Category Archives: Faith

The Hindu Ethos

A very well-articulated article, I thought, from Keerthik Sasidharan capturing what many of us feel within. Appears in The Hindu of November 19, 2017 (there’s no way to reblog onto WordPress, hence…). It’s neither jingoistic in the ‘Hindutva’ sense nor ‘secular’ in the Congress sense.

Here we go:

Away from the heat of reactionary furies and banal identity politics, seeing how Hindu beliefs are formed, sustained and changed

Last week, I visited my ancestral village and found myself listening to family stories told by my aunts who are well into their 70s. These were stories I had heard before. Nevertheless, like always, they were repeated at family gatherings, attesting to the axiomatic truth of all collective storytelling since Vyasa in the Mahabharata: repetition endows potency. In my head, I often divide these family stories into two categories: stories of the times and stories of people. The former are tales of perilous years when hunger was common and scarcity the rule. These aren’t moral tales but merely their recounting — a survivor’s sigh of relief — of how far we have all come from the India of the 1950s to this day. The latter stories about people are invariably morality plays — tales filled with ethical breaches, betrayals, and comeuppance.

This time, I heard a real-life story about a man who was a shrewd and feared feudal presence in their village — the kind who had managed to be both a functionary of the young Communist party and also relentlessly acquire land and wealth. Now in his 80s, after being felled by a stroke, he lay in coma, while, as my aunts described not without some schadenfreude, his children squabbled over his ill-gotten properties even as they refused to shoulder any responsibility towards his care. It all seemed a bit squalid, but none too uncommon, familial tragedy in play. What struck me vividly, however, was a statement by one of my more religious aunts: “It is inevitable given the [bad] karma he accrued by unconscionably fleecing illiterate Mapillahs [Muslims of Malabar] off their lands.”

Everyday secularism

Irrespective of the truth of her statement about his purported actions, what struck me was the ease with which a religious Hindu woman could imagine that a Hindu man could “pay” for his actions towards Muslims. The doctrine of karma, as she understood it, supplemented her intuitions about justice towards a fellow citizen, irrespective of her fellow citizen’s faith in the very same doctrine. It is this generosity of her theological interpretations, made on her own — without the sanction or permission of a clergy, without the approval from a book — that allowed her to be secular in practice without any supervised tutelage of the state regarding secularism. In many ways, she is not unique for a practising Hindu across India. But hers is the kind of everyday secularism borne from the generosity of her religious piety that is often mistaken by Hindutva ideologues for weakness and is often ignored by Left liberals who have little use for religion, far less religiously inspired ethical commitments.

The inner lives of devout Hindus gains all the more salience this week as Kerala begins to celebrate the next three months as a period earmarked for expressions of bhakti. Public and private forms of religiosity will soon decorate the streets. Millions of men from all of south India, dressed in black, heady with vows of brief asceticism, will trek to the temples at Sabarimala. Innumerable festivals at large and obscure temples, performances of various temple arts, concerts and processions, readings and discourses that run for days, if not weeks — it is all quite extraordinary. All of these are public reiterations of a way of living that has evolved over decades, if not centuries — a way of bookmarking human existence as seasons change and time flows.

Being a Hindu

Given all this, it is tempting to think of these external displays as the sole marker of being a Hindu. But unlike Islam or even doctrinaire forms of Christianity, what is less explicitly understood are the set of beliefs that constitutes one’s self-identification as a Hindu. What does ‘being Hindu’ mean? This is a question whose answer goes well beyond any worship of a god or belonging to a specific constellation of traditions (sampradaya). The answer — not in an academic or anthropological sense, but as a lived practice — is inescapably tied to the question of what does “being” mean? And then upon answering that, asking what does the descriptor “Hindu” entail. There are maximalists who argue that being human and being Hindu is the same. On the flip side, there are those who deny — usually after suffering from various inequities within the Hindu society — that one can’t be Hindu and human simultaneously. For most people, the truth lies in the proverbial middle not because that is the easy way out but because most human experiences are rarely at the extremes. To answer what it is to be a Hindu in our times is then ultimately an exercise to reduce an archipelago of subjective understandings into an island of objective knowledge.

The result is that most writings about being Hindu, even by “insiders”, is indistinguishable from historical accounts of concepts, a cornucopia of myths, or are explorations of high philosophical subtleties. All of these are important, of course, but ultimately they are merely the scaffolding inside which Hindu identities learn to organise their inner worlds. If we are to be students of modern India, then this means learning to see how Hindu beliefs, commitments and affiliations are formed, sustain and change. To do this, away from the heat of reactionary furies and banal identity politics, is to learn to see the world for what it is.

End

 

 

Source: The original article appears here. Thanks, Siddharth for the forward.

Advertisements

Nagarjuna’s Killer Time-Gap

art.thewalters.org nagarjuna 

” … 

But what fascinated me most was Nagarjuna’s stress on what my guru referred to as ‘the Killer Time Gap.’ Now Eastern philosophy rests on the twin concepts of karma and reincarnation; since volumes have been written on these concepts, I will simply say here that karma is defined as the movement of the mind (thought) and what it produces in terms of speech and action; the consequences are inevitable and come later—whether a second later, lifetimes down the road, or anywhere in-between. According to Nagarjuna, it is this lethal time gap between our thought, speech and action (karma/doing) and the ensuing results of those actions that is responsible for all the suffering of humanity.

Take the act of killing for instance: If, as I lowered my foot to crush a bug, my own ribs started to break, I’d likely be too terrified of my own well-being to ever kill again, right? Or if, just after I’d stolen ten bucks from you, someone stole a thousand out of my wallet, I might put the action and the consequence together (since they came so close on the heels of each other) and the fear of being punished so quickly and severely might urge me to never ever steal again, right?

Only a few of us are born virtuous; the rest of us are a mix of darkness and light and therefore prey to all the temptations of the world. And yet, unless we are criminally insane or prone to masochism, we would all be perfectly moral if there was no gap between our actions and the consequences of those actions.

Right now (I am writing this post in October 2016) the US Presidential Debate rages on and all sorts of filth relating to the actions of both major candidates is rising up in a tidal wave to hurt not just them, but their families, associates, their respective parties, and all those peripherally involved in this major drama. Now, had either of these two candidates known (at the time they did what they did) that their past sins would rise up to bite them in the butt—too too right in the thick of their fight for a powerful office—would they have blithely gone ahead and done what they did? I think not—it was that killer time gap that allowed both to believe they would ever have to pay the karmic piper—and how wrong they both were.

What we do about this time gap in our own lives? I can only speak for myself. First I forged for myself a strong foundation of reality (known as the “view). In doing so, I digested the meaning of karma so well that in time I became convinced that nothing but nothing goes unrecorded in the vast reservoir of consciousness. This perennial awareness of how reality works now makes me careful in how I think, speak and act; if I make mistakes, as I often do, then I am quick to make amends—to offer an apology or do whatever is necessary to compensate for the hurt or trouble I have caused—for it is said that an amend performed minus the ego is said to wipe out the original bad act. Gradually, as this wisdom seeps into our consciousness, we become organically beautiful people and our happiness and peace quotient rises into the heavens. The beauty of living in such a way is that the whole cosmos benefits.

…”

End

 

 

Source: miraprabhu.wordpress.com and art.thewalters.org

‘So, Find A Man Who Always Speaks The Truth’

A Paramacharya anecdote on wearing rudraksha maalai

 Periyava

He had visited Nepal to have darshan at the holy Pashupathinath temple.

On return, he presented himself before the Paramacharya and respectfully offered the temple prasadam and a rare rudraksha maalai (string of rudraksha beads).

‘Did you have a good darshan?’ the old sage inquired.

‘Yes, Sir, by god’s grace and your blessings.’

The sage lifted the maalai in his frail hands.

‘What’re you going to do with this?’

‘If you may kindly permit, I intend wearing it around my neck…’

There was silence.

‘So, you’ll always speak the truth?’

He was startled. ‘Yes, Sir, I’ll henceforth always speak the truth,’ the words almost rolled off his tongue.

He knew it was not possible at all try as he might. In the presence of the sage he would dare to speak untruth.

Holding himself back, ‘No, Sir, it’s impossible for me to be speaking truth at all times.’

‘Why so?’

‘Sir, I work in a bank. The official records are never unmixed truth. Further, if my manager orders me, I would be compelled to…’

‘Take this, if and when you find someone who never speaks untruth, give it to him.’

The man was mighty happy to receive the maalai back from the sage.

Rushing back he said to his wife: ‘Let’s do as you had suggested. We even have His okay. And imagine we never saw we always had someone with us right here with us in this house who never spoke untruth!’

Since then the maalai adorned the sage’s portrait in the pooja room!

The incident was shared some days later by the sage with another man who had come to have darshan: Your relative…that fellow who works in the bank…he has aspects of Harishchandra in this age. He didn’t lie to me he never lies…’

End

 

Source: https://mahaperiyavaa.blog/author/mahaperiyavaa/

 

In Search of Truth

A story from Paulo Coelho:

The devil was talking to his friends when they noticed a man walking along a road. They watched him pass and saw that he bent down to pick something up.

“What did he find?” asked one of the friends.

“A piece of Truth,” answered the devil.

The friends were very concerned. After all, a piece of Truth might save that man’s soul – one less in Hell. But the devil remained unmoved, gazing at the view.

“Aren’t you worried?” said one of his companions. “He found a piece of Truth!”

“I’m not worried,” answered the devil.

“Do you know what he’ll do with the piece?”

The devil replied, “as usual, he’ll create a new religion. And he’ll succeed in distancing even more people from the whole Truth.”

End

 

The Tiger And The Fox

A fox who lived in the deep forest of long ago had lost its front legs. No one knew how, perhaps escaping from a trap. A man who lived on the edge of the forest , seeing the fox from time to time, wondered how in the world it managed to get its food. One day when the fox was not far from him he had to hide himself quickly because a tiger was approaching. The tiger had fresh game in its claws. Lying down on the ground, it ate its fill, leaving the rest for the fox.

Again the next day the great Provider of this world sent provisions to the fox by this same tiger. The man began to think: “If this fox is taken care of in this mysterious way, its food sent by some unseen Higher Power, why don’t I just rest in a corner and have my daily meal provided for me?”

Because he had a lot of faith, he let the days pass, waiting for food. Nothing happened. He just went on losing weight and strength until he was nearly a skeleton. Close to losing consciousness, he heard a Voice which said:

“O you, who have mistaken the way, see now the Truth! Instead of imitating the disabled fox, you should have followed the example of that tiger .”

End

Source: Massud Farzan from spiritual-short-stories.com

Man Is Unique…On Grounds Of Compassion

uthanga

It was one of those times when the sishya (disciple) felt free to air his doubts.

‘Guruji, if god created man why has man not inherited traits of god just as I’ve taken after my father? Why is he not like god? God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient…while man is not…’

‘Let me tell you a short story. Hope you’ll find your answer.’

“  

One evening there was this man, a poor beggar, going about the streets of Kashi. Perhaps someone who came in search of peace and enlightenment and did not wish to return – Kashi, a city with a hoary past, did that to many.

As he footed the affluent section of the city where the rich merchants trading in silk resided, seeking food, doors were slammed on his face with a look of annoyance.

On the streets housing the workmen and artisans, and also those engaged in religious activities serving the steady inflow of pilgrims – here too he drew a blank.

Now with nowhere else to go, he headed towards the ghats of the river Ganges.

On the way past a garbage dump there was an old leper with visibly advanced affliction readying his dinner spread. Whatever he had managed to collect as alms, he made equal portions for his dog and himself. Just when he was on his first morsel of food, the leper froze seeing the haggard face.

The leper beckoned him to his side: ‘Stranger, come here. Have this – you look bad. Well, it’s not much…might help in refreshing yourself a little.’

The man took a little bit from the outstretched misshapen hand.

‘Know me?’

The leper shrugged: ’How does it matter who you’re? First eat and then talk.’

‘Do you know who I’m?’ the voice was raised a notch.

A certain firmness perceived in the voice made him look up. Was he from the local constabulary in mufti sent to evict him?

Taking a while, ‘You must be Vishwanatha.’ (the presiding deity in Kashi who, it was believed, took rounds of the city from time to time)

He gasped: ‘What makes you say that?’

‘Who else would readily take food without a hint of aversion from a disfigured discard?’

‘It’ll be a sin to deprive you of your food, my friend. Pray, do not worry about me. I’ll find mine.’

The man walked away quietly without looking back.

‘Have you got your answer now?’

‘Yes, Guruji. Seeing his compassion, the leper likened the man to god. So it must be compassion that man has inherited from his creator.’

‘Let me finish – there’s a little more to the story:’

f231a7be1a3fd31844c0d3e1835218ca

When he woke up next morning the leper realized he was right about Vishwanatha (Lord Shiva); mercifully, he was cured.’

‘Now what do you make of it?’

‘mmm’

‘My guru provided me an added perspective: God when he is god is just and severe – he lets the laws of Karma prevail remorselessly, to each according to his deeds. His compassion shows only when he manifests as human or, most likely, when he works through one. Could we then say compassion is a trait unique to man?’

It set the sishya thinking.

The guru smiled – he had done his job for the day.

 

End

Seeded from: Heard on MegaTV in a patti-manram program reported by TR Sathya at facebook.com/tr.sathya.3