Friday, 31 August 2018

Universal Brotherhood Day

This year is the 125th year of Swami Vivekananda’s speech at Parliament of Religions, which we in Vivekananda Kendra celebrate as Universal Brotherhood Day. The welcome and adoration that was given to the speeches of Swami Vivekananda during the Parliament of Religions at Chicago made it clear that world is in need of the message of Bharat, but Bharat has to awaken to its sense of duty. The Parliament of Religions was organised as the part of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the European discovery of America by Columbus. The purpose of the Parliament was to proclaim the Christianity as the ‘Only True Religion.’ The exclusive approach considers one’s religion as the only true religion. Once this exclusive approach is adopted then others’ religions are not tolerated. This intolerance impels the followers of exclusive religion to set out on large-scale conversion of others even by fraud and force. 

Swami Vivekananda was aware that it is the exclusive approach of these Semitic religions like Christianity and Islam, which was responsible for so much bloodshed and human massacre in the human history.(For example 120 million native Americans were massacred by European Christians after Columbus discovered America. Or as described by Will Durant in the book “History of human Civilization” the bloodiest period in human history was the Muslim invasion period in India.) It is this exclusive approach which is the biggest obstacle in the realization of brotherhood of man. It is well-known that Swami Vivekananda addressed the audience as ‘Sisters and Brothers of America’ . It had an electrifying effect on them. It was not merely a form of address but behind those words was the great spiritual strength of India, which has always practiced the universal brotherhood in her long history of more than 5000 years. Taking pride in this fact Swami Vivekananda said, "I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth." Hindus could have this universal approach because they never claim that, 'the God I worship is the 'Only True God' But they say that there is ‘only God’. (that everything in this world is God alone) Everything is the expression of that One. 

So we do not say that ours is the only true god and others are false gods we say for other's gods that ‘it is 'also' the form of God.’ Thus our approach is an inclusive approach, an 'also' approach. The exclusive approach says 'this only' whereas inclusive approach says 'this also'.  It is because of this inclusive approach – 'also' approach that the Hindus never went destroying other religious faiths. To usher in Universal Brotherhood it is essential that all religions accept this inclusive –'also' approach. 

The Hindus have this ‘also’ approach because they have the vision of Oneness for the whole existence. As Hindus view everything in the existence as the expression of the One, all the manifestations are revered, are accepted. There is then respect for the diversity. As everything is expression of the One, the human soul too is not seen as the sinner but as pure, immortal, complete, whole. This is the message that India has to give to the world.   

For the first time to that audience which was used to the exclusive claims to religious truth, Swami Vivekananda gave the message, “Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity…. But if anyone here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of others, to him I say, “Brother, yours is an impossible hope” ….If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity, and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in spite of resistance, “Help and not fight” “Assimilation and not Destruction” “ Harmony and Peace and not dissension.” 

For the first time to western audience, the message of universal Brotherhood and its proper understanding was given by Swami Vivekananda. Therefore, Mananeeya Eknathji - the Founder of Vivekananda Kendra -wanted this day to be celebrated as Universal Brotherhood Day. Homogenizing the humanity or bringing uniformity in the human society will not usher in Universal Brotherhood but it will only bring further dissentions and destruction. Integrating the various faiths and accepting, as ‘others’ faith also is good for them’ will bring in Universal Brotherhood. Homogenizing brings destruction of the identity and the traditional values in the society where as the integration or seeking harmony keeps the identity of the communities, intact and binds them in the bonds of Brotherhood. Therefore, on this day the message is also for those who are very exclusive in their approach and are undertaking the conversions by destroying the faiths and culture of various tribal and other communities. 

Hindus by their philosophy and practice of inclusive approach are destined to give this message of Universal Brotherhood to the humanity. But in order to do that first Hindus will have to understand this unifying and integrating nature of their Dharma. In the Parliament of Religions Swami Vivekananda also gave us the unifying principles of Hinduism. As put very beautifully by Sister Nivedita, “Of the Swami’s address before the Parliament of Religions, it may be said that when he began to speak it was of “the religious ideas of the Hindus”, but when he ended Hinduism had been created.…These, then were the two mind-floods, two immense rivers of thought, as it were, Eastern and modern, of which the yellow-clad wanderer on the platform of the Parliament of Religions formed for a moment the point of confluence. The formulation of the common bases of Hinduism was the inevitable result of the shock of their contact, in a personality, so impersonal. For it was no experience of his own that rose to the lips of the swami Vivekananda there. He did not even take advantage of the occasion to tell the story of his master. Instead of either of these, it was the religious consciousness of India that spoke through him, the message of his whole people as determined by their whole past.” Thus on the Universal Brotherhood Day we have to study, absorb and highlight the message that Swami Vivekananda gave in the Parliament of Religions. Not just, the lecture given on the first day of the parliament, which is very well known, but the main lecture that he gave in the Parliament of Religions - “The Paper on Hinduism” needs to be studied. It is the study and application of this lecture, which will make us capable of giving the message of Universal Brotherhood Day to the world. 

Nivedita Raghunath Bhide

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Water the Roots

Our fundamental work is to ‘Water the Roots’. What does Watering the roots mean? If we try to search the roots of our nation, culture, then we find that the Vedas are our philosophical foundations and Vedas are our roots. Vedas means the eternal laws of existence. These are the roots of our culture and our nation. Because of this, our nation is a cultural nation. Whenever our nation was invaded and difficulties were faced by the nation, we recognized the roots and watered it and our culture flourished. The more the people lived these principles in life, in the society, the society and nation developed. When these principles were missed or were not brought into day to day life, we wobbled, could not face the challenges and difficulties or we were not able to develop. Resurgence of India is directly linked to practice and vibrancy of the Vedic ideals.  

Mananeeya Eknathji established Vivekananda Kendra to focus and practice the Vedic ideals. We have attained independence and our external development like economic status is improving. Society is also getting organized. But if these principles are to go away from our lives, from our consciousness, then though this nation will be externally developing, it will remain weak and development will not be sustainable. Therefore, for watering the roots, we have to work ceaselessly for practicing and propagating the Vedic ideals in our Bharat Rashtra.  

Mananeeya Eknathji envisaged Vivekananda Kendra as a mighty thought movement. The purpose of Vivekananda Kendra is to ‘Water the Roots’. If the Vedic principles are forgotten and if we are engaged in activities just for the sake of activities then doubts may crop up in our mind also about the purpose of the work itself. The relevance of Vivekananda Kendra as a thought movement is in enshrining the Vedic principles in national life. We should not allow the ideals to disappear from national consciousness and also from our behavior. This is ‘Watering the Roots’ Swami Vivekananda had observed that the spread of the vibrant spiritual thoughts from the Vedas preceded the eras of greatness and prosperity of our nation. Our history is replete with such examples. Vidyaranya Swami came first, and due to his guidance, Harihara and Bukka founded the great Vijayanagar empire. Swami Ramdas focused more attention of people on message of strength and right conduct and the great Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj freed India from Muslim rules. When Adilshahi, Nizamshahi, Kutubshahi  were growing powerful and Hindus were dying in war, at that time Shivaji Maharaj was the only one who turned the tables.  Similarly, Sri Ramakrishna did great spiritual Sadhana and the Vedic principles were realized by him and were taken to whole world by Swami Vivekananda, who became the great inspiration for freedom of India.  We can site many examples. They can be at the local level or at the all-India level. Whenever we brought the fundamentals of Vedas – which include oneness of existence, compassion and concern for others, restraint in personal life, respect to others etc. in day to day life we overcame the difficulties and once again made the society prosperous.

One example is of Tamilnadu – Bishop Caldwell hatched a conspiracy, which took shape in 20th century, that Tamilians are not Hindus, that the Dravidian culture is different, that the Dravidians are different, and Aryans pushed them down towards south, etc. and so on. The seeds of this poison were sowed by Bishop Caldwell and people at that time mocked at him. But he continued to spread this poison expecting that it may sprout at some time in the future. When Swami Vivekananda came to Chennai in 1897, after coming back from America, lot of people came on the first day and all were loudly hailing the glory of Swamiji. The number of people outside the auditorium was ten times more than the number of people inside. People had come to see Swamiji, but those who were not able to see, were giving slogans outside. Swamiji could not speak much between these slogans so he came out. There was a chariot in which, Swamiji was brought to the auditorium. By standing on it, he gave a short speech. After the speech ended, 'Jai Jai Bharatmata', and 'Arya Dharma Jai Jai' etc. slogans were raised. Imagine, this happened in 1897 that is after six years of death of Bishop Caldwell who had said Tamils were pushed by the Aryans. 

But within 25 years of his passing away the poison which Caldwell had sowed had taken roots in our soil and as a result a political party subscribing to that wicked lie was started in the year 1916 by the name Justice party. Their campaign bordering on the lines of sedition advocated that the tamilians are not Aryans, they are Dravidians, who have been driven away from their homeland by the Aryans. Dravidar kazhagam Movement which is an offshoot of the Justice party, became popular in Tamil Nadu in 1960. They started to tell that Ram is Arya, Ravana is Dravidian and their ideal is Ravana. Since Rama killed Ravana they were averse towards Rama. They desecrated the temples of Ram and garlanded him with chappals. 

It was a politically and socially turbulent time for Tamilnadu. At that time, the Shankaracharya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swami ji of Kanchi kamakoti Peetham. Kanchipuram, who became Shankaracharya at the age of 13 and lived for 100 years and worked for a very long period of time used to preach by walking from village to village, meeting the people.  Playing Veena during night hours he would keep his head on it and rest for two hours. Then again would start his daily routine. His life was transparent. He wandered the villages and removed the poison that was injected by Dravidar kazhagam in the society. The temples of Ram and Ganesh which, were desecrated and broken were reconstructed.

Likewise, there is another example which, we get from the Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh, where the influence of NSCN the militant organization and forceful conversions to Christianity began to increase. In Tirap District, the terrorists killed seven people who were planning to protect the culture of the society. In the face of difficult times, the people of Changlang to protect their culture initially they built 2 temples of RANGFRA. The people in Arunachal did not have the system of temple. As the whole life was considered as pooja, there was not daily practice of pooja; only on special occasions special poojas were performed. So in order to come together at least once a week and to pray to the Ishtadevta regularly they built this temple. But terrorist burnt them down and threatened the locals that if anybody rebuilt it, he would be shot dead. 

The villagers thought that if whole village builds the temple they cannot shoot all. Thus over night the temples were rebuilt. again. They started telling terrorists that they are not against the Jesus Christ or Christians but they want to follow their culture to retain their identity. The ordinary people of the community stood firm, practiced the traditional norms, got united and thus the terrorists retreated. Today there are 84 temples in Changlang District and transformation has come in the life of the people. Thus the practice of spirituality precedes the periods of glory.

'Ekoham Bahusyam' is extolled in Vedas. It means ‘One became Many’. This whole universe is manifestation of Ishwara. Body is made up of small cells. Each cell has its own life, its own function. Prana unites them. Therefore, they work complimentarily. Thus all cells, all organs in body are interconnected, interrelated, complementary and interdependent. Similarly, Ishwara which, is inside and outside us connects all of us. Therefore, the whole universe is interconnected, interrelated, and interdependent. Thus, individual is the part of a family, society, and nation. We should work and behave in such a way that we bring joy, harmony in our extended forms like family, society, nation and the whole creation. At the same time, we should get established in the Self - Atmatatva. Thus there are two types of Sadhana, - One is to connect with the collectives like family, society and nation and contribute for it. Second is to keep ourselves rooted in Atman so as to merge in Ishwara. This two-fold Sadhana is according to Swamiji a ‘Man Making and National Reconstruction’ process. In simple language, to move with everybody with feeling of oneness. Its like a mother and child relationship. If the child is wrong then she corrects him, but when she sees the child in tears, she cuddles the child and always takes care of him. This type of behavior towards the society and nation  will ensure the actualisation of  “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah”.

Our culture is based on Yajnas. Yajna is not meant as homam here, where we offer some material in fire. This Yagna is offering our life time, energy, money, our right behavior for nurturing the family, society nation and the environment. Because of these collectives a person becomes capable of doing every single task in his life. These collectives nurture the new-born then he becomes capable of performing proper actions as an officer, teacher or whatever work a person does. He also becomes capable of playing the role of a parent or elder brother or sister, or grandparent or uncle etc. properly.  A person gets in return of his work as Karmaphala, the reward which, is salary, remuneration, respect, status, influence, etc.  

Some portion of that Karmaphala or reward, is to be offered to sustain the society or for the national reconstruction work. This offering is called Aahuti. This offering should continue so that the collectives are enriched and are equipped to take care of the younger ones and the smaller identities  properly. Bhagwan Sri krishna says in Srimad Bhagavad Gita, 'Tasmatsarvagatam Brahma Nityam Yajnye Pratishthitam" i.e. Thus, Brahaman is ever established in Yajna. In Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 3/15, it is said that by practice of Yagna Dharma Chakra’s continuity is assured. The yajna stops, if the man becomes selfish and ceases to contribute, to offer for the enrichment of the collectives. That is why we may work for the few hours for the collectives but our behaviour should be 24 hours such that it protects the harmony in collectives like family, society, nation and the whole creation. It is not that one is a teacher for four to five hours. One is a mother or a father just for a while. We are part of the society for 24-hours, even though we work for a few hours as per the responsibility. This attitude, this principle should always be kept in mind while working in the society. If the collectives are destroyed, disintegrated, disturbed, then we being part of it also get affected.

Mananeeya Eknathji started the work of Vivekananda Kendra in the light of the Upanishads and Vedas. Therefore, Kendra is not only to undertake activities but also to establish and maintain those principles in the society. This was expressed by Mananeeya Eknathji in one of the brochures at the time of the establishment of Vivekananda Kendra. This further has been explained in Kendra Prarthana. 

1) “Dhyeyamarganuyatra”. 
The journey towards goal; can be without obstacles if there is regular practice of ‘Renunciation, Service and Self Knowledge’. These three dimensions are necessary to reach destination. Of these three even if one is lacking the journey will be affected. Thus, a Karyakarta has to sacrifice his time, energy, inconsistent behavior and ego. Service should be manifested in the work with dedication, and the third one is working with the vision of Oneness and self-confidence in one’s inherent strength. These three should be together. Many organizations and clubs work with renunciation and service attitude, but without the Vision of Oneness of Vedas, aspiring for ideal society will be difficult. There are some renunciates who have sacrificed their lives, they understand the significance of the Vedas, but that does not get manifested through the act of service, therefore they do not contribute for the national reconstruction. So these three ideals namely, ‘Renunciation, Service and feeling of Oneness’ are essential for the work of national reconstruction. Mananeeya Eknathji says, 'Iha jagati sada nastyagasevatmabodhaih. Bhavatuvihatavighna dyeyamarganuyatra' . ‘Iha jagati sada’ means ‘for all the time’ through our Renunciation, Service and Self Knowledge, the journey towards the goal is successfully completed. 

2)‘Vayam suputra amrutasya nunam’
‘We are the children of immortality, the divinity itself’, this attitude has to reach to the heart of every individual. We are Immortal being, we are embodiment of power, this is to be taught to everyone. Whatever work is to be done, we will do it because that power is within us. We will never bog down in front of the situation but we have the power within to change the situation, we will have this faith and work patiently. 

3)‘Nishkambudhyartavipannaseva Vibho Tavaradhanam Asmadiyam'
 It means that we worship God by serving downtrodden, fallen and miserable. We are worshiping God, doing Sadhana through our work, this should be the attitude when we work. Swami Vivekananda used to say, “Work is Worship”.  It is also said in the Bhagavadgita and Upanishads that we will live for 100 years following this path of service. For practice of restraint in our life, fasting, worship etc. is fine. But the real worship of God is serving the fallen, the downtrodden and the miserable. Our Shastras teach such prayers that we should aspire to live for 100 years to do such work properly. Earlier these dynamics of action were practiced in our Karmabhumi, but now unfortunately they are missing. Nowadays people are reluctant to work. They even say that do not want do more work in your work-places because then much more work will be given to you. Actually, we are born as a human being only to do work. Then, why should we avoid doing work? We should welcome work. We should always try to do more work than what normally we do. That enhances our capacity and capability. 

4)‘Tavaivashisha Purnaatan Tatprayatu’ 
 Yes, it happens sometimes that we start some work but do not succeed because God's plan may be different. Vivekananda Rock Memorial is the living example. People planned to install only a statue of Swamiji. Had there been no obstacles in their plan; then, the grand Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Vivekananda Kendra would not have come into existence. That was the Divine plan that Vivekananda's thoughts should be taken to the society. Hence the obstacles came and eventually plan got expanded with every difficulty and grand memorial and Vivekananda Kendra was established. Therefore, if the difficulties come then we should not turn back but should develop our capabilities, modify the plan, learn to see the God’s grand plan.  No crying, and finding out some reasons and excuses!  No one, by crying over the problems or by running away from it has gained victory but it is said that the one who is ready to digest poison, is worthy to drink the nectar. So, face the difficulties, do not cry that no one here is listening to us but find out why they are not listening.  Develop the habit of accepting our colleagues as they are. Think over, if you have a habit of ordering a lot because of which people get away from you, then change your habit and take everyone with you. Do not blame others, look within and find out your own drawbacks and develop internally. That is, ‘Watering the roots’.

5) ‘Jivane Yavadadanam Syat Pradanam Tatodhikam’ this is the Tantra and Mantra to make our society prosperous, glorious. It means to give much more to the society than what we receive, and it is possible only when the karyakarta's internal development, self-development will be there. Root of the organization is Karyakarta who continually strives for his or her inner growth i.e. Aatmavikas. The human being is developed in two ways – One is an external development, means to learn skills like conducting of the activities, programs, deliver the lecture, to do the office work, communicative skill etc. We learn these skills because the demand of the work forces us to learn it. The second one is internal development. This internal development itself is ‘Watering the Roots’. Strive hard first for your own internal growth and then help in the internal growth of all others.

The points of internal growth are as follows:
1.Planning for time: Planning is essential for everyone today, whether full-time workers, sthanik Karyakartas or generally all of us. Earlier days, in this ‘Sujalam Sufalam’ Mother land of ours, we used to practice restraint in the matter of food, but today we need to restrain ourselves from the use of various gadgets. We spend so much time in that. We have to think, ‘How much time I should spend in it?’  Today, mobile Vrata is needed. We should use Whatsapp, Facebook etc. with restraint.  Take a resolution like that you will not use Whatsapp for more than 15 minutes or half an hour. If you have love for the society then you will have the ‘Control’ over yourself. If we love our nation then we can take out time to serve it.

2. Restraint of speech: For growth of inner being one more quality is ‘Restraint of Speech’. We can recognize how a  Karyakarta is, by the way one speaks. In Ramayana, when Srirama first meets Hanuman, he (Srirama) becomes very happy by his (Hanuman’s) speech and he thinks that the person with whom Hanuman joins hands with has to be successful. Srirama understood that Hanuman is good because of his speech. What was the quality of Hanuman’s speech? 

(A)
Adirgham (AdI"Rm!) - To express our point in a few words.

(B) Avilambitam  (AivliMbtm! ) - We are engaged continuously in our work, so always we know about our work. We should be able to answer without delay any question.

(C) Asandigdham (As<idGxm! ): -  unambiguous; explaining our ideas clearly, no doubt should be left.

(D) Avyatham (AVywm! ) - Our words should not hurt others. Do not make anyone sad by the speech. In Bhagvad Gita, it is mentioned about control of speech. It says through practice, we can have control over speech.  

3. Absolute Egolessness: - This Sadhana of ‘not ‘I’, but ‘We’, is to be done. Work without being egoistic. It is a difficult Sadhana to dissolve “I” and work. This is Sadhana of ‘Atma-bodh’ of expanding our circle of Atmiyata, oneness. The more we work with the feeling of Tyaga, Seva and Aatmabodha (Renunciation, Service and, Self-Knowledge), that much we will be able to connect with others and work with more self-confidence.

We have seen the five aspects of Vedic principles which are enshrined in Kendra Prarthana, which we have to imbibe in our lives. Sister Nivedita says in her lecture ‘Aggressive Hinduism’ that we should be able to present our point with full confidence and firmness. Then only we will be able to establish the eternal principles in the society and will be able to do the work of national reconstruction. We have to drive away the casual approach from the society and motivate one and all for the development.
Shankaracharya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamiji of Kanchi kamakoti Peetham, Kanchipuram, said that, 

"Our country's welfare demands an organised, sustained movement to re-establish ethical and moral values -- signified by the term 'Dharma' -- so that the nation could regain its lost direction for a better future for the present generation and for the posterity. To remain passive, though distressed at heart, in this hour of all round crisis is a betrayal of national consciousness and failure in national duty."

The University of Nalanda which was an integral heritage of our culture, is being rebuilt. It was burnt to ashes by the invader Bakhtiyar Khilaji. But see the irony! Even today, we have to get down at Bakhtiyarpur railway station, to visit Nalanda University. What does it indicate? The soul of India still cannot express itself in all its glory because we are not awakened. The society is still wallowing in self-forgetfulness. To awaken and establish our nation in her glory we have to offer ourselves. By our self-effacement, we have to rejuvenate our nation. We have to water the roots.  
Nivedita Raghunath Bhide
Vice-President
Vivekananda Kendra

Friday, 29 June 2018

Remembering HIM…

4th of July marks the day on which Swami Vivekananda shed his mortal coil. Not just because of this, but we should pick every opportunity to remember him, as his exhortations to our countrymen are more relevant than they were ever before. The cultural nationalism which he envisioned, is a mixture of both Humanism and Universalism, the two important principles of Indian Spiritual Culture. Unlike the western nationalism, which is materialistic, Indian nationalism is based on the Dharmic values. A spiritual voyage will be considered incomplete in India if it doesn’t encompass a deep rooted concern and action for the fellow countrymen who are reeling under poverty and ignorance. So Indian spirituality is always embedded with selfless service.  He wanted the Dharmic ideas to pervade our entire society. He believed that the revival of Indian Spirituality is not possible without the active participation of masses. He said, ‘Let a new India arise out of the peasant’s cottage grasping the plough; out of the hearts of the fisherman, the cobbler and the sweeper. Let her spring from the grocer’s shop, from beside the oven of the fritter-seller. Let her emanate from the factory, from the marts and from the markets. Let her emerge from the groves and forests, from the hills and mountains’. 

At a time when the Vedantic ideas were confined to the domain of few elite intellectuals, it was Swami Vivekananda who took efforts to spread them to people at large. He said that, ‘ In India they tell me that I ought not to teach Advaita Vedanta to people at large. But I say that I can make even a child understand it. You cannot begin too early to teach the highest spiritual truths’.  He put the whole of religion in practice in these few words. ‘Each soul is potentially Divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within, by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work,  or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy,  by one  or more,  or all of these,  and be free. This is the whole of religion-doctrines,or dogmas,or rituals,or books,or temples or forms, are but secondary details’. He spoke only for 3 minutes during his first address in the world parliament of religions at Chicago, in 1893. But despite the brevity he made the sense of Universality very clear in the minds of the audience during that speech. His other speeches at the parliament also had the same theme of Universality. This message has become more relevant in the present circumstances where religious fundamentalism poses a grave threat to Humanity. While remembering him it is also pertinent to spread this message of Universality which will provide a succor to Humanistic and Dharmic ideas.

V.V.Balasubramanian
YB-ET

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Yujyate Anena Iti Yogah...

The announcement of June 21st as the International day of Yoga has accelerated the growth of popularity of this age old Indic Spiritual Practice. That day is celebrated with lot of people practicing Yoga Asanas and Meditation.  In many of the countries it is a state sponsored celebration, thus getting much wider attention and coverage. With this increased popularity comes another danger. Off late there are louder voices which deny that it is a Indic spiritual practice and many of them claim that this is non-religious and thus has nothing to do with Hinduism.  While it is important to counter these claims, it is also pertinent to know the root cause of such claims. The imperial powers which were ruling us during the last century are not able to digest the fact that this wonderful wisdom which is actually a panacea for many of the modern day problems actually belong to a country which was enslaved by them. Though the imperial powers are no longer in the ruling seat, their new avatar the modern market driven capitalist countries are having the same kind of malice towards anything Hindu.  There are other misconceptions too about the practice of yoga which includes that it a mere physical exercise, a cure for all physical problems etc. But more than these misconceptions the first claim is the one which has to be countered as it tries to rob the intellectual property of India. Yoga's appropriation is yet another example of America and the West's racism and dominance over the world.  Renowned writer Koenraad writes about this vexing problem thus,

"...Naive readers may not have noticed it yet, but here we are dealing with an instance of a widespread phenomenon: the crass manipulation of the term “Hindu”. Every missionary and every secularist does it all the time: calling a thing “Hindu” when it is considered bad, but something (really anything) else as soon as it is deemed good. Many Hindus even lap it up: it is “instilled, albeit inadvertently.”

Thus whenever a society shows interest in Yoga, there will the so called academicians rushing to quell the effect of Indian Spirituality by calling Yoga has nothing to do with Hinduism. Just compare this with the hurry in which they will distance Islam from Violence as soon any terrorist activity happens, you can see the conundrum of secular politics running at full steam during such occasions.

Yoga is a perception or explanation given to the Vedas and so it is classified as one of the sat darshanas, which means six kinds of explanations. Many great seers have given their explanations about Yoga, important among them being Sage Vasishta, Sage Patanjali, Lord Krishna in his Bhagavad Gita. There are several other evidences to prove that Yoga is a part of Indian Heritage. India should assert itself by citing these and reiterate before the international community that Yoga is very much a part of Hindu knowledge system. Asanas are a part of a very comprehensive Yoga Philosophy. It is actually the third limb of the ashtanga yoga popularized by Sage Patanjali. When the fact remains thus, it is improbable that the third limb asanas alone could have originated in a distant foreign land. 

Indian heritage is one which is lurking at extinction. But it has the wherewithal to survive as it has proved it several times in the last thousand years. There were many such civilisations and cultures which are already extinct now. Many of such pagan civilisations are now seeking a revival through their adherents who are very few in number. Those cultures are viewing India as their redeemer, since India is the sole representative of the ancient hoary civilisations. It is the only country in the world which has millennia old customs and rituals still being practiced with very few changes. But this fact is understood by the western world and that is the reason for their resistance to anything Hindu. A revival of ancient culture means a continuing embarrassment for the European Christian powers. Rev. Andras Corban Arthen ,a pagan revivalist and  spiritual director of the Earth Spirit Community has stated about this thus,

“For Christians, for example, an acknowledgment that the original pagan traditions were not completely wiped out opens the door to the unpleasant possibility that they may, finally, have to deal with the genocidal horrors which Christianity inflicted on Indigenous peoples throughout the world. Outside of Europe, the blame for such heinous acts — when they are even acknowledged — has conveniently been attributed to chiefly secular motives, such as excessive nationalistic ambitions and economic greed, which obscure their actual, fundamental aim and rationale. When the Christian colonization of Europe is factored in, however, it becomes a lot harder to camouflage the theologically-justified goal of creating a vast religious empire, which continued to be the foundation for most subsequent Christian European colonization elsewhere. But if no trace of the original European pagan traditions were to survive, the motivation to open that painful door becomes less compelling, and the comforting obliviousness of the status quo can remain untouched.”

This clearly explains the responsibility our country has, not just towards safe guarding its culture but also to act as a catalyst to revive and sustain the ancient cultures world over. International day of Yoga can become that catalytic force if taken with right spirit. Each and every culture is a repository of a knowledge system and if that culture is revived it will be a shot in arm for the humanity. 
V.V.Balasubramanian
YB-ET

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

A Fusion of ideas..


When Sister Nivedita was introduced to Swami Vivekananda, he found her as one with a great vision on education. Vivekananda firmly believed that the development and awakening of India depended mainly on the awakening of masses and particularly of the women who had been marginalized for a long time. And he believed that their development could be achieved only through education. It is for this purpose he called upon Nivedita to devote herself to the field of education, in particular female education in India. After the premature death of Swamiji, Sister Nivedita started focusing more on women education. It is clear that to Sister Nivedita nothing was more important than proper education. In her speech given on the occasion of the opening of Chaitanya Library, Nivedita submitted a long list of subjects which must be studied. The list included such subjects as ancient and modern history, archaeology, poetry, novels, and different branches of science, sociology, art-architecture-sculpture, religion and philosophy. This awe-inspiring list vindicates Nivedita's own vast erudition and learning. She also explained in her speech why all these must be studied with equal attention.

When India was mired with the education which the colonial powers imposed on it, Sister Nivedita believed that the ideal of education must be in line with ideal of the nation. Since the British education was bent on alienating our people from their roots and denationalizing them, she wanted an education which would bring out the glorious cultural heritage of our nation. And she wanted that education to combine the best of both ancient and modern world. She also wanted this education to reach the men who are in the lowest ebb of the society. In this context we must read her thoughts which were as follows "We all know that the future of India depends, for us, on education. Not that industry and commerce are unimportant, but because all things are possible to the educated, and nothing whatever to the uneducated man. We know also that this education, to be of any avail, must extend through all degrees, from its lowest and humblest grades. We must have technical education, and we must have also higher research, because technical education, without higher research, is a branch without a tree, a blossom without any root. We must have education of women, as well as education of men. We must have secular education, as well as religious. And almost more important than any of these, we must have education of the people, and for this, we must depend upon ourselves."

A fusion of oriental and occidental, which gives a character making education is what she dreamt of. That could be ideal education for our nation where millions are still groping with an education which seldom helps in their self-unfoldment.


V.V.Balasubramanian
YB-ET