The purpose of religion is spirituality. It is for assimilation, not for destruction. Sub Headline:The speech delivered by Dr Hari Prasad Kanoria at the International Conference on Spirituality Based Management organised on October 12 – 13, 2018 in Athens, Greece

Spirituality & Humanity – for Athens

Brothers and Sisters of Greece and the world…

I am honored and humbled by this invitation to speak on spirituality and humanity at this august conclave. My sincere thanks to the organizers for kindly giving me this opportunity to be amidst you all today.
Unfortunately, I could not be present in person due to my recent long stay in the USA and London. Also, during these days, we have to worship the Mother of the Universe, who is the protector of humanity. She is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. Her heart is flowing with the ocean of Motherly love and Bliss. She is the destroyer of evil, and protects the righteous. She works for the welfare of humanity and is the giver of prosperity, health and happiness.

Spirituality fosters morality, character, values, ethics, hard work with devotion, selflessness, brotherhood, sisterhood, growth, empathy, sympathy, humility, kindness, fraternity, cooperative spirit, fearlessness and divinity with love. It sharpens the intellect to distinguish between right and wrong. The spiritual light within unfolds the truth. It awakens the inner power and balances the outer power. It guides to develop super-consciousness. It enables us to develop our body, mind and soul to ward off failure and dive into the ocean of success. It develops the perception of oneness. It includes the entire humanity. It guides us through all stages of life. It unfolds our infinity. It helps our magnetic personality to blossom. It teaches us to balance in life for hard work, health, emotion, family and service to humanity. Religion means realization and experience. It is not just ritual, rites, etc. All these methods are to synchronize body and mind to concentrate on some physical activities. After realization, experiencing, seeing the light within and hearing cosmic voices, enlightened men have established different religions.

All religions lead to Cosmic Entity. The purpose of religion is spirituality. It is for assimilation, not for destruction. Spirituality ignites the fire of love and service to Humanity.

God is the universal Father. There is one universal soul. We are manifested souls of One Universal soul. He is our Father, Mother and Friend. The essence of all religions is harmony, peace, humanity, love and unity in diversity. Science has proved that physical individuality is a delusion. Science is in finding unity. Its goal is to reach perfect unity. Chemistry’s goal is to discover one element from which all others could be made. Physics discovers one element out of which, all are created/expanded/subdued. Hindu scriptures Gita mentioned about incarnation of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna said, “ The entire universe has been manifested from my form. All beings are dependent upon me but I am not dependent on them.”

God is all-pervading, all-seeing and all-powerful. God calls, “O Children! Realize all in one and one in all. Behave with others as you would with yourself. Know that in all, one universe resides. We are the enjoyers of immortal Bliss. The architect of the universe is the overseer of truth, internal order, austerity and simplicity. Live in harmony and peace. Be in the consciousness of God’s presence in all righteous activities. Consciousness of His presence will make one hardworking with devotion, righteously, fearlessly, selflessly, for the welfare of family, community, nation and the world.

Humanity is the essence of all religions, service to the manifestation of God is worship of God. Hinduism’s message is Sarvata Sukhaani Bhavatah.

All be happy, all be healthy, all be prosperous.
Prophet Mohammed: “ Recompense evil, conquer it with good.”
Bahai: “All humanity is one family”, men and women are equal.
Sufism: “Thy light is in all forms. Thy love is in all beings. Love all beings as manifestation of God and serve them”.

Jesus Christ: “Love thy neighbour, as thy love thyself”. Blessed are the pure in heart. Seek first kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Guru Nanak: “Bear no hate to anyone. God dwells in every heart”.
Lord Buddha: “Look equally with a kind heart to all the living beings”.
Selflessness is the governing principle in the law of prosperity. Each one of us must live for others. Create and generate wealth virtuously for self and others. Commune with God, God’s unlimited power.

Let us march ahead with the banner of inclusive and sustainable growth for the welfare of all and preserving the universe. Let us have the cosmic cooperative spirit. Let the youth be ignited with divinity and infinity. Let our mission and vision be assimilation and not destruction. Let us consider ourselves members of the human family. Let us unite our isolated consciousness with God. Let our heart throb with “All in one, One in all”. May God bless us to live in consciousness of Him and in service of His manifestation.

Om! Amen! Amin! Ek Onkar! Ahura Mazda.

Dr. H. P. Kanoria’s Speech at World Congress on Vedic Foundations of Management Science – Commemorating 125th year of Chicago Lecture of Swami Vivekananda at Fullerton Hall, The Art Institute of Chicago, USA on 11TH September, 2018 organised by ISOL Foundation

Sisters and Brothers.

I am privileged, honored and blessed to present my understanding on the message and teachings of Swami Vivekananda. Who was an Enlightened Monk, a great reformer, a preaching Nationalist, a great humanist and an illuminated soul. His master Paramhansa Sri Ramakrishna said in spiritual love with tears of joy and in a sobbing voice, “You are Nar Rupi Narayan- incarnation of Narayan (God). You are Gyan – Siddha (Enlightened) Puratan Sanyasi. You have come for reform, awakening, removing the miseries of people and service to humanity”. Later Thakur denied him Nirivakal Samadhi Liberation- Union with God. He told him to serve humanity which is worship of God.

In the very hall – place Swami Vivekananda said with the voice of a lion, “I am proud to belong to a religion- Hinduism, which has taught the world both Universal tolerance and acceptance. We accept all religions as True. The Hindu religion is the oldest surviving religion without a beginning and an end. It is perpetual and eternal (sanatana). It is based on divine revelation and realization. It was the communication with cosmic entity (God) by the several enlightened rishis, saints and sages.

He addressed , “Hear, Ye children of Immortal bliss”. It is sin to call a man sinner. It is a standing label on human nature. Come up, O Lions- shake off the delusion that you are sheep, you are soul, immortal, spirit free, blessed and eternal. Ye are not matter, ye are not bodies. Matter is your servant, not you the servant of matter.

God is everywhere – the Almighty and the all merciful. He is our father, Mother and friend. He is the source of all strength. Love Him for love’s sake. Live in this world like a lotus leaf. Soul is divine. When the soul becomes perfect and enlightened it frees from the bondage of body matter. Bondage can fall off through the mercy of God. Mercy comes on the pure. God reveals Himself to the pure heart. On attaining perfection, one lives a life of bliss infinite. The ultimate happiness is reached with universal consciousness.

Science is in finding unity. Its goal is to reach perfect unity. Chemistry’s goal is to discover one element out of which all others could be made. Physics discovers one
energy of which all others are but manifestations. So, science has proved that physical individuality is a delusion. Advaita said that Unity is the necessary conclusion of the other counterpart of the soul. There is one universal soul. All other souls are delusive manifestation of that universal soul. Lord Krishna said in Gita that the entire Universe has been manifested from my form. All beings are dependent upon me, but I am not dependent on them.

| | मया ततम् इदम्́ सर्वम्́ | जगद् अव्यक्त-मूर्तिना | मत्-स्थानि सर्व-भूतानि | न चाहम्́ तॆष्व् अवस्थितः | |
mayā tatam idaḿ sarvaḿ
jagad avyakta-mūrtinā
mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni
na cāhaḿ teṣv avasthitaḥ

He is retaining this universe by a single fragment of Himself. Manifestation and not creation is the word of science.

Every religion is evolving a God out of material man. It is the same light coming through the glasses of different colours. The pictures of all bodies and all things are only rays of light streaming out of that one sacred light. Behold everywhere the pure spirit. We are the children of Almighty. We are sparks of the infinite divine force. Losing faith in one’s self means losing faith in God. Work for union with whole humanity and God. Perform selfless action for the welfare of all – His manifestation. Be free from attachment, fear and anger and fully absorbed in God. Be purified by knowledge and devotion. Meditation may help to attain union with Him. Have unwavering faith in God. Love parents. Have balanced and healthy food. Food contains all the energies that build the body and mind. Avoid indigestible meal, meat and alcohol. It is hard to control body and mind with these foods.

Every youth must develop his personality with the characteristics of individuality. Play the role efficiently with perfection. Be self-motivated. Do hard work with devotion. Have integrity and discipline. Have faith in self and love for all and the Supreme Lord. Have muscles of iron and nerves of steel. Be courageous and fearless. Face the brutes. Face the Maya. Face the Death. Cowards can never be victorious.

God is pleased where women are held in esteem. There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on one wing. Do work for the freedom and equality of women. Realise her importance for the functioning of home and society. Women are coming forward with a combination of a mother’s heart and hero’s will.

Swami Vivekananda said, “I believe in God, I believe in Man. I believe in helping the miserable. I believe in going even to hell to save others. I may have to be born again because I have fallen in love with man.”

Love and service will make our every word like thunderbolt.

After his father’s death, he was in dire calamities of having no food for days together for the family and himself. He could not even get job though a graduate. His master told him to go to Mother Kali and ask her. He could not ask for himself though he went thrice. He asked, “Beloved Ma, give me wisdom, conscience, intelligence, love for all and Ma and service to humanity.” He was blessed by his Master for having the simple essentials of life.

Brothers and Sisters let us awake, arise and work hard with devotion righteously and selflessly for the welfare of humanity as the call given by Swami Vivekananda and Lord Krishna in Mahabharata. Let us serve the Living God who is in all and outside all.

Love is religion. Love is God. Service to humanity is worship of God.

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Prayer to Mother Saraswati – Dr. H.P. Kanoria

Prayer to Mother Saraswati

 

“Speech of Dr. H.P. Kanoria at the 10th World Confluence of Humanity, Power & Spirituality on 22nd & 23rd December 2017″

Hon’ble Governor of West Bengal, Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi, Reverent Religious Leaders, Eminent Guests and Speakers, Divine Brothers, Sisters and Dear Youth.
Good morning, Jai Hind, Jai Viswa!

Wish you all a Merry Christmas in advance!

I welcome you all to the Tenth World Confluence of Humanity, Power and Spirituality. I extend my gratified thanks to all for gracing the confluence. Your deliverance and presence will promote spirituality, humanity, peace, harmony, unity in diversity, hard work with devotion, righteousness, truthfulness, simplicity, austerity, cooperation and the realisation of God abiding within all beings.

We are all manifestations of God. We are created in His own image. God was alone. He said, “I am alone, let there be many”– “Ekoham Bahusyam” एकोहम बहुस्याम

He is seated in the hearts of all beings. God is the force within us. We are perfect and divine. The Universeis marked by unity with diversity. Our soul which is a part of the universal soul is infinite and immortal, and part of the universal soul is in all beings. So, there is no upper and lower class, no inferiority and superiority in men and women. Both are equal. The only difference is of gender. All the rivers of the world flowing through different countries merge with the oceans, and the oceans return water in the form of rain to nurture God’s marvellous creation.

Science has proved that physical individuality is a delusion. The sum total of cosmic energy is always the same. Science is in finding unity. Its goal is to reach perfect unity. Physics discovers a single source of energy out of which all are created/manifested/ expanded/subdued. Chemistry’s goal is to discover one element out of which all others could be created. Lord Krishna said, “The entire universe has been manifested from my form. All beings are dependent on me, but I am not dependent on them”.

Maya Tata Midom

God is everywhere and in everything. Religions of the world are complementary and not contradictory. Conversion from one religion to another religion is inhumane and against the respective Gods. One’s own religion is the mother and other religions are sisters of the mother—so was believed by Paramhansa Sri Ramkrishna. Have your core belief in the oneness of all. There is no concept of conversion.

Humanity is the essence of all religions. Spirituality ignites in one the determination to work hard with devotion and righteousness to create wealth for generations to come for the welfare of humanity. It is essential to work hard selflessly to provide basic needs to the ever increasing population growing at a pace higher than that of current economic growth.

Save Mother Earth, do not Fight; Assimilate, do not destroy. Bring harmony and peace, not dissention. Let the world have a cosmic cooperative spirit. Spirituality manifests divinity within us. It creates international bondage, one family and one world.

I would like to narrate a story from The Holy Vedas. The demi Gods andGoddesses, and human beings were hollow and full of sorrow despite having all the riches and bounty of nature. They approached the Supreme God, Vishnu who advised the demi Gods and Goddesses to have empathy, sympathy and kindness for human beings, and be free of ego to work hard with devotion and righteousness, selfless, live with simplicity and austerity and donate the wealth to the poor without ego. Help them to assist themselves and rise in life.

Spirituality infuses elements of balance and right living in physical, mental and intellectual personalities. Intuition is developed. It is then that life becomes balanced. “Service to Humanity is the worship of Lord Shiva (God)” said Paramhansa Sri Ramkrishna. Jesus Christ pronounced, “The only right in the world is to give, to serve. Be content to serve. Serve the world.” Swami Vivekananda said, “Do not neglect the living God, the man and woman who are the infinite reflection of God.”

Let us march ahead with firmness and determination, keeping high the flag of humanity and spirituality to manifest divinity, overcome global hunger and global warming, have harmony and peace, believing that the essence of all religions lie in cosmic cooperation and co-existence. God calls, “O Children, realise all in one, one in all.”
Om, Amin, Amen, Ek Onkar, Ahura Mazda.

Dr. H. P. Kanoria

Meditation

Dr. H. P. Kanoria

Hinduism as Sanatana Dharma is without beginning or end and the Vedas remain the source of Sanatana Dharma. The scriptures say, Lord Vishnu was alone. He said, Microsoft Word - M57_HPKanoria_Final Ekoham  Bahusyam. “I am one, let there be many. Thus started the multiplicity on this globe.

The entire teachings of the Vedas can be summed up in one grand sentence: Microsoft Word - M57_HPKanoria_Final “Tat Tvam Asi: Aham Brahmasmi — “Thou Art That”— I am Brahman” meaning, “I am the Spirit living in a body, I am not the body. The
body will perish but the Spirit remains eternal”. The body is composed of the five elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (chapter II/23) says that, “weapons cleave it not, nor does the fire burn; waters drench it not, nor does the wind dry”. The soul is always divine, pure, perfect, immortal and infinite.

Om is the most powerful ultimate knowledge of Brahman (God). Before the existence of the Universe, there was the sound Om — Aksharabrahman. Om stands for pure consciousness. The mission of men is to discover the Supreme “self”. The Spirit is all pervading. It alone exists as that which enlivens actions and perceptions, emotions and thoughts.

Meditation is focusing on the thought of the Supreme and in identifying with Him. To realise the Self within is to attain enlightenment and immortality. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says (Chapter X/20,

Microsoft Word - M57_HPKanoria_Final
ahamatma gudakesa sarva-bhutasaya-sthitah-

ahamadish ca madhyam ca-bhutanamanta eva ca.

O Gudakesa (Arjuna,) I am the Self, who abides within
all things seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the
beginning and middle and also the end of all beings.

The regular practice of meditation leads to the conquest of the mind and to attach it constantly to God. As one can see the reflection of man in water when it is still, one can only realize the self when the mind becomes tranquil. Meditation is the Science of realizing God. The best way to meditate is as below:

(1) Sit in solitude with a mind of a Yogi and control your senses and free yourself from desires and attachments, try constantly to contemplate on the Supreme Being, as light in the centre of two eyebrows.

(2) Sit in a comfortable position. In-hale and exhale. Chant Om. Deep short meditation is better. Concentrate the mind on a single object con- trolling the thoughts and activities of the senses.

(3) Hold the waist, spine, neck and head erect, motionless and steady; fix the eyes and the mind steadily on the tip of the nose.

(4) Be serene and fearless, with a firm vow of celibacy. Fix the goal to reach the Supreme  God, i.e. to realize God.Concentrate on the glory of the Lord. Shut your eyes to worldly affairs.

(5) Constantly direct your thoughts to the Divine. With the mind thus subdued, one attains everlasting peace and supreme bliss.

(6) Be moderate in eating, recreation, working, sleeping, walking and every aspect of life. Meditation destroys all sorrows, thus disciplining the mind. One becomes content in Parabrahman (God), with a purified intellect Thus, one frees oneself from the feeling of “I and My.” We see that the same Atman is present in all beings. Grace from above is essential to make this meditation effort a success.

(7) God’s grace is unlimited. He showers His grace on His devotee both in favourable and unfavourable circumstances.

(8) All actions, spiritual and worldly, are to be carried out with absolute devotion to God. With this, all malice is removed. Behold the Lord everywhere and for everyone. Patanjali Yoga describes the methods of meditation in detail.

The Ultimate aim of meditation is to invoke the energy centres in the body. There are seven chakras (energy centres) in our body. These are: Mooladhar (the root of the spine), Svadhishthana (the sacred prostatic), Manipura (the solar plexus — navel), Anahata (the heart), Viscidia (the throat), Ajna (the third eye), and Sahasrara Padma (the crown). With meditation, they are activated and balanced.

The benefits of meditation are manifold. It frees the soul from the bondage of worldly affairs, helps to heal all ills, removes misconceptions, achieves success, develops positive thinking, reduces stress, develops the faculty of intuition, eliminates addiction, if any, develops humility, promotes better control of emotions and physical well-being to allow the being to remain in perpetual

Gratitude for the article you wrote about ‘Meditation’ in the Business Economics Magazine of September, 2017. Interesting and insightful. Different from meditation practiced in Europe – Mr. Cesare Lino, Austrain Anandi Bank

Divine Justice

 

O Lord of justice, sitting on the pinnacle of cosmos sustainer of the universe.

With full faith we seek thy divine justice.

Let thy devotees, honest and virtuous have thy gracious blessings.

O Effulgent Lord! Be thou with us for our progress and prosperity.

Carry us through all troubles as a boat carries accross the river against all hurdles.

Those who incite sinful acts loses thy favour and fellow brothers.

Bless us to enjoy wealth of our own efforts and share with less fortunate.

Bless us not to go astray from the right path and piety.

Bless us not to merely indulge in sensual pleasures.

O Lord! Drive away all perils with Thy conquering might.

Let those who hurt us be the victim of their own designs.

O Effulgent Lord! Consume all our evils with thy strong flames.

Through Thy fear the evil forces come under control.

O Adorable Lord! Shine upon all beings.

And burn the roots of their vices.

O Cosmic God! Bless us with physical and spiritual power.

Let thy strength and divine justice for the pious people.

- The Holy Vedas

A summer evening on the banks of Ganga

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh

ENLIGHTENMENT

A sadhu sits, his lean body draped in a single, worn scrap of orange-ish brown cloth, swaying ever so gently in the rapture of his meditation. His head tilts barely perceptibly to the right. Otherwise his posture is perfect, his legs folded neatly and easily into lotus, palms up on his knees. His body ever so gently sways to a music only he can hear, a music which brings a faint smile to his lips.

An elderly woman gently unfolds her cloth asana and lays it on the red tile a few feet from the sadhu. Raising her saree, she bends her knees and leans forward, placing both palms on the ground, then ever so gently first squats then lowers herself to the ground.

A family splashes in Ganga, at least 10 or 15 of them, ranging in age from quite young to at least 60. The men are in their underwear, bright blue on the young boys and faded white on the older men. The women and girls are fully clothed in modest salwar kameeses. They shriek and run, splash and swim in the shallow water near the ghat. “Jai Gange,” “Jai Gange”, “Jai Gange” one of the men yells as he flails his overweight self through the air landing back in the water next to his brothers, sisters, cousins and children causing waves of water to engulf them all.

It is sunset on the banks of Ganga, summertime in Rishikesh, and I have come for my evening walk – a time of solitude and quiet (if not externally, at least internally). I am walking on one of the numerous ghats – the marble and tile pier like platforms built on the banks of the river – on which people pray, meditate, stroll or simply watch the river. As I walk to the North end of the ghat the sounds of the Ganga Aarti coming from our own ashram – 3 ghats northward -- fill my ears. A crowd of several hundred to several thousand gathers each evening to sing the praises of Mother Ganga as Pujya Swamiji leads in divine, ecstatic chanting. At the northernmost end of the ghat I turn and begin walking back southward.

A young, professional couple has come to the ghat for their evening walk.  They are both in traditional Indian attire with bright white Nike running shoes on their feet. They walk side by side, quickly, at a pace that might be appropriate for the treadmill at a gym but seems markedly out of place on the serene river bank. No one seems to notice however.

A small group has gathered down on the last step, where the water flows just a foot below. A simple brass oil lamp in hand, they perform the same aarti ceremony which is going on – on a grand scale – at our ashram just 200 feet away. “Om Jai Gange Maiya” they sing, acapella and completely out of tune, each clapping to a different rhythm, but without even a trace of self consciousness. After all, they are singing for God.

I pass the sadhu again, his eyes still gently shut, the faint yet ever-so-present smile still on his lips, transported in to a far-off realm, ecstatically oblivious to the rowdy family splashing and shrieking gleefully in Ganga a mere ten feet away.

The elderly woman has lit a stick of incense, the bottom end of which she puts into an apple to hold it up, and she has pulled a long rudraksh mala out of her purse. She takes the pallu (tail end) of her saree gracefully sweeping it up from behind her back to cover her head before she begins her prayers.

As I reach the southern end of the ghat the sounds of a temple cassette playing the prayer “Swami Narayan, Swami Narayan, Swami Narayan” come blaring forth loudly from a temple across the river, sharing the sound waves with the chanting of “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare” from the Hare Krishna temple next door. With each step that I take southward, the sounds of Hare Krishna become fainter and Swami Narayan become louder. Then, as I turn to walk back northward, Swami Narayan fades into the background, and Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna becomes louder.

Two teenage girls come prancing down the ghat in their tight jeans and t-shirts, laughing as they take up their own place near the water, on the edge of the ghat. One of them pulls out her mobile phone and they begin to take pictures of each other, in various poses copied from the covers of fashion magazines, with the sun setting into Ganga as the backdrop.

The elderly woman signals to me by waving her hand once as I approach. It is an order, not a request. Had I not lived in India for thirteen years I might be taken aback by the presumptuousness of the beckoning. But I stop at her asana and bend down. She does not want to chat. She does not want to know “your country, ma’am.” She does not want one photo. Rather, she simply and sweetly motions for me to give her some water from the river. Although the ghat where she sits is a mere foot above the flowing water, she is unable to reach down to it. I step into the wet sand and bend down, cupping water in my hand. Prior to beginning her japa, she wants the mala to be blessed and purified by Ganga yet she’s unable to dip it herself.  As I pour the water from my hand into hers I am consciously aware of the fact that I am a foreigner. Indians somehow have an innate ability to hold holy water in their cupped palm for an indefinite period of time without spilling a drop, while the precious water slips freely through my fingers despite my best attempts at preserving it.   She does not seem to notice this shortcoming and her eyes fill with tears of gratitude as I pour the water into her cupped palms. Not realizing that I speak Hindi, she says, “Thank you” in English.

The small group performing aarti sings louder and louder, their bodies now each swaying to an individual tune, the smoke rising high in the air, but the sounds of their aarti quickly dissipate as I near the north side of the ghat and the melodious, beyond professional sound of Pujya Swamiji singing fills the air – coming from nearly 200 feet away.

The family is still shrieking and splashing in Ganga, children diving into the water off the rocks…..

A mangy white dog chases a mangy black one, trying desperately to mount. The black female yelps as she runs across the ghat, her wet tail spraying water everywhere. Nearly knocking over the sadhu and the elderly woman (neither notices however), the dogs tear through the small crowd singing aarti. Devotees gently step aside to let the dogs pass; no one other than the children pays attention.

Across the river I notice a large fire burning, one of the numerous cremations that takes place each day. In the fading light of sunset I can barely make out a small crowd of mourners gathered around the burning body of their loved one. The fire is huge and its flames and smoke rise quickly into the air, mingling somewhere not so far off with the smoke and flames of the aarti being performed in groups large and small up and down the river banks. I try to imagine what it must be like, standing on the edge of a river watching your mother or father or spouse or child go up in flames against a backdrop of celebration. Personally, I do not think I could tolerate it. “How dare the world not come to a complete halt now that my loved one is no more? How dare the sun rise when my loved one is not here to greet it?”

Yet here in India, birth and death, joy and sorrow, rich and poor, sombre and rambunctious all seem to flow together as seamlessly as the waters of Ganga carry both the ashes of the deceased and the flowers of the devotee.

In the West we seem to have compartmentalized our existence. This is a temple. This is a funeral parlour. This is a moment of celebration. This is a moment of despair. This is where the wealthy gather. This is where the poor gather. This is where teenagers hang out. This is where the pious pray and seekers meditate. This is where families spend their holidays. On the banks of Ganga there is no such compartmentalizing.  The drops of water from a young boy’s playful splash are no different from the drops I pour into the eager hands of a woman at prayer which are no different from the drops that rise up to embrace the burning embers of a body that used to house a soul. As the smoke of the cremation mingles with the smoke of the aarti, as the sounds of “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna” mingle with the sounds of “Om Jai Gange Maiya” which mingle with the sounds of “Swami Narayan” so the stages of the cycle of life and death mingle, seamlessly, one fading into the next with neither beginning nor end.

Who is a Hindu?

 

by - Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD

Countless people across the world ask me : “Have you converted to Hinduism?” The question is understandable. After all, people don’t often behold an American woman of Jewish ancestry draped in the saffron robes of a Hindurenunciant.

However, although the question is simple, the answer is complex.Hinduism doesnot convert.  It does not exist in a box with borders and boundaries. There are more differences between lineages within Hinduism than there are between Hinduism and some other religions.

If one were to ask several Hindus, “What is the most fundamental tenet of Hinduism?” or “How is God understood in Hinduism?”one would get a wide range of equally viable, equally legitimate answers.  In fact, two of the most fundamental teachings of Hinduism are “Let all the noble thoughts come from all directions,” and “The Truth is one but the sages call it by different names.”

So, what exactly is Hinduism, then, that is open enough to embrace an American sanyasi?

Nowhere in the Vedas – the foundational texts of Hindu theology – does one find the word Hindu.  Rather, “Hindu” is actually the name given to the people living beyond the banks of the Sindhu or the Indus River, in what was known as the Indus valley civilization. Hindus refer to their religion as Sanatan Dharma, the eternal way of life.  This way of life encompasses everything from a philosophical understanding of the nature of the universe and our role in it, to treatises on science, math, music, architecture and medicine.

The “religion” of Hinduism, if one wanted to attempt to neatly box it up, could be said to include several components.

The first of these is inclusivity. Hinduismexcludes almost nothing. The arms of Hinduism are immeasurably long and embrace innumerable names, forms and concepts of the Divine.  However, worshippers of varying Divine manifestations all agree on one essential component: the Supreme Reality is infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, and knowable by all names.

As God is infinite and all of creation a manifestation of the same Creator, Hindus see the whole world as onefamily.  In fact, the scriptures state clearly:  VasudhaivKutumbakam, or “The world is one family.”  Hindu prayers are prayers for all; Hindusdon’t pray for Hindus or Indians.  Rather, Hindus pray,

Sarvebhavantusukhinah
Sarvesantuniraamayaah

Sarvebhadraanipashyantu
Maakaschitduhkhabhaagbhavet

 

It means, “May all be happy, may all be healthy, may all behold that which is good and auspicious, may no one suffer.”

Another aspect is that of a personal relationship with God. Regardless of the name, form in which a Hindu believes, he or she is encouraged to havea personal connection with that particular form.  The God of Hinduism is a God who is knowable, approachable, infinite and yet fully prepared to incarnate in material form, a God to whom our food, water, earnings and lives are dedicated.

 

One common misconception of Hinduism is that it is polytheistic. With so many images, it is understandable that people would assume that each image is  a separate God. However, Hinduism is very much a monotheistic religion, in which that one, infinite Supreme Reality is manifest in all of creation. The first line of the Isopanishads reminds us:

 

Ishaavaasyamidamsarvam

yatkimcajagatyamjagat 

 

It means the entire universe is pervaded by the divine. That same all-pervasive Supreme Reality manifests in infinite forms with infinite names.  In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains beautifully, “By whatever name and form the devotee worships me with love, I appear to the devotee in that form.”

 

For this reason, Hindu practices emphasize ahimsa or nonviolence toward humans, animals and Mother Nature.  A large majority of Hindus are vegetarians, avoid leather, pray to and for Mother Nature, and have rituals surrounding the ways and times that one may pick flowers, fruits or otherwise injure a living plant.

 

Stemming from the tenet of an all-pervasive God, one of the core components of the Hindu tradition is service, seva, or karma yoga.   Hinduism teaches us to see God in the poor, sick, and needy; the tradition is filled with stories of God appearing as an unexpected guest or a beggar..

Most Hindu organizations have large socialservice programs engaged in a wide range of charitable activities. Service is seen as one of the highest forms of worship.

As the traditional name of Hinduism is Sanatan Dharma or “eternal way of life” the tenets and principles of Hinduism are not relegated only to worship or prayer. Rather, Hinduism informs every aspect of our lives from the moment we awakento the moment we sleep.  There are shastras and sutras for nearly every component of life,as well as for architecture, medicine, science, math and music.

Hinduism, in the words of Pujya Swami ChidanandSaraswatiji, “is not a weekend business.” A Hindu’s actions are governed by spiritual laws in the home  and in the workplace as well as in the temple.

Another central and unique aspect of Hinduism is emphasis on the divine feminine, or Shakti, as the essential energy and force through which creation, sustenance and dissolution are performed.  Worship of the Divine Mother – whether in Her nurturing, compassionate form or in Her fierce, fiery form – is a common thread that weaves through the entire tapestry of Hinduism.

However, it is not only the Feminine in Her ethereal, celestial role that is worshipped, it is the feminine in her human form.We are exhorted by the scriptures to hold women in the highest ideal: “Wherever women are adored and respected, there the Gods are happy.”

As news reports cover the rape and abuse of girls and women throughout India, people misconstrue this as a subjugation of the female endorsed by Hindu culture.  The abuse of women is a societal evil which must be swiftly eradicated.  However, it couldn’t be further from the very tenets of Hinduism.

 

Encyclopedia of Hinduism

To make the tenets and truths of Hinduism available to both Hindus and non-Hindus, Pujya Swami ChidanandSaraswatiji founded the Encyclopedia of Hinduism project.  Conceived near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Hindu-Jain Temple in Monroeville which PujyaSwamiji founded, the Encyclopedia of Hinduism became a more-than-two-decade journey of love, faith, penance and austerity.

Prior to the publication of the encyclopedia, there was no comprehensive, authentic, authoritative source of reference on Hinduism; therefore there has been much misunderstanding and many misconceptions about this ancient, yet timeless, tradition.

The Encyclopedia, has now finally been completed, presented to the President of India, launched in India by the Vice President of India and Mananiya Shri Mohan Bhagwatji, launched in the UK by the Prime Minister of Great Britain and launched academically in the United States, at the University of South Carolina by the Governor of South Carolina. The full encyclopedia comprises 11 gorgeous volumes of more than 600 pages each, totaling approximately 7000 unique entries of the depth and breadth of the Hindu culture, history and civilization.

For more information see www.theencyclopediaofhinduism.com

Sanity in Education

 

Education –Shiksha - in its real meaning and essence is the process of manifestation and development of virtues one already possesses within. Further, this process on the basis of virtues leads one to a holistic development of one’s personality –eventually making one’s life meaningful. True educationists through the ages, from ancient times to modern age and from the East to the West, have agreed, more or less, with this core objective of education. If we start from the most ancient Indian tradition of education, namely, the Gurukula; study and analyse the method of Shiksha in the Vedic and the post-Vedic periods, along with the prevailing education system in old times in other parts of the world, we find on the basis of available evidence that education has always been considered as the cognitive development of the learner. The great Acharyas, Gurus –educationists have been in their respective times expressing their views and techniques accordingly making efforts for the purpose.

 

Aspects related to knowledge and skill, both the most important components of realization and development of the innate virtues; the assigning elements of one’s proper conduct –values, behaviour, and process of his growth along with establishing his superiority as a social being are indivisible ingredients of education. For illumination –manifestation, realization and development of these, and association of values with human practices remained the foremost task of the Gurukula system in ancient times in India. It is evident from the workings of Ashrams – Gurukulas of Maharishis like Vashishtha and Bharadwaja in the Ramayana period and from the Ashram of Dronacharya in the Mahabharata age. It is also evident from functioning of many institutions and universities of the Vedic and the post Vedic eras in India, and from the Academy established by Plato in 387 BCE in Athens, which is considered the first institution of higher education in Europe. It could also be realized, more or less, from the functioning of some other academies and institutions founded in the medieval period in many parts of the globe.

In this regard, the statements of great and representative philosophers –religious leaders, saints and teachers are well available to prove the fact; I always prefer to quote them incessantly in my write-ups and deliveries especially on topics related to education. In hierarchy some of them I mention here again. For example, Socrates said, “I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.”

Terence, an ancient Roman scholar was of the opinion, “Children should be led into the right paths, not by severity, but by persuasion.”

Alexander Pope said, “A little learning is a dangerous thing. Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring; there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.”

Eminent Swiss educational reformer Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi mentioned, “Education is the natural, progressive and proportional development of all powers of man.”

Henry Ward Beecher, an American social reformer of the Nineteenth Century firmly believed, “Education is the knowledge of how to use the whole of oneself. Many men use, but one or two faculties out of the score with which they are endowed. A man is educated who knows how to make a tool of every faculty how to open it, how to keep it sharp, and how to apply it to all practical purposes.”

Einstein, a great theoretical physicist of the last Century put forth, “Education is the progressive realization of our ignorance.”

Swami Vivekananda said, “Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.”

All these statements, it can be repeated, divulge, more or less, the import of education along with its basic spirit and purpose for all societies. They, directly-indirectly, reveal the truth that knowing, acknowledging and honing one’s virtues to be used at their best is education. This process leads one to step forward to his all-round growth on the basis of his own virtues. Education actually serves as a pathway to achieve selfsufficiency in life; in other words, to make life meaningful.

After comprehending the meaning and basic spirit of education, accepting simultaneously the fact that it is a continuous process of strengthening one’s virtues to achieve sanity in one’s personality exhibiting the same in one’s thoughts and actions. Sanity includes soundness, rationality and healthiness of the human mind. The state of consciousness relates to sanity also. Both, sanity and the state of consciousness develop rationality in man, make his approach constructive and pave the way for his attachment with righteous acts.

Especially, on the strength of sanity man builds his character and creates a conducive atmosphere to come out of any kind of ridiculous situation in life successfully. It is, in fact, the source of propitious ideas –the basis of true knowledge. In the absence of this, education cannot achieve its real goal. Neither can it be in consonance with its meaning, purpose, basic spirit and viewpoint, thus, producing societies sans sanity.

Hence, in the absence of the spirit of sanity education cannot bring self-awakening in man and without self-awakening one cannot acknowledge and manoeuvre one’s potential. It is because without sanity man cannot identify himself –he abstains from self-consciousness, which is, according to the Upanishads, the leading force of the realization of soul –the eternal element. Resultantly, true self-sufficiency cannot be achieved in life. It cannot meet the expectation of Swami Sanity in Education Vivekananda, which he had in his worthy statements, “Every soul is unmanifested –imperceptible Brahman; everyone possesses infinite latent power, and that power waits for its awakening and development at various human levels.”

Education can pass its acid test –fulfil its true purpose of manifestation of the powers already present in man if it succeeds in developing sanity – appropriate level of rationality, judgement, consciousness and sensitivity all in tandem.

It is the want of good and advanced thoughts –debility of the aspect of morality and ethics in education; in other words it is the lack of appropriate development of sanity that man is indifferent from the spirit of self-devotion, sacrifice and service, and he is not free from egotism. Therefore, education is incapable of achieving its purpose. Man is inept to realize and develop his qualities –identify his inner self. Despite possessing immeasurable capabilities in him, he is unable to discharge his responsibilities towards humanity.

In the Paatanjalayogasutraani (4:3) it appears:
“Nimittamaprayojakam Prakritinaam Varanabhedastu Tatah Kshetrikavat”

Meaning thereby, “A farmer wishing irrigation (of his field) needs not go far to bring water. Water is already stored near the field, but due to a blockade water is not reaching the field. As the blockade is removed by consciousness –sanity, water itself will according to its nature reach the field.”

This is the power, importance and quality of sanity. A thoughtful marriage between sanity and education can only make the latter purposeful –capable of achieving its goal. In the lack of sanity, education will remain sterile growing cacti of men, unable to allow one’s powers grow productive for oneself and for the world around him.

— Dr. Ravindra Kumar