Monday, September 21, 2020

There Is Faith In Trudeau's Ethnic Sentiments

He is a "thoughtful and intelligent guy," according to former Liberal leader Bob Rae. In his policies, we're creating a better and more compassionate Canada.

There Is Faith In Trudeau's Ethnic Sentiments

His father, Pierre Trudeau, was an intellectual statesman. Justin Trudeau falls into that grade. The genes are there.


 Trudeau's leadership role in handling the current pandemic crisis demonstrates his compassion and caring for all Canadians. The food must be on the table, and the necessities of all Canadians, are comfortably met have been the major concerns that he handled with passion.

 His two consecutive wins, though the second one with a reduced majority, demonstrates the rejection of ultra-right-wing politics of discrimination, anti-immigration and fake security concerns. The electoral mandates have restored the confidence in Canadian values of humanism and compassion.

 Justin Trudeau's rise to political leadership has been like that of an ordinary common man. He worked his way to climb that ladder. He was not handed life in politics on a platter as the son of a legendary former prime minister.

 His adult life began as a school teacher, snowboard instructor, bouncer in a night club, and playing the role of a war hero in a World War 1 TV drama. These credentials show the traits of a young man trying to gain some space in society.

 He also has a tattoo of the Haida nation printed on his arms. He loves ethnic food; his first outing with his date, now his wife Sophie, was to Khyber Pass, an Afghan restaurant in Montreal. He is an ace Bhangra dancer too.

 From this simple portfolio, we can see him as a down-to-earth leader with a thoughtful and intelligent approach to run the affairs of the nation.

 Trudeau pursues a humanitarian and independent foreign policy not influenced by the big brothers south of the border. This foreign policy puts Canada in its traditional role of no-combat military involvements, but for peaceful missions only.

 His domestic liberal policies include: legalizing marijuana, protection of transgender people, reuniting families of immigrants, reinvigorate ethnic cultures and diversities, and bring more diversity in the government. One of the outstanding features of his leadership has been welcoming refugees.

 Mr. Trudeau has recognized the right multicultural fabric of Canada. It was also the hallmark of his father's political life when he declared multiculturalism as the official policy of the Canadian government.

 He recognizes the contribution of Canada's ethnic diversity that makes this nation a genuinely multicultural society of equal opportunities. He has shown his enthusiastic participation in Canadian ethnic and cultural events too.

 There is faith in Mr. Trudeau's ethnic sentiments. And that is the kind of leadership, the ethnic communities feel encouraged to see their involvement in Canadian affairs.


-Promod Puri


Saturday, September 19, 2020

Jalebi: The Queen Of Indian Sweets

JALEBI: The Queen Of Indian Sweets

Jalebi is the ultimate sweet in the Indian confectionary delights.

Unlike most other Indian sweets, it is crispy and loaded with the syrup in its swirling tubular round, but a flat body. Made with yeasted white flour, Jalebi-making is art with quick and round hand movement when fried for its crispy texture—and then immersed in sugar syrup to get its “injection” of sweetness.

Jalebi experts say that this sweet indulgence, when prepared, must be fried in pure desi-ghee, not any vegetable hydrogenated oil.

The luscious delicacy has to be eaten by hand despite its sticky surface. Lately, a new fad has emerged, especially in Indian parties. It is the Jalebi with ice cream, a double-double dessert that goes well after the spicy-hot dishes.

Another combination is when Jalebi get immersed in a bowl or cup of boiling milk, and then immediately scooped out with a spoon. It is the favourite of my long-time friend, Harminder Magon, a celebrated master in Indian cooking and author of the bestselling book, “My Epicurean Journey.”

Jalebi-milk combo has therapeutic value also that it can work much more quickly to calm stubborn coughs than any lozenges or syrups available in a drug store. Try it, the cough will be gone, but you may get hooked to “dudd-jalebi,” as they say in Punjabi.

Jalebi finds its space in social behaviour as a pun when a cunning person is called “straight like a jalebi.” Or a charming talker is referred to as “sweet like jalebi.”

The personality of Jalebi lies in its blissful enjoyment of sweet taste that it stands out boastfully among all other Indian sweets. But its ego is challenged by Karela (bitter melon). According to my respected friend Zile Singh: “Tuut jande ne maan Jalebian de jithey Karela langh janda,” Translation: Jalebi’s self-pride gets shattered when a Karela goes over.

Jalebi does have close minor cousins called Boondi. These, in reality, are the Tim-bits of Jalebi, same texture, same taste.

Enjoy Jalebi, the queen of Indian confection, straight or with milk, anytime, including midnight all alone and guilt-free craving for something sweet.

-Promod Puri

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

My first writing started with the help of “Kalam.”



Handcrafted from a solid dry twig, with one end slightly chiselled and shaped like a nib. And the stem was smoothed to hold the Kalam.
For each word or few words to write, the Kalam received its ink while dipped into an inkpot. Together the pair was called “Kalam-dawaat,” that I used to carry with me to primary school. Often my school bag and my clothing got stains of the black ink.
My writing palette was a “Takhti,” a wooden oblong-shaped plank about the size of a regular kitchen cutting board, and with the same thickness.
At the school, the class teacher respectfully addressed “Masterji,” assigned the writing exercise on the “takhti.” There was no tolerance from him for any spelling mistake. Very carefully and gently, the writing was like painting on the wooden board. But the entire assignment had to be washed down and cleaned after school.
Showered with plain water, let it dry and then giving it a coating and massage of a unique clay called “Gachi” on both sides, were the daily treatment that my little “Takhti” needed.
I remember, when the “Takhti” was not completely dry, I used to wave it up and down facing the Sun while singing the line: “suraj-e suraj-e Patti suka..”, a little sort of prayer, meaning O’ Sun, dry my palette. It often worked before reaching school.
As I got older and getting into higher grades, “Kalam-dawaat” was replaced by “Kagaz” and pen, meaning paper and pen. The latter itself was an assembly of few parts. It used to be reloaded with fresh ink every day. Much later, the ballpoint pens came on the horizon. Now fingers have taken over to work on the keypad.
But the Kalam of my primary school time carries a nostalgic mark from where I started my first writing.
-By Promod Puri



Having few friends of different religious or race backgrounds does not qualify a person being secular.

“Racial fig leaves” is an expression coined by Jennifer Saul, a scholar at the University of Waterloo. It reflects the situation when people are prevented by the “fig leaves” from recognizing racism happening in front of them.

“I use the term fig leaves because they serve to barely cover something you are not supposed to show in public. Fig leaves are needed because most white people do not want to think of themselves as racist. Fig leaves work because some white people are so keen to convince themselves that something racist is not racist after all,” according to the professor.

“I am not a racist” is an expression people often use to defend themselves despite their involvement in racist acts or refusing to accept incidents of racism happening before of them.

Instead, they claim to be secular. Having few friends of different religious or race backgrounds does not qualify a person being secular.

-Promod Puri


By Promod Puri

Leftist bhagats of late Fidel Castro may still be reciting the virtues of Cuba’s brand of socialism. But the ground realities expose the failure of the system inadequately meeting the needs of Cubans involving food and basic consumer essentials.

It is a dire situation on the island country, which is just a viewing distance from its ideological number one enemy, the USA.
Cuban leadership can hate the Americans as much as they want under their egoistic pride of anti-capitalist nationalism. But the socialist regime lately loves to have the US dollar to meet its crucial import needs.

“Cuba is overly dependent on imports, which account for some 80% of what the nation consumes. Despite largely controlling the coronavirus outbreak, the lockdown has brought tourism to a halt in Cuba, and the resulting drop in foreign exchange earnings means fewer dollars to pay for imports”, according to a recent BBC report.
Further, the US administration under Trump’s instructions has put more embargos and harsher sanctions on shipping, travel and remittances on Cuba.

The government-run superstores that carry grocery items, which in normal conditions already have a sparse look on their shelves, are almost bare these days. There are always line up in front of the stores. But now these waiting lines are much longer.
Patience and no grumbling are what Cubans have learnt since the Fidel Castro’s 1953-1958 revolution.
Cuba badly needs dollars to buy its grocery in the international market. For that reason, some of the government-run superstores have been turned into “Dollar Stores.” These outlets’ only currency of acceptance is the American dollars.

It is the US dollar that Cubans somehow collect and hoard for a situation like this. Knowing that people have dollars, and lots of them, that the government itself is seeking the hidden treasure to meet its import needs.

- Promod Puri

Friday, July 24, 2020


By Promod Puri
Even now, with very few exceptions, the American civil rights movement has never been led on a political platform.
Instead, religion has been the motivating factor in the ongoing struggles and challenges, beginning with the emancipation from slavery to racism and police brutalities.   
Whereas religion does not find a liking in the progressive political behaviour, but among the Black leaderships in the United States, it has been the driving force to seek justice and freedom from the White establishment.
There has been a common faith-braced thread running in the Black resistance of the earliest periods of slavery through the civil rights protests of the 1950s and 1960s. And up to now, except the current Black Lives Matter movement. But the latter too accepts, “The fight to save your life is a spiritual fight,” according to the BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullers who describes herself as “trained Marxist” (New York Times Post).
Rep. John Lewis and Rev. Cordy Tindell Vivian were the recent veterans, carrying the flag of civil rights campaigns with strengths drawing from their Christian faith instead of any political ideology. (Rep. Lewis, 80, and Rev. Vivian, 95, died July 17, 2020.) 
Both were the towering personalities in the post-era of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. They received their Christian theological credentials from the American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee. With that faith-embedded background, Rep. Lewis and Rev. Vivian moved forward to seek equality and justice for Black Americans.
Conviction in their religious order was more vibrant and focussed on their activism than in the sermonic lecturing within church walls.
In an interview in 2004, Lewis said: “In my estimation, the civil rights movement was a religious phenomenon. When we’d go out to sit in or go out to march, I felt, and I believe, there was a force in front of us and a force behind us because sometimes you didn’t know what to do. You didn’t know what to say; you didn’t know how you were going to make it through the day or the night. But somehow and some way, you believed – you had faith – that it all was going to be all right.”
About Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis once said: “He was not concerned about the streets of heaven and the pearly gates and the streets paved with milk and honey. He was more concerned about the streets of Montgomery and the way that Black people and poor people got treated in Montgomery.”
Religious teachings have been the guiding force of the earliest Black civil rights and anti-slavery leaderships.
“Nat Turner, a leader in the revolt against slavery, for example saw the rebellion as the work of God and drew upon biblical texts to inspire his actions. Likewise, fellow anti-slavery campaigners Sojourner Truth and Jarena Lee rejected the ‘otherworld’ theology taught to enslaved Africans by their white captors. That very theology sought to deflect attention away from their condition in ‘this world’ with promises of a better afterlife,” writes Lawrence Burnley of the University of Dayton, in a recent article in The Conversation.

A pragmatic approach has been the basis of most Black leaders’ theological understanding of religious doctrines and sermons.
With that understanding of the scriptures, the struggle for racial justice gained its solidarity in the Black Christian leaderships.
It was Rev. Al Sharpton, whose words echoed the globe when he called upon White America to “get your knee off our necks” at George Floyd’s memorial service.
Equally compelling is the message from Rev. William J. Barber II, a known Black leader, who said recently, “There is not some separation between Jesus and justice; to be Christian is to be concerned with what’s going on in the world.”
From Mohammad to Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr. to Nelson Mandela and Dr. Ambedkar all had religious commitments grounded in humanism, love, compassion, and kindness to wage their political and social campaigns against slavery, apartheid, discrimination, inequality, and untouchability based on colour, class, and caste.
The Black Civil Rights movement is part of that tradition where religion has been inspiring and motivational force to erase the racial-based stigmas in a significant part of the White American society.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2020


The other day I received a phone call from an old friend of mine after quite a long time. Old in the sense that we know each other for the past over four decades. But it is also in the context that he is now 92 years of age.

He has the same clarity and vigour in his voice as ever before, good hearing and an excellent memory. All these signs reflected while conversing with him. In his astute expressions, his mental alertness is still sharp.

Mr. Singh still goes for walks, and at least once a week hits the golf course. The testimony to his exceptional health at this senior golden age is that he does not take any of those medicines often related to old age. Cholesterol, diabetes, knee problem, etc. have bypassed him.

The secret!

It is under one medical term, called circadian rhythm. And Mr. Singh has kept it well under control with his disciplined daily regime.

A real understanding of the circadian rhythm is that all our body organs, down to their cellular levels, have body clocks working along with the brain. Together, the working of all theses body clocks is in coordination to create the circadian rhythm.

A synchronized circadian rhythm of every part of the body, especially the lungs, heart, kidneys, and brain, goes well without any compromise. The entire process, when settles down to set routine is the circadian rhythm that is not only beneficial to our overall health but most important in developing a robust immune system.

The boosting of the immune system is very vital, especially when we are facing the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus. And if this body clock rhythm is not put in place or being disturbed, our health problems start kicking in along with a weak immune system.

Specialists in the field of circadian rhythm emphasize a regular and systematic pattern of good sleep, exercise, and diet. The exact timing, duration, and disciplined, healthy living day in and day out is what we need to develop a robust immune system.

Mr. Singh listens to his body clock, religiously every moment of his life. Talking to him has always been very meaningful and knowledgeable.

One of these days, when this social-distancing restraint is over, I’m going to meet him. It certainly would be an inspirational meeting as well as to revive our chess sessions with a glass of Scotch on the side, that he still enjoys every day.

By Promod Puri

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Denialism: A Roadblock To Liberal Thinking

by Promod Puri

When things or incidents happen in front of our own eyes or reported through trustworthy sources, and we deny them as non-events, there could be a "motivated reasoning" for that denial.

Psychologists name the observed phenomenon as denialism.
A recent example of denialism is when President Trump refuted the pandemic of COVID-19 in its early stage. And when most of India's upper and wealthy class refused to accept the plight of migrant workers in their agonizing walks back to the villages during the peak Coronavirus lockdown.

Historical events, like the Holocaust, have never happened according to those who refute the genocide. Climate change is a myth; the theory of evolution is nonsense, the earth is not round, but a flat dish, are the examples trapped in the insulated casing of denialism.
In denialism, our social behaviour, political and religious identities get rigid with the discriminatory pick of pieces of evidence. 

Rationalization becomes irrational in fussy argumentation. And society becomes polarized when information receiving is selective to match the perceived opinions and verdicts.

Denialism an irrational act. So why people deny or reject the basic facts that are undisputed and well-supported by verifiable or scientifically-proven realities?
Several reasons based on their religious, political or social beliefs explain the behaviour as it confronts the uncomfortable truths. Moreover, people who stick to denialism may have personal interests, egotistical or narcissistic passions. An ideological worldview can be a factor too.

It is for these reasons, in the absence of reality and truth, denialism gets its spot that creates a mindset fanatic attitude that can cause roadblocks or deadends to free or liberal thinking.

Friday, June 19, 2020


By Promod Puri

Fascism is a system that is run or led by a dictator who has full power in every aspect of a nation. To achieve and maintain that hold, a fascist ruler suppresses any opposition and criticism. A false sense of aggressive nationalism and patriotism gets developed and promoted. Racism and xenophobia are encouraged in a dictatorial environment.

That is a typical explanation or scenario of a nation under fascist rule. In the contemporary world, despite being still democratic, we find shades of authoritarian governments having essential control over their peoples and institutions. For that reason, these nations fit very well as fascists regimes. But to the world as well as their citizens, such governments put on a democratic or socialist mask.

Under the fake democratic outfit, resides the modern version of fascism where almost all the elements of dictatorial control are present. Fear factor gets liberal infusion to weed out voices of dissent.

Bureaucratic and democratic institutions are restrained and corrupted. Manipulated elections decide the results before the polls take place. Religious sentiments of the majority community become a handy tool to suppress the minorities. Bribed, threatened, and intimidated media sit on the lap of the fascist ruler, ever ready as a mouthpiece of the government.

A network of social media goes full swing for the manufacturing and distribution of false and propagated news and views that are efficiently spread within the country and globally.

Judiciary, election commission, media, and statistics are some of the most operative integrals of democracy, that keep it authoritative, functional, dynamic, and accountable. But when any or all these systems are damaged, corrupted, compromised, or abused, democracy collapses, and fascism emerges.

India is one of those countries where signs of this new version of fascism are quite discernable and visible. Knowingly or unknowingly, fascists developments are fast taking place for power's sake as there is practically no active and creditable opposition either.

All the democratic fundamentals have been brazenly as well as subtly fiddled with shrewd politics of religious fanaticism, fear, threats, murders, fake police raids, intrusions, and influences in the media, obstructions, and interference in the bureaucracy, and deceptive claims of accomplishments.

The autonomous, independent, and credible status of the democratic establishments have been defaced and undermined.

Cracking down on free speech, threats, murders of writers, dissident lawyers, and judges, frequent imprisonment of protesting students constitute the new and dreadful feeling of the current political climate in the country.

And once all these developments take roots and become a new norm, fascist India would destroy the very spirit and fabric of the nation as a free, secular, and a multi-racial society. Democracy dies, and fascism takes birth.

Sunday, June 14, 2020


As often said, what I had for dinner yesterday or the day before, I do not remember. But some incidents that happened years ago are vividly embedded in our cumulative memory power.
It was one of those summer months when the daily regime begins with the early morning wake up just by one call from our father. I was only six or seven years old, and the first activity of the day was going to the river on the outskirts of the city. The walk was two or three miles from our house. It was a stiff recreation but had to endure each morning.
Rushing back home, getting ready, and having a quick breakfast, I had to be at the school precisely at 7 O’clock. And I made it every day from Monday to Friday.
But one day, for some reason, I was late, not very much, maybe 10 minutes. My grade 1 class was on; I entered the classroom quietly, head down, and sat on my floor rug place.
The moment I sat, the teacher, addressed as Masterji, called me up and asked why I was late. Before I could gather words to express myself, he gave me a hefty slap on my tender little face.
I accepted the punishment at that age of my life. Perhaps, I learned a lesson too. Later in life, I felt it wasn’t kind on the part of Masterji. But that used to be the custom or common practice by teachers to slap young students, beat their palms with a cane, or make them sit in a weird and painful position with hands going through legs and holding on to both the ears.
Physically harsh punishments for young kids in their tender ages was a practice that I would now call it teachers’ brutality. And for me, I would never forget that slap.
-Promod Puri

Friday, June 12, 2020

Do We Care About Statues

Last Sunday, June 7, it was a cheering feeling for me when the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol got pulled down as a result of the killing of George Floyd by the police in the US.

The act was a symbolic disgrace to the man who made fortunes by selling and exporting African slaves to America. The slave trader might have contributed his ill-earned wealth to educational institutions, but his profession was inhumane and certainly not worth to be honored with a statue.

I am against erecting statues in honor of or memory of public figures no matter how much their contributions to society are perceived. As time flows, more revelations emerge about them that are not either complementary to them or acceptable to the public as well. It is happening to the statues of Gandhi in South Africa.

Moreover, there is always the politics of statues. That involves cashing in on the sentiments of the public by the leaders. The new mammoth statue of Sardar Patel in Gujarat state in India is an example.

Statues are expensive to build with public-funded money and are costly to maintain them daily. Otherwise, they are the perfect landing spots for birds to relieve themselves. Birds, indeed, love them but does the public care about them in the long run.

-by Promod Puri

Monday, June 8, 2020



(Loosely translated: Nanak says life for everybody is suffering,
blissful is the one who has based his/her life on Him.)
It is a universal truth. Agony, misery, pain, suffering, both physical and emotional, and in all degrees of intensity are the realities of life experienced by all without exception.
In the bliss of peace and pleasure, we also pass through jitters of distress, grief, and worries. There is hardly any escape from these taxing, and unpleasant realities littered toward life’s end.
The sufferings could be innocently or naively self-inflicted, from fellow beings, or other causes. Elements of nature and the so-called fate also play minor or significant roles to accompany man’s lifelong journey through calamity and disaster.
Stresses and strains in our lives for one reason or the other give enough turbulences as a smooth ride to cover life’s journey becomes a rarity.
So, who is at absolute peace. Certainly nobody.
Can we redefine peace to accommodate tensions and sufferings that otherwise we cannot avert? Do we have to live with them?
In this pursuit to seek serenity and tranquility, let us re-evaluate and narrow down our understanding of that guiding force from whom, in desperation, we often quest for answers to our whys.
The guiding mover is the eternal spirit that, in the first place, buzz us for our acceptance of the adversity (Nanak calls it hukam razai ). The alert signal takes on a calamity with a calm mind, effectively and decisively, instead of being agitative or in panic.
We need not expect miracles from the Eternal Spirit.
But what we can expect with grace and dignity, is the courage and strength to tackle suffering.
Of course, this is not an easy exercise. Still, the utmost and unshaken faith in our resolve to accept and handle circumstances lead us to that sought-after perception. It is a solid base from where one can realize the Supreme power. Nanak calls that base “Adhaar.”
Regarding perception or understanding of the solid base, we can be more precise by setting aside for a moment, the most widespread assumption that God is a person. Instead, bring in another individuality and nature of His or Her as just a performing action.
So when we seek or gather courage and strength to handle any calamity or suffering and use those forces as part of our efforts, that very activity itself is a God in live manifestation.
And once that foundation or “Adhaar,” meaning God in the image of action, is recognized as the platform, from where to fight back and decrease distress and tribulation, then certainly with conviction one can get inspired to comprehend……………..
-By Promod Puri

Sunday, June 7, 2020


By Promod Puri

Insensitivity and ignorance have been part of Canada's racist history.
Immigrants, especially from the "visible minority" communities, not only faced racial discrimination in most aspects of their lives in Canada, but they could also discern reflections of bigotry and segregation in their labelings.
In the early part of the twentieth-century immigrants from the Indian subcontinent were all classified as "Hindoos."

Komagatamaru passengers dominated by Sikhs (340), Muslims (24), and Hindus (12) were all docketed as "Hindoos" by the authorities and the media of the time, including The Vancouver Sun. They were all British subjects, but the use of the misspelled word as "Hindoos" reveals both ignorance and ethnocentric arrogance.

The "Hindoo" entitlement carried on for a long time not only by the government and the media but by the Canadian public as well. And for a brief duration in the early '70s during the extreme racist period, especially in Europe, that here in Canada, Asian subcontinent migrants were stamped as "Pakis" by the born-racists Canadians of the redneck likes.

The tagging of immigrants as "Hindoos" and "Pakis" from the subcontinent was not merely for identification purposes, but in any event of hatred, the monikers often carried abusive connotations.

However, with more numbers filling the population, demography of Canada over the years, and with improved knowledge and understanding within the changing Canadian society that "Hindoos-Pakis" got some better grading in their designation.

The title "East Indian" was assigned, and that became prevalent in the overall multicultural Canadian population. This identification also distinguished migrants from India from Native Indians. The "East Indian" entitlement lasted till most of the recent times, but occasionally it is still being used.
As the nomenclature process continued, the next appellation was Indo-Canadian. This development happened although migrants were also coming to Canada from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc.

But the metamorphosis was significant as the community got the hyphen between "Indo" and Canadian. Canadians from most other multicultural communities were hyphenated too. The hyphen marked and recognized the distinctive cultural diversity of Canadian society.
However, there were ultra-nationalist Canadians, including some from the ethnic communities, who were against the hyphenated designation of Canadians. They were the ones who opposed Canada's multicultural entity. Instead, they sought a melting pot of all cultures to fancy a composite Canadian culture.

Till now, all the identification labels were assigned either by government authorities, media or the public in general but the scenario got changed. In the '70s, The Link newspaper(myself being its editor and publisher), along with several other groups representing immigrants from the sub-continent, took up the entitlement on themselves and started using South Asian Canadian expression.

Soon this designation got an easy acceptance, especially from all levels of government as they were also looking for the right term for all those immigrants with roots in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and other smaller states of the subcontinent.
The South-Asian-Canadian entitlement precisely and unequivocally represents all those new Canadians sharing related cultural, linguistic, and religious values of the region. They include as well immigrants not coming directly from South Asian countries but from all over the world with roots in the Indian subcontinent.

Under this banner lies the cultural and linguistic diversities of South Asia, besides representing a joint ethnic force that adds its chapter to fight for racist-free Canada.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Humanization Of Countries, Viruses And Everything Else

by Promod Puri

Do we have to blame a nation or nations in their respective involvement and stake in initiating wars, battles, or violent conflicts rather than the individuals responsible for calling out to strike the fire?

Historically and down the road, we blame the nations and forget the leaders or rulers in their combating roles and catastrophic orders.
But this is how the human mind is architected to humanize nonhuman physical entities from countries to animals, political to religious concepts.

We're humanizing Coronavirus as "sneaky, "tricky," "merciless," "cruel," and "invisible enemy."
It is an innate tendency of human psychology that, according to 18th-century philosopher David Hume, "We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and… ascribe malice or good-will to everything, that hurts or pleases us."

Painter, philosopher Leonardo da Vinci saw humanism all around, in the random patterns of cracked walls, and the images of animals, plants, and landscapes.
Humanization of Disney World animal characters happens, so is the case with visuals in most children TV shows.

Human thought, action, religion, season, weather, are also personified, and given the gender, he or she. However, both Judaism and Islam reject a humanized deity, believing that God is beyond human comprehension.

Human psychology to visualize everything relates to our senses to understand the nature of things in its most familiar way, and that is the human face.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, "the naming of hurricanes and storms — a practice that originated with the names of saints, sailors' girlfriends, and disliked political figures — simplifies and facilitates effective communication to enhance public preparedness, media reporting, and the efficient exchange of information."

The phenomenon, called anthropomorphism, is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to nonhuman entities.
The multifaceted nature of anthropomorphism makes things easy to relate and easy to apprehend. But it can also generate misrepresentation. It is a "source of error."
It is in this error or anthropomorphization; the real culprits who generate horrible or bloody events escape from the condemnation and punishment they deserve.

In the call out for sacrifice, nationalism, and patriotism, or just for "defense" battles are fought, soldiers fight and die, the accountability rests on humanized states, but not on the ruling leaders in the long run.

That is what happens on the world stage when nations, tribes, or communities get humanized, and the leading triggers of wars and conflicts recede into history as unscathed and unharmed culprits.
It has happened in the Vietnam war, the Iraq war, including the abuses in the Abu Gharib prison and Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Rwanda genocides. The initiators of these heinous conflicts are almost oblivion, replaced by the nations humanized as living biological entities.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Mantra: An Ingrained Feature In Hindusim

By Promod Puri
Peace in all the cosmic environments influences
peace in humankind as well 
An ingrained feature in Hinduism is the mantra. It is a productive tool that effectively generates tranquil and energetic feelings.
A mantra inherently is the delivery of sacred word(s) or a sound with literal meaning or without meaning, but capable of inducing an ambiance of divinity.

Moreover, despite their antiquated origin since the Vedic period of Hindu history, contemporary interpretations of mantras offer intellectual spirituality and mystic expressions. Melodic compositions in musical and metrical formation draw out coherent and thematic features in mantras’ verses.

Mantra’s numinous and sacred integrity lies in its literate depths, pervasiveness, and absorption in the conscious mind.
In scriptural usage, mantras are ritualistic incantations and chanting for ceremonial occasions, prayers, and worship.

Mantra is a combination of two-syllables, “man” and “tra.” The former pronounced “mon” like Monday, means mind, or it can also mean a thought. “Tra” means a dedicated instrument. It is a tool producing a sound or vibration. In tandem with “man,” “tra” completes the word mantra to mean the voice of mind or thought.
From this simple structure, the mantra has attained the revered status of devotional expression and as a meditative channel.

Recitation of mantra, termed Japa, is the key to invoke its spiritual presence. The latter comes when it is calmly heard repeatedly in our minds and connects with our cognitive or mental faculties. It is in this frame a mantra resonates in human consciousness with its numinous and sacred nature.

In principle, mantras are not rituals.
But mantras offer a ritualistic tool in most religious and even Hindu-guided non-religious social ceremonies and functions. Chanting of mantras is a ritual that sanctifies and formalizes an event, regardless of the fact whether the congregation or listeners apprehend their meanings.

Mantras do not carry any magical and healing powers or potency in their complete rendering or any of their verbal constituents.
However, mantras do create an environment of positive energy, a feeling of a relaxed body and mind. It is in this development that according to the “biology of belief,” our psychological behavior changes more towards positive thinking. Positive thoughts are a biological mandate for a healthy life.

In its most plain presentation, a mantra can be just one single word like Om. Or it could be several words long in verse composition while carrying philosophical and meaningful themes of universal values.

A mantra can also be an elementary and straightforward composition. For example, the recitation of God’s name, Parmatma, is a mantra in itself. Here the duality of the word ‘parm’ meaning supreme, and ‘Atma’ meaning an individual soul becomes a single sound of His realization. The Japa of this mantra is perhaps the most uncomplicated and most informal connection between the self and Him for the ultimate feel of Oneness.

A selection from the gallery of Hindu mantras, besides their religiosity, has secular attributes and universal appeal in them. The nature of their constituents affirms the depth, the vision, the philosophy, and the universality engrossed in the Hindu faith.

ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पुर्णमुदच्यते
पूर्णश्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥
“ Om purnam adah purnam idam
purnat purnam udachyate
purnasya purnam adaya
purnam evavashishyate”.

An ideological and free translation of the mantra begins with the word Om (ॐ), which is personified here as God. The term ‘Purnam’ and its related derivates in the mantra mean complete and signify His completeness.

He is Complete; everything emanating from Him is complete. From the Complete Wholeness, only the entirety manifests. And even when a single complete comes out from the whole Complete, what is left is still a Complete. The products produced through Him may look small or big, but in core and quality, all are complete units.
The mantra assures complete balance in all His universal creations from the elements of nature to humankind. For humanity, the mantra conveys a message that every human being is equal in his or her completeness as manifested by Him.

Atma or a single soul is a complete manifestation of the Supreme-Atma. This duality of the Atma-Parmatm is called the Cause and effect association. Supreme-Atma is the Cause or the reason to produce an effect, meaning Atma. 
The result cannot be less than the Cause. The Cause changes to the consequence but continues to remain Cause also. In essence, the mantra reinforces that in every living being, there dwells the Supreme Atma as well. Equality and divinity are the themes of the mantra concerning humanity.

The mantra also stands out in making us realize how inter-related we are in this universe.
Rajneesh (Osho), a great thinker, philosopher, and an explicit interpreter of Hinduism in modern times, explains this universal Cause-effect bond.

His explanation of the mantra:
“[Om Purnam] is one of the most significant statements ever made anywhere on the earth at any time. It contains the whole secret of the mystic approach towards life. This small sutra includes the essence of the Upanishadic vision. The concept transcends from the past and goes into the future. It remains the Everest of human consciousness. And there seems to be no possibility of going beyond it.

“The Upanishadic vision is that the universe is a totality, indivisible; it is an organic whole. The parts are not separate; we are all existing in a togetherness: the trees, the mountains, the people, the birds, the stars, howsoever far away they may appear – don’t be deceived by the appearance – they are all interlinked, all bridged. Even the smallest blade of grass connects to the farthest star, and it is as significant as the most incredible sun.

Nothing is insignificant; nothing is smaller than anything else. The part represents the whole just as the seed contains the whole”.
ॐ भूर्भुवस्व: | तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यम् | भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि | धियो यो न: प्रचोदयात्
Aum bhur bhuvah swah, tat savitur varenvam.
Bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prochodayay.
This Gayatri Mantra from the Rig Veda, attributed to goddess Gayatri, is one of the most recited and highly revered mantras.
In its unique composition, the Gayatri mantra has three approaches.
First, the mantra evokes the nature of God and praises His attributions.

Second, it is a mantra for meditation and contemplation.
And third, it expresses sentiments of divine prayer seeking an illuminated path of goodness and ethics guided by His energetic light.

The mantra is a submission to God (Om).
The translation goes like this: Oh God; You are the giver of life, You can free us from all the pains, You are present all over, You give happiness, You are the creator of this universe and beyond. We humbly submit to You, and concentrate on your pious, sin-quelling, and pervading Energy.

That very Energy produced and released by You illuminates our mental faculties. We seek from You that this Energy dwells in all our thinking processes. As of result, our thoughts always are inspired to undertake only those actions that can lead us to be on the path of righteousness.

There is a profusion of peace mantras in the Hindu scriptures. From seeking harmony and tranquility in an individual’s life, peace mantras’ appeal is universal in all aspects of His vast creation. Recitation of peace mantra is a meditation to experience the serenity and seeking its residency in mind.
ॐ द्यौ: शान्ति रन्तरिक्षँ शान्ति: पृथिवी शान्ति राप: शान्तिरोषधय: शान्ति:। वनस्पतय: शान्ति र्विश्वे देवा: शान्ति र्ब्रह्म शान्ति: सर्वँशान्ति: शान्तिरेव शान्ति: सा मा शान्तिरेधि॥ ॐ शान्ति: शान्ति: शान्ति:॥
Aum dyauḥ śāntirantarikṣaṁ śāntiḥ pṛthivī śāntirāpaḥ śāntiroṣadhayaḥ śāntiḥ vanaspatayaḥ śāntirviśvedevāḥ śāntirbrahma śāntiḥ sarvaṁ śāntiḥ śāntireva śāntiḥ sā mā śāntiredhi Aum śāntiḥ, śāntiḥ, śāntiḥ.

Following is a translated version of the peace mantra:
“May peace radiate there in the whole sky as well as in the vast ethereal space everywhere.
May peace reigns all over this earth, in water and all herbs, trees, and creepers.
May peace flows over the whole universe.
May peace be in the Supreme Being Brahman.
And may there always exist in all peace and peace alone.
Aum peace, peace, and peace to us and all beings!”
(Translation by Swami Abhedananda, Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, India).

The absolute mantra reinforces our affiliation with everything of His creation in this universe. Peace in all the cosmic environments influences peacefulness in humankind as well. A notable element in this known mantra is that it seeks peace for the Supreme Being, Brahman, as well.

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 languages instead of the classic versions. A recitation of a mantra, after all, is a repetitive, prolonged verbal utterance.
The most famous “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.
In a recent study, the word “Echad,” meaning one in Hebrew, is catching attention 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.

Simplicity, adaptability, and pragmaticism are the features in a mantra that appeal the contemporary society. For these reasons, the familiar and habitual Sikh chanting, “Satnam Waheguru,” is a mantra too that carries all these elements while creating a warming and alleviating relationship with the Lord in its recitation.
“Satnam Waheguru,” are the two simple words that have profound spiritual significance.
Accepted with utmost reverence, Satnam Waheguru is the universal Truth of His wonders. And that adoration becomes a prayer, Satnam Waheguru, Satnam Waheguru….
‘Sat’ stands for Truth, ‘Nam’ identifies that Truth.
‘Wahe’ is a feel of ‘wow’ moment, an exclamation of the divine Wonder.

Guru is interpreted here as the path that leads us from darkness to light. It is the journey towards Truth and enlightenment.
Satnam Waheguru is a pragmatic or logical approach towards the understanding of God, rather than worshipping Him as a divine image.
Satnam Waheguru is meditative in its spirit, installing harmony in our conscious mind.

For that reason, Satnam Waheguru is a repetitive mantra that flows well with our inhaling and exhaling breathing. Here the mantra breaks down into four steps: Sat-Nam-Wahe-Guru; repeat: Sat-Nam-Wahe-Guru….
Again there is no healing, a therapeutic or miracle value in the mantra, but it does initiate a conscientious mind of spiritual significance.

Satnam Waheguru, in all its elements, is a mantra, a prayer, and a divine companion in solitary moments.