Lead me from darkness(ignorance) to light(enlightenment)
Lead me from death to immortality
Let there be peace, peace, nothing other than peace.
Tamasomaa Jyotir gamaya
Mrityor maa Amrutam gamaya
Om Shanti, shanti, shanti hi.
Human existence evokes a sense of fear and anxiety. The fear is associated with the idea that the journey is long and tedious and the uncertainty of reaching the shore line. The anxiety is because of the fact that the life span is over as the time marches on relentlessly. The passage of day and night, the change of seasons, the spring and the winter, the life span is over even if the individual wants to cling to his life.The life span is compared to air bubbles in water and the bubble exists only for a moment. The long journey generates fear and the short life span produces anxiety. When the heart is troubled and when the mind is afraid, there is no peace.
SEARCHING FOR PEACE
1. For he himself is our peace.(EPHESIANS 2:14)
2.”Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”.(JOHN14:27)
3.But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.(GALATIANS5:22-23)
4. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.(PHILIPPIANS4:4-7)
The Holy Bible, The Book of Revelations, Chapter 19, verse 16 reads : ” He has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, ” KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS .”
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.(Matthew 16:27)
WHEN WILL JESUS RETURN ?
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”(Matthew24:36)
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come”.(Matthew24:42)
“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”(Matthew24:44)
BE PREPARED FOR THE SECOND COMING
1. Imitate Christ’s Humility :
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.(PHILIPPIANS 2:1-5)
2.Working with God :
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with FEAR and TREMBLING, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”(PHILIPPIANS 2:12)
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved”.(MATTHEW 24:12-13)
Christmas should not be viewed as an opportunity to please ourselves in the pursuit of joy for our selfish happiness. During this Season it is important to be prepared with a sense of FEAR and TREMBLING rather than to rejoice without Christ like spirit. Your attitude should be the same as that of JESUS.
I would like to interpret Britney Spears visit to Malibu Hindu temple as an expression of an inner urge to search for her true identity. We all know that she is talented, attractive, rich and famous. It is not quite easy to be recognized by public and achieve the distinction of being a celebrity. But, in reality she is an individual that had existed before and would continue to exist in future. She is an eternal individual and her present physical condition in the material world is not her true identity. Hence, I am not really surprised to know that she chose to visit a Hindu temple. She made a very good start. She prayed to Lord Ganesha and I would interpret this worship as a mark of her sense of humility. We need to humble ourselves if we wish to acquire self-knowledge. We need pure knowledge and perfect wisdom to understand the true nature of our connection to the ultimate reality. Britney Spears is aware of the powerful effects of time. Time would eventually dissolve everything. We can not hold onto our unreal possessions. The youthful glamor, the vibrant and melodious voice, the wealth and fame would all fade away as time marches on. We are better off if we begin the search for true identity early in life rather than waiting for time to subdue our arrogance .
Britney Spears should continue her spiritual journey and humility would be a very valuable companion. Humility is a partner that you could trust and depend upon and I am not really concerned for not finding her husband in the above photo.
THOMAS ROBERT, MALTHUS, ENGLISH ECONOMIST AND DEMOGRAPHER
Malthus(Feb 1766 to Dec 1834), the English economist was one of the earliest thinkers to study population growth as it relates to general human welfare. He had identified population growth as an obstacle to human progress. He became renowned for his pessimistic predictions regarding the future of humanity. Malthus had argued that the standard of living of the masses can not be improved because ” The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man “. In 1798, he published ‘ An Essay on the Principle of Population, As it Affects the Future Improvement of Society, ……’ and became famous as the originator of Malthusian population theory. ” Population, when unchecked, increases in geometrical progression of such a nature as to double itself every twenty five years .” Malthus had stated that infinite human hopes for social happiness must be vain, for population will always tend to outrun the growth of production. The increase of population will take place, if unchecked, in a geometrical progression, while the means of subsistence will increase in only an arithmetical progression. Population will always expand to the limit of subsistence and will be held there by famine, war and ill health. Betterment of the lot of mankind is impossible without stern limits on reproduction.
Malthus could be viewed as an economic pessimist who believed that poverty is a man’s inescapable lot. The Malthusian theory of population was incorporated into current theoretical systems of economics. He helped to justify a theory of wages that made the minimum cost of subsistence of the wage earner a standard of judgment. The immediate influence of the Malthusian theory of population on social policy was very great. In addition, Malthus had influenced thinkers like Charles Darwin who had formulated ‘ The Theory of Evolution ‘.
While I remember the English economist Malthus, I am glad to mention that my son ASHWIN would be awarded a Bachelor’s degree in Economics on December 16 th( Sunday) by The Eastern Michigan University and he would like to pursue graduate studies in Economics.
The fundamental question for India would be:
HOW WOULD INDIA FEED ITS HUMANITY IN FUTURE ????
Indians have to take a serious look at the problem of global warming, the climate changes that could be caused by human activities, the global shortage of drinking water, the shrinking glaciers and the melting ice fields in the Himalayas and its consequences on the volume of water that would flow down the major rivers that feed the Indian population.Indians have to consider the consequences of a ” Malthusian Catastrophe”.
A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO MR. SANTANAM, LECTURER IN POLITICAL SCIENCE, GIRIRAJ ARTS COLLEGE, NIZAMABAD, INDIA
I did my Pre-University Course(P.U.C.) in 1961-62 at Giriraj Arts College, Nizamabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. The main subjects of the course were Biology, Physics and Chemistry. In addition, I had studied Social Studies. Mr. Santanam was at that time a Lecturer in Political Science and he taught undergraduate students. He was given the additional assignment of teaching the P.U.C. class of Social Studies. For the first time in my life I heard about Malthus and his Population Theory when Mr. Santanam had introduced that subject in our class room. I would call Mr. Santanam a very effective communicator and a great teacher for I am able to recall the lesson that I had heard in 1961. I would also remember Mr. Santanam for my success in essay writing and debating competitions where the topics were related to what I had studied in the Social Studies class. In 1962, in a competition conducted at Nizamabad Town Hall, I received first prizes in both essay writing and the debate about the contributions made by India’s Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Mr. Santanam officiated as the judge for both of these events. At that time, he was no longer my teacher as I had joined the Bachelor of Science course with Botany, Zoology and Chemistry as my main subjects. While being a science student, I used to compete with his students studying Political Science. I was also awarded a first prize by The Rotary Club of Nizamabad when they held an elocution competition in observance of the United Nations Day. Later at a function held at Giriraj Arts College, while my father the Principal of the College was seated on the dais, I told the student assembly that India should not depend upon the United nations and should test the nuclear weapon. I would call Mr. Santanam a real teacher for he had given us education and had not taken away our ability to think for ourselves and formulate our own opinions on issues that we formally study in an academic environment. Mr. Santanam is also dear to us for other reasons. We used to play cricket in the municipal park that was located in front of the house where he had lived in Nizamabad. He used to come out and watch our game and had several times officiated as an umpire during friendly matches with other local teams. I still remember his appreciation for my younger brother Raghu’s bowling skills. I would like to give my thanks to Mr. Santanam, a lively person who made the study of Social Studies to survive beyond the limits of one academic course.
NO EVIL CAN BEFALL A GOOD MAN EITHER HERE OR HEREAFTER
THE DEATH OF SOCRATES
Ms. Emily Wilson is the author of this book( Harvard, 247 pages, $ 19.95) and it was reviewed by Thomas Meaney and the article with the title ‘ The Afterlife of a Skeptic ‘ had appeared in The Wall Street Journal in its edition of Saturday/Sunday, November 24-25, 2007. The book deals with as to how the execution of a philosopher has been reinterpreted for every era. The history of the interpretation of Socrates’ death speaks about the history of philosophy in the West. Mr. Meaney begins his review with the observation that the name of Socrates recalls his death more than his bewilderingly eccentric life.
Socrates, ancient Athenian philosopher, is best remembered for his admonition to ” KNOW THY SELF “. He laid the philosophical foundations of Western Culture. He made an effort to shore up the ethical dimension of life. He directed philosophical thought toward analyses of the character and conduct of human life. As Cicero said, Socrates “brought down philosophy from heaven to earth” – i.e. from the nature speculation of the Ionian and Italian cosmologists to analyses of the character and conduct of human life, which he had assessed in terms of an original theory of the soul. Socrates turned philosophy away from a study of the way things are toward a consideration of virtue and the health of the human soul. He was a man of deep piety with the temperament of a mystic. He believed in the soul’s immortality and had claimed that the soul of man partakes of the Divine. Socrates held himself to be an envoy from God. He believed himself charged with a mission from God to make his fellowmen aware of their ignorance and of the supreme importance of knowledge of what is for the soul’s good.
Socrates redirected philosophy from cosmology to the formulation of a rule of life, to the “practical use of reason”. The specific message from God that Socrates brought to his fellowmen was that of the “care” or “tending” of one’s ” soul, to make one’s soul as good as possible”- “making it like God”, infact – and not to ruin one’s life, as most men do, by putting care for the body or for “possessions” before care for the “soul”; for the “soul” is that which is most truly a man’s self. According to Socrates the soul is the man. He believed that to do wrong is to damage one’s soul. From this it follows that it is always worse to do wrong than to be wronged and that one must never return wrong for wrong. He had also maintained that virtue is knowledge and that all the virtues really amount to knowledge. His self-control and powers of endurance were exemplary. His self-imposed life of hardships and austerity was the price of his spiritual independence.
Socrates believed that he can teach merely by asking the right questions. He spent his life in conversation with Athenian citizens, seeking true knowledge and exposing the errors of those who claimed to have wisdom. Socrates would challenge anyone with a pretense to knowledge. Socrates had ushered in an age of rational inquiry. According to Socrates, the radical vice of ancient democracy is that of putting society in the hands of men without true insight and with no adequate expert knowledge( and in this regard, Socrates is absolutely correct and even today that is the biggest danger of Democracy!!!). He had expected that statesmen should act like “physicians of the body politic” and that they should promote ” righteousness and temperance”.
Socrates was indicted for “impiety”, “corruption of the young” and “neglect of the gods whom the city worships and the practice of religious novelties”. He had elevated virtue over the gods themselves, whose approval was so central to Athenian civil life. Socrates had claimed that he could prick the city into a higher state of self-awareness by disturbing its settled world view. In Plato’s account of the trial, ” The Apology “, Socrates defends himself not as a victim of censorship but as a benefactor of Athens. In an open- air Athenian court room in 399 B.C., the world’s first democracy sentenced one of the world’s first public intellectuals to death for disrespecting the city’s gods and leading its youth astray. His disciples were prepared to help him escape, but Socrates baffled them when he cheerfully swigged his lethal cup of hemlock after praising the city that wanted him gone. Socrates died for choosing the right to speak his conscience.
In the 18 th and 19 th centuries, Socrates was a hero aswellas a scourge for the best minds of their ages. Nietzsche saw Socrates as a deleterious species of cultural sickness. For him, Socrates marked the beginning of the regrettable triumph of ” naive rationalism “.Socrates’ death was a hostile act that, by championing a deadeningly abstract and unattainable notion of virtue, precluded living authentically in the world. Socrates is described as a radical skeptic. Ms. Wilson in her book concludes her interpretation of Socrates’ death with a curiously banal argument. She charges that Socrates wasn’t a good family man.
In the closing words of his speech to the jury, Socrates says : ” when my sons grow up, punish them, and pain them in the very same way I pained you, if they seem to you to care about money or anything else before virtue. And if they are reputed to be something when they are nothing, reproach them just as I did you, tell them that they do not care for the things they should, and that they suppose they are something when they are worth nothing “. The man who had been condemned to death for corrupting the sons of the city ends his life by instructing his executioners about how to treat his own children.He goes to his death with his faith in his own reason. After 2,400 years, it is still a resounding epitaph.
I am totally surprised by the book and its review. In the West, there appears to be no awareness of the ideas and thoughts that are routinely expressed in the East. I would not describe Socrates as a “SKEPTIC” and I would never describe his way of life as “ECCENTRIC”. I would compare Socrates to Shiva on one hand and on the other, I would compare him to Gautama Buddha. If Jesus Christ, who had written nothing, spent His time talking to people, when put on trial did not defend Himself and made no attempt to protect His personal life and did not return to His earthly parents’ home, could be called ” The Savior of Mankind “, I would most certainly uphold Socrates’ claim that he is a “BENEFACTOR”.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE – OPERATION EAGLE – GALLANTRY AWARD – LIBERATION WAR OF BANGLADESH 1971:
Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India initiated Liberation of Bangladesh with military action in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The battle plan of this military action is known as Operation Eagle.
SANGRAM MEDAL 1971
This medal was awarded for service during the 1971/72 War with Pakistan. This medal was given to all categories of personnel who served in the military, paramilitary forces, police, and civilians in service in the operational areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura between 3 December 1971 and 20 December 1972. A lot of people were awarded with this medal. I had an opportunity to narrate my story and spoke about my War experience to The Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services during my interview for the grant of Direct Permanent Commission which was conducted during the Army Medical Corps Examination of 1972.
I participated in the INDO-PAK WAR of 1971 while serving in the Indian Army after getting selected for Short Service Regular Commission in 1969. After the War I had applied for the grant of Direct Permanent Commission and there were over 3,000 doctors who had applied for the few vacancies that were available at that time.The AMC Examination for the grant of DPC was held in September, 1972 at New Delhi. The selection process had included an examination to evaluate the professional skills and an interview hosted by The Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services who was assisted by a large panel of specialists and other experts. In 1972, I was posted at a Unit and my Commander, Colonel Iqbal Singh had earlier served as the Chief of Staff at the Formation Headquarters during the 1971 War. My Commander was acutely aware of the fact that I was recommended for a Gallantry Award for my role in the War and that I had not received the Award. On my application for Direct Permanent Commission, Colonel Iqbal Singh , while giving his recommendation, wrote about my operational role and performance in the War. The Director General while commencing my interview took a brief look at my application and the remarks given by my Unit Commander. The first question that I was asked was to describe my War experience. As I spoke, the entire Selection Committee listened to me with great interest and the Director General was so fascinated with my story and he directed his second question to me, asked me to give him more details of the operation. I was a Medical Officer who had witnessed the War like a front row spectator and that was a very unique situation and only a very few get that kind of chance to witness a military operation without being a fighting soldier. He got totally engrossed with my story and he even forgot that all the time that was allotted for the interview had been used up. Since, the Selection Committee had to interview several more candidates on that day, the Director General concluded my interview with openly congratulating me for my performance during the War and he had graciously inquired the other members of the Selection Committee if they would like to ask me any more questions. They had unanimously announced that they had no other questions to ask and I was permitted to leave. A Major was designated to usher in the candidates for the interview and escort them out of the Conference Room was a witness to my performance during the interview. He had briefly spoken to me as I was leaving the venue. He had assured me that I was granted the Direct Permanent Commission and the confirmation letter would be a mere formality. A few weeks later, I did receive the confirmation letter and I was granted Direct Permanent Commission in Army Medical Corps with effect from 07 March 1973.
THE PHANTOMS OF CHITTAGONG : THE FIFTH ARMY IN BANGLADESH :
Major General( Retd) Sujan Singh Uban, AVSM, the former Inspector General of Special Frontier Force has authored the book titled ‘The Phantoms of Chittagong : The Fifth Army in Bangladesh’. He had narrated the military exploits of his Force while operating in Chittagong Hill Tracts during Indo-Pak War of 1971. He did not describe the story that I had shared with the Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services. My story was witnessed by hundreds of independent eye witnesses, for example, the Border Security Force Personnel who were manning the Post at Bonapansuria in Mizo Hills had celebrated my arrival with Battle Casualties at their Camp.
Dr. R. R. Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Ex- Service Number: MR-03277K MAJOR AMC/DPC & MS-8466 CAPTAIN AMC/SSC
Medical Officer, South Column, Operation Eagle 1971
This medal is awarded in recognition of non-operational services under conditions of special hardship and severe climate. The bar or clasp shows the words ” NEFA ” in Hindi. To qualify for this award, an aggregate of one year service in the North-East Frontier Agency(NEFA) is required. The medal shows an image of Nanda Devi Himalayan mountain peak with a bamboo stand in the foreground. I am proud of my military service in this area for several reasons. In 1962, after Chinese brutal aggression, India lost control over its territory in the LADAKH region and that area still remains under the Chinese occupation. Fortunately, in the north-east Himalayan sector, India retains its control over the territory which we had lost in the 1962 War. In 1972, I was very glad to serve in this area for one complete year and I could personally witness the fact that India is prepared to fight the Chinese one more time and we are willing to do our best to keep ‘NEFA'( now known as ARUNACHAL PRADESH- The Land where Sun rises) under our control whatever may be the Chinese threats and protests. China did not give up its claim over this territory and had refused to issue a visa to an Officer of the Indian Administrative Service who had earlier served in this region. The tensions still exist and I am glad for we are better prepared now and if war is inevitable, we would welcome that challenge. When I entered this area, the first thing that I was told by my Adjutant was, ” Rudra, if you need a copy of your most recent photo, ask the Chinese Intelligence, and they could provide you one “. The Chinese Intelligence was keeping tabs on each Officer who is entering this area and keeping a close watch on our movements. We are neither threatened and nor intimidated by this kind of Chinese surveillance and we wanted to assure the Chinese that we will not be deterred by their Intelligence capabilities. Actually, I moved around this region without carrying my personal weapon. In 1972, this area was totally free of any unrest and insurgent activities. Indian Army had encountered problems in Naga Land, Mizoram and Tripura but not in NEFA. I would like to narrate a few events and earlier I had mentioned about the Traditional Hospitality in my entry titled ‘ Defining Indian Identity- The Tradition of Hospitality ‘.
INDIAN ARMY’S COMMITMENT TO ITS MEN:
In the Indian Army, we take pride in looking after our men and very often we stretch ourselves to do our best to safeguard the welfare of our men even under the most difficult circumstances. And we maintain this attitude while extending help to others who may not be members of our Service. I remember my stay at a Company location when a Sub-Inspector of Police came to me asking for some medical attention. He belonged to the Central Reserve Protection Force and was sent on posting to this difficult area without any prior health screening. I am sure that the same thing could be happening even today. We deploy police personnel to work in remote areas and we do not care and value their services. This man was not medically fit to serve in this area and no attempt was made to ascertain his physical fitness to perform the task for which he was sent. Fortunately, he had survived the long trek and a very difficult and physically challenging climb and reached the Government Clinic where I was voluntarily providing services to all civilian inhabitants in that area. I examined him and found his blood pressure to be very high and he was at great risk of suffering from a stroke which could be fatal or cause paralysis. He had undiagnosed high blood pressure for a long time and I could also find evidence that his kidneys were already damaged. He needed immediate hospital treatment and required emergency evacuation. His Police Department never cared to inquire about his well being before giving him the posting order. Whereas in the Armed Forces, we routinely interview the men and get them medically examined before they are sent to difficult areas. I had prepared a note about his medical condition and the signal team had immediately dispatched this message and within minutes, my request was approved and the Air Force was informed to send a helicopter. After a short while, I received a call from the helicopter pilot who spoke to me on his radio and informed me that he was sitting in his helicopter and was ready to take off as soon as the weather permits. That was a particularly, rainy and cloudy day with very poor visibility and the mission was really challenging. The pilot had assured me that he would fly in spite of all odds and would pick up my patient. The control tower was closely monitoring the clouds and they were waiting for a window of opportunity to make this trip while the cloud system moves through the mountain valley. He had asked me to keep the patient ready at the helipad and that he would not be able to spend even an extra minute on the ground. Within minutes, the whole scenario at my camp had changed. The day had started on a very dull note. It was raining and there was dense fog. Suddenly, everybody got busy. As per standing orders, armed men were sent to secure our landing strip, weather signs were posted, the helipad was marked with fresh paint, smoke signals and other equipment were positioned on the ground. We erected a small shelter for the patient to rest while waiting for evacuation. A Sub-Inspector of Police was suddenly transformed into a ‘ Very Important Person ‘. He was worried about his senior officers who had transferred him to this station. He was worried that he might offend them by leaving his duty station without their prior permission. I had reassured him and told him that Indian Army would accept total responsibility for sending him to the hospital and that we value him and care for his well being and that we would not expect anyone to perform duty when their personal health is at risk. The pilot made the bold trip as promised and had safely transported him to a Service Hospital. The Sub-Inspector of Police told me that he would never forget the day on which he could directly experience the sense of urgency with which we acted and treated him as if he is the most precious thing on earth.
I love this award and the opportunity it gave to me to demonstrate my commitment to serve the men who serve our country.
I shall begin with a traditional greeting. As a kid, I was trained to greet and acknowledge others. The greeting is called NAMASKAR or NAMASTE .
Today’s presentation is named BHARAT DARSHAN . The Land of India in our Culture and tradition is referred to as the Land of Bharat. ‘Darshan’ means viewing a place or an event. During this brief tour, I would present to you a few glimpses of India’s history and Culture. I would launch you on a journey to Discover India.
Culture is defined as learned behavior. My traditions teach me that I should approach life with a sense of abundant caution. I am cautioned to avoid absolute optimism. It is like fastening your seat belt before you begin to drive. In any human endeavor, I am told to expect a positive outcome only after taking care of any possible negative outcomes. If you are driving your car, the State Law dictates that you would reach your destination safely only after taking precautions such as the wearing of seat belt to avoid serious injury. My success is guaranteed only if I anticipate and overcome all the obstacles that I might face along the road. However, my success is never entirely mine. I am trained to believe that my success is a blessing and that I should accept success with a sense of humility.
To remove obstacles that may hinder me on my path, my Culture offers an icon who is designated as the remover of obstacles. This icon is known as GANESHA. He is also the mentor of learning. The learning process begins after seeking His blessings. Today, I would like to succeed in my speaking event. I would ask Him to help me in presenting this project which I call ‘ Bharat Darshan ‘. My prayerful thoughts are expressed by this Sanskrit verse :
‘Shuklaam bara dharam, Vishnum, sasi varnam chaturbhujam
Prasanna Vadanam dhyaaye, tsarva vighno pa shantayey’.
The key phrase in this verse is ‘Prasanna Vadanam’. All obstacles are removed and subdued if I meditate upon His face which is a picture of relaxation and total composure. This prayer specifically guides me to overcome problems by focusing on positive energy that can be gained by reflecting upon a face that promotes tranquility.
Brief overview of BHARAT DARSHAN
During this presentation, I would address the following questions.
1. Who is an Indian?
2. What was the single most important event in India’s history?
3. What is the essence of Indian Culture?
4. What is the role of icons, symbols, idols and images in Indian Culture?
I . WHO IS AN INDIAN?
Culture gives people a sense of personal identity. Defining that identity helps in understanding the Culture.
The name Indian is related to the great river SINDHU which is also known as Indus. After the political partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, much of the river Sindhu traverses across the land of Pakistan. However, at no time in our existence we regarded Sindhu river as our symbol of identity. We view ourselves as people of a Land where the river GANGA or the Ganges flows. Indians cherish the value of keeping their hearts and minds pure and clean. We very fondly believe that Mother GANGA or the Ganges can cleanse us and help us to attain that purity. It is like the practice of ‘ Water Baptism ‘. Secondly, we belong to a Land where people cherish the value of speaking the truth. Indians claim that God is Truth and believe that Truth is God. This belief is reflected in the motto of our nation. The motto is ‘ SATYAMEV JAYATE ‘ meaning that Truth alone triumphs.
II . WHAT WAS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT IN INDIA’S HISTORY ?
The single most important event in the entire history of India, the defining moment of our history was the birth of the Sanskrit language, the Language of people who identified themselves as “Aryans” around 1500 B.C. The introduction of the Sanskrit language was indeed a blessed event. Sanskrit became the language of our Culture. Sanskrit enriched all other Indian languages and encouraged the growth of literature in almost every region of India. The Aryan Culture flows in India and joins the colorful streams of all other regional Indian Cultures. This Cultural influx can be compared to the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna at PRAYAG which we consider as the holiest of all holy places in India. Outwardly, the combined stream of life appears to be the same, but inwardly it illuminated our minds and vitalized our hearts.
III . WHAT IS THE ESSENCE OF INDIAN CULTURE?
I must again mention that Culture is defined as learned behavior. The most important behavior that is expected of me is that of showing respect and obedience. It is not merely about showing respect to the Gods we worship. Even the Gods that we worship also implicitly observe the rule about showing respect and obedience. This social expectation rules every relationship and activity. It is the basic expectation let it be parent-child relationship, husband-wife relationship, teacher-student relationship, employer-employee relationship, the relationship between the Ruler and the ruled, relationship between siblings and very often even between friends. Respectful conduct is expected while receiving guests, while dealing with any elder even though the person may not be related to you. In addition, several plants, trees, birds, animals, rivers and mountains enjoy a special status and are treated with great respect. This social behavior is encouraged at all times and we are trained as kids to display this behavior. Instead of God, I am FREE to choose a human, a plant, a tree, an animal, some element of nature or even a stone and worship that object with the same and similar amount of respect that I may give to God. The Gods of our Culture would not get angry or jealous if I get totally preoccupied with showing respect to someone else other than the Gods. Most of us get used to showing respect to a variety of objects.
IV . WHAT IS THE ROLE OF ICONS, SYMBOLS, IDOLS AND IMAGES IN INDIAN CULTURE?
I am trained to believe that life is a complex and challenging experience. The life’s journey is compared to swimming across a vast and unknown deep ocean. The journey as perceived is neither simple nor easy. We are provided with icons and symbols as our navigational tools. We derive our comfort and strength by our dependence upon idols and images. We imbibe values by simply imitating the chosen role models. Personal responsibility and self-motivation are very important but for companionship and guidance we look towards one or the other idol. To draw a comparison, it is like using icons on your computer screen to travel upon the so-called information super highway. Every icon that we use has become a part and parcel of our Cultural legacy. I shall explain a few of them:
Lord Shiva is like Socrates of 5 Th century B.C. who is claimed to be the father of western thought. He implored people to ” know thy self “. Socrates stated that the ‘ unexamined life is not worth living ‘. Shiva guides me to reflect upon life. Shiva encourages introspection, reflecting upon your own mind and thoughts. Shiva is recognized as the God of learning. To commence learning, we respectfully tell Shiva that we are ready and prepared to receive our learning instructions. In Sanskrit, the phrase that is used is ‘ SIDDHAM ‘ meaning ready. Shiva ensures that we are willing and obedient before we start the first day of our schooling career. Shiva defines that the purpose of learning is to acquire the ability to think for oneself.
Ganesha is the mentor of learning. He symbolizes the values of attentive listening, writing down words as instructed and patience. In the learning process, He works like a catalyst. He facilitates achievement by removing obstacles. He helps me to gain success with humility.
Sarasvati, the Goddess of Wisdom represents the value of acquiring pure knowledge. She is very much like the person described as ‘ Wisdom ‘ in the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 1, 3 and 4 of the King James version of Holy Bible. To optimize our learning potential, to draw upon the immense powers of a creative mind, She recommends an attitude of humility, obedience and discipline. All the Gods of our Culture including Her spouse BRAHMA worship Her to avoid mental lethargy. She defines that the goal of learning is to transform our minds to make us creative individuals.
Discovering India demands knowledge of plants, trees, birds, animals, rivers and mountains that are a part of our landscape. The Culture is reflected in the national symbols that we chose. A single word that can represent the full spectrum of our Cultural legacy is ‘ NAMASKAR ‘.
Please also view my post titled ‘Defining Indian Identity – The Land of Karma’
HOMER – ONE OF THE GREATEST OF THE WORLD’ S LITERARY ARTISTS.
The two great epic poems of ancient Greece, the Iliad and the Odyssey are attributed to Homer. Homer is an oral poet and Homeric tradition is an oral one- that this is a kind of poetry made and passed down by word of mouth and without the intervention of writing. Through out world, people have orally transmitted many texts, let it be history, literature or scriptures, for long periods of time, before the texts were committed to writing. The people of India share this great tradition and we practice this tradition during our festivals and while performing specific rituals. For example, ‘GAYATRI MAHA MANTRAM’ is orally transmitted during the ritual called ‘ UPANAYANAM ‘. During festival season, we gather and listen to ‘ PURANAS ‘, which are ancient stories. A myth is essentially told. India is the land where the myths are transmitted form one generation to the next in the form of Epic Poetry.
MY STORY ABOUT ‘ HOMER’ WHO LIVED IN RAJAHMUNDRY
I had narrated my stories about my early childhood life in Rajahmundry. Kindly refer back to my blog entries about ‘The Tradition of Ahimsa’, ‘The Tradition of Idol Worship’ and ‘The Tradition of River Worship’. I learned about the Culture of my Land from very ordinary folks and they are the faces of the Indian Identity that I would love to speak about. As a little kid, I sometimes performed chores while we lived in my grand parents’ home in Innispeta. I still have a vivid recollection of this event which helps me to speak about our oral tradition. I was walking along the ‘MAIN ROAD’ of Rajahmundry and was passing in front of ” PEDDA MASJID “( The Big Mosque ). An elderly person stopped me and spoke to me. I was a little diminutive kid walking bare foot on the street. The man was very modestly dressed and appeared to be one of the working poor of the town who make their living by performing simple menial tasks at the market place. Some of you, who had lived in Rajahmundry know that we have a vegetable market in that area and it is the heart of the town. I could see the sense of sadness on his face. He was simply trying to unburden himself and share the emotional pain with which he might have lived for many years. I remember this incident as the expression of sorrow and dismay is entirely true. He did not ask for any favor or help. He was not canvassing for any support for any political ideology. He was not speaking about his poverty or the hardships of his daily life. He had plainly shared the truth about the “BIG MOSQUE”. The mosque was not real. It was a temple. The temple was demolished and the mosque was erected in its place. He did not learn about it by visiting a library or reading the notes written by some historian or archaeologist. He had lived his life in the town and he gained this information from people who had lived before him. He had felt their pain and thought that it was important to share this collective memory with the next generation. I really do not know as to how long we should live with this injustice. But for now, my time has come. I need to narrate this story to the next generation. We shall continue to do so as long as this pain lives. This simple man, whose name is not known to me, who had written no epic poetry, is my ‘ HOMER’.Like the Great Poet, this man orally transmitted the ‘ORIGINAL’ pain and the emotional experience of people who had lived in Rajahmundry centuries before my arrival and it survived in my memory and it would hopefully survive in the memories of our future generations. A bit of historical truth is as great as a long poem. A temple had been destroyed and the pain experienced by the community would live as long as our oral tradition would live.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi delivered the first blow to initiate the Liberation of Bangladesh during 1971. Her military action in Chittagong Hill Tracts is known as Operation Eagle. I would like to recognize the fallen heroes on both sides. Kindly visit my blog post titled ‘Liberation War of Bangladesh – Fallen Heroes on Both Sides’.