Sunday, May 26, 2019


Recently I read an interesting article on 7-Eleven stores and their worldwide growth in 17 countries besides the ones in the USA where the company was founded in 1927.
Around the world, 7-Eleven has 68,236 stores, and the largest presence is in Asia. The new owners are a Japanese holding company who bought 7-Eleven from the Texas-based The Southern Corporation indownload (10) 2005.
My only interest in reading the long article was back in the ‘70s when I migrated to Canada. 7-Eleven was one of the places where I had my initial jobs.
The job interview was quick, and I was hired right away without any previous experience selling Slurpees, cigarettes, candies, etc.
After a few days of working at the store, my manager asked me “if you don’t mind, can we call you Peter,” as my first name was “little hard to pronounce.” “No problem” was my instant response.
The name change, however, got a further adjustment, when the manager, followed by other staff, started calling me “Pete.” But for me switching names from Promod to Peter and then Pete was complimentary designations.
The experience at the 7-Eleven was quite interesting meeting customers and enthusiastically handling money, a first in my life.
My uniform over my shirt was the jacket with printed 7-Eleven logo all over the fabric. The outfit reminded me of those shawls wrapped by Sadhus in India with omnipresent “Ram, Ram…” prints.
According to the article, the Japanese company has announced its plan to start opening 7-Eleven stores in India starting this year.
In that case, it would be interesting to watch a Sadhu walking in the store with Ram, Ram….print shawl meeting a guy with 7-Eleven, 7-Eleven jacket.
And that reminds of the “Modi, Modi…” suit which did not hit the fashion among his “bhagats”. Otherwise, it would have been another catchy scene at 7-Elevens in India.

Thursday, May 23, 2019


A  juggernaut of all the resources and forces, while crushing the opposition, pulled the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) under prime minister Narendra Modi’s command to another massive victory in the just concluded India election.
An army of hard-core members of the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), the leading partner in the alliance, disciplined media, unlimited funds, absolute and effective use of social media, plus the disunited Left and Centre opposition all contributed to Modi’s and party for another five year of running the largest but blighted democracy in the world.
In this juggernaut which continues with promises of more development and economic wellness, there is going to be a further rise of Hindu fanaticism. And that could be the chilling wave for the minorities, Dalits and lowest of lowest under dreadful casteism of India.
Hopefully, Modi will grow up from a shrewd politician to a true statesman. That is the Modi India needs to govern the diverse nature of the country’s population.
-by Promod Puri

Sunday, May 19, 2019

In Contemporary Meditation Mantra Can Be In Any Language

By Promod Puri

One of the most ingrained and perhaps efficacious features of Hinduism is the mantra.
A mantra inherently is the delivery of sacred word(s) or a sound with literal meaning or without meaning, but capable of inducing an environment of divinity.
Despite their antiquated origin during Vedic period of Hindu history, mantras in verses offer contemporary interpretations of intellectual spirituality, mystic expressions, scriptural usage, and ritualistic incantations.
Besides its literate depths, mantra’s pervasiveness and absorption in the conscious mind are the essentials of its numinous integrity.
Melodic and metrical compositions draw out coherent and thematic features of mantras in verse.
Mantra is a combination of two words, man-tra. Man, pronounced as mon like in Monday, means mind or it can also mean a thought. Tra means a dedicated tool or instrument. ‘Tra’ as an instrument producing a sound or vibration, in tandem with ‘man,’ makes the word mantra meaning voice of mind or thought.
From this simple structure, mantra has attained the status of devotional expression and as a meditative tool. Recitation of mantra, termed japa, is the key to invoke its spiritual presence. The latter comes when it is constantly being heard in our minds and cohering with our cognitive faculties. It is in this frame a mantra resonates in human consciousness with its numinous nature.
In its simplest presentation, a mantra can be just one single word like ‘Om.’ Or it could be several words long in verse carrying philosophical and meaningful themes of universal values.
Even the recitation of His name, Parmatma, can be a mantra in itself. It makes the duality of the word ‘parm’ meaning supreme, and ‘Atma’ meaning an individual soul, into a single sound of His realization. The japa of this mantra is perhaps the simplest and most informal connection between the self and Him for the ultimate feel of One.
Mantra as a meditative tool has attained significant importance in contemporary society worldwide. And for that reason, it has adapted itself to change. No longer, Sanskrit is the base in its composition. It can be in any language.
Meditation practitioners are discovering mantras in their own language instead of the classic versions. A recitation of a mantra, after all, is a repetitive, prolonged verbal utterance.
The most popular “modern mantra,” perhaps introduced by a Buddhist monk, is in English. The repetitive wordings are: Right now, it’s like this”. The phrase just resonates acknowledging the present, and the contemplation leads into the situation of calmness.
Mantra, as said earlier does have to carry any significance meaning, and it could be in any language. In a recent study, the word “echad” meaning one in Hebrew was selected for repetitive utterance as a mantra. The result showed that the one-word non-Sanskrit mantra had the same calming effect in a meditative stage.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Sikhism Dwells In Its Saint-soldier Philosophy

By Promod Puriguru-nanak-dev-ji-230x300
Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh represent two distinct aspects of Sikhism. In the evolution of Sikhism, together these significant facets symbolize the Khalsa, a saint-soldier designation which is pure, clean, and free.
The saint-soldier image of the Khalsa was initiated by Guru Nanak and got concluded by Guru Gobind Singh,gobind according to historian Gokul Chand Narang in his book “Transformation of Sikhism.”
He writes: the sword which carved the Khalsa way to glory was undoubtedly forged by Guru Gobind Singh. But the steel had been provided by Guru Nanak, who had obtained it by smelting the Hindu ore and burning out the dross of indifference and superstition of the masses, and hypocrisy and pharisaism (rigid observation of external forms of religion) of the priests.”
It is in the saint-soldier context that if we view serenity and warrior aspects in the Sikh psyche, then we can learn Sikhism in a more discerning manner.
Sikh historian and popular columnist late Khushwant Singh wrote in one of his columns:
“Perhaps the most important issue to be considered by scholars of Sikh theology will be to convince people that there is a continuous and unbroken line between the teachings of Guru Nanak and the first five gurus enshrined in the Adi Granth. And the militant tradition began by the sixth Guru and brought to culmination by the 10th and the last Guru Gobind Singh with the establishment of the Khalsa Panth.”
Whereas, the popular belief that Guru Nanak was a pure saint and Guru Gobind Singh more as a combating fighter, the fact is that both were saints, and both were soldiers. It is a matter of ascertaining them in their own different circumstances and respective periods, which had a gap of 200 years.
Guru Nanak’s teachings were based on the belief in one God, concisely and prudently described in the mool-mantra: He who is undefinable, unborn, immortal, omniscient, all-pervading, and the epitome of truth.
Guru Nanak also spoke against the division of mankind in terms of caste and class. He ridiculed meaningless rituals and customs. In seeking equality, he established the sanctity of the Sangat, a religious meet of devotees. And for the same reason, Guru Nanak instituted the tradition of langar,community eating together without distinction of religion, caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity.
An outstanding feature of Guru Nanak’s philosophy is to realize God while fulfilling domestic obligations. He emphasized work as a moral duty.
His message is simple: “kirt karo, vand chhako, naam japo.” Translation: work, share what one earns, and take the name of God.
When Guru Nanak emphasized that God’s realization can be obtained not by running away from worldly and domestic problems, rather by facing and tackling them in righteous and honest ways, then that is the real challenge and real struggle.
In this battle, a soldier is born within.
Guru Nanak certainly sowed the seed to fightback life’s continuous hardships, struggles, injustices, immoral rituals, inequality, and racism. Sikhism upholds the dignity of man and labor.
Guru Nanak believed in practical religion which involves work and spirituality going not at separate times, but together all the time.
Sikhism does not believe in the practice of religion in isolation from the worldly pursuits.
Ninth Guru Teg Bahadur says:
Kahe re ban khojan jayee,
Sarab niwasi sada alaipa
Tahi sang samayie
Pope madh jyo baas bast hai
Mukr main jaisse chayee
Taise hi har basse nirantar
Ghut hi khojo bhai.
(Oh man why go to the forest
In search of god,
A family man is always pure,
And the God dwells in him
Just like fragrance stays in flower,
Reflections appear in the mirror.
Similarly, God prevails in the heart
Of family man.
Therefore, find God within yourself.)
In the confronting history of Sikhism, its followers and subsequent Gurus faced extreme challenges not only to survive but upkeep the spirit and message of their founder, Guru Nanak Dev.
Khushwant Singh writes:
“There can be little doubt that the martyrdom of Guru Arjun in 1606 resulted in a radical change in the community outlook. Though its creed remained wedded to the Adi Granth, it was ready to defend itself by use of arms. Guru Arjun’s son, the sixth Guru, Har Gobind, raised a cavalry of horsemen. He built the Akal Takht facing the Harmandir as the seat of temporal power and came to be designated Miri Piri Da Malik (Lord of temporal and spiritual power). For some years he was imprisoned in Gwalior fort. The final transition came after the execution of the ninth Guru, Tegh Bahadur, in 1675. His son, Guru Gobind, justified the transition in a letter, Zafarnamah, said to have been addressed to Emperor Aurangzeb: When all other means have failed, it is righteous to draw the sword’. Guru Gobind’s concept of God underwent a martial metamorphosis.”
When Guru Gobind Singh came on the horizon which was in the climax of the militant struggles of the preceding Gurus, including the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev and execution of Guru Teg Bahadur, it was a noticeable emergence of the saint-soldier ideology in Sikhism.
The 10th Guru Gobind Singh inherited this ideology from Guru Nanak’s emancipation from superstition and hypocrisy. Guru Angad’s campaign against drifting into asceticism and aimlessness in life. Guru Ram Das’ extension of the power and influence of the sect. Guru Arjan’s transformation of the community into a theocratic society by giving it a code, a capital, a treasury, and a chief in the person of the Guru. Guru Har Gobind gave it an organized army, finally the traumatic sacrifice in the execution of Guru Teg Bahadur.
All these phases fall into a continuous line to create the image of saint-soldier Khalsa in Sikhism.