Perception Of God

God is more than our mindset imagination of being a super human governing this universe.
A simple and brief, but still far from complete, portrayal of God can be: the sum total of everything and every process in this universe and beyond is God. Everything, known or unknown that exist is what a universe is all about.
(Excerpt from Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions, Chapter 10: Rationalism And Sciences)

Perception Of God

Source: Perception Of God

Behind Modi: The Growing Influence Of Indian Lobby

By Ashok Sharma

Ashok Sharma, University of New South Wales, Canberra at Australian Defence Force Academy

One has 32.9 million Twitter followers; the other has 31 million.

When U.S. President Donald Trump met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House on June 26, Trump chose to draw attention to something the leaders have in common by saying “We are world leaders on social media.”

Prior to the June 26 meeting, news analysts focused on how the U.S.-India relationship was strained over possible changes to the U.S. H1B visa program. Approximately 70 percent of these visas were issued to Indians in 2014. Another source of friction: Trump’s remarks railing against India and China while withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.

But Modi’s meeting with Trump showed these events would cause little loss of momentum in U.S.-India relations. In fact, as a scholar of U.S.-India relations, I’d argue that the ties between the two countries are so intertwined that derailment is almost impossible.

From logjam to strategic partnership

The economic relationship between the two countries has seen a tenfold increase in the past 15 years – from US$5.6 billion in 1990 to $103 billion in 2015.

The U.S. has displaced Russia as the biggest supplier of arms to India. It is also the country with which India conducts the most military exercises.

These stronger economic and military ties are two signs of ways the U.S. and India have drawn closer since the end of the Cold War. Other common interests including securing the Indo-Pacific region as China increasingly asserts itself there and fighting Islamic extremism.

A lesser-known catalyst pushing the U.S. and India together – lobbying by Indian-Americans – is the subject of my new book. In my view, this relatively new political force has played a pivotal role in transforming U.S. foreign policy toward India.

The emergence of Indian lobbying

Although Indian-Americans make up just about 1 percent of the total American population, they are an influential group.

Measured by per-capita income, Indian-Americans are the wealthiest ethnic group in the U.S. Beginning in the 1990s, their professional success gave the community confidence to play a more active role in the American social and political life. Backed by their own financial resources and growing population, Indian-Americans took to lobbying through a network of professional and political organizations such as the Indian American Forum for Political Education, Indian American Committee for Political Awareness and U.S.-India Political Action Committee.

The bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans was formed in 1993. The caucus expanded from its original membership of eight to 50 within 12 months of its founding. Its membership peaked at approximately 200 members a decade later. Although it is somewhat smaller now, it continues to be the largest caucus dedicated to a single country.

In 2004, a bipartisan India Caucus was formed in the U.S. Senate which was headed by Hillary Clinton, Democratic senator of New York, and John Cornyn, Republican senator of Texas. This was the first time a Senate caucus was formed dedicated to a single country.

An evolving strategy

In the beginning of the 1990s, the Indian lobby focused on countering the Pakistani lobby groups, which had a strong presence during the Cold War period.

The first major test came in defending India’s nuclear test in 1998, an act by which India essentially declared itself as a nuclear power in defiance of international norms. Another early test was exposing exposing Pakistan’s military adventurism in Kargil War in 1999 and creating a more objective view of the Kashmir issue.

However, it was during the passage of the U.S.-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement Bill in the U.S. Congress in 2008 that the real clout of Indian lobbying was confirmed. The India lobby emphasized the positive aspects of the civilian atomic agreement, ensuring its safe passage at every stage in the U.S. Congress.

The caucus members were responsible for turning around the negative impression of India that dominated the Cold War period. They highlighted India’s credentials as a democracy, the value of its market economically and its growing strategic importance.

The growing support for India in the U.S. Congress was reflected when 40 congressional representatives attended an address given by Modi in Manhattan in September 2014 and by the applause Modi received during his address to a joint session of Congress two years later.

Visits from Modi

Modi’s frequent visits have reinvigorated both the India-U.S. ties and the Indian lobbying.

During his second visit to the U.S. in 2014, Modi met with a 50-member delegation of the Oversea Friends of BJP, India’s center-right ruling party, and listened to their concerns and issues.

The first-ever U.S. convention to mobilize the diaspora , organized by the same group, helped Modi connect with the Indian community.

The Indian lobby is paying close attention to the issue of H1B visa as the IT industry is one of the major success stories in the India-U.S. relationship. But Indo-U.S. ties go way beyond any single issue.

The Trump administration seems to realize this. Welcoming Modi’s visit to the U.S., White House spokesperson Sean Spicer listed “fighting terrorism, promoting economic growth and reforms and expanding security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region” as common priorities for the two countries. The Indian side was looking for “a new direction for deeper bilateral engagement.”

Modi and Trump each have a corporate style of administration. This may help the India-U.S. economic cooperation accelerate and achieve their target of $500 billion in trade in the coming years.

The ConversationA challenge for both leaders will be how to reconcile Trump’s “America First” policy with Modi’s “Make in India” campaign. However, I believe the synergies between the two economies are strong enough to overcome this challenge, especially with the help of the India lobby.

(The article was originally published by the Conversation)

Silence Is Deadly For Indian Democracy

By Promod Puri

India is increasingly becoming a democracy of silent middle class, silent opposition, and silenced press. Under the ruling political domain, there is unscrupulous practice of silence as well.

The environment of quietness encourages increased prejudice, hatred, violence, hardships and sufferings for the Dalits, the minorities, and the poor. Also, it can be the cause of their separation from the social, economic and political aspirations promised in a democratic system.

Silence is not golden when it is strategically used to carry an evil political and religious agenda with dictatorial objectives. Silence of the ruling leadership can be interpreted as a green light for those who commit violence in the name of religion or fanatical nationalism.

Silence is deadly for democracy in India.

 

promodpuri.com

 

Wonder Woman Too Western & Too White

Blockbuster movie Wonder Woman is too western and too white. With its sexualized image and unrealistic beauty, WW does not connect with millions of women around the world. It has commercial value only. It does not represent a feminist symbol of a strong and liberated woman. With multiple identities, women in contemporary society face multiple challenges. Wonder Women can’t be a role model for young women as it does not capture that diversity.

Dharma, Karma & Moksha

An outstanding feature of Hinduism is the doctrine of “purusarthas”, advocating four complementary engagements in an individual’s life. These are dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

 

Dharma seeks conscious conduct of life on moral values of honesty, compassion, truthfulness, and purity of body and mind. It is a behavior toward ethical living. Dharma involves austerity, saintliness, absence of anger and non-violence. Dharma-based actions, duties and responsibilities are the commitments toward a righteous living.

 

Artha means one should be working to earn enough wealth in order to achieve economic liberty or independence. Kama emphasizes on the need of pleasures and enjoyments in life as well.

 

Moksha or mukti denoting freedom, is a much hyped Hindu traditional thought. In essence it represents spirited purity to seek oneness with the Supreme-being.

 

Moksha covers two allied but distinct schools under the faculty of moksha-shastra.

 

One is based on the concept of eternal salvation from the repeated cycle of birth, death and rebirth. This rotation of advents is a popular notion among Hindus with the support of reincarnation ideology.

 

The birth-rebirth cycle to achieve moksha or salvation is referred as soteriology. In Sanskrit it is called Samsara.

 

Life is an entanglement of sufferings. Moksha is considered as the ultimate goal to be relieved from those miseries and afflictions. The blissful emancipation is achieved thru dharma-inspired righteous actions along with conscious detachment from worldly affairs. Accumulation of wisdom is an imperative of moksha along with the dispossession of worldly desires or cravings in its pursuits.

 

It is a stage of Braham-anubhav, a vibe of Supreme within. In this state of capping perfection with a feeling of Oneness that one gets into moksha, and the person is eternally liberated from the fettered cycle of birth, growth and death.

 

The postmortem of one or several cycles of birth and rebirth determines the qualifying criteria as how well one treads on the path of dharma before achieving moksha. And once there, it is a point of no return as one is let off from the bondage of samsara.

 

TRANSCENDENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS

 

The second and alternative school of thought in the moksha shastra lies in its evolutionary interpretation. Referred to as jivanmukti, it is that state of transcendental consciousness which one receives within the present life. In that respect moksha does not have to be liberation from samsara or life-rebirth wheel of suffering.

 

Dharma provides the route or ‘marg’ to get to the destination of moksha. In this journey a major emphasis is on discriminatory or critical studies to gain knowledge. Ignorance is dispelled and illusion is cleared.

 

The accentuation on critical study involves evaluation in order to accumulate true education. And when true education is being pursued the rationality factor in Hinduism is once again underlined.

 

Detachment from the outer world, lack of craving or desires for material possessions, self restraint, calmness of mind, dispassion, endurance and patience, faith and commitment are the other essentials to make a journey on the moksha marg.

 

The maneuvers in the pursuit of moksha transform the nature, attributes and behavior of an individual where peace and bliss are the ultimate rewards along with a feeling that the whole universe resides in the self.

 

Whereas dharma is both a vehicle and route map to reach the goal of moksha, the latter is subjected to its practicality and worthy of its achievability. Sometimes, it is the travel which is more challenging, captivating and compensating than the destination.

 

Dharma involves actions, while moksha does not. Dharma means karma, moksha is contrary to that. The latter is only a state of thought and consciousness. The scriptures in Geeta emphasize on karma or action in its simplistic and literal meaning. Non-karma means the dead end.

Is moksha stage the dead end of life? According to Osho (Rajneesh), yes it is. He questions the worthiness of moksha. Seeking moksha is against the law of existence, Osho argues.

Excerpts From Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions, Chapter 11

progressivehindudialogue.com

Dharma, Karma & Moksha

Source: Dharma, Karma & Moksha

Progressive Hindu Dialogue

Progressive Hindu Dialogue is an initiative to explore, recognize and advance the rational, liberal and progressive nature of Hinduism. It is also a forum to debate the symbolic aspects of Hinduism’s rituals, customs, traditions and thoughts in an intelligent and prudent environment. In this dynamics the overall objective is to invigorate the continuity of Hinduism’s evolution with changing times. Read more https://progressivehindudialogue.com/2016/09/07/welcome/

World Does Not need Forces To Defend Borders

By Promod Puri

Do the countries of the world need armies, navies, and air forces any more to defend their borders when invasions to expand powers and territorial regimes seized to happen a long time ago.

And even the ideological accessions by communists and democratic powers have receded in recent years after the lessons learned from Vietnam and Afghanistan takeover attempts.

The contrary development emerging out lately is that several smaller nations are seeking adoptions by big and rich nations for better lives and management of their ruling systems. Example: Puerto Rico in a 2017 referendum overwhelmingly (95 percent) voted to join America as its 51st state.

promodpuri.com

promodpuri.blogspot.ca

Self-love – not bans – will bring an end to Africa’s bleaching syndrome

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Children as young as three internalise a bias against dark skin. Shutterstock

Ronald Hall, Michigan State University

To be black in the world today is to be stigmatised for having dark skin. To be light-skinned, on the other hand, is to be celebrated in line with western beauty standards.

Black people not only experience this stigma from outside of their “racial” group. The bias against dark skin has also been internalised by black people the world over and manifests as colourism within the black community.

My research suggests that African-Americans consider light skin as the most ideal personal characteristic one can have. And this internalised bias towards whiteness is not only limited to the US. In my 30 years of studying this subject, I have found it to be prevalent in all places where people of African descent live – including Togo, Senegal, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

The stigmatisation of dark skin has led to the popular practice of skin bleaching. After discovering the practice three decades ago, I began to investigate a condition that I have named the “bleaching syndrome”.

There have been attempts by governments to discourage the use of skin bleaches through sales bans, but these have been largely unsuccessful.

For as long as black people continue to idealise light skin, the bleaching syndrome will continue to afflict many dark-skinned populations.

The bleaching syndrome

The bleaching syndrome has three components. In the first place, it’s psychological, involving the adoption of alien ideals and the rejection of native characteristics.

African-American psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark conducted a famous “doll study” in the 1940s that showed how black children as young as three come to understand their place in the world as “less than”. They reach this conclusion long before they have the ability to articulate race. It’s a phenomenon black psychologists refer to as a “colour complex

This idea that dark skin is “less than” gets reinforced daily on television, in advertisements and through other forms of mass media.

The bleaching syndrome is also sociological. This means that it affects group behaviour in line with these ideals. The fact that black rappers systematically select light-skinned women to model in their videos is a good popular example of this.

The final aspect of the bleaching syndrome is physiological. Here, individual psychology and group behaviour eventually lead to the alteration of skin colour.

Demand fuels supply, despite bans

Throughout the African continent there have been attempts to discontinue the use of skin bleaches. These products are banned in The Gambia, Uganda, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Nigeria has not banned bleaching per say but has banned the toxic additives like mercury contained in bleaching creams. While experts in Senegal have called on the government to take similar steps.

Bleaching soaps and creams have also been banned in the European Union, Australia and Japan.

Despite these efforts it does not appear that the popularity of the practice has slowed significantly. In countries such as Nigeria and Togo over 50% of the women bleach.

The fact is that the continued demand for bleaching creams means that they will continue to be manufactured and sold on the market, even if they are illegal. The bleaching syndrome persists because light skin remains the ideal and the sale of bleaching creams remain profitable.

Treat the problem at its root

The “natural hair movement” offers a good example of how we may be able to combat the bleaching syndrome.

Natural black hair, afros and dreadlocks have been historically stigmatised – much as dark skin is today – and there was a time when Black people applied all sorts of concoctions to straighten their hair. In fact the first African-American millionaire, Madame C.J. Walker, made her fortune selling hair straightening products to black people.

But today, many black people take pride in their natural hair and refuse to straighten it. This was not achieved by banning relaxers and other chemical hair straightening concoctions.

Rather, it was political action that changed black people’s ideas about black hair. Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, Steve Biko and Patrice Lumumba are among those who rallied against self-hate and spread a message of African pride. Natural hair came to be associated with freedom and justice.

The problem with bleaching bans is that they attempt to treat the physiological symptoms of the bleaching syndrome without addressing the sociological causes and the psychological colour complex that is at its root.

Courtesy: The Conversation

Trump is a political genius

It seems our desire for instant gratification has conquered politics. Voters are channel-hopping, snacking on ideologies and political styles, moving on as soon as they’re bored. In that light, Donald Trump is a political genius: His slippery, shifting positions on just about everything command attention and perfectly reflect the restless mood of the times. People are eager for something—anything—different, and damn any concerns about consistency.

There is something to admire in this increased ideological flexibility, given how quickly our world is changing and how stale many parties’ platforms have become. But gratification isn’t satisfaction, and entertaining politics isn’t good government.—Jason Karaian. Quartz.

SEEKING WAY TO END TERRORISM

In recent weeks, there has been one major terrorist attack in Afghanistan where over 150 people died, and two such strikes in Britain killing innocent people. The terror surge is continuing, rather escalating over the years. The question is how far governments and security forces can go to protect their citizens. Every available procedures, technologies, and laws have been in force to their maximum levels at the cost of sacrificing basic civic liberties with the willing cooperation of citizens. Intelligence agencies are applying more sophistication and strategies to forewarn about the attacks. But failing most of the time. Seeking the root cause(s), mostly political and religious, is the only way out of this terror crisis. Otherwise, the situation keeps on worsening while leaders keep on delivering their big talks but no intelligent actions.

MAN CREATED GOD OR GOD CREATED MAN

By Promod Puri

God is the creation of man! Or man is the creation of God.

Which one of these statements is right, and which one is wrong, or both right, or both wrong? One more question: if God is the creation of man, then is it an act of God as well?

The creation debate has been around for quite some time. The basic reasons which aroused the dubious puzzle, are man’s ability to seek rationales, his perceptions, and capacity of understanding of the nature’s phenomena around him.

The debatable topic is imperative to fathom the nature of God even He is a fabrication of man.

The creation of God by man could be part of evolution of human culture from its very beginning when life was crude, brutal and disorderly. As civilization started taking roots management of the society began. And in that management, God was invented as a symbol of discipline to bring in some order for an acceptable behavior in the emerging civic society.

In this social construction, along with the evolution of man, there has been evolution of God too.

Over the millenniums, God has been not only personified as a Super Being, but He was also set up into a sacred institution run by priests and revered by believers.

The institution itself branched into several orders, referred as religions. These are identifiable and mired by their corresponding rituals, customs, and traditions along with divers names of God based on respective linguistic and cultural diversities.

HEAVEN AND HELL

His residency is believed to be up in the celestial world. Besides governing, or misgoverning, the affairs of this universe, and other universes, the man-made God also runs heaven and hell to reward or punish humans according to their deeds during the time lived on the earthly aboard.

As the man’s deeds are believed to be recorded in God’s books, the reverence towards Him is impacted by fear factor promoted by the priest class.

Along with man’s submission to fear, God is also responsible for infusing fate into an individual’s life. He writes the destiny as His way to conduct a person’s life journey. “What is written down by Him will happen”, that is the will of God embedded in man’s psyche.

Besides these psychic experiences of fear and fate, the institutional development of God lead to more attributions to Him based on man’s social needs and circumstances, his emotions, and imaginations. And as the society advanced God was given more space in every aspect of human thinking and activity.

It is in this transformation, God became an independent entity. His creator, the man, became the created one.

Still, in the history of God, man has always been the contributing factor to give added meaning to His existence and development.

In this development, man’s intellectual, philosophical, metaphysical, and scientific faculties contributed more towards expanding the nature of God. As the process continued the constitution and expanse of God seated Him on an omnipresence status.

PROGRESSIVE AND PRAGMATIC APPROACH

The magnanimity of God finds space in every atom or sub-atoms constituting our worlds.

However, besides these somatic existences, His residency is also sought in our minds and thoughts which influence our deeds. And this is where a progressive and pragmatic turn in our study and understanding of God in the contemporary society can take place.

In this forward-looking engagement, our review and awareness of God begin by re-establishing His image that He represents the supremacy of perfection representing the ultimate in human values based on purity of thought. And He is part of the commitment and relationship with our environments including animals, plants, rivers, mountains, etc.

But God’s symbolic image for the humanity and His commitment towards the environment have been soiled by religious rituals and customs which by default represent the face of most religious orders.

In this march towards seeking a true image and feel of God, our rituals and customs are to be defused from the spiritual aspects of religions and faiths. The values and significance of rituals and customs are only ornamental in giving identities to respective religions.

Moreover, we can agree that exploring and determining God’s perceivable identity and bodily or physical existences are futile and unsettled exercises which had been and still being tried out by philosophers, priests, pundits, scholars, and scientists.

We don’t need these explorations.

Neither we are capable of these vague attempts. The reason is simple, man is just one of the millions or perhaps billions of creatures, who is ultra-microscopic in His infinite and colossal universe.

For a moment let us compare a human being to a small ant who is trying to study and research 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 of His living creations. And that we are the only ones capable to determine 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!

Searching or researching to determine His physical, but eternally invisible and mystic existence does not relate to our need for the practicality of God in our thoughts and deeds.

And while on the progressive path one can explicitly observe that in our religious places, God’s existence is marred by elaborate rituals and customs which impact and disturb invoking His presence in the prayers and reverence for Him.

REDISCOVERING GOD

Furthermore, our antiquated scriptures are not of much help either in His realization.

Written in the language(s) of bygone eras, their meaning, and interpretations of the wisdom contained in them are tough to comprehend for most of us at any intellectual, and educational levels. These sacred writings need to be edited and rewritten to conform to the demands and concerns of the contemporary civilization. We seek easy and clear understanding of the scriptural teachings and knowledge with or without the services of priests.

In this age of explosion of intelligent knowledge available through mass media like Google and internet, we can rediscover God who can create righteous thoughts to stimulate righteous deeds in creating a righteous world around us.

We need a God which is more of an action, a verb, rather than a non-action or noun.

MODERN PRAYER

In other words, the practicality of God is the modern prayer towards Him instead of offering symbolic rituals. He 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 ardent temperament we are trying to build which gives rationality, practicality, and the feel of God.

The temperament holds the universal principles of being honest, humble, and sincere, be considerate, and helpful to others, be merciful, forget and forgive, love fellow beings and care for the environments, including animals, plants, and the nature. And everything else which is pious, pure, and morally firm.

That is all we need to create and live in the image of God while abating the duality factor between Him and man.

After all, our endeavor to leave the duality is the way to enlightenment.

And while we are on the pathway to divine Oneness, the ongoing debate, if man created God, or God created man, can be settled as the Creator and the created are eternally One entity.

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Related articles by Promod Puri: Thoughts On Thought, Assembly of God in Hinduism, Seeking Divine Spirit, Religion Has Guiding Role in Politics, Building of Divine Residency More Important Than Knowing God He Or She, Bad Rituals Breed Fanaticism, Quantum Theory And Om, and Guru Maneyo Granth.

Promod Puri is a writer and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions. He is the editor and main contributor to progressivehindudialogue.com, promodpuri.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.ca

 

The planet is going to be dirtier while America tries to be “great” again.