Copyright © Ravi's Ironic Sunshine Blog
Design by Dzignine
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hinduism and Why It Doesn't Matter

Importance in the world has only ever determined by a few things. In this blog I’m going to discuss the notion why Hinduism Doesn’t Matter. It’s a question to ponder on and the argument I set forth for leaders and followers to consider.
The few factors that determine the importance of any organisation, country or civilisation there are x factors such as natural disasters which have a myriad of outcomes but the factors will still determine whether it could or will survive for example an earthquake. To be considered important in the world of the five factors three have to be strong in some cases more and naturally weaker in other areas.
The five factors are as follows: Economics, Law/Legal, Culture, Technology and Military. These are some broad terms and can mean a lot however they do encompass the basic building blocks for any organisation, country or civilisation. Easiest way to demonstrate this is the spider diagram below, on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being extremely poor and 10 being Excellent; this is how the USA would appear on the scale.




Economics:
On the Economic front they score a ‘6’ whilst they have the biggest economy it’s not in the best of health. If the half the world’s governments and China weren’t holding US debts, It would trigger cataclysmic end of the world which would make the 2008 crash a small blip. The USA has some of the world’s largest companies in nearly every industry which gives it leverage at an international level such as the World Trade Organisation.
Culture:
On the Culture score front they score a ‘7’ The American dream has penetrated almost every culture and country in the world. The aspirational idea that someone can go from nothing to something with hard work and ingenuity is a great ideal.
However this has perverted itself into American Exceptionalism, Is taking it too far when their own impact on the world is justified because they consider themselves to be the best. Issues such as gun control remain to be a hot topic even when incidents like the Sandy Hook tragedy; this is why the USA only scores a ‘7’ when tragedies don’t move people to act it suggest something is not quite right.
Law/Legal:
On the Law/Legal they score a ‘4’ there are several reasons as to why the USA would score so low. Whilst they have a brilliant constitution and bill of rights the reality is different. With the passing of Citizens united they’ve managed to legalise bribery by declaring money is equates to freedom of speech. For example I could give a political candidate £100,000 to win his electoral race on the basis the candidate does what I want.
Military 
On the Military they score a ‘10’ the US Air force has the largest and most sophisticated air force in the world. The US navy is bigger and more powerful than the 15 nations behind them 14 of whom are allies. There are problems with the US Armed forces however even with those problems I doubt any combination of nations could match them without resorting to the use of Nuclear weapons.
Technology
Finally on the Technology they score a ‘7’ the biggest tech giants and innovative groups and individuals. Companies like Facebook and Kiva have revolutionised human interaction and shrunk the world. The ‘7’ also ties into the legal aspect if most people knew what some companies get away with there would be riots and overall implementation of improved technologies is a lot slower than say Germany or South Korea.
Why Hinduism Doesn’t Matter:
So the next question is How Would Hinduism Score on the scale? The truth is Hinduism would score a ‘0’ in every category. The reason why is simple a lot of theory but no action, the 2ndwealthiest religious organisation in the world is Hindu, Hindus along with Sikhs has become a part of the new middle and upper class in the UK and  there is an International Yoga day.
Hindus are industrious but seldom is noticeable or given any recognition because economically there would be no consequences for upsetting or excluding Hindus. Culturally fractions have caused confusion, inconsistencies and destroyed any credibility to any of the cultural benefits Hinduism has given. Any cultural benefits of Hinduism are lost in transit and translation, for example how many people know the opening address at the famous Woodstock Festival was given by the Hindu Swami Satchidananda.  
The legal and law aspect really comes down to representation and the work of pressure groups. The track record is pretty dismal because Hindus aren’t important there is no consequence, no fear of reprisal for not siding or listening to a valid argument presented by a Hindu group. The best example of this is the Single Equality Bill in the UK and the introduction of Caste.
Regardless of what an individual thinks on the issue of caste, the majority of Hindu organisations banded together to stop the inclusion. Yet the legislation cleared without much resistance despite the will of the Hindu community. A rudimentary understanding of the democratic process will tell you that government would go against the wishes of the majority. However that couldn’t be further from the truth there is a lot more hand holding required, arguments need to be articulated and consequences need to be explained. I often wonder which way the vote would have gone if all the Hindus in the UK had decided to invoke Mahatma Gandhi and down tools.
Military and Technology suffer from the same road blocks, because of the above factors there is no military justification to help Hindus. With Technology until Intel’s marketing team pointed out how many people knew Ajay Bhatt was a co-creator of the USB. Despite the vast numbers of Hindus working in with Technology they don’t because they are compelled to do because of Hinduism.
Hinduism is not important because it’s not important to Hindus – not enough to look beyond what it’s accomplished already and then do some more.
Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hinduism and The New Delhi Bus

On a New Delhi bus two sisters were travelling from A to B. On this journey one of the sisters was sexually harassed, after looking around the bus and no one prepared to help the second sister leapt to her defence. In the chaos and still no one coming to their aid two additional men come to the aid of the predator. Whilst the media will discuss the safety of women and right they should my question is Why didn’t anyone come to their aid?

Let’s be clear sexual harassment isn’t a Hindu or Indian problem, nor are sex crimes just look at the sexual abuse scandals here in the UK. The question of Why didn’t anyone come to their aid? Is about the moral standards and their enforcement. A dangerous precedent has been partly established by conservative Hindus. Ironically the conservative Hindus who anointed themselves as orthodox Hindus when no such orthodoxy exists.

This is best explained through Lakoff’s Prototype theory which describes associations between categories and labels an example is Furniture, chair is more frequently cited than, say, stool yet both are classed as furniture. To Hinduism a Vaishnav and Saivaite are labels but they both fall under Hindu.

Hindu conservatives have a particular brand of Hinduism that looks at the ancient past with reverence and aspiration harking back to what is considered happier days for their particular way of life. Looking into the past for inspiration or explanation is commendable but it begins to fall apart when there is no context or it’s the only perspective. This is where it begins to become dangerous, the same moral outrage that is expressed about women socialising in bars has to be consistent with two women being harassed in public.

To the question Why didn’t anyone come to their aid? The answer for me lies in the Bystander Effect. The bystander effect is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The idea of innocent, vulnerable or defenceless people being victimised and not doing anything about it is against the essence of Hinduism more so than women socialising in bars.

Why did the people on the bus feel so removed from the situation they didn’t feel the need to come to the air of the two sisters? Is the deep question about the Hindu way of life, when the essence of Hinduism is to act in situations like that, the dismissal of individual responsibilities is detrimental to projecting Hindu values and ideals.

This is made worse when the perception of a Hindu society isn’t held up. An example of this isn’t crimes of this nature. As I’ve mentioned before crimes of this nature happen all over the world. However that shouldn’t be used as an excuse It should put an impetuous on Hindus around the world to reconnect with values and ideals of action to make the world a better place by acting on injustices small or big.

Accordingly as one behaves so does he become. The doer of good becomes good, the doer of evil becomes evil. One becomes virtuous through virtuous action, others become bad through bad actions.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Chapter 4, Brahmana 4 Verse 5

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hinduism and Black Magic

Black magic has traditionally referred to the use of supernatural powers or magic for evil and selfish purposes. What most people don't realise is that every culture has their version of it, even our British culture. One of the most famous examples of this is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes books believed the Harry Houdini was convinced that the latter possessed supernatural powers.

The relationship between Hinduism and Black Magic is quite tragic. However the story is not unique every culture suffers with it. The best way to describe the relationship is the relationship between modern medicine and more herbal remedies. The herbal remedies exist in folklore, old spouses tale and traditions. However if you were to walk into your doctors surgery and were to find books of this nature and remedies I would imagine most people would walk if not run away.

I've said this before and I'll say it again the true enemy or threat to Hinduism is not any other religion it’s credulity. Credulity is not faith it’s okay from time to time to take a leap, act on the that gut feeling but credulity is a tendency to be too ready to believe that something is real or true. This usually happens when there is a breakdown in educational and cultural organisations. 

Hindu culture at it’s peak during the Gupta and Mauryan empires had thriving universities and scholars were allowed to travel in parts for free and mostly tax free. This encourages people to move, experience and share new things. In my blog Hinduism and How To Run A Mandir I expanded on the idea that Mandirs were more than just places of worship. This extends to the populace, people can and would come to seek advice and clarity, the question is Do Those System Exist Today?

The concept of Black Magic goes to the brain of Hinduism, it requires Hindus to suspend their rational, logical and common sense aspect of their brain and faith. It would be unfair to the tribal traditions of Hinduism in taking the full brunt of the problem. It’s those who do have access to better information and still choose, choose to follow this path. The desire of the supernatural solution as I said before is not the exclusion of worship entirely, it’s the rejection of the natural laws. Simply put is it more likely that the laws of nature would be suspended and suspended in your favor or that there may be an alternative.

The same way to a democracy an informed electorate is key to it. Access to information and inquisitive Hindus are key to the future development of Hinduism globally. The notions of Black Magic will never go way it’s ingrained into Humanity because it harks back to the origins of Humanity the first lessons. For Hinduism the ritualistic traditions are for the same reasons important they go back to the first lessons and practices. However Hinduism and Hindus have shown a great talent and aptitude for evolving and morphing into a robust system of ideas, practices and philosophies. 

Ja-Vidyā Rāja-Guhyaḿ
Pavitram Idam Uttamam
Pratyakṣāvagamaḿ Dharmyaḿ
Su-Sukhaḿ Kartum Avyayam

This knowledge is the King of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting and it is joyfully performed.

Chapter 9 Verse 2 - Bhagvad Gita

This short passage highlights the depth of knowledge and insight that is available. To know the value of education, individual and collective realization of reality based on truth. This can only come about through an understanding that our realities are shaped by our perceptions. The notions of Black Magic and Hinduism are based in this simple truth peoples perception of reality are not in line with that of Hindu thought on the subject. They don't have to believe it but I think it’s important they should be aware of it and there is a disconnect between the educational structures of the Hindu world.


Until Hindus work for a restoration of educational institution the same issues will continue and only intensify in shaking the hearts and minds of Hindu and non Hindus alike. 
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hinduism and Mental Health

There have been a number emerging in the news stories in the past month regarding not only domestic abuse but also murder. These particular cases have happened within the Hindu community in the UK. The tragedies have raised a question for me and this blog is about that question. 

Does the Hindu Community Understand Mental Health Issues?

I’ve met, helped and worked with individuals from the Hindu community who have been told that their issues are everything from divine messages, bad karma or even in the extreme cases black magic. As apart of that process of helping people it required the help of professional psychotherapist and psychiatrists.

Mental health issues can manifest in many different forms for any community to know them all is unfair and unlikely. However the first response shouldn’t be the supernatural in the theologies, philosophies and rituals of Hinduism it gets lost that Hindus are humans. Sometimes prone to fail and not the eternal light, the essence of god or anything supernatural. Just regular human.

Unbeknown to the average Hindu, Hinduism has rich history and body of work on mental health issues. The most obvious and subtle form practices that are designed to help with mind are meditation and yoga. There are other treaties and scripts on the importance of mental health even the word Human- Manas from the root man, "to think" or "mind" — is understood to be the recording faculty; It is bound to the senses and yields vijnana (information) rather than jnana (wisdom) or vidya (understanding).

Despite a rich, deep history of Mental Health in Hinduism the information would only be available if you're told it’s there. You don't look for something you believe is not there, therefore you're ultimately limited to certain number of options. Imagine if you will a doctor patient scenario unless the patient communicates the symptoms the doctor wouldn't know where to begin a diagnosis. 

Now imagine someone with mental health issue the person communicates the symptoms to someone a family member or friend. It easy to see in a simplistic scenario how easy it is to brush aside mental health issues and chalk it up to the supernatural or bad karma. That is why it’s important for those who work in the community and have interactions with community members should actively educate people on these issues.

The BBC World Asia branch reported on some statistics released from India’s National Crime Bureau on the domestic abuse in India. There will be many commentators and bloggers talking about these statistics. I just wanted to take the time and expand on what I've said so far regarding the numbers that were released. The biggest problem in my opinion that faces the Hindu community globally is credulity which is defined as a tendency to be too ready to believe that something is real or true.

The community need to be more open and receptive to modern advances in dealing with issues like mental health. The same individual who is willing to accept a paracetamol can’t then reject “western” medicine when it comes mental health. There is no shame in admitting one needs help and there are organisations out there that support people who either have or are going through domestic abuse or mental health issues.

bandhuraatmaatmanastasya yenatmaivaatmanaa jitaha |
anaatmanastu shatrutve vartetaatmaiva shatruvat || 6 ||

For one who has conquered oneself by oneself, only his own self is his friend. But for one who has not conquered oneself, it is only his own self that behaves in animosity, like an enemy.

Chapter 6 Verse 6 

Bhagvad Gita

Useful Links:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hinduism and Cloning

One of my thoughts that I have long held is that there isn't a subject that Hinduism doesn't have a thought on. To demonstrate that point I would encourage everyone to watch this video on Hinduism and Cloning lecture given by Dr Manish Pandit.

The lecture was given at Birmingham Council of Faiths event, 'Science & Faith: Are we Playing God?' The event, part of National Interfaith Week and funded the Inter-Faith Youth Trust, was organised in partnership with Christians in Science (Birmingham) and the University of Birmingham's Atheist, Secular & Humanist society.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hinduism and Big Buisness

For those who know me personally already know I’ve graduated in Business Studies and Religious Studies. Most people questioned the value of such a combination, to which I replied ‘There is no bigger God than Money’ some people grasped what I was saying other just laughed. A lot has happened in the world and most of it has justified my reading on the two subjects at University.

I’ve read a lot from the commentators for Capitalism, Communism and any other ‘Ism’ that countries have used to run their Economies. I should say I’m not an Economist but It’s easy to see the impacts of each system and sadly not one of them is perfect.  Immoral and Unethical actions have happened on all sides. As this blog’s title suggests this isn’t about the system it’s self it’s about the players and decision makers within the system.

With safety I can say that Big Business and Hinduism are on a collision course, the practises and behaviour of some Big Businesses is Adharmic. Adharma refers to a state of the universe in imbalance or in an unwell and unnatural state. We live a pamperd and soft life in the first world or West. Not so long ago I had some time to reflect in Tanzania at the Selous National Park, I was sitting on a bench watching the sun set it turned this beautiful saffron I could feel it against my skin. To this day a once it's a life time sensation with so much at the disposal of this East African nation why has it not come forward, why have so few third world nations come forward?

In Tanzania and sleeping in the Jungle that night with this thought with all the wealth we have why is it so hard to Help people? The life that people in the third world live is unimaginable to the average person we see images once a year on Comic relief donate £5 or more then it goes away. This is a very 'Un-Hindu' relationship that we have with not only wealth but each other as a Hindu I'm instructed to combat and put a resistance to injustice, this is Dharma that opposite of Adharma.

At this stage I could quite easily raise every American president from the dead and drag every alive president into The Hague and have them tried for war crimes. However it wouldn't solve the issue after all democracy as we know it in this day and age is just a formality. In America as in the UK there are only really two choices and the people only have the illusion of choice as George Carlin put it.

For those who are uninitiated in Hindus in Politics either in India or the UK there is only one consistent theme, they think Hindus and Hinduism are important. This mostly the Hindu communities own fault, lack of leadership, responsibility and stratgey wouldn't inspire anyone to follow anyone anywhere. The only thing that matters is money, Salvador Allende, Mohammad Mosaddegh and Patrice Lumumba found out the hard way.

All three democratically elected leaders of their counties all assinated at the command of Western powers mostly the United States and the UK. So now the question is why? It's quite simple they didn't play ball with Western business interests. Allende tried to educate his people and give them free healthcare, Mosaddegh tried to keep Iranian oil in Iranian hands and Lumumba's African nationalism and his vision of a united Congo. It's hard to exploit the natural resources and cheap labour if there are regulations in place.

Despite the historical track record of money beating voted almost every time, Hindus fail to grasp this. As I said at the beginning there is a collision course between Big Business and Hinduism. To complicate matters further if the current status quo is maintained Hindus will loose. The conflict will be over Beef, to be more accurate Food. India has the potential to be the bread basket of Asia as Egypt. Was the bread basket of Europe. This isn't good for Business, you can't make a Big Mac with out Beef conservative Hindus who run around calling for a Ban or controls the exports from its agriculture industry have no clue as to How The World Works. 

Any restrictions any move to support a national agenda for Indian farmers or it's own agriculture Industry will be met with a short sharp blow to India's economy. If you don't believe last Prime Minister to make major reforms to India's Agriculture was Lal Badhur Shastri, who broke American and British dependence on Food imports. A man with no history of heart disease suddenly dies of heart attack, no enquiry into death of a prime minister who stood up to big business so that his people wouldn't starve.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hinduism and #SanskritSundays

My Saturday’s are the most regimented of all the days, outside of the day job. I rise bathe and meditate. As apart of my meditation I recite Sanskrit verses, of course they are personal to me and resonate with me. I've always valued Sanskrit in my life I've often said German is the Sanskrit of the modern Europe. The precision of the language has always fascinated me because the ease with which it lends it’s vast vocabulary to explaining high philosophy and emotion.

I’ve therefore dedicated some tweets on Sundays to sharing this fascination and love I have for Sanskrit. Of course I would encourage everyone to watch the link from Dr Kapil Kapoor and understand the tradition, heritage and value of Sanskrit. I've included some of my favorite lines and passages from Sanskrit. I hope you all enjoy and join me on #SanskritSundays.

Krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ 
Sammohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ   
Smṛti-bhraḿśād buddhi-nāśo 
Buddhi-nāśāt praṇaśyati

From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of 
memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when
intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.
Chapter 2 Verse 63 - Bhagavad Gita

nasadasinno sadasittadanim | nasidrajo no vyoma paro yat |
kimavarivah kuhakasya sharmann | ambhah kimasidgahanam gabhiram

Then even nothingness was not, nor existence,
There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it.
What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping
Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed?

First Stanza - Nasadiya Suktam - Rig Veda 10.129



Friday, June 6, 2014

Hinduism and Leadership

With any culture the context of its history, languages, legal systems and whole array of variables have to be taken into account. An example of this is seeing a Amazon tribe untouched by Western Civilisation viewing a Helicopter for the first time it would be the same as a Londoner seeing a flying saucer over the city. It exists beyond their comprehension. 

The same applies to different cultural systems, A Japanese tradition of Seppuku (Ritual Suicide) exists amongst the Samurai after being shamed the Samurai would commit Ritual suicide it would seem extreme. However taking to context the importance Honour, Chivalry and the Family tradtitions plays in their society it's clear to understand why an Individual would prefer death over the shame.

In the Hindu tradition a special relationship exists between a teacher and student. The Guru -Shishya relationship, this is more than just education, sharing of knowledge and instructions. It's a character development, man making process and creating a citizen that contributes to the greater Dharmic good. Everyone has a role to play, no one is greater or lesser than the other. A philosophy at the heart of civics and community cohesion in Hinduism.

A far cry from the situation we find ourselves in here in the UK. We have several umbrella bodies, thousands of local bodies from the social action to the enterprising and innovative. Yet as hard I look I can't seem to find a body in the training, development and Education of Young Hindu leaders. The current crop of young Hindu leaders have dammed if you do or dammed if they don't choice to make.

They either sacrifice an early part of their career and help the community maintain a insular status quo. Or they push through a career and finally do the community work once married, settled and kids have gone to university. Both forks in the road have damaging impact on the community. I find it embarrassing to parade ancient achievements from centuries ago and the success of individual merit and effort as a community achievements.

Short sighted leadership is a common thread in most cultures. However a culture that has lived and breathed past the Egyptians, Romans and the British Empire. Never has learnt from the mistakes of old or recent short sighted leadership. Take the examples of the Prithviraj Chauhan and Raja Hemu Vikram Aditya both venerated as martyrs. Yes they put up a great struggle however their undoing wasn't a superior opponent, luck or any external causes. It was a lack of forward planning and short sighted assessment of their opponent. 

Nothing can take away from their valour, bravery and courage however in my opinion they're not in the same category as other Hindu leaders. Swami Vivekananda once said "Give me ten Nachiketta's and I'll change the world". I'll be happy with one. However where are we going to find them?, Are we going to wait for them to be born? or are we going to reinvigorate a Hindu tradition in the training and development of Leaders?. Questions need to be asked and answered regarding the future developments of talent, expertise and faith of the younger generation. Just as a single hand can't clap as society and people can't move forwards with holding back individuals on the grounds of Sexual orientation, Gender or Any other arbitrary category Be they male or female leaders.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hinduism and The Lesser of Two Evils

The Indian Elections are in full swing, the worlds biggest democracy is selecting it’s leadership for the next 5 years. If your politics is of the right then your party is supposedly the BJP [Bharata Janta Party] and the Congress Party if your politics is of the left. However what most people aren’t aware of is how the Indian Democracy works.

First there are only two major national parties. However there are a total of 370 in 2014 across India. These are much smaller from the local to the bigger regional parties.

Second in order for one of the national parties to win it first much clear the 272 congressional seats marker. To achieve this one of the bigger parties must build coalitions regionally and locally.

Nothing like the two party duopoly of the United States or the coalition government of the UK. The current form of democracy in India isn’t really truly democracy there are more variables than meet the eye however to win you must first decide who is friend and who is foe. This is where the trouble begins, the more people you can bring under your banner the more leverage you have, so hypothetically a group fighting for the rights of LGBT community could team up with other groups to form a vote bank and sway the election depending on who gives them what they want. Either way you never get a 100% from the candidate or party you voted for.

Most Hindus around me are in the camp of Narendra Modi the chief minister of Gujarat despite the mud slinging on both sides he has firm grip on the election - it’s his to lose. The congress party despite the mud slinging is going through the changing of the guards phase so what looks like on the surface of a hasty retreat and confusion in the ranks is really just a reshuffling of the deck. The BJP is effectively pushing at an open door much like the Conservative Party did in the UK elections three terms of one party has become just too much.

Let me declare my position in all of this before someone else does it for me. I don’t like either, however if it were my vote I would vote for Narendra Modi not that I’ve seen any substance in the BJP manifesto or policies. His track record at the regional level seems to be pretty sound in context of economic development largely thanks to the low tax zones for foreign investments and money raised and spent on developing infrastructure.

It’s the lesser of two evils, However I'm still left with Evil. - in the words of Michael Moore.
Let me also make it clear that I don’t think that Narendra Modi is "evil" and for those who are thinking What about the 2002 riots?, let me say this the riots were and always will be a tragedy and a blot on the reputation of India and Indians. However in 1984 20-30,000 Sikhs were massacred in the streets of India in a highly organised and sadistic manner under the leadership of a Congress government, I have yet to see the same level of fervor advocating justice for the Sikhs who are still suffering from that Injustice.

For me there will always only be one Indian Politician whom I admire, respect and if I could vote for. It would be Lal Bahadur Shastri. India’s 2nd Prime Minister. To give you an Insight into the genius and great soul man he was and in my humble opinion no current Indian politician compares to this great man and world leader.

Extract Taken From: Guha, Ramachandra (2008). India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy.

In a public meeting held at the Ram Lila grounds in Delhi, a few days after the ceasefire [with Pakistan], he complained against a BBC report which claimed that Shastri's identity as a Hindu meant that he was ready for a war with Pakistan. He stated:

"While I am a Hindu, Mir Mushtaq who is presiding over this meeting is a Muslim. Mr. Frank Anthony who has addressed you is a Christian. There are also Sikhs and Parsis here. The unique thing about our country is that we have Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis and people of all other religions. We have temples and mosques, gurdwaras and churches. But we do not bring all this into politics. This is the difference between India and Pakistan. Whereas Pakistan proclaims herself to be an Islamic State and uses religion as a political factor, we Indians have the freedom to follow whatever religion we may choose, and worship in any way we please. So far as politics is concerned, each of us is as much an Indian as the other."

Amazing isn't he, wait till you get to know him. You'll wish your leaders were like him too.

Further Reading:
  1. Pavan Choudary and Anil Shastri. Lal Bahadur Shastri: Lessons in Leadership.
  2. http://nader.org/2014/02/24/twenty-billionaires-megabillionaires-run-president-united-states-2016-break-two-party-duopoly-primary-election-day/
  3. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/393246/kejriwal-banks-muslim-votes-rein.html
  4. http://www.tehelka.com/the-left-and-the-liberals-have-allowed-the-hindu-right-to-hijack-patriotism/
  5. http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/dictatorships-double-standards/ 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hinduism and Discipline Vs Motivation

For those who follow my blog they know that from time to time I will go away. Usually for about a month It’s not that my well of ideas have run dry, It’s that I'm busy reading. I get sucked into books so easily, for Christmas I was given as a present Devdutt Pattanaik’s Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling Of The Mahabharata.

I’m a huge fan of the Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, however unlike most I choose not to read it as a theological or historical text. I choose to read it as a psychological and sociological treatises. An insight into human behaviour and relationships from a Hindu and Vedic perspective.

For a little context the Mahabharata the story revolves around the dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapura, the kingdom ruled by the Kuru clan. The two collateral branches of the family that participate in the struggle are the Kaurava and the Pandava. Although the Kaurava is the senior branch of the family, Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava, is younger than Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava. Both Duryodhana and Yudhisthira claim to be first in line to inherit the throne.

For this blog I’m going to talk about one of the central characters. Karna is the tragic character of the tale and he struggles with the present because of his unknown past. How often have we all failed to deal with consequences of our choices agonized over bridges that have to be crossed or roads not taken. I’m going to share an extract from the book and offer my insight and understanding to this feeling and state of mind.

Karna had grown up not knowing who his parents were. He was raised by the Kaurava Royal families stable master. Desperate to rise above the family station he learn’t the martial arts. Throughout the tale he is ridiculed and belittled for being little more than the son of charioteer. However in truth he was a Pandava the eldest Pandava their mother had given him up when she was blessed with a son before she was married.

This extract is from when his mother confronts him about switching allegiances and coming home. 

Extract:

Karna raised his head and recognised Kunti. Glances were exchanged between mother and son. A lifetime of unspoken emotions gushed forth. Karna bowed. The charioteers son salutes the mother of the Pandavas; he said. The sarcasm in his voice was like a poisoned barb.
Forgive me; said Kunti in tears.

Forgive me; said Karna, apologizing for his pettiness. She was after all barely a child when she had borne him. What can I do for you? It’s almost daybreak. I always grant the wish made to me at this time of day...

Truth was grating. Kunti nodded shamefully, I don't want you to fight your brothers, abandon the Kauravas and take your rightful place among your family and let there be peace. I do not want my sons to die.

Who do you refer to? The ones born after marriage or the one before? Kunti wanted to shout ALL! But a despondent Karna continued ‘The world knows you as the mother of five sons. At the end of the war, I promise you that you will still have five sons and one great archer either me or Arjuna. 

Again this is just a small extract of the conversation, I encourage everyone read the Mahabharata It has always provided perspective in my life. The lesson that Karna demonstrates to me is the power of discipline when motivation has been compromised. The past is what informs our present and influences our future. Motivation is great it breeds ideas, creativity and energy. It’s discipline that sees those ideas become a reality. 

In the case of Karna he is within reach of everything he ever dreamt of his whole life was a struggle. Yet he was a King, one of the greatest warriors in the world and a benevolent ruler. His motivations and discipline has carried him thus far. Should he now having learn't the truth of his past, his real family and heritage abandon everything that had got him there?

Karna was faced the truth of his past confirming his long held belief that he was more than just the son of a charioteer and really the son of a noble family. Yet he wasn't swayed by the emotion or moment he owed everything to his friend Dhuryodhana who bestowed upon him title [by merit], protection from insults and affection. 


The trouble with wisdom is that It often comes to us a little late and even then sometimes never we never learn from it allowing for coincidence rather than Karma. We trap ourselves in a loop of same actions whilst expecting a different result. Cultivation of discipline is like building your house on strong foundations it will endure and so will you when you're disciplined. 
Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hinduism and The Rain

I’m writing this blog at 2pm on Tuesday 11th February at my desk in Birmingham, UK. I woke up to clear but grey skies at 7.30am by 9.00am It had began to rain at 10.30am it turned into a ‘Biblical’ amount of rain and by 11.00 it started snowing. However despite all this by 12.30 the sun had come and at the moment it’s a pleasant sunny day. 

I began to ponder whilst I was out walking, Has the weather ever been this extreme? From a rationalist or objective view it would seem mother nature being her unpredictable self. The Hindu inside me couldn’t help feel something else was going on. Looking at it through the lens of Hinduism it would quite easily be concluded the weather is out of balance.

Of course my mind went to work and began scanning for references to extreme weather in the Hindu Library of Knowledge. The story that jumped out to me was the First Avatar of Vishnu - The Avatar of Matsaya [Fish]. There are many cultures around the world that have accounts of a great flood or deluge for me the first account is the Avatar of Matsaya. I'm not going to go into the full story but suffice to say there was a flood. 

The relevant bit of the story is the Human intervention. A human called Manu saves a small fish from being eaten by a larger fish. Breaking the natural order of the animal kingdom. Matsaya continues to outgrow his habitat and is eventually released back into the ocean but not after resources and labour are expended on accommodating his ever expanding size. Later Matsya now in the ocean forewarns Manu about an impending catastrophic flood and orders him to collect all the grains of the world in a boat; in some forms of the story, all living creatures are also to be preserved in the boat. 

Explanations are given for the flood from the fantastical to a more rational and plausible explanation given by Rishi Vyas. Towards the end of the Mahabharat he explains to a dejected Dhritrashta and Gandhari the parents of the Kauravs that the war had to happen to reduce the burden on the Earth. Lord Krishna intervened as a kingmaker, Lord Ram intervened as a symbol of the ideal and sequentially all the previous Avatars intervened when Human interference became a burden on the Earth. 

The freak weather is a sign but not the first sign but many signs on a cyclical path of self destruction, as a follower of Samkhya [Hindu Atheism] I'm required to base things on evidence but not of the scientific method. It was a Muslim scholar Prof Reza Aslan that explained what Sacred History is, only for me to realise in Hinduism we call it Ithihasa. It means to find wisdom from past events, less concerned with facts, dates and empiricism, For example John saw a homeless man and he gave that man the money he had. In the modern understanding we would be concerned if John really did that however the ‘ancient’ scholars were more concerned with wisdom.

The evidence is not of hard facts but of wisdom, especially the past. Many wise, learned and great souls have all said the same about learning from the past. For me it’s best summed up by Friedrich Nietzsche when he said The future influences the present just as much as the past. As a Hindu I find it imperative to act, it’s the highest call in the Bhagvad Gita to act when faced with an injustice. As mother nature is mother to us all who could keep quiet when their mother is treated with such disdain. I dare you to search out the facts and see what goes on in the world. 
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hinduism and The Green Party

In the UK there are three main political parties covering a wide spectrum. Everything from financially conservative to socially liberal. These three parties are the Conservatives, New Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The Hindu Diaspora like any other community doesn’t vote for one particular ideology, manifesto or leader. 

However I'm going to argue that it should change and the Hindu community regardless or local issues or leaders the party that should have the allegiance for the next General Election is the Green Party. I'm not going to go through all the points but just a few to get the ball rolling and hopefully encourage people to do their own homework and consider it. I’m not a member of the Green Party I should state that now or am I being paid to write this - I wish I was. 

The Conservatives:
The reasons why Hindus would vote for conservatives could be any number however historically there has only ever been three reasons at first to even entertain the notion of voting for the conservatives. The first and simplest reason is - the Conservatives let and helped the East African Hindus into the UK. There was much huffing and puffing at the time but eventually British sense of loyalty won and the East African Hindus were allowed to settle. 

The second and third reasons are more political. The early generations of Hindus who grew up in the UK all they knew was the Conservative party for all of Margaret Thatcher's bad deeds she was a winner and Sir John Major continued that of course brought to an abrupt end by Tony Blair. Even that was when Labour became New Labour and lurched from centre left to centre right. Who doesn't love a winner. The evidence may seem anecdotal however ask yourself how many times have we heard the same statements: Elders hog seats or power? Elders are out of touch? And the most common the Elders opinion of younger generation -it wasn't as good as theirs. 

Third and final reason is Hindus whether they know it or not are financially conservative. Waiting to save up to afford a purchase or only spending at the most risk free moment. If anyone needs evidence of this just spend a little time on the charities commission website and see the last financial records for the local Hindu institutions. Yet with all that financial muscle on average the Hindu community is 20-30 years behind the other communities in all areas.

New Labour:
In 2012 New Labour had enjoyed an unwavering support of the Hindu Community across the UK. There is a simple answer to this was pointed out by the Daily Mail in Dec 2010 [1] Hindus and Sikhs are now in the middle class. New Labour on the socio-economic pyramid maintain their base thanks to the middle class and working class. As the generations of Hindus grew up through the 80’s and 90’s achieving more equality and recognition for their contributions to the UK there was no need to be tied down to the Conservatives.

However in 2013 an act of what can only described as catastrophically short sighted and idiotic, The New Labour MP's pushed through the Single Equality Bill. I blogged about this before [2] however since then new evidence of insanity has emerged the core of this is down to the National Institute for Social and Economic Research [NISER] report on the issue of Caste. The head of NISER John Portes said "The report was qualitative research, limited in budget and scope" and went to on to say it "was not designed to establish reliable and robust evidence on the prevalence and severity of such discrimination." [3]

Yet it did nothing to deter New Labour from throwing the whole Hindu community under the bus. I was once told that democracy works on the principle of people coming together to make informed decisions. What does it say when a whole community mobilises to stop an injustice from happening and are met by a deafening silence, what does it say when 2 million people March on the capital and the leader ignores the wishes of the people who put him there [Iraq War]. Why should Hindus follow or have any allegiance to New Labour? 

Liberal Democrats:
Hindus have never really seen the Liberal Democrats as a viable party simply because they never win and are always the butt of jokes - who wants to be the joke?. Regardless there have been pockets of support mostly on principle however a fatal flaw has been well and truly exposed, lightning sort of struck twice. It also happens to be the fickle reason why Hindus don't vote nor will ever vote, Liberal Democrats always make a poor leadership choices.

On paper maybe the most qualified Individuals however if a leader lacks a spine, charisma or political strategic thought well it doesn't fill voters with confidence. Case and point of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at one point in the last general election dubbed ‘The UK’s Obama’ his total capitulation on any or all Liberal Democrat issues, manifesto pledges and ideals. How can a community rely on such an individual to represent them when he the leader the representation of the party is willing to sell so much for so little. 

I should declare straight away that in the last election I voted and worked for the Liberal Democrats.     However my faith and reasoning has been chipped away at slowly and surely. At the time of the formation of the coalition government I thought it was master stroke getting into power via the backdoor and being able to influence the country to move away from the centre right and back to the centre left. That lasted about 5 minutes. 

Why Hindus Should Go Green...
The quickest and easiest argument I could make for the whole of the Hindu community to vote for the Green Party is that they're Hindus. For those who don't know Hinduism is governed by 4 main principles regards of sect, denomination or guru. These are Dharma, Karma, Artha and Moksha each one with thousands of years of history, philosophy and ethics to go with them.

Of course the next question would be what do these mean, for the first time it’s not that simple the worlds longest epic The Mahabharat debates the definitions of these words endlessly coming to the conclusion that life isn't black or white nor are the rules that govern them. However there are definitions which help they are the following:

Dharma - That Which Sustains
Karma - The Laws of Cause and Effect
Artha - The Laws of Wealth
Moksha - The Laws of Reincarnation and Liberation 

In line with actions and not just the manifesto I would highly recommend the readers of this spending some time getting to know the Green Party. The video that triggered this initial thought is below. MP Caroline Lucas being arrested - the hallmark of a good leader to me was summarised by Napoleon Bonaparte ‘A Leaders is a dealer in hope’ when I see the actions of the Green Party leaders one can't help but feel a sense of hope.




Fighting for Dharma is considered the highest ideal why not back the political party that actually fights for this ideal what could be more Hindu?

References:

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1338395/How-Sikhs-Hindus-bedrock-middle-Britain.html
[2] http://raviladva.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/how-to-loose-friends-and-alienate-hindus.html
[3] http://www.mycasteishindu.org/index.php/component/content/article/8-news/latest-news/316-john-portes-niesr-report-did-not-present-reliable-evidence
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hinduism and How To Run A Mandir

The strength of a community revolves around a few keystones one of which is places of worship. In my case as a Hindu it would be the Mandir - In Sanskrit, the word mandira means house, palace, temple. Like any institution it requires financing. I’m someone who looks to history to understand the present.

The question I’m trying to answer is how did temples make money? And how do they make money now? The question is important to me simply because a strong place of worship or place of communal gathering means a stronger, united and cohesive community.

For me there is only a few authorities on the matter how temples generated income, of all sources I would put the greatest faith in Chanakya. It would be difficult to gather a true picture of how exactly these temples generated income in a short blog but the diversity Chanakya had in mind I think that is relevant because it’s things that temples don’t but could do in the UK.

Chanakya was an Indian teacher, philosopher, and royal advisor. Originally a scholar of economics and political science at the ancient Takshashila University. His most famous work is the Arthashastra [treaties on dharmic wealth], I would argue it’s one of the best books on social, economic and political theory I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

One of the key things Chanakya states in the Arthashastra is that Temples controlled large swathes of land and property. They had livestock, workers and places of learning on the grounds. The human traffic not just worshipers but also traders, scholars and other skilled people.

In any given day an artisan could be commissioned to work on the temple grounds, a farmer would be able to trade and a scholar could arrive to learn or teach. Chanakya also much like today advises that these institutions pay little or no tax and under extreme circumstances dissolved assets for a war effort. The point is that the temples weren’t reliant on donations or levies charged to worshipers to maintain their institutions.

In comparison to the temples here in the UK a stark contrast. Of course I do not know how every temple is run or looked after nor do I know what the individual circumstances of each individual temple is. However I do know that the revenues generated by these temples could be significantly improved if they offered the worshipers something more than an audience with God.

Rare is the temple that reflects the vibrancy and diversity of the Hindu world. Training people to skilled artisans, business people and educated gives a resource that money can't buy, the human resource. This would require a level of innovation that has not been seen since the Maratha Empire.

Temples that can generate revenues honestly and in line with dharmic principles will not only strengthen the Hindu community but also the Non Hindu community. I don’t expect anything from the Hindu establishment in the UK but like Charles Darwin said It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hinduism and It's Priorities

I once debated with a group of community leaders on the nature or source of the problems in the world. I was offering a Hindu perspective, I knew then as I know now there isn’t a one size fits all solution to a problems in the world. However the question that left me stunned and for a while puzzled was the following- “What are the Hindu Community Doing To Help?” 

Now on the surface it would be quite easy to brush it off and roll off a list of contributions made by Hindus and Hindu organisations. However in context of the conversation where the discussion was around collective collaboration there is a cold silence which is why I was left puzzled. Hindus and Hindu organisations will do great work but can anyone honestly tell me there is a place in the world where ALL the Hindu organisations could, have or will come together for the greater good?

This isn’t a rant at anyone or any organisation, it’s merely an observation. For a group of people [Hindus] we are known for our warmth, generosity and peace loving values. Yet it would seem we can’t bring ourselves together for any greater good whether it be a global crisis or a community crisis.

This stood out to me more than ever when I heard about this defamation of Lord Ganesh issue. For those that are unaware Rizla a Tobacco company used Lord Ganesh in their product design. Yes I understand and fully agree they shouldn't have done it but truly could you blame them. There are approximately 120 million smokers in India. According to the World Health Organization. India is home to 12% of the world’s smokers. Approximately 900,000 people die every year in India due to smoking as of 2009. According to a 2002 WHO estimate, 30% of adult males in India smoke. Among adult females, the figure is much lower at between 3–5%. 

Yet a group in the UK called the National Hindu Students Forum had launched a project to bring to attention of the world the plight of Hindus in Pakistan. According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), every month some 20 to 25 girls are forcibly converted to Islam in the Sindh province of Pakistan alone. At the time of partition, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians made 25% of Pakistan’s population; today they only make 2% of the Pakistani population.

In my eyes a far worse injustice is the plight of those who are denied a peaceful existence and a right to justice. Yet the question lingers For a group of people [Hindus] we are known for our warmth, generosity and peace loving values. Yet it would seem we can't bring ourselves together for any greater good whether it be a global crisis or a community crisis. 

In the words of Sun Tzu When A Hawk Breaks It's Prey - It's Because of Timing. When Water Tosses A Boulder - It's Because of Momentum. Timing and momentum are vital for group to work cohesively the Hindu community is lacking in both.

Support The Human Boundaries Project