In RSS, it is one of the 6 important utsavs celebrated annually. It signifies the bond of brotherhood amongst all Hindus irrespective of their caste, creed, social position etc. Besides celebrating it on Shakhas , swayamsevaks fan out to different localities to give the message of unity and brotherhood. It has been an important event in achieving samarasta – social harmony. There have been attempts to organize programs involving non – Hindus to convey a message of ‘Universal Brotherhood’.
2. VISHWA MANGAL GOU GRAM YATRA
A movement to restore smile of farmers
- Swami Raghaveshwara Bharati
"The Vishwa Mangal Gou Gram Yatra is an initiative to put Bharatiya villages on the path of sustainable development by focusing on the cow-based way-of-life. It is a massive national movement to restore freedom to the cow to live and die with dignity. It aims to bring back the smile on the faces of Bharatiya farmers and is a pilgrimage to regain the lost soul of the nation,” said the head of Sri Ramchandrapura Math, Karnataka, and the guiding force behind the Vishwa Mangal Gou Gram Yatra Shree Raghaveshwara Bharati Swamiji in Constitution Club, New Delhi on June 27 while talking to mediapersons.
Swamiji informed that the Yatra is a joint endeavour of all the saints, environmentalists, scientists and scholars who wish to do something concrete for the protection and preservation of the cow and also to save the farmers from the clutches of untimely death. He made it clear that the movement would be kept away from politics and the common man of the country would be exhorted to preserve the priceless gift of the God to the mankind.
Noted yoga scientist and national working president of the Yatra Samiti Dr HR Nagendra said the demand of the Bharatiya cow is growing worldwide due to her wider usefulness. It has scientifically been proved that the milk of Bharatiya indigenous cows decreases the cholesterol level in the blood. He said the Yatra is a wake-up call given by the spiritual leaders of the nation to save the cow, the village, Bharat and the world through a positive action.
A comprehensive website (www.gougram.org) was also launched on the occasion to provide detailed updated information about the Yatra in Hindi, English and Kannada languages. The Yatra will commence from Kurukshetra on September 30 and traversing through the length and breadth of the country in 108 days will conclude in Nagpur on January 17, 2010. A massive signature campaign will be undertaken for protection of the cow demanding declaration of the cow a national animal, enactment of a central law for cow protection and stopping all kinds of cruelties on the cow and her progeny.
3. SANGH SCHOOLS SCORE HIGH IN ORISSA: In the High School Certificate examinations in Orissa, hundreds of Saraswati Shishu Vidya Mandirs (SVM) have performed exceptionally well with 44 of the top 102 students coming from the Sangh Parivar-run school network. As many as seven of the top 10 ranks are from SVMs. From humble beginning in 1978, today, there are over 11,000 Acharyas and Gurumas (teachers) in 739 SVMs across the state who live a no-frills life to teach 1.8 lakh students from kindergarten to Class XII for a pittance.
As part of its stringent evaluation system, each student has to appear in at least seven examinations in an academic year—five monthly, one half-yearly and an annual test. No wonder, of the 6,500-odd SVM students who wrote the exam this year, about 4,500 secured first division.
Educationists agree that the emotional commitment of the teachers to the students in these schools is what differentiates them from the rest.
4. AMARNATH YATRA RESUMES: A fresh batch of 1,449 pilgrims including 257 women, 33 children and 156 Sadhus left Jammu in 44 vehicles, including 29 buses and 15 Light Motor vehicles on July 13 for Shri Amaranth cave shrine after a day’s suspension in the pilgrimage following landslides triggered due to heavy rains en route.
Yatra was suspended after the Jammu-Srinagar national Highway was blocked for traffic due to landslides at some points. Earlier on July 4, the pilgrimage was suspended for a day after heavy rains made track en route cave shine slippery.
The two-month-long yatra, which was scheduled to commence from June 7, was delayed by a week due to snowfall and rains en-route the cave shrine.
However, the traditional Pahalgam route to the Amarnath shrine remained closed even after the opening of shorter Baltal route, from where the yatra officially started on June 15.
The yatra on Pahalgam-Chandanwari route was allowed on June 26, after clearing snow.
5. A JOURNEY TO DIVINE LAND: According to Shashi Kant, president of Mansarover Sewa Samiti, “The samiti had successfully departed its seventh batch of 36 pilgrims on July 6, 2009. All the 36 pilgrims have been provided with adequate knowledge and safety practices. Besides this, the pilgrims have also been provided with nine days free ration and life saving drugs.” According to Kant the samiti is dedicated towards promotion of Kailash Mansarover Yatra and cater to its members with due care.
The Samiti is an all Bharat registered social samiti in Delhi and looking after the pilgrims going to Kailash Mansarover through the Ministry of External Affairs, Delhi.
6. FROM MANALI TO LEH, DRUKPA GURU ON 'WALKING PILGRIMAGE' FOR GREEN CAUSE: A 400km walk in the Himalayas over six weeks to raise awareness on environmental issues yielded a collection of 60,000 waste plastic bottles, 10,000 chewing-gum wrappers and 5,000 carbonated drink cans. A state-sponsored Operation Clean Up? No way.
The 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, spiritual head of Drukpa lineage, embarked on padyatra with 750 monks, nuns and other disciples from Manali to Leh on a ‘walking pilgrimage’ to spread awareness about the hazards of non-biodegradable waste and treatment of kerosene burns, a common domestic accident in Himalayan villages. The walk ended on July 1.
The group crossed five Himalayan passes at an altitude of over 5,300 metres: Tanglang La, Rohtang and Pin Parbati into Markha valley on the way to Zanskar and Lahaul. Threat of avalanches, heavy snow, restricted food supply and tough living conditions were part of the pilgrimage but the Drukpa was undeterred.
The Drukpa and his disciples visited more than 30 villages educating and encouraging more than 1,50,000 villagers on environment conservation and the need to ‘say no to plastic bags’ — a campaign he launched during this yatra.
The padyatra of this group that belongs to the Mahayana sect of Buddhism started on May 23 from Khardang Monastery in Himachal Pradesh and ended with a feast offering ceremony at Hemis Monastry in Ladakh. The two-day celebration marked the birth anniversary of Buddhist guru Padmasambhava, commemorating the victory of good over evil.
7. PAK PRESIDENT ZARDARI ADMITS TERRORISM NURTURED BY GOVT: In an astonishingly candid admission - a first by any Pakistani head of state - president Asif Ali Zardari has admitted militants and terrorists were wilfully created by past Pakistani governments and nurtured as a policy to achieve tactical objectives.
``Militants and extremists emerged on the national scene and challenged the state not because the civil bureaucracy was weakened and demoralized but because they were deliberately created and nurtured as a policy to achieve short-term tactical objectives. Let's be truthful and make a candid admission of the reality,'' he said at a gathering of civil servants in Islamabad on July 7.
Bharat has long charged Pakistan with sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir by providing arms, ammunition and training to the militants who have been engaged in a war of secession. Zardari's admission is bound to create a major flutter in Islamabad, particularly within the Army, which has historically been the author of Pakistan's Bharat policy.
8. KASHMIR GOES TO RECORD LENGTH FOR ITS RAIL CONNECTION: An ear-splitting blast rips through the darkness, echoing many times over. And then a loud applause — Kashmir is eight kilometres closer to a rail connection with the rest of the country.
The 11-km tunnel will be the longest transport tunnel in the country and will link Banihal, 190 km from Jammu, with Qazigund. Eight kilometers of it are now ready and rest will be completed by 2010.
Named T-80 for now, the tunnel runs for 11 km into the Pir Panjal range of the inner Himalayas and is one of the last engineering hurdles the railways are up against in the tough terrain of the Valley.
T-80 shoulders a heavy burden. The mountains on top are 1,100 meters high — tallest for any tunnel in the country. Built at Rs 647 crore, the tunnel will have a single track. Moving at 50-80 kilometres per hour, a train will take 12-15 minutes to cross the tunnel.
A direct rail link with the rest of the country is expected to boost the economy of the turbulent Valley.
9. VANAVASIS SAVE 100-YEAR OLD TREE: The villagers of Kovilur in Javadhu Hills (Tiruvannamalai district) have been protecting a century-old sandalwood tree for generations now. For the villagers, the tree is a symbol of pride of their ancestors.
The villagers are a virtual ‘human shield’ against smugglers for the oldest and biggest sandalwood tree of the hills spread over 3,150 sq. km. The tribals had put their lives at risk and helped the forest department on several occasions to keep the sandalwood tree mafias at bay, said forest officials. They have been resisting the smugglers for nearly a century now. They have also been safeguarding another 30 year old tree in the village.
10. 'MISSILE WOMAN OF BHARAT' TO LEAD AGNI V PROJECT: Tessy Thomas, who was made the project director of the 2,500 km Agni II missile last year has now been appointed as the project director of Bharat's most ambitious missile, the 5000 km Agni V. The missile is slated to be tested for the first time next year.
Tessy is an expert on 'solid system propellants' which fuel the Agni missiles. She is a B.Tech from Thrissur Engineering College, Calicut and M.Tech from Pune-based Defence Institute of Advanced Technologies. Thomas has been associated with the Agni programme for around two years now. She is currently based at the Advanced Systems Laboratory.
11. ALL ABVP STUDENTS ACQUITTED IN UJJAIN PROFESSOR MURDER CASE: Nearly three years after they were accused in the murder of college professor H S Sabharwal in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, all the six ABVP students were acquitted on July 13 by a court in Nagpur for lack of evidence.
“The prosecution has failed to put up evidence to prove its case and hence the court acquits all the six accused,” Additional Sessions Judge Nitin Dalvi said in his brief statement in the court.
The six accused, Shashiranjan Akela, Vimal Tomar, Vishal Rajoria, Hemant Dube, Pankaj Mishra and Sudhir Yadav, were in court when the judgment was delivered.
12. GURU GOBIND SINGH’S PLUME COMES HOME: The kalgi (plume) believed to have been worn by Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru who is often referred to as Kalgidhar, has finally come home to Bharat. Flown in from the UK, Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and his predecessor Giani Joginder Singh received it at the Amritsar airport on July 2.
H S Sidhu, a Sikh luminary said, ‘‘All I can say is that Pakistan-based family who was in possession of this kalgi had sold it to a Western collector.’’
13. BHARATIYA STUDENTS BAG NASA PRIZE FOR DESIGN OF SUPERSONIC AIRLINER: Two students, Sahaj Panchal and Dhrumir Patel, from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Technology, Gujarat, have bagged the second prize in a prestigious NASA contest to design a supersonic airliner. Their “RASTOFUST” was selected by a group of NASA engineers who reviewed the entries.
The top prize in the international category was won by an undergraduate team from University of Tokyo, with its design of “Hydrogen Fuelled Low Boom SST”, followed by the Bharatiya team.
The participants were challenged to design a small supersonic airliner and submit a research paper limited to 25 pages. The competition was sponsored by NASA’s Washington-based Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and projects were to be judged on “informed content, imagination, innovation, creativity, relevancy, organisation and writing”.
14. IITS IN TOP 200 HIGHER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: IIT-Delhi and IIT-Mumbai have been ranked 154 and 174 respectively in the Times Higher Education list of 200 top higher educational institutions in the world. Harvard University tops the list.
While IIT-Delhi has jumped from the 307th rank in 2007, IIT-Mumbai has moved ahead from 269 in the last survey.
15. NOOYI AMONG 13 WOMEN CEOS IN FORTUNE 500 LIST: Bharat origin Indra Nooyi is among the 13 women who are at the helm of companies featured in Fortune 500 list compiled by the US magazine. Nooyi, who heads Pepsico, was featured in the same category last year as well. This year the beverages company is ranked at the 175th position in the annual list of Fortune 500 companies based on their annual revenues.
16. TWO BHARATIYAS WIN KEY WHITE HOUSE AWARD: Bharatiya Americans Sanjay Kumar and Harmit Malik are among 100 promising researchers named by President Barack Obama for the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the US’s highest honour for young professionals.
Kumar is an assistant professor of bio-engineering at University of California, Berkley, while Malik is an evolutionary biologist serving as an associate member at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle.
17. NDA-RULED STATES OPPOSE SIBAL PLAN: With uncertainty surrounding the fate of HRD Minister Kapil Sibal’s proposal to make the 10th board examination optional, NDA-ruled States reiterated on July 1 they did not agree with the idea.
“The Minister (Sibal) is a lawyer and he must be aware of the federal structure of the country. Education is in the concurrent list and it is up to the States whether or not they accept such a proposal. Sibal can have his say in CBSE, which is controlled by the centre, and not the State boards”, former HRD Minister and senior BJP leader Murali Manohar Joshi told reporters in New Delhi after a meeting of the Education Ministers of BJP-ruled States.
The Education Ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh attended the meeting along with representatives of Shiksha Bachao Andolan. The Ministers from Gujarat and Bihar could not attend the meet due to the ongoing Assembly sessions in their States and sent their opinion in writing.
18. PREVENT PERSECUTION OF PAK HINDUS BY TALIBAN, SAYS ADVANI: Expressing concern over reported imposition of Jaziya tax by Taliban on Hindu and Sikhs in Pakistan, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha LK Advani on July 1 demanded that the Bharatiya Government take all necessary steps to prevent ‘persecution’ of the two communities living there.
He called upon the Government of Pakistan to protect the lives and properties of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan and to ensure that they are safeguarded and not subjected to any further discrimination.
19. GAY SEX: REJECT JUDGEMENT OR FACE MUSIC, RELIGIOUS BODIES TELL GOVT: The High Court judgement on gay sex has united religious leaders, who came together on July 9 to deplore decision to decriminalize homosexuality as ‘shocking’ and ‘deplorable’.
Asking the Government to intervene and declare that unnatural sex is unacceptable and illegal, they have threatened to launch an all-Bharat agitation.
The meeting was significant as it had all recognised heads of religious bodies — from Hindu, Jains, Sikhs, Muslims to Christians — and all they demanded that the Government should intervene to ‘declare unnatural sex as unacceptable and illegal’.
Those who attended the meet included Shankaracharcharya Onkaranandji, of Parmatma Mut ( Prayag); Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari, Amir, President, Jamaa-e-Islami Hind; Dr SQR Ilyas, Muslim Personal Law Board; Acharya Lokesh Muniji, Jain Samaj; Fr Dr Dominic Emmanuel, Delhi Catholic Archdocese, and Sardar Tarsem Singh, Chairman Parcharak Committee, Delhi Guruduwara Parbandhak Committee.
20. BHARATIYA TROOPS CELEBRATE FRENCH REVOLUTION: Bharatiya Troops in colourful safaas took part in the French National Day parade on Champs Elysees held every year on July 14 to commemorate the storming of the Bastille prison, which marked the start of the French Revolution. This is the first time that Bharatiya troops have participated in a foreign parade.
21. RELIGION COMES TO ENVIRON-MENT’S RESCUE: Where political leaders have failed to come up with a plan to save the planet from global warming, religious leaders have succeeded. Islamic leaders from over 50 Muslim countries are signing an agreement on environment conservation.
An announcement is expected on Haj pilgrimage becoming green from next year and environment studies being included in religious schools. Already, a mosque in Leicester, Britain has become the world’s first green mosque.
On July 14, the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) signed a pledge with UNDP, the first Indian religious group to do so, for an initiative called EcoSikh. “We’ll reduce emissions from kitchens in gurdwaras around the world by installing solar equipment,” Dr Rajwant Singh, chairperson of SCORE said.
The Golden Temple in Amritsar has already started using solar energy for cooking. Sri Venkateshwara Temple in Tirupati and Sai Baba Temple in Shirdi now serve lunch to devotees cooked in solar-powered kitchens, apparently the world’s largest.
By November this year, a month before global leaders meet in Copenhagen to discuss a draft agreement on global warming for the next 10 years, religious leaders will have in place an alternative action plan on climate change for religious bodies.
Under this plan, the Bible, Quran and other religious texts will be available on recycled paper, food in gurudwaras will be cooked in solar energy-fuelled kitchens, and places of worship around the world will install waste recycling and water-harvesting systems.
“Religious groups have taken up various projects to fight climate change,” said Olav Kjorven, head of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) international policy division on the environment, which is leading the initiative to bring religious leaders together to save the planet.
Pope Benedict XVI is also expected to issue an encyclical — a statement — on environment in a few days, Kjorven said.
Representatives from 180 countries failed to reach an agreement in Bonn, Germany, last month on how to fight climate change. It’s been two years since the negotiations started in Bali. In contrast, religious bodies, which own half of all the schools in the world and 7-8 per cent of the land, have moved on to the fast track in only a year’s time.
22. MIRACLE SURGERY AT AIIMS: Nearly a year after 10-year-old Premchand from Uttar Pradesh was injured while playing in a field by a tractor-linked harrow which cut his backbone (lumbar spine), doctors at the Jayaprakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre of the All-India Institute of Sciences on July 4 claimed to have successfully managed to help him walk with minimal assistance and regain sensation in both legs.
“When the child arrived at the trauma centre, he was in shock due to blood loss and had two bone-deep wounds on the back with active leak of cerebrospinal fluid from the back wound and rib fracture. The entire spine was found cut into two parts. He was initially resuscitated with fluids and blood and received high dose antibiotics to prevent meningitis,” said the Centre in a release.
The child was operated upon after he was stabilised. His spine was put back in position and repair of the spinal cord dural sac was carried out under microscopic assistance.
“The entire surgery lasted eight hours and the child was discharged ten days later. Now nine month after the surgery, the child can walk with minimal assistance and has regained sensations on both legs. He is improving each day,” said the AIIMS trauma centre chief, Dr. M. C. Misra. The child, he said, could have died of shock or meningitis or remained paraplegic if he had not been operated upon in time.
23. KERALA VILLAGE UNTIES THE DOWRY KNOT: Six months of a spirited anti dowry campaign in Nilambur, 400 km north of Thiruvananthapuram, has transformed it into arguably the first village in the country where the giving and taking of dowry has been abolished altogether.
Dowry was rampant in Nilambur, a large village of nearly 40,000 people in Mallapuram district — as in most of North Kerala — earlier. A panchayat sponsored survey in the village last year found 1,300 girls who said they remained unmarried only because they could not afford the dowry required to get a groom. Forty per cent of families claimed they were brought close to bankruptcy by the dowry payments they made. Fifty two per cent of all divorces in the village, the survey found, were rooted in post marriage dowry demands.
24. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Visitors: Pravas: Shri Ravi Kumar, Sah-samyojak Vishwa Vibhag is on pravas of Australia till this month end. Dr. Shankar Tatwawadi, Samyojak Vishwa Vibhag, will leave for UK by this month end.
25. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Sangh work did not start with the premise that we should go on doing whatever the people want. Rather, the Sangh was born to make the people realize what their duties are and the deficiencies in our society and their duty to remove them. It was born so that we should inform our lives with the right Hindu view of life with pride and self-confidence, and to instill the same ideal among all our people as well. Instead of dancing to the people’s tune the Sangh is working to influence their life with its ideology and transform it accordingly. This is, in fact real constructive work. It is quite natural for his type of work to take time. Transformation of human life in the right direction is certainly a slow process. If we want to do it quickly, the only way is to see that the number of workers increases and every worker devotes more time. – Shri Guruji.
JAI SHREE RAM
GO TO AMARNATH
To feel Hindusthan’s connect with Kashmir, go to AmarnathFew of the present generation of Bharatiyas know that Swami Vivekananda, accompanied by a couple of his European disciples, undertook a yatra to the Amarnath shrine from July 28 to August 8, 1898. Sister Nivedita, an Anglo-Irish social worker and a disciple of Swami Vivekananda, has left a brief but beautiful account of the journey which shows how significant this yatra is from the point of view of culture and national integration.
About Swami Vivekananda’s experience at the holy cave, Sister Nivedita has recorded: "Never had Swami felt such a spiritual exaltation. So saturated had he become with the presence of the great God that for days after he could speak of nothing else. Shiva was all in all; Shiva, the eternal one, the great monk, rapt in meditation, aloof from the world". Later, Swami Vivekananda himself recounted: "I thought the ice-lingam was Shiva Himself. And there were no thievish Brahmins, no trade, nothing wrong. It was all worship. I have never seen anything so beautiful, so inspiring, and enjoyed any religious place so much".
In August 1986, when I was the governor of Jammu and Kashmir, I travelled on foot, from Chandanwari to the cave, taking the same route as was taken by Swami Vivekananda and his party. It was a journey to remember. The route is certainly one of the most enchanting and enthralling routes in the world. It transmits a feeling of being "upward and divine".
In a state of heightened sublimity and with his faith fully surcharged and the awe and majesty of the sights around him, the pilgrim perceives, with his mind’s eye, Lord Shiva, sitting calmly underneath an imperishable canopy provided by the "mount of immortality", and conveying in hushed silence the message of inseparability of the processes of creation and destruction; of "every beginning having an end, and every end having a beginning".
The holy cave is located in one of the "purest and firmest peaks" of the Himalayas which, in the Hindu tradition, is itself a symbol of sublimity, serenity and strength. And there is a very close relationship between these "silvery mountains" and Lord Shiva. This relationship finds best expression in the words of Adi Shankara when, overwhelmed by the physical and spiritual beauty of the white peaks, he reflected: "Oh Shiva, thy body is white, white is thy smile, the human skull in thy hand is white. Thy axe, thy bull, thy earring, all are white. The Ganga flowing out in foams from your matted locks, is white. The crescent moon on thy brow is white. Oh all-white Shiva, give us the boon of complete sinless-ness in our lives".
The cave is accessible only during a short period of a year, usually in the months of July and August. At that time, inside the cave, a pure white ice-lingam comes into being. Water trickles, somewhat mysteriously, in slow rhythm, from the top of the cave and freezes into ice. It first forms a solid base and then on it a lingam begins to rise, almost imperceptibly, and acquires full form on purnima. It is believed that on that day, Lord Shiva revealed the secrets of life to his consort Parvati, the beautiful daughter of the Himalayas. It is also believed that while Lord Shiva was speaking to Parvati, a pair of pigeons appeared and overheard the talk. And this pair still comes to the cave at the time of the yatra as incarnation of Shiva and Parvati.
The most captivating spot on the route is the lake of Seshnag. This lake symbolises the cosmic ocean in which Lord Vishnu, the preserver of this universe, moves, reclining on a seven-headed mythical snake. After getting refreshed with a bath of ice-cold water of Seshnag, the pilgrim takes a steep climb to the most difficult spot, Mahagunna (4,350 metres). Thereafter, a short descent begins to Poshpathan which is covered in wild flowers. From there, pilgrims move to Panchtarni, a confluence of five mythical streams, and then to the cave. A strange sense of fulfilment seizes the pilgrims, and all fatigue is forgotten. Even with temperatures touching zero, the pilgrims are driven by their faith to take bath in the almost-freezing rivulet of Amravati.
This is what Sister Nivedita has written about Swami Vivekananda’s experience: "With a smile he knelt, first at one end of the semi-circle, then at the other. The place was vast, large enough to hold a cathedral, and the great ice-Shiva, in a niche of deepest shadow, seemed as if throned on its own base. To him, the heavens had opened. He had touched the feet of Shiva. He had to hold himself tight, he said afterwards, lest he "should swoon away". But so great was his physical exhaustion, that a doctor said afterwards that his heart ought to have stopped beating, and had undergone a permanent enlargement instead. How strangely near fulfilment had been those words of his Master: "When he realises who and what he is, he will give up this body!" Afterwards he would often tell of the overwhelming vision that had seemed to draw him almost into its vertex. He always said that the grace of Amarnath had been granted to him there, not to die till he himself should give consent. And to me he said: "You do not now understand. But you have made the pilgrimage, and it will go on working. Causes must bring their effects. You will understand better afterwards. The effects will come".
The significance of the pilgrimage, however, does not end at the personal level. It extends to the much larger issue of cultural unity and vision of Bharat from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Kathiawar to Kamrup. Its importance as an underlying integrating force needs to be recognised. When some people talk of Kashmir’s relationship with the rest of Bharat only in terms of Article 1 and Article 370 of the Constitution, I am surprised at their ignorance. They do not know that this relationship goes much deeper. It is a relationship that has existed for thousands of years in the mind and soul of the people, a relationship that Bharat’s intellect and emotions, its life and literature, its philosophy and poetry, its common urges and aspirations, have given birth to. It is this relationship which inspired Subrmania Bharati to perceive Kashmir as a crown of Mother Bharat, and Kanyakumari as a lotus at her feet, and also made him sing that "She has 30 crore faces, but her heart is one".
(Jagmohan is a former governor of J&K and a former Union minister) -- Asian Age, July 10, 2009
THE ONE GOD SYNDROMEThe composition of the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita in Bharat some five thousand years ago resulted in Vedanta, a school of Hindu philosophy which gives insights into the spiritual life of all humanity. It was inevitable that by attempting to understand, after much struggle and search, the basic principles that govern the spiritual lives of people, such as those in Bharat, the principles that govern the spiritual life of all humanity would be known. It stands to reason that only the most disciplined students are ultimately blessed with the gift of that insight and wisdom. Hinduism, like Buddhism and Jainism, is known as a wisdom religion.
Dr Thillayvel Naidoo
Dr Thillayvel Naidoo
In attempting to understand the claims to “revelations from God” by the religions that have had their birth in the Middle East the Vedantist asks several questions to resolve some extreme difficulties. The first seeks desperately to know precisely who the God is that Middle Eastern religions make the object of their belief and worship. Belief in God forms the foundation of these religions but numerous are the difficulties that arise when attempting to understand precisely who their God is.
The second question addresses the concept of monotheism which forms the very foundation on which Middle Eastern faiths build their theological edifices. One needs to know precisely what “oneness” of God is and what the source is of the information concerning both God’s existence and oneness.
The third question addresses a serious contradiction. Monotheism obfuscates our very understanding of “oneness” because five names for God are presented. They are Ahura Mazdah, Elohim, Jehovah, Allah and Khoda. No student of world religions will ever be in a position to conclude that they are five names for one and the same God. An entire litany of reasons can be produced to prove that each of these Beings is very different one from the other. Jehovah had a son. Allah rejected the very idea. Allah rejects the existence of Khoda. The list is almost endless. We have inevitably to conclude that when speaking of the Gods of the Middle East we refer to five completely different Beings.
Question four raises very serious difficulties concerning “God’s revelations”. The claim is made that God “revealed” Himself to the world on no less than five occasions to spawn five religions and five religious communities that have throughout their history never lived in peace, harmony and understanding among themselves. The Bahai explanation is that the five religions characterize continuity. But such explanation is unacceptable to the followers of the four previous revelations. There are very many atheists and others in the world who are unconvinced, as no one ever proved that “revelation” ever was a fact of religious history. Not one such revelation offers substantive proof of God’s existence.
Question five asks if the world will ever know why five revelations had to be effected only in the Middle East and nowhere else in the world. Did God never have the wherewithal to “reveal” Himself elsewhere in the world at any other time in history?
Question six refers to the existence of many religions and cultures in all parts of the world. Did God not have the ability to appreciate these as attempts to know of His existence for veneration and worship? The Middle Eastern faiths refer to many peoples of the world as pagans, heathens and infidels. In the light of the Vedic contention that all the peoples of the world are children of God who precisely is the God responsible for those cultures that have no respect for many of God’s children?
Question seven wants very seriously to know what justification there is for the presence in Bharat of three of these religions. Zoroastrianism and Judaism sought refuge there but the presence of the other three religions may be described as invasions because of their questionable legitimacy. This is not stated out of disrespect but a genuine concern for Bharat’s Hindu culture and profound religious wisdom that is unmatched by any of “God’s revelations”.
-- Dr Thillayvel Naidoo retired as lecturer in the Department of Science of Religion at the University of Durban-Westville in South Africa.