Hinduism, Diwali and swastikas: Explained

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

Douglass Todd

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.

“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.

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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:

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.

Genesis Of Kashmir Problem And Its Resolution

By Promod Puri

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

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

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

Historically the present geopolitical formation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir happened in the middle of the 19th century. Sikh ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh annexed the territories of Jammu region in 1819, and then sold it to his Dogra commander Gulab Singh in 1820, and crowned him the King. In 1834 Gulab Singh annexed the kingdom of Ladakh, and in 1846 the Kashmir region was ceded to the Dogra king under a treaty with the British government, who then was ruling most of the sub­ continent.

Dogra dynasty ruled the state for almost a hundred years.

Under the Dogra rule, the state comprised a huge territory of over two million sq. km., touching boundaries of Afghanistan in the north, China in the north and east, present-day Pakistan in the west and India in the South.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Seeking Divine Spirit

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

Oh God, you are the giver of life, you can free us from all the pains, you are present all over, you give happiness, you are the creator of this universe and beyond. We humbly submit to You and concentrate on your pious, sin-quelling and pervading ENERGY.

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

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Composition Of God In Hinduism

By Promod Puri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aum bhur bhuvah swah, tat savitur varenvam.

Bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prochodayay.

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

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

The mantra is addressed to God (Om). And the translation goes like this:

Oh God, You are the giver of life, You can free us from all the pains, You are present all over, You give happiness, You are the creator of this universe and beyond. We humbly submit to You, and concentrate on your pious, sin-quelling and pervading Energy. This Energy produced and released by You illuminates our mental faculties. We seek from You that this Energy resides in all our thinking processes. Consequently our thoughts are always inspired to undertake only those actions which can lead us to be on the path of righteousness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is in this arrangement that we undertake our karmas.

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

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

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

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

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

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Culture Supersedes Religion in Establishing National Identity

By Promod Puri

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

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

Culture in most cases is secular in nature.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Message of Universality in Hindu Mantra

By Promod Puri

“Om purnam adah purnam idam
purnat purnam udachyate
purnasya purnam adaya
purnam evavashishyate”.

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

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

Atma, a single soul, is a complete manifestation of the Supreme-atma. The latter is the cause and the former is the effect. It is a cause and effect association. The effect cannot be less than the cause. The cause changes to effect, but continues to remain cause also. In essence the mantra reinforces that in every living being there dwells the Supreme atma as well. Equality and divinity are the themes of the mantra concerning mankind.

The mantra also stands out in making us realize how inter-related we are in this universe.

Rajneesh (Osho), a great thinker, philosopher and an explicit interpreter of Hinduism in modern times explains this universal tie-up. His explanation of the mantra:

“[Om Purnam] is one of the most significant statements ever made anywhere on the earth at any time. It contains the whole secret of the mystic approach towards life. This small sutra contains the essence of the Upanishadic vision. Neither before nor afterwards has the vision been transcended; it still remains the Everest of human consciousness. And there seems to be no possibility of going beyond it.

“The Upanishadic vision is that the universe is a totality, indivisible; it is an organic whole. The parts are not separate, we are all existing in a togetherness: the trees, the mountains, the people, the birds, the stars, howsoever far away they may appear – don’t be deceived by the appearance – they are all interlinked, all bridged. Even the smallest blade of grass is connected to the farthest star, and it is as significant as the greatest sun.

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

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

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Hinduism and Lord Ganesh

The art community’s fascination for Lord Ganesh is due to His unique appearance as a clearly recognizable elephant tusk-hooded portrayal. In Hindu thought, an elephant is revered for its intelligence. Consequently, Lord Ganesh in His elephant-look image is perceived as the god of knowledge, intellect, and wisdom.

Besides these scholarly exhibits, Lord Ganesh gathers a few more symbolic interpretations thru His overall appearance and possessions. These attributes include the pursuit of knowledge, sweetness, and humbleness.

Lord Ganesh is also widely worshipped as the god of Beginnings. “Sri-Ganesh” is the common expression for any new event, purchase or start-up enterprise. His name is chanted at the beginning of rituals and ceremonies. In most Hindu marriage invitation cards, the first invocation and invite are addressed to Lord Ganesh as symbolic adoration.

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