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.

Hinduism and Vegetarian Diet

13087415_578401962331475_1798212304744146140_nBy Arran Stephens

The overwhelming majority of the world’s Hindus live in India, which has the largest vegetarian population on earth, numbering many millions. Within the Indian subcontinent, the spectrum of religious thought ranges from strict monotheism to a sweeping panoply of gods, goddesses and animist dieties. Vegetarianism is practiced and scripturally supported by the majority of Hindu sects. There are also large Muslim and Christian populations in India, as well as Jews, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Ba’hai’s and Buddhists. Many Sufis—who represent an eclectic and mystical form of Islam, practice vegetarianism. Amongst the Sikhs, the Namdharis and others on the meditative path follow a lacto-vegetarian diet.

Here are some vegetarian-supportive quotes from India’s oldest scriptures:

You must not use your God-given body for killing God’s
creatures, whether human, animal or whatever.
Yajur Veda 12.32

By not killing any living being, one becomes fit for salvation.
Manusmriti 6.60

The purchaser of flesh performs himsa (violence) by his wealth; he who eats flesh does so by enjoying its taste; the killer does himsa by actually tying and killing the animal. Thus, there are three forms of killing. He who brings flesh or sends for it, he who cuts off the limbs of an animal, and he who purchases, sells, or cooks flesh and eats it—all of these are to be considered meat-eaters.

Vegetarianism was observed by the ancient Greek traveler Megasthenes and also by Fa-Hsien, a Chinese Buddhist monk who traveled to India in the fifth century in order to obtain authentic copies of the scriptures.

These scriptures

unambiguously support the meatless way of life. In the Mahabharata, for instance, the great warrior Bheeshma explains to Yudhishtra, eldest of the Pandav princes, that the meat of animals is like the flesh of one’s own son. Similarly, the Manusmriti declares that one should “refrain from eating all kinds of meat,” for such eating involves killing, thus leading to Karmic bondage. Elsewhere in Vedic literature, the last of the great Vedic kings, Maharaja Parikshit, is quoted as saying that “the animal-killer cannot relish the message of the Absolute Truth.”21

Ahimsa (non-violence) is the highest Dharma. Ahimsa is the best Tapas. Ahimsa is the greatest gift. Ahimsa is the highest self-control. Ahimsa is the highest sacrifice. Ahimsa is the highest power. Ahimsa is the highest friend. Ahimsa is the highest truth. Ahimsa is the highest teaching.

He who sees that the Lord of all is ever the same in all that is—immortal in the field of mortality—he sees the truth. And when a man sees that the God in himself is the same God in all that is, he hurts not himself by hurting others. Then he goes, indeed, to the highest path.
Bhagavad-Gita 13.27-28

High-souled persons who desire beauty, faultlessness of limbs, long life, understanding, mental and physical strength, and memory should abstain from acts of injury.
Mahabharata 18.115.8

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

I hold that, the more helpless the creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.
Mahatma Gandhi

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Bad Rituals Breed Fanaticism

One major drawback instituted in ambiguous rituals is the fear factor. And in absurdity, some rituals promise to work like cure-all miracles. Illogical rituals block the real spirit of religion. Such customs generate fanaticism. Rituals help in cult formation. The entry of fake gurus in the Hindu faith is thru the contamination created by inane rituals.

Irrational rituals pollute the religion and dilute the enlightenment contained in the Hindu philosophies and thoughts.

Hinduism is not a religion of fear. Nor it is meant for fanaticism and exploitation by self-appointed gurus or saints with claims of magical powers.

Bad rituals and bad traditions do make a deadly combination. Dubbed as “supreme sacrifice”, the institution of Sati, live burning of widow immediately after the death of husband, that of course is now abandoned, became a part of Hindu heritage. The word ‘sati’ means true and loyal in Sanskrit.
And equally condemning is the practice of sacrificial animal killings by asserting that gods will be pleased. For example in Nepal, a predominantly Hindu nation, mass and cruel beheading of buffaloes are a popular custom under the excuse of religious tradition.

Rationalization of irrational rituals as part of old traditions and customs is an unrealistic assertiveness of defense.

Rituals in the name of sanctified Hindu dictums are the cause of excessive abuse of people who technically are still Hindus but belong to no class. They are the ‘Outcastes’ or the ‘Untouchables’.

The religiosity of caste is an endemic feature of Hinduism. And this is where the brutality of some rituals and customs is being endured by a section of humanity simply because of their assigned status in the society. They are at the bottom of the Hindu social structure. Customs and rituals don’t allow them to come up from that lowest stratum.

Mahatma Gandhi called them “Harijans”, children of God. But because of rooted tradition in the name of religion, rituals of discrimination and untouchability against the ‘untouchable’ citizens are still quite widely practiced.

Nevertheless, this section of the society, which is mostly poor, along with the rest of the impoverished population among Hindus, still follows sacred Hindu rituals with allegiance and devotion. In fact, these rituals tender the only knowledge they have to practice their faith.

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