WORLD DIVIDED BETWEEN TWO CASTES:

Politically the world is divided between two castes. The Leftists and the Rightists. As these are ideologically known and understood. And within these two castes are the sub-castes of Extreme Leftists and Extreme Rightists. 

The people in the middle are politically a casteless society. They are the victims when RIghtists’ or Leftists’ agenda is delivered or enforced fanatically. With elements of power, ego and greed, opportunistically embraced by both, the Leftist and Rightist wingers in their varying colors and shades become fanatics. And this is what the Casteless society has to fight against for the rule of righteousness. promodpuri.com

-Promod Puri

Building Divine Residency More Relevant Than Knowing God He or She

By Promod Puri

If God or the Supreme Being is He, She or It; residing in heaven, up there in the sky or just omnipresent in the known or unknown universe. Do we need to indulge in this debate? Not really. Rather we create our own god based on noble thoughts, ethics, and good karma.

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 phenomenon.
One reason is that man is just one of the millions of creatures who 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 happiness, sorrows, and everything else we come across in our day to day lives. We see, face or endure tragedies around us every day 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 maybe not.

We are the major players to generate events and thus know the reasons for 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 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.

(Excerpts from Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions)
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MANUSMIRITI AND WOMEN

(From the book Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions by Promod Puri)

Since bias knows no boundaries, Manusmriti not only expounds the social distance between the upper and lower castes, but it also delineates the status of women by curbing their rights. It lists guidelines for men in selecting marriage partners and puts a stamp of their superiority by creating gender inequality.

In chapter 3 with numbered paragraphs here it is what Manusmriti prescribes:

8. One should not marry women who have reddish hair, redundant parts of the body [such as six fingers], one who is often sick, one without hair or having excessive hair and one who has red eyes.

9. One should not marry women whose names are similar to constellations, trees, rivers, those from a low caste, mountains, birds, snakes, slaves or those whose names inspires terror.

10. Wise men should not marry women who do not have a brother and whose parents are not socially well known.

11. Wise men should marry only women who are free from bodily defects, with beautiful names, grace/gait like an elephant, moderate hair on the head and body, soft limbs and small teeth.

61. For if the wife is not radiant with beauty, she will not attract her husband; but if she has no attractions for him, no children will be born.

62. If the wife is radiant with beauty, the whole house is bright; but if she is destitute of beauty, all will appear dismal.

147. By a girl, by a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house.

148. In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent.

149. She must not seek to separate herself from her father, husband, or sons; by leaving them she would make both (her own and her husband’s) families contemptible.

150. She must always be cheerful, clever in (the management of her) household affairs, careful in cleaning her utensils, and economical in expenditure.

151. Him to whom her father may give her, or her brother with the father’s permission, she shall obey as long as he lives, and when he is dead, she must not insult (his memory).

154. Though destitute of virtue, or seeking pleasure (elsewhere), or devoid of good qualities, (yet) a husband must be constantly worshiped as a god by a faithful wife.

155. No sacrifice, no vow, no fast must be performed by women apart (from their husbands); if a wife obeys her husband, she will for that (reason alone) be exalted in heaven.

156. A faithful wife, who desires to dwell (after death) with her husband, must never do anything that might displease him who took her hand, whether he be alive or dead.

160. A virtuous wife who after the death of her husband constantly remains chaste, reaches heaven, though she has no son, just like those chaste men.

161. But a woman who from a desire to have offspring violates her duty towards her (deceased) husband, brings on herself disgrace in this world and loses her place with her husband (in heaven).

And in Chapter 9 Manusmriti further explicates under each numbered paragraphs that:

3. Her father protects (her) in childhood, her husband protects (her) in youth, and her sons protect (her) in old age; a woman is never fit for independence.

10. No man can completely guard women by force, but they can be guarded by the employment of the (following) expedients:

11. Let the (husband) employ his (wife) in the collection and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping (everything) clean, in (the fulfillment of) religious duties, in the preparation of his food, and in looking after the household utensils.

29. She who, controlling her thoughts, speech, and acts, violates not her duty towards her lord, dwells with him (after death) in heaven, and in this world is called by the virtuous a faithful (wife, sadhvi).

30. But for disloyalty to her husband a wife is censured among men, and (in her next life) she is born in the womb of a jackal and tormented by diseases, the punishment of her sin.

In this dehumanized and demoralized portrait of the unequivocal surrender of a woman from childhood to death, restricting every step of her stage in life, one wonders if there are few soft spots of dignity, honor and some rewards for her sacrifices in the Manusmriti.

Yes, there are. Along with the prejudice against low caste Hindus and women, Manu has some cheering exhibits in the otherwise demeaning declarations in the Manusmriti.

In Chapter 3 with numbered paragraphs of Manusmriti his preachings and observation include:

55. Women must be honored and adorned by their fathers, brothers, husbands, and brothers-in-law, who desire (their own) welfare.

56. Where women are honored, there the gods are pleased; but where they are not honored, no sacred rite yields rewards.

57. Where the female relations live in grief, the family soon wholly perishes; but that family where they are not unhappy ever prospers.

58. The houses on which female relations, not being duly honored, pronounce a curse perish completely as if destroyed by magic.

59. Hence men, who seek (their own) welfare, should always honor women on holidays and festivals with (gifts of) ornaments, clothes, and (dainty) food.

60. In that family, where the husband is pleased with his wife and the wife with her husband, happiness will assuredly be lasting.

These silver linings in the Manusmriti provide a built-in support to decertify those defamatory statements which are not only illegal as per the constitution of India is concerned but morally, spiritually and ethically wrong.

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WELCOME

promodpuri.com is the website of interesting, informative and thoughtful contents worth exploring and sharing. Enjoy. Defining and exploring Hinduism and articles on Religion, Politics, Human Interest

Source: WELCOME

What does Trump have to do with the Hindu sacred syllable, om?

 

Republican nominee Donald Trump was recently invited to a fundraising event organized by a conservative group of Hindu Americans, the Republican Hindu Coalition. A poster from the event, which describes the group as “Hindus for Trump,” portrays the candidate in a posture much like that of a yogi in deep meditation.

It shows Trump, face pointing upward and hands outstretched, rising up from a mass of red, white and blue flower petals in the shape of a lotus. Prominently displayed in the center is the Indian sacred syllable, “om,” decorated with stars and stripes.

Om is the preeminent Sanskrit mantra and symbol of Indian religions, especially Hinduism. In terms of religious identity, this sign denotes Hinduism in much the same way that the star of David and the Christian cross represent Judaism and Christianity. Om has its own dedicated sign in the scripts for Hindi and other Indian languages.

In global culture, the om sign has come to stand for Indian spirituality in general. It has been widely adopted by practitioners of yoga and meditation.

However, contemplation, transcendence or Indian spirituality would seem to have little in common with Trump’s public persona that has been described by the media as reflecting “narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity.”

So, what should we make of this juxtaposition of Trump and India’s “sacred syllable”?

For the uninitiated, here is what om means

The history of om stretches back more than 3,000 years. Om was first attested in the Vedas, a massive corpus of ancient “knowledge” (“veda” in Sanskrit) from the first millennium B.C. that furnishes the oldest and most authoritative texts of Hinduism.

The Upaniṣads, a collection of later Vedic texts regarded as the foundation for Indian philosophy, hailed om as “this whole world” and as the singular distillation of all wisdom.

Subsequent texts on Hindu law from the start of the Common Era codified the practice of intoning om at the start of every sacred recitation.

Hindu theological discourses emphasize that the sound of om is not of human origin – rather, it is a divine revelation and an audible expression of transcendence. By chanting or contemplating the mantra om, a practitioner gains access to a higher state of consciousness that leads to liberation from the cycle of rebirth.

In all these respects, the syllable has served as the quintessential symbol of religious authority in Hinduism – a role it continues to play up through the present day.

Multiple forms of om

This history, however, is not that simple. My research into om’s early history reveals that this symbol, much like the Hindu traditions it has come to represent, is neither monolithic nor static.

Om did not emerge suddenly as a full-fledged symbol of knowledge and the cosmos. Instead, premodern Hindu thinkers gradually constructed om as a single concept through contentious debates and theological reflections.

My research shows om in the Vedas does not have a single form or meaning. It is recited in many ways, appears in many different ritual contexts, and inspires a wide range of interpretations.

For example, Vedic experts in music described it as the sound of the sun, since it introduced their songs just like the sun signals the start of the day; the same singers called om “honey” for the sweetness it added to their melodies. Vedic specialists in sacrifice glossed om as an affirmation of ritual actions, as the “truth” inherent in their mantras. Other Vedic thinkers maintained that om was a secret password for attaining immortality at the moment of death.

Such examples could be multiplied many times over, not just in the Vedas but also in subsequent texts from Hindu, Buddhist and other Indian religious traditions where om is central to discussions about yoga, meditation, creation and salvation.

The bottom line is that India’s sacred syllable emerged over many centuries, depended on the contributions of different voices and accrued countless meanings along the way.

As a researcher of om, whenever I encounter the sign – whether inscribed in a manuscript, displayed at a Hindu temple or featured on a Donald Trump poster – its history of multiple meanings flashes into my mind.

There is no one Hindu voice

Now, against this background, let’s look at what the Hindus for Trump group is doing with its juxtaposition of Trump and om.

Hindus for Trump is closely allied with the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC). Founded in 2015 by businessman Shalli Kumar, the RHC claims to provide “a single, unified platform for raising voice of Hindu Americans in public policy.”

In my view this raises the following issues:

Although in some contexts om is simply shorthand for “Hindu,” it seems problematic to harness this complex symbol to the single agenda of right-wing political activism among Hindu Americans.

Additionally, this raises another question: Do Hindu Americans really speak with only one voice?

Judging from the protests and the backlash on social media, there are many Hindu Americans besides Hindus for Trump and the RHC who might be inclined to associate Trump with syllables more profane than sacred.

Om’s history exemplifies the fact that Hindu traditions and Hindu identity are complex and varied. “Hinduism” covers an astonishing array of doctrines, practices and lifestyles in India, Asia and around the world.

While Hinduism’s history has not been free from conflict, there is an abiding openness to diversity at the roots of the tradition, as this famous verse from the Vedas attests (Rig Veda 1.164):

“Truth is one but the wise call it by many names.”

From a temple complex in suburban Boston to a street shrine in Varanasi; from Sanskrit dramas in Kerala to processions in Nepal – every day, practitioners, devotees and regular people create, contest and carry forward the traditions of this world religion in multiple ways.

The jarring juxtaposition of Trump and om reminds us that there is more to Hinduism and its iconography than a political poster can convey.

AUTHOR: Finnian M.M. Gerety Visiting Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Brown University

Article courtesy The CONVERSATION.

TOLERANCE OR ACCEPTANCE

Jagessar Das M. D. President  Kabir Association of Canadajagessar

People all over the world talk about tolerance, such as racial tolerance, religious tolerance or cultural tolerance, when they have to live in a society made up of people of different backgrounds. And this tolerance is often thought of as being a virtue. Let us try to understand what tolerance really means.

If you try to think clearly about what tolerance means, you will understand that it means to tolerate something or someone that is different, and with whom you cannot identify yourself. It means that you are not ready to accept that difference whether it is racial, religious or cultural. It means that you may “put up” with that difference. Thus, to tolerate something connotes a negative tendency, and it cannot be thought of as a virtue, if you tolerate another race, religion or culture. To tolerate something connotes an idea such as: “as far as I am concerned, it is all right if you cease to exist”, or “I hate you but I will tolerate you”, or “you are no good, but I will tolerate you”. So you tolerate something because you think that it is better to tolerate than to create enmity. It also could reflect the idea that to practice intolerance can get you into a great deal of trouble.

No society is entirely homogeneous, even if its members belong to the same race, religion or culture. Members of the same religion often divide themselves into different denominations, and often hold different cultural and religious values. Homogeneity in value systems is not a characteristic of any one society. Many people of the same society can express opposite ideas over any given situation. Thus to talk about tolerance, in terms of race, religion or culture, is not appropriate.

On the other hand, instead of tolerance, if people practice acceptance, then they will be pursuing a positive goal. To accept a different race, religion or culture is definitely a positive state, based on love, understanding, compassion, sharing and brotherhood. These values are taught in all the religions, and it is thus important for us to accept others, instead of merely tolerating them. To accept a different race, religion or culture obviously does not mean that you have to change anything except your attitude, biases and prejudices. In acceptance, we welcome the differences, because these are all the handiwork of God. People cannot do much about their race. Their culture differs because of their geographical location, history, religion, language, etc. Differences are a part of nature and God’s plan. If God wanted homogeneity, then all people would be exactly the same, as will all the flowers, and all the animals, and all the insects. It will then certainly be a very monotonous world. Such monotony, among people, can best be reflected by a whole population of robots, all looking alike, and doing the same thing. Such is not God’s plan, for in His wisdom, He has chosen to create the differences.

Certainly, there are things in society that we must not accept. Crime, violence of any type, hate, drug and alcohol abuse, stealing and cheating, are some things that we should not, as a society, accept. But the context in which I am discussing tolerance, deals with people in terms of race, religion and culture. And all religions and cultures are intolerant to the same type of evil deeds that bring suffering to individuals, and to society.

If we look at humanity, in general, we would see that we all must share the same earth and its resources. We all breathe the same air. We all need food, water, clothing and shelter. We all need the sunshine. Our bodies function in the same way, irrespective of racial differences. We all have the same basic needs. We are all destined to grow old and die. So while we have this precious gift of life, let us live nobly. Do not stain your life with prejudices or a sense of superiority! I remember a quotation stating that prejudice is a great time saver. It allows you to jump to conclusions without bothering with the facts.

When we look at life spiritually, then intolerance is due to ignorance. We have failed to see the reality that is manifesting in the hearts of all. Kabir said that the same Divine Light created all of us. Who then is superior and who is inferior? Again he said that he is in the marketplace of the world and wishes the welfare of all. He sees no one as friend or enemy.

For God there is no friend or enemy. Let us lift our spirit up to God and give up petty intolerances. Let us all, therefore, live according to God’s will in mutual acceptance, and in love and brotherhood.

From The Pen Of Baba Bulleh Shah

Parh parh Alam te faazil hoya Te kaday apnay aap nu parhya ee na Translation: You read to become all knowledgeable But you never read yourself You read so many books to know it all, yet fail to eve…

Source: From The Pen Of Baba Bulleh Shah

Why it’s easier for India to get to Mars than to tackle its toilet challenge

By Shyami V. Ramani In 2013, India became the fourth country in the world (after Russia, the United States and the European Union) and the only emerging nation to launch a Mars probe into space. Bu…

Source: Why it’s easier for India to get to Mars than to tackle its toilet challenge

From The Pen Of Baba Bulleh Shah

Parh parh Alam te faazil hoya Te kaday apnay aap nu parhya ee na Translation: You read to become all knowledgeable But you never read yourself You read so many books to know it all, yet fail to eve…

Source: From The Pen Of Baba Bulleh Shah

From The Pen Of Baba Bulleh Shah

Parh parh Alam te faazil hoya
Te kaday apnay aap nu parhya ee na

Translation: You read to become
all knowledgeable
But you never read yourself
You read so many books
to know it all,
yet fail to ever read your
heart at all.

Bhaj bhaj warna ay mandir maseeti
Te kaday mann apnay wich warya ee na

You run to enter temples and mosques
But you never entered your own heart)
You rush to holy shrines to play a part,
Would you dare enter the shrine of your heart

Larna ay roz shaitaan de naal
Te kadi nafs apnay naal larya ee na
(Everyday you fight Satan

But you never fight your own Ego)
You are quick to attack the evil one,
yet pride is a battle you have not won.

Bulleh Shah asmaani ud-deya pharonda ay
Te jera ghar betha unoon pharya ee na

Bulleh Shah you try grabbing that which is in the sky

But you never get hold of What sits inside you

Why it’s easier for India to get to Mars than to tackle its toilet challenge

By Shyami V. Ramani

In 2013, India became the fourth country in the world (after Russia, the United States and the European Union) and the only emerging nation to launch a Mars probe into space. But it remains part of the group of 45 developing countries with less than 50% sanitation coverage, with many citizens practising open defecation, either due to lack of access to a toilet or because of personal preference.

According to the Indian census of 2011, only 46.9% of the 246.6 million households in India had their own toilet facilities, while 3.2% had access to public toilets. In this context, the remaining 49.8% households had no option but to defecate in the open. As a point of comparison, in 2011 53.2% of households had a mobile phone. In rural areas, where nearly 69% of India’s population lives, 69.3% of households lack toilets; in urban areas that number falls to 18.6%.

At first glance, such statistics and technological capabilities alongside large-scale open defecation is a puzzle. On the supply side, it does not seem difficult for a country that can construct sophisticated and complex cell phone technology to develop the capacity to build simple low-cost toilets. And for users, a toilet evidently offers more social benefits in terms of health and human dignity than a telephone.

Yet the citizenry has not enthusiastically adopted low-cost toilets, especially rural households. Why? Let us explore the reasons for this paradoxical outcome.

 

At a systemic level, economists have pointed out that technical and commercial availability and consumer acceptability of an innovation are the two main drivers of its diffusion. Evidently both are a problem in India.

For firms, it makes business sense to provide mobile phones in a variety of quality-price ranges as the network infrastructure is well developed and demand for this communication tool is assured. However, they are not interested in selling low-cost toilets to the poor, as the need for that product is not supported by a willingness or capacity to pay for it.

State programmes for sanitation coverage

Because companies are disinclined to market a product that requires investment in awareness and demand creation, the state must step in.

From the mid-1980s till the late 1990s, when India adopted economic reform, toilets were distributed free via the top-down state-funded Central Rural Sanitation Programme. But the programme, which assumed that availability would automatically lead to usage, failed because most beneficiaries did not see the need or have the desire for sanitation.

Consequently, in the new millennium, the Indian government switched to demand-focused interventions. Today, the state is a financier for public-private partnerships involving NGOs, micro-finance companies and other social enterprises that interact closely with the targeted beneficiaries to provide accompaniment and education for sanitation literacy and use.

The Total Sanitation Campaign launched in April 1999, emphasised that “Information, Education and Communication” should precede sanitation construction to ensure sustained demand and behavioural change.

 

State investment in sanitation thereafter received another fillip under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is the first politician since Mahatma Gandhi to emphatically underscore, through major media campaigns, that a “clean India” is necessary for the well-being of its citizens.

On October 2 2014, to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, Modi inaugurated the Swachh Bharath Mission, or the Clean India Mission. Unlike the earlier state programmes, it recognises that “availability” does not guarantee “acceptability”. The central objective of the mission is to eliminate open defecation in India by 2019, not just to ensure universal sanitation coverage.

The target is to transform villages and cities into “open defecation-free” communities, meaning they demonstrate: toilet access, toilet use and toilet technology that keeps both people and the environment safe. The programme invests in capacity building in the form of trained personnel, financial incentives and systems for planning and monitoring to ensure behavioural change. States are given flexibility in terms of implementation. Today, a variety of experiments, from the national to village level, are underway to achieve Modi’s Clean India mission.

It’s not just about building toilets

But for India, providing access to some form of a toilet is the easy part. What’s harder is getting people to use them. In rural areas, toilet-rejection varies by gender.

An ongoing study based on 300 focus groups with men across the country revealed that they prefer open defecation to a toilet because it: saves water; provides access to fresh water and a breezy environment; lowers the wear and tear of the toilet; protects women from getting embarrassed by the sight of men; and offers a handy excuse to escape importunate wives and mothers.

Public agencies try to persuade families to invest in toilets for the safety of their young girls. But in Tamil Nadu villages, another focus group-based study – this one with female teachers and girls – revealed that a central advantage of open defecation is that it offers opportunities for same-sex social interactions for females.

Girls and women in many regions are not allowed to gather in public places to debate issues, exchange ideas or simply relax together. Adolescents face even greater restrictions, because older women often sanction free discussion among youngsters. In this regard, open defecation rendezvous offer an excuse to talk and spend time together free, from other constraints.

In the isolated villages we visited with largely Dalit and fisherfolk populations in Tamil Nadu, the risk of sexual harassment is not perceived to be high enough to make toilets a safe haven. Thus, to eliminate open defecation in such villages, alternative safe gendered spaces for social interactions are needed first.

Cooperation between the players

India’s additional challenge is to diffuse not just any toilet but a high-quality, long-lasting, non-contaminating product that minimises water and soil pollution and promotes sustained use. This will require that the sanitation subsystem (i.e. the part under the toilet seat/slab), and its waste-processing technology design to be adapted to the geo-physical features of the targeted zone, taking into account soil type, rainfall, water table, water availability, wind velocity and slope.

Thousands of toilets lie abandoned in India either never used or abandoned after short use, due to poor construction quality or inappropriate technology design.

When a toilet’s superstructure begins to deteriorate or the toilets stop working well, problems can emerge. For example, if the family can’t afford or doesn’t want to invest in repairs, or if there isn’t a local agency to repair toilets (which is often the case), foul odours and leaks may begin. This, in turn, creates negative perceptions about toilets, which may trigger a bandwagon effect such that whole the community ultimately returns to open defecation.

Thus, it is imperative to ensure quality construction in sanitation drives and trained rural masons for individual construction initiatives.

A Tamil woman and her mother-in-law in front of their toilet whose roof caved in – hence the thatch. FAL

To address this need, various institutions are teaching masonry to youth with little formal education. But there is no common standardised programme that focuses on sanitation systems. Moreover, illiterate rural masons may be intimidated by formal courses and thus fail to attend.

At the same time, since masons learn their craft by doing, or through apprenticeships, their learning is slow, shaky and tacit – meaning that two people with the same skill set may execute a project differently. There is a need to address these issues while promoting skills building.

For an emerging country like India, it is easier to take part in exploratory missions to Mars than to tackle its sanitation challenge. The former can be addressed through a linear process spearheaded by the advanced, well-resourced Indian Space Research Organisation, while the latter calls for systemic change encompassing thousands of towns and villages.

For India to meet its goal of eliminating open defecation, it will need cooperation and coordination between a diverse variety of systemic actors, generation of knowledge products in the form of accessible curriculum for masons, and community engagement to build only safe toilets – and to use them well.

Courtesy: The Conversation

 

WORDS OF WISDOM:

“In the United States, we know what happens when we start dividing ourselves along lines of race or religion or ethnicity. It’s dangerous,” he said. Not just for the minority groups that are subjec…

Source: WORDS OF WISDOM:

Museum Of Sikh History

By Promod Puri

The place is called Virasat-E-Khalsa. It is also known as Khalsa Heritage Complex. But for the local and ordinary folks the unique monument in Anandpur Sahib near Chandigarh is simply known as “Ajuba”. And it certainly is a wonder.

With the help of latest in sound and information technology along with impressive architect influenced by the surrounding historic structures in Anandpur Sahib, the place is really an awesome marvel.

It is much more than just a tourist attraction. It is a place of knowledge and inspiration presented in concise and easy steps as one walks along the galleries of the museum.

Massive and colorful murals portray the heroic and vibrant history of Sikhs under the leadership of their gurus. The whole learning experience is guided by “auto-trigger” headphone with crisp commentators’ voice that it is indeed an absorbing class in Sikh history.”This museum aims at illuminating the vision of Sikh Gurus”.

Impressively designed by Israeli architect Moshe Safdie, the museum along with the surrounding water pools is spread over an area of 65 acres. It is almost walking distance from the historic Ananadpur Sahib Gurdwara, the birth place of the Khalsa Panth.

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American Election Scene

donald-trump-phone-2011Let us dump Trump and not see his face again.

With American politics at an all-time low, it’s no wonder that game developers are taking to their art to express their discontent with the presidential race. The last time we had a presidential race, social media wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today, but now I see Donald Trump all over my newsfeed on Twitter and Facebook. So it’s no wonder that Trump has also leaked into the video game world. Trump Dump is a mobile game that lets those take their anger out on Trump.

Trump Dump works a lot like Flappy Bird, except…backwards. In Flappy Bird, you tap the screen to bounce the bird upwards, but in Trump Dump, you tap the screen to bounce the bird downwards. It feels really weird at first and makes gameplay pretty difficult. The trick is to get through the hole in the wall. Once you finally make it through the hole, you get the opportunity to drop a dump on Trump. Check out the gameplay below.

“NANAK DUKHIYA SABB SANSAR SO SUKHIYA JIS NAAM ADHAAR”

A universal truth

Agony, misery, pains or sufferings, both physical and emotional, and in all degrees of intensity, are the realities of life. These are the experiences faced by all without exception. Life means jitters of distress, grief and worries going along with moments of peace and pleasures.

Stresses and strains in our lives for one reason or the other give enough turbulence as smooth ride remains an ambition.

Unpleasant realities are littered all along the journey of life, and there is no escape from them. The sufferings could be innocently or naively self-inflicted or by others. Elements of nature and karmas have influences as well.

So, who resides in absolute peace. Unquestionably, nobody.

Since we can not shake them off, we redefine peace where tensions and sufferings are accepted as part of the game plan of life.

In this exercise, as one seeks the serenity and tranquility in a field shared by torments and troubles, a practical understanding of that guiding force from whom we often seek answers to our whys, is worth attempting. Here, the line “so sukhiya jis naam adhaar” needs some interpretation in line with the practical approach.

The guiding force we are talking about is the Eternal Spirit which in the first place advises us to accept the adversity.

Nanak calls it “hukam razaai”, meaning acceptance (razaai) of the Order (hukam) of the Supreme. The Order prepares us to tackle a calamity with cool mind effectively and decisively. In this acceptance we don’t agitate or get scared.

Miracles from that Eternal Spirit need not be expected, but what is expected is the courage and strength to tackle suffering with grace and dignity.

The utmost and unshaken faith in our resolve to accept, face and tackle unfortunate circumstances leads us to a perception of the Supreme power which demands action.

The nature of this perception encourages us to respond to an unpleasant event. That is where God can be redefined in terms of action. When we seek or gather courage and strength to handle any calamity or suffering that very activity itself is god in live manifestation.

And once that foundation (adhaar), meaning God in the image of action, is created and secured one can get inspired to be in His (naam) peaceful (sukhiya) abode.

It is true “Nanak dukhiya sabb sansar”, but it is also true “so sukhiya jis naam adhaar”.

-By Promod Puri

Promodpuri.com

“Koi bole ram ram; koi khudae….

One of the spiritual gems of Guru Nanak Devji, which portrays the essence of all religions: “Koi bole ram ram; koi khudae….” Here is the English translation of shabad:
Some call the Lord ‘Ram, Ram’, and some ‘Khuda’.
Some serve Him as ‘Gusain’, others as ‘Allah’.
He is the Cause of causes, and Generous.

He showers His Grace and Mercy upon us.
Some pilgrims bathe at sacred shrines, others go on Hajj to Mecca.Some do devotional worship, whilst others bow their heads in prayer.

Some read the Vedas, and some the Koran.Some wear blue robes, and some wear white.
Some call themselves Muslim, and some call themselves Hindu.Some yearn for paradise, and others long for heaven.Says Nanak, one who realizes the Hukam of God’s Will, knows the secrets of his Lord Master”.
promodpuri.com
progressivehindudialogue.com
promodpuri.blogspot.com

Hindu Swastika Exhibits Tolerance, Fortune and Auspiciousness

By Promod Puri

Despite being stigmatized as Nazi emblem of anti-Semitic, hate and violence, Swastika, the world’s most recognized sign, represents an auspicious and sacred symbol in Hinduism.

Swastika is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘svastika’ which simply means ‘lucky’. The geometric pattern of Swastika is believed to have its origin over 10,000 years ago in the Indus Valley Civilization. It got worldwide eminence and adoption over the centuries.

Many civilizations from Asia to Europe and even in the American continent adopted Swastika as a simple design relating to martial, religious, business and cultural trends including the belief that it brings good luck, prosperity and all things auspicious.

Swastika has been abandoned now by most societies and nations. For the plain reason that it is aligned with notoriety. It is a fascist symbol of intolerance and violent intimidation. Racists organizations and militant outfits post Swastika signs to signal rampage and terror against minority communities of different cultural and religious backgrounds.

Even with that perception which goes against the secular, liberal and democratic traditions of Hinduism, Swastika still has the same reverence and acceptance in the Hindu faith as has been since antiquity.

Although Swastika does not carry much Hindu philosophical interpretations, it does bring spiritual inspiration. It is believed to represent creator Brahma. Its four arms exhibit “Purusartha” which is an important doctrine of Hinduism. Purusartha advocates four co-related facets of life. These are dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

Dharma seeks conscious conduct of life on moral values. Artha means economic liberty. Kama emphasizes pleasure and enjoyment in life. And moksha denotes seeking mukti or freedom from the worldly web to seek oneness with the Supreme-being. Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions.

Besides its spiritual values Swastika in Hinduism is more popular as a ritualistic identity mark in the performance of religious rites symbolizing devotion and divinity. Its use in the Hindu religious or ceremonial events is at the discretion of performing priests. As such Swastika is a ritualistic symbol.

Using Swastika in whatever formation is not at all mandatory in Hindu rites. The choice is made through regional customs and traditions.

As far as Hindu symbolic representation is concerned Swastika does not conflict with Om. It is a ritualistic tool with option to use or not to use. Swastika does not produce sound. Whereas Om does, and it resonates as the primordial sound introduced in this universe and perhaps in the whole celestial world.

In the ritualistic traditions of Hinduism, Swastika can not be abandoned simply because it has gathered connotations of hatred and intolerance in the Western world. Hinduism sticks to its centuries-old tradition of reverence to Swastika as a symbol of auspiciousness and fortune.

Read more about Hinduism

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By Jai Birdi

OBJECTIVE,FAIR,CRITICAL YET RESPECTFUL
Very objective, fair, critical, yet respectful observation. Hinduism- “it stimulates and encourages debate, protest, amendments and even deletions of those doctrines or beliefs which are senseless, derogatory, and far from truth” is probably the definition of Hinduism that I could find. The challenge in my view is to create the will, the movement, and desire “to be change”. A welcome addition for creating, supporting, and facilitating debate on a topic that is indeed a ‘multidisciplinary academy’. Congratulations to Mr. Promod Puri ji”.
Jai Birdi, President Chetna Society, Canada

By Dr. Sanjay Grover

FRESH PROSPECTIVE
“It is a very concise book and every statement is like an aphorism that needs to be contemplated upon to appreciate its depth and width”.
This review is from: Hinduism: Kindle Edition
Promod Puri has presented fresh and new perspectives to an ageless philosophy and religion.The book presents the topic of Hinduism as an easy read for the first timer as well as provides new points to ponder for someone who is well versed with the topic of Hinduism! Though terse and journalistic, this philosophizing on the philosophy of Hinduism is a must read.
Dr. Sanjay Grover, Solan, India

By Purva Grover

Amazing!!excellently written book in a simple way on a complicated subject
Hinduism is not a religion,it is a science in itself
Must read book for all
Great job done by the author
Dr Sandeep Dhavan
Gastroenterologist, Chandigarh, India
A JOURNEY OF SELF DISCOVER
By Purva Grover, Editor Indian Trumpet, Dubai
Often, we’re not introduced to religion, rarely are we given a choice to pick one. Born in a Hindu family, you follow Hinduism, which as the debate goes is more than a religion; a way of life.
When you start reading the book, Hinduism: Beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions by author (Editor-Journalist) Promod Puri you get thick deep into this debate. Yet, no thoughts are forced upon you.
The book is a rationale read. There are facts, anecdotes, theories and examples; each one to his/her. It talks of rituals, and how they provide an architecture to a religion but they’re not cure-all miracles. “Such customs generate fanaticism,” the author writes.
For most of us, the history of Hinduism is what we grew up listening to, observed people following. Here, you learn of the ages, civilizations and periods that led to its origin.
Why do we chant the word Om, why does it bring peace to our senses? Is Hari Om just a greeting, mere two-word mantra? As kids, many of us were asked to scribble the words Om on the first page of our books, or taught to hum the Gayatri Mantra on special days – it energized us, why and how?
We worship an idol, visit a temple, especially if celebrating a festival. In modern age, we are told to perform the Surya Namaskar every morning, and told Hollywood celebrities do so too!
A Ramayana is still part of trousseau in many homes, a Mahabharata (if not read) is watched by families, together – for many of us, it was once a Sunday ritual. What do scriptures teach us?
And there are the controversial topics of caste and the honour of women that appear in this book too. You may be dancing, singing or meditating – is that part of Hinduism too?
If you fret over Karma, and believe your strength lies in the ‘self’ then you will find the last leg of the book most interesting. Find your answers in this read”.
Purva Grover, Founder & Editor- The Indian Trumpet, Dubai, UAE

By Brenda Maxwell

GREAT INFORMATION
Even if you are not a Hindu this book has a lot of great information in it and I recommend highly.
“Hinduism…” by Promod Puri was an eye opening and inspiring book with a positive message, even if some of the text was complex and almost scholarly at times… it is what makes the author’s message all the more powerful, in my opinion. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand better what and how Hindus think and what they believe. I for one never really understood the many different aspects of Hinduism, so this was certainly educational. The author gives very specific arguments and ‘questions’ that help to understand the religion better, and answers with some well-documented research of his own. The whole thing was just so easy to comprehend (even when it was dense) and felt very easy to relate to… Even if you are not a Hindu this book has a lot of great information in it and I recommend highly. (5 stars)
-Brenda Maxwell– Goodreads; Shelfari; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

By Darla Ortiz

TO LEARN ABOUT HINDUISM THIS IS A MUST READ
I think anyone who wants to learn more about Hinduism, or just being inspired to expand their level of awareness of the religion should definitely read this book.
Even though I am not a Hindu I do have some friends/acquaintances who are, and I thought reading this book might give me even more insight as to how they think and believe. What I really liked was how the author Promod Puri wrote this in a way that everyone could understand and appreciate, not just Hindus or people who were very familiar with the religion. I feel like he covered several important topics in great detail and depth, but without going so deep as to become like reading a straight textbook. Although esoteric at times, this book can still be read and easily understood by Hindus and non-Hindus alike, and I thought the book was very insightful and well-crafted in a way that has great transitions from one subject to the next in a coherent manner. The author has a gift for explaining his ideas/viewpoints and the writing was very good. The editing is perfect and I think anyone who wants to learn more about Hinduism, or just being inspired to expand their level of awareness of the religion should definitely read this book. (4-5 stars)
-Darla Ortiz– Goodreads;-Shelfari; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

By Steph Coleman

NEW IDEAS PRESENTED IN A NEW WAY

I have read several books on theology and sometimes I get the sense that most are just recycling old information. Well, for this book it seems like I read a lot of new ideas presented in a new way.
I will start by saying this is a wonderful book that I liked much more than I was expecting to! I have read several books on theology and sometimes I get the sense that most are just recycling old information. Well, for this book it seems like I read a lot of new ideas presented in a new way. The content was mostly new to me and laid out in a simple way that is well-written and very easy to follow. Promod Puri does a great job sharing his insightful, interactive take on certain elements of the religious doctrine and its many roles in a cultural, philosophical, and personal context. Some parts are more interesting than others, some were too ‘dry’ and esoteric for my tastes, but overall it is fast paced, informative, and easy to read… at times impossible to put down! I recommend this book, “Hinduism: Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions” to anyone who wants to attain greater spiritual awareness and see a different side of Hinduism that you maybe haven’t really studied before. Read it with an open mind and you will be impressed. (4 stars)
-Steph Coleman– Goodreads; Shelfari; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

 

by Gillian Hancock

WRITTEN WITH GREAT KNOWLEDGE
It is very engaging and the author writes with great knowledge and passion as he takes on certain aspects of Hinduism in a way I’ve never read before, and I was so impressed with the depth of Puri’s detailing on his reports and the way he is able to explain so much about Hinduism that I didn’t even know.
“Hinduism” by Promod Puri is a must-read for anyone studying, or interested in, the topic of Hinduism. It is very engaging and the author writes with great knowledge and passion as he takes on certain aspects of Hinduism in a way I’ve never read before, and I was so impressed with the depth of Puri’s detailing on his reports and the way he is able to explain so much about Hinduism that I didn’t even know. At times I did feel it could have used some trimming down as it felt a bit repetitive and lacked some focusing, and the formatting made it hard to read occasionally (all left-justified block text – could have benefitted from more white space, visually). But that said, I did enjoy it very much, and learned a lot – even more than I expected. I liked how Mr. Puri writes, very down-to-earth and relatable, yet very intelligent and entertaining. And all in all was an enjoyable, and very important type of read. (4 stars)
-Gillian Hancock– Goodreads; Shelfari; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

By Essie Harmon

I think anyone who wants to learn more about Hinduism, or just being inspired to expand their level of awareness of the religion that so many follow, they should definitely read this book.

I was very impressed by the high quality writing and research that went into this book, “Hinduism-Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions” by Promod Puri. I thought the book was very thorough on the topic of Hinduism and all it encompasses, and intelligently constructed in a way that has a great flow from one topic to the next. The author has a gift for explaining his ideas/viewpoints and the writing was very good. The pacing and structure is perfect and I think anyone who wants to learn more about Hinduism, or just being inspired to expand their level of awareness of the religion that so many follow, they should definitely read this book. It really makes you think, and see in in a different light. It is probably recommended for older teens and up, and I could totally see this being used in a college classroom. (5 stars).

–  By Essie Harmon – Goodreads; Shelfari; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

By James Masters

The way he writes and puts it all together is very educational, eye-opening, and ultimately transformative.

This book, “Hinduism: Beyond Rituals. Customs and Traditions” by Promod Puri was actually far more interesting and insightful than I first expected it to be (no offense to the author). I just wasn’t sure what I was getting myself in for, but as I started reading I was transfixed by Mr. Puri’s impressive knowledge of Hinduism and the many facets of it, and how it relates to life in general… and the way he writes and puts it all together is very educational, eye-opening, and ultimately transformative.

“Hinduism…” is an absolute ‘must read’ for anyone who wants to learn more about this fascinating religion. I feel like Mr. Puri does a fantastic job of writing in such a way that is informative and engaging at the same time, and I found myself interested the whole way through. It is quite dense and full of information, as it should be. A wonderful read, a definite keeper.(5 stars)

EXPLORING MEANING OF HINDUISM

Review by Ashok Bhargava

The principal idea pursued by Promod Puri’s is to explore meaning of the term ‘Hinduism’ and thereby to understand the Hindu identity in a wide-open structure both traditionally and in the modern world.

I have often heard people saying that Hinduism is so vast and deep that many seers have spent their lifetime to ascertain its expanse and complexity without success. I think Mr. Puri has captured the spirit and core of Hinduism in merely 122 pages (14 chapters) very successfully and I congratulate him on his success.

Promod’s book provides significant knowledge and insight into a range of topics concerning the philosophies and the literature of Hinduism with an easy understanding of the beliefs and values of the Hindu traditions to encourage us to think about the meaning of these ideas in our own personal life and for the world as a whole.

Since manifestations of Hinduism have varied from age to age, from community to community, from person to person, we learn that to be a Hindu one does not have to practice any specific set of observations, follow any particular beliefs, and any prophet or believe in any particular god or gods.

Hinduism depends neither on any particular historic event, comparable to birth of Christ or the hegira i.e. journey of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina, nor on revealed truth, comparable to the Gospels or the Koran. It has neither a founder nor an established institution to prescribe a specific meaning to numerous sacred books like Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gita and Ramayana.

In fact, Hinduism has always been a religion of such wide-ranging beliefs and practices that a belief or a practice that is followed by some Hindus may be shunned by others.

Since its Vedic origins, the religion has grown to encompass more and more philosophical and theological schools (yoga and Vedanta) and independent sects (Vaishnavas and Shivites). In addition to that it has branched out into the separate religions of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

These schools, sects and religions propound, accept, reject and reinterpret a multiplicity of doctrines such as dharma, karma, avatar, samsara, bhakti, yoga, moksha, murti puja and maya etc. All gradation of beliefs, from the crudest to the refined have coexisted in Hinduism from the earliest times, making it the most syncretic religion in the world.

When the author says Hinduism is a democracy of conflicting, contradicting and controversial thoughts and theories, he appears to be proclaiming oneness of humanity in Hinduism despite outrageous violation of human dignity promoted by Manusmriti in management of society and that of self.

I think Mr. Puri’s book implies the following points:
– we can never come to reality by just considering shortcomings that have crept into Hinduism.
– The spirit of Hinduism can be summed up as professed in New Testament, “the kingdom of God is within us and we are all children of God.”
– Hinduism does not lack definition but defining.

Vancouver-based Ashok Bhargava is a poet, essayist and inspirational speaker. He has published four books of poetry. He is president of Writers International Network Canada.

DETAILED BUT CONCISE OVERVIEW

By Naveen Gopal

Vice President Pacifica Partners Financial Services

Most of us who grew up practicing Hinduism in our daily lives often understand the religion through rituals (poojas), mantras, stories (like the Ramayan) and a series of rules and obligations. We often wonder how we’d teach these customs to our kids in the age of social media, selfies and the internet.

Hinduism has a reputation for being vast, democratic and multi-faceted, and this book does an excellent job of boiling it down, helping the reader understand its philosophy, where it came from and why it relevant today, especially in this age of awareness.

The book explores the history and evolution of the religion and also importantly discusses who influenced the religion, both good and bad. Some philosophers encouraged scientific curiosity and rational thought, while others (for example) sought to divide its followers by advocating the caste system. It discusses science, karma and yoga, and helps shed light on how to apply its ancient wisdom today.

Ultimately the book is a detailed but concise overview of a very dense and complicated topic, and the reader is left encouraged to look deeper into the parts of Hinduism that interests them the most. It does require the reader to focus and pay attention, and a dictionary might be useful too. I found myself rewarded with a greater awareness of its relevance and a sense of how I might apply the thinking in my own life.

by Acharya S.P.Dwivedi

Promod Puri is a distinguished Canada-based South Asian journalist and prolific essayist. In his book- “Hinduism…..” he tried to cover the historical evolution of Hindu dharma and its major philosophies, theistic doctrines, social codes, rituals and practices.

As far as methodology is concerned Puri has applied analytical approach. He interprets everything rationally and denounces irrational snobbery. Being a Hindu, he doesn’t use any smoke screen to hide his anguish, frustration or guilt-consciousness, and outrightly condemns centuries old decayed, dis-functional and torturous Hindu social traditions and customs. He dealt in length demonic treatment of untouchables and downtrodden (Dalit) segments of society.

He focuses on issues and challenges which modern person of Hindu community are facing. Commendable job in putting Hindu religion from historical development to present practices. This Puri has done on his own terms without any obsession of classical tradition of discussion based on school of philosophies and theistic doctrines. He identified the tumult of terrific inhuman practices and racked the truth which is all spread over religiously regulated life of a common person of Hindu community.

He writes thoughtfully and straight from the heart. His intelligence is not dimmed because of his repetition on the subject of untouchables. His book and its contents will motivate not only Hindu reform-loving people but all those also who will cherish his banner of equality, dignity and justice to all living beings on earth. He moves from Hindu problem and turns it a global one. Puri emerges as a vanguard of Hindu reforms.

Puri came up with the categories of philosophies, yogas, scriptures and sciences, music, dance and drama and thoroughly explained it. Of course, he cited several quotations from Manu Smriti to buttress his arguments.

It would not be out of way to say that- ‘one life is not enough to cover all Hindu scriptures’. Of course, Puri has no commitment with any particular Hindu creed or ideology. Although, Puri seems to be leaning on Western scholars while describing the period of the development of Hindu religion and writings of scriptures but adhered with the basic values.

As for as the symbolic significance of idolatry, spirituality, karma-dharma and temple rituals are concerned, he picked up the true spirit of Hindu belief system and offered impressive interpretations for example- “Idolatry establishes direct one to one relationship between a devotee and the divinity”(p.36), “ Arti and several other elaborate adoration generate a spiritually charged atmosphere of reverence and sacredness” (p.45), and “ Hinduism’s democratic framework the management of self is what we call a way of life” (p.122).

He quoted three verses/mantras 1. Om purnamidam…2.Aum bhur bhuvah… 3.Aum dyauh shanti… because of their sublime quality of universality, peacefulness, harmony and secularism. Obviously, he enriched the Hinduism by adding the scientific interpretation of above mantras including Aum and Naad etc.

He dealt in length the caste and class problem in Hindu society which has degraded and horribly contaminated the social and religious fabric. I have discovered two traits 1. Exposing the social imbalance and 2. Hope for the improvement. In support of the later trait he has described the reform movements and invaluable contribution of the Messiah of Acchoots and Dalits- Dr. B.R.Ambedkar.

Puri completely rejected an irrational and non-logical writings of Manu and appeared as a radical and anti-traditionalist.

There is marked difference in the present Hindu society because of an enhancement in education, urbanization and constitutional laws that are en-cracking upon the inflexible traditions.(p83). People are severing their relationship with evil Hindu customs and rituals. It can be safely admitted that reform movement in Hindu religion is gathering momentum.

“Consequent to Hinduism’s democratic framework the management of self is what we call a way of life”, a mantra to be enchanted. (p.122)

His lucidity of language carries the freshness and clearness that is immensely impressive, and easily comprehensible. Puri is a writer of uncommon brilliance and interpretive innovations, and he applied effectively appropriate terminology to strengthen his arguments.

This book appears to be his life’s work and carries delightful blend of scholarly and analytical explanation, and further it provides general reader a concise and easily understood facts of Hinduism. It fulfills the need of authentic exposition of Hinduism.

Finally, I would like to conclude that Promod Puri’s works stand out before us to be complimented and appreciated.

Canada-based Shrinath Prasad Dwivedi is a known figure in North America’s Indology circles. He has written several books in poetry and edited anthology of South Asian origin writers. He is president of South Asian Literary Society of Canada, Hindi Sahatiya Parishad and the Global Hindu Foundation of Canada.

Aditi Garg, Tribune India

 

Some say Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world and one that is still widely followed. Others say it is more than a religion, a way of life, as those following other religions also practice yoga in one form or the other. It is not just about one God or a set of adherents that bind followers, rather it has evolved over the years and encompasses within its ambit everything from financial guidance to health concerns to familial issues.

Promod Puri illustrates Hinduism beyond its popular perception. A graduate from Panjab University’s School of Communication Studies, he worked with a few newspapers before migrating to Canada. He was the editor of The New Nation, a Canadian newspaper and started The Link, retiring only after 30 years in journalism. Hinduism — Beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions explores Hinduism’s spiritually liberating and progressive aspects.

In times when the religion is in news for all the wrong reasons, the book sheds light on the liberal outlook of Hinduism, which the author approaches as an ever-evolving faith. He underlines the importance of rituals and also how certain practices can negatively impact the image of the religion. Tracing the origins of Hinduism, he elucidates the theory behind universally revered chant of Om and mantras that form an important fraction of Hinduism. From idol worship and the scriptures to the scientific advancements attributed to the sages, teachers and proponents of the faith, he points out both the good and the bad about Hinduism.

Yoga and meditation are also dealt with as are other aspects like dharma, karma, arth, moksha…. An interesting and quick read for those who are interested in knowing more about the religion without going through tomes and scriptures.

Mughals had a defining influence on India. They changed the architectural landscape of the country. As much the Mughal rulers were known for their tales of love, they were as popular for battles for the throne. Fighting between brothers, killing them and imprisoning parents, they did everything to rule the then biggest empire of India. With each sibling staking claim to the throne and asserting it as his right, the empires were always dealing with spies, cross-spies, surprise attacks and counter-attacks.

Srinivas Rao Adige is an alumnus of Doon School, Dehradun and St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi and has been serving as an IAS officer. In his first novel, The Mughal High Noon, he combines his love for Indian history with his passion for writing. A beautifully written book, it lays out history while reflecting the emotions at play that pitch blood against blood.

Shahjahan is one of the most popular Mughal rulers and the book opens with the news of his deteriorating condition. Dara, along with his doting and authoritative sister Jahanara, prepares to overrule the norms for the benefit of their father. An overwhelming sense of uncertainty starts engulfing the empire with many thinking the emperor is dead and that the news is being censored to benefit those in the palace looking to inherit the throne. In this atmosphere, enmity between the brothers festers.

Dissatisfied at being sent to the Deccan region, Aurengzeb just needs a push to claim the throne. Any qualms about claiming the throne while the emperor still lives are dispelled by previous rulers who did the same. Patricide was not unheard of and it made sense to emerge stronger than be dead. His fear that Dara being close to the emperor would be crowned the next king makes him mount an attack on the empire. One of the most tyrannical kings, absolute power becomes his ultimate aim. Whatever might have been his motivation in extending the reach of his faith, he made a place for himself in the history of India as the one who put power before his family, murdering them in cold blood.

Well-written and well-researched, it is an easy read that gives you a glimpse into the accession battles fought in that era. The book introduces you to Jahanara’s role in the turmoil.

By Vishal Bheeroo

Introduction:

Vishal BheerooReligion is the opium of the people, Karl Marx said. Since times immemorial, various school of thoughts debated on the role religion plays in our lives to strengthen order and unify society rather than being a divisive force. Author Promod Puri’s book ‘Hinduism beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions’ doesn’t pose as mere religious tokenism but is a real, honest attempt to analyze our fundamental values and the relevance of Hindu culture in the modern age.

At one shot, the book serves as fodder to put things in the right perspective, lauding social values but at the same time questions obsolete rituals to redress the wrongs that continue to plague us since ages. It’s the need of the hour to not only assess the Hindu culture but revise the teachings, albeit, interpretations of things.

The book was sent to me by the author for review.

BLURB

Why are there so many gods and goddesses in Hinduism? Why worship an idol? Is going to temple mandatory in the faith? What impact does the caste system have on Hindu society? Why do some rituals make perfect sense while others are so vague? What are the secular and diverse characters in Hinduism? What physics principles constitute the sound of Om? What is karma and its role in our day to day lives?

Narration:

The book explains the scientific and rational basis of the Hindu way of life in a very simple and concise manner. It’s precisely such kind of rationality which is lacking when obsolete beliefs and rituals are super imposed to make us believe in a far-fetched reality. Unfortunately, there are many myopic interpretations in the Hindu way of life that instil fears in believers and compels them to perform illogical rituals.

The fact is the true function of Hinduism is based on scientific logic and rationale. Promod Puri rightly put things in perspective, ‘The identity of Hinduism lies in its wide-open structure which allows and let develop diverse and distinct ideologies and practices…without any governing body or binding scriptures, studies in Hinduism and individual experiences.’

He speaks in the right manner to explore the system to enrich one’s spiritual state of being rather than being contented to follow as a matter of blind faith. Hinduism has always been a philosophy, embedded in our way of life.

Author Promod Puri doesn’t shy away in tapping on misplaced caste beliefs and blind ridden tradition that mars progress in the Hindu way of life. You name it, you get it… charlatans, bizarre rituals and fear factors. There are many self-claimed and fake gurus who have been twisting Hinduism for their own selfish benefit. The author assesses how such beliefs lead to the fanaticism that misinterprets the Hindu philosophy.  He valiantly refers to the dark practice of Sati and animal sacrifice which is still predominant in several quarters. The caste system is also highlighted where we discriminate on the basis of ascribed superiority where the untouchable are still discriminated or women are still not allowed to enter temples in some places. Speak about male bastion! It remains a blot on humanity. No wonder many of us are departing from the true essence of Vedas.

“Om Purnam is one of the most significant statements ever made anywhere on earth at any time. This small sutra contains the whole secret of the mystic approach towards life…It still remains the Everest of human consciousness.”

–Osho

Ramayan and Mahabharata

In the book, an interesting contrast is made between the most well-read and critiqued literature such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, who are as distinct from each other but they converge in form.

The author rightly explains how Mahabharata is most understood by the royalty and the educated class rather than the commoner. It holds significance for the Mahabharata is the product of the capitalist class who holds the belief that it’s the ultimate truth that cannot be questioned.

As the author says, ‘The absence of more Arjuns…in the dialogue along with the allegory of violent ambiance of a battlefield, constitute a puzzle in the esoteric philosophies of Gita.’

Ramayana remains a metaphorical study in the way Ram’s glory is chanted as ‘Maryada Purush’. His adventures are no doubt fascinating but he can  and should be questioned on being termed the perfect husband. It pretty sums up the agni pariksha modern women in our society are going through and how they are labeled as sluts. It whittles down to our understanding of the Ramayana in a patriarchal society.

Manu Smriti and Social reforms

“By a girl, a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house.”

“A virtuous woman who after the death of her husband constantly remains chaste, reaches heaven, though she has no son, just like those chaste men.”

Promod Puri’s book assesses Manu Smriti’s law in the most intelligent way which is a blot to the pure and disciplined Hindu way of life.

Manu Smriti is wrong in all its forms where he pitches for human indignity and the scorn he holds for women, those at the lower ladder in the class stratum. He makes no bone about his prejudice for women in society where she shouldn’t have any say  not only on matters of households but of prime importance. Sadly, Manu Smriti obsolete views are echoed by so many men and women are still degraded, ripped off their dignity. The hatred for women and their treatment as second class citizens is still vibrant in a demeaning manner and fulfilling of blind patriarch obligations.

There have been social reformers such as Jyotirao Pule, Swami Vivekananda and of course, Dr B R Ambedkar who in his book ‘Annihilation of Caste’ who was at the forefront of the fight for social justice and equality. The book addresses the issue. Certainly, the social reformers represented the glorious moments in Hindu religion, seeking a redress of inequalities and questioning the dominant mentality of the upper class.

What’s Not!

While Hinduism beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions is an eye opener and a   very practical guide to lead a healthy life based on the principle of equality, there are certain things that could have been better explored.  For instance, idol worship is presented by the author as one-to-one relationship and principle of non-duality,  should have been elaborated at length. In the same vein, the chapter about ontology where the author offers interesting insight on Nyaya Sutra on matters of validity in Hinduism lacks succinct explanation. It’s a very interesting philosophy that should have been debated in an expanding fashion and tapping its roots as well as relevance in today’s society.

Final Words

The book, Hinduism beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions is a must read which offers an objective criticism that goes beyond the Hindu way of life. It is well researched, objective and an insightful book that offers a healthy critique of the foundation of Hinduism, where often emphasis in laid on false pride, ego and un verified claim at times. Promod Puri’ explains arthas in a very competent and detailed manner and addresses the basic tenets of the rich Hindu philosophy.

Click on Amazon to buy the book. You can follow the author on Goodreads and his website.

Manusmriti And Violation Of Human Rights

“The methodology involved in science, including the social sciences, for logical argument and rational proof when adopted by religion helps it to seek sense and truth. It stimulates and encourages debate, protest, amendments and even deletions of those doctrines or beliefs which are senseless, derogatory and far from truth.

Although, it is a utopian attempt for an extensive tune-up of a religious vehicle for spiritual journey, but the passenger has the right for a meaningful ride without nuisances.

In this context let us drive in an area of Hindu theology which is a scene of outrageous violation of human rights especially in the midst of present-day democratic and liberal choices of rationalities.

The case in study is the controversial Hindu “law book” known as Manusmriti with disputed date of its antiqued origin. Its authorship is ascribed to ‘seer’ Manu, a mystical jurist, who claimed Manusmriti’s contents were the direct revelations from Brahma, the god. Thus he got the Manusmriti sanctified”.

History

The foundation of Hinduism possibly began without one single founder

Archaeologists say the Indus Valley Civilization, along the Indus River in the present-day north-west parts of Pakistan, started around 7000 BC. It reached its pinnacle of that period in 2000 BC with emergence of a fully matured society.

The Hindu way of life was part of that societal evolution. It was here the foundation of Hinduism possibly began without one single founder.

No initiator and no prime authorship have turned out to be distinctive boon for the Hindu faith. It has not bound itself with a consecrated originator. Without that revered barricade Hinduism got a clear passage to be in a progressive and evolutionary mode.

Rituals

The pathways to divinity are infused with words of morality and ethics, principles and noble deeds. Rituals facilitate the walk

The liberalism in Hinduism has encouraged a maze of ritual genesis.

From religious point of view ritual is a symbolic and sacramental repetitive activity which provides manner and order in performing revered service.

Rituals and diversities in Hinduism based on local traditions, customs and languages invigorate the faith while it adapts itself to changing environments. In these social and cultural transitions rituals perpetually take up dominating space in Hindu convictions and sentiments.

Imprints of rituals adequately identify Hinduism as a way of life.

Liberalism in Hinduism

Numerous Hindu gods and goddesses though all are the manifestations of God, hold their respective portfolios in the decentralized regime of the Divine Empire.

Being a Hindu is a rational and fascinating involvement in spiritual knowledge and in its practices offering comprehensive choices. It is also an engagement in philosophies for analytic stimulus to debate life beyond religion.

Hinduism is liberal. It is secular. It is diverse. And it has depth.

The identity of Hinduism lies in its wide-open structure which allows and let develop diverse and distinct ideologies and practices. Without any governing body or binding scriptures, studies in Hinduism are individual experiences.

“A man may not believe in God and still call himself a Hindu”, according to Mahatma Gandhi.

Significance of Om

It is indeed a subject of astronomical acceptance that from the very sound frequencies of Om the building blocks of the universe are evolved

The myriad journey of Hindu divinity begins with a simple and pure sound of Om.

Om is also spelt as Aum with subtle phonetic articulation.

As per Hindu spiritual thinking, Om is considered to be the primordial sound introduced in this universe and perhaps in the whole celestial world.

The reasons for its production and its introduction on cosmic scale are part of the God’s ‘lila’ or play responsible for creating this eternal resonance. And that marks the beginning of cosmic creation including the cause of the universe.

Besides being the sound, Om is considered to be the very basis of all that constitutes the universe including life and matter. Thru metaphysical theorization which can be numinous, Hinduism cognized the sound to create the contents of the universe.

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.

Purchase Hindusim Beyond Ritauls from Amazon.com

LIFE IS A GAME OF SOCCER

LIFE IS A GAME OF SOCCER

 

By Promod Puri

All our thoughts and actions are influenced and regulated by the consciousness of the landscape of reality around us. In this landscape, one makes a selection of his or her own space in life’s playfield.

And the game starts. It is a collective game, a team game. There is no absolute independence. Our individual likes and dislikes, thoughts and behaviors, actions and reactions, morals, and rules, all are parts of the game. Social and environmental structures around us are the team’s norms in shaping and steering the game.

Stamina, discipline, and coordination in these environments help in scoring our goals. Individual performance determines the scale of awards. Based on our skills, hard work and a bit of luck, some collect millions while others make less in this life’s game of soccer.

Environments seldom offer a level play. Speeding race toward the goal is unexpectedly blocked.  We are tripped by those who get yellow and red cards. We fall and are bruised. We get up and join the bout again. New strategies kick in. Still, challenges are a constant. We keep on running toward the goal while being pushed back and forth. And the play goes on.

The Referee blows the final whistle. And the game is over.

 

My Canada Day Salutation Goes:

1. To all the volunteers who strive for dedication and devotion preparing the divine langar and washing dishes in Gurdwaras and Mandirs for the devotees and visitors, as well as for sharing the meals among hungry and homeless people irrespective of their faiths.

2. To those poor and destitute trash collectors who carry shopping carts or plastic bags collecting refundable empty beer, liquor, soda bottles, cans and juice containers to earn some coins, while picking up the litter for a cleaner environment.

3. To the Car Free Day each summer when Vancouver’s ever-vibrant Main Street is closed to all vehicular traffic, and the festivities begin. The Main Street culture is recaptured. Meeting neighbors and friends, acquainted with new and old businesses, exotic shopping, environmental campaigns, delights of street foods are the highlights of the Party On Main charged with the blare of music.

4. To the Canadian spring when daffodils, lilies, cherry blossom, magnolias along with other flowers and fresh tender leaves breeze in and change the landscape. When the Canadian summer packs full nature’s bloom. When the Canadian autumn signs in with galaxy of falling colorful leaves. And the Canadian winter when jingle bells inaugurate the festive season and making its entry into the greetings of Happy New Year.

5. And to the Maple Leaf flag stately and proudly embodying all the best about Canada.

-by Promod Puri

Uncles and Aunties

The uncle and auntie is a social phenomenon making an impressive entry in the cultural evolution of societies where it is poised to create an informal yet respectable relationship between young and old. It is smart, respectable and even practical.

Uncles and aunties’ designations have become popular among the younger generation of South Asians to address their parents’ friends or older contacts. Instead of calling them by their first or last names, with prefix Mr. or Mrs., the unrelated nephews and nieces develop a kinship with the choice of etiquette which is more personal.

The uncle­-auntie entitlement is in vogue in other cultures as well. But the South Asian youths go a step further. To show more reverence, ‘Ji’ pronounced like ‘g’, is attached to address the instantaneous relatives as uncle Ji and aunty Ji. Perhaps this arrangement establishes a more amiable and closer connection.

The conventional practice of using Mr., Mrs. or madam is not only becoming obsolete in casual encounters, but these appellations create ritualistic formality. Whereas, the consensual tie-up among universal ‘‘uncles and aunties” and their equally universal “nephews and nieces” introduces a mood that is more intimate and informal but still courteous.

Within families, the uncle-aunty expression makes an all-in-one entity that can cover all the close relatives from both sides of parents.

Otherwise, in the Indian culture children address relatives by their designated titles. For example, in Punjabi customs, from the dad’s side, his younger brother is called Chacha and his wife Chachi; older brother is Taya, wife Tayi; sister is addressed as Bhua; her husband Fufar (quite a mouthful). And from the mom’s side, her brother is Maama and wife Maami; sister Maasi and her husband Masser (a bumpy accent).

All these distinct monikers of close relatives are covered within the generic uncle and auntie entitlements. Still, the conventional titles of relatives are also reserved as a family tradition. But for non-relatives, the uncle and aunty application is more common, convenient and pragmatic.

The practicality of the trend is illustrated in the following episode:

The young man in a family function while introducing guests to each other, was often heard “meet my uncle, meet my aunty”. And when somebody asked him “how many uncles and aunties you have”, the poised “nephew” had to tell the truth. With a smile on his face he said: “no, they are not my real uncles and aunties, but by addressing them so, I don’t have to remember their individual names”. The statement has merit and adaptability in any social environment.

Besides its social aspect, the uncle and aunty culture has a working assignment also. When it comes to playing smart South Asian young salespeople have a reason to use the viable uncle-auntie technique. They often address their older clients as uncle Ji and aunty Ji to establish a trustworthy relationship as part of their sales pitch.

promodpuri.com

Singer Jagjit Singh

By Promod Puri

In his 40 years of entertaining and alluring singing career, late Jagjit Singh’s soft and “silky” voice created a vast following not only in India but among thousands of his fans settled all over the world as well.

Jagjit Singh, who died in October 2011, created a niche for his thick-pitched but soothing voice to enjoy simple vocal music along with blending orchestra of few instruments.

His self-composed music and singing style, which usually had a light classical touch in it, can aptly be described as a geet performance though the selection of most of the songs were Urdu compositions in gazal pattern.

Was Jagjit Singh a gazal singer?

His fans believe so, and call him “king of gazal”. In all humbleness, for which he was known too, Jagjit Singh disclaimed this title as he created a style of his own with his sweet and melodious voice which may not fit in the old school of gazal presentation.

There is quite a distinction between the singing style of Jagjit Singh and the gazal gayaki mastered by Mehndi Hassan, Ghulam Ali, Begum Akhtar, Mallika Pukhraj (of evergreen number, abhi to main javan hoon), to some extent Talat Mehmood and Asha Bhonsle (in aankhon ki masti ke..)

Credit is bestowed upon Jagjit Singh that with his new approach he brought gazal to the masses. He did not create an elite audience like other known gazal singers.

Gazal rendering is a simplified version of classical Indian music along with thumri and dadra. Jagjit Singh altered it into different musical track. He explored and expanded the principality of gazal.

In the words of Mallika-e Ghazal Begum Akhtar, “Ghazal shahee dhang se gayee jaye to uska nasha sar chad ke bolta hai” (if a ghazal is sung in a proper way it can be very intoxicating”). Jagjit Singh certainly uplifts the mood by introducing his own distinctive sweetness in gazal gayaki.

Agree to disagree

By Promod Puri

“Agree to disagree” is a declaration of face saving justification.

It happens when two or more parties or individuals after an argumentative discussion fail to agree. And in all civility, the agreement results in agree-to-disagree compromise.

With that declaration egos remain intact, but time wasted. Nothing is lost, nothing is gained either.

India and Pakistan have spent over 68 years in this agree-to-disagree parleys. Their on-and-off dialogues have continued for ever without any spirited solution to end hostilities between the two nations. But agree-to-disagree is a compromising escape route. It has become a longest-running bureaucratic and ministerial play.

Here is a humorous anecdote experienced by Canadian comedian Norm MacDonald relating to the agree-to-disagree standpoint.

One day he visits his doctor to have a health check up. The doctor told him,“you are very overweight, unhealthy, and out of shape”. The comedian responded, “I am a healthy person, I don’t smoke or drink and I’m in good shape”. The doctor insisted, “you are not in shape at all you need to lose weight”.

Finally, after some back and forth arguments, the comedian settled for “agree-to-disagree”. However, doctor immediately responded, “no, I will not agree to disagree”.

The story justifies when two parties disagree, “agree to disagree” is a cop-out.

Do you agree, or agree to disagree?

Magsaysay Award For Fighting Manual Scavenging

An Indian activist who helped to set up a human rights group campaigning for the eradication of manual scavenging, a euphemism for disposing of faeces by hand, was awarded Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel prize on Wednesday.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation named Bezwada Wilson one of six winners this year, citing his “moral energy and prodigious skill in leading a grassroots movement to eradicate the degrading servitude of manual scavenging in India”.

Disposing of faeces from dry toilets and open drains by hand to be carried on the head in baskets to disposal sites, has long been an occupation thrust upon members of the Dalit group, traditionally the lowest ranked in India’s caste system.

At least 90 percent of India’s estimated one million manual scavengers are women, a hereditary occupation involving 180,000 Dalit households cleaning the more than 700,000 public and private dry latrines across the country.

Wilson, 50, whose own family had been engaged in manual scavenging for generations, said the award was recognition for women workers who had said no to scavenging.

Wilson was spared from manual scavenging to be the first in his family to pursue higher education, the Manila-based Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation said.

(Reporting by Anuradha Nagaraj)
promodpuri.com

Is God A Brahmin

IS GOD A BRAHMIN…: “As all beings are the creation of God, and He or She represents all of them, then in response to Manu’s caste stratification a question arises. Is God Himself or Herself a Brahmin, Kashtriya, Vaishya, Shudra or the touchable Untouchable? The understanding is that God assumes none of these titles. Or being an all inclusive He/She accepts all these appellations plus more”. quote from Hinduism beyond rituals,customs and traditions.

Read more about Hinduism

progressivehindudialogue.com

Trump Has Great Plan For America

 

(Wamiq Misbahi in NY Times)Trump is a man with a vision for America, not a specific vision, a great vision…the best vision…Trump has a plan to make this country great again….What plan??….a great plan…a plan that will work because it’s the best plan…..Why???… because Trump knows good people…which people???….the best people….people that are not stupid like other people….people who know how to get deals done…what deals???…great deals…the biggest deals… because I know words… What words???…I have the best words… I get my information from watching TV… I consult with myself because I have a great brain… A great brain???…the best brain…Trump will also build a big wall to keep Mexicans out and he will make Mexico pay for it!…How….??? its all part of the great plan!…ISIS will be gone very, very quickly…How???… I won’t tell you.. It’s a secret !!!… (This guy is a “one-man circle jerk” and he is only about entertaining the uneducated who love him and his great plan. He’s all air – no substance. And he is their Champion

I “borrowed” this with permission of the author. So, don’t accuse me of plagiarism.
promodpuri.com

MEDITATION IN ACTION

A work or an activity performed with devotion and concentration of mind is an acceptable Hindu meditative practice. In this focused regime the tools of meditation may be different but the meditator achieves the same spiritual and tranquil experiences. The statue of dancing Nataraja in additions to its other attributes, also symbolizes meditation in action.

Meditation in action opens up practically any form of activity from dance to physical yoga exercises, recreation, reading, writing, playing or listening to music, or any life’s work to be meditative as long as the mind stays focused.

Excerpt From Hinduism beyond rituals, customs and traditions, Chapter 13 Meditation and Yoga

Grouse Grind Meditation

 

Grouse Grind Meditation/ as posted in Tripadvisor

Climbing the 2.9 km steep Grouse Grind mountainous hike in North Vancouver, BC, beside a strenuous workout on ” Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”, is also a sort of kinetic meditation of about 90 minutes. The focus has to be on the uneven steps and the rough ground underneath leading up to the top of the popular Grouse Mountain. The grueling experience when over gives a exhilarating feeling of like conquering Mt. Everest. It is one activity which remains as one of the highlights of summer in Vancouver.
The “grind” has got some needed renovation. The slippery or worn out steps are now bordered by sturdy logs. And there are more ropes and nets to hold on for better safety. These repairs and improvements make climbing safer and little easier, especially on the knees. But these upgrading costs the Grind enthusiasts to pay for the hitherto free parking as for the first time pay parking meters have been installed in the parking lot.

STUDIES IN HINDUISM:

In its antiquity, narratives and parables, philosophical depths, diversity in beliefs, rituals, myths and interpretations, the studies in Hinduism seem like a world of confusion and contradictions. But it is not. With open and liberal mind the exploration despite being adventurously bumpy, is extremely interesting and engrossing as well.

Read more about Hinduism

progressivehindudialogue.com

promodpuri.com

KARMA IS DHARMA:

“When the reasoning is established in all its sincerity karma develops into prayer. For a practicing Hindu karma is dharma”.

Read more about Hinduism
– Hinduism: beyond rituals,customs and traditions.

HINDUISM IS A DEMOCRACY

“Hinduism is a democracy of conflicting, contradicting and controversial thoughts and theories. It is a recognition of diverse, secular and mature philosophies. The religiosity has brought forth a treasure of obsolete, contemporary and topical hypothesis”.

Read more about Hinduism

LIVING IN THE PRESENT

By Promod Puri

This brief article is inspired by widely acclaimed Vancouver-based spiritual writer Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now”. It is not an attempt to give a motivational advice. But coming up with an idea, in line with the basic theme of the “Power of Now” in realizing, accepting, capturing and enjoying every moment happening just now.

Experience the past, flyover the future, but stay in the present. Moments matter in this stay. These moments come and go in the time flash of now.

In an endeavor to dwell in the “now” (the present moment) let us get into the R.A.C.E.

The letter ‘R’ stands for recognition which is the first approach in this focus to acknowledge how important is the present moment.

‘A’ stands for acceptance. Once the present moment is realized, acceptance makes sense. It does not matter how pleasant, good, bad or ugly, easy or difficult the present offers in its outlook and outcome, it needs to be accepted.

‘C’ stands for capturing of the present moment to have a real grip for its effective handling.

And finally ‘E’ stands for enjoyment. In whatever shape or form a situation is presented or emerges after its recognition, acceptance and containment it must be enjoyed as well with grace.

Climbing a tough hill is an experiment in R.A.C.E. where every step of the hike is a moment. Here the climber recognizes (R) and accepts (A) that in order to accomplish his or her feat the only choice is to go up. Each moment is captured (C) without letting in other thoughts; and finally enjoying (E) every step of the challenge to cover the climb.

It is an experience in concentration or meditation in action when the climbing movements and the climber become one entity. It is like during a dance performance when a dance and the dancer become one.

And that is where the joy of living in the present, where we merge with the moment, finds its relevancy and pleasure.

promodpuri.com

THE OLYMPIC SHOW

United States' Lauren Hernandez trains on beam ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
United States’ Lauren Hernandez trains on beam ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

A multi-million-dollar sports carnival of athletic strength and spectacle by physically super human beings has started in Rio De Janeiro amidst the sharp realities of poverty, Zika threat, foul waters and the on-going political instability in Brazil.

The show must continue every four years to thrill the interested watchers worldwide if one does not switch channels to see a part of humanity scratching some living in a world struggling to survive in slums and starvation.

It is a recreation of the rich and for the rich where the poor just provide the bulk to the Olympic body. The gold, the silver and the bronze are hauled by the athletes fed on super rich diet which from time to time is topped with dope. The very cost to rear an Olympian can adequately feed a family facing hunger and malnutrition.

The call of humanity seeks to prioritize an urgency by sparing those billions of Olympic dollars to create a hunger-free world community to receive the basics of food, clean water and shelters.

-Promod Puri

promodpuri.com

President Donald Trump On The Phone With…….

Trump: Yes, yes Warren, it is me, Donald Trump, the President of the Untied States of America.

Warren: Oh, thank you Mr. President for attending to my phone call. I was just wondering how it is going so far.

Trump: Things should be going smooth soon. A pile of files is sitting on the presidential desk. My temperament is not used to reading. All my life I worked with my gut feelings. And that is the culture I want to introduce here in the White House.

Warren: That is going to be tough……

Trump: Not really Warren, it is going to be my way or the highway. I am a tough guy.

Warren: What are your immediate priorities.

Trump: Well, of all the promises I made during my hard won campaign the first one on my list is to build the Mexican Wall. I am earnestly working on this big project. This morning while I am talking to you Warren, I am waiting for the contractor, a Mexican guy, to give me the estimations. But he has not showed up yet.

Warren: Can you shed some light on this controversial proposal, as many people on both sides of the border ridiculed your fancy.

Trump: It was a political stunt to please my innocent and committed worshippers. It was not meant to secure the border with Mexico either. The reason for putting forward this game plan was purely business.

Warren: But how it can be a business venture.

Trump: You see Warren, millions of people visit the Great Wall of China every year. And that is from where I picked up the idea. My wall will be much more grandeur in size and architecture. It will be number one tourist attraction in the world. I have built replica of Taj Mahal. But this one will be the real thing.

Warren: It involves billions or perhaps trillions of dollars. From where the money will come from.

Trump: Come on Warren, you know I am a great salesman, and with my charismatic personality investors worldwide will lineup in front of the White House to avail this great opportunity. Moreover, I will be looking for sponsors and advertisers who can buy space to promote their products and services. The space here is unlimited, running into thousands of miles from Pacific to the Atlantic.

Warren: You are genius. Can I reserve spaces.

Trump: Sure, no problem, but first drop by at the White House, and teach me how to play the card game of bridge. I understand it is a team play.

Warren: Yes it is. But you can still learn.

Trump: Goodbye.

Ivana Trump: Wake up Donald, it is getting late to hit the campaign trail.

Trump: Good morning honey. I was in my dream house, I mean the White House.

-By Promod Puri

promodpuri.com

“Time Flies”

Life goes by very fast
The fact is recognized when
looking back at past events.
The future events often seem far.
But “Time flies”.

-Promod Puri,  promodpuri.com

Sports Is Show Business

The basic reason to involve oneself in sports is to seek and maintain healthy body. Recreation comes next.

But in the contemporary society social, cultural, competitive, big business and even political aspects dominate the field of sports. Olympics, world cricket and world soccer events are the prime examples of this phenomenon. Mass participation in sports, especially in poor and developing countries, is being hurt by mass entertainment for sports watchers and enthusiasts.

Sports is a show business, not a preferred involvement in healthy and recreational lifestyle.

-By Promod Puri

promodpuri.com

Hinduism, Diwali and swastikas: Explained

sunpaperlogodougtoddPublished on: November 1, 2016 | Last Updated: November 1, 2016 1:33 PM PDT

Douglass Todd

swastika
Vancouver’s Promod Puri, author of a new book on Hinduism, has seen priests drawing swastikas during public prayers. “And the moment these ceremonies are over the swastika is erased.”

With Canada’s 500,000 Hindus celebrating Diwali throughout this week, the awkward topic of the religion’s swastika symbol has again arisen.

One young North American Hindu has confessed in a revealing, tender-hearted piece how he often tries to convince his mother not to put Hinduism’s swastika symbol on the doorstep during Diwali.

Since most of the Western world associates the swastika with Naziism, Parth Shah told NPR he becomes mortified that North Americans might think his family somehow supports such atrocities. His mother refuses to listen.

VancouverSunPhoto
“Using the swastika … is not at all mandatory,” says Promod Puri, who has self-published a ook on Hinduism. This photo was taken in 2000 when Puri was publishing The Link, a South-Asian B.C. newspaper. GLENN BAGLO / VANCOUVER SUN

Metro Vancouver writer-journalist Promod Puri, who has written a new book on Hinduism, explained to me that Hindu priests and Brahmin leaders don’t seriously consider banning the swastika because of its Nazi associations.

“The swastika is just a ritualistic symbol in Hinduism, which is mostly used in ceremonial events at the discretion of the priest class. Since antiquity it is being used, much before the German adaptation,” said Puri, who has retired from editing and publishing the South-Asian oriented B.C. newspaper, The Link.

“The swastika’s ceremonial use as such has never conflicted with Hindu theism, which prides itself as democratic and secular… Using the swastika in whatever formation is not at all mandatory.”

Even though many Hindus post the swastika on their windows or doorways as a symbol of good fortune and peace, Puri said he rarely comes across the practice among the roughly 50,000 Hindus in B.C., most of whom are in Metro Vancouver.

“However, I have seen Hindu priests drawing swastika while undertaking prayer ceremonies to mark some special events. And the moment these ceremonies are over the swastika is erased.”

Promod added that the swastika is not a key sign of Hinduism. That role belongs to the symbol of Om.

RELATED: How Hindu philosophy dovetails with Western philosophy

In praise of mixing religions, even when it’s dangerous

I asked Puri to write something to introduce readers to his self-published book, Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions.

Here is an excerpt from what he wrote:

omred
Promod Puri says this symbol, of “Om” (or “Aum”), is the key one in Hinduism. Not the swastika.

“Why are there so many gods and goddesses in Hinduism? Why worship an idol? Is going to temple mandatory in the faith? What impact does the caste system have on Hindu society? Why do some rituals make perfect sense while others are so vague? What are the secular and diverse characters in Hinduism? What physics principles constitute the sound of Om? What is karma and its role in our day to day lives?

These are some of the many questions which intrigue the non-Hindu mind, as well as many among over half-a-million Hindu population in Canada, especially those belonging to the younger generation.

Wrapped in mystique and antiquity the identity of Hinduism lies in its wide-open structure which allows and lets develop diverse and distinct ideologies and practices without any governing body or binding scriptures.

Hinduism is not merely a religion, or as it is often referred, “a way of life.” It is a multi-disciplinary academy as well. It is a democracy of conflicting, contradicting and controversial thoughts and ideologies.

Beyond its practicing rituals, customs and traditions Hinduism thru its various schools offers comprehensive studies in philosophies, metaphysics and sciences.

As such it recognizes diversity of thought. The rational and liberal thought in Hinduism is the very basis of Sankhya School, which is one of the several ancient Hindu faculties infusing diversity in the theological philosophies of the religion.

An example of its rational and liberal acceptance of thoughts is revealed in Hindu theism in the following statement from the Rig Veda Chapter X, Para 129 which says:

Who knows, and who can swear,
How creation came, when or where!
Even gods came after creation’s day,
Who knows, who can truly say
When and how did creation start?
Did He, do it? Or did He not?
Only He, up there, knows, maybe;
Or perhaps, not even He.

Politics

An Overview of the American Election Scene

Following the American election is like watching a live theatrical performance of wit and idiocy.

The ongoing show besides its elements of great entertainment and fuel for discussion, reveals the left-right extremes of current American political thinking and behavior.

No doubt the most colorful and watched character in this spectacle is Donald Trump who impulsively spits out his unscripted discourses the moment these are created in his narcissist egghead workshop.

The stupidity of Trump-level scripts is his big asset. He sure does a good job in creating the scenarios which are scary when introduced, but often laughable and entertaining as the show continues.

Without Donald Trump in his natural performances the entire episode of this 2016 edition of American election scene would be bland and unnoticed. He certainly has outperformed all others by creating and controlling the stage agenda.

Trump is proud of his management skills both as a businessman and of his personal life, including managing his ruffled hairs. His confidence in his seemingly irrational logics have produced some original proposals as for as safety and security of American public is concerned. Great Wall of America would be one of the most popular legacies of Trump even if it remains as his cherished dream. And his tirade to keep out Muslims will follow him like a shadow long after the election is over.

Another roadside show of the USA election is all about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. She is getting impatient with her competitor as when he will move his food truck, which is drawing more customers than expected, so that she prepares for the final bout in the upcoming grand finally in November.

(Credit: the food truck idea borrowed from a recent cartoon with its political pun of US election scene).

Promod Puri is the author of recently released book “Hinduism beyond rituals,customs and traditions”.

By Promod Puri

 

 

Left Vs Right Ideologies

By Promod Puri

What is swaying the world for the past several decades is the binaries of left and right ideologies with elements of power, ego and greed.

These elements have been part of both left and right regimes from Cuba to China and Russia to the USA along with its allies in Europe, and in the developing countries of Asia, Africa and South America.

The left and right ideological factor has superseded the expansionist factor which dominated the reigning supremacy over land and people for centuries. And even religious domination is not much an ideological factor in sovereign expansion.

The idiosyncrasy of the present socio-political left and the right mental constitution is that the leftists have a revulsion for religion. And the rightists are religious fanatic. The former ridicules and rejects religion, and the latter is narcissistically illiterate about it.

Religion is neither left or right, nor it is centerist. Religion is a righteous ideology when comprehended in its true spirit.

How To Win Elections Trump Style

By Promod Puri

Unless a celestial intervention takes place the next spectacle of the American election will be the pompous entry of Donald Trump as Republican nominee in the presidential race.

In his march toward clinching the party’s nomination Trump has revealed the very landscape of America which is still extensively dotted with xenophobic swamps and bogs breeding and feeding the Klan-everglades.

Trump’s battle for nomination seems to be a well-planned strategy, and being a demagog he has successfully rounded up American diehards to create a nation-wide constituency of ultraconservatives.

Consequent to that Trump does not belong to the Republican Party, rather the party belongs to him. In its new avatar the party has reduced itself to be a mere shell embodying the myopic spirit of Trump.

The constituency he has assembled is his secure vote bank of constituents who have acquired a solid strain of immunity toward any political gravity other than their divinity toward Trump.

Realizing that this bagful of admirers and zealots won’t get him into the White House, and keeping in mind the multiracial demographic reality of America, the next election strategy can be a bitter pill for Trump to swallow. This treatment would move him from the extreme right to the middle of the political spectrum. Being a politician and businessman to the core Trump will not hesitate to put on a new outfit, though temporarily.

In this gamesmanship all his shortsighted, bigoted and vile statements can be retractable, but these would still be struck in his throat till the election is over.