Whats happening in US

Hello friends!

Diversity brings different ideas on table, different tastes in food plates, different festivals to celebrate and different cloths to wear and so on so forth. But, if it is not nurtured well, it also brings myriad conflicts, hostilities and divides in the society.

Diversity in India is well known. Diversity in India, in terms of culture, religion, castes, language, ethnicity, food, dressing sense etc. is incomparable in world. But at many times we hear, these divides causing much of the disturbance in society. Some time the disturbance due to these divides is comprehended at such an extent that a prominent Actor in Bollywod was told by her wife to “settle in other country as intolerance is on rise in India”!!!

America is seen as the paradise by many Indians. The democratic values, personal liberty, freedom of press, secularism and tolerance have attracted many of us to that place. One of the prime motive or desire of many, if not all, software engineers working in IT firm is always to have an onsite opportunity in US!

But the ideals are not practical. Recently some of the events in US have suggested that their society, although having less diversity than India, is also grappling with some serious issues related to ethnicity, communalism and racial discrimination.

Charlottesville, Virginia incident:

US
Image Credit: Google Image

If you are having a close or even a partial eye on world news affair, you may have came across Charlottesville incident, where a white supremacist (A philosophy according to which white is supreme) rammed his car on a peaceful African American demonstrator against Confederacy Symbols. In that incident a woman got killed and more than 20 incurred major and minor injuries.

What is Confederacy Symbol and why African Americans were protesting against it?

To explain the story, you have to travel with me in history and to the American Civil War!!! I assure you, travelling in history will not be as boring as you may think.

So, American Civil War, a watershed moment in the history of US, has started in 1861 and ended in 1865. Abraham Lincoln was the president of US at that time. He had proposed a legislation, according to which the slavery (most of the slave were African American) would be annulled and  be termed as illegal and hence punishable. But many of the southern states of US were not happy of this decision. They have a certain notion that white is supreme and blacks are meant to be slaved. Apart from this there were some economical factors were also associated with their discontent. Slaves provided very cheap labor and hence profitable businesses. So 11 of the southern state formed a confederacy and revolted against the union. They seceded from the union in 1861. After that, a civil war had started in US, which finally got ended in 1865, with the victory of the union over confederacy and they were again merged with the union.

So the racial difference between the so called Nationalist American and the African American is deep seated in history. Now after the civil right movement in America, Blacks were legally brought on par with the Whites, but the prejudice is still prevails in American Society.

After the elevation of Mr. Donald Trump as 45th US President, whos is also seen as Right Wing nationalists and pro whites, simmering discontent gets the expression through various means.

One of the demand of the African American people is that in all the southern states, where they got legal protection by law, but the presence of Confederacy Symbols such as monuments, statue, declaration of public holidays, name of the park, name of the streets are on the name of White Supremacist, is not helping the cause of assimilation of the African American in mainstream as they reminds them the suppression by whites.  Naming all these places after white, glorifies their act of brutal repression. These symbols (such as statues) who glorifies the white oppressors, should be removed for once and all.  But the white population thinks that they all were the part of their cultural heritage which they cherishes and they are their source of inspiration, hence it can’t be removed.

So there were protest and counter protest held in Charlottesville. In one of such protest by African American, a White Supremacist, in his 20s, attacked the crowd with his speeding car which resulted, as I mentioned earlier, in killing of a lady and injuring several others.

So the point which I wanted to bring here is that, no country is paradise or perfect. Every country has their own sets of problem. It doesn’t matter that they are developed or developing, western or eastern, above the equator or below the equator differences will be there. So even though we hear so many negative news about the divides in India, we should not get carried away by negativities rather we should bring and use all the means which will bring the peace and harmony in the society.

 

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Not just as the other morning..

Today’s morning was very fine here in my city and it became even more gorgeous when I had a south Indian meal in breakfast at one of my friend’s home. 😛 Knowing my likings, he had invited me on several occasions, but somehow or the other I kept delaying it. But today was the day. I love South Indian cuisine, especially the Dosas and Uthapam along with the Sambhar and Chatani.

To tell you the fact, my friend is not from South India. Yet the taste of Dosa was so delicious and sumptuous that I can bet that any South Indian cook would be proud of it. I had the breakfast as in the manner that I am having lunch. One after another, I devoured three Dosas one by one, partly due to the reason that I like it and partly due to the immense pressure from his family especially from his granny.

After having breakfast, I chatted for some time with his family members. His family is having same place of origin as I am having and we both speak same beautiful language “Maithili”. I find his family very decent and everybody in my surrounding having a word of praise for them. I spoke with uncle but the best part during my conversation was with his granny. She would be around mid 70s. She is quite religious and very soft spoken. She speaks in so humble way with me that sometime I wonder how someone can be so modest. Every time I talk with her, I get some life lesson.

As I had some other engagements later in the morning, so I asked permission from them to leave. They all seemed to be very happy that I came there and so was I. When I was leaving, out of respect I bent down to touch the granny’s feet, but she moved backward with a shudder and said “No, no, no, no….don’t dare touch my feet. Do you want that I commit sin?”

I said with anguish, “Why you never let me touch your feet Dadi and what sin are you talking about? Don’t you want to bless me?” Her response was “ You are bigger than me”. I said “Wow!  How could that happen! Do I look older than you?” She said smilingly “Beta! You are Brahmins and we are not suppose to let you touch my feet, it’s considered as one of the great sins, which has been taught to us by my ancestors and I am not going to disobey them like your uncle”. I was shocked, ashamed. Uncle never resisted me from touching his feet. Her statement was probably a dig at him. Since I was running out of time I did not plead much and with folded hand I said Namaste and returned back to home.

On returning home, I got to know that my further engagement which I had, got cancelled. So I had free time. The sound of the granny “you are bigger than me” reverberated in my ears. I was forced to contemplate about the caste systems in India among Hindus. I never experienced this divide in recent times and unheard of this untill this moment. Yet the response of granny was shocking to me. I thought in those old days this divide must be very rigid, as much so that it had an indelible imprints on her mind.

I find this cast system as one of the reasons why foreign powers and their culture attacked us from centuries. It was one of the most debilitating factors of backwardness of our society. It is the phenomena which militated against the dignity of the humans.

And I find this caste system in today’s context as pernicious as it was ever before. Some political outfits are using this divide to gain their political leverage. Some netas, like Britishers, believe in the philosophy of “divide and rule”. They want that whole population should be divided on the cast line so that they could not stand together on the developmental issues. With this they are able to maximize their interest. Now is the time when we should relinquish all our identities and should stand for the cause of building a more secular, tolerant and accommodating society and nation.

Although the Constitution of India guarantees that there should be no discrimination of the basis of caste, gender, religion, place of birth etc. but these things has to be dealt on the societal level, and cannot be completely enforced by law alone. The onus is on current generation, we should thrive for a society where no elder should feel blessing the younger as sin and prevents touching feet.

सूक्ति (Beautiful Thought)

Sanskrit is world’s oldest language. They say “Old is Gold”. But the decline in Sanskrit suggests that we have not valued the Gold. There may be many reasons of its decline. One of the foremost reason was that we remained under the control of foreign rulers for way too long period (nearly 1000 years, isn’t it a very long period ?). Whenever any foreign power reins its subject, their first attack is on the cultural aspects of their occupation and to promote their own culture to the natives.

Anyway I am not going in to the details of the apathy of Sanskrit, because reflection in past never fetches any substantial gain but the present action can, however past can be a chaperone.

Today I am starting a new series in my blog, named “सूक्ति/ Beautiful Thought”

“सू+उक्ति; सू =अच्छा, सुन्दर ; उक्ति = विचार “.

It will consist texts, verses, thoughts, quotes, anecdotes etc. from Sanskrit language with its translation. I will try to write those episodes which will be relevant to our day to day life. The source of my quote will be multiple. Texts may be from Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Bhagwat Puran, Vedas, Upanishad, Quotes from various personalities such as Chanakya.

My purpose is that through this small initiative readers will feel proud about our great heritage and can develop some interest in knowing them. India was known as “Golden Bird” at the time, when Sanskrit was rife. I am not saying that there is some connection between it, but I also believe that it can not be a mere coincident.

Here is the first one ..

text1

संस्कृत दुनिया की सबसे पुरानी भाषा है. लोग कहते हैं “ओल्ड इस गोल्ड “. लेकिन संस्कृत में गिरावट से पता चलता है कि हमने “गोल्ड” को महत्व नहीं दिया है. इसकी गिरावट के कई कारण हो सकते हैं. सबसे महत्वपूर्ण कारण यह था कि हम विदेशी शासकों के नियंत्रण में बहुत लंबे समय तक रहे (लगभग 1000 साल, क्या यह बहुत लंबी अवधि नहीं है?)। जब भी किसी भी विदेशी शक्ति ने अपने अधीन पर शाशन करती है तो उनका पहला हमला अधीन के सांस्कृतिक पहलुओं को नाश्ता करना और अपने सांस्कृतिक पहलुओं को उनपर थोपना होता है.

फिर भी मैं संस्कृत की उदासीनता का ब्यौरा में नहीं देने जा रहा हूं, क्योंकि सिर्फ अतीत झाँकने से किसी भी महत्वपूर्ण लक्ष्य की पूर्ति नहीं करता है, लेकिन वर्तमान में काम करने से यह प्राप्त किया जा सकता है, हालांकि अतीत एक सीख का काम कर सकती है

आज मैं अपने ब्लॉग में एक नई श्रृंखला शुरू कर रहा हूं, जिसका नाम रखा है “सूक्ति ” . इसमें संस्कृत भाषा से पाठ, छंद, विचार, उद्धरण, उपाख्यानों आदि शामिल होंगे। मैं उन लेखों को लिखने का प्रयास करूंगा जो हमारे दिन-प्रतिदिन जीवन के लिए प्रासंगिक होंगे। मेरे उद्धरण का स्रोत एकाधिक होगा. ग्रंथों में श्रीमद् भगवद गीता, भागवत पुराण, वेद, उपनिषद, चाणक्य जैसे विभिन्न व्यक्तित्वों से उद्धरण भी हो सकते हैं।

मेरा उद्देश्य यह है कि इस छोटी सी पहल के माध्यम से पाठकों को हमारी महान विरासत के बारे में पढ़कर गर्व महसूस होगा और उन्हें जानने में कुछ रुचि पैदा हो होगी। भारत को “सोने की चिड़िया” कहा जाता था, जब संस्कृत व्यापक थी। मैं यह नहीं कह रहा हूं कि इसके बीच कुछ संबंध हैं, लेकिन मेरा यह भी मानना है कि यह एक संयोगमात्र नहीं हो सकता।

 

Qualities of Lord

Namaste to readers and fellow bloggers,

Today I chose to write something different than my usual content. Let me know, if you enjoyed reading.

There is hardly any doubt that whenever anyone in India would be asked to recite some verse from Bhagavad Gita, majority of them would land up in mentioning below two verses

yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srjamy aham

 paritranaya sadhunam
vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya
sambhavami yuge yuge

I am not sure that how many of them will know the real meaning of these verses. For that matter, even I was oblivious of the meanings till few years back. But somehow got to know  and on this auspicious day of Ramnavami, when Lord Ramchandra manifested himself in this world, I thought of writing about it.

In these two slokas (verses) Lord mentions the reason why he appears in this material creation. The reasons why He came can be concluded from the verse as..

Lord comes,

  1. Whenever there is decline in religiousness and irreligion rises
  2. To deliver those who are pious and
  3. To annihilate the miscreants

So in Hinduism, we are aware that Lord had ten incarnations called as Dashavatar. If we would study a bit it about these incarnations, then we will surely find that every time when he came,  above three criterion were satisfied.

Lord Ramchandra came in Treta Yuga, and whatever happened after that, is an epic and known to all Indians (not only Hindus), at least the overall story. So I am not going to tell you about the story of Ramayan. My purpose of this writing is to remember the qualities that Lord had displayed during his stay on this planet. He was an ideal as He was Lord himself. So we cannot imitate or emulate him, but by knowing his qualities, surely we can try to follow his footstep. So today is Ramnaumi and taking the cue from the Ninth day of the Chaitra Month, I tried to write nine out of innumerable qualities of Lord in short. However I am not competent to describe the glory of him, yet I gave it a try.

ram ji
Credit: ISKCON
  1. A Perfect Son: Nowhere in the world you wouldcome across a story where a son in his youthful stage left all his lavishness and luxuries of kingdom and spent 14 years in exile, faced innumerable hardship as Ram did and that too just for the sake of keeping his father’s word. Even though he knew his stepmother is the culprit for all his adversity, yet no where we come across an incident where he has raised a voice of disrespect against her.
  1. A Perfect Brother: When Lord Ram got to know that her stepmother wanted to coronate his son Bharat as Crown prince of Ayodhya, even though Lord had exclusive right over throne. Yet, he readily agreed to the proposal and left for the forest as if he was relinquishing a blade of grass. The same love was from the other side too. All three younger brothers were so attached to Ram that they were even ready to accept death but not the separation from him. Till today the brother’s relationship between Ram and Bharat is revered in India.
  1. A Perfect Student: Ram had formal education in ashram of Vashishta and Vishwamitra. Both the teachers taught the intricacies of diplomacy, weaponry, politics etc. Lord Ram excelled in all the discipline and was revered by them as well.
  1. A perfect Husband: Lord Ram is known as Maryada Purushottam, a supreme in Virtue. When polygamy was prevalent in that era especially among the Kings and Kshatriya (warrior class), he vowed and later observed that he will have only one wife in his life. When Mother Sita was taken away to Lanka by Ravana, Ram was so tormented and agonized that he saw her in trees, in stones, in rivers etc. As her presence was unknown, he was helpless and asked about her from birds and the animals of Dandakaranya. Later when he got to know that Ravan has kidnapped her, with meager of resources and army of Monkeys and Bears he attacked mighty Ravan(from whom even Indra, king of Demigods, was affraid) and defeated him in war and brought back Maa Sita home
  1. A perfect Friend: His friendship was conspicuous when he assisted Sugriva, who was on the weaker side and made him the King of Kiskindha. The story of his friendship with the King of Nishad is well known and highly revered.
  1. A perfect Enemy: As we know that he was a perfect friend, at the same time he was a perfect enemy of the devils and miscreants since the childhood. As stated earlier one of the reasons that he came to the earth was to destroy the evil force. So he killed many demons who used to trouble the Sadhus or the Saints . Some of them were so powerful that they had even defeated Demigods. Ram killed many demons during his stay.
  1. A perfect warrior: Ram was a perfect Kshatriya and a valiant warrior. On one hand Ravan had well equipped with all the mysterious weaponry, yet Lord defeated him with handful of army which manly comprised of Monkeys and Bears.
  1. A Perfect Master: There is a very interesting past time of Lord Ram, when he eat the berry given by Sabari, a lower caste women in her old age, who herself has tasted them before giving to Lord. In Indian context, it is an offence to give something to the master after first consuming or defiling it. But she was so engrossed in the love of lord that she did not wanted to give a sour berry to Him. And Lord was so generous that he accepted and consumed all the berries.
  1. A perfect King: In Ramayan we come across an ideal world, where a king used to go in disguise to see the wellbeing of his countrymen. It is said that in his state no person was in distress. His reign was so celebrated that till today politicians cutting across the party lines claims before the election that they will bring Ramrajya, yet they had no intention to follow the footsteps of him.

Although, my words will not do justice to the describe the qualities of Lord, yet I am hoping that you have enjoyed it.

Thank you for reading.

Why most Hindus are cremated but some are buried?

Why most Hindus are cremated but some are buried?

Recently when Jayalalitha, a very popular leader of South Indian state Tamilnadu, died, it produced unprecedented shock waves across the country. After her demise, unlike most of the Hindus, she was buried and not cremated. It was baffling for me as well as for many others that why there are two pronged approach in same religion. Then I searched for the reason of this exception. Whatever the understanding I got, presenting it in the blog. But you are also entitled to get differed from my opinion

Why Hindus are cremated?

It is important to know that in Hinduism, saints and sages came to conclusion that Jivas (Humans are one of the Jivas) are not their body but the eternal Soul and Soul never dies. It just changes the body. This concept is known as Transmigration of the Soul.

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This is substantiated in one of the most revered scripture of Hinduism,

Bhgavad Gita 2.13

 dehino ‘smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati

As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.

One more essential pillar of the Hindu doctrine is “Moksha”, along with “Dharma”, “Artha”and “Kaam”. Moksha in it’s literal sense means “to be free”. Now the question will be Freedom for whom and from what? So this freedom is for the Soul and from this material conditioning that is from perishable body.

According to Vedic injunction, when a person attains Moksha, then he/she doesn’t come in this material world again and either merges with Bramhan (Super Soul) or resides with the Lord in his abode which is permanent unlike this world.

So when a person dies, he has to leaves his body, but since he has spent a long time with this body, he develops attachment for it. When anyone is attached with any person or object then a desire to associate with it for longer duration of time, remains inside him. But the desire to be in this perishable body is conflicting with the real objective i.e. to be free and attain Moksha. Hence by burning the body, soul can witness and realise the temporary nature of the body and hence the will ultimately crave for Moksha.

But saints and children are cremated

There are some exceptions to it. Saints and Children, when they die, there is a Provision for them to buried. The reason for it, which I have understood after reading some text and hearing from some specialists in this subject, is as follows.

Saints and sages (I am talking about real ones which are few in number yet existing, not the bogus which has proliferated and made religion a business), in their whole life time goes through severe penances, meditations, rituals, sacrifices, association with the pious personality etc. By going through all these process they not only knows but become self realized that the body which they got is perishable and ultimate objective is to attain Moksha. Hence after this realization, the body which they got becomes purified from the material contamination such as lust, greed, anger, enviousness, attachments etc. Since they have no attachment for the body, hence they are buried.

One more consideration which I came across is that, the real Gurus, sages or the pious personality come to this material planet just to relieve the ones which are suffering in this world due to the ignorance that they are soul, not the body. So even though they appear like ordinary human beings, yet they are the direct messenger of the Lord, hence they are not having any longing for their body. They just finish their duty and leave their body.

There is also a provision to bury the children. The reason for this, which I have read is that since they die at very young age and hence they don’t develop so much longing and attachment for themselves. Hence they are buried.

Now coming to the point of why Jayalalitha is buried, I am not able to figure out the real reason other than the whims of her follower, as she was not and ascetic personality and of course, neither a child.

The uniqueness of Hinduism lies in the fact that it is a very liberal. If you are worshiping idol still you are Hindu, not worshiping it makes no difference, even if you are atheist you can accommodate in Hinduism. That’s why Indian Supreme Court termed, Hinduism as a “Way of Life”. This also very much true for the last right. When majority cremates the body, yet you will find exceptions to it.