Friday, August 30, 2019


Essentially, religion is a code of conduct for a civil society. It all started from here. With society’s progression, the code of conduct also evolved resulting in its expansion and formalization.

As civilization started taking roots management of the society began.

Origin of religion can be traced as part of human evolution. Ancient religious orders basically were a set of laws and principles for some acceptable behavior in an emerging civil society.

Later all aspects of human cultures, including presumptions and myths, and overwhelming elements of nature were covered in one order. In all these developments social unity and coherence were the natural needs and dependencies of an advancing society.

An organized collection of beliefs and behaviors, a set of ideas started pouring in this social construction. And with the introduction of the Supreme Being, man's most intuitive conception or imagery, the assemblage got sanctified.

(Excerpts from Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions)…/book-on-hinduism/

Thursday, August 29, 2019


By Promod Puri
The sign on the front door read, “please remove your shoes.”
It was not a Hindu temple, Gurdwara or a mosque, where such is the custom or a religious edict. But the newly-build home of a friend who had a house-warming party a few years ago.
When we arrived, there already was quite a spread of shoes and sandals all over the front entrance. The four-word notice was polite, but terse in its message. The host did not want the new flooring and expensive carpeting inside to be spoiled by any soiled footwears of the incoming guests.
Understandably, I also removed my shoes. Otherwise, my black pair was absolutely dirt-free with a shine like a new. I put them in the far corner for easy on my memory when leaving the place.
Removing shoes as we visit friends or relatives is somewhat an uncomfortable advisory for some or many people including myself. Wearing them is part of a complete dress up. We make sure the shoes we’re wearing are clean and well-polished. Taking them off at the very entrance of a visiting home is undressing a part of my body, which loses the comfort, warmth, and snugness of the footwear.
Anyway, that is a personal choice where one feels comfortable. But besides being a personal preference, the issue is if wearing shoes inside a home is unhygienic. Does the practice bring in harmful bacteria from outside getting inside?
Yes, they do. Shoes are the vehicles offering free rides to bacteria like E. Coli, which stick to the outside of shoes, and they cause intestinal infections, even meningitis.
The transmission happens when shoes are touched by hands, and the latter touch face or mouth. Or the same hands picking up the food dropped on the floor and eaten.
Contamination by shoes, however, is considered much less health hazard than many other culprits, like cats and dogs who enter homes with uncleaned paws. And then there are hundreds of surfaces and objects which we touch and pick up the germs and bacteria. For example escalator railings, gas station pumps, ATM machines, etc. etc. as well as the money we handle, our toilets and bathroom floors, vacuum cleaners, sponge dish cleaners, all carry millions of bugs.
The contamination sources are all around.  Shoes contribute an insignificant measure of bacterial contaminants. In fact, there is a theory that shoes also bring along dirt which can help stimulate autoimmune systems, particularly among children and people over 65.
Besides, the health reasons, which are not dire, taking shoes off is more of etiquette according to the house policy of inviting hosts. My house-warming friend, in the meanwhile, has relaxed the entrance code, which in now guests’ choice.
(Promod Puri is a writer and author of Hinduism, beyond rituals, customs, and traditions. Websites:,, and   

Sunday, August 25, 2019


Friday, August 23, 2019


By Promod Puri
The fun in life includes some simple recreational activities in our daily life. And the one I like the most is just a few steps away as part of my every day up-and-down commute.
These are the stairs leading up to our apartment. Over the years I have done this personal “Grouse Grind” hundreds of time. Although my experience with stairs is quite extensive, still I would not call myself a stair-master.
But as a veteran of the stairs, I have learned some techniques and some dos and don’ts of going up and down. These know-hows are not meant for practicing to hike Mt. Everest, but simply to enjoy the staircase walk as physical activity. Stairs make an excellent place to get a daily dose of cardio and some belly alignment. A simple stroll up and down the stairs gives a good aerobic workout.
According to a Mayo Clinic newsletter, stair climbing helps strengthen and tone our leg muscles. It keeps our leg arteries flexible, allowing blood to move more easily. “Better blood flow in your legs equals a healthier heart and body.” Moreover, a three-minute up and down the stairs after a meal helps control blood sugar.
They say keep a balance in life. That is true for stairs too.
In this upscale workout keeping the body in balance is essential. Tripping and slipping often happen when the body wobbles due to imbalance. Balancing exercises are quite common in the gym. A popular one is trying to balance the body on a hemisphere shaped ball. At home, one can practice balance by standing on one foot or keeping one foot in front of the other for as long as possible. Balance requires concentration. Or to be more precise it is meditation in action to coordinate mind and body.
Now on to the stairs. A brief stretching of legs, keeping a uniform pace and raising each leg almost parallel to the upper body for each step, are some basics of the stair exercise. At a little advance stage, one can climb two steps at a time. Or do a little bit of descending acrobat of lifting the entire body by firmly holding railings on either side and then dropping both the feet on just one step down, definitely not two.
Another tip: While going up or down, heels or toes should not be hanging down rather whole foot be placed on each step. This gives full footing with more safety as well. A trivial act of misplacing a foot can be the cause of a serious fall. Looking down is not only a humble posture but a better choice to avoid stair accident.
If safety is the main concern, and it should be, then the cardinal principle is the use of hand-railings all along the stairs. Railings are primarily meant to be a support system for fall-free stair walk. Curves or bends, and sleekness of a staircase are the aesthetic elements which don’t promise safety.
It is often said when going up or down the stairs do nothing, no phone, no buttoning of the shirt, etc.
Keeping these safeguards in mind while stairs offer a simple, easy and free recreational activity.

Thursday, August 22, 2019


By Promod Puri
I confess a feeling of guilt erupted within me after buying a pair of pant the other day. This despite the fact, in my otherwise sparse closet, there are enough pants to last till next five to six years or more. But I purchased it anyway with disregard to my needs.
Adding to our collection of clothing is an obsession which most of us have. And the fashion industry exploits this urge by offering the latest in designs. Moreover, we have an inborn appetite for newness in our passion for clothing.
How much wardrobe is essential to meet our body covering compliance as well as a social necessity to express and exhibit ourselves for all occasions? We have daywear, nightwear, workwear, gym wear, party wear, casual wear, etc. But that is the norm. And to meet this norm, clothing is one of our big expense items.
In the proverbial saying “food, shelter and clothing” as our basic needs, clothing has jumped beyond these fundamentals to compulsive buying temperament.
No wonder, when we go to a shopping mall or a factory outlet, most of the retail shops are wear-related. There are clothing wears, shoe wears, jewelry wear, and even the perfume industry also advertise its products as wearable odors.
Coming back to the clothing, my observation is that we keep buying more of the stuff without discarding the old ones. A friend boasted that he has over 50 pairs of pants and an equal number of shirts, plus 20 suites, along with almost two dozen ties to complete his formal wears. Another friend said she has over 200 Punjabi suits with an addition of about five-plus every year. She does not wear these suits every day as she is working. And for that, there is another big pile of workwear.
To me and I’m sure many among us, the apparel equity to accumulate the stock approaching afterlife is a wastage cluster, a chunk of that hangs like deceased bodies in the closets.
However, that scenario is reportedly changing fast. The apparel possessors are an abating people, while the trend developing swiftly is to dispose of the no-more-likable, non-fit, non-fashion garments in the second-hand buying-selling market.
The second-hand clothing business catering to customers of all age groups is booming. In fact, the name-brand clothing in the reuse market carry attention and value, and customers love to grab the bargains.
The second-time-around online and in-store buying and selling garment enterprises are popping up, which are easing on our packed closet warehouse. And then there are peer-to-peer services available where sellers send photographs of their clothing items to the handling company and eventually ship the items to buyers.
The second-hand clothing market is reportedly a multi-billion-dollar industry now with a projection of moving skyward. In this trend known retailors and clothing manufacturers are jumping on board. H & M, Macy’s and JC Penny will soon be selling good and look-like-new clothing to their customers.
This is a circular economy in the clothing industry. The use-and-reuse is the very mantra for safeguarding our environment. Otherwise, the fashion industry produces a colossal amount of waste, which is close to 100 million tons a year.
Since I believe in the circular economy, my guilt in buying the new pair of pant gets some relief that down the road it will end up for re-wear on somebody’s petite physique like mine.
At the same time over the years I’ve developed a policy of buy one and discard one the next day. However, the regret is that some time for some reason, I return the new one but can’t recover the discarded one.
(Promod Puri is a writer and author of Hinduism, beyond rituals, customs, and traditions. Websites:,, and      

Friday, August 16, 2019


The word Rita is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘rta.’ In contemporary Hindi, the vocalic ‘r’ of Sanskrit is changed into ‘ri.’ Hence the word Rita, which has been a popular female name in India.
Rita is a concept according to the Vedas, the ancient sacred scriptures of Hinduism. It is a physical order of the universe which governs, for example, the sun and moon making their journeys across the sky. Or the regulation of seasons in their rotating order. Logistics of the universal phenomena are under this conception.
Rita is an eternal and cosmic order. At the same time, it is a divine order of moral living in harmony with the systems of the universe.
Rita is the disciplinary principle for everything which exists or contained in this universe. From atoms to humans, animals and plants, rivers, oceans to mountains, stars, sun and moon, and everything else observable or non-observable must function per Rita’s guidelines. If not, then it is ‘anrita,’ which represents complete disorder or disaster. The law of karma joins here as for as human behavior is concerned. “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
By Promod Puri

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Article 370 and Kashmir


by Promod Puri
The revocation of Article 370, which covered the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir by giving it significant autonomy, has been received with protests from the Kashmir region while both Jammu and Ladakh are quieter over the issue.
Did not Jammu and Ladakh savor the special status too? Of course, they did. But the tranquil scene in these two regions has a message in it. However, that message is insignificant. What is significant and newsworthy is the hostile and volatile atmosphere in the Kashmir region.
The international media and political pundits in both the academic and journalistic circles have focussed on the technicalities involved in removing Article 370 as well as warning of some catastrophe in this already unstable region by disturbing the status quo.
Moreover, in their explanation and subsequent analysis, only the psyche of the Kashmiri mind reflects on representing the entire state. What Jammu and Ladakh people think is being ignored. But that is not new. The mindset bias is always inspired by what happens in the Valley.
In a fair and objective study, the Jammu and Ladakh perspective over Article 370 removal deserves as much attention as that portrayed for Kashmir.
The article 370 ever since it became part of the unique feature of the state granting more powers to it than to any other state in the Union of India, has not united the three regions, namely Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh. They were different from each other for centuries, and they remain different up to now.
Bridges to connect the medley were seldom attempted. For example, nobody in Jammu can speak or understand Kashmiri language or for that matter Ladakh’s Bodhi language. No inter-racial marriages among the three regions of the state either.
Article 370 gave enough powers to the state without interference from the Delhi regime. The same powers could be used to establish an independent political and bureaucratic mechanism geared towards the diverse nature of its three regions.
The J and K regimes over the years did not give regional autonomies to its three regions. Whereas, it attained significant autonomy from the Centre. The intactness of the state was comprehended to create a composite personality out of its social, religious, and linguistic diversities.
It was a post-independence experiment in creating a workable political homogeneity out of its multi-facet heterogeneity. But this exercise has failed.
Article 370 became irrelevant as for as regional autonomies were concerned. It has not worked because of the distinct linguistic and cultural multiplicities within the state. Moreover, Article 370, despite its autonomous values, is pointless in front of the human psychological fact where the dominance of one group always prevails, even though the constitutional guaranties ensure equality.
But Article 370 cannot be rejected.
Basically, there is nothing wrong with Article 370, rather I support it. Even to the extent that this kind of provision should be granted to every state in India. Autonomy is the key which can guarantee the unity of India by respecting its linguistic and cultural diversities.
Keeping the Kashmir experience aside, it is more viable in those states of India where commonality of language and culture exists. The merits of Article 370 lie in its granting more freedoms to individual states in the monolithic situation.
India is a nation of nations. And each of these nations or the states has its own uniformity in terms of language and culture. In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the demographics are distinctly different in its vast geographical and diverse landscape.
Article 370 can be and should be reintroduced in Jammu and Kashmir when eventually, these two regions become separate states based on their individual identities.
(Promod Puri hails from Jammu, now living in Vancouver, Canada. He is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions.)

Thursday, August 8, 2019



Historically the present geopolitical formation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir happened in the middle of the 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 a 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, present-day Pakistan in the west and India in the South.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is extensively diverse: linguistically, culturally, religiously and geographically.
From these historical and basic facts, it is obvious that the state of Jammu and Kashmir, including the regions controlled by Pakistan, was never ever a single entity, linguistically and culturally.
It is from this perspective that the entire region should be divided politically on the basis of its separate identities to restore their pre-Dogra rule status. Keeping them together is political experimentation to seek a lasting alliance has so far failed.
The separation of the Ladakh region from the state as a union territory by the government of India is the right move for its independence from the rest of the state.
Same can be applied to the Jammu region. But that is a bit complicated because Jammu’s identity lies with Pakistan-controlled Azad Kashmir area rather than Kashmir. If that merger ever happens then Jammu can be a separate state as well. And Kashmir will be separated altogether to have its “Azadi” finally.


Apple and oranges don’t mix. They grow in separate regions and in separate climates. They have separate shapes and separate tastes.
Jammu grows oranges, sweet and juicy. Kashmir grows apples, luscious and crispy. Put them together in a box. And market it as a product of Kashmir. That is simply deceptive labeling. It should be marked as a product of Jammu And Kashmir.
That is the same subtle difference when Kashmir and Jammu are packaged together linguistically, socially, and politically. And the entity is stamped as Kashmir. For example, Jammu does not speak Kashmiri, and Kashmir does not speak Dogri.
But this has been a political packaging done by Kashmiri leaders while ignoring the different reality existing in the Jammu region. The rest of the world, including people in India, believe that Kashmir carries one identity of the same language, same culture, and the same religion.
The simple but mostly ignored reason is that the colloquial Kashmir Problem is not representative of all the diverse regions of the state, as well as those held by Pakistan. The occasional violence erupts only in the valley, not in other parts of the state. We seldom hear about political protests and fury in Jammu or Ladakh regions, or even for that matter in Pakistan-controlled “Azad Kashmir.”
With the recent reorganization of the state where Ladakh is detached and becomes an independent entity, separation of Jammu from Kashmir based on the distinct realities is due as well.
Jammu will love it, and perhaps Kashmir too.
And in the process, the perennial Kashmir Problem can be pruned. After all, timely pruning is important, besides oranges and apples, for the healthy growth of the beautiful regions of both Kashmir and Jammu

Monday, August 5, 2019


By Promod Puri
Some action is better than no action. But this action is a big one, shaking the very status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The dillydallying over the Kashmir problem for over 70 years got some kick from the government of India with the announcement that Article 370 is removed from the Constitution. This very article gave special status within the union of India. This special status meant significant autonomy to J and K, which no other state in India has.
Besides the abrogation of Article 370, the Indian government has also bifurcated the state into two central-controlled Union Territories. One is the Jammu-Kashmir region, and the other is Ladakh.
Was Article 370 ever help the people of the state in terms of socio-economic conditions. Or did it ever give some autonomy to Jammu and Ladakh regions within the state? Did Article 370 help in resolving the Kashmir problem. The answer is NO.
Not because anything wrong with the article, rather I support it. Even to the extent that this kind of provision should be granted to every state in India. Autonomy is the key which can guarantee the unity of India by respecting its linguistic and cultural diversities.
The special status under Article 370, instead of honoring its intents, has been exploited by the Kashmiri leadership, more precisely by the Valley. And over the years the Kashmir Problem has become a full-fledged industry controlled by the few families of the Valley and terrorists within the state and across from Pakistan.
Will, the removal of Article 370, will result in big migration of people to the state from the rest of the country over the years? Hitherto, only the subjects can buy properties in the state. This kind of law has been in existence in a few other states of India. But no major migration has so far occurred there. So, there should not be any fear that the removal of the status will result in changing the demographics of the state from Muslim majority to minority.
Although, we can condemn the repealing of Article 370 from the Constitution as the way it got presented in the parliament without any discussion at all, which is not a democratic way. But the whole dramatic exercise is to be considered in the context that over the years the politicians, both in the opposition and in power, talked and talked and talked without resolving the Kashmir Problem.
Now, we have some action, but no talk.
Will all this solve the perennial Kashmir Problem? The answer is no. Because Jammu and Kashmir are two separate identities. Keeping them together without giving regional autonomy to Jammu region will keep the frustrations of this region alive. Jammu could be the clue to the Kashmir tangle if it gets a fair share of the power within the state. And then there is the “Azad Kashmir” factor also, which is still legally part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Anyway, no action is better than some action to keep the ball rolling. Hopefully, it will stop somewhere, sometime.
Promod Puri, Vancouver, BC, is native of Jammu, journalist, writer, and author of “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions.”

Sunday, August 4, 2019


balraj-puriMy eldest brother, late Balraj Puri, who died in 2014 at the age of 86, was a social and political activist all his life. In his activism he was a journalist, contributing writer to various newspapers and magazines and author of several books. He was a human rights crusader, organizer of many peace rallies and actively involved in politics.
His scholarly and progressive rationales evinced in his writings and lectures which influenced and impacted contemporary India’s intellectual, academic, and journalistic community.
His debut in writing started, surprisingly, at the very tender age of 12, when he launched his own Urdu-language newspaper in Jammu, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. As the rest of India was fighting for freedom from the British rule, my brother aligned himself with the independence movement in the state from the autocratic rule of the Maharaja.
He was an independent thinker, and that is perhaps was his biggest asset in writing. I seldom saw him reading books. His studies were daily newspapers.  He was an avid reader of newspapers, from page to page. That was his daily cognitive diet, which kept him informed and a stimulating source of his thinking.
In this daily regime, he often used to mark several stories of interest to him and saving them for references. The latter part was assigned to younger siblings in the family, including me. Those newspaper cuttings with their headlines in straight columns or T-shaped were scotch-taped on papers and cataloged subject-wise. These selected clips turned into a little source library of information and data.
They say words are the tools of writing. To be more precise words are bricks to build a writing structure. The selection of words in this assembly depends on the guidance aroused through honest, compassionate, moral, and prudent thinking. And this is where my brother excelled in applying those principles to architect his writing integrity, which might be dense occasionally, but truthfully and conscientiously expressed.
He was a compassionate writer ingrained in originality and sanity in judgment. His writings were opinionated as well as analytical. Prestigious newspapers, weeklies, and magazines were the media which often carried his articles. His style was authoritative and stimulating, which could confront and clash with the stereotyped mindset.
Many times, I wonder how he could write extensive, informed, and discerning essays, articles, and books in the age when there was no google, and the internet was not part of his writing aids.
In the later part of his life when computers just appeared on the horizon, he was still comfortable writing by hand. His writing tools were a pen and sheets of paper on a clipboard. A typist used to come to our house-cum-office a few times a week and type out his writings while struggling to make out his extensive cuts and rewrites.
His fearless and progressive writing style was inspired by his deep values in humanism and rationalism rather than by religious disciplines and scriptural edicts.
He was not a religious person in the ritualistic and traditional sense. He developed his own practical spirituality or ethical guidelines which were reflected in his sincere, virtuous, and simple lifestyle.
He was an Ambedkarite as part of his human rights commitments.
For his lifelong services to the society, he was honored with Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian awards, and Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration.
Balraj Puri, my brother and the cause of my humanistic views, was born on August 5, 1928.
-By Promod Puri