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)