Anekāntavāda refers to the Jain doctrine about metaphysical truths that emerged in ancient India. It states that reality is complex and has multiple aspects. Anekantavada has been interpreted to mean non-absolutism, "intellectual Ahimsa", religious pluralism, as well as a rejection of fanaticism that leads to terror attacks and mass violence; some scholars state that modern revisionism has attempted to reinterpret anekantavada with religious tolerance and pluralism. According to Jainism, no single, specific statement can describe the nature of existence and the absolute truth; this knowledge, is comprehended only by the Arihants. Other beings and their statements about absolute truth are incomplete, at best a partial truth. All knowledge claims, according to the anekāntavāda doctrine must be qualified in many ways, including being affirmed and denied. Anekāntavāda is a fundamental doctrine of Jainism; the origins of anekāntavāda can be traced back to the teachings of Mahāvīra, the 24th Jain Tīrthankara.
The dialectical concepts of syādvāda "conditioned viewpoints" and nayavāda "partial viewpoints" arose from anekāntavāda in the medieval era, providing Jainism with more detailed logical structure and expression. The details of the doctrine emerged in Jainism in the 1st millennium CE, from debates between scholars of Jain and Hindu schools of philosophies; the word anekāntavāda is a compound of two Sanskrit words: vāda. The word anekānta itself is composed of three root words, "an", "eka" and "anta", together it connotes "not one ended, sided", "many-sidedness", or "manifoldness"; the word vāda means "doctrine, speak, thesis". The term anekāntavāda is translated by scholars as the doctrine of "many-sidedness", "non-onesidedness", or "many pointedness"; the term anekāntavāda is not found in early texts considered canonical by Svetambara tradition of Jainism. However, traces of the doctrines are found in comments of Mahavira in these Svetambara texts, where he states that the finite and infinite depends on one's perspective.
The word anekantavada was coined by Acharya Siddhasen Divakar to significant the teaching of Mahavira that truth can be expressed in infinite ways. The earliest comprehensive teachings of anekāntavāda doctrine is found in the Tattvarthasutra by Acharya Umaswami, is considered to be authoritative by all Jain sects. In the Digambara tradition texts. The'two-truths theory' of Kundakunda provides the core of this doctrine; the Jain doctrine of anekāntavāda known as anekāntatva, states that truth and reality is complex and always has multiple aspects. Reality can be experienced, but it is not possible to express it with language. Human attempts to communicate is naya, or "partial expression of the truth". Language is not Truth. From truth, according to Māhavira, language not the other way around. One can experience the truth of a taste, but cannot express that taste through language. Any attempts to express the experience is syāt, or valid "in some respect" but it still remains a "perhaps, just one perspective, incomplete".
In the same way, spiritual truths are complex, they have multiple aspects, language cannot express their plurality, yet through effort and appropriate karma they can be experienced. The anekāntavāda premises of the Jains is ancient, as evidenced by its mention in Buddhist texts such as the Samaññaphala Sutta; the Jain āgamas suggest that Māhavira's approach to answering all metaphysical philosophical questions was a "qualified yes". These texts identify anekāntavāda doctrine to be one of the key differences between the teachings of the Māhavira and those of the Buddha; the Buddha taught the Middle Way, rejecting extremes of the answer "it is" or "it is not" to metaphysical questions. The Māhavira, in contrast, taught his followers to accept both "it is" and "it is not", with "perhaps" qualification and with reconciliation to understand the absolute reality. Syādvāda and Nayavāda of Jainism expand on the concept of anekāntavāda. Syādvāda recommends the expression of anekānta by prefixing the epithet syād to every phrase or expression describing the nature of existence.
The Jain doctrine of anekāntavāda, according to Bimal Matilal, states that "no philosophic or metaphysical proposition can be true if it is asserted without any condition or limitation". For a metaphysical proposition to be true, according to Jainism, it must include one or more conditions or limitations. Syādvāda is the theory of conditioned predication, the first part of, derived from the Sanskrit word syāt, the third person singular of the optative tense of the Sanskrit verb as,'to be', which becomes syād when followed by a vowel or a voiced consonant, in accordance with sandhi; the optative tense in Sanskrit has the same meaning as the present tense of the subjunctive mood in most Indo-European languages, including Hindi, Russian, etc. It is used; the subjunctive is commonly used in Hindi, for example, in'kya kahun?','what to say?'. The subjunctive is commonly used in conditional constructions. Syat can be translated into English as meaning "perchance, may be, perhaps"; the use of the verb'as' in
Karma means action, work or deed. Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and happier rebirths, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and bad rebirths; the philosophy of karma is associated with the idea of rebirth in many schools of Indian religions as well as Taoism. In these schools, karma in the present affects one's future in the current life, as well as the nature and quality of future lives - one's saṃsāra. Karma is the executed "deed", "work", "action", or "act", it is the "object", the "intent". Wilhelm Halbfass explains karma by contrasting it with another Sanskrit word kriya; the word kriya is the activity along with the steps and effort in action, while karma is the executed action as a consequence of that activity, as well as the intention of the actor behind an executed action or a planned action. A good action creates good karma. A bad action creates bad karma. Karma refers to a conceptual principle that originated in India descriptively called the principle of karma, sometimes as the karma theory or the law of karma.
In the context of theory, karma is difficult to define. Different schools of Indologists derive different definitions for the karma concept from ancient Indian texts. Other Indologists include in the definition of karma theory that which explains the present circumstances of an individual with reference to his or her actions in past; these actions may be those in a person's current life, or, in some schools of Indian traditions actions in their past lives. The law of karma operates any process of divine judgment. Difficulty in arriving at a definition of karma arises because of the diversity of views among the schools of Hinduism. Buddhism and Jainism have their own karma precepts, thus karma has not multiple definitions and different meanings. It is a concept whose meaning and scope varies between Hinduism, Buddhism and other traditions that originated in India, various schools in each of these traditions. O'Flaherty claims that, there is an ongoing debate regarding whether karma is a theory, a model, a paradigm, a metaphor, or a metaphysical stance.
Karma theory as a concept, across different Indian religious traditions, shares certain common themes: causality and rebirth. A common theme to theories of karma is its principle of causality. One of the earliest association of karma to causality occurs in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad of Hinduism. For example, at 4.4.5-6, it states: The relationship of karma to causality is a central motif in all schools of Hindu and Buddhist thought. The theory of karma as causality holds that executed actions of an individual affects the individual and the life he or she lives, the intentions of an individual affects the individual and the life he or she lives. Disinterested actions, or unintentional actions do not have the same positive or negative karmic effect, as interested and intentional actions. In Buddhism, for example, actions that are performed, or arise, or originate without any bad intent such as covetousness, are considered non-existent in karmic impact or neutral in influence to the individual.
Another causality characteristic, shared by Karmic theories, is that like deeds lead to like effects. Thus good karma produces good effect on the actor; this effect may be material, moral or emotional — that is, one's karma affects one's happiness and unhappiness. The effect of karma need not be immediate; the consequence or effects of one's karma can be described in two forms: samskaras. A phala is the visible or invisible effect, immediate or within the current life. In contrast, samskaras are invisible effects, produced inside the actor because of the karma, transforming the agent and affecting his or her ability to be happy or unhappy in this life and future ones; the theory of karma is presented in the context of samskaras. Karmic principle can be understood, suggests Karl Potter, as a principle of psychology and habit. Karma seeds habits, habits create the nature of man. Karma seeds self perception, perception influences how one experiences life events. Both habits and self perception affect the course of one's life.
Breaking bad habits is not easy: it requires conscious karmic effort. Thus psyche and habit, according to Potter and others, link karma to causality in ancient Indian literature; the idea of karma may be compared to the notion of a person's "character", as both are an assessment of the person and determined by that person's habitual thinking and acting. The second theme common to karma theories is ethicization; this begins with the premise that every action has a consequence, which will come to fruition in either this or a future life.
A bhajan means "sharing". It refers to any song with religious theme or spiritual ideas, in a regional languages from the Indian subcontinent; as a bhajan has no prescribed form, or set rules, it is in free form lyrical and based on melodic ragas. It belongs to a genre of music and arts, it is found in the various traditions of Hinduism but in Vaishnavism. It is found in Jainism. Ideas from scriptures, legendary epics, the teachings of saints and loving devotion to a deity are the typical subjects of bhajans, it is a group event, with one or more lead singers, accompanied with music, sometimes dancing. A bhajan may be sung in a temple, in a home, under a tree in open, near a river bank or a place of historic significance; the saints of the Bhakti movement are credited with pioneering many forms of bhajans, starting with the South Indian bhakti pioneers, but bhajans have been composed anonymously and shared as a musical and arts tradition. Its genre such as Nirguni, Vallabhapanthi, Madhura-bhakti and the traditional South Indian form Sampradya Bhajan each have their own repertoire and methods of singing.
The Sanskrit word bhajan or bhajana is derived from the root bhaj, which means "divide, partake, participate, to belong to". The word connotes "attachment, devotion to, fondness for, faith or love, piety to something as a spiritual, religious principle or means of salvation". In Hinduism and its Bhakti analog Kirtan, have roots in the ancient metric and musical traditions of the Vedic era the Samaveda; the Samaveda samhita is not meant to be read as a text, it is like a musical score sheet that must be heard. Other late Vedic texts mention the two scholars Shilalin and Krishashva, credited to be pioneers in the studies of ancient drama and dance; the art schools of Shilalin and Krishashva may have been associated with the performance of vedic rituals, which involved story telling with embedded ethical values. The vedic traditions integrated rituals with performance arts, such as a dramatic play, where not only praises to gods were recited or sung, but the dialogues were part of a dramatic representation and discussion of spiritual themes.
The Vedas and Upanishads celebrate Nada-Brahman, where certain sounds are considered elemental, triggering emotional feelings without having a literal meaning, this is deemed sacred, liminal experience of the primeval ultimate reality and supreme truth. This supreme truth is, states Guy Beck, considered as full of bliss and rasa in the Hindu thought, melodic sound considered a part of human spiritual experience. Devotional music genre such as Bhajan are part of a tradition. A Bhajan in Hindu traditions is an informal, loosely structured devotional song with music in a regional language, they are found all over India and Nepal, but are popular among the Vaishnavism sub-traditions such as those driven by devotion to avatars of Vishnu such as Krishna, Rama and Narayana. In Southern India, Bhajanais follow; this involves a tradition, followed for the last several centuries and includes Songs/Krithis/Lyrics from great composers all over India encompassing many Indian languages. A Bhajan may be sung individually, or more together as a choral event wherein the lyrics include religious or spiritual themes in the local language.
The themes are loving devotion to a deity, legends from the Epics or the Puranas, compositions of Bhakti movement saints, or spiritual themes from Hindu scriptures. The Bhajans in many Hindu traditions are a form of congregational singing and bonding, that gives the individual an opportunity to share in the music-driven spiritual and liturgical experience as well as the community a shared sense of identity, wherein people share food and reconnect; the bhajans have played a significant role in community organization in 19th and 20th century colonial era, when Indian workers were brought to distant lands such as Trinidad and South Africa as cheap labor on plantations. Some Bhajan songs are centuries old, popular on a pan-regional basis, passed down as a community tradition, while others newly composed. Everyone in Hindu tradition is free to compose a Bhajan with whatever ideas or in praise of any deity of their wish, but since they are sung, they follow meters of classical Indian music, the raga and the tala to go with the musical instruments.
They are sung in open air, inside temples such as those of Swaminarayan movement, in Vaishnava monasteries, during festivals or special events, at pilgrimage centers. A Bhajan is related to Kirtan, with both sharing common aims, musical themes and being devotional performance arts. A Bhajan is more free in form, can be singular melody, performed by a single singer with or without one and more musical instruments. Kirtan, in contrast, differs in being a more structured team performance with a call and response musical structure, similar to an intimate conversation or gentle sharing of ideas, it includes two or more musical instruments, with roots in the prosody principles of the Vedic era. Many Kirtan are structured for more audience participation, where the singer calls a spiritual chant, a hymn, a mantra or a theme, the audience responds back by repeating the chant or by chanting back a reply of their shared beliefs. A Bhajan, in contrast, is either experienced in silence or a "sing along".
Stavan is a form of popular and pervasive genre of devotional music in Ja
Dharma is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions like Hinduism, Jainism and others. There is no single-word translation for dharma in Western languages. In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with Ṛta, the order that makes life and universe possible, includes duties, laws, virtues and "right way of living". In Buddhism, dharma means "cosmic law and order", is applied to the teachings of Buddha. In Buddhist philosophy, dhamma/dharma is the term for "phenomena". Dharma in Jainism refers to the teachings of tirthankara and the body of doctrine pertaining to the purification and moral transformation of human beings. For Sikhs, the word dharm means the path of proper religious practice; the word dharma was in use in the historical Vedic religion, its meaning and conceptual scope has evolved over several millennia. The ancient Tamil moral text of Tirukkural is based on aṟam, the Tamil term for dharma; the antonym of dharma is adharma. The Classical Sanskrit noun dharma or the Prakrit Dhaṃma are a derivation from the root dhṛ, which means "to hold, keep", takes the meaning of "what is established or firm", hence "law".
It is derived from an older Vedic Sanskrit n-stem dharman-, with a literal meaning of "bearer, supporter", in a religious sense conceived as an aspect of Rta. In the Rigveda, the word appears as an n-stem, dhárman-, with a range of meanings encompassing "something established or firm". Figuratively, it means "sustainer" and "supporter", it is semantically similar to the Greek Themis. In Classical Sanskrit, the noun becomes thematic: dharma-; the word dharma derives from Proto-Indo-European root *dʰer-, which in Sanskrit is reflected as class-1 root dhṛ. Etymologically it is related to Avestan dar-, Latin firmus, Lithuanian derė́ti, Lithuanian dermė and darna and Old Church Slavonic drъžati. Classical Sanskrit word dharmas would formally match with Latin o-stem firmus from Proto-Indo-European dʰer-mo-s "holding", were it not for its historical development from earlier Rigvedic n-stem. In Classical Sanskrit, in the Vedic Sanskrit of the Atharvaveda, the stem is thematic: dhárma-. In Prakrit and Pāli, it is rendered dhamma.
In some contemporary Indian languages and dialects it alternatively occurs as dharm. Ancient translationsWhen the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka wanted in the 3rd century BCE to translate the word "Dharma" into Greek and Aramaic, he used the Greek word Eusebeia in the Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription and the Kandahar Greek Edicts, the Aramaic word Qsyt in the Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription. Dharma is a concept of central importance in Indian religion, it has multiple meanings in Hinduism and Jainism. It is difficult to provide a single concise definition for dharma, as the word has a long and varied history and straddles a complex set of meanings and interpretations. There is no equivalent single-word synonym for dharma in western languages. There have been numerous, conflicting attempts to translate ancient Sanskrit literature with the word dharma into German and French; the concept, claims Paul Horsch, has caused exceptional difficulties for modern commentators and translators. For example, while Grassmann's translation of Rig-veda identifies seven different meanings of dharma, Karl Friedrich Geldner in his translation of the Rig-veda employs 20 different translations for dharma, including meanings such as "law", "order", "duty", "custom", "quality", "model", among others.
However, the word dharma has become a accepted loanword in English, is included in all modern unabridged English dictionaries. The root of the word dharma is "dhri", which means "to support, hold, or bear", it is the thing that regulates the course of change by not participating in change, but that principle which remains constant. Monier-Williams, the cited resource for definitions and explanation of Sanskrit words and concepts of Hinduism, offers numerous definitions of the word dharma, such as that, established or firm, steadfast decree, law, custom, right, virtue, ethics, religious merit, good works, character, property. Yet, each of these definitions is incomplete, while the combination of these translations does not convey the total sense of the word. In common parlance, dharma means "right way of living" and "path of rightness"; the meaning of the word dharma depends on the context, its meaning has evolved as ideas of Hinduism have developed through history. In the earliest texts and ancient myths of Hinduism, dharma meant cosmic law, the rules that created the universe from chaos, as well as rituals.
In certain contexts, dharma designates human behaviours considered necessary for order of things in the universe, principles that prevent chaos and action necessary to all life in nature, family as well as at the individual level. Dharma encompasses ideas such as duty, character, religion and all behaviour considered appropriate, correct or morally upright; the antonym of dharma is adharma, meaning that, "not dharma"
Sahaja Yoga is a new religious movement, founded in 1970 by Nirmala Srivastava. Srivastava is more known as Her Holiness Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi or as "Mother" by her followers, who are called Sahaja yogis. Sahaja Yoga is not only the name of the movement, but the meditation technique the movement teaches and the state of awareness, said to be achieved by the technique. According to the movement, this state is the state of self-realization produced by kundalini awakening and is accompanied by the experience of thoughtless awareness or mental silence; the movement teaches the belief that self-realization through kundalini awakening is a transformation which can be experienced on the central nervous system and results in a more "moral, united and balanced" personality. Srivastava described Sahaja Yoga as the universal religion integrating all other religions, she claimed that she herself was a divine incarnation, more an incarnation of the Holy Ghost, or the Adi Shakti of the Hindu tradition, the great mother goddess who had come to save humanity.
This is how she is regarded by most of her devotees. It has sometimes been characterized as a cult; the word'Sahaja' in Sanskrit has two components:'Saha' meaning'with you' and'ja' meaning'born'. A Dictionary of Buddhism gives the literal translation of Sahaja as "innate" and defines it as "denoting the natural presence of enlightenment or purity." And Yoga refers to a spiritual path or a state of spiritual absorption. According to a book published by the movement, Sahaja Yoga means spontaneous and born with you meaning that the kundalini is born within us and can be awakened spontaneously, without effort; the term'Sahaja Yoga' goes back at least to the 15th Century Indian mystic Kabir. and has been used to refer to Surat Shabd Yoga. In 2000, the term'Sahaja Yoga' was trademarked in the United States by Vishwa Nirmala Dharma. Before starting Sahaja Yoga, its founder Nirmala Srivastava earned a reputation as a faith healer. With a small group of devotees around her, she began spreading her message of Sahaja Yoga in India in the year 1970.
As she moved with her husband to London, UK, she continued her work there, year by year the movement grew and spread throughout Europe, by the mid-80's reaching North America. In 1989, Srivastava made her first trip to Eastern Europe. Srivastava charged no money, insisting that her lesson was a birthright which should be available to all. "There can be no peace in the world until there is peace within," she said. Sahaja Yoga ashrams are present in diverse countries which include the following: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, China, France, India, Kuwait, United Kingdom, United States of America, but are not limited to the aforementioned countries; the teachings and beliefs of Sahaja Yoga are Hindu-based, with a predominance of elements from mystical traditions, as well as local customs of India. There are however important elements of Christian origin, such as the eternal battle between good and evil. References to a variety of other religious, mystical as well as modern scientific frameworks are interwoven in Srivastava's teachings, although to a lesser degree.
Sahaja Yoga beliefs are seen by the organisation as a re-discovered ancient knowledge that should be treated respectfully and scientifically, like a hypothesis and if found by experiments as truth, should be accepted. Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi is considered to be an "avatar" by many of her followers and as a carrier of the divine presence which leads some critics to find the organization as cultic. Advanced concepts are not taught until a beginner is understood to have gained enough knowledge of their own subtle system through actual experience. Without direct experience of the meditation, some people have reported difficulties understanding or proceeding to the more advanced material. Sociologist, Judith Coney, for example, reported facing a challenge in getting behind what she called "the public facade", she described Sahaja yogis as adopting a low profile with uncommitted individuals to avoid unnecessary conflict. Sahaja Yoga states that spreading Sahaja Yoga techniques should be free for everyone.
Judith Coney observed that the movement tolerates a variety of world views and levels of commitment with some practitioners choosing to remain on the periphery. The meditation technique taught in Sahaja Yoga emphasises the state of "thoughtless-awareness", said to be achieved; the classification of meditation techniques is based on the amount of mental activity studied from a scientific point of view. At the high end of the thinking activity spectrum lie methods such as visualization. At the low end is mental-silence oriented techniques such as Sahaja Yoga Meditation and Zen meditation; the technique of Mindfulness, where mental content is observed, lies towards the lower end of the spectrum. According to Manocha, Sahaja Yoga is the next logical step, where the meditator not only observes mental content without reaction, but attains a state of no unnecessary mental content at all, while remaining in full control of their bodies and senses; this state is the Eastern notion of the term ‘meditation’ where one feels a state of ‘mental-silence’, or ‘thoughtless-awareness’.
According to the founder of Sahaja Yoga, this state is the state of self-realization produced by kundalini awakening and is accompanied by the experience of thoughtless awareness or mental silence. Sahaja Yoga holds; the texts of Nirmala Srivastava say that "if you are a woman and you want to dominate Sahaja Yoga will have difficulty in curing you" and that women should be "docile" and "domestic". Saha
Om written as Aum, is the most sacred syllable, symbol or mantra in Hinduism. The syllable is chanted either independently or before a mantra; the Om sound is called the Shabda-Brahman. Om is part of the iconography found in ancient and medieval era manuscripts, temples and spiritual retreats in Hinduism and Jainism; the symbol has a spiritual meaning in all Indian dharmas, but the meaning and connotations of Om vary between the diverse schools within and across the various traditions. In Hinduism, Om is one of the most important spiritual sounds, it refers to Brahman. The syllable is found at the beginning and the end of chapters in the Vedas, the Upanishads, other Hindu texts, it is a sacred spiritual incantation made before and during the recitation of spiritual texts, during puja and private prayers, in ceremonies of rites of passages such as weddings, sometimes during meditative and spiritual activities such as Yoga. It is used in other Dharmic religions, such as Buddhism and Sikhism; the syllable Om is referred to as onkara and pranava.
The syllable Om is referred to as praṇava. Other used terms are ekākṣara and omkāra. Udgitha, a word found in Sama Veda and bhasya based on it, is used as a name of the syllable; the word has three phonemes: "a-u-m", though it is described as trisyllabic despite this being either archaic or the result of translation. The syllable Om is first mentioned in the Upanishads, the mystical texts associated with the Vedanta philosophy, it has variously been associated with concepts of "cosmic sound" or "mystical syllable" or "affirmation to something divine", or as symbolism for abstract spiritual concepts in the Upanishads. In the Aranyaka and the Brahmana layers of Vedic texts, the syllable is so widespread and linked to knowledge, that it stands for the "whole of Veda"; the etymological foundations of Om are discussed in the oldest layers of the Vedantic texts. The Aitareya Brahmana of Rig Veda, in section 5.32, for example suggests that the three phonetic components of Om correspond to the three stages of cosmic creation, when it is read or said, it celebrates the creative powers of the universe.
The Brahmana layer of Vedic texts equate Om with Bhur-bhuvah-Svah, the latter symbolizing "the whole Veda". They offer various shades of meaning to Om, such as it being "the universe beyond the sun", or that, "mysterious and inexhaustible", or "the infinite language, the infinite knowledge", or "essence of breath, everything that exists", or that "with which one is liberated"; the Sama Veda, the poetical Veda, orthographically maps Om to the audible, the musical truths in its numerous variations and attempts to extract musical meters from it. The syllable Om evolves to mean many abstract ideas in the earliest Upanishads. Max Müller and other scholars state that these philosophical texts recommend Om as a "tool for meditation", explain various meanings that the syllable may be in the mind of one meditating, ranging from "artificial and senseless" to "highest concepts such as the cause of the Universe, essence of life, Brahman and Self-knowledge". Phonologically, the syllable ओम् represents /aum/, monophthongised to in Sanskrit phonology.
When occurring within spoken Sanskrit, the syllable is subject to the normal rules of sandhi in Sanskrit grammar, however with the additional peculiarity that after preceding a or ā, the au of aum does not form vriddhi but guna per Pāṇini 6.1.95. It is sometimes written ओ३म्, notably by Arya Samaj, where ३ is pluta, indicating a length of three morae — an overlong nasalised close-mid back rounded vowel; the Om symbol is a ligature in Devanagari, combining chandrabindu. In Unicode, the symbol is encoded at U+0950 ॐ DEVANAGARI OM and at U+1F549 OM SYMBOL; the Om or Aum symbol is found in regional scripts. In Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura era coins are embossed with Aum along with other symbols. Nagari or Devanagari representations are found epigraphically on medieval sculpture, such as the dancing Shiva; the Om symbol, with epigraphical variations, is found in many Southeast Asian countries. For example, it is called Unalom or Aum in Thailand and has been a part of various flags and official emblems such as in the Thong Chom Klao of King Rama IV.
The Cambodian official seal has incorporated the Aum symbol. In traditional Chinese characters, it is written as 唵, as 嗡 in simplified Chinese characters. There have been proposals that the Om syllable may have had written representations in Brahmi script, dating to before the Common Era. A proposal by Deb held that the swastika is "a monogrammatic representa
The Caribbean is a region of The Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, north of South America. Situated on the Caribbean Plate, the region comprises more than 700 islands, islets and cays; these islands form island arcs that delineate the eastern and northern edges of the Caribbean Sea. The Caribbean islands, consisting of the Greater Antilles on the north and the Lesser Antilles on the south and east, are part of the somewhat larger West Indies grouping, which includes the Lucayan Archipelago; the Lucayans and, less Bermuda, are sometimes considered Caribbean despite the fact that none of these islands border the Caribbean Sea. In a wider sense, the mainland countries and territories of Belize, the Caribbean region of Colombia, the Yucatán Peninsula, Margarita Island, the Guyanas, are included due to their political and cultural ties with the region.
Geopolitically, the Caribbean islands are regarded as a subregion of North America and are organized into 30 territories including sovereign states, overseas departments, dependencies. From December 15, 1954, to October 10, 2010, there was a country known as the Netherlands Antilles composed of five states, all of which were Dutch dependencies. From January 3, 1958, to May 31, 1962, there was a short-lived political union called the West Indies Federation composed of ten English-speaking Caribbean territories, all of which were British dependencies; the West Indies cricket team continues to represent many of those nations. The region takes its name from that of the Caribs, an ethnic group present in the Lesser Antilles and parts of adjacent South America at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Americas; the two most prevalent pronunciations of "Caribbean" outside the Caribbean are, with the primary stress on the third syllable, with the stress on the second. Most authorities of the last century preferred the stress on the third syllable.
This is the older of the two pronunciations, but the stressed-second-syllable variant has been established for over 75 years. It has been suggested that speakers of British English prefer while North American speakers more use, but major American dictionaries and other sources list the stress on the third syllable as more common in American English too. According to the American version of Oxford Online Dictionaries, the stress on the second syllable is becoming more common in UK English and is considered "by some" to be more up to date and more "correct"; the Oxford Online Dictionaries claim that the stress on the second syllable is the most common pronunciation in the Caribbean itself, but according to the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage, the most common pronunciation in Caribbean English stresses the first syllable instead. The word "Caribbean" has multiple uses, its principal ones are political. The Caribbean can be expanded to include territories with strong cultural and historical connections to slavery, European colonisation and the plantation system.
The United Nations geoscheme for the Americas presents the Caribbean as a distinct region within the Americas. Physiographically, the Caribbean region is a chain of islands surrounding the Caribbean Sea. To the north, the region is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida and the Northern Atlantic Ocean, which lies to the east and northeast. To the south lies the coastline of the continent of South America. Politically, the "Caribbean" may be centred on socio-economic groupings found in the region. For example, the bloc known as the Caribbean Community contains the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, the Republic of Suriname in South America and Belize in Central America as full members. Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands, which are in the Atlantic Ocean, are associate members of the Caribbean Community; the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is in the Atlantic and is a full member of the Caribbean Community. Alternatively, the organisation called the Association of Caribbean States consists of every nation in the surrounding regions that lie on the Caribbean, plus El Salvador, which lies on the Pacific Ocean.
According to the ACS, the total population of its member states is 227 million people. The geography and climate in the Caribbean region varies: Some islands in the region have flat terrain of non-volcanic origin; these islands include Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, the Cayman Islands, Saint Croix, the Bahamas, Antigua. Others possess rugged towering mountain-ranges like the islands of Saint Martin, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Dominica, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Thomas, Saint John, Grenada, Saint Vincent, Guadeloupe and Trinidad and Tobago. Definitions of the terms Greater Antilles and Lesser Antilles vary; the Virgin Islands as part of the Puerto Rican bank are sometimes included with the Greater Antilles. The term Lesser Antilles is used to define an island arc that includes Grenada but excludes Trinidad and Tobago and the Leeward Antilles; the waters of the Caribbean Sea host large, migratory schools of fish and coral reef