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English: Photograph of Radhakrishnan taken at ...

Renowned Indian scholar, Radhakrishnan, at a reception in Stockholm, 1949. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vedanta is a school of Hindu religion and philosophy and a Sanskrit term meaning “the end of the Veda.” Its three main texts are:

  1. The Upanishads, known as Upadesha prasthana (injunctive texts), and the Śruti prasthāna (the starting point of revelation)
  2. The Brahma Sutras, known as Nyaya prasthana or Yukti prasthana (logical text)
  3. The Bhagavad Gita, known as Sadhana prasthana (practical text), and the Smriti prasthāna (the starting point of remembered tradition)¹


Related Posts » Veda, Atman, Hinduism, Radhakrishnan, Sankara, Upanisads



Vaisya Caste

English: Pyramid of Caste system in India 한국어:...

Pyramid of Caste system in India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vaisya is one of the former Hindu castes,¹ characterized by merchants and businessmen.

Members of the Vaisya caste are traditionally associated with karma-yoga, the yoga of action, although it should be noted that in contemporary India a businessperson does not necessarily attach religious significance to his or her work.

The Vaisya caste was generally ranked as the third of four, along with a 5th unofficial group of “outcastes.”

By way of contrast, the merchant class in medieval Japan under the powerful Tokugawa military rulers (1600-1867) was regarded as the lowest class, not the second-lowest or, depending on how one looks at it, third-lowest.

The whole notion of caste was deplored by Gandhi in the 1930s and criminalized in India during the 1950s. Its power over the minds of people has diminished but some arguably backward families still look to ‘appropriate’ caste marriages.

Old Indian Castes by rank

  1. Brahman caste (priests, thinkers)
  2. Kshatriya caste (rajas, warriors, persons of action)
  3. Vaisna caste (merchants)
  4. Sudra (menial laborers, servants)
  5. Unofficial group of Outcastes.

¹ See also and

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Legends about vampires or vampire-like beings appear throughout world folklore, to include India, China and Greece.

The current incarnation of the vampire is usually linked to old Eastern European myths and superstitions. These stories inspired several vampire novels. The most enduring of these is Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897).

In the eighteenth-century, Eastern European reports of vampirism ran high, sometimes taking two related forms of

  1. Physical vampirism – robbing another person’s vitality by drinking their blood
  2. Spiritual vampirism – psychic possession of another person’s free-will and theft of their vitality

Traditionally, vampires reside in or around graveyards, having a strong aversion to daylight. And they rise at night to stalk their victims. Repelled by the holy cross, these agents of darkness are known as the undead.

In the 1970s and ’80s, moviegoers wore character costumes and recited dialogue from the film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, perhaps entering into a state of consciousness which anthropologist Lévi-Bruhl called participation mystique. In 1974, Neil Young released a song called Vampire Blues.

A more recent newspaper report of alleged vampirism in Toronto tells of a man who forcefully cut and drank the blood of a young woman. The woman was initially horrified and pressed charges, resulting in the aggressor’s imprisonment. Over time, however, she began to feel united and in love with him, making daily visits to him in prison.

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Paranormal researchers and psychics explain vampirism in terms of a restless earth-bound spirit or so-called tramp soul that takes control of psychologically weak and vulnerable individuals.

By way of contrast, vampire nightclubs seem to be harmless, non-violent and socially acceptable outlets for individuals seeking to experience the numinous aura of the Jungian shadow. A comparable situation might be the upstanding priest who enjoys horror movies during his off-hours.

But clearly not everyone maintains a mature, adult perspective on vampires. Violent murders have been committed by teens in vampire cults who take the Goth lifestyle to a tragic extreme.

Wikipedia adds:

In modern times, however, the vampire is generally held to be a fictitious entity, although belief in similar vampiric creatures such as the chupacabra still persists in some cultures.¹


Related Posts » Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dracula, Lycanthropy, Swedenborg (Emanuel), Transmigration, Werewolf

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Vashist Forest 2 by Paul Evans via Flickr

Vanaprashta (Skt: ‘home in the forest or woods’)

In traditional Hinduism this is the third asrama (Vedic stage of life) in which the male, having fulfilled his matrimonial dharma as a householder, generally retreats to the forest to study the deeper meaning of sacred texts and to become adept at meditation.

Some Hindu texts stipulate that the religious recluse must be a Brahmin, but this view is not universal.¹

Vanaprashta is a difficult path to follow, especially today. Within the changing face of Hinduism the contemporary practice is more a psychosocial rather than geographical withdrawal. Today’s Hindu meditator, whether male or female, may pull back into the deeper aspects of the psyche (and perhaps beyond) without necessarily leaving the household.

Mahatma Gandhi with textile workers at Darwen,...

Mahatma Gandhi with textile workers at Darwen, Lancashire, England, September 26, 1931. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This shift is made evident in Pauline Kolenda’s ethnographic study conducted in Khalapur, where she notes:

Jivan Mal was a Gandhian. Like Gandhi, he tried to live his life according to the four ashramas, and when we knew him, he was in the third ashrama; he was a vanaprashta one who had retired from ordinary life to devote himself to religion. He explained that he and his wife were “like brother and sister”; he had given up sexual activity. Consistent with his religiosity and his Gandhianism was his strict vegetarian diet, but inconsistent with his Gandhianism was his inability to consort with untouchables, to be near them or to take food or drink from them or with them.²

¹ When I first made this entry at, Wikipedia made little or not mention of Vanaprashta. But it’s caught up. For more details on the life of the traditional hermit, see .

² Pauline Kolenda, “Micro-Ideology and Micro-Utopia in Khalapur: Changes in the Discourse on Caste over Thirty Years,” Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 24, No. 32 (Aug. 12, 1989: 1831-1838), pp. 1833-1834. One might ask how such snobbishness could be a sign of positive spirituality and in keeping with God’s will.

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Rig vedic fire offerings – Indian Rituals by Srevatsan Muralidharan

The Veda (or Vedas) are the first group of ancient Hindu sacred books. Max Müller and most subsequent scholars date them to the 13th century BCE.

Ten in all, the Veda form a mandala (circle) of knowledge and are believed by some to represent directly revealed truth and therefore all that is necessary for spiritual liberation.¹

The more recent Upanisads are known as the Vedanta—that is, the end of the Veda.

As hindu-blog points out, however, both the Veda and the Upanisads are based on a longstanding oral tradition which makes precise dating open to debate:

The Upanishads and Vedas were rendered orally and were passed on for generations before being written. Nobody is sure about the actual dates of these texts.²

English: Student learning Veda. Location: Nach...

Student learning Veda. Location: Nachiyar Kovil, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fact that the Vedas were passed on orally is noted in Wikipedia:

Transmission of texts in the Vedic period was by oral tradition alone, preserved with precision with the help of elaborate mnemonic techniques. A literary tradition set in only in post-Vedic times, after the rise of Buddhism in the Maurya period, perhaps earliest in the Kanva recension of the Yajurveda about the 1st century BCE; however oral tradition predominated until c. 1000 CE.³

Recently, a Sanskrit rock band, “Shanti Shanti” has produced an album called “Veda.”

This CD titled “Veda”, produced by Ganesha Publishing BMI, contains shlokas (hymns) from all four Vedas-Rig-veda, Sama-veda, Atharva-veda, and Yajur-veda, some as old as 1,500 BCE. » Source

¹ From Wikipedia:

They are supposed to have been directly revealed, and thus are called śruti (“what is heard”),[6][7] distinguishing them from other religious texts, which are called smṛti (“what is remembered”). In Hindu tradition, the creation of Vedas is credited to Brahma.[8] The Vedic texts or śruti are organized around four canonical collections of metrical material known as Saṃhitās, of which the first three are related to the performance of yajna (sacrifice) in historical Vedic religion:

  1. The Rigveda, containing hymns to be recited by the hotar, or presiding priest;
  2. The Yajurveda, containing formulas to be recited by the adhvaryu or officiating priest;
  3. The Samaveda, containing formulas to be sung by the udgatar or priest that chants;
  4. The Atharvaveda, a collection of spells and incantations, apotropaic charms and speculative hymns.[9]



Related Posts » Asrama, Asura, Avatar, Avesta, Brahmacharya, Brahmanas, Brahmin, Caste, Dismemberment, Durga, Hinduism, Kama, Krishna, Kshatriya, Language, Manu, O’Flaherty (Wendy Doniger), Rishis, Samkhya, Sita, Sutra, Upanisads, Zoroastrianism

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Venial Sin

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According to Catholic belief a venial sin is an offense against the Laws of God, not grave enough to cause a complete loss of sanctifying grace.

Venial sin is seen as an illness of the soul rather than its death. Because the soul committing a venial sin falls short of perfection but is still united with God and capable of charity, it does not receive eternal damnation, as we find with the unforgiven mortal sin.

Instead, venial sins merit temporary punishments which purify the soul so as to prepare it for everlasting life in heaven.

The excellent – if old – Catholic Encyclopedia (1912) outlines some scriptural references held by some to support the classification of venial vs. mortal sin.

The distinction between mortal and venial sin is set forth in Scripture. From St. John (1 John 5:16-17) it is clear there are some sins “unto death” and some sins not “unto death”, i.e. mortal and venial. The classic text for the distinction of mortal and venial sin is that of St. Paul (1 Corinthians 3:8-15), where he explains in detail the distinction between mortal and venial sin.¹

More recently, Wikipedia adds:²

A venial sin meets at least one of the following criteria:

  1. It does not concern a “grave matter”,
  2. It is not committed with full knowledge, or
  3. It is not committed with both deliberate and complete consent.

¹ O’Neil, A.C. (1912). Sin. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved October 11, 2008 from New Advent:


Related Posts » Mortal sin, Original sin, Sin

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Venus, Pan and Eros

Venus, Pan and Eros (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In mythology Venus is the Roman parallel to the Greek Aphrodite. But Venus is somewhat more subdued than Aphrodite.

Venus is a goddess of seduction and, in one set of rites and myths, she is associated with Roman wine fesitvals (Vinalia). In this festival she’s seen as a mediator between Jupiter and the Roman people.

She is also the mother of Aeneas, who according to the poet Vergil, is the founder of Rome. In a sense, then, Venus was regarded as the mother of Rome.

But she was no chaste mother. Her name literally means sex, and she was the lover of Mars, who with the mortal Rhea Silva begat the twin brothers Romulus and Remus.

Since Rome was named after Romulus, who after disposing of Remus became the first ruler of Rome, Venus plays a kind of dual role in the founding of Rome. As such, she was given a sacred solemnity among the Romans that Aphrodite never enjoyed among the Greeks.

Mars and Venus have a romantic rendezvous. Fresco from the “House of Sallust” at Pompeii, now in the National Archaeological Museum, Naples. – Image via Tumblr

Venus’ first known temple was built shortly after 295 BCE. And despite New Age and Jungian attempts to treat her as some kind of pristine archetype, and others’ attempts to link her to the Vedic term for desire, her historical roots remain obscure.

However, her character did develop, as most mythic entities do, in step with the sociopolitical changes in Rome. The influential aristocrat Sulla called her his “Protectress” and, by the time of the Roman Empire, Venus was incorporated into the official pantheon.

English: Venus orbits the Sun at an average di...

Venus orbits the Sun at an average distance of about 108 million kilometers (about 0.7 AU), and completes an orbit every 224.65 days. Venus is the second planet from the Sun and it revolves round the Sun approximately 1.6 times (yellow trail) in Earth’s 365 days (blue trail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In astronomy Venus is the second planet from our sun. Due to its brightness, Venus looks like a star and is called the “morning star” or “evening star.” Venus is also the hottest planet in the solar system. It’s not the closest but its composition contributes to its high heat.

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