hunger is common to all; but tastes differ.
There are different forms of God to suit all tastes.” - Swami
Yogaswarupananda, of the Divine Life Society, a Vedanta-based foundation in Rishikesh.
religion, by the help of more or less myth which it takes more
or less seriously, proposes some method of fortifying the human soul and enabling it to make its peace with its destiny.
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spent laughing is time spent with the Gods. - Japanese Proverb
Development - Hindu Perspective
Early on the second
day, one crosses a small stream flowing West-ward, cutting across
the Himalayas, as it merges with other streams becoming rivers with
distinct names and forms ending in the Arabian Sea as part of the
mid-afternoon, there is another stream flowing North West, exiting
around the K2 Peak – also joining the Arabian Sea 1,700 KM later. At
dusk, one passes yet another stream flowing South East to become the
Brahmaputra ending up in the Bay of Bengal some 1,500 Km to the East.
Same cloud burst. Some drops of water, by accident of birth, become
known as the Indus, others as Yarlung, Ganges, Sutlej or the Brahmaputra
River. Each with its own name and form.30
Just like the gold of this ring which came into being as part of a
supernova explosion, to become my wedding ring today, part of someone
else’s necklace tomorrow, or to serve as a tooth filling someday.
Names and forms. As the Gita says … that which exists never ceases to
be, that which is not - does not come to Be.31
for the single drop of water - made up of two atoms of Hydrogen
and one of Oxygen - one cannot touch, taste, smell or even feel
it in its vapour form as a cloud when the electrons are in their
excitable outer orbits. One can do all this when it is in the
liquid state, but not even a bullet can pass through when the
same molecule forms part of solid ice in its frozen state. In
its journey as part of glaciers, lakes, and as pristine rivers
which become polluted with toxins, the H2O, the very essence of
our drop of water, remains H2O and does not become H2 arsenic or
finally joins the seas where it merges with the waters in all the
oceans, no longer a Ganges, Euphrates, Colorado, or the Mississippi.
There it may remain merged in the depth of the oceans for Millennia, or
evaporates falling as rain immediately, or may get locked in as part of
an iceberg, or may take on another name and form as a new river. As do
you and I.
metaphor of the Hindu perspective on re-birth has one caveat - our drop
of water does not carry any impressions of the joys or the havoc it may
have created as part of a Major River.
Waterfall and Lake
and I, on the other hand, carry the impressions, our actions (Karmas),
until these embedded impressions (Sanskaras) are exhausted like a burnt
seed well into the next cycle of creation. This accounts for perhaps the
greatest solace to a Hindu when faced with calamities - his greatest
source of spiritual strength in the face of adversity.
Black Hole of Calcutta being called the “City of Joy” is no idle
play of words.
Many million verses, laid out with such precision and brevity so
as not to be lost when committed to memory, accompanied by detailed
commentaries from different perspectives, passed on from teacher to the
student engaged in dialectic.
this incredible storehouse of scriptural texts, if one had to choose a
text which captures most of the essential points of the Hindu faith, it
would have to be the Bhagavad-Gita. An incredibly daring creative
strategy, according to Krishna Chaitanya32,
on the part of sage Vyasa to put in the mouth of historical Krishna, the
essence of the understandings and impressions of the Vedic Seers
emerging from varying stages of Meditation (Samadhi)33
– akin to the
revelations of the burning bush.
Reality according to Hindu thought, as also in Quantum theory,
cannot be known with certainty. An important principle is the ancient
concept known as Chatursh Koti .........It
is, it is not; it both is and is not; it neither is nor is it not.34
All contradictions are in fact complementary, forming an integral part
of the Whole. For every matter there’s anti-matter, every light photon
and the electron behave both as particles and as formless waves.35
One contradiction in the Hindu society that is in fact not
complementary is the slow pace in rooting out the caste system,
particularly as it affects those deemed at the lowest rung of the
ladder. It’s not good enough to say that it is constitutionally
illegal to discriminate on the basis of caste, or that members of this
sub group whom Gandhiji referred to as Harijans, children of God, are
beginning to hold positions as Heads of State, ministers, lawmakers, in
the judiciary or armed services. Or that one third of most government
jobs are reserved for this sub-group. Or that caste consciousness is
practically non-existent in urban centres. Not when 70% of the 200
Million Harijans and tribals live in rural areas. Why should there be
even a single Harijan?
came and went, burning of witches and non-conformists on the stake came
and went, deforming little girl’s feet has long since gone, mutilation
of female genitalia is on its way out, but denying human dignity to
fellow human beings is something for which all thinking Hindus must
lower their heads in shame. As part of the sacred commitment to the
Millennium Development Goals, the custodians of the Hindu Faith must
make one last effort, one final push and take the lead in eliminating
the lingering residue of this historic aberration – the ultimate in
As for idol worshipping, it can be summed up in one sentence ….
It’s NOT that many gods are being worshipped but that the Hindu
devotee values and worships the many-ness of the one and only Ultimate
Reality, which is neither Hindu nor Muslim nor Christian. In fact the
Gita asserts “…whenever, wherever, whosoever, seeks Me in
earnestness, I appear and strengthen his or her faith from whatever
perspective he or she seeks Me”.36
The Hindu devotee has
total freedom to focus on the impersonal absolute of the Upanishads or a
manifest personal deity for whom he even has complete freedom to
postpone his quest.
Intentionality is incessantly and immanently at work in Nature.
While the Hindu thought agrees fully with the theory of Evolution, it is
not the evolution of pure chance of Carl Becker, Bertrand Russell,
Darwin and Moned etc. According to the late Krishna Chiatanya, an
example of the most potent and conscious intentionality in nature is at
the terminal of organic, inorganic, and biological evolution where man
appears – after having lived 8.4 Million lives in lesser forms, Man
finally arrives as part of Directed Evolution.
In the spirit of opposites, it would be equally correct to say
that Hindu thought concurs with the observation of Bertrand Russell
that, at times, Man behaves as the most irritating species inflicted by
Mother Nature to lord over her creation, or as Jonathan Swift says in
the context of Lilliputians: Man is the most pernicious race of
mischievous vermin which Mother Nature has ever suffered on her
shall next see how Man has earned that reputation. Hindu thought
describes these aberrations in terms of Yugas, cycles, rhythms both
short-term, as swings of the pendulum, as well as of a very long
duration lasting Millions of years.
Khanna is the organizer of the Ontario Branch of the Himalayan Yoga
Meditation Society, and one of the most active members of the Toronto
interfaith community. The article is based on a Keynote Address presented
Conference – Soesterberg, Netherlands, October
15-17, 2007. He can be reached at 416-590-9645 or email@example.com.]