Monday, 18 May 2020

Wake Up

On 16th of April Two Juna Akhara Sadhus Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70 years old) and Sushilgiri Maharaj (35 years old) along with their 30-year-old driver Nilesh Telgade were Lynched to death by a frenzied mob at Palghar District, Maharashtra. This incident was not immediately reported by the Main stream media. But when they were constrained to report because of the Video of lynching which spread virally through Social media, they did report after a couple of days. 

The pre meditated attack was reported as an attack which happened because of mistaken identity. The main stream media is hoping that the short term memory of the Public coupled with its ‘Ostrich Syndrome’, will make this issue go into oblivion as soon as possible. This living in denial is what has made the life easy not just for the enemies of our state but also the media crooks who back them in all possible ways. 

The way this outrageous act has been reported by main stream media goes to prove that they are the benumbing agents for these attackers. If we believe the version of the media and believe that the lynching is a case of mistaken identity by the villagers, then we are the very embodiment of this ‘Ostrich syndrome’.

There is an unholy nexus between the Church and the naxal outfits, which targets the sadhus who work among the Tribals, to improve their social conditions. If we remember the gruesome killing of Swami lakshmananda Saraswati a few years ago, then we can see how this nexus works. During lockdown, how such a huge number of people assembled there, is a question which begs an answer. For the average Hindu this is just another news of violence. Every time when such a violence is reported we tend to think it is something happening in a faraway place and we are in no way impacted by this. Many among us are beset with this ‘Ostrich Syndrome’, which is nothing but trying to live in an imaginary world,not bothering to know about the imminent threats to our existence. Hindus will be shocked to know that most off the one off incidents are actually orchestrated attacks. 

It’s time for Hindus to wake up from this slumber and get our acts right. Putting a sad emoji or forwarding the news to others, alone will not suffice. We have to get organized. We have to make the dormant majority aware of this existential threat. We are in the midst of a civilisational war. A war between the exclusive fundamentalist religious ideologies and the inclusive Dharmic Ideology. A war which started several centuries ago. A war which we believe will not happen. A war in which we are yet to equip ourselves. A war which will define the destiny of the mankind. 

Wake Up.
V.V. Balasubramanian
YB - ET


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Thursday, 9 April 2020

Building trust and harmony through Diyas

Human being is a social animal. Social behavior is dependent on trust. Trust is built by arriving at common values and mutually accepting to adhere to them voluntarily.

There are two dimensions in this:
1. Human mind seeks regular reassurance that the trusted societies continue to remain social by examining and maintaining the trust already developed.
2. Solitude is di!erent from isolation. Solitude is what the yogis seek to remain una!ected by external social disturbances. The deeper a Yogi goes into solitude, the more ful"lled he becomes. But isolation is just the opposite. For normal humans, the deeper one goes into isolation from the adapted social groups, the more one develops negative emotions such as anger, frustration, loss of trust etc.

Based on the above factors, if a social reassurance is not provided at regular intervals, the individuals will tend to break the trust and thereby #out the agreed social norms.

Even in residential camps organized by scouts, NSS, RSS, Vivekananda Kendra or any other organization, mid-way through the camp, it is usual to go out for a "eld trip to reinvigorate the mind.

In this context, if a reassurance that we are not alone is not given to people sitting at homes, there is high possibility that the frustrated ones will start coming out of isolation, social distancing and defeat the purpose.

YB whole heartedly supports the lighting of lamps exercise. Being a PM is not just about providing "nancial packages. This is master social engineering.

A. Sudarsan
YB-ET




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Friday, 6 March 2020

Shraddhanjali to Ma. P. Parameswaranji

Kerala, Gods own land, has produced great many spiritual luminaries who lived like Maharishis of our yore.  Kerala, has given birth to such great people like Adi Sankaracharya, Sree Chattambi Swami, Sri Narayana Gurudev, Swami Ranganathanandaji, Swami Chinmayanandaji, Sri Ayyankali and many great spiritual and religious luminaries and social reformers.  They have all contributed for the spiritual, religious and social growth of the Hindus of Kerala.  Whatever good you find today in this God’s own country, they are all because of the sustained contribution made by those great eminent personalities, who though gave up their lives, but their Atma still guiding and inspiring millions of people not only in Kerala but also in other parts of the world.

Late P. Parameswaran, who was the President of Kendra from 1995 till his last breath, was a person who rank amongst those whose names were mentioned above.  He was a multi-splendored personality; a great scholar, and thinker, an ideologue, poet, writer, organiser par excellence, orator, selfless worker, guide and philosopher for many, all rolled in one body, mind and intellect complex.

A humanist of high purity, selflessness, patriot of highest order, who created around him, a grand group of co-workers to serve selflessly the mother Bharat and its children.

Parameswaranji was a great institution builder to propagate the Sanatana Dharmic values.  He served as the Director of Deen Dayal Research Institute, Delhi.  He created Bharateeya Vichara Kendra in Kerala and guided the workers as its Director.

He became the Vice-President of Vivekananda Kendra in 1984.  He was elected as the President of Kendra in the year 1995.  He continued to head Kendra till his last breath.  Kendra Jeevan Vratis benefited from his immaculate and purity personified life.  He was an authority on the Life and message of Sri Ramakrishna, Sarada Maa and Swami Vivekananda.  His lectures and writings always motivated Kendra workers in disseminating Swami Vivekananda’s message of Man making and Nation building.

Though, Parameswaranji is not with us physically, his Soul will be the guiding star for all the Kendra workers who came in contact with him.

In one line I describe Sri Parameswaranji like this:

“Ya Easwareshu samartheshu
 parama sreshtaha sa parameswaraha” 

He is Parameswara in whom vested undescribable Glory, God ordained capability to achieve Excellence, a personality uncomparable with anything existing and an Ajatha Shatru for ever.

A.Balakrishnan
Vice President
Vivekananda Kendra



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Monday, 2 March 2020

Liberals and tradition

In the last two months we saw stiff opposition from hindus especially women against the order of the supreme court allowing entry of women into the precincts of Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala. This happening at a state where communism is having its last hold is significant. It goes to prove that Hindus after years of meek silence are coming of age as far as awareness is concerned. This coming after 5 decades of rule of forces which are inimical to Hindu culture and which resulted in hundreds of Hindu social workers mercilessly hacked to death, is an important change in the attitude of the people of that state. We can only say that it is better late than never that the Hindus have started raising their voice against the atrocities committed against them. Liberals who were turning a blind eye to the discriminations to men and women in other religions have started justifying the state’s eagerness in implementing the supreme court order. The courts and the political parties forgot that the temple is not a secular place where they can infuse their liberal ideas. There are traditions which are followed and respected for several centuries and if one wants to respect a faith they cannot do it at their own terms.

For Hindus the temple is a sacred place and the deity is a living entity. Therefore, it’s a serious violation of religious freedom to treat such a temple as a secular place. It is not place of just history or a museum. It’s somebody’s place of residence, somebody we worship. When the courts tread very carefully with regards to issues concerning the faith of other religions it is imperative on the part of the courts to apply the same caution and diligence regarding the faith of the Hindus too. We have various temples in India, where admissions are restricted based on the nature of the deities. Married men are not allowed in several temples like the one at  Jagatpita Brahma Mandir in Pushkar, Rajasthan. Sahasrakshi Meru Temple in Devipuram- Vaisag provides empowerments to women. Women there learn the life as "I am Devi - you are Devi - we are Devi." Everyone knows about Attukal Pongala. Men do not take part in Pongala as it is meant exclusively for women. It is declared as the largest annual gathering of women by the Guinness book of World Records. We cannot argue to ban boys’ and girls’ schools and hostels on the grounds that other gender is being discriminated by not being allowed to enter there.

Mount Athos is a holy Mountain in Greece where more than 2000 priests live an ascetic life. It is completely isolated from the rest of the world and entry of women is banned. Please remember that Greece is part of the most developed European Union. Women are not allowed in Mount Omine, located in Honshu- Japan which is as per the faith of the Shinto religion. It got international recognition through UN when it was designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Likewise each and every ancient temple with its own tradition and practices are sacred and the question of applying the modern liberal ideas should not arise at all. That too in Hinduism which is the very embodiment of liberal ideas where each and every soul is attributed to the divine. Courts and Political parties should exercise the same caution and sensitivity to Hinduism, which they show towards other religions. 
YB-ET

Vivekananda Jayanti is the festival for us to be celebrated at the grandest scale in Kendra. Since few years we celebrate this as the culmination of Samartha Bharat Parva which is from 25 December - the day Swami Vivekananda meditated on the Rock - till 12 January, the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. As we prepare ourselves to commemorate 50 years of Vivekananda Rock Memorial in 2020 and 50 years of Vivekananda Kendra in 2022, we have to make this festival purposeful and grand so that it prepares us for the celebration. 

Swami Vivekananda preached and talked all the time about ‘Strength’ as the essence of his message. Swami Vivekananda Jayanti festival should therefore be celebrated in such a way that the society feels strengthened because of the awakening of its Self-confidence. This is what Swami Vivekananda did in his life for India. His participation in the Parliament of Religions at Chicago and the enormous respect for Vedanta, which he aroused in the West, awakened the self-confidence of our country. India realized that she had a message to deliver to the world, and a destiny to fulfill for which she has to prepare and equip herself.

Swami Vivekananda was the first person who went to the West and presented India from the Indian perspective. When he did it, he could change the very point of reference for the West to evaluate us. The West that derided India as a backward and Jungli country (incidentally, in India we do not associate Jungle with backwardness but with spirituality and contemplation as Aranyakas, a part of Veda; Vanaprasthashram; and the abode of Rishis in the forest indicate) suddenly woke up to the fact of her life-giving wisdom. After Swamiji’s participation in the Parliament of Religions in 1893 at Chicago, the leading newspaper ‘The New York Herald’ wrote. “He is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. After hearing him we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation.” (The Life – II)

Till then, we were only told about how uncivilized we were, but it was Swami Vivekananda who told us how great India had been in the past. He asked us to build on our strength. He made us aware that we belong to a country, which is unique, with a great past and a still greater future awaiting her. He made us aware of India’s contribution to the world. The debt, which the world owes to our Motherland, is immense. He said: ‘As I look back upon the history of my country, I do not find in the whole world another country which has done quite so much for the improvement of the human mind. Therefore, I have no words of condemnation for my nation. I tell them, “you have done well; only try to do better..” (C.W.III.195)

‘The same holds good with respect to sciences. India has given to antiquity the earliest scientific physicians, and, according to Sir William Hunter, she has even contributed to modern medical science by the discovery of various chemicals and by teaching you how to reform mis-shapen ears and noses. Even more it has done in mathematics, for algebra, geometry, astronomy, and the triumph of modern science-mixed mathematics-were all invented in India, just so much as the ten numerals, the very cornerstone of all present civilization, were discovered in India, and are in reality, Sanskrit words.

‘In philosophy we are even now head and shoulders above any other nation, as Schopenhauer, the great German philosopher has confessed. In music India gave the world her system of notation, with the seven cardinal notes and the diatonic scale….In philology, our Sanskrit language is now universally acknowledged to be the foundation of all European languages…(C.W.II.511-512)

‘In literature, our epics and poems and dramas rank as high as those of any language; our ‘Shaguntala (Shakuntala) was summarized by Germany’s greatest poet, as ‘heaven and earth united.’ India has given to the world the fables of Aesop, which were copied by Aesop from an old Sanskrit book; it has given the Arabian Nights, yes, even the story of Cinderella and the Bean Stalks. In manufacture, India was the first to make cotton and purple (dye), it was proficient in all works of jewellery, and the very word sugar as well as the article itself, is the product of India. Lastly she has invented the game of chess and the cards and the dice. So great in fact, was the superiority of India in every respect that it drew to her borders the hungry cohorts of Europe, and thereby indirectly brought about the discovery of America. (C.W.III.511-512)

‘And I challenge anybody to show one single period of her national life when India was lacking in spiritual giants, capable of moving the world. But her work is spiritual, and that cannot be done with blasts of war-trumpets or the march of cohorts. Her influence has fallen upon the world like that of the gentle dew, unheard and scarcely marked, yet bringing into bloom the fairest flowers of the earth’ (C.W.IV.315). Thus he elaborately dealt with the achievements of India in the past. But he was not a prisoner of the past. He believed that the future of India is going to be more glorious than the past as she has a mission to accomplish. He said, “This is the theme of Indian life-work, the burden of her eternal songs, the backbone of her existence, the foundation of her being, the reason d’être of her very existence – the spiritualization of the human race.” (C.W.IV.314-315)   
The confidence generated due to the message of Swami Vivekananda resulted in the numerous social, national and religious and spiritual movements. Samartha Bharat Parva is to be celebrated by organizing exhibitions, camps, and lectures for the college youth to take this message of inherent strength and the purpose of India to them. This confidence in turn will motivate them to work in an organised way for the upliftment of India. So the message that goes through the whole program of Samartha Bharat Parva culminating in the celebrations of Swami Vivekananda Jayanti should be the one of India’s destiny and the task we have to do for it. The burning love that Swami Vivekananda had for this motherland should be the central theme of the celebration. The awakening of the confidence and pride in India can be its main thrust. When one is proud of one’s motherland and conscious of the great future then surely a great power would get generated. With such efforts by all the mission of India to evolve an Ideal Social Order for the good of the world can be achieved.

Message of Swami Vivekananda in short was - Wake up Bharat to your inner strength and enlighten the world in the path of spirituality. He had said in his lecture “The Mission of Vedanta”, “There are times in the history of a man's life, nay, in the history of the lives of nations, when a sort of world - weariness becomes painfully predominant. It seems that such a tide of world - weariness has come upon the Western world. There, too, they have their thinkers, great men; and they are already finding out that this race after gold and power is all vanity of vanities; many, nay, most of the cultured men and women there, are already weary of this competition, this struggle, this brutality of their commercial civilisation, and they are looking forward towards something better. There is a class which still clings on to political and social changes as the only panacea for the evils in Europe, but among the great thinkers there, other ideals are growing. They have found out that no amount of political or social manipulation of human conditions can cure the evils of life. It is a change of the soul itself for the better that alone will cure the evils of life. No amount of force, or government, or legislative cruelty will change the conditions of a race, but it is spiritual culture and ethical culture alone that can change wrong racial tendencies for the better. Thus these races of the West are eager for some new thought, for some new philosophy… The thoughtful men of the West find in our ancient philosophy, especially in the Vedanta, the new impulse of thought they are seeking, the very spiritual food and drink for which they are hungering and thirsting. And it is no wonder that this is so.”  

Swami Vivekananda thus exhorted India, “Up India! Conquer the world with your spirituality!” To this task Swami Vivekananda wanted all to create the centers all over the country where Omkar would be enshrined. It means we have to steadily hasten to increase number of our branches. Vivekananda Jayanti is a good occasion to reach out to many new persons and expand our work. The focus should be by associating how many new persons we celebrate Vivekananda Jayanti every year. If only same team of Karyakartas is functioning then the work would not expand. Efforts should be taken to have the large media coverage for the function. Special supplements in the newspapers on Swami Vivekananda and his life-giving message to our motherland could also be attempted. Swami Vivekananda is a magical word. It creates resonance of love for India in every Indian heart.  His words have a great transforming power whereby youth can be helped to shape the future of India. Therefore, the celebration of Swami Vivekananda Jayanti should become an occasion when the name and message of Swamiji is taken to the maximum number of people and good number of new samparkit Karyakarta are motivated to become part of organizing team in the celebration. 
The program also should be such that it captivates the minds of all those who attend it. Swami Vivekananda was confident about the innate capacity of the youth to respond to the heroic call.  He said, “My faith is in the younger generation, modern generation, out of them will come my workers. They will work out the whole problems like lions. I have formulated the idea and have given my life to it.  If I do not achieve success, some better one will come after me to work it out, and I shall be content to struggle” (C.W.V.223). Therefore, Swami Vivekananda Jayanti is declared by the Government of India as the National Youth Day. That helps us also to go to as many colleges as possible. We can train teams of our youth karyakartas with various programs on Swami Vivekananda like – Geet, pathanatya, a short speech, recitation of his inspiring quotations, quiz etc. These teams can go to various colleges for celebrating the Swami Vivekananda Jayanti as a National Youth Day.  Thus, apart from a grand public program that we should strive for we can also have the programs in various colleges too, taking the name and message of Swami Vivekananda to as many as possible. 

If it is possible, the branch centers can think of about the following way of celebrating Samartha Bharat Parva and Vivekananda Jayanti keeping in mind the coming celebrations. We know that Vivekananda Rock Memorial built at mid-sea Rock at Kanyakumari is the result of the excellent and focused samparka that Eknathji undertook cutting across all differences and diversities. That is how Eknathji experienced that beyond all regional, political, sectarian colours the love and respect for Swami Vivekananda was common ground where all came together and saw to it that a Grand Memorial for Swami Vivekananda got built on the mid-sea rock at Kanyakumari. Thus, when we look forward to celebrate the 50 years of Vivekananda Rock Memorial we too can reach out to as many people as possible. Next year is the preparation for wide Samparka Abhiyan that we would take up for the commemoration of 50 years of Vivekananda Rock Memorial. From that point of view, it can be thought of as to how to organize the celebration of Samartha Bharat Parva so that we get in contact with persons from different fields this year. And then with the help of them we can make lists of Samparka to be done in your region, in various segments of society, at various levels like all India level, pranta level, vibhag level and nagar level. 

Secondly, the celebration of 50 years of Vivekananda Kendra also would be more an organizational celebration by consolidating and expanding our work. Thus, each Nagar Sthan and Karyasthan should develop one more branch of Kendra each with the help of Vibhag Samiti and Pranta Samiti. Already many branches have decided in which place they would develop one more branch of Kendra. The Vivekananda Samiti is a good occasion for contacting the people and constituting a Vivekananda Jayanti Samiti in that place only for the celebration of Vivekananda Jayanti. If the Samartha Bharat Parva or Vivekananda Jayanti can be organized in a good way a team that would emerge, can be involved in Kendra Varga. For Kendra Varga at least for initial 10-15 times a Karyakarta from the existing branch goes then gradually a team of Karyakartas can be created there and then other utsavas or shibirs can be thought of gradually leading to regular work. Thus, starting with this year celebration of Samartha Bharat Parva and Vivekananda Jayanti we can initiate the celebration of 50 years of Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Vivekananda Kendra. 

Nivedita Raghunath Bhide
Vice-President
Vivekananda Kendra