A HAPPY AND PEACEFUL 2020

In the spirit of exchanging New Year greetings, we wish peace and happiness for all humanity.

Human beings, animals, plants, mountains, rivers, seas and everything visible and non-visible in this shared universe are all inter-connected and inter-dependent to each other. We seek peace and peaceful existence for all.

Peace in all the cosmic environments influences peace in humankind as well.

SHANTI (PEACE) MANTRA

Aum dyauh shantirantariksam,

shanti prthivi, shantirapah,

shantirosadhayah, shanti vanaspatayah,

shantirvisvedevah, shantirbrahma,

shantisarvam, shantireva, shant sama, shantiredhi

AUM SHANTI, SHANTI, SHANTI.

Following is a translated version of the peace mantra:

“May peace radiate there in the whole sky as well as in the vast ethereal space everywhere.

May peace reign all over this earth, in water and in all herbs, trees, and creepers.

May peace flow over the whole universe.

May peace be in the Supreme Being Brahman.

And may there always exist in all peace and peace alone.

Aum peace, peace and peace to us and all beings!”

(Translation by Swami Abhedananda, Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, India).

(From the book Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions)

My 2020 Vision:

A peaceful world

No poverty

Respect for human rights

Welcome refugees.

-Promod Puri

Besides Vancouver’s Alluring Image It’s Also A City of Homelessness

By Promod Puri

“Canada is the best country in the world.” Alongside Vancouver prides itself with 1st, 2nd, or 3rd standing as the “most liveable place.” But underneath all these rewarding certifications, there are visible sites that take away some appeal from Vancouver’s alluring image.

The fast-developing metro, with its massive and lavish highrises, is also the home of homeless people. They mostly dwell under the very shadow of its thriving and affluent downtown core.

According to the latest figures, over 2200 people have been counted who don’t have shelter to live and sleep. The situation is more pathetic and deplorable in the harsh cold and rainy months of Vancouver.

Out of these numbers, as per the recent survey by the City, 23 percent are women and teenage girls. The same is the percentage of people who are 55 years of age or older.

The homelessness problem can be realized in the context of Vancouver’s chronic rental housing shortage. Poverty and homelessness go together. With small income or very low-income, affordable housing is just impossible to find.

Sidewalks, parks, and back alleys are the shelters places. Another accessible site for these destitute people in the front entrances of stores the moment their shutters are down at night. Cardboards are often the material for their makeshift dwellings. A few lucky ones carry tents.

Poor health with weather-related ailments is the result when these indigent souls are down with flu and pneumonia, etc. Then there is a mental issue as well.

Poverty and homelessness are the afflictions that go along with Vancouver’s worldwide reputation as the “most liveable city.” But not for these poor folks.

Political Anarchism Brewing In India

When political opposition becomes ineffective, or it is almost non-existence, political anarchism takes place led by leaderless young revolutionaries against the governing party and its leadership.

This is precisely the situation in India where the Congress Party and other major opposition groups, including the Left fronts, are hardly visible on the street to oppose the anti-Muslim acts in the government’s new citizenship amendments.

India has exploded in recent weeks with violent protests by the students from every major university in the country. They’re demonstrating against the discriminatory rejection of Muslim migrants, while fast-tracking permanent residency for non-Muslim refugees from the neighboring countries.

The students’ demonstrations and outcries have been met by police firing and brutality. The war game has started. “People’s Power” seems to be emerging in an anarchist spread by the students’ solidarity.

-By Promod Puri

India’s New Citizenship Act Discriminatory Towards Muslims

by Promod Puri

There have been some severe and quick fundamental transformations taking place in India to reweave the social and secular fabric of the nation.

In this operation, the country’s citizenship act has been stoked to allow only non-Muslims, migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan for permanent residency.

This is where the problem erupted and escalating to angry protests all over the country and triggering strong condemnation across the globe.

The Citizenship Amendment Act was passed in both houses of Parliament early this month. In the majority ruled Bhartiya Janata Party coalition, prime minister Narendra Modi’s trusted lieutenant Home Minister Amit Shah delivered the controversial changes.

The changes are clearly discriminatory both in its spirit and practice. It lays the path for non-secular India to make Muslims feel outcaste. They can’t be part of saffron India conceived in the Hindutva frame.

“If Hindus in Pakistan want to move to India, why not Muslim in India go to Pakistan,” was one anti-Muslim post I recently noticed on the social media.

That is the mood the BJP and its ‘Parivar’ are catering to meet their longstanding agenda of a theocratic and monolithic “Hindu Rashtra.”

The very notion of such a state violates the fundamentals of the Indian constitution as a secular nation in a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society. India, unlike Pakistan, was not envisioned as a purely Hindu state at the time of the partition in 1947. The commitment to the secular character of the nation was authored and signed by its first law minister, Dr. Ambedkar.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, along with another BJP government trap, the National Register of Citizens, sends out a clear message that Muslims are being segregated to be second-class citizens in a country where ethnic and religious equality is enshrined in its constitution.

India is the home of the third-largest population (10.9 %) of Muslims in the world after Indonesia (12.7 %) and Pakistan (11.0 %).

The idiotic argument of “go to Pakistan” is racist, anti-national, and anti-constitutional. This is the same constitution upon which the BJP lawmakers and their partners offered their pledge to uphold its fundamentals of secularism.

 

Getting Rid of Clogging Identities

By Promod Puri

Nationality, caste, color, creed, ritual-based religion: do we still have to wear these badges? When these identities become obsolete, dead, and gone?

Nations across the globe have become or becoming cosmopolitan in both the physical and virtual worlds.

Political boundaries are only relevant to the administrative and bureaucratic functioning of governments. But not for propping up nationalism and its related precept of patriotism.

In a universal temperament, caste, color, creed, and ritual-based religion are irrelevant. Instead these antiquated social and faith-based divisions clog the advance of peace and harmony in our lives.

WHO KNOWS!

I’ve heard, you’ve heard:

“Humans beings are the most
Intelligent and favorite
Creation of God.”

Birds, cats, dogs, donkeys…..
Probably think equal as well.

Trees, plants, and flowers
Likely hold the same pride too.

Who knows!

He Knows
May be maybe not.

Who knows!

-by Promod Puri

 

CONDEMNING THE SILENCE

Those in India and of Indian origin abroad, who are aware of the present tense situation in the country because of several controversial issues, are silent for being the supporters of  Modi regime, I can understand their muteness. But those, who are critical and are silent about the present state of affairs the nation is passing thru, must be condemned.

“Society is not devasted by the misdeeds of badmen, but by the silence of the so-called good people.”- Mahesh Bhatt, writer and film producer

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

-by Promod Puri

BITTERNESS IS HEALTHY

It may sound sweet that our fruits and vegetables are getting sweeter.

While the bitterness in some of the known bitter fruits and vegetables is becoming far less or almost non-existent. Examples are grapefruit, brussels sprouts and bitter-melon (karela).

The natural chemicals involved in creating bitterness are called phytonutrients that are responsible for imparting health benefits in fruits and vegetables. Reducing or eliminating their presence enhances the sweetness of fruits and vegetables.

The de-bittering experimentation and processes are being carried out to make fruits and vegetables as “kids friendly” or to appease our sweet tooth.

But nutritionists say that is unhealthy development steered by the food industry.

Bitterness in fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy and balanced diet. Bitter fruits, vegetables, and herbs are full of compounds that stimulate digestion, increase nutrient absorption, aid in detoxification and boost metabolism and immune system.

By Promod Puri

Understanding Satsang And Its Virtues

By Promod Puri

In Hindu and Sikh religious activities, Satsang is a popular religious tradition.

It is group participation that involves listening or reading of scriptures, discussion on spiritual and theological topics, and singing of hymns. Some activities also include brief sessions of meditation.

Satsang can be a daily, weekly, or monthly get together. It usually lasts for an hour or two. With divine feelings and sentiments, Satsang ends as a social meeting along with light refreshments.

Satsang is derived from the Sanskrit word “satsanga.” By splitting the name into “sat” and “sanga,” its actual meaning is revealed as ‘true’ and ‘association,’ respectively.

It is an association of like-minded people seeking as well as creating an environment of spirituality with or without any guiding or an enlightened individual.

Questions and answers often become part of the entire Satsang session. And whatever the heat is produced during the dialogue and discussion period on religious topics abates by the soothing music and group singing by the participants. This part is also referred to as Kirtan.

Satsang creates pure religious consciousness.

Can we have Satsang within ourselves without the company of others and create the same spiritual ambiance and realization as in a group setting?

The answer can be “yes.”

Satsang basically means being in the company of truth. The “sat” and “sang” reside in the nobility and divinity of our thoughts and our karmas based on them.

It is a disciplined and conscientious activity creating an ongoing Satsang.

Although we miss some of the most visible features of group Satsang, self-Satsang has its own virtues with its harmonic overtones and contentment.

 

Kudos to Gambia Seeking Justice For Myanmar Muslims

By Promod Puri

Hats off to the Republic of The Gambia, one of the world’s smallest countries in West Africa, who launched proceedings against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the latter’s crimes and genocide of its Muslim population.

Most influential nations in the world who champion the cause of human rights, including Canada, have never thought of going to the ICJ to seek justice for the Myanmar Muslims. The Gambia government must be applauded for this initiative.

The Gambia brought the case against the Myanmar government led by Noble Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. She is defending her country before the International Court in The Hague, where three-day proceedings began December 10.

The Gambia is asking the court to order Myanmar to bar ongoing atrocities against the Rohingya Muslims, averting further irreparable harm.

The case focuses on the clearance operations carried out since October 2016 by Myanmar’s military rulers against the Rohingya Muslims. It is a distinct ethnic and religious community group that resides primarily in the Rakhine state.

These operations amounted to a genocidal campaign of violence that included mass murder, forcible displacement, rape, and other forms of sexual abuse. UN investigators say as many as 10,000 Rohingya – a Muslim minority in this Buddhist-majority nation – were killed. Over 742,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh since 2017, joining 300,000 Rohingya who had previously fled oppression in Myanmar. They are living in dire conditions in the refugee camps.

In defending her government and the military junta, Peace Nobelist Aung San Suu Kyi told the court the case against Myanmar is “incomplete and incorrect.” And that it is an “internal armed conflict.”

Ms. Suu Kyi was once an international celebrity who was an icon for the cause of democracy. Now she is a de facto ruler of Myanmar serving her military bosses who kept her under house arrest for many years.

Ms. Suu Kyi was bestowed with honorary Canadian citizenship in October 2007 for being a champion of democracy for her nation. But considering her total denial of military violence against the Rohingya Muslims, she was stripped of her honorary Canadian citizenship in October 2018.

 

Nationalism & Patriotism Are Threats To Global Peace And environment

By Promod Puri

I have been an anti-national ever since I understood the nature of its allegiance to the country one belongs to. At the same time, I am not a patriot either with its blurred image as it is often a consequence of nationalism.

Patriotism and nationalism have obscure borderline between them. It is a “problematic pair” to find independent definitions to isolate each concept. Both the words are synonyms to each other according to their dictionary explanations. Still, certain attempts have been made to detach the two.

Nationalism arises from the word nation. As such it seeks love, devotion, pride and unconditional loyalty for it. This commitment must be confined within a nation’s borders. It is an outright, and avid engagement with the country one resides in.

Nationalism also seeks pride in the nation’s identities contained in monolithic societies.

One religion, one language, and one culture dominate the monolithic societies. Together these are showcased to represent the overall nationalistic character of the nation. The politics of the country are espoused and steered around the sensitivities linked with these aspects.

However, in the universality of contemporary society, nationalism has a confined perspective. It denies or ignores the fast-emerging reality of multicultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious expressions of nations. In the nationalism of the majority, minorities’ share is limited or unimportant.

As technology, internet, and social media are the current factors cementing the multi-facet character of the world’s societies, the sentiment of nationalism is not much of an appeal.

Moreover, nationalism thins out when people migrate due to political, economic and other reasons or as refugees. It is often a dilemma for immigrants to settle in host countries to pick one national loyalty and reject the other.

Nationalism has lost its impact because no single identities are monopolizing cosmopolitan populations. But it is used as a political tool to arouse the religious, cultural and linguistic sentiments of the majority community.

Nationalism leads to the political exploitation of the dominating community apprehensive of being overwhelmed by the population mix of multiple and distinctive identities.

Xenophobia is thus forged thru the nationalistic politics.

Governments are elected in a manufactured atmosphere of fear and hatred for minorities, foreigners, and refugees. Enemies are concocted within a nation where bigotry, racism, and injustice are encouraged and played for political sovereignty.

Albert Einstein said: “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

Nationalism finds accomplice in patriotism for political gains and opportunism. In this behavior, patriotism becomes a victim of nationalism.

Patriotism is derived from the word patriot. Its character is better understood in valor, bravery, sacrifice, duty and devotion toward the nation and its citizens.

The purity of patriotism lies in the concerns and care of the nation’s people, devoting and even sacrificing for their protection and peace irrespective of their class, caste, religious or cultural affiliations. It encourages pride in the achievements of the nation while seeking a critical analysis of its failures which even involves governing leadership.

A changing behavior has been observed toward the concept of patriotism among school kids in the United States recently. According to a study by Professor Jane Lo of Florida State University, “students opt out of the ritual of saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.”

Further according to the professor, “a public opinion poll conducted by the Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness suggests that young people see the flag, less as a symbol to be proud of and more as a symbol of what is wrong with the country. If more students are associating the flag with flaws in the system, it would explain why some students opt out of standing for the pledge of allegiance or other celebratory acts.”

Patriotism, nevertheless, is an evocation to support and shield the parochial aspect of nationalism. As it keeps subtle binding with nationalism, military patriotism is manifested.

But military patriotism induces an ever-escalating global war budget in the name of “defense.”

As patriotism is a major motivating factor, armed forces are raised and maintained with the spending of billions and trillions of dollars for the “defense.”

The question is: defense from whom?

Countries are not being invaded by other countries anymore. That era, which dominated the histories of humanity, ended with the Second World War 73 years ago.

The thirst of the political Left and Right ideologies for political dominance and expansionism are not the factors either. That period was over with the end of the Cold War between the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc in the late last century.

What is aimed now is the business or corporate expansionism. The reason being an ever-increasing appetite of capitalism which significantly impacts both the democratic and communist political systems. Business-political nexus is thus created.

In this expansionist development over the last several decades, borders for battleground are not needed. But the war industry’s clout keeps the borders hostile. Aggressive patriotism, infused with nationalism, is set up across the borderlines.

From that perspective, military patriotism is a deadly commitment.

The eighteenth-century French philosopher Voltaire said, “It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.”

We can admit that patriotism has been a motivating factor in the service of humanity. Both nationalism and patriotism have historical contributions toward pride, unity, independence, and sovereignty of a nation.

But the world has changed comprising of varied demographic characters. Nationalism and patriotism are now divisive concepts within a nation’s borders. Most fights and conflicts worldwide are happening within a country, not between nations.

When nationalism stirrups patriotism, the latter develops into a chauvinistic tool of power politics.

Both nationalism and patriotism relate only to the confines of the nation’s border, while the world thru technology, mass communication, and social media is fast emerging a cosmopolitan mix of one world- community.

“Our true nationality is mankind,” H.G. Wells

As such, our concerns and issues are now at the global level of wellness of all humanity. This empathetic awareness creates respect and understanding among peoples of the world irrespective of class, caste, religious or societal differences.

In this concern, our environments, which have no space in the nationalistic and patriotic jingoism, are also equal partners seeking their attention and protection.

As we are fast developing into a multi-facet global community, what we need is humanitarianism and environmentalism without the caging borders of nationalism, and the obscurity of patriotism.

-30-

Promod Puri is a Vancouver-based writer and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions. Websites: progressivehindudialogue.com, promodpuri.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com

 

Politics Of Left And Right Are Not The Solutions To Tackle Rape Problem

The four suspects in the Hyderabad rape case have been killed by the police. Most people, including the parents of the victim, applaud the police action. Justice has been delivered, and the case closed.

But in the mindset of Left and Right ideological thinking, binaries are being created about the role of police in killing the alleged suspects.

Were the police right in their killings, or they were wrong? Political Left, with its intellectual leaning, believes it was wrong, and let the system take over to deliver its judgment.

The political Right cheers the police action that justice is not delayed as far as the victim’s family is concerned.

In India’s case, I would accept this kind of quick “street justice,” where the judicial system and the bureaucracy run on its own stagnant pace. Otherwise, the victims and the families suffer and go thru torturous times. For example, it is the case of a rape victim in UP who was severely burnt and dies just a few days ago while on her way to the court to expect some justice.

Justice in the country is beyond the proverbial case of “Justice delayed is justice denied.” Here it is seldom delivered in the rape and violence cases against women. And if it is given, it is rarely executed. The accused people, who were sentenced to death in the 2012 Joyti Singh rape and murder in Delhi still go unpunished. And the heinous case of minor Asifa Banu, the culprit, a Hindu temple priest, it is totally off the radar.

“Justice” by the police is not the right thing to do in a democratic setup. But if the judicial system fails, this is the way to see justice in India that gives solace to both the victims and the families.

However, that is not the way either where the police are corrupt and can’t be trusted. And so is the present judicious system. What to do?

Politicizing the rape issue with Left and Right ideological commitments often emerge. In this political mix-up, headlines make the scene. Speeches and statements drum up. Anger, frustrations, and emotions ventilated. Slogans are raised, “hang them, shoot them.” Protests are organized, candles are lit. Articles are written, and poetry composed. Social media is flooded with outrage. And a lot more expressed, discussed, and debated.

Meaningful but helpless expressions become just rituals. Continue for a few days, remains dormant, and then come back when another news of national shame breaks out. The cycle is renewed and rerun.

In its response, can the nation go beyond this emotional and enraged cry with political overtones of the Left and the Right mindset thinking?

The ideological politics is not the solution to tackle pressing social issues of rape and violence against India’s women, but let science, professionalism, and realities take over.

Who are rapists? Medical and psychological investigations can reveal the symptoms of behavior disorder of sex offenders. It is an escalating disease.

The seriousness of the disease and its spread must be of utmost concern for the nation’s medical community, especially in the faculty of psychology and related faculties, along with social scientists to deliberate on all aspects of the rape issues.

After all, it is not only the women who are raped, but in the developing rape culture, the entire nation is the victim too.

-By Promod Puri

 

 

Applaud Or Condemn The “Police Justice” In India?

The four suspects in the Hyderabad rape case have been killed by the police. Most people, including the parents of the victim, applaud the police action. Justice delivered. Quick, the case closed.

In the Indian context, I would accept this kind of quick “street justice”, where otherwise the judicious system and the bureaucracy run with its stagnant pace while the victims and the families suffer and go thru torturous times. The case in point is the severe burning of a rape victim in U.P. a few days ago while going to the court to seek justice.

Justice in the country is beyond the proverbial statement of “Justice delayed is justice denied”. Here it is seldom delivered in the rape and violence incidents against women. And if it is delivered, it is rarely executed. The accused people, who were sentenced to death in the 2012 Joyti Singh rape and murder in Delhi still go unpunished.

“Justice” by the police is not the right thing to do in a democratic setup, but if the system fails, this is the way to see justice in India which gives solace to both the victims and the families.

But that is not the way either where the police are corrupt and can’t be trusted. And so is the present judicious system. What to do?

-Promod Puri

Tackling Rape Problem By Going Beyond Candle-lit Vigils and Protests

By Promod Puri

It’s a disgraceful societal evil that has not begun targeting in any realistic and practical way how to kill the rapist beast that lurks everywhere in India, ready to pounce on the female at any given opportunity!

Priyanka Reddy, Asifa Banu, Jyoti Singh, and hundreds perhaps thousands more became victims or going to be next: now, today or tomorrow.

Headlines make the scene. Speeches and statements drum up. Anger, frustrations, and emotions ventilated. Slogans are raised, “hang them, shoot them.” Protests are organized, candles are lit. Articles are written, rewritten, poetry composed. Social media is flooded with outrage. And a lot more expressed, discussed, and debated.

Meaningful but helpless expressions become just rituals. Continue for a few days, remains dormant, and then come back when another news of national shame breaks out. The cycle is renewed and rerun.

In its response, can the nation go beyond this emotional and enraged cry?

The hungry sex devils don’t care and are immune to all the public outbursts. During the barbaric moments, the evil lust dominates and erases any civility, morals, or even the laws against the vulturous acts of violence and rape. There is no fear and shame for them in society or their own families.

That is the reality which transfers a man, a teenager from being a human to a beast.

They are diseased with a behavior disorder. The syndrome erupts with an uncontrolled desire to grapple the victim, molest, and burnt alive. In those horrifying moments, the unconstrained sensual appetite supersedes the society’s protests and the legal punishments, including hanging. Their mental faculties are deranged. The aftermath consequences do not matter.

The civil society’s sentiments and strict legal statues do have impact and solace for the victims and their families. But this is a disease that can’t be controlled by candles, protests, poetry, prose, and punishments.

Who are rapists? Medical and psychological investigations can reveal the symptoms of the disease to determine the profile of a rapist.

The seriousness of the disease and its escalating spread must be of utmost concern for the nation’s medical community, especially in the faculty of psychology and related faculties, along with social scientists to deliberate on all aspects of the rape issues.

After all, it is not only the women who are raped but in the developing rape culture, the entire nation is a victim too.

(Promod Puri is a writer, journalist and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs. And Traditions.)

Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com