Thursday, November 28, 2019


By Promod PuriGuru-Nanak-Dev-Ji-230x300
When Guru Nanak Dev, in his myriad spiritual experiences, saw the frame of cosmos beauty, he expressed his gratitude to the Almighty in creating such a splendor.
The lines he wrote at that moment were his reverent commendation of Nature’s arrangements in the universality of its presentation. His few words of appreciation and gratitude were his Aarti, devotional poetry of enlightenment describing His luminous lila.
Guru Nanak captured the scene, a pageant of nature’s elements together in sync performing the Aarti in a heavenly concert.
Aarti is derived from the Sanskrit word “aratika,” where it denotes clearance of ‘ratika’ or ‘ratri,’ meaning darkness.
Guru Nanak’s offers his Aarti in the following verse:
“Gagan Mai Thaal Rav Chand Deepak Baney, Tarika Mandal Janak Moti,
Meaning: Upon that cosmic plate of the sky, the sun and the moon are the lamps; the stars and the constellations are the pearls and jewels.
Dhoop Malyanlo Pavan Chavro Kare
Sagal Banraye Phulant Jyoti,
Meaning: The fragrance of sandalwood in the air is the temple incense, and the wind is the fan. All the flora of the earth is the altar flowers in offering to You.
Kaisi Aarti Hoye Bhavkhandna Teri Aarti
Anhata Shabad Vaajant Bheri”
Meaning: Oh, God, the destroyer of fear, what a wonderful feeling it is in offering this beautiful Aarti! A lamp-lit worship service this is! The celestial vibrations are like the sound of temple drums.
Note: The original Aarti of Guru Nanak Dev has a few more additions to it by saints Bhagat Ravi Dass, Sant Sain, Sant Kabir, and Bhagat Dhanna. And then there is the final contribution to the Aarti from Guru Gobind Singh.
Nanak’s Aarti has universal appeal as to how we all share Nature’s continuous ceremony of lights, the shines of Sun and the Moon, the twinkling of stars, the fragrance of plants and flowers around us.
It is with these sentiments that Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore suggested that Guru Nanak’s Aarti should be declared as an international anthem for all humanity.
(Promod Puri is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions. Websites:,, and

Sunday, November 17, 2019


In democratic-elect governments like India, Turkey, 
download (6)the Philippines, and several African, Central, and South American nations, there is an emerging wave of fascism and despotism. Liberalism, meaning individual and minority rights, are fading in these countries led by demagogues invoking the sentiments of nationalism and patriotism.
Greek philosopher Plato in 380 B.C., predicted the peril of democracy that can lead to the rule of tyrants supported by the majority population.
-By Promod Puri

Thursday, November 14, 2019


By Promod Puri
This Cherry never blossomed to the changing realities of diverse and culturally rich Canadian society.
Don Cherry’s colorful (in costume only) long career as hockey commentator ended abruptly with a blot on his iconic stature. At the fag end of his life, after more than three decades on the air, his stylish apparel also got stains of racist rants against Quebecers, indigenous and the rest “you people.”
From his little domain of “Coach’s Corner” on the Sportsnet, Mr. Cherry delivered his last diatribe November 9, zeroing in on immigrants, new and old, who don’t wear poppies to mark the Remembrance Day.
The controversial remarks on the sports network clipped his job. He said, “Now you go to the small cities, and you know, the rows and rows … you people love … they come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”
The divisive wordings of “you” and “our” is a type of racist thinking prioritizing the superiority of one group of people as more Canadian than the rest. It endorses the stereotype that immigrants are apathetic to the significance of Remembrance Day.
Wearing a poppy is not a certification to Canadian patriotism. The solidarity to Canada is not a one-day visible affair on Remembrance Day, but an on-going contribution of all us born in Canada or anywhere else.
No matter how much iconic Don Cherry might be in the realm of hockey, but his remarks certainly show a lack of historical facts that there were thousands of troops from the entire British Empire who fought along with Canadian soldiers in both the First and Second World Wars.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

What Next After Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi Verdict:

Neither Hinduism is enriched, nor Islam is poor with the Supreme Court verdict over Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case.
In their spirituality, none of them reside in the bricks and plaster monuments. Though the fundamentals of religions are often buried in the foundations of temples and mosques.
The 16the century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, which was demolished by Hindu mobs in 1992, is now going to be grandeur Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ram, believed to be his birthplace. But the possession was with a heavy cost that saw one of the deadliest religious riots.
Well, a new temple is ok, but there is enough land to build a hospital there as well. Who knows one day in that very hospital, a Hindu patient would realize that the blood he received was from a Muslim donor? Or that a Muslim patient got a new heart from a dying Hindu patient.
By Promod Puri

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


Ram and Ravan are the most known mythical rivals in the Hindu scriptural narratives.
Ram is addressed as Lord by his being an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, “the preserver” in the Trinity divination. The rest two are Brahma, “the Creator,” and Mahesh, “the Destroyer.”
Contrary to Ram, the status of Ravan is given as a “demon” king according to the Hindu holy book Ramayan.
A major part of the epic volume is devoted to fighting evil. Ram is the warrior, out to destroy Ravan, the “devil king.”
According to the narrated story, Ravan abducted Sita, the wife of Ram, in revenge that the latter, thru his brother Lakshman, mutilated the beautiful figure of Ravan’s sister, Shurpanakha.
The fight between Ram and Ravan over the abduction of Sita and her rescue has been plotted in such a dramatic way that connects with the overall mission of eliminating the “forces of evil” and bring back a regime of peace for the people in the kingdom of Lanka.
A tense spirited battle followed in rescuing Sita, who was not inflicted with abuse and harm while in custody of Ravan. Besides her recovery, the whole episode leads to its consequence that it was a war for righteousness against the forces of evil, respectively, represented by Ram and Ravan.
Customs and traditions followed from the epic’s anecdotes. And all that resulted in crystalizing the images of good and bad as portrayed in the Ramayan.
The symbolic burning of Ravan on the major Hindu festival of Dussehra, meaning 10 heads, in northern, central and western parts of India reflects the defeat and death of evil, and the ultimate triumph of good.
Nonetheless, when we explore the personality of Ravan in the maze of multiplex stories, we find him a man of multi-talents with great administrative skills. He was a scholar with complete knowledge of Shastras and the four Vedas. Ravan Samitha, a book on Hindu astrology, has been credited to Ravan as its author.
His wisdom and knowledge were so vast that the imaginative ten-head portrait, without biological explanation, is justified.
Ravan was a follower of Lord Shiva, and an accomplished maestro of a musical string instrument, Veena.
The personal character of Ravan is revealed when Sita passed the controversial “Agni pariksha” about her purity. The ritualistic fire-test was sought by Lord Ram that involved plunging into flames to know her chastity during the time spent under Ravan’s captivity.
With his treatment of Sita in his custody, Ravan proved to be a man of virtuous and moral character. Moreover, in the contemporary Hindu thought, there is no dispute about Ravan’s scholastic and theological credentials along with his divine reach.
But the conflict revolves around his ethnicity and caste identifications.
Was he an Aryan by race or belonging to the indigenous Dravidian people of India, called Adivasis? Was he a Brahmin, Kshatriya, or Shudra/Dalit by caste?
Ravan, the “devil king,” is revered and owned by a section of Hindus belonging to Brahmin caste, Dalits and Adivasis of South India. He is worshipped along with Lord Shiva in many Indian temples. In several parts of India, some Brahmin sub-caste claim to be descendants of him. The Gondi tribe in Central India are proudly committed to their ancestral lineage with Ravan.
In the southern states of India, especially in Tamil Nadu, Ravan is embraced with Dravidian roots.
His identity as a Dalit is turning into a very popular movement in Punjab, where the Valmiki clan is upfront seeking to ban burning of Ravan’s effigy on the Dussehra day.
A respectable online publication, The Citizen, in its September 23,2019 edition, carries an interesting article revealing that in the Dalit-dominated districts of Doaba and Ferozepur “it has become increasingly common for Dalit families to use the names of Ravan’s family and his mythological soldiers as surnames.”
Ravan Sena Bharat (Ravan’s Army India) president Lakhbir Lankesh told The Citizen, “We see the burning of these effigies on Dussehra as an insult to Mahatma Ravan. The Dalits and Dravidians have been painted black over the centuries. For us, there are only two categories of Arya and Anarya. After the Aryan invasion, the other was pushed to the margins.”
Similar dissent can be noticed across the country from North to South, and East to West, as well as among some Hindu diaspora abroad. There also seems to be a systematic misrepresentation of Ravan over the centuries.
The identity of Ravan in terms of tribal ethnicity and caste hierarchy is hard to confirm from the piles of complex and contradictory mythological stories. But both Indological and social anthropological research would help review the personality and mythical believability of Ravan.
Demonizing of Ravan is a sensitive issue given the emerging voices from a large section of the Hindu population, especially from the so-called Lower-caste communities in India and abroad.
Ravan can keep his role of being a villain opposite Ram, the hero, in the epic drama of Ramayan for a balance to the equation. But out of it, a festival like Dussehra is smoldering to the devout feelings of all those who venerate him both for his divine and scholastic attributes, as well as ethnic or caste-based ancestry.
(Promod Puri is a journalist, writer and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions.)