Thursday, May 27, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
The 18 classes we attended were to make us aware of ‘another’ way to think and act. Many of the things she said made so much sense and were very simple to understand. We had been too muddled up in mundane activities and thoughts, which did not leave us with time to think differently. One thing she said struck me more than the others. It was about choices. She said that all of us are in the position of a child in a huge toy shop. Imagine the child is asked to choose one toy from the large selection given to him. Think of his plight. She says that we spend each moment of our life just like this child in the toy shop – trying to make choices. This consumes all of our time and resources. Finally, after the choice is made when the child returns home, he starts wishing that he had bought something else. The excitement of the new toy fades away quickly. The whole set of classes were based on such simple stories and analogies that pointed to the ‘truth’ from many different angles. Until about the 15th or 16th class, not once had she mentioned of ‘concepts’ like God or Soul or anything difficult to assimilate for neophytes.
Sometime in April she told us that she is going back to India to attend a three year course at Swami ji’s ashram. She said that she is extremely lucky to have Swami ji himself teach, which he had not been doing for some time now.
Before leaving for India, Ganga ji gave us recordings of her classes of the next text she would have taught us if she had continued in Edinburgh. I was listening to one of her recordings last morning. She was speaking of Karma Phala (fruits of our Karma). She said that just like how the Indian Railways transport fruits with a large ‘PERISHABLE’ sticker on the boxes, so must these ‘fruits’ of our Karma be perishable. She said that that is exactly the reason why Karma Phala is called so. The fruits of our Karma do not last forever.
This thought resonated very deeply with what my friend had said a few days earlier. We might be surprised by the little flashes of brilliance emanating from the ones around us. Many a time, if we ‘see’ them, they can be valuable teachers.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Think you are in this situation. You are a part of a larger community and you have been entrusted a task, which only you can accomplish. It all sounds good so far. Imagine now that the task that you have been assigned is one that is unpopular within your community. And undertaking it might put you in the wrong book of all those who love you. What’s more? Your conscience says that you need to work on the job at hand. What would you do?
This is the same quandary Hashmathulla (Paresh Rawal), a Muslim mechanic in UP, is in, in the movie Road to Sangam. He is a well respected man, living in a predominantly Muslim locality in
I am not an expert in the technicalities of film making and cannot comment on such aspects. But I must say that I was shown an
The cast, lead by Paresh Rawal, Om Puri and Pawan Malhotra, had drawn me to watch the movie in the first place. And they made sure that the time I spent watching it was completely worthwhile. It is only then I did a quick search for reviews of the film on the internet. Except for a review in the Hindustan Times (and a few blogs), I did not find any mention of the movie by the major media houses. This made me think about the media frenzy involved with another recent ‘big-budget’ movie, again with a Muslim protagonist - My Name is Khan. I had loved the message of that movie too – There are two kinds of people in the world. One of them was good. And the other bad. Good people do good things and bad people bad. This is the way a mother explains her religion to an autistic child. On the whole both the movies have a message that we need to carry, though they have done it differently. But I must say that Road to Sangam, largely ignored by the media, scores much above the commercial ‘entertainer’ My Name is Khan. It is a story of simple people and the simplicity of the movie carries it even further ahead.
I would like to sign off this post by this link to a beautifully sung song, with a wonderful message and with words that would make us take some time off and think.
Do we blame religion for all the trouble we attribute to it or do we blame ourselves?
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
One of the reasons I was not really interested in Hinduism was because, very unlike Christianity or Islam, we had so many scriptures and ancient texts. I did not know where to get started. I had listened to a few talks on the Bhagavat Gita and read a few chapters earlier, but I was not able to fit them into the bigger picture. I always wondered why our sages made understanding religion so difficult. Little did I know about the organisation of Vedic literature and the fact that there was something in it for every kind of person – those well versed in Sanskrit, those with little or no knowledge of the Vedas, and even to those who were uneducated (the Truths were conveyed to them through the stories of the Tantras and the two epics of Mahabharatam and Ramayanam).
In the book, Swami Bhaskarananda speaks at length about life and the Hindu society in general. Though he has quoted from ancient scriptures, most of what he has written about the stages of life, women, children, marriages, death, food and the Hindu ethics remain true even in our world today. In very simple language, he explains the various ways one can see God – right from the Nirguna Brahman (the Supreme Being without form, quality and attributes), to the more commonly revered Ishvars/ deities in Hinduism. Again we find two levels of worship which is prescribed in our scriptures. Those who can understand and relate to the ‘formless’ God can choose so, others who need some physical association with him, can choose fromm the thousands of deities we have, each of whom have qualities all of us need to emulate. The Advaita philosophy, where you see yourself as a part of the Reality itself, has a more atheist/ humanist view. In essence, there is something in Hinduism for atheists, agnostics, spiritual-ists and ritual-ists.
There are chapters in the book, explaining the Hindu thoughts on death, karma, reincarnations and predestination. These were concepts that always baffled me. I used to ask myself why we Hindus were so obsessed about death. I believe now that we have every reason to ponder about death, the common friend each one of us has, right from the time we are born. The Buddhists put it simply as ‘All beings tremble before danger; all fear death’. If there is some system that uproots this fear, why not learn about it? The explanations of these concepts, given by Swami ji in this book, can very easily be comprehended by even a novice to the field. I remember during one of the first Vedic Society meetings I attended here at Edinburgh I had asked why we study religion and put an effort to understand the scriptures and so on. I had been, like many of us, conditioned to think that we ought to get something out of what we do. Through Swami ji’s take on Realization and Moksha, I really feel that maybe there is something above all this that we see today. This will remain not-understood until we make an attempt to learn and accept.
This is what I have learnt from my very short experience in Hinduism that I have. If ever some Hindu talks about how not-so-good or complex the religion is - it is purely out of ignorance. Because he has not tried to understand it. I know this because I was one among them until a few months back. This book is a nice starting point for all of us to get a taste of what Hinduism has to offer. I was quite surprised at reading about what world thinkers had to say about Hinduism and the Indian culture, which is included in the book. For the people who still have doubts regarding Hinduism, I would suggest that you start with this section in the appendix. When such world renowned figures speak so much about Hinduism, shouldn't there be something in it that we have missed?