Hindu Spirituality

SPIRITUAL HISTORY

India has a glorious spiritual history of incarnations of God and His saints. Many ages ago, Lord Rama incarnated in Ayodhya; and five thousand years ago, Lord Krishna incarnated in Mathura. Their transcendental itihaasa (history) are related in the Ramayan, which describes the singular love of Sitaji and devotional service of Hanuman, and the Mahabharat which includes the Bhagavad Gita, explaining the divine relationship between Arjun and Lord Krishna.


Vyasji is one of the twenty-four major incarnations of Lord Vishnu. He compiled the Vedas which reveal "Sanatan Dharma" or the Eternal Religion that was divinely inherited and taught by the world's first sages. Vyasji also authored the 18 Purans, including the Shrimad Bhagavat. Shukdevji, Vyasji's son, recited the Shrimad Bhagavat to King Parikshit, who was foretold to die within seven days. As a result of King Parikshit's association with a brahmasvaroopa (God-realized) saint, he obtained the true knowledge of aatmaa (soul) and Paramatma (God) and attained liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

INDIA IN THE LATE 18TH CENTURY

As early as the 10th century, the Turks and Afghans had invaded and established themselves in India (from Delhi); by around the 16th century, the foothold was replaced by the Mughals (or Moguls, whose control included Gujarat). By the 18th century, Hindus (e.g. the Rajputs of the 7th century and the Marathas under Chatrapati Shivaji) had regained much control. However the result was small kingdoms with much unrest. For example, the modern state of Gujarat saw a wave of Maratha conquerors (the Dabhades, Gaekwads, and Peshwas) around the mid-18th century that mostly pillaged its inhabitants instead of establishing proper organization and protection. Europeans had begun trading with India as early as the 15th century, and by the late 18th century, the British Empire began setting control in India (from Calcutta/Bengal, replacing the 17th century East India Company). The onset of British control in Gujarat began from the early 1800s from Mumbai through South Gujarat. The British held control of Surat from 1800. By 1822, the whole of Kathiawad/Saurashtra came under British rule. (From 1857, all of India came under British rule.)

Religious misinterpretations, partitions, and superstitions, characterizing the climax of kali-yuga ("dark age," referring to the present or fourth period), were abound. Some, under the pretense of religion and having supernatural powers, hurt and scared people instead of helping them; others had become corrupt under the influence of power, riches, and desires. Yet others falsely preached of a non-existent or formless supreme being. At this time, God responded to the prayers of Lord Vishnu and devotees, and by pure love and grace, manifested on the earth along with His Abode/Devotee and liberated souls. Today known as Lord Swaminarayan, His life and succession displays His identity as the supreme God.

   



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