Wednesday, August 23, 2017

LIFE IS A GAME OF SOCCER



soccer imageBy Promod Puri
All our thoughts and actions are influenced and regulated by the consciousness of the landscape of reality around us. In this landscape one makes a selection of his or her own space in life’s play field.
And the game starts. It is a collective game, a team game. There is no absolute independence. Our individual likes and dislikes, thoughts and behaviors, actions and reactions, morals and rules, all are parts of the game. Social and environmental structures around us are the team’s norms shaping and steering the game.
Stamina, discipline and coordination in these environments help in scoring our goals. Individual performance determines the scale of awards. Based on our skills, hard work and a bit of luck some collect millions while others make less in this life’s game of soccer.
Environments seldom offer a level play. Speeding race toward the goal is unexpectedly blocked.  We are tripped by those who get yellow and red cards. We fall and are bruised. We get up and join the bout again. New strategies kick in. Still challenges are a constant. We keep on running toward the goal while being pushed back and forth. And the participation goes on.
The Referee blows the final whistle. And the game is over.
promodpuri.com

RE-EVALUATING OUR RELIGIONS & OTHER INSTITUTIONS

In our civilised and progressive world, the call of humanity seeks re-evaluating each of our religions, rituals, customs, traditions, social and political institutions, including Left and Right isms, which impart values and behaviours impacting our environments.
This resolution is part of the evolution and management of civil society we live in. Evolution of civilisation is natural as well as essential for rational and intelligent creation of environments which influence our thoughts. Read more: Thoughts On Thought

Sunday, August 20, 2017

MULTI ASPECTS OF BALRAJ PURI’S PATRIOTISM


by Ramchandra Guha
(The Telegraph, August 19,2017)19edittop4
Balraj Puri (1928-2014)
I have been thinking a great deal recently about the difference between patriotism and jingoism. The provocation – or inspiration rather – was a visit to Jammu to speak in memory of Balraj Puri – writer, social reformer and political activist – who embodied Indian democracy at its best.
There are a great many hyper-patriots active in India today who spend their days and nights abusing either Pakistan or China, and, sometimes, both. Balraj Puri expressed his love for his country in an altogether different manner. Over the course of a long life, he fought for independence from the British, for freedom from the autocratic rule of the Kashmir maharaja, for the human rights of Kashmiris and for regional autonomy for Jammu and Ladakh as well.
Balraj Puri’s life as an Indian patriot started early, at the age of fourteen, when he started an Urdu weekly inspired by the Quit India movement. He was an active journalist for many decades thereafter, and also wrote many books in English, among them an important study of Indian Muslims, an analysis of the complicated relations between Jammu province and the Kashmir Valley, and an authoritative analysis of the origins of the insurgency in Kashmir.
Balraj Puri was admired for his writings, and for his probity and personal courage. In the 1980s and 1990s, Jammu was prone to bouts of communal violence, provoked on the one side by Hindu militants of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and on the other by the persecution of the Pandits by Islamists in the Valley. Contemporaries carry vivid memories of Puri, then well into his sixties, moving around his home town on a battered old scooter, seeking to calm tempers and prevent anger being converted into violence.
In a state riven by suspicion and discord, Balraj Puri was trusted in all regions and by all communities. When he died in August 2014, one obituarist wrote that “Jammu has lost the champion of its regional identity, Kashmir has lost a crusader for democracy and human rights, the State as a whole has lost a peace activist, and the nation has lost a liberal and progressive voice.” Another compared Puri to India’s second prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri; both men whose small and slight frame “concealed a human dynamo with boundless energy for all constructive causes…”
A large crowd of mourners accompanied Balraj Puri’s body to the crematorium in Jammu. Among them was an elderly man crying loudly while muttering, ‘This person was not up for sale,’ ‘This person was not up for sale.’ Puri’s family and friends had never before seen this grieving Jammu-ite, whose spontaneous tribute was as moving, and as just, as any offered later in print.
Within Jammu and Kashmir, Balraj Puri remains a greatly respected figure. However, outside his home state, his work remains less known than it should be. That is a pity. For now, more than ever, India needs patriots like Balraj Puri. It needs men and women whose patriotism is expressed not in the continuous vilification of some other country, but in words and actions aimed at making our own country more tolerant, more prosperous, less unhappy, and less conflict-ridden. For perhaps the most important form of patriotism is that which seeks to give dignity to oppressed groups such as Dalits and women while simultaneously seeking to promote tolerance and mutual respect among citizens otherwise divided by language, caste or religion.
Unlike the hyper-ventilating hyper-patriots of the present time, Balraj Puri was not consumed by the desire to make India more powerful than its neighbours. Rather, he wanted to make India itself a better and safer place for its citizens. That was the first lesson of Puri’s life. A second lesson is that there is no one singular patriotism; rather, there are multiple and overlapping forms of patriotism.
There is a famous saying, ‘Charity begins at home.’ Patriotism also begins at home. Balraj Puri loved his town and his district, but he loved his state and his country too. He was a Jammu city patriot, a Jammu province patriot, a Jammu and Kashmir patriot and an Indian patriot – all at the same time. He demonstrated by example that love for your locality and for your province could be perfectly consistent with love for your country.
Notably, Balraj Puri devoted a great deal of energy to promoting peace and self-respect in the neighbouring state of Punjab. Among the half-a-dozen languages he himself spoke fluently was Punjabi. He urged the Hindus of Punjab to honour the mother tongue they shared with the Sikhs, rather than succumb to sangh parivar chauvinists who wanted them to promote Hindi instead. At the same time, he unequivocally opposed Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his band of gun-toting Sikh extremists. He was one of the first from outside the state to visit Punjab after Operation Bluestar, speaking out against violence and in favour of reconciliation.
Some would like to reduce patriotism to the worshipping of symbols. However, offering puja to the tiranga jhanda ten times a day may or may not make you a better patriot. A more lasting, more constructive, form of patriotism is to endeavour to make your locality, your town, your district, your province and country a more tolerant, inclusive and democratic place.
Balraj Puri’s own patriotism was substantive rather than symbolic. He did not exhibit his love for the motherland by shouting ‘ Mera Bharat Mahan‘ every now and then, interspersing this with shouts of ‘Pakistan murdabad’. Rather, in how he behaved, what he wrote, and what he struggled about, he tried to make our country more worthy of the ideals of the Indian Constitution by promoting respect, honour, dignity, equality and justice in everyday life.
Balraj Puri was admirable and exemplary, but not, of course, unique. There are many such patriots active in our land, who promote the values of the Constitution while working in village, town, district, state or country. Some of these patriots are written about occasionally in the press. Others remain unknown. Not that they mind. For publicity, or at least an excess of it, can be antithetical to true patriotism and nation-building. The more you crave publicity, the less time you can actually devote to social reform or constructive work.
Balraj Puri was a patriot, not a jingoist. Making his own country a better place was far more important to him than demonizing other countries. He recognized that patriotism begins at home, with the place one is in, yet also understood that one must have a wider view of how one’s locality related to one’s state and one’s nation. In presenting his views, he never resorted to violence, not even to violence in language. And he worked out of passion and conviction, not for honour or reward.
There is one last aspect of Balraj Puri’s life that I would like to recall. Seventy years after Independence, India remains a deeply divided society, this divisiveness stoked and encouraged by power-obsessed politicians and by a TRP-obsessed media. In this atmosphere, one of the hardest jobs in India is reconciliation. But also perhaps one of the most necessary. For India can stay united and democratic only when respect and recognition replace suspicion and animosity in relations among castes, regions, languages and religions. This reconciliation is what Balraj Puri strove for all his life, admirably following in the footsteps of that other great patriot and reconciler, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

MURALS OF MAIN ST. VANCOUVER


vancouver-mural-fest-2017Vancouver is lately emerging as the mural capital of Canada. And the Mount Pleasant area of the Main Street is the place which is being dressed up with both meaningful and imaginative profusion of colors presenting a walking art gallery. Thousands of people were strolling the Main Street Saturday, August 12, when the City closed the vehicular traffic, creating a festive public art celebration in promoting the mural look of the historic Mount Pleasant. The oldest building in Vancouver, out of downtown area, is in this area near Kingsway and 7th Ave. On the ground floor of the building, one of the oldest Indian restaurants in Vancouver is the Nirvana, which is run by pioneer restaurateur Devinder Dhami.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Progressive Hindu Dialogue Among Top 20 Hindu Websites:

My blog, Progressive Hindu Dialogue, https://progressivehindudialogue.com/2016/09/07/welcome/, which was launched only last year, has been selected one of the top 20 Hindu blogs on the web. Thanks all for your support. Following is the letter of recognition:
No automatic alt text available.Hi Promod,
My name is Anuj Agarwal. I’m Founder of Feedspot.
I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Progressive Hindu Dialogue has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 20 Hindu Blogs on the web.
http://blog.feedspot.com/hindu_blog/
I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 20 Hindu Blogs on the internet and I’m
honored to have you as part of this!
Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.
Best,
Anuj

Monday, August 7, 2017

“ESSAY” ON BEST FRIEND REVIVES SCHOOL DAYS MEMORIES


 Promod Puri 

In split second, rather much sooner, memories can take us to revisit some interesting spots in our lives.
For me, one of such repeat visits is to the primary class where I graduated myself from grade 5th to grade 6th and started learning English from alphabets to making small sentences. Towards the end of the one-year term, to the surprise of my teacher, I could write cursive English, meaning script writing by joining the letters.
In the English class, our writing assignments included composing “essays” of about 50 to 150 words. And as I remember the assigned topics were writings on dog as man’s best friend, benefits from cow, and the stories titled “thirsty crow”, “grapes are sour”, “slow and steady wins the race” between tortoise and rabbit, etc. We were also asked to compose applications addressed to the headmaster requesting leave of absence describing reasons including being sick.
One composition I still recall was to write portrayal of best friend.
Writing about best friend was not that intricate as most of the help came from elder family members, or just through my innocent and naive imaginations. But in this exercise, the concept of thinking about friends or cultivating friendship was mindfully and firmly established.
Over the years I have developed that relationship of having friends, close friends, family friends and best friends.
They say, “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. True, but our distress needs are seldom. For most of the time friends take care of our social compulsions to have some informal, happy, and entertaining times together.
In these relaxed occasions, we enjoy each others company of vacationing together, dining together or just having coffee together. We discuss, argue, or debate issues, events, experiences, etc. on range of subjects depending upon our mutual interests.
Meet My Friend
From this social aspect of friendship, I would like to bring up here a close long-time family friend. His name is Ramkishen (the real name is concealed for identity reason).
In introducing Ramkishen, I would say he is quite a smart, well-mannered, and well-dressed person. Hard working and actively involved in community affairs, he is always helpful and truly belongs to the friend-in-need-is-a-friend-indeed class of people.
Ramkishen is selective secular and bends naturally towards the political Right. He belongs to the 2016 batch of Trump Republicans, but lately a bit cynical as well, and a Modi “bhagat” (avid supporter). He is ritualistically religious person and a devout Hindu. He has a red thread tied on his right wrist, which lately has become a symbol of being Hindu.
Ramkishen is an enjoyable conversationalist with knowledge mostly borrowed from fake news sources. Overall, I would say he is an affable personality.
But…
For some reason(s) Ramkishen is anti-Muslim.
The other day, while as usual jumping from one topic to another, we were having interesting talks. Our friendly discussions ended up in God’s colossal authority, His management or mismanagement concerning the affairs of the universe, especially His handling of the deteriorating world problems. We agreed that we have some genuine “shikwa”, the Urdu world for complaint, against Him including His varied creations. And this is where Ramkishen pointed out that “the biggest mistake God ever made was creating Muslims”.
For a moment, looking at his face, I was completely dumbstruck. On several previous meets, Ramkishen made many derogatory and racist remarks also. But this one seemed to be the climax of his anti-Muslim tirade. Shocked that the guy could go down to that ultra racist level to advocate his hatred towards the entire race of Muslims, that I felt lynching his tainted mindset.
But….
He is a friend. And hoping one day he, along with many more Ramkishens among the bourgeois Hindus, get exposed to true knowledge, discernment, and humaneness, so they would review their bigoted views.
In the meantime, back to the 6th-grade memories, I like to play again in my cursive writings with those little essays on cow, dog, the thirsty crow, and the best friend.
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Promod Puri is a journalist and writer. He is author of “Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions”, a book which explores the rational, secular and progressive nature of Hinduism.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

2+2 = 4, NOT 5


One school in Hindu philosophy is called Sankhya, which literary means numbers. So it seeks rationality, like 2+2=4, rejecting 2+2=5. In other words a concept has to go thru rational examination before being accepted or rejected. It is unfortunate that those who now claim to be Hindus and forcing its unrealistic rituals and customs, do not seek truth and rationality in their thinking. And that is damaging to Hinduism. 


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