Copyright © Ravi's Ironic Sunshine Blog
Design by Dzignine
Saturday, June 6, 2015

Hinduism and The Previous Islamic State

The rise of Islam from the Arabian Peninsula is one of Human histories defining turning points. Rise of a new ideology driven by a charismatic leader and united under a single cause. In the space of a single century Islam spread west along Northern Africa into Spain and East along the Silk Road into Persia. So complete was the conquest the culture and people were all brought into the new fold and merged into one nation, the first Islamic State.
However this all came to an abrupt end on the Afghanistan frontier it would be 86 years before the new Islamic state would be able to step across into the Indian sub-continent. It would be a further 549 years before a permanent foothold could be established. As imperialist intentions go, this would be classed as a nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.
It wasn't for the lack of trying; it’s just they came into contact with resistance unlike which they had experienced thus far. On every level from the ideological to the military resistance was offered by what could only be described as their mirror opposite. A people with multiple languages, multiple ideas and expressions of the divine all held under a cohesive umbrella.
How this period of History is recorded is contentious and one of the few times where the victor did not write history, you’ll hear something to the effect of ‘Hindus/Indians were scuttled over like bowling pins’ this is  not only actually historically inaccurate but leaves the world ignorant of History. Nobody ever mentions the imperialist intentions of Baghdad in the same breath or sentence when declaring its greatness as a centre for learning. It’s because it undermines the point that an Imperialist Islamic State has coexisted with its neighbours.
Just to make it clear this blog isn't about Hindu – Muslim tensions or flashpoints, it’s about how Hindus view and own their History. It’s long been a personal sticking point of mine that Hindus shy away from their History this includes the bad and ugly parts. No culture is perfect or free of criticism, however when the contribution to the humanity is downplayed and often dismissed it’s an injustice. These injustices that distort the truth and alter perceptions of the Hindu culture.
People may ask why it’s important that we take ownership of History. Hindus are some of the wealthiest, most educated and lead comfortable lives on the planet. I would argue there is more to life that just material success and just surviving. A sense of identity, roots, connection to something deeper all these are integral to the renaissance that’s been on the back burner for a long time. Hindus have always been an international community as different Hindu communities have spread over vast distances.
A final example to prove my point I have to first explain a lesson from Alexander the Great as told by Prof Guy M. Rogers – Prof of History and Classical studies. In 2004 he wrote to several newspapers at the height of the US invasion of Afghanistan and the armed forces. His writing were on the lessons learned, employed and success of Alexander the Great on his conquest of Afghanistan. Alexander the Great snuffed out all resistance and insurgency against him in three years in the same theatre of war, as the coalition of the willing.
It’s safe to say the lessons hard won by Alexander the Great or any History of that region was ignored. Now as a final point on owning history, I put it to the reader in light of the column inches that have been dedicated to the rise and growth of ISIS. Historically looking at the previous Islamic State, the only culture or civilisation that wasn't rolled over was the Hindus of India. I wonder if newspapers would be willing to learn the lessons or understand this. 
Monday, April 6, 2015

Hinduism and The Dharma Rising Conference

I’m writing this blog at the Dharma Rising Conference in London. The Keynote speaker is Dr Subrimaniam Swamy supported by Dr Gautum Sen, Dr Konnred Elst and by video link Rajiv Malhotra. The speakers were also supported by Kapil Dudakia and Trupti Patel. The event was well organised and a great meeting of the minds.

I often attend such events to touch base and reconnect with likeminded people. Whilst I don’t agree with methods or every viewpoint on particular issues it’s reassuring to see so many people working towards the same goal – protecting, promoting, preserving and practising Hinduism. I imagine it’s what a gathering of Sadhus in the Mahabharat or Ramayana must have been like.

Everyone spoke passionately on their subjects from Dr Gautum Sen’s anti Hindu Caste legislation to Rajiv Malhotras Anti Hindu/India forces and Trupti Patel from the Hindu Forum of Britain launching The UK Hindu General Election Manifesto.  As the event went one I began making notes I began to circle key phrases and distil what was being said.

The problems and issues that the panellist were orating about all amalgamated into one solitary issue, the psychological development of the Hindu mind – be it individual or the masses. I had not discovered anything new everyone from Chanakya to Swami Vivekananda had said as much. My mind went to work removing Philosophy, Theology and all Metaphysical paradigms leaving only Historical references to analyse the root causes or cause of a break down.

One by one looking at all the Hindu leaders I could remember from Maharaja Jaypal , Prithviraj Chauhan, Hamir Dev Chauan to Shivaji and Maha Rana Pratap Singh. They all had the same thing in common they were products of a more developed and ancient education system the Gurukul System.
Gurukula is a type of school in India, residential in nature, with pupil’s shishya living near the guru, often within the same house. Prior to British rule, the system served as India’s primary educational institution. The word gurukula is a contraction of the Sanskrit guru teacher or master and kula extended family. As an example Chattrapatti Shivaji was taught, mentored and groomed by Dadoji Konddeo.

Rather than waiting for a hero to emerge why not build, train and educate them. Ultimately the quality that Hindus admire the most is courage; even a non-violent Mahatama Gandhi had no room for cowardice. However in my analysis I recognized a fundamental flaw a leaders life is one of mostly sacrifice and service towards a greater good. How many of us would be willing to make that sacrifice or be prepared to see our loved ones.

Thus in my mind it becomes a chicken and egg situation whilst we require a change in mindset initiated through this system – we also require fortitude to endure until the system bears fruit. Kapil Dudakia of Kapils Kichadi fame in the Asian Voice went through a political narrative, outlining a betrayal of the British Hindu and a systemic erosion of the democratic process.
It highlights a need for such a development program what’s the point of representation or leaders if they capitulate when you need them the most? It highlights a need to have representatives with courage and spines.

In conclusion the solution to issues that Hinduism has will be a Hindu solution, I reject the notion outright that we need to be like any other religion. Hinduism thus far and survived thrived and evolved on Its own terms. The current challenges faced by all are no different, for example we can’t out Native Americans at being Native Americans and we can only and should only be who we are.
Saturday, March 7, 2015

Hinduism And The History Gap

I'm writing this post in response to the Hardcash production of ITV Exposure: Charities Behaving Badly. I wanted to use this opportunity to respond to some of things that came up in the show. Largely brought on by a History gap in the consciousness and culture of the society we live in. This post was longer as my emotions poured onto the page which in time and reflection I've scaled and refined down.

The first point and easiest one dismiss is the Buddhism claim ‘Buddhism is Hinduism’ Buddhists can and do feel that Buddhism is a separate entity and organic movement. A historical development of Buddhism shows that it’s origins are rooted to Hinduism. A similar philosophical framework that the Buddha propounded can be found in the much older Samkhya traditions.

The Samkhya an orthodox Hindu philosophy built on the notions of suffering and pushed the boundaries of a rational perception of the world and development of the mind through meditation. I've discussed this relationship in the past in particular the blog The Unpaid Debt. Also a simple observation and knowledge of Buddhism would show this for example the Buddha was born a Hindu [Gautam Siddhartha] in a Hindu kingdom. 

The second the comments about Islam and Muslims, no doubt I'm disappointed that such comments were made. The issue regarding Palestine and Israel has been ongoing since 1947. By comparison the relationship between Islam and Hinduism is more complex and fraught with entrenched feelings and opinions such comments taken as indicative view of the organization would be unfair as it’s sweeping under the carpet a thousand years of history. It’s unfair for anyone to know exactly because the way Hindus are depicted in the social consciousness, it is far from the reality. 

To give you some insight I will use the example of the Somnath Mandir in Gujarat. The UK Hindu population according to the 2011 census stands at 817,000 and we [Hindus] make up 1.5% of the UK population. Of the 817,000 an estimated 615,000 are Gujarati. Every year many of them go back to see loved ones and for pilgrimage. Pilgrimage or Tritha in the Sanskrit for Hindus is often a spiritual, emotional and personal journey ultimately to pay their respects.

Between 649 CE to 1783 CE the Hindu shrine was destroyed and rebuilt seven times.  The particular account I wish to relay is the third time it was destroyed by Mahmud Ghazni in 1024CE. To help place the event in world history It was only 42 years later the Norman conquest began after the battle of Hastings in 1066. 

Band after band of the defenders entered the temple of Somnath and with their hands clasped around their necks, wept and passionately entreated him [the shiva lingam]. Then again they issued forth until they were slain but few were left alive… The number of dead exceeded fifty thousand.

Additionally twenty million dhirams worth of gold, silver and gems were looted from the temple But what rankled even more than the loot and death toll was the satisfaction Mahmud took in destroying the great lingam. After stripping it of its gold he personally laid into with his sword. Which must have been more like a sledgehammer.

The bits were sent back to Ghazni and incorporated into the steps of Jammi Masjid [Mosque] there to be humiliatingly trampled and perpetually defile by the feet of the Muslim faithful.

India: A History by John Keay, pg 209-210, Harper Collins, 2000 

The same way a Jewish person would get emotional and feelings would rise in them at Yad Vishesm [Holocaust Museum in Israel] similar feelings would occur for Hindus. As I said before Its unfair for me to say people should  know this,  the way Hindus and Hinduism is depicted is not consistent with world history or how the community sees itself. 

The events at Somnath is one small example, however the overriding desire for peace prevails. As Hinduism prescribes peace as a choice this evident of the behaviour of Hindus in the UK. As no Jewish person could discuss how the development of their faith has changed without the impact of the Holocaust. To ask Hindus not to be vocal or aware of such tragedies today is a double standard. 

The third and final point on the ‘secret Christian conspiracy’ simply put it's not a secret and it's not a conspiracy. The different denominations of Christianity proselytize  and organisations such as the Joshua project make it quite clear what the objectives are. Whilst mainstream Christianity proselytizes through subtle interactions more coercive groups do exists and target specifically Hindus.

The most famous Inquisition is the Spanish however in India a far more brutal and repressive regime inflicted reprisals and draconian legislative agenda on the indigenous Hindu population. Forcing even the great Voltaire and Dr Alfredo DeMello to express their anguish.

Goa is sadly famous for its inquisition, equally contrary to humanity and commerce. The Portuguese monks made us believe that the people worshiped the devil, and it is they who have served him.

Oeuvres completes de Voltaire – Volume 4, Page 786

Nefarious, fiendish, lustful, corrupt religious orders which pounced on Goa for the purpose of destroying paganism (ie Hinduism) and introducing the true religion of Christ.

Memoirs of Goa by Alfredo DeMello

And more recently.

The Joshua Project here their mission statement from the website.

Joshua Project is a research initiative seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the fewest followers of Christ. Accurate, regularly updated ethnic people group information is critical for understanding and completing the Great Commission.

The activities of a project to gather information, tag groups and make public their religious choice. For the future targeting of conversion attempts is organised, sophisticated and unchristian, I do not recall the Good Samaritan ever asking the faith of the person he helped. 

In conclusion the comments made weren't baseless they were crass, unhelpful and articulated incoherently. The emotional intelligence of individuals to form coherent arguments is a debate that is needed. The argument on which much of this will fall is the preaching of hate. If that were the case then you would have to undo a thousand years of history in order for me or any Hindu to talk about the historical development of our way of life.
Saturday, February 7, 2015

Hinduism And The Trojan Horse Scandal

For those who don’t know there has been a scandal has been going around the British Education system. In particular this has affected the city of Birmingham in what is now called the Trojan Horse Scandal. The scandal itself has gone to the heart of society and a lot has been said however in everything I’ve read no one has explained how it would be possible to takeover a school, I think this the way it could be done with all information available.

It’s important to explain why this is called the Trojan Horse scandal and therefore must explain where the Trojan horse comes from. There are different narratives however the one the original is laid out in the Aeneid written by Virgil and mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. The story has many interdependent and interwining plots which all comes to a head in front of the great and impregnable city walls of Troy.
                                                                                                                         
Troy was a powerful kingdom sitting on the Aegean sea which sat adjacent the powerful  Greek City states. The King Agamemnon was a supreme ruler of sorts of the Greek City states and his brother was the King of Sparta whom had Helen as his wife considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world. She is spirited away by Paris the young Prince of Troy which triggers a sequence of events that leads a Greek invasion force to Troy.

Greece brought all her great heroes to bare such as Ajax, Odysseus and Achilles after battle after battle resulted in stalemate a period of ten years pass heroes rise and fall. Odysseus using his cunning and guile designed a wooden hollow horse, convincing the Trojans the Greeks  had abandoned the siege they wheeled in the Horse and made merry. In the quiet of the night the horse had been filled with elite Greek soldiers who opened the great gates of Troy and in poured the Greek army to raze Troy to the ground.

Trojan Horse refers to an organized attempt by a number of associated individuals to introduce an Islamist or Salafist ethos into several schools in Birmingham under a leaked letter called Operation Trojan Horse. A public inquiry was led by multiple organisations yet no one could explain how this was possible or even being implemented. After much reading I think I may have pieced together a flow that is the most probable based on everything that has been made available.

This story begins with a simple piece of legislation, it’s called the Collective Worship Act of 1994. The majority of these acts of collective worship are required to be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character. Up to this point it’s fine the United Kingdom was a Christian country and has a deep, rich imbedded Christian heritage. However the legislation makes two exceptions. 

The two exceptions:

Religious schools, which should provide worship appropriate to the school's religion (although most religious schools in the UK are Christian)
Schools where the Local Education Authority's Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education has determined that Christian worship would not be appropriate for part or all the school.

The first step would be to identify the schools that meet the requirements for the second part of the exemptions. For example if a school is based in a Buddhist area the need for acts of collective worship to be of a Christian nature would be redundant. That would mean a school could apply to the relevant local authorities to remove this restriction. The law states that the removal of this restrictions would change the ethos of the school to reflect the demographic of the school.

The next step would be to make sure the restriction is lifted by either local authority. To achieve this stage is relatively straight forward make sure the argument is water tight. Then make sure the local authority has a sympathetic presents, for example make sure the community representatives are the same representatives for the school. The school makes an application which then goes to reviews do the local authority votes to lift or not.

The final step is the governing body of the school, in the Buddhist example the groups who had organised this would be now free to lobby indiscriminately for changes. For example they could ask Buddhism be taught in a particular way or force changes to the school menu to reflect Buddhist vegetarian values. Of course should anyone or group try to oppose you then there is all ways parents pulling children from schools.   

So in the three steps the wooden horse would be the Collective Worship Act the pretext to get past the walls would be the demographic of the area and the razing of Troy would be the vote of the local authority. Now people may choose to take issue with what I have said fair enough we live in free country, knock yourself out. Just something to consider as you do what I 
have said thus far it isn't illegal, it's just how the current system works.


[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-28370552
[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/collective-worship-in-schools
[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/news/operation-trojan-horse/

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hinduism and A Hindu Nation

A young woman has just finished a long day at work, she is whisking her way to a bar to catch up with some friends about the days just passed. She arrives to a bar and is greeted with warm hugs and friendly smiles. Time passes as the drinks start flowing and conversation starts going it’s the perfect end to a long week. Moments later there is some commotion, friends look and chalk it up to people who didn't know their limits. Before anyone could react a group of men armed with bats, sticks and blades are dragging her out of the bar. Her friends leap to her defence but are repulsed with maximum force, she is repeatedly beaten and manages to struggle free to escape.

In another part of the country a farmer has just returned from his solicitor’s office with bad news. As the leader of the coalition of farmers he took his seat, he was brought water by his children and the other framers all clambered for a spot in the small hut he called home. He broke the news that they would all have to sell their land to repay the debt. The debt was incurred through the purchase of new age and artificial seeds bought from a major agriculture company on the back demonstrations and savvy marketing.

In the night as he lay awake looking all over that had transpired, as he felt the warm exhale of his child lying on his chest. He was overcome with feeling of despair and shame; his pride wouldn't let him give up the fate of the other farmers and his family was on the line. As the sun rose and the light broke against the tears rolling down his face in a final act of valour to save those around him. He walked to the ancestral tree that his family for generations had worshiped under and took his own life cancelling all the debt the farmers had outstanding and thus saving everyone.

For most people reading this it describes a country like Iran, Saudi Arabia or even North Korea. However this is the Hindu nation that would be built and I will break down each narrative above and explain the Hindu nation that the current groups that are trying to sell the idea. I would welcome a Hindu nation and be the first to move but not as it’s currently being pitched.

At the local level there would be a strict control over the sexes and gender roles. There have been numerous stories and news reports of women being beaten savaged for being a bar. This doesn’t conform to their ideas on the role women should play in society. Beyond this at the local level there would be a strict control over information how it’s disseminated and taught.

I'm all for teaching history but not for political point scoring. To teach Hindu history fairly would also have to show poor judgement and character of Hindus. Using the classroom In a Hindu nation to push the ideology rather than the education and cultivation of an informed citizen is against the principles of Hinduism. 

The further I look the less appealing the idea of Hindu nation as it’s currently being propagated is. At a regional and national level there would be democracy of one, as individuals and groups who don't conform to their ideas would be marginalised. Freedom of speech and information would all come with caveats. The Hinduism that I know Isn't afraid of ideas or weapons yet I can't help but feel a Hindu nation that doesn’t encompass all that Hinduism has to offer will be fragile.

Conservative groups who campaign for a Hindu nation first my convince Hindus like myself that it won't become a totalitarian democracy. Just as a single hand can't clap, the conservative Hindus need lefty Hindus like myself and every other type of Hindu to make a Hindu nation a reality. As a Hindu I value every inch of it the good the bad and the ugly, with every page I turn on Hinduism my relationship deepens. For anyone to say my Hinduism is incorrect or immature has missed a central point enshrined in the Vedas. 


That central point is knowledge, life, material world is not static, there will never be a point when we know everything nor will there be peace until we make the choice to have peace. Every time the notion of a Hindu nation crops up I always remind people of the prophetic words of Yudhistira the eventual king of Hastinapur in the Mahabharata. 

                                           
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/