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Encyclopedia > Lila

Lila is a concept from Hinduism that explains the universe as a cosmic puppet theater or playground for the gods. "Lila" literally means "play," but in religious texts refers to "divine play" - life as a spontaneous game played by lighthearted forces beyond our understanding. In Vaishnavism lila refers to life and activities of God and his devotees. Hinduism (Sanskrit/Hindi: ; also known as Brahminism, Sanātana Dharma - , and Vaidika Dharma - ) is a worldwide religious tradition that is based on the ancient Aryan scriptures of Vedas. ... Vaishnavism is one of the principal divisions of Hinduism. ... God is the term used to denote the Supreme Being ascribed by monotheistic religions to be the creator, ruler and/or the sum total of, existence. ...

It is an important idea in traditional worship of Krishna (as prankster) and Shiva (as dancer), and has been used by modern writers like Stephen Nachmanovitch, Fritjof Capra and Alan Watts. Krishna (कृष्ण in Devanagari, IAST ) is according to common Hindu tradition the eighth avatar of Vishnu. ... Lord Åšiva. ... Dr. Fritjof Capra – photo by Kate Mount Dr. ... From The Essential Alan Watts Alan Wilson Watts (January 6, 1915 – November 16, 1973) was a philosopher, writer, speaker, and expert in comparative religion. ...

The nearest Western equivalents are the lines from Shakespeare: "All the world's a stage..." and "As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport." The Hindu version is substantially more hopeful.

Lila is a common Indian female name as well. It is also the name of the sequel of the famous book "Zen and the Art of the Motorcycle Maintenance", written by Robert M. Pirsig. "Lila" is the name of his daughter as well, and that is not a coincidence. The author's son, Chris, was killed following the first Book's completion. It seems that the author believes that his son was reborn into his current daughter, Lila, in accordance with the ideas of Samsara (Reincarnation through trasnmigration into new bodies following death) in Zen Buddhism, and in a way the book seems to make a celebrative reference to this idea.

Further reading

  • A Here-Now glossary entry.
  • Another definition, by the Robert Pirsig-inspired metaphysicians of the "Lila Squad."
  • William Sturman Sax, ed. The Gods at Play: Lila in South Asia. Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0195091027

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YouTube - Lila Downs, Llorona (388 words)
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From her new DVD, Lila Downs performs this wond...
From her new DVD, Lila Downs performs this wonderful song.
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