Genesis Of Kashmir Problem And Its Resolution

By Promod Puri

The division of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 generated a persistent hostility between India and Pakistan, a hostility dominated by clashing territorial claims over the Kashmir region.

On the international stage, the Kashmir problem is viewed in diplomatic, political, government and media circles, with the understanding that the region has a single entity – geographically, religiously, linguistically and culturally. The complexity of the Kashmir problem can be unfolded when viewed from the divergent realities that exist in the region.

Involved in the Kashmir tangle are also the regions of Jammu and Ladakh along with Pakistan-controlled Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas.

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.

As India was fighting for independence from the British, so were the people of Kashmir Valley seeking their freedom from the autocratic rule of the Dogra regime which ultimately ended in October 1947. Following that, the region underwent major political and communal turmoil which significantly changed the hundred-year-old map of the state in which Pakistan controls the north-western area of Gilgit and Hunza known as Northern Area and South-west area known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian part of the state with its three distinct regions Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh together don’t make a coalescent political entity as both regional and sub-regional differences in terms of history, physiography, ethnicity, language, and culture are remarkably very sharp.

According to the 2011 census, the present population of the Indian part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is 12.55 million, of which the Jammu region is 4.4 million, Kashmir region has 5.4 million and Ladakh has over 236,000. Pakistan ruled the state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the total population is 4.6 million according to some latest estimation, and in the Pakistan-controlled Northern region, the population is 1.8 million.

Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists are the major religious groups in the state whereby Islam leads the faith with 67% of the population, followed by Hindus 30%, Sikhs 2%, and Buddhists by about 1%. Minority faiths in the Indian held areas of the state include Christians and Jains. Muslims are almost 100% in the Pakistan part of Jammu and Kashmir.

While a clear majority of the dominant Muslim faith in Jammu, Kashmir, and Azad Kashmir are followers of the Sunni sect, in the Kargil district of Ladakh and in the Northern Areas, except Gilgit, the majority of the population follows the Shia sect.

Contrary to the popular belief that all the people of the Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir speak Kashmiri language, the fact is that according to the 1981 census 40% speak the language, and the rest 60% constitute the non-Kashmiri speaking population.

Whereas Hindus of the state mostly speak Dogri language, non-Kashmiri Muslims speak various languages and dialects depending upon the region they inhabit, and accordingly, there is quite a cultural variation among them.

The primary language in the Kashmir region is, of course, Kashmiri, and in the rest of the state, there is an abundance of languages and dialects. Moreover, each language or dialect is not confined to any religious group.

Kashmir is inhabited by Pre-Aryan and non-Aryan races, Jammu by an Aryan race, and Ladakh by Tibetan and Mongolian races. All three regions have distinct geographical, historical and cultural backgrounds that influenced the character and the role of religion in each one of them.

Kashmir region developed its own character based on its un-interrupted history of five thousand years. Originally inhabited by pre-Aryan tribes, Kashmir accepted Vedic, Buddhist, Saivite and Islamic faiths, retaining the essence of the beliefs, rituals, and practices of each of them while taking pride in its pre-Islamic achievements in the fields of philosophy, culture, and politics.

Unlike Kashmir, most parts of Jammu are mountainous and sub-mountainous. Its pluralistic society is almost entirely of Aryan stock and Dogri language is spoken by the single largest community of both Hindus and Muslims who culturally and politically dominate the region.

The Pahari speaking community lives in both the Kashmir and Jammu regions of the state. In the Pakistan-controlled region, they speak the same language with small dialectic differences. The Pahari community is predominantly Muslim. The Hindu and the Sikh members of the Pahari-speaking community, who had to migrate from the Pakistan-held area of the state, mostly live in Jammu district.

Ladakh, the third important region of the state, enjoyed its own status for centuries as part of the celebrated Silk Route. As an entrepot of trade between India, Central Asia, and Tibet for centuries Ladakh was a confluence of cultures. But its geographical position has helped it preserve its ancient culture and ways of life almost intact.

It was thru Ladakh that Mahayana Buddhism, which was born in Kashmir spread to Tibet, China, and Japan. Buddhists owe their loyalty to Lamas who have their own discipline and hierarchy. They used to go to Tibet for religious training. But after the Chinese intervention in Tibet and the flight of the Dalai Lama along with some of his followers Tibet has lost its status as a source of religious and spiritual inspiration. Buddhists who inhabit the Leh district constitute 50 percent of the Ladakh population.

In Kargil area of Ladakh Ulmas have a hold on Shias who constitute the overwhelming majority of Muslims and 48% of Ladakh’s population. Some of them have had their theological training in Iran and owe their loyalty with its Shia leadership.

An important facet to the Kashmir problem which is rarely discussed and reported is the situation in the Pakistan-controlled part called Northern Areas which is constitutionally separate from Azad Kashmir.

The Northern Areas joined Pakistan in 1947 thru a local revolt against the Dogra regime which had a small army there and was unable to control the revolt. In 1948, the region was formally merged with Pakistan under the Karachi agreement between leaders of the Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan, but without the participation of anybody from the Northern Areas.

The Northern Areas comprise five districts, but none of them has any ethnic-cultural affinity with any of either India or Pakistan parts of the state.

Different identities of the people on both sides of the Line of Control are established irrespective of their religious affiliations.

Jammu and Kashmir have far more religious, linguistic and cultural diversities than any state in India and Pakistan, and even in any other South Asian country.

If the interests and urges of the people with such multifarious identities could be reconciled, the diversities themselves would have been a great source of strength for the state. But the failure to recognize and reconcile them became its biggest weakness. The divergent character of the state is not widely known. Rather the religious temperament is overtly manifested.

Nobody can deny the role of religion and religion-based identities in shaping human behavior. But no identity is monolithic. There are other identities that cut across religious identities and play an equally significant and decisive role in determining this behavior.

With enormous diversity existing in the State of Jammu and Kashmir in terms of geography, religion, and culture that a wider look at the Kashmir problem reveals the regional aspirations of its people. These aspirations are very much reflected in the heterogeneous composition of its Muslim population as there are Kashmiri speaking Muslims, Gujjar Muslims, Pahari Muslims, Kargil Muslims, Dogra Muslims, and several other linguistic-based Muslims.

The regional aspirations of the people in the state based on their languages, cultures, and customs are felt much more vividly and emotionally on both sides of the border in the Jammu region than in the Kashmir valley.

It was primarily the Jammu region which was divided in 1947. And this is where thousands of people, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs with allied linguistic and cultural backgrounds had to migrate in brutal sectarian bloodshed when they left their centuries-old habitats within the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

JAMMU: A CLUE TO KASHMIR PROBLEM

The regional aspirations of the Jammu region on both sides of the border constitute a clue to tackle the Kashmir tangle. The bonds of language and culture between the two parts of the state are what the leadership of both India and Pakistan need to further cement in order to make an effective beginning in understanding the fuller dimension of the Kashmir problem.

As far as the Kashmir problem is concerned Pakistan basis its argument that it is a Muslim majority region. True, the demographic data confirm this fact. But this should not be the sole argument for it being a part of Pakistan. India’s position is that Kashmir belongs to it because the autocratic ruler of the former Kashmir state signed an accession treaty with India. And the state’s constituent assembly had passed the resolution to accede with India.

While India and Pakistan are engaged in their on-and-off parleys and frequent skirmishes for decades including two wars, the divergent urges of the region itself have been suppressed for too long. The moment these are released and recognized the Kashmir problem opens up beyond religion and politics.

So where the parties can start or restart to resolve this longest outstanding problem on the world political scene.

The first step as far India is concerned is to smooth out wrinkles of ethnic, political and economic imbalances in the three regions of the state. Satisfying the regional aspirations of the people along with the economic uplift thru equal opportunities will not only ease the internal tension significantly but will bring a lot of stability and peace to the region. And the same goes for Pakistan controlled parts of the state especially the Northern Areas.

Secondly, both India and Pakistan in their endeavors to resolve the problem must open up the borders in the state, more significantly in the Jammu sector, to let the people with same linguistic and cultural affinities move and interact freely.

A cordial and enthusiastic atmosphere can be created at the grass-root level where linguistic and cultural realities can effectively compete with both religious and political considerations to determine the future of the region thru a referendum.

In this social and non-political scenario, the agenda of the referendum deciding the future of the region – if it will be part of India, Pakistan, or remain independent- would be the answer most inclusive of the region’s diversity.

Recognition of diversities existing in the entire area of Jammu and Kashmir at its pre-partition status followed by a referendum are critical if a permanent resolution to the Kashmir problem is to be found for a sense of ultimate peace in the region.

And peace is what people in the region are passionately waiting to breathe.

(Promod Puri, a native of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, resides in Vancouver, Canada, he is a writer and former editor and publisher of the South Asian Canadian newspaper, The Link, and ex-editor of Native Indian newspaper, The New Nation. He is the author of a recently published book titled “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs and traditions”). His website: promodpuri.com

 

APPLES, ORANGES AND KASHMIR

 

apples-oranges1By Promod Puri

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 product of Kashmir. That is simply deceptive labelling. It should be marked as product of Jammu And Kashmir.

And that is the same subtle difference when Kashmir and Jammu are packaged together linguistically, socially and politically. And the entity is stamped as Kashmir.

The packaging is done and marketed by Kashmiri political traders.

As such the Kashmir issue in its present outlook does not justify to be the basis of agenda of talks between India and Pakistan.

The simple but mostly ignored reason is that the colloquial ‘Kashmir issue’ 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”.

The entire Kashmir leadership is controlled by Kashmiri-speaking politicians and activists. There is no representation from the other regions of the state such as Jammu and Ladakh.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is extensively diverse: linguistically, culturally, religiously and geographically.

Ignorance of this reality generates the impression that everybody in the state is Kashmiri-speaking. The same applies to “Azad Kashmir”. Nobody there speaks Kashmiri, nor do they identify culturally with the Valley.

Unless a correction in the “Kashmir problem” is made to recognize the diverse realities of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, only then it can be discussed among all the concerned parties. In its present avatar, the Kashmir Issue itself is unrealistic, undemocratic and monopolized.

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GURU MANEYO GRANTH

By Promod Puri

The 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, close to his death, sealed the continuity of human gurus. He declared that henceforth the holy book Adi Granth would be the eternal Guru of Sikhs.

The hymn composed by him for that declaration encourages a devotee to study, research and contemplate the enlightenments contained in the sacred book.

The hymn says:

Agya bhai Akal ki tabhi chalayo Panth
Sabb Sikhan ko hukam hai Guru manyo Granth
Guru Granth Ji manyo pargat Guran ki deh
Jo Prabhu ko milbo chahe khoj shabad mein le
Raj karega Khalsa aqi rahei na koe
Khwar hoe sabh milange bache sharan jo hoe.”

While the first three lines of the hymn translate like this: the Sikh Panth (meaning a path) was created by the orders of the Supreme Being whereby all Sikhs are asked to accept the Adi Granth (Sikh holy book) as their Guru which is also an embodiment of all the gurus.

The fourth line emphasizes that whosoever wishes to “milbo” (meet or seek) Him can realize Him thru “Khoj” (search) in the “Shabad” (words) of wisdom explicit in the scriptures.

And the last two lines of Guru Gobind Singh’s hymn mean “The pure shall rule, and the impure will be no more; those separated will unite and all the devotees of the Guru (the Sikh holy book) shall be saved”.

“Khoj shabad mein le” are the keywords in this advice. It has rationality in the expression which conveys the message that the acceptance of the Adi Granth as Guru, involves studying and following this treasure of revelation and inspiration. The hymn also encourages a follower to seek consultation from the Guru (Adi Granth).
As such, along the lines of the hymn, Guru Gobind Singh emphasizes that one should do his or her own studies (khoj) to understand and convince oneself while accepting the words of wisdom offered by the Adi Granth.

As Guru Gobind Singh does not believe in blind following he offers to reason in his abiding declaration of “Guru Maneyo Granth”.

Seeking Divine Spirit

ॐ भूर्भुवस्व: | तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यम् | भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि | धियो यो न: प्रचोदयात्
Aum bhur bhuvah swah, tat savitur varenvam.
Bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prochodayay.
The four-part mantra is addressed to God (Aum) and 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.

This ENERGY produced and released by You illuminates our mental faculties. We seek from you that this Energy resides in all our thinking processes so our thoughts are always inspired to undertake only those actions which can lead us to be on the path of righteousness.

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Composition Of God In Hinduism

By Promod Puri

Besides His numinous and varied perceptions God also offers a meaningful perspective which can be created by the assembly of good thoughts. And the divine residency begins in that on-going construction.

Basically it is an eloquent temperament we are trying to build which gives rationality and practicality to the institution of God.

The ecumenical concept of God of being the supreme governor who creates, sustains and destroys the universe, and everything else including what influences our lives, does not reveal the reasons behind all the puzzles and mysteries of His or Her observable deeds.

In other words our perception of God as being a creator with His mystical powers which sustains the universe, can not comprehend many universal and natural phenomenons.

One reason is that man is just one of the millions of creatures who in actuality is microscopic in His infinite and colossal universe. Still our imaginations and metaphysical attempts know no boundaries to fathom His magnanimity.

For a moment let us compare a human being to a small ant who is trying to study God up there in the celestial world.

But we don’t. Because this has been ingrained in our cognitive senses that man is the favored work of God as being the most intelligent among all His living creations. And that we are the only ones capable of studying His multi-dimensional but conceptual-based existence.

Perhaps, that little ant may be thinking the same. It may be believing humans walking tall up on the ground are the unintelligent creatures. Or we are the gods for the ant. Who knows!

Philosophers, saints, scientists and even common man have all tried to study God and came up with varied perceptions and explanations. Imagination is very basic part of human psychology.

However, these discernments seldom explain what role God plays or His reasons of our happinesses, sorrows and everything else we come across in our day to day lives. We see, face or endure tragedies around us everyday in this world of turmoil. And then ask God ‘why’.

While respecting some or most of the known realizations and imageries about Him, we take another view of God which we assemble by intelligent and ethical thoughts to helps us in explaining His involvements in the events we experience in our lives.

In this endeavor by mobilizing rational and moral thinking we are creating those karmas which can rationally explain the cause or causes of events personally experienced by us or happening around us where God may be involved or may be not.

We are the major players to generate events and thus know the reasons of their results. Nevertheless we can leave unexplained experiences as part of His mysterious ‘lila’ or play.

Instilling nobility or divinity in our thoughts is a continuous exercise of creating virtuous karmas. And that is where the grammar of God is involved both as a verb and as a noun merging into one entity.

It is a disciplined and conscientious undertaking to attain the practicality of God in our midst.

We are told to be honest, humble and sincere, be considerate and helpful to others, be merciful, forget and forgive, love fellow beings and care for the environments, including animals, plants and the nature. And everything else which is pious, pure and morally firm to bring us closer to God realization.

While retaining the truism of these universal teachings we can contextualize them through our intellective senses to guide our day-to-day personal lives. This is where the blueprint of our construction begins to apprehend His pragmatics.

We start our project by following the Gyatri Mantra, which besides being symbolic in spiritual invoking, stimulates the very basis of our thought processes towards righteous karmas or deeds which we are seeking.

ॐ भूर्भुवस्व: | तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यम् | भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि | धियो यो न: प्रचोदयात्

Aum bhur bhuvah swah, tat savitur varenvam.

Bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prochodayay.

Attributed to goddess Gyatri, the hymn from the Rig Veda, is one of the most recited and highly revered mantras in the Hindu theology.

In its unique composition Gayatri mantra has three approaches to spiritual realization. First, it establishes the nature of God and praises His attributions. Second, it is a mantra for meditation and contemplation. Third, it expresses sentiments of divine prayer seeking an illuminated path of righteousness thru His energetic light.

The mantra is addressed to God (Om). And 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. This Energy produced and released by You illuminates our mental faculties. We seek from You that this Energy resides in all our thinking processes. Consequently our thoughts are always inspired to undertake only those actions which can lead us to be on the path of righteousness.

The key word in the mantra is Energy. And by recognizing the presence of the divine energy that our mental faculties are enlightened. We pray for the residency of this very Energy to keep guiding us in creating, adopting and following noble thoughts.

As we understand thinking is a mental activity of brain. And thought is a product of thinking. Creation of one’s own thought, import of thought, its acceptance or its rejection are all considered as thought. In other words the act involved in all these considerations is a thought in itself.

Thought has multiple executions like establishing a reason, imagination, understanding, judgement, remembering, opinion, belief or just being conscious of time and place, etc.

According to the biology of thought, the latter’s processing and transmission happens in the nerve cells of brain. These cells are called neurons. With a population of close to 100 billion, neurons while communicating with each other receive and deliver information. Neurons function along with trillions of connectors called synapses transmitting signals among neurons.

Neurons are “electrically excitable”, meaning they live by some energy.

How thinking is created or triggered in the first place, what goes on in the brain neurons to process a thinking, what stimulates that thinking, are the questions for which the answers are being sought by academic disciplines.

One explanation is that thinking is a subconscious brain activity for which the neurons and synapses are just the tools to handle that activity for transmitting a thought or thoughts. Other theories are that the creation of thought is an un-explained biological process, or it is the conversion of energy particles into an object called thought.

In whatever means a thought is created the role of the divine energy is to bestow the enlightenment in establishing common sense and logic in a thought. It is in this enlightenment that the nature of thought is underlined. Its acceptance or rejection can be exercised.

As thought begets more thoughts or ideas, the process arouses our intelligent and psychological senses of understanding, experiencing, interpretation and behavior. A cognitive arrangement is thus developed.

It is in this arrangement that we undertake our karmas.

A karma is an intelligent and conscious act leading toward path of more karmas which influence and determine the nature of destiny. Good karma leads to good future, bad karma leads to bad. “As you sow, so you reap”, is true in the working of karma.

Newton’s law of motion: that every action leads to a reaction, is an application of the law of Karma.

Karma is not a deep philosophy. Rather it is a working assignment for the thinker of a thought or doer of a deed, and accepting the outcome of that executed assignment.

karma is a doer’s consciousness which initiates and directs an action, as well as registers its aftermath. It is an infallible fact that consciousness after inducing an action always acquires its reaction.

Virtuous karmas directed by enlightened consciousness produce the results we are seeking to realize that particular perspective of God which offers His involvement and guidance in every moment of our day-to-day lives.

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What Is Hindutva And Why It Conflicts With Hinduism

By Promod Puri

The expression Hindutva emerged from Hinduism which simply means a state or quality of being a Hindu. However, going through its etymology Hindutva sought a wider demarcation to move free from Hinduism but keeping a bonded identity with it as well.

The Hindutva ideology was first introduced in 1923 by Maharashtra-based Hindu social and political activist Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. As an advocate of sovereignty, Savarkar started his public life as a radical freedom fighter for the liberation of India from the British rule. In this stint, he spent several years in jail, including the infamous and torturous cells of the Andaman Islands from where he sought clemency with a promise to renounce revolutionary activities. After the release, Savarkar’s temperament turned to create Hindu nationalism by identifying and promoting its heritage and civilization.

Savarkar had inherent conservative vision of Hindu social and political consciousness in order to perceive a Hindu Rashtra (nation). His Hindutva doctrine is based on the hypothesis that India’s religious and cultural diversities are fundamentally rooted in its collective Hindu identity.

“Common Rashtra, common race and common culture” are the three cardinals identifying Hindutva nationalism

In line with the Hindutva’s concept, Hindu means a nationality of Hindu Rashtra, a motherland or fatherland with its geographical boundaries. And in terms of “common race and common culture” Hindu means a correlative genealogy or ancestry, sharing its cultural heritage, beliefs, and ethics.

Correspondent to that the followers of all the India-born religions and sects are included in the Hindutva fold. But it excludes those who belong to foreign-born faiths like Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism.

Hindutva tries to portray itself as a cultural and nationalistic conception to mark itself as India’s identity. Still, it does not assume a theological categorization. In its expansive role, Hindutva believes in the existence of a collective Hindu culture or way of life which is also being shared and practiced by compatible non-Hindu communities. In social environs, Hindutva is everything which is Indic.

Savarkar explicitly proclaimed, “Hindutva is not a word but a history. Not only the spiritual or religious history of our people as at times it is mistaken to be by being confounded with the other cognate term Hinduism, but history in full”.

Savarkar’s approach incidentally confined Hinduism within its religious and spiritual order. And let Hindutva play a wider role to define India’s nationalism, its people, history, culture and traditions.

Savarkar argued “Hindutva is not identical with what is vaguely indicated by the term Hinduism. By an ‘ism’ it is generally meant a theory or a code more or less based on spiritual or religious dogma or creed. Had not linguistic usage stood in our way then ‘Hinduness’ would have certainly been a better word than Hinduism as a near parallel to Hindutva”.

He declared “Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva. … Hindutva embraces all the departments of thought and activity of the whole Being of our Hindu race”.

In India’s cultural, linguistic and religious diversities, Savarkar believed an existence of a strong underlying Indian tradition based on his vision of Hindu values. In his views Hindu reflects a cultural and political nationality of India.

With that premise Savarkar tried to secularized Hindutva. Under that platform he could include Muslims, Christians and Parsis believing these communities were Hindus too from cultural and historical perspectives.

According to Hindutva, being a Hindu is more than a religious engagement. It is a cultural concept not only of Hindus but of other communities as well residing within the Hindu social order irrespective of their religious affiliations.

Inspired by Hinduism but having its fundamentals in culture, history and civilization Hindutva finds some parallel with existing Bharatiya and Hindustani appellations. The latter represent the diverse cultural and social values of India in more secular and unequivocal terms than Hindutva.

While restricting it in theological domain, Savarkar’s attempt to whip Hindutva ideology from Hinduism is perplexing to Hindu mind. Neither it can be classified a reform movement in Hinduism.

With his literary background in Indology it is confusing why Savarkar was unable to realize that the uniqueness of Hinduism lies in its totality which covers not only rituals, philosophies and spirituality, but its traditions, cultural and social trends also.

Hinduism is not merely a religion. And it is not only a way of life either. It goes beyond rituals, customs and traditions. The depth and vastness of Hinduism touch every aspect of human observation and activity.

From rituals to murti-puja, mantra and metaphysics, karma and moksha, to meditation and yoga, and all its recreational aspects like music, dance and drama, Hinduism is a disciplinary as well as a comprehensive experience of spiritual development in liberal and progressive regime.

This expanded definition covers the cultural, religious and philosophical aspects to present a collective identity of Hinduism for ritualistic, theological and academic pursuits. Taking out the social segment or any other aspect from it goes against the very spirit and integrated constitution of Hinduism.

Besides treading through its rituals, customs and traditions, being a Hindu is an engagement in philosophies for analytical debate about life and our relationship with nature and the universe. It is a fascinating journey in spiritual knowledge.

This pilgrimage offers a meaningful perspective of the religion which recognizes the universal connectivity existing in the nature including our relationship with fellow human beings. Savarkar’s fenced Hindutva ideology, which bars non-Hindus, denies that universal connectivity.

The Upnishadic vision of our togetherness as one human race irrespective of our color, creed or religious beliefs is very wisely expressed in the following mantra:

“ Om purnam adah purnam idam

purnat purnam udachyate

purnasya purnam adaya

purnam evavashishyate”.

The mantra affirms that the universe is a totality, indivisible and an organic whole where plants, birds, animals, humans, mountains and stars are all together in His manifestation

The mantra’s accent is on complete balance in all of His universal creations from the elements of nature to mankind. For humanity the mantra conveys a message that every human being is equal in his or her completeness as manifested by Him.

Savarkar talks about the exclusivity of membership in Hindutva who shares “common rashtra, common race and common culture”. In all these commonalities the underlying link is a separate rashtra, a separate race and a separate culture of Hindutva.

Culture is a distinctive feature of one group of people comprising of several aspects. One of them is religion, and the others are language, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. Obviously, one aspect of a culture does not represent the whole.

The expression “Hindu culture” is as vague as saying Hindu cuisine (except by international airlines referring to “Hindu meal”). And it is as much eluding as trying to contrive a language, music, arts, customs, etc. with suffix of Hindu like saying Hindu music or Hindu language.

Culture in most cases is secular in nature.

When we talk about a cultural community, we mean an all-inclusive explicit way of life. It represents all of the group of people sharing common identities despite belonging to different religious denominations. But all speaking the same language and sharing the same social and cultural traits.

Often people of one cultural community have several religions.

The unity of India lies in its cultural plurality. The denial of that plurality and imposing a monolithic Hindutva hegemony fragments the multicultural fabric of the nation. Social unity and coherence are the natural needs and dependencies of an advancing society.

In its present avatar Hindutva ideology of non-inclusiveness conflicts with the secular, liberal and democratic spirit of Hinduism. Hindutva needs an ideological reconstruction which can be an effective and dedicated institution in the service of Hinduism.

But if it does not, and sticks to its stand that “Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva”, then it can find some archive space in Hinduism. In its vast open structure Hinduism has always accommodated diverse ideologies. And kept them as part of its history and ever evolving constitution. That is the tradition in Hinduism. Hindutva can rest in that tradition.

(Promod Puri lives in Vancouver, Canada. He is a writer and former editor and publisher of the South Asian Canadian newspaper, The Link, and ex editor of Native Indian newspaper, The New Nation. He is author of recently published book titled “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs and traditions”). His website: promodpuri.com

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Culture Supersedes Religion in Establishing National Identity

By Promod Puri

Culture is a distinctive feature of one group of people comprising of several aspects. One of them is religion, and the others are language, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. Obviously, one aspect of a culture does not represent the totality of it.

The expression “Hindu culture” is as vague as saying Hindu cuisine (except by airlines referring to “Hindu meal”). And it is as much blurred as trying to contrive a language, music, arts, customs, etc with suffix of Hindu. This applies to all other religions as well who try to create a culture exclusively linked to their faiths.

Culture in most cases is secular in nature.

 

When we talk about a cultural community, we mean an all inclusive explicit way of life. It represents all the group of people sharing common identities despite belonging to different religious denominations. But all speaking same language and sharing same social and cultural traits.

Often people of one cultural community have several religions. These sub differentiations are covered by conventions and customs. Together these are represented by the sanctified rituals on which Hindu tradition, Sikh, Muslim or Christian traditions establish their respective identities.

The unity of India lies in its cultural plurality. This factor was the basis of states’ reorganization at the time of India’s independence in 1947. Each state was constituted representing the cultural homogeneity of that region. And wherever there were more than one homogeneity states split respectively. Thus the cultural aspirations of people have been adequately addressed.

“India is a colorful country” mainly because of the exuberant nature of its diverse cultures. The cultural sameness in each Indian state along with the religious diversity is the accepted model for both political and administrative purposes.

Whereas each Indian state mostly represent one single cultural distinctiveness, it is the state of Jammu and Kashmir which within itself does carry more than one identity. The state has three regions, namely Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. And each one of them is culturally, religiously, geographically and even climatically different. Azad Kashmir under Pakistan domain has its own identity which is again quiet varied from rest of Jammu and Kashmir state.

The Kashmir problem has never been examined and tackled from its diversity aspect. The politics of the state has always been dominated, controlled and represented by the Muslim leadership of the Valley from the Kashmir region. The multi-facet and heterogeneous character of the state is the undetermined reality which otherwise can play a dominant role in resolving the Kashmir problem. Aligning the issue only on religious basis because about 64 percent of the state’s population is Muslim is a futile exercise to determine its fate. By not allowing the diversity factor in the Kashmir debate is suppression of its other identities as well.

In a democratic setup regions or nations which play only the religious factor in politics and governance, always have cultural identity crisis.

That has been the fate of Pakistan. It does not recognize and accept that the country’s cultural affinity lies with India which it can’t shake off. Both the political and military leaderships of the country in their hatred toward India try to establish a religious-based Arabic identity. Naturally, this is not working.

Pakistan must realize that cultural-based identities cut across religious-based identities. And the former can play more decisive and healthier roles in determining a cohesive and stable future for the country.

Perhaps Pakistan can learn from Canada as how the latter is establishing its national identity.

In a multicultural Canadian society there are a multitude of cultures, traditions and religions, with lot more sub banners within each group. It is a myriad with a diversified web which gives Canada an image of acceptance and tolerance.

This certainly is a unique experience in human social history to be represented by one culture which collectively is a multi-culture.

Canadian culture is not only ever evolutionary but vibrant and lively too. The reason being its multi-facet aspect which gives it the color and character of being involving and exciting.

Hinduism and Vegetarian Diet

13087415_578401962331475_1798212304744146140_nBy Arran Stephens

The overwhelming majority of the world’s Hindus live in India, which has the largest vegetarian population on earth, numbering many millions. Within the Indian subcontinent, the spectrum of religious thought ranges from strict monotheism to a sweeping panoply of gods, goddesses and animist dieties. Vegetarianism is practiced and scripturally supported by the majority of Hindu sects. There are also large Muslim and Christian populations in India, as well as Jews, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Ba’hai’s and Buddhists. Many Sufis—who represent an eclectic and mystical form of Islam, practice vegetarianism. Amongst the Sikhs, the Namdharis and others on the meditative path follow a lacto-vegetarian diet.

Here are some vegetarian-supportive quotes from India’s oldest scriptures:

You must not use your God-given body for killing God’s
creatures, whether human, animal or whatever.
Yajur Veda 12.32

By not killing any living being, one becomes fit for salvation.
Manusmriti 6.60

The purchaser of flesh performs himsa (violence) by his wealth; he who eats flesh does so by enjoying its taste; the killer does himsa by actually tying and killing the animal. Thus, there are three forms of killing. He who brings flesh or sends for it, he who cuts off the limbs of an animal, and he who purchases, sells, or cooks flesh and eats it—all of these are to be considered meat-eaters.

Vegetarianism was observed by the ancient Greek traveler Megasthenes and also by Fa-Hsien, a Chinese Buddhist monk who traveled to India in the fifth century in order to obtain authentic copies of the scriptures.

These scriptures

unambiguously support the meatless way of life. In the Mahabharata, for instance, the great warrior Bheeshma explains to Yudhishtra, eldest of the Pandav princes, that the meat of animals is like the flesh of one’s own son. Similarly, the Manusmriti declares that one should “refrain from eating all kinds of meat,” for such eating involves killing, thus leading to Karmic bondage. Elsewhere in Vedic literature, the last of the great Vedic kings, Maharaja Parikshit, is quoted as saying that “the animal-killer cannot relish the message of the Absolute Truth.”21

Ahimsa (non-violence) is the highest Dharma. Ahimsa is the best Tapas. Ahimsa is the greatest gift. Ahimsa is the highest self-control. Ahimsa is the highest sacrifice. Ahimsa is the highest power. Ahimsa is the highest friend. Ahimsa is the highest truth. Ahimsa is the highest teaching.

He who sees that the Lord of all is ever the same in all that is—immortal in the field of mortality—he sees the truth. And when a man sees that the God in himself is the same God in all that is, he hurts not himself by hurting others. Then he goes, indeed, to the highest path.
Bhagavad-Gita 13.27-28

High-souled persons who desire beauty, faultlessness of limbs, long life, understanding, mental and physical strength, and memory should abstain from acts of injury.
Mahabharata 18.115.8

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

I hold that, the more helpless the creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.
Mahatma Gandhi

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Message of Universality in Hindu Mantra

By Promod Puri

OM PURNAM MANTRA
“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 which is personified here as God. The word ‘purnam’ and its related derivates in the mantra mean complete, and signifies His completeness. As He is complete, everything emanating from Him is complete. From the Complete Wholeness only the completeness manifests. And even when a single complete is subtracted from the whole Complete what is left is still a Complete. The products produced thru Him may look small or big, but in core and quality all are complete units.

The mantra assures complete balance in all of His universal creations from the elements of nature to mankind. For humanity the mantra conveys a message that every human being is equal in his or her completeness as manifested by Him.

Atma, a single soul, is a complete manifestation of the Supreme-atma. The latter is the cause and the former is the effect. It is a cause and effect association. The effect cannot be less than the cause. The cause changes to effect, 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 mankind.

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 tie-up. 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 contains the essence of the Upanishadic vision. Neither before nor afterwards has the vision been transcended; it still 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 is connected to the farthest star, and it is as significant as the greatest sun.

Nothing is insignificant; nothing is smaller than anything else. The part represents the whole just as the seed contains the whole”.

Excerpts from the book Hinduism beyond,rituals,customs and traditions by Promod Puri

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Quantum Theory And Om

Ever wonder why we chant “om” before our yoga practice or prayer? Check out this interesting take on how Quantum Theory can help us understand the significance of Om.

by Promod Puri

This is perhaps the first time in the studies of Hinduism that an attempt has been made to establish a relationship between the sound of Om and the Quantum Theory in modern physics.

Quantum, derived from the word quantity, means the smallest identifiable unit in the universe of any physical property like energy or matter. Quantum theory deals with the infrastructure in the sub-atomic field. It reveals the nature and behavior of matter and energy in that range. This exposure is referred to as a quantum theory which is the theoretical basis of modern physics.

With the introduction of Super-string Theory of Quantum Reality, the quantum theory has discovered that at the sub-atomic levels matter exists in small strings. In simple words, everything at its ultimate microscopic grade is made up of extremely small vibrating strands or strings like in a musical instrument of the violin.

These strings have repeated oscillatory pattern of vibration. Each pattern presents the string its mass and force, and that confers it the appearance of a particle. Together all these particles have the same physical feature of producing resonant patterns of vibration. The undulation of strings creating up and down loops is the manifestation of resonance in the sub-atomic environs.

And when we exit from the microscopic environment the same phenomenon of transmission of resonance is being played within everything in this universe. The sonority of particles composing the vibrating strings with their mass and energy is also responsible for producing the atoms.

The latter is made up of energy and not physical matter. As a result, the entire universe is made of energy. But the energy appears as a matter or object like the particles of the vibrating string in the sub-atomic field. This is the fundamental feature upon which the universe has been constructed and unified.

The string theory is considered as the theory of everything. And this corresponds well with the metaphysical concept of Om being the primordial sound originating from the strings advanced in the quantum theory of modern physics.

As Om resonates in the stings of atoms then according to the science of quantum physics atoms themselves are made up of whirling mass of radiating energy without manifested structure. Likewise, Om is not merely a sound but a mass of energy itself in invisible formation.

Om is energy constituting the universe.

The universe begins with Om. There is a sound of Om in every matter. It resonates there till eternity. Its resilience lies both in the matter and the sound itself.

The creation of Om is, in fact, is the creation of the universe. And its cosmic vibrations keep the constituents of the universe connected.

In Hindu theology, Om is referred to as God in the form of sound. And the open design of its symbol represents the incomprehensible all powerful Absolute.

In its phenomenal role as constituting and preceding matter, and as vortices of energy that Om is considered as a sacred sound of genesis in the Hindu spiritual philosophy.

The unique symbol of Om occupies the foremost spot in the Hindu iconography. It is a spiritual icon. It is not merely a “tool” for meditations or for contemplating on mantras, but the syllable invokes cosmic presence in them.

“Hari Om” itself is a two-word mantra, along with “Hari Om Tat Sat” or simply “Om Tat Sat.” The word ‘tat’ means ‘that’ or ‘all that is.’ And ‘sat’ refers to ‘truth.’ The latter is not evanescent or ephemeral rather everlasting. The mantra “Om Tat Sat” means: ‘that’ energy is the truth.

Om inaugurates spiritual prayers, rituals and yoga practices, and sanctifies these events. The expression ‘Hari Om’ is a popular form of greetings or salutation among Hindus.

The word ‘Hari’ is a representation of God and Om implies energy.

(excerpts from the book: Hinduism beyond rituals, custom, and traditions)

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Hinduism: An Individual Experience

“Hinduism has no traditional ecclesiastical order, no centralized religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monistic, or atheistic. Within this diffuse and open structure, spirituality in Hindu philosophy is an individual experience”.

– Julius Lipner, author: Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. Source: Wikipedia.

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Liberty from High Class

vivekanandaSwami Vivekanand: “Why amongst the poor of India so many are Mohammadens? It is nonsense to say that they were converted by the sword. It was to gain liberty from Zamindars and Priests…..” (Collected Works- Vol. 8- Page 330). More on Hinduism

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Stupidity Not Covered by ObamaCare

One issue ObamaCare can’t cover is the stupidity of Donald Trump and his likes including “Hindus For Trump”.

Source: Stupidity Not Covered by ObamaCare

In Quito, the world meets to discuss the future of cities

“In Quito, Ecuador, at 2,850 metres above sea level, up to 50,000 people are gathering to discuss the future of the world’s cities. Where do we put the three billion extra people who wi…

Source: In Quito, the world meets to discuss the future of cities

Welcome

Progressive Hindu Dialogue is an initiative to explore, recognize and advance the rational, liberal and progressive nature of Hinduism. It is also a forum to debate the symbolic aspects of Hinduism…

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WHY IDOL WORSHIPPING IN HINDUISM

One of the most outstanding and contemplating icons of Hinduism is the worship of murtis (idols). The Divine Spirit is perceived in an image. In this perceptive role murtis are an integral part of Hindu institutions and traditions.

In its colorful and expressive craftmanship, a murti is an adorable symbol of identity in Hindu iconology. From an object of worship, a murti becomes divinity in itself. The Lord is in the idol too.

Idolatry establishes a direct one-to-one relationship between a devotee and the divinity. And in that connection, a dialogue is possible when the mind of an Upasak (devotee) is earnestly invoked in the Upasana stage (sitting near a murti) to seek Divine guidance and blessings.

A blissful bond of non-duality can be realized between an Atma (individual soul) and Paramatma (Supreme Soul).

Image formation is a very natural trait in human psychology. In our conscious state all our feelings, ideas, and impulses manifest images. The genesis of an image is a cognitive imagination influenced by perception of an object.

In the Philosophy and Significance of Idol Worship, a Divine Life Society publication, Sri Swami Sivananda says:

“Idol is a support for the neophyte. It is a prop of his spiritual childhood. A form or image is necessary for worship in the beginning. It is an external symbol of God for worship. It is a reminder of God. The material image calls up the mental idea. Steadiness of mind is obtained by image worship. To behold God everywhere and to practice the presence of God is not possible for the ordinary man. Idol worship is the easiest form of worship for the modern man.

“A symbol is absolutely indispensable for fixing the mind. The mind wants a prop to lean upon. It cannot have a conception of the Absolute in the initial stages. Without the help of some external aid, in the initial stages, the mind cannot be centralized. In the beginning, concentration or meditation is not possible without a symbol.

Pratima (idol) is a substitute or symbol. The image in a temple, though it is made of stone, wood or metal, is precious for a devotee as it bears the mark of his Lord, as it stands for something which he holds holy and eternal. A flag is only a small piece of painted cloth, but it stands for a soldier for something that he holds very dear. He is prepared to give up his life in defending his flag. Similarly, the image is very dear to a devotee. It speaks to him in its own language of devotion. Just as the flag arouses martial valor in the soldier, so also the image arouses devotion in the devotee. The Lord is superimposed on the image and the image generates divine thoughts in the worshipper”.

Besides offering a symbolic presence of divinity and its psychological proximity, murtis enrich the diversity in Hindu iconology. The liberal credentials of Hinduism are reposed in its murti representations.

Moreover, creating an ambiance of sanctity and offering a channel of devotion, murtis play a significant role in projecting Hinduism in the field of fine arts.

Shilpa Shastra, the school of art, is an academy in itself. The Hindu faith in its immensity welcomes members of the art community irrespective of their religious affiliations to pursue their talents in murti kala (art). It is the faith in spirituality which motivates an artist irrespective of religion to create and shape a sacred murti.

LORD GANESH

The secular character of Hinduism reflects in the domain of art.

In the world of both early and contemporary Indian arts, one of the most popular godhead is Lord Ganesh. He has been a favorite and popular subject taken up by artists to create their artworks. Metal, stone, drawings, ingenious material like pipal leaves and even fruits and vegetables arrangements are used to create His multi-posed images.

(Excerpts from the book: Hinduism beyond rituals, customs and traditions, Chapter 6 “Worship of Idols”).

SIGNIFICANCE OF IDOL WORSHIPPING IN HINDUISM

Image formation is a very natural trait in human psychology. In our conscious state all our feelings, ideas and impulses manifest images. The genesis of an image is a cognitive imagination influenc…

Source: SIGNIFICANCE OF IDOL WORSHIPPING IN HINDUISM

SIGNIFICANCE OF IDOL WORSHIPPING IN HINDUISM

Image formation is a very natural trait in human psychology. In our conscious state all our feelings, ideas and impulses manifest images. The genesis of an image is a cognitive imagination influenced by perception of an object.

In The Philosophy and Significance of Idol Worship, a Divine Life Society publication, Sri Swami Sivananda says:

“Idol is a support for the neophyte. It is a prop of his spiritual childhood. A form or image is necessary for worship in the beginning. It is an external symbol of God for worship. It is a reminder of God. The material image calls up the mental idea. Steadiness of mind is obtained by image worship. The worshipper will have to associate the ideas of infinity, omnipotence, omniscience, purity, perfection, freedom, holiness, truth, omnipresence. It is not possible for all to fix the mind on the Absolute or the Infinite. A concrete form is necessary for the vast majority for practicing concentration. To behold God everywhere and to practice the presence of God is not possible for the ordinary man. Idol worship is the easiest form of worship for the modern man.

“A symbol is absolutely indispensable for fixing the mind. The mind wants a prop to lean upon. It cannot have a conception of the Absolute in the initial stages. Without the help of some external aid, in the initial stages, the mind cannot be centralised. In the beginning, concentration or meditation is not possible without a symbol.

Pratima (idol) is a substitute or symbol. The image in a temple, though it is made of stone, wood or metal, is precious for a devotee as it bears the mark of his Lord, as it stands for something which he holds holy and eternal. A flag is only a small piece of painted cloth, but it stands for a soldier for something that he holds very dear. He is prepared to give up his life in defending his flag. Similarly the image is very dear to a devotee. It speaks to him in its own language of devotion. Just as the flag arouses martial valour in the soldier, so also the image arouses devotion in the devotee. The Lord is superimposed on the image and the image generates divine thoughts in the worshipper”.

Read more about Hinduism

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Trump And The Law Of Karma

It seems the law of karma has started playing heavily on Donald Trump. Ever since the presidential race started in February, Trump has been generating extreme racists controversies against minoriti…

Source: Trump And The Law Of Karma