Saturday, May 10, 2008

The story of Adam and Eve: a Vedic origin


Religious and philosophical truths are often explained through parables, stories, so that ignorant people can understand them easily. Since metaphysical concepts are difficult to grasp, either they have to be told in the form of a story or they have to be given the form of a ritual, that is they must find expression as religious acts.
It is likely, though, that, with the passage of time, some stories or rites will become far removed from their inner meaning. Or, it may be, the inner meaning will be altogether forgotten. So it must be that, when new religions took shape abroad, after the lapse of thousands of years-religions not connected with the Vedic faith that is the root-the original Vedic concepts become transformed or distorted.
You must be familiar with the story of Adam and Eve which belongs to the Hebrew tradition. It occurs in the Genesis of the Old Testament and speaks of the tree of knowledge and God's commandment that its fruit shall not be eaten. Adam at first did not eat it but Eve did. After that Adam too ate the forbidden fruit.
Here an Upanisadic concept has taken the form of a biblical story. But because of the change in the time and place the original idea has become distorted-or even obliterated.
The Upanisadic story speaks of two birds perched on the branch of a pippala tree. One eats the fruit of tree while the order merely watches its companion without eating. The pippala tree stands for the body. The first bird represents a being that regards himself as the jivatman or individual self and the fruit it eats signifies sensual pleasure. In the same body (symbolized by the tree) the second bird is to be understood as the Paramatman. He is the support of all beings but he does not know sensual pleasure. Since he does not eat the fruit he naturally does not have the same experience as the jivatman (the first). The Upanisad speaks with poetic beauty of the two birds. He who eats the fruit is the individual self, jiva, and he who does not eat is the Supreme Reality, the one who knows himself to be the Atman.
It is this jiva that has come to be called Eve in the Hebrew religious tradition. "Ji" changes to "i" according to a rule of grammar and "ja" to "ya". We have the example of "Yamuna" becoming "Jamuna" or of "Yogindra" being changed to "Joginder ". In the biblical story "jiva" is "Eve" and "Atma" (or "Atman") is "Adam". "Pippala" has in the same way changed to "apple". The Tree of Knowledge is our "bodhi-vrksa" . "Bodha" means "knowledge". It is well known that the Budhha attained enlightenment under the bodhi tree. But the pipal (pippala) was known as the bodhi tree even before his time.
The Upanisadic ideas transplanted into a distant land underwent a change after the lapse of centuries. Thus we see in the biblical story that the Atman (Adam) that can never be subject to sensual pleasure also eats the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. While our bodhi tree stands for enlightenment, the enlightenment that banishes all sensual pleasure, the biblical tree affords worldly pleasure.


(From the book Hindu Dharma by the Sage of Kanchi)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow ! shyamji!

Talking of Trees, i am reminded of the famous 'Ashwatta' tree in the Srimad Bhagawad Gita :

CHAPTER 15 , VERSE 1

sri-bhagavan uvaca
urdhva-mulam adhah-sakham
asvattham prahur avyayam
chandamsi yasya parnani
yas tam veda sa veda-vit

SYNONYMS

sri-bhagavan uvaca--the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; urdhva-mulam--with roots above; adhah--downwards; sakham--branches; asvattham--banyan tree; prahuh--said; avyayam--eternal; chandamsi--Vedic hymns; yasya--of which; parnani--the leaves; yah--anyone; tam--that; veda--knows; sah--he; veda-vit--the knower of the Vedas.
TRANSLATION

The Blessed Lord said: There is a banyan tree which has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.

CHAPTER 15, VERSE 2

adhas cordhvam prasrtas tasya sakha
guna-pravrddha visaya-pravalah
adhas ca mulany anusantatani
karmanubandhini manusya-loke

The branches of this tree extend downward and upward, nourished by the three modes of material nature. The twigs are the objects of the senses. This tree also has roots going down, and these are bound to the fruitive actions of human society.

CHAPTER 15, VERSES 3-4

na rupam asyeha tathopalabhyate
nanto na cadir na ca sampratistha
asvattham enam su-virudha-mulam
asanga-sastrena drdhena chittva

tatah padam tat parimargitavyam
yasmin gata na nivartanti bhuyah
tam eva cadyam purusam prapadye
yatah pravrttih prasrta purani

.
TRANSLATION

The real form of this tree cannot be perceived in this world. No one can understand where it ends, where it begins, or where its foundation is. But with determination one must cut down this tree with the weapon of detachment. So doing, one must seek that place from which, having once gone, one never returns, and there surrender to that Supreme Personality of Godhead from whom everything has began and in whom everything is abiding since time immemorial.

SRI KRISHNAM VANDE JAGADGURUM!

Anonymous said...

Happy Mother's day to one and all !

On this day , while honoring all the womb mothers who gave birth to us on this physical planet ( Earth) it gives me special pleasure to honor Jagat Janani Mata TRIPURASUNDARI with this sloka from Adi Shankara Bhagvadapada's Saundarya Lahari :

japo jalpaH shilpaM sakalam-api mudrA-virachanA

gatiH prAdakshhiNya-kramaNam ashanAdy-Ahuti vidhiH /

praNAmaH samveshaH sukhaM akhilaM AtmArpaNa-dRshA

saparyA paryAyaH tava bhavatu yan-me vilasitaM // 27 //

Paramacharya explains this verse beautifully thus :


Whatever actions we do everything must be in dedication to ambaa-l this is the sum and substance of this shloka.

Worship, japam, showing mudrAs by the fingers of the hand, circumambulation, prostration, offering in the fire with the chanting of mantras in propitiation of ambaal – all these are usually done in honour of ambaal by Her devotees. Yes, all these have to be done. But the matter should not end there. Doing all this for a portion of the time, and then for the rest of the time getting fully immersed in material matters of the world, is exactly what should be avoided. It is not like ‘A few hours for ambaal; and the rest of the time for me and my worldly activities’. All the time everything should become a worship, everything should be a japam, a homam and an offering. That is how we should change our life style. Not only the devotees, but all should be able to do this.



But how is this possible? Is this feasible? Don’t I have to bathe? Don’t I have to eat, sleep, mix with people, do my work in the world? I hear you are all raising these questions immediately. You may say that even the great so-called jnAnis (enlightened ones) are certainly doing all these routine activities of worldly life. So what is wrong?



Let it be. She as the Divine Mother has to perform Her leelA. That is alright. But how is it that the jnAnis, who know it is all Her leelA, are still working in the mundane world? You should also be like those jnAnis. Be in the world, not of the world. Maybe it is not possible just immediately. But gradually, you can train yourself to be so. Effort and constant practice are needed. For the present, start convincing yourself that your bathing, eating, talking, sleeping, walking, and all these ordinary activities are all happening because of Her Shakti – without which by yourself you cannot do a single thing. Constantly tell yourself that this is so. Slowly keep widening this belief for evcery action of yours.



When you recognize that you are eating because of the power She has given you to eat, you would not have the heart to send rubbish stuff into your stomach. When the belief settles in that it is ambaal that makes you walk, you will hesitate twice before wasting it on going to the races or the movies. When you know that it is by Her Grace you are talking, you would not waste it on gossiping or scolding another or discussing disgusting material. When we are aware of the fact that hands and feet are working because of Her, we would stop using them for doing wrong things.

Gradually, in due time, this conviction has to spread to your mental activities also. In other words, the egoistic thought of ‘I am planning this or that’ will give way to the thought ‘Let Her get this done, if She wishes’. This change in the thought processes is important because it is through the mind all the mAyic changes and troubles of the world emerge. And they prevent the nullifying of the mind and the entry into jnAna mArga. Once we transfer the responsibilities to the Divine Mother, the impact of the mind will slowly disappear. Thereafter, whether She keeps us talking, walking or eating or She keeps us without any of these, in any case, we would be peaceful at the bottom of our heart. It is to reach that state, to pray for that state to be possible, that this shloka has been given to us by the Acharya.



“japo jalpaH”: ‘jalpa’ means talk, whether it is meaningful or not. So all this talk should be a japam. In other words, it is the state of whatever we talk becoming an offering of japam for Her.

There are several mantras like ‘BalA’, ‘ShhoDashI’, and ‘panchadashI’. All these mantras are done in a japa form. We are not saying that they should not be done. But ultimately, the japa as a separate activity has to disappear and the conviction should occur that whatever we talk is a japa offering to Her.

“sakalaM shilpam-api mudrA-virachanA”: Whatever I do by my hand, let it be a mudrA that one does in Your pUjA. Here ‘shilpam’ must be taken to mean any kind of work. Unfortunately the tamil word ‘shilpam’ means only sculpture. Maybe because Man produces forms just as the Creator creates human beings.

“gatiH prAdakshhiNya-kramaNaM” : Whatever movement I do let it be a circumambulation of You. Wherever I go let me have the feeling that I am doing a pradakshhiNA of You.

“ashanAdi” : food, etc. Since the ‘etc.’ is there it means not only food that is eaten, but food that is consumed by the other senses like eyes and ears. So all sensual experiences are covered.

“Ahuti vidhiH” : Let them be the offerings given to the sacred fire lit for You.

In fact all eating is done only after giving the first five morsels to the five prANas. In the Gita also, the Lord says that He it is who digests the food by being VaishvAnara as ‘JATharAgni’ in the stomach. Once we have the conviction that it is He that is sitting inside and consuming what we send through the mouth, then we would not be sending in wine and meat for His consumption. The same logic applies to the sensual consumption by eyes, ears, skin, and nose. Everything is experienced by Him and so let us dare not send in undesirable things.



“praNAmas-samveshaH” : Let my very sleeping be a namaskara done to You. Once we realise that our lying down for rest is nothing but a namaskaram at the feet of ambaa, that would itself give us total peace and relaxation.



Why carry on this list in detail. It is not necessary to do special japa, homa, namakara and such rituals. Whatever we naturally do , let it be our pUja to You – this is the meaning of “sukham akhilam AtmArpaNa-dRshA saparyA paryAyaH tava bhavatu yan me vilasitaM”. Here “saparyA” means pUjA. “paryAya” has many meanings, one of which is ‘substitute’. So this gives the meaning: Let whatever I do be a ‘substitute’ for the pUjA to be done to You.

Note the words “sukham-akhilaM-AtmArpaNa-dRshA” in the third line of shloka 27.



“sukham” means ‘without strain’, ‘naturally’. The word is very significant here. Since our mind is not in our control, it becomes a great strain to make it subscribe to a moralistic routine. But if we train our mind to think that everything is the work of ambaaL, the attempt to become moralistic slips into a natural frame wherein the goal is attained effortlessly. Because, when we have surrendered everything to Her, the mind starts doing what is natural to it, namely, it behaves like a pure mind. And that is the road to eternal happiness.



The words “AtmArpaNa-dRshA” is the life-line of this shloka; not only of this shloka, but of all Hindu scriptures. This is the Atma-nivedanaM, the last of the nine-fold bhakti methodologies enunciated in the Bhagavatam. It is also the complete Surrender described in all Bhakti literature and particularly in the Bhagavad-Gita. The expression literally means: “By the attitude which is ready to lay one’s life at Her feet”. Only when that attitude is present, all talk becomes a japa, all action becomes a mudrA, and so on for the rest. Let things become like this through the attitude of “Atma-samarpaNaM” (laying one’s life at the feet). The word “bhavatu” in the last line stands for this plea. A person who can do this surrender, would have his whole life sanctified as a pUjA to Her Almighty.

Reproduced from PROF..V.KRISHNAMURTHY'S TRANSLATION OF PARAMACHARYA'S DEIVITIN KURAL '

OM SRI MATRE NAMAHA!

ashokha said...

In muntaka upanishad of hindu philosophy chapter third describes a symbolic story of two birds. One is adma (soul) and another is jeev(life).
Both are sitting in a fig (ficus) (pippala) tree. Jeev eats the fruit of fig tree (Pippala) and adma(soul) is looking at her without any influence.. This story is told to explain even though the life (living being) is doing the worldly things (including sex) it will not affect the soul inside. The interesting thing in this story is comparison of the Adam and Eve of Bible with this. The following points are coincide. Adam and adma. Eve and jeev. pipple and bible. fig is fig (not changed). forbidden fruit is forbidden fruit (not changed). Upanishads are 5000 years old. Bible is 2000 years old. Author Pippala (rishi) (hermit) was living 2500 years ago. Jesus 2000 years. Is it possible that this story has taken this new shape in 3000 years? Readers can do research on this subject. refer / search Deivathin kural written by H.H. Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi swamiji of Kanchi Kamakoti peetam.
visit http://www.kamakoti.org or read muntaka upanishad in http://www.ashokha.co.cc or visit wikipedia and read upanishads.In muntaka upanishad of hindu philosophy chapter third describes a symbolic story of two birds. One is adma (soul) and another is jeev(life).
Both are sitting in a fig (ficus) (pippala) tree. Jeev eats the fruit of fig tree (Pippala) and adma(soul) is looking at her without any influence.. This story is told to explain even though the life (living being) is doing the worldly things (including sex) it will not affect the soul inside. The interesting thing in this story is comparison of the Adam and Eve of Bible with this. The following points are coincide. Adam and adma. Eve and jeev. pipple and bible. fig is fig (not changed). forbidden fruit is forbidden fruit (not changed). Upanishads are 5000 years old. Bible is 2000 years old. Author Pippala (rishi) (hermit) was living 2500 years ago. Jesus 2000 years. Is it possible that this story has taken this new shape in 3000 years? Readers can do research on this subject. refer / search Deivathin kural written by H.H. Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi swamiji of Kanchi Kamakoti peetam.
visit http://www.kamakoti.org or read muntaka upanishad in http://www.ashokha.co.cc or visit wikipedia and read upanishads.In muntaka upanishad of hindu philosophy chapter third describes a symbolic story of two birds. One is adma (soul) and another is jeev(life).
Both are sitting in a fig (ficus) (pippala) tree. Jeev eats the fruit of fig tree (Pippala) and adma(soul) is looking at her without any influence.. This story is told to explain even though the life (living being) is doing the worldly things (including sex) it will not affect the soul inside. The interesting thing in this story is comparison of the Adam and Eve of Bible with this. The following points are coincide. Adam and adma. Eve and jeev. pipple and bible. fig is fig (not changed). forbidden fruit is forbidden fruit (not changed). Upanishads are 5000 years old. Bible is 2000 years old. Author Pippala (rishi) (hermit) was living 2500 years ago. Jesus 2000 years. Is it possible that this story has taken this new shape in 3000 years? Readers can do research on this subject. refer / search Deivathin kural written by H.H. Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi swamiji of Kanchi Kamakoti peetam.
visit http://www.kamakoti.org or read muntaka upanishad in http://www.ashokha.co.cc or visit wikipedia and read upanishads.

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Anonymous said...

The very image of God is light and light itself forming the image cannot be understood by mankind who has an opaque solid forms. We can only struggle in our minds to figure out anything about God. We have to detach ourselves from the worldly phenomenon to understand this concept. When we create imaginary forms to denote God and try to adorn it with our words of knowledge that is man 's skills nothing can be derived. We try to estimate things with human ideas. for instance whatever calculations of science done on earth cannot be applicable on moon's surface. In eternity time is linear and cannot have stops in between. But we have a calendar which limits the time. We get a notion of things happening again and again. but in eternity it is not so. Our formulas will go wrong. We enumerate years to prove our points. How Gods ?? can have years of life ? .The god is in form of light who with our human limitations cannot estimate. But we can assimilate things to know or understand his being. You give your meanings using Sanskrit a language formulated in later years. But in Tamil the word AWWA means grand old lady which sounds similar to EVE and ADAMA means clay and A dama means red literally Adam means red man, because he was taken from the sand which is red in colour it has more relevance. According to computer graphics white is representation of 255 red 255 green 255 blue. When god is pure light ie., white he has given his components to the new world. Earth and man with RED, the balancing provider being nature and it is in GREEN and the mystical sky the illusory BLUE, now it is clear. so this can be the real scientific approach to understand all about God. Instead if we try to see God in man made imaginary idols made of metal and wood and try to personify them with intense philosophical human terms we almost end as fools before the immense wisdom of true creator. Am I right ? mail me at lightnimages@gmail.com