Archive for category Bihar

The Mandana Misra vs. Adi Sankara debate

Six primary orthodox schools of philosophy exist in India. They are – nyaya, vaisheshika, mimamsa, vedanta, sankhya and yoga. At different periods in time, India has produced exceptional scholars who were unconditional masters in these respective schools of thought. It has often been the custom among learned men to debate the merits and demerits of these various systems of philosophy. When one scholar won, typically the other would renounce his philosophy to serve the winner as a disciple. Of course, the disciple’s disciples also became new disciples. One such famous debate took place between the two very renowned scholars – Adi Sankara and Mandana Misra in the latter’s residence in present day Bihar.

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Chanakya

Man has the tendency to interpret and understand history by looking at events through a narrow snapshot in time. At every snapshot, there always invariably is a point where India seems to be riddled with societal, cultural and religious dissensions that cause the nation to crumble from within. And always in these most difficult times, one man is born who has the capacity to transform the society and reinvigorate societal and cultural ethos and re-instate dharma to its rightful place. During the period of Alexander’s invasion in India, not only were the small kingdoms divided, but also the social fabric had disintegrated, meaningless and misinterpreted rituals were rampant and selfishness was dominant. At this critical juncture, one man, single-handedly, vowed to unite the vast country and establish a new dharmic social order and revive India to her rightful position as beacon of knowledge to the entire world. This extraordinarily talented man was none other than Chanakya.

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Ashtavakra – the sage with eight deformities

In this post, we will learn about a famous rishi (sage) called Ashtavakra who was the spiritual advisor to King Janaka who ruled over the Videha empire, in the present day Bihar region. Ashtavakra was a child prodigy, well versed in the Vedas and the scriptures even as a child. He was the son of the famous sage Kahoda, who lived and preached in Bihar. When Kahoda’s wife was pregnant, she would sit in on all lectured given by Kahoda, so that her baby was charged with positive vibrations from the lectures. The young foetus in his mother’s womb would sincerely listen to all the lectures and absorb all the teachings. One day Kahoda made a mistake when pronouncing some verses from the Vedas, and the foetus kicked from within his mother’s womb as a sign of noticing the mistake. When Kahoda’s wife mentioned this to her husband, Kahoda, instead of feeling proud about his son’s learning, took offense at the foetus’ impudence and cursed that the boy be born with eight deformities in his body. This is why the child was named Ashtavakra (meaning, eight deformities). Read the rest of this entry »

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