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Sankethi Genealogy




North American Sankethi Association
Bringing Sankethis Together since 1984

By M.G. Prasad, 1 Osborne Terrace, Maplewood, NJ 07040

Basics of Hinduism: Sanatana Dharma

Four Objectives of Life: Purushartha

NOTE: The order of these objectives are important and are not to be interchanged if leading a life consistent with Sanatana Dharma.

  1. Dharma -- laws of life, nature, and universe that derive from the purpose and values underlying actions in life. Dharma helps in discrimination and in choice of actions. Dharma should accompany Artha and Kama.
  2. Artha -- wealth, posession, and power
  3. Kama -- desire, ambition
  4. Moksha -- state of desirelessness and tranquility

Four Stages in Life: Ashrama

NOTE: Hindu philosophers believed that these were the natural phases of an individual's life

  1. Brahmacharya -- Younger years in student life when discipline and learning are the most important. These years become the foundation for a meaningful life.
  2. Grihastha -- Years during the married life when the rightful desires and wealth by proper means has to be achieved and enjoyed.
  3. Vanaprastha -- Senior years of life when contemplation and philosophical thoughts are emphasized
  4. Sanyasa -- Final years of life when contentment and detachment becomes predominant.

Three Modes of Life: Bhava

  1. Physical (Bhoutika) -- Word used to describe feelings and reactions arising from the body
  2. Mental (Bhavuka) -- Word used to describe feelings and emotions derived from the mind
  3. Spiritual (Adhyatmika) -- Word used to describe sublime and pure thoughts and values that derive from causal nature of reality

Three Mental Traits: Guna

  1. Satva -- Noble and sublime thoughts and actions
  2. Rajas -- Dynamic activities and intention to change things around with sometimes ambiguous goals of mind
  3. Tamas -- Passivity and lack of focus to follow through. Indicates mental inertia.

Six Obstacles to Personal and Spiritual Development

NOTE: Kama when it appears first in order as above becomes an obstacle but when it appears as third among the four fold objectives, it becomes an integral,part of life

  1. Kama -- Unethical and unrightful desire.
  2. Krodha -- Anger and loss of temper usually results from unfulfilled desire.
  3. Lobha -- Greed resulting from unnecessary and unconstrained increase in wants.
  4. Moha -- False attachment resulting in delusion of mind.
  5. Mada -- Arrogance resulting from self-centered pride.
  6. Matsarya -- Jealousy and envy about others' achievements.

Three Characteristics of Individual Purity: Shuddhi

  1. Body -- Purity includes personal hygiene and environment
  2. Speech -- Purity includes sincerity, honesty, and heartfelt feelings in speech and action
  3. Mind -- Purity includes clean thoughts. This is difficult to achieve but is possible through practice and support from the other 2 characteristics of purity -- speech and body.

Three Components of Cosmos: Tatvas

  1. Jeeva -- An individual soul and it is also referred to chit, a conscious being.
  2. Jagat -- Material universe and five elements of nature as space, air, fire, water and earth.
  3. Ishwara -- Cosmic Soul or One God principle known as Brahman or Paratatva.

Three Paths of Realization: Yoga

NOTE: All the three Yogas (Karma, Bhakthi and Jnana)should co-exist in a person because lack of any one yoga negatively affects the others. Given a personality, one yoga will dominate but it has to be supported by the other two yogas for success. The Bhagavadgita is one of the main reference for the integrated view of these yogas

  1. Karma Yoga emphasizes work and action. Action without selfish interest is an important aspect of this yoga.
  2. Bhakthi Yoga emphasizes the devotion and prayer. The sincerity and awareness of one's limitations is part of Bhakthi Yoga.
  3. Jnana Yoga emphasizes the knowledge and power of reasoning and intellect.

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Ashtanga Yoga

NOTE: Ashastanga yoga which forms the scientific basis of Hindu spirituality is described in eight steps to achieve the spiritual union (yoga) of the individual soul with cosmic soul. This is also termed as Raja Yoga and one of the main references are Maharishi Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. The order mentioned in Ashtanga Yoga is important and a Guru who is a Yogi, is necessary for this Yoga as genuine guidance is required in this scientific and practical approach.

  1. Yama deals with with physical and mental discipline and related practices.
  2. Niyama deals with physical and mental discipline and related practices.
  3. Asana deals with practice of postures for the body.
  4. Pranayama deals with control and regulation of Prana.
  5. Pratyahara deals with the development of restraint of the senses from their objects.
  6. Dharana deals with development of ability of mind to focus and contain the object.
  7. Dhyana is the meditation of the objective energy contained which leads one to Samadhi.
  8. Samadhi which refers to the state of balance and superconsciousness level.

Five Sheaths of Brahman: Koshas

NOTE: All these five sheaths reflect the creative, sustaining and dissolving aspects of Brahman. The zealous search of a seeker (Shisya) with the guidance of a Guru (Preceptor) leads the seeker to the various sheaths in an ascending order as indicated here.

  1. Food
  2. Breath
  3. Mind
  4. Intellect
  5. Blissful joy

Three Components of Self-Realization

NOTE: Thus, one can see that through the Grace and guidance of the Sadguru, sincere effort in studies of Shastras and purity of mind, earnest effort in practice should result in understanding and realization of self. This is the goal of any seeker based on Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma

  1. Sadguru refers to the spiritual mentor (Preceptor, Acharya) who genuinely guides the seeker in the intricate and difficult path of self-realization.
  2. Shastra refers to the authentic scriptures and literatures which are essentially experiences and observations of great seers in the past. Shastra and literature refers to Vedas, Upanishads, Smritis, Ramayana Mahabharatha and Bhagavadgita etc. These form the foundation of Hinduism (Sanathana Dharma)
  3. Anubhava refers to the experiences of the seeker obtained after truthful and honest effort in the path as per the advice of the Sadguru which will be reference to the Shastras.


The realized and wise ones describe One Truth or same Reality in many ways.


Let noble thoughts come to us from everyside.


NOTE: These notes on some of the basics of Hinduism are only an indication of the depth and magnitude of the literature available for further studies in Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma.

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