Monday, 28 November 2016

Impacts of demonetization.

When the Prime Minister announced about the demonetization on 8th November 2016, it sent a wave of surprise to all in the country and a shocking blow to those who have amassed millions of unaccounted money. While the shock and surprise are yet to dip, the effects of demonetization are already beginning to show. While the hoarders of Black money are shedding crocodile tears about the sufferings of the common man standing hours together at the bank to exchange his old currencies, their allies in the guise of journalists and financial experts are finding loopholes in the arrangements. Many of them argue that this should have been better planned, so that the misery of the common man could have been avoided. This was not only a very bold and selfless initiative done by the government but also a very secretive one, to which only very few people are privy. And Modi baiters very well know that any level of planning and gearing up would have alerted the very men who are the real targets of this action. Don’t think that they are ignorant, they are only being complicit. Hoarders would have immediately converted their ill gotten money into any other form. But it is also not correct to say that the government caught the common man and small time traders unaware. If you look at the various steps taken by the present government you can very well understand that the government is taking a steady but sure step towards bringing the parallel economy to task. First it was the Jan Dhan Yojana scheme which could get a total of 25.51 crore new accounts as on 9.11.16, which basically comprises of farmers and people in rural India. This paved way for a direct link between the common man and the government getting rid of the touts and middlemen who are the reason for the pilferage in all of the government welfare schemes. As a result of this common man could get the benefits directly from the government subsidies. This gave a blow to the corrupt politicians who used to siphon the grants given to the public. This also brought a major chunk of our population into the banking practices.

Then the government announced the voluntary income disclosure scheme, giving a lengthy rope to the wrongdoers to correct themselves. A total of 65,250 crores were disclosed through this scheme. The demonetization step followed these previous actions, which is quite logical. Already around 5.5 lakh crores have been deposited in the bank within 2 weeks of this announcement and various reports are coming about sacks of cut notes being dumped into sewage canals. So if anybody is surprised by the government’s stern action it is only because of the corrupt and callous governance to which they are used to, for the past several decades.

Government is pushing the country towards more banking transactions and more transparent accounting. This may also be a step towards a cashless economy, as many are hinting about. The gradual transition towards digitization and a cashless economy will definitely help curb corruption in the long run. The increased transparency and record of transactions will make it considerably difficult to hold black money and carry out under-the-table deals. The added convenience of using digital payment solutions and virtual wallets can’t be ignored either.

While announcing this demonetization program, Government stressed that it is the only avenue available to curb the hawala market and the funding which comes to the terror groups. Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) network will be dismantled by the demonetization measures. Taking out 500 and 1000 rupee notes out of circulation will have a lasting impact on the syndicates producing FICN's, thus affecting the funding of terror networks in Jammu and Kashmir, North-eastern states and Naxalite hit states. But we seldom see any news channel, discussing about this intent of the government. They probably would have thought that even the very mentioning of the word terror, would hurt the sentiments of a “section of people”. And as if to assuage the wounded hearts of those people they are inventing stories of suffering to common man. It is not to be forgotten that many of these news channels are actually floating on very same corrupt money, which the government want to get rid of.

With nearly five state elections in 2017, demonetization has stunned political parties. Especially, in large states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, cash donations are a huge part of "election management”. In one stroke, big parties will find themselves hamstrung as cash hoards are often undeclared money. Parties will have to completely rejig campaign strategies in light of expected cash crunch
We should bow before the Prime Minister for taking such a bold decision, which he very well know, is going to get brick bats from his detractors and also could lose him favors from his own admirers. But he has taken a decision which no one has dared to before. This action has shaken many of our people. This action is intended to purify the national veins from the clogged pollutants it has acquired over several decades, an action to revitalize the values. This is a direct call to our conscience. A positive take away from this action is that many among the youth are welcoming this move. That gives a glimmer of hope about the future of our nation.


Thursday, 3 November 2016

Hindu festivals and the Indian guilt

A thousand-wala is laid on the ground; a shivering hand of a mother tries to fire it with a long Agarbathi; children make bluffing sounds to scare her for fun; the mother pretends to act as if she is scared and let down by the children; the father comes to her help; and when the cracker finally bursts, the whole family erupt in joy. In the darkness of the dawn, their faces are lit by the lights of the bursts; the loud blasts fill their ears leaving no more room for the disturbing noises of daily pressures. The moment when the string is exhausted, the family revels in silence with their minds resonating to the single note of togetherness. ‘Phatt!’ goes one piece left over in the string, cracking alone so late only to bring them back to their senses for the next round of fun. This is not a screenplay for a cracker commercial. This is a regular scene in every Indian household on a festive Diwali day. Clothes, pooja, temples, sweets and all others may add to the festivity, but Diwali will remain seriously incomplete without crackers. 

Type the word “celebration” in Google and hit on images. Result? Ninety of the hundred images thrown will have one thing in common – Firecrackers. Crackers are lots of fun. If there is one thing that can bring out the child in a stressed and worked up adult, it is crackers. While crackers can make even adults feel like kids, every Diwali, the champions of modernity run a campaign to make even the kids feel like adults. They would make a 6 year old child hold a placard and pose for a photograph. The poster would read “The Earth has enough problems already. Avoid crackers”. The poor kid would be able to sight only two of those words herself – “The” and “has”. These silly campaigners would conveniently forget how they advocated child’s rights when children were dressed as Goddess Durga for the previous festival. “Let kids be kids. Don’t burden them telling they are Goddesses”, they told.

Though this howling pack will never dare to suggest about reducing the tint of red in a Bakrid celebration, will rather come rushing to make Diwali green. Never mind. A Hindu is always sane enough to see gold for the sake of larger good. The proposal would seem really pink only if this brigade was forever consistent in fighting the air or waters becoming blacker. If bursting crackers for one day in a year is going to burn the planet to an irreversible state of destruction, one wonders if driving millions of cars everyday for the whole year emitting billions of tons of carbon monoxide, going to drive the planet away to a cooler galaxy? These children used in the anti-crackers campaigns would rather lose their cool if they were educated about the pollution caused from cooling systems at their homes and the mega malls, where the ultra-huge atriums that could have been left open to nature were first closed and then centrally cooled. 

The children are usually polluted with an overdose of the campaign feeds. The smart ones perhaps remain unmoved. Imagine, the mind-polluting demon trying to persuade a smart kid to give up crackers. 

With a hand around her shoulder, the tender child is asked “Well, you may find it fun but the others have a right too; they have a right to sleep, don’t they?” 

The soft-hearted child is moved but is quickly reminded of her brother. “Well, the sleeping ones usually don’t wake up anyway. Look at him! You can try firing this atom bomb below his cot”. 
“Hmm… Have you seen the smog early in the morning? Don’t the vehicles go and crash on each other?” 
Quite a reason! “But uncle, why don’t they stay back home and burst their crackers. Is life so hard to crack? Work from early morning on a festival day?” 
“Beta, what about other living beings, don’t they get scared and psychologically affected?” 
“Uncle, what about polished floor tiles, loud noise of your daily soaps, unnatural confinement to a corner of a house, is all these emotional massages?” 
“Forget all that. You love your fellow children. Don’t you? Think of them toiling in those cracker factories, denied of education, unhealthy and dangerous working conditions” 
“Ahaa… such an old story, the reason why my father skipped crackers for a couple of years. If you are really concerned about child labor, you should stop using that costly American phone of yours. They get made in China. You know? China is the biggest abuser of Childs’ rights. Now, don’t hurt the livelihoods of those parents working hard in the cracker units to get their children educated” 
“You’re getting rude. You don’t seem to have respect for elders. May be, that is why you won’t understand how sick the old and ailing ones feel about the noise of the crackers”
“That’s funny uncle. It always my grandfather who wakes us all with an early burst on the Diwali mornings.”
“Baby, so many fire accidents, so many lives lost. Is all the celebration worth?”
“So many road accidents, so many lives lost. Is all the road drives worth?”

The childish trials have exhausted. It’s time to get a bit scary with more serious stuff. “Okay. It’s time to confess. I tried telling you all those because you are a child. You seem to know more than I thought. So let’s come to the actual reason. Firecrackers release lots and lots of tiny toxic particles on air. Those can enter your lungs and damage the respiratory system. And they contribute so much to the global warming”
“Uncle, I think you need to get a lesson. Daily release of green house gases is the real concern. Not just the burst on one day. Emissions from Industries, automobiles, even from chemical fertilizers are far more dangerous. Moreover, the Diwali rains that the crackers bring along, will dilute the suspended particles if not completely wash them away”

When insignificant reasons are bloated and given mainstream media real estate, and when it happens in recurring patterns for every Hindu festival, we start to wonder if there is motivation behind it. One can keep guessing why the color green has come to signify envy, but the number of green-eyed monsters staring with disdain at anything giving elation to Hindus during their festivals is only increasing. 

They would share their fascination for the Spanish festival of Catalonia building huge human towers while dismissing Dahi handi during Krishna Janmashtami as inhuman and uncivilized. During Navaratri, they will deem Durga as a prostitute while at other times they will work to redeem the prestige of sex workers. Images of polluting broken Ganesha will be flashed after the immersion rituals at the same time maintain a deafening silence about how every river gets sucked and dried due to the soft drinks and breweries industries. Chath pooja will be deemed backward and repressive while burqa will be celebrated as minority rights. They will get Jallikkattu banned calling it animal abuse while enjoying Biryanis made of animals whose throats have been slit and allowed bleeding until death. Ravana will be celebrated on Diwali accusing the Aryan Rama for waging war against the Dravidian Ravana, Mahabali will be paid respects on Onam while Vamana who tamed Mahabali in the very same legend will be declared a fictitious character. 

The pattern attempts to instill a sense of guilt about celebrating Hindu festivals by taking away sheen that nurtures and nourishes its continuity. Dear secular uncle! You may not come with a white gown or a green hat. But your designs are clear. You are caught red handed. We have evidence in black and white. You want to break India exploiting the cracks. We want to celebrate India with fire crackers. 
A. Sudarshan,

Uri, Unity and Understanding

News:At around 5:30 a.m. on 18 September, four terrorists attacked an Indian Army Brigade headquarters at the town of Uri near the Line of Control in a pre-dawn ambush. They are said to have lobbed 17 grenades in 3 minutes. As a rear administrative base camp with tents caught fire, 13-14 army personnel were killed. A gun battle ensued lasting six hours, during which all the four terrorists were killed. Additional 19-30 soldiers were reported to have been injured in the attack. Combing operations continued to flush out additional terrorists thought to be alive. Most of the soldiers killed were from the 10 Dogra and 6 Bihar regiments. One of the injured soldiers succumbed to his injuries on 19 September at R&R Hospital in New Delhi, followed by another soldier on 24 September, bringing the death toll to 19

Another terror attack. Another case of loss of lives. Another set of condemnation. Another case of getting back to Business as Usual. Are we reading it right. Yes I am afraid. But the initial look of it, the case looks like “one more added to the list”. But it is not just another terror attack and not just another case of loss of lives. This attack is right inside a Military base. The losses of lives are of our soldiers. This tantamounts to an act of war. Not that a soldier’s life is more precious than that of a normal civilian. But the signals and intent are different. When 19 army personnel lives are lost, it’s a huge embarrassment to the security establishment of a country. And immediately you hear a round of condemnation from those in power and positions. And then after a week everyone gets back to their routine. We hope that the routine is disturbed at least this time, as this is a case of war and this is the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades.

Soldiers do not join the forces signing up to die. But a former Editor of a leading National Newspaper thought so and tweeted that way. The same thought was put across previously by a couple of secular politicians during previous attacks. There seems to be complete lack of sympathy or empathy in the hearts of a huge percentage of our citizens when it comes to the attacks on security forces. Let it be the cases when Maoists have attacked and killed our security forces or when during these types of terror attacks, the general public doesn’t seem to feel the pinch or the pain or share their anguish. The usually active social media which keeps buzzing at the drop of a hat was busy discussing mundane stuff post this attack. Rightly social media erupts at any injustice or crime. If a woman is raped or killed, rightly women and men rise up in anger and fill the social media and the streets with posts and protests respectively. If anyone from any underprivileged section of the society is attacked or assaulted, rightly the rest of the citizens stand up for them and criticize such attacks. If a dog is thrown from a terrace by two psychopaths, the animal activists and the rest of the society too rightly vent their anger in social media and create pressure to nab those culprits.

We have to be happy that such inhuman and criminal acts aren’t acceptable in our society and hence the citizenry is reacting rightly with frustration, anger and anguish. But when it comes to the lives of our soldiers and police, all these real life activists, social activists and armchair activists go into hiding. The youth of the country keep themselves busy with cinema, cricket, their own state related issues, memes, forwarding jokes and what not. Some Tamil dailies carried the suicide of a suspected murderer in its front page as Headline news pushing the martyrdom of these 19 soldiers to a smaller space in the newspaper. This is kind of apathy is truly shocking and worrying especially when its seen amongst the youngsters of this country. This is kind of non-reaction doesn’t make them less patriotic or less human. I am not here to certify who is more patriotic and who is less patriotic. But these are the times when one has to stand up and stand shoulder to shoulder for the sake of our security forces who are braving against many odds and are ensuring that we sleep peacefully daily at our homes. Lack of sympathy and empathy and having no anger or pain at such times demoralizes our security forces. They feel let down at the most important and crucial juncture. 

Such a callous attitude from the citizens encourages the government of the day too to not react in a manner that is expected out of them. There has been lack of accountability and responsibility after every terror attack. There has been either lack of intelligence or in this case intelligence inputs weren’t acted upon. No heads have rolled post any attack. Fortunately this government is showing at least some kind of stronger intent (which we are hopeful will get translated into action) when it comes to dealing with situations like these. The number of terror attacks has come down sharply. The Prime Minister in his Independence Day address, made stunning remarks on the problems in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. We would still have to wait and watch what the follow up steps are in this regard. Pakistan has openly stated many times in the past that their strategy has been to bleed (weaken) India through a thousand cuts internally. It can never afford to go for a direct war initiated from its end openly. It will continue to push for covert operations, infiltrations and terror attacks. The time is ripe for India to pay back Pakistan similarly by giving a taste of its own medicine. And the Prime Minister’s statements on Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pashthunistan looks promising. For a tooth, an entire jaw must be the approach that needs to be followed. For every attempt on Kashmir by them, should be countered with strong actions from our side on Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan Pashtunisthan.

The attack was preceded by a phase of disturbances and violence in the Kashmir Valley clearly supported by the forces across the border. For the first time our security forces after lot of thought and consideration, used pellet guns to put the violence to rest. But shamelessly, some of the mainstream media channels, pseudo-intellectuals, secularists, pseudo-progressives and pseudo-liberals attacked the government and the security forces instead of condemning the violent protestors. They didn’t dare to questions as to what role do children play in street violence and protests. The Indian state was portrayed as a rogue state to the outside world by these criminals. That the security forces put at risk their lives and they too were getting injured and killed in the violence was completely hidden by these criminals in their coverage, posts and statements. Worryingly though the number was very less, anti-national Tamil forces organized and drummed up support for the Kashmiri cause during this troublesome phase. Similar acts were enacted from Bengal and other places too. The Uri terror attack has followed up these disturbing events. That’s a very important point to note. Sections of mainstream media and the other usual suspects after initially expressing caution, have now gone back to the old ways of building bridges with Pakistan by ask for talks, people to people engagement, Bollywood and Paksitan cine industry engagement in each other’s countries and playing cricket. And sections of the youth and sections of mainstream society not being bothered or not being anguished, pained and angered with the Uri attack is calling for some radical steps to change the narrative of the country.

There definitely needs to be a change in the curriculum at both school and college level by including our rich and victorious military history in the syllabus. More exposure about the life in the Armed forces and interest in the armed forces should be given to the students through the National Cadet Corps (NCC) by increasing the strength and budget for the NCC cadets. The cine industry must be encouraged to make more movies about our victorious military campaigns and war heroes. The novel idea of Param Veer Vandanam being done in the annual Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair in Chennai where school students offer their respects and salute to the Param Veer Chakra awardees recognizing their supreme sacrifice for the nation should be encouraged to be practiced at least once in a year in all the schools in the country. The government should reach out the senior Military officers and retired military personnel to get inputs and novel ideas to bring the armed forces much closer to the civilian population’s heart and mind. These and many other radical and sensible steps must be taken by this government to ensure that its citizens are on board at all times for the sake of the armed forces. The government should also come out with a stronger message and action which will ensure that not one more life is lost in this nation to Pakistan’s designs. So it’s a two pronged strategy that the government should think about and play out – one will be internal to change the narrative and two will be external to set the narrative. Our best wishes and support to the Indian government in this regard.
Sreenivasan .B.R

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Universal Brotherhood.

The preparations must be on for celebrating the Universal Brotherhood Day befittingly. We celebrate Universal Brotherhood Day on 11 September to commemorate the message of Universal Brotherhood given by Swami Vivekananda to the Western audience in the Parliament of Religions at Chicago. As such, the festivals of organization are for Shaktipradarshan (celebrating festival in such a way that people get insight into the noble objective of the organization), Shaktiparikshan (celebrating the festival by employing our whole organizational strength, thus celebrating it on grand scale) and Shaktisamvardhan (enriching ourselves in the purpose and philosophy of our work). In certain festivals, we focus more on Shaktisamvardhan. However, the function of Universal brotherhood Day includes all three. This year we can focus on this thought during Universal Brotherhood Day celebrations.

The search for strife-less society, was and is going on all over the world. It was felt that the differences lead to clashes, so if there is Oneness then it can bring about brotherhood. Unfortunately, this search for Oneness in the West led to insistence in uniformity of god, declaring one’s own god as the only true god, whereas in India it led to the principle that everything is true and valid, and is called differently as per the evolution, situation or needs of the people.

Swami Vivekananda explains this in detail in his speech “The Mission of Vedanta”. He says, “We observe in the histories of Babylon and among the Jews an interesting religious phenomenon happening. We find that each of these Babylonian and Jewish peoples was divided into so many tribes, each tribe having a god of its own, and that these little tribal gods had often a generic name. The gods among the Babylnians were all called Baals, and among them Baal Merdoch was the chief. In course of time, one of these many tribes would conquer and assimilate the other racially allied tribes, and the natural result would be that the god of the conquering tribe would be placed at the head of all the gods of the other tribes. Thus, the so-called boasted monotheism of the Semites was created. Among the Jews, the gods went by the name of Molochs. Of these, there was one Moloch who belonged to the tribe called Israel, and he was called the Moloch-Yahweh… In time, this tribe of Israel slowly conquered some of the other tribes of the same race, destroyed their Molochs, and declared its own Moloch to be the Supreme Moloch of all the Molochs. And I am sure, most of you know the amount of bloodshed, of tyranny, and of brutal savagery that this religious conquest entailed. Later on, the Babylonians tried to destroy this supremacy of Moloch-Yahweh, but could not succeed in doing so.

It seems to me, that such an attempt at tribal self-assertion in religious matter might have taken place on the frontiers of India also. Here, too, all the various tribes of the Aryans might have come into conflict with one another for declaring the supremacy of their several tribal gods; but India’s history was to be otherwise, was to be different from that of the Jews. India alone was to be, of all lands, the land of toleration and of spirituality; and therefore the fight between tribes and their gods did not long take place here. For one of the greatest sages that was ever born found out here in India even at that distant time, which history cannot reach, and into whose gloom even tradition itself dares not peep – in that distant time the sage arose and declared, Ekam Sad Viprah Bahudha Vadanti – “He who exists is one; the sages call Him variously.” This is one of the most memorable sentences that was ever uttered, one of the grandest truths that was ever discovered. And for us Hindus this truth has been the very backbone of our national existence….Therefore the world is waiting for this grand idea of universal toleration. It will be a great acquisition to civilization. Nay, no civilization can long exist unless this idea enters into it. No civilization can grow unless fanaticism, bloodshed and brutality stop. No civilization can begin to lift up its head until we look charitably upon one another; and the first step towards that much needed charity is to look charitably and kindly upon the religious convictions of others.”

The religions like Christianity and Islam, which are the further developments in Semitic religion of Jews, also followed the same suit. Their search for unity became exclusive saying their religion alone is true. This exclusive approach led them to work vigorously and violently to wipe out any dissenting voice, idea or way of worship. Though it all started with the search for brotherhood or in the name of brotherhood, instead of brotherhood it actually led to more bloodshed. This search for unity based on the person or ideology is such an illusive thought that even the variations in their own religion are not tolerated. Thus the wars between Catholics and Protestants or Shia and Sunni continue. The universal brotherhood is missing even in amongst these particular exclusive religions. The conversion of each other within the religion also goes on. The Protestants want to convert the Catholics and vice versa. Once I had met a foreign catholic Christian father who was working for nearly 50 years in Ranchi area. I asked him, ‘why do you convert?’ He said, ‘if I have something good with me should I not share it with others. When I know that believing in Jesus alone would give salvation, it is my duty to tell that to others.’ I asked him, ‘but then why do you convert the Protestants? They are following the same Jesus’. He said, ‘They have to pray to Jesus as we pray, as our Church tells only then they can go to heaven.’ Swami Vivekananda says, “I have found out by experience that all evil comes, as our scriptures say, relying on differences and that all good comes from faith in equality, in the underlying sameness and Oneness of things. People in the world can be brought together only on the basis of principles.” Insistence for adopting of same prophet or ideology cannot lead to oneness.

In many of the Christian countries, they do not allow the Church of the other countries to work in their own country though the god that they follow is the same! People cannot be brought together in the whole world in the name of one god. Our sages gave the principle to rally the people around, “Ekam Sad Viprah bahudha Vadanti” Once the Arunachali commented, ‘The Christian missionaries have divided us not only as Christians and Non-Christians but also in amongst Christians there are divisions like Catholics, Baptists etc. So they keep on fighting and converting each other, whereas when we were not converted we all used to celebrate our festivals together, we used to even till each other’s’ lands, help each other in building their houses.’ Thus, the forcing of exclusive religion for universality, for brotherhood has led to more bloodshed and hostility than brotherhood. It is this internal strife within exclusive religions, which made Swami Vivekananda, says, “It is in vain we try to gather all the peoples of the world round a single personality. It is difficult to make them gather even round eternal and universal principles. If it ever becomes possible to bring the largest portion of humanity to one way of thinking in regard to religion, mark you, it must be always through principles and not through persons.”

We celebrate the festival of Universal Brotherhood to give this message through the totality of programs which include songs, speeches and other programs, that the brotherhood is possible only if we respect others’ religions, way of life and do not resort to convert them to destroy it. As long as, such actions of deriding other religions as false and converting others by force or fraud continue, there would be clashes and restlessness. Diversity is the rule of nature. However, that need not lead us to differences if we accept everything as legitimate and valid for each other. This respect for all traditions, cultures and religions alone would bring universal brotherhood, would help all the local traditions in the world to survive. It is an admitted position that there is no tradition outside of the Hindu tradition, which is founded on respect for all traditions, cultures and religions. The western and middle-eastern traditions are smeared in blood. Thus, the foundation for Universal Brotherhood is in the Hindu tradition, which respects all the traditions. In convention organized for the Vanvasi communities of North East India, Sri David Frawley, a well-known American Scholar said that ‘Hindu is a common name given to the local traditions in India.’ In a World Congress at Delhi organized by Swami Dayananda Saraswati for the non-converting indigenous traditions of the world, many leaders of indigenous traditions from America, Africa etc. said that their hope is in India, in one billion Hindus, who have protected various traditions over the ages.

The British historian E. P. Thompson wrote, ‘India is perhaps the most important country for the future of the world. All the convergent influences of the world run through this society…There is not a thought that is being thought in the West and East that is not active in some Indian mind.”  Someone had said, ‘If India dies, who lives and if India lives who dies!” How true it is. The survival of strong India, awakened to her purpose of existence is very much the need of the hour as humanity seeks universal brotherhood.

Only when the diversity is recognized, all can follow their traditions unhindered and with respect to each other without denouncing the others. Thus celebrating of Universal Brotherhood day is very important for cultural continuity of indigenous traditions, local traditions all over the world. Thus, our celebration of this festival should serve this purpose. 

                                                                                            Nivedita Raghunath Bhide

Saturday, 6 August 2016


In our public life today, we find that any group that feels aggrieved and wants the government to remove the cause of its grievances, resorts to destruction of public property as well as violence to public life by attempting to paralyse it. The idea, that more such disruption and destruction is wrought in support of an agitation, the more will be its efficacy to achieve the desired ends has now become a dictum and a formula for agitators of all categories.
Curiously enough, the above formula has never failed the agita­tors, so far, during the last over twenty five years of our independence. In recent history, the willful destruction of public property to ventilate one’s demands and to pressurise the government into yielding to them, was resorted to by our people, perhaps for the first time, during the Quit India Movement of 1942. But as the country was then under foreign rule, that measure could be justified by treating it as only a variant of what has been known as the ‘ scorched earth ’ policy of destroying one’s own national wealth, such as standing crops, bridges, water-reservoirs and other means of sustenance and supply to deny their use to the invading enemy forces. But its use as a political weapon by various groups of people, to coerce one’s own govern­ment, as is widely prevalent in India today, is totally un-understandable and extremely unfortunate.
How to account for this suicidal technique presently adopted by all political parties as well as other organised groups such as trade unions and student’s fronts in the country ? The following may be the only two valid reasons. Firstly, many people seem to be unaware of the amount of national wealth we are losing by every such orgy of violence and disruption and of the total damage caused to us on account of the destruction of our assets and resources as well as of the dissipation of human energy and time leading to inevitable loss of production, during-the last twenty five years. It will be worthwhile for someone to calculate and work out statistical figures of the total loss suffered by the country over the years and present them to our people. This knowledge may perhaps open their eyes and may, eventually, dissuade them from indulging in these orgies. Had our people not taken to this path of self-liquidation, the resources saved thereby might well have been more than enough to connect every village in the country with an all-weather road, provide every dry field with irrigation water, furnish every needy place with electric power and, perhaps as a result of all this, give every hand some fruitful work to do.
The other reason for this state of affairs is that the spirit of patrio­tism and the sense of national consciousness that were present in the people during our freedom struggle against British rule have, since the advent of freedom, undergone heavy corrosion, contrary to the natural expectation that these higher sentiments would get more and more intensified. In this, the worst affected is the educated class which provides leadership to activities in all spheres of national life. No one can concede that even the educated are ignorant of the heavy price the country has been paying on account of the destruction of public property and the breakdown of public life that accompany all violent agitations in which many of them not only merrily indulge but are also seen to be in the forefront. The only conclusion one can draw from this is that the national good has now ceased to be of the highest value in the minds of at least those among the educated who follow that course. What we witness today in our country is, indeed, the most unfortunate spectacle. On the one hand, the vision of Mother India that remained enthroned in the hearts of her children till recently as their supreme object of devotion is being slowly lost sight of by them. On the other hand, a tendency to regard their own respective group-interests, either regional, linguistic, economic or political as the be-all and end-all of life has been fast growing. In short, the place of higher values is being usurped by unworthy ones.
Some may argue that neither of the explanations given above is correct. They may say that there is no justification for doubting the patriotism of persons simply because they take to violence resulting in the destruction of their own national wealth and that we need not form so poor an opinion also about the illiterate sections of our countrymen that they are unaware of the colossal loss that is being suffered by our country on that account. Their own explanation may be simply this, that the people are compelled to take to these methods only out of righteous indignation and after having exhausted all peaceful means of getting justice and fair play from the government.

The above explanation amounts to accepting the view that patriotic behaviour is only a conditional obligation and can be waived if those conditions are not fulfilled. In other words, it may mean that people are expected to be patriotic, i.e. devoted to their country and to work for its welfare, only if the government of the day gives good and just administration and that the citizens are duty-bound to act patrioti­cally only to the extent that the above mentioned condition-precedent is fulfilled by the government. But, is this the proper view? According to our traditional way of thinking, to be patriotic is an ABSOLUTE DUTY on the part of every national. It has no corresponding rights whatsoever, as any of the ‘relative duties’ may have. To act patrioti­cally, i.e. to act in the interest of one’s nation and to refrain from any act that may be detrimental to it, is a CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE. If the people are dissatisfied with the performance of their government, they have every right to oust that government, lock, stock and barrel. In fact, patriotism demands of them that they remove from power a bad or a wicked government. But, more than that, it demands that the means employed by the people for such an overthrow of one’s own government, do not cripple the country and defeat the very purpose they propose to serve.

                                                                                                                                 Ma.Eknath Ranade

(This was published as the Editorial of January ’74 issue of Yuva Bharati)


Our life must be meaningful and purposeful. And that purpose is to serve our Motherland and make nation strong and also the Jagadguru. We have discussed this point in this camp of 3 days on the occasion of Mananneeya Eknathji's Janma Shatabdi. Now let us all carry this message to our respective places and work to make this society well organised.

In our life we must instil all the qualities enumerated in Kendra Prarthana. Let each one of us try our level best to do this. So next time when we meet our activities should spread all around our society and Swamiji's message should get actualised.

Tyaga and Seva are the twin ideals Bharat has kept before it from time immemorial. Tyaga is meaningful only if it is connected with Seva. Our ancient scriptures have shown us the way to immortality in the Shloka 'Tyagen Eken Amritatvam Anushu:'. Western culture has thought Bhoga is important and everything is spent for Bhoga. Our culture has taught us, we have right to Bhoga only after Tyaga.

 Worker should be able to utilise his time and energy for the betterment of society. He should not spend his time on activities which are unnecessary or on activities of personal interest.

One must also develop a healthy view towards the society. He should be fully confident that the society will gradually develop into a perfect society. Righteousness in the society keeps the society in perfect balance and that is really Dharma. 

One should develop the habit of helping others to become better and not blame if there is fault in them. Sarthakata can be cultivated by developing various qualities like; Shraddha in Ishvara, Fearlessness ( Nirbhayata), Purity and Truthfulness( Pavitrata and Satya), detachment ( Anasakti), Karuna (Compassion),  Contentment (Santosh), cooperation (sahabhagita), intellectual , Gratefulness (Kritagyata), forgiveness (Kshama), Patience (Dhairya), Acceptance of all situations (Swikaryata), Excellence / Perfection (Utkrishtata), politeness (Vinamrata), courage (sahas), flexibility of mind/ adaptability to changes  (parivartanshil).

Every Worker of the Kendra should try to become an embodiment of all these qualities. This will make his life Sarthak and the Motherland Samarth.  

                                                                       P. Parmeswaran

Friday, 27 May 2016

“Om Shantih Shantih Shantih”

An advice to chant “Om” and a couple of shlokas at the start of yoga exercises on the International Day of Yoga on June 21 has triggered angry reactions from the so called secular parties, which have accused the government of pushing a “sectarian agenda”.

The government has released a Common Yoga Protocol to be followed by the participants on June 21. The protocol says yoga exercises should be preceded by a prayer that begins with the chanting of “Om” three times, and ends with “Om Shantih Shantih Shantih”. While resisting this move some people have even suggested that OM should be replaced with a suitable word which will be acceptable to all (read pseudo secularists). But one wonders how this can be done as it is an integral part of Yogic practice. Yoga as popularly misunderstood is not just a physical exercise nor just a regimen to get rid of our physical ailments. It is a Holistic Spiritual practice which helps in synthesizing our various layers of personality. Postures help in tuning our body, but it’s the mantras which help us in tuning our mind. Before crying foul that this is an attempt to foist the belief system of Hindus on others, one should understand what these mantras mean and what their effects are. Om is not just a sound but the primal sound of the universe that comprises of all the sounds within itself. Chanting OM brings a degree of peace and purification to the mind. Medical studies have found that chanting OM with concentration enables you to reduce the adrenaline levels that in turn helps in reducing the stress levels. Since chanting OM segregates you from the world and the associated tensions, you tend to find peace without the distraction and you feel pious and serene. 

Few years ago, scientists conducted an experiment in which participants who had never chanted Om mantra were asked to chant it for few minutes and each of their chants were recorded. The time frequency analysis of it showed irregular waveforms which indicated unsteadiness in the mind. They were asked to chant the mantra on a regular basis and after few days, the experiment was repeated. The time-frequency analysis this time had some startling revelations. The waveforms were improved with regular spacing, had almost perfect symmetry and harmony. Not only had these participants witnessed dramatic improvements in focus, concentration & steadiness, but found themselves to be in peace, witnessed reduction in mental stress & could remain calm all the time.

One should not forget that irrespective of the faith all Indians belong to this great old tradition and culture. It is this culture which gave Ayurveda and Siddha medicine to this world. The medicines are prepared by invoking lord Danvantri, a god of Medicine. If people can take those medicines without any qualms why should there be any resistance to Yoga with mantras? Such protests are not coming from any other theocratic states. In fact many of those countries are taking to Yoga as they see the inherent benefit in it. It’s only the pseudo secular politicians from our land who are crying hoarse. 

Yoga is the panacea for the problems which the modern world is facing. Yoga is the answer to the religious fundamentalism which is threatening to push the humanity into extinction. Yoga teaches us the vision of oneness which makes one feel that he is a part of the creation and not distinct from it. A vision which endears one to nature and to all other beings. It highlights the need to uncover all the wisdom found in traditional knowledge systems to find clues to the contemporary problems faced by humanity. It is a philosophy in action. 

Every Indian irrespective of the faith he or she is following now is a rightful legatee of this ancient wisdom. But at the same time it belongs to those and only those who are proud of their cultural heritage and cherish the rich tradition. Not to those who are ashamed of their ancestry and live in denial.  Any attempt to delink yoga from Hinduism should be condemned.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Emancipation through Bhakti

This month marks the beginning of the 1000th anniversary of the great saint and philosopher Sri Ramanuja. The history of Hindu society is replete with lot of churnings to inundate the social and cultural stagnation which the society has begotten into. This becomes essential as the philosophy and culture entwined with it has to be refurbished to suit the needs of people in every century. This is even more essential as this condition befalls on a society because it weans away from the Dharma.  Hence branding this society as one which has stagnated with evils and lack of social mobility is an accusation designed with a motive to deride it by the colonialists. It was done to make the society believe that it needs an overhaul with a culture and belief system totally alien to the people. Simply a design to proselytize our people. If we look at the past and through the lives of great seers we can see that our society had indigenous methods to clean itself from the cobwebs. The bhakti movement is one significant example of such a mass social emancipation when it was needed. 

Many a great seer has come in the past to remind our society its destined path. One such seer was Sri Ramanuja. He was a spiritual leader, a social reformer, a builder of Institutions, a reviver of the eternal spirirtual spring called Sanatana Dharma and a great Philosopher. Sri Ramanuja was an institution by himself. Emperumanar (as he is fondly called by Sri Vaishnavas) just arrived at a juncture when Islamic invasions were in full force attempting to rip apart the Hindu civilization, and posing a great threat to the integrity of Bharat. Sri Ramanuja’s contribution must be understood in the broader context of the civilizational challenges, and how he acted as a bulwark against insidious and external threats. One Incident will bring to light the compassion he had towards the fallen and downtrodden people. After establishing worship procedures at Srirangam, Ramanuja approached an elderly spiritual master Thirukkottiyur Nambi to learn the most sacred of mantras. He introduced himself to Nambi as the servant of Lord Varadaraja. Nambi took him as his disciple and taught the sacred mantras, but instructed him not to share with anyone as they were the most sacred mantras. He also warned him that he would go to hell if he shares the mantras with others.  After learning, Ramanuja was not contended with that soul ennobling mantra. He wanted to share the wonderful secret to the society so that everyone can attain liberation. So he shared them with everyone irrespective of the caste, creed, sex and social status. The next day he climbed up the gopuram of the temple and taught the mantras to all those who gathered there. He also advised them to chant that sacred mantras all the time to attain liberation. Ramanuja’s teacher Nambi called him and threatened him that he would go to hell for sharing the secret mantras with everyone. In reply Ramanuja told his teacher that he would be happy to go to hell at the expense of many people getting liberation for chanting the sacred mantras. At this response his teacher Nambi realised his mistake and Ramanuja’s greatness and decided to become Ramaunja’s disciple. This compassion and inclusiveness is the need of the hour in the present society too. Let us mark the thousandth birth anniversary of this great seer by taking a vow to rekindle that spiritual wisdom of seeing Vishnu in every being and to embrace everyone.