Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Racism Is More Than White,Black Or Brown



Racism Is More Than White,Black Or Brown


By Promod Puri
racism
Image Credit Google

Despite its global image of being a tolerant society, racism, and bias towards major ethnic communities are still the rooted aspects of Canada.

Added to that, ethnic communities also have mindset racist sentiments among themselves. Moreover, some or most of them exercise bigotry and dislike within their own group.

A recent poll by Forum Research reveals the “unfavorable feelings” toward both religious and cultural minorities existing not only among the people but among the voters of all the three national political parties as well.

The poll says 41 percent of Canadians do not feel favorable about at least one of the ethnic communities namely: Muslims, Native Canadians, South Asians, most other Asians, and black people.

Of all the provinces Quebec leads the data with 57 percent respondents feel unfavorable toward at least one of the groups. The trend continues with 45 percent in Alberta, 39 percent in Atlantic Canada, 35 percent in British Columbia, and 33 percent each in Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan respectively.

The political parties may present a secular and non-racial face, but voters committed with them are embedded in racial and religious biases of unfavorability. As expected, 55 percent of the Conservative Party voters feel unfavorable toward at least one of the ethnic groups. Bloc Quebecois voters closely follow Conservatives. Among the Liberal, New Democratic Party, and the Green Party voters, the unfavorable sensitivity figures are 33, 30 and 31 percent respectively.

But the story does not end here.

There exists unfavorable feelings and racial prejudices among the ethnic and religious minorities also. Unfortunately, so far, no poll has ever been conducted to gather some statistical information about this aspect of the Canadian society.

Hatred and ill-will toward Muslims, First Nation Canadians, Chinese, South Asians, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus by each of these groups against at least one of them are the little-known realities in Canada.

For example, members of one or more groups of ethnic communities explicitly expressed their dislike to allow the arrival of Muslim refugees from Syria last year. Anti-Muslim sentiment and fanaticism were the contributing factors of intolerance against the refugee and fellow new immigrants.

And then there is an ongoing racist culture against the Native people by most other ethnic groups. There is an occasional feel of racial biases by Chinese, South Asians, and other ethnic communities from Asia and Latin America against each other.

Within the South Asian communities, racial biases are an open chapter.

Fanatical aversion and dislike exist among Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims in the   South Asian communities despite the fact they share same languages and cultures. For example, during the recent presidential campaign in the US, many Hindus admired Donald Trump mainly because of his declared anti-Muslim stand.

Anti-Muslim, anti-Sikh and anti-Hindu feelings among the South Asian communities can often be observed among themselves. And within the Canadian Hindu society centuries-old caste system has been part of its custom and tradition which is nothing else but the institutional practice of racism by the upper castes against the lower castes.

The racial pattern in Canada is not only white versus black or brown, or one religious or cultural group against the other but among the groups as well. Moreover, the racist culture is very much live within a single group.

The multicultural mosaic of Canada is blighted with racist marks contributed by Canadians of all colors and creeds, including the ethnic communities.

(Promod Puri is a Vancouver based journalist and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions).

Websites:
Promodpuri.com
Progressivehindudialogue.com
Promodpuri.blogspot.com

Season's Greetings


In the spirit of exchanging greetings with our friends and relatives we also wish peace and holiday-seasonhappiness for all the humanity, and join together to bring along everybody so nobody is left out in our celebrations of the holiday season. Realizing that we human beings, along with animals, plants, mountains, rivers, seas and everything visible and non-visible in this shared universe are all inter-connected and inter-dependent to each other, we seek peace and peaceful existence for our environment also. (Image credit Google)

Billion $ Business of “Defence”


And once again the United States of America leads all other weapon-producing countries in 2015. It supplied the weapons of mass killing worth $ 40 BILLION mostly to the developing nations to meet their “defense needs”, reports New York Times (December 26, 2016).

France is number two with $15 billion in sales. Other major arms suppliers are Russia ($11.1 billion), China ($6 billion), Sweden, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Britain, and France.

Among the leading buyer countries, the tiny nation of Qatar tops the list with $17 billion in purchases, followed by Egypt ($12 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($8 billion), South Korea, Pakistan, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Iraq.

Weapons for “defense” are the weapons of offense to suppress anti-government uprisings as in Egypt, to “fight against terrorism” per Saudi Arabia deceptive demands, or to clandestinely support terrorism like Pakistan does.

No matter under what agreements these weapon-purchase deals are made, the selling countries care less against whom these weapons are used, and what the safeguards are there that these don’t end up in the hands of terrorist organizations.

But that is not their business. Their business is political which is influenced by the arms manufacturing lobbies. While the bloodshed goes on. And the world peace remains as mere an agenda.

By Promod Puri
promodpuri.com
promodpuri.blogspot.com

Monday, December 12, 2016

Manmohan Singh On Demonetisation

manmohan-singhModi’s decision on demonetisation  was based on an utterly false premise –“That all cash is black money and all black money is in cash.” The former prime minister elaborates that the “vast majority of Indians earn in cash, transact in cash and save in cash, all legitimately… Unlike the poor, holders of black money have access to various forms of wealth such as land, gold, foreign exchange, etc.” This crucial point Modi did not understand, thus turning demonetisation into a “mammoth tragedy” that has “thrown into disarray” the lives of millions. – The Hindu  promodpuri.com

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

What Is Fate

Shrinking World of Leftists

Leftists, a.k.a Communists, are a strange breed of people. Highly educated, highly informed and intellectually persuasive in arguments and discussions. But they live in enclosed communities where their message of leftists’ agenda seldom trickles down to the masses for whom it is meant for. It just circulates among themselves. Leftists are rightfully critical about wrongs, but seldom recognize the worthy happenings in the society. It is their critical or perhaps narcissist nature which blinds them about the positive things happening in the society. For instance the Leftists in India or of Indian origin all over the world are extremely critical about the wrongs in the Hindu religion like Manu’s creation of caste system and his dictum against low castes Hindus. And against all the fake gurus damaging the faith. That is appreciative. But Leftists seldom talk about or share any information or writings which have promises of positive developments in the faith. Leftists have to be democratic too otherwise their world will continue to be shrinking till the last drop of mojito.
promodpuri.com

RELIGION HAS GUIDING ROLE IN POLITICS

By Promod Puri

Whereas rituals, customs and traditions furnish symbolic and distinctive identity to a religion, the pathways to divinity which are paved with morals and ethics, are often debased by its despicable ceremonial rites and practices.
It is in this context that the contemporary and progressive political ideologies disdain religion. Its nature is customarily interpreted thru inherent ritualistic practices rather than its doctrines of ethics and noble thoughts.

religion-politics

This article delves into the subject of “politics and religion”, and seeks the entry of virtuous, logical, informed, and intelligent religiosity in the political constitution serving the modern societies.
The contempt for religion in both Communist and democratic-socialist political ideologies is based on a portrayal which usually embodies rituals, customs, and traditions of a religious order.
Religion has become an official or legal taboo in the political and bureaucratic functioning of secular democracies and socialist regimes. Separation of church, temple, mosque, or synagogue from the state is the byword of the current political thinking.
Even though religion has significantly contributed its philosophies, universal truths, and theories to the school of political science, the two are deemed separate disciplines which influence the affairs and social character of a civil society.
Modern political pundits and their students or observers have not gone beyond religious customs and beliefs to explore the intelligence and enlightenment generated over the centuries in discernable interpretations which touch every aspect of human endeavors including politics.
Philosopher T. S. Eliot “believed that democratic societies rejected the influence of an established church at their peril, for in doing so they cut themselves off from the kind of ethical wisdom that can come only from participation in a tradition. Thus, he argued, such a society would degenerate into tyranny and/or social and cultural fragmentation”.  (Source: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Chapter: Religion and Politics).
Outright purging of religion without recognizing its universal messages of ethical and secular nature has been a major part of the liberal political appeal. But this appeal also holds the hyped social impression that “politics is a dirty game”. The “game” is soiled by immoral, corrupt, and evil intents. And the latter are the cause that politics becomes “dirty” since ethics are either optional or non-binding.
“Politics and religion must be kept separate” is an acknowledged doctrine in secular and democratic-socialist systems. But there are elements in most religions which are liberal, secular, and democratic. For these reasons, politics can incorporate religion in its order, whereas religion can keep its sanctity if the “dirty politics” stay out of it.
It is a fact that the laws of the land with their universal application have been constituted from religious teachings to institute political ideologies.
Barack Obama cites that “Majority of great reformers in American history were not only motivated by faith but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause”.
Nevertheless, religion does not find a liking in progressive political behavior. Rather it is inferred as meddling in the affairs of a political system.
In secular societies, demarcations have been marked for the functioning and observation of religious customs and traditions to safeguard political entities from religious entities. However, as religion still enjoys certain privileges and rights besides its deep roots in the psyche of people, it does influence public opinion.
But as long a religion exists with its antiquated, irrational, and irresponsible rituals, customs, traditions, and beliefs, an intelligent society will not accept them as part of its political culture. Moreover, as societies are increasingly becoming culturally pluralists, religious representations from rituals, are not acceptable in non-coherent populations.
In this scenario, senseless convictions along with ceremonial rituals, customs, and traditions need to be disqualified from a political discipline. Rather let religious doctrines based on ethics and moral values contribute to support and enrich political ideologies.
Politics in general, is not, and should not be, confined to skills and strategies to seek or manage power. Besides governance, guidance is also its objective which comes from conscientious and sociological logics offered by religion over the centuries.
In fact, religion itself began as a socio-political movement from the very beginning of its origin.
Essentially, religion is a code of conduct for a civil society. It all started from here. With society’s progression, the code of conduct also evolved resulting in its expansion and formalization.
As civilization started taking roots management of the society began.
Origin of religion can be traced as part of human evolution. Ancient religious orders basically were a set of laws and principles for some acceptable behavior in an emerging civil society.
Later all aspects of human cultures including presumptions and myths, and overwhelming elements of nature were covered in one order. In all these developments, social unity and coherence were the natural needs and dependencies of an advancing society.
An organized collection of beliefs and behaviors, a set of ideas started pouring in this social construction. And with the introduction of the Supreme Being, man’s most intuitive conception or imagery, the assemblage got sanctified.
And during this stage of evolution when spirituality and supernatural elements started dominating religion that its philosophical and learned aspects began branching out in various faculties. As such political science emerged as a separate discipline to guide the management of a civil society.
In this management, ethics play a significant role in the development and disciplining of a civic society. Ethics hold the society together. Ethics delivered through religion have more commanding acceptance by the society than the constitutional laws and statutes executed in political regimes.
The acceptance of ethics as a theological appeal finds conscientious stay in the minds of people. Many known statesmen and leaders have effectively advocated religious ethics not only as part of their political wisdom and temperament for better understanding and acceptance of their messages but to underline the importance of faith in the affairs of civil society as well.
From Mohammad to Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr. to Nelson Mandela and Dr. Ambedkar all had religious commitments grounded in humanism, love, compassion, and kindness to wage their political and social campaigns against slavery, apartheid, discrimination, inequality, and untouchability based on color, class, and caste.
Gandhi’s crusade against evils in the society and his political discourse were derived from the Hindu scriptures of Upanishads advocating the concepts of non-violence, truthfulness, self-discipline, compassion, and virtuousness.
Obama, who believes in the power of faith, has sought a “serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy”.
He argues, “more fundamentally the discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religion has often prevented us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms”. In a public address, he said: “secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square”. (“Obama’s 2006 Speech on Faith and Politics”, The New York Times, June 28,2006 edition).
“Before entering the public square”, what Obama is demanding instead is the infusion of true religion, without its symbolism, in the political environment to establish moral guidelines in its ideologies.
In a world, which is politically divided into two castes of Leftists and Rightists with sub-castes of Extreme Left and Extreme Right, ideological fanaticism runs high along with elements of power, ego, and greed, which are opportunistically embraced by all political establishments. In this “dirty game”, socialist idealism becomes just sloganeering.
The idiosyncrasy of the present socio-political left and the right mental constitution is that the leftists have a revulsion for religion. And the rightists are religious fanatics. The former ridicules and rejects religion and the latter is narcissistically illiterate about it.
And this is where the science of politics must step in to explore the true spirit of religion based on its universal teachings to find permanent residency in political leadership.
Deepak Chopra says: “Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness, beauty, love, and compassion, also intuition, creativity, insight, and focused attention”.
Paved with these divine and acknowledged values religion offers an ever-guiding relationship with politics in the service of humanity and its environment.
(Promod Puri resides in Vancouver, Canada. He is a journalist and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions).
promodpuri.com
progressivehindudialogue.com
promodpuri.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 4, 2016

WORLD DIVIDED BETWEEN TWO CASTES:

Politically the world is divided between two castes. The Leftists and the Rightists. As these are ideologically known and understood. And within these two castes are the sub-castes of Extreme Leftists and Extreme Rightists.

The people in the middle are politically a casteless society. They are the victims when RIghtists' or Leftists' agenda is delivered or enforced fanatically. With elements of power, ego and greed, opportunistically embraced by both, the Leftist and Rightist wingers in their varying colors and shades become fanatics. And this is what the Casteless society has to fight against for the rule of righteousness. promodpuri.com
-Promod Purihttps://wordpress.com/post/promodpuri.com/2577

Polarization of Opinion

Our viewpoints are hard to change. We pick up from the internet and social media only that information and knowledge which support those viewpoints. And that consolidates our cognitive biases. Moreover, “If you are exposed only to people with ideas that are like your own, it leads to political polarization: Liberals get even more extreme in their liberalism, and conservatives get more conservative”.Jennifer Stromer-Galley, Professor of Information Studies, Syracuse University.

What Is Fate

Friday, November 25, 2016

BUILDING DIVINE RESIDENCY MORE RELEVANT THAN KNOWING GOD HE OR SHE


If God or the Supreme Being is He, She or It; residing in heaven, up there in the sky or just omnipresent in the known or unknown universe. Do we need to indulge in this debate? Not really. Rather we create our own god based on noble thoughts, ethics, and good karma.
Besides His numinous and varied perceptions God also offers a meaningful perspective which can be created by the assembly of good thoughts. And the divine residency begins in that on-going construction.

Basically, it is an eloquent temperament we are trying to build which gives rationality and practicality to the institution of God.

The ecumenical concept of God of being the supreme governor who creates, sustains, and destroys the universe, and everything else including what influences our lives, does not reveal the reasons behind all the puzzles and mysteries of His or Her observable deeds.
In other words, our perception of God as being a creator with His mystical powers which sustains the universe, can not comprehend many universal and natural phenomenon.

One reason is that man is just one of the millions of creatures who is microscopic in His infinite and colossal universe. Still,our imaginations and metaphysical attempts know no boundaries to fathom His magnanimity. For a moment let us compare a human being to a small ant who is trying to study God up there in the celestial world.

But we don’t. Because this has been ingrained in our cognitive senses that man is the favored work of God as being the most intelligent among all His living creations. And that we are the only ones capable of studying His multi-dimensional but conceptual-based existence.

Perhaps, that little ant may be thinking the same. It may be believing humans walking tall up on the ground are the unintelligent creatures. Or we are the gods for the ant. Who knows!

Philosophers, saints, scientists, and even common man have all tried to study God and came up with varied perceptions and explanations. Imagination is very basic part of human psychology.

However, these discernments seldom explain what role God plays or His reasons of our happiness, sorrows, and everything else we come across in our day to day lives. We see, face or endure tragedies around us every day in this world of turmoil. And then ask God ‘why’.

While respecting some or most of the known realizations and imageries about Him, we take another view of God which we assemble by intelligent and ethical thoughts to help us in explaining His involvements in the events we experience in our lives.
In this endeavor by mobilizing rational and moral thinking we are creating those karmas which can rationally explain the cause or causes of events personally experienced by us or happening around us where God may be involved or may be not.

We are the major players to generate events and thus know the reasons for their results. Nevertheless, we can leave unexplained experiences as part of His mysterious ‘lila’ or play.
Instilling nobility or divinity in our thoughts is a continuous exercise of creating virtuous karmas. And that is where the grammar of God is involved both as a verb and as a noun merging into one entity.

It is a disciplined and conscientious undertaking to attain the practicality of God in our midst.

We are told, to be honest, humble, and sincere, be considerate and helpful to others, be merciful, forget and forgive, love fellow beings and care for the environments, including animals, plants, and nature. And everything else which is pious, pure, and morally firm to bring us closer to God realization.

While retaining the truism of these universal teachings we can contextualize them through our intellective senses to guide our day-to-day personal lives. This is where the blueprint of our construction begins to apprehend His pragmatics.

-Promod Puri
editor, and writer for:

Thursday, November 24, 2016

MANUSMIRITI AND WOMEN

(From the book Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions by Promod Puri)
Since bias knows no boundaries, Manusmriti not only expounds the social distance between the upper and lower castes, but it also delineates the status of women by curbing their rights. It lists guidelines for men in selecting marriage partners and puts a stamp of their superiority by creating gender inequality.
In chapter 3 with numbered paragraphs here it is what Manusmriti prescribes:
8. One should not marry women who have reddish hair, redundant parts of the body [such as six fingers], one who is often sick, one without hair or having excessive hair and one who has red eyes.
9. One should not marry women whose names are similar to constellations, trees, rivers, those from a low caste, mountains, birds, snakes, slaves or those whose names inspires terror.
10. Wise men should not marry women who do not have a brother and whose parents are not socially well known.
11. Wise men should marry only women who are free from bodily defects, with beautiful names, grace/gait like an elephant, moderate hair on the head and body, soft limbs and small teeth.
61. For if the wife is not radiant with beauty, she will not attract her husband; but if she has no attractions for him, no children will be born.
62. If the wife is radiant with beauty, the whole house is bright; but if she is destitute of beauty, all will appear dismal.
147. By a girl, by a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house.
148. In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent.
149. She must not seek to separate herself from her father, husband, or sons; by leaving them she would make both (her own and her husband's) families contemptible.
150. She must always be cheerful, clever in (the management of her) household affairs, careful in cleaning her utensils, and economical in expenditure.
151. Him to whom her father may give her, or her brother with the father's permission, she shall obey as long as he lives, and when he is dead, she must not insult (his memory).
154. Though destitute of virtue, or seeking pleasure (elsewhere), or devoid of good qualities, (yet) a husband must be constantly worshiped as a god by a faithful wife.
155. No sacrifice, no vow, no fast must be performed by women apart (from their husbands); if a wife obeys her husband, she will for that (reason alone) be exalted in heaven.
156. A faithful wife, who desires to dwell (after death) with her husband, must never do anything that might displease him who took her hand, whether he be alive or dead.
160. A virtuous wife who after the death of her husband constantly remains chaste, reaches heaven, though she has no son, just like those chaste men.
161. But a woman who from a desire to have offspring violates her duty towards her (deceased) husband, brings on herself disgrace in this world and loses her place with her husband (in heaven).
And in Chapter 9 Manusmriti further explicates under each numbered paragraphs that:
3. Her father protects (her) in childhood, her husband protects (her) in youth, and her sons protect (her) in old age; a woman is never fit for independence.
10. No man can completely guard women by force, but they can be guarded by the employment of the (following) expedients:
11. Let the (husband) employ his (wife) in the collection and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping (everything) clean, in (the fulfillment of) religious duties, in the preparation of his food, and in looking after the household utensils.
29. She who, controlling her thoughts, speech, and acts, violates not her duty towards her lord, dwells with him (after death) in heaven, and in this world is called by the virtuous a faithful (wife, sadhvi).
30. But for disloyalty to her husband a wife is censured among men, and (in her next life) she is born in the womb of a jackal and tormented by diseases, the punishment of her sin.
In this dehumanized and demoralized portrait of the unequivocal surrender of a woman from childhood to death, restricting every step of her stage in life, one wonders if there are few soft spots of dignity, honor and some rewards for her sacrifices in the Manusmriti.
Yes, there are. Along with the prejudice against low caste Hindus and women, Manu has some cheering exhibits in the otherwise demeaning declarations in the Manusmriti.
In Chapter 3 with numbered paragraphs of Manusmriti his preachings and observation include:
55. Women must be honored and adorned by their fathers, brothers, husbands, and brothers-in-law, who desire (their own) welfare.
56. Where women are honored, there the gods are pleased; but where they are not honored, no sacred rite yields rewards.
57. Where the female relations live in grief, the family soon wholly perishes; but that family where they are not unhappy ever prospers.
58. The houses on which female relations, not being duly honored, pronounce a curse perish completely as if destroyed by magic.
59. Hence men, who seek (their own) welfare, should always honor women on holidays and festivals with (gifts of) ornaments, clothes, and (dainty) food.
60. In that family, where the husband is pleased with his wife and the wife with her husband, happiness will assuredly be lasting.
These silver linings in the Manusmriti provide a built-in support to decertify those defamatory statements which are not only illegal as per the constitution of India is concerned but morally, spiritually and ethically wrong.

Monday, November 21, 2016

From The Pen Of Baba Bulleh Shah


Parh parh Alam te faazil hoya
Te kaday apnay aap nu parhya ee na

Translation: You read to become
all knowledgeable
But you never read yourself
You read so many books
to know it all,
yet fail to ever read your
heart at all.

Bhaj bhaj warna ay mandir maseeti
Te kaday mann apnay wich warya ee na

You run to enter temples and mosques
But you never entered your own heart)
You rush to holy shrines to play a part,
Would you dare enter the shrine of your heart

Larna ay roz shaitaan de naal
Te kadi nafs apnay naal larya ee na

Everyday you fight Satan
But you never fight your own Ego
You are quick to attack the evil one,
yet pride is a battle you have not won.

Bulleh Shah asmaani ud-deya pharonda ay
Te jera ghar betha unoon pharya ee na

Bulleh Shah you try grabbing that which is in the sky
But you never get hold of What sits inside you.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hindu Swastika Exhibits Tolerance, Fortune and Auspiciousness

By Promod Puri
Despite being stigmatized as Nazi emblem of anti-Semitic, hate and violence, Swastika, the world’s most recognized sign, represents an auspicious and sacred symbol in Hinduism.

Swastika is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘svastika’ which simply means ‘lucky’. The geometric pattern of Swastika is believed to have its origin over 10,000 years ago in the Indus Valley Civilization. It got worldwide eminence and adoption over the centuries.

Many civilizations from Asia to Europe and even in the American continent adopted Swastika as a simple design relating to martial, religious, business and cultural trends including the belief that it brings good luck, prosperity and all things auspicious.

Swastika has been abandoned now by most societies and nations. For the plain reason that it is aligned with notoriety. It is a fascist symbol of intolerance and violent intimidation. Racists organizations and militant outfits post Swastika signs to signal rampage and terror against minority communities of different cultural and religious backgrounds.

Even with that perception which goes against the secular, liberal and democratic traditions of Hinduism, Swastika still has the same reverence and acceptance in the Hindu faith as has been since antiquity.

Although Swastika does not carry much Hindu philosophical interpretations, it does bring spiritual inspiration. It is believed to represent creator Brahma. Its four arms exhibit “Purusartha” which is an important doctrine of Hinduism. Purusartha advocates four co-related facets of life. These are dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

Dharma seeks conscious conduct of life on moral values. Artha means economic liberty. Kama emphasizes pleasure and enjoyment in life. And moksha denotes seeking mukti or freedom from the worldly web to seek oneness with the Supreme-being. Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions.

Besides its spiritual values Swastika in Hinduism is more popular as a ritualistic identity mark in the performance of religious rites symbolizing devotion and divinity. Its use in the Hindu religious or ceremonial events is at the discretion of performing priests. As such Swastika is a ritualistic symbol.
Using Swastika in whatever formation is not at all mandatory in Hindu rites. The choice is made through regional customs and traditions.

As far as Hindu symbolic representation is concerned Swastika does not conflict with Om. It is a ritualistic tool with option to use or not to use. Swastika does not produce sound. Whereas Om does, and it resonates as the primordial sound introduced in this universe and perhaps in the whole celestial world.

In the ritualistic traditions of Hinduism, Swastika can not be abandoned simply because it has gathered connotations of hatred and intolerance in the Western world. Hinduism sticks to its centuries-old tradition of reverence to Swastika as a symbol of auspiciousness and fortune.
Websites:

progressivehindudialogue.com
promodpuri.com
promodpuri.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hinduism, Diwali and swastikas: Explained

sunpaperlogodougtoddPublished on: November 1, 2016 | Last Updated: November 1, 2016 1:33 PM PDT
Douglass Todd
swastika
Vancouver's Promod Puri, author of a new book on Hinduism, has seen priests drawing swastikas during public prayers. "And the moment these ceremonies are over the swastika is erased.”
With Canada’s 500,000 Hindus celebrating Diwali throughout this week, the awkward topic of the religion’s swastika symbol has again arisen.
One young North American Hindu has confessed in a revealing, tender-hearted piece how he often tries to convince his mother not to put Hinduism’s swastika symbol on the doorstep during Diwali.
Since most of the Western world associates the swastika with Naziism, Parth Shah told NPR he becomes mortified that North Americans might think his family somehow supports such atrocities. His mother refuses to listen.
VancouverSunPhoto
“Using the swastika … is not at all mandatory,” says Promod Puri, who has self-published a ook on Hinduism. This photo was taken in 2000 when Puri was publishing The Link, a South-Asian B.C. newspaper. GLENN BAGLO / VANCOUVER SUN
Metro Vancouver writer-journalist Promod Puri, who has written a new book on Hinduism, explained to me that Hindu priests and Brahmin leaders don’t seriously consider banning the swastika because of its Nazi associations.
“The swastika is just a ritualistic symbol in Hinduism, which is mostly used in ceremonial events at the discretion of the priest class. Since antiquity it is being used, much before the German adaptation,” said Puri, who has retired from editing and publishing the South-Asian oriented B.C. newspaper, The Link.
“The swastika’s ceremonial use as such has never conflicted with Hindu theism, which prides itself as democratic and secular… Using the swastika in whatever formation is not at all mandatory.”
Even though many Hindus post the swastika on their windows or doorways as a symbol of good fortune and peace, Puri said he rarely comes across the practice among the roughly 50,000 Hindus in B.C., most of whom are in Metro Vancouver.
“However, I have seen Hindu priests drawing swastika while undertaking prayer ceremonies to mark some special events. And the moment these ceremonies are over the swastika is erased.”
Promod added that the swastika is not a key sign of Hinduism. That role belongs to the symbol of Om.
RELATED: How Hindu philosophy dovetails with Western philosophy
In praise of mixing religions, even when it’s dangerous
I asked Puri to write something to introduce readers to his self-published book, Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions.
Here is an excerpt from what he wrote:
omred
Promod Puri says this symbol, of “Om” (or “Aum”), is the key one in Hinduism. Not the swastika.
“Why are there so many gods and goddesses in Hinduism? Why worship an idol? Is going to temple mandatory in the faith? What impact does the caste system have on Hindu society? Why do some rituals make perfect sense while others are so vague? What are the secular and diverse characters in Hinduism? What physics principles constitute the sound of Om? What is karma and its role in our day to day lives?
These are some of the many questions which intrigue the non-Hindu mind, as well as many among over half-a-million Hindu population in Canada, especially those belonging to the younger generation.
Wrapped in mystique and antiquity the identity of Hinduism lies in its wide-open structure which allows and lets develop diverse and distinct ideologies and practices without any governing body or binding scriptures.
Hinduism is not merely a religion, or as it is often referred, “a way of life.” It is a multi-disciplinary academy as well. It is a democracy of conflicting, contradicting and controversial thoughts and ideologies.
Beyond its practicing rituals, customs and traditions Hinduism thru its various schools offers comprehensive studies in philosophies, metaphysics and sciences.
As such it recognizes diversity of thought. The rational and liberal thought in Hinduism is the very basis of Sankhya School, which is one of the several ancient Hindu faculties infusing diversity in the theological philosophies of the religion.
An example of its rational and liberal acceptance of thoughts is revealed in Hindu theism in the following statement from the Rig Veda Chapter X, Para 129 which says:
Who knows, and who can swear,
How creation came, when or where!
Even gods came after creation’s day,
Who knows, who can truly say
When and how did creation start?
Did He, do it? Or did He not?
Only He, up there, knows, maybe;
Or perhaps, not even He.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

TOLERANCE OR ACCEPTANCE

President Kabir Association of Canada

People all over the world talk about tolerance, such as racial tolerance, religious tolerance or cultural tolerance, when they have to live in a society made up of people of different backgrounds. And this tolerance is often thought of as being a virtue. Let us try to understand what tolerance really means.

If you try to think clearly about what tolerance means, you will understand that it means to tolerate something or someone that is different, and with whom you cannot identify yourself. It means that you are not ready to accept that difference whether it is racial, religious or cultural. It means that you may "put up" with that difference. Thus, to tolerate something connotes a negative tendency, and it cannot be thought of as a virtue, if you tolerate another race, religion or culture. To tolerate something connotes an idea such as: "as far as I am concerned, it is all right if you cease to exist", or “I hate you but I will tolerate you”, or “you are no good, but I will tolerate you”. So you tolerate something because you think that it is better to tolerate than to create enmity. It also could reflect the idea that to practice intolerance can get you into a great deal of trouble.

No society is entirely homogeneous, even if its members belong to the same race, religion or culture. Members of the same religion often divide themselves into different denominations, and often hold different cultural and religious values. Homogeneity in value systems is not a characteristic of any one society. Many people of the same society can express opposite ideas over any given situation. Thus to talk about tolerance, in terms of race, religion or culture, is not appropriate.

On the other hand, instead of tolerance, if people practice acceptance, then they will be pursuing a positive goal. To accept a different race, religion or culture is definitely a positive state, based on love, understanding, compassion, sharing and brotherhood. These values are taught in all the religions, and it is thus important for us to accept others, instead of merely tolerating them. To accept a different race, religion or culture obviously does not mean that you have to change anything except your attitude, biases and prejudices. In acceptance, we welcome the differences, because these are all the handiwork of God. People cannot do much about their race. Their culture differs because of their geographical location, history, religion, language, etc. Differences are a part of nature and God's plan. If God wanted homogeneity, then all people would be exactly the same, as will all the flowers, and all the animals, and all the insects. It will then certainly be a very monotonous world. Such monotony, among people, can best be reflected by a whole population of robots, all looking alike, and doing the same thing. Such is not God's plan, for in His wisdom, He has chosen to create the differences.

Certainly, there are things in society that we must not accept. Crime, violence of any type, hate, drug and alcohol abuse, stealing and cheating, are some things that we should not, as a society, accept. But the context in which I am discussing tolerance, deals with people in terms of race, religion and culture. And all religions and cultures are intolerant to the same type of evil deeds that bring suffering to individuals, and to society.

If we look at humanity, in general, we would see that we all must share the same earth and its resources. We all breathe the same air. We all need food, water, clothing and shelter. We all need the sunshine. Our bodies function in the same way, irrespective of racial differences. We all have the same basic needs. We are all destined to grow old and die. So while we have this precious gift of life, let us live nobly. Do not stain your life with prejudices or a sense of superiority! I remember a quotation stating that prejudice is a great time saver. It allows you to jump to conclusions without bothering with the facts.

When we look at life spiritually, then intolerance is due to ignorance. We have failed to see the reality that is manifesting in the hearts of all. Kabir said that the same Divine Light created all of us. Who then is superior and who is inferior? Again he said that he is in the marketplace of the world and wishes the welfare of all. He sees no one as friend or enemy.

For God there is no friend or enemy. Let us lift our spirit up to God and give up petty intolerances. Let us all, therefore, live according to God's will in mutual acceptance, and in love and brotherhood.

 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What does Trump have to do with the Hindu sacred syllable, Om


Republican nominee Donald Trump was recently invited to a fundraising event organized by a conservative group of Hindu Americans, the Republican Hindu Coalition. A poster from the event, which describes the group as “Hindus for Trump,” portrays the candidate in a posture much like that of a yogi in deep meditation. trump-in-lotus
It shows Trump, face pointing upward and hands outstretched, rising up from a mass of red, white and blue flower petals in the shape of a lotus. Prominently displayed in the center is the Indian sacred syllable, “om,” decorated with stars and
 stripes.

Om is the preeminent Sanskrit mantra and symbol of Indian religions, especially Hinduism. In terms of religious identity, this sign denotes Hinduism in much the same way that the star of David and the Christian cross represent Judaism and Christianity. Om has its own dedicated sign in the scripts for Hindi and other Indian languages.
In global culture, the om sign has come to stand for Indian spirituality in general. It has been widely adopted by practitioners of yoga and meditation.

However, contemplation, transcendence or Indian spirituality would seem to have little in common with Trump’s public persona that has been described by the media as reflecting “narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity.”

So, what should we make of this juxtaposition of Trump and India’s “sacred syllable”?

For the uninitiated, here is what om means

The history of om stretches back more than 3,000 years. Om was first attested in the Vedas, a massive corpus of ancient “knowledge” (“veda” in Sanskrit) from the first millennium B.C. that furnishes the oldest and most authoritative texts of Hinduism.

The Upaniá¹£ads, a collection of later Vedic texts regarded as the foundation for Indian philosophy, hailed om as “this whole world” and as the singular distillation of all wisdom.
Subsequent texts on Hindu law from the start of the Common Era codified the practice of intoning om at the start of every sacred recitation.

Hindu theological discourses emphasize that the sound of om is not of human origin – rather, it is a divine revelation and an audible expression of transcendence. By chanting or contemplating the mantra om, a practitioner gains access to a higher state of consciousness that leads to liberation from the cycle of rebirth.

In all these respects, the syllable has served as the quintessential symbol of religious authority in Hinduism – a role it continues to play up through the present day.

Multiple forms of om

diffferent-omsThis history, however, is not that simple. My research into om’s early history reveals that this symbol, much like the Hindu traditions it has come to represent, is neither monolithic nor static.

Om did not emerge suddenly as a full-fledged symbol of knowledge and the cosmos. Instead, premodern Hindu thinkers gradually constructed om as a single concept through contentious debates and theological reflections.

My research shows om in the Vedas does not have a single form or meaning. It is recited in many ways, appears in many different ritual contexts, and inspires a wide range of interpretations.

For example, Vedic experts in music described it as the sound of the sun, since it introduced their songs just like the sun signals the start of the day; the same singers called om “honey” for the sweetness it added to their melodies. Vedic specialists in sacrifice glossed om as an affirmation of ritual actions, as the “truth” inherent in their mantras. Other Vedic thinkers maintained that om was a secret password for attaining immortality at the moment of death.

Such examples could be multiplied many times over, not just in the Vedas but also in subsequent texts from Hindu, Buddhist and other Indian religious traditions where om is central to discussions about yoga, meditation, creation and salvation.

The bottom line is that India’s sacred syllable emerged over many centuries, depended on the contributions of different voices and accrued countless meanings along the way.
As a researcher of om, whenever I encounter the sign – whether inscribed in a manuscript, displayed at a Hindu temple or featured on a Donald Trump poster – its history of multiple meanings flashes into my mind.

There is no one Hindu voice

Now, against this background, let’s look at what the Hindus for Trump group is doing with its juxtaposition of Trump and om.

Hindus for Trump is closely allied with the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC). Founded in 2015 by businessman Shalli Kumar, the RHC claims to provide “a single, unified platform for raising voice of Hindu Americans in public policy.”

In my view this raises the following issues:

Although in some contexts om is simply shorthand for “Hindu,” it seems problematic to harness this complex symbol to the single agenda of right-wing political activism among Hindu Americans.
Additionally, this raises another question: Do Hindu Americans really speak with only one voice?
Judging from the protests and the backlash on social media, there are many Hindu Americans besides Hindus for Trump and the RHC who might be inclined to associate Trump with syllables more profane than sacred.

Om’s history exemplifies the fact that Hindu traditions and Hindu identity are complex and varied. “Hinduism” covers an astonishing array of doctrines, practices and lifestyles in India, Asia and around the world.

While Hinduism’s history has not been free from conflict, there is an abiding openness to diversity at the roots of the tradition, as this famous verse from the Vedas attests (Rig Veda 1.164):

“Truth is one but the wise call it by many names.”

From a temple complex in suburban Boston to a street shrine in Varanasi; from Sanskrit dramas in Kerala to processions in Nepal – every day, practitioners, devotees and regular people create, contest and carry forward the traditions of this world religion in multiple ways.
The jarring juxtaposition of Trump and om reminds us that there is more to Hinduism and its iconography than a political poster can convey.

finn-previewAUTHOR: Finnian M.M. Gerety Visiting Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Brown University
Article courtesy The CONVERSATION.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hinduism: An Individual Experiece

"Hinduism has no traditional ecclesiastical order, no centralized religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monistic, or atheistic. Within this diffuse and open structure, spirituality in Hindu philosophy is an individual experience".

- Julius Lipner, author: Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. Source: Wikipedia.

 progressivehindudialogue.com

promodpuri.com


Saturday, October 22, 2016

“Koi bole ram ram; koi khudae….

Guru_Nanak_JayantiOne of the spiritual gems of Guru Nanak Devji, which portrays the essence of all religions: “Koi bole ram ram; koi khudae….” Here is the English translation of shabad:
 
Some call the Lord ‘Ram, Ram’, and some ‘Khuda’.
Some serve Him as ‘Gusain’ (Jesus), others as ‘Allah’.
He is the Cause of causes, and Generous.
He showers His Grace and Mercy upon us.
Some pilgrims bathe at sacred shrines, others go on Hajj to Mecca.Some do devotional worship, whilst others bow their heads in prayer.
Some read the Vedas, and some the Koran.Some wear blue robes, and some wear white.
Some call themselves Muslim, and some call themselves Hindu.Some yearn for paradise, and others long for heaven.

Says Nanak, one who realizes the Hukam of God’s Will, knows the secrets of his Lord Master”.
promodpuri.com
progressivehindudialogue.com
promodpuri.blogspot.com
Swami Vivekanand: “Why amongst the poor of India so many are Mohammadens? It is nonsense to say that they were converted by the sword. It was to gain liberty from Zamindars and Priests…..” (Collected Works- Vol. 8- Page 330). Progressivehindudialogue.com
promodpuri.com
promodpuri.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 15, 2016

QUESTIONS & QUERIES ABOUT HINDUISM:


Why are there so many gods and goddesses in Hinduism? Why worship an idol? Is going to temple mandatory in the faith? What impact does the caste system have on Hindu society? Why do some rituals make perfect sense while others are so vague? What are the secular and diverse characters in Hinduism? What physics principles constitute the sound of Om? What is karma and its role in our day to day lives?

These and more subjects are eloquently dealt with in Hinduism Beyond Rituals,Customs & Traditions. Written in a concise and clear manner this book is an easy reading of all aspects of Hinduism for every level of reader. Also, it is for those whose knowledge of the faith is limited to its rituals, customs and traditions.

In the modern society belonging to a faith and its acceptance must be based on reasoning. Hindu thoughts and philosophies in the book are explained with logics. It emphasizes that Hinduism is not just a way of life, it is also a multi-disciplinary academy.

The book recognizes Hinduism's liberal fundamentals as well as its history, rituals, mantras, moksha and metaphysics, meditation, yoga and music, scriptures and sciences, the controversial laws of Manu, Amdekar's reforms and more.

The book makes quite a sensible reading for rational and contemporary mind. Available from Amazon and Kindle
Progressivehindudialogue.com
Promodpuri.com

Friday, October 14, 2016

WHY WORSHIP IDOLS


Image formation is a very natural trait in human psychology. In our conscious state all our feelings, ideas and impulses manifest images. The genesis of an image is a cognitive imagination influenced by perception of an object.

In The Philosophy and Significance of Idol Worship, a Divine Life Society publication, Sri Swami Sivananda says:

"Idol is a support for the neophyte. It is a prop of his spiritual childhood. A form or image is necessary for worship in the beginning. It is an external symbol of God for worship. It is a reminder of God. The material image calls up the mental idea. Steadiness of mind is obtained by image worship. The worshipper will have to associate the ideas of infinity, omnipotence, omniscience, purity, perfection, freedom, holiness, truth, omnipresence. It is not possible for all to fix the mind on the Absolute or the Infinite. A concrete form is necessary for the vast majority for practicing concentration. To behold God everywhere and to practice the presence of God is not possible for the ordinary man. Idol worship is the easiest form of worship for the modern man.

"A symbol is absolutely indispensable for fixing the mind. The mind wants a prop to lean upon. It cannot have a conception of the Absolute in the initial stages. Without the help of some external aid, in the initial stages, the mind cannot be centraliz
ed. In the beginning, concentration or meditation is not possible without a symbol.

Pratima (idol) is a substitute or symbol. The image in a temple, though it is made of stone, wood or metal, is precious for a devotee as it bears the mark of his Lord, as it stands for something which he holds holy and eternal. A flag is only a small piece of painted cloth, but it stands for a soldier for something that he holds very dear. He is prepared to give up his life in defending his flag. Similarly the image is very dear to a devotee. It speaks to him in its own language of devotion. Just as the flag arouses martial valour in the soldier, so also the image arouses devotion in the devotee. The Lord is superimposed on the image and the image generates divine thoughts in the worshiper".

Excerpts from Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions

(Please also visit promodpuri.com and progressivehindudialogue.com)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Trump And The Law Of Karma


 It seems the law of karma has started playing heavily on Donald Trump. Ever since the presidential race started in February, Trump has been generating extreme racists controversies against minorities particularly Muslims and Latinos citizens in the U.S.A. However, the latest bombshell has unzipped his adulterated personality with lewd and vulgar language about women recorded in a 2005 video tape. "As you sow so shall you reap", Mr. Trump. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Quantum Theory And Om


Ever wonder why we chant “om” before our yoga practice or prayer? Check out this interesting take on how Quantum Theory can help us understand the significance of Om.

 
This is perhaps the first time in the studies of Hinduism that an attempt has been made to establish a relationship between the sound of Om and the Quantum Theory in modern physics.

Quantum, derived from the word quantity, means a smallest identifiable unit in the universe of any physical property like energy or matter. Quantum theory deals with the infrastructure in the sub-atomic field. It reveals the nature and behavior of matter and energy in that range. This exposure is referred as quantum theory which is the theoretical basis of modern physics.

With the introduction of Super-string Theory of Quantum Reality, the quantum theory has discovered that at the sub-atomic levels matter exists in small strings. In simple words everything at its ultimate microscopic grade is made up of extremely small vibrating strands or strings like in a musical instrument of violin.

These strings have repeated oscillatory pattern of vibration. Each pattern presents the string its mass and force, and that confers it the appearance of a particle. Together all these particles have the same physical feature of producing resonant patterns of vibration. The undulation of strings creating up and down loops is the manifestation of resonance in the sub-atomic environs.

And when we exit from the microscopic environment the same phenomenon of transmission of resonance is being played within everything in this universe. The sonority of particles composing the vibrating strings with their mass and energy is also responsible to produce the atoms.

The latter are made up of energy and not physical matter. As a result the entire universe is made out of energy. But the energy appears as matter or object like the particles of the vibrating string in the sub-atomic field. This is the fundamental feature upon which the universe has been constructed and unified.

The string theory is considered as the theory of everything. And this corresponds well with the metaphysical concept of Om being the primordial sound originating from the strings advanced in the quantum theory of modern physics.

As Om resonates in the stings of atoms then according to the science of quantum physics atoms themselves are made up of whirling mass of radiating energy without manifested structure. Likewise, Om is not merely a sound but a mass of energy itself in invisible formation.

Om is energy constituting the universe.

The universe begins with Om. There is sound of Om in every matter. It resonates there till eternity. Its resilience lies both in the matter and the sound itself.

The creation of Om is in fact is the creation of the universe. And its cosmic vibrations keep the constituents of the universe connected.

In Hindu theology Om is referred as God in the form of sound. And the open design of its symbol represents the incomprehensible all powerful Absolute.

In its phenomenal role as constituting and preceding matter, and as vortices of energy that Om is considered as a sacred sound of genesis in the Hindu spiritual philosophy.

The unique symbol of Om occupies the foremost spot in the Hindu iconography. It is a spiritual icon. It is not merely a “tool” for meditations or for contemplating on mantras, but the syllable invokes cosmic presence in them.

“Hari Om” is a two-word mantra in itself, along with “Hari Om Tat Sat” or simply “Om Tat Sat”. The word ‘tat’ means ‘that’ or ‘all that is’. And ‘sat’ refers to ‘truth’. The latter is not evanescent or ephemeral rather everlasting. The mantra “Om Tat Sat” means: ‘that’ energy is the truth.

Om inaugurates spiritual prayers, rituals and yoga practices, and sanctifies these events. The expression ‘Hari Om’ is a popular form of greetings or salutation among Hindus.

The word ‘Hari’ is a representation of God and Om implies energy.

(excerpts from the book: Hinduism beyond rituals,custom and traditions)