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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Promises of Paradise

At the end of several prayers in Sanskrit, there are a few passages called “phalashruti” which list the benefits of reciting those prayers. The passages assure you good health if you recite the prayer once, wealth if you recite twice, several children (all males, of course) if you recite thrice etc. Others will assure you a place with Lord Vishnu or Krishna or Mother Uma if you followed certain rituals.
This is not special to Vedic Hindu teachings. You will find such passages in the writings of other traditions also. To my knowledge, Buddhism is the only tradition which does not promise you Heaven or Paradise, somewhere out there. That is because Buddhism emphasizes living this present life properly.
Uddhava Gita chapter 16, sloka 23 states that these enticements are similar to the way we tempt children to take their medicines by offering them candy! (bhaishajya rochanam).
In a later sloka (16:31), Uddhava Gita talks about people who follow rituals and prayers for the sake of the benefits promised in the heavens and says, “Imagining in their hearts a future world, which is like a dream (svapnopamam), unreal (asantham) and agreeable to the ears (shravana priyam), they spend their money in sacrifices like a trader (who speculates)”.


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