500px-Agra-Taj-Mahal-Mausoleum-architecture-Apr-2008-04

By Vasu Murti

Reposted with permission. 

The pyramids are “basically expensive tombstones…” says Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Yes. That’s the way Sri Rupa dasi (Amy Smith) referred to the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal was built in India by Muslim ruler Shah Jahan as a memorial to his deceased wife.

It’s considered an exhibition of the emperor’s undying love for his departed wife.

But devout Hindus see it differently!

According to the Vedic (also known as Hindu) literatures, the soul or conscious self is different from the physical body, and transmigrates from body to body, throughout 8,400,000 different species of life.

Because the conscious self is different from the physical body, Vedic civilization was based on liberating the soul from the cycle of repeated birth and death.

Contemporary Hindu spiritual master Ravindra-svarupa dasa (Dr. William Deadwyler) explains:

“In that Vedic culture, everything was organized to further self-realization. Self-realization marks the ultimate development of human potential, in which a person knows himself directly as an eternal spiritual being, intangibly bound to the supreme spiritual being, and without intrinsic relation to a temporarily inhabited material body.

“By cultivating self-realization, the Vedic civilization brought off this unparalleled achievement: it was able to eliminate completely the evils of birth, old age, disease, and death, securing for its members an eternal existence of knowledge and ever-increasing bliss.

“The Vedic culture recognized that not all souls who took human birth after transmigrating up through the animal forms would be able to make direct progress toward the supreme goal. Owing to different histories, people are born with different qualities and abilities.

“Nevertheless, Vedic culture enabled everyone to make some gradual advancement , and there were many arrangements for the gradual elevation of materialistic people. In any case, Vedic culture organized life so that everyone could satisfy the basic necessities in the simplest and most sensible way, leaving most of human energy free for the higher task…

“Far from being a sign of intellectual advancement, the appearance of writing is a testimony of decline, a device seize upon by to compensate for that mental deterioration which includes the loss of the ability to remember…

“It is interesting, by the way, that the Vedic date assigned to the advent of Kali Yuga (our current age of quarrel and hypocrisy which began in 3102 BC) corresponds closely to the date set by modern historians for the rise of civilized life, an event signaled by the appearance of literacy and the emergence of complex urban societies.

“All that historians recognize as recorded human history is, in fact, only human history in Kali Yuga. The academic historians’ ignorance of the earlier and incalculably higher Vedic civilization is what we have to expect from people suffering from the mental retardation of the times…

“They are unaware that simple living (agrarianism) is the best basis for high thinking, and that a truly advanced civilization minimizes exploitation of nature and social complexity. They do not know that a real standard of progress is the caliber of people society produces.

“If we pursue material advancement at the expense of self-realization, measuring our standard of living only by the gratification of our senses, then we will only get a spiritually and morally debilitated people in control of an intricate and powerful technology–a terrifying combination that leads to horrors on a scale we are just beginning to experience.”

The advent of Kali Yuga is marked by the appearance of literacy and the emergence of complex urban societies. Similarly, because the conscious self is different from the physical body, and transmigrates from body to body, and Vedic civilization was meant to foster self-realization, to liberate the soul from the cycle of repeated birth and death, civilized people *cremate* the body, with the understanding that the soul is separate and distinct from the physical body.

The emergence of burial places, tombstones, etc. similarly are not a sign of the emergence of civilization, rather they are found in cultures which do not recognize that the soul is different from the body.

Hindu spiritual master Srila Ramesvara Swami commented in the 1980s that resurrection is a belief in the afterlife for persons so attached to their temporary material bodies, they can’t conceive of existing without them!

Sri Rupa dasi (Amy Smith), a devout Hindu (it was reported in 1986 that she felt she was setting a poor example as a congregational leader for our congregation by divorcing), said that when visiting the holy places in India on pilgrimage, she saw the Taj Mahal (a tourist attraction!) along these lines:

Not as a testimony of romantic love, but as a burial place, a tombstone, etc. haunted by ghosts!

Photo: Author: Matthew Laird Acred. Original uploader was Acred99 at en.wikipedia / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Attribution: Acred99 at en.wikipedia” / Wikimedia Commons / “Taj Mahal Mausoleum is known for its color changes going from white, yellow and pink depending on the time of day.”

To read more of Vasu Murti’s writing, click here.

Vasu Murti’s email address is vasumurti@netscape.net