Category: Uncategorized

Sanjay Dixit

Sanjay Dixit

About the Author

Sanjay Dixit, Additional Chief Secretary to the Government of Rajasthan, has many feathers in his cap. He graduated as a marine engineer, and sailed the high seas for a few years before changing course to civil services. He is also well-recognised as a cricket administrator who once defeated Lalit Modi in a famous election for the post of the president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association. He considers Rajasthan's first Ranji Trophy title triumph as his crowning achievement. He is also credited with bringing a revolutionary new technology for production of date palms on a large scale in western Rajasthan, transforming livelihoods.

Dixit is a prolific columnist on contemporary topics. He has a deep interest in Indian languages, culture, economics, history, philosophy and spirituality. His six-part series - 'All Religions Are Not the Same' - has won critical acclaim. He also heads The Jaipur Dialogues as its Chairman, creating an India-centric think tank in the process, and hosts the YouTube series 'Weekly Dialogues'.

Francois Gautier

Francois Gautier

About the Author

François Gautier was born in Paris, France. He was South Asia correspondent for Le Figaro, one of France’s leading newspapers. He also wrote columns for Indian newspapers: the ‘Ferengi’s column’ in the Indian Express, then the “French Connection” column in the Pioneer, as well as regular contributions for Rediff., New Indian Express, Times of India blogs, etc.

François has written several books – amongst the latest : A New History of India (Har Anand, 2008), The Art of Healing (Harper Collins, 2011), Quand l’Inde s’éveille, la France est endormie (Editions du Rocher, 2013), « Apprendre à Souffler (Hachette Marabout, 2016) & « Nouvelle Histoire de l’Inde » (Editions de l’Archipel, 2017), « Les Mots du Dernier Dalaï-lama » (Flammarion, 2018), « In Defense of a Billion Hindus » (Har Anand, 2018) & « Hindu Power in the 21st Century » (Har Anand, 2019)

Francois, who is married for 30 years to Namrita, shuttles between Pune and Delhi. He is building a Museum of (real) Indian History in Pune (factmuseum.com).

Makarand Pranjape

Makarand Pranjape

About the Author

Author, poet, and humanities professor. He has been the Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla since August 2018. Prior to that he was a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India for 19 years.

Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth

About the Author

Maria Wirth, a German, came to India on a stopover on her way to Australia after finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University and an internship with Lufthansa. By chance she landed up in spiritual India, realised the great value of Vedic wisdom, and never went to Australia.

She shared her insights with German readers through numerous articles and two books, as she felt this wisdom is lacking in the West. Only some 15 years ago, she became aware that even many Indians don’t know about their amazing heritage and worse, they look down on it and often consider Christianity and Islam as preferable. This shocked her and she started to compare on her blog the three main religions and also wrote her first book in English, titled “Thank you India”. For her it is clear that Hindu Dharma is the best option for humanity and she keeps explaining why.

Dr. Omendra Ratnu

Dr. Omendra Ratnu

About the Author

Dr Omendra Ratnu from Jaipur is an ENT surgeon who runs a hospital.

He runs an NGO, Nimittekam, with the purpose of helping displaced Hindu refugees from Pakistan and integrating Dalit Sahodaras into Hindu mainstream.

Issues of Hindu survival and conflict with violent faiths are his core concerns for which he roams around the world to raise funds and awareness.

He is also a singer, composer, writer, Geeta communicator and a ground activist for Hindu causes.

He has released a bhajan Album and a Ghazal album composed and sung by him.

The Guru
Uncategorized

The Guru

The Guru is a unique symbol and understanding of Indian spirituality. In no other culture is a seemingly-ordinary human being held with such reverence and devotion. The Guru is one who leads the student from darkness to light. Such is the literal meaning of the world. But what kind of light? It is not a physical or mental or emotional or pranic learning that the Teacher imparts but a spiritual transformation that yet encompasses all these in one sweep and curve. The Guru is the representative of the Divine on earth, nay, he or she is exalted as the Divine itself manifesting in form and name, as the vyakta roopa of the ineffable and eternal. In a famous doha, Kabir says that if given a choice between God and the Guru, he would bow before the Guru first for without the Guru he can never find God. There is a poetic truth in this verse but one might add that the Guru is God itself come here to guide and teach, to mentor and assist in one’s inner journey and explorations. And yet, there is no Guru but the Divine seated within. That is the final Guru, the true one, who once discovered is a sempiternal assurance of one’s spiritual destiny and fulfilment. It is in one’s heart that the true Teacher resides, the outer name and form of the Guru only the impetus and the assistance one needs to realize that the Divine is always within oneself, as oneself, in an evolution one calls yoga. Even so, the Guru in human form is seen as the reflection of one’s own higher self, as a mirror in the sky of one’s best and the true potential latent in each of us. It is the Guru that sustains us through all difficulties, who guides us and leads us through darkness and establishes in us the living certainty that one is in essence always pure, sacred, untouched and unharmed. The Guru imparts insights and understanding not just with verbal instructions but by his or her presence. Verily, sitting at the auspicious feet of the Master, one is enlightened without effort, if one learns how to just sit and imbibe spontaneously and with immediacy. Such is the import of the Sanskrit word ‘Upanishad’, one of the highest expressions of Vedanta in Indian spirituality. It is also true that the age of Guruvada might be over in modern times at least in the traditional sense. The ritualistic bending of one’s knee or bowing to the man in ochre is passé. Now the mind does not surrender so easily and needs more refined and nuanced understandings. Rare is the Guru who gives absolute freedom to the disciple and student to discover his or her own self, yet pours his quiet love and benediction upon them without expecting any return. There have been Gurus who have not only influenced a collection of disciples or a population but an age. Such Gurus capture the essence and the spirit of the times in their being and message. These are the jagat Gurus, the Teachers of teachers, who come at every significant cycle of human evolution and guide it with their vast and subtle influence. As one grows in yoga, love and adoration for the Guru grows spontaneously. This love is the secret for one’s future growth, the seed of one’s own divinity and the mentor and guide for all endeavors to come. To be one’s own light, atma deepo bhava, is an ancient dictum given us by the wisest of teachers; yet, this inner light is the same as the light of the being we call the Guru. The Guru can pour his or her energy into the disciple if necessary in a process called Shakti Paata; yet, the greatest imparting of strength and intensity to the disciple is not in terms of power but in terms of Truth and Consciousness and Bliss. This is the secret of the Guru: the Divine within and without, the formless taking a human form, the one who is our own self and nature calling us back to ourselves. To the Teacher the highest honor and the highest station with the clear awareness that there is no Self other than the Guru; nor is there a Guru other than the Self.
Read More
Radha Prem as Universal Love
Uncategorized

Radha Prem as Universal Love

Radha prem has two senses. In the first place it signifies the love of Krishna for Radha, and in the second place that of Radha for Krishna. Let us take them in order. What is the meaning of Krishna’s love for Radha?  Radha, as is well known, signifies the haladini Shakti, the Ananda Shakti of Sri Krishna. The object of Sri Krishna’s Vrindaban Lila is to achieve meetings with Radha and enjoy the bliss of her company. In plain words, what Krishna desires is that His bliss should be manifest in the world. Everywhere and in everything He wishes to see the shining forth of Bliss. The selfishness of the world, as represented by Radha’s husband and relations, places all sorts of obstacles in the path of Their meeting but Krishna triumphs over all, so that time and again meetings take place and here, in this world, is seen the bliss of the eternal. On the other hand, we have the fact of Sri Radha’s love for Krishna. Everything She does is for Him and without Him She would die. There are those that seek bliss for themselves, but never find it, for all bliss belongs to Krishna and can only be found in utter self giving to Him. It is thus seen that the two meanings of Radhaprem are the two sides of the cosmic process. On the one side there is the Divine will that Bliss should be manifested and on the other side there is the self giving, the making of everything to centre in Sri Krishna so that the world may be the vessel of that Bliss.  Wherever men’s hearts are filled with the hard rock of selfishness, the Divine union cannot take place and in consequence the world is grey, loveless and sorrowful. But wherever the Love of Krishna drives out all self and man is able to give himself utterly, there the desire of Krishna is fulfilled. Radha is His and the eternal Bliss of Parabrahman is manifested here on Earth. For, as the Upanishads say, “All this is verily Brahman” It is ignorance which makes us think there are two worlds, this world and the world of Brahman. Seen rightly, this is Vrindaban, this is Goloka, this is Satchitananda. It is the delusion that our separate selves exist that makes this world hell for most. Krishna is everything and everywhere and He is manifest wherever Radha is and self is not. We are like men suffering from cataract of the eye. Because of our blindness the world seems dark and gloomy. If we remove the selfishness that covers the inner eye of wisdom we see that it is not the world that was dark but ourselves.  Now that our eyes have been cleaned, we see that all is light, light on the way, light dancing on the waves of the great ocean, light in the cloudless sky where the eternal Sun shines in his stainless splendor. This is the Mahabhava which none other than Radha ever knows. No one else can know it for only where all self has vanished like the flame of an extinguished lamp can it be manifest. What is the path that leads us to this goal? The path is that of love for Krishna. But where is Krishna? Like fire in the fire sticks, like oil in til, like butter in milk, Krishna dwells in secret in the hearts of all. To seek Him elsewhere is like trying to milk a cow from its horn or trying to produce fire by worshipping the fire- sticks instead of using them. Krishna is in all and must be served in all. Then, when constant service has kindled the flame of love, that flame will consume all, even the sticks which gave it birth and there will be only Krishna shining gloriously with Radha on His breast. Then the Blue color of Radha’s cloth mingles with the blue of Krishna’s body and the sunlike brilliance of Krishna’s clothes blends with the golden radiance of Her limbs — Is it one figure or two? we cannot say — all that we know is that is the only Reality in the triple world.    With deep gratitude to Sri Krishna Prem
Read More
The Way of the Rishi
Uncategorized

The Way of the Rishi

This you have always to remember that because a little social custom is going to be changed you are not going to lose your religion, not at all. Remember these customs have already been changed.  There was a time in this very India when, without eating beef, no Brahmin could remain a Brahmin; you read in the Vedas how, when a Sannyasin, a king, or a great man came into a house, the best bullock was killed; how in time it was found that as we were an agricultural race, killing the best bulls meant annihilation of the race. Therefore the practice was stopped, and a voice was raised against the killing of cows.  Sometimes we find existing then what we now consider the most horrible customs. In course of time other laws had to be made. These in turn will have to go, and other Smritis will come. This is one fact we have to learn that the Vedas being eternal will be one and the same throughout all ages, but the Smritis will have an end. As time rolls on, more and more of the Smritis will go, sages will come, and they will change and direct society into better channels, into duties and into paths which accord with the necessity of the age, and without which it is impossible that society can live. Thus we have to guide our course, avoiding these two dangers; and I hope that every one of us here will have breadth enough, and at the same time faith enough, to understand what that means, which I suppose is the inclusion of everything, and not the exclusion. I want the intensity of the fanatic plus the extensity of the materialist. Deep as the ocean, broad as the infinite skies, that is the sort of heart we want. Let us be as progressive as any nation that ever existed, and at the same time as faithful and conservative towards our traditions as Hindus alone know how to be.  In plain words, we have first to learn the distinction between the essentials and the non-essentials in everything. The essentials are eternal, the non-essentials have value only for a certain time; and if after a time they are not replaced by something essential, they are positively dangerous. I do not mean that you should stand up and revile all your old customs and institutions.  Certainly not; you must not revile even the most evil one of them. Revile none. Even those customs that are now appearing to be positive evils, have been positively life-giving in times past; and if we have to remove these, we must not do so with curses, but with blessings and gratitude for the glorious work these customs have done for the preservation of our race. And we must also remember that the leaders of our societies have never been either generals or kings, but Rishis. And who are the Rishis?  The Rishi as he is called in the Upanishads is not an ordinary man, but a Mantra-drashta. He is a man who sees religion, to whom religion is not merely  book-learning, not argumentation, nor speculation, nor much talking, but actual realisation, a coming face to face with truths which transcend the senses. This is Rishihood, and that Rishihood does not belong to any age, or time, or even to sects or caste. Vatsyayana says, truth must be realised; and we have to remember that you, and I, and every one of us will be called upon to become Rishis; and we must have faith in ourselves; we must become world-movers, for everything is in us. We must see Religion face to face, experience it, and thus solve our doubts about it; and then standing up in the glorious light of Rishihood each one of us will be a giant; and every word falling from our lips will carry behind it that infinite sanction of security; and before us evil will vanish by itself without the necessity of cursing any one, without the necessity of abusing any one, without the necessity of fighting any one in the world. May the Lord help us, each one of us here, to realise the Rishihood for our own salvation and for that of others!  This mass of writing called the Vedas is not the utterance of persons. Its date has never been fixed, can never be fixed, and, according to us, the Vedas are eternal. There is one salient point which I want you to remember, that all the other religions of the world claim their authority as being delivered by a Personal God or a number of personal beings, angels, or special messengers of God, unto certain persons ; while the claim of the Hindus is that the Vedas do not owe their authority to anybody, they are themselves the authority, being eternal — the knowledge of God. They were never written, never created, they have existed throughout time ; just as creation is infinite and eternal, without beginning and without end, so is the knowledge of God without beginning and without end. And this knowledge is what is meant by the Vedas ( Vid, to know).  The mass of knowledge called the Vedanta was discovered by personages called Rishis, and the Rishi is defined as a Mantra-drashta, a seer of thought; not that the thought was his own. Whenever you hear that a certain passage of the Vedas came from a certain Rishi, never think that he wrote it or created it out of his mind; he was the seer of the thought which already existed; it existed in the universe eternally. This sage was the discoverer; the Rishis were spiritual discoverers.  Men found out ages ago that the soul is not bound or limited by the senses, no, not even by consciousness. We have to understand that this consciousness is only the name of one link in the infinite chain. Being is not identical with consciousness, but consciousness is only one part of Being. Beyond consciousness is where the bold search. Consciousness is bound by the senses. Beyond that, beyond the senses, men must go in order to arrive at truths of the spiritual world, and there are even now persons who succeed in going beyond the bounds of the senses. These are called Rishis, because they come face to face with spiritual truths.  The proof, therefore, of the Vedas is just the same as the proof of this table before me, Pratyaksha, direct perception. This I see with the senses, and the truths of spirituality we also see in a superconscious state of the human soul. This Rishi-state is not limited by time or place, by sex or race. Vatsyayana boldly declares that this Rishihood is the common property of the descendants of the sage, of the Aryan, of the non-Aryan, of even the Mlechchha. This is the sageship of the Vedas, and constantly we ought to remember this ideal of religion in India, which I wish other nations of the world would also remember and learn, so that there may be less fight and less quarrel. Religion is not in books, nor in theories, nor in dogmas, nor in talking, not even in reasoning. It is being and becoming. Ay, my friends, until each one of you has become a Rishi and come face to face with spiritual facts, religious life has not begun for you. Until the superconscious opens for you, religion is mere talk, it is nothing but preparation.  You are talking second-hand, third-hand, and here applies that beautiful saying of Buddha when he had a discussion with some Brahmins. They came discussing about the nature of Brahman, and the great sage asked, “Have you seen Brahman?” “No”, said the Brahmin; “Or your father?” “No, neither has he”; “Or your grandfather?” “I don’t think even he saw Him.” “My friend, how can you discuss about a person whom your father and grandfather never saw, and try to put each other down?” That is what the whole world is doing. Let us say in the language of the Vedanta, “This Atman is not to be reached by too much talk, no, not even by the highest intellect, no, not even by the study of the Vedas themselves.”  When you have known God, your whole appearance will be changed. You will be a blessing to  mankind; none will be able to resist the Rishi. This is the Rishihood, the ideal in our religion. The rest, all these talks and reasonings and philosophies and dualisms and monisms, and even the Vedas themselves are but preparations, secondary things. The other is primary. The Vedas, grammar, astronomy, etc., all these are secondary; that is supreme knowledge which makes us realise the Unchangeable One. Those who realised are the sages whom we find in the Vedas; and we understand how this Rishi is the name of a type, of a class, which every one of us, as true Hindus, is expected to become at some period of our life, and becoming which, to the Hindu, means salvation. Not belief in doctrines, not going to thousands of temples, nor bathing in all the rivers in the world, but becoming the Rishi, the Mantra-drashta — that is freedom, that is salvation.  But the truth came to the Rishis of India — the Mantra-drashtas, the seers of thought — and will come to all Rishis in the future, not to talkers, not to book-swallowers, not to scholars, not to philologists, but to seers of thought. The Self is not to be reached by too much talking, not even by the highest intellects, not even by the study of the scriptures. The scriptures themselves say so. Do you find in any other scripture such a bold assertion as that — not even by the study of the Vedas will you reach the Atman? You must open your heart. Religion is not going to church, or putting marks on the forehead, or dressing in a peculiar fashion; you may paint yourselves in all the colours of the rainbow, but if the heart has not been opened, if you have not realised God, it is all vain. There are, therefore, many stages, and we need not quarrel about them even if there have been quarrels among the ancient commentators, whom all of us ought to revere; for there is no limitation to knowledge, there is no omniscience exclusively the property of any one in ancient or modern times. If there have been sages and Rishis in the past, be sure that there will be many now. If there have been Vyasas and Valmikis and Shankaracharyas in ancient times, why may not each one of you become a Shankaracharya? This is another point of our religion that you must always remember, that in all other scriptures inspiration is quoted as their authority, but this inspiration is limited to a very few persons, and through them the truth came to the masses, and we have all to obey them. Truth came to Jesus of Nazareth, and we must all obey him. We must, therefore, remember that our religion lays down distinctly and clearly that every one who wants salvation must pass through the stage of Rishihood— must become a Mantra-drashta, must see God. That is salvation; that is the law laid down by our scriptures. Then it becomes easy to look into the scripture with our own eyes, understand the meaning for ourselves, to analyse just what we want, and to understand the truth for ourselves. This is what has to be done. At the same time we must pay all reverence to the ancient sages for their work. They were great, these ancients, but we want to be greater. They did great work in the past, but we must do greater work than they. They had hundreds of Rishis in ancient India. We will have millions — we are going to have, and the sooner every one of you believes in this, the better for India and the better for the world. Whatever you believe, that you will be. If you believe yourselves to be sages, sages you will be tomorrow. There is nothing to obstruct you. For if there is one common doctrine that runs through all our apparently fighting and contradictory sects, it is that all glory, power, and purity are within the soul already. Our scriptures declare again and again that even the knowledge of the external senses is not religion. That is religion which makes us realise the Unchangeable One, and that is the religion for every one. He who realises transcendental truth, he who realises the Atman in his own nature, he who comes face to face with God, sees God alone in everything, has become a Rishi. And there is no religious life for you until you have become a Rishi. Then alone religion begins for you, now is only the preparation. Then religion dawns upon you, now you are only undergoing intellectual gymnastics and physical tortures. So, be you all Rishis and sages; that is the secret. More or less we shall all be Rishis.  What is meant by a Rishi? The pure one. Be pure first, and you will have power. Simply saying, “I am a Rishi”, will not do ; but when you are a Rishi you will find that others obey you instinctively. Something mysterious emanates from you, which makes them follow you, makes them hear you, makes them unconsciously, even against their will, carry out your plans. That is Rishihood. Do not be in a hurry, do not go out to imitate anybody else. This is another great lesson we have to remember; imitation is not civilisation. I may deck myself out in a Raja’s dress, but will that make me a Raja? An ass in a lion’s skin never makes a lion. Imitation, cowardly imitation, never makes for progress. It is verily the sign of awful degradation in a man. Ay, when a man has begun to hate himself, then the last blow has come. When a man has begun to be ashamed of his ancestors, the end has come. Here am I, one of the least of the Hindu race, yet proud of my race, proud of my ancestors. I am proud to call myself a Hindu, I am proud that I am one of your unworthy servants. I am proud that I am a countryman of yours, you the descendants of the sages, you the descendants of the most glorious Rishis the world ever saw.  Therefore have faith in yourselves, be proud of your ancestors, instead of being ashamed of them. And do not imitate, do not imitate! Whenever you are under the thumb of others, you lose your own independence. If you are working, even in spiritual things, at the dictation of others, slowly you lose all faculty, even of thought.  Bring out through your own exertions what you have, but do not imitate, yet take what is good from others. We have to learn from others. You put the seed in the ground, and give it plenty of earth, and air, and water to feed upon; when the seed grows into the plant and into a gigantic tree, does it become the earth, does it become the air, or does it become the water? It becomes the mighty plant, the mighty tree, after its own nature, having absorbed everything that was given to it. Let that be your position. Who are these Rishis? Vatsyayana says, “He who has attained through proper means the direct realisation of Dharma, he alone can be a Rishi even if he is a Mlechchha by birth.” Strive after that Rishihood, stop not till you have attained the goal, and the whole world will of itself bow at your feet! Be a Rishi — that is the secret of power.  In the remote past, our country made gigantic advances in spiritual ideas. Let us, today, bring before our mind’s eye that ancient history. But the one great danger in meditating over long-past greatness is that we cease to exert ourselves for new things, and content ourselves with vegetating upon that bygone ancestral glory and priding ourselves upon it. We should guard against that. In ancient times there were, no doubt, many Rishis and Maharshis who came face to face with Truth. But if this recalling of our ancient greatness is to be of real benefit, we too must become Rishis like them. Ay, not only that, but it is my firm conviction that we shall be even greater Rishis than any that our history presents to us. In the past, signal were our attainments — I glory in them, and I feel proud in thinking of them. I am not even in despair at seeing the present degradation, and I am full of hope in picturing to my mind what is to come in the future. Why? Because I know the seed undergoes a complete transformation, ay, the seed as seed is seemingly destroyed before it develops into a tree. In the same way, in the midst of our present degradation lies, only dormant for a time, the potentiality of the future greatness of our religion, ready to spring up again, perhaps more mighty and glorious than ever before.  You must not merely learn what the Rishis taught. Those Rishis are gone, and their opinions are also gone with them. You must be Rishis yourselves. You are also men as much as the greatest men that were ever born — even our Incarnations… From the Complete Works Of Swami Vivekananda: The Rishi Tradition
Read More
the chinese challenge
Uncategorized

The China Challenge

In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, there is an incident where Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Technologies, advised Apple to sell all its assets and pay out its shareholders. That, in his opinion, would be Apple’s biggest service to the owners of the company. Infuriated, Steve Jobs, had a large image of Dell projected on a screen in the Board Room with a big target sign on it. And when he would end a meeting, he would point at the picture of Dell, and say gleefully, “We are coming after you, Buddy!” This was Jobs’ way of motivating his teams. Identify the enemy. Focus relentlessly on him and with a laser-sharp intensity, go guns-blazing. This, more than anything, created what Apple is today. The ability of its founder, greatest leader and visionary, to zero in on one or two things and pursue them with singular passion. Such is the moment in front of India today. Again. It blew its chances when Tibet was annexed by China. In 1962. In 1971. After 2003. It must not do so again. A clear identification is needed. And then the articulation. It needs to be stated unequivocally, “China is the enemy.” Or rather, the Communist Party of China (CPC), that controls the country with undemocratic hegemony, is the enemy. We need to enunciate this in our ministries and secretariats and in boardrooms and in the town squares and the village chaupals. It is time that India stood up for its dharma. And stop giving in and giving up, mistaking weakness for harmony, spinelessness for a higher calling and cowardice for spreading world-peace. Quietly, firmly, as it did at Doklam, it needs to tell the bully, “We will not be cowed down. And we will reverse the salami slice on you.” The bluff needs to be called, systematically, methodically. Such a process has already begun. Almost a hundred apps have been banned in India. Huawei is out of the reckoning. Investments and imports from China are being held in great Indian tamasic strategy. Self-reliance is being pursued, in manufacturing as well as pharmaceutical industry, in defense as well as in technology. The process must continue. And India must do much more. It needs to take a stand. It must demand that China return all the land it has illegally annexed since 1947. Nothing less than that will do to restore normalcy in bilateral relations among the two countries. Until then, keep hitting where it hurts. Cut the head of the dragon. And the head of the dragon is its economic monopoly.  India must unequivocally demand that China stop supporting Pakistan in international forums, whether at the Security Council or with Financial Action Task Force shielding it from repercussions against its exported terrorism. And India must insist that China return Tibet to its people and withdraw from its territory. This is the toughest ask it must make but this is where the men will be separated from the boys or nations from have-been civilizations. In the same breath, it must assert that China withdraw from South China Sea, abandon the artificial islands it has created and stop appropriating resources illegally. Finally, it must demand that China give up its claim on Taiwan and follow through on its promises to UK when it took back Hong Kong. This is bound to infuriate CPC but the whole country must learn to stand its ground, no matter what the consequence. India must dismantle completely the insidious structure that China has built in India through supply chains, Confucius Centers and political and socio-cultural influence. The tentacles need to be chopped off. All this does not need to happen at once. Slowly, by investing in the security quadrangle with US, Japan and Australia, by supporting the countries in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, by supporting the Dalai Lama, slice by slice. But this cannot happen unless India stays strong and keeps building its core. It should spend all the money in defense on indigenous production as it seems to be wisely doing. Unessential imports can be slowed, banned or held with immediate effect. Essential items can be sourced from other countries. New opportunities can be created. New challenges like the one that was recently made in app developments for the entrepreneurs among us. Covid and China have been shots in the arm for us. From the same source. We need to harvest this bounty for the next few decades.
Read More
Uncategorized

The Four Aids to Yoga

Yoga-siddhi, the perfection that comes from the practice of Yoga, can be best attained by the combined working of four great instruments. There is, first, the knowledge of the truths, principles, powers and processes that govern the realisation – shastra. Next comes a patient and persistent action on the lines laid down by the knowledge, the force of our personal effort – utsaha. There intervenes, third, uplifting our knowledge and effort into the domain of spiritual experience, the direct suggestion, example and influence of the Teacher – guru. Last comes the instrumentality of Time – kala; for in all things there is a cycle of their action and a period of the divine movement. The supreme Shastra of the integral Yoga is the eternal Veda secret in the heart of every thinking and living being. The lotus of the eternal knowledge and the eternal perfection is a bud closed and folded up within us. It opens swiftly or gradually, petal by petal, through successive realisations, once the mind of man begins to turn towards the Eternal, once his heart, no longer compressed and confined by attachment to finite appearances, becomes enamoured, in whatever degree, of the Infinite. All life, all thought, all energising of the faculties, all experiences passive or active, become thenceforward so many shocks which disintegrate the teguments of the soul and remove the obstacles to the inevitable efflorescence. He who chooses the Infinite has been chosen by the Infinite. He has received the divine touch without which there is no awakening, no opening of the spirit; but once it is received, attainment is sure, whether conquered swiftly in the course of one human life or pursued patiently through many stadia of the cycle of existence in the manifested universe. Nothing can be taught to the mind which is not already concealed as potential knowledge in the unfolding soul of the creature. So also all perfection of which the outer man is capable, is only a realising of the eternal perfection of the Spirit within him. We know the Divine and become the Divine, because we are That already in our secret nature. All teaching is a revealing, all becoming is an unfolding. Self-attainment is the secret; self-knowledge and an increasing consciousness are the means and the process. The usual agency of this revealing is the Word, the thing heard (shruta). The Word may come to us from within; it may come to us from without. But in either case, it is only an agency for setting the hidden knowledge to work. The word within may be the utterance of the inmost soul in us which is always open to the Divine or it may be the word of the secret and universal Teacher who is seated in the hearts of all. There are rare cases in which none other is needed, for all the rest of the Yoga is an unfolding under that constant touch and guidance; the lotus of the knowledge discloses itself from within by the power of irradiating effulgence which proceeds from the Dweller in the lotus of the heart. Great indeed, but few are those to whom self-knowledge from within is thus sufficient and who do not need to pass under the dominant influence of a written book or a living teacher. Ordinarily, the Word from without, representative of the Divine, is needed as an aid in the work of self-unfolding; and it may be either a word from the past or the more powerful word of the living Guru. In some cases this representative word is only taken as a sort of excuse for the inner power to awaken and manifest; it is, as it were, a concession of the omnipotent and omniscient Divine to the generality of a law that governs Nature. Thus it is said in the Upanishads of Krishna, son of Devaki, that he received a word of the Rishi Ghora and had the knowledge. So Ramakrishna, having attained by his own internal effort the central illumination, accepted several teachers in the different paths of Yoga, but always showed in the manner and swiftness of his realisation that this acceptance was a concession to the general rule by which effective knowledge must be received as by a disciple from a Guru. But usually the representative influence occupies a much larger place in the life of the Sadhaka. If the Yoga is guided by a received written Shastra, – some Word from the past which embodies the experience of former Yogins, – it may be practised either by personal effort alone or with the aid of a Guru. The spiritual knowledge is then gained through meditation on the truths that are taught and it is made living and conscious by their realisation in the personal experience; the Yoga proceeds by the results of prescribed methods taught in a Scripture or a tradition and reinforced and illumined by the instructions of the Master. This is a narrower practice, but safe and effective within its limits, because it follows a well-beaten track to a long familiar goal. For the Sadhaka of the Integral Yoga it is necessary to remember that no written Shastra, however great its authority or however large its spirit, can be more than a partial expression of the eternal Knowledge. He will use, but never bind himself even by the greatest Scripture. Where the Scripture is profound, wide, catholic, it may exercise upon him an influence for the highest good and of incalculable importance. It may be associated in his experience with his awakening to crowning verities and his realisation of the highest experiences. His Yoga may be governed for a long time by one Scripture or by several successively, – if it is in the line of the great Hindu tradition, by the Gita, for example, the Upanishads, the Veda. Or it may be a good part of his development to include in its material a richly varied experience of the truths of many Scriptures and make the future opulent with all that is best in the past. But in the end he must take his station, or better still, if he can, always and from the beginning he must live in his own soul beyond the written Truth, -sabdabrahmativartate – beyond all that he has heard and all that he has yet to hear, – srotaryasya shrutasya ca. For he is not the Sadhaka of a book or of many books; he is a Sadhaka of the Infinite. Another kind of Shastra is not Scripture, but a statement of the science and methods, the effective principles and way of working of the path of Yoga which the Sadhaka elects to follow. Each path has its Shastra, either written or traditional, passing from mouth to mouth through a long line of Teachers. In India a great authority, a high reverence even is ordinarily attached to the written or traditional teaching. All the lines of the Yoga are supposed to be fixed and the Teacher who has received the Shastra by tradition and realised it in practice guides the disciple along the immemorial tracks. One often even hears the objection urged against a new practice, a new Yogic teaching, the adoption of a new formula, “It is not according to the Shastra.” But neither in fact nor in the actual practice of the Yogins is there really any such entire rigidity of an iron door shut against new truth, fresh revelation, widened experience. The written or traditional teaching expresses the knowledge and experiences of many centuries systematised, organised, made attainable to the beginner. Its importance and utility are therefore immense. But a great freedom of variation and development is always practicable. Even so highly scientific a system as Rajayoga can be practised on other lines than the organised method of Patanjali. Each of the three paths, trimarga [= the triple path of Knowledge, Devotion and Works], breaks into many bypaths which meet again at the goal. The general knowledge on which the Yoga depends is fixed, but the order, the succession, the devices, the forms must be allowed to vary, for the needs and particular impulsions of the individual nature have to be satisfied even while the general truths remain firm and constant. An integral and synthetic Yoga needs especially not to be bound by any written or traditional Shastra; for while it embraces the knowledge received from the past, it seeks to organise it anew for the present and the future. An absolute liberty of experience and of the restatement of knowledge in new terms and new combinations is the condition of its self-formation. Seeking to embrace all life in itself, it is in the position not of a pilgrim following the highroad to his destination, but, to that extent at least, of a path-finder hewing his way through a virgin forest. For Yoga has long diverged from life and the ancient systems which sought to embrace it, such as those of our Vedic forefathers, are far away from us, expressed in terms which are no longer accessible, thrown into forms which are no longer applicable. Since then mankind has moved forward on the current of eternal Time and the same problem has to be approached from a new starting-point. By this Yoga we not only seek the Infinite, but we call upon the Infinite to unfold himself in human life. Therefore the Shastra of our Yoga must provide for an infinite liberty in the receptive human soul. A free adaptability in the manner and type of the individual’s acceptance of the Universal and Transcendent into himself is the right condition for the full spiritual life in man. Vivekananda, pointing out that the unity of all religions must necessarily express itself by an increasing richness of variety in its forms, said once that the perfect state of that essential unity would come when each man had his own religion, when not bound by sect or traditional form he followed the free self-adaptation of his nature in its relations with the Supreme. So also one may say that the perfection of the integral Yoga will come when each man is able to follow his own path of Yoga, pursuing the development of his own nature in its upsurging towards that which transcends the nature. For freedom is the final law and the last consummation. Meanwhile certain general lines have to be formed which may help to guide the thought and practice of the Sadhaka. But these must take, as much as possible, forms of general truths, general statements of principle, the most powerful broad directions of effort and development rather than a fixed system which has to be followed as a routine. All Shastra is the outcome of past experience and a help to future experience. It is an aid and a partial guide. It puts up signposts, gives the names of the main roads and the already explored directions, so that the traveller may know whither and by what paths he is proceeding. The rest depends on personal effort and experience and upon the power of the Guide.   From Synthesis of Yoga, The Yoga of Divine Works, by Sri Aurobindo
Read More
Atma Vichar
Uncategorized

The Quest of the Real

Fundamentals of Yoga The Yogic journey to Self-realization begins with seeing clearly the self, or the selves, that we are not. To see the false as the false.  The seeker or the sadhaka (the Sanskrit word for the disciple of Yoga; literally, one who practices sadhana, spiritual discipline) must pass through several layers of not-self before s-he can begin to discern a real self behind it all. There are two words the Yogi often uses — Satyam and Mithya, two fundamental terms of Yogic knowledge. Satyam (from the root sat) means that which is true and abiding, that which does not continually change or cease to be; mithya is that which continually changes from one form to another, is impermanent, does not abide and does not possess an intrinsic reality. However, mithya seems to be real, it has an apparent reality, like a mirage in the desert, or like the horizon. When you look upon a mithya, you are convinced that it is there; but when you get closer to it, you see it is not, or it is something entirely other than what it appeared to be. Such is the nature of the self as we know it — it appears very real and stable, but when we look carefully and deeply at it, it begins to lose its stable shape and becomes increasingly amorphous, till it just disappears, often like the grin of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. As the Buddha often used to say, the self that one usually identifies with is just a bundle of habitual thoughts and tendencies that hang together creating an illusion of continuity and disintegrates upon analysis. When one looks deep into the nature of the self, one finds no real or stable self at all. Deep in the heart of the consciousness, there is no real self but void. And this indeed is the starting point in the Yoga: to look into the nature of the self, to carefully take apart, strand by strand, layer by layer, all that appears to be the self, the roots of our identity, and to peer into those inner depths to see what is and what is not. This very process is one of intense purification. The sadhaka first discovers three distinct layers wrapped around his identity, almost like a cocoon: a very sticky layer of all that his mind has been conditioned to believe since childhood; a second somewhat less sticky layer of all that his mind has learnt and acquired through experiences and education; and a third layer of all that his mind has been persistently projecting to be real because of its deepest desires, fears and prejudices. And all these layers are intricately interwoven and must be separated.  The Aim The separating takes time for this is a process of de-conditioning and deconstruction that the sadhaka must pass through; the old edifice has to be torn down, the ground has to be cleared. Through focused and persistent contemplation and self-enquiry, all that is not true, not real, not abiding must be eliminated, till all that remains is the very faculty that is eliminating and cannot itself be eliminated. It is like having peeled off the layers of a fruit till the fruit is gone and only the peeler remains. The sadhaka has then reached the bottom, the substratum of being. This substratum, known as adhara in Sanskrit, is what the Yoga considers to be the ground upon which all psychological identity rests, ground zero, if you will. In other words, the many selves that we grow up believing ourselves to be are multiple layers of conditioned and acquired beliefs built on ground zero, this adhara, that become, over time, hard crusts of identification enormously difficult to break out of, the almost unbreakable tethers of the ego.  But the first aim of Yoga is to break free of these encrustations, these tethers out of ego, and realize oneself as essentially free of all selves, identities and identifications. This is the indispensable step towards the higher and the deeper realizations of the Yoga. For, finally, when freed of all the conditionings and the layers of ignorance and falsehood, the sadhaka will begin to realize himself as the true Self, the Purusha in the language of Yoga, behind all the false and apparent selves. The realization of oneself as Purusha is the beginning of the higher Yoga, the launching pad, as it were, into the blissful vastnesses of Consciousness, possessed of the Truth of being and things, master of all existence, Ishwara.  This is the high and wondrously uplifting aim of Yoga, more enticing than all the treasures of earth and the promises of heavens; and to strive for this is the highest purpose and dharma of human existence. The journey is long and arduous and needs enormous patience and fortitude. The sadhaka must be prepared in mind and heart for undertaking this journey of journeys, and must be willing to sacrifice all the lower strivings, pleasures and satisfactions of human life. The journey to the Real is spiritual and supramental, and way beyond the intellect and its mental knowledge; a higher faculty of knowledge or a deeper intuition is needed for this journey, and the sadhaka must discover and awaken these in the silent depths of his or her being. Even the mind’s so-called spiritual knowledge falls apart on this journey because all our knowledge is merely aerial mapping of unknown territory and the map, however brilliantly drawn, is not the territory. No matter how many have walked the paths of Yoga before us, and how many have come to the realization of Self, when we walk this path ourselves, we walk alone and we walk for the first time. Non-knowing or the Beginner’s Mind The quest for the Self then begins with the Self: What or who am I? This is atma-vichara, a methodical and sustained investigation into the nature of the Self, and this investigation is as exacting as any scientific one, except that it is directed inward, into one’s own consciousness. And as any intelligent scientific investigation, it is an open-ended attempt, without agenda or goal. The point is not to reach a conclusion. The quest for the Self is subtle and vast, and there can be no conclusions. The point is to arrive at understanding, wisdom, prajna. And understanding is a continuous process; the moment one believes that one has understood, the learning ceases, and whatever one has understood, or believes one has understood, becomes fossilized as knowledge. This is the reason that the masters of Vedanta would reject knowledge as useless and insist on anubhava, which can mean direct understanding as well as living experience.  In Yoga, knowledge (especially of the spiritual kind) has only marginal utility, like a map indicating a certain terrain. The sadhaka must begin with a clear understanding of the difference between knowledge and anubhava: knowledge is all outside, made up of facts and figures, ideas and theories, but anubhava arises from within, and blossoms into prajna or spiritual wisdom. One cannot come to prajna without coming to oneself. The outer knowledge is all available in books, from teachings and teachers, but prajna flowers into being when one sinks deeper into oneself and begins to find those spaces of inner awareness where one is most completely and integrally oneself.  The end of all knowing is knowing the Self: and this knowing of Self is the  paramarthika jnana or transcendental knowledge of the Yogi. It is this knowing that one must come to. Compared to this knowing, all outer knowledge is useless. All the knowledge in the universe will not bring the seeker an inch closer to the Self. When the seeker understands this simple truth, all her distractions fall from her, and she is freed of the constant need to seek truth outside of herself, in the world of people, things and experiences.  To enter the spirit of Yoga, one must first turn inward, become introverts in the true sense of the word, cease to be seekers of the outside world, seekers of experiences, relationships, objects. It is when one turns within that one realizes just how compelling the outside world is, for it is the outside world that shapes the inner and makes us what we are. Yet, when we close our eyes to sleep, drift into those inner spaces made of dreams and void, we lose all of the outside world, there is nothing anymore, no possessions, no relations, no things to occupy ourselves with. But few grasp the significance of this. Sleep is routine for most of us, we must sleep as we must eat. But for the Yogi, sleep is the precursor of dying. As one sleeps, so shall one die. If one carries nothing of the outside world into sleep, one will carry nothing of it into dying. This realization is often the beginning of a gradual detachment from the clamors of the external.  Where does the world go in our sleep? Where do all the relationships go — where is the wife, husband, child or friend once we are asleep? Where is the sky or earth, where the objects of desire? The Yogis say that all these are mental constructs and when mind gets absorbed in deep sleep, all its activities and constructs dissolve into the void of sleep. In the state of deep sleep, which the Yogis know by direct experience, there is neither the self nor the world, neither time nor space, neither waking nor dreaming. When the sadhaka understands this clearly through his own experience, he is freed from the great spell of the outside world — he then sees the thousand and one things of the world outside as futile, like a child’s toys. What then is real?  Do bear in mind, at this point, that an illusory outside world does not mean that everything is unreal, like a dream or a magician’s trick. It isn’t that at all. There is a reality of world and self, but veiled by multiple layers of distractions and non-realities, shadows and untruths, veil upon veil of mithya that must be patiently and painstakingly removed. This is the work, the labor, of finding oneself, finding the truth of being and the truth of things. Truth does not come easy, it cannot be found in books, sacred or otherwise; it cannot be found in words or teachings; for it is hidden in the core of being, a dimensionless point of infinite density, the very heart of creation, and it has to be dug up, pulled out into the light of consciousness. Then, and then alone, shall we know, and come to the understanding of Yoga.  So this is the first lesson of Yoga —that no external knowledge or learning can yield truth; truth has to be recovered from one’s inmost depths of being. And often, what stands in the way of this recovery is knowledge itself. There is nothing more destructive to the spirit of enquiry than the thought or belief that one knows. To be open in non-knowing is to be in the spirit of self-enquiry.  Therefore, Yoga insists on humility. Humility is acknowledgment of the fact that one knows nothing of true spiritual worth. Most of the mind’s *(inverted comma) knowledge is labeling and naming, merely describing in word and labels what we see from the outside. We look up into the night sky and say to ourselves that I know that is the sky, and the moon and stars; if we have more information, then we say that I know that the moon is a satellite of the earth, and that the earth is a planet, and that star up there is Sirius. But think of it, all this that I tell myself is a fiction. There is no Sirius up there; it’s just ‘star’. But there is no star up there either; it is a sphere of fiery incredibly hot gases, or at least that is what my sciences tell me; but what gases? Hydrogen, the mind quickly says, for one. But what is hydrogen? There is no such thing as hydrogen at all; there are just molecules and atoms to which a name is given for convenience; but wait a minute, there are no molecules or atoms either; there are only gravity fields, quantum states, probabilities; and these too we do not really know.  So where does it all end?  When one is ready to renounce all mental knowledge and learning in a spirit of utter humility, one is deemed ready for Yoga. When one has come to the Unknowing, one has come to the threshold of the silence of Yoga, a silence that naturally arises when one has nothing to say anymore, for what can one say once one has seen through the play of names and labels? Having seen that all knowledge only describes the progressive stages of ignorance, the seeker is done with his romance with knowledge and is ready for real exploration, for self-enquiry. He starts then with a clean slate, what the Zen masters call the beginner’s mind. Atma-vichara Atma-vichara is not uncovering of knowledge but seeing through the veils of ignorance and apparent or false knowledge — the seeing of the false as false; it is the process of peeling away, one by one, the many layers of nomenclature and descriptions, mental constructs and approximations, conjectures, hearsay, beliefs and biases, conditionings and superstitions, unexamined ideas and conceptual projections, and so on, till the whole knowledge apparatus of the mind is stripped clean and laid bare.  Atma, in Sanskrit, means self; vichara means enquiry through analytical thought and contemplation. So atma-vichara is the process of looking into one’s own psychological structure and trying to see what lies beneath — Who am I, or who do I believe myself to be?  Is my identity real? Does it consist of my name and biography? Or my physical characteristics? Or my psychological habits? Or my behavior patterns? My character or personality? What is my real identity? Who is the “me” in the first place?  Name is just a tag, a convenience. Being man or woman is just a description of form seen from the outside and means nothing from the inside. So is age. Would you see yourself as man or woman from inside yourself? Would you see yourself as thirty, fifty, or sixty years old from the inside? Do you ever see yourself as so many years old from the inside? In fact, have you ever seen age, or time, from the inside? Ask yourself these questions. They may not be easy to answer, but they will bring you to the heart of the matter.  What does it mean to be Indian or American? Does India or America even exist outside of one’s mind? Beyond the label, does even earth exist? What is it that we really see? Do we see earth at all? Or do we see and experience all that is known to us as Cosmos? Just by calling a part of that cosmos earth, does it really signify anything? Call this portion ‘earth’ or that portion ‘sun’, it is still all cosmos. And ‘cosmos’ too is a word, a label, a description from the outside. What ‘cosmos’ is from the inside is something we do not know. Just as we do not know what a ‘star’ really is; just as I do not know what I really am once I start deconstructing myself in my own consciousness.   From the inside of my own consciousness, I do not see or know myself at all the way I do when I am oriented outwardly: I am no longer a name or an identity, not even a form or a personality from the inside. All I am then is self-awareness: I am aware of being something or someone, but beyond that, nothing is definite.  As I peer deeper inside my own head as it were, I see certain memories, remembered experiences, certain associations, patterns of thoughts, images and sounds floating in a stream of consciousness that I recognize as myself, a distinct personality. But is it really so? Is that who or what I am? As I focus even more carefully on this stream of consciousness that I identify as myself, with all its swirling and bubbling patterns of memories, thoughts, images and sounds, I find the whole swirling and bubbling stream just evaporating into an inner void, a silence. Then, for a while, there seems to be nothing, no one inside.  To go on looking at this void becomes very difficult. The mind is always used to looking at objects—something or the other, but looking at nothing is a totally new experience, if one can still call it an experience. But if one manages to hold the attention in that inner void, that whole swirling and bubbling stream of consciousness falls silent, and one becomes aware of a perception that has no name or form; an intense inner perception that looks at nothing in particular but is aware, simply and totally aware. It is then that the realization dawns that this very perception, this awareness without name and form is what one really is.  This is the threshold of self-awareness: atma-bodh in the language of Yoga. 
Read More
Uncategorized

Towards Dharmic Capitalism

The question of money and wealth is perhaps the most vexing of all issues confronted by those who aspire for a more conscious way of life. Money has a subtle corrupting influence even on the best of minds. It is for this reason that money is amongst the first things to be rejected by the spiritually inclined. Most spiritual disciplines celebrate poverty because of a deeply ingrained fear of money. But wealth is indispensable to life on earth and any spirituality that dismisses wealth will have to, by that very logic, dismiss the action of life itself.  According to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, money is not just a medium of exchange but a powerful force at work on earth. This force can be harnessed and used consciously and creatively for human welfare and wellbeing, to generate physical, material and vital abundance for all humans everywhere; or it can be used for personal and collective aggrandizement. Being a force, money by itself is neither good nor bad: it is what we make of it and how we use it.  Sri Aurobindo said that the wealth force is essentially a divine force, a spiritual force, that must be used for the work of the Divine on earth. In other words, wealth is a force to be used for establishing Dharma. But, in the present scheme of things, this force happens to be under the control of the asuric or adharmic forces, forces ruled by greed and ego and opposed to Truth and Dharma. Those who have the money often do not have the consciousness of Dharma; and those who have the consciousness, often do not have the money! In Indian spirituality, there are two dominant forces in the play of evolution: the daivic and the asuric. The daivic (from the word deva, meaning divine) represents the forces of Truth and harmony, unerringly aligned with the highest dharma; the asuric (from the word asura, meaning demonic) represents the exaggerated and unbalanced ego which typically needs to devour others to grow and thrive. While the asuric concentrates all wealth and power in its own hands for its own selfish use, the daivic distributes, circulates, shares so that all grow together, following wider and deeper laws of universal oneness and harmony. The asuric wealth is typically Kuber’s wealth, hoarded and jealously guarded, while daivic wealth comes from Mahalakshmi and must flow and circulate freely for it to return to her. Note that the very name Kuber, in Sanskrit, means deformed or demonic, whereas Lakshmi (लक्स्ह्मि, She-of-the-hundred-thousands) in Sanskrit represents prosperity, abundance and divine Grace (Lakshmi as shri). The fact that the asuric forces rule the wealth force explains the present state of affairs in our world — the irrational imbalance of wealth, the inequality of distribution of resources, the rampant greed and corruption of spirit that marks most businesses and money making ventures. Because the forces controlling wealth are asuric in origin, the all round consequences are equally asuric — our entire work culture, based on a cultural obsession with making money at all costs, clearly sucks. Hardly anyone in our modern day corporate and business environment loves or enjoys the work she or he does. Most people work like donkeys, in dehumanizing and uncreative environments, for crassly utilitarian objectives. The objective of work should be creative fulfillment, the ananda or delight of creative and productive work that generates global prosperity and wellbeing. But few ever come to such delight of work in their lifetimes. Consider the fact that we are living in a world where the richest 1% own 44% of the world’s wealth and resources [1]. If that’s not bad enough, consider further that adults with less than $10,000 in wealth make up 56.6 percent of the world’s population but hold less than 2 percent of global wealth. If this is what we have achieved over millennia of civilization and economic planning, then we seriously need to check our premises.  But this is precisely the result of asuric influence and control — distortion, exaggeration, imbalance, instability. Human societies are sitting on a powder keg. Such glaring inequality is bound to implode. It is a question of when. The socialist model in economics failed because human consciousness, dominated by the asuric ego, was not ready for it, and those who led the system were themselves unquestioning servitors of the asuric; the capitalist model too is failing because of the same reason: asuric domination. The way we work, earn money and live is a reflection and expression of asuric greed and insecurity: corporate systems and governance are based on mutual distrust, the corporate and social machinery is ruthless, exploitative and transactional.  Self-interest is the defining attribute of the asura, and it is self-interest that has largely defined us as communities, organizations and nations. We act compulsively out of self-interest, and this is what makes us and our systems exploitative. If we act out of self-interest, we will inevitably exploit each other. This is inevitable and we don’t need a Marx to tell us that. In an ideal world, where the wealth force is possessed by the daivic and dharmic forces, those with a higher and wider consciousness would have access to the wealth force; only the enlightened would be given the power over wealth and resources. The most privileged would also be the most responsible, conscious and compassionate, and therefore the most grateful and generous. Generosity is the defining attribute of the deva, just as self-interest is the defining attribute of the asura.  But an ideal world will be created only under certain ideal conditions. The balance of forces will have to be restored, the asuric influences have to be replaced by the daivic, the generation of wealth will have to be aligned to Dharma — the True, the Right and the Just. The first condition for reversing the balance of forces would be to ensure that those who are spiritually conscious are the ones who turn to generation of wealth. There is a cosmic law that governs the wealth force: wealth flows towards its votaries and not towards those who resist or reject it. This has been the great tragedy of our civilization for millennia, that those who should wield control over the wealth force are the ones who have deeply resisted or completely rejected it. This must change. The old idea of poverty as a condition for spiritual life must be rejected for what it is — a life negating belief; wealth is a divine force and must be used for the work of the Divine, and this can best be done by those who seek the higher Light and Truth in their own lives. The Truth of Life is not to be found in forests and monasteries but in the active field of life. Wealth is not a thing to be rejected but to be possessed by the mighty in spirit and used for the welfare of humanity.  The ancient Indians did not reject human desire or wealth in their pursuit of spiritual Truth and liberation, they harmonized and synthesized fulfillment of desire, generation of wealth, pursuit of dharma and spiritual liberation in a wide integral embrace of the whole field and scope of human existence. Kama (desire), artha (wealth and the generation of wealth), dharma (the order and harmony of all existence) and moksha (spiritual realization and liberation) were interwoven in the very fabric of everyday life in the world. This is the principle to which our modern civilization must return, for this is the true resolution of all our conflicts and crises.  The second condition would be to bring back the sage and the Yogi to the centre-stage of our collective life. We need to discover amongst ourselves the votaries of the higher Truth and not the votaries of money and power; we need to find and value those men and women of consciousness, those enlightened masters, who can be our new thought-leaders and role-models. We must collectively realize that possessing wealth, power and fame do not mean anything if one does not possess consciousness, wisdom and compassion. We must collectively understand that the rich, the powerful and the famous are not necessarily the true and the wise; on the contrary. We must insist on the values of consciousness, integrity and responsibility and must collectively and vigorously reject the self-indulgent, the false and the hypocritical; we must, with great vigor and passion, reject pettiness and falsehood and celebrate truth and wideness; we must learn to recognize the most conscious amongst us and honor them, value them, celebrate them.  A lot of us everywhere must now begin to speak up like the little child in the fable who publicly asked why the emperor was not wearing clothes. We must learn to see truly, without filters; we must learn to stand for truth, whatever we may possess of it; we must learn to speak for the true and the right, call a spade a spade, and live with integrity and courage. The poverty of consciousness must end, and we must grow rich in mind, spirit and body. The old division between wealth and spirit must go. The next generation should learn this invaluable lesson: that to possess the true wealth force, one must possess the true consciousness.  These would be the first conditions for establishing the next capitalism on earth — a conscious and enlightened capitalism created and sustained by groups of conscious and enlightened thought-leaders wielding the wealth-force; and this then will open the possibilities of a new and enlightened socio-economic order. Only such a conscious and enlightened capitalism based on Dharma, or a dharmic capitalism, will bring about the crucial changes in the way we collectively work and live on this planet. A dharmic capitalism will naturally encourage the principles of justice, fair play and equal opportunity as much as the values of hard work and excellence. Unfair wealth generation, crony capitalism, unbridled greed and corruption do not make for a healthy and sane society, and the aim of wealth is to create a healthy and sane society. This is a deep spiritual truth. Let us reflect on it. 1 Refer
Read More
Rebuilding the Hindutva Narrative
Uncategorized

Rebuilding the Hindutva Narrative

Hindutva as Dharmic Resistance The future, in many ways, will be a deep and intense battle of all dharmic forces against the forces that threaten to disrupt and destroy dharma, anywhere on earth. Hindutva is a first robust stand against these disruptive forces.   It bears reiterating that Hindutva cannot be aggressive or violent, for all forms of aggression and violence contradict the spirit of Hindutva. Those who would stand and fight for Hindutva must bear this in mind. The true strength of Hindutva lies in its spirit, in its core doctrine of growth of consciousness. The continuous widening and heightening of consciousness is the core idea around which the new Hindutva narrative must be built. There is no doubt that forces stubbornly opposed to Hindutva must be fought, repelled, neutralized in every possible way. But fighting the way most others fight, through radicalization and weaponization, cannot be the Hindutva way. We must always bear in mind the simple fact that we are ultimately fighting to defend a way of being, and this way of being, however we may interpret it, does not justify aggression or violence. But again, this must not lead us to believe that we are to take aggression lying down. Just as physical or military violence is not an option, turning the other cheek too is not an option. What we need to learn is the art of resistance. Not the “passive resistance” of Gandhi but the dharmic resistance of Krishna — to stand in perfect equanimity in the light of our own deepest truth and be prepared to sacrifice our all for the cause; be prepared to die or kill, but without a trace of personal reaction, hatred or vengeance. This will mean internalizing the battle, learning to take an inner stand, based on spiritual conviction and atma Shakti. Most human battles are fought externally, and so there is mayhem and wanton destruction, but the evil lives on. External violence cannot eradicate the evil, for the evil resides in the consciousness of people, and no outer battle can destroy that. To uproot the evil from its bleeding roots, we must learn to fight the battle where it matters most — in consciousness. This is the import of dharmic resistance: to stand in the way of adharma like a mountain, as unshakeable, as imperturbable, as absolute, and let the true consciousness become the force field around us. For such a dharmic resistance, the yoddha or the warrior must find the truth of his soul. The dharma yoddha must bring to himself or herself the strengths and resources of the consciousness, which are inconceivably greater than all the physical, economic and military resources we can garner. In fact, the outer resources, physical, economic or military, will find their true purpose and power when led by the consciousness, by the inner truth, by the force of Dharma itself. All this may sound somewhat abstract and impractical to those moved by great passion for Dharma, those who would rather fight in the trenches, but let us recall that the dharmayuddha of old was fought first of all in the mind and spirit. Sri Krishna first brought Arjun to the great inner realization of Dharma, to the vast truth of the atman, and only then did he send Arjun into the battlefield to kill. The Bhagavad Gita is not mere metaphor, it is real in every word and sentence. Though it seems fashionable for some modern scholars to interpret the Gita in terms of psychological metaphor, we must not let all that distract us; the Gita is as literal as it gets. The dharmayuddha that Arjun was exhorted to fight was as real then as it is now; the forces of adharma rage around us today even more ferociously and formidably than it did then. It is now, more than ever, that we need to use the Gita as our brahmāstra, literally. To abandon the deeper spiritual message of the Gita at this critical time in our own dharmayuddha and rush in with weapons of destruction would be utterly foolhardy. The Gita is our manual for action, the whole strategy for the battle, the assurance of victory. And what indeed is this strategy? This can be summarized in just two points: First of all, root yourself in the truth of your being, become atmasthita. This is crucial. To go into dharmayuddha without being firmly established in one’s own dharma would be worse than soldiers going into combat without basic training in martial arts. Being atmasthita is not abstract spirituality, as Krishna makes perfectly clear to Arjun; it is the very key to victory. The atman is the true source of strength and wisdom, it is that which raises the yoddha to another level altogether, it is the singular game changer. Second, being atmasthita, surrender the outcome of the battle to the Divine, relinquish all personal demand for victory and trust the infinitely vaster Divine Wisdom and Vision that unerringly guides all life in the universe. When we do that, we open ourselves in a very real and practical way to the direct guidance and inspiration of the Divine, we become instruments in its vaster action and are no longer left to our own meagre devices and resources. This is something that can be done effortlessly once we understand the deeper truth that Dharma and the dharmayuddha are finally not in human hands but in the hands of the Divine. If Dharma indeed is eternal, then it is also protected by the eternal consciousness. We are all mere instruments, nimitta matra, whether we like it or not. That which is already determined in the Divine’s cosmic vision is eventually what will happen in this world. Our business as instruments in the action is to keep our minds and hearts, our volition and actions, aligned to the Divine and go forth in battle protected by the armor of an inner knowing that no outer knowledge or force can rival. Thus are we made into true warriors of Dharma. Let us reflect upon this before we rush into battle. Read in Hindi
Read More
The Mystery of Ganesha
Uncategorized

The Mystery of Ganesha

The Symbol & the Essence  This dialogue between a Seer and three of his disciples takes place in an ashram of old. The Seer, or Rishi, guides the young disciples into the mystery of Ganesha. The Seer is addressed as Āchārya, or Revered Teacher, by the disciples. The names of the disciples live on in Upanishadic lore but the Seer, amongst those few illustrious Sages who embodied the highest spiritual Truth, remains unknown, having long passed beyond name and form.   It was the dusk before the day of Ganesha Chaturthi. The sun was an orange glow upon the horizon. Except for a soft breeze rustling through the trees, nothing seemed to move in the ashram. The young disciples of the Rishi were all relaxing under the banyan tree while the Rishi, their illustrious acharya, seemed to be in quiet contemplation. In the distance, they could hear the bells of the cows, perhaps still grazing.  Aruni, one of the youngest disciples of the Master, folded his hands and cleared his throat. He called his acharya softly, not wanting to disturb the quietude of the evening. “Sir?” The acharya opened his eyes and smiled at Aruni — “Yes, Aruni?” “Is Ganesha real or a spiritual fable?”  “Aruni, what is real anyway?” “I mean, is he really God?” “And what is God?” asked the Rishi with a twinkle in his eye. Aruni kept quiet; he knew better than to take that bait. The Rishi waited for some time, the mischievous twinkle still in his eyes. He often loved to tease his young disciples with obvious questions that couldn’t be answered, and his disciples seemed quite used to it.  “God,” continued the Rishi in his soft, mellifluous voice, “is the omnipresence in which this entire universe floats, my child. This omnipresence is all-pervasive, eternal. So what or who is not God?” The disciples nodded in understanding. Somehow, whenever their teacher would say something about God, they would feel a quiet vastness come upon them. They had all noticed this on several occasions.  “Ganesha is the portal, the opening, to this omnipresence, my child,“ continued the Rishi, “he is not a being, earthly or divine, but an opening into which we can all enter, endlessly! There is no end to Ganesha.” “The elephant-god…?”, Upamanyu, Aruni’s friend, a few years older, said a bit hesitatingly, looking at the Rishi.  “Elephant-god, indeed,” the Rishi smiled, “he’s neither elephant nor god!” The young students seemed curious now. The Rishi kept quiet for a while. The sound of the cowbells grew fainter as the sky grew darker. After a few minutes passed in silence, the Rishi spoke again: “Ganesha is known to us as achintya, avyakta and ananta. You know what those words mean?” “Achintya is that which cannot be thought of; beyond thought.” Said Upamanyu. “Avyakta,” said Aruni, “is the unmanifest, the unexpressed. And ananta is endless, eternal.” “Yes, indeed,” said the Rishi, “and thus, he has no form, no attribute, no existence as you and I know it!” “No existence?” asked Varun, the oldest student of the Rishi, and a philosopher already.  “That which is not in form is avyakta, Varun; therefore, non-existent to our  human consciousness. It goes deeper,” said the Rishi, “Ganesha is known as the very form of Parabrahman, the supreme. Parabrahman rupa!” “Parabrahman,” said Aruni, “is, of course, formless. So how can the formless have a form, Sir?” “If you understand that, Aruni,” said the Rishi,” you will understand Ganesha and why he is represented in an elephant form.” “Sir,” said Aruni at once, “I am most eager to know. Pray, tell us!” “The Formless is not really formless. Know that first. The human consciousness can only comprehend the material or the psychological form: the rupa that appears externally to us or the rupa that arises in our minds and imaginations. There is a form beyond these visible forms, beyond the vyakta, which is avyakta to mind and senses but quite vyakta to the inner consciousness. This is what is known as Svarupa.” “Can one ever know the Svarupa, Acharya?” asked Aruni. “Yes, my son, one can know the Svarupa by becoming that. Our ancestors called this knowledge by identity — you become that which you know, just as you know that which you become.” Then the Rishi quietly intoned, more to himself than to his students — “Ajam nirvikalpam nirakaramekam… Ganesha is unborn, unchanging and formless…. and for those who have the spiritual vision, the eye of Yoga, Ganesha is known directly as the consciousness of the omnipresence. He is the divine energy, the shakti, that moves the universe and he is the vortex into which this whole universe will dissolve… thus is he said to be born of Shiva and Parvati, the Lord and His Shakti.” The atmosphere seemed charged with electricity, vidyut, as the Rishi sat still after his mystic intonation; his eyes were closed and he seemed elsewhere, as if immersed in Ganesha in some inaccessible dimension of being. The three young disciples all waited, almost in trance themselves.  After what seemed an eternity, the Master continued, “None can know Ganesha without the Divine Will and Grace, for to know Ganesha, the first born of the Divine Couple, is to know the Divine itself. He who meditates on Ganesha and attains to him verily attains to Shiva and His Shakti.  “I shall now reveal to you how Ganesha, created out of the very substance of the Divine Shakti, symbolized by Parvati, descends into creation. Hear carefully and reflect on these words of mine — for behind these words I speak, there is concealed the pure energy of Truth, and it is that energy that you must take into yourself, for indeed, by that energy, and not by your intellects or previous knowledge, will you come to the truth of Ganesha.” Thus speaking, the Rishi paused and allowed the words to sink into his young disciples. Each of the students felt the vidyut enter their subtle bodies through the words of the Master. Each knew well that their Master sometimes spoke not from the mind but from a plane of consciousness where what was directly seen was directly expressed, without intervention of thought or even speech.   “Ganesha is also known as Ganapati — the Lord of the Ganas,” the Master continued, “Gana means groupings or clusters. This whole universe is made up of groupings, clusters. The atom that makes all matter is itself a cluster of subatomic particles; when you penetrate to the smallest scale of this universe where space and time all but disappear, you will see that there are only invisible vortices of energy which are themselves clusters of subtle energy-fields. As you ascend the scale, you will see the clusters enlarging, from energy-fields to subatomic particles, from subatomic particles to molecules, molecules to gases and gases to stars, and stars to galaxies. Look at the universe and you will see clusters everywhere. All space and time are clusters, some visible and most, invisible. Even your bodies are clusters of cells, tissues, organs. All life forms on earth are clusters, from the humble clusters of microbes and bacteria to the clusters of the higher animals and humans; and then there are clusters of people, tribes, villages, cities and nations.  “Within ourselves, at the psychological plane, our organs of perception and organs of action, the jnanendriyas and karmendriyas, are also clusters or ganas. The mind controls the senses. The buddhi, the discriminative intellect, controls the mind. Thus, the ten senses, the mind and the intellect together add up to twelve and these together are known as the inner ganas.” “At every level of existence,” the Master continued, “there are clusters: this is how creation or cosmic manifestation is differentiated and organized. And Ganapati Ganesha is the Lord of all clusters: do you see the truth of this? Ganesha is the force that keeps all these multiple clusters together, he is the dharma, the binding force, of all clusters, and without him the universe as we know it will simply fall apart, disintegrate.” The Rishi’s words were so lucid that the young disciples almost saw what they were hearing; through a power known only to these masters of consciousness, the spoken word, vak, was converted to direct seeing, drishti. The heard became the seen. Thus indeed the masters of consciousness are knowns as seers, drashtas. “Master, is it possible to attain to the direct knowledge of Ganesha?” asked Upamanyu intensely. The Rishi smiled widely at his disciple, apparently happy with the force behind the question. “Yes, my child,” answered the Rishi, “all things are possible when one concentrates all of one’s force of being in one’s will and aspiration. Tapas [1] is your force of being and sankalpa is your will and aspiration. When Tapas is concentrated in the sankalpa, then whatever is held in the mind is realized in spirit. This is the secret of Yoga, my son!” The purpose of the brief explanation was immediately achieved: the disciples at once felt a slow and concentrated movement of energy ascending their spine, from the lower chakras upward towards the ajna-chakra, the centre between the eyebrows. The minds of all the three disciples at once became still and focused.  “Tomorrow is Ganesha Chaturthi,” the Master continued evenly, looking intently at his disciples, as if gauging each one’s inner readiness, “and you can take the first decisive step towards Ganesha tomorrow itself. My own Guru used to say that the best time to initiate a sadhana is the very moment the aspiration for it arises in one’s buddhi.” Again, the master allowed the words to sink deep into the minds of his disciples, as if carefully preparing the grounds for the sadhana, sowing the seeds with the utmost attention and care. Truly, boundless is the grace of the Guru! “Understand, my children,” said the Rishi, “the meaning of Chaturthi. You are familiar with the jagruti or the waking state of your being, and the svapna or the dream state, and even sushupti or the deep sleep state. These states you all know by daily experience, and I have trained you in becoming deeply aware of these states and their transitions. But there is a fourth state that you have not experienced yet, a state that does not reveal itself so long as one’s inner consciousness is not fully ripened by sadhana.”  As the silence deepened in their minds, the Master continued: “Chaturthi is the state beyond the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep, the fourth state. This is the inner significance of Chaturthi, my children. To attain to the Chaturthi is the aspiration of our Yoga, to be always in that fourth state, the state of turiya [2], as our ancestors used to call it.”  The Master paused again. By now it was dark and the whole ashram seemed enveloped in a dense silence. It almost seemed that the three disciples were now aglow with an ethereal wisdom that was streaming from the half-opened eyes of the Rishi. Outwardly, as inwardly, all was still.  “Only when the mind in us becomes thoughtless and the whole consciousness becomes sthira [3] do we enter the state of turiya. This is the sadhana for the Chaturthi — make your mind utterly still, thoughtless, turned only to the Light of the Supreme, the jyotir-parasya. That Light alone will lead you beyond the veils of Maya’s maharatri [4] to the eternal Dawn of Truth. To reach this kind of inner silence, to make the mind free of thought, one needs to fast. This is the symbolic fasting for Chaturthi. Upavasa is not merely abstaining from food for the day but establishing yourself above the play of desire and duality, at least, and symbolically, for a day. Hear the word carefully — upavasa breaks into upa which means near, like in the upa of the Upanishad, and vasa derives from vasati, to live or abide in. Therefore, one doing the upavasa withdraws from the external world and all its distractions, inner and outer, and abides in consciousness near the one who he does the upavasa for. So I say to you, my children, keep the Chaturthi upavasa for Ganesha with the full understanding of upavasa. It matters little whether you eat food or you do not; what matters is the ‘food’ or anna, that you feed into your mind and senses. When you fast, you fast your mind and senses, and that fasting is a purification, a cleansing and a preparing for a divine consciousness. Thus all upavasa is suddhikaran or purification. To do upavasa for Ganesha is to abide in the nearness of Ganesha, to be near Ganesha in mind and heart. This is the true significance of Ganesha Chaturthi, my children!” The Master became silent and still, and the Master’s silence seemed to overflow the boundaries of his physical presence and gently inundate the innermost beings of his disciples. The disciples, fortunate beyond measure to be in the living presence of a Rishi, seemed to drink in the silence and the grace, and become one with their Master in some small but awakened portion of their consciousnesses.  After several minutes of this inner yoga with their Master, Aruni opened his eyes and asked again: “What of Ganesha’s birth, O Master? There seems to be a deep mystery in that which we can only begin to intuit. For how can the formless and the unmanifest be born?” The Master smiled and spoke after a pause — “You have asked wisely, my child. The eternal has neither birth nor death, neither coming nor passing, neither rising nor falling, for the eternal is also the unmoving, the changeless and the causeless. So what of Ganesha’s birth? It is said of old that he was created out of the dirt accumulated on the body of the Supreme Mother, Parvati. And because the Mother, feeling lonely, wanted a child as her companion. Obviously, the Divine Mother would not feel lonely: the loneliness is the poet-seer’s way of conveying the sense of the eternal ekanta, the absolute aloneness of non-duality. Remember that Parvati, being the wife and consort of Shiva, the Supreme, would be living in inner oneness with Shiva, for that is how the Divine’s Shakti resides in the Divine. Therefore, the Great Mother’s loneliness would really be the expression of the Divine Will for self-manifesting, the One becoming the Many. That is how Shiva himself would manifest Cosmos out of Shakti. So Ganesha is literally the first creation, the first born, who becomes this manifestation. It is not that Ganesha manifests Cosmos: the Cosmos is Ganesha in manifestation. This is what needs to be understood, my child. Then you will know how and why Ganesha is Ganapati and Ganesha himself is all-pervasive omnipresence, and why he is the portal to the Great Omnipresence itself. Knowing this, meditate on Ganesha this Chaturthi.”  The disciples received the words of the Master with deep joy, as if the words themselves were opening some deeper source of ananda in them, as if understanding itself was the divine rasa.  “Was he actually beheaded?” Asked Varun, thinking of the old story of Ganesha’s birth where Shiva, because he couldn’t recognize Ganesha as his own son, beheads him with his trishul for obstructing his way to Parvati.  The Master addressed his disciples again: “There is a mystery here to be understood. Let us explore. What does the head represent, Varun?” “The mind, the intellect, Acharya,” Varun replied.  “Yes, indeed, Varun” said the teacher, “the head represents manas, chitta, buddhi, ahankara. This head is the root of all our problems, symbolically speaking. So beheading Ganesha was symbolic of the destruction of the root of all problems, the destruction of the personal manas, chitta, buddhi, ahankara. And remember the trishul with which Shiva beheads Ganesha… Shiva’s trishul that represents the three gunas of nature.” “Yes Master,” said Aruni, “I can see it clearly. This is beautiful poetry, Sire!” “What indeed is poetry but the inspired expression of Truth itself?” Asked the Rishi, “the poet, kavi, is the seer, the drashta. All our knowledge and wisdom have come to us through our seer-poets, those who saw in their divine visions the Supreme Truth and could bring down some of that Truth into their consciousnesses and convert that to shabd and vak, sound and speech. Mark the fact that it is Ganesha who is invoked by the greatest seer-poets of our tradition before they begin any of their great poetic utterances!” “Indeed, Sire!” said Upamanyu, “Why is this so?” “Isn’t that because,” said Aruni to Upamanyu, “Ganesha is the portal, the entry, to the omnipresence and the omniscience of the Divine?”  “And,” added Varun, “why Ganesha is the first to be invoked, before all other divinities?” “Yes, true,” said the Master, “that is so. Ganesha is the opening, the gateway, and without invoking him, one is left to struggle against all the forces and beings that oppose our work and sadhana. But by invoking Ganesha, one cuts through all the opposition and hostility, all the difficulties, outer and inner. It is as if Ganesha’s grace and power opens all the paths of karma and Yoga and removes all the difficulties and obstacles. Thus is Ganesha also known as Avighna and Siddhidata, the remover of obstacles and the bestower of success and attainments.” “So what happens after the beheading, Master? How come the elephant’s head?” Asked Varun again.  “This is particularly enigmatic,” said the Master, “why an elephant’s head? Besides the obvious symbolism, an elephant head being symbolic of strength and power, wisdom and knowledge, it is a deliberate poetic device of the seer to show that the severed head representing manas, chitta, buddhi, ahankara cannot be replaced with another head because it is the pattern that must be broken, the very template that must be shattered. Therefore, an elephant’s head — totally illogical, totally extraordinary and totally provocative. This is the deep and the compelling import: the head must go, and go permanently; no replacement, no substitute. The symbolic significance may be there but that is not to be taken too seriously. Take it as poetic alankar.” “Then,” remarked Varun pensively, “the rest of the elephant-body would be similar alankar, a certain symbolic suggestion but not to be taken too seriously?”  “Indeed,” replied the Sage, “for the symbolism would appeal to certain minds and temperaments to focus the devotion on certain divine attributes of the godhead. The single tusk, for instance, that would signify one-pointed concentration, or the broken tusk that would signify the capacity to eliminate the unnecessary; the large ears that would signify deep and universal listening, the small mouth that would signify austerity of speech, and the huge stomach that would signify the ability to take in and hold everything within oneself; the ankusa or the axe that he carries in his hands signifies spiritual awakening because of its ability to cut off all the knots of bondage and ignorance, and the paasa or the rope signifies control, as any deep spiritual awakening needs deep control as tremendous energies are released during the process of awakening. “But beyond the symbolism is the deeper spiritual truth that the formless just cannot be represented in form; the best poetic or artistic representations may convey the spiritual truth but will, in time, degenerate into mere formalism and ritualism. Those who do not have the subtle understanding will eventually cling to the form and forget the essence, the truth. “Keep then this truth, this essence, in your hearts: Ganesha is within us, the indwelling portal to the Supreme; we just have to invoke his presence within us and enter into it…” There was deep silence now, within and without, as the understanding opened within like a lotus in the consciousness. The darkness outside deepened as the understanding within blossomed.  The Rishi began to intone again, softly and deeply, as if drawing out the sounds from some fathomless depth of consciousness within himself:  Om namaste Ganapataye Tvameva pratyaksam tattvam asi Tvameva kevalam karta asiTvameva kevalam dharta asiTvameva kevalam harta asiTvameva sarvam khalvidam brahma asi Tvam saksad atma asi nityam [5] O Ganapati, You alone are the manifest Truth and Essence of all, You alone are the sole doer, You alone the sole sustainer, In You alone does this universe dissolve in the end,You alone are the infinite omnipresent Brahman,You alone are the eternally manifest Atman.  Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha Read in Hindi 1Tapasteja, literally the teja or force / intensity of tapas, askesis or concentrated spiritual effort. 2Turiya, simply understood as the fourth state, is what Sri Ramana used to call the state of ‘wakeful sleep’. Some Yogins equate the state of samadhi with Turiya. 3Sthira means unmoving, stable, in equilibrium. 4Literally, the great or vast night, symbolic of the darkness cast by the veils of Maya. 5त्वमेव प्रत्यक्षं तत्त्वमसि । त्वमेव केवलं कर्ताऽसि । त्वमेव केवलं धर्ताऽसि । त्वमेव केवलं हर्ताऽसि । त्वमेव सर्वं खल्विदं ब्रह्मासि ।त्वं साक्षादात्माऽसि नित्यम् ॥ — Ganapati Atharvashirsha, V.2
Read More
Uncategorized

Sri Aurobindo And India’s Destiny

Pencil drawing of Sri Aurobindo by The Mother, 1935 A day will dawn when people of all classes in my country will band together as one living mass at the sacred altar of the World-Mother, represented here by our Motherland and face the rest of [the] world with heads held high. ( Sri Aurobindo )   Rarely in the history of nations has a single person’s spiritual influence shaped so profoundly a nation’s destiny as Sri Aurobindo’s has shaped India’s. Yet, this is not a widely known or understood fact as the modern Indian mind has lost its connection with the spiritual dimension of life. This is somewhat ironical because the Indian civilization has been influenced and shaped through millennia by some of the greatest spiritual seers ever to have walked the earth. Before Sri Aurobindo, and in recent history, the redoubtable Swami Vivekananda caused seismic shifts in Indian civilization by his enormous spiritual force. Indians are no strangers to spiritual and Yogic phenomena. Some of the greatest influencers and architects of Indian civilization and culture have been the Rishis and the Yogis, the great preceptors of the Sanatan Dharma. It is because of this that the Indian civilization has always been nurtured by the perennial streams of living Dharma. Dharma has thrived in India and grown in power because of these legendary seers and prophets. Most of these seers lived and worked in complete seclusion and anonymity, influencing a million lives and events from their mountain caves or forest ashrams.  Sri Aurobindo was amongst the last great Maharishis of the Sanatan Dharma who occultly influenced and shaped India’s destiny from his seclusion in Pondicherry. His life and his Yoga were not for all to see or know. What he himself revealed to disciples of his Yoga was only the tip of a massive iceberg. What he did for humanity, and what he did for India, will take several centuries to unfold, for the results of a Yogic mission such as his become embedded in the very fabric of universal time and evolution.  Yet, Sri Aurobindo remains a peripheral, somewhat mythical, figure of Indian history for most educated Indians. This has been the unutterable tragedy of modern India — the educated Indian has been alienated from his own dharma through several generations, first by our erstwhile British rulers and then by our own thought leaders, since 1947, hell-bent on transforming Indian polity and society to western secularism, liberalism and socialism. As a consequence, generations of Indians have grown up floundering, rootless and groundless, with little or no knowledge of their own heritage or destiny.  Most young Indians do not learn much of Sri Aurobindo from their history books. The most that they are taught is that he was a political revolutionary who quit politics and retired to Pondicherry to do Yoga. But then, they are not given any further knowledge of India’s vast Yogic tradition or of the rich national politics of those times either. They have no idea of why Sri Aurobindo left politics and what he did after leaving politics. The history of Indian nationalism, within years of Sri Aurobindo’s retirement, became overshadowed by Gandhi, and most other luminaries of the freedom struggle were reduced to footnotes.  Few amongst us would know that Sri Aurobindo was the first political leader to proclaim that India was not merely a landmass but a living consciousness, a Divine Shakti, that needs to be awakened. Sri Aurobindo was indeed the great purohit, the High Priest, who lit the sacrificial fires of the great Yajna for India’s freedom; he was the first to invoke India as Shakti, as the divine Bhawani Bharati —  What is our mother-country? It is not a piece of earth, nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of the mind. It is a mighty Shakti, composed of the Shaktis of all the millions of units that make up the nation, just as Bhawani Mahisha Mardini sprang into being from the Shakti of all the millions of gods assembled in one mass of force and welded into unity. The Shakti we call India, Bhawani Bharati, is the living unity of the Shaktis of three hundred million people….  Sri Aurobindo’s own deeper Yoga began with his quest for spiritual power that he could place at the service of his motherland. For Sri Aurobindo, the fight for India’s freedom was spiritual first and then political, for political freedom would mean little without spiritual freedom. Only as a spiritually free nation would India be able to fulfill her destined role as jagat-guru amongst the nations of the world. This was Sri Aurobindo’s dream for India, and this was the seed of future greatness that was planted in the very bosom of India, the truth that India had borne in her soul since the beginning of her ancient civilization. India’s freedom as a nation and a civilization was thus inevitable in the divine scheme of things, but what still had to be worked out was the way, the process, the details of the Mahayajna. Sri Aurobindo, as the great devas and maharishis of old, spoke of India’s future from the highest planes of truth-consciousness: India cannot perish, our race cannot become extinct, because among all the divisions of mankind it is to India that is reserved the highest and the most splendid destiny, the most essential to the future of the human race. It is she who must send forth from herself the future religion of the entire world, the Eternal Religion which is to harmonize all religion, science and philosophies and make mankind one soul. This future religion of the entire world that Sri Aurobindo reveals is the religion born of Man’s timeless spiritual quest for Truth, Unity and Perfection, the religion of the soul, that which will unify and harmonize all humanity, synthesize all civilizations and cultures and lead the human species to a higher consciousness. In other words, the eternal religion India has to bring to the world will be the religion of an integral Yoga, a religion that will finally bridge the chasm between life and spirituality, matter and spirit, body and soul.  It is for this ultimate purpose of world transformation that India has birthed, and nurtured through millennia, the Sanatan Dharma; and it is for this that Sri Aurobindo himself embodied the Sanatan Dharma and brought it into the collective consciousness of Indians in those formative years of India’s nationhood and established the Sanatan Dharma as the true basis and framework for a pan-Indian spiritual nationalism. Or dharmic nationalism, if you will. Let us recall those profound and mighty words from his Uttarpara speech: I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it, it moves and with it, it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish. The Sanatan Dharma, that is nationalism. Sri Aurobindo, thus, was the first prophet of spiritual or dharmic nationalism. He, by his work, his speeches and writings, and his own active leadership spiritualized Indian nationalism and politics; and in doing so, he also paved the way for dharmic politics and economics in India, the old concept of Ram Rajya, the kingdom of God on earth. The culmination of political governance will have to be in a Ram Rajya of the future, and the culmination of economics and business will have to be a dharmic or spiritual blend of capitalism and communism, purified of the distortions of the unregenerate human nature driven by egoistic fear and greed. This is yet another aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s creative vision for India and the world. It must be remembered that spiritual nationalism is not the same as the self-limiting, self-aggrandizing exclusivist nationalism the world is used to; being spiritual, this form of nationalism will be an expression of a nation’s soul, its spiritual and civilizational essence, and will necessarily be in harmony with all other nationalistic expressions and aspirations, even as various notes of music blend to create symphony. As Sri Aurobindo would say, harmony is the law of spiritual life. Sri Aurobindo saw clearly that India, of all nations in the world, with her enormous cultural heritage and spiritual and Yogic knowledge, would be the best equipped to lead this change to a new and more conscious world order. But spiritual nationalism must be founded on spiritual consciousness, for it cannot be an intellectual ideal or a mere philosophical system. The individual, therefore, must first find in himself or herself the spiritual consciousness and truth, and then make that the basis for a wider social and national life. In other words, the framework and basis for the individual, the society and the nation will have to become increasingly dharmic, spiritual. And therefore, Sri Aurobindo’s insistence on spiritual freedom and truth consciousness as the foundation for social and national existence. How many amongst us today realize the enormous significance of spirituality and dharma in our daily lives and action? Spirituality, once the vital life-force of Indian civilization, has now shrunk to facile new age practices and the psychobabble of self-proclaimed and self-marketed gurus, or worse, has been reduced to practices and mindless rituals of the pandit. In our social and national life, spirituality has all but disappeared. From the high ideals of dharmic politics and governance that Sri Aurobindo held in his vision for a future India, we have been reduced to intractable systemic corruption that has sapped the lifeblood of our nation. A return to some semblance of Dharma in the nation’s political life has just started, but there is still a long way to go. It is now, in these circumstances raging around us, that we need to return to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth and Light. Each of us needs to do this, for each of us individually will add to the gathering force of the Truth. Small waves make a tsunami. Again, in Sri Aurobindo’s words: India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples… [T]hat which must seek now to awake is…still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma. In a very real sense, Sri Aurobindo is the custodian of India’s eternal Dharma; he, more than anyone else, saw how absolutely indispensable was India’s Dharma to India’s future and proclaimed the urgent necessity to recover and rejuvenate India’s Dharma. But, in an ironical twist of fate, even as Sri Aurobindo labored to awaken the nation’s Shakti, the then political leaders of our nation and the arbiters of her destiny were turning away from the Dharma and vigorously replacing it with newfangled notions of social justice, economic equality and political sophistication, overlooking the simple fact that without a Dharmic base and framework, no political, economic or social edifice would stand for too long. Unbeknownst to most Indians of that time, our national leaders were steering India away from her essential Indianness towards westernized universalism.  Far from awakening the Shakti within, the common Indian, the aam aadmi, has slipped into an enervating materialism while the intelligentsia, the buddhijeevi, has turned to half-baked ideals of secular socialism. Instead of turning to Dharma, India has turned to dharma-nirapekhsata. Dharma-nirapekhsata is the Hindi word commonly used for secularism. The word ‘nirapeksha’ in its truest sense implies disregard, indifference, independence. It is a beautiful word when used in its Yogic or spiritual sense, but when used with Dharma (to denote the western concept of secularism), it turns on its head. Once again, as we enter the 74th year of our life as a free nation, there are visible the first definitive signs of a return to the true dharma of India and a definite rejection of the western idea of secularism. But here too, we have a long way to go and must turn more consciously and resolutely to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, for in his Truth alone we will recover the key to balance and harmony. But turning to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is not always easy or even possible. The old falsehoods will inevitably stand in the way. As it has happened before, in more critical times. In 1942, five years before Independence, the British government had sent the famous Cripps Proposal to the then Indian leadership under Gandhi. Had this proposal been accepted, it would have paved the way for Indian independence without partition. Sri Aurobindo, still very much in inner touch with all political developments in India and the world, had seen that possibility immediately and had publicly expressed his support for the Cripps proposal. He had sent his emissaries to Gandhi and other leaders to persuade them to accept the proposal. But Gandhi refused, purportedly with the comment that Yogis should have nothing to do with politics. This, from a leader who claimed to be a follower of the Sanatan Dharma; and this, in a country that traditionally honors and respects the counsel of its seers and prophets! However, India missed a historical chance when her leaders did not pay heed to the words of the Jagat Guru, and hurtled headlong towards disaster, a blunder for which each successive generation of Indians has paid an exacting price. It is worth recalling Sri Aurobindo’s words from the message he broadcast to the nation on 15th August 1947 — For if it [the partition] lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. India’s internal development and prosperity may be impeded, her position among the nations weakened, her destiny impaired or even frustrated. This must not be; the partition must go. Contemporary India continues to live through the malaise of economic reservations, minority appeasement, communalism and corruption, all of which could have been avoided had India’s leadership aligned itself to the true Dharma when it mattered most. However, all nations, like individuals, have a certain karma that even the Divine cannot alter. But we can learn and grow more conscious. As Sri Aurobindo says, by our stumbling the world is perfected. So we need to grow conscious not only of our strengths but also of our frailties, not only of our high destiny but also of all the forces ranged against us, determined to thwart that destiny. The resistance to a dharmic India is still strong and adamant. Much more needs to be done if India has to awaken to her truth. Indians, or at least those who carry India in their hearts and minds, must turn to the highest truth, the highest dharma, that they can access. And that which they can access, with only a little labor of love, is the Truth that Sri Aurobindo embodies and represents. Sri Aurobindo needs to be read, researched, discussed, debated, understood and applied widely, across the country. Sri Aurobindo’s vast vision and work has still not found place in Indian public or academic discourse, even decades after independence. Our schools and universities hardly touch Sri Aurobindo at any depth. Only a superficial and cursory mention is made of him as the freedom fighter who renounced political life. Hardly anything beyond that. Few students of Indian history today know of Sri Aurobindo as the prophet of Indian nationalism, as the first radical revolutionary in India’s struggle for freedom, as a poet and writer of rare eminence, as a Mahayogi and Maharishi of Indian spirituality. This is a historical anomaly that needs to be vigorously corrected.  We need to learn and understand deeply how Sri Aurobindo, from the 1870s to 1950, right through the critical formative years of India, shaped India’s destiny by his Yogic force and will. This may be difficult to grasp for most, but we owe ourselves this knowledge and understanding. Sri Aurobindo is India’s inestimable heritage and he must be presented to the educated Indian and to the Indian youth objectively, rationally, cogently.  Let us recall Sri Aurobindo’s message to the Indian youth — Our first necessity, if India is to survive and do her appointed work in the world, is that the youth of India should learn to think, – to think on all subjects, to think independently, fruitfully, going to the heart of things, not stopped by their surface, free of prejudgments, shearing sophism and prejudice asunder as with a sharp sword, smiting down obscurantism of all kinds as with the mace of Bhima… These are not mere words, this is an invocation of yuvashakti, the power of the young, and not just the young in age but the young in mind and spirit. To understand and live Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, we need to be clear as crystal in the mind and strong as lion in the heart, and ageless in spirit; we need to make of ourselves the true hero-warriors of the Divine Shakti.  In the words of the Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s divine collaborator in his Work and Yoga — Sri Aurobindo always loved deeply his Motherland. But he wished her to be great, noble, pure and worthy of her big mission in the world. He refused to let her sink to the sordid and vulgar level of blind self-interests and ignorant prejudices. This is why, in full conformity to his will, we lift high the standard of truth, progress and transformation of mankind, without caring for those who, through ignorance, stupidity, envy or bad will, seek to soil it and drag it down into the mud. We carry it very high so that all who have a soul may see it and gather round it. It was obviously no coincidence that India’s independence day fell on Sri Aurobindo’s birthday, the 15th of August. In his message to the nation on 15th August, Sri Aurobindo had said:  August 15th, 1947 is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But we can also make it by our life and acts as a free nation an important date in a new age opening for the whole world, for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity. August 15th is my own birthday and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast significance. I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition. Indeed, on this day I can watch almost all the world-movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though then they looked like impracticable dreams, arriving at fruition or on their way to achievement. In all these movements free India may well play a large part and take a leading position. Let us remember that though Sri Aurobindo struggled all his life for India and India’s highest and widest freedom, he was not limited in his vision and will to India alone. For him India was the starting point of a human transformation, the hub of a universal evolution of consciousness. I have always held and said that India was rising, not to serve her own material interest only, to achieve expansion, greatness, power and prosperity,.. though these too she must not neglect.., and certainly not like others to acquire domination of other peoples, but to live also for God and the world as a helper and a leader of the whole human race, he had said in his message to the nation.  To limit Sri Aurobindo to India alone would be a disservice to his work and his legacy. Sri Aurobindo labored for all humanity; all that he attempted and attained was for all humanity and for the Divine in humanity. If there is one who can be said to belong to the world, it is Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is the future of the human species, it is the path to the true Kingdom of God on earth, it is the Truth of the Divine still to be realized in the mind, life and body of earth. Sri Aurobindo opened for us life’s highest possibility and hope. Even the briefest glimpse of his Truth can uplift the spirit and mind in a trice to the highest.  The world needs such a vision and an inspiration, and desperately so; and India, most of all.   सत्यं श्री अरविन्दस्य आविर्भवतु पृथिव्याम् ॥May Sri Aurobindo’s Truth manifest upon earth   1 Sri Aurobindo’s full message
Read More
Uncategorized

Building Economy the Indian Way

Between 1-1700 AD, India was consistently one of the largest contributors to the world economy, her contribution ranging between 32% and 25%. It is during this period that India was known widely as “Sone ki Chidiya”, the Golden Bird. China was almost similar to India in her contribution. These were pre-industrial revolution days. Both regions had advanced ancient civilizations, highly developed in all aspects. Life was lived in harmony with nature in those times.     Share of world GDP – 1700 AD [1] For many centuries India was like a Jagat Guru or a World Teacher. We had great philosophers, seers and spiritual scientists (Rishis and Yogins). We possessed great sciences of the mind and soul, some of the oldest and most advanced philosophies (notably the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita), a highly evolved science of health, longevity and well being (Ayurveda, Siddha, Hatha Yoga, Pranayama and meditation), and a highly sophisticated ecosystem of languages, based on Sanskrit, a language that has been called the mother of all languages. We had a vast body of literature and poetry in Sanskrit and local languages. There exist a large number of texts in Sanskrit and local languages that document the extent and scope of Indian knowledge. Apart from all these, there are several other domains of knowledge that were present in India which included architecture and town planning, physical and social sciences, astronomy and mathematics. Most of these domains and branches of knowledge continue to be practiced and taught in some form even today. In the words of Sri Aurobindo: When we look at the past of India, what strikes us is her stupendous vitality, her inexhaustible power of life and joy of life, her almost unimaginably prolific creativeness. For three thousand years at least,—it is indeed much longer,—she has been creating abundantly and incessantly, lavishly, with an inexhaustible many-sidedness, republics and kingdoms and empires, philosophies and cosmogonies and sciences and creeds and arts and poems and all kinds of monuments, palaces and temples and public works, communities and societies and religious orders, laws and codes and rituals, physical sciences, psychic sciences, systems of Yoga, systems of politics and administration, arts spiritual, arts worldly, trades, industries, fine crafts,—the list is endless and in each item there is almost a plethora of activity. There is no historical parallel for such an intellectual labour and activity before the invention of printing and the facilities of modern science; yet all that mass of research and production and curiosity of detail was accomplished without these facilities and with no better record than the memory and for an aid the perishable palm-leaf. Nor was all this colossal literature confined to philosophy and theology, religion and Yoga, logic and rhetoric and grammar and linguistics, poetry and drama, medicine and astronomy and the sciences; it embraced all life, politics and society, all the arts from painting to dancing, all the sixty-four accomplishments, everything then known that could be useful to life or interesting to the mind, even, for instance, to such practical side minutiae as the breeding and training of horses and elephants, each of which had its Shastra and its art, its apparatus of technical terms, its copious literature. In each subject from the largest and most momentous to the smallest and most trivial there was expended the same all-embracing, opulent, minute and thorough intellectuality. (The Renaissance in India – I, Foundations of Indian Culture) Most of this knowledge was given and gained through a highly evolved education system known as the Gurukul. Gurukuls were the traditional custodians of secular and spiritual knowledge. In the traditional Gurukul, new knowledge was developed by constant inquiry and experimentation and the knowledge was shared with students (shishyas) who would take it to society and look after its development for the future. All existing knowledge was organized, documented and preserved for anyone to access, anytime in the present or the future. Outdated knowledge was updated or discarded. This tradition and system of generating and applying knowledge across various aspects of human and social life was already in decline when the Mughals arrived, followed by the British. Even up to the end of the Mughal period, India continued to be a country of immense prosperity with the highest advanced knowledge traditions and a largely stable society. However, as always happens with civilizations everywhere, a great period of prosperity and efflorescence is always followed by decline and degeneration. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries indeed marked the beginning of such a decline. …Undoubtedly there was a period, a brief but very disastrous period of the dwindling of that great fire of life, even a moment of incipient disintegration, marked politically by the anarchy which gave European adventure its chance, inwardly by an increasing torpor of the creative spirit in religion and art,—science and philosophy and intellectual knowledge had long been dead or petrified into a mere scholastic Punditism,—all pointing to a nadir of setting energy, the evening-time from which according to the Indian idea of the cycles a new age has to start. It was that moment and the pressure of a superimposed European culture which followed it that made the reawakening necessary. (The Renaissance in India – I, Foundations of Indian Culture) Soon after the Industrial revolution, India passed under British rule. The British, as the rulers, brought in with them their own culture and civilization which they imposed on the peoples of India. This led to a rapid and continuous decline of the original Indian culture and civilization. The same trend, unfortunately, continued even after Independence as a large majority of Indians unquestioningly accepted the ways of the western world as their new values and ideals. The western industrial civilization, which has exclusively dominated the world during the last two centuries, has led to imbalance in the world which has not been good for anyone. With an excess of industrialization, we have had excessive use of synthetic chemicals, a serious depletion of nature and natural resources, widespread competitiveness amongst all strata of people, and a consequent loss of compassion, peace and wellbeing. The Indian opportunity These very challenges and problems that have come in the wake of westernization and globalization can also become a great opportunity for us. These critical issues of modern global society can be looked at anew from an original Indian point of view and creative solutions found.  For this, we will need to go back into the depths of relevant traditional practices and knowledge systems of ancient India, understand them deeply, and out of that knowledge, create products and services for our contemporary needs and make them available to a global society. The process of creating these solutions and products should not proceed by rejecting modern knowledge and practices but incorporating the best of those practices and knowledge systems. The natural tendency of the Indian mind is to synthesize, not to divide. Hence, we should openly embrace the advancements of modern society, science and technology. What we need to avoid are the vital-egoistic tendencies of division, competition, exclusive self-interest, destruction of nature, excess of consumerism and other similar extremes. That was in fact what our own ancestors did, never losing their originality, never effacing their uniqueness, because always vigorously creating from within, with whatever knowledge or artistic suggestion from outside they thought worthy of acceptance or capable of an Indian treatment. (Indian Culture and External Influence, Foundations of Indian Culture) With an open mind and heart we should synthesize and harmonize the original Indian knowledge with advances in the modern world, across domains of knowledge, science and technology, and especially the information and computing technologies. With this as a basis, we should create solutions that are rooted in the essential Indian principles and worldview. Which means that all our products and methods will truly be sustainable and in harmony with nature as well as human society, a conscious adoption of these will automatically lead to a much more balanced world. This is a great economic opportunity and will lead to the creation of “good” wealth and long-term prosperity for India and her people — this can become a big part of our Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission. A large global population is waiting to adopt our products and services. There are two main stakeholders needed for this movement to happen. First would be the entrepreneurs —those who will start projects that would identify the important problems, do the R&D on finding and building solutions and finally bring them to the market in the form of products and services. The second important stakeholder would be the government, both at the center and state — the government can play the role of a constructive partner by creating policies, supporting frameworks and a generally facilitative environment. An ecosystem of entrepreneurs: A core team should be formed with some experienced and senior experts and enablers, with appropriate knowledge and capabilities, and with a strong and clear intention towards this end. This core team should initiate the creation of a vibrant ecosystem with an intention to discover and support individuals and teams who are already working with this approach or are interested in doing so. This team should reach out to enterprising youngsters, who are brimming with the confidence of the success of the Indian startup ecosystem and are raring to make their mark in the world by creating new projects and ventures. They should be educated and given clear and compelling insights into the original Indian mind and its tendencies of problem solving and why this path presents a unique opportunity for the Indian entrepreneur. This can be done via blogs, articles, videos, workshops, seminars and forums. A few specialized startup accelerators and funds should be created to exclusively help these entrepreneurs during the idea and early stage, and then during the growth stage of the companies. The core team should also setup a community platform using online and mobile solutions where all the eco-system players can collaborate, connect and provide support to each other. Many individuals and teams are already working on these lines, and they should be invited to participate in the community eco-system. A National Policy The central government should come up with a national policy which makes a sincere attempt to contribute towards these initiatives. Such businesses will create wealth of the best kind, which is generated by bringing balance to earth and goodness to humanity. The policy initiatives can be along the following lines: Create a committee of well qualified members to do an in-depth study to identify the first set of products / services / knowledge streams to kickstart the initiative. Create a simple but strict regulatory framework implemented via people well qualified in the relevant domains. (This will ensure that products and services are of high quality and effective and to filter out opportunist people who might supply low quality products and services in the name of original Indian products. We need to re-establish, protect and enhance the reputation of the Indian way of doing things.) Provide long-term tax breaks for the qualified initiatives. Ensure availability of long-term debt and equity capital. Set up or support setting up of autonomous national level Institutes in different parts of the country on the lines of Gurukuls to research and study this domain. Setup / support setting up of various skill development centers at grass root levels in villages / towns / cities. The civilizational consciousness of India has been growing quite vigorously  in recent years and as a result, an economic renaissance based on the Indianness is almost inevitable. What exact shape and structure will that take remains to be seen. Share of world GDP throughout history
Read More
Uncategorized

The Restoration of Sri Ram And Beyond

The establishment of the foundation for the Ram Janmabhumi Temple at Ayodhya yesterday was a profound symbolic victory for Dharma: it was the culmination of a 490-odd years struggle for restoring Sri Ram, the seventh avatar in the line of Vishnu in Sanatan Dharma, to his rightful birthplace in the fabled city of his birth. (He was, in fact, installed for years in a tent!). Whether or not he was actually born in this exact location matters little, for Sri Ram is not just a historical being for Hindus but a Divine incarnation, and Divine Incarnations transcend time and space, birth and death of mortal bodies. The struggle through several generations for rebuilding the temple at Ayodhya and restoring Sri Ram to his birthplace was never a religious or political issue for the Hindu — it was always a question of Dharma: for Sri Ram, for the common Hindu, is at once a complete embodiment and a shining representation of the Dharma itself: to displace Sri Ram and destroy his temple was a direct attack on the very fabric of Hindu Dharma. Sri Ram had to be restored and the temple had to be rebuilt — this was inevitable, a historical necessity. But it took a long time — 73 years even after India’s political independence. What totally bewilders the mind is the fact that it took so long, and that it would have taken much longer had Hindutva not become as assertive as it did. If the Congress, the Islamists and the Communists had their way, all traces of Dharma would have been wiped off by now and the deracination of India would have been complete and irreversible. And to imagine that there are people who still utter such inanities as Hindutva is not Hinduism and Hinduism is not Hindutva, or that Hindutva is an aberration and Hinduism is the real thing. Let’s be very clear about this one fact: had it not been for an assertive and robust Hindutva, Hinduism, as we know it, would have been wiped out. This fact needs to sink deep into our minds and hearts. The Prime Minister of India presiding over the bhumi-poojan of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya was the resounding bugle call of Hindutva’s call to action and its first decisive victory. The victory, symbolic of something much wider, is deeply significant; but even more significant is the call to action: for this is only the first step. This victory, however fulfilling in the moment, must not lull us into any kind of complacency. The battle is far from over. There are other battles to be taken up and won. Sri Ram has just been restored — but let us not forget that Sri Ram stands for Dharma, Satya and Ram Rajya. Satya is the heart of Dharma, and Dharma is the soul of Ram Rajya. Ram Rajya is neither a metaphor nor a utopian ideal: it is the natural culmination of dharmic politics and the dharmic way of life. When the life of the individual and the life of the collective become natural expressions of Dharma and Satya, when Dharma and Satya are used as the cohesive forces for nation-building, then Ram Rajya is established. Ram Rajya is not just a political theory but a growing spiritual need in the lives of men and nations. Ram Rajya is the kingdom of God on earth. To establish Ram Rajya (call it by whatever name) in India must be Hindutva’s high aim and objective. Anything short of this, and our dharma yuddha is not complete. Let us not underestimate the challenges: A large number of educated Hindu youth, over generations, has been culturally deracinated and spiritually alienated; they have been made to believe that western values and culture are superior to their own Dharma, and that their Dharma is regressive, superstitious, and in need of systemic reform. That a large number of English-educated youth believes all this unquestioningly is not their fault — it is the education system in India, the worst case of imperialist hangover in independent India, that is to be squarely blamed. The Indian psyche has been systematically infected with the worst western ills of exploitative capitalism, aggressive competition, greed and consumerism; half-baked values of intellectualism and liberalism have been made the staple diet of the Indian intellectual. The educated Indian mind, artificially deprived of the nourishing influences of Dharma, has, over the decades, fallen into mediocrity. The youth has been taught fanciful languages but has forgotten how to speak its own idiom.  So too with the adult. The so-called modern and progressive adult Hindu has equally lost touch with his Dharma and wanders lost and confused amongst alien values and constructs. And do bear in mind that ‘alien’ has nothing to do with nationality — alien is that which is void of Dharma. The average educated Indian, thanks to the skewed education s-he has received, is still spiritually colonized and passionately believes that aping an alien culture is superior to understanding and deepening one’s own.  Wherever you look, you find the same malaise of superficiality and mediocrity in Indian intellectual and public life. Anglicized education has made us a society of well read imitators and petty-minded cynics. We have lost the depths and widenesses of Sanatan Dharma; and if that is not bad enough, we have learnt to condemn our Dharma in the language of our colonial masters. 73 years of political independence, and we are still colonized in our minds and enslaved to crass materialism in our hearts. As Indians, by and large, we have forgotten the rich integrality of our Sanatan Dharma and have become hopelessly fractured and fragmented, as individuals and as a nation. We have lost the courage to stand for our Dharma and to fight for Satya — we have become weak and selfish over the generations, our very life force has been sapped by the forces of adharma. And adharma rages everywhere, in all directions: the monotheistic and shamelessly proselytizing Abrahamic religions are the most visible of these forces; but the hidden forces of selfishness, fear, dishonesty, falsehood and deception are the deeper and more dangerous forces of adharma. Let’s make no mistake about this: if we do not or cannot overcome the hidden forces of adharma, overcoming the visible forces will be of little value. But, on the other hand, if we vanquish the inner foes, we become towering forces of pure Dharma that no outer force or foe can shake or weaken. All our resources and minds must combine to fight adharma, within and outside. Education is our first front. We must re-educate, revise the old narratives, keep the truths, throw out the falsehoods. We must kindle discussion and debate in the highest intellectual traditions of our Dharma. We must rebuild the minds and hearts of young India. The new national education policy, released just a few days ago, is the first step in the right direction. But we need to go farther, much farther. We have to confront multiple falsehoods and deliberate attacks on our Dharma. We need to rebuild narratives, reconnect our heritage and our destiny, our past and our future, which have been ruptured, first by the Islamic invasions and then by the British Raj. We have to boldly reclaim the truths of our Dharma, without apology or hesitation. Dharma is our birthright and we must learn, once again, to demand our birthright. In one of the inspired modern day mahavakyas of the Indologist Koenraad Elst, What Hindus… will have to learn, is that the essence of Hindu Dharma is not ‘tolerance’ or ‘equal respect for all religions’ but Satya, Truth. It is to this Truth that the Hindu raises temples and installs deities; the outer names and forms are mere contexts.   For those interested in this subject: please read this and this      
Read More
Uncategorized

Rebuilding The Hindutva Narrative

There are a few fundamental characteristics that define Hinduness or Hindutva. We would do well to begin with these. Let me call these the mool-siddhantas or fundamental principles of Hindutva. Any debate or discussion on Hindutva would be rendered useless if these fundamental principles were to be ignored. The anti-Hindutva narrative that has been built over decades in India by most leftist-liberal thinkers and commentators is primarily premised on two fallacies: One, that Hindutva is only a political ideology aimed at Hindu hegemony; and two, Hindutva has nothing to do with Hinduism, its culture and spiritual values. Both these fallacies have resulted in a skewed and bigoted understanding of Hindutva. Over the years, this has also tragically resulted in a distortion of the narrative even amongst rational and moderate Hindus, Hindus who would have otherwise happily embraced Hindutva as a legitimate force in Indian national life. Therefore, the immediate and urgent need to correct the narrative, to bring things into the right perspective, to restore Hindutva to its rightful place in Indian thinking and national life.  The new or revised narrative must begin with a broader and more sympathetic understanding of Hindutva as a natural expression of Hinduism and Hindu civilizational values in the cultural, social and political existence of the nation. This indeed is the idea of Hindu nationalism and nationhood in the Hindutva perspective. To deny this would be an act of deliberate mischief.  Hindutva, being a natural outward expression of Hindu dharma, is necessarily catholic and all-embracing. Hindutva, by its very nature, cannot exclude. Nor, by its very nature, can it push itself to proselytize and expand. Hindu hegemony is oxymoronic. Hinduism has always been inward-looking, contemplative and largely uninterested in mundane or worldly affairs. The Hindu has been historically content in being left to his or her own dharma and hardly bothered with the mundane details of political ideology or sovereignty. Dharma has always been the foremost concern of the Hindu, and remains so to this day. It is this characteristic of the Hindu that defines Hindutva. Even as a political ideology, Hindutva never seeks to exclude other faiths and thought systems. In Veer Savarkar’s concept of Hindutva, there is, in fact, no primacy of religion, it is nationalism built around the principles of Hindu dharma.  Hindutva, in its present form and force, began as a movement to consolidate the Hindu dharma and way of life against the increasingly aggressive advance of nation-states and the monopolistic and proselytizing Abrahamic religions. It is fine to be inclusive and regard all religions and nations as the varied expressions and manifestations of the same Divine and therefore consider this whole world as one spiritual family, vasudhaiva kutumbakam. But the scenario changes entirely when one is confronted with uncompromising aggressive faiths premised on the theory that the whole world must belong to one God only and must follow one religion only. How should the catholic, all-embracing Hindu with his belief in vasudhaiva kutumbakam deal with the fact that his or her dharma is dismissed as primitive and false, and he or she is a kafir or a heathen who will burn in eternal hellfire for his or her faith and his or her only redemption is either to be converted or killed?  This was the historical situation that gave rise to the necessity of Hindutva as a force to consolidate Hindu dharma and protect it for future generations, so that at no point in time is the Dharma itself endangered and its civilizational values irretrievably lost. Our leftist-liberal critics still condemn Hindutva of being confrontational and not inclusive enough. But the truth that needs to be understood is that Hindutva simply confronts attacks on Hindu dharma and resists with all its light and might. If it were not for such resistance, the dharma would be left wide open to attack and serious disruption. It is an unfortunate fact that the ordinary Hindu is not much interested in standing up for his or her dharma. There is a deep tamasic cloud that hangs over the Hindu consciousness. Swami Vivekananda observed this long ago and spoke strongly against it — he clearly felt that the Hindus needed more rajas, more strength and force. Hindutva is that force that has arisen to remove this pall of tamas. Hindutva has one single and focused objective: to protect and strengthen dharma.  None who has studied history impartially will deny that Hinduism has had to contend continually, over centuries, with the combined forces of Islam and Christianity, intent on proselytizing and expanding throughout the world; and equally, no one who objectively follows current global developments and trends will deny the continued existence of these same threats. The Islamic clergy has certainly not softened its kafir stand and continues to hold the belief that all humans must be finally converted to Islam for their own good. The Christian missionary too continues to hold the belief that his religion is the only true religion and all those who follow the Hindu faith are primitive and superstitious and need desperately to be converted and brought to the redeeming Christian faith.  Add to this the rapidly growing threat of the Chinese Communist Party intent on eliminating all faiths and religions from earth and converting all humanity to an atheist Communist global society. They have, in fact, even banned the native Chinese Falun Gong movement because it is spiritual.  Just as the Islamist fundamentalist destroys all forms of art and aesthetics indiscriminately because art, music and aesthetics are not acceptable in Islam, the Chinese Communist Party destroys all religious forms and practices indiscriminately because it contradicts the Communist manifesto. Tibet bears living testimony to this kind of wanton destruction.  So what does the hapless Hindu, confronted by continual Islamist and Christian fundamentalism and Communist aggression, do to protect his dharma, his way of life? And not just the Hindu, this applies equally to the Buddhist, the Sikh, the Jain and the Zoroastrian, and indeed the hundreds of smaller religious denominations and movements spread over the earth.  The future, in many ways, will be a deep and intense battle of all dharmic forces against the forces that threaten to disrupt and destroy dharma, anywhere on earth. Hindutva is a first robust stand against these disruptive forces. Hindutva is needed and must grow in strength. It is as necessary to establish Hindutva as a cultural and spiritual force as it is to establish it as a political one. Politics, like wealth, is a force and must be used for the higher purposes of dharma. We cannot deny Hindutva a strong and wide political platform, but it must not be limited to just a political platform. Hindutva, to be fully effective, must be made into an integrated multi-pronged platform to take on all opposing and hostile forces, whether from outside of the Hindu community or from within it.  Hindutva needs intellectual heft and it needs wealth force. In the coming weeks, we will consider these aspects in greater detail. 
Read More
Om
Uncategorized

Om, The Imperishable Word

ओमित्येतदक्षरमिद्ँ सर्वं तस्योपव्याख्यानं भूतं भवद्भविष्यदिति सर्वमोङ्कार एव। यच्चान्यत्त्रिकालातीतं तदप्योङ्कार एव ।।[1] OM is this imperishable Word, OM is the Universe, and this is the exposition of OM. The past, the present and the future, all that was, all that is, all that will be, is OM. Likewise all else that may exist beyond the bounds of Time, that too is OM. (From the Mandukya Upanishad) Om is the quintessential signature of the Hindu dharma. No sacred task, no holy sacrifice or yajna, no worship, prayer or invocation can begin without Om. Om is the first invocation and the last benediction. All mantras and hymns, all prayers and salutations to the Divine end on the note of Om. The Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual collaborator, called Om the signature of the Lord, and the supreme invocation.  Whether one recites Om quietly within oneself or sings it in a group, it has the same beneficial effect of spreading the vibrations of peace and calm, of concentrating the mind and heart in the deepest or highest consciousness. Om is the sound that rises ever upward, from the lower chakras to the higher, from the lower prakriti to the higher, from our earth plane, the so-called mrityuloka or the plane of death, to the highest Anandaloka or the plane of Divine bliss. Om is the ascending path of Light from death to immortality, from unconsciousness to Truth Consciousness. It is believed in the Sanatan Dharma that the right understanding of Om can open the passage to the highest Yoga.  In Sri Aurobindo’s words, OM is the symbol and the thing symbolized. It is the symbol, aksharam, the syllable in which all sound of speech is brought back to its wide, pure indeterminate state; it is the symbolised, aksharam, the changeless, undiminishing, unincreasing, unappearing, undying Reality which shows itself to experience in all the change, increase, diminution, appearance, departure which in a particular sum and harmony of them we call the world.[2] Describing Om intellectually is a daunting task, for Om is not a subject for academic study but a theme for meditative contemplation and inner concentration. Analyzing Om intellectually is like dissecting a poem into structure and semantics to find out how it is composed instead of plunging mind and heart into it and letting it express itself through you. Analogies apart, that is what Om does: if you give yourself wholly to it, immerse your mind and heart in it, it comes alive in you, it reveals and expresses itself through your consciousness, making your consciousness its own manifest field.  This is the transcendental power of Om: it is not just a particular sound, syllable or mantra with a certain mystical significance but it is the very root and basis of all sound, it is literally the mother of all mantras, the consciousness matrix out of which the whole universe arises as seed vibration, or beej-spanda, of the Divine.  When the Supreme Inconceivable Brahman, in its absolute singularity, wished to become the Many, that inconceivable divine Wish, which was also simultaneously the divine Will, became the seed of this entire universe, and that seed was Sound. Not a sound but Sound itself, nada. Nada was the first sound to arise out of the infinite potentiality that was before the beginning of Cosmos. That infinite potentiality, without beginning or end, out of which all universes arise like so many waves out of an infinite sea, is known as bindu. Bindu, in Sanskrit, means a point or a dot. Bindu, in mystical Hindu Dharma, represents the dimensionless point of infinitely massed consciousness as pure potentiality. It is this that is the origin of all manifestation and creation.  Think of this bindu as a mathematician would think of a point, a position without dimensions. As infinitely massed consciousness and infinite potentiality of existence, bindu is therefore absolute (non-relative) position, sthiti, and as infinite, it is without dimension, ananta aparimanit.  Whatever exists in dimensions is finite, and constitutes srishti or manifestation, and whatever is without dimension necessarily transcends srishti or manifestation. Bindu, therefore, transcends manifestation while containing it all within itself, not in any space or time but in its own sthiti and is known by the sages as the symbol of the adishakti, the Divine Mother or the Divine Womb.  Om is the primal cosmic vibration through which the nada, eternally absorbed in bindu, arises out of it and becomes Chit-shakti or the consciousness-force pervading the Cosmos. Om is nada and bindu in conjunction or Yoga out of which all consciousness and Cosmos manifest. In the Shiva Purana, nada is identified as Shiva himself, incarnate as sound that becomes Cosmos, and bindu is identified as Shakti, incarnate as the infinite creative potentiality out of which arises Cosmos. This whole universe then is Shiva, as nada, manifesting out of Shakti, as bindu; and Shakti, as bindu, sustaining Shiva, as nada, through all this visible and tangible universe. While the Shivalinga symbolizes this mystery in the visible universe, the Omkar, or the mystic form of Om, symbolizes this mystery in the invisible and subtle universe.  As the Omkar devolves from its supreme transcendental heights into our material world and consciousness, so it can evolve from our material world and consciousness back into its transcendental heights. Thus, the Omkar is known as the supreme path of ascension to the highest of realizations. By following the upward pathway led by the Omkar, the seeker can attain to the truths of all the worlds and planes of being.  The syllable Om itself is composed of three seed syllables (or letters as phonemes) A, U and M. A (अ), U (उ) and M (म), pronounced together gives rise to the sound of OM or AUM, and it is this three-syllabled sound that the Yogi intones and meditates upon. There are layers of occult and mystical meanings involved with each of these three syllables, as with the integrated sound of Aum.  In Sri Aurobindo’s words: the syllable A (अ) represents the external manifestation or consciousness realized in the actual and the concrete,  seen by the human consciousness as the waking state.  The syllable U (उ) represents the internal manifestation, the intermediate consciousness realised in the inner potentialities and intermediate states between the inmost supramental and the external, seen by the human consciousness as the subliminal and associated with the dream state. The syllable M (म) represents the inmost seed or condensed consciousness, (the inmost supramental, glimpsed by the human consciousness as something superconscient, omniscient and omnipotent, and associated with the state of dreamless Sleep or full Trance.) The integrated sound of AUM (ओम or आऊम) represents Turīya, the Fourth; the pure Spirit beyond these three, the Atman consciousness.. This AUM is the transcendent sound of infinite wavelength. The idea of infinite wavelength is difficult to grasp;  but if one can imagine infinite wavelength, one will intuit how an entire universe, which is ultimately energy combinations, can be contained in a single sound or vibration. AUM, as this single infinite vibration, is the portal to the superconscious, non-dual state. It is at this point, at this mystic threshold, that AUM merges into the anahata, the sound of Silence, and the known universe is reabsorbed into the transcendental Silence of the Divine. To continue with Sri Aurobindo’s description of Om: OM is the symbol of the triple Brahman, the outward-looking, the inward or subtle and the superconscient causal Purusha. Each letter A, U, M indicates one of these three in ascending order and the syllable as a whole brings out the fourth state, Turiya, which rises to the Absolute. OM is the initiating syllable pronounced at the outset as a benedictory prelude and sanction to all act of sacrifice, all act of giving and all act of askesis; it is a reminder that our work should be made an expression of the triple Divine in our inner being and turned towards him in the idea and motive. Om is thus the vehicle of the highest meditations. By meditating on each of the letters of AUM, the Yogi can access and master the planes associated with each of the letters — the waking, the subtle, the atmic or the inmost; and by meditating on the integrated sound of AUM, the Yogi can enter the integral Turiya state that not only transcends but subsumes the other three.  The Mandukya Upanishad opens with the declaration that Om is the eternal, imperishable word. All other words, being descriptors of transient subjects and objects of the universe, perish; but Om being the descriptor of the Eternal, is itself eternal and imperishable. The Hindus regard Om as the very name of God.  Let’s reflect briefly on Om as the name of the Divine.  In Hindu philosophy, manifestation consists of two aspects: nama (name) and rupa (form). Nama, or name, represents the psychological nature and qualities of a being and rupa, form, represents the visible, physical attributes. Namarupa, therefore, is the mind-body of all beings in existence. The process of naming is essential for a complete mental cognition of reality, as the senses, cognizing only form, are unable by themselves to form a complete picture of reality. The mind grasps or realizes (makes real to itself) a thing or being only by perceiving the form in conjunction with the name, thus associating form with identifiable attributes. Naming, therefore, gives the consciousness the power to recall and invoke the entity that is named and perceived.  Thus, the name has enormous power. One can perceive form but not be able to relate to the form without recalling and invoking the name associated with the form. A relationship is established and maintained only through namarupa — name and form. But in terms of consciousness, relationship doesn’t need the form, name alone is sufficient; the name can recall the form perfectly to mind even without the form being present. Form is impermanent and perishable since it depends on physical presence in space and time; but name, as a construct or reality of consciousness, is imperishable and timeless. Thus, there are traditions in Hinduism that are based solely on the nama of the Divine and dispense with rupa. This is particularly true for non-dualists who accept only the formless aspect of God, for the formless Divine can only be invoked and recalled through the nama or the power of the nama. Anyone in love can readily testify to this power of the nama: you only need to recall the name of your beloved to be immediately in touch with him or her in your consciousness, even to the exclusion of the entire world.  Om, then, is the name of the Divine: Brahman or Ishvara are only descriptions of the attributes of the Divine — Brahman is that which infinitely expands, the ever-perfect and the auspicious; Ishvara is one’s highest or inmost status of being, one’s own divinity or godhead. But Om is the name itself, the name that has the power to immediately recall and invoke the Divine. Meditating, therefore, on Om as the name of the Divine is held to be the most direct way to the realization of the Divine. The name leads to that which is named: the symbol leads to the symbolized. If Om is the living and direct symbol of the Divine, then the Divine, as the symbolized, is present in the name as its inmost vibrations. The Yoga is to bring the inmost vibrations to the surface consciousness and make those vibrations the natural vibrations of one’s mind, life and body. Om is thus not only the way but also the destination concealed in the way. To chant Om is to immediately connect in consciousness with all that Om represents, symbolizes, conceals. Meditating on Om is immersing one’s outer and inner consciousness in the inmost, the soul-consciousness. Om is the surest and perhaps the quickest way to penetrate the multiple layers of the outer being and the outer universe and drill ever deeper into the inner and inmost layers of self and cosmic existence, it is indeed to return to one’s existential and spiritual source in Brahman, in the Supreme Truth.  As mantra, Om is supreme, it is the beej-mantra, the seed-mantra of all other mantras. Indeed, all mantras known to Yogis through the ages arise out of this one beej-mantra. Sri Krishna declares in the Bhagavad Gita, om ity ekaksharam brahma, the single syllable Om is the supreme God, and then goes on to establish his own identity with it: pranavah sarva vedeshu, within all the Vedas, I am the AUM; giram asmi ekam aksaram, of vibrations I am the transcendental AUM. For those who know who Sri Krishna is, and what he represents, these three statements read together are the signature and seal of the Divine on Om.  Sri Aurobindo, the Maharishi of the twentieth century, and the avatar of the Supramental Divine, said of Om: OM is the mantra, the expressive sound-symbol of the Brahman Consciousness in its four domains from the Turiya to the external or material plane. The function of a mantra is to create vibrations in the inner consciousness that will prepare it for the realisation of what the mantra symbolizes and is supposed indeed to carry within itself. The mantra OM should therefore lead towards the opening of the consciousness to the sight and feeling of the One Consciousness in all material things, in the inner being and in the supraphysical worlds, in the causal plane above now superconscient to us and, finally, the supreme liberated transcendence above all cosmic existence. In the words of that other saint and avatar of the last century, Sri Ramakrishna: Some sages ask what will you gain by merely hearing this sound of Om? You hear the roar of the ocean from a distance. By following the roar you can reach the ocean. As long as there is the roar, there must also be the ocean. By following the trail of Om you attain Brahman, of which the Word is the symbol. That Brahman has been described by the Vedas as the ultimate goal. Om is also known as pranav. As Rishi Patanjali stated: Pranav is the designator, vachak, of Ishvara, the Supreme Self. By the japa or constant repetition of pranav with profound bhava or devotion, all obstacles in life and sadhana will disappear and the consciousness will turn inward.  The Shivapurana describes Om as an excellent boat to cross the ocean of samsara or worldly existence, playing on an interesting etymology of the word pranav — the root pra from prakriti or manifestation, and navam varam, meaning, excellent boat. In the words of the Mother of Pondicherry Ashram: With the help of OM one can realize the Divine. OM has a transforming power. OM represents the Divine. You will recall this O……..M, O…..M, that’s all. O…..M. It must be manifested. If anything goes wrong, repeat OM, all will go well.   1Ōmityeta dakṣharamidam sarvam, tasyo pavyākhyanam, bhūtam bhavatbhaviṣhy aditi sarvam omkāra eva; yaccānyat trikālātītam tadapy omkāra eva. 2Excerpted from Sri Aurobindo’s notes on the Chhandogya Upanishads
Read More
Hindutva and the Hindu Rashtra
Uncategorized

Hindutva and the Hindu Rashtra

Bharat Mata, Painting by Abanindranath Tagore “Hindutva is indicative more of the way of life of the Indian people. It is not to be understood or construed narrowly. It is not Hindu fundamentalism nor is it to be confined only to the strict Hindu religious practices or as unrelated to the culture and ethos of the people of India, depicting the way of life of the Indian people. Considering Hindutva as hostile, inimical, or intolerant of other faiths, or as communal proceeds from an improper appreciation of its true meaning.” – The Supreme Court of India   Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra, both are controversial issues in the present political landscape of India, and both need to be correctly understood in their true historical and cultural contexts, and restored to mainstream cultural and political discourse and debate. This, going forward, will be a crucial necessity for 21st Century India. The idea of Hindutva is almost wholly associated with the political ideology of the BJP today because the BJP, more than any other political party in post-Independence India, has openly (though not too intelligently) espoused the Hindutva cause. We need to rethink Hindutva as an idea more than an ideology, and as a cultural more than a political platform. It surely has its usefulness in contemporary politics, now especially that the Hindu majority is getting increasingly Hinduised, but as a socio-cultural platform unifying all the presently disparate pro-Hindu forces, it will be vastly more useful and potent. But first, we will need to reestablish the original idea of Hindutva as a way of life, a culture and a civilization. What is immediately needed is an intellectually sophisticated reassessment and rearticulation of the idea of Hindutva as a cultural identity and force. We need serious thinkers and scholars to take up this task, not political ideologues. We do not need any more noise and optics, what we need is in-depth rational analysis and a coherent discourse built around it. Hindutva is not a proprietary term and no individual or organization owns this term, though many freely use or abuse it. Very briefly, the word Hindutva means Hindu-ness, the quality of being Hindu. The etymology is simple: hindu+tattva = hindutva. Tattva in Sanskrit means principle or essence (literally, that-ness). So Hindutva implies Hinduness or the quality of being Hindu. While Hinduism implies a generic philosophical and cultural system, an “ism”, Hindutva implies a much wider and immediately lived reality, an individual and collective consciousness that sets a person and a civilization apart from all other civilizational and ideological systems and practices. As the Supreme Court of India judgment (quoted above) states, Hindutva is indicative more of the way of life of the Indian people. This is the crux. It is upon this that the Hindutva narrative needs to be systematically built. Openly, unapologetically, honestly. Without Hindutva as the core idea of India, India will shrink as a civilization and end up as a mere nation-state without any deeper or truer identity. This has already been happening and can be studied by any objective and unbiased mind. The idea of India has shrunk because the idea of Hindutva has been deliberately and arrogantly pushed back by the successive governments post 1947. What happened pre-Independence is ancient history and there is no point in going back to it. But whatever has been happening post Independence needs to be brought out into the open, openly debated and discussed, and addressed as an immediate issue of national importance. Hindutva, once restored to its rightful place in the scheme of future India, will lead to the inevitable rejuvenation of the other fundamental idea of the Hindu Rashtra. Here too, it is to be clearly understood that the word Rashtra does not imply a nation-state. To judge Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra through the lens of western political philosophy is both incorrect and futile. The western idea of a nation-state or nationalism is vastly and profoundly different from the Indian idea of nationality. The Rashtra in Indian thinking is predominantly cultural and civilizational. The Rashtra represents a common culture or civilization spread across a certain geography but independent of that geography[1]. The nation-state, in fact, has always been an alien concept in Indian thought. Even the historical ideas of Bharatvarsha or Aryavarta have been much more of civilizational concepts than political constructs. My contention here is that India has always been a Hindu rashtra in terms of its continuous and unbroken civilization, and this needs to be acknowledged widely and brought back into popular national discourse. Indian history in its truest sense, as itihasa and purana, has been the narrative of an evolving civilization and not a static geographically defined political nation-state. The world, in fact, seems to be moving decisively towards a global cultural synthesis and human unity based on civilizational identities and forces and not on geopolitical and sectarian or hegemonist nationalistic ideas of the old world, notwithstanding the present Chinese anomaly. Most of the controversy surrounding the term Hindu rashtra arises from the limited understanding of the term rashtra. In the English language, one can use civilization instead of nation but in Sanskrit, the equivalent term, sabhyata, simply does not convey the full sense of rashtra. Using Sanskrit terms, I would say — a rashtra (civilization) is its sabhyata (culture), itihasa (history), dharma (law of being) and tadrupya or vyaktitva[2] (distinct identity and character). Any informed student of Indian history and culture will easily identify the Hindu cultural values and practices in Indian sabhyata, the continuous Hindu narrative in Indian itihasa, the Hindu spiritual philosophy and ethics in the concept of Indian dharma, and the predominant Hindu worldview in the Indian tadrupya or pan-national Indian identity. One may argue the diverse interpretations possible within these frameworks of itihasa or sabhyata, but one cannot question their fundamental unity or inherent interrelatedness. It would be impossible, for instance, to separate the strands of Indian history and mythology from Hindu religious or social culture, or Hindu dharma from Indian philosophy, metaphysics, ethics or jurisprudence. There is a compelling and coherent unity underlying the complex and sometimes bewildering variety of interpretations and practices of what many imprudently term “Hindu” or Hindu civilization. In order to come to a meaningful understanding and appreciation of Hindu civilization, we will first need to touch upon certain basic ideas and concepts of Hindutva itself, especially keeping in mind the misunderstandings (sometimes deliberate) propagated by other religious preachers, media critics and so-called contemporary leftist scholars. Without a clear understanding of what Hindutva encompasses, it will be difficult and somewhat foolhardy to pass any kind of judgment on the concept of the Hindu rashtra. [To be continued] 1A rashtra may be described as a group of people having a common or shared cultural identity. A Hindu Rashtra would therefore describe a collectivity consisting of people sharing the same Bhartiyata or Hindutva. Bharatiyata is Indianness; Hindutva is Hinduness, or the essence or quality of being Hindu. This is not to be naturally conflated with the Hindutva of Savarkar. 2ताद्रूप्य — (from tat, meaning that, and rupa, meaning form or character), used here in the sense of identity; vyaktitva too implies distinct personality or identity.
Read More
Uncategorized

The Divine Mother

या देवी सर्वभूतेषु मातृरुपेण संस्थिता।नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः॥[1] To that Divine Goddess Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of the Mother,Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations again and again.   The Divine as the Eternal Feminine, as the Mother, is perhaps the profoundest and the most powerful of the mysteries concealed at the heart of Sanatan Dharma. The Hindu reveres and invokes the Divine as the Transcendent Brahman, as the Indescribable Supreme Being, Purushottam, as the beloved Sri Krishna, or the inscrutable Shiva, the eternal Self of all that lives and moves in this universe; but he also adores and invokes the Divine as the Mother, as the primordial Consciousness-Force, Chit-Shakti, and the supreme creative principle that manifests all being, and sustains and nurtures it even as a human mother sustains and nourishes the life of her child. And even as a mother bears her child in herself, so does the Divine as the Mother bear us all in Her cosmic womb, the sacred matrix, till we are spiritually ready for our full manifestation. Indeed, our whole life in the cosmos is an occult evolutionary preparation in the cosmic womb of the Divine Mother. Few indeed can entirely grasp the supreme mystery of the sacred Feminine.  Sri Aurobindo describes this sacred Feminine in his mantric epic, Savitri:  The luminous heart of the Unknown is she,A power of silence in the depths of God.She is the Force, the inevitable Word,The magnet of our difficult ascent.[2] The sacred and eternal Feminine, the Divine Mother, is the root of this entire universe, the very force that weaves it into the fabric of spacetime; the One who dwells equally in the heart of the atom and in the inmost self of man, the One who spins the Cosmos around the invisible axis of Her divine being, and the One who lies coiled and involved in the heart of matter as the Supreme Light of Truth, jyoti-parasya.  Often the first contact of the devotee with the Divine Mother is through Love and Light, for She is the foremost and perfect embodiment of both: as Love, She is the source and the consummation, the fount of all that manifests as Existence, Consciousness and Delight of the Divine; it is out of Her Love that all this exists, that all this has its being in space, time and consciousness. She is the eternal Love that manifests as the Self of the Vedantin, as the God or Ishvara of the Yogin, and as Shiva or Narayan of the meditator and the devotee.   As Self, She is the inmost psychic being[3], the living portion of the Supreme indwelling in all living beings, the sacred Agni in our inmost hearts; as Agni, the evolutionary Flame, She consumes all our darkness, our ignorance and obscurities, and leads us with a supreme compassion towards our own highest Truth. In Sri Aurobindo’s words, She is the magnet of our difficult ascent. All forms in this universe are variations of Her infinite becoming, She alone is the whole of this creation, and, indeed, of creations without end. At the head of all manifestation, on the mystic edge of that primordial event-horizon out of which arises all being, She is the Adi-Parashakti: the originating Supreme Consciousness-Force of the Divine. Without the Mother as Adi-Parashakti, Brahman Itself would be incapable of manifestation and Its first movement of Will to become would simply fall back, impotent, into the silence of the Unmanifest.  All this that we regard and experience as World and Cosmos, Vishwa-Brahmanda, albeit in minuscule measure, are planes and parts of Her infinite being and becoming. She becomes all; all that we are and ever shall be, all that we know and ever shall know, are only forms and formulations of Her infinite creative capacity — She alone is the Divine Creatrix, the Power or Shakti of Divine Creation. Thus is She known as Mahashakti — the supreme Force of Creation. But do not regard Her as only Force, for She is Force of the Divine Consciousness, She is the animating consciousness-force that manifests Shiva, and without Her, Shiva would remain inert and unmanifest, lifeless as shava, a corpse. Shiva, the transcendent Divine, offers his cosmic heart to Her as Her sacred base for manifestation, and She assumes the cosmic form of Mahakali preparing and moulding the universe for Shiva’s Truth; without the Mother’s benign presence, Shiva’s Truth would instantly vaporize the universe. She is then the Shakti upholding even Shiva, the consciousness-force bearing Shiva’s pillar of infinite Light.  As Narayani, She is the creative consciousness-force emanating from Narayan through all the planes of cosmic existence, weaving spacetime consciousness for Narayan to make Himself manifest in all His infinite becoming. Narayan’s vishwarupa, or cosmic Form, is but the Mother’s supramental vision made manifest in the eternal spirals of evolutionary Time. As Narayani, She sustains universes in Her consciousness as portion of Her own infinite being.  Without Her as the embodiment of Love, this universe as we know it would fall apart, cease to exist. It is out of Her Love that She keeps the universe cohesive and coherent from the quantum to the cosmic levels; from the tiniest spark of life in the single cell to the vast consciousness of the mighty Gods — She alone is the Force that binds and wields. When the physicists contend with the powerful forces within the atomic nucleus and stand back amazed at the sheer potency of the very small, they are but countering just a minuscule fraction of the Mother’s immense Power and mystic Love.  When the astronomers look upon the incredible cosmic vastnesses, into the farthest reaches of space and time, and stand bewildered by those appalling immensities, they are but catching just the faintest tantalizing glimpses of the Mother’s inscrutable power of creative formation, or Maya. As the possessor and wielder of Maya, the divine creative power of infinite formation, She is known as Mahamaya. As Mahamaya, She sustains, at multiple levels, from the invisible to the supracosmic, the grand appearance of the Universe. For the Universe is not really a thing out there but a manifestation of one of Her formations that She holds in Her consciousness. Mark the fact that it is one of Her formations. There are numberless formations and universes that the Divine Mahamaya weaves out of Her infinite creativity, and these are not all out there but truly deep within, as one discovers on entering the inner layers of Her manifestation: layers subtler than subtlest thought, so subtle that these appear almost void to our ordinary gross consciousness.  Thus, it is said that the Mother as Mahamaya holds all conscious life in Her inscrutable spell of Maya, and none — not even the great gods and sages — can escape Her field of Maya without Her grace, will and consent. She is known to Her ardent devotees as the One who grants all capacities and powers of consciousness, sarvasiddhidayini. It is by Her divine Love that She liberates the soul from the illusion of the false ego; it is by Her Love that She liberates the mind from the illusions of the false existence, mithya and avidya. She is, therefore, also the One who grants all liberation and freedom, sarvamuktidayini. For all souls caught in the snares of cosmic and egoic illusion, her Love is the Light of hope. For not only is She Love, She is also the source of divine Light, She Herself is the Light of the Supreme, jyoti-parasya, that Yogins through the ages have invoked and revered, the Light without which there would indeed be no Yoga or Sanatan Dharma.  The Divine Mother is indeed the heart of the Dharma. Whoever, wherever, gives himself to Dharma, gives himself to the Divine Mother. When one stands for Dharma in this universe of perplexing duality and confusion (for all evil is but confusion and duality) and protects Dharma, he is protected directly by the power of the Divine Mother. Dharmo rakshati, rakshitaha is equally a mantra for invoking the protection of the Divine Mother.  There are those who feel, perhaps rightly so in the confusions of everyday life, that the Sanatan Dharma is in grave danger, under threat by hostile forces; but they forget too easily perhaps the deeper truth that the Sanatan Dharma is the manifest field of the Divine Mother’s Yogic work upon earth, and earth herself may be destroyed but the luminous seeds of Sanatan Dharma will survive, concealed eternally in the Mother’s bosom, awaiting its time of revival and rejuvenation in the endless spirals of evolutionary Time. The ones who have known even an infinitesimal portion of the Divine Mother’s consciousness also know that the Mother is vaster than this earth of ours, and a million earths, nay — a million universes, can arise and dissolve in the infinite consciousness that She is.  Who indeed can know the Mother in his or her small, time-bound consciousness? For the Mother exceeds space and time, exceeds consciousness too, exceeds all manifestation. In the wink of an eye, She can create a universe, and in the space of that same infinitesimal fraction of time, She can dissolve it all. The Mother is the creative Word of the Divine. When the sage says “in the beginning was the Word…”, he is pointing to the mystical truth of the Divine Feminine as the Word of creation. The Word, the Divine Logos, is also the mystic-syllabled Om out of which arises all manifestation. The ancient sages realized this Om as the Divine Mother’s first seed of Light sprouting as the universe. This was the mystic beginning, pure unmanifest and undifferentiated consciousness manifesting as the Mystic Sound or vibration of the three-syllabled A-U-M. AUM is also the gateway to the understanding of the Divine Mother, for each of the syllables represents a plane of the Divine Mother’s manifestation and can lead the Yogin to not only knowledge of these planes but direct experience, anubhava, of these planes. In a deeper mystical sense then, the Mother is Brahman’s power of Creation, the Supreme Creative Word. Thus it is declared by the sages of old that following the mystical revelatory pathway of Om, one can penetrate the Mother’s Maya and enter into the higher regions of Her Lila and Ananda. It is only by that that the soul comes to the Truth of ananda or divine Delight behind Mother’s formidable Maya. But Maya is not just illusion, it is also the creative power that makes cosmic manifestation possible. Without Maya’s luminous veils between the mind of man and the utter Truth of the Divine, personal existence in the Cosmos would become impossible, for the mind would then be entirely and utterly consumed by the Inconceivable as a spaceship approaching too close to the Sun might be consumed by the heat of the Sun.  The Divine Mother, as the Light of the Supreme, holds the Sun in Her consciousness and regulates its Light and heat, tapas, so that life in the Ignorance may not dissolve too early in the evolution of the Spirit: for the whole purpose of our human manifestation is to evolve to the Mother’s Supreme Light, and it is only by Her force of Maya that She regulates the pace of our evolutionary journey — neither too rapidly out of rajasic impatience, nor too tardily out of tamasic inertia. To do this effectively, the Mother divides Herself infinitely, becomes a portion of Herself in each of us, and guides us intimately, through our own struggles and tribulations, surely and steadily towards the Truth consciousness. That portion of Herself in each of us is the psychic being, the chaitya-purusha of the Vedas. Sanatan Hindu Dharma will soon discover the reality of the psychic being; it is the discovery of the psychic being that will give to Sanatan Dharma its much needed rejuvenating life-force. And beyond Sanatan Dharma itself, the discovery of the psychic being as the pivot of future spiritual life, will be the next necessary evolutionary step for all humanity. It is the Mother as the psychic being that will save humanity from its self-destructive habits and tendencies.  Assuredly, the next age will be the age of the Sacred Feminine.  The Sacred Feminine will balance the forces of nature and restore evolutionary equilibrium. Our earth life is out of balance: too much of the masculine, too little of the feminine. This is the root of all our present day civilizational challenges and crises. The aggression of monopolistic and monotheistic religions based on the pernicious idea of one God and one religion for all humanity, for instance, is the defining feature of masculinity out of sync with its femininity; the aggressive nationalist politics of most nations, the hegemonic tendencies of authoritarian ideological governments are also characteristics of the masculine out of sync with the feminine. The exploitative and opportunistic economics of the modern world is also a characteristic feature of an overtly masculine thinking out of sync with the feminine. The continued destruction of natural environments and the almost irreversible climate change are also indications of that same masculinity out of sync with femininity.  Our civilization needs desperately the healing touch of the Divine Mother. No religion that admits the Sacred Feminine can remain aggressive and violent. The Sacred Feminine is characterized by openness, humility, compassion and gentleness, and the spirit of universal nurture and universal acceptance — for these are the attributes of the Divine Mother, these are the virtues of the Feminine, sacred or mundane. The discovery of the psychic being as the Mother’s portion in all human beings will be that necessary personal shift, and one would hope and pray, eventually a terrestrial shift, towards the Feminine. It is the Divine Mother as the Sacred Feminine that will bear earth life towards its next evolutionary status. This is a crucial point: that each of us who understands the truth of this evolutionary shift from the masculine to the feminine must actively embody and live that truth. We must ourselves progressively become psychic beings bearing the force and light of the Feminine in ourselves. We must ourselves turn to the Sacred Feminine, or else we will be out of sync with the spirit of the new age.  To understand this better, let us not confuse the Sacred Feminine with being a man or woman. Each of us, man or woman, possesses the Masculine as well as the Feminine equally in our depths of being. Neither is superior, both are equal and equally needed for the manifestation and the evolution of the manifestation. The perfect equilibrium between the Masculine and the Feminine, between Purusha and Prakriti, between Ishvara and Shakti, is the creative basis of the Sanatan Dharma and of human evolution. Eventually, as the excess of the Masculine in our civilization is corrected and balance is restored, a dynamic equilibrium between the masculine and the feminine will be the higher evolutionary norm. But the way to that will be through a present and immediate shift of our energies and consciousnesses towards the Feminine.  In other words, we have come collectively, as a species, to the threshold of the Feminine: the Divine Mother needs to be restored to the centre of human life and spirituality; our spiritual life and religions must become a terrestrial invocation of the Sacred Feminine. We must now turn to the Mother, consciously and joyfully. The Mother is not only the Divine’s Truth and Consciousness but also its Love and Delight — She is the anandamayee, the embodiment of Ananda, as much as She is the chaitanyamayee, the embodiment of Consciousness, and satyamayee, the embodiment of Truth.  1yādevī sarvabhūteṣū mātṛrūpeṇa saṃsthitānamastasyai, namastasyai,namastasyai namonamaḥ 2Book 3, Canto 2 of Savitri by Sri Aurobindo 3As used for the soul by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo in the context of Integral Yoga.
Read More
Uncategorized

India & The Dalai Lama’s Birthday

On 6 July 2020, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, turned 85. I scanned the entire Net looking for mention of this extremely important event – but in vain! There was mention of the birthday of actor Ranveer Singh (who?) – but absolutely nothing about the Dalai Lama and Tibet. Does India and the BJP government of Narendra Modi understand the extreme importance of that event? The Dalai Lama may be the last chance for India to regain a friendly border between herself and the Chinese enemy – and time is running out. You do know, I hope, that out of the 40,000 or so kms of border with China, nearly 3300 belong to Tibet! Tibet was always a friendly and peaceful buffer between the two giants of Asia. When Nehru allowed China to take over this tiny nation, he committed one of his biggest blunders – and India is still paying the price for it. The Chinese, who are most ruthless and intelligent, are just waiting for the Dalai Lama to die, to nominate their own puppet Dalai Lama, the way they named a Panchen Lama. Then it will be not only the end of the possibility of free Tibet, but from a geostrategic point of view, India will have to face in the coming decades not only a hostile border with China, without the buffer of Tibet, but also the disadvantage of China swooping down from the heights of Tibet onto India’s valleys as it did in 1962. Did you also know that according to the CIA, China has placed many of its nuclear warheads in Tibetan caves, where they escape the scrutiny of satellites and that many of them are pointed towards Indian cities? We also know that most of South Asia’s great rivers are born in Tibet and that China is building many dams upon them, depriving India and many other countries of this precious water. Thus the importance of a free Tibet has never been so crucial to India – specially at the time of extreme tension with China on many fronts, whether Ladakh, Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh, Kashmir, or even on sea, in the Indian Ocean. But do you think that the higher bureaucrats of the External affairs Ministry of India can understand that? No, not at all. Their minds are frozen in the Nehruvian thinking that one must compromise with China at all costs! It was so in the 50’s, it was in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and it is still true, unfortunately, today. They have not learnt that the Chinese always pretend to negotiate – while preparing for war. Who will then grasp that the 85 year old Dalai Lama, a winner of the Nobel Peace prize, is India’s most powerful weapon against China? Firstly, his very name makes the Chinese shake with anger and they lose – for once — all common sense; secondly, India should respond tit for tat: China says that Kashmir is a disputed territory; China claims Arunachal Pradesh; China has taken over swathes of Indian territory, whether the Aksai Chin, or bits here and there in Assam, Ladakh, Sikkim or Bhutan. Then why the hell can’t India say that Tibet is a disputed territory? Why cannot the BJP government of Narendra Modi allow, for instance, the Dalai-lama to do a teaching in Ladakh, where he has thousands and thousands of followers – right under the nose of the Chinese? Indeed, India, without knowing it, has in his Holiness, not only a friend, but also a Yogi, the spiritual and temporal head of Tibet, as an important ally – and it is high time that the Prime Minister uses that dharmic weapon against China. We may quote here Sri Aurobindo, India’s great revolutionary, poet, philosopher and avatar who was also a prophet and wrote in 1949: “The significance of Mao’s Tibetan adventure is to advance China’s frontier right down to India and stand poised there to strike at the right moment and with right strategy… We must burn it into our minds that the primary motive of Mao’s attack on Tibet is to threaten India as soon as possible.” Happy Birthday, your Holiness. May God grant you long life! Reprinted by arrangement with the Author François Gautier’s Blog
Read More
Reflections on Hinduism (7)
Uncategorized

Sri Krishna and Shiva

Deeper into the Mystery One is there, Self of self, Soul of Space, Fount of Time,Heart of hearts, Mind of minds, He alone sits, sublime. Oh, no void Absolute self-absorbed, splendid, mute, Hands that clasp hold and red lips that kiss blow the flute. All He loves, all He moves, all are His, all are He! (From Sri Aurobindo’s poem Krishna)   If Shiva is the austere, inconceivable presence of the Supreme, the vast impersonality of the Divine, Sri Krishna is the Divine Personality supporting the eternal play of existence as Vishnu, the archetypal sustainer and nurturer, and himself entering into it as friend, lover, intimate guide and Guru. To invoke Shiva to descend to the earth plane to support or aid evolution is a near impossibility, but Sri Krishna is a constant presence amidst the world-play as the incarnate Divine and the World Teacher, the avatar and the jagat guru, leading humanity towards its highest consciousness. It is his assurance to the human soul that he would be born upon earth, age after age, whenever the burden of unconsciousness would threaten to disrupt the evolutionary balance of the universe. If Shiva is the archetypal ascetic, the ash-smeared adiyogi with matted locks and serpents, Sri Krishna is the cowherd with the alluring flute, playmate of the gopis, king, statesman and warrior who understands the intricacies of the world as much as he understands the profoundest mysteries of the universe, is as much at home with politics as he is with metaphysics, can fight and destroy as skillfully as he can play the flute and dance. If Shiva is the Silence of the Infinite, the shunya in which floats all existence, Sri Krishna is the music of the spheres, he is the manifest Cosmos brimming with life and energy, the radiant godhead of ananda, the supreme bliss of existence and consciousness. If Shiva is non-duality, the absolute Alone, Sri Krishna is the delight of the One playing amidst the infinite Many, the Lord of Love and the rasa of the Divine’s all-becoming. The sages declare that this whole existence is Sri Krishna’s blissful play, Krishnalila. Of him indeed the Upanishads say, raso vai sa — verily, he Himself is Delight [1]. Hindu dharma has two faces: one, Shiva, the ascetic, the tapasvi, seated on Kailash, symbolic of the supreme peaks of Yogic consciousness; and the other Krishna, the delightful, the anandmaya, the one sporting with the gopis in a Raaslila symbolic of the eternal play of the Divine and the human, the play of the spirit in matter, the play of love drawing the soul ever closer to the incomparable delight of union with the Divine. Shiva is the consciousness-source of existence and Krishna is the delight-source: we arise out of consciousness and delight and we return unto consciousness and delight. This is the mystery at the heart of Sanatan dharma. Whichever route we take, through consciousness or delight, it is the same consummation we reach: for consciousness is delight, delight is consciousness. Religions that regard human life as sinful or deluded cannot comprehend this mystery. The God of such religions is outside of the universe, a benign or an authoritative being presiding over human destiny. The God of Sanatan dharma is neither within nor without; in a deeper sense, neither transcendent nor immanent: God is the universe, it is the whole of existence. Transcendence and immanence are mere statuses relative to human consciousness, not absolute truths. The Truth is manifestation. God or the Supreme Reality is this very universe. This Supreme Reality does not create this universe — it becomes this universe out of its all-consciousness and all-delight. We say Shiva is that all-consciousness and Krishna is that all-delight out of which arises this universe — all beings and things are manifestations of Shiva, of Krishna. But these too are human expressions limited by human consciousness. The truth, as our sages and seers declared trenchantly, is absolute oneness — Shiva is Krishna and Krishna is Shiva: separating the two is like separating fire from its heat. As the Yajur Veda declares categorically: शिवाय विष्णु रूपाय शिव रूपाय विष्णवे | शिवस्य हृदयं विष्णुं विष्णोश्च हृदयं शिवः | यथा शिवमयो विष्णुरेवं विष्णुमयः शिवः | [2] Shiva is the manifest form of Vishnu, another name for Sri Krishna; Vishnu is the manifest form of Shiva. Vishnu dwells in Shiva’s heart as Shiva dwells in Vishnu’s. Wherever one finds Vishnu, one will find Shiva; and wherever one finds Shiva, one will find Vishnu. Realizing the one is realizing the other. Thus all existence is consciousness and all consciousness is delight — this must be understood. Consciousness and delight are not attributes of existence but the very substance of existence: existence is consciousness, and existence is delight. This triune reality of the Sanatan dharma is known as satchitananda: Sat is existence itself, Chit is consciousness and ananda is delight, bliss. To be, therefore, is to be conscious, and to be conscious is to be in delight, in the bliss of being. The moment one understands this triune reality, one understands too the purpose and meaning of existence and consciousness — to grow in consciousness towards the perfect bliss and delight of existence. In fact, it is not even so much a question of one’s growing in consciousness; it is more a matter of understanding that consciousness grows by its very nature towards more being and more delight. This is what is known as brahmagati — the movement of Brahman into its own vastness. Brahman is the vastness, brihat, and ever-expands into itself. Thus the supreme consummation of the Sanatan dharma is to become one with the Truth, satyam, which is also the Vast, brihat. Shiva then is the expansion of consciousness into its own vastness; Krishna is the deepening of consciousness into its own infinite depths. Together, for one who can fathom this mystery of mysteries, they lead the human soul to its perfect fulfillment in ananda — the bliss of the Divine. But this is not the whole of the rasamaya anubhava: there is a still intenser bliss, or rasa, of knowing that Shiva, seated in the mind’s pinnacle, opens the consciousness to the eternal light of Truth; and Krishna, seated in the inmost heart, opens the consciousness to the eternal delight of the Divine. The true devotee of the Sanatan dharma is therefore neither a Shaivite following Shiva as the one godhead, nor a Vaishnavite following Sri Krishna as the one godhead; she is a Yogi in whose consciousness the two become integrally one. It may be enough for some seekers to aspire for Shiva’s perfect non-duality and purity within themselves, and some seekers may be content aspiring for Krishna’s perfect delight and bliss; but for the complete Yogi who aspires to realize the very heart of the Sanatan dharma, neither is sufficient: she aspires for purnata, completeness, which is realizing Shiva’s fierce purity in Krishna’s delight, and Krishna’s bliss and delight in Shiva’s fierce purity. Can one even begin to conceive of such a realization? For this is a Yoga of a different dimension: austerity, asceticism and vast impersonality merge blissfully into love and delight of the Divine; non-duality revels in the variegated opulence of multiplicity and multiplicity resolves back, moment to moment, into an indescribably profound unity. Everything comes together, all diverse streams converge, and the Yogi dissolves into the perfect ananda, only a thumb-sized portion of her inmost consciousness and being remains to partake of the timeless anandmaya Purusha, the Being of Bliss. This is the experience of the supreme, the most excellent, rasa of all existence — paramam rasanubhuti. It is this paramam rasanubhuti that is at heart of the Sanatan dharma. All other experiences and realizations, all other processes and attainments, are only preparations for this supreme rasa, for it is in this rasanubhuti that existence is finally justified and validated in the profoundest possible way. All existence arises out of ananda and into ananda subsides. Sorrow, pain and suffering, birth and death, delusion and ignorance, falsehood and evil, are all steps along the way, processes of an infinite evolution of consciousness that even the vastest human mind would fail to grasp. This consummation of the Sanatan dharma is a state of perfect and permanent absence of sorrow and disturbance; our ancient sages called this the anamayam padam — the sorrowless state. This is the brahmanirvana that Sri Krishna holds as the highest good in the Bhagavad Gita. This nirvana is not an extinguishing or extinction — it is the consummation and fulfillment of the jiva, the human soul, in perfect union with the Divine. The one who understands this, understands too that this universe and our human existence in it is not just Maya and mithya, it’s not just delusion and ignorance, it’s not just pain and suffering, it’s not the meaningless extinction in death, nor an eternity of heavenly reward or hellish retribution, nor even an ever-circling round of karmic processes from lifetime to lifetime. It is none of all this. Existence is a vast field of lila, of divine delight and play; human life is a journey of consciousness from one peak of light and delight to another, ever higher, ever more fulfilling. It is not evil or falsehood that stands opposed to the godhead: it is our own spiritual ignorance and unconsciousness. It is an obvious thing: the antithesis of consciousness is unconsciousness, not evil. If anything, evil and falsehood, that so bewilder the human mind and heart, exist only to serve the spiritual purpose of awakening the human soul to its higher light and truth. This is the truth of Sri Krishna: that all is His play, do not be bewildered, do not be dismayed by appearances; look deeper, look with more love and understanding, and you will see Sri Krishna and you will see Shiva, and you will see your own highest and deepest self, your atman, and you will know that there are no divisions or differences. To realize one’s own existence as the Divine’s play of consciousness and delight is the crowning glory of the devotee and yogi. As Sri Ramakrishna once remarked, comparing the Divine with honey, I do not wish to become the honey; I want to taste and savor the honey. This savoring of the divine honey is the soul of the Sanatan dharma. Why else would one consent to be born as mortal on earth? 1रसो वै सः — From the Taittiriya Upanishad; Sri Aurobindo’s rendering. 2Shivaaya Vishnu Roopaaya, Shiva Roopaaya Vishanave; Shivasya Hrudayam Vishnur, Vishnuscha Hrudayam Shivaha; Yatha Shivamayo Vishnuhu, Yevam Vishnu Mayaha Shivaha
Read More
The China Question
Uncategorized

The China Question

There is more to Galwan Valley clash than you reckon As India comes to terms with the highest number of Indian Army soldiers killed in action since the Kargil war, near the Galwan Valley patrolling point 14, the question comes up again, how do you deal with a bully. Even though we know that the enemy may have suffered even greater number of casualties, the question remains. The question is an old one, and the answer is as old as the question. The only way to tackle a bully is by confronting him, by standing up to him. The bully, by definition, is one who intimidates those whom he considers weaker than him, and those who do not stare back at him. This psychological edge is important to him. As soon as the bully is confronted, he is thrown into confusion. In such a situation, he either overreacts or retreats. What the bully would choose to do out of the above two choices would depend upon his mental make-up. It is, therefore, important to understand the bully, i.e., do a purva paksha. The mental make-up of China the Bully is conditioned by the following: Confucianism, leading to the Middle Kingdom complex; Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’, leading to a tactical matrix that puts greater emphasis on non-combat activities; Communism, which gives it the unique mental make-up that anyone that is not with China is necessarily against it; Commercial Doctrine, that continues to be mercantilist, with ruthless exploitation of every commercial opportunity, with no regard for a rules-based international order; Military Doctrine, which puts great emphasis on 4th and 5th generation warfare, involving Psycholgical warfare, Media warfare, and even Legal warfare. Chinese rise to great power was based on: US elites’ greed for more profits, basically a betrayal of the principles of free markets, labour rights, free speech, and free movement, to shift the entire manufacturing capacity and IPR risks to a communist regime with an imperialist, mercantilist, and expansionist doctrine, while being communist and authoritarian — cheap, bonded labour, in alliance with the China elites. Besides, the West also outsourced its universities to the Left. US establishment’s mulish foreign policy priorities. Their obsession with controlling the middle-east, and counting Russia as their enemy, while ignoring the elephant in the room. Unwillingness of the international order to call the China bluff when it continued to pursue its strategic objectives of achieving great power status, encompassing mercantilist, territorial, and imperialist policies. The Middle Kingdom Complex of China is a unique superiority complex that it has inherited from Confucian times. In this world view, China is at the centre of the world, as the Emperor is a regent of the divine, with all other nations in a graded hierarchy below it. The British have still not forgotten the elaborate custom of kow-tow that was required to be performed by every foreign dignitary visiting the Qing Emperor. The Middle Kingdom Complex has also generated the unique centralising character of the Chinese political and bureaucratic system, with Peking/Beijing becoming the permanent seat of celestial power, whether the Mongols, Manhurians, or the Communists ruled over it. The experience of near permanent war postures in the millennium before common era also resulted in the famous Sun Tzu doctrine that lays great emphasis on winning wars without going to battle. It seems to anticipate the 4th and 5th generation warfare of the 20th and 21st century. Every action of China, in every field, practises the deceit and deception implicit in the Sun Tzu doctrine. The best example of China almost winning the war without firing a bullet is how it fooled the West to shift nearly all its manufacturing capacity to China, even shutting its eyes to blatant intellectual property theft, violation of labour rights. It was a classic capitalism alliance with authoritarianism with total disregard to free society principles. To cap it, the Left movement, so discredited after the collapse of Soviet Union, fooled an entire generation into accepting globalisation, whose greatest beneficiary was not China, but the China elites. Add to it the imperialism, mercantilism, and academic hegemony that China was allowed to exercise in the name of globalisation, and the circle was complete. Having done a basic analysis of China and its opaque morbidities, it is easy to see how a virus was allowed to develop into a pandemic. The question that stares us in the face now is how to counter this bully, that threatens to completely derail the rules-based international order by exporting diseases, intimidating neighbours with territorial grab, amassing a military totally disproportionate to its defence requirements, and birthing a system of mercantilism symbolised by OBOR. Effective counter to this newly attempted Pax Sinica necessarily has to address the understanding that we have developed. A bully has to be looked into the eye: Mercantilism: Commercial targeting is important. Investments must be drawn out of China, and its exports must be curtailed. This would hit the Chinese elites as Chinese businesses are controlled by the oligarchs of the CPC. The internal dissensions would check the unbridled Pax Sinica being pursued by Xi Jinping. The setback would also keep any future leader honest too. OBOR is a reasonable failure. The anti-China grouping must ensure it becomes a spectacular failure. Strategic: The Indo-Pacific strategy of US should be whole-heartedly embraced by India. India’s hesitation should now vanish, after the Galwan Valley incident. India should be ready to take the plunge now the way Australia has done. Imperialism: India should leverage the Indian Ocean and Malacca Straits advantage. Even if the Ten Degree Channel in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands area has to be shut for the Chinese Oil Tankers, the option should be made live. Communism: an urgent programme for deradicalising the world universities, and purging them of Leftist influence must be made into an international programme. China cannot be allowed to use the tools of the free world to subvert the free world. Military: The world has to synchronise its military might and engage China in a few real skirmishes. Galwan is a good beginning because it would have dented the fiction of invincible China with its high Chinese casualties. If you are not aware, let me bring you up to speed. The long term plan of CCP is to link up Tibet/Aksai chin with Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan in order to discount the Indian threat to Gilgit Baltistan forever. So the entire Trans-Ladakh range tract, or the Shyok Valley region, is the ultimate target of CCP, and thereby the PLA, which is an arm of the CCP. Once you understand that basic idea, you can figure out that the DSDBO road is the greatest strategic threat to this strategic objective. The threat can be countered most effectively only in the Galwan Valley, because that is the closest point to the DSDBO road that China has. Pangong Tso and Hotsprings are just diversionary moves. That is why the action at Galwan Valley. Now that we know that Galwan water flow was being blocked, we can safely surmise that the only reason would be to facilitate some kind of construction downstream. It would, therefore, be important for India to deny China that luxury. Let us be proud that for the second time since 1986 (first being Doklam), India pre-empted a major Chines strategic move. I leave the rest to your imagination. This is by no means a comprehensive catalogue of descriptions and prescriptions, but the classic advice to tackle the bully is exactly what Sri Krishṇa prescribed in the Mahabharata: attempt reconciliation but after being prepared for war.
Read More
Perspective on Vedanta
Uncategorized

Perspective on Vedanta

This is a translation of my very first article which I wrote in 1981. I had sent it to a German magazine which I used to read during my psychology studies. They published it and later, two more magazines reprinted it. I was asked to keep sending articles. It helped me to stay in India…   “Will you still be able to fit in with us in the West?” asked my sister in a letter (in 1981). I had shared with her some thoughts about life and death with which I had become familiar in India and which I felt made sense. Her question reminded me of what I had almost forgotten, after staying in India for about a year: how life is seen in the West. First, people there generally do not to think about life and definitely not about death. And in case uninvited questions intrude, for example “Is there a meaning to life?” it is advised to drive them away – with activity, a new outfit or in stubborn cases, with medication. “Depression” is this stubborn state called and, as it is rather common, declared a lifestyle disease. The term ‘disease’ is used, because “healthy” desires, like the desire for wealth, power, fame and sex, are not there any longer. A person is considered healthy, when she tries her best to fulfill those desires, if necessary at the expense of others. After all, everyone has to look after himself first, otherwise he risks being left behind in the race to happiness, the obvious goal of life. And happiness is expected to come when those desires are fulfilled. This is of course a very rough sketch of the world view in the West. But it encapsulates the essence, when I think of the hectic rat race there on one hand and of the widespread depression on the other, while I am writing down this in the afternoon heat at the Gulf of Bengal. Here in India I became familiar with a different view of life which is based on intuition and experience and not only on intellectual deduction. And in my view, it does not hamper in any way one’s ability to fit in, including in the West. ‘What is the truth? From where do we come? Where will we go? Why are we here?’ These questions are essential for all of us. In India these questions have been asked since time immemorial, and answers were found.  Yet in the West we keep hearing that we can never find answers to those questions and therefore better do not ask them. The Indian Rishis would probably feel compassion for our pitiable state, because we miss out on the meaning of life. Our life is meant to search for the truth and realizing the truth is the crowning accomplishment, not comparable with any worldly achievement. But it is not easy to realize the truth. It cannot be taught or communicated from one person to another. Everybody has to search and to realize it for himself. Yet India’s wisdom has many hints on how one can experience the truth. The Rishis, who have patiently and intensely searched for it without and within their own being, discovered ‘That’ from where everything emanates, and their insights were handed down over innumerable generations. Vedanta – the highest philosophy, which is based on three major ancient texts, namely the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahmasutras, and which especially Adi Shankara commented upon and spread widely – puts this wisdom simply and clearly: There is only Oneness, the absolute Truth, which is best described as Sat-Chit-Ananda, blissful awareness. You are That, which cannot be put into words; “Tat Tvam Asi” in Sanskrit. This Oneness manifests as ‘many’ due to the divine power called Maya. But the great multiplicity does not exist independently. Here some explanation may be necessary. By “multiplicity” Vedanta means our huge universe with its infinite, staggering diversity where not even on our tiny earth two leaves, or two fingerprints are absolutely the same. This universe, Vedanta claims, has no absolute existence, but depends on our senses and our mind. Here even modern science agrees which, searching for the substance of matter in this seemingly so solid material world, didn’t find any substance, and now explains this apparent world as different states of one incredibly powerful energy – and thereby comes close to the ONE, called Brahman, and his creative energy, called Maya, of Vedanta. An analogy explains the relation between the real Truth and the apparent truth: suppose we take a rope for a snake in the dark, then the rope does not exist for us, only a snake. When we see by daylight that it is a rope, the snake does not exist any longer, only the rope. In truth of course, in the dark also, only the rope existed, even when our mind and eyes convinced us that it is a snake. Similarly, in truth only ONE (usually called Brahman) exists, but we are deceived by its great power, Maya, and take the diversity for real. ‘We’ – that refers to our body with its sense organs, and our mind with reason and intellect, but ignores our conscious essence. We think that each thing in this world is separate from other things, because we wrongly identify with our body and mind, saying “this here is me and that there is you”. It could be compared with waves on the ocean, where each wave insists on its separate identity and claims “I am this wave and you are that wave and we have nothing to do with the ocean.” The fact that we allow ourselves to get deceived through Maya and consider the diverse, phenomenal world as true is the source for our suffering, claims Vedanta. Our biggest error is that we identify with our body and mind and that we have forgotten our true self. This is the cause for egoism, for the competition with others, whose true Self– the ONE – is in reality of course also the same like our true Self. This is also the cause for feeling inadequate or lacking or not beautiful enough. This is also the cause for the (futile) attempt to secure happiness for our ego in the world. True, permanent happiness cannot be found in the world, the Rishis insist. YOU ARE the happiness which you search for. Realise your true Self, know your true identity, discover that Sat-Chit-Ananda is you yourself, and you will be free from suffering and you will also laugh if people speak about dying. Because it is complete nonsense to believe there is death and birth in regard to the Self. What you truly are was never born and will never die. You were here right from the start. You are the ONE, all-pervading, “Tat Tvam Asi” (You are that), “Aham Brahmasmi” (I am Brahman)… thus end the Upanishads. You are the ONE now already. You don’t have to become it. However, you need to see through the veil of Maya. Dare to state that you are free and you will be free the same moment. Dare to make yourself independent of worldly joy and suffering, and the reward will surpass all joys of the world, the sages claim. “Do you still not know how life in this world is? Do you still not know that each joy brings suffering?” Anandamayi Ma, a saintly woman from Bengal, once asked. In the world everything is always changing. How could it be possible to find permanent happiness there? Human relationships are like driftwood – they touch each other for a while and separate again. And yet, the whole of humankind with few exceptions searches for happiness in the world and still hopes that it can be found in a loving relationship, in wealth or in a powerful position. Maybe the relationship is not loving enough, the wealth not vast enough or the position not high enough… a feverish search for happiness in the wrong place. Great spiritual personalities and ancient texts have always maintained that happiness is in yourself, not outside. Do you still not know how life in this world is?… each joy ends in pain, each relationship has an end. And yet, each human being desires an eternal, conscious and happy existence. And this desire actually makes sense, claims Vedanta, because eternity, consciousness and bliss are our true nature. But we make a mistake: we want this conscious, blissful, eternal existence for our body and mind, because we take this to be what we are, as we don’t see the difference between the impermanent body and mind, and our true, eternal Self. Ask yourself frequently “Who am I?” Don’t verbalise an answer, but try to feel who you are. Dive to the source from where the (individual) I-feeling arises. This advice gave Ramana Maharshi, one of the great saints of India. “My whole body pains” – who owns the body? “My thoughts took me away” – who is “me”? Use your intellect (that’s the reason why you have it) to find out who you are. Do not be satisfied with nonsensical replies like “I am Maria” or “I am a businessman.” These are mere names for whom or what? You will realize that you are the ONE whom pain cannot trouble, whom water cannot wet and fire cannot burn – in the same way as we won’t get wet when we bathe or burn when we catch fire in a dream. Then you are free in this world and you can play the different personalities, like an actor on stage, who is aware that in reality, the happenings in the drama do not affect him. Then you can live without hope and without fear, and then only you are free. However, searching for truth with reason and intellect alone won’t lead to this realization. It is no doubt important, as truth does not contradict reason. Vedanta does not demand to believe something which has not been thoroughly checked by one’s own intellect, on the contrary. But to really know and realize the truth, something else is needed, and this is the complete surrender of the limited ego – which in truth anyway doesn’t ‘really’ exist – and devotion for the ONE, by whatever name one wants to call it. This is called Bhakti in Sanskrit. The path to enlightenment leads through Bhakti, wrote Ramanuja, another prominent proponent of Vedanta, who commented on the Brahmasutras in the 11th century. Bhakti develops from knowledge about this world: surrender the limiting ego due to the knowledge about its ‘nothingness’ and have devotion for a “beloved” who is That which alone is behind all happenings and actions. The true beloved is one’s own Self, and the ego is only a fiction or an imposter. The ONE is on one hand the Absolute, the unmanifest, original cause of this manifestation (Brahman) and on the other hand it is the manifest creator (Ishwara with its many divine powers or devas). This manifest aspect of the ONE can be experienced as a loving ‘You’, and can be imagined as a personal God. The creator did not act only once long ago, to bring forth this universe, but is still in action now and everywhere through his many divine powers, even if our egos consider themselves as the sole actors. Vedanta encourages questions: can I, this I with which we usually identify, make a baby grow? Can this I stop the body from decaying? Can this I change food into energy? Can this I add only one stone to this earth, not to mention sun, moon or stars? And we claim in all seriousness that there are no miracles, because we have discovered some laws of nature about “how” certain things work…. Ishwara is always and everywhere present. Always, including now and everywhere, including in us. Let’s stop for a moment and let this sink in. He can be contacted and experienced in us through total, loving surrender, as he is our true Self. His grace is not arbitrary. It is connected to whatever we think, speak and do – not only each action but even each thought has its effect, and this effect will come back and affect the thinker. An Indian analogy describes it in this way: As a calf finds her mother even among thousand cows, in the same way, the effect of a thought finds its thinker. The Bhagavad Gita says that a human being cannot be without action even for a moment. And the consequence of our thoughts, words and deeds – not only from this life, because we are part of the game or Lila since the beginning – becomes evident in what we are today. We are self-made, the Rishis claim. What we call destiny is the result of former freely made decisions. We had a choice, but we have to experience the effect of this choice, as long as we (wrongly) consider our ego as the doer, which we probably all do because the delusional power of Maya is strong. Now, too, we have a choice for good, for bad, for love, for hatred and the result of today’s thoughts and actions will come to us in future. This law of karma makes it clear how very important our thoughts and our behavior are. Every compassionate thought or action brings us closer to our true Self, full of love and bliss. Every angry thought or action moves us farther away. We are not on auto-pilot. We don’t have to be angry, as we can refuse thoughts. We have the choice to be good or bad, however, in all likelihood we don’t have this choice every moment, maybe we even have it rarely, because often we think and act unconsciously like on auto pilot and are helplessly dominated by our thoughts. Yet as soon as we become aware of our thoughts and know what happens in our mind, we have again a choice. We also know that being good is better than being bad, being loving is better than being hateful, helping others is better than having contempt for others. We don’t know it because someone told us so, but because we intuitively know the path back to our true Being. A pure life is an essential condition on the way to realize our Self. On this all sages agree. The ancient Upanishads advise to purify and refine body and mind, as they are the means to approach the Self. Speak the truth and do what is right (Satyam vada, dharmam chara), they advise. The Bhagavad Gita demands to give up anger, lust and greed, because these lead to destruction. And even more: renounce all desires. Be bold and really renounce them. Someone, who is a slave of a desire, cannot be free. Don’t be attached to the world which is perishable. Surrender your limited ego which has no substance in itself and stop worrying about your life. Love and trust your inner Being, by whatever name you want to call it. If your inner Being becomes the main focus in your life, then you are firmly set on the path to true happiness.   Printed by arrangement with the author Visit Maria Wirth’s Blog
Read More
Guru Purnima
Uncategorized

Guru Purnima

The Guru is one who personally leads you from the darkness of ignorance and unconsciousness to the undying light of Truth and Immortality. The Guru is the mother who nourishes the spirit even as the biological mother nourishes the body; the Guru is the father who disciplines, teaches, instructs; he is the friend and guide who walks beside you, pace to pace, without judgment or expectation. But more than all that, the Guru is the living embodiment and representative of the Divine. The Guru is the true anchor of the Hindu dharma, not the priest, not the preacher, nor even the scripture. It is the Guru who is the source of all light and knowledge, the unfailing hand that steadies the difficult climb, the rock upon which you can stand, secure and safe. The Guru, in the Hindu tradition, is regarded as equal to God, acharya devo bhava. Acharya — one who teaches and transforms — is another word used commonly for the Guru. Guru Purnima is celebrated annually on the first full moon (purnima) after the summer solstice in the Hindu month of Asadha, corresponding usually to June or July of the English calendar. This period marks the beginning of the monsoon season in India. This is the time when India’s traditional peripatetic monks would rest because of almost incessant rains and take a break from their continuous wanderings. These monks would settle down at a place, an ashram usually, and devote the coming three months or so to spiritual discussions, practices and contemplation. Guru purnima is the day that would mark the beginning of such an auspicious spiritual period, a period dedicated to serious studies and intense meditative practices. There is a symbolic meaning too: Guru purnima also marks the arrival of the rains in India, when the hot and parched land is drenched in the rains and all life springs back to vitality and activity after the oppressive heat of the Indian summer. This reflects so perfectly the inner condition or the bhava of the disciple too, yearning for the “rainfall” of Divine Grace and Knowledge: As the disciple prays to the the Guru: Like this desiccated earth receiving rain, May I, athirst for Knowledge, as parched as this land,Be flooded with the deluge of Thy Grace. The Guru’s Grace and power is believed to increase a thousandfold on the day of Guru Purnima. This is because so many realized sages and masters, through the generations, have poured freely their energies and consciousnesses into the subtle atmosphere of the earth for the spiritual welfare of all humanity. It is well known that the benedictions of a realized sage has the unfailing power of actualization across time and space — such is the power of Truth. And thus, all sincere aspirants for Truth and self-realization await this day to renew their faith in the Guru, to revive their commitment, to consecrate themselves yet again to this upward ascent to the Supreme, an ascent that would become almost impossible to accomplish without the living aid of the Guru. Guru Purnima has a profound significance for all spiritual seekers and devotees of the Hindu dharma. This is a spiritually charged day, and the beginning of a spiritually charged period, a period that opens tremendous spiritual possibilities for evolution and transformation for all those who are even a little open to the higher consciousness. Such a period should not go waste. The disciple only has to concentrate herself on her deepest, her inmost aspiration and leave the rest of the labor to the Guru. A little opening during this period can lead to tremendous results. And the Guru’s assurance is repeated, year after year, through all the planes of consciousness: one small step towards me, and I shall come to thee in leaps… According to Hindu itihasa, Guru Purnima is widely believed to be the day when Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, the author of Mahabharata, was born to Sage Parashara and Devi Satyavati, the daughter of the fisherman chieftan, Dusharaj. The Srimad Bhagvatam states that “in the seventeenth incarnation of Godhead, Sri Vyasadeva appeared in the womb of Satyavati through the sage Parashara, who then divided the akhanda or the integrated Veda into several branches and sub-branches for easier dissemination.” Thus this day is also known as Vyasa Purnima, Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa being regarded as one of the archetypal Gurus of the Hindu Sanatan tradition. Another popular legend, perhaps going further back into the mists of time, tells us that the first Guru, the Guru of Gurus, Shiva, also known as Dakshinamurthy, one who faces the south, gave the first teaching of the Supreme Self to humanity. This is the reason that Shiva is regarded as the first, the archetypal, Guru, the adiguru. It is on this day, millennia ago, that Shiva the adiyogi assumed the mantle of the Guru, becoming the adiguru, the first Guru of the Yogic tradition. The legend goes somewhat like this: A long time ago, four wise men, seeking for deeper answers to their existential queries, were wandering from place to place looking for someone who could give them the key to the understanding they needed. Amongst these, the first wanted to find the secret to immutable bliss, permanent liberation from suffering — the dukkha that dukkha is. The second wanted the secret of prosperity and wellbeing — how to be permanently free of scarcity and insecurity. The third of these men wanted to understand the meaning and significance of life — is there a permanent significance and value of human life? The fourth was a man of knowledge and wisdom, but felt incomplete as his wisdom still did not have the transforming touch of the Supreme Truth that can come only through the living Guru. He did not know how to get to that. So these four seekers came to an old banyan tree in a remote village and found there a young man sitting quite still, with a beatific smile on his face. Looking upon his face, they all had the same thought simultaneously: that this young person would give them the key. So they sat down before him, quietly, and waited for him to open his eyes. The mysterious young man opened his eyes after what seemed an eternity, and looked at the four of them. His smile became more radiant, his eyes looked as if into the very depths of their hearts. But he said nothing. He just made a strange gesture, a mudra. And, as if by some occult transmission, the four wise men understood, got their answers, their enlightenment. The first understood the root of all human suffering; the second understood the root of all fear and scarcity; the third understood the true value and significance of human existence; and the fourth realized sannidhya: the proximity to the living Source, the deep inner contact with the Guru. This indeed was the first transmission of Yogic Knowledge from Guru to the disciple, the shishya. This was the birth of the Guru-Shishya parampara of the Hindu Sanatan dharma, the very underpinnings of our Dharma. This parampara or the tradition of transmission of Knowledge from Guru to disciple continues to this day. This transmission may happen through the spoken or the written word, shabd, through inner inspiration and insight, prerna, or through silence, mauna. It is this parampara that is the backbone of the spiritual Dharma. Adi Shankaracharya composed a beautiful verse to mark this first transmission of Knowledge from the first Guru to the first disciples: मौनव्याख्या प्रकटित परब्रह्मतत्त्वं युवानं वर्षिष्ठांते वसद् ऋषिगणैः आवृतं ब्रह्मनिष्ठैः । आचार्येन्द्रं करकलित चिन्मुद्रमानंदमूर्तिं स्वात्मारामं मुदितवदनं दक्षिणामूर्तिमीडे ॥[1] Roughly translated, this means: Praise and salutation to that Dakshinamurthy (who faces the south),Who explains the true nature of the supreme Brahman,Through his perfect silence,Who is young in looks,Surrounded by disciples who are old Sages,Whose minds are fixed on Brahman,Who is the greatest of teachers,Who shows the Chinmudhra by his hand,Who is personification of happiness,In the state of bliss within himself. Guru Purnima is also celebrated by the Buddhists and the Jains. The Buddhists mark this auspicious day in honor of the Buddha’s first sermon on this day at Sarnath. The Buddha went from Bodhgaya to Sarnath, five weeks after his enlightenment, to find his five former companions, the pancavargika. He had foreseen that these former companions of his would be ready to receive the Dharma from him. When the Buddha found his former companions, he taught them the Dharmacakrapravartana Sutra. This transmission enlightened the companions, and they perhaps became the first monks of the Buddha dharma. This marked the establishment of the Buddha’s Sangha, on the full-moon day of Asadha. The Buddha then spent his first rainy season after his enlightenment at Sarnath. The Jains celebrate Guru Purnima to commemorate the 24th Tirthankara Mahavira accepting his first disciple, Indrabhuti Gautam. From that Guru Purnima day on, the Mahavira became the Guru. The Occult Significance So how does the disciple use the force and auspiciousness of this day? The commonly accepted practice is to worship the Guru. This is significant in its own place. But worship is only the first step. Worship must deepen into inner living contact and intimacy: sannidhya.  To be in spiritual proximity of the Guru, in his living presence, is the essence of the Guru-Shishya relationship. It does not matter if the Guru is physically near or far; it does not even matter whether the Guru is still in the physical body or not. Sannidhya transcends time and space, birth and death; the Guru who has realized the Self is immortal, eternal and can manifest as easily in the supraphysical planes as on the physical. But the disciple must know how to give himself to the Guru inwardly, integrally, for only then can the Guru manifest in the disciple’s consciousness. Entire self-giving is the secret, the master key. The work of the Guru is a tapas of the consciousness. What the Guru transmits in words or gestures is only a mere fraction of what can be transmitted through sannidhya. The whole weight of the teaching comes through the Guru’s silence: it is through the silence of the Guru that the Truth is transmitted in all its force and purity. The disciple must therefore prepare her mind and heart to receive the Guru’s silence, and this can best be done only if the disciple himself is in a state of deep receptive silence. Guru Purnima then would be a day for inner silence, a day for invocation, consecration and concentration. Concentration builds up in the disciple tapas-teja, the force of askesis, without which nothing of the Guru’s Light or Force can be received or assimilated. The true transmission, we must remember, is of spiritual force and not mental knowledge or understanding. Mental knowledge and understanding enlighten but spiritual force transforms, transmutes the old substance into the gold of the Divine. Consecration is as important as concentration. Consecration is the act of giving oneself integrally to the Guru, and by giving oneself, making oneself worthy of receiving the Guru’s grace and force. This is the true meaning of consecration — to make sacred, to prepare oneself for the Divine in mind, heart and body. For the Guru or God can only manifest if the receptacle is pure and whole. Once the consecration is made, and the concentration firmly established, the disciple is ready for invocation — of calling the Guru’s spiritual presence into his inmost being. This calling is exactly what the word implies — a call to come, to manifest, to assume complete control, to become the inner Master, the Lord of one’s whole being, antar Ishvara, the inner Divine. The Mother of Pondicherry Ashram gave us the most prefect mantra for such an invocation: Om namo Bhagavate… Come, manifest, make me the Divine. In the Mother’s own words: The first word, Om , represents the supreme invocation, the invocation to the Supreme. The second word, namo, represents total self-giving, perfect surrender. The third word, bhagavate, represents the aspiration, what the manifestation must become — Divine. This is the eternal call of the human soul for the Supreme Self, of the atman for the paramatman, of the human disciple for the Divine. It is the Guru who is the mediator between the human and the Divine, between the atman and the paramatman — the bridge between the mortal and the Eternal. The disciple must remember that there is no difference between the Guru and God. The Guru stands in the middle ground between the invisible and the visible, the unmanifest and the manifest, the high peaks of Self-realization and the base camp of our human aspiration, our human sadhana. Without the Guru, our ascent would be enormously difficult and may take years of sadhana; with the Guru, we can fly, and compress in a few years the sadhana of a lifetime. Such is the power of the Guru. गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुर्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः । गुरु साक्षात् परं ब्रह्म तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥ The Guru is Brahma, the creator; Guru is Vishnu, the Preserver; the Guru is Maheshwara, the destroyer. The Guru himself is the living Supreme Brahman; my obeisance to that divine Guru. This year, 2020, the Guru Purnima occurs on July 5th. Purnima Tithi Begins – 11:33 AM on Jul 04, 2020Purnima Tithi Ends – 10:13 AM on Jul 05, 2020 Read in Hindi 1 Mouna vyakhya prakatitha, paraBrahman thathwam yuvanam, Varshishtha anthevasad rishiganai, Ravrutham brahman nishtai, Acharyendram kara kalihtha chin, Mudram ananda roopam, Swathmaramam mudhitha vadanam, Dakshinamurthim eede.
Read More
India’s Potential to Help the World
Uncategorized

India’s Potential to Help the World

H.H. the Dalai Lama said during the last Kumbh Mela in Haridwar that “India has great potential to help the world.” He added that already as a youth in Lhasa he was greatly impressed with the richness of Indian thought, and went as far as to say “Everything in my head is from India. I am a son of India.” In India, however, there are two camps. One agrees with the Dalai Lama. The other does not and even ridicules anyone who claims that India’s heritage has great value. I belong to those who agree with the Dalai Lama. The reason is simple: It is true. India does have great potential to help the world. There is plenty of evidence. Just read some of the ancient texts, for example the Upanishads. The insights contained therein are mind boggling. For me, who grew up as a Christian and felt dissatisfied with what I was taught to believe, it was all the more obvious. Christianity is no equal to the Indian tradition. Here I refer only to the philosophical and religious angle. Yet India’s heritage contains amazing knowledge in all possible fields – from science to music, from architecture to astronomy to medicine and so on. It is a huge treasure, in spite of the fact that a lot of this treasure has been lost or destroyed. Not without reason India is called the cradle of civilization and “Indian wisdom” is proverbial in the west. Now, since it is clear that the Dalai Lama is right, how can there be people who disagree? This is a long story that started in 1835 when a politician called Thomas Macauley pleaded in the British Parliament to replace the Sanskrit gurukuls in India with English education. He argued that if Britain wants to successfully subdue Indians, they need to be cut off from their culture. Macauley got his way. From then on, the Indian elite had to send their children to English medium schools, if they wanted them to make it in life. Naturally, the kids didn’t hear much about their own great culture and whatever little they heard, was negative. And since they didn’t learn Sanskrit, they could not check it out for themselves. Ironically, this happened at a time, when the European elite had discovered Sanskrit and India’s wisdom and were stunned by its depth. This discovery contributed to the so called era of enlightenment in Europe which resulted in a separation between state and Church. Yet Indian children were taught from mid-19th century onwards, how great and accomplished Britain was. It suited the colonial masters to have “educated natives” who held them and their lifestyle, including their religion, in high esteem. In return, they, especially those who had converted to the western religions, were allowed to feel superior to the ‘superstitious Indian masses’. Brainwashing works. And Indians proved that it lasts even over several generations. Those who claim that the Dalai Lama is wrong are generally “Macauley’s children” who feel proud that they are fluent in English and don’t realize that they have been uprooted in the interest of their former masters. These people never delved into the rich Indian heritage that had impressed the Dalai Lama. Yet in spite of their ignorance, they claim that India has nothing to offer. They don’t really claim it: they shout it, so that any opposition to their view cannot be heard. Of course this is not a healthy state of affairs, but it plays out often on Indian news channels: Macauley’s children (or should I call them ‘anti-Hindu brigade’?) accuse and insinuate about Hinduism what the British convent schools had taught them. Missionaries have always maligned Hinduism, but in the recent decades, a new, dangerous insinuation is noisily propagated. Christian leaders support it and the international media eagerly picks it up. It is this: “Hindus are intolerant of other religions. They hate members of other religions, and now, since there is a BJP government, they show their agenda openly. They want a Hindu India and obliterate other religions. The rising incidents of attacks on churches prove it.” “Who will stop this hate” kept flashing on the screen of a news channel, after a stone had damaged a church window. Such insinuations are unbearably unfair. Hindus (other Indian traditions included) are by far the most tolerant people on earth. There is no other country, where minority Christians, Jews and Muslims are as safe as in India. And yet there seems to be a coordinated effort by Indians and westerners, which is gleefully supported by the media, to paint Hindus as hateful of other religions. “Attacks on churches have a pattern” they shout, when there is no pattern. After a burglary of 8000 Rupees in a Christian school, Macauley’s children demanded a statement from the Prime Minister in spite of the fact that the principal of the school (a nun) and the police had stated that it was theft without any communal angle. When children threw a stone at a church, it made national news for hours, and will probably be eagerly included in international news reports that “incidents of attacks on churches are rising in India”. In contrast, attacks on temples are not considered newsworthy. In 2014, 206 temples and 3 churches were vandalized. If vandalism of a place of worship is expected to have been committed by culprits from another religion, then the number of attacks on churches should be a multiple of the attacks on temples, because Hindus are the great majority. How come that far more temples were vandalized? The point is that the anti-Hindu brigade is not interested in the truth. They want that attacks on churches are rising, at least in the perception of people the world over. They want that ‘Hinduism’ evokes disgust. What could be the reason? President Obama’s recent remarks may give a hint. At a prayer breakfast in the White House a few days after the Jordanian Air Force pilot was brutally burned alive by ISIS, he tried to give the impression that Islam, Christianity and Hinduism are all in the same boat. They all have committed unspeakable atrocities. “Even Gandhi would be shocked”, he said referring to India. Now this attempt to draw Hinduism in was blatantly dishonest. While Christianity and Islam indeed have a terrible historical record, Indian traditions do not. There were many different ways of worship in India yet all lived peacefully together – till the dogmatic religions, Islam and Christianity, arrived on the scene, and Hindus became their victims. Instead of trying to pull Hinduism down to the level of the dogmatic religions in the perception of others, it would be better to find out what makes dogmatic religions prone to violence and eliminate those aspects. One major aspect is the fact that the dogmatic religions mix up the path with the truth. They claim that only one path is true – their own – and all have to follow this one path, when in reality only one truth is true and paths are many. The Rishis declared “Truth is one; the sages call it by many names”. The problem with the dogmatic religions is, however, that they don’t enquire into what is really true. They think that truth is the opposite of a lie, and insist that the story they tell about God is true and not a lie. They never deeply reflected on what is really and absolutely true about us and the universe. Indian rishis did reflect and came up with deep insights Truth is the eternal, unchanging, infinite, conscious basis that upholds this ever changing universe. Names and forms are only fleeting and impermanent appearances on this basis which is among others described as Sat-Chit-Ananda. The Rishis claim that the goal of life is to discover this truth in us and they show many ways, depending on the tendencies of different persons – bhakti, jnana, karma, yoga, etc. The Hindu tradition is open-minded: If devotion to Krishna helps you, it is fine. If devotion to Jesus helps you, it is also fine. Will the dogmatic religions correct themselves? Will they agree that truth is one and different paths are possible? It seems so natural and would make such big positive change in the world. Yet it is not likely that those religions will give up the power that comes with “we alone have the truth” without being pressurized. They keep defending their flawed religion, and one major aspect of this defense is to malign Hindu Dharma. The reason may be that they are aware that if people knew the truth about Hindu Dharma, they would appreciate it as it makes far more sense than the dogmatic religions. Indians needs to ponder how to translate the potential of their tradition to help the world into reality. Mainstream media clearly sides with dogmatic religions and its influence is close to almighty. Yet those religions have serious drawbacks. Their followers are left stranded regarding the meaning of life. Depression is rampant in the Christian west and Muslim youth is horribly misguided to believe that killing unbelievers makes their lives meaningful and will fetch them a reward in afterlife. If Hindus and Buddhists join together and propagate India’s wisdom, their voice is more likely to be heard. At the same time, they need to expose absurd dogmas and forcefully demand at international forums that nobody can claim without any evidence that non–Christians (and non-Muslims respectively) will burn in hell for all eternity. If this is not hate speech, what is? If this is not against human rights, what is? Voltaire said: “Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” The belief in absurdities needs to be stopped. Then atrocities in the name of religion will stop automatically. Maria Wirth’s blog
Read More
Uncategorized

Hinduism And The Universe

Did we ever notice that only Hinduism mentions the universe? The reason is that only Hinduism knows about the vast dimensions and the huge timeframes of the universe of which our earth is just a speck. Ancient cultures like Maya, Inka, Sumeria, and others may also have reached out to the stars, but they were all destroyed either by Christianity or by Islam, and Bible or Quran were enforced as “the truth”. Only Hindus have still preserved this knowledge which in all likelihood originated in India itself. There are still millions of valuable ancient texts in India, even though millions of others were burnt by invaders on the premise that only one book is needed. In Greece in contrast, there are estimated to be only some 20,000 texts. Surya Sidhanta is a major text with incredible knowledge about the universe dated – hold your breath – at least 10,000 years ago. The ancient Indians knew that the earth is round or rather elliptical, that it goes around the sun, they knew the distance to the sun and moon; they knew that the distance is 108 times the respective diameter – the reason why sun and moon appear of the same size from the earth. Their knowledge was truly inspired or ‘God-given’. The Puranas (purana means old and according to tradition were composed by Veda Vyasa around 5000 years ago), which are often dismissed as mere myths, are also a treasure trove of knowledge. They talk among other things about the creation of the universe (the ‘Big Bang’ and ‘expanding universe’ theory were in all likelihood inspired by them) and about the periodic withdrawal after billions of years, about the original, unmanifested One Source and the gods in charge of creation, sustenance and dissolution, who evolved from the One Source. Clearly, the ancient Indians were at home in the universe. The Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana even claims that there are ‘myriads of universes’, a view which may now be taken more seriously by science after certain experiments in Antarctica had strange results. The timescales which the ancient Indians proposed are incredibly huge. Now compare this with the Abrahamic religions. Judaism, the parent religion, as it were, of Christianity and Islam claims that the earth is some 6000 years old. Christianity and Islam didn’t challenge this view. Both did not look beyond this earth and actually hold very primitive ideas about it. Christianity taught that the earth is flat and static and that the sun moves over it until 400 years ago. Giordano Bruno, an Italian philosopher, was burnt to death in 1600 CE because he refused to disown the theory that the earth goes around the sun. Imagine – he was brutally killed for stating the truth and only 400 years ago… Islam too considers the earth as flat and mountains were placed to stabilize it (Q19.15). Like Christianity, Islam also says that not the earth, but the sun moves, and runs to its resting place at night. There was clearly no idea about the vastness of the universe, as Q 67.5. says “We have decorated the heaven of this world with lamps and we made them as missiles for pelting the shaitans and thus prepared for them the scourge of flames.” So naturally, these religions don’t mention the universe, because they had no clue about it. It is truly unfortunate that they dumbed down the intelligence of the human race. They destroyed the natural urge to discover the truth about us and the universe. Only since Christianity lost its power to punish views which are not in tune with the teaching of the Church, science took off in the West. There is no doubt that the sudden tremendous progress of science in the recent few centuries was greatly inspired by Indian knowledge. Some western scientists themselves acknowledged this. Einstein said “We owe a lot to the Indians.” Famous scientists like Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Oppenheimer or Tesla studied India’s ancient wisdom. And Mark Twain opined: “Our most valuable and most constructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” Even in the 1970s and 80s, India’s wisdom had a rather good image, after the Beatles were inspired by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation. The contribution of India for example to Transpersonal Psychology was also acknowledged at that time, yet was meanwhile erased at least from Wikipedia. However, in our modern times, this has changed. Hindu Dharma and Hindus, especially Brahmins, who preserved the knowledge system over many millennia, are unfairly vilified and ridiculed by the mainstream religions. They are accused of ‘oppressing minorities’, of ‘rape culture’ and even of terrorism. It happens rarely that anything positive is said about the Hindu tradition, when it actually produces the most humane mind-set, as it is based on Dharma, which means to do what is right under the given circumstances. Are the institutionalized religions afraid that they lose their followers, if they come to know about the knowledge still stored up in India? Reprinted with permission from the author Maria Wirth Blog
Read More
Uncategorized

Indian History And The Great Lies

Like all things mundane in the modern era, Indian History too has fallen prey to the singularly desiccating influence of the binary Western lens. Add to that the Communist lens and the inescapable conclusion is that what is being taught to us as History for the longest time since independence is nothing but bunkum. Just witness this from the Supreme Court of India, 18th of September, 2019: When the Muslim side advocate wanted the judges to read a piece of excrescence called ‘Historian’s Report to the Nation on Rama Temple’. ‘This is not evidence, this is at the highest an opinion’. This is nothing but a polite way of saying that the history you want to cite is bunkum. This is pretty much the story of all Indian history written by the British, the Western and the Marxist historians between 1830 till today. What is the common thread among these three? One, a firm belief in the binary nature of Logic, and two, an equally firm belief in the linearity of Time. Any history produced from these standpoints is likely to be dismissive of history written from the higher levels of consciousness. For a detailed understanding of this statement, go through my series ‘All Religions Are Not The Same’. My books in the ‘Krishna Trilogy’, ‘Krishna Gopeshvara’ and ‘Krishna Yogeshvara’ also highlight this fundamental difference. India’s ancient historians were more concerned about the processes behind the events, rather than just the event. That is why epics and Puranas, commonly known as ‘Itihasa’ in the Indian tradition are complex narration’s of characters and their interplay with rta or the Cosmic Order, and Dharma, or the Universal Order. That is why the history is written like story-writing. Western and Marxist historians have no deeper understanding of the human nature, and do not even recognise the higher human consciousness or chitta. So the elementary difference in the history writing of the West and that if India is that the former is written at the level of intellect, and the latter is at the higher level of consciousness. This is exactly like how the the Abrahamic God(s) is at the level of intellect, whereas the Indian Brahman is at the level of consciousness or even beyond consciousness. The purported ‘Unified Field Theory’ cannot work in an Abrahamic paradigm. In addition to this fundamental limitation of understanding, there is the deliberate mischief by the West and the Marxists under the influence of he Church and the Communists. Indian thought is the single greatest threat to the narratives woven by these two groups. Hence the Lies. Hence the single minded focus on destruction of the classical Indian chronology. Let us now document some of the Great Lies floated by these groups. These are just a few in a series of articles. Aryan Invasion Theory;Vedas are post-Harappan;Ashoka became a Buddhist due to Kalinga war;Ramayana and Mahabharata are post-Buddhist Texts; and Rama and Krishna are myths;That Sanskrit has only spirituality, having no science or fine arts, Śulbha Sutras, Surya Siddhānta, Vaiśeśika Sutra, Nyaya Sutra, Charak and Suśruta Samhitas, advanced metallurgy (rust free iron pillar), advanced town planning, advanced mathematics including trigonometry and infinite series, Bharata Muni and Kālidasa are all imaginations, not to speak of the highest consciousness studies like Yoga and Samkhya;Arab invasions wiped out Indian kings;Missing accounts of the longest (Chola), the largest (Karakota), and the most prosperous (Vijayanagara) Empires of Bharatavarsha;Muslim rulers were benign lovers of art, massacres of Hindus did not happen, or were sometimes due to a conqueror’s zeal, notwithstanding what was written by Muslim historians themselves (oh, they probably exaggerated – how many have bothered to read Elliot and Dawson);Aurangzeb was a mild mannered Sufi;Mughals faded away because of a problem of revenue, and not because they were terrible Islamic bigots;Sufis promote a syncretic and peaceful culture;Indian Society is all about caste, but there was no social stratification anywhere else in the world;Tipu Sultan was a freedom fighter;British united India;India was born in 1947;India won its freedom due to non-violence;Nobody broke India’s temples. Babar was a tourist in Ayodhya, and Aurangzeb was merely practising new forms of warfare by using cannons to bring them down;J&K’s Instrument of Accession was inviolable;All Religions Are The Same;As of 2017: Hindutva is different from Hinduism, like Islam is different from Islamism. The best part of this type of history writing is that no evidence is required at all. Romila Thapar can write all her conclusions about AIT, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas without knowing Sanskrit; RS Sharma can give testimonies on behalf of Babri mosque petitioners without knowing a word of archaeology. Max Mueller can propound AIT without a shred of evidence, and Bishop Robert Caldwell and GU Pope can build a fantasy called Lemuria based on Max Mueller – all without having to adduce any evidence. Then Ph Ds can be written on this zero-evidence theory. Church can use its resources to build a toxic anti-Hindu Dravidianist movement. Finding that spiritually runs deep in the Tamil psyche, Church can build a fake St Thomas lore who brought Sanskrit with him and Thiruvallavur learnt at his feet. Can you counter this obvious to the naked eye nonsense using standard tools of scientific falsification? Do not be under any illusion! Scientific falsification will not be accepted by the Church or the Marxists. Names will be called, cases will be filed and dharnas and gheraos will be organised against patriarchal Brahmanistic reactionaries in Jadavpur and JNU. REMEMBER, George Orwell called the Ministry of Propaganda as the Ministry of Truth in his classic nineteen-eighty four. This kind of history is not history. It is just propaganda. Real history is obliterated, overwritten and swept under the carpet. Let us now start with the first listed instance. ARYAN INVASION THEORY: This theory has its origin in Church’s reaction to the Western romantics who were thrilled to discover an unbelievably advanced language in Sanskrit, and even more thrilled to find that Sanskrit was part of the same language family as most European languages. They felt honoured to find such distinguished roots and the ‘Out of India Theory’ or OIT was born. This was the leading discourse till the 1820s when Church began its push back. Max Mueller was employed by the East India Company, and AIT was born. AIT assumptions are rooted in the Biblical racist history. AIT was given an arbitrary date around 1500 BCE, first to protect the Biblical date of creation – 22/02/4004 BCE – and to destroy the Indian chronology as it had the effect of completely destroying the Biblical world view. This conspiracy called AIT has four legs, That there is a race called Aryan, a branch of the Biblical Japheth That this race invaded the Indian heartland That the invasion happened around 1500–1800 BCE That they brought Sanskrit with them Even if one leg is falsified, the whole theory crumbles to dust. Nobody ever proved this theory. Using archaeology, river morphology, literature, geology, astronomy and even linguistics and genetics, each of the four legs have been repeatedly falsified, but the Church and its adjuncts, including Islamists and Marxists refuse to accept it. I have announced an Award of ₹1 Cr to anyone who can prove AIT. I do not have a single claim yet. On the other side, there is a veritable flood of evidence to disprove a theory which was nothing but speculation at the best of times, yet the entrenched powers that be in the academia, the Church and the Islamists just ignore it and try and find pathways around it. It helps them to communalise the issue so that the government remains defensive and does not touch the curriculum built by them over decades of being in power. Reprinted with the permission of the author First published on Medium in September 2019
Read More
विचारशृंखला : सनातन हिंदू धर्म (भाग 6)
Uncategorized

On Hinduism (6)

Shiva, The Great God On the white summit of eternity A single Soul of bare infinities, Guarded he keeps by a fire-screen of peace His mystic loneliness of nude ecstasy. (From Sri Aurobindo’s poem, Shiva) Shiva, in Hindu dharma, is perhaps the most evocative of mystical and Yogic representations of the Supreme Consciousness. Shiva, in fact, is the Supreme Consciousness, the eternal existent, Sat, and the eternal consciousness, Chit, out of which this whole manifestation arises and into which it finally resolves.  Yogis regard Shiva as the absolute nothingness out of which all existence arises. Shiva, as Void, is the supracosmic womb of all being, the primordial seed of the universes; it is in Shiva that Shakti, as infinite potential for prakriti, rests; for Shiva is unmanifest, avyaktam, till Shakti awakens and moves, manifesting prakriti. Prakriti is all that is made manifest as Cosmos, world and self, what one could loosely call ‘creation’ or srishti. Shiva is the divine Darkness out of which Light, the progenitor of prakriti, is born. Shiva’s divine Darkness contains all Light, and therefore all creation, in potential. Shiva is like the blackhole, infinitely dense and packed with energy and matter but itself invisible as no light escapes the blackhole because of its infinite gravity. From the outside, if there could be any outside to Shiva, Shiva would appear void, empty, nothing. Yet within, in its own absolute interiority, Shiva is everything and everyone; all possibilities of existence teems within Shiva, all space and time lies coiled within him like an elemental serpent still to awake. Shiva holds in his absolute stillness the infinite expansion of universes, the waves upon waves of brahmagati . This darkness of Shiva is not absence but infinite concentration of light in pure consciousness which is the sthiti of Shiva as avyakta or unmanifest. To know Shiva as the divine Dark is to transcend the universe of ordinary light and duality; Shiva’s divine Dark is the formless non-duality that can only be known when the physical eyes are closed in nirvikalpa samadhi, the immutable, unmodified state of the Yogin, and the third, the occult eye, opens, the self-luminous eye that needs no external source of light: the eye of Shiva in which the seer and the seen, the subject and object, are one. Shiva is the dimensionless consciousness which holds within itself infinite dimensions of life and existence. It is in this timeless and fathomless trance of Shiva that the first divine spark of becoming is lit: that first divine desire to become the Many. Out of this desire arises Shakti, Shiva’s creative consciousness-force that tears Shiva’s singularity into the primordial duality of Ishvara and Ishvari. Thus, out of Shiva’s consciousness womb arises the Divine Mother, the infinite matrix of all manifestation, the source of all being and becoming. But through all this separation and disruption, Shiva and Shakti remain non-dual, one within the other in a supreme transcendental mystery: Shakti is Shiva manifest when Shiva opens his eyes and turns his gaze outward, and Shiva is Shakti held within in seed when Shiva closes his eyes and turns his gaze inward. The Yogin who possesses the truth-vision sees Shakti as Shiva in movement, and Shiva as Shakti coiled up in eternal quiescence.  As Shakti, the Eternal Feminine and the Divine Mother, Shiva becomes the universe, he does not merely project it out of his creative consciousness, he becomes it. Thus the Yogin knows that all that is manifest, all that exists, all that can be seen, known, felt and touched is Shiva himself as his Shakti; and even that which is conscious in himself as himself, that which he is in essence, in tattva, is Shiva. Shivoham therefore becomes the first and primary mantra of Yoga: I am Shiva. And as this mantra penetrates and fills the consciousness of the Yogin, all differences and dualities fall away and Shiva alone stands revealed as Self, world and Cosmos.  Yet, though Shiva permeates all existence, none can know Shiva, for Shiva himself is the knower and the seer of all, the witness of all that is. The supreme attainment of the Yogin is the realization of oneness with Shiva. Shiva is the perfect non-duality and so in him all dualities and divisions of the knower and the known dissolve. To know Shiva is not possible because there is no knower or knowledge outside of Shiva. Thus is Shiva known as Void, as nothingness: not because he is truly void but because he is beyond the reach of all dualistic human consciousness and all human faculties of knowledge. Like the blackhole, Shiva is invisible and inaccessible, and so shunya or void to our human consciousness. But it is this shunya of Shiva that is the background and substratum of all being, for when all is demolished in the timeless spirals of the universes, it is this void that remains, immutable and unfathomable; when all the light in which existence manifests is withdrawn or extinguished, all that remains is the divine Dark of Shiva.  To enter Shiva’s divine Dark is to enter the heart of the supreme mystery, for it is in that divine Dark that one knows oneself in the starkness of being, as the pure and the one — shivoham, shivoham. It is in the inmost cave of the mystic heart that one becomes Shiva in a supreme ecstasy of spiritual union, when Shakti, as Prakriti, the eternal feminine, returns to Shiva, the Supreme Purusha, and resolves herself in him. This is not some distant onetime supracosmic event but an intimate yogic experience that repeats itself endlessly, through all humanity, wherever and whenever a human soul realizes its oneness with Shiva and dissolves into his unfathomable vastness. Dissolution in Shiva is the highest nirvana, the utter liberation, purna moksha. Most Hindus regard Shiva as the destroyer, the God of pralaya or cosmic dissolution. But Shiva does not destroy, there is no necessity of destruction in the Divine’s scheme — Shiva dissolves and absorbs his own manifestation back within himself once the cosmic evolutionary afflatus is exhausted, much like a spider withdrawing its web back into itself; the many return to the One, multiplicity collapses back upon non-duality or singularity. In withdrawing existence back into himself, Shiva does not destroy, he transforms. Pralaya is a misunderstood idea: it is not the final destruction of the universe, it is the dissolution of the false universe and the false self in the Truth of Shiva. Thus the Yogin knows Shiva as the God of transformation and not destruction. In Shiva’s auspicious presence, death itself ceases to be an individual pralaya and turns into a spiritual metamorphosis for the realized Yogin. Shiva’s play of manifestation and withdrawal of manifestation, oneness and multiplicity, projection and dissolution, does not happen only over yugas or aeonic spans of time but through the individual human consciousness in human time. Transformation of consciousness is the natural outcome of all Yoga, and as the Adiyogi, the first, the archetypal Yogin, Shiva presides over all transformation of consciousness: it is Shiva that leads human evolution, through the ages and through human lifetimes. Shiva, therefore, is also known as Yogeshvara, the Lord of Yoga. The ancient sages who had known Shiva intimately in their consciousnesses had said that whosoever surrenders to Shiva sincerely and entirely is led by Shiva himself, the adiyogi and yogeshvara, to the supreme heights of self-realization in a single lifetime. Shiva’s compassion and generosity to whoever invokes him sincerely and persistently is legendary. Shiva is also known to mystics as Swayambhu, self-manifested. He manifests all existence out of himself but he himself has no source, no origin. This is a profound mystery. If existence itself arises in Shiva, Shiva must be beyond existence; and that which is beyond existence cannot exist. This that is beyond existence itself, the sages tell us, is the pure Existent, Sat. Sat, as pure Existent is the source and truth, tattva, of all existence — out of which all existence arises and flows. Therefore the pure Existent is self-manifest, arising out of itself, uncaused and timeless, a mystery beyond all dimensions of being and consciousness, shunya arising out of shunya because that which is not in causality is beyond materiality, a formlessness so incomprehensible that it appears to be nothingness, shunya. The Yogin learns to rest with such mysteries and not try solving them; the way to Shiva’s inmost mysteries is through profound passiveness and surrender where the mind and heart fall into deep silence and the gaze turns inward, for it is within that Shiva resides. To meditate on Shiva as Swayambhu is one of the most powerful ways of transcending the dualities of consciousness and entering the silence of the soul. As Ardhanarishvara, the God who is half woman, Shiva symbolizes deeper ontological non-duality: the perfect blend and balance of the creative force of Ishvara, seen as the masculine, and the sustaining and nurturing force of Ishvari, seen as the feminine. As the non-dual divine consciousness-force, Chit-Shakti, Shiva, as ardhanarishvara, represents the non-separability of the masculine and the feminine[1]. The masculine-feminine duality is the primary polarity of our human universe. To meditate on Shiva as ardhanarishvara is a powerful way of transcending this primary polarity of our existence and restoring the original dynamic equilibrium of meditation and action, chaos and order, evolution and assimilation, the outer push and the inner pull. Whoever transcends these primary polarities comes closer to the repose of a perfect identification with Shiva as the Formless, nirakara.  Worshipping Shiva, in the Sanatan tradition, is an act of consciousness, an inner consecration and offering of body, mind and heart, a constant invocation of his mystical and spiritual aspects through an elaborate system of external symbols and mantras. Shiva can be easily propitiated if one understands his deepest and perhaps best-kept secret, that he is the indweller, the one who is seated within; the one who searches for Shiva in the universe of form and name is sure to be confounded, and the one who can renounce form and name and invoke Shiva within is the one who will be granted the boon of higher consciousness. Thus many smear ash on their bodies, metaphorically or actually, renounce homes and families, become mendicants and ascetics, even practice harsh austerities but come no closer to Shiva’s inmost mysteries, for Shiva eludes them like the horizon. But those who understand that Shiva is the inwardness of being are the ones who unravel his mysteries in their hearts and souls. They are the ones who understand that Shiva’s asceticism is not physical but psychological; Shiva’s tapasya is the tapasya of Truth and purity. Shiva’s devotee must descend into the dark caves of the heart and there find the eternal Light. Shiva is commonly depicted as an ascetic with ashes of corpses smeared on his body. This is a stark symbol of Shiva, the adiyogi as a tapasvi. Tapasya, from the word tapa, heat, is the fire that burns delusion and ignorance. The form of the ascetic represents the inner detachment of the tapasvi who lives in the mortal world, amongst all its attractions and distractions, but constantly aware of its impermanence; the ash (vibhuti or bhasma) of corpses (shava in Sanskrit) symbolize impermanence, death and dissolution — ash being the final residue of the mortal body. Thus, holding always in one’s mind and heart, in constant inner remembrance, the ascetic smeared in the ashes of corpses, the Yogin can rapidly transcend her identification with the body and the material world and attain to the detachment and freedom of Shiva in her own consciousness. The archetypal yogin and tapasvi, Adiyogi Shiva, is also the Mahadeva who is known as Neelkantha, the God with the blue neck, the blue symbolizing the effect of the poison that Shiva takes within his own body as an act of supreme compassion, to protect the universe from the effects of evil. The symbol goes back to primordial times when the ocean of existence is being churned in a great battle between the Devas and the Asuras. This great churning, mahamanthan, releases destructive toxins in the atmosphere that threatens to destroy all life. Shiva, out of his divine compassion, to save and protect existence, drinks the poison, but the Divine Shakti that eternally dwells in Shiva stops the poison from entering the body and the poison remains in Shiva’s throat, turning his neck blue. This is profound and powerful symbolism: the churning is the eternal evolutionary process in the human universe that releases forces of good and evil, forces that strengthen evolution of consciousness and forces that oppose it. Shiva takes in the poison that symbolizes the evil or anti-evolutionary forces and holds it in his throat: he does not consume it nor does he expel it, he instead holds it in abeyance and transforms its effect to permanent good. Meditating on this aspect of Shiva, invoking him as Neelkantha, the Yogin can transcend the duality of good and evil, of devas and asuras, and collaborate in this timeless cosmic battle to transform all forces of evil and destruction to the ultimate good of life in the universe. This indeed is the ultimate aim of the Mahadeva: to transform everything, every form and force in Cosmos, to ultimate Good.  Shiva is also depicted with his hair coiled in matted locks and adorned with the crescent moon. This further adds to the rich tapestry of symbology woven around Shiva. According to mythology, Shiva stopped the descent of the Ganga from the heavens and broke her fall on earth by absorbing Ganga in his hair and reducing her torrent to a trickle. There is obvious Yogic symbolism in this: Ganga is not the river but the symbol of a higher consciousness descending to a fragile earth plane in a torrent that would have flooded the earth. The matted hair symbolizes the higher crown or chakra that alone could contain the descent without cracking. Releasing the flow of Ganga in trickles is symbolic of how the Yogi, in complete control of Prakriti, releases the higher consciousness, chakra by chakra, into the mind, heart and body. Meditating on this aspect, the devotee can open her own mind, heart and body to the descent of the higher consciousness through Shiva.  Shiva is also known as Trayambakam, the three-eyed (traya, three) God. The two eyes of Shiva represent the ordinary dualistic perception, the sense-universe, the right eye representing the sun or the solar influence, the left eye representing the moon, or the lunar influence; the third eye, which opens when the other two close, represents fire, agni, which is the Yogic or spiritual vision, direct perception of Truth which ‘burns away’ all dualities. This third eye, when open, brings the direct perception by destroying the mind’s powerful identification with duality. This is the reason it is said that the third eye can destroy when focused on the outer world: what it destroys is the delusion of duality. By meditating on this aspect, the devotee can ascend to the non-dual direct perception of Shiva.  The crescent moon that Shiva bears on his head symbolizes time and the measure of time; in the Vedantic sense, the measurement of time, or any measurement, is an attribute of Maya. In wearing the crescent moon on his head, Shiva represents complete control over time and the Maya of time. Shiva is eternal, beyond time, and thus he wears the crescent moon as symbol of time itself as ornament which can be taken off at will. The serpent around Shiva’s neck, Vasuki of mythology, represents the vital force of the ego and the deep-seated fear of death. Ego and the fear of death are deeply related, intertwined. The serpent around Shiva’s neck symbolizes complete victory over both, ego and fear of death. Shiva wears the serpent as an ornament which is itself symbolic of mastery. Some devotees regard the serpent as symbolic of the eternal cycles of time, kala. By wearing it thrice around his neck, Shiva represents complete control of kala, time. Time represents mortality. So control of kala is control of mortality. In a deeper sense, ego, time and mortality, and the fear of death are all entwined. By meditating on this aspect of Shiva, by bearing Shiva’s representative form in the consciousness, the Yogin can transcend ego and conquer all fear of mortality and death. Remember that the mrityunjaya mantra, the occult key to conquering the forces of death and decay, was given as beej or seed mantra by Shiva.  The trishula or trident that Shiva carries as a weapon represents the triune reality of Shiva as the one who manifests the universe out of himself, preserves it in his consciousness and finally absorbs it back into himself. To some Yogis, the trishula represents the perfect equilibrium of the three Gunas of nature — sattva, rajas and tamas. Through sattva, Shiva manifests Cosmos, through rajas, he sustains or preserves Cosmos and through tamas, he reabsorbs Cosmos into his divine Darkness. Some others regard the trishula as the triune powers or faculties of the human consciousness: Volition, ichha, knowledge, jnana, and action, kriya. With this triune power in hand, anything in the world may be accomplished. Meditating on this aspect of Shiva, concentrating on Shiva with this trishula, the Yogi can master the three gunas in her own nature, master the powers of her consciousness and work towards accomplising the highest good, even as Shiva himself.   Shiva also carries the damaru, a drum, in one of his hands in a symbolic gesture or mudra called damaru-hasta. This is yet another profound mystic symbol. The damaru or the drum represents the Shabda Brahman or the primordial sound of Aum. When the damaru is played with the right concentration and in the right inner state, it produces the sound of Om, rising to Nada, the primeval cosmic vibration of A-U-M. The Yogin meditating on Shiva with the damaru can enter that consciousness-space where she can merge her being with the Nada and bring something of that divine vibration into her own psychic being. One of the most prevalent symbols associated with Shiva is the Linga. With the linga, the devotee comes to the purest and most powerful of all symbols of sanatan Hindu dharma. The linga is the symbol of the Infinite, Formless Shiva. It is also the most ancient of symbols, going back to times when the now accepted representations of Shiva in image or idol did not exist. The word linga itself means symbol or mark. Swami Vivekananda once described the linga as the symbol of the eternal Brahman.  In certain mythological references, we find that Shiva’s abode, Mount Kailash, which is itself a symbol of the highest consciousness transcending Cosmos, is represented by the linga as the centre of the universe, the central axis around which the Cosmos revolves.  The linga is not just a block of stone but a mark of the great avyaktam, the Unmanifest, and simultaneously, it is the most profound mark of the vyakta, the manifestation; a symbol of the perfect equilibrium of the masculine and feminine, of the visible and the invisible. It stands silent, lone, absolute, evoking in the devotee a silence beyond all descriptions of thought and speech. One who meditates on the linga, understanding its profound Yogic and occult significance, can transcend all duality of manifestation and taste the rarest bliss of the Unmanifest in the Manifest. Through concentration on the linga, one can merge one’s consciousness in that pillar of Shiva’s pure light, the jyotir-linga. The legend goes that Shiva once appeared as a pillar of Light, jyotir-linga, to Brahma and Vishnu, the other two mahadevas of sanatan Hindu dharma, and asked them to find the extreme ends of the pillar. Neither of the great Gods could find the end — and how could they? Infinity has no dimension, no end.  Shiva’s linga is the symbol of the unknowable in the known, the unmanifest in the manifest. To meditate on the linga is to meditate directly on the supreme mystery of Shiva.  However, even after all these descriptions and interpretations, one is aware that one has only scratched the surface of a fathomless mystery. Shiva cannot be known, understood or explained by the human mind, however vast be the knowledge or profound the understanding of the mind. Our attempts to describe Shiva are like a child’s attempts to describe deep space. The deeper one delves, the more one realizes the vastness and profundity of Shiva’s mystery: Shiva is neither God nor Person. Shiva never was, never will be. He is and he is not. All forms are his but he is formless. He is nearer than the nearest, more intimate than our own breath, yet he is everywhere and everything. Where indeed to find such a one? For Shiva is dark and void to those who look for him outwardly, in forms and symbols; for those who can penetrate the symbolism of the symbols and the formlessness of forms, he reveals a bit of himself, just the first glimpses, to lead the soul farther and deeper. But to those who are willing to give themselves inwardly to him, as moth to flame, knowing that he is all there is, he gives of himself, freely and with overwhelming generosity. Shiva’s Grace is the Grace of the Divine Mother. To invoke him is to invoke her. He is the one ever-present, indwelling and luminous in our consciousnesses, as Ishvara and Ishvari. Om Namah Shivaya, Salutations to Shiva, the Luminous One Read in Hindi 1Perhaps the first appearance of the Ardhanarishvara was in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad as the archetypal creature which was of the same dimension as a man and woman closely embracing, which then fell apart into two aspects out of which were born man and woman.
Read More
Uncategorized

The Chinese Crisis & The Dharmic Perspective

The Chinese threat to India is far from over. Though China and India have now agreed on a gradual and verifiable disengagement along the LAC, the Chinese have not relinquished their claim on Indian territory and possibilities of continued transgressions remain as real. The immediate crisis may come to rest over the next few weeks, but that shouldn’t push us into complacence. This was not the first Chinese transgression and this will certainly not be the last. China does not think short term: all its designs and policies are long term, and it goes about their execution with guarded stealth and cunning.  Communist China has one clearly defined agenda: cultural and economic domination of the world, a new world order of which China would be the hub. Interestingly, the idea of world domination was first conceived by China in the period of the Eastern Zhou Empire (770-256 BC). There is a long history behind the Chinese agenda.  Way back in 1918, Sri Aurobindo wrote in one of his books: In Asia a more perilous situation has arisen, standing sharply across the way to any possibility of a continental unity of the peoples of this part of the world, in the emergence of Communist China. This creates a gigantic bloc which could easily englobe the whole or Northern Asia in a combination between two enormous Communist Powers, Russia and China, and would overshadow with a threat of absorption South-Western Asia and Tibet and might be pushed to overrun all up to the whole frontier of India, menacing her security and that of Western Asia with the possibility of an invasion and an overruning and subjection by penetration or even by overwhelming military force to an unwanted ideology, political and social institutions and dominance of this militant mass of Communism whose push might easily prove irresistible. Note that this was written in 1918. Since then, Russian communism has collapsed, Tibet has been annexed and its native culture almost completely eradicated, Chinese communism has grown stronger, all opposition to the Communist hegemony, domestic or international, have been dismissed, disregarded or brutally crushed, and Chinese aggression, military and economic, has grown steadily and surely, as evident in the South China Sea, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Nepal. China’s latest adventurism with India in Ladakh is part of a grand design that seems to be unfolding with increasing boldness.  In 1950, when Mao Zedong invaded Tibet, Sri Aurobindo, once again made this prophetic observation: The basic significance of Mao’s Tibetan adventure is to advance China’s frontiers right down to India and stands poised there to strike at the right moment and with the right strategy.. we must burn it into our minds that the primary motive of Mao’s attack on Tibet is to threaten India as soon as possible.  The Chinese annexation of Tibet, in itself, was a loud and clear indication to the world about Chinese attitude and intention, but went largely unheeded by most world governments, including, unfortunately, India. That was the beginning of the dharmic degeneration of India’s politics. India represents and embodies dharma. Satyameva jayate — Truth alone triumphs —  is India’s national motto. India, more than any other nation in the world, should have stood for Tibetan autonomy. Tibet too, before the Chinese invasion, was a free nation that represented and embodied Buddha dharma, being the hub of Tibetan Buddhism — a branch of Vajrayana Buddhism that evolved from the 7th century CE in Tibet. Since the identity and consciousness of the Tibetan nation is inseparable from the Buddha dharma, the attack on Tibet was directly an attack on dharma, their way of life, their faith, practices and language.  This is a passage from the Tibetan website, Free Tibet (): Prior to China’s invasion in 1950, Tibet maintained a unique culture, religion and language for centuries. Today, this culture is under threat from mass Chinese immigration and the strict control of all expressions of Tibetan culture and national identity. China boasts of huge investment in Tibet but its economic development is primarily intended to cement its hold on Tibet and enhance its ability to exploit Tibet’s natural resources. Economic development has improved conditions for some Tibetans but overwhelmingly it favors Chinese migrants, continuing to disadvantage Tibetans economically.  The Dalai Lama himself wrote in 2008: Although many positive developments have taken place in Tibet under the PRC’s rule, these developments, as the previous Panchen Lama pointed out in January 1989, were overshadowed by immense suffering and extensive destruction. Tibetans were compelled to live in a state of constant fear, while the Chinese government remained suspicious of them. However, instead of cultivating enmity towards the Chinese leaders responsible for the ruthless suppression of the Tibetan people, I prayed for them to become friends, which I expressed in the following lines in a prayer I composed in 1960, a year after I arrived in India: “May they attain the wisdom eye discerning right and wrong, and may they abide in the glory of friendship and love.” The ironic tragedy was that Nehru, our Prime Minister then, did not resist the invasion when he could have. He acquiesced, perhaps unwittingly, to the Chinese design in Tibet, which then led to the “immense suffering and extreme destruction” that the Dalai Lama writes about.  Now it seems that the time has come for the books to be balanced: for dharma to be restored — the post Covid geopolitical situation, the shifting political alignments and the persistent Chinese bullying have set the stage for the right action: recognize the Tibetan government in exile, allow the Dalai Lama to address the world from an India backed political platform and resolutely give up all diffidence in foreign policy matters with regard to China. Confront China with a will deeper than theirs, a will to do good, arising out of dharma, and not out of aggressive realpolitik. This should be India’s first step towards reclaiming lost dharmic ground. The past should no longer matter: what should matter now is what the present government, with its understanding of Indian dharma, must do. Tibet and India are dharmically aligned, and dharmic alliances go far deeper than any economic or political alliances of the world.  As Indians, whether politically active or not, we must remember at all times that we are the sole representatives of an unbroken eight thousand year old civilization that has withstood continuous Islamic invasions since the 12th Century, and a hostile British rule for over 180 years (if we start our count from 1764, the year the British defeated the Mughal Emperor to become rulers of Bengal). Though the Islamic invaders tried their level best to destroy the Vedic Sanatan civilization in India, the Sanatan civilization survived, and in some ways, even thrived, found new strength and vigor. The Britishers then tried their best to replace, often overtly, the Sanatan civilization with their version of a “superior” anglicized civilization based on Christian values and education but, instead, served to catalyze an intellectual and spiritual  renaissance of Hindu thought and culture. For us, dharma is not philosophy but a way of life, and compromising dharma for political or economic expediency is simply not an option. As Sri Aurobindo declared, if the dharma declines, the nation declines.  Yet, this is precisely what we, as a free nation and society, have consistently allowed over the last seventy years — a denial of India’s swadharma and a steady erosion of her political values and integrity leading to a systemic descent into moral bankruptcy and political corruption.  However, all is not lost. Dharmic thinking in India is once again beginning to gain lost ground, the post-Independence national narrative, dominated by the Leftist-liberal brigade, is being increasingly and openly challenged and an increasing number of mainstream intellectuals are beginning to speak up against some of the most deeply entrenched social prejudices and assumptions. These are good tidings. But we still have a long way to go. These are but tentative shifts, somewhat hesitant beginnings — we cannot yet relax, and the battle to recover our dharma must continue unabated.  The Chinese challenge must be understood in its wider dharmic context and that awareness spread across the country. Let us not allow ourselves to forget that the Chinese can destroy what the Islamic and the British forces together could not. The Chinese will not stop at economic conquest, their objective is ultimate eradication of religions and spiritual cultures. Not just Indic dharma, all religions and traditions are in danger — the Christian as much as the Islamic. They have been systematically destroying the Tibetan Buddhist culture and the Tibetan language in Tibet. They now want the next Dalai Lama to be Chinese, and installed by the Communist regime. If that were to happen (and it’s a matter of time before it does), and as before, the free world were to acquiesce, it would be a singular body blow to Tibetan Buddha dharma. So much so, it has compelled the Dalai Lama to openly declare that the tradition of the Dalai Lama may no longer be needed. Cultural genocide is embedded in the Communist DNA, and if we disregard this for whatever reason, we will do so at our own peril.  The Mother of Pondicherry Ashram once spoke clearly about the Chinese invading India, perhaps seeing some strong possibility in the occult planes: But already quite some time ago I saw China invading India, even South India. And that’s the worst of catastrophes.. One can expect anything from them — every possible horror. To be under Chinese domination…it’s better to die first. … I’ve seen them — all, everywhere … horrible!. Which is the end of everything. I mean, it will probably take centuries before things can return to normalcy[1]. The possibility of a Chinese invasion is not as far-fetched as it may seem. We do not yet have global political alliances based on moral grounds, on adherence to the true and the right. Most world leaders still think in terms of political and economic expediency. We haven’t even started thinking in the direction of moral alliances. If a superpower and a bully does invade, the likelihood of other governments standing up for the right and the just is very low. Most governments that are secular are morally deficient, and those that are not secular are sectarian with divisive and supremacist ideologies. So either way, in case of an invasion, all bets are off.  Also let us bear in mind that future invasions may or may not be militaristic. Invasions of the future will be more and more cultural and economic. A military occupation of Indian territories by the Chinese may eventually happen, but what is already happening is a multi-pronged intrusion into India’s psychological space through increasing technological and financial dominance on the one hand and cunning geopolitical maneuverings on the other — China already surrounds India through its various maneuverings in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal. For furthering its designs in the Indian subcontinent, it now needs control in the North-east of India, therefore its posturing in Ladakh.  In a recent article[2], the author and award-winning TV producer, Iqbal Chand Malhotra observes: Chinese strategy is to first ‘warn’, then ‘threaten’, then ‘intimidate’, then ‘attack’ and finally ‘dominate’ the enemy. The warning was issued last year in October 2019 at Mamallapuram by Xi Jinping when he told Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speedily resolve the Jammu and Kashmir issue trilaterally among India, Pakistan and China. Modi ignored the warning. The threat was issued when the PLA started crossing the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in large numbers in early April this year. The Indian bureaucracy found false comfort in dubious Russian reassurances that it was merely a PLA military exercise and things would soon go back to normal. The next step was the intimidation at Patrol Point 14 on the Galwan Heights on the night of Monday, June 15th when the PLA executed a pre-meditated attack on an unsuspecting Indian patrol out to verify the withdrawal of the PLA back to its base several kilometres behind the LAC. So far, official figures place 20 Indian soldiers brutally killed by Chinese treachery. It is my assessment that the fourth stage of the five-point Chinese strategy, which is the attack, will occur anytime between June 30th and September 30th if India does not agree to trilateral talks. In the eventuality of an invasion, it is India’s civilization and spiritual culture, her dharma, that will be directly threatened. Technological, economic and political domination for the Chinese are only various means to a greater and more universal end which is unquestioned Chinese hegemony. Reflect further on the fact that all this is gathering momentum in the backdrop of increasing communal tensions in India. The socio-political situation is doubtlessly polarized. The opposition parties are more interested in politics than in policies and parliamentary politics. The leftist forces in India are openly aligned with the Chinese on the one hand and the Islamists on the other. The so-called liberal intellectuals either side openly with the leftists or, where they do not, choose to sit on the fence refusing to take a stand.  We cannot afford an invasion — political, economic or cultural. The opportunity for India to regain her dharmic Light and strength is now, the opportunity for India to assume her destined role as the world’s spiritual leader, jagat-guru, is now. If we lose this opportunity, it may set us back by centuries, as the Mother warns.  We must take a stand now, a collective stand. We must choose dharma consciously and commit our consciousnesses, energies and resources to its resurgence.  A few critical first steps need to be taken across India, a plan of action that must go viral.  First of all, economic resistance, boycott of Chinese products, Chinese software, Chinese capital. This movement seems already to be gaining momentum across the country. This may not seriously dent the Chinese economy but it will make a profound psychological impact. What is needed at the moment is psychological impact, a sense of coming together for a common purpose on a common platform. Unity, solidarity will be our first weapon in this battle.  Second, a united economic build up towards atmanirbhar Bharat. If each of us can consciously contribute to self reliance, even at the cost of personal inconvenience, the nation will go a long way. Buy Indian, Use Indian should transcend the level of sloganeering and become a mantra for action.   Third, a dharmic stand. There is no power on earth that can resist a collective dharmic stand. Our dharma is under threat and each of us must step forward, take up an inner stand for dharma, protect and strengthen the dharma by ourselves becoming living exemplars of it. We must shun all intellectual and vital weakness and moral hypocrisy; weaklings, cowards and hypocrites cannot stand for dharma — they will be the first to fall. Fourth, internal unity. As Indians first and foremost, we must unite, abandon our ideological and political differences, and stand collectively for the nation and for dharma. We must have conscious goodwill for all. Goodwill and harmony are spiritual forces more powerful than martial and economic forces.  Recommended Read   1 The Mother’s Agenda, Vol 12 2 The Article: The Chinese Endgame
Read More
Quiet Conversions: Returning To Hinduism
Uncategorized

Quiet Conversions: Returning To Hinduism

The Sanatani is an open system. That does not mean it is a one-way stream, with people leaving the Hindu fold … It means those who left can also return. Whenever they like.  Is Hinduism locked in an existential struggle against Abrahamic faiths, especially Islam and Christianity? Not necessarily. As I have argued in my earlier writings, particularly Altered Destinations: Self, Society, and Nation in India (London, 2010) and Making India: Colonialism, National Culture, and the Afterlife of Indian English Authority (Dordrecht, 2013), the Sanatani and the non-Sanatani can coexist without conflict. That is because the Sanatani, with its inclusive and open-ended belief systems, has the capacity both to absorb and allow radical differences. Also, and this is something we tend to forget, non-Sanatani systems, religious or secular, also have Sanatani elements of pluralism, non-exclusion, and acceptance of difference. The real problem occurs when the non-Sanatani becomes anti-Sanatani. This can be true of theologically justified armed invasion and occupation as applicable to much of the Islamic conquest of India. Or, on a smaller scale, of the Portuguese assault and inquisition in Cochin and Goa, and the early French rule in Puducherry, where religious aggression accompanied imperialistic conquest. The British ruled differently, using a Macaulay-inspired educational, intellectual and cultural rebooting of India that, unfortunately, turned out to be anti-Sanatani in many of its features. Marxism and modernity, too, obviously non-Sanatani, can also be very viciously and virulently anti-Sanatani. Likewise, Dravidianist and Ambedkarite extremism, with their reverse racism, targeted hate campaigns and divisive politics, may also be included in the roster of anti-Sanatani movements. In more recent times, a combination of these forces have resulted in a rather powerful anti-India or, as some go to the extent of arguing, breaking-India narrative. What, then, would be the fitting response from the Sanatani side to such threats? The answer, rather obvious to those who have studied the Sanatana traditions, would be a principled and carefully executed combination of defence and offence. The defence, like a shield, protects us when we are most vulnerable; the sword thrusts, rather than slashes, where the adversary is at its weakest. But in the process, when the Sanatani dons the fierce mask that almost resembles its opposite, it must never lose its Sanatani essence, which remains plural, non-exclusive, open-ended. The Sanatani, after all, is exceptional precisely because it has no one point of origin, no one book or prophet, no one doctrine or ideology, no one church or belief system. Without origin or closure, the Sanatani permits a great variety of both precepts and practices with some fundamental underlying structures. In its fight against the anti-Sanatani, if the Sanatani becomes indistinguishable from its opponent, it would lose its self. Worse, the loss of the Sanatani, bad enough for itself, would also be catastrophic for the world. Whatever the symbol or deity of our battle against our adversaries, the more benign and sober form of it as well as ourselves must remain the normal and default mode. After all, a deity which is angry all the time, even the new and rather popular graphic of “angry Hanuman,” will eventually turn on its own followers, having run out of enemies. Anger directed outward at real or imagined foes will come back to consume us too if we do not know the art of stilling it. Hence, all our rituals and ceremonies end with Shanti Mantras. Energies invoked for specific purposes must also be stilled and quietened for cosmic balance and harmony to be restored. It is in this light that we must view the “ghar wapasi” of nearly 300 so-called Muslims of Haryana to Hinduism in two recent instances. The earlier one occurred on April 18, when six families with some 35 members returned to Hinduism in Danoda Kalan, a village in the district of Jind in Haryana. The more recent incidence was on May 8 in which 40 families consisting of some 250 people returned to Hinduism. In both instances, the trigger was the last rites of a deceased elder. By opting for cremation over burial, the reconverted returned to their Hindu identity. Earlier, I used “so-called Muslim” to describe these families because they lived like Hindus, for most part retaining Hindu customs and names, but were listed as Muslims. According to their own traditions and legends, they were converted to Islam during the times of Aurangzeb. One reason for their return, it was reported, is that they belong to the Dom community, recognised as a scheduled caste, and thus eligible for benefits if they identified as Hindus rather than Muslims. It is very important to underline that what these two cases illustrate is the basic and brutal fact that most Indian Muslims were once Hindus or people of indigenous faith practices. The road to their return to the Hindu fold should not only be wide open but underwritten with security, dignity, acceptance and love. Without the first two, all “ghar wapasi” efforts will be futile. Once it is established that the return to Hinduism is as per the law, that is without fear or inducement, then both government and non-government agencies should ensure that such returnees are not harassed or hounded by the former co-religionists. After all, in several non-Sanatani religions, the price for apostasy is very high, as high, in fact, as death itself. The Sanatani, as I said earlier, is an open system. That does not mean that it is a one-way stream, with people leaving the Hindu fold to become Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Marxist or even secularist. It means that those who left can also return. Whenever they like. It is up to us, as modern Hindus, to make their return both meaningful and sustainable. We must create the felicity conditions for their welcome and integration into Hindu society. In this regard, it is a gross misunderstanding to claim that Hinduism is non-proselytising, though of course the word has a totally different connotation for us. The fact is that most of Vaishnavism, right up to the worldwide success of ISKCON, is based on attracting converts. There is no reason that should change now. If at all, Hinduism today should be made even more appealing to both returning and new converts. <!–Reprinted with permission of the author Original Article –>   Reprinted with permission of the author Original article
Read More
Uncategorized

On Hinduism (5)

The Symbol & the Symbolized  If Brahman, the Divine, saturates this whole Cosmos, sarvam brahmamayam jagat, then what of the objects within the Cosmos? What of the infinite life forms that populate the Cosmos? Hindu darshan categorically, through its several mahavakyas, states that Brahman pervades this universe from the subtlest to the grossest, from the atomic to the galactic, from the single cell to the body of mammoths, from the first quivers of nervous energy in matter to the cosmic consciousness of the maharishi — all is Brahman, there is no other, neha nanasti kinchan. Therefore, to the Hindu who understands, there is nothing in the whole universe that is not the Divine, not God. Every object and every living being in the universe is sacred, the whole of existence is Divine and the entire universe is the temple of the Divine, and life itself the offering and the sacrifice to the Divine. This is indeed the high and vast truth that the forefathers of Sanatan Hindu dharma brought to earth, not for a particular sect or society but for all humankind. As our Vedic forefathers declared millennia ago: as long as men shall live, so shall the Dharma; for verily, the Dharma is the eternal guide and protector. For the Hindu who understands the deeper truths of her own dharma, there is no necessity for a separate religion — for her life itself is religion, life itself is dharma. The living of life in the spirit of consecration and sacrifice is indeed the highest good: this is the Vedic secret that is brought so perfectly to fruition in the Bhagavad Gita through the idea of all life and works being a constant sacrifice, Yajna, to the Supreme Self, Purushottam.   Life as sacrifice to the Supreme Self is the key idea of Sanatan dharma.  What is the Self? This is perhaps the one idea of the Upanishads that causes most confusion to the uninitiated, for the self in English denotes a psychological entity, (myself, yourself etc.), always associated with a person or a personality. But the Self of the Upanishads, the atman, has nothing to do with personality, it does not represent a particular entity; it is impersonal, universal, eternal.  Sanatan dharma does not hold a supreme God amongst other gods as the ultimate; the ultimate and supreme Truth, param Satyam, of sanatan Hindu dharma is being itself. This being itself is known as Brahman or Sat, pure undifferentiated being whose original status is unmanifest, avyakta. Brahman, as pure undifferentiated being, then differentiates and manifests, becomes vyakta, as existence or astitva. The Self, or atman, is the consciousness that knows Brahman, the Divine being, as astitva, existence. Therefore, for the Self, all existence is divine, all is Brahman. For the mind however, which is but a portion of the Self, existence is broken up into myriad forms and attributes and does not appear as the one Brahman. Thus it remains bewildered by appearances of multiplicity till it awakens to the Self within.  Astitva is like a boundless ocean in which we all have our individual existences, and nothing literally exists or can exist outside of this ocean, for anything outside of existence would be non-existent. This boundless ocean of astitva is all Brahman just as an earthly ocean is all water; and just as a fish in the earthly ocean may not know the whole ocean or the water at all, the human immersed in the astitva-ocean may not know Brahman at all. Yet, Brahman, being astitva itself, is manifest in all objects, forms and forces. One does not need to look for Brahman anywhere: Brahman is all there is. Looking for Brahman would be like the fish in the ocean looking for water.  Grasping this truth of the mahavakya that all is Brahman, and Brahman is this astitva, it is possible to realize oneself as astitva, and astitva itself as Brahman. In fact, to know and realize all existence or being as Self is the summum bonum of Hindu sanatan dharma — aham brahmasmi, I, as Self, am Brahman, the Divine. But realizing Self as Brahman is the first of a threefold realization: having realized Self as Brahman, one realizes all selves, all beings, as Brahman, for if Self is Brahman in one being, then it follows that everything and everyone that possesses Self is equally Brahman; and that the Self is the same in everything and everyone, it is one but manifests multiply in infinite forms and variations.  Therefore, the Hindu who knows and understands the truth of his dharma, regards all forms and forces and movements, sarvarupa-sarvagati, as the One Divine, the One Brahman, and bows in reverence to all, big or small, significant or insignificant, high or low. To the Hindu who understands, this whole Cosmos, in all its myriad forms and movements, is the Divine and nothing and none is excluded, from the microbe and virus to the bird and beast, from the primitive savage to the human, from the first self-awakened human to the great gods and goddesses, all are equally manifestations of the One Self.  This profound mystical realization is the practical basis of Hindu sanatan religion — either all is the Divine or none; the Hindu regards even the asuras and rakshasas, those opposed to Light and Truth, as forms, however seemingly distorted, of the Self. For the sanatan Hindu, there is no such thing as implacable evil, no such thing as irredeemable hostility to the Divine, no such thing as original sin. In fact, even the Vedantic concept of sin is impurity of consciousness — duality is the only impurity, say the sages of old: where one sees the other, hears the other, knows the other, is impurity; where one sees the Self, hears the Self, knows the Self, is purity.  The true knower of the Hindu sanatan dharma does not, therefore, regard even images and idols as lifeless objects — each idol, each totem, is representative of an aspect of the infinite formless Brahman. Brahman, though saturating and informing the entire universe, itself is formless and can only be apprehended, however approximately, in living forms or forms created by the living. Thus the Sanatani Hindu regards all forms as sacred representatives of the One Divine. When the Hindu devotee erects an idol of a god or goddess, she first infuses life-force into it, as prescribed by tradition, before the image or the idol assumes ‘divinity’ and can be worshipped. This infusion of life force, through an occult Yogic process, is known as prana-pratistha, literally, establishing the life-force. Once this is done, the idol or the image assumes an aspect of divinity and becomes like a live wire connecting the aspiring human consciousness to the Divine, or to that aspect of the Divine that the external form represents. Those spiritually or intuitively open can sense and feel the divine presence in these forms.  The Mother says, all this (idol worship) is based on the old idea that whatever the image – which we disdainfully call an ‘idol’ – whatever the external form of the deity may be, the presence of the thing represented is always there. And there is always someone – whether priest or initiate, sadhu or sannyasi – someone who has the power and (usually this is the priest’s work) who draws the Force and the Presence down into it. And it’s true, it’s quite real – the Force and the Presence are THERE; and this (not the form in wood or stone or metal) is what is worshipped: this Presence. The presence of the Divine, invoked or latent, in all forms, then, is the key. If the presence can imbue even one form anywhere on earth, it can imbue all forms. Thus, whether a block of stone or granite or an entire mountain, a carved wooden statue or tree, a lake or river, sun or moon, a photograph or an object of daily use, in everything one can sense the divine presence and force if one is open in heart and spirit. The animating force is not in the object of adoration but in the consciousness of the one who adores.  Sri Aurobindo once visited a temple in Karnali, on the banks of the Narmada, near the end of his stay in Baroda (1904–06). At that time, he was quite an atheist. As he shared in one of his evening talks: Once I visited Ganganath (Chandod) after Brahmananda’s death when Keshwananda was there. With my Europeanized mind I had no faith in image-worship and I hardly believed in the presence of God. I went to Kernali where there are several temples. There is one of Kali and when I looked at the image I saw the living presence there. For the first time, I believed in the presence of God. Regarding the same experience, he wrote to Dilip Roy: … you stand before a temple of Kali beside a sacred river and see what? A sculpture, a gracious piece of architecture, but in a moment mysteriously, unexpectedly there is instead a Presence, a Power, a Face that looks into yours, an inner sight in you has regarded the World-Mother. The presence of the Divine can be felt and touched anywhere, in a piece of stone or a single leaf, if the consciousness is open, wide and receptive. The modern intellectual mind does not grasp this, not half as well as the savage mind instinctively used to, because it lives in concrete structures of thoughts and prejudices. Most regard idol worship as superstitious and primitive, unmindful of the fact that almost all modern day consumerist society is engaged,  in one way or another, with idol worship  and idolatry. Almost all of our movie industry, fashion, advertising and politics will collapse if all idolatry were to be eliminated.  The idol worship of the Sanatani Hindu is, however, far more advanced and sophisticated than the idolatry of the 21st century consumerist homo-commercialis.  For the Hindu, the idol is the symbol, and the symbol is that which is symbolized. This is a deep truth of Hindu mysticism — this whole universe symbolizes the infinite, formless Divine; all things and beings are symbols; and each symbol is a little bit of that which is symbolized. Therefore, when Ramakrishna stood before the clay idol of Kali, he did not see mere religious symbolism: he saw and experienced the Divine Mother herself in that symbol; the symbol for him was the symbolized, the image of the Mother for him was the Mother. That which is symbolized is always the Real and the symbol is always the external representation of the Real. It is through the symbol that the Real enters the external. When the Real is forgotten or recedes from consciousness, the symbol loses its spiritual significance and is reduced to a mere ritualistic object. The problem, then, with all symbols is when the inner gets disconnected from the outer, the Real is no longer expressed in the external, the symbol is no longer the symbolized.   This disconnect applies to several other aspects of Hindu dharma besides idol worship. The mystical significance and beauty of temples, the profound symbolic significance of sacrifices and offerings, the tremendous significance of the Devas and the Asuras, the spiritual significance and power of mantras are all aspects of Hinduism that need to be restored to their inner truths, reconnected with their spiritual and mystical source, and revived in a post-modern form and formulation.  We shall delve into these in the coming weeks. 
Read More
Uncategorized

Dharmam Char

The mahavakya of the Shikshavalli says, Dharmam Char: ‘Follow Dharma’ or ‘Keep moving on the path of Dharma’.  Since the verb determines the movement and quality of the subject, so the word ‘char’ needs our attention first. ‘Char’ means ‘keep moving on’ or ‘move along’.  Let me contextualize this a bit.  India speaks through subtle symbols. One of the significant Indic symbols is the chakra. Chakra is a ‘wheel’ or ‘circle’. The character of the wheel is movement. Life is nothing but a series of movements, continuous, in different forms. It is the opposite of stasis. The wheel symbolizes the perpetuity of movement, the character of life. It came to be associated with time and life as the kala chakra, time-cycle and jivan chakra, life cycle. This wheel found its way into the Indian intellectual and cultural psyche through various schools of Indian thought and manifested in multiple tangible emblematic forms as in the chakra in the Sun temple of Konarka which, after Independence, found its way into the Indian flag and the Ashok Chakra.  The mahavakya celebrates the primacy of movement in the cosmos that Aitareya Brahmana elaborates through the narrative of Harishchandra and his son Rohit. In the narrative, Indra explains to the wandering Rohit the importance of motion with the metaphors of the bees, birds and the Sun —                          Charanbai madhu vindati charantsvadu mudambaram Suryasya pasya sreemanam yo na tandrayate charan (Charaiveti, Aitareya Brahmana, 7.15) Loosely translated, this means that the honey bee, by its motion, collects honey, and birds enjoy tasty fruits by constant movement. The sun is revered, by virtue of its constant shining movement; therefore, one should be constantly in motion. ‘Keep moving, keep moving on!’  Every being in the cosmos follows the principle of moving on. So should human beings. By moving on, one gathers new experiences and every new experience adds to consciousness and one moves on from finite to infinite, and becomes a little less incomplete.  Now the question is — if one has to keep moving on, what should one be doing while on the move? Moving on aimlessly without knowing what is to be done would be futile. So the sage qualifies that movement should be oriented to Dharma.  Of the four purusharthas — inherent values of the universe or goals and obligations of human life — Dharma is the first. Artha, Kama and Moksha are the other three. Dharma, however, does not mean religion. There is a deeper meaning — dharayate iti ya sa dharmah: Whatever is worth ‘upholding’ or ‘worth doing’ in any given situation for an individual or a community, is dharma.  Can Dharma be practiced in isolation? The answer is no. Just knowledge of dharma is not enough; dharma must be lived, practiced. While acquiring material well-being, artha, and fulfilling one’s desires, kama, one must remain oriented to dharma, mindful of dharma and practicing dharma.  The pursuit of dharma does not entail renunciation of the world, nor does it mean that one cannot follow it while leading the life of the householder (grahastha) and engaging in worldly work. Janaka followed dharma while being a king, and the Vyadha in the Mahabharata was a humble hunter. In simple terms, it means that artha and kama, unattended by dharma, become anartha  and dushkama — the antithesis of artha and kama. However, if artha and kama are pursued in alignment with dharma, the fourth purushartha, Moksha, is inevitable.  Moksha, freedom from the cause of suffering (of one’s own and of others), is the natural consequence of adherence to dharma while pursuing the other two goals of human life. Moksha is not a faraway metaphysical goal but a state of being that is attained here, and here alone, in this life and in this world.      If one wishes to follow the path of dharma, one needs to know and understand dharma. But would it not be a very complicated process to know dharma before practicing it? Yes, if one takes the philosophical or intellectual route; and no, if one takes the route of loka or wisdom.    Taking recourse to the shastra mode, the academic or intellectual mode, could be abstract, unpleasant and even cumbersome. Knowledge without understanding and experience is never a source of happiness. Wisdom helps in discovering the path of life to be chosen, as stated in the answer that Yudhishthara gave to Yaksha:  Shruti vibhinna smratyopi bhinnah  Neko muniyasya vachah parmanam   Dharmasya tatvam nihitim guhayam,  Mahajano yen gatah sah panthah. (The Mahabharata, ‘Vana Parva’, 3.13.315)  The essence of dharma is hidden. So what is to be done? There are two ways: either one can find the path of dharma with one’s experience and observation or just follow the path of the great souls or wise men. The former is a longwinded, time consuming and cumbersome process while the latter is simple and straight. Just knowledge of dharma is not enough; it needs to be practiced and lived. Every individual and every particle in the cosmos has its own dharma. But some, or many, would deviate from dharma. Then what would correct and balance out the deviation? Right dharmic action by those who adhere to their own dharma, swadharma,  even when others do not. That is why the Gita asks us to follow our own swadharma — Swadharme nidhanam shreyah pardharmo bhayavaha. (Geeta, Chapter 3, Sloka 32)      Major philosophical schools and cultural texts like the epics, the puranas and the folk narratives of India explained various aspects of dharma by using drishtanta as a mode of construction and dissemination of knowledge. The Ramayana was enunciation of dharma as an ideal that was practiced by Rama, and the Mahabharata about the dharma in real life. With the shift in social behavior from the ideal (in the Ramayana) to the realistic (in the Mahabharata), the latter is a subtler study of dharma, as it tries to shed light on it from different standpoints by bringing in diverse characters, and sometimes even the same characters in different situations in multiple ways in various narratives. Dharma is not absolute but contingent. Dharma is determined by the three conditions of desha, space or location, kala, time and karma, action. As these conditions change, dharma may also accordingly change. That is why it is not absolute or fixed but contingent and variable. But it is variable with qualification, as the following narrative suggests: Yudhishthara, who was also known as dharmaraj or an apostle of Dharma, did not have a monopoly on the understanding of dharma, even he was perplexed. Bhishma Pitamah illustrated the complexity of dharma to Yudhishthara with the narrative of Vishwamitra in the ‘Shanti Parva’ of the Mahabharata.  In a certain rather long and extreme drought, the Sage Vishwamitra, starving for days, reached a Chandala (untouchable, of a lower caste) hunter’s hut in search of food. He saw a fresh piece of thigh of a dog. Vishwamitra wanted to have the dog meat but the Chandala pleaded that by doing so the sage would desecrate the dharma of both of them and it would lead to the committing of a sin. The sage Vishwamitra stated that dharma can be observed only if he were alive, and life is preferable to death. Hence, whatever sustains life — right or wrong — was acceptable to him.   Vishwamitra rejected all arguments of the Chandala by stating that the highest dharma is to save life at any cost, for life is higher than any other principle. He would be able to seek dharma by leading his life in a pious and righteous manner. The Chandala ultimately agreed to part with the meat. But the sage did not eat it alone. He, in consonance with the tradition, divided it in different portions for the gods, the ancestors and all living beings. Lo and behold! It began to rain, and the period of drought was over.  This narrative astonished Yudhishthara, for according to him, how can one be a sage and a pious soul after committing the most despicable act and defiling the dharma? Bhishma resolves his dilemma by saying that the dharma cannot be determined in absolute terms. Also, it cannot be defined by the feeble minded. Its awareness can be developed by following the scripture and the essence of the scriptures. In other words, the epic states that even Yudhishthara, who is supposed to be an incarnation of dharma, is not able to fathom the depths and manifestations of dharma. Further, it underscores a point that life is the highest value, as it is an indispensable instrument for observance of dharma. In this sense, life is superior to dharma. Life is dynamic, ever in flow, and the truth of life must have a practical value, truth as value or rit.  Tulsidas’s Ramacharitmanasa describes dharma in terms of dharma-ratha, a chariot of dharma. During the war between Rama and Ravana, after the death of Kumbhakarna and son Meghanada, Ravana comes to the battle field riding a Yuddha-ratha (war chariot), well protected by armour, and equipped with sophisticated weapons, while Rama is barefoot without chariot or armour. Seeing this Vibhishana gets distressed, and asks Rama how he was going to win over Ravana. Rama tells him that the ratha (chariot) that helps in winning the war in life is not the one that is owned by Ravana but the dharma-ratha, the chariot of dharma. Rama describes the the Dharmaratha (the chariot of dharma or righteousness) to Vibhishan, thus: Its wheels (chakra) of the chariot are valour (shaurya) and fortitude (dheeraj). Steadfastness in truth and good character are its flag and banner respectively. The horses of that chariot are strength (bala), discrimination (viveka), self-control or restraint (dama) and care for others (parahita). Its reins are made of the ropes of forgiveness (kshama), compassion (krpa) and equanimity (samata). Devotion to God is the intelligent charioteer. Dispassion (virati) is the shield, and contentment (santosh) is the sword. Charity (dana) is the axe, intellect (buddhi) is the potent missile (shakti) and knowledge of the self (vijnana) is the relentless bow.  He further adds that a pure and steady (amala achala) mind (mana) is like a quiver, while tranquility, calm (shama) and the various forms of abstinence (yama) and religious observances (niyama) are a sheaf of arrows. Worship and homage to the Brahmins and one’s own Guru is an impenetrable armor. There is no other efficacious equipment or weapon other than the dharma-ratha that is needed for victory, and a person possessing this strong chariot of dharma can conquer even the most mighty and invincible foe, attachment to the world.    Tulsi’s illustration of the dharma-ratha shows the engagement of the Indian mind with the mahavakya dharmam char in different ages through the metaphor of the chariot that represents cyclicality, continuity and movement. So one must keep moving on the path of righteousness.      Last but not the least, in the Indian tradition, as mortal beings have to follow the path of human dharma (manav dharma) so too the gods have to follow their dharma, (deva-dharma). Even in human form, they need to subscribe to their own dharma in every incarnation. In brief, every human being has to know one’s dharma (swadharma), and keep following it in accordance to desh, kala, and karma.           [This article was given by the late Sri Avadhesh Kumar Singh for publishing in Satyameva as his first contribution to the work of Satyameva. We are now reprinting this article with deep gratitude to him — Ed]
Read More
Uncategorized

Hindus, Halal And Political Correctness

Halal is an Arabic word that indicates what is allowed or permitted. A practising Muslim’s life is regulated by what is Halal and what is Haram (forbidden or prohibited). Naturally, these permissions and prohibitions extend to food. That is why the slogan of a famous Indian food delivery start-up and restaurant aggregator that “food has no religion” does not make any sense. In fact, much of what we eat is theologically, ritually and culturally coded. No wonder, last year a furious controversy broke out on social media over the popular American fast food chain McDonald’s serving only Halal meat products in India. In response to a customer query, the restaurant chain confirmed, “All our restaurants have HALAL certificates. You can ask the respective restaurant Managers to show you the certificate for your satisfaction and confirmation.” This triggered a debate over whether all customers, regardless of their religious beliefs or persuasions, ought to be forced to eat Halal products. Left-Liberals were quick to react. Shabnam Hashmi of Sahmat told Al Jazeera, “It is an absolutely Islamophobic atmosphere which is existing in India now and each and every occasion is used by right-wing Hindus to attack Muslims.” Many Hindus agreed. They couldn’t care less what kind of meat they ate. Whether the animal they were consuming was slaughtered by Jhatka or Halal didn’t matter. But this attitude of indifference, stemming from a combination of ignorance and political correctness, can go against the very civil liberties and freedoms that we cherish and are committed to uphold. Let us, for a moment, consider what happens when a devout Sikh enters a Halal-certified McDonald’s restaurant and proceeds to order a McChicken Burger. If she follows the Rahit Maryada, she is forbidden to eat Halal meat. She must leave the restaurant or risk violating the tenets of her faith. A Hindu meat-eater, even if not expressly prohibited from partaking of Halal meat, does not have a choice in a restaurant serving only Halal meat. She cannot avail of “Jhatka” meat from an animal slaughtered by a single swift stroke, as per the normal Hindu practice. What is more, she may not know that only meat from animals slaughtered by Muslim butchers is considered Halal. The butcher, in addition, must recite verses from the Koran before the slaughter. The animal is allowed to bleed to death, which according to some animal rights activists is cruel and painful. Halal meat is consecrated by a prayer to Allah. According to a truly liberal, Sanatani outlook, meat sanctified in the name of Allah would not, per se, be offensive or problematic. However, that would only work if both Hindus and Muslims actually believed, after Mahatma Gandhi, that “Ishwar Allah tero naam”. But if that were indeed the case, what would be the need for Halal certification in the first place? Muslims would also not object to receiving sanctified food from Hindu temples. Alas, the world we live in is not yet informed by such lofty ideals. The truth is that Halal meat puts non-Muslim butchers out of work. It also results in a gradual monopoly of Muslims over the meat business. Currently in India, only the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) certification is required on edible products. The FSSAI was set up in 2011 as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. As such, Halal certification is not compulsory. But in order not to offend a minority of paying customers in India, many restaurant chains, government establishments and even airlines serve only Halal meat. If they gave non-Muslim customers a choice, there would be no problem. But quite often, meat eaters are forced to eat only Halal products. That way, non-Muslims end up, without quite having an option, supporting the Islamisation of food and also contributing to a reduction of their own food choices. When I lived in Singapore, I found Halal ubiquitous even in a professedly secular, Muslim minority country. In college and university canteens, food courts and roadside eateries, even unwashed dishes were separated on the basis of Halal. As a vegetarian, I once put my used plates on a Halal dishwashing counter. A Singaporean Malay lady worker quickly admonished me, “Over there, la, you’re not Muslim, no?” I didn’t want to argue with her that all vegetarian food was automatically Halal. In the end, all restaurants are forced into the Halal or non-Halal category. The majority Chinese, evidently, belonged to the latter; they have the fewest food restrictions. The rest, Indian or Western, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, as a matter of course, opt for Halal certification. In India, there are several bodies that can certify a product or establishment Halal compliant, for a price, of course. Many have created attractive websites promising a window of business opportunities to prospective clients including access to the estimated 2.5 billion Muslims worldwide. The Indian Halal Certification Board proudly announces that it is affiliated to Sharia councils and Islamic organisations across 120 countries. One website brags that the profits via Halal will easily offset the certification fees. The cherry on the Halal icing is that such products can continue to cater to non-Muslims. This is where the Halal controversy takes a more serious turn. The success of Halal certification needs the support not only of Muslims for whom this is a religious obligation, but also of non-objecting non-Muslims. Gradually, even a small Halal-requiring percentage of consumers can compel more and more companies to pay up for Halal certification. This has been likened by the critics of Halalonomic coercion to jazia, the “infidel” tax that non-Muslims had to pay in an Islamic state just for not being Muslim. If Hindus don’t mind Halal while Muslims insist on it, what happens? Everyone ends up conforming to Halal coercion. This, to conscientious objectors of Halal, is the tyranny of the minority in which “the most intolerant wins” as explained in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Skin in the Game. If we don’t take countermeasures, it is only a matter of time before Halal cosmetics, couture, films, literature, even hospitals and housing complexes, as one near Kochi so proudly and openly advertises itself, will be thrust upon us.   Reprinted with permission of the author Original article <!–Reprinted with permission of the author Original Article –>    
Read More
Uncategorized

Mahayuddha, The Great Battle

A dharma yuddha, unlike other battles fought on the ground, is mostly invisible and inaudible, it is waged in the depths of consciousness and engages ancient unseen forces that have always been on earth to resist the victory of Light and Truth.  Dharma is not religion but the creative force of Truth, and it has always struggled to maintain its foothold on earth, for human nature, still largely unregenerate and driven by forces of ignorance and egoism, opposes Truth in all possible ways.  The earth, as our ancients explained, is the field of evolution and therefore critical for both, the forces of Truth and those of Darkness and Ignorance. It is on earth alone that the consciousness can grow to its true heights and fathom its true depths; and for this, the noblest souls choose to be born on earth so that they can participate in the evolution. There are other planes of consciousness too besides earth, but those are all typal planes where the being neither evolves nor devolves. It is on earth alone that one can evolve to a perfect godlike consciousness, daivic, or devolve to a demonic one, asuric. Therefore the forces of Truth and Falsehood have been engaged in a timeless battle for supremacy on earth — for whichever force dominates earth will dominate evolution. If Falsehood were ever to dominate earth (no, in spite of all contrary appearances, it still does not), this universe would be one of falsehood where the Asuras would grow in stature and become the godheads of this Cosmos. Instead of a Rama or Krishna, we would have a Ravana or Kamsa presiding over the evolution of consciousness on earth.  This timeless great battle, the Mahayuddha, took a major and decisive turn in 1956 when the Supermind (Truth Consciousness, Vijnanamaya Shakti) descended into the earth atmosphere after ages of intense tapasya and spiritual struggle against the forces of evolution. The descent of the Truth Consciousness itself changed the course of the spiritual history of humanity decisively, irreversibly. But that did not mean that the victory of Truth was assured. On the contrary, the asuric forces intensified their energies and multiplied their efforts to push back the Truth, perhaps destroy it altogether.  However, Truth being what it is, it cannot be destroyed, but it can be pushed back, opposed and resisted, driven underground. And that is what is happening today, all around us, from global religious and political platforms to our homes and hearts, wherever even a trace of falsehood exists, there the battle rages, unseen and unsounded.  Make no mistake about this: each one of us is an instrument, a nimitta, in this great battle for earth. Which way the battle will go depends on how much of ourselves, our consciousnesses and will, we put into this battle, how much of our skin is in the game, how conscious and silent we can remain even as the battle rages furiously on.  But to fight, to be in the thick of this battle, to be effective and efficient instruments of the Truth in this pitched battle against cosmic, terrestrial and psychological falsehoods, there is a necessary preparation that all have to undergo, a secret Kshatriya training of old, a training as much spiritual as physical and psychological.   The true warrior of Light must be immersed in the Light first. None should allow even a shadow to be cast on one’s mind or heart. One has to have complete and unrelenting fidelity to Truth, to Light, to what our ancients called jyoti parasya. This is nothing short of tapasya but it needs to be enormously concentrated and hastened. We do not have the time for years of sadhana. These are times for intensification, concentrated acceleration. For this intensification and acceleration, two conditions are necessary: deep inner silence and absolute samata. Samata is equality of spirit, equality of mind and heart: there must not be the least inner disturbance, agitation or excitement. The warrior of Light must always wear a luminous armor. As Sri Krishna says to Arjuna: agitation obscures the Light. Remember, this is what the asuras around us want, to obscure our Light through contaminating our own inner state, by throwing into us their disturbances and excitements, their bitternesses and grievances, their soul-sapping selfishnesses and fears. Remember too that there is no way an asuric being can directly attack an armor of Light — they can only attack by using our consent and our will, which sometimes we too innocently and willingly give. Samata is a shield in this battle. None can pierce the shield of perfect samata. No matter how disturbing or hostile the circumstances, our equality of spirit must be firm, unshakeable, absolute. It is this shield that the Divine Master in us needs to wage this battle. Without this shield, even the Lord cannot fight. This shield of perfect samata is not too difficult if we understand the two elements needed to create it: an absolute faith in the Master, in Sri Krishna; and a vast surrender to Him. Nothing else is needed. With faith and a perfect surrender, the warrior can go through any battle unscathed.   Inner silence is the psychological condition for the battle. No thought must arise, no desire to destroy, no fear of being destroyed. The mind and heart must remain immutably calm, the being quiet and concentrated. With such an inner condition of silence, of unbreakable mauna, the warrior becomes one with the Force of Narayan working through him or her. This is our unseen battle, and this is the inner preparation needed. There is no time to waste. The stakes are high. But we have, on our side, the Shakti of the Truth Consciousness itself. 
Read More
Reflections on Hinduism (4)
Uncategorized

On Hinduism (4)

The Mystical Core of Hindu Dharma The Mystery of the Self We are now ready to delve deeper into the mysteries of Hindu dharma. Once the Veda secret in the heart has awakened and leads forth the disciple, the path becomes safer and quicker, for the Veda in the heart is an infallible guide, it is the voice of the Divine seated in our hearts as the inner guide and Guru.  In the Bhagavad Gita, perhaps the most lucid and comprehensive of all shastras of Hindu Dharma, Sri Krishna, the Divine Teacher, says to Arjuna, the disciple — Ishvarah sarva bhutanam hriddeshe’rjuna tishthati[1] — O, Arjuna: the Divine is seated in the heart of all living beings. This one simple statement is the master key to the myriad mysteries of Hindu Dharma. Ishvara, as the Divine Teacher and Guide, is seated in the heart of every living being — this is a mahavakya: a statement of profound and seminal importance which can have the effect of potent mantra if taken to heart and followed through to its natural conclusion (more on mahavakya a little later). One who can base his whole consciousness on this single truth will need no other teaching or teacher, for the Divine in the heart will become for him the source of unfailing and unwavering trust, faith and motivation. Knowing that the Divine is in one’s own inmost self, where else would one need to go? Grasping this one thread, the seeker can walk through all possible psychological and metaphysical mazes unerringly on his way to the realization of the Self or God.  The first step on the path to realization is to turn one’s attention inward from the external world and its objects and plunge within, into one’s inmost being, the heart or the hridaye, and there find the presence of Ishvara as one’s own most intimate self, the atman.  When Sri Krishna declares that Ishvara is seated in the heart of all living beings, he is referring not to the physical heart, nor even to the heart centre in the body, but to the heart which is symbolic of the centre of one’s consciousness — the hridaye guhayam or the cave of the heart in Hindu Vedic mysticism; this cave of the heart is the centre of one’s consciousness. The inner plunge of the mystic is the act of withdrawing one’s attention from the objects and subjects of the world and concentrating it on the centre of one’s consciousness. This is the first practice of dhyana in mystical Hinduism.  The cave of the heart, hridaye guhayam, the secret centre of one’s consciousness, is the altar of the Divine, this is where Ishvara is seated as one’s own inmost being, the self or the atman. The discovery of the atman, the inmost Divine, is the first indispensable spiritual realization of Hindu dharma; one may safely say that the true pilgrimage of sanatan Hindu dharma begins only with this all-consuming discovery of Ishvara as one’s most intimate self.  As one approaches the atman, one begins to receive the first glimpses of the supreme mystery of the Divine, one begins to experience Ishvara not only as the centre of one’s own consciousness but the selfsame centre of all consciousnesses in all forms. This is a mula anubhava, essential realization, of the seeker of sanatan dharma, that the same Ishvara resides in all living beings as atman, and the atman is the same everywhere.  The rigid boundaries of one’s egoistic consciousness then begin to melt, and for the first time, one begins to experience oneness in all creation; the world is no longer experienced in terms of differences and contradictions but increasingly in terms of one unbroken existence, everything and everyone made of the same spiritual substance and possessing the same psychic essence. This new way of seeing and relating to the universe arises from anubhava, inner experience, and can therefore be tremendously powerful and transformative.  It is on the basis of such spiritual realizations of oneness that Hindu dharma declares the truth of human unity in such trenchant syllables — vasudhaiva kutumbakam: the whole world is but one single family[2].     The experience of the atman is a fundamental movement in one’s progress towards the realization of the Divine. The realization of atman, the Divine in the heart, becomes the practical basis for the higher realizations of Hindu dharma. For once the Divine is known in the centre of one’s consciousness, the Divine in revealed in all objects and beings — as if the whole universe becomes divine, and all sense of division, isolation and fear falls away permanently from the consciousness of the seeker. The seeker then becomes a devotee, and all mental seeking and knowledge are swiftly replaced by spiritual wisdom or prajna. Prajna (a term used to denote higher or deeper wisdom in both Hindu and Buddhist psychology) is the opening of a higher order, supra-intellectual faculty which grasps truth intuitively, without having to work its way through processing of information and logical reasoning. The Dharma, at this point, transcends the reasoning buddhi in its ascent towards the supreme Truth and finds for itself a higher vehicle and expression in the prajna.  Through the higher workings of prajna, the devotee now comes to the threshold of the next fundamental realization of the Sanatan Dharma: that the atman is indeed Ishvara, the Divine, and in finding the atman, one finds Ishvara.  The Divine in Hindu Dharma What is the nature and attributes of Ishvara, God or the Divine in Hindu darshan and dharma? The first Upanishadic pronouncement on the nature of the Supreme God of Hinduism is that the Supreme God — param Ishvara — is unknowable by mind and indescribable by human thought or speech, it is anirvacniya, that which cannot be thought or spoken of. Param Ishvara is Truth itself, Sat, and can only be known by becoming one in consciousness with Sat, what the sages call knowledge through identity. The human seeker or devotee can indeed identify with that param Ishvara only because that param Ishvara already dwells in the consciousness of living beings.  Having stated that Ishvara can only be known inwardly through identification in consciousness, the Upanishadic seers then attempt to describe Ishvara through a series of mahavakyas, defining pronouncements or maxims of Hindu darshan (literally, maha, great; vakya, pronouncement or statement). These mahavakyas are aphoristic pronouncements with profound mantric power — if rightly analyzed, meditated upon and assimilated, each of these mahavakyas can take the disciple to the essential truths and realizations of the deeper Hindu Dharma.  Ishvara is seated in the heart of all living beings is one such mahavakya which opens the gateway to the profoundest mysteries of the Dharma. Having realized the truth of the mahavakya in one’s inner experience, the devotee moves on to the realization that not only is Ishvara seated in the heart as one’s atman, as Supreme Brahman, It (He or She in a more personal sense) pervades and fills the whole manifested universe. Not only this, the deeper truth is even more compelling — that this manifested universe with all its infinite variations of form is nothing but Brahman.  Sarvam khalvidam brahma, this Upanishadic mahavakya, takes us right to the heart of the Dharma. From the Chandogya Upanishad, sarvam khalvidam brahman literally means that all this — all that is manifest and unmanifest, all that is known, not-known  and not-knowable — is equally Brahman, the Divine.  Gleaned from across the span of the Upanishads, one can attempt at least a working approximation of Brahman: Brahman (from the root brh, expand) is unlimited, without dimension or boundary, infinite and eternal: akshayam, sarvam, anantam, nityam. Brahman, as the all-transcendent, parabrahman, is beyond all manifestation, and as atman and Ishvara, is immanent in all manifestation.   That which the human mind cannot know, nor the senses apprehend, is Brahman, jnanatita, sarva-indriyatita; Brahman is that which cannot be described in any human language, cannot be brought into thought or speech, anirvacniya. Brahman as the Supreme Self, purushottama, is the Knower of all that is and can be known, the Seer of all that is and can be seen; the consciousness of all that is conscious and can be made conscious. Brahman, as param Ishvara, is the Supreme Godhead, the source and end of all that is, was and ever shall be; the all-pervasive, sarvavyapi, that which saturates the Universe, sarvam brahmamayam jagat; that which is the substratum of all being and becoming, mula adhara, the background of all experience, is Brahman; Brahman is the very fabric of space and time; the all-Perfect, purnam, the perfect peace and knowledge: shantam, jnanam. Not only does Brahman pervade all as the Vast, the brihat, it even penetrates into the minuscule, the subtlest — into the smallest particle of matter and pulsation of energy, into the very cells and nuclei of life, even into the subtlest movements of consciousness, right down to our subtlest thoughts and intentions, all is pervaded and informed by Brahman. If Brahman were to withdraw, even for the most infinitesimal fraction of a second, all this that we know as the manifest universe would simply vanish into nothingness. But even after having attempted such a description of Brahman in such superlatives, it still eludes human understanding, remains unexplained and unknowable, for if Brahman is all there is, if there’s none or nothing outside of Brahman, then who is there to know Brahman? Brahman, being the all-consciousness and all-existence, is the only Knower, so how shall the Knower be known?  Several Hindu sages have declared this point as the final cul-de-sac: none can go further with the existing mental machinery and the weight of mental knowledge. All knowledge, all thinking and reasoning must now be abandoned. This is the culmination of the Vedas as we know it — vedanta.  Vedantic Hinduism Tat twam asi Even before we can fully comprehend this stupendous idea of Brahman, the all-pervading Infinite Consciousness surrounding, possessing and filling us like some invisible ocean, we come to another equally awesome idea that this Infinite Sea of Consciousness, this Brahman, is what we, in our essence, actually are. Tat twam asi — a resounding Upanishadic mahavakya states unequivocally that the human (twam, you), in her inmost atmic truth of being, is Brahman, the Divine (tat, That; asi, are).  At first, most would baulk at such a pronouncement: for who amongst us can hold the thought of being Brahman for even a few seconds without the mind crashing? The human mind pushes outward, the truths it seeks are always outside, somewhere high up in some remote heaven. Men can have faith easily in a remote God in the high heavens but to believe (and live) the truth that one is God oneself in one’s inmost depths is somehow too farfetched. Yet, this is the profound truth of Hindu dharma: that the Vast and Infinite Brahman is the same atman within the cave of the heart. This atman, says another profound Upanishadic mahavakya, is that Brahman: ayam atma brahman.  But to know oneself as Brahman one must first enter those sublime depths of being where the atman shines through in all its radiance, one must leave behind all the dross of the human world, all its din and tumult, and learn to live, more and more, in a silence unbroken even by thought.  In that silence, that inner chamber of the temple to Brahman, one experiences the inner alchemy as one’s knowledge of the mind, jnana, ripens into sraddha, the creative force of faith that can bring into reality whatever one holds in one’s mind and heart with sincerity and unwavering perseverance; sraddha is a psychic force for realization, and with sraddha, all things become possible.  Sri Krishna explains sraddha to Arjuna in these words: The faith of each man takes the shape given to it by his stuff of being, O Bharata. This Purusha, this soul in man, is, as it were, made of sraddha, a faith, a will to be a belief in itself and existence, and whatever is that will, faith or constituting belief in him, he is that and that is he[3]. Sraddha then is the creative force that transforms knowledge into faith, devotion and surrender to that which one seeks to become. The completion or purnata of Hindu dharma happens naturally when jnana or knowledge (the mind’s knowing) transforms through sraddha into bhakti, love and devotion, and flows out spontaneously into karma, action as inner sacrifice to the Divine. These three, jnana, bhakti and karma, are the three pillars of Sanatan Hindu dharma. Through these three streams, the devotee realizes her identity with the Supreme Being, Brahman as Purushottama.  Anubhava, the Unfolding of the Experience In small measures, in ever so subtle and simple ways, the devotee realizes that there is no object of knowledge out there, there is only the Knower and the knowing; and there too, there is no duality, for the knowing is only Self-knowing. She begins to understand, ever more practically, that the world or universe she believed to be outside of herself is not outside at all: it is all one’s own reflection. There is no outside or inside: there are only reflections. The so-called world “out there” is a mirror of consciousness, and all one sees and experiences there is Self. In a more fundamental sense, the so-called objective world is only a mode of Self-knowing. The devotee then truly begins to see, his vision passes beyond the gross into the subtle reality of things and beings, and he develops a new way of seeing, what our seers called sukshma drishti, the subtle vision. It’s not that the world becomes subtle, the world remans what it is; it is one’s perception that begins to discern the subtle in the gross, the spirit in matter, the true in the mithya.  This subtle perception, sukshma drishti, sees beyond the appearance of multiplicity and sees the One Self everywhere, in all, from oneself spreading outward through all of the known universe. The best description of this perception comes, perhaps, from Sri Ramakrishna who once said, do you know what I see now? I see that it is God Himself who has become all this. It seems to me that men and other beings are made of leather, and that it is He Himself who, dwelling inside these leather cases, moves the hands, the feet, the heads. I had a similar vision once before when I saw houses, gardens, roads, men, cattle — all made of One substance; it was as if they were all made of wax.  This subtle seeing begins of course with oneself: It is one’s own personal self that is the first veil or mask to fall away and reveal the true Face. It is only when we see our own personal form as a veil at once concealing and revealing the Self, regard our very act of perception as the conscious gaze of the Self seeing through “our” physical senses and knowing through our minds, that we begin to see through all outer faces and façades, and glimpse the one same Self gazing outward through all physical forms and embodiments. It is like seeing in a different light: the face of the other becomes transparent and we begin to see the Self behind the face, and not really “behind” in a physical sense but we see the outer physical face as a mere superimposition on the true Face which is more of a countenance, an expression, and not a physical shape at all. The outer physical face, the form or rupa, is still there but the True Face is so clear in the background that we no longer pay attention to the outer face. The outer face is a façade, a mask, which becomes increasingly transparent to the growing inner vision of the One in all forms. This is what Hindu darshan calls the advaita bhava, the sense of non-duality in multiplicity. It is this bhava that is the practical basis for living the Hindu dharma.    When the Hindu therefore says ahimsa paramo dharma, non-violence is the supreme dharma, he does not mean it as a moral injunction or an intellectual idea: he means it practically and concretely; since he sees the one Divine in all forms, how can he not be non-violent? The Hindu does not seek to propagate non-violence as an ideal: he seeks to eliminate the last tendency of violence, from the grossest, the most physical to the subtlest psychological, from all parts of his being; in other words, he seeks to embody ahimsa. Likewise, when he speaks of truthfulness and sincerity, it is not from the moralistic or intellectual standpoint at all; in these too he seeks to embody truth not because he has an intellectual conception of it but because he lives it in anubhava: these are for him aspects of an integral experience to be lived.  Thus, to know Brahman as this universe, in all its details, and to know the self as Brahman, and to know all other forms, all selves, as the same Brahman, is the threefold dharma of the Hindu. This is the Dharma that was given the name Sanatan by the ancient seers and sages. This Sanatan Dharma, known today as Hindu dharma or Hinduism, is the actualization of the Divine in humanity’s mind, life and body. This Sanatan Dharma knows no outsider, no alien; none can be permanently hostile to the Dharma for in all, even in that which appears antithetical to Dharma, adharmik, there dwells the same Divine, the same Truth. Therefore the Hindu, standing firm on the realizations of Sanatan Dharma, can say that Truth or Dharma will finally prevail — satyameva jayate.  Those who choose to walk the path of the Dharma, not merely profess to be religious, those who can free themselves of the gravitational pull of their egoistic consciousnesses and give themselves in mind, heart and body to the demands of the Dharma, those who can walk boldly the Upanishadic path, ascending peak upon peak of human consciousness in their relentless quest for Truth, Light and Bliss are the ones who will emerge victorious in the eternal Light. These indeed are the children of Immortality, amritasya putra, who alone have the spiritual right to carry forth the Sanatan Dharma from age to age. 1ईश्वरः सर्वभूतानां हृद्देशेऽर्जुन तिष्ठति। भ्रामयन्सर्वभूतानि यन्त्रारूढानि मायया।।— Bhagavad Gita, 18.61 2From the Maha Upanishad — अयं बन्धुरयंनेति गणना लघुचेतसाम् / उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् — The distinction this person is mine, and this one is not is made only by those who live in Ignorance and duality. For those of ‘noble conduct’, who have realized the Supreme Truth and have transcended the multiplicity of the world, the whole world is one family. 3सत्त्वानुरूपा सर्वस्य श्रद्धा भवति भारत। श्रद्धामयोऽयं पुरुषो यो यच्छ्रद्धः स एव सः।। Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 3. The rendering of this verse in English quoted above is Sri Aurobindo’s. [Continues next week]
Read More
Uncategorized

Why Don’t Hindus Promote Their Dharma

Anchors at Indian TV channels are generally intelligent and capable. However, when the topic involves religion, they often lack common sense or courage. Last month Rishab Gulati said on NewsX that he wants to explore how to bring the Indian Muslims, who had been brainwashed into hard Wahhabi Islam, back to a softer Sufi version. Rishab surely would know that all versions of Islam are based on Quran and he would also know that the stark division between believers, who are considered good, and unbelievers, who are considered bad, is fixed in this foundational text itself. So why would he not rather explore how Muslims could be brought back to their ancient, benevolent Hindu Dharma? It would make far more sense. Why would he want a big part of Indians continue to believe blindly, albeit in a softer version, what the invaders violently enforced several centuries ago? Why is he so diffident about his own tradition which has contributed maximum knowledge to science and human civilisation in general? The reason may be that over the last thousand years it was very dangerous to stand up for Hindu Dharma. So people tried to be diplomatic, made compromises, and did not mention and certainly not praise their Dharma, even if they greatly valued it. This attitude seems to have got deeply ingrained and is even in today’s generation present. The English education system also did its bit to cement this attitude and even made it worse, as it portrayed the indigenous tradition contrary to facts as inferior. Not wanting to be “controversial” is uppermost in the mind of many Hindus, when they deal with converts. They rather indulge them than ask probing questions. This attitude is, however, in our times not helpful but dangerous. We have a window now, where we can be truthful and talk about the great advantage that Hindu Dharma has over Christianity and Islam. If we don’t use it, it may close again and then probably for a long time. Most Hindus know, and if some still don’t know, it is urgent that they come to know, that both Christianity and Islam consider it as their divine duty to make their religion dominate the whole globe. Only then their God/Allah will be happy and start the Judgement Day proceedings, when the good believers are allowed to enter heaven. It has however not yet been clarified whether the Christian or Muslim believers have this privilege, as naturally only one “true religion” can be true. For Hindus of course it will be hell, both agree on this. Can any sane person believe that the Creator of this unimaginably vast universe will punish the majority of human beings eternally in hellfire because they did not accept that the truth about how we should live was revealed only recently and only to one particular person on this earth, which is already some billion years old? There are other points which are not flattering for those two religions: Christianity and Islam are not based on reason, intuition or experience, but only on blind belief. One can never know if Jesus is really the son of God who was sent to earth to save us from the original sin and who declared that the way to the father goes only through him. Or we can never know if Allah really communicated via Gabriel with Prophet Mohamed and declared that he is the last prophet and all must follow what Mohammed said. These two religions make blind, unverifiable belief, which is not a healthy attitude, look like a virtue: ‘if you believe blindly what the padres or the mullahs tell you, you will be rewarded with eternal heaven after Judgment Day’, is promised. It is an effective method to keep people subdued on earth, waiting for heaven. And common people suspected this already in the dark ages. In Germany we have an old saying that the Pope makes people stupid (and the King makes them poor). Unfortunately, only members of Christianity and Islam go all out to spread their religion with full zest and especially in the case of Christianity, with lots of money and a detailed strategy. Pious members of both religions do not hesitate to claim that their religion alone is true and all others are wrong and will not be accepted by the ‘true God’. They have nothing to support their claim, except that the founder of their religion allegedly said so. This claim of eternal damnation is meant to frighten people to fall in line. On the other hand, it makes them arrogant, believing “We are the chosen ones. We believe the right thing. Earth and heaven belong to us. All others are damned for eternity.” Believing their clergy, they are on a mission to eradicate all other faiths. And how successful they have been! All ancient cultures were eradicated, except for the Indian culture. In India those two religions have encountered the greatest resistance. Indian culture still stands but greatly diminished. Yet neither Christianity nor Islam has conceded defeat, on the contrary. They push harder than ever now by demonizing Hindus to an unbelievable degree. Do they want the world to believe a false narrative that an “uprising of the oppressed Muslims against the demonic Hindus” is justified and must be supported? There is however one great power on the side of Hindus. It is Truth, both on the relative level (Truth is that Muslims are not oppressed in India, on the contrary) and on the absolute, spiritual level (Truth is one). Hindu Dharma is the best option for humanity. Nobody is forced to believe anything that does not make sense or cannot be experienced. Hindu Dharma is not a fixed, unverifiable ‘belief-system’. It is based on reason, intuition and experience. Its claims make sense and can be verified, like the most basic claim that the essence in all is one and the same – ‘sat-chit-ananda’ – blissful awareness behind the names and forms. But for people to know this, they need to be told, including those whose forefathers have converted and who have been brainwashed into blind belief. If they knew and reflected on those insights, they might see that indeed Hindu Dharma is the best option. Therefore it would be so much better if Hindus went all out and informed others of the value of Hindu Dharma. Compare the Indian reluctance to project its wisdom with China. China has only few sages, but makes full use of them. It established already 15 years ago hundreds of Confucius institutes all over the world which are affiliated to colleges and universities. They teach Chinese language and promote Chinese culture to the Western world. India is the cradle of civilization. It has so much knowledge, and millions of texts are not even translated into English. It has Sanskrit, the language which helps develop the brain, apart from being a perfect language; it has documentation of a number of great sages reaching back thousands of years, it has the deepest philosophy still expressed in a vibrant religion; a huge body of literature, amazing art, dance, music, sculpture, architecture, yoga, Ayurveda, delicious cuisine, incredible temples and yet Indians do little to propagate those treasures. “We are not like them”, many Hindus say, “we don’t advertise our religion and push them into accepting it, like the others”. The insights of the Vedic Rishis need not be pushed; they only need to be known. They result in a very beneficial mind-set, definitely far more beneficial than the divisive, narrow mind-set of the new-comer religions. Knowing that God is within gives inner strength, and knowing that God is also in others, including in animals and nature, makes people kind. This broad mindset needs to dominate in the world, and it is Hindus who can lead the way. Bad people would still exist; they are there in every age, but normal, good people would not be indoctrinated en masse by their clergy into despising and even killing ‘unbelievers’ because they worship the Supreme Intelligence by other names. Looking at Muslims and Christian countries, such attitude also does not seem to make for a happy society. Meanwhile, especially in the West, many Christians and Muslims have lost faith and say it openly. I am one of them and sometimes Hindus tell me: “It’s good that you write. You are an insider, you can do it. We can’t.” My reply is: “YOU need to speak up. Don’t wait for ex-Christians or ex-Muslims. Most of us, who have lost faith, don’t bother about religion any longer. But YOU have been suffering for centuries, with millions killed, and the danger is real that it happens again. If someone is fully authorized to talk about those doctrines, and the harmful mindset they produce, it is YOU, Indian Hindus. In fact you owe it to those millions who were massacred for being Hindus.” Fortunately, in recent years more Hindus do speak up. Maybe soon a mainstream channel will have the courage to debate frankly what Muslims and Christians are taught about Hindu Kafirs and Heathen, and maybe more Christians and Muslims in India, who have lost faith in their religion, will have the courage to say it openly. It surely would be a relief for them. Living a lie by pretending to be believers is painful. Hindus can help by being truthful, even if it means being “controversial”. Maria Wirth Blog
Read More
Uncategorized

Hinduism vs Hindutva

Hindutva represents an essential social, political, cultural and historical consciousness of Hinduism rooted in its Dharmic and spiritual core. It is never alienated from it. Shashi Tharoor is an erudite author and his English prose is eminently readable. He generally makes sense in his views and opinions on many issues, in spite of being a Congress politician. But his recent book “Why I am a Hindu” appears to be quite disappointing and superfluous, if one were to go by his speeches and interviews promoting it. The ideas in the book are solely aimed at discrediting Hindutva as something alien to Hinduism proper and hence illegitimate. This whole premise is baseless, dubious and deceptive. For decolonized and self-conscious Hindus, this whole ‘debate’ about Hinduism vs Hindutva is artificial, pointless and divisive. Even if one manages to define these two terms with certain characteristics peculiar to each of them, that would be more of ‘traits’ rather than two separate and watertight categories. For example, how would one classify Vijayanagara Empire and Shivaji’s Hindu Padshahi? Hinduism or Hindutva? Without these movements, the very survival of Hindu religion and culture in many parts of the country would not have been possible. Shashi Tharoor would have been born as Shahul Hameed, and Ramachandra Guha as Rahman Gafoor, had these developments not happened in history. And even today, Hindu religion and Hindu communities face such dangers and threats from the aggressors and enemies of Hindu Dharma, both within India as well as in other parts of the world. To ignore and downplay this sense of history as prescribed by these self-delusional ‘erudite’ writers and their cohorts is suicidal for Hindus. The same confusion would elude regarding say, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo too. For that matter, even regarding Sankaracharya’s consolidation of Advaita Vedanta and his iconic Digvijaya, the all India tour, Ramanuja’s tireless Bhakti mission and institutionalization of Sri Vaishnavam, Basavanna’s Veera Shaiva teachings and Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas uniting all Hindus of North India cutting across castes, sects and language dialects. Are these Hinduism or Hindutva? In the case of Swami Vivekananda, we already see Jyotirmay Sharma, an anti BJP academic putting him under Hindutva, but Shashi Tharoor under his brand of ‘non-Hindutva Hinduism’, whatever that means. Debates around this theme are intentionally engineered in the media by Nehruvian secularists and Leftists of late, and the recent book by Tharoor also belongs in this category. These anti-Hindu ideological camps are desperately watching the crumbling of Nehruvian, Leftist, Secularist dominance in all spheres of India’s national life, not just in politics and economics, but also in social and cultural affairs. Their original narratives of ridiculing, dismissing and neglecting Hinduism as an old relic of the past or nothing more than a bundle of superstitions and caste evils, in their vintage style will no more work now. Such discourses will be frowned upon in today’s India and will spell disaster for their political ambitions. The fact of the matter is that Hinduism has proved to be far more enduring in the 21st century India compared to the silly 20th century fads like Nehruvian socialism, Marxism, Liberalism or various hues of Socialism. That is why the posturing as to we are ‘more Hindus than Modi and BJP’. There is a calculation that such posturing will find favor with many ‘common’ Hindus and ‘spiritual’ Hindus, who allegedly associate Hindutva negatively with violence and bloodshed, but Congress brand of ‘secular Hinduism’ (never mind the term being oxymoronic) with peace and harmony. This is because, a large majority of ‘common’ Hindus have already been swayed by the successful rosy propaganda of ‘No bloodshed Hinduism’ over decades. “Hinduism has been facing any number of onslaughts, but nothing could destabilize it. Because it is not a religion established by someone. It was neither propagated zealously, nor defended with bloodshed. It is a way of life… the current trend of Hindutva hooligans claiming to safeguard Hinduism, if left unchecked, will definitely besmirch the spiritual core of this age old tradition”. We often come across such a refrain from many such ‘common’ Hindus. But, is this fully correct? Hinduism being spiritual and non-propagating is true. But “not defended with bloodshed” is plain wrong. True that Hindus have not caused bloodshed due to their aggression on others. But let us not forget that we had to shed lot of blood to defend our religion from the onslaught of aggressive Abrahamic religions. How can one explain why Hinduism was saved in spite of a thousand years of Islamic aggression, when all other countries and civilizations that came under Islam’s sword were simply wiped out without any trace of their ancient culture? Was it by some magic or some strange spell? No. It was because generations of our ancestors shed their blood to defend and safeguard it. We remain Hindus today only because Vijayanagara Empire, Rajputs under Rana Pratap, Marathas under Shivaji, Ahoms under Lachit Borphukan, Nayaka warriors of the South, Gajapatis of Odisha, Sikhs under Guru Gobind Singh and countless other Hindu brave men and women continuously fought and died, over centuries. Our great Gurus and sages guided us in this long struggle. Let us not insult their sacrifices by denial. Yes, ultimately there is the supreme divine force of Dharma guiding such a course of history. But, there has to be a realistic human action, with the spilling of real blood and sweat to manifest that divine Dharmic force in the real world. This should be understood without any confusion or ambiguity by all the Hindus. The 19-20th century Hindu resurgence and the Hindutva politics are nothing new, but a continuation of this history. One can criticize specific threads and strains in it, but to deny it completely is detrimental for Hindus. Such denial is born out of a certain self-hypnotization coupled with a deeply colonized mindset. What this mindset lacks is sense of history and social consciousness, but it tries to disguise that with ambiguous notions of spirituality and harmony. The main aim of the ‘Hinduism vs Hindutva’ narrative is to confuse Hindus who, after a long slumber have woken up to respect their religion, to fight for their rights and honor, to have a sense of their own history, to proudly proclaim their religious affinity without shame and to gain political consciousness. The ascent of Narendra Modi in 2014 despite so much anti-campaign against him and the BJP is only the first step towards the next wave of Hindu renaissance in Indian politics. There is still a long journey. The reactionary shouts like the book by Shashi Tharoor are nothing more than feeble attempts to counter this march, and they are doomed to fail. The term Hindutva is a lofty one and is any day better than the Colonial term ‘Hinduism’, for that matter. The Sanskrit suffix ‘tva’ indicates essential nature, unlike the suffix ‘ism’ which is usually applied to ideologies, theories or philosophical and artistic fads, like Communism, Fascism, Impressionism or Existentialism. Just to give a comparison, what would a practicing Christian prefer to call his religion as – Christianity or Christism? Obviously the former and not the later. Technically, the same argument applies to Hindutva vs Hinduism too. But again, we don’t want to unnecessarily vilify the term Hinduism on this silly point, as it has already become popular all over the world to indicate our timeless religion. So we embrace it wholeheartedly without worrying about the schism regarding ‘ism’ in a similar way, why should Hindus belonging to non BJP parties be asked to vilify and hate the term Hindutva? Hindutva represents an essential social, political, cultural and historical consciousness of Hinduism rooted in its Dharmic and spiritual core. It is never alienated from it. The likes of Tharoor and Guha desperately try to give it a limited meaning associating with RSS/BJP politics alone. Such caricaturing is only aimed at weakening the above said consciousness for narrow and selfish political motives and to create yet another wedge among Hindus on ideological lines. This is not just plain wrong, but very dangerous for the wellbeing of Hinduism the religion, and Hindus, its adherents. Instead, Congress should adopt the word Hindutva and convince us why they represent better Hindutva compared to Modi and BJP. “The question is”, said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things”. “The question is”, said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be the master – that’s all”. Reprinted with permission from the author First printed in India Facts
Read More
Uncategorized

On Hinduism (3)

The Mystical Core of Hindu Dharma The Veda Secret in the Heart There is a practice of Hinduism, similar to most other religions, that leads the mind outward, towards an external God, through external forms of worship, sacrifice and offerings. Sri Aurobindo once referred to this as the Hinduism that takes its stand on the kitchen[1]. This is the outer shell of mystical Hinduism and needed for a certain class of followers who still live largely in a material and externalized consciousness. Mystical Hinduism, the Hinduism that seeks God in the soul, turns the mind inward and through layers of ever-deepening introspection and reflection leads to meditativeness, dhyana, and spiritual realization and knowledge, jnana. There are two distinctive steps through which mystical Hinduism leads the follower to dhyana and jnana: Study and contemplation of Shastra Practice of Yoga The study of the shastras is not merely an intellectual or academic pursuit but a thorough and systematic intellectual and psychological training of the mind of the seeker to receive and assimilate the higher knowledge of darshan and Dharma. This training proceeds from listening and reading, through discussion and debate, to rigorous contemplation and self-reflection. The training culminates in deep concentration and identification with the subject or object of study.  This extensive training of the mind through the study and assimilation of the shastras opens the seeker’s mind to the depths and heights of Hindu darshan (closest English word, philosophy) and prepares her for living the Dharma. Note that the seeker is not brought to the dharma without a thorough preparation in darshan. Darshan paves the way for the true flowering of Dharma.  Darshan, though translated as philosophy, is not to be understood only as a pursuit of intellectual knowledge or abstract reasoning but intellectual formulations of spiritual experiences and realizations. The word darshan itself means seeing (from the root dṛś, to see), and is therefore concerned with what one can directly experience, realize, see and know. The most learned and wisest of Hindu sages are regarded as seers, drashtas (from the same root dṛś), and not thinkers. In spite of a plethora of metaphysical interpretations and commentaries that exist in Hindu darshan, the unremitting focus remains on what can be known and realized in direct experience, anubhava. The theoretician and the scholar bows to the one with anubhava; this is the inviolable protocol. That which cannot be experienced and realized is not worth knowing. The overarching purpose of darshan and shastra in Hindu Dharma is to bring the seeker to the realization of the highest Truth knowing which all else in known. This is the ultimate knowing, the param Satyam (param, from para, means supreme or transcendental; Satyam is Truth) or the Supreme Truth. This knowledge of the Supreme Truth is known as paramarthika jnana in Hinduism. The closest English translation of paramarthika jnana would be knowledge of absolute Truth.  Though paramarthika jnana or the knowledge of absolute Truth is the ultimate concern of the shastras, it is not the only one. The shastras lead the seeker through the lower strata of knowledge to the higher — through the knowledge of the world and the universe (vyavharika jnana) and the knowledge of one’s own mind and its workings (pratibhasik jnana) to the absolute. Thus, the shastras provide an integral knowledge because Truth is integral in Hindu Dharma — the absolute Truth does not exclude the truths of world and self.  The source of the integral knowledge of the shastras were the numberless sages and seers of Hindu Dharma, each of whom had scaled the heights of spiritual realization and had identified themselves with the highest Truth. None of them claimed to “know” the truths or the Truth through reading or hearsay: each of them stood on the solid ground of personal experience and realization; their knowledge was not derived but directly apprehended and lived.  Because the shastras were given or revealed directly by those mighty sages of old, the Hindu Dharma and darshan are nurtured still by their timeless spirit and life force; the prana that runs through the shastras and the darshan can still awaken and transform any mind or soul that may approach the Dharma with faith, humility and surrender. Shastra to Darshan Shastra is the first line of transmission from the Seer or the Rishi to the aspirant, and is relevant only insofar as it can carry the living truth of the Seer’s realization to the seeker’s mind and soul; for shastra to reach darshan, it must be able to connect to the seeker’s inmost being and awaken there a soul resonance, as of a living guide. No written scripture, obviously, can do this. The written scripture, the external shastra, must open the seeker to another and deeper level of itself, a revealed or inner shastra, the Veda secret in the heart. The outer shastra can only lead effectively to a point, beyond which it necessarily becomes intellectual. This is the point where the seeker exhausts the need for scriptural guidance and is ripe in spirit for a living intervention of a Guru. It is at this point, by the touch of the Guru, or by the increasing pressure and intensity of the aspiration, the inner shastra begins to unfold, reveal itself through gradual or rapid movements. The outer shastra, then, ploughs the mental terrain, as it were, sowing the seeds of insight, intuition and realization. The Vedas and the Upanishads are perhaps the finest examples of the outer shastra ploughing and preparing the mind to receive the higher illumination. The Vedas are the oldest extant scriptures of the Hindu Dharma while the Upanishads, only some of which survive, are generally regarded as the Vedanta, culmination and fruition of the Vedas (anta meaning end or culmination). Both, the Vedas and the Upanishads, are mantric in quality — their intent is not to inform but to invoke and evoke. The Truth cannot be taught or learnt since it is inherent in the human consciousness, seeded in its depths, waiting to be called out to surface. This calling out — evoking and invoking — are the essential functions of the Shastra. All the philosophical explanations and debates are secondary, and meant mainly to reinforce the evocation and the invocation. Mantra is that which evokes and invokes. The word is a sound expressive of the idea. In the supra-physical plane when an idea has to be realised, one can by repeating the word-expression of it, produce vibrations which prepare the mind for the realisation of the idea. That is the principle of the Mantra, says Sri Aurobindo[2]. The key to reading the shastra is therefore in grasping the mantric nature of the shastra — not to read it as mere scripture for intellectual or moral edification but to approach it as a dynamic meditation for invoking the Spirit or the Truth within oneself, as if actually reading the words seated in the proximity of the Master, imbibing from the Master not only the import of the word but the living vibrations of the spirit. It is only then that the shastra transforms from written or spoken word, Vak or Logos, to revelation, shruti or apokalupsis. Once the seeker begins to resonate with the shruti (that which is heard and revealed to the inner ear) concealed in the shastra, she is ready for transition from darshan to Yoga, from seeing to becoming, identifying. Darshan to Yoga Yoga is union and identification with the object of one’s seeking. The culmination of all Truth-seeking is in union and identification with Truth, becoming of Truth-consciousness, no longer subject to falsehood or ignorance. The shastra to be true to its spirit and intent must bring the seeker to Yoga through anubhava (direct perception and experience). The first step towards this is the invocation and evocation of the spirit of the shastra in the seeker; then, as the spirit of the shastra comes alive in the seeker, the progressive awakening of the shastra within, the Truth seeded in the depths of the consciousness, what Sri Aurobindo calls the Veda secret in the heart. Sri Aurobindo, describing the shastra of the Integral Yoga writes — the supreme Shastra of the integral Yoga is the eternal Veda secret in the heart of every thinking and living being. The lotus of the eternal knowledge and the eternal perfection is a bud closed and folded up within us. It opens swiftly or gradually, petal by petal, through successive realizations, once the mind of man begins to turn towards the Eternal. The eternal Veda secret in the heart of every thinking and living being is the culmination of all shastras: the rising from deep within of the eternal Truth in the wordless silence of intuition and inner revelation, transcending word and awaking through the vibrations of pure mantra the soul or psychic in the seeker. Thus the seeker comes through the written word of the shastra to the eternal Truth of his or her being. This is the Vedanta. Only when the seeker has thus come to her truth of being, has become a faithful disciple of the self-revealing Veda in her heart, and when all other external supports of religion have dropped off, that she realizes the Dharma within and truly becomes an embodiment of Dharma, sakshat dharma. One no longer needs to ‘practice’ Dharma, then: one is Dharma, one is the shastra. These are not metaphors — when I say one becomes the Dharma or the shastra, that is precisely what it means: one has become identified in consciousness with the Truth of the Dharma and the shastra, one has become a living and conscious instrument, nimitta, of the Dharma. As nimitta (nimittamātra, the mere agent or instrument), it is the wisdom and will of the Dharma that manifests through the consciousness of the instrument, and the personal will is either eliminated or made entirely subservient to the higher will and wisdom. Do bear in mind that Dharma is synonymous with Ishvara, the Divine and realizing Dharma within oneself is the same as realizing Ishvara, the indwelling Divine, within oneself: there is no duality between the two. One realizes the essence of Dharma and Shastra within oneself and becomes one with them. This is indeed a siddhi (fulfillment) for the disciple of the Dharma, an attainment of his Yoga. In the mystical and yogic sense, Dharma then is the manifestation of Ishvara in life and action, and Shastra is the knowledge body of Ishvara. Ishvara can manifest only through a fruition of the two in the disciple’s consciousness and not through the worship of external form and sacrifice to external authority. It is because of these deeper spiritual truths that it can be said of Hindu shastras that no shastra is fixed or final, and of its preceptors and prophets that no human preceptor or prophet is infallible or final. Truth, Dharma or Shastra must finally grow and manifest in the awakened human consciousness, and as consciousness is timeless, its manifestation must be timeless too. Because the Dharma cannot be limited to time, place or person, because its fruition happens in timeless consciousness, the ancients referred to the Dharma as eternal — sanatan dharma. The whole purpose of Dharma is to prepare human consciousness to receive and manifest the Supreme Truth; to become, over time, Truth-consciousness itself. Only when human consciousness becomes Truth consciousness will the work of Dharma be done and human beings will surpass Dharma and ascend into a purer and wider supramental being where Dharma will become natural and spontaneous, like breathing. But that is still a distant and high peak hidden in the mist and clouds of time. 1There are two Hinduisms; one which takes its stand on the kitchen and seeks its Paradise by cleaning the body; another which seeks God, not through the cooking pot and the social convention, but in the soul. (Sri Aurobindo: The Harmony of Virtue) 2Read More: Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Mantra
Read More
Reflections On Hinduism (2)
Uncategorized

On Hinduism (2)

The Mystical Core of Hindu Dharma The Infinite Beyond Hindu dharma has a deep mystical core that rises like sap into the various branchings of the dharma. Without understanding the mystical core, we lose the true Hinduism and end up with the external chaff of rituals and rules.  The mystical core, the very heart, of Hinduism is the Vedantic idea of Brahman, the One Supreme Truth that manifests as Cosmos, as matter, life and consciousness. All is Brahman, sarvam brahmeti,  is the ruling mantra of Hindu dharma’s mystic core. If we were to peel off all the layers of what is popularly known as Hindu religion, and reduce all its varied and divergent philosophies and practices to one fundamental idea, what we would have is Brahman.  The word brahman in Sanskrit simply implies expansion (root: bṛh, to expand; therefore, that which expands). Brahman is not to be confused with Brahmin, a caste nomenclature. The English equivalent for Brahman would be the Divine, the Supreme.  Thus, when the Hindu says that all is the Divine, he is stating what all other religions state: that the Divine is omnipresent, and all is the Divine. But the Hindu dharma goes a step beyond with this and states further that there is nothing else but the Divine, neha nanasti kinchan. Nothing else, in fact, is needed: idam purnam, this is perfect and complete.  This one central idea of the Hindu dharma pervades all of Hinduism, all of its philosophical and metaphysical streams, its darshan, its scriptures, its processes and practices, its gods and goddesses, its art and architecture, its culture and literature, even its social customs and rituals.  This ‘idea’ of Brahman is, however, not intellectual; Brahman is not metaphysical speculation or even intuitive reasoning — it is a Truth directly experienced and lived by innumerable sages and prophets, the Maharishis and Yogis, of Hindu tradition, those who have been, through the generations, the forerunners and exemplars of the Hindu dharma. None amongst them, not even those regarded as the greatest, the most advanced, have even once claimed that their realizations were absolute and final and could not be attempted by any other. On the contrary, each of them went to tremendous lengths, as preceptors and guides, to explain the path, the discipline, the methodology to attain to such realizations. These paths, disciplines and methodologies are the Yogas of Hindu dharma. Yoga (from the root yuj, meaning to join) literally implies union, union with the Divine, with the Supreme Truth.  This is yet another driving ideas, idee-force, of Hinduism: that all humans have the spiritual right or adhikara, to attain to the highest and deepest realizations of the Hindu dharma; none is excluded, none is unworthy. The only precondition for realization is the psychological preparedness of the seeker, his or her sincerity, willingness to follow the path, for the Yogas are exacting and all-consuming.  Consider further that if Brahman is the sole existence, and there is none else, if all that is manifest (and not yet manifest) is that Brahman, then the seeker, the devotee too is Brahman. Not only that, each living being, every life form, every animate and inanimate object in the universe, is Brahman. The logic is inescapable: everything and everyone is that Brahman; and if so, then where and how does one search for Brahman? Who, in fact, searches, and who is the sought? Is it not all the same?  This is where the seeker comes to the mystic core: the realization that Brahman cannot be sought nor found, as long as one functions out of human mind and consciousness. The human mind and consciousness is still rooted in the falsehood, and glimpses Truth only through several filters of falsehood. The Hindu sages called this condition Ignorance, avidya (root word is vid, to know). Human beings are not born in sin and are not automatons in the hands of an all-powerful God. The only ontological issue is spiritual ignorance, or more precisely, ignorance of one’s spiritual source.  According to Hindu dharma, since all is Brahman, the source of the universe, and of all humans in it, is also Brahman. Not knowing that one arises from Brahman (and one will subside in Brahman) is the root, the ontological, Ignorance. And this ignorance, avidya, can be overcome by deep and sustained self-enquiry into the nature of being and becoming and delving into the depths of one’s own consciousness. The depths, or heart, of one’s consciousness conceals the Truth of not only self but the universe. This heart of consciousness is known as the Atman in Hindu dharma. Next to Brahman, atman is the only other central idea and idee-force of Hinduism, because the atman is that faculty within us that bridges the Ignorance and the Truth. To know one’s atman is the first supreme attainment of Hindu dharma; and to know the atman as Brahman, one in identity, is the other supreme attainment of Hindu dharma. Attaining these two supreme realizations is indeed the first fruition of Hindu dharma in its devotee or disciple.  But it is still ‘first fruition’ because even these supreme realizations are not the end of the path; as Sri Aurobindo says, these are in fact the beginning of the higher ascent to Truth. One may consider these two supreme attainments as the base camp for the ascent to the Everest of Supreme Truth.  Such is the vast and mighty sweep of Hindu dharma and darshan. And such indeed is its simple premise, so trenchantly formulated through the centuries, that there is no end-point of the evolution of consciousness, no final judgment day; there is only a continual going beyond, because Truth is infinite, like Brahman. As one nears the Everest, the Everest recedes. Anyone who has ever managed to scale such heights of spiritual realization has always come to the one question that Hindu dharma or darshan has no answer to: Is there an end, a final consummation of it all?  Sri Aurobindo, the Maharishi of the twentieth Century, one who undoubtedly scaled the supreme heights of Vedic realization, said from his timeless vantage point that there was still an infinite beyond.  The ancient Vedic Rishis, when confronted by the same mystery, resolved it in a simpler way: that it was anirvachaniya — that which transcends thought and speech. 
Read More
Dharma
Uncategorized

Reflections on Hinduism

Hinduism. . . gave itself no name, because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal adhesion, asserted no sole infallible dogma, set up no single narrow path or gate of salvation; it was less a creed or cult than a continuously enlarging tradition of the Godward endeavor of the human spirit. An immense many-sided and many staged provision for a spiritual self-building and self-finding, it had some right to speak of itself by the only name it knew, the eternal religion, Santana Dharma . . . Sri Aurobindo, India’s Rebirth Hinduism and the Future Can a religion evolve over time, revise its fundamentals, and respond creatively to new conditions and demands? Or is religion to be forever bound to its initial conditions, forever repeating revelations and beliefs of its founder or founders? If humanity evolves in consciousness over time, should religions not evolve as well? Do religions have an evolutionary relevance for humanity? The answers to all these very important questions will depend largely on how a religion has originated and evolved over time so far; and how its followers have been able, or allowed, to use the religion in their own personal spiritual quests and journeys.  For the purposes of our analysis, we will be classifying religions as either static or dynamic. A static religion is one that is organized around a central and more or less fixed belief system originating directly from its founder or founders; a dynamic religion is one that is mystical / spiritual and does not adhere to a particular belief system or values.  A dynamic religion is therefore evolutionary while static religions are conservative. But this is not always entirely true. In reality, things are more nuanced. No religion is either wholly dynamic or wholly static: all religions have some evolutionary elements and possibilities and some conservative elements and practices. What makes a religion dynamic is how the evolutionary and the conservative are balanced in application and practice, what is emphasized and what is de-emphasized over time. Responsiveness and adaptability would be significant markers of a dynamic, evolutionary religion, whereas rigidity and strict adherence would be markers of a static and conservative religion.  In the initial sections of this article, we shall explore the Hindu dharma to see what its evolutionary possibilities are and whether it can remain spiritually relevant for a 21st Century humanity.  Hinduism and Evolution: Can a religion evolve over time? If a religion is bound to a particular sacrosanct tradition or infallible theology, a particular prophet, messiah or scripture, then obviously it cannot. For a religion to evolve, it must also necessarily be able to outgrow several of its traditional beliefs and practices. There can be no real growth without a certain outgrowing of forms and formulations no longer relevant or meaningful to those who follow the religion.  For a religion to evolve, it must keep the spirit of enquiry as its principal value and experiential spiritual knowledge as its core.  Hinduism is arguably the one religion that has the potential of evolving into newer forms and bodies of experience and knowledge more suited to a humanity of the 21st Century. And it can do so precisely because Hinduism has grown as a religion only by a constant revision and evolution over ~5000 years of its existence.  Hinduism, in Sri Aurobindo’s words, has always been a continuously enlarging tradition of the Godward endeavor of the human spirit. This is how Hinduism, as a vast and varied body of spiritual knowledge, has grown over the years: by continuously enlarging itself, emphasizing an uncompromising spirit of enquiry instead of strict adherence to belief, and insisting on Truth instead of dogma.  Direct spiritual experience has always been valued more in Hinduism than dogmatic beliefs and scriptural references. Shruti (what is revealed and heard) and sakshatkara (direct seeing and knowing) have always been profoundly important in the Hindu tradition and preferred over any other source or authority. It must however be noted here that shruti, direct intuitive and spiritual revelation, is a dynamic ongoing process. What is revealed to one Rishi (seer, sage or prophet) can be superseded by what is revealed to another, at a later time or even contemporaneously. The Hindu dharma has always unambiguously stated that no one seer or prophet can have the final or last word. Consciousness is a dynamic and ever-evolving process and there can be no single end-product of such a process. No seer or prophet can be the final word, but every seer and prophet of Hindu dharma is a necessary link, a stepping stone, to the Supreme Truth. Each seer and prophet is a facilitator, a teacher and guide, and each has his or her place in the Hindu scheme of things.  It is true that the Hindu dharma has its scriptures, but it is not bound to any of its scriptures, it considers no scripture infallible as it considers no teacher or seer infallible. Fallibility, in fact, is a basic assumption of the Hindu dharma. As long as one lives in relative ignorance, and as long as one has not become completely identified and one with the Supreme Truth Consciousness, one will always be fallible. The only “infallible authority” the Hindu dharma acknowledges and reveres is the Divine Truth within, the Inner Teacher and Guru, the Indwelling Divine or Ishvara. This is important to understand: the final spiritual authority is the Truth within, Sat, accessible by anyone willing to devote his or her energies sincerely to this endeavor. It makes no difference to the Truth whether the seeker is low caste or high caste, atheist or believer, born into Hinduism or born into some other faith — Truth is Truth, and all human beings have equal access to it regardless of time or place.  If this be the central tenet of the Hindu dharma, then it implies that the source of the dharma is living and dynamic and cannot be fossilized within a historic structure or tradition.  This has enormous implications. For one, no true disciple of the Hindu dharma can quote scripture or teacher to block debate, dissent and revision; however exalted and advanced a teacher or Guru may be, the final arbiter is always the Inmost. This is the reason why, at a Vedanta conference in Madras, during a debate on a certain scriptural point, when a pundit objected to Vivekananda making an assertion because it was not sanctioned by authority, Vivekananda could retort, “But I, Vivekananda, say so!” This is also the reason why Sri Aurobindo, one of the foremost exponents and exemplars of Hinduism, one who is widely regarded as a Maharishi in the Hindu tradition, could take Hinduism beyond its scriptural and traditional boundaries and extend its scope far beyond even what was attained and declared by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, inarguably one of the most revered texts for Hindus anywhere in the world.  As expected, the traditional orthodox interpreters and followers of the Hindu dharma could not stomach Sri Aurobindo’s bold innovations and criticized him openly for claiming that his Yoga was “beyond” all that was hitherto attained by all of the past Hindu Gurus and avatars.  Not only that, Sri Aurobindo also indicated, more than once, that the Hindu tradition of avatars (Divine Incarnations) was not a finished thing, there was no concept of the last avatar in Hinduism. As long as there shall be an evolutionary need for avatars, so long shall avatars be born upon earth.  Hinduism then contains the possibilities of further evolution — it has evolved so far through its foremost practitioners through the ages, and shall continue to do so, regardless of what the traditionalists feel. Whether the orthodox Hindu (Hinduism permits and absorbs within itself both the orthodox and the heretic, the traditionalist and the modernist) likes it or not, Hinduism is a dynamic and creative religion, not a static one. This is a fundamental difference between Hinduism and most other world religions.  Hinduism is dynamic and creative primarily because it is a spiritual and mystical religion at the core. A spiritual religion, by definition, must follow the soul, the spirit in man; it cannot be the other way round where the spirit follows or is constrained to follow the religion. A religion that claims precedence over the spirit becomes external and non-spiritual; and a non-spiritual religion will inevitably become subservient to external authority (of the scripture, priest and the church) and will not allow the freedom of spiritual quest and expression to its followers. Any individual spirituality outside the theological or ecclesiastical confines of the religion will be regarded as heretical or blasphemous.  A spiritual or mystical religion, on the other hand, cannot have any theological or ecclesiastical confines as that would be a contradiction in terms. The soul in its quest for Truth will soar beyond all outer forms and formulations, as the Truth it seeks is infinitely beyond anything that even the vastest and wisest mind can conceive. Thus, as the consciousness evolves, so must the religion. As the Vedas and the Vedanta reveal: Truth is vast, brihat, encompassing and transcending all space and time, and cannot thus be contained in any one timeframe, however cosmic that timeframe may be. Not only is it vast or brihat, it is universal and supra-cosmic, encompassing and transcending the entire cosmos, and thus cannot be contained by any one human sect, society, nation or religion. To claim that a particular community, faith or nation possesses this Truth would be like a sea wave claiming that it possesses the entire sea.  Hinduism is a spiritual and mystical religion because the source of Hindu thought and dharma is the eternal, living Truth of the soul or the spirit; and it is mystical because its entire body of knowledge and practice derives from direct and intuitive spiritual and yogic experience.  Thus, being spiritual and mystical at the core, Hinduism can, and indeed must, evolve into a religion in alignment with the needs and demands of a future humanity. It must not only be progressive but radical in accelerating the pace of human evolution. If this does not happen, Hinduism too, like most other world religions, will soon become obsolete and irrelevant, and die out in a few generations.  To stay dynamic and relevant, Hinduism must remain true to its core and spirit, and be open to change and revision, be willing to outgrow many of its past formulations and abandon many of its old dogmas, practices and beliefs.  Hinduism will need to preserve and revivify its Sanatan core, its deep and vast Vedic and Vedantic knowledge; and it will need to reach out into an equally vast evolutionary future, the seeds of which it hides in its heart as its supreme and final mystery — rahasyam uttamam. Read in Hindi
Read More
Indian Health Care
Uncategorized

Indian Health Care: The Covid Opportunity

A recent article in a national newspaper titled ‘Covid Fight: Govt system in front, private hospitals do the distancing’ has highlighted that the large-scale battle with Covid in India is being fought by Government hospitals and health institutions. Two-thirds of the hospitals beds and 90% of the ventilators in India are privately owned and yet they are handling less than 10% of Covid patients in the country. It is as if a firefighter were preparing to fight a conflagration and was only allowed to mobilize a highly restricted amount of poorly maintained equipment and material and poorly trained personnel. Calls have been made from various sections of media and leadership to nationalize all private health care enterprises in India immediately. And yet, this is not an optimal solution.  The Covid epidemic has only brought to light the extremely neglected state of health care in the country and the slow deterioration of every medical institution. In my opinion, fixing this diseased health care system requires a comprehensive approach that would be consistent and systematic and not knee-jerk. A wider, non-partisan and disinterested discourse is needed involving the various sections of the system. Yet, bold reforms are needed. Some, though not all, interventions could be among these:  Strengthen medical schools and graduate medical education (GME): Education has deteriorated even from the days I did medical school. We had great teachers who were dedicated and caring and drilled the knowledge in us, rigorously and sometimes painfully. Unfortunately, now the students are focused on preparing for multiple-choice questions for entrance exams and do not gain the clinical experience and expertise that is critical for any doctor. Teachers are busy with their own private practice and students are missing out on the most essential aspect of learning. This is not just in India. I recently taught a group of residents from various parts of the world; none of them knew how to hold an ophthalmoscope. I had to take a class on just how to hold the instrument properly and learn how to look in the eye of a patient. Better screening and aptitude tests before students are admitted to educational institutions might be considered.Strengthen primary care: Primary care is looked down upon; specialists are in high demand. The basics of engaging a patient are forgotten; how to listen, diagnose, ask, talk, examine are not emphasized. Primary care providers are paid less and have little influence in the care of their patients. Without a strong network of primary care, perhaps like in Cuba, we will not be able to provide quality, reduce costs and create a strong bulwark against such epidemics in the future. Better community and public health, education, nutrition, hygiene, sanitary services, clean water and air, and public safety are essential. The end-point is health; everything affects our inner and outer states of equilibrium or homeostasis.  Enhance rural care: Rural health is in shambles. Doctors do not like to live in the villages. Basic services are not available. Ambulance and trauma services are minimal. The referral process to secondary or tertiary system is disconnected and uncoordinated. Perhaps a Rural Health Corp can be constituted to ensure health care to our villages. Or doctors can be incentivized to live and practice in the villages.  Support Ayush: The indigenous systems of health care should not be shunned. They should be encouraged and integrated with the vast network of health care practitioners in the county. Ayurveda, yoga, unani, naturopathy, siddha and homeopathy can be effective if used appropriately and in the right hands. Medical tourism can be encouraged with the help of Ayurveda and yoga hubs across the country for wellness and chronic conditions. The goal eventually should be use to the concept of holistic health and ‘svasthya’ to reach an optimal state of individual development where each person’s true potential is allowed and facilitated to grow and reach its utmost fulfilment. Improve and expand government hospitals: Just like ‘Make in India’, we should have ‘Treat in India’. The politicians, senior bureaucrats and leaders need to get treatments in India. This is the only way they will take health care seriously and work towards improving it.Remove politics and commercial interests from health care: Big pharma and lobbyists need to be extricated from the health care system. The insidious problem of kickbacks, referral fee and cuts needs to be resolved if any meaningful reform is envisaged. This is the true virus; Covid is only a symptom. Enhance emergency and trauma service: A comprehensive approach to this is needed including education, traffic reforms, better roads and railways, ambulance services and trained transportation and evacuation personnel, and advanced trauma centers. Advanced facilities for research: Indians needs to become self-reliant in this field. Our research facilities are anemic and dilapidated. We need to bring the best scientists to the country and establish a culture of academic excellence and research. When we are talking about being ‘aatma nirbhar’ we need to do so in maintaining our state of wellness and ‘aarogya’.Use of technology: As information technology grows, medical education, rural health care, medical record keeping, primary care, urgent health care, research and diagnostics can be improved. Telehealth, extended reality, artificial intelligence, Internet of things, advanced data analytics, nanotechnology, cryo-technology, and genetic interventions and therapeutics can selectively increase the reach and improve the skills of our workforce while improving quality and utilization of services.Reform Insurance: Ayushman Bharat focused on an incidental approach to treatment; the next step should be towards prevention, improving population health while reducing waste, improving metrics and patient and provider education. The money spent on Ayushman Bharat which is mostly going to private entities might be better spent on public health care and rural health care systems.  The entire nation has been mobilized on a warfront. It is the time when our neglect of education and health is addressed on an emergent basis. Without the backbone of a strong health care system no country can be truly advanced. And if India needs to reach a GDP of 5 billion by 2024-5, this might be the most efficient and effective way to do so. A great nation needs a very healthy population.
Read More
The Question of Jhatka Halal
Uncategorized

The Question of Jhatka & Halal

Much has been said about the Halal means of slaughter and its impact on the food supply chain in particular, and the economy of the nation in general. Let us also look at the issue from a health perspective and try to deduce some tangibles. Halal means anything that is allowed according to the Sharia law of Islamic jurisprudence. And thus Halal has spread to every aspect of the life of our nation like, soaps, cosmetics, drugs, books, groceries, and even hospitals and airports becoming Halal, though 80% people of this nation are Hindus. Halal has become a code of sale and purchase to and from a particular community, thus laying the grounds for an economic apartheid, while also being a parallel certification system with no legal sanctity or accountability to the government of the day. Coming back to health aspects of Halal, let’s divide it into two areas: the meat trade and the rest of it.  Halal meat is a very specific form of slaughter and packaging which consists of following — The animal must be facing the Kaabaa, the holy place of Muslims.The slaughter must be done by a Muslim only.Kalma must be recited during the slaughter.Most importantly, only the carotid artery and the trachea of the animal must be slit and the animal must bleed to death.  The media space has been flooded with literature that this form of slaughter is healthier since all blood is pumped out by the dying animal’s heart. It is also claimed that for the same reason Halal meat is tastier and has a longer shelf life. However, there is not a single scientific study to back these claims.  Let us attempt to look at this from a purely medical perspective. Let us also compare the ‘Dharmic’ (I use the word “dharmic” to include Sikhs and Hindus) way of slaughter, known as Jhatka, with Halal to gain better understanding of the issue.  Jhatka comprises of beheading the animal in a single stroke. This is in tune with the Hindu and Sikh scriptures and the commands of our gurus, especially Sri Guru Gobind Singh.  There is another form of slaughter advocated by animal rights activists where the animal is stunned mechanically or electrically and then beheaded by a single stroke . It is called Single Slice Humane Slaughter ( SSHS) and is widely used in the Western world. There are three medical aspects of slaughtering technique we will consider to compare Halal with Jhatka. First , the claim that Halal leads to cleansing of blood from the body makes little sense because though blood is known to be a good culture medium of bacteria, there is no evidence that fresh blood is harmful to the body. What we eat as meat has blood enmeshed in it anyway. Besides, blood has a tendency to clot when exposed to air, so clotting around the carotids would anyway block them, hampering the exit of blood. This looks like a lame argument to support Halal unless it can be supported with incontrovertible scientific data. Secondly, when the animal is cut open but is still alive to feel the pain because its spinal cord is intact, the animal’s body releases stress hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline, both of which are known to be bad for the human heart. This does not happen with Jhatka slaughter because of the rapidity of death that ensues decapitation. Thirdly, Halal is an extremely cruel form of slaughter where the animal’s throat is slit and it is left to bleed to death. This cruelty triggers a complex chain of emotional and biochemical reactions in the animal’s body some of which are known to us and some unknown. Shifting away from the issue of meat, what are the other implications of Halal food in our day to day life? Halal proponents say that alcohol or anything derived from pigs is haram, or prohibited. A huge number of drugs like cough syrups need alcohol as a base and concentrated spirit is the best skin disinfectant known. Are we to understand that due to the beliefs of a particular community, time tested drug compositions and compounds that shield us from bacteria and viruses are to be re-researched and re-introduced into our health services? And then what is the certainty of finding alternatives to alcohol, besides the billions of dollars and man hours which will be lost in such an endeavour? The usage of products derived from pigs is prohibited according to the non-negotiable caveats of Halal.  Consider this against the background that the pig is genetically the closest animal to humans and holds the key to revolutionize treatments to various human ailments like diabetes, parkinsonism, burns and contractures among other things.  Until just a few years ago the pig pancreas was the only source of insulin capable of being produced at an industrial scale and it helped save millions  of lives. Pig skin is also used as an alternative to human skin in surgery of burns and contractures.  Can we even conceive the loss of human lives and ensuing morbidity that can stem from abandoning research on an area with a massive potential such as pig derivatives?  American pharma companies were forced to remove pork gelatine as a covering for capsules and was replaced by beef gelatine, costing billions of dollars for a belief that does not seem to have any solid scientific backing.  The economic demerit, and perhaps the most dangerous aspect of Halal, lies in how it works towards assuming full control over the global supply chain. Needless to say, this practice is religiously discriminatory towards all non- Muslims of the world and pushes millions out of jobs.  This is also in complete violation of the Lassies-Faire economic model of the modern world and against creating a competitive market.  Case in example, the entire meat supply of five star hotels and airlines in India is controlled by Halal certified vendors only. This kind of monopolization of food supply chain seriously affects the freedom of choice that should be the hallmark of any free and democratic society. Moreover, Halal certifications have no legal or scientific basis but they have completely overtaken our food supply chain.  Most of the times, big corporates yield to this economic blackmail by Sharia proponents but a lot of times Halal certifications are enforced through fear of violence as well.  Thus Halal certifications are an extortion of businesses and add huge costs to food. An estimate shows that global Halal certification economy runs into a trillion US dollars.  When companies like Amul, Patanjali, Cadbury, Bikaji, KFC, McDonald’s, Air India, Indian Railways yield to this unfair practice, we must understand the seriousness of this economic besiegement of our nation and national economy.  It is time that we get the right facts around Halal economy so that we can make a reasoned choice based on science and not superstition.  To sum up:   Based on sheer science, Halal meat is not superior to Jhatka meat. In fact, Jhatka is safer. Jhatka is the closest to humane slaughter. Jhatka is religiously sanctioned for Dharmics (Hindus, Sikhs etc.).Halal food is about capturing the food supply chain.Halal is religious discrimination and works against the free market.Halal has the potential to seriously jeopardize medical research. Halal is a parallel food certification and food supply system without legal basis or checks and balances.  It is time that a fair playing field is offered to all players of global food supply chain and nations and companies do not yield to compulsions of sectarian belief systems.  — The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous. The author, however, wishes it to be known that s/he is a medical professional and has researched the subject carefully before writing this article. S/he is also willing to answer questions that readers may wish to raise about the content of this article. (Ed)
Read More
battle sanskrit
Uncategorized

Indian Politics & the Left / Right Dichotomy

We don’t realize this but most of the television that we see is based on Western pop-culture. A lot of the food we eat and the clothes we wear, is based on Western ideas. Technology and Science also come from West. So is the language this article is written in. Even life philosophies seem to be dominantly coming from Western influences today. We don’t realize this but the West is completely normalized in our minds. This is not a critique of West’s dominant prevalence, but a call to analyze it. It is sitting accessible in our mind, let’s use it as an opportunity. We are not force fitting things into the right or wrong blocks, but just observing things for what they are. We will explore West first (पूर्व पक्ष), and then look into how that fits (or doesn’t fit) India. Western Philosophy Pattern Most of Western ideas stem from Western philosophy. It is based mostly on right or wrong, moral or immoral, yes or no, ethical or unethical, on or off, heaven or hell, good or bad etc. This can be generalized as either-ors, or bifurcations, or the best way to describe as dichotomies (partition of a whole into two subsets). This is a convenient approach for decision making and to solve problems, “Here’s two things, now choose one of them”. Today’s science and technology also follows this philosophical pattern. Computers are based on binary switches (on or off) and all concepts are extrapolated from that. Science in general works on the cold hard division of whether it works or it doesn’t. There is no acceptance of a spectrum of functioning. If the science falls below a certain success rate cutoff, it is “not science”. West also has its nuances though the binaries & positivism have taken over the dominant space. It has been centuries and it seems West is still sticking to this convenient polar approach, instead of exploring if there is anything wrong with it. Convenient does not mean correct. Western Political Understanding The political landscape in West is divided into two as well: Left Wing and Right Wing. Let us focus on the US, given that it calls the shots today. They have the liberal Democrats (Left Wing) and the conservative Republicans (Right Wing). Well, they do have Independents too, but historically they have only been able to get an abysmal 5% win. And then there is this practice of bi-partisanship (in other words, centrism) which, of-late, has been thwarted thanks to the Western developed polarizing social media (especially Twitter). So, overall, it is safe to stress that America effectively has only two polar opposite political parties: Democrats and Republicans. West is as West can be: A dichotomous theme park. Let’s quickly glance at what these parties stand for. It is visible that the Left basically projects itself as a modern counter response to the Right which bases itself on traditional cultural values. I stress, we are not judging, we are just understanding the bifurcation. Republicans / Conservatives / Right-WingDemocrats / Liberals / Left-Wing Pro Western CultureMulticulturalism Soft White People PreferenceRacial Inclusiveness Exclusive Christian identity Irreligious* Family ValuesIndividualism Soft Male Preference, Pro-LifeGender Equality, Pro-choice* Asserting Two Biological SexesGender Fluidity* Freedom of SpeechSoft Censorship, Political Correctness Individual Justice, Due ProcessSocial Justice, Identity Politics Low Taxes, Small GovernmentHigh Taxes, Big Government Private Healthcare, Education, No WelfareFree Healthcare, Education, Welfare Free MarketRegulate Businesses Tight BordersOpen Borders Passionate Meat EatingAnimal Rights* Climate is just fine, No WorriesFix the Climate National SovereigntyGlobal Order Western Political Dichotomy (* include contradictions of Islam) How Americans Vote American people however, are just regular people. Some are democrats, and some are republicans, and then a big chunk sees a middle ground, and then some who think independently. (This follows a natural four section division explored in Hindu philosophy – चतुष्कोटि). The voting patterns show that there are red states (which vote republican mostly) and blue states (which vote democrats mostly), then swing states (who sometimes choose red and sometimes blue). These swing voters are either seeing a middle ground, or are independents forced to choose between these two parties. Because of this contrasting organic voting pattern, most of the elections are won marginally. Point is, the American people are intellectual enough to understand the complexity and deserve more than a dumbed down decision of choosing between just the two. But then I am digressing. This is the West’s headache to solve (or not, it is up to them). Application to Indian Politics Which brings us to India. Going by the West’s prescribed convenient route, the majority’s culture gets the de-facto “Right wing” tag, and everyone else, “Left wing”. And this is where we can start our judgement given this is our culture. Let’s call these indigenous cultures (Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Adivasis, Parsis, Swadesi Muslims etc.) the “Indics”, and let’s map the Right Wing standings to the ethos of the Indics. Right-Wing StandingsWhat Indics Think Pro Indic CultureYes Soft Preference to … Brahmins?No Exclusive Indic identityNo Family ValuesYes Soft Male Preference, Pro-LifeNo Asserting Two Biological SexesNo Freedom of SpeechYes Individual Justice, Due ProcessYes Low Taxes, Small GovernmentDepends Private Healthcare, Education, No WelfareDepends Free MarketDepends Tight BordersYes Passionate Meat EatingNo Climate is just fine, No WorriesNo National SovereigntyYes Mapping Western Right Wing to Indic Values This makes no sense whatsoever. Indics were supposed to be Right Wing but it is capturing most of the liberal Left Wing ideas. Some Right Wing standings got included too. Thankfully, the garbage is rejected (male preference, exclusivity of a religion, identity politics, political correctness, possible homophobia, climate change deniers etc.). And then there are things which don’t seem partisan but plain debatable. Let’s dissect this further. Left-Wing StandingsWhat Indics Think MulticulturalismYes Racial InclusivenessYes IrreligiousYes IndividualismYes Gender Equality, Pro-choiceYes Gender FluidityYes Soft Censorship, Political CorrectnessNo Social Justice, Identity PoliticsNo High Taxes, Big GovernmentDepends Free Healthcare, Education, WelfareDepends Regulate BusinessesDepends Open BordersNo Animal RightsYes Fix the ClimateYes Global OrderYes Mapping Western Left Wing to Indic Values What the Indian Ethos Stand For While Indics want National Sovereignty and Tight Borders (due to the problems is has faced of late), it supports the idea of a Global Order (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्). Its fundamentals have gender equality, and cultural inclusiveness (ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः). It wants Indic religions, alongside other religions, but respects atheism as well. It wants family values while respecting individualism as well. Gender fluidity is fine. Nature is a goddess so protecting it is not just a future investment but a moral obligation. समोऽहं सर्वभूतेषु न मे द्वेष्योऽस्ति न प्रिय: I am equally disposed to all living beings; I am neither inimical nor partial to anyone (Bhagavad Gita – 9/29) And then there are temporally shifting points in which the Indics say that they will trust the Parliament. For example, the current government has introduced new socialist policies for the poor which have proved to be very good. So even if we become an Indic socialist country (like Canada), that’s fine. Another example, the current government is trying to privatize some sectors because of high corruption and operational inefficiency. So even if we become an Indic Capitalist country (like UAE), that’s fine too! Point is, these remain debatable and pro-rata. We seem to be going all over the place if we are seeing this from the simplistic Western dichotomous lens. In the East, complexity is understood since childhood, and whether we are taught the technicalities of चतुष्कोटि or not, the essence is built right into our minds. The Indic cultures are able to absorb all the seemingly reasonable asks of both sides and balance them, while keeping the temporally conditional things as debatable. The “Left” Wing? What about the “Left wing” from the Western lens? Sure, what is the Left side left with? Other than some make believe “Right-Wing Fascism” fear-mongering, what exactly will it stand for? It comprises of strict Abrahamics, Wokes, and some Communists. Let’s explore. Strict Abrahamics are exclusively conservative so Left Wing ideas are essentially blasphemous for them. Communists can sure stand in with the Left Wing, but then the Indics don’t mind some socialist policies themselves, so the Commies’ existence become diluted. What about the Wokes? It’s not clear what they stand for. Is it Westernizing India? Why though? Because it’s “cool”? “Netflix and Chill”? “Limp and Loose”? Not reasonable arguments. The Indics have all the necessary progressive points of modernity in place. Thanks, but no thanks. What about Majoritarianism West While that was policies, one can try to argue “Majoritarianism is bad” from a democratic stand point, hence majority should fall unconditionally into Right Wing. Alright, let’s look at why the West thinks this way. All Western countries are either born out of digesting some cultures e.g. Pagans of Europe, or by expanding while killing them off e.g. Natives of America and Aboriginals of Australia, or run operations by enslaving or colonizing them e.g. Africans, Asians and Indians. If that wasn’t enough they waged wars in Middle East on the basis of some speculations and floored a bunch of nations. While that’s outside home, the condition of minority African Americans in their own backyard is questionable at best and remains debatable in their politics. Remember we are not judging, just analyzing the thought process. They maintain the optics of “Human Rights” to compensate for their moral failures around the world. They have a general sense of guilt association with their majority holdings. (Their imaginations of the future is always dystopian and self loathing, such as Avatar, Westworld, Hunger Games, Omniscient, Altered Carbon, Serenity, Star Wars, Walking Dead, etc. and the success of these movies give a hint of their internalized guilt). In their world, “Majoritarianism is bad” makes sense. India In our world, in India however, it has been the other way around. The “majoritarian” Indics have actually been the victims of the aforementioned digestion/killing by the two dominant Abrahamic cultures. And surprisingly we are still happily living together. We just want to be vigilant (due to aggressive proselytism) but overall we see those past unfortunate events as circumstantial and want to move on. Adding further to this contrary, we are still suffering from colonial dividing policies. The farce aryaninvasiontheory to divide the North and South, and the European castasystem to reinterpret वर्ण जाति (Varṇa Jāti) as rigid, were imposed by colonials. We are till date picking up the pieces with Dalits, and are in the process of clearing these mistakes forced on our culture. Point is, the Indics have no guilt of invasions on other cultures and lands, or oppressing anyone in their own capacity. Thus the “Majoritarianism is bad” burden is for West to bear for their own past. Sorry but not sorry, we do not share your White Guilt. Our collective conscience is clean. Food for thought: Are the Abrahamic “minorities” of India really minorities? For all practical purposes, given the global unity of these Abrahamic religions, and their control of world politics, trade and universalism, the Indics actually are the minorities in our globalized world. If West is looking to compensate for their moral failures of the past, then in case of India they can fight for the Indics‘ right to their land. Or at best, notinterfere. The Argument Specialized bifurcations, in the context of culture, India can be inclusives vs exclusives. Or in terms of modernity, it can be Indics vs Westernizers. Even then, neither are we interested in the pro-inclusive talks of the exclusives (because that doesn’t sound trustworthy and regardless we are inclusive in the first place), nor are we interested in getting Westernized (modernity can very well be achieved without changing one’s culture. Japan and Indonesia are good examples of that). This was just some added demonstration that bifurcations in general don’t really work for the complex India. For example, it is quite legitimately possible to imagine a Jain politics as one would imagine Buddhist politics as a Naiyāyika or Mīmāṃsaka politics as also of a Vedantin politics. And of course not to leave out Cārvāka philosophy. And so on. Our current (Western based) descriptions of reality around us and the categories by which we understand and describe it are inadequate to capture the reality appropriately. This calls for efforts to better our own abilities as well as the capability of our language(s). This is the continuous effort that such great thinkers as Gaṅgeśa Upādhyāya or Raghunātha Śiromaṇi were doing. This effort stopped owing to the atrocities during the British rule and continued post-independence owing to the rejection of a vast territory of our past. As I mentioned, we are picking up those pieces till date. Conclusion India cannot be seen from the Western Left and Right political lens as it does not capture the reality of our polity. Force fitting the diverse Indic परम्परा to the mundane left right Western categories is disingenuous. The Pro-Indics should not be called Right Wing. Anyone doing so is being sloppy with their intellect. The political dichotomy of Left vs Right is lazy and underdeveloped even for the West, and we suggest them to revisit it. Reprinted with permission of the author (May 2020)
Read More
श्रद्धाशक्ति तथा भविष्य निर्माण
Uncategorized

Agni Purusha, Being of The Fire

Creating The Future & The Power of Belief There are those who are not content being what they are or doing what they are doing. You can make them out quite easily: they stand out with their intensity of being, their restlessness, their quiet defiance of all that is established and accepted. You cannot fit them into neatly labelled categories. They are also not nice people to know. They provoke, they attack. But they are also very humble, and very vulnerable in their humility.   Very often, their discontent arises not from failure or apprehension of failure but, ironically, from  success. The more they do things well, the more they are acknowledged to be good in their work, the more they grow disenchanted. This is disenchantment that drives them towards higher heights, deeper depths. They do not rest till they have driven themselves to their utmost. You find them in every field: sports, business, art, media, even religion. I call them “beings of the Fire”.  Many years ago I had met an old mystic in the Himalayas who had told me that the earth survives on spiritual fire, the fire that is at the core of the sun and in the core of our being — he had called it Agni. Without this Agni, he had said, the earth dissipates into cold death and life into cold night. All life and consciousness is the blaze of this Cosmic Fire, the Agni in the soul. Now the time has come, he had told me in grave and intense syllables, for the balance to be tilted, one way or the other: the dark and cold night or the Sacred Blaze, the Fire.  “And who tilts the balance, Baba?” I had asked in my timorous innocence.  “You,” he had replied, without hesitation, with force and meaning, “You and those like you who have the courage to seek, the courage to call, the courage to demand from life nothing but the highest!” “But we are seekers, we don’t know, we don’t even know if what we demand is real..” “No,” the old mystic had said, “You are beings of the Fire. Agni Purusha. Those like you will keep the Sun alive. Or else, it will be death and darkness!”  It is this Fire that is at the heart of human existence, the shakti, the force, that animates all life towards more growth, more consciousness, more life. This is the fire of evolution.  It took me many years and much inner labour to even begin to understand the words of that old Himalayan mystic.  But when I did begin to understand, I began to seek out these Agni Purushas, these Beings of the Fire. First, of course, in myself; and then in others whom I’d meet.  One thing immediately became very clear: that such beings of the Fire are rare. They are like a different species, still very few, and very scarce. Probably like the first mammals must have been in the twilight age of the dinosaurs. It is the mediocre that dominate the world; those Bright and Radiant beings of the Fire retire into anonymity or renounce altogether this dismal world of ours. And they leave it, by sad default, to the mediocre. Generations go to waste, preoccupied with the banal, the inane, while the spirit of the earth rots.  Someone has to speak for the earth and for her spiritual truth. Now or never. Or else, we will lose our future to the careless and the wanton. Some angel in some imagined heaven will write our epitaph in the Bard’s words: ‘twas a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.  This is the decisive hour. This hour will tilt the balance. The hour of God, as Sri Aurobindo wrote. And what are we — the worthies of earth’s evolution — doing? Those who can act, labour, and create, have offered their souls to the all-pervading god of Money. Their very identity is related to material success and monetary gain. And those who can think, study, contemplate and teach, the philosophers and intellectuals,  are unable to inspire and lead by their philosophies and teachings. Somehow, the Fire is not in their Word. And so the young remain clueless about their own and their world’s futures. And the elders are lost in either nostalgia or cynicism.   The thinkers only talk, they have mastered that skill — and thank God for that, for at least something is mastered. The doers, the actors and the managers on the world-stage, only rush from one deadline to the next, clueless of what is happening and where they are headed. The doers have no time or patience for the thinkers; the thinkers, cynical to the marrow of their bone, distrust the clueless doer.  And so there is this great divide. The philosopher sits in his spacious armchair and smokes his metaphorical pipe, dreaming of some distant utopia. The doer struts and frets his brief apocalyptic hour on the stage, and then is heard no more! So, the question: Who shall lead? Or, to be more precise, what shall lead? The mind? But the mind is all confused, full of jargon and statistics, either too cynical to act or too carried away by its own all-consuming self-interest to care. The heart? But the heart is too timid, too hesitant to act decisively and potently: it has grown too old, too sad, too soon to affect anything real at all. In other words, mind and heart are both tottering and ineffectual. It must something else, then.   And that something else — may it not be the spirit, the soul that our gurus and seers hold as the supreme attainment? The Inner Wisdom of the Zen Master, the indwelling Buddha, the Inmost One of the Vedas? It really doesn’t matter what you call it. What matters is that you believe in it, believe that something like that exists in you, a pure flame of consciousness, an unchanging source of wisdom, compassion and love that is independent of all circumstances and relationships. An unerring will, intention, and judgment that simply knows what is right and just and does not need to struggle with contending and contradictory pulls.  Believing this will be a first important step. And that, in itself, will be the beginning of the cure of that dreaded malady of cynicism that seems to have gripped everyone across cultures and societies: a crippling inability to believe in anything good or noble. And this is precisely the point where things come apart: for if we cannot believe, we cannot lead, inspire, or affect. The true cause of our collective impotence is this: that we cannot believe. We have become a society of non-believers, of cynics and sceptics; and following the inviolable law of life, we end up actualizing in our personal and collective lives what we hold in our expectations. So we get the worst because we expect the worst! We get the Devil because we cannot believe in Godhead, our religious sentiments notwithstanding.  So to create meaningful leadership, we must first create belief, faith, hope and confidence in ourselves, in our civilization, our culture, our human future. But this must not be the hope and confidence of mere positive thinking or self-hypnosis. This faith and belief, hope and confidence, must arise from a deeper source within, a deeper and truer consciousness, a surer and more luminous inner knowing and wisdom. In other words, we need to rediscover in ourselves spiritual faith: and spiritual faith does not mean faith in a god dwelling in some high heaven but faith in godhead in humanity: we need to believe that we ourselves are capable of the good, the true, the noble, and the beautiful.  Reflect on the fact that it is a lot easier to believe in a god dwelling in the high heavens than in a godhead dwelling in ourselves as our highest possibility. Believing in a  heavenly God can happily coexist with not believing in humanity. But to believe in the human, in myself and in you, demands extraordinary effort — the effort of understanding human nature, of accepting blunders and stupidity and still not losing hope, of refusing to surrender to mindless cynicism or heartless despair. Such effort implies a tremendous vision of our own future. And a tremendous understanding of human nature, a profound feel of human growth and possibility. After all, what does cynicism really mean?  Does it not simply mean that we have not delved deep enough into ourselves? That we have not understood the true significance of human life? That we are only skimming the surface, and believing what we see at the present moment to be all of the truth? It is like looking at an unfinished painting of an artist and dismissing it as bad work just because we do not know how the finished work will look like. At best, impatience; at worst, childish stupidity.  But to see the emerging whole in the struggling part, to glimpse the dawn in the darkest night or the perfect form in the uncarved stone, to imagine the flower in the closed seed, to feel the torrent in the trickle of a stream: these call for imagination, faith, insight, understanding, patience, humility. And, of course, a new way of seeing, a new kind of perception.  And this new kind of perception is no mystic mumbo-jumbo: it is a simple and practical way of re-looking at ourselves, our history, our possibility, our dynamically unfolding spiritual reality. It is a pragmatic way of reassessing the human story, the human narrative, of learning to understand deeper patterns, subtler nuances. I call this spiritual seeing: spiritual not in the religious sense at all but in the sense of immediate, direct, essential seeing; seeing without the veils of mental biases and emotional conditionings, social or cultural prejudices, personal or personality-driven blind-spots; seeing that is pure, an intuitive, non-intellectual direct perception of the essence rather than overt detail.  When you begin to see this way, you begin to notice details that you had never noticed before. Things fall in place like pieces of a cosmic puzzle. Meanings unfold, naturally and effortlessly. A wisdom dawns, a quiet light of understanding fills the hours of your days and nights, the very quality of your everyday life changes, and you begin to catch at least the first and tentative glimpses of the Wonderful in the mundane, the Splendour in the ordinary.  The sequence is simple: believe in that something in you, the Buddha within, the Wisdom, the Light of your own highest possibility; be attentive to it, and it will grow more and more conscious and concrete in your experience. Once that begins to happen, try to hold it more and more consciously in your everyday life and acts, in your thoughts and feelings.  It isn’t difficult. In fact, it  is much simpler than holding on to the things we usually hold on to, and it is infinitely more liberating.  Read in Hindi
Read More
Uncategorized

Great Hindu Mystic

The religious culture which now goes by the name of Hinduism … gave itself no name, because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal adhesion, asserted no sole infallible dogma, set up no single narrow path or gate of salvation; it was less a creed or cult than a continuously enlarging tradition of the Godward endeavour of the human spirit. An immense many-sided and many-staged provision for a spiritual self-building and self-finding, it had some right to speak of itself by the only name it knew, the eternal religion, Sanatan Dharma….  (Sri Aurobindo, 1919) In recent years there has been an academic controversy amongst the more scholarly followers of Sri Aurobindo on the subject of whether he should be considered a Hindu and whether his teachings could be classed as Hinduism. Unfortunately there are  many western or westernised Indian followers of Hindu gurus who will do their utmost to dissociate themselves from the word “Hindu”, a phenomenon which the Hindu author and writer Rajiv Malhotra refers to as the U- Turn. Such individuals who try their best to escape any association with the word Hindu typically feel that their sage/guru is of universal importance, belonged to the whole world, and cared about everyone – Hindu or non-Hindu alike. Therefore it is a travesty for such a great universal teacher to be called a Hindu. What they fail to realise is that the basic teachings of Hinduism (the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita and other sacred literature) are every bit as universal as their own cherished guru. Hinduism and Universal are synonymous All the thousands of true Hindu sages through the passage of time have always said that their teachings are universal, and have had a concern for all humanity. This does not make them non-Hindu. This just means that at its core – Hinduism itself is universal and embraces the whole of humanity, allowing all to drink the nectar of its wisdom without giving up their identity. But they don’t want to attribute the quality of universalism to Hinduism, because it is unfashionable; Hinduism being associated in the media with backwardness and social ills. “But to limit Sri Aurobindo to Hinduism is like characterising modern science and technology as purely Christian, since by and large they originated in the Christian countries.” (Mangesh Nadkarni) This is quite wrong. Sri Aurobindo acknowledges (and nobody would dare argue otherwise) that he first achieved direct spiritual experience reflecting upon and practicing the yoga of the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads, with intense devotion to Krishna. Without these he would not have been able to achieve his spiritual realisations, and develop his philosophical teachings. On the other hand, modern science was not developed by persons who were following a Christian line of thought or enquiry. It was developed by enquiry and study into material reality, independently of religion. Hence, the relationship between Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism is quite different to the relationship between modern science and Christianity. Sri Aurobindo’s teachings can be said to be unique and universal – but these teachings would not have developed without the creative field of experimentation that Hinduism provides. Sri Aurobindo was a heroic spiritual experimenter, like the ancient Vedic sages, who wanted to use his experiences and knowledge to transform and save the world. It is accurate to say that the teachings of Sri Aurobindo flowed out of traditional Hinduism. Reprinted from the Internet without permission Please go to the original article to read more
Read More
Open Letter
Uncategorized

An Open Letter

What was called in the ancient times Sanatan Dharma, which has come down to us today under the name of Hinduism, with its many branches, sects and gurus, is in great danger today, as it is attacked by many forces. The enemies of Hindus are united, even if it is in disunity, even if it is a temporary arrangement based on a common hatred. Christian conversions, the onslaught of Muslim fundamentalism, the abhorrence of communists for Hinduism, the infinite dangers of Globalisation and Americanisation, the disregard of India’s intellectual elite of India for their own culture and spirituality, are slowly but surely making a dent in India’s psyche … There are so many great gurus incarnated in India at the moment. Yet not only are they not united against the common enemy, or for the common good, but they often compete against each other for disciples or territory and even criticize each other. Disunity has always been the curse of Hinduism and India and whichever enemy conquered this country, did it not because of superior strength, but because they were helped by Hindu betrayers. Remember the last great Hindu empire, that of Vijaynagar. The Christians have a Pope, the Muslims the word of the Koran, communists have Der Kapital of Karl Marx, but Hindus are fragmented in a thousand sects, which often bicker with each other. Excerpted from François Gautier’s article posted on July 27, 2018 and reprinted here with permission
Read More
Demonization Of Hindus
Uncategorized

Demonization Of Hindus At Danger Level

Anyone who knows even a little about the mindset of Hindus knows that genocide is simply not in their genes. It never happened and it can never happen. Killing someone because he worships God under another name is for Hindus unimaginable and ridiculous. Sometimes I check the German TV channel Deutsche Welle (dw) to know what they want us to think. Unlike in India, most German news channels are government friendly. Yet it always amazes me, although India and Germany are on friendly terms, how negatively dw reports on India. So when on 17. April 2020 dw ran a negative story on “Islamophobia at an all-time high in India” and claimed that the Modi government uses the Covid 19 crisis to stigmatise Muslims, I was not surprised. The report showed Muslim vegetable vendors complaining that Hindus boycott them. It is true. Even in my village people refuse to buy from Muslims now, but dw did not tell the reason why this happens. It did not tell that some clerics considered the Corona virus as sent by Allah to kill millions of Hindus and asked the faithful to spread it. A huge congregation of Tablighi Jamat, an Islamic missionary movement, took place in Delhi, after which many participants spread out all over India and spread the virus at a time when the whole of India had only some 800 cases and few deaths. The administration and police tried feverishly to trace all those thousands of Tablighis and their contacts, after many of them, including foreigners, had tested positive for the virus. It was a Herculean task. But given the huge population density in India, it was crucial to prevent community spread of the virus. Police razzias and doctors who came to test were often pelted with stones. Several were injured. Moreover, the Tablighis in quarantine facilities or hospitals behaved awfully. Doctors complained about spitting on them, excreting in the corridor, making obscene gestures, running around naked in front of female nurses, and demanding meat to eat. Why would good Muslims, (and missionaries are supposed to be good Muslims), behave like this? The answer is probably that good Muslims know their holy books and want to follow their command. They know that Allah sees Kafirs as the worst of creatures who will burn in hell for eternity (Quran 98.6), so naturally they have contempt for them. They also know that they need to fight till the whole world accepts only Allah (Q 8.39). And since it is not easy to wipe out millions of Kafirs, the virus is seen as a gift from Allah which will do the job if widely spread. So it is no surprise that especially good Muslims want to spread the virus. Videos show how they aggressively resist testing, violate curfew, spit on vegetables and currency notes. A video shows policemen picking up currency notes from the street with a stick and putting them into a plastic bag. It is very insidious to throw money on the road, as the temptation to pick it up is surely great for children and the poor. So it should not surprise that nowadays, during the Corona crisis, Hindus turn Muslim vendors away because they can’t be sure if those vendors are ‘good’ Muslims who believe that Hindus should die out. It is impossible to know, because they are allowed to deceive Kafirs, provided it fosters the spread of Islam. So “better safe than sorry” is naturally the motto. But all this was not mentioned by dw. At the end of the report, a woman commentator from India was interviewed. She said that there is a “360 degree discrimination against Muslims by the Modi government”. It was a lie. The government is not discriminating between different religious groups in regard to relief operations which are running in full swing, with money credited to accounts and massive support to migrant labour. I was annoyed about this type of reportage on India, especially, when dw does not show the real discrimination in Pakistan against Hindus and Christians who claim they don’t get rations during the Corona crisis and several were forced to convert to survive. But then, I was used to the bias against India by dw. A few hours later I checked once more on dw. The same report was broadcast, same footage, same vendors complaining, but now the woman commentator had been replaced with Arundhati Roy. This seemed strange. When she started to speak, slowly, amiably, with a smile in her for-Western-eyes pretty face, it was pure poison, vicious and dangerous. Roy is known to tell terrible lies about India since years but this time, something more sinister seemed brewing. Why did dw not simply run the same report again? Was that previous commentator not vicious enough? Here is what Arndhati Roy (who by the way is Christian) said on the clip that dw put out on Twitter: “Honestly the situation is approaching genocidal, because the government’s agenda has been this. Since this government came, Muslims have been lynched, Muslims have been hunted down but now the stigmatization with this illness has left government policies on the street now. You can hear it everywhere. It comes with the threat of extreme violence.” This clip went viral. Yet it was not the complete interview. Here are some more comments by her which I had jotted down: She said that the extreme violence comes in the background of the massacre (she used the word massacre) in Delhi – cleverly not mentioning who massacred whom, but implying of course that Muslims were massacred. She rued that Trump was there at the time, but didn’t say anything. She called RSS the mother ship of BJP who wants a Hindu state; said that the world welcomes Modi but it should know that he is very much part of the agenda (of making a Hindu state) and they were already building detention centres. She called most anchors in MSM channels “single member lynch mobs”. And as if this all was not enough, she compared the situation in India with what happened in Ruanda before the massive genocide and that genocide in patches happens already. She asked the world to keep its eyes on it. The anchor called it a very important message and asked how can we prevent the genocide, taking it for granted that Roy had spoken the truth and genocide is indeed planned by the Indian government. In the end, Roy is introduced among other flattering attributes as “most acclaimed intellectual”. I felt shaken after hearing her. She gave the false and dangerous impression to the world that Hindus are planning genocide of Muslims. This is not a small thing. It is extremely dangerous and on Twitter already support comes in for the ‘Muslims of India’. We stand by you, is promised and a lawyer dressed in Arabic outfit tweeted he will adopt the cause of Muslims in India at UNHRC in Geneva for free… it got 17,6k likes and over 5k retweets. Anyone who knows even a little about the mindset of Hindus knows that genocide is simply not in their genes. It never happened and it can never happen. Killing someone because he worships God under another name is for Hindus unimaginable and ridiculous. Yet for the past thousand years Hindus were at the receiving end of jihads and conversion campaigns and millions of Hindus were massacred in cold blood because they were Hindus – massacred by Muslims. So did Arundhati Roy demonise Hindus so badly to instigate Muslims to “rise up against the oppression” and prepare the world to believe that oppression by Hindus is for real? Is she trying to help Pakistan fulfil its “unfinished agenda” of taking Hindustan fighting and make it accept Islam? Arundhati Roy would know that Hindus are not aggressors by nature. She and her ilk may be desperate to paint Hindus black, as especially in Europe, people become more and more wary of the behaviour of Muslims in their countries but don’t have any problems with Hindus. The faith of Hindus is based on Dharma and Dharma means to do what is right and in tune with one’s conscience. ‘Good’ Hindus are those rare human beings who see others as brothers and sisters, and are kind to animals and nature, too. Hindus do not divide humanity into those who are chosen by God and those who are eternally damned. Hindu children are not taught to look down on non-Hindus, unlike children of the dogmatic religions who are taught that their God loves them but does not love those ‘others’ unless they join their ‘true’ religions. However, Hindus are often too naïve to realize what mind-set the dogmatic religions foster. They unwisely give privileges to Muslims and Christians, which even Hindus don’t have, in spite of Swami Vivekananda warning already over 100 years ago that every convert is not one Hindu less but one enemy more. Sri Aurobindo also felt that hope for India lies in those, who converted out of Hinduism, to lose faith in their new religion which most accepted anyway due to pressure or allurement at the time of conversion. Truth does not need pressure and allurement. It makes sense. Untruth needs to be enforced with brutal laws that forbid people to believe anything else than what is declared as “the only truth”. The Hindu view is undoubtedly closer to truth. Nobody is forced to believe it and yet Hindus held on to it under extremely painful circumstances, and Westerners, dissatisfied with the Church, accept Hindu Dharma on their own accord. It is also no coincidence that modern science discovered that all is One Energy after Indian philosophy became known in the west. Nobody needs to be worried about a nation where the Hindu roots are fostered. Where Sanskrit is taught, which is the most perfect, dignified, powerful language on earth. Where yoga is practised in schools, which is an ideal means for all-round development and which, on a deeper level, helps to find fulfilment in live. Where Vedic philosophy is studied, which inspired the new scientific discoveries in nuclear physics. Where the amazing wisdom of Mahabharata and Ramayana becomes common knowledge. Where children chant “Loka samastha sukhino bhavantu” (May all be happy). Why would those Indians who converted to Islam or Christianity not be also proud of the achievements of their ancestors? India was the cradle of civilization, a knowledge hub and the richest country on earth. It was known for its wisdom. Surely Christians and Muslims cannot have any objection that students are taught this fact or that they chant “May all be happy” in Sanskrit, the language of their forefathers. If someone calls such teaching communal it is malicious. Is not he the one who tries to divide society and not those who say “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (all is one family) due to their philosophical outlook? One day, when people have become tired of blindly believing irrational dogmas, and when nobody is threatened any longer with dire consequences or even death if he stops believing in those strange dogmas, the world will be grateful to Bharat Mata that she has conceived and preserved over millennia those eternal, precious insights for the benefit of humanity.
Read More
Uncategorized

Hindu Majoritarianism : A Cruel Joke

If you Google “Hindu murders in Karnataka”, you will get a plethora of reports citing varying numbers of RSS, VHP or Bajrang Dal activists lynched to death by those claiming to wage a jihad against the so-called infidels. There may be disputes over the number of Hindus murdered, but all articles reporting this agree on specific killing of Hindus by jihadi elements. The gross average of the numbers comes to 12 in the past two years. Twelve families destroyed, yet no reports on media! No outrage at Jantar Mantar. No storming of the streets by the bindi brigade. No discussion on prime time television. No letter of condemnation to the ‘intolerant’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi by former bureaucrats and self-proclaimed academicians. Contrast this with the murder of Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh two years ago. The whole leftist jihadi cabal went berserk and tremors of the ghastly murder were felt even in the United States where The Washington Post and The New York Times published articles on “murderous” Hindu gangs. The government of the State gave a government job to the kin of the murdered, approximately Rs 1 crore worth of compensation and properties to the bereaved family. A similar sequence has been repeated in the Kathua rape case. It is as though this rape (still unproved) and murder was more newsworthy than incidents of similar crimes reported everyday by the media. On an average, three Hindu girls are raped everyday in neighboring Pakistan for the singular reason that they are Hindus. Three Hindu underage girls raped everyday! Let that sink into our consciousness. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about it? Why are Hindus the most forsaken people on this globe? In any civilized society, a murder or rape is a heinous crime. Why do rapes and murders of Hindus evoke a yawn from the Indian media and so-called civil society while the same entities go ballistic on the mere reporting of a rape or murder of a Muslim? Of course, that one rape or murder is the retribution for another is not my case. There is a pattern to this madness. Four reasons can be inferred directly from this strange conduct of the global community and the media to this direct assault on Hindu life and ethos. First, money, the eternal motive. Because Hindu society is devoid of a central core of leadership, all attacks on Hindus are left to be defended by local resistance, which almost never happens. On the other hand, the Abrahamic faiths, plush with funds from zaqaat and tithe, fund the spread of lies against Hindus so as to malign the Hindu faith globally. It isn’t without reason that very aggressive spokespersons of the Church and jamaat councils find prime airtime to view their side of the narrative whereas Hindus are represented by tilak-wielding, dhoti-kurta clad, usually overfed mahantas from some godforsaken akhada, who not only are ill at ease speaking English but also whose Hindi is pathetically inarticulate, sounding more like a cacophony instead of an argument. Why isn’t ever a Rajiv Malhotra, a Satish Sharma or a Vamsee Juluri invited to TV channels to articulate the Hindu side of the story? Obviously, to make Hinduism look mediaeval and archaic to the global community as well as the urban Hindus themselves. RSS swayamsevak Rudresh was stabbed to death in broad daylight in Bengaluru Second, human beings are generally infected with the desire to appear good and just to the world around him. It is a psychological malaise that camouflages the sloth and cowardice of the self-proclaimed liberals in the garb of justice and equanimity. Hence, all atrocities against Hindus are downplayed or brushed under the carpet because the Hindu intelligentsia and media have internalized the strange hypothesis that crimes against the majority are not as bad as those against the minorities. So, when there is genocide of Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan, the world looks the other way, but a stray incident where the usual community of perpetrators is targeted — or the religion of the victim does not even occur to the criminal — and the whole cabal mounts horsebacks to defend the so-called minorities. This active trivialization of crime against Hindus is partly due to the lack of efficient and honest Hindu leadership and partly due to the proclivity of looking good to others, even at the cost of hushing up the truth and siding with lies. Man’s capacity to deceive himself is infinite. And nothing proves this more than the abject bigotry of the nation’s elite and intelligentsia towards atrocities on Hindus in Bharat. A case in point: Ever wondered why not a single movie has been made on the Kashmiri exodus of Hindus by the rudalis of Bollywood? Not a lucrative business? But Mumbai riots and demonization of Balasaheb Thackeray in Bollywood continues uninterrupted. In fact, there is a well oiled, well funded machinery of writers who keep churning out atrocity literature against the Hindu faith on a regular basis. Sometimes, in the name of an obsolete Manu Smriti and, sometimes, in the name of caste conflict. They never run out of ideas to malign the Hindu civilisation. The idea is to generate a sense of victimhood in the minds of people, especially from the minorities and the poorer sections of Hindu society. Once victimhood finds roots in the human psyche, man is capable of the worst kind of violence and mayhem. It is a very dangerous game that the media and self-styled liberals are playing. When the beast of victimhood manifests, it is mayhem unleashed on one’s own citizenry, which even the most well-meaning and well-equipped police cannot control. Third is the lack of poorva paksha (homework and research). The Indian intelligentsia first co-opted the lines of sarva dharma sama bhava from Hindu scriptures and then turned it on its head to attack Hindus from all sides. The so-called Hindu leadership of the RSS and VHP too are part of this circus since they too believe that all religions are the same. This is a white lie. And this lie comes out of a deficient, linear understanding of dharma instead of a holistic one. The Macaulay system of English education has produced a crop of apparently educated people in this nation with zero spiritual quotient. Sarva dharma samabhaava is a beautiful yogic realisation penned down by Hindu rishis after decades of meditation in their ashramas. It was a peak experience they recorded in the Upanishads and it came after real, solid hard work of tapasya. They did not believe in sarva dharma sama bhava; they saw it and hence they lived it, too. It was an experience of a perfect harmony with nature and fellow human beings. Now, in today’s world, when there is a direct conflict for supremacy of a religion over another, sarva dharma sama bhava is a perfect recipe for disaster because it is completely out of context, and in fact a white lie, especially when there are religions that come to the table with options of violence and rape for those who do not believe in their religion. The Hindu leadership and the fake intelligentsia of this besieged nation lies when it parrots an Upanishadic wisdom to unsuspecting Hindus. And lies have consequences. Horrible consequences that are borne by poor, unsuspecting Hindus living on the cusp of jihad in States like Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka and Jammu & Kashmir. The Hindus on this globe are confused and lost because they are being asked to be accommodative of all other faiths while the other faiths are carrying on with their predatory nature to kill or convert Hindus all over the world. This is an asymmetric conflict in which Hindus are at a huge disadvantage of narrative as well as resources. This warrants the study of yet another case in point: Demographics of the Indian subcontinent. About 15% was the population of Hindus in Pakistan in 1947. It is now 1.4%. 35 % of Bangladeshis were Hindus in 1947; the Hindus now comprise a mere 7% of the population. Even in India, Hindus have reduced from 88% in 1947 to just about 79%. Eight crore Hindus have been murdered in 1,400 years of Islamic invasion of this unfortunate nation of ours. (Will Durant) These are official census data on which there is no TV debate ever, although demography is destiny especially in a democracy. The state and the media are both ignoring the demographic inversion of Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and parts of Jammu to the peril of Hindus. If the situation is a figment of the imagination of the Hindutva brigade, even then, these issues need to be discussed — to call the bluff of Hindu activists. Fourth, offense is the best form of defense. Because the jihadi-leftist nexus is already indulging in a dance of death in Bharat and globally, the slightest aberration by Hindus is trumpeted as a ‘majoritarian’ backlash — although on the scale and ferocity of it, these acts of Hindu vandalism are no match to what is being unleashed by Islamist terrorists in Kashmir and communists in Kerala. The constant onslaught on Hindu lives and thoughts have resulted in a Hindu leadership that is constantly apologetic and a Hindu citizenry that is in complete disarray. In spite of being the most unaggressive and sublime thought mankind has ever achieved, Hinduism is on a constant guilt trip and consequently, the great ethos of Hindu civilisation is getting diluted, eventually disappearing. If the largest community of this nation feels orphaned, it is a matter of serious concern for the policymakers of this nation because a universal grudge of the majority community cannot be ignored for long. Eventually, it will explode with unmanageable consequences. God forbid, if some fanatic Hindu radicals exploit the entire Hindu anguish and come up with a physical response to attacks on Hinduism, we will be witnessing an unprecedented mayhem, the glimpses of which we got in the form of mobs unleashed on streets in the name of cow vigilantism and random lynching of people by madmen masquerading as Hindu warriors in the not so distant past. Father of Gudiya (name changed) addressing a press conference in Kolkata, complaining that the city police is scared to venture into the neighborhood where his daughter was kidnapped by a Muslim suspect The constant attacks on Hindu ethos, and sheer concern for survival, have already led to a reverse consolidation of Hindus against the ‘Breaking India’ forces, a term coined by Rajiv Malhotra who has meticulously identified the patterns of attack by other faiths along Hindu fault lines. It is finding resonance in many upper and middle class Hindu households. The advent of social media has given a very wide reach to the works of Hindu scholars. This too is leading to a reverse consolidation of Hindus against the incessant onslaught on their way of life. The social media has also ensured that Hindus are no longer helpless victims of this constant demonization of their faith. A counter narrative to Hinduphobia is being built up by some brilliant minds on raw data and meticulous poorva paksha by Hindu scholars. Every society must either be governed by a just law or impeccable morals. Law comes from the state and morals from religion. In a nation-state like Bharat, the grounds of legal apartheid were laid when different civil codes were applied to different sets of population. So there goes the law. If Hindus were to take to streets demanding a uniform civil code, would the Indian state be justified in cracking its whip on them? Does the Indian state have the moral fibre to look Hindus in the eye and question the Hindu angst on Article 370, Hindu genocide in Kashmir, Pakistan and Bangladesh, murders of Hindu leaders all over Bharat, and scores of such issues which genuinely contribute to accumulated Hindu anger? As far as morals are concerned, Hinduism is an egalitarian faith which has been evolving continuously for more than 8,000 years. Even the scriptures are not considered sacrosanct, what to say of holy men or gods of the past. Hindu faith even accepts nastikta (atheism or non-acceptance of the authority of the Vedas — Ed.) as a school of thought. Contrast this with the Abrahamic faiths that insist on one god, one book and one prophet. Without going into the merits of one religion over another, does anyone in his right mind actually think that such varied understandings of religions can eventually give rise to a moral code that can govern a society as complex as India? Even if it is done, how will we arrive at a consensus? By shastrartha (theological debates)? As of now, that does not seem to be happening. All we see are a spate of deceitful or forceful conversions and acts of random but unceasing violence against Hindus. How does a society function and progress where law and morals are so debilitating and partisan in nature? This is a question that must shake the consciousness of every politician and policy maker of this glorious but besieged nation. It is only a matter of time before Hindus consolidate and respond to the constant encroachment on the physical, spiritual, moral, educational, emotional and mental space of the Hindus. In the absence of a coherent and visionary leadership, what shape that resistance is going to take is anybody’s guess.  Hindus are being pushed to the wall and the rest of the world led by leftists, evangelists and jihadi forces are trying to put the blame on Hindus themselves, albeit unsuccessfully. The absurdity of this is going to fall sooner than later.  If we have been able to deduce with reasonable certainty that Hindu majoritarianism is a joke and a lie woven by the leftist opinion makers, we can also safely conclude that Hindus themselves are under attack. So what is the real remedy for Hindu anguish?  First, stick to the idea and practice of secularism with absolute clarity and unflinching commitment. The state must be indifferent to religion. Period. No preference to this or that religion on artificial premises of numbers and economic conditions. The former prime minister Manmohan Singh had stated that Muslims had the first claim on the resources of India. This kind of thought should be seen as the worst kind of violation of the spirit of secularism. Real secularism is the key to the survival and productive functioning of a modern state; all discrimination  based on religion should be firmly done away with. Second, talk to Hindus. They are helplessly witnessing their 8,000 year old civilisation crumble in front of their eyes. There are enough Hindus who will not let this crumbling happen without resisting it tooth and nail. If a Muslim or a Christian is proud of his faith, why not a Hindu? Do not make ‘Hindu’ a bad word. Let Hindus be. The anguish of Hindus on the Kashmiri genocide, the demographic inversion, the murders of Hindus of south India, the incessant attacks on Hindu life and property are all genuine. The state and all concerned parties must address these or be prepared for an overwhelming reaction, which could become uncontrollable. The writing on the wall is clear. Hindus are tired of being defensive about their faith and are patiently waiting for the Hindu leadership to respond. If the state continues to ignore the Hindu narrative, the Hindu beast might be unleashed. Hope things don’t come to that pass.
Read More
India’s Svaraj Parampara
Uncategorized

India’s Svaraj Parampara

Nation and Modernity from Mahatma Gandhi to Narendra Modi (With Special Reference to a Lesser-known Speech by Sri Aurobindo) by Makarand R. Paranjape Still Seeking Svaraj From Mahatma Gandhi to Narendra Modi, Indian democracy, despite its various drawbacks and failures, is somewhat of a political marvel. Here is where the notion of svaraj may serve as a useful lens through which we can measure its achievements. We can start by asking whether Indian democracy really embodies the ideal of svaraj, so eloquently enunciated by several leaders of the freedom struggle including Lokmanya Tilak, Dadabhai Naoroji, Sri Aurobindo, and Mahatma Gandhi. In fact, svaraj is not a contemporary, but age-old Vedic idea, going back to ancient times. Though we have completed seventy-two years of independence, it is obvious that the struggle for svaraj is far from over. To me, the central purpose of understanding our svaraj parampara or tradition of autonomy is to bring us closer to understanding what freedom, independence, and democracy really mean. That is because svaraj is more than political independence it is the reassessment and reassertion of our civilizational genius. To achieve this, we must try to overhaul our entire intellectual infrastructure, for which we need nothing less than a new vocabulary of self-understanding. Such an overhauling would mean, at the least, the realignment of our intellectual enterprise with what we have truly sought and valued for millennia–the pursuit of self-knowledge, truth, virtue, beauty, and, of course, happiness–and the organisation of our material resources in such a way that our daily life conduces to these aims. In the previous sections we saw how this orientation was provided by our pursharthas, the cardinal aims of life—Dharma, Artha, Kama, and, ultimately, Moksha. But in our attempts to regain our parampara, merely substituting Western ideas by half-understood Indian ones will not do. These languages of Indian selfhood are almost as colonized as Indian English is. Therefore, sprinkling some Indian words into our thinking process will not suffice. Just as language chauvinism is not the answer to our language-problems, conceptual chauvinism will not serve to liberate us either. We need to change our minds. This fundamental transformation is far more crucial than the superficial changes that are usually advocated by language, religion, or cultural nationalists. Once we understand that svaraj is the issue, we see parampara not in dialectical opposition with its Other, adhunikata (modernity), nor is Bharatiyata (Indianness) a mere opposition to Pashyatikarana (Westernisation). Parampara, instead, is whole, integral, not just fragmentary or antithetical. Not a knee-jerk reaction to the domination of Western categories over Indian ones, but a deep understanding of the difference will take us forward. This can be done, as we have seen, by opening a 1. I deliberately spell the word as svaraj, not only because that is closer to its pronounciation in Sanskrit and other Indian languages, but because I think we must all reflect on its meaning and make it our own. Swaraj, the older spelling and form of the world in English is used while quoting the earlier writers on it. Portions of this essay have appeared in my earlier writings. dialogue between Bharatiya parampara and Western modernity so as to create new spaces of knowledge and svaraj. What is Svaraj? Svaraj is a very old Vedic word, but comes into the vocabulary of modern India in the nineteenth century. Some say Dayanand Saraswati’s Satyarth Prakash (1875) contains its first modern usage, but I have not been able to find it. Dayanand quotes the Vedic ‘यःस्वयं राजते स स्वराट्’, but does not apply it to political independence from Britain. The earliest modern use is probably in Sakharam Ganesh Deuskar’s pamphlet “Shivajir Mahattva” (1902), republished two years later as “Shivajir Diksha.” Deuskar was a friend of Sri Aurobindo, who also began to use the word. In a few years, with the struggle for freedom acquiring momentum especially because of Lord Curzon’s partition of Bengal in 1905, it became the most evocative and popular of indigenous words for political freedom, whether purna or total, or partial within the British Empire. Several important political leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Dadabhai Naoroji, and Aurobindo used the word, as did Gandhi, who also adopted the word, making it a household mantra in Hind Swaraj (1909). The latter is not only one of his most important books, but also a comprehensive statement of the aims and methods of non-violent revolution. In the discourse of the freedom movement, though svaraj mostly signifies political autonomy, Gandhi meant much more by it. Perhaps, he and others were intuitively aware with its etymology, though they did not explicitly explain it. Actually svaraj is an adaptation and shortening of the Sanskrit word svarajya, which is an abstract noun. The word is a compound of sva + raj sva means self and raj, means to shine (the etymology being raj deepnoti). Hence the word means both the shining of the self and the self that shines. The root raj gives us many words associated with power including Raja, Rex and Regina. The symbology of light is very important in the Vedas because it suggests the sun of higher consciousness – tat savitur verenyam, as in the Gayatri mantra. It is to that sun, savitur, that Aurobindo refers in his great poem, Savitri. So svarat is a self-luminous person, and svarajya is a state of being svarat or enlightened. We might actually say that svaraj is a very ancient word for enlightenment, the power and illumination that come from the mastery of the self. When applied to a single individual, its form is svarat, an adjective. It is a word that occurs many times in the Rg, Sama, and Yajur Vedas, as it does later in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In the Upanishads, it can be found in the Chandogya, Taitteriya, and Maitri. It is in India that political independence came to be expressed even in modern times in so radically spiritual a manner in terms of enlightenment and self-illumination, not merely political power or independence. Opposing the colonizers and imperialists was thus the external aspect of svarajya the internal aspect was to have a good, just, and beautiful state, an enlightened social order. Svarajya is therefore the principle that aspires for better self-management, more effective inner governmentality, because illumination comes from internal order, not oppression. Originally, svrajya refered to the inner management of a person’s powers and capacities, of the senses, organs and of all the different constituents of the person. When these were well-governed, the person too would be all-powerful. For Gandhi, the homology between the individual body and the body politic was a useful metaphor if not a self-evident truth. 2. See C. Mackenzie Brown’s ‘Svaraj, the Indian Ideal of Freedom: A Political or Religious Concept?’ Synonymous with liberty, freedom and independence, svaraj thus suggests a host of possibilities for inner illumination and self-realization. The word svaraj is preferable to decolonization because svaraj is not anti- anyone else. One’s own svaraj can only help others and contribute to the svaraj of others. In svaraj the personal and the political merge, one leading to the other, the other leading back to the one. I cannot be free unless all my brothers and sisters are free and they cannot be free unless I am free. Svaraj allows us to resist oppression without hatred and violent opposition. To fight for svaraj, Gandhi developed the praxis of satyagraha or insistence on truth or truth-force for the rights of the disarmed and impoverished people of India. Svaraj thus means self-restraint, forbearance, refusal to rule over others. One of the clichés about India is that no matter how powerful the country was, it did not send expeditions of conquerors to countries outside the peninsula, huge armies to conquer, colonize, and bring back pelf from overseas expeditions. This is how the Arabs, Mongols, Turks, Persians, Afghans, Portuguese, British, Dutch, French and the others behaved, coming to India to conquer or plunder, but there is no record of Indian armies doing the same in other lands. The historical record of India does not show a desire to go and rule other people, to enforce its will on them, to trample them, to exploit them economically, to oppress them, to crush them – that is not, it would seem, the Indian way. But, by the same token, to be ruled by others is also unacceptable to the Indian spirit Indians, too, like other self-respecting peoples, have fought against it. Throughout Indian history, the struggle for svaraj has gone on, often unrecorded. We have innumerable instances of villagers protesting against emperors, blocking roads, refusing to pay taxes, fasting and so on. The Vijayanagara Empire fought for svaraj, as did Chattrapati Shivaji. In the 150 years of British rule, there was a revolt practically every single year in India. Some part or the other was always up in arms against British rule. So Pax Brittanica was a great illusion. How could there be lasting peace without svaraj? While svaraj has an inbuilt anti-imperialistic orientation, it also evokes a culturalist-nationalist position in which one’s civilizational heritage is owned up, even embraced, rather than discarded. It that sense, it suggests not a Western type of universalism, but a colourful cosmopolitanism, rooted in a radically different notion of ‘self’. But there is nothing ‘communal’ or fanatical about this project. That is why I believe that Gandhi took great pains to emphasize that svaraj is not a form of narrow nationalism or jingoism. Instead, it is a special, cooperative and pluralistic way of being in the world. If debates on globalization, sovereignty and culture, are ultimately, debates about which way we want India to go, it is clear that both modernity and post-modernity represent paths which we should not fully accept. At best, they provide convenient points of entry to the real questions that shape our lives. Because these paths have made inroads into our own life and consciousness, they must to be examined, understood, possibly appreciated from a distance, but ultimately negated or incorporated into the broader quest for svaraj. Sri Aurobindo’s Idea of Svaraj On 24 January 1908, almost two years before Gandhiji wrote his seminal treatise Hind Swaraj on his way back from England to South Africa aboard S.S. Kildonen Castle, Sri Aurobindo made a speech in Nashik, Maharashtra. It is not one of his famous or well-known orations because it is not available in its original English. It was translated into Marathi and published the following morning in a Marathi paper, Nasik Vritta. We know of it because the Bombay Presidency Police retranslated into English in their Intelligence Abstract. It was first published by Archives and Research, a biannual journal published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, in the first number of its first volume (April 1977) and subsequently included as Part 5 of Sri Aurobindo’s Political Speeches and Writing, 1890-1908, in his Collected Works. Sri Aurodindo elaborates on the meaning of svaraj in this speech. Interestingly, he spends the first minutes disclaiming any oratorical skills as well as having anything to say for himself or on his own: “whatever I do is not done by me of my own accord. My actions are dictated by God. … I have hitherto been a writer and not an orator, but circumstances forced me to try my hand at oratory.” He next defines the goal of the national struggle, which hitherto had been somewhat vague, but suddenly, “either by a stroke of fortune or by divine inspiration,” has acquired new clarity and urgency. The goal was defined by “the old patriot” in his Presidential Address at the Calcutta Congress in 1906: “We do not ask any favours. We want only justice. Instead of going into any further divisions or details of our rights as British citizens, the whole matter can be comprised in one word — ‘Self-government’ or Swaraj like that of the United Kingdom or the Colonies.” Sri Aurobindo quotes the same speech from memory in a slightly different way, “We must have Swaraj on the lines granted to Canada and Australia, which is our sole aim.” According to Sri Aurobindo, if India’s forget about svaraj, they will go extinct: “If we do not acquaint ourselves with the object in view, viz., Swaraj, I am afraid we, thirty crores of people, will become extinct.” He reminds his listeners that it is people of Maharashtra that kept the torch of svaraj burning even during the darkest night. It is after this that Sri Aurobindo’s speech rises to a new level, not onl of eloquence but of spiritual inspiration, “Swaraj is life, it is nectar and salvation. Swaraj in a nation is the breath of life. Without breath of life a man is dead. So also without Swaraj a nation is dead. Swaraj being the life of a nation it is essential for it.” Those nations, not matter how great and glorious they may have been in the past, come to grief when they forget svaraj. Sri Aurobindo refers to the ancient Roman empire, comparing it with the British empire: “In ancient times the Romans had extended their sovereignty over many countries as England has done at present…. Their lives and properties were all secure as ours are, but in spite of all this, it was said that the people under the sway of the Roman Empire came to grief with its downfall, and were harassed by savage people. The reason is, they had no Swaraj. After a lapse of centuries they stood on their own legs and established for themselves Swaraj and became happy.” But those who aspire for it, must realise that svaraj is to be “gained by our own exertions. If it is gained otherwise, which is impossible, it cannot last long for want of strength in us.” Imploring the sovereign won’t do because “he won’t give it.” Sri Aurobindo sarcastically refers to the moderates who think that prayer, petition, and protest will win us svaraj. “Unfortunately there still exists a party of men who still cling to the idea that we shall obtain Swaraj by asking for it, which is to be regretted. This party thinks that we are not capable of managing our own affairs, that we are being trained in that direction and that our benign English Government will extend Swaraj to us by degrees.” Sri Aurobindo argues to the contrary, “The English value the importance of India. Its possession gives them status. If they once allow India to slip from their grasp, they will become a nonentity. Under such circumstances it is silly to say that the English will train us and entrust us with Swaraj. By reposing confidence in the English people we are already reduced to a miserable condition and in the end will become extinct.” 3. Dadabhai Naoroji’s Speeches and Writings (Madras: Natesan, 1917), p. 76. Then he considers a second way to attain svaraj: “Another way of obtaining Swaraj is to seek aid from a neighbouring nation. But this means jumping from the frying-pan into the fire. No matter from whom we seek assistance their own interests will first be considered.” Later, when Subhas Chandra Bose wanted the help, first of Germany, then of Japan to win India’s independence, Sri Aurobindo opposed this method. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram, which in those days not only had many admirers of Bose, but also several others who sympathised with Germany because it was fighting Britian, were disappointed. Sri Aurobindo even asked them to leave the ashram if they didn’t agree with his view that Hitler had to be opposed at all costs, even if it meant temporary siding with the Allies. Now, Sri Aurobindo comes to the the third way, one which Gandhiji also advocated: “We should, therefore, acquire it by our own efforts.” No other way would work we had to fight for our own svaraj. But the question remained: “how we should do it. We do not possess Swaraj nor have we the power to retain it. The answer is, we cannot master the art of swimming unless we struggle in the water. We should, therefore, be prepared to undergo hardships in the struggle for Swaraj, as there is no other alternative.” Here, all ways seem to be open, whether non-violent, violent, or some combination of them. Sri Aurobindo does not spell this out in this speech, but this is what we can glean from his other writings. Here he speaks of faith in God “God created us independent” therefore “we should be full of inspirations. With full faith in God we should preach independence through the length and breadth of the country and a beginning should be made to impart national education.” The importance he places on “national education” is unmistakable. If in addition to education, Indians can “take into their own hands judicial and executive work … we shall have more than half of Swaraj in our hands.” Sri Aurobindo believes that the Bengalis who struggled for svaraj by defying British colonial authority, “do not fear fine, incarceration, deportation or the extreme penalty of the law…. If a Bengali lad is punished in connection with the Swadeshi movement, he smiles and says it does not matter much.” He urges Maharashtrians to follow suit: “O inhabitants of Maharashtra, since you and Bengalis are stirring to attain one end and as we are all sons of Aryabhumi, let us all jointly set ourselves to the task of bringing about a state of things in accordance with the commandment of God. We, Bengalis, depend upon you because the sons of Maharashtra were brave soldiers a short while ago. You enjoyed Swaraj when you were harassed by Mahomedans.” He reminds his audience of Tukaram, Ramdas, and of Shivaji, the warrior king who established svaraj in Mahatrashtra. Under Shivaji, “The poor were rescued from molestation by the wicked and the country prospered.” In the present state, he urges all to heed to the “divine inspiration,” to the “the commandment of God.” He wants Indians to unify “from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari.” He concludes by proclaiming, “If we, imbued with this idea, become united with a firm resolution to obey the commandment of God, I feel sure we shall gain our Swaraj in twenty years. It won’t take centuries….” In retrieving and reconsidering this little-known speech of Sri Aurobindo our attempt has been to place him in his rightful place at the heart of India’s svaraj parampara. Svaraj in Today’s Context Narendra Modi’s elevation to the post of India’s Prime Minister in 2014, I have argued in several of my writings, marks a watershed for India. His winning again, with an even more impressive count of 303 in the 2019 general elections definitely signifies the end of the Nehruvian socialist, secularist consensus that prevailed almost as a state religion in India for some six decades of independent India. It was this combination of developmental nationalism and inclusive Hindutva which proved to be the winning ideology that swept Modi and the BJP to power a second time. To my mind, Narendra Modi has understood the idea of svaraj better than his predecessors and is therefore the best instrument to confirm and fulfil the prophecy of rising India. Under Modi, India has progressed more, in the real sense of the word, in five years than possibly in the whole of its previous six decades. This great transformation cannot, of course, be measured merely in economic terms, although the figures indicate that our growth rates are among the highest and the inflation certainly the lowest since independence. In addition, access to government services and schemes, whether Jandhan, Ujjwala, Saubhagya, Swachh Bharat, etc., has been unprecedented. A clean government led by a charismatic and strong Prime Minister with ministers and officials who deliver have redressed the trust deficit between the citizenry and the ruling elites. The concomitant rise of India on the world stage, thanks to the Modi doctrine, has led to a quantum leap in the respect accorded to India. Furthermore, improvement of both national security on the borders and reduction in crime, lawlessness, and violence on the home front suggest an era of peace and stability. Last but not the least, a new pride in our identity, culture and heritage, especially for the Hindu majority, have ended the self-loathing and civilizational inferiority complex which have plagued us for centuries. Modi earned his mandate and popularity by delivering on good governance and development. Moreover, after the 2019 verdict, the signalling so far has not been belligerent or triumphalist Hindu nationalism, but inclusive Hindutva. The new government has also tried to reach out to all sections of the populace, not just Hindus, with special schemes for their education, upliftment and the safeguarding of their rights. To me therefore, the new nationalism that Modi 2.0 represents is svaraj in its manifold dimensions. Today svaraj means the augmentation of India’s hard power through military prowess, economic empowerment, and determined diplomacy on the one hand, combined with Soumya Shakti, the soft power of culture, spirituality, yoga, cuisine, couture, and so on, on the other hand. Together they add up to nothing less than India’s rejuvenation, renewal, and rise. This may sound hyperbolic or over enthusiastic. But the mood of the nation is certainly upbeat.
Read More
Uncategorized

Sri Aurobindo And India’s Destiny

Pencil drawing of Sri Aurobindo by The Mother, 1935 A day will dawn when people of all classes in my country will band together as one living mass at the sacred altar of the World-Mother, represented here by our Motherland and face the rest of [the] world with heads held high. ( Sri Aurobindo )   Rarely in the history of nations has a single person’s spiritual influence shaped so profoundly a nation’s destiny as Sri Aurobindo’s has shaped India’s. Yet, this is not a widely known or understood fact as the modern Indian mind has lost its connection with the spiritual dimension of life. This is somewhat ironical because the Indian civilization has been influenced and shaped through millennia by some of the greatest spiritual seers ever to have walked the earth. Before Sri Aurobindo, and in recent history, the redoubtable Swami Vivekananda caused seismic shifts in Indian civilization by his enormous spiritual force. Indians are no strangers to spiritual and Yogic phenomena. Some of the greatest influencers and architects of Indian civilization and culture have been the Rishis and the Yogis, the great preceptors of the Sanatan Dharma. It is because of this that the Indian civilization has always been nurtured by the perennial streams of living Dharma. Dharma has thrived in India and grown in power because of these legendary seers and prophets. Most of these seers lived and worked in complete seclusion and anonymity, influencing a million lives and events from their mountain caves or forest ashrams.  Sri Aurobindo was amongst the last great Maharishis of the Sanatan Dharma who occultly influenced and shaped India’s destiny from his seclusion in Pondicherry. His life and his Yoga were not for all to see or know. What he himself revealed to disciples of his Yoga was only the tip of a massive iceberg. What he did for humanity, and what he did for India, will take several centuries to unfold, for the results of a Yogic mission such as his become embedded in the very fabric of universal time and evolution.  Yet, Sri Aurobindo remains a peripheral, somewhat mythical, figure of Indian history for most educated Indians. This has been the unutterable tragedy of modern India — the educated Indian has been alienated from his own dharma through several generations, first by our erstwhile British rulers and then by our own thought leaders, since 1947, hell-bent on transforming Indian polity and society to western secularism, liberalism and socialism. As a consequence, generations of Indians have grown up floundering, rootless and groundless, with little or no knowledge of their own heritage or destiny.  Most young Indians do not learn much of Sri Aurobindo from their history books. The most that they are taught is that he was a political revolutionary who quit politics and retired to Pondicherry to do Yoga. But then, they are not given any further knowledge of India’s vast Yogic tradition or of the rich national politics of those times either. They have no idea of why Sri Aurobindo left politics and what he did after leaving politics. The history of Indian nationalism, within years of Sri Aurobindo’s retirement, became overshadowed by Gandhi, and most other luminaries of the freedom struggle were reduced to footnotes.  Few amongst us would know that Sri Aurobindo was the first political leader to proclaim that India was not merely a landmass but a living consciousness, a Divine Shakti, that needs to be awakened. Sri Aurobindo was indeed the great purohit, the High Priest, who lit the sacrificial fires of the great Yajna for India’s freedom; he was the first to invoke India as Shakti, as the divine Bhawani Bharati —  What is our mother-country? It is not a piece of earth, nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of the mind. It is a mighty Shakti, composed of the Shaktis of all the millions of units that make up the nation, just as Bhawani Mahisha Mardini sprang into being from the Shakti of all the millions of gods assembled in one mass of force and welded into unity. The Shakti we call India, Bhawani Bharati, is the living unity of the Shaktis of three hundred million people….  Sri Aurobindo’s own deeper Yoga began with his quest for spiritual power that he could place at the service of his motherland. For Sri Aurobindo, the fight for India’s freedom was spiritual first and then political, for political freedom would mean little without spiritual freedom. Only as a spiritually free nation would India be able to fulfill her destined role as jagat-guru amongst the nations of the world. This was Sri Aurobindo’s dream for India, and this was the seed of future greatness that was planted in the very bosom of India, the truth that India had borne in her soul since the beginning of her ancient civilization. India’s freedom as a nation and a civilization was thus inevitable in the divine scheme of things, but what still had to be worked out was the way, the process, the details of the Mahayajna. Sri Aurobindo, as the great devas and maharishis of old, spoke of India’s future from the highest planes of truth-consciousness: India cannot perish, our race cannot become extinct, because among all the divisions of mankind it is to India that is reserved the highest and the most splendid destiny, the most essential to the future of the human race. It is she who must send forth from herself the future religion of the entire world, the Eternal Religion which is to harmonize all religion, science and philosophies and make mankind one soul. This future religion of the entire world that Sri Aurobindo reveals is the religion born of Man’s timeless spiritual quest for Truth, Unity and Perfection, the religion of the soul, that which will unify and harmonize all humanity, synthesize all civilizations and cultures and lead the human species to a higher consciousness. In other words, the eternal religion India has to bring to the world will be the religion of an integral Yoga, a religion that will finally bridge the chasm between life and spirituality, matter and spirit, body and soul.  It is for this ultimate purpose of world transformation that India has birthed, and nurtured through millennia, the Sanatan Dharma; and it is for this that Sri Aurobindo himself embodied the Sanatan Dharma and brought it into the collective consciousness of Indians in those formative years of India’s nationhood and established the Sanatan Dharma as the true basis and framework for a pan-Indian spiritual nationalism. Or dharmic nationalism, if you will. Let us recall those profound and mighty words from his Uttarpara speech: I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it, it moves and with it, it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish. The Sanatan Dharma, that is nationalism. Sri Aurobindo, thus, was the first prophet of spiritual or dharmic nationalism. He, by his work, his speeches and writings, and his own active leadership spiritualized Indian nationalism and politics; and in doing so, he also paved the way for dharmic politics and economics in India, the old concept of Ram Rajya, the kingdom of God on earth. The culmination of political governance will have to be in a Ram Rajya of the future, and the culmination of economics and business will have to be a dharmic or spiritual blend of capitalism and communism, purified of the distortions of the unregenerate human nature driven by egoistic fear and greed. This is yet another aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s creative vision for India and the world. It must be remembered that spiritual nationalism is not the same as the self-limiting, self-aggrandizing exclusivist nationalism the world is used to; being spiritual, this form of nationalism will be an expression of a nation’s soul, its spiritual and civilizational essence, and will necessarily be in harmony with all other nationalistic expressions and aspirations, even as various notes of music blend to create symphony. As Sri Aurobindo would say, harmony is the law of spiritual life. Sri Aurobindo saw clearly that India, of all nations in the world, with her enormous cultural heritage and spiritual and Yogic knowledge, would be the best equipped to lead this change to a new and more conscious world order. But spiritual nationalism must be founded on spiritual consciousness, for it cannot be an intellectual ideal or a mere philosophical system. The individual, therefore, must first find in himself or herself the spiritual consciousness and truth, and then make that the basis for a wider social and national life. In other words, the framework and basis for the individual, the society and the nation will have to become increasingly dharmic, spiritual. And therefore, Sri Aurobindo’s insistence on spiritual freedom and truth consciousness as the foundation for social and national existence. How many amongst us today realize the enormous significance of spirituality and dharma in our daily lives and action? Spirituality, once the vital life-force of Indian civilization, has now shrunk to facile new age practices and the psychobabble of self-proclaimed and self-marketed gurus, or worse, has been reduced to practices and mindless rituals of the pandit. In our social and national life, spirituality has all but disappeared. From the high ideals of dharmic politics and governance that Sri Aurobindo held in his vision for a future India, we have been reduced to intractable systemic corruption that has sapped the lifeblood of our nation. A return to some semblance of Dharma in the nation’s political life has just started, but there is still a long way to go. It is now, in these circumstances raging around us, that we need to return to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth and Light. Each of us needs to do this, for each of us individually will add to the gathering force of the Truth. Small waves make a tsunami. Again, in Sri Aurobindo’s words: India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples… [T]hat which must seek now to awake is…still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma. In a very real sense, Sri Aurobindo is the custodian of India’s eternal Dharma; he, more than anyone else, saw how absolutely indispensable was India’s Dharma to India’s future and proclaimed the urgent necessity to recover and rejuvenate India’s Dharma. But, in an ironical twist of fate, even as Sri Aurobindo labored to awaken the nation’s Shakti, the then political leaders of our nation and the arbiters of her destiny were turning away from the Dharma and vigorously replacing it with newfangled notions of social justice, economic equality and political sophistication, overlooking the simple fact that without a Dharmic base and framework, no political, economic or social edifice would stand for too long. Unbeknownst to most Indians of that time, our national leaders were steering India away from her essential Indianness towards westernized universalism.  Far from awakening the Shakti within, the common Indian, the aam aadmi, has slipped into an enervating materialism while the intelligentsia, the buddhijeevi, has turned to half-baked ideals of secular socialism. Instead of turning to Dharma, India has turned to dharma-nirapekhsata. Dharma-nirapekhsata is the Hindi word commonly used for secularism. The word ‘nirapeksha’ in its truest sense implies disregard, indifference, independence. It is a beautiful word when used in its Yogic or spiritual sense, but when used with Dharma (to denote the western concept of secularism), it turns on its head. Once again, as we enter the 74th year of our life as a free nation, there are visible the first definitive signs of a return to the true dharma of India and a definite rejection of the western idea of secularism. But here too, we have a long way to go and must turn more consciously and resolutely to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, for in his Truth alone we will recover the key to balance and harmony. But turning to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is not always easy or even possible. The old falsehoods will inevitably stand in the way. As it has happened before, in more critical times. In 1942, five years before Independence, the British government had sent the famous Cripps Proposal to the then Indian leadership under Gandhi. Had this proposal been accepted, it would have paved the way for Indian independence without partition. Sri Aurobindo, still very much in inner touch with all political developments in India and the world, had seen that possibility immediately and had publicly expressed his support for the Cripps proposal. He had sent his emissaries to Gandhi and other leaders to persuade them to accept the proposal. But Gandhi refused, purportedly with the comment that Yogis should have nothing to do with politics. This, from a leader who claimed to be a follower of the Sanatan Dharma; and this, in a country that traditionally honors and respects the counsel of its seers and prophets! However, India missed a historical chance when her leaders did not pay heed to the words of the Jagat Guru, and hurtled headlong towards disaster, a blunder for which each successive generation of Indians has paid an exacting price. It is worth recalling Sri Aurobindo’s words from the message he broadcast to the nation on 15th August 1947 — For if it [the partition] lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. India’s internal development and prosperity may be impeded, her position among the nations weakened, her destiny impaired or even frustrated. This must not be; the partition must go. Contemporary India continues to live through the malaise of economic reservations, minority appeasement, communalism and corruption, all of which could have been avoided had India’s leadership aligned itself to the true Dharma when it mattered most. However, all nations, like individuals, have a certain karma that even the Divine cannot alter. But we can learn and grow more conscious. As Sri Aurobindo says, by our stumbling the world is perfected. So we need to grow conscious not only of our strengths but also of our frailties, not only of our high destiny but also of all the forces ranged against us, determined to thwart that destiny. The resistance to a dharmic India is still strong and adamant. Much more needs to be done if India has to awaken to her truth. Indians, or at least those who carry India in their hearts and minds, must turn to the highest truth, the highest dharma, that they can access. And that which they can access, with only a little labor of love, is the Truth that Sri Aurobindo embodies and represents. Sri Aurobindo needs to be read, researched, discussed, debated, understood and applied widely, across the country. Sri Aurobindo’s vast vision and work has still not found place in Indian public or academic discourse, even decades after independence. Our schools and universities hardly touch Sri Aurobindo at any depth. Only a superficial and cursory mention is made of him as the freedom fighter who renounced political life. Hardly anything beyond that. Few students of Indian history today know of Sri Aurobindo as the prophet of Indian nationalism, as the first radical revolutionary in India’s struggle for freedom, as a poet and writer of rare eminence, as a Mahayogi and Maharishi of Indian spirituality. This is a historical anomaly that needs to be vigorously corrected.  We need to learn and understand deeply how Sri Aurobindo, from the 1870s to 1950, right through the critical formative years of India, shaped India’s destiny by his Yogic force and will. This may be difficult to grasp for most, but we owe ourselves this knowledge and understanding. Sri Aurobindo is India’s inestimable heritage and he must be presented to the educated Indian and to the Indian youth objectively, rationally, cogently.  Let us recall Sri Aurobindo’s message to the Indian youth — Our first necessity, if India is to survive and do her appointed work in the world, is that the youth of India should learn to think, – to think on all subjects, to think independently, fruitfully, going to the heart of things, not stopped by their surface, free of prejudgments, shearing sophism and prejudice asunder as with a sharp sword, smiting down obscurantism of all kinds as with the mace of Bhima… These are not mere words, this is an invocation of yuvashakti, the power of the young, and not just the young in age but the young in mind and spirit. To understand and live Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, we need to be clear as crystal in the mind and strong as lion in the heart, and ageless in spirit; we need to make of ourselves the true hero-warriors of the Divine Shakti.  In the words of the Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s divine collaborator in his Work and Yoga — Sri Aurobindo always loved deeply his Motherland. But he wished her to be great, noble, pure and worthy of her big mission in the world. He refused to let her sink to the sordid and vulgar level of blind self-interests and ignorant prejudices. This is why, in full conformity to his will, we lift high the standard of truth, progress and transformation of mankind, without caring for those who, through ignorance, stupidity, envy or bad will, seek to soil it and drag it down into the mud. We carry it very high so that all who have a soul may see it and gather round it. It was obviously no coincidence that India’s independence day fell on Sri Aurobindo’s birthday, the 15th of August. In his message to the nation on 15th August, Sri Aurobindo had said:  August 15th, 1947 is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But we can also make it by our life and acts as a free nation an important date in a new age opening for the whole world, for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity. August 15th is my own birthday and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast significance. I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition. Indeed, on this day I can watch almost all the world-movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though then they looked like impracticable dreams, arriving at fruition or on their way to achievement. In all these movements free India may well play a large part and take a leading position. Let us remember that though Sri Aurobindo struggled all his life for India and India’s highest and widest freedom, he was not limited in his vision and will to India alone. For him India was the starting point of a human transformation, the hub of a universal evolution of consciousness. I have always held and said that India was rising, not to serve her own material interest only, to achieve expansion, greatness, power and prosperity,.. though these too she must not neglect.., and certainly not like others to acquire domination of other peoples, but to live also for God and the world as a helper and a leader of the whole human race, he had said in his message to the nation.  To limit Sri Aurobindo to India alone would be a disservice to his work and his legacy. Sri Aurobindo labored for all humanity; all that he attempted and attained was for all humanity and for the Divine in humanity. If there is one who can be said to belong to the world, it is Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is the future of the human species, it is the path to the true Kingdom of God on earth, it is the Truth of the Divine still to be realized in the mind, life and body of earth. Sri Aurobindo opened for us life’s highest possibility and hope. Even the briefest glimpse of his Truth can uplift the spirit and mind in a trice to the highest.  The world needs such a vision and an inspiration, and desperately so; and India, most of all.   सत्यं श्री अरविन्दस्य आविर्भवतु पृथिव्याम् ॥May Sri Aurobindo’s Truth manifest upon earth   1 Sri Aurobindo’s full message
Read More
Uncategorized

The Restoration of Sri Ram And Beyond

The establishment of the foundation for the Ram Janmabhumi Temple at Ayodhya yesterday was a profound symbolic victory for Dharma: it was the culmination of a 490-odd years struggle for restoring Sri Ram, the seventh avatar in the line of Vishnu in Sanatan Dharma, to his rightful birthplace in the fabled city of his birth. (He was, in fact, installed for years in a tent!). Whether or not he was actually born in this exact location matters little, for Sri Ram is not just a historical being for Hindus but a Divine incarnation, and Divine Incarnations transcend time and space, birth and death of mortal bodies. The struggle through several generations for rebuilding the temple at Ayodhya and restoring Sri Ram to his birthplace was never a religious or political issue for the Hindu — it was always a question of Dharma: for Sri Ram, for the common Hindu, is at once a complete embodiment and a shining representation of the Dharma itself: to displace Sri Ram and destroy his temple was a direct attack on the very fabric of Hindu Dharma. Sri Ram had to be restored and the temple had to be rebuilt — this was inevitable, a historical necessity. But it took a long time — 73 years even after India’s political independence. What totally bewilders the mind is the fact that it took so long, and that it would have taken much longer had Hindutva not become as assertive as it did. If the Congress, the Islamists and the Communists had their way, all traces of Dharma would have been wiped off by now and the deracination of India would have been complete and irreversible. And to imagine that there are people who still utter such inanities as Hindutva is not Hinduism and Hinduism is not Hindutva, or that Hindutva is an aberration and Hinduism is the real thing. Let’s be very clear about this one fact: had it not been for an assertive and robust Hindutva, Hinduism, as we know it, would have been wiped out. This fact needs to sink deep into our minds and hearts. The Prime Minister of India presiding over the bhumi-poojan of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya was the resounding bugle call of Hindutva’s call to action and its first decisive victory. The victory, symbolic of something much wider, is deeply significant; but even more significant is the call to action: for this is only the first step. This victory, however fulfilling in the moment, must not lull us into any kind of complacency. The battle is far from over. There are other battles to be taken up and won. Sri Ram has just been restored — but let us not forget that Sri Ram stands for Dharma, Satya and Ram Rajya. Satya is the heart of Dharma, and Dharma is the soul of Ram Rajya. Ram Rajya is neither a metaphor nor a utopian ideal: it is the natural culmination of dharmic politics and the dharmic way of life. When the life of the individual and the life of the collective become natural expressions of Dharma and Satya, when Dharma and Satya are used as the cohesive forces for nation-building, then Ram Rajya is established. Ram Rajya is not just a political theory but a growing spiritual need in the lives of men and nations. Ram Rajya is the kingdom of God on earth. To establish Ram Rajya (call it by whatever name) in India must be Hindutva’s high aim and objective. Anything short of this, and our dharma yuddha is not complete. Let us not underestimate the challenges: A large number of educated Hindu youth, over generations, has been culturally deracinated and spiritually alienated; they have been made to believe that western values and culture are superior to their own Dharma, and that their Dharma is regressive, superstitious, and in need of systemic reform. That a large number of English-educated youth believes all this unquestioningly is not their fault — it is the education system in India, the worst case of imperialist hangover in independent India, that is to be squarely blamed. The Indian psyche has been systematically infected with the worst western ills of exploitative capitalism, aggressive competition, greed and consumerism; half-baked values of intellectualism and liberalism have been made the staple diet of the Indian intellectual. The educated Indian mind, artificially deprived of the nourishing influences of Dharma, has, over the decades, fallen into mediocrity. The youth has been taught fanciful languages but has forgotten how to speak its own idiom.  So too with the adult. The so-called modern and progressive adult Hindu has equally lost touch with his Dharma and wanders lost and confused amongst alien values and constructs. And do bear in mind that ‘alien’ has nothing to do with nationality — alien is that which is void of Dharma. The average educated Indian, thanks to the skewed education s-he has received, is still spiritually colonized and passionately believes that aping an alien culture is superior to understanding and deepening one’s own.  Wherever you look, you find the same malaise of superficiality and mediocrity in Indian intellectual and public life. Anglicized education has made us a society of well read imitators and petty-minded cynics. We have lost the depths and widenesses of Sanatan Dharma; and if that is not bad enough, we have learnt to condemn our Dharma in the language of our colonial masters. 73 years of political independence, and we are still colonized in our minds and enslaved to crass materialism in our hearts. As Indians, by and large, we have forgotten the rich integrality of our Sanatan Dharma and have become hopelessly fractured and fragmented, as individuals and as a nation. We have lost the courage to stand for our Dharma and to fight for Satya — we have become weak and selfish over the generations, our very life force has been sapped by the forces of adharma. And adharma rages everywhere, in all directions: the monotheistic and shamelessly proselytizing Abrahamic religions are the most visible of these forces; but the hidden forces of selfishness, fear, dishonesty, falsehood and deception are the deeper and more dangerous forces of adharma. Let’s make no mistake about this: if we do not or cannot overcome the hidden forces of adharma, overcoming the visible forces will be of little value. But, on the other hand, if we vanquish the inner foes, we become towering forces of pure Dharma that no outer force or foe can shake or weaken. All our resources and minds must combine to fight adharma, within and outside. Education is our first front. We must re-educate, revise the old narratives, keep the truths, throw out the falsehoods. We must kindle discussion and debate in the highest intellectual traditions of our Dharma. We must rebuild the minds and hearts of young India. The new national education policy, released just a few days ago, is the first step in the right direction. But we need to go farther, much farther. We have to confront multiple falsehoods and deliberate attacks on our Dharma. We need to rebuild narratives, reconnect our heritage and our destiny, our past and our future, which have been ruptured, first by the Islamic invasions and then by the British Raj. We have to boldly reclaim the truths of our Dharma, without apology or hesitation. Dharma is our birthright and we must learn, once again, to demand our birthright. In one of the inspired modern day mahavakyas of the Indologist Koenraad Elst, What Hindus… will have to learn, is that the essence of Hindu Dharma is not ‘tolerance’ or ‘equal respect for all religions’ but Satya, Truth. It is to this Truth that the Hindu raises temples and installs deities; the outer names and forms are mere contexts.   For those interested in this subject: please read this and this
Read More
Uncategorized

Mahayuddha, The Great Battle

A dharma yuddha, unlike other battles fought on the ground, is mostly invisible and inaudible, it is waged in the depths of consciousness and engages ancient unseen forces that have always been on earth to resist the victory of Light and Truth.  Dharma is not religion but the creative force of Truth, and it has always struggled to maintain its foothold on earth, for human nature, still largely unregenerate and driven by forces of ignorance and egoism, opposes Truth in all possible ways.  The earth, as our ancients explained, is the field of evolution and therefore critical for both, the forces of Truth and those of Darkness and Ignorance. It is on earth alone that the consciousness can grow to its true heights and fathom its true depths; and for this, the noblest souls choose to be born on earth so that they can participate in the evolution. There are other planes of consciousness too besides earth, but those are all typal planes where the being neither evolves nor devolves. It is on earth alone that one can evolve to a perfect godlike consciousness, daivic, or devolve to a demonic one, asuric. Therefore the forces of Truth and Falsehood have been engaged in a timeless battle for supremacy on earth — for whichever force dominates earth will dominate evolution. If Falsehood were ever to dominate earth (no, in spite of all contrary appearances, it still does not), this universe would be one of falsehood where the Asuras would grow in stature and become the godheads of this Cosmos. Instead of a Rama or Krishna, we would have a Ravana or Kamsa presiding over the evolution of consciousness on earth.  This timeless great battle, the Mahayuddha, took a major and decisive turn in 1956 when the Supermind (Truth Consciousness, Vijnanamaya Shakti) descended into the earth atmosphere after ages of intense tapasya and spiritual struggle against the forces of evolution. The descent of the Truth Consciousness itself changed the course of the spiritual history of humanity decisively, irreversibly. But that did not mean that the victory of Truth was assured. On the contrary, the asuric forces intensified their energies and multiplied their efforts to push back the Truth, perhaps destroy it altogether.  However, Truth being what it is, it cannot be destroyed, but it can be pushed back, opposed and resisted, driven underground. And that is what is happening today, all around us, from global religious and political platforms to our homes and hearts, wherever even a trace of falsehood exists, there the battle rages, unseen and unsounded.  Make no mistake about this: each one of us is an instrument, a nimitta, in this great battle for earth. Which way the battle will go depends on how much of ourselves, our consciousnesses and will, we put into this battle, how much of our skin is in the game, how conscious and silent we can remain even as the battle rages furiously on.  But to fight, to be in the thick of this battle, to be effective and efficient instruments of the Truth in this pitched battle against cosmic, terrestrial and psychological falsehoods, there is a necessary preparation that all have to undergo, a secret Kshatriya training of old, a training as much spiritual as physical and psychological.   The true warrior of Light must be immersed in the Light first. None should allow even a shadow to be cast on one’s mind or heart. One has to have complete and unrelenting fidelity to Truth, to Light, to what our ancients called jyoti parasya. This is nothing short of tapasya but it needs to be enormously concentrated and hastened. We do not have the time for years of sadhana. These are times for intensification, concentrated acceleration. For this intensification and acceleration, two conditions are necessary: deep inner silence and absolute samata. Samata is equality of spirit, equality of mind and heart: there must not be the least inner disturbance, agitation or excitement. The warrior of Light must always wear a luminous armor. As Sri Krishna says to Arjuna: agitation obscures the Light. Remember, this is what the asuras around us want, to obscure our Light through contaminating our own inner state, by throwing into us their disturbances and excitements, their bitternesses and grievances, their soul-sapping selfishnesses and fears. Remember too that there is no way an asuric being can directly attack an armor of Light — they can only attack by using our consent and our will, which sometimes we too innocently and willingly give. Samata is a shield in this battle. None can pierce the shield of perfect samata. No matter how disturbing or hostile the circumstances, our equality of spirit must be firm, unshakeable, absolute. It is this shield that the Divine Master in us needs to wage this battle. Without this shield, even the Lord cannot fight. This shield of perfect samata is not too difficult if we understand the two elements needed to create it: an absolute faith in the Master, in Sri Krishna; and a vast surrender to Him. Nothing else is needed. With faith and a perfect surrender, the warrior can go through any battle unscathed.   Inner silence is the psychological condition for the battle. No thought must arise, no desire to destroy, no fear of being destroyed. The mind and heart must remain immutably calm, the being quiet and concentrated. With such an inner condition of silence, of unbreakable mauna, the warrior becomes one with the Force of Narayan working through him or her. This is our unseen battle, and this is the inner preparation needed. There is no time to waste. The stakes are high. But we have, on our side, the Shakti of the Truth Consciousness itself. 
Read More
All Religions are not the same part 1
Uncategorized

All Religions Are Not The Same

Hindu Dharma Has a Scientific Temper There have been many attempts to define the Hindu Dharma, or more appropriately, Sanātana Dharma throughout the modern era. Most notably, the Supreme Court defined it as a way of life, and not as a set of beliefs. The attitude of Hindus towards the spiritual has always been one of seeking and inquiry, rather than any certainty of dogma. Yet, there are certain science beliefs that are unique to Hinduism. Let us call these beliefs as ‘Scientific Beliefs of Hinduism’, because these are open to inquiry and change. These can be broadly classified into six categories, and Hinduism can be compared with the other religions on these parameters: Attitude to ScienceTime conceptsLogic concepts EpistemologyCosmology Eschatology Let us first look at each of these separately, and then take a holistic look. 1. Attitude to Science: Science is a methodology. In modern era, Science for the lay people has also become a subject being taught and learnt on the basis of authority. Students do not really know whether the earth revolves on its axis, except on the authority of scientists who really have the means to conduct experiments and prove them. Science as a methodology can be defined as an empirical method which accepts a physical phenomenon as True on the basis of it being universal — true across time and space; verifiable — demonstrable to all; and repeatable — that which will repeat in similar circumstances. To that we add refutability or falsifiability, i.e. one is free to try and refute that physical phenomenon. Sanātana Dharma’s scientific attitude to the Universe is not just applicable to the physical world, but also to the spiritual world. It is best exemplified by the famous Nāsadiya Sukta of Ṛgveda (10.129) (Translation of AL Basham): Then even nothingness was not, nor existence, There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it. What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping? Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed? (1) Then there was neither death nor immortality nor was there then the torch of night and day. The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining. There was that One then, and there was no other. (2) At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness. All this was only unillumined cosmic water. That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing, arose at last, born of the power of heat. (3) In the beginning desire descended on it – that was the primal seed, born of the mind. The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom know that which is kin to that which is not. (4) And they have stretched their cord across the void, and know what was above, and what below. Seminal powers made fertile mighty forces. Below was strength, and over it was impulse. (5) But, after all, who knows, and who can say Whence it all came, and how creation happened? the gods themselves are later than creation, so who knows truly whence it has arisen? (6) Whence all creation had its origin, the creator, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not, the creator, who surveys it all from highest heaven, he knows — or maybe even he does not know. (7) This kind of open inquiry about the origin of Cosmos is unknown in the Abrahamic religions like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Abrahamic religions do not allow any questioning and inquiry, and treat the Word of their scriptures beyond refutation. Sanātana Hinduism, on the other hand, allows not only open inquiry, but as the subsequent developments of Hinduism show, even open debate and refutation. Every branch of orthodox Hinduism allowed this open inquiry, and allowed debate within various sects. Buddha’s debates with the orthodox Sanātana Brahmins are the best example of this approach. Buddha was every inch a Hindu, but he differed from the orthodox view on the question of existence of the Ātman (loosely translated as the eternal soul). Hindus and the followers of Buddha debated the question for over a millennia till Hinduism won a final victory led by the Ādi Shankar. To refute the concept of the Ātman, people even carried out physical experiments, without any consequences to their physical well being. Payāsi Sutta has a description of a person about to die being enclosed in a vessel, being weighed, observations of ātman escaping the vessel being taken; weight being taken immediately after death; and a final pronouncement of the absence of the ātman on weight being found the same. All across the Upanishads, this spirit of inquiry, debate and refutation is present in full measure. Vedanta philosophy speculates on duality, Oneness, qualified Oneness, and the sages have derived advaita, dvaita, vishishtadvaita, and bhakti from the same material. People like Charvāka refuted the existence of Ātman on the basis of direct observation epistemology, yet he was honoured with the title of a Rishi. Patanjali’s Yōga Sutra provides a basis for physical verification of the existence of the Supreme. Kapila Muni’s Saṃkhya philosophy provides a cosmological basis, whereas Vaisheshika of Kaṇāda dwells on the physical cause and effect. Bhagvadgita encapsulates all the philosophies into one whole, and even that great book provides Arjuna with a glimpse of many paths. Krishṇa exhorts Arjuna in the end to choose any of the paths that he had described –yathechchhasi tathā kuru. Thus it is clear from this evidence that the concept of Creation, as well as that of the Ātman in the Hindu pantheon is physical, subject to personal verification, and refutable. This is a purely scientific approach to the mysteries of Universe. While Ātman in Hinduism is a refutable physical concept, and is, therefore, scientific; on the other hand, the ‘soul’ of the Abrahamic religions is an irrefutable metaphysical concept, hence unscientific. To illustrate this point further — Creation, soul, and God are all based on the revealed Book, not subject to verification or debate (any such act is termed as heresy), and an irrefutable Truth on the authority of God, Yahveh, or Allah. This is a purely unscientific approach. So this is the first major fundamental difference between Hinduism and Western religions. Printed with permission of the author (April 2020) To Part 2
Read More
Previous Next
Close
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this