Found on the dashboard of the tuk tuk I hired this morning (a very regular sight in India) :
Needless to say, the autowallah was Hindu. Glittering on his forehead was a bold Kumkum (vermilion) dot over dried sandal paste and Vibhuti (made of incensed wood ash). The picture was one good testimony to the so-called ‘Unity in Diversity’ we practise in India. Of harmony and peace. Of tolerance and acceptance. Of equality and secularism and mutual respect. The only snag about the framed picture is, this is something that adorns only most Hindu/Hindu managed/run schools, hospitals, hotels, cabs, shops and business establishments. Something that can never be spotted in a christian or muslim institution of whatever kind. Apparently, secularism and tolerance is one way street in India. Limited and advised and restricted to Hindus. The minorities of India viz., christians and muslims are exempted by all means and secularism loosely translates to ‘majority bashing’ in this nation.
Striking up a conversation with the autowallah, I came to hearing him narrate a story that explained the difference between the Sanathana Dharma (universal faith or Hinduism) and the Abrahamic folds that originated in Middle East (Christianity and Islam).
A ‘sadhu’ watched a scorpion drowning in a pond. He quickly pulled it out of water when he got stung by the poisonous creature. He let out a wail in pain and in the hand movement, the scorpion slipped back into the pond. Unfettered, the sadhu once again took the scorpion out of the pond only to get stung once more by the vicious one. A bystander walked upto the sadhu and asked him, why knowing the scorpion would sting the sadhu decided to take it out of water. Why couldn’t he let it drown.
The sadhu replied that, stinging the hand that saved (or fed) it was scorpion’s DNA. Saving its life still was his human nature knowing and expecting the pain of the sting and venom.
The simple autowallah explained to me how noble Hindu dharma is. We Hindus historically took the pain and miserable suffering in our stride refusing to retaliate even in self-defence. It is only in last few years, you see the Hindu resurgence. Even now we are only in the defensive. The Hindu is sick of being trampled upon and terrorized and betrayed and taken for a ride. The dormant, complacent Hindu is waking up to bitter reality. Unlike the sadhu of the story, the Hindu has no further options to save himself. If he does not strike back, he may have to face extinction.
I told the autowallah, that was super. ‘So I hope you won’t convert if bribed or coerced or terrorized?’ I asked him hopefully. ‘Nope’ he assured me, ‘M’am I know the Abrahamics are predatory but I can take care of myself.’ I need not have worried. The young man came across as a wise and strong individual. ‘If even the Hindus and Buddhists have to rally to protect themselves today, it means the end of the world is nearing’ I told him. He nodded his head in affirmation. ‘I feel good seeing this picture in your three wheeler but I know i will never see it in a christian/muslim cab.’ ‘Sad reality’ he agreed, ‘we Hindus are always the givers and the others are always the takers. Finally there comes a breaking point. This cannot go on forever. When there is no mutual reciprocation, balance will have to be restored. Things have to be set right.’
I bid a happy good bye to the fellow as I alighted from his rocking auto (not a comfortable ride really). My Puja already has a sealed copper urn of Ganga jal (holy water from river Ganga) sitting aside Zam Zam from Mecca that came from an Arab friend. Couldn’t refuse such a gift when it was offered without asking. I thought it was a sign and put it in my Puja. That must have been over ten years back. In spite of criticizing Islam and muslims and Christianity and christians, I cannot bring myself to show disrespect or disparity to Zam Zam treating it any different. I revere both the holy waters in my Puja. The Hindu in me would not allow anything less than that. In every cathedral I came across in Europe and Georgia, neither could I stop myself from saying a prayer to Christ. I asked for His pardon for deriding the faith that He founded. He must guess as to what drives passive Hindus like me to take on our adversaries headlong. Of course, I also asked Jesus to stop Vatican from converting Hindus and other natives forthwith!
Recent visit to Bali revealed to me a different version of Hinduism, liberal in some ways and more ritualistic in others. The first Hindu king of Bali Udayana from 11th century CE, takes the credit for the present day Bali culture and heritage. South East Asia was Hindu from Cambodia and Mauritius to Indonesia and Malaysia for centuries before Islam entered the scene. Hindu kings of south India had reached the far eastern shores of the world long before even Islam and Christianity came to India. Kedah of Malaysia was taken by Chozha king of south India who thus earned his title ‘Kedaram Kondan.’ But unlike the Abrahamic religions that unleashed terror and violence in India and world over, the Hindu Dharma as well as Buddhism spread in a gentler fashion to other parts of the world dispersing wisdom and peace in their wake. Be it Bhutan or Nepal or Sri Lanka or Vietnam or Thailand or Tibet or China or parts of Jawa, Hinduism or Buddhism is still practised by a section/most of their subjects, albeit of an altered strain. Japanese Shintoism reveres Hindu God the elephant faced Ganesha. Angkorwat, the world’s largest Hindu temple in Cambodia is a world heritage site that draws tourists from around the globe.
Bali is predominantly Hindu I knew, but nothing prepared me for the overwhelming Hindu culture of a different genre that swept through the entire beautiful equatorial Indonesian island, steeped in mystique and charm to this twenty first century. After a day or two, i stopped clicking pictures of small chapel-like temples in front of each and every Bali Hindu home and office and business. A land of billion temples. Billion Hindu temples. That’s Bali. This is chief reason, Hindu culture could not be easily dismantled in Bali by the invaders. The last occupiers of Bali were the Dutch who wrecked havoc in the island during the second world war, leaving the native society battered and bruised.
Bali Hindu temples do not admit non Hindus strictly and even the Indian Hindus, except for a couple of shrines that are world tourist attractions. Mainland or other foreign Hindus may seek permission and be properly attired in local costume ‘Sarong’ (Sarong is Bali’s national/state dress. It is beach dress only for the rest of the world). The doors of Bali temples are otherwise closed to one and all except for the local island Hindus. Bali Hindus constitute about 80% of the island population. Muslims, Christians and Buddhists make up for the rest. Balinese Hindus and Buddhists are naturally compatible as they share cultural values.
Indonesia, the muslim majority nation, fails to draw tourists of decent count. Only Bali, the Hindu island of Indonesia attracts global tourists and earns precious foreign exchange for the islamic nation.
Balinese Hindus still are not overtly rich, yet they are not poor either, especially by Indonesian standards. Indonesian Rupiah, one will have to carry by truckload and is a worthless paper. We paid millions and millions of converted Indonesian Rupiahs for our shopping and other needs.
Balinese Hindus are a bit westernized by foreign cultural influences brought in by guests from world over. Yet they seem to cling on to their belief systems with all the faith and moral strength they can muster.
I was surprised to learn that our PM Modi is a hit with Balinese Hindus. More than a couple of men told me, he is the last hope of global Hindus.
Allegedly, the islamic majority Indonesia is plainly envious of the Bali Hindu. Bali bombing a few years back was by Indonesian islamic terrorists targeting Australian tourists for whom Bali is like a second home. Australians seem to love everything about Bali. They are around for months, vacationing in the island paradise with their families every year.
The Hindu and the Christian cultural extravaganza in New year eve must have felt like a thorn in the islamic flesh of Indonesia. Over a thousand small and big and mid sized islands constitute the Indonesian archipelago. Yet, what hurts their islamic government and the Indonesian muslim majority is the staunch Bali Hindu survival. Out of the thousand others, it is the lone Hindu who is prospering in the otherwise total islamic republic, that does not go down well with average Indonesians. Their irritation and envy and restlessness seem palpable. Every other non Hindu/non Bali Indonesian you may come across in Bali is unable to hide his impatience and intense jealousy at Balinese success story. The unique Bali Hindu culture has remained unshakable over time.
I won the confidence of the Balinese Hindus who spoke to me from their heart, only because I was a native Hindu from India. Most Balinese Hindus dream of a day when they can set their foot in the holy Hindu homeland ‘Bharat.’
Never through the centuries, the Balinese confide, they have felt threatened by any invader or have feared for their existence. But now they reckon, their days could be numbered.
Every third muslim Indonesian is in Bali looking for work as well as Bali Hindu girl to marry. I said, we have an equivalent in India that we call ‘Love Jehad.’
For their part, the Indonesian Christians are not helping either. One Indonesian christian I met was intensely jealous of the Bali Hindu. ‘Hinduism is cumbersome, overtly ritualistic and expensive religion to follow; it is time consuming and complex to understand. Christianity is easy and therefore Bali Hindu has started converting’ said he. No surprise at the well disguised animosity towards the island majority.
Rafting along the Ayung river, I was rejoicing at centuries old Ramayana engravings, the life history of the Hindu God Lord Ram, etched in the rocks in dense forests of the banks. Very crudely overlapping the ancient sculpting screeched: ‘JESUS LOVES YOU, JESUS CALLS YOU’, obviously the handiwork of visiting tourists from west. Joshua Project in Bali or what? To go to so much trouble somewhere where your life could be at risk seems to point to only one thing: the christian missionaries will stop at nothing when it comes to their conversion spree.
Worshiping the Trimurthi: Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the nurturer/protector) and Shiva (the destroyer), the Trinity of male Hindu Gods in Bali’s most ancient temples was a moving experience for me. Along side were the trinity of female Hindu Goddesses the Tridevi: Saraswathi (for wisdom/knowledge/learning), Lakshmi (wealth and fortune) and Shakthi (the power or energy). Everywhere I turned Hindu names welcomed me. Balinese Hindus perform Puja at their temples three times a day even in these hectic times with flowers and anoint their foreheads with a rice grain tilak. No taxi driver starts his day without Puja first to his cab just like we may do in India! No surprise, the Indonesian airline goes by name ‘Garuda.’ Reenactment of Ramayana in Uluwatu in a trance dance is a cultural heritage handed over generations.
Balinese Hindus I spoke to were quick to admit, they were not hostile to alien cultures. But of late they felt threatened by Islam. They were aware of various bomb attacks carried by islamists around the world. They remain shaken by the Bali bombing to this day. Yet as they are aware, Bali is the money spinner for an economically downward spiraling Indonesia. There have been attempts by previous islamic governments of Indonesia to sell off Bali to profiteering American corporations. The Balinese have seen it all. They have held their head high and proud and have resisted every single move to destabilize them and and destroy them. How long they can keep up their bravado and will power and resistance is a billion dollar question.
Average Balinese Hindus are eager to receive Hindu visitors from India. Australians, Indians and Chinese are their major patrons. Indians though are worst time keepers, confessed a guide. He was sick waiting on rude and ill mannered Indian tourists who always delayed the tours.
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION OF FIRST ORDER: ATTEMPTED CHRISTIAN CONVERSION OF WORLD’S LAST ABORIGINAL/INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
CRIMINAL AND ANTI-NATIONAL ACTIVITY AGAINST INDIA EQUAL TO WAGING WAR ON INDIA
Normally we do not like to see a fellow human brutalized to death.
But this time, entire 800 million Hindu population of India rejoiced when an American christian missionary who wanted to spread the word of Jesus in highly protected/preserved aboriginal island of India in the Andamans – was killed with arrows by the endangered ethnic tribes numbering mere 50 to 100 (unverified number).
Even for Indian citizens, venturing into these islands is legally prohibited. India zealously guards the indigenous people of Andamans from foreign intervention and exposure, giving in to the will of the tribes to remain secluded and out of touch with modern world.
Now the entire Christian world would not take it easy. They would want to stamp out this little heaven of the natives as they have done with North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand – waiting to hoist their flags atop the graves of the natives once they are ethnic-cleansed.
And believe me, it is easiest to wipe out the tribal races as they are extremely vulnerable to germs and infections, as the ethnic Sentinels have never come into touch with fellow (alien) humans in history. They have constantly discouraged any form of contact and have preferred absolute seclusion, shunning what we term ‘civilization’ and ‘culture.’ Previous attempts to ‘establish’ contact with the tribes have ended in dismal failure,
Greedy fishermen folk who ferried the American have been rounded up.
Americans and Europeans as a practice seem to want to flout local laws and customs and traditions especially in Asian countries.
Hats off to India for not touching the exclusive and elusive Andaman tribes until the 21st century, letting them be. (Few more ethnic tribes have human contact).
What a cruel, twisted and perverted mind would want to sell god forbidden Abrahamic faith to these purest aborigines. Is your Jesus a commodity for you to sell in market place. Shame on you guys! Shame on Christian evangelical missions and shame on America to still want to wipe out natives. Shame on Christianity, shame be to your Christ.
Not an iota of sympathy to this missionary. To me this christian American missionary is as worse as IS.
I wish every Hindu in India musters courage to give such an equal treatment to foreign christian missionaries setting foot in our native soil to convert Hindus. Christian/Islamic terrorism is one and the same to me. You can kill and destroy with AK 47s, you can also destroy nations and people with the Bible.
Welcome to India as our guest, to learn, to work, for medical treatment, for holiday. Come here to proselytize with your Bible or Koran, we shall cut you to pieces and feed you to crocodiles.
Thank you so much Andaman Tribal brothers and sisters, I may not get to shake your hands, (and I do not want to), still may your tribe increase and flourish! I shall pray for your eternal isolation from rest of the world. May you survive this horrible materialistic sadistic world on your own terms.
“Shocked to watch Vaseline body lotion ad in tv where coolly the comparison is made with Coconut oil and the native traditional cocount oil is pronounced inferior to this chemical Vaseline product which is a petroleum derivative in truth. How Govt of India can allow such a senseless and insulting ad is surprising. Will Vaseline maker compare their products similarly with Olive oil and run such a n advertisement pumping lies in Mediterranean countries. In India you can bash all that’s Hindu and native Hindu/Indian and get away with that. VASELINE, TAKE OUT THE COCONUT OIL COMPARING AD now. Swear never to buy Lever products. Must be sued in the court of law.”
Added this comment: “Request all my friends to stop using Vaseline products until the insensitive and damaging ad is withdrawn . With an apology.”
One thought the world is going organic in a big way. And now this.
The commercial goes on to say how coconut oil lets your skin go dry in less than one hour whereas the chemical Vaseline, product of Lever, keeps your skin hydrated for hours. That a foreign manufacturer has this kind of audacity to present to us Indians such a nonsense and baseless truth is unbelievable.
The nerve these people have (for instance asking us to keep away from savouring Indian/Desi sweets during Diwali for weight-loss whereas Swiss chocolates and the Christmas bakes such as cakes etc., are fine)… Indian media controlled and owned by the Church does its daily dose of mass brainwashing the tv viewers in middle class Indian homes. See how Times Now is degrading Diwali and promoting Christmas in native Hindu soil. Systematically and slyly, cleverly done in a most unsuspecting way. Pictures courtesy (!): Francois Gautier
Eco-friendly green Diwali is fine so long as Eid is celebrated by muslims without animal sacrifice and Christmas by christians sans the christmas tree. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India should dispense unbiased justice.
Not long ago, India’s national/traditional costume dating back by thousands of years and as ancient as the very Hindu civilization was communalized and politicized similarly by none less than the New York Times. What must have irked them is that, the unstitched single piece garment the Indian Sari has survived the brutal regimes of the British and the Islamic invaders before them to this 21st century. The Sari is the ultimate defiance. Defiance as to how Hindu Dharma has triumphed over westernization and universal Americanization and even Islamization. That the Sari just cannot be replaced or removed is a reminder to the rest of the world that we Hindu Indians will NOT toe your line. (that the reporter/journalist is a muslim comes as no surprise just like the Supreme court case for women’s entry to Sabarimala Hindu shrine was filed by a muslim who was more concerned about Hindu women rights over his own women hiding behind burqa).
Multinational designers and brands have made their way into India in a big way post globalization, yet the foreign fashion houses are dismayed they cannot dislodge the Sari from the Hindu/Indian soul. India is a huge, huge market of a 500 million middle class families. So these manipulators leave no stone unturned to ensure that the Hindu institution of India is deconstructed brick by brick. It is important that the Indian nari is disrobed of her Sari, only then the jeans and skirts can make headway.
Sari, the stark reminder of all things native and pedigree…
As for China and Japan and Korea and other Asian nations, their societies are westernized beyond recognition already. Something that is impossible to do with in India. Hindus steadfastly hold on to the Carnatic/Hindustani music, Bharatnatyam/Kathak traditional dances and other native art forms without being swept over by one huge tide of westernization. Even the Arab world is westernized. From their food habits to fashion/accessories and lifestyle. Indian Hindu psyche is impossible to conquer. Education/employment makes no difference to our vast majority. We remain what we are.
The Lever’s Vaseline body lotion/moisturizer commercial now playing in Indian television channels is one more direct attack to destabilize and confuse the native Hindu/Indian. Strike at the base, strike at the core of one’s belief system, shake the confidence. Ridicule all that is original, and super impose the fake ideologies. Lower the native self-esteem. Debase. Denounce. Discredit. Then you win in a big, big way. That is how the Philippines went down.
India is still unfinished business for the west. You have to be either a Christian or Muslim in this world. Belong to one of the two violent blocks. India/Hindu means DEFIANCE. We refuse to follow or accept the Abrahamic fold/faiths. We refuse to agree that God came from Middle East. We refuse to accept both Jesus and Allah. We are here. We are Hindus. Our Gods are our native sons of the soil, our ancestors, our blood forefathers. To Hell with Yours!
This Vaseline commercial is the last straw. Already watching the Colgate Ved Shakthi advertisement and the Hamaam Neem ad., in tv, one feels a surge of anger. How Lever without a care in the world has lifted Ayurveda formula into manufacture (without paying a royalty to Indian govt?) is unbelievable. Such an outright intellectual theft is not something taken for granted or tolerated in America or Europe or Australia. But then this is our India. Here you can unleash a torrent of abuse/insult on anything Hindu/Indian and ridicule/rubbish us to our face taking us for a ride, we shall still remain eternally grateful to these multinationals by making them richer by the day.
Missed out as usual the titles and opening scene which was anyway predictable. Caught up with it later in You Tube.
A wild life enthusiast, the film no wonder appeals to me. Compelling watch for all nature lovers.
Sperm whale and the Elephant both reign supreme in their respective territories. The former roams the oceans as the world’s largest mammalian predator and the counterpart rules the forested lands as the earth’s surprisingly herbivorous and gentlest giant. The duo though have a mind of their own. They neither forget nor forgive, almost blessed with a sixth sense and emotion akin to human beings. Most endangered species today, the two also continue to be hunted down ruthlessly to extinction. Quite like whale hunting, culling of tuskers also has been in practice for centuries. While the whales yielded the precious burning oil (literally) to the then darker world devoid of electricity and gas, the elephant tusks became trophies and intricate and expensive jewelry, the most coveted treasure of the wealthiest of the world.
Whaling goes on in present times unabated as we see in Scandinavian seas/countries and also Japan/China. Elephants are pricey too and elephant poaching still goes unchecked in many parts of the world. While the wild elephant habitat and elephant corridors have shrunk by many times in geographical extent, the high seas are now too very crowded by mariners that whale population is threatened for survival like never before.
The greed of the mankind is alarming and cruel, at the same time the adventurous spirit of the human race in touching greater heights, in reaching beyond, in daring, in challenging, in going out the last mile driven by sheer instinct and guts breaking boundaries and shackles, is amazing. May be the future Homo Sapiens will evolve with mutations to breathe in carbon-di-oxide and breath out oxygen who knows !!!
The picture is a whale hunting tale, not to be compared with the likes of the ‘Jaws’, ‘Anaconda’ or ‘Lake Placid.’ These are creatures of our imagination, brought to life in silver screen. Whereas this is real life story from Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Hero whale hunter is Chase played by Chris Hemsworth who is the first mate of the whaleship ‘Essex.’
The brave expedition gets published in America when a fortunate survivor Nickerson who happens to have joined the whaleship as a cabin boy, is approached by author/novelist Herman Melville.
Period film dating back to 1820 based on the non-fiction, as narrated by the teen survivor Thomas Nickerson who lives unto ripe old age to sell his story to the writer, the mysterious whale hunting voyage is unraveled of its hidden and buried secrets locked away forever in the memory of the deck hand Nickerson. So that’s how Moby Dick is born, inspired by the big white, the most ferocious of all to wander in the seven seas (although vaguely I recall reading about it years or perhaps decades back).
What follows is an unbelievable and daring account of harpooning of whales in the Atlantic and Pacific, many leagues far from the coasts of South America, as whale oil was largely in use as fat for lighting as well as in industrial works fetching gold in bullion markets, in a time before the discovery of the fossil fuel was made in the landfall (to drive the world ever since).
Whaler Chase who has earned the distinction of wearing his whale badges is easily the natural leader denied the command of Essex, much to the chagrin of the pedigree and political appointee captain of the ship, Pollard. Although the two strike an uneasy companionship, the harrowing months at the seas away from homes and hearths and the common hardships faced together foster an understanding relationship between them. What ensues is a touching tale of humanity in the midst of inhuman living conditions, the fighting spirit conquering lethargy and the will to survive. Friendship and team work and companionship cannot get better than this.
The teenager Nickerson is live witness to the whaling expedition as the whalers hunt successfully for whale oil hooking and reeling in to death many a mammoth blue whale from the fathoms of the oceans in bold and nerve-wracking escapades after the captain makes an unwise decision about a squall that renders the whaleship weak and battered to face the perils of the sea in full force at the very start of the voyage. The initial grave slip does its damage as drama unfolds in the depths of the Pacific and beyond as the whalers go in search of schools of whales. In a bizarre turnout, the whaleship gets pursued and hunted down by the massive and legendary 100 foot white whale. Ship wrecked and oil lost, the crew is washed ashore to survive and refit in a tiny and deserted island, from whatever is left over to start their return voyage empty handed.
Absolutely stunning visuals of schools of whales deep in the Pacifics. Hopefully it is not photoshop. Or whatever. The whalehunting is excellent picturization. The walk Nickerson takes like kind of initiation in the entrails of the culled whale is astounding, flabbergasting! Can’t believe humanity lived and evolved through this stage of barbarity!
The narrator stops midway with serious misgivings over the abominations the men committed in order to survive when they run out of food and water as they make their return voyage, sun-baked and thirsty and famished. On prompt from his interviewer, he finally bares terrible secrets that had plagued his conscience for years that make for an incredulous real life story. Moby-Dick is born.
Liked this one better than the ‘Titanic.’ Or may be even ‘Avatar.’ Or the ‘Everest’ or ‘Below Eight’ yet another daredevil real life drama filmed entirely in the Antarctic. Many Himalayan stories nowadays that you actually get to think that Mount Everest is no big deal !!!
My two cents on the film being the best in the category; and more realistic may be because it is true story.
I originally blogged this in 2013, at least an year before BJP govt of Modi was sworn in after 2014 Lok Sabha elections, so this has nothing to do with current Sabarimala crisis. Reproduced with some ‘edits’
Let us get offended for right reasons. It’s not anyone’s prerogative to harm Mother Nature, and champions of the environmental cause are green warriors, not pseudo liberals.
April 28, 2013
An ardent Hindu, I am still not blind to how environmentally polluting our ways of worship are.
Everytime i light an oil lamp in my Pooja, i think of the billion homes lighting up the traditional diya all over India morning and evening just like me… and of our million temples lighting millions of lamps for their part….
I am worshiper of the sacred Diya myself – the lamp, the DEEP, the DIYA, the JYOTHI SWAROOP, that which dispels darkness which is supposed to be the manifestation of the very ‘light of knowledge’ we seek…
Still how many of us stop to think, how much we are heating up planet Earth with our religious practices that were perhaps once justified but may not be justifiable in present times… how many degrees we keep adding year after year to our annual average temperature without any second thoughts? India has definitely warmed up like never before in last two decades… to which how much exactly is our religious contribution any guess?
I know its next to impossible even for the rational me to stop lighting the ‘diya’ in my home – its unthinkable, inauspicious… Age old custom, its pretty tough to shake off this practice in a day, granted. So i can imagine how others around me must feel like on the issue… and as for our temples that light tens of thousands of lights every single day… what will happen to them without the ‘deep?’
Hinduism without the lit lamps is hard to imagine. The flame, the ‘jyothi’ is the light of our very own lives. Everything for us focuses on ‘light’ – the lamp. After all, our biggest national festival is‘Diwali’ (Deepavali), the festival of lights.The lamps are our identity, like the bindhi (the dot) on our women’s forehead and the sari we drape… How to put off the lamp ever in this nation of ours without a whisper?
So when we have to rethink even about our oil diyas in my opinion, the question of chemical fire crackers does not even arise. A green Diwali and a cleaner chemical-free colourfulHoliare the need of the hour. Immersion of painted Ganeshas (Ganesh Visarjan) and Kalis in our water bodies killing the marine life in the belt also has to be stopped forthwith. Is it anti-Hindu when we sound sane and logical.
One keeps hearing of Global Warmingeverywhere, especially in India. In my city, even the lower middle class homes can afford at least a single air-conditioner in harsh summers, so think of how much we are heating up planet earth every summer. Combined with the religious effect, think of the sum total warming up of our immediate ground atmosphere… (Not even taking into account the air pollution owing to vehicular traffic and fuel exhaust here).
So its ridiculous that year after year we must be complaining of erratic monsoons and melting glaciers and deficient rainfall, or in short Climate Change. Try explaining to our masses, the heat that must be generated by a billion lamps through out the country for years, for decades, for centuries and their effect on our environment … but this is one country where reasoning never works!
While i am kind of a believer in most of our rituals (i am not saying they are completely meaningless), which i understand have hidden contexts, I am increasingly concerned about the harm we are doing to our environment with our rituals. The rituals mean more to me for the Sanskrit mantras chanted which are supposed to have neuro linguistic and psycho linguistic benefits. Look at the Yagna here that is using up so much of precious potable water, a scarce product in many arid Indian states that might be reeling under drought wrought in by failed monsoons. (One may come up with argument about bath tubs at homes and hotels).
TheYagnas or the Homas. No Hindu marriage or housewarming or whatever is complete without this great Hindu religious ritual in which fire plays a major role. The holy fire I mean. In our wedding muhurat, the couples have to walk around the holy fire ‘Agni’ for seven times that will be alight for hours as sanskrit mantras are chanted in chorus by priests …. and for most of our ceremonies like death anniversaries, birthdays for children etc, again the homa fires in the homagunda will be lit for hours raising a big smoke… into which we pour everything from ghee (clarified butter), dried twigs, Nava Dhania (the nine food grains like pulses), flowers, fruits, even silk clothes, coins (gold if you can afford)…. because we believe giving the holy fire these things means our offerings will reach the Gods directly though the Agni medium which is one of the purest, and one of the five major natural elements of Earth (the other four being the air, the earth, the water, the sky)
Not denying i have participated in homams in my own family, but even the staunchest believer in me keeps questioning always why should so much be put to wastage by our religious practices. Isn’t there a different way? Can’t our Gods hear our prayers by any other means? Should our Gods have to be essentially bribed this way?!
One of our greatest temple rituals is ‘Abhishegam/Abhishek.’ This means bathing our ‘Murthis’ (idol or vigrahas) with water, curds, honey, milk, panchaamirtham (made out five fruits), etc after application of oil to the dieties. Imagine this done to all Hindu deities through out India in thousands and thousands of temples. After the ‘abhishek’ or’abhishegam’ is complete, we decorate our deities with floral garlands, silk clothes and gold and diamond jewelery. An ‘Archana‘ follows which means invoking the Lord’s and/or His Missus’ names 108 times or so with floral tributes. While i until today revel at the darshan of my Mother Goddess and Her Consort Shiva (and other gods and goddesses as the case may be) in their finest adornments in our temples, i can’t help wondering at all that which go waste in the name of these rituals…
Fortunately, a Hindu mind is trained in a way never to get carried over by superficial adornments of our deities that despite all the finery glittering in temples, we are still able to focus on the One Supreme – for in the bright ‘thejas’ face of the Lord and/or His Missus, we see infinite contentment, happiness, well being, prosperity, wisdom, health, all goodness of the world. So that’s one thing that eludes me completely…. that despite my skeptical views on temple rituals, i am unable to draw myself away from all this, that i am drawn like a bee to the nector when the abhishegam and archana are complete and when its moment for the ultimate ‘Darshan.’ …
I have stood in hour long queues for ‘darshans’ so who am I kidding. Yet i wonder, is this the way it is supposed to be, like whether we have reduced it all to one over-powering physical ‘darshan’ – a view of the reigning deity in all His/Her grandeur….
I wonder if its blasphemous to even write like this… but then i am a believer in a forgiving God always, a reasoning God and NEVER IN A PUNISHING GOD. One of the greatest advantages of being a Hindu is, you can be an atheist and still you are a Hindu! The very nature of Hinduism which is all encompassing, permits this!
Quote unquote :
…… No two paths need be alike …… that one is most a Hindu when one is least a Hindu. Hinduism’s propensity to absorb a multitude of thoughts including even atheism makes it, at times, inscrutable to its own followers….
I am not pro-Kumbh and it saddens me terribly to see how we mindlessly pollute the life-giving rivers of our land with our blind beliefs. Respect and reverence shown to our water sources is best illustrated with maintaining the water bodies clean and the water potable and useful for irrigation purposes for which they are meant. Rivers are our lifeline. Millenniums ago, perhaps we could afford the luxury of a Kumbh Mela, but can we in this 21st century wherein future wars are predicted to be fought over water?
I don’t want to add here how some north Indians dispose off their dead in the flowing Ganga. Its too distressing and gory. In our families mostly we cremate the dead. We have completely switched over to electric crematorium at least in cities these days which is a big relief. Even in our death, we seem to add smoke to our clear skies ….because in villages all over India, the dead of this billion strong nation are cremated with fresh wood cut from trees. The wealthier you are, the costlier is the wood for your pyre like the sandalwood.
Having blogged about my disgust on use of elephants in our temples only very recently, i wish to make the point once again:
Elephant habitat has shrunk drastically over years in India. When ‘Ashrams‘ spring up in elephant corridors we do not condemn them because we have the bargaining chip called Tourist Resorts. Finally, we shall wake up when the last Lord Ganesha will vanish for good from our Punya Bhoomi.
After all this i confess, i am a passionate Hindu at heart always….while i believe most of our rituals held some hidden meaning centuries back perhaps, time is now ripe for a revolution to redefine our beliefs in rituals. What is wrong with self-introspection?
I am for aGreen & Eco-friendly Hinduismalways if that can be made possible in my lifetime like a miracle somehow. I deliberately miss lighting my lamp twice a week atleast – my small contribution for a start to keep global warming a bit low. I wish we could be Eco-Friendly Hindus somehow.
There are many ways we south Indians are eco-friendly by culture. In our weddings, we still serve feasts on washed banana leaves and not on plates. The used banana leaves used to be fed to cows in the sheds in olden days. I am not sure how the used banana leaves are disposed off these days.
To a population that reveres nature so much with worshiping the flora of fauna of the universe, why is not there the realization on the flip side of this ancient culture?
Having said all this, would it be ever possible for me to go 100% green with my faith…. i do not want to lie, the transformation will be tough and testy but can be done step by step over a period of time. I wish i get encouragement from family and friends. I wish i could cut down on rituals boldly without being labelled an outcast and keep my faith at heart with just my prayer Mantras …. the Gods i believe in will be more than happier for the new believing me…
Convincing a billion Hindus around the world on the subject is another impossibility. How anyone should go about it is not clear, because like Christianity or Islam, the world’s oldest faith Hinduism does not have a religious book like the Bible or Quran, does not have a governing body like the Church or the Mosque and has no prophets or messengers from God like The Christ or Mohammad and no religious head like the Pope or the Maulvi….,,, Hindu Dharma is a way of life, way of life for over 6,000 years or perhaps older without all these elaborate set-up or disciplinary control… Sanatana Dharma has no founder, no founding date and is no man’s private or personal invention.
My earnest wish is that Hinduism evolves as it has been doing for centuries, for eons, to a greener way of life, less polluting Mother Earth, less harming Mother Nature. I appreciate the freedom my faith allows me to think rationally in all circumstances. At least, ‘a fatwa’ won’t be issued on my head, hopefully! I am today blogging like this because, Hinduism is still the most tolerant practice in the entire world, its all absorbent, most flexible, and grows with every merciless onslaught, much more powerful and stronger than ever before…
This is a country that celebrates vegetarianism where masses still worship ‘The Tulasi’ (basil) as a goddess, who marry the neem tree to the peepal tree who we think are like gods, who never slaughter the cows that walk on our highways, and who worship even inanimate objects like machine tools and musical instruments and books because they are creations anyway! I believe my tribe of like-minded Hindus is an ever-growing one.
LET’S NOT ALLOWHINDUISM TO BE TAKEN HOSTAGE BY EMPTY RITUALS THAT HAVE COME TO CONFINE OUR FAITH, ERODING ESSENTIAL SUBSTANCE OVER PERIOD OF TIME AND OBLITERATING THE TRUE ESSENCE OF DHARMA. HINDUISM IS FAR ABOVE AND MUCH MORE THAN ALL THAT – AN ENIGMA, A PHENOMENAL EXPERIENCE.
Let us allow Sanatana Dharma the vital lung space it deserves to evolve and flourish without our narrow, crooked-minded and low level of thinking.
Every Hindu child in India grows up listening to the heroic and self sacrificing tale of the ethereal beauty Chittore Rani Padmini (Padmaavathi). Of Alauddin Khilji’s avarice, cunning and barbarity. As for me, I had my granny tell me about Padmini a million/billion times perhaps when I was a little girl.
Wonder why the picture drew criticisms for positive portrayal of the historical event. The film also justifies why Sati was indeed practised in India for a few centuries. Notably, it was prevalent in border states of today’s India that were prone to mogul/arab/turk/afghan/mongol invasions.
A typical Sanjay Leela Bansali production, it must have been a grand watch in IMAX cinemas. I must be the last to review the film. Watching pictures at home comes with a cost: missing out scenes thanks to domestic chores. Despite disclaimer, Hindu India knows better. ‘Padmaavat’ also is the costliest celluloid picture to be made in Indian history to date. (Catching up with lost bits in Tamil version, it comes as no surprise that dubbed ones can never come like the originals).
Numbers may vary from 14,000 to 70,000 from account to account – but that many Rajput Hindu women were believed to have jumped into fire igniting themselves, committing mass suicide (Jauhar) (Sati) when Mewar was defeated by the Sultan of Delhi (sic) (cannot even come to terms with actual history that these savages once ran a reign of terror in my Punya Bhoomi Bharat), saving themselves from capture by islamists. The historic Sati was led by the queen Padmavat herself when Maharaja Ratan Singh was defeated in the sly in the battle by Malik Kafur. (Malik Kafur the slave himself was reportedly a bisexual as Khilji was, and was in relationship with Khilji).
If not for Padmavat and her fellow Rajput women (as well as other brave Hindu warrior kings like Chatrapathi Shivaji of the Maratha and Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagara Kingdom), India could be more islamic today and less Hindu in character. Who knows we could have been a sultanate. Hindu kings and warriors who fought by their own ‘dharmic’ traditions saved us from worst fates. Unfortunately and ironically, the native Hindu bravado is played down in Indian history text books and India’s invaders are portrayed the heroes. This is like viewing Hitler and Nazis as heroses and the victimized jews as oppressors. The price one pays for democracy and secularism. Irony is, in India today, if we talk about our traumatic past, we will be accused of hurting the sensitivities of our minorities (who were in all probability force-converted by our invaders at the point of sword).
The one last picturization of the Sati was good enough for me. Salute my Hindu ancestors for their selfless sacrifices and bravery. Hindu dharma forbids backstabbing. War ethics are a separate dharma by themselves. Aliens from Afghanistan unfortunately were less civilized, most brutal as India has witnessed in last 14 traumatic centuries. Hindus are staunch believers in Karma. Karma has been playing out in Af-Pak for decades now, can’t you see. Anything taken from the Hindu – will have to be paid back by tens of hundreds of thousand times with interest. For the simple reason, Hindus do not disturb others on their will.
Bow my head to the queen of Mewar and the bravest Rajputs who resisted surrender and conversion to Islam with their very lives, and defended the Sanatana Dharma until their last breath, owing to whom India today is still majority Hindu!
Dharma won over Adharm in Mewar, even if Khilji’s psychotic army ran over Chittor.
May be the exact sequence of history was not recorded (as it can never be with Period films) and there are naturally quite some artistic exaggerations here and there, but in spite of these superfluous flaws, the picture is extremely well made with attention paid to intricate details – from hand block designed costumes to period jewelry of Rajastan. Filming entirely limited to Rajastan forts. Outstanding cinematography. As I have never been to this part of the country, I have not much knowledge about India’s north west state. Deepika Padukone lived up to her character, doing justice to the role of Chittore Rani Padmini as Padmavat is widely referred to. Good and apt casting with Ranveer Singh playing the bloodcurdling Khilji and Pankaj Kapoor as the dharmic, valiant king of Chittor. Prior to the picture, I was not aware that Rani Padmaavat was Sinhalese. Speaks a lot about marital relations between India and the island nation Sri Lanka over centuries – starting with the times of Ram and Sita and Ravana?
Hurts when old wounds are reopened. MY HEART BLEEDS…Delhiites may be comfortable with forts and mausoleums, but coming from south, most of us like me cannot come to accept India’s turbulent past. Cannot come to terms with the Taj Mahal representing India. If you ask me, we must have Tanjore Brahadeshwara or Madurai Meenakshi or Hampi in Karnataka or the Kailasa temple in Ajanta or the Sun temple of Konark for India’s mascot in our tourism brochures or whatever. It is time to slowly ease out Taj from our conscience and replace it with a monument of our native pride and self-respect.
A symbol of bloody invasion and tyranny and genocide of my own fellow Hindus simply cannot represent my beloved Bharat. BIG NO TO TAJ !