Vedic Rishis – the ancestors of all Indians

To know more is to learn from all the sources. Brighter is the mind that learns unbiased before forming an opinion. Yet another article by Maria Wirth, opening new doors to knowledge…time to explore more…unbiased…

MARIA WIRTH

Some five years ago there was a small news item in a national paper. At that time Jairam Ramesh was the minister of state for environment and forests and he had stated, ”India is losing at least 2000 patents every year on traditional formulations as the knowledge on these has never been documented.”

I wondered whether the politicians, administrators and academics actually knew where their ancient tradition is documented and what it contains. There is a big gap between the English speaking academics and the Vedic pandits. The former tend to think that they are superior and represent India’s intelligentsia. However there is great, often untapped knowledge in the other camp of Sanskrit pandits. Their knowledge might even be more crucial for a harmonious society. Sadly, both groups don’t meet because they don’t understand each other. If they would meet and exchange, India in all likelihood would be a frontrunner…

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Of Charity and Criticism…

The World Cultural Festival #WCF is being celebrated this week on the Yamuna floodplains. The social media is abuzz with reports and like always, there is a mix of controversies, and slander by the media and Hinduphobics, coupled with the enthusiasm of the followers of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Today is the second day, and the social media reports and images bear testimonials of its huge success. The chanting of the Vedas on the Ghats was the highlight of the first day.

Each time a spiritual event is organised by any Hindu organisation or certain people spend their money on religion, temples, or pilgrimages, a section of elitist question their choice and remind them that their money is better spent on charity. This question is not asked of any other religion or group and Hindu religious and spiritual expenditures are deemed extravagant. Who is anyone to decide what is the right way to spend funds? There are two questions that come to my mind. First, have the umpteen charities around the world been able to eradicate poverty? A lot was done for Africa, many philanthropists are doing so much in their own rights, Mother Teresa had people donating millions. Could these millions ever make even a noticeable dent anywhere? Second, by this logic, people preaching should donate maximum earnings to charity. After all, what is more important? A life of luxury with a big house, a personal car and a chauffeur, or just enough to cater to the basic needs with the remaining amount just given away in charity. These are the people who cannot do without their single malts and the daily quota of expensive cigarette. In fact, such people should have some daily langar/soup kitchens at home, feeding maximum poor and hungry first. The entire world should convert to a socialist republic, keeping only enough for self-sustenance and donating the rest away. This reminds me so much of ‘the ant and the grasshopper’ story with an Indian twist.


Indian Version

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The Grasshopper thinks the Ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the
summer away.

Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor Grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the Ant’s house.

Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter.

World universities, Sheldon Pollack, Wendy Doniger, and evangelist organisations criticizes the GOI for
not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grasshopper of different religion and social class.

Hinduism is derided and people call for a ban on the Hindu religious freedom and call it the tyranny of the Ant to belong to upper class.

The Social Media is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the
Grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance).

Opposition MPs stage a walkout. Left parties call for ‘Bharat Bandh’ in
West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry.

CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and
Grasshoppers.

UPA wants Modi’s apology and resignation.

JNU celebrates the anti-ant day and commemorates the grasshoppers for defying rules and not working.

NDTV and CNN-IBN cover the grasshopper’s plight for days. Grasshopper is invited to the news channels and gives a passionate speech. He is declared a natural leader endorsing equality and ‘freedom’.

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the ‘Prevention of Terrorism
Against Grasshoppers Act’ [POTAGA], with effect from the beginning of the winter.

The Ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, it’s home is confiscated by the Government and
handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV, CNN-IBN, India Today, Aaj tak.

Arundhati Roy calls it ‘A Triumph of Justice’.

Lalu calls it ‘Socialistic Justice ‘.

CPM calls it the ‘Revolutionary Resurgence of the Downtrodden’

..

..

Many years later…

The Ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi-billion dollars
company in Silicon Valley.

100s of Grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservations somewhere in India …

As a result of losing lot of hard working Ants and feeding the Grasshoppers, India is still a developing country!!!


I had seen this fixation of the older generation with charity. Little did I know that this bug is hale and hearty and continues in the current ‘youth’, who are personally very well-off. Why do we want to create a world of beggars, depending upon charity? When did charity resolve any issues? It is true that there are sections of society that are deprived, in India and the world. However, I do not see anyone give up on their personal life and take to the life of social service. Practice what you preach first.

Talking of WCF, from what I know, Sri Sri and Art of Living has been doing a lot of charity and social work. It runs 425 free schools across 18 states of India, providing free education to more than 39,200 children in the slum, tribal and rural belts where child labour and poverty are widespread. I am not a follower, however, it pains me to see a certain section of detractors who have an opinion on almost everything Indian (read Hindu). They can see nothing right in the Indian system, Hindu religion, present government, and anything that is not leftist. Hence, I have an opinion against their opinions.

I am reminded of Ayn Rand:


“the penalizing of ability for being ability, the penalizing of success for being success, and the sacrifice of productive genius to the demands of envious mediocrity.”

― Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal


||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

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Beating the Retreat and the Unorthodox Display…

A week of festivities, starting 26th January, with the Republic Day parade, ends with the Beating the Retreat ceremony. I follow my yearly tradition too, of prodding the kids into waking up and sitting in front of the television to watch the parade, and again goading them to watch the retreat on the 29th.

There were a few changes in both the ceremonies, some appreciated, some not. I loved everything in its entirety, except the Doordarshan coverage and will talk about each subsequently.

Most traditions have a history and many still serve a purpose. However, over a period of time, some traditions are adapted to map the socio-economic changes or the generational changes. All changes may or may not be good, but every change can initiate a debate.

One constant in the parade and retreat coverage was Doordarshan and their unprofessional cameramen. I am not sure if these are the political or official directives, but their camera angles are either completely wrong or focussed on the politicians and the crowds at the most inopportune times. Each time I sit with anticipation to watch, I end up cursing the cameramen. This deliberate faux pas is unchanging since the last decade or two. Why cannot they use technology and spilt windows with multiple camera angles, when they have all the money and the resources at their disposal? Maybe, high time that they hired professionals for the most important festival of India. However, a political will is lacking. Or, is it too much politics in this state-run station?

Moving on, let me discuss the ceremonies. This Republic Day parade had marching dogs with their trainers, vexing the services that could not find a place in the parade. In spite the unobtrusive dissent, the novelty was appreciated by the viewers and the contingent received rave reviews.

Many other issues were alluded to by the revered people of the armed forces in different forums. Here is my take. Wars are no longer fought on battlefields. The face of war has changed for decades or even a century. None of the existing generals, in service or retired, have seen the Battle of Haldighati or Panipat. Now, terrorists enter through the unguarded borders with the politically protected drug mafia and give us a Pathankot or a Malda. My mother narrates her experiences of the 1965 invasion. Even then, no bugles were sounded in the evenings for retreat. Instead, sirens would be sounded for blackouts because enemy warships would fly overhead, bombing our cities at night. A battle of Kurukshetra does talk of armies retreating to their camps at night. Even in Kargil, the firing went day and night.

I term Republic Day and its end, with the marching bands Beating the Retreat, as great Indian festivals. These festivals are no longer for only solemnising the Indian armed forces, but also to celebrate the Indian prowess in military, achievements in the public sector, states, and schools. It is the celebration of the entire nation and it requires the participation and ownership of everyone for it to become more than a symbol. I believe that this was one of the intents this year.

The Beating the Retreat is my favourite ceremony. The evening started with a great cheer from me when I saw the return of President’s buggy (Presidential six-horse coach) after two decades. Hon’ble President Pranab Mukherjee brought back the lovely tradition, riding in the buggy towards Vijay Chowk. The retreat had an orchestra of Indian instruments, with santoor, sitar, table et.al. placed in one corner. Indian instruments cannot be used with the marching. There was a jugalbandi between two groups playing Indian and European instruments respectively. The Air Force band played ‘Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram…’ on flutes, clarinet, and trombone. The Navy band drummers showed their swag and were the highlight of the ceremony.

Many purists and some friends from the armed forces felt that these changes, like the Indian orchestra and drummers’ swag, were not traditional enough, as the solemnity of the occasion warranted. My answer to these 50+ gentlemen, some of them really dear to me, is that snap out of the British mind set. Even British are snapping out of this stiffness. Having being an insider for a short span, I know that most traditions followed in the armed forces are very British and we have not been able to shake-off our colonial thought process in military life, as in civil life. I would congratulate the three chiefs of the Indian armed forces to allow the Indianisation of the ceremony, and with what aplomb. If Indian instruments and the jugalbandis, along with more and more Indian tunes were adding the Indian sanskriti (culture) into the age-old colonial-inherited traditions, then the drummers’ swag was accepting the youthfulness of the forces. This, I believe, was the second intent of this year.

To reiterate, I know that it was not a music festival. But then, look up our history and traditions and know that music, songs, ballads, and folklore have been Indian traditions in times of wars when the battles were fought on the battlefields and ballads were sung alongside. The same tradition was followed in this Beating the Retreat. Or, if you may, battles have changed, and it is time to change the representation of those traditions too. This Beating the Retreat not only reaffirmed the age-old traditions but according to me, added fun and glory to it. So, here is my final word. I ENJOYED EVERY BIT OF IT.

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

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Battle for Sanskrit by Sri Rajiv Malhotra

Our Vedic traditions and Sanatam Dharm can be easily trivialised if we hand over control to people who have no guru and know nothing…Listen to Rajiv Malhotra and realise the enormity of conspiracy…

Sage of Kanchi

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Thanks to Sri Guruvayurappan for sending this great video. Although I have heard his name, honestly, I haven’t been following him. I listened to his speech to some degree – haven’t completed. He is truly concerned about lot of hypocrisy that’s been going on around this. It is very heartening to know that his conversation with Sringeri Acharyal had made an impact that they had not implemented some of their original plans.

I think we all should get this book and read to understand the struggle for Sanskrit and the future of sanskrit, the deva basha and how/what we need to do support this cause.

Our salute to Sri Malhotra

Although I know Hindi to some degree, he narrates some critical information in Hindi, which I missed it 🙂

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Flashback – College and Annie’s Song…

A college friend posted a link to John Denver’s Annie’s song triggering some memories and a flashback.

Ours was a group of five friends. We were the undergraduate class majoring in Zoology for our Bachelor’s degree. By the time we reached the third and the final year of graduation, we were a batch of merely twenty two. Being a small batch made it easier to stick together.

We would play basketball in the court behind our lecture theatre, and also some hand cricket on days when we would bunk lectures or they were cancelled.

Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) runs University Special buses all across Delhi. (Are they still running? At least, the buses were plying a couple of decades ago.)  Being science undergraduates, our day would begin very early with the first lecture of the day and end even later than the last lecture in the college schedule. Most of us would take the early morning U-Special and be in college by 8:25 a.m. or earlier.

Science block of the college was a separate building, with Zoology department on the ground floor, followed by Botany, Chemistry, Physics, and Electronics on the  subsequent floors.

While waiting for our first lecture to begin, we would spend time sitting around the corridors or on the back lawns. Our laboratory windows opened onto these lawns on one side and botanical garden on the other. The college could boast of its infrastructure and greenery, with many trees lining the various lawns.

On autumn days, the college sweepers would gather the fallen leaves in heaps under the trees, all around the tree line. Our group of five girls loved Annie’s song. (Boys were as much a part of the group for all batch activities and charades, but girls always had their clusters.) Almost every morning, we would walk on the path around the lawn, from our building to the main gate, singing the song and jumping on the piles of dried leaves. The crunching sound of the stomped leaves is as delightful as jumping in the water puddles after the rains.

Many a morning were spent singing and walking with friends in Delhi University Campus. The famous Bread and aloo-tikki (potato patties) sandwich and lemonade outside our college, and the walk to the central faculty for vegetarian hot dogs (and the handsome man running the shack) – an alumnus will have many such memories to recount.

The college trips to Simla and Surajkund bonded us more. The banana eating competition for one of my groupies, and the songs sung to cheer her on, the walks to the mall road, eating gulab-jamuns and pastries, friendly flirting of the boys with the girls, those clear night skies showing a million stars of the milky way, all and more. My school life was fun, college topped it, and the fun never stopped even after marriage.

We never completely lost touch with each other, maybe a few years of silence here and there. Each time, when we find each other, we find the bond. Those memories live on and are part of my flashback treasure forever and ever.

 

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

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Flashback – Of Blessings and Regrets…

The year 2015 is ending in a day and we would continue the journey into 2016. If I were to believe that the time zones — past, present and future — run parallel then, years lose their significance. Or do they?

If I could time travel to any time in the past, where would I go and what would I change? Have we all not contemplated this possibility at least once in our lifetime? To say that everything has been perfect would be egotistical of me. To say that I wouldn’t change a thing would be a lie too. However, my better sense might advise me that any small change could result in a butterfly effect. I love the coinage of the chaos theory. It gives a lot of significance to the inconsequential flapping of wings of a butterfly, making us believe in the worth of our seemingly irrelevant existence. Having said that, from the point of view of existentialism or rationalism, I believe in the individualism, not of the existential kind, but of the spiritual kind. Hence, I believe in self-worth and the importance of my existence. Because, each soul’s existence is of prime importance in this creation, and that meaning has been the sole purpose of this creation.

For an individual, there is always a room for improvement, and satisfaction with the existing circumstances takes away the zeal to work for the change. Acceptance of the status quo as the will of God is another way to look at it. However, that acceptance in Srimad Bhagavad Gita was to destroy the ego. If Chapter 18, Verse 16 says, “Therefore one who thinks himself the only doer, not considering the five factors, is certainly not very intelligent and cannot see things as they are”, then Gita also lays emphasis on karma. However, the only important karma is devotion towards Him and all actions performed for Him. Any other action is either mechanical or to feed the ego.

I did begin this thought reminiscing the childhood and the things that I could have done differently. I could have tried not to be a rebel. My rebellion was limited to the thought process, and many a times, giving a voice to these thoughts. However, I always ended being more traditional in my actions. I could have been more accepting, saving many a heartache and arguments, and a few friends too. The free-spirited soul in me shaped my personality, making me vocal, loud, aggressive, and restless. This restlessness could have been channelized into education, making me a doctor, perhaps. I could hardly ever picture myself as a girl or woman, coy and graceful. I was always a person, communicating, expressing, behaving, and interacting with others. It took me a long time to read people, to know that mostly I was a girl to them. Most ‘boys’ were not used to being freely spoken to, and misread me. It aggravated me a lot. I would go ballistic, hating the people and the thought. Now, when I have taken solace in the fact that I am old and may be, I am a person now, it still hasn’t worked.

I have so many personal regrets — of not have educated myself enough, of still managing to waste this useful life, of not being as soft-tempered, of being easily irritable, of being loud, and of not being a better mother and a homemaker.

Is it too late to give up the laziness and work harder? Interestingly, I keep going back to the only philosophy I believe unflinchingly — Srimad Bhagavad Gita — The Song of Lord Krsna. I wish that I had more gyan, and devotion. Ultimately, only unconditional love and devotion matters for the spiritual individualism, more than existential life. Even without being all grace and poise, I would like to be a wiser person. Probably, the wisdom brings the poise and the acceptance, along with the much-needed peace.

My wishes are very selfish, only for my most cherished family and self, wishing that 2016 is the year of better self-realisation, a year of more God’s graces, of peace, more love and devotion. May 2016 be the year of revelling in Krsna consciousness, of immersing self in Him.

 

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

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The Problem with ‘God’

THE PROBLEM WITH ‘GOD’ by Maria Wirth

MARIA WIRTH

‘God’ is a much used word yet hardly anyone pauses to find out what is meant by it. ‘Isn’t it clear?’ religious people may ask and answer:  God is the Highest, the Creator of the universe, the Almighty who knows whatever any human is dong or thinking and it is He who will give the punishment or reward in the afterlife.

This is a predominantly Western notion. Nobody will quarrel with the fact that this universe and we included have to come from somewhere and ‘God’ is given as the verbal answer. Yet somehow, ‘God’ has acquired strange attributes in the mind of westerners, never mind if they are believers or unbelievers. He is invariably male, has strong likes and dislikes and has supposedly communicated those likes and dislikes to some special people who informed humanity about it. Reading the Old Testament and the Koran reveals a God who is…

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