Thursday, 6 September 2012


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lokas, the Planets of Advanced Aliens

All Creations of God stretch Infinitely,
All Times, Past, Present and Future,
Worlds imagined and unimagined..
Everything that Can be,
Everything that Cannot be,
All exist somewhere..
Beyond this world are myriad worlds,
And beyond all worlds,
Is the One that is Eternal..

The Hindu New Year has just started and Chaitra Navratri gets over today. Calculations tell us that we are in the 5114th Year of the Era of Kaliyuga, a thought that was enough to get me started on an exploration of the scriptures once again.

Hindu scriptures have always used mind-boggling numbers for the Age of the Universe and the Gods inhabiting it. For example, Brahma, the Creator-God, has an impressive life span that runs into trillions of Solar Years!

The 'Chemical locha' in my brain makes me look for a scienctific sub-text in every religious text that I read. How can it be, that the demi-gods and their Superior gods have such long time-spans that make them seem almost IMMORTAL to us??

For some time now, I have been nursing this notion-

COULD the multi-limbed gods and goddesses with super-human abilities, space-crafts and atomic-weaponry, be actually super-advanced ALIENS with a keen interest in our world??

Gods as Alien Benefactors of Human-kind

I don't intend this statement to be blasphemous, as I myself am as much a Man of FAITH as of SCIENCE and completely believe in the Divinity of Supreme Lord and the Holy Trinity.

What I propose here is a new understanding of the DEMI-GODS as denizens of the same Universe living on different planets called LOKAS. They have access to highly advanced Science (that we percieve as supernatural abilities) and a much better grasp of the Supreme Lord's Cosmic Plan!

Of course, they are Spiritually more advanced too and perform their individual roles in running the Universe impeccably viz. Indra-the Lord of Rain, Varun-the Lord of Oceans and Yamaraj-the Lord of Death.

Could the Scientific advancement of these beings have resulted in their extended life-spans as well?? To us, the World seems to be ending, but our Brahma has JUST hit Middle-age, and is currently near the Noon of the 1st Day of the 51st year of his life!

By my calculation, Lord Brahma's current age of 50 Deva Years (~155 Trillion Human Years) + Half a Day (~1.85 Billion Years) amounts to the massive figure of 155.521852 Trillion Solar Years which would also be the Age of OUR Universe approximately!!

Brahma, the 150 Trillion Year old God!

It is noteworthy that unlike any other belief system in the World, Hindu Cosmology talks about Time frames that are even FURTHER in the mists of time than the approximations arrived at by current Science (Age of Universe - 14 Billion years).

Whether we consider them advanced aliens or demi-gods, these beings would be FAR FAR Superior to us in Scientific as well as Spiritual pursuits and we should keep that in our mind while reading about their super-human feats in the ancient chronicles.

Respecting the authority of these same sources, in this post, let us embark on a journey of Scriptural Space-Exploration.

Do Aliens Exist?

Our planet is the only KNOWN planet which has given birth to Life; however, it does not follow that it is the ONLY one capable of supporting Life!

There are Billions and Billions of Stars in each Galaxy; Billions of Galaxies in each Universe, and as we learnt in the 2nd post (Black Holes and Bhagavatam), Billions of Universes in the Material Creation!!

It is more likely than not, that Life in its myriad forms exists in not just one but many other planets as yet undiscovered by the human race.

Billions of stars in our Galaxy Milky Way
Trillions of Galaxies in the Universe
Zillions of Universes emerging from Shri Maha-Vishnu

Scientifically, it is still undetermined whether the universe exists by itself or is just one of the countless trillions within a larger Multiverse, itself contained within the Omniverse that is the Material World.

Even if we forget the Multi-verse and Parallel Universes we encountered in a previous post, there are still enough planets within our OWN Universe, which could be inhabited by alien species. Here, I would quote my favorite author, Arthur C. Clarke to put a very valid point across-

Almost certainly there is enough land in the sky to give every member of the human species, his own private world! But how many of those potentially habitable worlds are ALREADY inhabited, we have no way of knowing!

Yet, as he quite eloquently states, the barriers of distance are crumbling; one day SOON we may meet our Equals, or our Masters, among the stars.

Advanced Aliens from a Hollywood flick

Sadly, Human race today, is like the proverbial Frog-in-the-well. We have been cocooned by our Atmosphere and sheltered from the harsh realities of Universe for so long, that we just can't remember how things are outside of it.

But there are entire Solar Systems, Galaxies and even Universes that are inaccessible to us right now and it would be good to remember the plausability of Life existing somewhere out there.

Different Worlds in Our Universe

Let us begin our journey with a brief insight into our current place in the Universe by means of this animation:

Zoom out from Earth to the Universe

It would be immediately clear from this video that we are an extremely tiny and insignificant part of this gigantic Universe and there are billions and zillions of worlds out there about which we have absolutely no clue even today.

Fortunately for us, the Ancients were NOT as short-sighted or limited by Scientific Theories as we are today, and have described planets, galaxies and even multiple Universes in this Material Realm which would act like what Science calls an Omniverse.

The Puraans give THREE different divisions of our Universe and label them as the:

  • Urdhva-loka (Highest abodes),
  • Madhya or Bhu-loka (Middle ones), and
  • Adho-loka (the Lower realms). 

Various scriptures talk about these different realms within Material Creation. In the Great War of Mahabharat, when Arjuna faltered in his duty, Lord Krishna gave him the Divine discourse of  Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta, and let him have a glimpse of His Supreme Virat-Roop

In this Universal Form of the Lord, Arjun could see the entire cosmos. Eternity manifests itself in endless ways on endless planes of existence and from head to toe, Arjuna saw the body of Lord Krishna encompassing 14 different planetary dimensions!!

Virat Roop of Lord Vishnu

Let us try to understand what the fourteen planetary systems or Lokas refer to and what is their geographical and spatial arrangement.

Lokas in Our Universe

Each Universe is shaped like an egg (Brahmand) and within it exist the three levels of Lokas. There are 14 planetary systems comprising the three Lokas and below them exist the 28 different Hells.

Brahmand and its Lokas

The Hari-vamsha says that Higher planetary systems are the realms of Devas, Angels, Spirits and Manes; Middle Planets (Bhu-Loka) the abode of mortal beings like Humans and animals; and the Lower planets are populated by the Demons and Nagas.

Since the names in the Image above may not be very clear, I am jotting down the 14 systems here:

      Higher Lokas  -  Lower Lokas

All these planets are within the material world and under the control of Devi Durga, therefore the Material Creation is also known as Devi-dham.

Development of higher consciousness, starts with human beings, and further increases among the denizens of higher planetary systems. Our Earth is situated close to the middle of these planetary systems and represents the Mortal Realms known as the Bhu Mandala.

Jain Scriptures also describe a similar form known as the Lok-purush or the Cosmic Man. The torso and head of the Cosmic Man contain a series of heavenly realms where the inhabitants experience lives of pleasure. The legs represent a series of seven hells, which offer an endless variety of torments.

Lokas in Jain cosmology

For us, the most important part of the universe, is the disk at the Loka-purush's waist, representing the MIDDLE-WORLD, where humans live and great teachers can be born. In this post, I shall take you through the 14 planetary systems starting with the Top planets first and gradually progressing to the Lower ones.

URDHVA-LOKA or The Higher Planets

The Higher Planets are abodes of super-intelligent, super-human, semi-divine and spiritually advanced beings. Loosely they may be understood as the Heavenly planets compared to the Middle Realm of Earth-like planets and the lower Hellish realms.

Comparative arrangement of the Lokas

This group contains SIX planetary systems shown in the image above as the top six Lokas. The lowest of these, the Bhuvar-Loka, lies immediately above the Earthly Realm or Bhu-Loka.


The HIGHEST planet in the Material Realm is the abode of Lord Brahma, the progenitor of this universe. Along with him are present, his consort Saraswati and other spiritual entities who, after eons of spiritual penance have been able to transcend the bonds of Material world and reach this plane by traversing through the Milky Way.

Satya-Loka or Brahma-Loka

At the time of final dissolution of the material planets the residents here transform their subtle bodies into spiritual bodies and enter the eternal Vaikuntha planets which begin 26,200,000 yojanas ABOVE the Satyaloka.


This is the abode of the four Kumars named Sanat, Sanak, Sanandan, and Sanatan and is located 120,000,000 yojanas below the Satya-Loka.

They are the first incarnations of Lord Vishnu and represent the Gyan-shakti (power of knowledge) of the Lord. They are collectively referred to as the Kumars because they are immortal and live for the entire duration of universal time, yet retain their appearance of 5 year old kids!

The Kumars preaching Supreme Knowledge

Because of their pure nature, they have easy access to the Brahma-Loka as well as the Spiritual Realm and regularly visit Lord Vishnu in the Vaikuntha.


The next Loka lies 80,000,000 yojanas below the Tapaloka and is the abode of great rishis. 20,000,000 yojanas below Janaloka is the Maharloka which is another abode of great saints and sages.

These Lokas are populated by mystics who can move between any planets within the material universe at speeds unthinkable to modern Science and the greatest of sages, such as Bhrigu Muni, live in this place. The inhabitants have a life span of one whole day of Brahma (4.32 Billion years)!

Sages of Jana-Loka and Mahar-loka worshipping the Lord

When the fire of devastation reaches this planet the residents transport themselves to Satyaloka where they live further before the highest of planets is also destroyed. They then transform their subtle bodies to spiritual and enter the spiritual realms.

Here, by means of his Karma, a soul can either go higher, up to Satyaloka and become Brahma's associate, or down, to the level of the Devas or demigods.


The abode of the 33 Vedic gods also known as the Trayastriṃśa in Buddhist cosmology is located on the peak of Mount Meru, the central mountain of the world, at a height of 80,000 yojans.

This Loka corresponds to the concept of Heaven as described in the Western sense of the term. Here the King of the Gods, Indra rules with his brothers and companions. His entourage comprises of Angels, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Maruts, Vasus and other divine beings.

The Heavenly Realm

This is one of the most opulent planetary system with unimaginable riches, wish-fulfilling trees, supersonic space-crafts, ability to travel in different dimensions, long life-spans, and freedom from disease and disability. The duty of these Demi-gods is to manage the affairs of the universe, protecting its inhabitants against the demons.

The capital city of this world is Amravati - Abode of the Immortals. Indra and his fellow-residents obtain all the pleasures of life because of the wish-fulfilling cow Kamdhenu. This divine cow, the three-headed White Elephant Airavat as well as the Flying Horse Uchhaihshrava (~Greek Pegasus) were the riches Indra obtained after the Churning of the Cosmic Ocean.

Indra riding the winged-horse Ucchaihshrava
Kamdhenu emerging from the Samudra Manthan
Airavat, the King of Elephants

However, the 33 gods do not have a completely worry-free life here. In particular, they find themselves frequently challenged by the Asuras who dwell at the foot of Sumeru, plotting for ways to overthrow the Devas and take over their kingdom.

Devas getting ready for a battle with Asuras
Image courtesy Grant Morrison's 18 Days
{Art by Mukesh Singh}

Scriptural references make it equivalent to the Biblical Heaven or Islamic Jannat where the good souls go after death to reap the benefits of their good Karma.

If they become advanced in devotional service, they can advance to one of the higher Munilokas but if they become attached to material enjoyment, they will degrade into a lower position of a semi-divine being of even a Human again.


This planetary system roughly corresponds to our Solar System and contains Five major planets plus the Sun-God. However, there are two planets outside the Solar System included in this - Dhruva Loka or Pole Star and the realm of the Sapta-rishis or Big Dipper.

These Lokas are the abodes of Semi-divine beings who are one notch higher than the Humans. They assist the demigods in various ways and sometimes interact with the humans. By advancement in their service they can become a Demigod or by indulging in enjoyment, be born as a Human on the Earthly Realms.


It is the planetary complex revolving around the Polestar that is said to be 10,000,000 yojans below the Maharloka. It is described as the center of a bright ring of stars identified with our galaxy, Milky Way.

In every material universe, there is one Vaikunth planet with an ocean of milk where Lord Vishnu resides on an island called Shvetadvipa. In our Universe, this planet is situated in the Eastern side of Dhruvaloka and is the abode of Lord Kshirodakshayi Vishnu!

Brahma and the demigods meditating on Lord Vishnu at the Shvet-dvipa in Dhruv Loka

This transcendental island is 200,000 square miles and covered with desire trees for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord who resides here with Goddess Lakshmi and other pure, transcendental entities.

As it is a spiritual planet, it is eternal and therefore remains when all other planets within the material universes are destroyed. It is believed to be the pivot for all material stars and planets with even the Sun, revolving at the speed of 16,000 miles per second around the Dhruvaloka.

As mentioned in a previous post {Black Holes and Bhagavatam}, this Loka is located at the Galactic Center which is formed by a Super-massive Black Hole which may act as a portal between the Physical and Spiritual Realms.

Sapta-rishi Loka

The abode of the Seven Great Seers or the Sapta-rishis located 100,000 Yojans below the Dhruva-Loka.

The seven rishis are the most advanced spiritual guides for Humanity and have been present at all major time periods of our History. Astronomically, their abode is recognized in the form of the Big Dipper or Ursa Major constellation and it always revolves around the Dhruv-Loka or Pole Star.

Sapta-rishi Loka revolves around the Pole Star

Rishi Vasishth was the preceptor of the Solar Dynasty or Suryavansh while Vishwamitra was the guru of Lord Rama. There are numerous stories and legends in the ancient scriptures which relate the immense services these rishis have provided to different rulers on our planet since the beginning of time.


Nakshatra Mandala is the stellar neighborhood of the Solar System perceived as the starry night sky. It is generally equated with the Zodiac Map around the Earth and represents the different constellations visible to us from Earth.


Lokas of Solar Planets

The next Lokas are those of the major Solar planets viz.  Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn which are the abodes of the divine-beings called Budh, Shukra, Mangal, Brihaspati and Shanaichar respectively.

The Lokas of Solar Planets

An alternate view is that these are spherical shell regions in which the respective planet's orbits are situated and these shells contain one after the other in the order of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These are believed to be located at a respective distance of 2,00,000 Yojans each.


Similarly, the Surya-Loka refers to the sphere of the Sun-god and the Solar neighborhood. It is located at a height of 1,00,000 Yojans above the Earth.

The Most importnt thing about this Loka is that it is situated bang in the middle of the Bhuloka and Bhuvarloka, rotating through the time circle of the zodiac. Thus, it represents not only the center of the Solar System, but ALSO the center of the Universe!!

Surya-Loka represents the center of our Universe

Since all observable data has shown the Universe to be expanding all around us, it MAY in fact BE true that our Solar System occupies the central position in the Egg-shaped Universe that we exist in.

It is not so easy to determine the real space structure of the universe because there's no INDEPENDENT measure of distance in the universe. Hence, the astronomers have to look at a map of redshifts and directions in the sky from where the light has come. Then to get the distance to the source galaxy they have to assume the Hubble law.

Such observations have confirmed that numerical values of galaxy redshifts are ‘quantized’, tending to fall into distinct groups. According to Hubble’s Law, redshifts are proportional to how far a Galaxy is from us and an analysis of these shifts shows that galaxies tend to be grouped into (conceptual) spherical shells concentric around our home galaxy, the Milky Way.

Those interested in knowing more can go through this article by Dr. Russel Humphrey - {Our-galaxy-is-the-centre-of-the-universe-quantized-redshifts-show}.


Chandra/Soma is the Sanskrit name of the Moon-god and hence, this Loka includes the satellite of Moon as well as its orbital neighborhood.

It should be remembered that when the scriptures talk about the Sun or the Moon-gods, it does not imply that the Star and the Satellite themselves are revered as Gods! There are deities who have been given the responsibility of these Heavenly bodies and THEY are the ones referred to by these terms.

Chandra-Loka, abode of the Moon-god

Moon influences the tidal processions and growth of vegetation therefore it is considered the life-giver for all living beings on earth. Here the celestial, intoxicating beverage called Soma is also available which is consumed by Indra and other Devas especially when they are getting ready for a battle.


Rahu is the North node of the Moon's orbit while its counterpart Ketu is the southern one. It is said to be situated 80,000 miles above the three previous Lokas and is responsible for causing the Solar and Lunar eclipses.

Astronomically, Rahu and Ketu are identified with the Ascending and Descending Nodes of the Moon which are the points where the orbits of Sun and Moon intersect and if the alignment is correct, either a Solar or Lunar eclipse may occur.

Rahu and Ketu as Nodes of the Lunar orbit

Thus, these are not imaginary entities which periodically swallow the Sun and the Moon to cause an eclipse but ACTUAL positions contributing to the eclipses. The ancients were after all NOT crazy and the myths actually have underlying science inherent in them.

Siddhaloka, Charanaloka, & Vidyadharaloka

These planets are spread from above the Antariksh to the orbit of the Moon. Their residents are born with all the mystic siddhis naturally, including the ability to travel to other planets without using mechanical contraptions.

Vidyadhars/Angels visit Earth as messengers

The Vidyadhars are winged-creatures corresponding to the western concept of Angels and Siddhas are advanced beings who do not need wings to fly on account of their mystic Yogic powers. Chaarans spend most of their time traveling between the different planetary systems, eulogizing the Lord.

To me, the three Lokas seem to represent the divisions of our atmosphere which is quite neatly divided into three bands as well!

The Layers of Atmosphere between Sun and Earth

It is quite possible, that the three Lokas mentioned here, actually refer to the Atmospheric layers of Thermosphere, Mesosphere and Stratosphere and these entities exist there in an ethereal form.


The sky called Antariksh is the lowest of the higher Lokas and exists immediately above the Earth realm. It extends as far as the wind blows and clouds float in the sky and within it are the residences of Yakshas, Rakshashas, Pisachas, Ghosts, and other etheral beings.

Now that we are done with the Higher planets, let's move on to the Middle level Earth-like worlds known as th Mrityu-Loka or Bhu-Loka.

MADHYA-LOKA or The Middle Planets

The Bhumandala comprises of SEVEN Planets giving rise to the Mortal Realm. These are:
  • Jambu-dvipa,
  • Plaksha-dvipa,
  • Salmali-dvipa,
  • Kusha-dvipa,
  • Krauncha-dvipa,
  • Shaka-dvipa,
  • Pushkar-dvipa

We have already identified JAMBUDWEEP as our planet, in a previous post {Jambudvip - The Global Island}. The other six planets are arranged in a concentric fashion around the central planet Earth.

Dvipas in their orbits with Earth in the Centre

I wouldn't go much into the details of the different planets here because the descriptions more or less follow the same pattern as those of the Earth. All these planets have land surrounded by huge oceans and comprise of Humanoid species.

However, the denizens here live longer and are more materially opulent than the denizens of our world becuase right from Plaksh-dvipa to Shak-dvipa, there is a perpetual Treta-Yuga which is a more conducive age than our present Kailyuga.

I hope most of you would have grasped the point to be noted here -

Besides Earth, there are SIX more planets which have Human-beings/Humanoids inhabiting them!

The significance of this information is huge!! If only we could identify these planets, we would be able to identify the location of OTHER intelligent species similar to us as well. I for one would be most eager to join if someone with access to astronomical resources needed for this endeavor decides to take the initiative..

Till then, let us do what we can and learn more about the other Lokas.

ADHO-LOKA or The Lower Planets

About 70,000 Yojans below the earth begin the seven lower planetary systems.

It should be remembered that these planets may be LOWER in spatial co-ordinates but are materially MORE opulent than even the Higher Planets hence they are known as the Bila-Swarga! These lower worlds are:
  • Atal
  • Vital
  • Sutal
  • Talatal
  • Mahataal
  • Rasaatal
  • Pataal

The residents here enjoy a standard of material comfort UNMATCHED by even the higher planets because the denizens of these worlds are concerned only with Material enjoyment and have very loittle Spiritual inclination.

These lower worlds are dark planets, devoid of any Sunshine and are hence artificially-lit by means of huge reflecting surfaces in the form of crystals and gems! Since time is not divided into days and nights due to no sunshine reaching these planets, they have no fear produced by time.

These planets are the residence of Daityas, Danavas, Panis, Nivat-kavachs, Rakshasas, Kalkeyas, Nagas, Uragas who are all engaged in illusory material enjoyment with no thought of spiritual liberation. All residents bathe in elixirs which free them from any anxiety or physical disease, as well as any signs of physical aging. 

Rakshas denizens enjoy all Material opulences

The visual beauty of these artificial heavens surpasses even that of the higher planets and hence they are known as Bila-Swarga. There are incredible feats of architecture in their cities bedecked with valuable jewels.

This sensual atmosphere completely captures the mind, allowing no thoughts but those directed toward fulfillment of pleasure. Demon live in these lower planetary systems with their wives and children, always engaged in sense gratification and not fearing their next births.

There are some details which are worth mentioning here-

  • The planet Sutal is the abode of Bali Maharaj, the most benevoent and just king of the Asura race, who was blessed by Lord Vishnu to become the Indra for the next Manvantar.
  • In the Lower planets of Mahataal and Pataal, reside the Nagas or the semi-human serpent people. The Nagaloka is a splendid place with unimaginable riches. All darkness is banished here because of the brilliantly glowing jewels on the hoods of the huge serpents. The King of the Nagas, Vasuki resides here in his capital Bhogavati.

Naga city of Bhogavati


  • Buddhist texts mention eight major kings of the Nagas - Vasuki, Takshak, Nanda, Upananda, Sagar, Balvan, Anavatapta and Utpal. The same are also referred to as the 'Eight Dragon Kings' in Chinese and Japanese legends.
  • Below the lowest planet of Pataal, is the planet of the Manes or ancestors who are known as the Pitras.

Texts like the Mahabharat repeatedly give incidents of Nagas emerging from under the ground (inspired probably by their tendency to live in burrows) and Naga princesses abducting handsome men deep down under water.

Maybe a thorough underwater exploration can help shed some light on the possible existence of portals between these worlds and our Earth.

Till now, we have encountered planets with advanced beings having multiple limbs who can transport themselves from one place to another in a fraction of a second (Vaikunth-Loka). We saw planets where people travel on airplanes and space-crafts rather than ground-cars (Swarga-Loka) and also read about planets that do not need the Sun for survival (Bila-Swarga)

Beneath all these, and slightly above the Garbhodak ocean, are the Naraklokas, or the hellish planets. 

NARAK-LOKA or The Hellish Planets

Narak is the Hindu counterpart of Christian Hell and Islamic Dozakh.

This place acts as a purgatory for the souls who have commited the most abominable actions on the earthly plane. Unlike the Eternal Hell of Western religions though, this place is temporary and once the soul has learnt its lesson, it is free to move back into the regular dimension.

Lowest of all are the Planets of Hell

There are 28 different hells described in the Vedic literature and these planets are:

Raurav, Sukar, Rodha, Tal, Vishsan, Mahajwal, Taptakumbh, Lavan, Vilohit, Rudhiramabh, Vaitarni, Krimish, Krimibhojan, Asipatravana, Krishna, Lalabhaksha, Darun, Puyuvah, Pap, Vahnijwal, Adhahshira, Sandansh, Kalsutra, Tamas, Avichi, Swabhojan, Apratishthit and Aprachi.

The different Hells

The ancient sages have made provisions of expiation for those sinners who feel guilty in their conscience after committing their sins. Only those sinners who do not expiate for their sins fall into these hells. Although life here seems like it goes on for an eternity, in actual fact the duration of one's Karmic sentence here may be only seconds or moments.

All these Hells are under the domain of Surya-putra Yamaraj where he delivers judgement according to the record kept by his assistant Chitra-gupta.

Yamraj in his Court of Justice 
Image courtesy Dominique Amendola

Below these planets is the Garbhodak Ocean which forms the bottom of the Universal Egg or the Brahm-and.

Foundation of Our Universe

At the base of our Universe lies the immense Garbhodak Ocean on which reclines the second form of Lord Vishnu - Shri Garbhodakshayi Vishnu, resting on the Eternal serpent, Ananta-Shesha. {For details check this link - Creation by Brahma}.

Final arrangement of the Lokas

Anant-Shesh has thousands of hoods and each of the hoods carries a bright gemstone that illuminates the azimuths. At the end of every Kalpa, Brahma goes to sleep and rests for the night. This is the time of Maha-pralaya when fiery poison emanates from Ananta's thousands of hoods and destroys all Creation.

This is the Sankarshan form of the Lord from whose eyebrows appears the three-eyed Rudra who destroys the three worlds and dances the dance of destruction known as the Tandav.

Lord Sankarshan destroys the creation at the end of Brahma's day

From all that we have read about the different Lokas, Bhu-Loka or the Earth-Realm seems to be sort of a Launch-pad from where you can reach the other worlds based on your Karma.

Through GOOD Karma and right inclination, one can ascend to the Spiritually advanced Higher planets; through OKAYish Karma, indulgence of senses and unbridled desires, one can descend to the Spiritually deprived but Materially advanced Lower planets. And through really really really BAD Karma, one may have to suffer in one of the Hellish planets!

This, I believe is the central learning from all this knowledge. Even if you are a Deva or a Rishi, there's no guarantee that you won't be born as a Rakshas or an ant or a bacteria in your next birth! There are numerous instances where a Divine being was cursed to be born as a Human or an animal because of his bad Karma.

The only certain way to get out of this Samsara or the Never-ending Cycle of Birth and Death is to keep the Lord in your heart in every action that you do, in every thought that comes to your mind, and in every breath that you take.

I conclude this post with a statement from the Brahma-Vaivarta Puraan -
Harer naam Harer naam Hare naam Kevalam,
Kalau na asti eva na asti eva na asti eva gatih anyathha!

Only the name of Hari, Only the name of Hari, Only the name of Hari,
There's no other delieverance, no other deliverance, no other deliverance in this Age of Kali!

Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:




 Hinduism is the predominant religion[3][4] of the Indian subcontinent, and one of its indigenous religions. Hinduism includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Śrauta among numerous other traditions. It also includes historical groups, for example the Kapalikas. Among other practices and philosophies, Hinduism includes a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of "daily morality" based on karma, dharma, and societal norms. Hinduism is a conglomeration of distinct intellectual or philosophical points of view, rather than a rigid common set of beliefs.[5]

Hinduism is formed of diverse traditions and has no single founder.[6] Among its direct roots is the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India and, as such, Hinduism is often called the "oldest living religion"[7] or the "oldest living major religion" in the world.[3][8][9][10]

One orthodox classification of Hindu texts is to divide into Śruti ("revealed") and Smriti ("remembered") texts. These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, rituals and temple building among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas, Upanishads, Purāṇas, Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa, Bhagavad Gītā and Āgamas.

Hinduism, with about one billion followers, is the world's third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam.


Valmiki, a contemporary of  Rama, composes the Ramayana.
The word Hindu is derived (through Persian) from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, the historic local appellation for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent, which is first mentioned in the Rig Veda.[11][12][13]

The word Hindu was borrowed into European languages from the Arabic term al-Hind, referring to the land of the people who live across the River Indus,[14] itself from the Persian term Hindū, which refers to all Indians. By the 13th century, Hindustān emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the "land of Hindus".[15]

The term Hinduism also occurs sporadically in Sanskrit texts such as the later Rajataranginis of Kashmir (Hinduka, c. 1450), some 16th-18th century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts, including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata, usually to contrast Hindus with Yavanas or Mlecchas.[16] It was only towards the end of the 18th century that the European merchants and colonists referred collectively to the followers of Indian religions as Hindus. The term Hinduism was introduced into the English language in the 19th century to denote the religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions native to India.


by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
It is extremely useful for the modern practitioner of authentic, traditional Yoga to be aware of two major diversions from traditional Yoga as a system of pursuing the depth of pure consciousness (atman, purusha or whatever name you choose to refer to that consciousness).
One diversion is the now common and incorrect view that Yoga is a physical fitness program, rather than a process of moving towards the realization of the unity (Yoga) of the individual and the universal consciousness. This is addressed in the article Modern Yoga versus Traditional Yoga.
The other diversion is the view that Yoga is but one aspect of a religion known as Hinduism.* Modern Yoga practitioners and teachers often face the assertion by people in their community that they are practicing or teaching Hinduism. However, few of these modern Yoga practitioners realize that it is extremely questionable whether there even exists a singular, unified religion known as "Hinduism". Rather than being religious, the word "Hindu" historically was a geographic, social, and cultural term. The Indic history is one of tremendous diversity of principles and practices, and has only recently in history been invented into the concept of a single, homogenized "religion" called "Hinduism". If there is, in fact, no unified religion known as Hinduism, then it can hardly be accurately claimed that Yoga is part of that religion, much less that Yoga itself is "a religion". (See also the paper by Dr. Arvind Sharma on an Indic contribution towards understanding the word "religion")
*Please note that the explanations given here are with great respect, admiration and love for the Hindu people and culture, as well as acknowledging that there are a wide range of indigenous spiritual or religious views and practices within the geographic region.
The words "Hindu" and "Hinduism" are described in different ways by different people. The origins and usages of the terms are not universally agreed upon. As you'll see in the references below, "Hindu" and "Hinduism" have been variously used to describe one or another of culture, geography, or religion. Some say that the terms were not used by the indigenous people until fairly recently in history, brought on by foreign peoples and governments, not their own evolution. Many say that the original collective term used for the diverse teachings of this region of the world is "Dharma" or "Sanatana Dharma." There is some impetus in the world today to advocate these terms, either along side of, or instead of the terms "Hindu" and "Hinduism." Yet, it is also useful to know and bear in mind that some advocates of the words "Hindu" and "Hinduism" can be very aggressive towards those who are not, but instead prefer the concept of Dharma. This aggression can be strongly experienced by practitioners of pure non-theistc yoga, which is not necessarily linked with or promoting of any of the various sects of deity worship.

A comparison that should clarify the situation is to consider that "Hindu" has historically related to a geographic region. Then reflect on the geographic regions of Africa, America (including north, central, and south), and Europe (or any other region of the world). Imagine for a moment that somebody tried to talk to you about "religions" known as Africanism, Americanism and Europeanism. Anything that had ever been done in Europe, for example, in the name of spiritual or religious practice throughout human history would be lumped under one umbrella "religion" which had various denominations, sects or orders of "Europeanism". So too, all of the practices done by any of the historical peoples in the Americas would be considered to be part of the "Americanism" religion.
Imagine you live in the United States or Canada and somebody asks you "Why does your religion practice human sacrifice?" Just because some people have done this in the past in particular locations, this obviously does not mean the human sacrifice is a part of some overarching religion of "Americanism", much less that you practice this because of being resident of the Americas.
Imagine that you live in one of the modern European countries and that you are asked about your personal relationship with Thor, the "Europeanism" god of Thunder. Just because there are historical religious practices in relation to Thor, this does not mean that there is a "Europeanism" with this view, or than any person in modern Europe can be presumed to follow this god.
These examples are similar to what has happened in the "religion" of Hinduism. Africa, America, Europe and Hindustan ("Hindu land", is one of the popular names of India) each have their own unique and beautiful characteristics. However, it is a gross distortion of the realities of religion and spiritual practices to refer to these as "religions" of Africanism, Americanism, Europeanism and Hinduism.

Even if there is such a thing as 'Hinduism' it is an illogical confusion to say that the part is the whole, in this case that Yoga is Hinduism. Is it proper to refer to a tennis player, a golfer, a cricket player, or a football player only as an 'athlete', while ignoring the particular sports skill that one possesses and practices? To say that one is a 'golfer' says something rather clear, but to just say he is an athlete says virtually nothing without acknowledging that first and foremost, he is a golfer. So too is the case with Yoga. While there are surely people who think of themselves as Yogis and Hindus, with one being part of the other, this is not a necessity or generally accurate.
Many similar examples can be thought of. For example, an apple is an apple. If you want an apple, you ask for an apple. You do not merely ask for a fruit and then quietly hope for an apple. The category 'fruit' is irrelevant when what you specifically want is an apple.
In my own tradition, Swami Rama has made it quite clear that ours is a meditative tradition of the Himalayan caves, emphasizing Yoga, and has nothing to do with any of the institutions in the plains of India. He has written clearly of these points in Living with the Himalayan Masters, Enlightenment without God, and A Call to Humanity.

Below are some quotes on the words "Hindu" and "Hinduism." These references are not intended as academic or scholarly proofs or arguments used to win a debate. Because they are only offered as a most general overview, source information is not included. It is also not intended that any of these quotes are necessarily more or less authoritative than others, but rather to provide enough discussion that it's easy for the reader to get a clear feel for the issue. It's easy to find many such references through internet searches and books. Through one's own research and reflection, each person can draw his or her own conclusions about the meanings and uses of the words "Hindu" and "Hinduism," as well as the words "Dharma" and "Sanatana Dharma." (Scroll down to the bottom for a list that is in date order, as well as a Wikipedia description.)
"The word 'Hindu' occurs nowhere in the classical scriptures of Hinduism. The ancestors of the present day Hindus did not identify themselves as Hindus."
"When Western scholars and Christian missionaries arrived on the scene, the Hindus found their faith tradition 'ism'-ized and its name became 'Hinduism'."
"That even an atheist may be called a Hindu is an example of the fact that Hinduism is far beyond a simple religious system, but actually an extremely diverse and complicated river of evolving philosophies and ancient traditions."
"The word Hindu is not a religious word. It is secular in origin. It is derived from the word Sindhu, which is the name of a major river that flows in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. The ancient Greeks and Armenians used to refer the people living beyond the river Sindhu as Hindus and gradually the name stuck. When the Muslims came to the sub continent they called the people living in the region as Hindustanis to distinguish them from the foreign Muslims. Subsequently when the British established their rule, they started calling the local religions collectively under the name of Hinduism."
"Only 180 years ago Raja Ram Mohan Roy coined the word 'Hindu' to describe the huge variety of faiths and sects with similar but not identical philosophies, myths and rituals."
"'Hinduism' refers not to an entity; it is a name that the West has given to a prodigiously variegated series of facts. It is a notion in men's minds--and a notion that cannot but be inadequate. To use this term at all is inescapably a gross oversimplification."
"[There was] no such thing as Hinduism before the British invented the holdall category in the early nineteenth century, and made India seem the home of a 'world religion' as organised and theologically coherent as Christianity and Islam. The concepts of a 'world religion' and 'religion' as we know them now, emerged during the late 18th and early 19th century, as objects of academic study, at a time of widespread secularisation in western Europe. The idea, as inspired by the Enlightenment, was to study religion as a set of beliefs, and to open it up to rational enquiry."
"Hinduism--the word and perhaps the reality too--was born in the 19th century, a notoriously illegitimate child. The father was middle-class and British, and the mother, of course, was India. The circumstances of the conception are not altogether clear. One heard of the 'goodly habits and observances of Hindooism' in a Bengali-English grammar written in 1829, and the Reverend William Tennant had spoken of 'the Hindoo system' in a book on Indian manners and history written at the beginning of the century. Yet it was not until the inexpensive handbook 'Hinduism' was published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in 1877 that the term came into general English usage."
"According to the New Encyclopedia Britannica 20:581, 'Hinduism' was a name given in English language in the Nineteenth Century by the English people to the multiplicity of the beliefs and faiths of the people of the Indus land. The British writers in 1830 gave the word 'Hinduism' to be used as the common name for all the beliefs of the people of India excluding the Muslims and converted Christians."
"The English term Hinduism was coined by British writers in the first decades of the 19th century and became familiar as a designator of religious ideas and practices distinctive to India with the publication of books such as Hinduism (1877) by Sir Monier Monier-Williams, the notable Oxford scholar and author of an influential Sanskrit dictionary. Initially it was an outsiders’ term, building on centuries-old usages of the word Hindu. Early travelers to the Indus valley, beginning with the Greeks and Persians, spoke of its inhabitants as “Hindu” (Greek: ‘indoi), and, in the 16th century, residents of India themselves began very slowly to employ the term to distinguish themselves from the Turks. Gradually the distinction became primarily religious rather than ethnic, geographic, or cultural."
"According to our ex-President [India] and scholar Dr S Radhakrishnan, the term 'Hindu' had originally a territorial and not credal significance. It implies residence in a well-defined geographical area."
"The word Hinduism is an English word of more recent origin. Hinduism entered the English language in the early 19th century to describe the beliefs and practices of those residents of India who had not converted to Islam or Christianity and did not practice Judaism or Zoroastrianism."
"Just who invented 'Hinduism' first is a matter of scholarly debate. Almost everyone agrees that it was not the Hindus.... As a discrete Indic religion among others, however, 'Hinduism' was probably first imagined by the British in the early part of the nineteenth century to describe (and create and control) an enormously complex configuration of people and their traditions found in the South Asian subcontinent. 'Hinduism' made it possible for the British, and for us all (including Hindus), to speak of a religion when before there was none, or, at best, many."
"It was the Europeans who coined the word 'Hinduism' to denote all the Indian religions except Muslims, Jains, and Buddhists, and the word Hindu was erroneously used for those following the religions and worship under Hinduism."
"Hindus themselves prefer to use the Sanskrit term sanatana dharma for their religious tradition. Sanatana dharma is often translated into English as 'eternal tradition' or 'eternal religion' but the translation of dharma as 'tradition' or 'religion' gives an extremely limited, even mistaken, sense of the word. Dharma has many meanings in Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hindu scripture, including 'moral order,' 'duty,' and 'right action.'"
"It is most striking that people we now call Hindus never used this term to describe themselves. The Vedas, the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita, which today are seen by many as the religious texts of the Hindus, do not employ the word Hindu. That term was first used by the Achaemenid Persians to describe all those people who lived on or beyond the banks of the river Sindhu, or Indus. Therefore, at one stage the word Hindu as an ethno-geographic category came to englobe all those who lived in India, without ethnic distinction. It was only under the Muslim rulers of India that the term began to gain a religious connotation. But it was not until colonial times that the term 'Hinduism' was coined and acquired wide currency as referring collectively to a wide variety of religious communities, some of them with distinct traditions and opposed practices. Communities like the Saivites, Vaishvanites, and Lingyats, each with their own history and specific view of the world, were tied together under the blanket category Hinduism."
"The non-Muslim people of the South Asian subcontinent called Hindu had no precise word for their religions. They were, as they are, divided into thousands of communities and tribes, each having its own religious beliefs, rituals, modes of worship, etc. Finding it difficult to get the names of the religions of these communities, the British writers gave them the word 'Hinduism' to be used as a common name for all of their religions in about 1830. Thus the people called Hindus got a common element, at least in word, to be identified as a distinct, single community."
"All scholars agree that the category 'Hinduism' is something created by Orientalists. This obviously does not exclude the existence of an Indian spiritual experience. But at a certain point it was decided to use this label, which during Colonialism became a flag for independence, and after that an attempt was made by the people of India to recognize themselves in a common religion."
"Surprisingly, though Hinduism is a very ancient religion, the word 'Hinduism', which today defines it and distinguishes it from the rest of the religions, is of much later origin. In ancient India you had either a yogi, a bhakta, a tantric, a sanyasi, a sankhya vadin, a vedantin, a lokayata, a rishi, a muni, a pandit, a pragna, a yogini, a devi, a swami, a Saivite, a Vaishnavite, a siddha or Buddha, but no Hindu."
"Unliess by 'Hindu' one means nothing more, nor less, than 'Indian' (something native to, pertaining to, or found within the continent of India), there has never been any such a thing as a single 'Hinduism' or any single 'Hindu community' for all of India. Nor, for that matter, can one find any such thing as a single 'Hinduism' or 'Hindu community' even for any one socio-cultural region of the continent. Furthermore, there has never been any one religion--nor even one system of religious--to which the term 'Hindu' can accurately be applied. No one so-called religion, moreover, can lay exclusive claim to or be defined by the term 'Hinduism'."
"The Supreme Court [of India] in the course of deciding an appeal in an election petition, has interpreted the meaning of 'Hindutva' and 'Hinduism' as a 'synonym of 'Indianisation' -- i.e. development of uniform culture by obliterating the differences between all all cultures co-existing in the country.' The unanimous judgement given by the three-judge bench consisting of Justices J.S. Verma, N.P. Singh and K. Venkataswami, on December 11, 1995, has quoted earlier Supreme Court judgements and opinions of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Dr. Toynbee and others in coming to the conclusion that Hinduism represented a way of life."
"The Supreme Court [of India] bench dealt with the meaning of the word 'Hindutva' or 'Hinduism' when used in election propaganda. The court came to the conclusion that the words 'Hinduism' or 'Hindutva' are not necessarily to be understood and construed narrowly, confined only to the strict Hindu religious practices unrelated to the culture and ethos of the People of India depicting the way of life of the Indian people. Unless the context of a speech indicates a contrary meaning or use, in the abstract, these terms are indicative more of a way of life of the Indian people. Unless the context of a speech indicates a contrary meaning or use, in the abstract, these terms are indicative more of a way of life of the Indian people and are not confined merely to describe persons practicing the Hindu religion as a faith. This clearly means that, by itself, the word 'Hinduism' or 'Hindutva' indicates the culture of the people of India as a whole, irrespective of whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews etc."
"The word 'Hinduism' was coined by European travelers and traders in the 16th century."
"It is interesting to note that the word Hindu is neither Sanskrit nor Dravidian and did not originate in India. It was not used by Indians in their descriptions or writings until the 17th century. If we go by the original definition of the word Hindu, any one who lives in the subcontinent is a Hindu and whatever religion he or she practices is Hinduism. The word Hindu is a secular word and literally translated it means Indian and the word Hinduism denotes any religion or religions that are practiced by the multitude of people living in the land beyond the river Indus."
"It is hard to define Hinduism, let alone defend it. This is the reason when someone asks the question, 'Who is a Hindu or what is Hinduism?' a variety of answers are given. The most appropriate answer perhaps is a long pause and then silence. The confusion that has been propagated in the religion over many centuries has made it prohibitive even to define the word Hinduism."
"Unfortunately Hinduism is represented as monolithic. However, there is no essential Hinduism, no single belief system, and no central authority."
"The Hidden Hindus... include at least 1-2 million non-Indian Americans (Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics, etc.) who practice Yoga, meditation, vegetarianism, believe in reincarnation and karma, study the Vedic scriptures, etc., but who –- despite the fact that they are practicing Sanatana Dharma -- will not call themselves 'Hindu', and do not understand that they are part of an ancient and living religious tradition. We need to do everything in our power to bring these two communities together, to bridge this gap."
"It is well known among scholars of South Asian religion that the word 'Hinduism' is a term of convenience--a blanket name for a wide variety of religious practices, beliefs and worldviews that some times have little common ground beyond their Indian origins. Ironically, Hinduism is not an indigenous word to any of the traditions it labels."
"There are legal pronouncements [in India] that Hindus are Indian citizens belonging to a religion born in India. This means Buddhists, Sikhs or Parsis, even those who did not recognize themselves as Hindus, are to be considered Hindus."
"It should be pointed out that the word 'Hindu' is not found in any of the classical writings of India. Nor can it be traced to the classical Indian languages, such as Sanskrit or Tamil. In fact, the word 'Hinduism' has absolutely no origins within India itself. Still, it persists, and traditions as diverse as Shaivism and Jainism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism, have been described as 'Hinduism.' This may work as a matter of convenience, but ultimately it is inaccurate."
"Hinduism as one of the world religions we know today had only occurred or perceived since the 19th century, when the term 'Hindu-ism' started being used by leaders of Hindu reform movements or revivalists, and, often considered to be biased, Western orientalists or the 'first Indologists'. However it is clearly accepted that sources of Hinduism and the 'streams' which feed in to it are very ancient, extending back to the Indus Valley civilization and earliest expressions of historical Vedic religion. It is not an accepted view that Hinduism is the construction of Western orientalists to make sense of the plurality of religious phenomena originating and based on the Vedic traditions, however some many have suggested it is."
"From the western point of view, the understanding of Hinduism was mediated by Western notions of what religion is and how its relates to more ancient forms of belief. It is further complicated by the frequent use of the term 'faith' as a synonym for 'religion'. Some academics and many practitioners refer to Hinduism with a native definition, as 'Sanātana Dharma', a Sanskrit phrase meaning 'the eternal law' or 'eternal way'."
"Hinduism has one of the most genetically and ethnically diverse body of adherents in the world. It is hard to classify Hinduism as a religion, as the framework, symbols, leaders and books of reference that make up a typical religion are not uniquely identified in the case of Hinduism. Most commonly it can be seen as a 'way of life' which gives rise to many civilized forms of religions. Hinduism, its religious doctrines, traditions and observances are very typical and inextricably linked to the culture and demographics of India."
"Using the overarching term 'Hinduism' for the many religions of India is comparable to ignoring the different religious orientations within each of the Western traditions, arbitrarily merging them under a single banner—'Semitism' (which, like 'Hinduism,' merely denotes geographical location). Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other constitute the diverse religious traditions of the Western world. Just as the term Semitism is too broad and reductionistic to represent properly the unique religious manifestation of the great Western traditions, and just as it would be inappropriate to refer to all these traditions as one religion, the term Hinduism falls short."
"The word Hindu is also not mentioned in holy books, Upanishads, Shashtras and Valmiki Ramayan, Shatpath Brahmin Granth etc. And in these holy books there is not any word Hindus or sects or caste system, where as it is clearly mentioned in every chapter of thereof that there is only one God of the Universe."
"The name Hinduism is a misnomer and of a foreign coinage. Indeed the term Hindu is found nowhere in the Vedic scriptures, nor can it be found in any classical texts of Sanatana Dharma."
"According to Jawaharlal Nehru, the earliest reference to the word 'Hindu' can be traced to a Tantrik book of the eighth century C.E., where the word means a people, and not the followers of a particular religion. The use of the word 'Hindu' in connection with a particular religion is of very late occurrence."
"If you examine ancient Indian history and religion, you will find that the word 'Hindu dharma' is not used to describe what is today called 'Hinduism'."
"The word Hindu is relatively modern and is derived from the word Sindhu which means red. The Arabs called the Sindhu river the Indus river since they could not pronounce the S-sound. Thus, the people west of the Sindhu river came to be known as the Hindus and the country got its name India. The original name for the country was Bharata Varsha - the land of Bharata, the king who ruled the country in ancient times. The true name of the religion is Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana means ancient and eternal. Dharma means moral duty. The word Sanatana Dharma connotes a Universal Way of Life for all living entities."
"As a follower of the religion of santan dharma, I find it offensive that we use the word 'Hinduism'. This term is an illegitimate term that was used to label us by foreign occupiers and aggressors."
"'Hindu' means a person believing in, following or respecting the eternal values of life, ethical and spiritual, which have sprung up in Bharatkhand [India] and includes any person calling himself a Hindu."
"The word 'hindu' is a non-Indian word, it's origin is Persian/Arabic. It's original meaning is 'dog,' 'low life' or 'slave'."
"I wish to state emphatically and categorically that the very word Hinduism is a misnomer. Properly speaking there is no such religion called Hinduism. This great country to which I happen to belong was known from time immemorial as ‘Bharatha’. Even in Bagavat Gita Lord Krishna often addresses Arjuna‘as Bharatha’. The Ancient Country has gone through uncountable vicissitudes. Because, foreign intruders, invaders and travellers had to cross the Indus River before entering this fabulous country (it was so in the past), they began to call its inhabitants of this great and vast land as “Hindus”. This word “Hindu” requires further elaboration. The word for water in Sanskrit is “Sindu” In the Vedas and our Legends we come across such words as “Saptha Sindavaha” which freely translated would mean ‘The Land of Seven Rivers”. While other rivers have been given individual names, this river on the extreme Northwestern border was known as ‘Sindu’. Eventually, Sindu became ‘Hindu’. That is how the intruders, invaders and travellers began to call the original people of the land Hindus."
"The word 'Hindu' means a liar, a slave, a black, an infidel, in short, a man possessed of every evil to be found in the world; while the term Arya means a pious, a learned, a noble, and a wise man, devoted to the true worship of the Eternal. With this explanation, I dare conclude that no man of common sense would like to be called a Hindu, when once he knows its meaning."
"It should be noted that the word 'Hindu' originally referred to any inhabitant of the Indian subcontinent, or Hind, not followers of the religion as it does now."
"If we see in the four thousand years worth of religious literature in India we cannot find a single reference to the word 'Hinduism' anywhere! 'Hinduism' is a word concocted by Europeans to refer to the myriad streams of religious faiths in the land of Hindustan."
"The word 'Hinduism' itself is a geographical term based upon the Sanskrit name for the great river that runs across the northern boundaries of India, known as the Sindhu."
"The word Hinduism is not found in the 'hindu' religion. In fact there is no such thing as the 'hindu' religion."
"The word 'Hinduism' was introduced in the 19th century to define the aggregate beliefs of the Arya, immigrants who left Central Asia in 1500 BC, and animist religions of native populations in India."
"The word 'Hindu' is not found in any Hindu religious text or any other ancient writing. People who lived on the western side of Hindu Kush (killers of Hindus) mountains gave this name to the natives of India. The word Hindu means black, slave, robber, thief and a waylayer."
"Until about 19th century, the term 'Hindu' implied a culture and ethnicity and not religion alone. When the British government started periodic census and established a legal system, need arose to define 'Hinduism' as a clearly-defined religion, along the lines of Christianity or Islam."
"The word 'Hinduism' originated about only 200-300 years ago."
"Beginning around 1000 AD, invading armies from the Middle East called the place beyond the Sindhu 'Hindustan' and the people who lived there the 'Hindus'"
"Today most Western scholars seem resigned to the inconclusiveness of the project of defining Hinduism. Some decline to use the word 'Hinduism' at all, or prefer to use it only in the plural, 'Hinduisms.'"
"At a very early date, Persian explorers entered the Indian subcontinent from the far Northwest. After they returned, they published chronicles. But due to the phonetics of their native Persian language, the 'S' of Sind became an aspirated 'H.' This is how the people of the Indus Valley came to be known generically as 'Hindus' by the Persians. This flawed intonation inevitably stuck. And was later re-imported when the invading Moguls conquered India. Since they always referred to the locals as 'Hindus,' the term was adopted by the Indians themselves as a way of distinguishing native culture from that of the foreign Muslims."
"The word Hinduism was coined by the Muslim scholar Alberuni in the 11th century C.E."
"Various origins for the word 'Hinduism' have been suggested: It may be derived from an ancient inscription translated as: 'The country lying between the Himalayan mountain and Bindu Sarovara is known as Hindusthan by combination of the first letter 'hi' of 'Himalaya' and the last compound letter 'ndu' of the word `Bindu.' Bindu Sarovara is called the Cape Comorin sea in modern times."
"Hinduism did not exist before 1830. It was created by the English colonialists in the 1830s. This remarkable circumstance is evidenced by the fact that none of the travelers who visited India before English rule used the word 'Hindu'.... This is amply borne out by the Encyclopedia Britannica, which states: 'The term Hinduism ... [was] introduced in about 1830 by British writers.' In other words, the founding father of 'Hinduism' is an Englishman!"
"According to the Hindu Scholars, Hinduism is a misnomer and the religion ‘Hinduism’ should be either referred to as ‘Sanatana Dharma’, which means eternal religion, or as Vedic Dharma, meaning religion of the Vedas. According to Swami Vivekananda, the followers of this religion are referred to as Vendantists."
"The word Hinduism is an incorrect nomenclature, which was coined by the British. Thereafter, it has stuck due to the ignorance of its followers. The term 'ism' refers to an ideology that is to be propagated and by any method imposed on others for e.g. Marxism, socialism, communism, imperialism and capitalism but the Hindus have no such 'ism'. Hindus follow the continuum process of evolution; for the Hindus do not have any unidirectional ideology, therefore, in Hindu Dharma there is no place for any 'ism'. Hindus are democratic in approach, for each individual is free to adopt any philosophy or way to self-realization."
“The word ‘Hindu’ is not a Sanskrit word or nor mentioned in any of the ancient major texts of India. It is believed to be originated from the ancient Persians. The Persians who were shared some common culture with the people of Indian sub-continent used to call the Indus River as ‘Sindhu.’ Due to some linguistic problems, they could not pronounce the letter ‘S’ in their language and started mispronouncing it as ‘H’. Thus they started pronouncing the word Sindhu as Hindu. The ancient Greeks, American and the rest of the world followed the same word and started calling the Indus river valley people as Hindus and gradually the word stuck. Even the word ‘Hindustan’ is not originated from the mouth of any Indian. The Muslim travelers and rulers who came to India during the medieval period called the Indian subcontinent as ‘Hindustan’ and its people as ‘Hindus.’ The British too followed the same words and later they used this name religiously to distinguish Hindus from Muslims and Christians.”
In addition to the question of the nature of the terms "Hindu" and "Hinduism," there is also the question of the dates of the origins of the underlying principles or practices. In other words, presuming that there is, in fact, a "Hinduism" (rather than Dharma or Sanatana Dharma) here are a few quotes listed in date order, which show the diversity of opinions.
1800's CE:
"The British writers in 1830 gave the word 'Hinduism' to be used as the common name for all the beliefs of the people of India excluding the Muslims and converted Christians." "Only 180 years ago Raja Ram Mohan Roy coined the word 'Hindu' Hinduism did not exist before 1830. It was created by the English colonialists in the 1830s."
1600's CE:
"It is interesting to note that the word Hindu is neither Sanskrit nor Dravidian and did not originate in India. It was not used by Indians in their descriptions or writings until the 17th century."
1500's CE: "The word 'Hinduism' was coined by European travelers and traders in the 16th century."
1000 CE: "The word Hinduism was coined by the Muslim scholar Alberuni in the 11th century C.E." "Beginning around 1000 AD, invading armies from the Middle East called the place beyond the Sindhu 'Hindustan' and the people who lived there the 'Hindus'"
600 BCE: "The beginning of Hinduism and the Indian subculture can be dated circa 600 BCE."
1000 BCE: "No one is completely sure of where Hinduism was started and by whom. Their oldest written documents, the Vedas, were written down in 1000 BC."
1500 BCE: "Hinduism was born in India around the year 1500 bc."
1800 BCE: "Hinduism began in India about 1800 B.C.E."
2000 BCE: "Hinduism's roots date back as far as 2000 BC."
2500 BCE: "Hinduism in India is the most primitive religious belief. It dates back to its origin of about 2500 BC."
3000 BCE: "Hinduism is the oldest extant religion dating back to over 3000 BC."
4000 BCE: "Hinduism began in India about 3,500-4,000 B.C." "Hinduism began about 6,000 years ago."
6000 BCE: "Hinduism started in... 6000 BC"
6600 BCE: "Hinduism began somewhere around 6500 BC"
8000 BCE: "Hinduism began in Bharat Varsha (Indian subcontinent) in 8000 BCE."

Although Wikipedia is a collective of opinions from many different people, and is not necessarily authoritative, the Wikipedia description of Hinduism is revealing. Here are a few excerpts from the Wikipedia page on Hinduism:
  • Hindū is the Persian name for the Indus River, first encountered in the Old Persian word Hindu, corresponding to Vedic Sanskrit Sindhu, the Indus River....
  • The term was used for those who lived in the Indian subcontinent on or beyond the "Sindhu"....
  • The Persian term (Middle Persian Hindūk, New Persian Hindū) entered India with the Delhi Sultanate and appears in South Indian and Kashmiri texts from at least 1323 CE, and increasingly so during British rule.
  • Since the end of the 18th century the word has been used as an umbrella term for most of the religious, spiritual, and philosophical traditions of the sub-continent, excluding the distinct religions of Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
  • The term Hindu was introduced to the English. It generally denotes the religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions native to India.
  • Hinduism has been perceived as one of the world religions we know today only since the 19th century, when the term 'Hindu-ism' started being used by leaders of Hindu reform movements or revivalists, and, often considered to be biased, Western orientalists or the "first Indologists".
  • From the western point of view, the understanding of Hinduism was mediated by Western notions of what religion is and how it relates to more ancient forms of belief. It is further complicated by the frequent use of the term "faith" as a synonym for "religion".
RETHINKING RELIGION IN INDIA: The colonial construction of Hinduism
All of the quotes below are excerpted from the above titled book, which was published in January 2010. I include these quotes so as to touch on the controversy over the possible "construction" of Hinduism, particularly in the past couple hundred years, and how this may not relate to any traditional realities in the region known as either modern India or the Indian subcontinent. The book is a collection of articles/chapters from nine different authors. This is an academic publication and is rather expensive (I paid $114 for a copy through Amazon), though it is extremely insightful if you wish to explore this issue more closely. This is the finest overall summary of the issue that I have encountered.
The preface of the book is written by Rajaram Hegde, Shankaraghatta, India, June 2009.
It is becoming increasingly clear today that the term 'religion' and its cognates like 'worship', 'secularism', or 'religious freedom' fail to make sense to Indian minds....
I gradually started to realize that I could neither fully understand nor participate in the debates and theory building on 'religion' and 'secularism', because they were completely unrelated to my lived experience. I had never seen a phenomenon like Hinduism, the religion to which I was supposed to belong. No one in my family or the traditional society in which I grew up had instructed me about any such thing called 'Hindu dharma' and its characteristic features. It was only through my school education that I learned about this 'Hinduism', which is supposed to consist of religious scriptures called the Vedas and the Bhagavad-Gita, beliefs about reincarnation, social divisions called the four varnas and things like ashramas.
Sharing my experience with friends, colleagues and acquaintances, I discovered that they too, without exception, had similar experiences.
At the Center for the study of Local Cultures at Kuvempu University, we conducted a field study, which confirmed that even the college-educated in Karnataka fail to figure out what this Hindu dharma is, once they forget their textbook lessons in the process of living in the actual Indian society. Though they know the term 'dharma', they never use it in the sense of religion. Dharma is something like duty, good deeds and meritorious acts of human beings, to which gods are largely irrelevant. They find the term 'Hindu' every peculiar. Those who happen to remember this term do not know its precise meaning or implications. They say that they learned about things like Hindu dharma, the four varnas, the four Vedas etc. in school. They still remember these terms, they add, because of seeing them repeated in newspapers and hearing them used by politicians and social activists....
If the common experience of Indians does not know of any such thing as Hinduism, what are these 'religions' that we have been trying to investigate for all these years? Why is it that social science research brushes aside this experience, as though it is without value or importance? Why is it that these peculiar concepts and vocabulary are being forced upon us as truths about our society that we all have to accept? What is the nature of this 'religion' that we see and judge in the name of secularism or Hindu nationalism?
Today, many scholars argue that the theoretical framework of religious studies is inadequate for the Indian context. Some go as far as to argue that the use of the concept religion only makes sense within a western, basically Christian, framework....
The issue of the colonial construction of Hinduism plays an important role in this larger debate on the adequacy of the theoretical framework of religious studies. It raises fundamental questions such as: Is the concept of religion western? Do we need to develop an alternative concept of religion that allows us to also include non-western traditions? Do Indian traditions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism form a different 'kind' of religion? Do such 'Indian religions' exist at all? Did a new religion, namely Hinduism, come into being during the colonial era? How could this happen?...
Even though postcolonial thinkers argue that Hinduism is a construction, this has not been taken seriously by most Indologists and scholars of religion who continue to study Hinduism as the ancient religion of India. Neither has it become clear how, if Hinduism is a construction, we should study problems in Indian society which are taken to be related to religion....
By providing answers to the question whether Hinduism is the ancient religion of India, or whether it was constructed and if so what this means, the volume [this book] hopes to give new vantage points to look at Indian culture and some of the problems that it confronts today....
In the field of religious studies there is a longstanding problem of how to recognize Hinduism as a religion. The tremendous diversity of doctrines, texts, gods and practices in India has puzzled scholars, missionaries and others who tried to get a grip on the Indian religion. As an answer to this problem many scholars have stated, from an early period onwards, that Hinduism is not one religion, but should be seen as a collection of many separate religions or faiths.
Against this background, Wilfred Cantwell Smith's influential work "The Meaning and End of Religion" argues that the concept of Hinduism is a construction of the West. 'Hinduism', he says, 'refers not to an entity, it is a name that the West has given to a prodigiously variegated series of facts. It is a notion in men's minds ¾ and a notion that cannot but be inadequate. The name 'Hinduism', he argues was wrongly given to the varied series of Indian religious facts as if these formed one system of doctrines. According to Smith, this misconception was the result of the use of a Christian, and more specifically, a Protestant conception of religion as systems of doctrines.
Smith's main thesis is that the concept of religion is itself Christian and therefore inadequate to study religious phenomena in general. To Smith, the term 'Christianity' does not capture the religious phenomena of Christians any more than 'Hinduism' does for those of Hindus. The alternative he suggests is to study religious phenomena not as a system of doctrines but rather as faiths and cumulative traditions....
The postulation of one religion, Hinduism, unified the diversity of doctrines, texts, practices and gods that existed on the subcontinent. Along with the colonial needs of domination, a western Christian concept of religion is said to have inspired the description of Indian religions in terms of a pan-Indian Hinduism with a specific set of core characteristics or essences. In other words, the constructionist thesis tells us that orientalist descriptions made certain features of Indian reality, such as the Sanskrit texts or Brahmanism, into the essence of Indian religion, thereby distorting Indian realities (by taking a part for the whole)....
Those who see 'Hinduism' as a constructed concept focus more on the European and colonial agency; others for whom Hinduism is a reality see the construction of Hinduism more as a historical evolution of elements that were already present in India....
In the account of the European and colonial contribution to the construction of Hinduism many have provided a genealogy of the term 'Hinduism' and the notion of a pan-Indian religion. Even critics of the constructionist thesis agree that the word 'Hinduism' is relatively young and not native to India. The term 'Hindu' is traced back to the ancient Greek and Persian 'Sindhu', which referred to anything native to the region beyond the river Indus. this is also, many authors argue, how the Muslim administration later used it: not to denote a people united by religious identity but to bring together various communities within the political structure of imperial Muslim rule. Thus, the term 'Hindu' did not ascribe religious unity to these communities and was inclusive of Indian Muslims and Christians. Europeans only adopted the term 'Hinduism' as a name for the religion of India towards the end of the eighteenth century. Before that, European travelers and missionaries had regarded the Indian traditions as instances of heathendom. Heathendom or paganism, according to medieval Christianity, was one of the four religions of the world, next to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The Indian form of paganism later acquired the name 'gentooism', followed by the 'religion of the Hindus' to be finally replaced by 'Hindooism', and then 'Hinduism' by the end of the eighteenth century.
The constructionist thesis has it that, in this process, different religious phenomena wrongly came to be seen as parts of one religion of all Hindus. The form attributed to this religion was based on a Christian understanding of what religion is. Europeans, so the argument goes, focused only on those aspects which they considered to be properties of religion, viz. sacred texts, doctrines and priests, while neglecting the myriad of other aspects of Indian religion. As a result they mistook Brahmanism¾with its texts and priests¾for the religion of all Hindus. This idea of a unified and clear-cut Hindu religion was then used by the British to rule India. Several colonial administrative measures, based on the idea of one Hindu religion, helped in creating this religion: the census and legislation of aspects related to religion. To summarize, three elements are identified as central to the role played by the Europeans in the construction of Hinduism: a western Christian concept of religion, the idea that the Indian religions formed one pan-Indian religion and the needs of the colonial enterprise.
Hindus and Others - David N. Lorenzen
As far as the specific English word 'Hinduism' is concerned, the earliest published uses of the term that I had found were written by the early nineteenth-century Hindu reformer, Ram Mohan Roy. The Australian scholar, Geoffrey Oddie has since noted that 'Hinduism' was earlier used by the evangelical writer, Charles Grant, in a text said to have been written in 1792 that was first published in 1797, as well as in some still earlier private letters by Grant....
When it comes to early sources written in Indian languages (and also Persian and Arabic), the word 'Hindu' is used in a clearly religious sense in a great number of texts as early as the sixteenth century....
What I have argued is that Hindus did in fact share a religious identity as Hindus at least as far back as 1400 and probably much arlier as well. On the other hand, it is also clear that outside observers, both Hindus and on-Hindus, may justifiably regard the members of certain heterodox religious groups to be Hindus although these persons  themselves may not regard themselves to be Hindus, or at least not exclusively Hindus.
Hindu Religious Identity - Geoffrey A. Oddie
European expansion overseas, beginning with Portuguese explorations in the fifteenth century, and leading to an increased contact with non-European peoples in the Indian ocean and elsewhere, was a crucial factor in the development of European ideas of 'paganism' or 'heathensim'. In fact, the naming of 'Hinsuism' was the end point in a long process of European reflection and attempts to make sense of new knowledge and expanding horizons.
The traditional European view which persisted in certain quarters into the nineteenth century was that there were basically four religions, namely Judaism, Christianity, Islam and paganism or idolotry....
Representing Religion in Colonial India - John Zavos
I have identified two broad trends in terms of the approach of protagonists in the debate about how to shape a religion called Hinduism: one which sought to articulate the idea of Hinduism through the restructuring of society, as exemplified by some elements within the Arya Samaj; and one which sought to articulate the idea of Hinduism through the consolidation of the existing structures of society, emphasizing 'organic' unity of the component parts.
Colonialism and religion - Sharada Sugirtharajah
Remarking on the benefits of British rule to the colonized, Monier-Williams declared:
No one can travel in India an shut his eyes to the benefits conferred on its inhabitants by English rule. In fact, our subjugation of the country affords an exemplification of the now trite truth that the conquest of an inferior race by a superior, so far from being an evil, is one of the great appointed laws of the world's progress and amelioration.
Colonial rule not only provided opportunities to further the cause of the Christianizing mission, but it also came to be seen as an act of Divine Providence. Some missionaries... even saw Britain as the chosen nation entrusted with the task of evangelization. Therefore the conquest of other lands was seen as a rightful and legitimate activity undertaken by civilized societies for the material, moral and spiritual benefit of the conquered.... They saw themselves as bringing rationality and Christian enlightenment to the benighted natives.
The word 'religion' itself is problematic in that it has been defined and interpreted in many different ways (both in complementary and contradictory terms). Whether it can be treated as a universal category has been called into question. As is well known, the concept 'religion' which has come to be used for European engagement with other religious traditions is also problematic in that it is deeply rooted in nineteenth-century western Christian theology and is seen as universally valid--an issue that has engaged western academic discourse and continues to pose challenges. The marks of colonialism are visible in the nineteenth-century construction of the category of 'religion' itself as well as in what came to be called "Comparative Religion" or the 'Science of Religion'.
[Explaining the views of nineteenth-century Baptist missionary William Ward] What is 'false' or 'true' is seen in terms of Christian notions of natural and special revelation. It is the gift of special revelation that makes Christianity a 'true' religion. In other words, Christianity is the revealed religion and others are repositories of natural revelation. The implication is that others are false. It seems to be a contradiction in terms to look for 'religion' when one begins with the conviction that there can be only one 'true' religion.
Women, the freedom movement, and Sanskrit - Laurie L. Patton
more to come...
Colonialism Hinduism and the discourse of religion - Richard King
more to come...
Who invented Hinduism? Rethinking religion in India - Timothy Fitzgerald
more to come...
Oruientalism, postcolonialism and the 'construction' of religion -
S. N. Balagangadhara

more to come...
The colonial construction of what? - Jakob DeRover and Sarah Claerhout
more to come...

(If you like it: click-save-copy-circulate)


This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.

Swami Rama Tradition Yoga, Vedanta, Tantra

What is
Sanatana Dharma?
Sanatana Dharma
or Hinduism?
Not Religion
Hindus Now Hinduism and Universalism

Index of sections below:
Yoga, Hinduism and Physical Fitness
Usages of the words "Hindu" and "Hinduism"
Africanism, Americanism, and Europeanism
Confusing the Part and the Whole
Quotes about Hindu and Hinduism
Dates of Hinduism
Wikipedia on Hinduism
Rethinking religion in India

Yoga and the Words

What is Sanatana Dharma?
Dharma is from dhri, which means to hold together. Sanatana means eternal, never beginning nor ending.


  1. From The Ugly Truth

    Dr. Harrel Rhome? Looks too Jewish a name to me! Anyway I have known a few Jewish Harels or Harrels. I would not be surprised if our family Doctor Harel was not a Crypto-Jew!

    Well, I was keenly interested with this interview and at Dr Harel Rhome's outrageous leap of faith BACKWARD and not forward. This fascinated me as Dr Rhome also made some stunning revelations that I wrote about so many times and that outraged so many good Christian souls.


    But, Dr Rhome is not telling the whole truth about HELL in his New Old Satanana Dharma (religion) known today as HINDUISM and to many as the NEW AGE RELIGION that the Zionist UN has adopted as the NEW RELIGION OF THE PLANET!

    I was pleasantly surpised at the statements Dr Rhome made about Saint Paul, the Roman "CIA-MOSSAD AGENT" and about the Sodomite paedophile King James.

    But, the colossal mistalke Dr Rhome makes is to claim that Christianity and Islam are "Jewish" religions! He made a big mistake when he tries to make us believe that the wrold has not known any IMPROVEMENT in religion or spirituality since the Vedas of the Sanatana Dharma!

    When I heard Dr Rhome mention the MAYAN CALENDAR, I was not surpised at all as this confirms to me that this gentleman is in or connected to the NEW AGE MOVEMENT!

    But, I agree with Dr Rhome for feeling fed up with mainstream religions, but he should admit that his New Old Religion is DEMONIC, and not for the universal good.

    Dr Rhome ended by contradicting his own belief in the Old Sanatana Dharma religion ("HINDUISM") with his looking BACKWARD while he is recommending to us to LOOK BEYOND! If we look beyond Sanatana Dharma, we find Buddhism. When we look beyond Buddhism, we find Abrahamism. Beyond Sumerian/Persian/Egyptian/Palestinian/Arab Abrahamism, we find racist and genocidal Judaism. Beyond Judaism we find Christianity, a UNIVERSAL ROMAN HELLENISTIC understanding of religion and spirituality. And when we look BEYOND Christianity, which most Christians and non Christians refuse to do, we find ISLAM, the oldest religon of all, the NATURAL RELIGION of humankind, and not the SANATANA DHARMA with its millions of deities and its ignoble Caste System, although it too must have started too as a non idolatrous religion of surrender to a Supreme Divine Power, which the Semites call ISLAM, and which makes all its followers MUSLIMS although the name may vary from religion to religion.

    All good religions must be founded on the same UNIVERSAL VALUES (VIRTUES), and this excludes Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism in their present corrupted form. In Islamic parlance, a GOOD CHRISTIAN is a REAL MUSLIM! Now, it depends how we define a good Christian or a real Muslim. This is open for debate.

    My sicere thanks to Keith Johnson, Mark Glenn and their guest for this very interesting exchange


  2. Important thing is that there are only 33 devtas not 33 cr.... devtas, simple logic is that :) at the time of shiva, ram the total population on earth was not more then even half of 1 cr so how can every person be devta. but still people asume and follow it , SAD !!!