DIVISION OF LABOUR FOR HUMAN SOCIETY
DIVISON OF LABOUR
FOR HUMAN SOCIETY
If I start my essay by saying that we humans are fast forgetting our true divine nature; we have degraded ourselves through our selfishness, passion and greed; we are often caught between the two currents of love and hatred then my readers would want my justification for these bold statements. Of course, I can provide many examples of such failures, degradation and ambivalence in our nature but I want the readers to adopt ‘seek and ye shall find’ attitude.
However, let me say that this is a world of struggle and strife where there seems to be constant fights between good and evil. So I believe that consolidation of people is an imperative need of the present time. We have it said many times that our strength lies in unity but in actual fact we keep dividing ourselves. I think we should abandon all our petty differences and unite our minds, hearts and souls for the solidarity and well-being of the world we live in.
We are not only getting weak but we have neither unity nor proper organisation among us. We are scattered like pebbles on the banks of rivers. Our castes, sub-castes, classes, creeds, sects, cults and other divisions are countless but numerous. Sadly our population keeps growing bringing with it the accumulation of various problems such as poverty, malnutrition, and increase in criminal activities and inability to provide education and health needs.
This world has many people who are getting selfish and they have lost the spirit of self-sacrifice and service. All these are most deplorable state of affairs. It is a shame that we all are scattered like particles of sand on the beach or like mercury on the concrete floor. The time is here and now to get together and renew our words, actions, thoughts, character and hearts.
Human society is like a powerful, huge and useful machine and individuals as well as the communities are like its working parts. If the working parts are weak and broken, the machine will not function properly. So it can be said that a machine like the human society is nothing without each of its parts. Therefore the human body should work efficiently if all its parts and organs are in sound and strong condition. If on the other hand there is pain and disorder in any part of the body or if there is disease in any organ then this human machine will go out of order and malfunction. Then it will not be able to perform its needed and usual responsibilities and duties.
Let us use this corollary in the case of human society. I feel that every individual should be able to and be free to perform his or her duties and responsibilities effectively. Those who have acquired good and sound knowledge should be able to help others get wiser and more intelligent. Those that have the skills and acumen to protect others should help others maintain peace and order. Then those who have ideas and education to develop and manage the commercial and agricultural sectors should manage the finances and food production so that everyone can be happy and healthy. Of course, we need faithful people to be workers to ensure that all the above individuals can perform well and in harmony to deliver their services.
There should be no strict boundaries or fences to keep these divisions separate. When a simple worker has acquired enough knowledge, skills and ideas then he or she should be able to perform the tasks of the other individuals. Similarly if the individual who had the required knowledge fails to deliver, or the others who were acting as protectors and business or food producers falter they should then be ready and happy to move to perform the duties and responsibilities of the others in the society. There should be no hierarchy or stigma attached to this division of labour.
This practice of division of labour is observed by every society in the world but they do not suffer from the aftermath of this as do the people who call themselves Hindus and who embrace the evils and stigma of their caste system. We have seen the emergence of philosophers, warriors, entrepreneurs and the masses everywhere in the world but the system does not inhibit their progress and prosperity. The system is there to keep the society in a state of perfect harmony and order and not to produce any discriminatory conduct and behaviour as seen in the traditional caste system of the orthodox Hindus.
The underlying principle in caste system was division of labour. After studying the human nature carefully, the Saints of the original Sanatan way of life came to the conclusion that all people were not equally qualified and fit for all kinds of work. Hence, it was found necessary to allocate different kinds of duties to different people according to their aptitude, capacity, quality, skill and knowledge. This division of labour was never based on birth of the people. The people were allocated their respective professions or duties after their birth when they received appropriate training and education. This was their second birth.
The symbolism was initially quite clearly stated as the brain, arms, stomach and feet of the society but the people who had some vested interests in the system misinterpreted the ideas wrongly. Then the branding made the matters worse and subject to misinterpretation when the brain was wrongly and unfortunately substituted for Brahmans, arms for the Kshatriyas, the stomach for the Vaisyas and the feet for the Sudras. Some people even went so far as to say that each was created by God from the specific parts of His body.
I can clearly notice the quarrel between the concerned people, their senses, their inquisitive mind and their peaceful soul as to who was superior. Going back to my statement where I compared the human society as a huge machine we can categorically affirm that all parts are equally important for the body. The head and stomach cannot claim its superiority over the feet and the arms and the arms and feet are as much important as the stomach and head.
My personal feeling is that because there has been quarrel between the different castes as to which was superior, then I could clearly understand and state categorically that the entire social fabric of Hinduism has been suffering as a consequence. I am aware of a lot of disharmony, rupture and discord but the system although it is being properly and usefully comprehended by the modern Hindus, it is sad to say that unfortunately it still affects us adversely. There are some among us who still want the wrong interpretation to perpetuate and continue to assert that Brahmans are born as Brahmans. This is far from the truth because we cannot ever expect that a doctor’s son is born as a doctor because that status has to be earned, gained through a lot of institutional processes.
Therefore I say that the social edifice is built on the law of economics and ethics and so it has nothing to do with superiority and inferiority because each class contributes its best for the common good of the world solidarity. Can we not just accept the simple notion that there is no question of higher and lower order here?
Let me further elaborate on this issue that character should determine class. An intellectual (Brahman) is no longer an intellectual if he is not endowed with the specific knowledge, purity and good character or if he leads a life of dissipation and immorality. On the other hand I will easily accept that a simple worker (Sudra) is more important to me than the Brahman if that worker from the masses leads a virtuous and pious life and enhanced his knowledge and skills. We have many such examples in our scriptures to prove this elevation in the likes of Vidura and Satyakama.
I feel I am right in my assertion that caste has always been a question of character, conduct and quality rather than lineage and birth right. The development of dislike and various valid clarifications against the caste system as practices by some Hindus is the reason why Hinduism is getting weaker and feeling disunited and disoriented. Although this degradation is weakening we have some more distance to cover to adequately convince the staunch supporters of the wrong system to change their views.
I can see the good intention of the original saints to develop and present this division of labour for the society but the defects have been pouring in from somewhere else and from the vested interests for us to question the system. History of Sanatan way of life reveals that the classes gradually neglected their duties and responsibilities because the test of ability, skills, knowledge, character and conduct slowly vanished and birth became the chief consideration in determining castes. We can see that all castes fell from their ideals and forgot all about their required duties. Brahmans became selfish and claimed superiority over others by mere birth, without possessing the required and due qualifications. This greed and false pride of human beings have created a lot of discord and disharmony and until and unless we follow the right and correct paths of the division of labour as practised all over the world we Hindus are doomed to a lot more failure and suffering.
As my conclusion on this vital issue let me state that there is nothing wrong in the system of division of labour. It has been the arrogance and haughtiness of some obstinate and stubborn human beings that have brought troubles for the Hindus as far as their interpretation of caste system is concerned. We all are ignorant and imperfect in some areas and have many defects and one of those vices is our notion of claiming superiority over others when our scriptures keep guiding us that all of us are born equal.
I am happy to see that the so called caste system is fast disappearing from the beliefs of modern Hindus so much so that the system exists only in name. Those who are still stuck in the labyrinth of misinterpretation should be further advised, informed and educated on the right lines so that they too are able to raise themselves to the original level and belief of Hinduism that was authentic and flourished with truth, beauty and goodness at all angles. The sectarian spirit must die and our people should develop a new heart that properly understands love and devotion with an additional spirit of co-operation, sacrifice and service.
I think I have given more than enough reasons to justify my contention that misinterpreted caste system brings a lot of detrimental effects on Hinduism and the sooner the affected people realize their erroneous indulgence the better it would be for the promotion, spread and development of Hinduism in this changing and complex world.
The people who do not and cannot follow my valid explanations and arguments have the right to agree to disagree and keep condoning the misinterpretations of the caste system of people who call themselves Hindus. In fact there is no mention of the word Hindu in Shrimad Bhagvad Gita so there is no religion called Hinduism but rightfully it is the Sanatan Way Of Life.
Dr Ram Lakhan Prasad,
Hinduism And Sexual Practices
Hinduism and Sexual Practices
In fact the word Hinduism is not a religion becaause the right word for the way of life of the people who follow the Vedas is Sanatan.
The purpose of this discussion is not to support the alleged sexual activities of any spiritual master, but to examine the sexual mores that are applicable to those who practice Hinduism and those who follow an ascetic path. It is important to remember that there is a big difference between Hinduism and Christianity as far as sex is concerned.
Both religions emphasize the importance of self-control and celibacy in religious practice. However, Hinduism does not condemn sexual acts as sinful except those that are deemed deviant or socially unacceptable such as incest, rape, adultery, and unnatural sex. In Hinduism, sex is divine. It is an obligatory duty because it responsible for procreation and the orderly progression of creation. Without sex, there is no possibility of rebirth or liberation or continuation of God's eternal duties.
As with other things in creation, sex is also of three types, sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. Of these sattvic sex, which leads to pleasure and happiness, and orderliness of society, but does not lead to pain or breach the social and religious norms, is the best. Sattvic sex is dutiful and moral; rajasic sex is selfish and lustful; and tamasic sex is coercive and painful.
Sex and householders
Hence, Hinduism rightly recognizes sexual pleasure (kama) as one of the chief aims of human life. However, as with other things, sex must fit into the overall scheme of an orderly and disciplined life that leads to liberation and upholding of dharma. In other words, one must indulge in sex in the larger interests of life and existence, as part of one's duty towards God, not otherwise. While students are expected to practice celibacy until they are married, householders are allowed to indulge in sex both within marriage and in some instances outside marriage also.
In Hinduism, polygamy was an accepted practice until modern times. Men were allowed to marry multiple women. They also enjoyed the freedom to indulge in sex with willing women outside their marriage such as the maids who worked in their households or those who provided sexual pleasures for money, power, love, protection, or some other reason.
However, sex with women who were under the protection of their fathers or other male members of their families was strictly prohibited. Women were sold and bought in some parts of ancient India.
Prostitution was prevalent in ancient India and pleasing desirable men through enticing acts was considered an art. Unmarried women who chose to live freely had the privilege to sleep with the men of their choice. The story of Jabala, the mother of Satyakama, is an example in this regard.
If a widow had no children, she had the permission from the law books to choose a brother or cousin of her deceased husband for procreation. If a couple had no children for long, law books gave permission to the couples to choose a suitable person to impregnate the wife. Hindu scriptures draw a clear distinction between sex and lust. While sex is divine, lust is an evil and those who succumb to it fall down to the lowest worlds.
Sex and Hindu gods
The gods of Hinduism are pleasure loving, while the goddesses are mostly chaste and pure. The Puranas depict most of the Hindu gods as libidinous and not immune to the charms of opposite sex. They enjoy having sex with heavenly maidens and beautiful earthly women.
According to the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Upanishads when a person departs from here to the immortal world, on his way thousands of maidens come forward with perfumes and garlands to greet him and entertain him. It is one of the passing pleasures of a pure soul that has attained liberation and ready to be anointed by the Lord Himself in the highest world.
Indra is as fickle as the human mind and susceptible to sexual desire. He is particularly jealous of anyone trying to practice celibacy or asceticism. If they progress far on the path, he would dispatch beautiful nymphs from heaven to entice them and disturb their austerities. Vedic gods such as Indra and Agni were often captivated by the beauty of earthly women, and even the wives of rishis. Indra ruined the reputation of many chaste women, such as Ahalya, by tempting them with his guiles and indulging in sexual conjugation with them.
Among other gods, notable was Lord Krishna who had numerous wives and consorts. Even Shiva, an epitome of self-control and asceticism, fell for the beauty of Mohini, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu and legend has it that they had a child out of that engagement. Brahma, the creator god, was captivated by the beauty of Saraswathi, his own creation, and made her his consort. Sex and Hindu ascetics Celibacy is a central part of Hindu asceticism. Hindu ascetics are expected to shun sexual intercourse by all means as part of their spiritual transformation. Brahmacharya is one of the chief restraints. However, it is not a universal norm, because sexual intercourse is permitted in certain Hindu traditions, such as Tantra, as part of one's liberation.
Most of our ancient seers, including the seven seers, were married. They had one or more wives and had children through them. They also often enjoyed sex with other women and celestial nymphs. The progenitor of Indian people, Bharata, was born from a relationship between sage Viswamitra and the heavenly beauty Menaka, who was sent by Indra to entice him and disturb his austerity.
Satyavati, wife of Santanu, had a son named Krsna Dvaipayana, also known as Vyasa, before her marriage. She bore him through sage Parasara, who saw her alone one day, when she was ferrying passengers across a river. She had a bad body odor. Sage Parasara promised to remove her bad odor, if only she would consent to sleep with him. Afraid that he would curse her if she refused, she agreed to satisfy his lust. As promised, Parasara removed her bad body odor. A son was also born to her from that union. When Vicitravirya, her second son through her husband, Santanu, died without children, sage Vyasa helped both the widows, to conceive sons and continue the Bharata race. He also slept with one of the servant girls sent by Satyavati, to whom Vidura was born. Even the Pandavas and Kauravas were born under strange circumstances outside marriage.
In the Ramayana, we have the story of Bali forcibly taking away Tara, the wife of his brother Sugriva and keeping her in his palace. When Bali was killed by Lord Rama, she returned to her husband. In the same epic, we see Rama subjecting his wife who was in captive to a fire test before accepting her chastity. Later in the story, when a commoner doubted her chastity, he banished her to forests.
Sex in the Upanishads
There are few verses in the Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads which are explicitly sexual in nature. They suggest how a man can make a woman agreeable for sexual intercourse for procreation, by performing certain rituals and how force can be used if necessary to make the woman agree for the intercourse. They also suggest how a husband can harm the secret lover of his wife with the help of some sacrificial rituals and by invoking destructive powers. These Upanishads compare sexual intercourse to a sacrifice and the various organs used in the intercourse to the tools and materials used in the sacrifice.
From the above, it is clear that in Hinduism sex is not a taboo, while lust is. We may also draw the following conclusions.
1. In Hinduism sex is not considered sinful but divine and an essential part of creation and procreation. It facilitates continuity, preservation of family lineage, social order, rebirth and opportunity for the souls to work for their salvation.
2. Both men and women have the permission to indulge in sexual acts as part of their obligatory duties, subject to the norms prescribed for them.
3. As a rule, students are not allowed to indulge in sexual intercourse or even the thought of it before the completion of their education.
4. Householders have the freedom to engage in sex within as well outside their marriage, as part of their obligatory duties and to maintain the order and regularity of the world.
5. As a rule ascetic people are not allowed to engage in sexual intercourse, except in tantric traditions. However, in some traditions, ascetic people and spiritual masters are allowed to marry and lead the life of a householders. In exceptional circumstances they are also allowed to perform special services to help childless women procreate.
6. If ascetic people indulge in sexual acts out of lust, it dissipates their spiritual energy (ojas) and leads to their spiritual downfall. However, through austerities and spiritual practices, they can regain their lost power and spiritual purity.
It is important to remember in this discussion that Hinduism is a fluid religion. It is neither rigid nor dogmatic nor judgmental. The freedom that we enjoy in Hinduism is meant not to disregard the prevailing norms of society, but to cultivate tolerance and remain indifferent to the practices with which we may not agree.
A spiritual guru may engage in sex or may not. Whether he is right or wrong depends upon what he preaches and practices. If he preaches celibacy but indulges in sexual acts clandestinely, you can consider him deceptive and avoid him. If he preaches tantra and advocates the use of sexual energy in self-transformation, he is well within his right to practice his tradition.
If you have fallen prey to a deceptive guru, please do not lose heart. You may consider it part of your past karma, without losing faith in your spiritual aims. If your own resolve and faith are strong and if you practice your spiritual goals sincerely, you do not have to worry much about the moral conduct of your spiritual guru. In spiritual life, it is not your guru's knowledge and chastity but your faith and resolve which matter most. Your guru can be a living person, a dead person or an image you hold in your mind as God. What is more important is how to bring out your own inner Guru and Guide through your faith and follow that ideal to reach your goal.
I believe in many things that are very personal to me and I feel that this is an age of faith, in which I like it or not, I am surrounded by so many militant creeds that in self-defence, I have to formulate my own.
Tolerance, good temper and sympathy are no longer enough in a world which is rent by religious and racial persecution, in a world where ignorance rules, and science which ought to have ruled, plays a subservient pimp. Tolerance, good temper and sympathy still matter and if the human race is not to collapse, I feel they must come to the forefront before long.
Faith, to my mind is a stiffening process, a sort of mental starch which ought to be applied as sparingly as possible. I personally like the stuff because I do believe in it. My home is my best temple because I can let anyone enter it and do whatever good one feels like doing. I have the right to exclude those who offend me.
We have to live in this age of Faith- the sort of things we used to hear praised and recommended when we were children but as we grow up of Faith becomes selective. As a consequence I am not a person who has blind faith. I believe in what is right, applicable, plausible and good for my living and development.
I have total belief and faith in my relationships with the Supreme Being and my ancestors who have given me a firm foundation, a solid root to stand on and various applicable knowledge to rely on for my future development. It is because of these relationships that I am able to get a little order into the contemporary chaos that the society and community goes through presently.
I am fond of my people who are truthful, good and beautiful in their words, actions, thoughts, character and heart. If I find my people who are reliable then I should also be reliable. I love to serve my country honestly and as best as I can but here too my service has to be legitimate because I firmly believe in promoting peace and war of any form is distasteful to me. We as human beings have the power of negotiation and the essence of agreeing to disagree with our fellowmen and fellow women.
This brings me along to democracy, which starts from the assumption that the individual is important and that all types are needed to make a civilization. It doesn’t divide its citizens into the bossers and the bossed, as an efficiency- regime tends to do. The people I admire most are those who are sensitive and want to create something or discover something, and don’t see life in terms of power, and such people get more of a chance under democracy than elsewhere.
In my belief democracy has another merit. It allows criticism and if there isn’t public criticism there are bound to be hushed-up scandals. That is why I believe in the press and the parliament despite all their lies and vulgarities. So let me hail two cheers for democracy; one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism.
These contentions then bring me to the issue of force- police force, armed force and judicial force. In my belief they all are doing their best in the circumstances but isn’t there a saying that we could do more to suit the circumstances. Often we hear legitimate criticism of these forces. I realize that all society rests upon force but I believe that they should not get out of their boxes.
Often the members of the police force do their job well or bring a wrong person to be tried but the judicial force often lets them down by making decisions that show that their sentencing and punishments do not suit the crime. They are too lenient, too harsh or absurd. I believe that these two forces should complement each other to keep our society safe.
I believe that the armed forces should defend the country and its people rather than be sent to interfere with the sovereignty of another nation. Let each country stand for itself and defend themselves without any interference from outside forces.
There is of course the concept of hero worship frequently recommended as a panacea in some quarters. Hero worship I believe is a dangerous vice because it produces great being on the one hand and small people on the other. This brings inequality and division in the society. Those that perform heroic deeds should be humble and remain gentle to be with the rest of the human kind.
So a lot of changes are needed in the society and the country generally to enhance the economic, educational, cultural, social and political developments. A similar change is needed in the sphere of morals and politics. Not by becoming better but by ordering and distributing the inherent truth, goodness and beauty will we shut up forces into boxes and gain time to explore the world around us to set our valid marks upon it worthily.
Such changes I believe can come if we have faith in the Supreme Power and our own endeavours, talents and actions. There is no need for division among the human race but a complete and comfortable belief in unity in diversity. It is shame that while we practice our own way of life we have developed a poor tendency to dislike the culture and belief of our other members of society who hold and practice different way of life.
The time is here and now to unite and live peacefully by loving our neighbours more than ourselves because they are our best companions for immediate assistance when the needs arise. Instead of barking on obsolete traditional practices and religious dogmas I believe in liberating ourselves to willingly respect, to happily honour and to ardently accept the other point of view.
I firmly believe that we should become more humans than what we presently show and practice to share the common elements of the great teachings of all our religions which are our love, care and respect for one another. There lies all our future salvation.
Ram Lakhan Prasad
9th April 2016.
HINDUISM-MY WAY OF LIVING
MY WAY OF LIVING
It is my belief that we cannot live by bread alone. A time comes in our life when mere worldly prosperities no longer satisfy us and we begin to look for something more. For me this something more came after I lost my most precious treasure, my beloved wife who was my life for over half a century. I could not sustain and tolerate the sorrow and loneliness after the passing away of my greatest support and comfort. I suffered for almost three years, went through a lot of hardship in my solitary living and after many trials and tribulations of this hard life I turned my attention to spiritual solace.
I began to search the distinguishing features of the way of life that I was leading for the last 75 years. It was my Hindu religion but the more I researched about it the less satisfaction I got out of it. I found out that I was following a wrong kind of Hinduism that was loaded with dogmas, fanaticism and obsolete traditional ceremonies and unnecessary beliefs. I needed a different approach where my kind of Hinduism could give me greater joy, more attachment to the divine powers and allowed me complete freedom to the rational man that I had transformed myself in the last three years. I wanted to dissolve the out of date and archaic procedures to make things simpler, more meaningful and modern.
I found out that the original Hinduism never demanded any undue restraint upon the freedom of human reasoning, the freedom of thought, internal feeling and personal will of the follower. Therefore I wanted my type of Hinduism to allow me the widest freedom in matters of my faith and worship. I wanted it to allow me absolute freedom to my reasoning and heart with regard to questions such as the nature of God, soul, creation, and form of worship as well as the overall goal of my life.
I found out that since the original Hinduism did not have any specific founder, it did not lie in the acceptance of any particular doctrine, or in the observance of any particular rituals or form of worship, it should never force anybody like me to accept particular dogmas or any specific forms of ceremonies. I opened and commanded my thinking to further reflect, investigate, enquire and cogitate. I did not only find my acceptable Hinduism but I found my way of worship and praying.
Although the Vedas are books of good knowledge and wiser ideas I could not be convinced that they were the words of God but they were early transcriptions of the individual saints. I had doubts as to how such lengthy presentations could be transcribed verbatim. To me they all are the personal ideas and preachings of the early individuals hence all sorts of religious faiths, methods of worship, diverse kinds of rituals and customs have to be questioned and new ones developed according to the demands and feelings of the present conditions and times. Religion such as Hinduism does not dictate any specific terms and methods of prayers, ceremonies and worship.
Hinduism to me is a universal way of living and does not condemn those who follow some other beliefs and God. The religious hospitality of Hinduism of my understanding is proverbial and is extremely catholic and liberal. This is the fundamental feature of Hinduism that I want to believe in because I want to be more a human being than to act as only a Hindu. My kind of Hinduism should pay respect to all people of all faith, denomination, creed and colour. It should not revile any other way of life. I want it to accept and honour truth, beauty and goodness in humanity and believe in one God who is the Supreme Being, the creator of the world, the people, the places and the procedures. He is the one who is merciful, adorable, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient and He who dwells in our body as our soul.
I do not believe that Hinduism is a religion of mere theories because I firmly believe and accept that it is eminently practical. Nothings else matters to an individual who believes in Hinduism than truthful, beautiful and good actions, words, thoughts, character and heart. The scriptures that have been written in the early years are worthy of recognition and acceptance because they express a lot of valuable knowledge and virtues but they need to be interpreted, translated and understood in the light of the current changing circumstances and varied beliefs. There cannot be blind following when the ideas seem illogical and unacceptable. They need to be adjusted and translated differently.
So my Hinduism is my practical aspect of rational philosophy rather than any arm-chair philosophy set in concrete. It has to be tested against intellectual curiosity and permit dispassionate dialogue and discussion. A lot of the old ideas from the early scriptures can still be part of our following with intelligent revision. But many new ideas need to be promulgated for the present generation and current circumstances.
Religion therefore should not be the only aspect of our living because there are other more important things and aspects of our life that we can transform or adjust to cull out our acceptable living. Religion should not become the opium of the society but should be one of the ways for us to perform truthful, beautiful and good human practices. It should give us adequate opportunity to believe in the powers of the Supreme Being and pray for peace, prosperity and progress of the universe and its people.
So let me state categorically that he who has perfect faith in the belief of acceptable human actions, has total faith in the existence of the Supreme Creator of this Universe, serves the community with dignity, sings the glories of God Almighty regularly and conducts regular prayers for self realization and universal peace is following the way of life that is congruent with the beliefs of original Hinduism. This is my Hinduism.
The glory of my Hinduism is ineffable because it has within it all the features of a universal religion. Its doctrines are sublime, its philosophy is grand, its ethics is soul-elevating, its freedom and opportunities to practice are unique and if read carefully its scriptures are wonderful.
The foundation of my kind of Hinduism was laid on the bedrock of spiritual truth, beauty and goodness and it has been glorious in the past but with the anticipated transformation it will witness a lot more glories in the future. Over the years the people responsible for the development and maintenance of this way for the attainment of God-Realization have made this unique way of life deteriorate in its essence and usefulness. Hinduism was never born out of the teachings of any particular prophets or teachers but succeeding leaders have made it very cumbersome and unpractical by deviating from the original beliefs and practices.
For me and many right thinking Hindus, Hinduism, unlike other religions, does not dogmatically assert that the final emancipation of our soul is possible only through its means and not through any other. It is only a means to an end and all means which would ultimately lead to the end are equally vital and approved.
All human beings are born Hindus because there is no practice of any type of conversion in it. Therefore, I see all Hindus living in perfect harmony, peace and friendship with every human being. This remarkable practice is at risk because of the various obsolete and unnecessary ceremonies and traditional demands. People who believe and follow those archaic ways are responsible for all their actions but as for me I have changed for the better.
Finally I accept that Hinduism is neither asceticism nor illusionism, neither polytheism nor pantheism but it is a synthesis of all types of elated experiences. It should therefore be a whole and complete view of modern living. I would prefer it to remain elastic and tolerant forever in my love of God. I pray almost daily but my prayers are simple with no selfish motives.
For the understanding of everyone I present my universal prayer that I conduct every so often in my life. This would confirm my belief that I adore my God in the same way as any other human being but I do not hang on to any unrealistic practices that are not needed, are unnecessary and so seem obsolete to me.
O ADORABLE LORD OF MERCY AND LOVE
I SALUTE YOU AND OFFER MY PRAYERS
THOU ART THE TRUTH, THE BEAUTY
AND THE GOODNESS
THOU ART OMNIPRESENT
THOU ART OMNIPOTENT
THOU ART OMNISCIENT
YOU DWELL IN OUR HEART AND SOUL.
GRANT US AN UNDERSTANDING HEART
GRANT US A PEACEFUL SOUL
GRANT US EQUAL VISION AND BALANCED MIND
GRANT US FAITH DEVOTION AND WISDOM
GRANT US INNER SPIRITUAL STRENGTH
TO RESIST TEMPTATIONS
TO CONTROL THE MIND
TO FREE US FROM EGOISM, LUST AND GREED
FREE US FROM HATRED ANGER AND JEALOUSY
FILL OUR HEARTS WITH DIVINE VIRTUES.
LET US BEHOLD THEE
IN WHATEVER FORMS AND NAMES
LET US SERVE THEE
LET US EVER REMEMBER THEE
LET US EVER SING THY GLORIES
LET THY NAME BE EVER ON OUR LIPS
LET US ABIDE IN THEE FOR EVER AND EVER.
LET PEACE BE IN US AND THE UNIVERSE.
Dr Ram Lakhan Prasad
MY DHARMA MY LIFE
MY DHARM MY LIFE
Whatever I as a sentient being accept as my universal way of life is my dharm.
("धार्यते इति धर्म:" Dharyete Iti Dharmh.)
I have accepted that to live peacefully, I recognize the universality of this world and am ready and prepared to co-exist with pure words, thoughts, actions, character and heart in the world we live in. In other words whatever is there to manifest my life with the highest ideals of humanity and enlighten me with the total knowledge of living happily and let others live well is my dharm. I have called it Hindu Dharm.
Let me state an analogy to make myself clearer. As the fire is there to burn and provide heat to the world it becomes its dharm or as the king or the queen of the nation is there to look after the safety, interest and happiness of the subject it becomes the dharm of the crown.
However, my dharm does not allow me to seek company of non believers, criminals, those who indulge in other inhumane activities, are ego centric or abuse any aspect of humanity. So my dharm excludes participation of certain kinds of individuals who I personally regard as non religious or adharmi according to my own definition.
My dharm dictates to me to worship one God and conduct my prayers according to my own beliefs staying away from sycophants, hypocritical and who perform obsolete and unmeaning traditional ceremonies that I do not favour. I call them pakhandis and dhakosle.
The way I follow my dharm is very holy and sacred for me and I am prepared to conduct any personal sacrifice to safeguard its existence. In short I am more a humanist than a person of any particular specific faith. I follow my way of life on the principles of humanity which encompass truth, goodness and beauty. Nothing short of these maxims would give me any satisfaction and peace of mind.
Dr Ram Lakhan Prasad.
MY WAY OF LIFE
MY WAY OF LIVING
Dr Ram Lakhan Prasad
I am a Hindu and I worship one God because Vedas speaks of one God. I am aware of my way of worship and I do not need anyone to tell me how to live my life and conduct or do my prayers. I believe that everyone is created equal by the Creator (Brahma) and they would be protected by the protector (Vishnu) and in the end destroyed by the destroy (Shiu). They are different names of the same one God, commonly known as trinity.
However many of my Hindu friends and relatives probably are confused as to which of their Gods do they worship. I cannot say as there are so many and Hinduism is still evolving and selfish people and pseudo saints keep churning and developing new gods and goddesses thus making our religion more dangerous opium of the society.
Many Hindus are unaware of any fixed way of worship or practice their own one way to do that successfully with satisfaction. They follow many ways of worshipping God like Idol worship, tirth yatras, keeping fast, visiting shrines like Amaranth and latest addition of visit to Shirdi, animal sacrifice, visiting graves and performing Sai Sandhya and similar other ways thus adding more to the existing confusion.
Holy books of Hindus are Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Gita, Puranas and many others and they have multiple philosophies as well as fairy tales and the enlightened Hindus extract only the best knowledge out of these to live a happy life. Of course, they should and could discard all those ideas and stories that cannot be believed or are fictitious.
I was part of a confused group but I opted out of it by searching the truth about Hinduism. Hinduism preaches freedom of worship and I just do that by not believing in any obsolete and unnecessary ceremonies (dhong or pakhand). So now I am not confused and simply follow my way of life to be with the Supreme Being whenever I want and need Him. I pray, I meditate and listen to many worthy bhajans and kirtans to give peace to my heart and soul but I am no longer confused. I know what I am doing and I am totally satisfied with my way of life. These were the original themes of Hinduism but they have got lost in the way with the contributions of people who had selfish motives to help themselves and their ego rather than promote the truth, beauty and goodness that were initially intended.
The condition of most Hindus I believe is most pathetic amongst all religions in the world because they belong to a wandering group of individual who is unaware of its own correct religious beliefs and practices and makes life difficult to live peacefully. The new generation of the society is even more confused when they are rightfully questioning many of the out dated practices and beliefs.
So the moral of my presentation is that Hindus will be united, enlightened, strengthened and visionary only once they will define whom to worship and How to worship independently. For me Hinduism is failing in its motives because of the establishment of separate social and religious groups, institutions and stations where there emerge divisions, hatred against each other and the blatant promotion of self glorification.
Since Vedas speaks of one God with many names like Vishnu as protector, Brahma as creator and Shiva as Destroyer let us be guided by Vedas to meditate on one God inside us in our soul and make our home the purest meeting place of God we have called mandir and our heart the supreme place of prayers. These will spare us from a lot of current difficulties, divisions and destructions that our Hindu organizations, societies and leaders preach and present.
Having said all these I now feel liberated and a person who is not afraid to call himself Hindu. These are my personal views and as I have said before in politics and religion everyone thinks that they are always right. If you like my views follow them but you have the choice to follow your own path if you have one.
In God I trust but all others are my friends.
ATTACHMENT TO GOD or DEVOTION - BHAKTI
ATTACHMENT TO GOD or DEVOTION
After listening to so much of debate on matters relating to my way of life which has tremendously changed from that of my parents and grand parents, I felt that there was a need for me to clarify some of the issues regarding my attachment to God and my devotion for the sake of my future generation. Although I was raised as a Hindu, I can no longer enjoy the increasing imposture and so many aspects of double dealings and sanctimony that the current confused religious leaders are unilaterally imposing on us. Many ceremonies and ways are only an aspect of show-off and puppetry which in simple terms can be termed as hypocrisy or dhakosla, dhong and pakhand.
Therefore, I have decided to be an original Hindu where and when absolute freedom was given to a devotee to perform the devotional activities and refrain from all the hypocrisies that are now emerging to harm the new breed of followers. These are my personal views and opinions and people other than those who agree with me are free to go on living with their dubious, boloney and sanctimonious beliefs. I have no qualms with that but would press on regardless.
The term Bhakti means 'to be attached to God'. Bhajan, worship, Bhakti, Anurag, Prem, Priti are synonymous Hindi terms. Bhakti is love for love's sake. The devotee wants God and God alone. There is no selfish expectation here. There is no fear also. The devotee feels, believes, conceives and imagines that his feeling is an Ocean of Love.
Bhakti is the slender thread of love that binds the heart of a devotee with the Lord. Bhakti is intense devotion and supreme attachment to God. Bhakti is supreme love for God. It is the spontaneous out-pouring of love and devotion towards the Beloved. It is pure, unselfish, divine love. There is not a bit of bargaining or expectation of anything here. This higher feeling is indescribable in words. It has to be sincerely experienced by the devotee. Bhakti is a sacred, higher emotion with sublime sentiments that unites the devotees with the Lord.
Let us see how love develops. First faith arises, then follows attraction and after that adoration. Adoration leads to suppression of mundane desires. The result is single-mindedness and satisfaction. Then grow attachment and supreme love towards God.
In this type of highest Bhakti, all attraction and attachment which one may have for objects of enjoyment are transferred to the only dearest object, viz., God. This leads the devotee to an eternal union with his Beloved and culminates in oneness.
TYPES OF DEVOTION
Bhakti is of various kinds. One classification is DESIRE FOR MATERIAL GAINS and the other is UNSELFISH DEVOTION. Whatever you want the Lord will certainly give you, if your devotion is intense and if your prayers are sincerely offered from the bottom of your heart. But you will not get supreme satisfaction, immortality and Moksha through selfish devotion.
Your Bhakti should always be unselfish. God has already given you a good life, position, a good job, family, wife and children and enough wealth. Be contented with these. Aspire for nothing more than just attachment with the Lord. Your heart will be purified and the Divine Grace will descend upon you. Be in communion with the Lord, you will become one with the Lord and you will enjoy all the divine attributes like wisdom, renunciation, power, love and knowledge. You will be able to see the Lord with your inner eye. He will help you to dwell in Him. At the same time He will give you all the divine attributes without asking for He is the one who is the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.
The beginners decorate an image of God with flowers and garlands, ring the bell, offer food-offerings, wave lights and perform other ceremonial things. Nothing belongs to us because everything is God given therefore it is futility in offering anything that is His to Him. He does not want anything else but our love and devotion. So there is no real need for us to observe any dissembling rituals and ceremonies. These are for self satisfaction and concocted by people for their own benefits. The devotee should regard the Lord as a Supreme Person, who is immanent or inherent in that image and who can be propitiated or appeased through that form only.
He has no expanded heart. He is a sectarian. He dislikes other kinds of devotees who worship other gods. We must see the Lord and Lord alone everywhere and feel His Power manifest as the entire universe. In our prayers we do say that "Thou art all-pervading; Thou art the Supreme Light, in whose borrowed light the sun, the moon, the stars and the fire shine.”
Thus the devotee who recognizes the transcendental nature of God may take the food, offer it to God mentally; and the food will be purified. When you pass through a garden of flowers, mentally offer all the flowers to the Lord as an offering in worship. When you pass through the bazaar and see a sweetmeat shop, mentally offer all the sweetmeats as food to the Lord. Such practices will lead to divine devotion and will help us save on money, time and efforts and instead of wasting food and foliage we should give these to the needy and the poor to use.
Let us go from stage to stage. Just as a flower grows in the garden, so also gradually develop love and devotion in the garden of our heart. The enemy of devotion is egoism and desire. Where there is no Kama or desire, there alone will be the Lord Himself. The enemies of peace and devotion are lust, anger and greed. Anger destroys your peace and your health also. When a person abuses you, keep peaceful. When blood begins to boil, it is impoverished. You lose vitality if you become a prey to fits of temper.
HOW TO CULTIVATE DEVOTION
It would be a gross mistake if you consider devotion as merely a stage of emotionalism, while it is actually a thorough discipline and training of one's will and the mind, a sure means to intuitive realization of God Almighty through intense love and affection for Him. It is a means to thorough apprehension of the true knowledge of Reality, beginning from the ordinary form of idol worship right up to the highest form of cosmic realisation of your oneness with Him.
Rather than wasting our time, energy and funds on unnecessary and obsolete ceremonies and hypocrisy we can achieve this by following various fundamental factors such as the practice of continuous thinking of God; or being anti discriminatory; or freedom from everything else and longing for God; or truthfulness; or straightforwardness; or doing good to others; or wishing well-being to all; or compassion; or non-injury; or charity; and or cheerfulness and optimism.
I have had some people put a question to me: "How can we love God whom we have not seen?"
Live in the company of knowledgeable people. Hear the glory and fame of God. Study the sacred scriptures. Worship Him first in His one form as manifested in the world. Worship the Lord or your Guru. Recite His Name. Sing His glories. Pray in your home which is the best temple. You will naturally develop deep love for God.
Every human act must be done that awakens the emotion of devotion. Keep your heart the worship room pure and clean always. Decorate your internal self. Light a lamp inside you. All these and other similar believable activities produce a benign influence on the mind and elevate the mind. They generate piety. They help to create the necessary feeling to invoke the God that you want to worship. The mind will be easily concentrated.
Practice of right conduct, prayer, worship, interaction with knowledgeable people service to the mankind, service of the poor and the sick with divine feeling, observance of family duties, offering of all actions and their fruits to the Lord, feeling the presence of the Lord in all beings, renunciation of earthly enjoyments and wealth, charity, austerities and vows, practice of non violence- all these will help you to develop devotion to God.
There is no room whatsoever for any form of bargaining with the God by asking Him to help you and you will perform a particular ceremonial activity. We cannot be an ideal devotee if we are not able to regard everyone as equal and have respect for all the ways of life of all human beings irrespective of their colour, creed and beliefs.
ABSOLUTE FEELINGS OF SELF-FORGETFULNESS IN DEVOTION
When the devotee grows in devotion there is absolute feeling of self-forgetfulness (Bhav). This establishes a true relationship between the devotee and the Lord. This self-forgetfulness then grows into extreme self-forgetfulness wherein the devotee lives, moves and has his being in the Lord. This is the consummation of love or Supreme Love.
There are many kinds of absolute feelings of self-forgetfulness we can display towards the Almighty and these feelings are natural to human beings and so these are easy to practice whichever suits our temperament.
In the peaceful devotion the devotee does not jump, sing loudly with loud music or goes wild musically and dances. He is not highly emotional. His heart is filled with love and joy. A quiet corner in the home, which is the best temple. is enough to mediate.
Then there is service to the Almighty where the devotee prays regularly and finds joy and bliss in the service of mankind.
When the devotee accepts God as a friend, as Arjun had this feeling towards Lord Krishna, the devotee moves with the Lord on equal terms. Arjun and Krishna used to sit, eat, talk and walk together as intimate friends. We can do this as well.
Then the devotee looks upon God as a child like Yasoda and Basdeo who had this feeling with Lord Krishna and Dashrath and Kaushalya had the same feeling for Lord Rama. There is no fear in this feeling, because God is your pet child. The devotee serves, feeds, and looks upon God as a mother does in the case of her child.
There are other feelings for the Lord where the devotee regards the Lord as the Lover. This was the relation between Radha and Krishna and Meera and Krishna. This is total submission to the Lord. The lover and the beloved become one. The devotee and God feel one with each other and still maintain separateness in order to enjoy the bliss of the play of love between them. This is oneness in separation and separation in oneness. Of course, our scriptures have many examples of absolute devotion where people like Sabri become one with the Lord.
This kind of absolute feeling of self-forgetfulness is absolutely different from conjugality of earthly experience. One should not be mistaken for the other. Earthly conjugality is purely selfish and is undertaken only because it gives pleasure to one's own self. But in love for God it is because it gives pleasure to God and not for the sake of the devotee. Divine love is not selfish. It is born of truth, beauty and goodness whereas earthly lust is born of attachment to bodies. Earthly conjugality is the outcome of egoistic self-regarding egoistic feeling, while divine communion is the outcome of other-regarding feeling devoid of egoism. Strong selfishness is the root of worldly passion; divine love is the product of loss of egoism.
This is the greatest difference between lust and divine love. The two are related as darkness is related to light. No development of earthly affection, however perfect it may be, can lead one to supreme joy of divine communion. Lust lurks in the heart due to the passion that burns in the core of things. Divine love should be known to the all of us of this world, however unreligious we may be. The secret of divine love cannot be understood, and should not be tried to be understood, so long as man is only a man and woman only a woman. The austere transformation of the human into the divine is the beginning of true love for God.
Devotion to God is developed in many different ways as said previously. It is supreme attachment to God through an absolute feeling of self-forgetfulness predominant in the devotee. Intense love is the common factor in all these modes. Exclusive love for God is expressed through various methods. All devotions of this type are above the formalities of the world. They are untouched by the laws of human way of life and are out and out concerned with God.
Good conduct and discipline which are in accordance with perfect human moral law are an auxiliary to pure devotion and it follows that the true devotion comes to us wherever we go and whatever we do. There is no place for false, obsolete and unwanted traditional and ceremonial activities. Freedom to be with the Lord is the essence of devotion. There is no one way to be with the Lord. God does not want any double- dealing or puppetry.
One cannot develop true devotion to God if one is crooked in his heart, dirty in ones thinking and is unnecessarily argumentative on obsolete and outdated religious issues. Logic and rational thinking is part of deep devotion.
People can still have objects of love in this world and possess worldly things or have an honest family life. There is no need to starve or torture our body but look after our health well by eating nourishing food and being with the Lord. Detachment from all objects will not form a good part of devotion but sound discipline would lead us to be with the Lord. In fact this is what He would prefer the most. Love for the world and love for the Lord are inseparable conditions. We can conduct our family, business and personal life as the Lord dictates by being honest in all our deeds. That is devotion for the modern human being.
I believe that there are multiple forms of devotion and these include:
- hearing of God's glories and stories,
- singing and listening to His glories,
- remembering and chanting His name and presence,
- servicing the humanity,
- worshiping God with no strings attached,
- paying proper respect to the Lord,
- cultivating the feeling of a servant of God,
- cultivating of the friendly feeling,
- complete surrender of the self to the Almighty and
- practising sanctimony and refraining from all forms of hypocrisy..
A devotee can practice any method of devotion which suits him best. Through that he will attain Divine illumination.
The devotee should develop an impartial knowledge of the way of life that a good human being should follow without getting bogged into the irrelevant and unnecessary ceremonial activities. The enlightened devotee should try his best to live in the ideals that promote truth, beauty and goodness. I cannot put more emphasis on this issue. There is no place for any hypocrisy or to display any sanctimony and puppetry in becoming a devotee of God. An honest devotee should become liberated, be totally free from all forms of dissemblance or double dealing and enjoy the Supreme Bliss.
Worship can be done either with external materials or merely through an internal feeling or any other stronger feeling. The latter one is an advanced form of worship which only people who have more purified intellect and less boloney can do. The purpose of worship is to please the Lord, to purify the heart through surrender of the ego and love of God. There should be no “stage show” for devotion.
No amount of visits to temples or sacred places would assist a person to become a good devotee. The scriptures cannot be followed blindly to do the activities related to devotion. A good devotee would always think clearly, logically and rationally to conduct any ceremonial activities that maintain tradition but if any change is necessary then it should be done as the devotee thinks fit and proper. There should be no compulsion from anyone and the devotees should have the complete freedom to practice the way of life that best suits them. There should not be any blind following because this would reveal ignorance and stupidity.
I believe that it is good to be always with the Lord, to treat Him as one's own dear relative or a friend belonging to one's own family, to be in His company at all times, and to love Him as one's own self. This is how I see as my devotion to the Lord. How do friends, real friends, love in this world? What amount of love do they possess between one another? Such a love should be developed towards God instead of towards mankind alone so that our physical love turns into spiritual love. There is a transformation of the mundane into the Eternal.
If the devotee offers everything to God, including his body, mind and soul and he keeps nothing for himself to lose even his own self then he has no personal and independent existence. He has given up his self for God. He has become part and parcel of God. God takes care of him and God treats him as Himself. Grief and sorrow, pleasure and pain, the devotee treats as gifts sent by God and does not attach him to them. He considers himself as a follower of God and an instrument in the hands of God. The devotee then sees the image of God in every living thing.
This self-surrender is Absolute Love for God exclusively. There is nothing but God-consciousness in the devotee. Even against his own wishes, the devotee shall become one with God and lose his individuality. This is the law of being. The highest truth is Absoluteness and the soul rises above through different states of consciousness until it attains Absolute Perfection when it becomes identical with God. This is the culmination of all aspiration and love.
It is indeed very sad that some people who have ascertained religious strength have begun to dictate terms to do things and perform ceremonies in their particular way and to their particular liking and financial gains. This is one of the reasons why the right thinking people are distancing themselves from obsolete and unnecessary religious ceremonies and matters.
FRUITS OF DEVOTION
Absolute devotion in any person softens the heart and removes jealousy, hatred, lust, anger, egoism, pride and arrogance. It infuses joy, divine ecstasy, bliss, peace and knowledge. All cares, worries and anxieties, fears, mental torments and tribulations entirely vanish. The devotee is freed from the wheel of births and deaths. He attains the immortal abode of everlasting peace, bliss and knowledge. The atma or the soul merges with the Lord or paramatma after death. The reincarnation of soul comes to an end.
The fruit of devotion is appropriate knowledge to lead a good way of life rather than be bogged down in unnecessary and unwarranted ceremonies that have no meaning and substance for modern living. This knowledge intensifies our devotion. Knowledge or wisdom will dawn by itself when you practice Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti is the pleasant, smooth, direct road to God. Bhakti is sweet in the beginning, sweet in the middle and sweet in the end. It gives the highest, undeceiving bliss. Every person has the right to conduct the religious ceremonies the way they like, when they like it and at what place to perform these. There is no compulsion when it comes to devotion.
Therefore I feel that we should kindle love divine in our hearts and mind, for this is the immediate way to the Kingdom of God and a better way to live and enjoy life on this earth and beyond. I will continue to pray to the Lord, sing His glory, recite His Name and try to become a channel of His grace the way and place I prefer. I will not only seek His will and do His will but will surrender to His will. I will not worry too much about the past obsolete and unnecessary traditional and ceremonial practices of any community or society. A good human being is a perfect Hindu for me.
When I surrender unto the Lord I am confident that He will become my charioteer on the field of life. He will drive my chariot well. I will reach the destination, the Abode of Immortal Bliss, my Nirvana. Nothing else matters to me.
THE HINDU WAY OF LIFE
The Hindu Way of Life
Dr Ram Lakhan Prasad
“It is already becoming clear that a chapter that has a Western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in the self-destruction of the human race...At this supremely dangerous moment in human history, the only way of salvation is the ancient Hindu way. Here we have the attitude and spirit that can make it possible for the human race to grow together into a single family.” Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889-1975) British historian.
Knowledge I believe, should be given freely to all deserving students interested in learning. The thoughts presented here have been around for millennia and there is nothing original in this presentation. These are for people to read, analyse, accept or reject.
So let us first look at the word Dharma. The word “Dharma” has no equivalent word in English. It takes many English words to describe Dharma. The word “religion‟ is commonly used but a religion is a specific system of institutionalized faith or worship.
“Sanātan Dharma” or “Mānav Dharma” is not a religion but a way of life. Everything we do in life, including eating and sleeping, are done according to our own dharma. This is our way of life and living and we get used to it.
The Sanskrit word Dharma is derived from the root word “Dhri” which means to hold together or support. Dharma supports or holds together everyone and everything. It supports and holds the person, the family, the community, the society and the country.
Dharma is also described as “duty‟ - ones duty towards herself, her family, community, country, and the world. Knowledge about Dharma - what is right and wrong - will help guide us through our lives. This knowledge should be learnt by every righteous person if an acceptable way of life has to be accomplished.
Dharma is the universal code of behaviour towards all living creatures and nonliving things. It is in the best interest of all and includes all the virtues like truth, goodness, beauty, nobility, justice, non-violence, compassion, faith, duty, modesty, steadfastness, control over senses, loyalty, honesty and the like.
Dharma is also absence of negative tendencies like selfishness, lust, greed, envy, anger, arrogance and similar feelings. A life according to Dharma is necessary for success in meditation. Dharma sustains and supports life in general, and helps to hold the community together.
Dharma has two parts –
1. Sāmānya Dharma – duties that are common to all people.
2. Vishesha Dharma - is special duties of mother, father, husband, wife, child, student, teacher, farmer, businessperson, king, soldier, brother and sister.
All these duties are described in ancient Indian literature.
What happens when “Dharma” is not followed? There are many examples in history of societies and civilizations that have fallen apart.
Even today we can see so many individuals, communities, countries wasting their valuable time, resources and thoughts after unethical projects, unnecessary traditional beliefs, obsolete cultural practices and leading themselves, their families and people to disaster and confusion.
The word “Hindu‟ is not found in the ancient scriptures of India. It was the name given to the group of people by invaders. People living along the river Sindhu were called “Hindus‟ by foreigners. River Sindhu flows from Himalaya Mountain in the North and through North Western part of what was India.
Most of the foreign invaders came to India from the North-West. The religion followed by people of India was called “Hinduism” by the foreigners.
This is similar to how the original people of North America were called “Indians‟ by Europeans who were looking for “India‟ and when they first arrived in America thought they were in India.
The original people of India were called Āryan-s and Dravidians and the country was “Āryāvarta‟. The people did not come from anywhere but had lived there for millennia and had developed a well advanced civilization. Other names for their religion were –Sanātan Dharma (eternal religion), Védic Dharma (religion of the Védas), Ārya Dharma (religion of the Āryans), or Mānav Dharma (religion of mankind). The name of the country “India‟ was also coined by foreigners. The Indian names for India are “Āryāvarta‟ (the land of Āryan-s) or “Bhāratvarsha‟ (the land of king Bharat).
Culture has been defined in different ways. “a characteristic way of life inspired by fundamental values expressed through art, religion, literature, social institutions and behaviour”. It may also include education, scientific and technological advances, customs of the people, and the way in which people interact with each other and live in a society.
“Indian‟ culture is one of the very few cultures that has continuously survived for quite a few millennia in spite of multiple invasions, brutal occupations by foreigners, and systematic attempts to destroy it.
How did it survive in India? A system of “Gurukula‟ schools, strong family traditions, and the unique system of dividing the society into four classes with assigned duties for education, defence, trade, and service that helped maintain the knowledge and culture in India. The people with vested interest extended this division of labour into distasteful caste system that made the Hindu religion loose its value and progress.
Knowledge of one’s cultural heritage is important for one’s self-esteem. When people loose their self-esteem and self- respect, they do not do well in life. It is very important for the welfare of our future generations that they learn the positive aspects of our culture and heritage and do not dwell in the negatives and unnecessary traditions.
We cannot possibly learn and pass on to our children all that can be included in our “culture‟. Not all of us may agree what is essential and what is not. The choice lies with the individual. Hinduism provides that freedom to pray, practice and perform whatever tradition and ceremonies suit us. There is no need for lavish and obsolete ceremonies. A belief in the essence of truth, beauty and goodness of living and a belief in the power of the Supreme Creator may give a person all that is needed to live a healthy and fruitful life.
Our culture shows us how to live our life whether we are in India, Australia, USA or anywhere else. It is therefore important to teach our children and grandchildren at the earliest age about their acceptable culture and heritage before their brains are filled with negative ideas about our “culture” and they begin to follow unacceptable ways.
Second reason for preserving cultural heritage is for the children to grow up having positive self-esteem, a good feeling about themselves. If children know that they are coming from a good, strong, and stable background, they will have the confidence to handle any situation and do well in life. If children learn at an early age that their culture, heritage, ancestors, were of inferior quality or that “they will burn in hell for eternity‟ because of their religion and their out dated religious practices then they are likely to have many problems.
I feel that one does not have to declare himself Hindu to conduct prayers. Since there is only one God and we are all human it should be logical to pray in our own homes or in any house of religion anywhere.
We all know that “God lives in everything” (in this universe). We as good human beings should “Love and respect all creatures and even inanimate objects.”
There is an “energy‟ that forms the basis of all that exists in the universe, a “force‟ that keeps us alive.
Something that cannot be described nor can it be experienced by our senses (touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste); an “entity‟ that can be addressed by any name or imagined to take up any form, and “that‟ which has no beginning or an end (This can be a definition of God).
Our shāstra-s (sacred texts) mention four goals in life:
- Kāma (desire) – fulfilling desires to satisfy senses e.g. thirst, hunger, etc. These are common to all in the animal kingdom.
- Artha (wealth) – earning money to buy food, shelter, etc. This goal is considered higher than Kāma because it is not found in animal kingdom.
- Dharma – Kāma and Artha are achieved according to Dharma. It is higher than both of them.
- Moksha – liberation from the cycle of birth and death or merging of Ātmā (soul) with Paramātmā (God). This is the highest goal in life. All activities in the fields of Kāma and Artha give temporary pleasure. Moksha is permanent bliss.
According to scriptures all human beings and even animals can achieve this goal. One does not have to pray to a specific “God‟ or belong to a specific religious sect.
Hindus believe in many things – from one all pervading God to many Gods and even no God. All views are accepted. Everyone has the freedom to choose and nobody is permanently denied Moksha (salvation).
Following beliefs are some of the important ones:
- Ātmā (Self, soul, Jivātmā) and Paramātmā (Brahma, God)
The force or energy that keeps us alive is called Ātmā. Our body becomes life-less when it leaves our body. This energy can not be damaged or destroyed. It is the same in all living things. Paramātmā is the ocean of life-force from which all Ātmā-s originate.
After a process of evolution, all Āatmā-s merge with Paramātmā (God). God can be worshiped in any form we wish to give Him or Her, any name he / she wants to call Her /Him / It. All prayers are heard by one and the same Supreme Reality (God).
Literal meaning of Karma is action. However, Karma in scriptures includes the intentions behind the action, the means used in performing the action and the consequences of that action (Karma-phala). An “action‟ is good if the intention is unselfish and methods used are non-violent (according to Dharma). We do not have any control over what follows the “action‟ (the consequences). Every act or even a thought has similar consequences. “Good‟ thoughts and “good‟ actions have “good‟ consequences.
We have choice only over our intentions and the means used to perform any action. If we do something for others with good intentions and without expecting anything in return for ourselves, good things will eventually happen to us. It is essential that we analyse our intentions continuously, do our best, work hard, perceiver, and leave the results to Him.
3. Punarjanma (Rebirth)
Just as we discard old clothes and Man takes new (clothes). In the same way (we) discard old bodies (And we) obtain new bodies.
We believe that the soul leaves the body at the time of death and takes up another body (reincarnates) or becomes part and parcel of the Supreme Being, God Almighty. We are all evolving spiritually and take many births until we have no desires and all karma-s resolved. Then our ātmā (soul) merges with Paramātmā (Brahma, God) and attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death (Moksha).
Everyone, even an animal, is entitled to moksha. If at the time of death we have any unfulfilled desire or unresolved karma then we take birth in a new body. We are born in a family and under circumstances according to our unresolved karma-s and unfulfilled desires. This gives us the opportunity to progress spiritually.
Satya (truth), Ahimsā (non-violence), and Brahmacharya (discipline, self-control) are some of the important values for people who follow Mānav Dharma.
There are three meanings of the word “truth‟:
1.Satya or Truth
a. The dictionary meaning of truth is “what is real‟.
b. Second meaning of truth is “when our speech and actions are the same as our thoughts‟.
c. In Véda-s “Truth‟ means what is real today, what was the same yesterday, a hundred years ago, and even a billion years ago; what will be the same tomorrow, a hundred years from today, and even a billion years from now. In other words, some thing that do not change over time. That “Truth‟ is changeless, beginning less, endless and everlasting.
The first two (a and b) are to be practiced. The third one is a goal to be achieved.
2. Non-violence (Ahimsā)
“Ahimsā paramo dharma’ Non-violence is the supreme dharma.
If we believe that God lives in all, how can we hurt anyone? Non - violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution.
Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages. After slaughtering so many animals for food I am guilty of this trespassing but repentance may be one of my answers. The practice of ahimsā includes not harming anyone in our thoughts, by words, or by our actions. We can see all over the world that once the cycle of violence is started it is very difficult to control. Ahimsā and universal love go together.
However, the greatest practitioner of non-violence, Mahātmā Gāndhi, said that:
“My creed of non-violence is an extremely active force. It has no room for cowardice or even weakness. There is hope for a violent man to be some day non-violent, but there is none for a coward. I have, therefore, said more than once.....that if we do not know how to defend ourselves, our women and our places of worship by the force of sufferings, i.e., non-violence, we must, if we are men, be at least able to defend all these by fighting.”
3. Self-discipline (Brahmacharya)
Brahmacharya means search for Brahman or moving towards Brahman, the changeless, beginning less, endless, God. It can also mean moving around in the field of Brahma or behaviour of some one who wants to attain Brahma.
Brahmacharya is learnt during first 25 years of life and practiced all through the life. The main goal during this stage of life is to learn. To achieve this we give up all the comforts and pleasures of life and concentrate only on our studies. This training is like a ride in a hot air balloon. To go up you need to get rid of all unnecessary baggage and just carry what is absolutely necessary. The student learns to control all his/her senses (taste, smell, touch, vision and hearing).
It does not mean that later on in life, we do not enjoy good food or relationship between husband and wife but we try not to become slaves of these enjoyments and forget our duties or the ultimate goal in life. The training during Brahmacharyāshram helps adults to control all their senses and set a good example for their children.
Life according to these values and virtues are useful for our progress on the evolutionary path to experiencing the “Devine‟ or “Self Realization‟.
Of course there are many more values for Manov or human beings.
4.Fearlessness (Abhayam). Fear interferes with good decision making.
5. Purity of thoughts (Satva-shamshuddhi). Removal of impurities listed below.
6. Yoga of knowledge (Gyan)
Decisions and actions are based on the knowledge of morals & ethics, and right & wrong.
7. Charity (Dāna). People and institutions doing work for the good of the society are
supported by generous donations of money and time.
9. Mastery over all senses (Dama, Brahmacharya). If our senses take control over our actions then we do not have time for worthwhile projects and our energies are diverted towards ”fun‟ activities.
10. Personal sacrifice (Yagna). Desires for personal pleasures, power, prestige, possessions, etc. are given up for the good of the family, community & country.
11. Study of scriptures Regular study of useful and acceptable scriptures is necessary for our spiritual development and to keep us on the right track.
12. Disciplined effort (Tapa) towards a selfless cause.
14. Non-violence (Ahimsā).
15. Truth (Satya)
16. Absence of Anger (Akrodha). Good decisions cannot be made under the influence of anger. Actions undertaken in the moment of anger may lead to disaster.
17. Renunciation (Tyāga) of fruits of all activities. Not insisting on any particular result, or becoming very anxious about the result or becoming paralysed after failure.
14. Peace of mind (Shānti) is necessary for good decisions and behaviour.
15. Straight forward nature, truthful & pleasant speech.
16. Love and tenderness towards all. (Daya)
17. Refrain from excessive indulgence in activities for personal pleasure.
18. Gentle and mild behaviour
19. Modesty in all speech and actions. Remorse for any inappropriate actions, speech or thoughts .
20. A steady mind and deliberate decision making before any action.
21. Person with divine qualities has a special “glow‟ on her face and has lots of energy for selfless service.
22. Forgiveness. (Chhama)
23. Steadfast, a quality to maintain a course of action once decision is made.
24. Purity of thoughts and cleanliness of the body.
25. Without any desire to harm anyone or cheat.
26. Devoid of excessive pride.
For all sentient human beings it is also recommended the removal of the following impurities or weaknesses of the mind:
1. Hypocrisy (Dambha), pretending to be better than one really is.
2. Arrogance (Darpa) of knowledge, colour of the skin, family, wealth, physical strength, etc..
3. False or excessive pride, hostile intention (Abhiman).
4. Anger (Krodha).
5. Bullying nature (Pārushyam).
6. Ignorance (Agyaan) about one’s place in the universe and relationship with other creatures, someone who thinks he is the most important person in the world.
These six are considered as devilish (Āsuric) characteristics or impurities in the mind of a person. Everyone has to try and remove these from their personality.
The ancient society in India was divided in to four groups according to their capabilities, aptitudes, education, personal effort (sādhanā), and function they performed in the society. These were like the four pillars in four corners of a building supporting a roof overhead. All four groups were equally important and none was respected more than the other. People were able to move freely amongst the four groups according to their qualities. Everyone was expected to live according to the dharma of their category. However, this idea was distorted and over simplified by the people with specific stake.
In the end do what you think is appropriate.
You can lift yourself up (but) do not degrade yourself.
You only are your (true) friend and you are your enemy.
In the last chapter, Shri Krishna in Bhagawad Gitā tells Arjun:
Think (about) all that (I have said) and then do as you please. (The choice is yours.) That is the essence of Hinduism.
“Do not accept what I have said because it has been so said in the past;
Do not accept it because it has been handed down by tradition;
Do not accept it thinking it may be so;
Do not accept it because it is in Holy Scriptures;
Do not accept it because it can be proven by inference;
Do not accept it thinking it is worldly wisdom;
Do not accept it because it seems to be plausible;
Do not accept it because it is said by a famous or holy monk;
But if you find that it appeals to your sense of discrimination and conscience as being conducive to the benefit and happiness of all; then accept it and live up to
it.”- Gautam Buddha.
(Any views expressed apart from standard scripture are mine. Ram Lakhan Prasad)
Glory of Guru
Glory of Guru Guru Govind dono khade kake lagu paayen Balihari Guru aapki Govind diyo batayen.
गुरु गोविन्द दोनों खड़े काके लागू पायेँ बलिहारी गुरु आपकी गोविन्द दियो बताये
Kabir wrote this verse to sing the glory of Guru, without whose help, one cannot cross this ocean of worldly life. He asks, “If both, Guru and God in form of Govind were to appear at the door, whose feet will I worship first?” He answers, “It has to be the Guru’s feet first, because without him, how would I have recognized (known) God?”
My guru and God are in front of me. To whom do I bow down and touch feet?
I give my life to my guru. He showed me God.
MY UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN LIFE
My Understanding of Human Life
The complete understanding of human life is not as straightforward as it sounds and looks. Our birth, life, death and rebirth have many explanations in our scriptures and our myths and legends but the best narrative springs from the hearts and minds of those people who have suffered the passing away of their loved ones.
However, for many people we are born, we live and then we die and are lost in the atmosphere somewhere never to return. For those people eternity could be the end because that is the court where no appeals are allowed.
I am an affected person who has lost his life partner so I have a different belief. For me a person is born and spends this life with the loved ones and when the time comes that person dies. That person must have performed many meritorious or other kinds of actions, which we call karma. These actions whether good, bad or ugly dictate our rebirth right here on this earth or reach complete salvation.
I believe that it is possible for the soul and body to separate and then transmigrate or reincarnate. I am not alone in this idea because these ideas are mentioned in many other cultures and scriptures of the world.
Lord Krishna, the god-incarnate, in Bhagvat Geeta (2.12-27) declared that one should not be sad over the necessity of being born again because it is the inviolable law. Just as the death is certain for all that is born, so birth is certain for all that dies unless of course, the karma of the person is so astute and holy that the soul reaches nirvana.
This phenomenon of the passage from one body to another is a belief that can be sustained and accepted as our knowledge of the scriptures and the belief in our prayers strengthens and deepens. Even if such a belief is in our imagination only, it gives us a lot of room to heal our sorrows, pains and the loss of our loved ones.
I firmly believe that I am composed of two fundamental principles opposed to each other. One is the spiritual soul called Atma and the other is the material element that is our body Shareer.
The soul is eternal, immutable, not born, not created and so cannot be destroyed by any means. However, the body is temporal, created, and mutable and so is destructible. Therefore, that soul is able to transcend into another body after the body functions end.
This transmigration of our soul is known as reincarnation and it happens definitely depending upon our actions and inactions in life.
Our actions, Karma could have been good, bad, ugly, meritorious, non-meritorious, religious or worldly and so every action of ours inevitably produces its own results in the form of reward or punishment.
That reward for me is the reincarnation and salvation but the punishment is the end of transmigration of the soul. The effect of all the good actions, which a person does, cannot be experienced or lived during one single existence, hence the need for rebirth. Life for me therefore cannot be determined or limited by nature to one birth and one death alone but instead is a samsara which is a series of migration or a passage through a series of states or conditions depending on our actions or karma.
My beloved wife, Saroj had too many meritorious actions in life and therefore I felt deep into my heart and mind that she needed to come back and be with me again rather than somewhere else. This was my prayer for over a year and I was successful in getting her back spiritually.
My Pretty Lotus, my Saroj, my beloved wife certainly deserved this great reward of transmigration and reincarnation. Hence, my creation of this presentation to let the world know that true love and deep devotion have the power to persuade the alteration of natural law and practices.
THE BASIC WAY OF MY LIFE
The Basics of My Way of Life
I was born in a supposedly Hindu family and have tried to live a Hindu way of life for the last 72 years of my life. However, after my extensive reading, personal experiences and a variety of interactions with people of various ideals I now have culled my own main principles of the Hindu way of life.
I know that God exists and He is the One Absolute Om. Over the years people have split the one trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh into several divine forms to suit their needs, understanding and interpretations.
I take all human beings as equal and if they behave well they all are divine.
I believe that we are able to co-exist in this world through love, peace and empathy.
I believe that our good and effective conduct and activities enable us to live in harmony anywhere in any community.
I believe that water is the greatest purifying agent; all good believable scriptures are excellent means to cleanse our body, mind and soul and the sacred prayers need to be chanted for posterity, peace and efficient living.
I have learnt that there are certain disciplines that a good human being should follow in order to co-exist in this difficult and increasingly precarious universe. These, among many other acceptable human qualities, include the following:
- Truth, Beauty and Goodness
- No desire to possess more than what one needs
- Refrain from stealing
- Non corruptive existence
- Intelligent reading and discourse
- Treating everyone with equal love and compassion.
- Respecting all human values.
Unfortunately I have not been very successful in following these disciplines and thus I have not properly followed the Hindu way of
life myself. However, I tried to be a good human being and that is what matters for my modern living. So my conclusions about my way of life differ from many of my contemporaries but I stand by my contentions because they give me satisfaction to press on regardless.
Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life for people who want to follow certain principles and disciplines. In my view it is a culture more than a religion.
Hinduism does not have any one founder and it does not have a Bible or a Koran to which controversies can be referred for resolution. Consequently, it does not require its adherents to accept any one idea. It is thus cultural, not creedal, with a history contemporaneous with the peoples with which it is associated.
Hinduism is a unique faith! The most obvious misconception about Hinduism is that we tend to see it as just another religion. To be precise, Hinduism is a way of life, a dharma. Dharma does not mean religion. It is the law that governs all actions. Thus, contrary to popular perception, Hinduism is not just a religion in the tradition sense of the term. Out of this misinterpretation, has come most of the other misconceptions about Hinduism.
Over the years the people who followed these traditions have been misinterpreting a lot of ideas and beliefs. So by now many of the original ideas and ideals have lost their originality and have become either obsolete or unbelievable.
Writings we now categorize as Hindu scriptures include not just books relating to spirituality but also secular pursuits like science, medicine and engineering. Some can be believed but many are myths and legends to support and substantiate certain contentions. This is another reason why it defies classification as a religion per se. Further, it cannot be claimed to be essentially a school of metaphysics. Nor can it be described as 'other worldly'. In fact, one can almost identify Hinduism with a civilization that is flourishing even now.
Words like Hindu or Hinduism are anachronisms. They do not exist in the Indian cultural lexicon. People have coined them to suit their needs in different points of history. Nowhere in the scriptures is there any reference to Hinduism.
So people who still cling to these archaic ideas need to change and adapt and adopt the modern way of life to suit their current and future needs, situations and circumstances.
Incidentally, these are my personal beliefs. This the reason why I do my own prayers in the form, style and methods that I strongly feel are free from all superstitions and unnecessary conducts. There is no need for any person with intellect to engage a person to do the prayers for them.
My interpretation of Chapter 18 of the Bahagvat Geeta is simply this: Division of labour is based on one’s ability.
The division of labour into the four categories: Intellectuals, Protectors, Entrepreneurs, and Laborers. This is also based on the qualities inherent in people’s nature or the natural propensities, and not necessarily as one’s birth right.
Intellectuals have serenity, self-control, austerity, purity, patience, honesty, transcendental knowledge, transcendental experience, and belief in God.
Those having the qualities of heroism, vigour, firmness, dexterity, steadfastness in battle, charity, and administrative skills are called Protectors.
Those who are good at cultivation, cattle rearing, business, trade, and industry are Entrepreneurs.
Labourers are all those who are very good in service and labour type of work.
I do not fully understand the complexity that was wrongly developed by people with vested interests to falsely establish and maintain such castes and creeds that have divided the community for ages into what was called Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishys and Sudras.
I am not a blind follower of any views. I use my discretion to evaluate every idea and either follow it, refine it or discard it. I promote equality of all human beings irrespective of their colour, creed and caste and wish that people did their own prayers in their homes the way they want and become a happy human being.
I have always regarded dharma as an occupation that is able to sustain my existence. Consequently, I had been reasonably successful and more than able to sustain my existence by coordinating all my activities with the blessing and help of the Supreme Lord.
There always were two types of occupation for me. The first one, although inferior in nature, had been the path of enjoyment where I created my material existence that was temporary, illusionary and gave me many miseries. The second one was the superior path of renunciation or sacrifice that I was able to perform for my internal joy, satisfaction and cause.
However, to help me get out of my miseries and confusions I tired and managed to follow my existence as spiritually as I possible could to make my life somewhat eternal, blissful and reasonably knowledgeable. I accepted my miseries as normal materialistic existence. I enjoyed happiness, made good progress in life and there was ample prosperity.
God Almighty granted me whatever He thought was adequate for me because I managed to accept some aspects of the superior existence by conducting good humane actions, my karma. I firmly believed that God Almighty extracted part of His Being (soul) to create me as a sentient human being therefore I regarded all creations of God as equal. For me there never has been any superior or inferior human being and so I have been promoting equality among humanity where there was no room for any caste, creed or colour.
As for the definition of my religion, I have been a human creation of God Almighty and I have tried to put my best practice that enabled me to become a devotee of the Lord. In my humanistic devotion I see the spiritual element of my God (soul) in every human being that I interact with hence, I love, respect, like and honour everyone equally.
By giving and sharing some of my humanistic qualities, I have endeavoured to please my Lord who has bestowed many divine qualities into me in return with his richest blessings. I could not give Him anything else because of His omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient position. Thus, my entire existence and occupations have been flourishing. When the time comes, I shall return to live in the Realm of God.
Hindu scriptures reveal that the Personality of the God Almighty is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance. This is my faith and I whole-heartedly believe in the supreme power of the Almighty God.
1. Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.
2. One may aspire to live hundreds of years if he continuously goes on working in that way, for that sort of work will not bind him to the law of karma. There is no alternative to this way for human beings.
Everyone is engaged in action. The law of karma means that there are reactions to every action and that a person must endure the reactions to his actions. According to yoga, every action, good or bad, produces some karmic reaction. Actions that are “bad” create bad karmic reactions. A person who engages in heinous criminal actions or who lives simply like an animal, exploiting others, will have to eat the bitter fruit of such actions in the future.
3. The taker of the soul, whoever he may be, must enter into the planets known as the worlds of the faithless full of darkness and ignorance.
4 Although fixed in His abode, the Personality of Godhead is swifter than the mind and can overcome all other running. The powerful demigods cannot approach Him. Although in one place, He controls those who supply the air and rain. He surpasses all in excellence.
5. The Supreme Lord walks and does not walk. He is far away, but He is very near as well. He is within everything, and yet He is outside of everything. 6. The one who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all entities as His parts and parcels, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything, never hates anything nor any being.
7. Such a person must factually know the greatest of all, who is unembodied, omniscient, beyond reproach, without veins, pure and uncontaminated, the self-sufficient philosopher, who has been fulfilling everyone's desires since time immemorial.
8. One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. What, then can be illusion or anxiety for such people?
9. Those who engage in the culture of nescient (nes·cience (nshns, nsh-ns, nsh-, ns-ns, ns-) n. 1. Absence of knowledge or awareness; ignorance. 2. Agnosticism} activities shall enter into the darkness region of ignorance. Worse still are those engaged in the culture of so-called knowledge but not wisdom.
Unfortunately, most of humanity spends the majority of its time in the culture of ignorance. We cultivate ignorance by serving our tongue, belly, genitals, and other senses like obedient slaves. The vast majority of our energy goes into this mad pursuit of sense pleasure. Left with frazzled nerves, frustration, anger, jealousy, envy, greed, hate, loneliness, and confusion; we seek an escape in alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and a myriad of other legal and illegal consciousness dimmers. This is the cultivation of ignorance.
There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough. ~Bhagavad-Gita 6:16
Nor is sense gratification considered “bad.” Sense gratification comes and goes as a natural occurrence of the senses. For example, one cannot eat without tasting. The point is that a life that is centered on sense enjoyment, that makes sense enjoyment the goal, is a wasted life. Economic development is necessary for the maintenance of the body; so therefore it cannot be neglected. However, to seek economic development simply for the sake of endlessly increasing sensual pleasure is foolish.
No amount of sensual pleasure will ever really satisfy a person, so no amount of economic development will ever be considered “enough.” This is why people in modern Western societies are still not satisfied, even though they are so economically advanced and thus have so much facility for sense enjoyment. They always want more.
Is there enough to go round? Immediately we encounter a serious difficulty: What is “enough”? Who can tell us? Certainly not the economist who pursues “economic growth” as the highest of all values and therefore has no concept of “enough.” There are poor societies, which have too little; but where is the rich society that says: “Halt! We have enough”? There is none.*
What's really needed is to recognize the need for spiritual as well as material happiness. A society that has great material prosperity but lacks spiritual purpose is really a poor society. A body without the soul is a dead body—even if it is nicely decorated with fancy ornaments.
10. The wise have explained that one result is derived from the culture of knowledge and that a different result is obtained from the culture of nescience.
For one who lives a hedonistic life, a life in which nescience is cultivated, the results are envy, anger, greed, impatience, disrespect for others, anxiety, depression, hatred, ever-increasing lust, forgetfulness, frustration, dissatisfaction, duplicity, fear of death, and so on.
On the other hand, for a person who cultivates wisdom or true knowledge, the results are inner peace, satisfaction, patience, respect for others, freedom from duplicity, compassion, joyfulness, remembrance of his spiritual identity, freedom from the fear of death, freedom from anxiety and depression, and so on.
The negative social results of a society populated primarily by hedonistic people should be obvious to anyone. A society of self-centered, animalistic people who have no other interest than their own sense enjoyment cannot be at all peaceful or progressive—either materially or spiritually.
However, the positive results of a society populated mostly by people who are serious about cultivating wisdom and spiritual understanding should be clear. If the citizens are peaceful, satisfied, respectful of others, compassionate, selfless, and so on, then society will be progressive both materially and spiritually.
11. It is believed that only the one, who can learn the process of nescience and that of transcendental knowledge side by side, can transcend the influence of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessing of immortality to attain nirvana.
Some neophytes on the spiritual path may fall into the illusion that taking care of the body is somehow evil, or a sign of spiritual backwardness. Not only may they neglect the needs of the body, but also they may go out of their way to actually damage the body. Such people actually hate the body. They see it as a source of misery, and thus they take out their anger on it. This is certainly a mistake.
Masochism can never lead to spiritual perfection. The body is actually a most precious property of the self; it enables the self to engage in various devotional activities that can bring about a change in consciousness. A person's external activities affect his consciousness, and his consciousness affects his external activities. Knowing this, a bhakti yogi consciously chooses to engage in particular external activities in order to bring about the desired spiritual happiness and wisdom. If we love and like our body then we would look after it well and guard it against all evil acts and intakes.
A person who tries to abstain to become a swami or a yogi is careful not to engage in those activities that are harmful to his spiritual development. For example, he refrains from
taking intoxicants (including all sorts of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and so on); from having illicit sex; from gambling; and from eating meat, fish, and eggs.
If a person engages in the process of bhakti yoga and yet continues to engage in activities that are detrimental to spiritual progress, his spiritual progress will be very slow. This does not mean that a person must be completely free of all bad habits before he can even begin the process of bhakti yoga. For example, in the Philippines, one teacher saved many young people who were addicted to heroin and other drugs by teaching them the process of bhakti yoga. It took some time before they could completely give up all drugs, but eventually they did.
Sometimes a person is still addicted to cigarette smoking or meat eating but if he or she follows the process of bhakti yoga, then gradually, he or she will be able to give up such habits. It is a question of tasting a higher taste. If a person engages in the process of bhakti yoga, he or she will gradually begin to taste the higher spiritual happiness, and he will be able to give up all vices naturally. After he gives up such bad habits, then his progress will be very rapid.
12. Those who are engaged in the worship of demigods enter into the darkest region of ignorance, and still more so do the worshipers of the impersonal Absolute.
13. It is said that one result is obtained by worshiping the supreme cause of all causes and that another result is obtained by worshiping that which is not supreme. All this is heard from the undisturbed authorities who clearly explained it.
14. One should know perfectly as the Personality of Godhead and His transcendental name, as well as the temporary material creation with its temporary demigods, men and animals. When one knows these, he surpasses death and the ephemeral cosmic manifestation with it, and in the eternal kingdom of God, he enjoys his eternal life of bliss and knowledge. (Nirvana, salvation, or mukti)
15. O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Please remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee.
16. O my Lord, O primeval philosopher, maintainer of the universe, O regulating principle, destination of the pure devotees, well-wisher of the progenitors of mankind - please remove the effulgence of Your transcendental rays so that I can see Your form of bliss. You are the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead, like unto the sun, as am I.
17. Let this temporary body be burned to ashes, and let the air of life be merged with the totality of air. Now O my Lord, please remember all my sacrifices, and because You are the ultimate beneficiary, please remember all that I have done for You. Let my karma be my treasure.
18. O my Lord, powerful as fire, omnipotent one, now I offer You all obeisance's and fall on the ground at Your feet. O my Lord, please lead me on the right path to reach You, and since You know all that I have done in the past, please free me from the reactions to my past sins, so that there will be no hindrance to my progress and prosperity.
The above invocation can be obtained from various Hindu scriptures for maintaining ultimate peace of the mind. I am not wise, I am not foolish but I am always on the path to seek knowledge that will help me to live a useful and contented life. If in doing so I am able to live and let others live, I am a sentient human being subject to sins, mistakes and errors that should never be repeated but become my lead to move to truth, beauty and goodness of life.
As advised in Chapter Thirteen of the Bhagavad- Gita (13.8-12), one should culture knowledge in some of the following ways:
(1) One should become a perfect person and learn to give proper respect to others.
(2) One should not pose oneself as a religionist simply for name and fame.
(3) One should not become a source of anxiety to others by the actions of his body, by the thoughts of his mind, or by his words.
(4) One should learn forbearance even in the face of provocation from others.
(5) One should learn to avoid duplicity in his dealings with others.
(6) One should search out a bona fide spiritual master who can lead him gradually to the stage of spiritual realization, and one must submit himself to such a spiritual master, render him service and ask relevant questions.
(7) In order to approach the platform of self- realization, one must follow the regulative principles enjoined in the revealed scriptures.
(8) One must be fixed in the tenets of the revealed scriptures.
(9) One should completely refrain from practices which are detrimental to the interest of self- realization.
(10) One should not accept more than he requires for the maintenance of the body.
(11) One should not falsely identify himself with the gross material body, nor should one consider those who are related to his body to be his own.
(12) One should always remember that as long as he has a material body he must face the miseries of repeated birth, old age, disease and death. There is no use in making plans to get rid of these miseries of the material body. The best course is to find out the means by which one may regain his spiritual identity.
(13) One should not be attached to more than the necessities of life required for spiritual advancement.
(14) One should not be more attached to wife, children and home than the revealed scriptures ordain.
(15) One should not be happy or distressed over desirables and undesirables, knowing that such feelings are just created by the mind.
(16) One should become an unalloyed devotee of the Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, and serve Him with rapt attention.
(17) One should develop a liking for residence in a secluded place with a calm and quiet atmosphere favourable for spiritual culture, and one should avoid congested places where nondevotees congregate.
(18) One should become a scientist or philosopher and conduct research into spiritual knowledge, recognizing that spiritual knowledge is permanent whereas material knowledge ends with the death of the body.
These above eighteen items combine to form a gradual process by which real knowledge can be developed. One can seek and find a lot more ways through ones own enlightenment and knowledge.
Except for these, all other methods could be considered to be in the category of nescience. It is maintained by people of knowledge that all forms of material knowledge are merely external features of the illusory energy and that by culturing them one becomes no better than an ass.
This same principle is found here in. By advancement of material knowledge, modern person is simply being converted into an ass. Some materialistic politicians in spiritual guise decry the present system of civilization as satanic, but unfortunately, they do not care about the culture of real knowledge as it is described in the Bhagavad- Gita. Thus, they cannot change the satanic situation.
In the modern society, even a young person thinks that he or she is self-sufficient and pays no respect to elderly people. Due to the wrong type of education being imparted in our educational institutions, the younger people all over the world are giving their elders many headaches.
Thus, the culture of nescience is different from that of knowledge. The universities are, so to speak, centres of nescience only; consequently, scientists are busy discovering lethal weapons to wipe out the existence of other countries. University students today are not given instructions in the regulative principles of brahmacarya (celibate student life), nor do they have any faith in any scriptural injunctions. Religious principles are taught for the sake of name and fame only and not for the sake of practical action. Thus, there is animosity not only in social and political fields but in the field of religion as well.
Nationalism has developed in different parts of the world due to the cultivation of nescience by the general people. No one considers that this tiny earth is just a lump of matter floating in immeasurable space along with many other lumps.
In comparison to the vastness of space, these material lumps are like dust particles in the air. Because God has kindly made these lumps of matter complete in themselves, they are perfectly equipped with all necessities for floating in space. The drivers of our spaceships may be very proud of their achievements, but they do not consider the supreme driver of these greater, more gigantic spaceships called planets.
There are innumerable suns and innumerable planetary systems also. As infinitesimal parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, we small creatures are trying to dominate these unlimited planets. Thus, we take repeated birth and death and are generally frustrated by old age and disease. The span of human life is scheduled for about a hundred years, although it is gradually decreasing to twenty or thirty years. Thanks to the culture of nescience, befooled men have created their own nations within these planets in order to grasp sense enjoyment more effectively for these few years.
Such foolish people draw up various plans to render national demarcations perfectly, a task that is totally impossible. Yet for this purpose each and every nation has become a source of anxiety for others. More than fifty percent of a nation's energy is devoted to defence measures and thus spoiled. No one cares for the cultivation of real knowledge, yet people are falsely proud of being advanced in both material and spiritual knowledge. Scriptures warn us of this faulty type of education, and the Bhagavad-Gita gives instructions as to the development of real knowledge. This mantra states that the instructions of vidyā (knowledge) must be acquired from a dhīra. A dhīra is one who is not disturbed by material illusion.
No one can be undisturbed unless he or she is perfectly spiritually realized, at which time one neither hankers nor laments for anything. A dhīra realizes that the material body and mind he or she has acquired by chance through material association are but foreign elements; therefore he or she simply makes the best use of a bad bargain.
The material body and mind are bad bargains for the spiritual living entity. The living entity has actual functions in the living, spiritual world, but this material world is dead. As long as the living spiritual sparks manipulate the dead lumps of matter, the dead world appears to be a living world. Actually, it is the living souls, the parts and parcels of the supreme living being, which move the world. The dhīras have come to know all these facts by hearing them from superior authorities and have realized this knowledge by following the regulative principles.
To follow the regulative principles, one must take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master. The transcendental message and regulative principles come down from the spiritual master to the disciple. Such knowledge does not come in the hazardous way of nescient education. One can become a dhīra only by submissively hearing from a bona fide spiritual master, a Guru.
Arjuna, for example, became a dhīra by submissively hearing from Lord Kr s n a, the Personality of Godhead Himself. Thus, the perfect disciple must be like Arjuna, and the spiritual master must be as good as the Lord Himself. This is the process of learning vidyā (knowledge) from the dhīra (the undisturbed).
An adhīra (one who has not undergone the training of a dhīra) cannot be an instructive leader. Modern politicians who pose themselves as dhīras are actually adhīras, and one cannot expect perfect knowledge from them. They are simply busy seeing to their own remuneration in dollars and cents. How, then, can they lead the mass of people to the right path of self-realization? Thus, one must hear submissively from a dhīra in order to attain actual education.
As a sentient human being, I feel there are a variety of unnecessary traditional religious practices in Hinduism and all these are not giving the freedom to the believers to practice the truthful, good and beautiful ideas promoted by the books of knowledge. Those who want to change to follow their individual way of life and living have complete right and privilege to do so. There is no need for any one to impose their ideas on the devotees of God.
My prayers and devotional beliefs are my private and personal matters and I should be left alone to conduct my traditional and ceremonial obligations, as I want them to be done and not to be dictated by someone who has not attained the knowledge as I have gathered.
If I am able to perform my devotional duties with ease, my own understanding and my own internal beliefs then all my prayers give me an unlimited satisfaction that no other human being could have given me. My method, language and materials have no bearing on my individual prayer. I love to conduct my prayers the way I want.
A way of life that gives the freedom to the believers would flourish in this new world and any forced and imposed religion that clings to unnecessary and outdated traditional concepts would yield to other ways of inferior living. The sooner our illiterate and pakhandi people realize this vital point the better it would be for the salvation of our religion and our humanity.
In my 75 years of living, I have never imposed my views on anyone and I would not do it now and hereafter. My own home is the best and most peaceful temple for my good and wise family members and me and all my honest and faithful friends make up my entire community that I serve.
I live and let others live. I do whatever voluntary work I am able to do for the society. Thus, I plan my acts and act my plans. This is my way of life. I love it.
Five Gifts Of God Almighty For All Human Beings Seeking Joy.
God Almighty gave me LIFE and that was an excellent first gift for me. Then I found that LOVE was the second powerful gift for me and I tried to put this human feeling into practice. Then KNOWLEDGE became my fourth essential gift from nature. However, the most valuable gift of all for me became my power of UNDERSTANDING but I am still trying to feel my way through this. After all these come the greatest natural gift of them all and that is WISDOM. I am not there yet but trying my best to do something about it. So help me God.
SECRET OF JOY AND SERENITY
- Make the most of what comes and the least of what goes.
- Accentuate all the positive thinking and try to eliminate all the negative ideas.
- Make the most of your blessings, your assets, and your joyful moments but make the least of your handicaps, your liabilities and your moments of sadness and loneliness.
- Make the most of all your strengths, your opportunities, your talents and your successes but make the least of your weaknesses, your setbacks, crises and adversities.
- Make the most of everything that comes into your life. If good comes your way then be grateful. If the worst comes along then accept the challenge and make the most of it.
- Analyse the reasons for everything and ask, “What can I learn from my experiences?”
- You will find a path for your happiness.