Saturday 8 December 2018

Gita Jayanti

Gita Jayanti which is celebrated on Margashirsh Shukla Ekadashi comes this year on 19 December. Gita Jayanti is the Utsava we celebrate mainly to invigorate ourselves by diving deep into our scriptures. Gita gives us in a very simple and yet profound manner the Vedic Wisdom. Whether a pandit or an ordinary person, aged or young, a leader or a follower, Gita is for all. Gita represents not only the wisdom of Vedas but also gives such a synthesis of thought that we can resolve all the paradoxes of life. But this insight in Gita we cannot get by giving cursory reading for just celebrating Gita Jayanti. The study of Gita has to be daily with reverent contemplation for whole life.

Gita is like a mother who takes us in her lap when we are grieved and sad. She is like a Guru who guides us for achieving the goal of life and also guides us in our path. She is also like a goddess who protects us from the fall if we hold on to her. She is also the scriptural form of our dear motherland as She tells all that which this land of ours has been striving to manifest in her national life despite vicissitudes all through her national life. 

Sometimes people quote the saying of Swami Vivekananda that, “You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of Gita” and say that the game of football is more important than the study of Gita. But it is missing the point. Gita is not for mere intellectual study but it is to be practiced in life, as for us religion is not in believing but in being and becoming. Swami Vivekananda said, “You will understand Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little of strong blood in you …If one reads this one shloka –Klaibyam ma sma gamah Partha …- one gets all the merits of reading the entire Gita; for in this one shloka lies embedded the whole Message of the Gita …for all of us in this world, life is a continuous fight … Many a time comes when we want to interpret our weakness and cowardice as forgiveness and renunciation … Gita opens with this very significant verse: Arise O Prince! Give up this fainthearted-ness, this weakness, Stand up and fight.” 
A tamasik and coward cannot face the battles of life. To be fearless and not to be chickenhearted one requires strong body and courageous heart. Strong and not weak men can practice Gita. It is to develop that strength, Swamiji said ‘Play Football’. 

Secondly, the game of football is completely a team game. Each second, each action and each intention of the team member is to be internalized by each team member. With all efforts and best play by a player, it is possible that the credit of making goal may not go to that player but some one else in the team. Each one in the team offers his best to the team effort and does not make any individual claims. That is what is Yagna- the central theme of Gita. Offer the fruit of your action to the society at large and partake only the Yganashishtah - whatever remains for you. That is, one must have that team spirit, that humility to be part of the team and then to do the best of whatever comes to our lot. After doing work to the best of the ability offer it again to the collectivity at large and partake whatever comes to your share. This dynamics can be seen explicitly in the game of football. That is why Swamiji had said that to understand Gita better play football. Here ‘playing football’ is not given as the remedy to understand Gita but as an indication of what is required to understand Gita.

Srikrishna tells us in Gita why conversion should not be resorted to. He says 'Paradharmo bhayavah' – the religious practices of others could be horrible for our growth. He says, 'swalpamapyasya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat' – even a little but regular practice of our own Dharma can be elevating. Commenting on that Swami Vivekananda had said, “Even if you have knowledge, do not disturb the childlike faith of the ignorant.” This is a very powerful idea, and it has become the ideal in India. That is why you can see a great philosopher or Vedantin like Sri Shankaracharya going into a temple and worshiping images. It is not hypocrisy. As a Vedantin who realized that there is only Ishwara everywhere, he could validate the religious practices of all communities. He or any realized religious leader in India never called God of any community as false or devil. A really spiritual person does not try to convert others but only integrates and expands the vision of Ishwara in others without injuring or denouncing their Ishta Devata, because they know that ‘Paradharmao Bhayavah” Swami Vivekananda while talking about the service to the masses always used to say that, “Elevate the masses without injuring their innate spirituality.”

Why there should be conversion at all? Only a person who has no understanding of God would resort to convert others or would limit God to his god. One who denounces others’ name of God actually has not understood what is God. By denouncing others’ name God degrades his God. God is not different but is only worshiped and prayed to with different names. Swami Vivekananda further explains, “Sri Krishna says, “Even those who worship other deities are really worshiping me” It is God incarnate whom man is worshiping. Would God be angry if you called Him by the wrong name? He would be no God at all! Can’t you understand that whatever a man has in his own heart is God-even if he worships a stone. What of that!
We will understand more clearly if we once get rid of the idea that religion consists in doctrines. One idea of a religion has been that the whole world was born because Adam ate the apple, and there is no way of escape. Believe in Jesus Christ-in a certain man’s death! But in India there is a quite different idea. There religion means realization, nothing else. It does not matter whether one approaches the destination in a carriage with four horses, in an electric car, or rolling on the ground. The goal is the same. For the Christians the problem is how to escape the wrath of the terrible God. For Indians it is how to become what they really are, to regain their lost selfhood…. Therefore, Krishna says, if your method is better and higher, you have no business to say that another man’s method is bad, however wicked you may think it.

Again we must consider, religion is a matter of growth, not a mass of foolish words. Two thousand years ago a man saw God. Moses saw God in a burning bush. Does what Moses did when he saw God save you? No man’s seeing God can help you least bit except that it may excite you and urge you to do the same thing. That is the whole value of the ancient’s examples. Nothing more. Just like signposts on the way. No man’s eating can satisfy another man. You have to see God yourself… Each one thinks his method is best. Very good. But remember, it may be good for you….Because it is good for you do not jump to the conclusion that your method is everybody’s method.

Sri Krishna says, “Better die in your own religion than attempt the path of another.” This is my path, and I am down here. And you are way up there, and I am down here. And you are way up there, and I am always tempted to give up my path thinking I will go there and be with you. And if I give up, I am neither there nor here. We must not lose sight of this doctrine. It is all a matter of growth. Wait and grow, and you attain everything; otherwise there will be great spiritual danger. Here is the fundamental secret of teaching religion. (Vol I – Gita III)” A person who is truly religious will never resort to convert others or deride the faith of others as false.

Even one of the attributes of God is that he accepts all the people as they are and does not exclude anyone. While talking about Krishna, Swamiji says, “This was the great work of Krishna: to clear our eyes and make us look with broader vision upon humanity in its march upward and onward. His was the first heart that was large enough to see truth in all, his the first lips that uttered beautiful words for each and all.” 

Whether management, sociology, self-development, education on each subject Gita has something to tell us. Now a days many such books are also coming in the market. We should try to understand Gita in present context and then pass it on to the next generation. They are bound to admire and practice Gita if it is told to them in today's language and paradigms. Our purpose of celebrating Gita Jayanti should be this that the relevance of Gita is understood and explained to the younger generation in today's terminology. That is why since few years we have linked the celebration Gita Jayanti to Kutumba Sammelan as Gita should become the basic book that is read and discussed in the families. Family is a place where children acquire views and values. In moulding the children, the influence of Gita would be most useful, elevating, guiding force not only in their childhood but also later when the parents are not around. Gita – as a mother would take care of the individual and any collective whole its life. This linking of our children, youth, Karyakarta to Gita is the purpose of celebrating Gita Jayanti. 

Nivedita Raghunath Bhide
Vivekananda Kendra

Friday 2 November 2018

Sadhana Diwas 2018

Mananeeya Sri Eknathji, the founder of our Vivekananda Kendra - a spiritually oriented organization - was born on 19 November 1914. All the Kendra Kayakartas celebrate this day as the Sadhana Diwas. The work of "Man Making and Nation Building" which we have undertaken in Kendra is Sacred Sadhana for us. If we understand the dynamics involved in this work and do it accordingly then this work itself is Sadhana. The coming five years we are planning to expand our work which gives us an added opportunity to learn the Sadhana of team-building. 

The very essence of Sadhana is in two aspects- reducing of ego and expansion of consciousness to one's larger layers of existence. Thus more a person advances in Sadhana, his ego is reduced further and further and at the same time he also realizes the Reality as expressed in the bigger collectivity. Such a person will not consider his personal likes and dislikes or hurts and humiliations or discomforts and difficulties as more important than the good of the bigger collectivity. For a Karyakarta, the bigger collectivities are the organization, society and the nation. 

In the larger design of the organization, Karyakarta merges himself. And whatever work has come to him he takes in the Bhava of instrumentality of the Divine. Once the Bhava of instrumentality comes, then the surrender is easier. Service is the work of common good done with total surrender. Service is being an instrument of Divine work. Such Service is Sadhana. Eknathiji said in "Sadhana of Service”, “That service is the best and the noblest which is performed with the attitude of total surrender to God. ...the action must be performed without any attachment but sincerely and honestly to the best of our ability with an attitude of being a tool only. We have been called upon to execute whatever is essential and possible as willed by God. This is SERVICE. We are doing His work. Such work elevates us and leads to Self-realization, which is the supreme goal of human life."

As there are steps of progress in Sadhana, there is also the possibility of fall in Sadhana, for which one has to be more alert and aware. More a person climbs on a steep mountain more is the possibility of big fall. Thus a senior Karyakarta has far more the reason to be on his guard on this path of Sadhana than a new entrant. There are senior workers to give feedback and mould the new entrants. But as a Karyakarta grows in age and responsibility there are very few persons around to course-correct him. Therefore, the continuous self-introspection and contemplation on the three vows is essential to avoid a fal231l. The three vows are 1.Shuchita- Purity in words, thoughts and actions. 2.Aparigraha - Non-possession. Not getting attached to the place, persons, responsibility and any material acquisitions. As Mananeeya Eknathji said the Karyakarta should be free like an air, ready to go any where in any capacity to work for Kendra. 3.Anushasan - organizational discipline so as to maintain always a congenial atmosphere for growth.

The Sadhana of diminishing the ego and expansion of consciousness is best done in efforts of team-building. In the coming years our whole focus would be wielding the teams as we expand our work to new places. Mananeeya Parameswaranji during the Akhil Bharatiya Adhikari Baithak had explained this science of team-building very beautifully. The gist of it is: “We know the technique of team building at our level. Now we are thinking of the team building in wider context....While expanding the team, some problems may arise. We should know how to solve it. Our ideas are much bigger and wider."

We are planning to expand the work of Vivekananda Kendra. The celebration is not to praise Swami Vivekananda in big programs but to take the message of Swami Vivekananda to the far-flung areas and motivate the people to work for our country. Also it is not just the message but it is to be put into practice too. Our teams are not adequate for this purpose today. For that Mananeeya Sri Parameshwarnji says, "For this we will have to uplift our teams, so that they will go to society and more gifted, capable people from outside will join us. Thus for expanding our organization we have to go beyond the four walls of the organization. 

From crowd, create a group and from a group, a team is to be prepared. Group is more cohesive, durable and having clearer objectives than a crowd. Group agrees to disagree. But group is not stable and durable, not equally motivated. Group can split. But Team is cohesive, integrated, identified with each other. Team is like a living organism, it grows, expands and works in unison. This kind of team is the core of the organization. Various levels of teams are to be created. ... The teams are to be sustained by intimate and regular communications and contacts. No communication gaps. Communication gap leads to misunderstanding. There is a difference between Contact and Communication. Technology is a good servant but bad master. Hence utilize technology with care. For contact, like giving information etc. use technology like mobile, e-mails etc. but maximum inter – personal, informal and intimate contacts and communications build teams. By contact through mobile you can create group but not a team. As a matter of fact in a group, relationship is formal. 

Team is informal. Without informality team can not be formed. There should be deep inter-personal relationship. Ego, formalities should not come in-between. Heart to heart communication should be there with each other. Before Mahabharat war, Sanjay was sent to meet Pandavas. On returning he told Dhritarashtra what he saw while with Pandvas. He told : I saw Arjuna lying with his legs in the lap of Sri Krishna. Seeing this informal intimate relationship between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, Dhritarashtra said, 'Pandavas are invincible'. If we keep showing our superiority, expect others to treat us with respect and decorum then intimacy cannot be developed. you want to develop a team, do not stress decorum, do not maintain distance. Make it informal. Create intimacy. Respect and love each other. Our activities should be more like a family than the organization. It means so much sharing, interacting, respecting and accepting each other should be there. This type of team building should become a second nature of workers. Agenda is not necessary to meet each other. We should meet without agenda. That does not mean there should be no agenda in meetings. Agenda is necessary in meetings but even that should be covered informally. Cementing factor that will sail the agenda through to success is this informal talking with each other. It can come only if each team member tries to eliminate ego. Sri Aurobindo says: ego may be necessary initially but at certain level, it is a stumbling block. Therefore if you suppress ego it may boomerang. Hence enlarge your ego. Embrace everyone with your ego, feel one with them, accept them as your own.”

In our work we have to bring in new persons and slowly make them identified and befitting for Kendra work. Now this is sadhana! A very great Sadhana. Generally we expect others to change. But before changing others we have to change our ways of dealing with others. Mananeeya Parameswaranji explained this very beautifully: “If we try to change anyone he/she will resist. You be the change which you want to make in others. Very few will not respond to your sincere effort and patience. Swami Vivekananda consciously expanded his ego to the entire nation. Every agony of the team member is felt by the other members like the mother feeling the agony of her child. Hence team-building is a spiritual Sadhana. Three things are necessary - Put in a conscious and sincere effort, have a great patience and start with a change in yourself. 

Workers with talents, leadership quality and ready to sacrifice are required. Thus, we have to raise the level of team building effort. By the time the 50th year celebrations are over, our workers should have spread to all the places. Great work is done by the people who created great teams. No single person however great can build great work all alone, teams need to be created. Great people create teams. After Sri Ramakrishna’s mahasamadhi, disciples of Sri Ramakrishna wanted to go here and there. But Swami Vivekananda had the vision and kept them as a team together. That team of sanyasins created Sri Ramakrishna Mission. Dr. Hedgewar with 5 people started RSS. He was an angry man. But for the sake of the team he changed himself. This is the most essential quality in team building. You have to bring the desired change in yourself first. For creating teams we have to put our ego little behind, put people forward, enhance your capacity of motivating others, guide them  but from behind. Credit should be given to the team and for failure leader should take the responsibility.” 

In the coming years our Sadhana is creating, expanding teams at all levels. Problems would come but we have to solve them in the interest of nation. As told by Mananeeya Eknathji in 'Sadhana of Service', few injunctions we should remember – not to blow the incidents out of proportions, if any one makes mistakes talk to him directly and not to make it an item of agenda, not to generalize the mistakes of any person etc. As advised by Mananeeya Eknathji we should have large belly to swallow. The organizations are built on the capacity of the workers to digest the hurts and humiliations, and having the larger and forgiving hearts. Thus, on Sadhana Diwas let us contemplate on all these thoughts and prepare the minds of our Karyakartas from Gatapramukh onwards to undergo this Sadhana of team-building in which Mananeeya Eknathji was a master. Let us carry forward his legacy. 

Nivedita Raghunath Bhide
Vivekananda Kendra

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Womanhood at the Crossroads

We live in a society where media has some bizarre logic when it comes to issues regarding the faith of the minorities. First thing they will not name the religion if it is clash between them and Hindus and Hindus are the victims. It will be reported as a clash between two sections of the society. The sections will assume names if the Hindus instead of being a perennial victim, starts resisting and show some aggression. Likewise any alleged misdemeanor by a Hindu God man will be blown out of proportion by the media, with debates and discussions about the sorry plight of Hinduism hogging the telecast. But if the perpetrator of the crime happens to be a Muslim or a Christian clergy man our media will seldom talk about such issues. This is pathetic approach is the gift of the secularism in India. The recent rape case in Kerala, where a Bishop was alleged to have raped a nun and threatened her with dire consequences if she goes public about it. However, she reported that to the police as church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints against the clergyman. Church has on many previous occasions tried to push such allegations under the carpet. The top leadership’s Inertia in such matters will go to prove the chauvinistic attitude of the Church as an Institution has towards women.

For years voices of those who were exploited never got any exposure thanks to the pseudo secular Media.  They were venting their disgruntlement – in private, at conferences within the community and occasionally in public – regarding misogyny in the Church, the position taken on homosexuality and abortion by bumbling Church spokespersons on TV, financial corruption and more. The irony in India is it is this same Church with all its murky track record regarding women Freedom, takes a position of supremacy, and criticizes the Hindu society for treating women as less human. Our media and the clandestine relationship which the church has with some major political parties of India helps them to conceal their sheer vapidity.

But the world is changing fast and at this speed of information technology growth, we are bound to see a world with more awareness. Naturally this reduces the number of gullible people as people are closer to truth in this new shrunk world. If the church intends to change its misogynist ways into a more humane approach, in order to survive as an institution, it is not enough if it merely apes the rituals and customs of the native people. It has imbibe a holistic philosophy which will help them to shed their animosity towards the supposedly weaker sections of the society. For that it need not search elsewhere. The very same Hinduism, which they have been bashing for the last fifteen decades with their concoctions disguised as Invasion theories, has the solution for them. 

With the festival laden October coming, Hindus will show to the world, how they revere womanhood, with their Dasara celebrations. In India the woman is always looked up as a mother. Although, the present day scenario, due to acculturation by aping the west, is fast slipping from this noble vision nurtured by our ancestors, we can still say that the majority of our society is still living with lofty ideal. According to Swami Vivekananda, the ideal of womanhood in India is motherhood – that marvelous, unselfish, all-suffering, ever-forgiving mother. This motherhood is celebrated for ten days throughout India as Dasara. We worship Mother Goddess as Kali, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati who are embodiments of Courage, Prosperity, Knowledge and Love. The Church and the western world has a lesson or two to learn from the common man from India who nurtures this holistic vision. 

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? 

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
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.


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. 

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.


Thursday 29 March 2018

The level playing field tilts.

The recent claims by few Lingayat leaders of Karnataka that they are not Hindus but a separate religion would have raised the palpitations of many in the Hindu society. That the ruling party is trying to polarize the society using this issue is very obvious. They support the Lingayats and are ready to grant them the status they are asking for, hoping to gain the Lingayat votes. They know very well that this will be struck down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, as it did in the Ramakrishna Mutt case 25 years ago.  In both cases it’s our law which has driven them to this futile attempt of claiming minority status. In the case of Ramakrishna Mutt, they filed a case in Calcutta High court seeking minority Status in order to save their Educational Institutions from Political interference. But the Supreme Court of India declared that neither Sri Ramakrishna nor Swami Vivekananda founded any independent, non-Hindu religion. Thus ended the RK Mission's desperate attempt to gain the privileges accorded only to minority religions in India, specifically, the right to manage their extensive educational institutions free from government control. The then General Secretary of Ramakrishna Mutt, Swami Atmasthananda, told in an interview that, "Whatever legal brains have done is for lawyers to say." The RK Mission's explanation has been all along that it has taken this step to save its schools, and that the court statements are simply part of the necessary legal maneuvers. 

Now even after 25 years the Hindu society is in the same confounded situation where they have to seek the ignominious minority status in their own homeland, to have their administration free of unnecessary Government interference. Solution to this problem lies in abrogation of Article 30 of our Constitution which grants and upholds the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions. While Article 30 was included along with its various clauses to protect the interests of the ethnic as well as religious minorities in India, it also has certain drawbacks. The very fact that minorities have the sole control of the educational institutions that they establish implies that the government cannot exercise any control over its formation as well as management. Hence, in case of malpractice, the government will not have the right to intervene and take control of the situation. Article 30 exempts the minority institutions from reserving 25% of its seats for the poor as per Rights to Education Act, which, is in stark contrast to fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of India. So instead of creating a level playing field this Article has only resulted in creating a favorable atmosphere for the minorities and resentment among the majority community. The term minorities have been defined without any reference to size. We can understand when Parsis are refered as minorities. but can the same tag be extended to Muslims? When there are 180 million of them around, making India the second-largest Muslim country in the world? This fact made Maulana Abul Kalam Azad say that Muslims were not minorities in India, instead he called them India’s second majority.

Ours is proclaimed as a secular country. But it is here where the temples of the majority community are under the control of the State, whereas, the minorities have the protection granted by law. This will probably be the only country in the entire world where the majority community helplessly saw its members reduced to the plight of refugees when the ethnic cleansing happened in Kashmir and Kashmiri Pundits were driven out of their homeland. This is a country where the beleaguered majority community which is facing attacks from all the fronts needs some protection. 

The spirit of the Article 30 is to ensure that the Minorities are not discriminated against. But in essence it has only resulted in Governments acting with impunity with regard to the majority community’s institutions and turning a blind eye to the happenings in the minority institutions.  It’s time to abrogate this Article which creates disparity among communities. Instead of asking the political parties to abolish this detestable provision the Hindu sects are seeking refuge in that very same provision. This approach is akin to putting the noose around our neck and walking further. Whatever be the grounds in which we seek this minority status, it will only result in that particular sect getting distanced from the mainstream Hindu samaj.  And it is this disintegration of Hindu society which the proselytizing Abrahamic faiths are eagerly looking for. These predatory faiths may also be at the back of these political dramas, hoping that if Lingayats are alienated from the Hindu society, then it will be easy for them to convert them.  It needs enormous political will and courage and an ability to look beyond vote bank politics and mere electoral gains to find a right solution to this issue which may otherwise become contagious.


Tuesday 27 February 2018

Padmavibhushan For Vivekananda Kendra President Mananeeya P. Parameswaranji

Kendra workers all over India and Patriots and adherents of Hindu Dharma rejoice at the honour done to Kendra President Ma. P. Parameswaranji. He has been chosen for Padma Vibhushan award for the 2018 Republic day.Born in Shertalai in Alappuzha district of Kerala in 1927, Shri Parameswaranji completed his college education in S.P. College of Changanassery and Tiruvanathapuram University College taking his B.A., (Hons) degree in history.

On the advice of Pujya Guruji Golwalkar he became an R.S.S. Pracharak in 1950. He became the Organizing Secretary, All India General Secretary and the Vice President of Bharatiya Jana Sangh. He underwent imprisonment during the emergency 1975 – 77. In 1977 he left active politics and dedicated himself to whole time writing, speaking and constructive work. He became the Director of Deen Dayal Research Institute Delhi and served that Institute for four years.

In 1982, he returned to Kerala, founded the National Research Centre, Bharatiya Vichar Kendra with its Head Quarters at Tiruvananthapuram. He became the Vice President and then the President of Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee and Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari. He used to speak to our youth on Swami Vivekananda and his National and spiritual ideals.

He is a patron of Gita Swadhyaya Samiti which takes the message of the Gita to the younger generation.He was associated with the Kalady Advaita Ashrama and its founder Swami Aghamanandaji. Sri. P. Parameswaranji is also well connected with Ramakrishna Math.

He has great faith in the Gita concept of Selfless work and its efficacy in solving the society’s problems. In 1998 he started the Gita Decade. The Trichur Gita Sangamam involved 2000 youths. He organized in the year 2000, a National Seminar on Gita’s answers to contemporary problems and published the research papers as a useful volume. 1500 professors, researchers and thinkers participated in the seminar led by the then Human Resources Central Minister Dr. Murali Manohar Joshi and the Dalai Lama.

Sri. Parameswaranji played a useful role in the centenary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago speech (1993).Widely travelled and well-versed in our Dharmic Literature Sri. P. Parameswaranji is a powerful speaker in Malayalam and English.

His untiring patriotic and Dharmic work was recognized by Kolkatta Bada Bazaar Library (Hanuman Prasad Poddar award in 1997), Jawaharlal Nehru, University Delhi appointed him as its Senate member. Mata Amritananda Mayi Math conferred its Amrita Kirti Puraskar upon him in 2002. He became a Padma Shree in 2004.

He has been the editor of Kesari and Manthan. He is the editor of all Kendra Periodicals. He is the Chief editor of Pragati the Research Quarterly.He is the author of numerous books on Sri Narayana Guru, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda and Indian Culture and values. His books on Marx and Vivekananda, From Marx to Maharshi, Bhagawad Gita and Hindu Dharma have been translated into Indian languages. His poems have been collected and published under the title Yajna Prasad. 

His 90th year celebrations were inaugurated by the Home Minister Sri Rajnath Singh in August 2017 in Kochi. The concluding programme at Tiruvananthapuram in December 2017 saw his collection of Articles, essays, speeches and other writings under the title “Heart beats of the Hindu Nation” being released by Pujaneeya Shri Mohanji Bhagawat the Sarsanghchalak. Sri. Parameswaranji continues to serve the nation through his sage counsel,  work and writings.   

Tuesday 30 January 2018

Man who saw GOD

As a young seeker Narendranath was very curious not just to know about God, but also to see him. With this keen interest he went to many great saints whether they could help him see God. But to his dismay none could give him the answer which he expected. Disappointed and desperate the young man one day, along with his friends, went to meet Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a somewhat eccentric priest of the Kali temple at Dakshineswar in Calcutta. At the first opportunity Narendranath asked him the same question - "Sir, have you seen God?"

But Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, unlike the erudite saints whom Narendranath met before, replied in rural dialect without mincing words - "Yes, I have seen God. I have seen Him more tangibly than I see you. I have talked with him more intimately than I am talking to you. But my child, who wants to see God! People shed jugs of tears for money, wife and children. But if they weep for God for only one day they would surely see Him."

Narendranath was astounded. For the first time, he was face to face with a man who asserted that he had seen God. For the first time, in fact, he was hearing that God could be seen. He could feel that Ramakrishna's words were uttered from the depths of an inner experience. But on encountering Ramakrishna, Narendranath’s skeptical mind could not understand Ramakrishna’s ecstatic devotion to goddess Kali. He viewed Ramakrishna’s ecstasies and visions as mere imagination and hallucinations. He placed many questions and arguments before Ramakrishna, who patiently prodded him to “try to see the truth from all angles”. He intuitively knew that here was a genuine man to whom God was a living reality and not at all a philosophical concept or an intellectual pastime. It was under the tutelage of Sri Ramakrishna that Narendra Nath Dutta evolved into a full-blossomed spiritual soul, later to be known as Swami Vivekananda.

The spiritual initiation given by Ramakrishna Paramahamsa evolved Swami Vivekananda as an Advaitic, who can see the existence of God in the things that exist. From his guru Ramakrishna, Vivekananda learnt that all living beings were an embodiment of the Divine; therefore, service to God could be rendered by serving mankind.

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