Back Lane Environmentalists

My salutation goes 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 while picking up the litter for a cleaner environment.
 
Monday is our garbage, compost and recycling pick up day.
 
The back lane becomes a goldmine. It has more foot traffic for collectors. The empties are the gold. These are dug out from garbage containers and blue boxes. And the booties are loaded in wobbling shopping carts or carried in tattered bags.
 
How much one can collect depends on how much the previous collector could not pick up. The exploration continues until the big trucks haul everything away.
 
The recycling is a bonanza for the street environmentalists. And Monday is their day to earn few extra coins.
 

What’s Hindutva And Why It Conflicts With Hinduism

By Promod Puri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“ Om purnam adah purnam idam

purnat purnam udachyate

purnasya purnam adaya

purnam evavashishyate”.

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

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

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

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

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

Culture in most cases is secular in nature.

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

Often people of one cultural community have several religions.

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

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

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

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

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When Immigrants Become Anti-immigrants

By Promod Puri

With compassionate temperament, an immigrant is not expected to be an anti-immigrant.

But without that sentiment, immigrants can be anti-immigrant. Or they are selective in their prejudiced choice of immigrants.

The sentiment of humanism over time fades as mindset attitudes toward fellow human beings based on religion and ethnicity take over.

The prospective immigrants are thus categorized as “illegal and “legal,” refugees and migrants.

But, except being a criminal, nobody is illegal.

And those refugee claimants and migrants who “jump the queue” do so in desperation because there is no dedicated queue with considerate sympathies.

Politicians of the alt-right exploit the changed feeling of being anti-immigrant in the vote-rich immigrant pool.  Expressions like “extreme multiculturalism” and “too much diversity” are coined.

Quebec MP Maxime Bernier, who quit the Conservative Party of Canada August 23, is breeding an anti-immigrant temperament, perhaps knowing some immigrants are anti-immigrants too.

His appeal is based on the fear that “Canadian values” will be marginalized with “too much diversity.”

But Canadian values and its culture constitute an evolving phenomenon in which immigrants play the most significant role.

The diverse contribution of immigrants enriches the Canadian culture of multiculturalism.

When immigrants become anti-immigrant, and they are being played in the hands of alt-right politics, the secular and diverse foundation of Canadian heritage of being multicultural and multi-racial society becomes insecure.

(Promod Puri is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, promodpuri.blogspot.com)  

Legacies of Rajiv Gandhi And Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Soon names of streets, airports, schools, colleges and universities and other institutions in India will be dotted with the name of Atal Bihari Vajpayee by the BJP government, just like Congress did for Rajiv Gandhi.

In the public eye, both leave a legacy of being gentleman-politicians.

But for both them, their legacy also includes inciting and supporting the most heinous crimes against humanity. Rajiv Gandhi for being responsible for the carnage against Sikhs in Delhi and other parts of northern India. And Vajpayee for the anti-Muslim riots following the demolition of Babri Masjid and in Godhra, Gujarat.

FORGIVE AND FORGET

“Forgive and forget” is a popular simple lecture or preaching which is easy to give but hard to follow.

For our own peace of mind, we may accept and attempt to follow the forgive-and-forget doctrine and move on with our lives.

However, the hurt feelings take time to heal in our reconciliation effort.

One can forgive. But forgetting can’t go away just by our wish.

The latter is influenced by the biology of our memory.

Whereas, forgetting involves our brain cells to evacuate an offensive infliction, forgiving needs to absorb in an expanded big heart.

Forgiving can be possible while forgetting may or maybe not.

-By Promod Puri

Beyond The Confines Of Atheism And Theism

By Promod Puri

When atheists reject the concept or existence of God, their conclusion is based on limited perception. The reason, we human beings are like a speck of creature in this colossal universe incapable of fathoming its enormity.

Their case does not win credibility either by just ridiculing those who believe in God.

And those under theism believing that God exists in physical form or in some supernatural and transcendental actuality, and offers a sensory experience, then it is merely an unjustified and ritualistic impression. This conception can be easily rejected in the face of the rationale-seeking contemporary society.

Likewise, if one has understood God thru rituals and customs, then what has been understood is not God.

In the vast celestial arrangement and the unseen sub-atomic fields where humanity is mystified as who caused all this phenomenon, as well as when we accept and revere the senseless ritualistic customs, the concepts of atheism and theism can find limited argumentation in the non-believability or believability of God.

In both the convictions, the inherent human limitations in reasoning and observation, along with our blind obedience to one supreme deity, there is no confirmation that God does not exist or the belief that God exists.

But God is an established institution that can not be eliminated despite a lack of rational outlook.

REVIEWING UNDERSTANDING  OF GOD

In the enlightened existing culture where both empirical evidence and convincing rationale are unavoidable factors, the concept of God can be reviewed to establish a fresh and meaningful conception and realization.

The review process is also helpful for those who have a rigid mindset belief in God’s presence because of ritualistic impacts.

In this reassessment, God’s perception can be altered, rationalized or perhaps restored with pragmatic understanding and awareness. Nevertheless, God cannot be rejected for lack of empirical evidence or accepted in the solely ritualistic or blind-faith image.

God and religion are the two synonymous influences which are subjected to evolution in the ongoing social construction of humankind.

In this evolution, atheism can contribute too because of its credible roots in various religious ideations. The main reason is for its earnest call for humanism in the conduct of our lives.

The fact is, since the time God was institutionalized in the religious orders, atheism despite being firm on His non-existence, has played a challenging and stimulating role in man’s spiritual and divine pursuits.

For those reasons, atheism has been accepted as a valid philosophical concept in the religiosity of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Taoism.

ATHEISM IN HINDUISM

In its liberal and democratic discipline, atheism is part of streams of thought in Hinduism. Both Sankhya and Mimamsa, the two known and oldest faculties of Hindu philosophy have rejected the involvement of God in the creation and management of the macrocosm.

“Who really knows, and who can swear,

How creation came, when or where!

Even gods came after creation’s day,

Who really 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.”

 

-The Rig Veda Chapter X, Para 129 in the Hymn of Creation (Nasadiya Sukta)

 

Hindu commentator and a former judge of the Supreme Court of India, Markandey Katju, has even claimed that out of nine Hindu philosophical systems “eight of them are atheistic as there is no place for God in them. Only the ninth one that is Uttar Mimansa, which is also called Vedanta has a place for God in it.” (source Wikipedia under “Atheism in Hinduism”).

Both Astika, believing in God’s existence, and Nastika, meaning an atheist, are the concepts that are factors in the democratic tradition of Hinduism.

The Nastika philosophy has been traditionally the base of both Buddhism and Jainism as well.

And in Taoism, an ancient religious Chinese philosophy, “there is no omnipotent Being beyond the cosmos, who created and controls the universe.”

The guiding force in Taoism is Tao who is not a God or god. Tao means ‘way’ or ‘path’ in Chinese.’ Taoism believes that the universe organizes a natural path by itself. And there is no central controlling principle or order. Instead of delving into the existence or non-existence of God, Taoism focuses on “living a simple and balanced life in harmony with nature.”

The concept of God in all these religious isms is more of a  metaphysical nature rather than a physical or supernatural existence. And that is the reason there has been almost no objection to accommodating atheism in their numinous thoughts. Instead, these religious orders got enriched with a diversity of thoughts, philosophies, and appeals. Hinduism is the prime example to harbor atheism in its vast structure.

Atheism and theism in our religious thinking are not the topics in the virtuous conduct of our lives. Rather, like Taoism, the ethical conduct of life has been the basic tenet of all the world faiths, and this is where the practicality of God lies.

COMPREHENSIVE NATURE OF GOD

But in that practicality, the understanding of God does not end.

A simple and brief, but still far from the complete, characterization of God can be: the sum-total of everything and every process in this universe and beyond is God. Everything, known or unknown that exists is what a universe is all about. (Source: Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions, Amazon publication)

It is from this perspective that an overview of astronomical creations both in the celestial world and in the tiniest of atoms is supportive in our study and evaluation of that mysterious force or energy.

This very energy is the cause of everything, living or non-living, observable or non-observable present in this universe and beyond. And that includes the space where all these entities are placed.

What is that energy which keeps the sub-atomic particles moving, the earth and many other planets spinning, and keep everything alive in one form or the other?

Known physicist Late Stephen Hawkins says: “If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God.”

The answers we seek, as Hawkins puts it in the “science of God” can reveal as well as change our whole concept and perception of God which can be more acceptable in our questioning society.

What we are seeking is a renewed understanding of God which is in line with contemporary thinking based on rationalism and intelligent perception.

This undertaking can represent the wholeness of God from the celestial world to the tiniest of particles. Also lies in the renewed comprehensiveness of God are the ethical and spiritual needs of humanity with detachable rituals and customs.

-30-

(Promod Puri is the author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions, and writer of several essays on religion, politics and human interest. Websites: progressivehindudialogue.com, promodpuri.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com).

LEFTISTS’ HERO FIDEL CASTRO LEGACIES:

Fidel Castro, the hero of the Communist-socialist world of the Leftists, was born 92 years ago on August 13,1926.

The 1959 Fidel Castro’s armed political revolt had a utopian communist promise of prosperity for Cubans. With massive Russian aid, the country survived in meeting the basic needs of its people, and that included Cuba’s pride declaration of free education and the “best” medical system in the world.

The dictatorial regime of 60 years of Castro did not turn the political revolt into an economic revolution. Moreover, typical of authoritarian and Communist regimes freedom of speech and expression were and still being curtailed. Since the early 60s, a generation has been fed on leftist ideologies. A mindset attitude has been created with the egoistic attitude that its political ideology is better than capitalism.

That is the true legacy of Castro apart from popularizing his favorite drink of Mojito, a refreshing cocktail of rum and fresh mint leaves.

-Promod Puri

CANADA’S TWITTER ATTACK ON S.ARABIA SEEMS HYPOCRITICAL

by Promod Puri

Canada’s Twitter diplomacy in condemning Saudi Arabia has not affected the latter’s tormented human rights record, especially against women. Instead, it generated anger and overreaction from the Saudi leadership resulting with lightning speed the withdrawal of diplomats, investment and trade, stopping of flights and immediate return of the Kingdom’s students from Canada.

The question is why the Canadian foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland used the Twitter channel to raise the issue instead of traditional face to face dialogue. Presuming the minister and her advisory staff are not naive in their concern for human rights in Saudi Arabia, the motive has not served its desired purpose. Rather it has been a disaster toward Canada-Saudi relationship.

The feud has not only wiped out the friendly influence which Canada could use over Saudi Arabia in its grave violations of human rights, but it has generated another conflicting spot in the world already dotted with tensions and violence.

In its open denunciation thru series of Tweets against Saudi Arabia’s adamant violation of human rights, the government has won nil support worldwide. But the Leftist community seems to applaud the Liberal government as it is very well aware of the credibility of Canada on this issue.

Canada has its own bad record of human rights violations as well as its known double standards in observing complete silence when its biggest trading partner, the USA, has committed much more serious human rights violations all over the globe including Vietnam, Iraq, and in Afghanistan.

 

FANATICISM OF LEFT AND RIGHT

The acceptance or rejection of any thought, idea or comment by Leftists and Rightists is more based on their ideological commitment rather than logic, rationale or good sense. That is called fanaticism.

If one has understood God thru rituals and customs, then what has been understood is not God.