Friday, September 23, 2016

History Of Hinduism



Excerpt From Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions

Hinduism has deemphasized the period of its origin. Instead, it has taken a philosophical route which is cyclical rather linear. It does not traverse from a start point, and it does not move on a linear pathway. Rather Hinduism is a successive rotation of "yugas" or age periods of the cyclical phenomenon.

The Yuga-time clock in Hinduism is divided into cyclic four eras. It starts with Satya Yuga, followed by Treta, Dvapara and Kali Yugas. The cycle is eternal. Each of these epochs, which run into thousands of years individually, the whole universe is involved.

As Hinduism believes in the theory of creation and destruction of the universe, this cosmogony is repeated after the end of one full Yuga-calendar. And the phenomenon begins all over again with the Satya Yuga.

Satya means truth, and this Yuga is believed to be the supreme. In declining order it is followed by the other three Yugas.

What motivates the decline of one Yuga to be replaced by another is believed to be divine involvement to reinvigorate universal order of righteousness back to the Satya Yuga. It is the degree of loss of righteousness which Treta, Dvapara and Kali Yugas represent. Full glory of Satya Yuga is restored after the three Yugas have passed in that order. And the cycle continues.

The cyclic inclusion of Yugas in Hinduism can be interpreted that the religious progress does not mean only going forward. Moving back to its future in the realm of Satya Yuga is also part of its advancement to achieve completeness and wholesomeness in the faith.

Whereas the Yuga periodization is deeper in its manifestation and metaphysical features, the history of Hinduism is more revealed thru its sequential growth stages.

The acknowledged story of its development is based on sighted and archeological findings, traditions and recognized scriptures dealing in philosophies, sciences and spirituality from a period of 2000 BC up to the present. The known history of Hinduism is a chain collection of five phases.

Read more articles and "Bits, Pieces & Gems" in Progressivehindudialogue.com and promodpuri.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bliss of Chajju Ka Chobara

By Promod Puri
promodpuri.com
Back in 1972, when I immigrated to Canada and made my first home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, that I happened to know a very helpful and friendly person by the name of C. R. Bector. He was a distinguished professor of mathematics at the University of Manitoba. And out of respect, as being elder to me and having an academic professional status, I along with other close acquaintances used to address him as Doctor Sahib or Doctor Bector. He was not a medical doctor but had a PhD degree in his extensive portfolio of degrees.
C.R. Bector, although to most of us in the Indo-Canadian community sounded more like an English name, especially the surname, but Doctor Sahib, who is retired now, hails from Punjab. He was a popular personality in Winnipeg, simply because of his informal, lively and sociable temperament.
However, for me, the enticing thing about him is that his real name is Chajju Ram. It is really an old-fashioned North Indian name as we seldom come across with that namesake.
And the first name Chajju immediately strikes on the famous Indian proverb “jo sukh chajju ke chobare, na balakh na bukhare. Translation: east or west home is the best.
The name Chajju certainly gives lot of credentials to the importance of home as it is part of the life’s triangle, rather I would say the most sought-after trinity which are “roti, kapdra aur Makaan”, meaning food, clothing and shelter.
The fact is anybody with a home in reality owns his or her little sovereign kingdom or queendom. It is one of those virtues of life which one aspires to have it. Life begins at home and revolves around home to enjoy the bliss of having that pride possession.
Home is not merely a physical dwelling of walls, windows and doors; floors and roofs. It is not just a rest spot either, but a cozy place of peace and tranquility in the midst of family or friends’ lively togetherness and entertainment. Home is place of absolute independence within the acceptable social norms.
Home sweet home is a simple expression carrying deep feelings of that warmth and comfort which one yearn for.
If the home does not give all that is expected then it is a house, and for that reason home sickness is better than house arrest.
Home is the place of ever lasting nostalgia of living with parents, brothers, sisters and dear ones, the childhood anecdotes of little fights and laughs, the home-cooked food, books and beds, and a lot more. The physical remembrance of each and every household item is also a somewhat nostalgic relaxation.
Home is where we accumulate our cultural values, connect with our heritage and acquire family’s social, linguistic and religious identities.
Home is that place of security and independence where with elated feelings one can unwind, recline and relax.
Seventeenth century English poet James Thompson has exquisitely expressed his perception of home:
“Home is the resort
Of love, of joy, of peace, and plenty; where
Supporting and supported, polished friends
And dear relations mingle into bliss”.
But that bliss is deprived to millions of homeless people all over the world sheltering under the open sky at the mercy of Mother Nature. It is this sad aspect of humanity which is visibly invisible as life goes by especially in busy metropolises.
“Chajju ka chubara” is indeed a bliss for some comfort and peace during that brief interval as life’s leela (meaning play) resumes next day.
promodpuri.com

HINDUISM AND HINDUTVA

veer-savarkarBy Promod Puri
The expression Hindutva emerged from Hinduism which simply means a state or quality of being a Hindu. However, going through its etymology Hindutva sought a wider demarcation to move free from Hinduism but keeping a bonded identity with it as well.
The Hindutva ideology was first introduced in 1923 by Maharashtra-based Hindu social and political activist Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. As an advocate of sovereignty Savarkar started his public life as a radical freedom fighter for liberation of India from the British rule. In this stint he spent several years in jail, including the infamous and torturous cells of Andaman Islands from where he sought clemency with promise to renounce revolutionary activities. After the release Savarkar’s temperament turned to creating Hindu nationalism by identifying and promoting its heritage and civilization.
Savarkar had inherent conservative vision of Hindu social and political consciousness in     order to perceive a Hindu Rashtra (nation). His Hindutva doctrine is based on the hypothesis that India’s religious and cultural diversities are fundamentally rooted in its collective Hindu identity.
“Common rashtra, common race and common culture” are the three cardinals identifying Hindutva nationalism
In line with the Hindutva’s concept Hindu means a nationality of Hindu Rashtra, a motherland or fatherland with its geographical boundaries. And in terms of “common race and common culture” Hindu means a correlative genealogy or ancestry, sharing its cultural heritage, beliefs and ethics.
Correspondent to that the followers of all the India-born religions and sects are included in the Hindutva fold. But it excludes those who belong to foreign-born faiths like Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism.
Hindutva tries to portray itself as a cultural and nationalistic conception to mark itself as India’s identity. Still it does not assume a theological categorization. In its expansive role Hindutva believes in the existence of a collective Hindu culture or way of life which is also being shared and practiced by compatible non-Hindu communities. In social environs Hindutva is everything which is Indic.
Savarkar explicitly proclaimed, “Hindutva is not a word but a history. Not only the spiritual or religious history of our people as at times it is mistaken to be by being confounded with the other cognate term Hinduism, but a history in full”.
Savarkar’s approach incidentally confined Hinduism within its religious and spiritual order. And let Hindutva play a wider role to define India’s nationalism, its people, history, culture and traditions.
Savarkar argued “Hindutva is not identical with what is vaguely indicated by the term Hinduism. By an ‘ism’ it is generally meant a theory or a code more or less based on spiritual or religious dogma or creed. Had not linguistic usage stood in our way then ‘Hinduness’ would have certainly been a better word than Hinduism as a near parallel to Hindutva”.
He declared “Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva. … Hindutva embraces all the departments of thought and activity of the whole Being of our Hindu race”.
In India’s cultural, linguistic and religious diversities, Savarkar believed an existence of a strong underlying Indian tradition based on his vision of Hindu values. In his views Hindu reflects a cultural and political nationality of India.
With that premise Savarkar tried to secularized Hindutva. Under that platform he could include Muslims, Christians and Parsis believing these communities were Hindus too from cultural and historical perspectives.
According to Hindutva, being a Hindu is more than a religious engagement. It is a cultural concept not only of Hindus but of other communities as well residing within the Hindu social order irrespective of their religious affiliations.
Inspired by Hinduism but having its fundamentals in culture, history and civilization Hindutva finds some parallel with existing Bharatiya and Hindustani appellations. The latter represent the diverse cultural and social values of India in more secular and unequivocal terms than Hindutva.
While restricting it in theological domain, Savarkar’s attempt to whip Hindutva ideology from Hinduism is perplexing to Hindu mind. Neither it can be classified a reform movement in Hinduism.
With his literary background in Indology it is confusing why Savarkar was unable to realize that the uniqueness of Hinduism lies in its totality which covers not only rituals, philosophies and spirituality, but its traditions, cultural and social trends also.
Hinduism is not merely a religion. And it is not only a way of life either. It goes beyond rituals, customs and traditions. The depth and vastness of Hinduism touch every aspect of human observation and activity.
From rituals to murti-puja, mantra and metaphysics, karma and moksha, to meditation and yoga, and all its recreational aspects like music, dance and drama, Hinduism is a disciplinary as well as a comprehensive experience of spiritual development in liberal and progressive regime.
This expanded definition covers the cultural, religious and philosophical aspects to present a collective identity of Hinduism for ritualistic, theological and academic pursuits. Taking out the social segment or any other aspect from it goes against the very spirit and integrated constitution of Hinduism.
Besides treading through its rituals, customs and traditions, being a Hindu is an engagement in philosophies for analytical debate about life and our relationship with nature and the universe. It is a fascinating journey in spiritual knowledge.
This pilgrimage offers a meaningful perspective of the religion which recognizes the universal connectivity existing in the nature including our relationship with fellow human beings. Savarkar’s fenced Hindutva ideology, which bars non-Hindus, denies that universal connectivity.
The Upnishadic vision of our togetherness as one human race irrespective of our color, creed or religious beliefs is very wisely expressed in the following mantra:
“ Om purnam adah purnam idam
purnat purnam udachyate
purnasya purnam adaya
purnam evavashishyate”.
The mantra affirms that the universe is a totality, indivisible and an organic whole where plants, birds, animals, humans, mountains and stars are all together in His manifestation
The mantra’s accent is on complete balance in all of His universal creations from the elements of nature to mankind. For humanity the mantra conveys a message that every human being is equal in his or her completeness as manifested by Him.
Savarkar talks about the exclusivity of membership in Hindutva who shares “common rashtra, common race and common culture”. In all these commonalities the underlying link is a separate rashtra, a separate race and a separate culture of Hindutva.
Culture is a distinctive feature of one group of people comprising of several aspects. One of them is religion, and the others are language, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. Obviously, one aspect of a culture does not represent the whole.
The expression “Hindu culture” is as vague as saying Hindu cuisine (except by international airlines referring to “Hindu meal”). And it is as much eluding as trying to contrive a language, music, arts, customs, etc. with suffix of Hindu like saying Hindu music or Hindu language.
Culture in most cases is secular in nature.
When we talk about a cultural community, we mean an all-inclusive explicit way of life. It represents all of the group of people sharing common identities despite belonging to different religious denominations. But all speaking the same language and sharing the same social and cultural traits.
Often people of one cultural community have several religions.
The unity of India lies in its cultural plurality. The denial of that plurality and imposing a monolithic Hindutva hegemony fragments the multicultural fabric of the nation. Social unity and coherence are the natural needs and dependencies of an advancing society.
In its present avatar Hindutva ideology of non-inclusiveness conflicts with the secular, liberal and democratic spirit of Hinduism. Hindutva needs an ideological reconstruction which can be an effective and dedicated institution in the service of Hinduism.
But if it does not, and sticks to its stand that “Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva”, then it can find some archive space in Hinduism. In its vast open structure Hinduism has always accommodated diverse ideologies. And kept them as part of its history and ever evolving constitution. That is the tradition in Hinduism. Hindutva can rest in that tradition.
(Promod Puri lives in Vancouver, Canada. He is a writer and former editor and publisher of the South Asian Canadian newspaper, The Link, and ex editor of Native Indian newspaper, The New Nation. He is author of recently published book titled “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs and traditions”). His website: promodpuri.com

HINDUISM AND HINDUTVA

veer-savarkarBy Promod Puri
The expression Hindutva emerged from Hinduism which simply means a state or quality of being a Hindu. However, going through its etymology Hindutva sought a wider demarcation to move free from Hinduism but keeping a bonded identity with it as well.
The Hindutva ideology was first introduced in 1923 by Maharashtra-based Hindu social and political activist Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. As an advocate of sovereignty Savarkar started his public life as a radical freedom fighter for liberation of India from the British rule. In this stint he spent several years in jail, including the infamous and torturous cells of Andaman Islands from where he sought clemency with promise to renounce revolutionary activities. After the release Savarkar’s temperament turned to creating Hindu nationalism by identifying and promoting its heritage and civilization.
Savarkar had inherent conservative vision of Hindu social and political consciousness in     order to perceive a Hindu Rashtra (nation). His Hindutva doctrine is based on the hypothesis that India’s religious and cultural diversities are fundamentally rooted in its collective Hindu identity.
“Common rashtra, common race and common culture” are the three cardinals identifying Hindutva nationalism
In line with the Hindutva’s concept Hindu means a nationality of Hindu Rashtra, a motherland or fatherland with its geographical boundaries. And in terms of “common race and common culture” Hindu means a correlative genealogy or ancestry, sharing its cultural heritage, beliefs and ethics.
Correspondent to that the followers of all the India-born religions and sects are included in the Hindutva fold. But it excludes those who belong to foreign-born faiths like Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism.
Hindutva tries to portray itself as a cultural and nationalistic conception to mark itself as India’s identity. Still it does not assume a theological categorization. In its expansive role Hindutva believes in the existence of a collective Hindu culture or way of life which is also being shared and practiced by compatible non-Hindu communities. In social environs Hindutva is everything which is Indic.
Savarkar explicitly proclaimed, “Hindutva is not a word but a history. Not only the spiritual or religious history of our people as at times it is mistaken to be by being confounded with the other cognate term Hinduism, but a history in full”.
Savarkar’s approach incidentally confined Hinduism within its religious and spiritual order. And let Hindutva play a wider role to define India’s nationalism, its people, history, culture and traditions.
Savarkar argued “Hindutva is not identical with what is vaguely indicated by the term Hinduism. By an ‘ism’ it is generally meant a theory or a code more or less based on spiritual or religious dogma or creed. Had not linguistic usage stood in our way then ‘Hinduness’ would have certainly been a better word than Hinduism as a near parallel to Hindutva”.
He declared “Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva. … Hindutva embraces all the departments of thought and activity of the whole Being of our Hindu race”.
In India’s cultural, linguistic and religious diversities, Savarkar believed an existence of a strong underlying Indian tradition based on his vision of Hindu values. In his views Hindu reflects a cultural and political nationality of India.
With that premise Savarkar tried to secularized Hindutva. Under that platform he could include Muslims, Christians and Parsis believing these communities were Hindus too from cultural and historical perspectives.
According to Hindutva, being a Hindu is more than a religious engagement. It is a cultural concept not only of Hindus but of other communities as well residing within the Hindu social order irrespective of their religious affiliations.
Inspired by Hinduism but having its fundamentals in culture, history and civilization Hindutva finds some parallel with existing Bharatiya and Hindustani appellations. The latter represent the diverse cultural and social values of India in more secular and unequivocal terms than Hindutva.
While restricting it in theological domain, Savarkar’s attempt to whip Hindutva ideology from Hinduism is perplexing to Hindu mind. Neither it can be classified a reform movement in Hinduism.
With his literary background in Indology it is confusing why Savarkar was unable to realize that the uniqueness of Hinduism lies in its totality which covers not only rituals, philosophies and spirituality, but its traditions, cultural and social trends also.
Hinduism is not merely a religion. And it is not only a way of life either. It goes beyond rituals, customs and traditions. The depth and vastness of Hinduism touch every aspect of human observation and activity.
From rituals to murti-puja, mantra and metaphysics, karma and moksha, to meditation and yoga, and all its recreational aspects like music, dance and drama, Hinduism is a disciplinary as well as a comprehensive experience of spiritual development in liberal and progressive regime.
This expanded definition covers the cultural, religious and philosophical aspects to present a collective identity of Hinduism for ritualistic, theological and academic pursuits. Taking out the social segment or any other aspect from it goes against the very spirit and integrated constitution of Hinduism.
Besides treading through its rituals, customs and traditions, being a Hindu is an engagement in philosophies for analytical debate about life and our relationship with nature and the universe. It is a fascinating journey in spiritual knowledge.
This pilgrimage offers a meaningful perspective of the religion which recognizes the universal connectivity existing in the nature including our relationship with fellow human beings. Savarkar’s fenced Hindutva ideology, which bars non-Hindus, denies that universal connectivity.
The Upnishadic vision of our togetherness as one human race irrespective of our color, creed or religious beliefs is very wisely expressed in the following mantra:
“ Om purnam adah purnam idam
purnat purnam udachyate
purnasya purnam adaya
purnam evavashishyate”.
The mantra affirms that the universe is a totality, indivisible and an organic whole where plants, birds, animals, humans, mountains and stars are all together in His manifestation
The mantra’s accent is on complete balance in all of His universal creations from the elements of nature to mankind. For humanity the mantra conveys a message that every human being is equal in his or her completeness as manifested by Him.
Savarkar talks about the exclusivity of membership in Hindutva who shares “common rashtra, common race and common culture”. In all these commonalities the underlying link is a separate rashtra, a separate race and a separate culture of Hindutva.
Culture is a distinctive feature of one group of people comprising of several aspects. One of them is religion, and the others are language, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. Obviously, one aspect of a culture does not represent the whole.
The expression “Hindu culture” is as vague as saying Hindu cuisine (except by international airlines referring to “Hindu meal”). And it is as much eluding as trying to contrive a language, music, arts, customs, etc. with suffix of Hindu like saying Hindu music or Hindu language.
Culture in most cases is secular in nature.
When we talk about a cultural community, we mean an all-inclusive explicit way of life. It represents all of the group of people sharing common identities despite belonging to different religious denominations. But all speaking the same language and sharing the same social and cultural traits.
Often people of one cultural community have several religions.
The unity of India lies in its cultural plurality. The denial of that plurality and imposing a monolithic Hindutva hegemony fragments the multicultural fabric of the nation. Social unity and coherence are the natural needs and dependencies of an advancing society.
In its present avatar Hindutva ideology of non-inclusiveness conflicts with the secular, liberal and democratic spirit of Hinduism. Hindutva needs an ideological reconstruction which can be an effective and dedicated institution in the service of Hinduism.
But if it does not, and sticks to its stand that “Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva”, then it can find some archive space in Hinduism. In its vast open structure Hinduism has always accommodated diverse ideologies. And kept them as part of its history and ever evolving constitution. That is the tradition in Hinduism. Hindutva can rest in that tradition.
(Promod Puri lives in Vancouver, Canada. He is a writer and former editor and publisher of the South Asian Canadian newspaper, The Link, and ex editor of Native Indian newspaper, The New Nation. He is author of recently published book titled “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs and traditions”). His website: promodpuri.com

Hinduism and Lord Ganesh

The art community’s fascination for Lord Ganesh is due to His unique appearance as a clearly recognizable elephant tusk-hooded portrayal. In Hindu thought an elephant is revered for its intelligence. Consequently, Lord Ganesh in His elephant-look image is perceived as the god of knowledge, intellect and wisdom.
Besides these scholarly exhibits Lord Ganesh gathers a few more symbolic interpretations thru His overall appearance and possessions. These attributes include pursuit of knowledge, sweetness and humbleness.
Lord Ganesh is also widely worshipped as the god of Beginnings. “Sri-Ganesh” is the common expression for any new event, purchase or start-up enterprise. His name is chanted at the beginning of rituals and ceremonies. In most Hindu marriage invitation cards the first invocation and invite are addressed to Lord Ganesh as symbolic adoration.

Assembly of God In Hinduism

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 phenomenons.
One reason is that man is just one of the millions of creatures who in actuality 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 happinesses, sorrows and everything else we come across in our day to day lives. We see, face or endure tragedies around us everyday 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 helps 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 of 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 the 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.
We start our project by following the Gyatri Mantra, which besides being symbolic in spiritual invoking, stimulates the very basis of our thought processes towards righteous karmas or deeds which we are seeking.
ॐ भूर्भुवस्व: | तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यम् | भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि | धियो यो न: प्रचोदयात्
Aum bhur bhuvah swah, tat savitur varenvam.
Bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prochodayay.
Attributed to goddess Gyatri, the hymn from the Rig Veda, is one of the most recited and highly revered mantras in the Hindu theology.
In its unique composition Gayatri mantra has three approaches to spiritual realization. First, it establishes the nature of God and praises His attributions. Second, it is a mantra for meditation and contemplation. Third, it expresses sentiments of divine prayer seeking an illuminated path of righteousness thru His energetic light.
The mantra is addressed to God (Om). And the translation goes like this:
Oh God, You are the giver of life, You can free us from all the pains, You are present all over, You give happiness, You are the creator of this universe and beyond. We humbly submit to You, and concentrate on your pious, sin-quelling and pervading Energy. This Energy produced and released by You illuminates our mental faculties. We seek from You that this Energy resides in all our thinking processes. Consequently our thoughts are always inspired to undertake only those actions which can lead us to be on the path of righteousness.
The key word in the mantra is Energy. And by recognizing the presence of the divine energy that our mental faculties are enlightened. We pray for the residency of this very Energy to keep guiding us in creating, adopting and following noble thoughts.
As we understand thinking is a mental activity of brain. And thought is a product of thinking. Creation of one’s own thought, import of thought, its acceptance or its rejection are all considered as thought. In other words the act involved in all these considerations is a thought in itself.
Thought has multiple executions like establishing a reason, imagination, understanding, judgement, remembering, opinion, belief or just being conscious of time and place, etc.
According to the biology of thought, the latter’s processing and transmission happens in the nerve cells of brain. These cells are called neurons. With a population of close to 100 billion, neurons while communicating with each other receive and deliver information. Neurons function along with trillions of connectors called synapses transmitting signals among neurons.
Neurons are “electrically excitable”, meaning they live by some energy.
How thinking is created or triggered in the first place, what goes on in the brain neurons to process a thinking, what stimulates that thinking, are the questions for which the answers are being sought by academic disciplines.
One explanation is that thinking is a subconscious brain activity for which the neurons and synapses are just the tools to handle that activity for transmitting a thought or thoughts. Other theories are that the creation of thought is an un-explained biological process, or it is the conversion of energy particles into an object called thought.
In whatever means a thought is created the role of the divine energy is to bestow the enlightenment in establishing common sense and logic in a thought. It is in this enlightenment that the nature of thought is underlined. Its acceptance or rejection can be exercised.
As thought begets more thoughts or ideas, the process arouses our intelligent and psychological senses of understanding, experiencing, interpretation and behavior. A cognitive arrangement is thus developed.
It is in this arrangement that we undertake our karmas.
A karma is an intelligent and conscious act leading toward path of more karmas which influence and determine the nature of destiny. Good karma leads to good future, bad karma leads to bad. “As you sow, so you reap”, is true in the working of karma.
Newton’s law of motion: that every action leads to a reaction, is an application of the law of Karma.
Karma is not a deep philosophy. Rather it is a working assignment for the thinker of a thought or doer of a deed, and accepting the outcome of that executed assignment.
karma is a doer’s consciousness which initiates and directs an action, as well as registers its aftermath. It is an infallible fact that consciousness after inducing an action always acquires its reaction.
Virtuous karmas directed by enlightened consciousness produce the results we are seeking to realize that particular perspective of God which offers His involvement and guidance in every moment of our day-to-day lives.

Message of Universality in Hindu Mantra

By Promod Puri
OM PURNAM MANTRA
“Om purnam adah purnam idam
purnat purnam udachyate
purnasya purnam adaya
purnam evavashishyate”.
An ideological and free translation of the mantra begins with the word Om which is personified here as God. The word ‘purnam’ and its related derivates in the mantra mean complete, and signifies His completeness. As He is complete, everything emanating from Him is complete. From the Complete Wholeness only the completeness manifests. And even when a single complete is subtracted from the whole Complete what is left is still a Complete. The products produced thru Him may look small or big, but in core and quality all are complete units.
The mantra assures complete balance in all of His universal creations from the elements of nature to mankind. For humanity the mantra conveys a message that every human being is equal in his or her completeness as manifested by Him.
Atma, a single soul, is a complete manifestation of the Supreme-atma. The latter is the cause and the former is the effect. It is a cause and effect association. The effect cannot be less than the cause. The cause changes to effect, but continues to remain cause also. In essence the mantra reinforces that in every living being there dwells the Supreme atma as well. Equality and divinity are the themes of the mantra concerning mankind.
The mantra also stands out in making us realize how inter-related we are in this universe.
Rajneesh (Osho), a great thinker, philosopher and an explicit interpreter of Hinduism in modern times explains this universal tie-up. His explanation of the mantra:
“[Om Purnam] is one of the most significant statements ever made anywhere on the earth at any time. It contains the whole secret of the mystic approach towards life. This small sutra contains the essence of the Upanishadic vision. Neither before nor afterwards has the vision been transcended; it still remains the Everest of human consciousness. And there seems to be no possibility of going beyond it.
“The Upanishadic vision is that the universe is a totality, indivisible; it is an organic whole. The parts are not separate, we are all existing in a togetherness: the trees, the mountains, the people, the birds, the stars, howsoever far away they may appear – don’t be deceived by the appearance – they are all interlinked, all bridged. Even the smallest blade of grass is connected to the farthest star, and it is as significant as the greatest sun.
Nothing is insignificant; nothing is smaller than anything else. The part represents the whole just as the seed contains the whole”.
Excerpts from the book Hinduism beyond,rituals,customs and traditions by Promod Puri
promodpuri.com

Bad Rituals Breed Fanaticism

hindu-ritual
Excerpts from the book “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs and traditions”
One major drawback instituted in ambiguous rituals is the fear factor. And in absurdity some rituals promise to work like cure-all miracles. Illogical rituals block the real spirit of a religion. Such customs generate fanaticism. Rituals help in cult formation. The entry of fake gurus in the Hindu faith is thru the contamination created by inane rituals.
Irrational rituals pollute the religion and dilute the enlightenment contained in the Hindu philosophies and thoughts.
Hinduism is not a religion of fear. Nor it is meant for fanaticism and exploitation by self-appointed gurus or saints with claims of magical powers.
Bad rituals and bad traditions do make a deadly combination. Dubbed as “supreme sacrifice”, the institution of Sati, live burning of widow immediately after the death of husband, which of course is now abandoned, became a part of Hindu heritage. The word ‘sati’ means true and loyal in Sanskrit.
And equally condemning is the practice of sacrificial animal killings by asserting that gods will be pleased. For example in Nepal, a predominantly Hindu nation, mass and cruel beheading of buffaloes is a popular custom under the excuse of religious tradition.
Rationalization of irrational rituals as part of old traditions and customs is an unrealistic assertiveness of defense.
Rituals in the name of sanctified Hindu dictums are the cause of excessive abuse of people who technically are still Hindus but belong to no class. They are the ‘Outcastes’ or the ‘Untouchables’.
Religiosity of caste is an endemic feature of Hinduism. And this is where the brutality of some rituals and customs is being endured by a section of the humanity simply because of their assigned status in the society. They are at the bottom of the Hindu social structure. Customs and rituals don’t allow them to come up from that lowest stratum.
Mahatma Gandhi called them “Harijans”, children of God. But because of rooted tradition in the name of religion, rituals of discrimination and untouchability against the ‘untouchable’ citizens are still quite widely practiced.
Nevertheless this section of the society, which is mostly poor, along with rest of the impoverished population among Hindus, still follows sacred Hindu rituals with allegiance and devotion. In fact these rituals tender the only knowledge they have to practice their faith.

GENESIS OF KASHMIR PROBLEM AND ITS RESOLUTION

By Promod Puri
The division of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 generated a persistent hostility between India and Pakistan, a hostility dominated by clashing territorial claims over the Kashmir region.
On the international stage the Kashmir problem is viewed in diplomatic, political, government and media circles, with the understanding that the region has a single entity – geographically, religiously, linguistically and culturally. The complexity of the Kashmir problem can be unfolded when viewed from the divergent realities that exist in the region.
Involved in the Kashmir tangle are also the regions of Jammu and Ladakh along with Pakistan-controlled Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas.
Historically the present geo-political formation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir happened in the middle of 19th century. Sikh ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh annexed the territories of Jammu region in 1819, and then sold it to his Dogra commander Gulab Singh in 1820, and crowned him the King. In 1834 Gulab Singh annexed the kingdom of Ladakh, and in 1846 the Kashmir region was ceded to the Dogra king under a treaty with the British government, who then was ruling most of the sub­ continent.
Dogra dynasty ruled the state for almost hundred years.
Under the Dogra rule the state comprised a huge territory of over two million sq. km., touching boundaries of Afghanistan in the north, China in the north and east, the present-day Pakistan in the west and India in the South.
As India was fighting for independence from the British, so were the people of Kashmir Valley seeking their freedom from the autocratic rule of the Dogra regime which ultimately ended in October 1947. Following that, the region underwent into major political and communal turmoil which significantly changed the hundred–year-old map of the state in which Pakistan controls the north-western area of Gilgit and Hunza known as Northern Area and South-west area known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The Indian part of the state with its three distinct regions Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh together don’t make a coalescent political entity as both regional and sub-regional differences in terms of history, physiography, ethnicity, language and culture are remarkably very sharp.
According to the 2011 census the present population of the Indian part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is 12.55 million, of which Jammu region is 4.4 million, Kashmir region has 5.4 million and Ladakh has over 236,000. In the Pakistan ruled state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir the total population is 4.6 million according to some latest estimation, and in the Pakistan-controlled Northern region the population is 1.8 million.
Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists are the major religious groups in the state whereby Islam leads the faith with 67% of the population, followed by Hindus 30%, Sikhs 2% and Buddhists by about 1%. Minority faiths in the Indian held areas of the state include Christians and Jains. Muslims are almost 100% in the Pakistan part of Jammu and Kashmir.
While a clear majority of the dominant Muslim faith in Jammu, Kashmir and Azad Kashmir are followers of the Sunni sect, in the Kargil district of Ladakh and in the Northern Areas, except Gilgit, majority of the population follows the Shia sect.
Contrary to the popular belief that all the people of the Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir speak Kashmiri language, the fact is that according to the 1981 census 40% speak the language, and the rest 60% constitute the non-Kashmiri speaking population.
Whereas Hindus of the state mostly speak Dogri language, non-Kashmiri Muslims speak various languages and dialects depending upon the region they inhabit, and accordingly there is quite a cultural variation among them.
The primary language in the Kashmir region is of course Kashmiri, and in the rest of the state there is an abundance of languages and dialects. Moreover, each language or dialect is not confined to any religious group.
Kashmir is inhabited by Pre-Aryan and non-Aryan races, Jammu by an Aryan race, and Ladakh by Tibetan and Mongolian races. All the three regions have distinct geographical, historical and cultural backgrounds which influenced the character and the role of religion in each one of them.
Kashmir region developed its own character based on its un-interrupted history of five thousand years. Originally inhabited by pre-Aryan tribes, Kashmir accepted Vedic, Buddhist, Saivite and Islamic faiths, retaining the essence of the beliefs, rituals and practices of each of them while taking pride in its pre-Islamic achievements in the fields of philosophy, culture and politics.
Unlike Kashmir most parts of Jammu are mountainous and sub mountainous. Its pluralistic society is almost entirely of Aryan stock and Dogri language is spoken by the single largest community of both Hindus and Muslims who culturally and politically dominate the region.
The Pahari speaking community lives in both the Kashmir and Jammu regions of the state. In the Pakistan-controlled region they speak the same language with small dialectic differences. The Pahari community is pre-dominantly Muslim. The Hindu and the Sikh members of the Pahari-speaking community, who had to migrate from the Pakistan-held area of the state, mostly live in Jammu district.
Ladakh, the third important region of the state, enjoyed its own status for centuries as part of the celebrated Silk Route. As an entrepot of trade between India, Central Asia and Tibet for centuries Ladakh was a confluence of cultures. But its geographical position has helped it preserve its ancient culture and ways of life almost intact.
It was thru Ladakh that Mahayana Buddhism, which was born in Kashmir spread to Tibet, China and Japan. The Buddhist owe their loyalty to Lamas who have their own discipline and hierarchy. They used to go to Tibet for religious training. But after the Chinese intervention in Tibet and the flight of the Dalai Lama along with some of his followers Tibet has lost its status as a source of religious and spiritual inspiration. Buddhists who inhabit the Leh district constitute 50 percent of Ladakh population.
In Kargil area of Ladakh Ulmas have a hold on Shias who constitute the overwhelming majority of Muslims and 48% of Ladakh’s population. Some of them have had their theological training in Iran and owe their loyalty with its Shia leadership.
An important facet to the Kashmir problem which is rarely discussed and reported is the situation in the Pakistan-controlled part called Northern Areas which is constitutionally separate from Azad Kashmir.
The Northern Areas joined Pakistan in 1947 thru a local revolt against the Dogra regime which had a small army there and was unable to control the revolt. In 1948, the region was formaliy merged with Pakistan under the Karachi agreement between leaders of the Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan, but without participation of anybody from the Northern Areas.
The Northern Areas comprise five districts, but none of them has any ethnic-cultural affinity with any of either India or Pakistan parts of the state.
Different identities of the people on both sides of the Line of Control are established irrespective of their religious affiliations.
Jammu and Kashmir has far more religious, linguistic and cultural diversities than any state in India and Pakistan, and even in any other South Asian country.
If the interests and urges of the people with such multifarious identities could be reconciled, the diversities themselves would have been a great source of strength for the state. But the failure to recognize and reconcile them became its biggest weakness. The divergent character of the state is not widely known. Rather the religious temperament is overly manifested.
Nobody can deny the role of religion and religion-based identities in shaping human behavior. But no identity is monolithic. There are other identities that cut across religious identities and play an equally significant and decisive role in determining this behavior.
With enormous diversity existing in the State of Jammu and Kashmir in terms of geography, religion and culture that a wider look at the Kashmir problem reveals regional aspirations of its people. These aspirations are very much reflected in the heterogeneous composition of its Muslim population as there are Kashmiri speaking Muslims, Gujjar Muslims, Pahari Muslims, Kargil Muslims, Dogra Muslims and several other linguistic based Muslims.
The regional aspirations of the people in the state based on their languages, cultures and customs are felt much more vividly and emotionally on both sides of the border in the Jammu region than in the Kashmir valley.
It was primarily Jammu region which was divided in 1947. And this is where thousands of people, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs with allied linguistic and cultural backgrounds had to migrate in brutal sectarian bloodshed when they left their centuries-old habitats within the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
JAMMU: A CLUE TO KASHMIR PROBLEM
The regional aspirations of the Jammu region on both sides of the border constitute a clue to tackle the Kashmir tangle. The bonds of language and culture between the two parts of the state are what the leadership of both India and Pakistan need to further cement in order to make an effective beginning in understanding the fuller dimension of the Kashmir problem.
As far as the Kashmir problem is concerned Pakistan basis its argument that it is a Muslim majority region. True, the demographic data confirm this fact. But this should not be the sole argument for it being a part of Pakistan. India’s position is that Kashmir belongs to it because the autocratic ruler of the former Kashmir state signed an accession treaty with India. And the state’s constituent assembly had passed the resolution to accede with India.
While India and Pakistan are engaged in their on-and-off parleys and frequent skirmishes for decades including two wars, the divergent urges of the region itself have been suppressed for too long. The moment these are released and recognized the Kashmir problem opens up beyond religion and politics.
So where the parties can start or restart to resolve this longest outstanding problem on the world political scene.
The first step as far India is concerned is to smooth out wrinkles of ethnic, political and economic imbalances in the three regions of the state. Satisfying the regional aspirations of the people along with the economic uplift thru equal opportunities will not only ease the internal tension significantly, but will bring a lot of stability and peace to the region. And the same goes for the Pakistan controlled parts of the state especially the Northern Areas.
Secondly, both India and Pakistan in their endeavors to resolve the problem must open up the borders in the state, more significantly in the Jammu sector, to let the people with same linguistic and cultural affinities move and interact freely.
A cordial and enthusiastic atmosphere can be created at the grass root level where linguistic and cultural realities can effectively compete with both religious and political considerations to determine the future of the region thru a referendum.
In this social and non-political scenario, the agenda of the referendum deciding the future of the region – if it will be part of India, Pakistan, or remain independent- would be the answer most inclusive of the region’s diversity.
Recognition of diversities existing in the entire area of Jammu and Kashmir at its pre-partition status followed by a referendum are critical if a permanent resolution to the Kashmir problem is to be found for an ultimate peace in the region.
And peace is what people in the region are passionately waiting to breathe.
(Promod Puri, a native of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, resides in Vancouver, Canada, he is a writer and former editor and publisher of the South Asian Canadian newspaper, The Link, and ex editor of Native Indian newspaper, The New nation. He is author of recently published book titled “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs and traditions”). His website: promodpuri.com