skilled archer from an early age, as a student who earns the favor of his preceptor Drona, as the primary adversary of Kauravas, and the betrothed of Draupadi, who became the common wife of the Pandavas. Arjuna is twice exiled, first for breaking a pact with his brothers, and again with his brothers after his oldest brother is tricked into gambling away the throne. During his first exile, Arjuna married Ulupi, Chitrāngadā and Subhadra. From his four wives, Arjuna had four sons, one from each wife — Shrutakarma, Iravan, Babhruvahana and Abhimanyu. During his second exile, Arjuna gained many celestial weapons. Despite being a warrior, Arjuna also possessed skills in music and dance. At the end of the epic the Pandavas, accompanied by Draupadi, retire to the Himalayas, where everyone in time passes away to arrive in Heaven. (Full article...)