Thursday, 29 June 2017

Society plays Geriatricks

Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.
                                              -Pearl S. Buck

By the year 2050 India will have the largest population of elderly people in the world, according to a projection based on the census taken in the year 2011.  Being a welfare state, our governments are taking all possible steps to ensure that the elderly are treated well and taken care off. Maintenance and Welfare of Senior Citizens and Parents Act 2007 is just a step towards that ideal. In 2014 the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment submitted its report, recommending the following:

Implementation of Existing Policies, i.e.:
- Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007,
- Setting up a helpline for senior citizens,
- Establishing a National Commission for Senior Citizens, and
- Establishing a National Trust for the Aged
Apart from these the Standing Committee in its report also recommended the formulation of new policies and laws for the welfare of senior citizens. Some of the recommendations made with this regard were:

- A comprehensive law on social security
- Pensions, health insurance and tax exemption schemes
- National Council for senior citizens
- Expansion of old age homes and geriatric facilities
- Formulation of standard norms and guidelines for old age homes

With the increase in life expectancy rates the elderly population across the world has increased and continues to. In India it is expected that by 2050, 20 per cent of entire population would consist of elderly people (60 and above). All the above recommendations appear to be on the right track, but the question which still remains elusive is whether these steps will ensure that the elderly are respected, loved and taken care off instead of being deserted by their own children. As a welfare state, our country has to ensure the welfare of elderly people, but at the same time we should also do an inquiry into the cause of this malaise. One main reason for the poor plight of elderly in our society is weaning away from the age old joint family system. Orphanages and Old age homes are something which are never heard off in our society before the advent of the colonial rulers. The colonial rulers saw that the strength of our society lies in the family system and they systematically planned to corrode this system which is the repository of all values. When people drifted from the Joint family system to the nuclear families the immediate victims are the elderly ones in the family. The most loved and revered ones became a liability over a period of time because in the nuclear family the economic burden is not shared. Parents have to shuttle between the houses of their children and many of them lost a permanent home. They lost their emotional connect with their next generation and were left to ponder when they will get relieved of this painful existence. A society which placed Mata and Pita in a higher pedestal than even the God himself, is now frantically searching for ideal old age homes to dump its parents. This fall is the direct result of getting alienated from our values. Schools nowadays teach children life skills like, how to face an interview, how to take part in a group discussion, how to address people, building their vocabulary etc. these skills are very important and vital for anyone who wants to come up in life braving all the challenges. But along with these if the children are also taught the most important values like empathy, sharing, sacrifice, honesty, respect to fellow human beings, love towards nature etc. that will not only ensure that they imbibe good qualities but will also pave way for society sans Orphanages and Old age homes. Major role in designing an ideal future society lies in the hands of present day parents. If they fail to impart values to their children then they will emerge only as educated zombies. They should make their children realize that life is not just about rights to enjoy, but a lot more about responsibilities and duties to fulfill.  Ideal society is not the one where there are adequate number of Old age homes with all the facilities, but the one which does not have the need to build Old age homes.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Being Happy…

Every human being’s ultimate aim in life is to be happy. It is towards this ever eluding happiness all human endeavors are aimed at. Our Work, Business, Politics, Recreation everything is intended to provide this Happiness, not only to us, but also to all those who are around us. When the whole world is trying to reach this Mirage called Happiness, our country has devised its own unique approach to be Happy always. It’s a product of our very ancient Vedic Cultural Heritage, its Yoga. Yoga, as popularly misunderstood, is not mere Asanas and Breathing practices. Yoga is wonderful science, which uses our Body and Mind as a tool to get liberated from the very same Body and Mind complex.

Our scriptures say that we are embodiment of happiness. But to realize this, which is the core of our personality, we have to get detached from bondages. We will be able to see that the entire creation is divine once we get ourselves detached from our bondages. Seeing the entire creation as one is the path to the abode of Happiness. Swami Vivekananda said, “Religion is not in Doctrines, in Dogmas, nor in intellectual argumentation; it is being and becoming, it is Realisation”.

Yoga helps us to get this vairagya, which is essential for getting the detachment. If we cling on to the lower truths, our spiritual quest can never become true. Then happiness will forever be a dream to be achieved. In fact we cling on to the bondages because we think that they are the sources of happiness. We also misunderstand that happiness means enjoyment. And try to pursue Happiness through enjoyment. But how do we pursue happiness effectively? After all, some recent scientific research actually cautions us against the pursuit of happiness. For instance, a study led by Iris Mauss, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, found that people instructed to feel happier while watching a pleasant film clip actually ended up feeling worse than people who were instructed just to watch the clip. Findings like this are echoed in the popular press. Renowned Writer Ruth Whippman wrote in a recent New York Times article that the pursuit of happiness is a “recipe for neurosis.” But then is happiness a dream which can never be achieved? Are we doomed to fail at the pursuit of happiness? It depends. The difference between effectively and ineffectively pursuing happiness may all be in how we go about it. Research suggests that people who strive to feel happy all of the time may suffer disappointment, and people who pursue happiness as if it were the only thing that matters may, ironically, chase happiness away. It’s because we search happiness in material beings and forget the real source of happiness.

But in yogic lore Santhosha which is the term many people misconstrue for happiness actually means contentment. It is not about enjoying or possessing valuables but being content with what life has given to you. If our mind is tuned with the help of yoga to get this santhosha then as a natural progression we will be able to get Ananda, the real happiness.

We, as a society, once gave this unending elixir of happiness to the humanity. Now, once again it is our responsibility to remind the world and also us, that the search for happiness can end with realizing that Ananda, which comes through proper understanding and practice of this wonderful Vedic technique called Yoga.


Saturday, 29 April 2017

Choke them…

Another ambush, another round of condemnations, another reprisal will not see the end of the Naxal menace in our country, the tribal areas of which have become the hotbeds of secessionist activity. If the country has to see a lasting solution to these kinds of insurgent attacks, then it has to carry out combing operations not just in the Naxal infested tribal areas but also in the varsities known to be the breeding centres for these anti-national ideologies and activities. Maoists have long before captured many of the vantage positions in varsities like JNU and media where they continue their hoodwinking and influencing neutral minds without any check. These positions not only give them access to many young and fresh minds to be brainwashed, but also provide them their sustenance from the very state which they want to liquidate.  It is these breeding centres which incite innocent youngsters into fight against the Indian state. It is these breeding centres which with their contrived tales about our Ithihasas and Puranas, denigrate Hinduism, as they view it as their prime enemy. They foist tales to make Goddess Durga  as a scheming, fair-skinned, upper-caste woman who seduced a dark-skinned Dalit Mahishasura into defeat in a concocted festival that was named Mahishasur Shahadat Divas (Mahishasur Martyrdom Day). The unregistered union DSU does not only call for an armed rebellion against the Indian State. It also incites Dalit students for a civil war as much as it provokes the people of regions affected by Maoist terror. A poster it pasted prominently on the walls of some JNU hostels in 2015 reads: “Build a militant resistance against the mounting atrocities on Dalits.”

Maoist sympathizers and recruiters have time and again participated in programs conducted inside the JNU campus to instigate the student community to fight against the state. The administration of the varsities have turned a blind eye to all these kinds of unlawful and anti-national activities goes to prove our suspicion that this foreign funded menace has taken deep roots in our society. Many people think that the Maoist attacks are an uprising of the poor tribal against the rich political class who exploit them. But it is far from the truth. The poor tribal are forced to take up arms against the state by the Maoists. Maoists are against any development happening in the Tribal areas, as they want to stall the progress of our country. So they goad the villagers that their livelihood is being usurped by the development projects, but in reality it actually helps them in their livelihood. They want the tribal people to remain in their present miserable plight, so that they can continue their anti-national agenda by exploiting them. When the Maoists ask a villager to join their forces the villager has no other choice. Millions of tribal who doesn’t want to side with these anti-nationals have got displaced because of that in the last decade. Not many are fighting out of their own volition. If they refuse they will either be displaced or disposed. Fearing this many of the villagers join these Maoist insurgents. It is led by those who got infected by the Maoist plague in varsities like JNU. So choking the fountain head of this degenerate ideology is of utmost importance. All student bodies which identify themselves with the Maoist ideology should be banned and all the funding from foreign bodies to these varsities should be scrutinized and banned if needed. Those who eulogize people like Yakub Memon should be dealt with a stern hand. Along with the combing operations in the Naxal infested areas, these actions are also to be initiated to stop this menace from further bleeding our Nation.



Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A Motion uncalled for…

The Canadian parliament passed a motion recently which curbs criticism of Islam as a religion. The anti-Islamophobia motion is also referred as the M-103 motion. It got a overwhelming majority of 201 votes in support against 91 who opposed it. This follows the weak kneed approach towards the refugees issue by many of the European countries. When the entire world is calling for a concerted action against the fundamentalist ideologies which threaten the humanity to its brink, this retrograde move comes as a shocker to the international community. This only emphasizes the fact that politicians are of the same ilk, wherever they are, acting against the interests of the humanity. Instead of safeguarding the victims they are siding with the aggressors, the kind of Dhimmitude, towards which all the aggressions are intended. 

Compare this with the plight which Hinduism faces in its birthplace. All sort of adverse inferences are cast against the country’s major religion by the so called liberal free speech votaries. This continues day in and day out, in all spheres and this goes very much unchallenged. In fact a similar motion is needed in our country, not to bar the criticisms, but only to save the much maligned religion, Hinduism from biased mudslinging. The oldest civilsation, is actually in a brittle condition due to continued smear campaign.

Years of exposure to this cesspool of lies have benumbed the general population of our country that they seldom react to such innuendos. Hence, a lie repeated several thousand times gets an exalted position equivalent to truth. Recently a report came about the maligning of Hindu gods in the text books for the fifth standard children, studying in kerala. There was no media discussion about that and as expected the social ramification in response to that report was an often experienced deafening silence. Thus these misdemeanors by the zealots go unabated with the support of media and the powers that be. Even in case  when any rare voice of assertion is raised amidst the stupor in which our society is drenched in, the liberals and the secular media will shout it down from the roof to ensure that such calls for real freedom of speech gets suppressed in the howling raised by them. Remember the noise raised when the name of a road in New Delhi was changed from Aurangazeb to Abdul Kalam? Though both were Muslims, Abdul Kalam was a nationalist and naming a road after him was much to the annoyance of the liberals, that too changing it from their favorite Bigot.  This kind of calumny has been going on in our nation for the last several decades without any opposition. But with the new changing world order a glimmer of light is seen at the far end of the tunnel.  Let our hopes become true, for the sake of Humanity.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Mission has enough space to cover…

Last couple of weeks witnessed some unforgettable moments in our Nation’s history. Some are unforgettable because of the scar they have left and the lessons for the society which has seldom shown the needed alacrity to learn from its mistakes. The mockery of democracy during the course of the power struggle between the convicts and their erstwhile aides, is something which will remain undigested in our minds for a long time to come. The other unforgettable event that happened was the launching of 104 satellites in a single mission. This has shattered the previous record of 37 satellites launched by Russia by a mile.

This moment of national pride and importance was rightly explained by the scientist of ISRO, who said that they are aware that it is not a number game and they are aware that number of satellites launched is not comparable to the runs scored on the cricket field. Our media instead of detailing about the intricacies involved in carrying out such a challenging mission, hyped only on the numbers. There is a lot of engineering innovations required for stacking the tiny satellites in the available space and ejecting them sequentially in the desired orbits without colliding with each other. This is the achievement of ISRO's launch vehicle team that calls for celebration. Not only that, the money earned by carrying them almost halved the launch cost of the PSLV. Buoyant with this success the Chairman of ISRO also said that our country is now ready to setup a space station. It would indeed a real giant leap. All these are made possible by hard working men and women who have nothing else in their pursuit other than excellence. 

See what Sri Sujit Menon, a scientist working with ISRO, has to say about his colleagues. ‘Most of the ISRO employees are ordinary Indians. Most of them did not attend an Ivy League University. Most of them have not graduated from the IITs or the NITs. Most of them do not even have a doctorate. Many of them are from middle class families. Some are even from poor households. I have personally worked under the person responsible for creating ISRO's supercomputer, the SAGA-220 housed at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center. He has a BSc degree in Mathematics. That's it. No B.Tech, No M.Tech, No PhD, No Post Doc. I have a degree from IIST, a reputed national university. But I'm awestruck at the depth of his intellect.  I asked him how he was able to achieve so much in his career and rise to the highest of ranks. His answer was simple, Perseverance’.

The success of PSLVs, GSLVs, Chandrayaan, Mangalyaan etc that most Indians see on their television screens has been made possible by the consistent hard work of many such individuals. Ordinary people with extraordinary dedication. May their tribe increase.


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Marina Breach…

The Jallikattu protests by the students started of just like the people against corruption movement started By Sri Anna Hazare at New Delhi, and it veered off like just that movement. This should be a lesson for the youngsters who started this with good intentions. It is not just enough to start a movement, but sustaining it in the same avowed path is also more important. The chances of such movements getting hijacked by vested interests are more and those who were in the forefront should have been careful about this. Anybody who has witnessed such democratic protests being exploited by vested interests earlier, like the one happened at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, would have said that this will also follow suit. The indications were very obvious from the beginning and any sane mind would have recognized it easily. First and foremost was the fact that Jallikattu is a Hindu Tradition, part of the Hindu Festival Pongal, which is also celebrated as Makara Sankaranti all over India was never told by the people who were protesting. They wanted to whip up the linguistic passion of the people of Tamilnadu and were terming this as a Thamizhan Tradition, meaning Tradition belonging to Tamils. They chose to hide the Hindu identity to get support from the Pseudo secular media and the fringe elements. Never ever there was any voice raised against the cattle trafficking which is the reason for the dwindling number of the native cattle in our country. Ban against Cow Slaughter was not a demand by these misguided youths who were protesting. Ban against Cow slaughter is an inherently important issue upon which hinges the future of our Native cattle breeds. The fact that they didn’t do these also gives rise to the doubt whether these anti national elements who hijacked the movement were there right from the beginning, and whether it was they who goaded the youngsters to drop the Hindu identity from their protest. 

This sinister looking start to the movement meant that it surely going to get deviated at a later stage when the anti-national elements feel that they can carry it on by themselves. The mass hysteria of the people of Tamilnadu, who were ignited by the pseudo pride and linguistic jingoism paved an easy way for anti-nationals to percolate inside and poison the crowd. Many Hindus felt that these protests would enable for a concrete action from the government to bring back Jallikattu, which they dearly wanted. So they too turned a blind eye to the dropping of Hindu identity. When the issue was heading towards a plausible solution, the ugly heads of these poisonous minds started showing up. The state government drafted an ordinance, and it was given assent by the Home ministry and then by the Hon’ble president. At that time these usurpers of the movement started asking various other demands which were not there in the beginning. The people who started the movement also resigned themselves from the protests and were booed for that. Slogans against the central and state governments, especially against our Prime Minsiter were raised much to the anguish of the youngsters who were watching all these helplessly. All these could have been avoided had they not shunned their Hindu identity in the beginning, because these anti nationals are also virulent anti hindus and they would never work for a Hindu cause. It was an unholy alliance formed by the leftists, Missionaries, Jihadis and the Pseudo rationalist tamil Jingoists, trying fish in the troubled waters. It is a lesson learnt in a terrible manner for the Hindus in Tamilnadu. But it has also brought out in the open who their enemies are. Hindus have a weird tendency not to learn any lesson from history. Let’s pray to that almighty that it doesn’t happen this time.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Samartha Bharat

We celebrate Samartha Bharat Parva from 25th December to 12th January. Swami Vivekananda had started his historic meditation of three days on the future of India at the mid-sea rock at Kanyakumari on 25th and 12 January is Swami Vivekananda Jayanti. Swami Vivekananda had harped on the fact that India has to become capable of fulfilling her destined role of guiding the world in spirituality. Therefore, we celebrate this period from 25th December to 12th January as Samartha Bharat Parva focusing in the strength and capability of India and the ways to further enhance it. Samartha Bharat Parva culminates in grand celebration of Swami Vivekananda Jayanti. 

Swamiji said, “The whole world requires Light. It is expectant! India alone has that Light, not in magic mummeries, and charlantism, but in teaching of the glories of the spirit of real religion-of highest spiritual truth. That is why Lord has preserved the race through all its vicissitudes unto the present day. Now the time has come. Have faith that you are all, my brave lads, born to do great things! Let not the barks of puppies frighten you-no, not even the thunderbolts of heaven-but stand up and work… 

Give and take is the law, and if India wants to raise herself once more, it is absolutely necessary that she brings out her treasures and throws them broadcast among the nations of the earth, and in return be ready to receive what others have to give her. Expansion is life, contraction is death. We commenced to die the day we began to hate other races, and nothing can prevent our death unless we come back to expansion, which is life. We must mix, therefore, with all the races of the earth. …Let us calmly and in a manly fashion go to work, instead of dissipating our energy in unnecessary frettings and fumings. I, for one, thoroughly believe that no power in the universe can withhold from any one anything he really deserves. The past was great no doubt, but I sincerely believe that the future will be more glorious still. May Shankara keep us steady in purity, patience and perseverance….

We want thousands of men, and thousands of women, who will spread like wild fire from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, from the North Pole to the South Pole- all over the world. It is no use indulging in child’s play-neither is there time for it. Let those who have come for child’s play be off now, while there is time, or they will surely come to grief. We want an organization. Off with laziness. Spread! Spread! Run like fire to all places. Do not depend upon me. Whether I live or die go on spreading yourself …When death is so certain it is better to die for a good cause”. 

Thus in the celebrations of Samartha Bharat Parva, we have to organise various functions / camps / exhibitions / programs to reach the youth to give this message. The youth who come in contact with us through written cultural examinations also are to be motivated to celebrate Samartha Bharat Parva or at least the Swami Vivekananda Jayanti in their colleges. By this, they get associated with Kendra. Thus Samartha Bharat Parva is very important period for us to involve all the newly contacted persons in our work and hence, we have to plan properly. 

While sitting at the Rock at Kanyakumari, Swamiji realised his mission of life as to awaken the Hindu Nation which had lost confidence in itself. He decided to talk to the American people about Vedanta, so that if West appreciated it then the educated in India too would turn to it. Due to exploitative British Rule, the people of India were too poor. His compassionate heart also wanted to start some work to help them. Thus, he first went to America with the idea of participating in the Parliament of Religions and for collecting the money for starting some work for the poor in India. The American people responded with great enthusiasm to his exposition of Vedanta. Because of his triumph in America the missionaries undertook vigorous campaign against him. Though it did not affect his popularity, it affected his fund collection. He wrote to Nanjunda Rao, “But you must not depend on any foreign help. Nations like individuals must help themselves. This is real patriotism. If a nation cannot do that, its time has not come. It must wait.” 

But then he found that though his efforts to raise money were frustrated, his triumphant work in America had raised the confidence of India. He observed how West achieved many successes because of organized efforts. He wanted that, rise in self-confidence in India, not to be effervescent but, should lead to some concrete work through organization. For the organization, right types of men are needed. To mould the men to carry forward the work in America he found that he has to put the Vedantic truths in such a way that it moulds character. That was a difficult job. He wrote, “I have succeeded now in rousing the very heart of the American civilization, New York, but it has been a terrific struggle… I have spent nearly all I had on this New York Work and in England. Now things are in such a shape that they will go on. Then you see, to put the Hindu ideas into English and then make out of dry philosophy and intricate mythology and queer startling psychology, a religion which shall be easy, simple and popular, and at the same time meet the requirement of the higher minds - is a task only those can understand who have attempted it.” 

While attempting to take the Vedanta to the modern mind higher purpose of his birth as hinted by Sri Ramakrishna became clearer to him. In one of his letters he wrote about it- “The dry Advaita must become living -poetic- in everyday life; out of hopelessly intricate mythology must come concrete moral forms; and out of bewildering Yogi-ism must come the most scientific and practical psychology-and all this must be put in a form so that a child may grasp it. That is my life’s work.”
It is this work of Swami Vivekananda of ‘making Vedanta practical’ that we are carrying forward. Vivekananda Kendra has to do this work of Swamiji to spread the message of Practical Vedanta. Practical Vedanta in other words is the Yoga way of life. Therefore, Mananeeya Eknathji chose Yoga as the core of Vivekananda Kendra as said in our Prarthana - Karmayogaikanishtha. Our Kendra Prarthana enshrines most of the key points of how Vedanta can be practiced. Eknathji founded Vivekananda Kendra to focus on these life-giving principles and work accordingly in life. 

The prayer starts with Jaya Jaya Paramatman – victory to God. At every moment in our life, we have to choose. Our each action either elevates us or makes us more selfish or narrow. Jaya Jaya Paramatman means exercising our choice of action in the interest of the Samashti i.e. collectives like family, society, nation and the whole creation in such a way that we are elevated; the Divinity in us is more evident. Swami Vivekananda said in ‘Common Bases of Hinduism’, ‘And then comes the most differentiating, the grandest, and the most wonderful discovery in the realms of spirituality that has ever been made. Some of you, perhaps, who have been studying Western thought, may have observed already that there is another radical difference severing at one stroke all that is Western from all that is Eastern. It is this that we …hold in India that the soul is by its nature pure and perfect, infinite in power and blessed.’ This is what we remind ourselves in our prayer as ‘Vayam suputra amritasya noonam’. We can see that each line of our Prayer is to focus on the great Vedantic principles which Swamiji wanted us to practice. Thus not mere chanting the prayer everyday but also contemplating on it and practicing it in our life would make our society strong and capable to fulfill the purpose of India. 
During Samartha Bharat Parva, the Kalpataru Day is also celebrated on 1 January the day Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa granted his devotees whatever they wanted. Swami Vivekananda says that Sri Ramakrishna was born to protect our Hindu Dharma and Hindu society. Therefore, our society should emerge as Kalpataru, which would fulfill the needs of all the individuals. And what is methodology? Our prayer gives it beautifully – Jeevane Yavadadanam syat pradanam tatodhikam Let give far more than what we receive. 

Swami Vivekananda awakened the soul of India. When Swamiji returned from America in 1897, he was given a rousing welcome, - a welcome no one has received till now. It was as if the soul of India had returned to moribund Indians. Today we need to give a rousing welcome to his ideas in our heart and raise our land through organized work, to make India a capable nation – Samartha Bharat. We have to make the Vedanta simple and practical. Being one with the Chaitanya / Divinity pervading everywhere and employing the body-mind complex in the service of the divinity expressed through family, community, society, nation and the whole creation – Nishkama buddhyaarta vipanna seva vibho tav aaradhanam asmadiyam- is the meaning of Practical Vedanta or Yoga way of life. This is what we are working for raising the world to the higher consciousness for spiritual evolution. Today, this work initiated by Swami Vivekananda is the need of the hour for the whole world. Therefore, our celebrations of Vivekananda Jayanti, which is the concluding program of Samartha Bharat Parva, should be a very grand and purposeful involving many persons at all strata of the society. 
Nivedita Raghunath Bhide