Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

thanksgiving redefined




Sitting in the world where one Turkey gets pardoned so that scores of other Turkeys can be killed....where you hardly utter the word "thanks" during those midnite queues and early morning rush and push for a discount sale...... I was looking for something to redefine the "holidays" .. apart from the spilled over work of course
And then it struck.. my thanksgiving this year is dedicated to Guru Tegh Bahadur, whose martyrdom day falls on the 24th Nov (friday) this year.... (I think its a "optional" national holiday in India) .......

Here's a bit from swordoftruth , a portal that sadly doesn't seem to exist anymore

Aurangzeb decided to Islamize India as fast as possible, starting with Kashmir. He had a devil's brain and he devised all kinds of artifices to get his way. Writes Sir Jadu Nath Sarkar in his renowned five volume History of Aurangzeb: "In Kashmir, Hindus and Muslims used to intermarry, and the wife, whatever might have been her father's creed, was cremated or buried as her husband happened to be a Hindu or Islamite. But in October, 1634, Shah Jahan forbade the custom and ordered that every Hindu who had taken a Muslim wife must either embrace Islam and be married anew to her, or he must give her up to be wedded to a Muslim. This order was rigorously enforced."


The rise was to turn the Hindus into Muslims by virtue of political power. In any event, it was still a 'slow' process from Aurangzeb's point of view. He wanted to turn the world into a Koranic world of Muslims only and those who still did not opt for Islam, had no place in the kingdom.
'Aurangzeb ordered that every Hindu must become a Muslim under pain of death. The Hindus wanted a period of six months to consider the proposal, which was granted. Aurangzeb also issued a fiat that those who refused to be Mohammedans would be put to the sword and a wholesale order was issued to kill the Brahmins and collect their janoys or sacred threads, as proof of the slaughter.


Aurangzeb demanded that enough Kashmiri Pandits were to be slaughtered every day, so that their sacred threads weigh at least 1.25 maunds (46 kgs). The weight of a single thread is very small and on calculation, it was found out that at least 25,000 Kashmiri pandits had to be killed every day in order to fulfill the requirement of the 1.25 maunds of thread. Naturally, there was panic among the Pandits. They met Guru Tegh Bahadur at Anandpur Sahib on May 25, 1675. They prayed to the Guru and said: "Our lot has become unbearable. You are rightly known as Hind ki Chader or Champion of the Hindus. We have been given six months' time in which to make our choice between Islam and death. That period is about to end...We have come to you for help, guidance and protection. O Champion of the Hindus!"


Naturally, the Guru was plunged into deep thought. He noticed the sad faces of the Brahmins. His young eight-year-old son, Govind Rai (the future Guru Gobind Singh) asked his father why these good men looked so worried? What has happened!

Continuing the rest of the story from a different source


"Guru ji, I see the acutely sad faces of the Sangat and you are silent and in deep thought. What is the problem?" asked Gobind Rai to his father. Gobind is about 9 years old at this stage.
Guru ji slowly turn to his son and explain the situation as concisely as possible.


"Baata (Son), this is sangat from Kashmir. They are Hindus who have been friends of Sikhs since the time of Guru Nanak. They have a very serious problem on their hands" said Guru ji.
Gobind Rai replied, "Pita ji, you are the Guru of the entire world ("Jagat Guru"). You will know of a solution to all problems"

"Baata, Emperor Aurangzeb has given them an ultimatum – If they do not become Muslims, he will kill them all", explained Guru ji.

Guru ji continued, "Some well-known Religion person ("Mahapurakh") will have to make a sacrifice to stop this butchery. We have to find a supreme soul who will die so as to awaken the sleeping consciousness of the people of Hind".

"Pita ji, there is an easy answer to this problem. You are the most spiritually aware person in whole of Hind. You can make that sacrifice", answered Gobind Rai.

Guru ji was pleased to hear these words as it confirmed that his son had reached a suitable age to become the next Guru, and that Guru ji's work on Earth had been completed.

Guru ji addressed the Pandits, "Go and tell Aurangzeb that if he can convert Guru Tegh Bahadar to Islam, they will all convert. Otherwise he should leave them alone"

The Pandits were delighted that a solution was found and duly informed Emperor Aurangzeb of the decision. Aurangzeb was delighted that by converting one person, he would without any further delay have the conversion of many 1000's to Islam. Accordingly he summoned his officers to arrest Guru Tegh Bahadar.


In the summer of 1675, the Guru, along with some of his companions were finally brought to Delhi and asked to convert to Islam or else face the penalty of death. Guru ji was also asked to perform a miracle. Guru Tegh Bahadur averred that he would rather sacrifice his life than give up his faith and his freedom or belief or perform a miracle. Thus, under Aurangzeb's orders, Guru ji and his companions were tortured. The Guru was chained and imprisoned in a cage and was tortured in the cruellest and the most inhuman ways for five long days. In order to terrorise him further into submission, one of his distinguished devotees (Bhai Mati Das) was sawn alive, another (Bhai Dyal Das) was boiled in the cauldron and the third (Bhai Sati Das) was roasted alive before the Guru.

Finally, the Guru himself was beheaded, under imperial warrant, in broad daylight, in the middle of a public square, the most prominent public place in India, called Chandni Chowk, of Delhi, on the charge that he was a stumbling block preventing the spread of Islam in the Indian subcontinent. The exact location of the beheading is marked by Gurdwara Sis Ganj in Delhi. His martyrdom was yet another challenge to the Sikh conscience. It was then realized that there could be no understanding between an insensate power imbrued with blood and a proud people wedded to a life of peace with honour. The sacrifice roused the Hindus from their passive silence and gave them the fortitude to understand the power that comes from self-respect and sacrifice. Guru Tegh Bahadur thus earned the affectionate title of "Hind-di-Chadar" or the Shield of India.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

karma and the reward


When I got a mail in a group that I am part off, asking if anyone would volunteer pick someone up from BWI airport on Sunday at 6.30 am, and drop him of at Montgomery village health center, I was a bit hesitant... - for one, I would have to get up around 5 am on a Sunday.. and for another, I was to pick up some one flying a red-eye flight from CA, and he being in his seventies, would need some break to freshen up, before I can take him to his destination, and that mean a back-home time beyond 10 am... [in fact u can check the time stamp on the post :-) ]

But then I knew perhaps I was the one in a best position to be able to do so, and hence I volunteered.. never knew exactly what the person whom I was picking up (whom, I never knew until a few days back either) was here for... all I knew was that he was here to meet someone on sunday(today) and fly back to CA this evening .. so as I started on sunday morning I just took it as another chance to drive around a bit, listening to some nice music, and perhaps chat with some one in Samskritam (yes, in his seventies, he is now enjoying speaking and learning Samskritam) .. nothing more

But then, as I knew further and further about whom he was going to meet, and when I finally met the patient at the health center, my whole perspective changed.. It was his sister (or may be cousin sister), just a year or two younger to him. Being diabetic, she has had to amputate both her legs above her knees... he was here to give her some confidence...... she looked quite gracious, sitting in her wheel chair.. well, I should actually say "kept" on her wheel chair ! her nurse took us to a visitors room where her brother could chat with her, and told us "she is doing good this morning, but make sure you do not leave her alone, please"....

As I walked back from the center to my car, I could n't help thinking two things... first a mail that I had gotten in my inbox a few weeks before (I am attaching the text of it at the end, eventho not all pts are relevant to me .. now)... and second - how my entire perspective changed when I realised that I was being a small connecting link, in a great act of compassion and care... in a small way, a nimitha (a la Gita 11.33) ... somwhere deep down, the feeling of satisfaction... of "i have made my day".....

And that naturally reminded me of this point which i heard- either on a talk on thursday on campus or on friday (at the temple by sadhvi vrnda chaitanya) about the idea of a good deed being its own reward ( parOpakAraM as the punyaphala itself) within the law of karma.... Isn't the feeling of having being able to [and being provided with enough resources like a car- a car like chetak :-) ] even a small help to some one, a gift, a reward in itself....

I am curious to find out the references , if any, of such a norm of karma anywhere in vedanta, or other philosophies of hinduism... (anyone, who knows , please let me know).....



anyways, adya prAtakAle eva dinaM sArtakaM abhavat ..... epatraM atra ArOpitaM astI

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I am thankful...

1. For the husband who snores all night, because he is at home asleep with me and not with someone else.
2. For my teenage daughter who is complaining about doing dishes, because that means she is at home & not on the streets.
3. For the taxes that I pay because it means that I am employed.
4. For the mess to clean after a party because it means that I have been surrounded by friends. 5. For the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.
6. For my shadow that watches me work because it means I am out in thesunshine.
7. For a floor that needs mopping, and windows that need cleaning because it means I have a home.
8. For all the complaining I hear about the government because it means that we have freedom of speech.
9. For the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking and that I have been blessed with transportation.
10. For the noise I have to bear from my neighbours because it means that I can hear.
11. For the pile of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes to wear.
12. For weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been capable of working hard.
13. For the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I am still alive. AND FINALLY .......

for received e-mails because it means I have friends who are thinking of me, at least. HAVE A NICE DAY !!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

SethubandanaM video

This is from the animated Ramayana - collaborative project with the Japs..... Its quite interesting how, it took the Japs to take interest in making a purana into animation ... One of those things were we missed out on realising our own potential - like Yoga which the West popularised and almost literally "took over" ...

Of course, now there are many more coming - Hanuman, Krishna and so on...

I just love the song in there... Hope to get the Sanskrit lyrics sometime soon.. Oh by the way, I do own the full CD of this :-) .. anyone up for a screening... in fact may be an "Indian Animation series" , now that we have quite some ...

And by the way, there is a small story associated with this part of the Ramayana.. Varuna promised to support the stones for the bridge, only if it has Ramnaam on it.. Apparently SriRama himself put a few stones, and thinking that since he is Rama himself, he did not write Ramnaam on it.. and they sank !!! He realized that he too needs to write the powerful Ramnaam on them ...

youtube video

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The "FC" votebank ?!

Disclaimers
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1) I believe that "caste" is a British imposed system on India and has hardly anything to with a "guna-karma" based (B.G 4:13) varna system

2) I so very wish that the politicians of India had not made hinduism mincemeat based on castes

3) As much as possible, I would like to see myself.. as a caste-less Hindu.. by varna, a Kshatriya
(Frawleys "Baudhika-Kshatriya")

4) Technically I belong to an OBC comunity and am an "OBC against OBC reservation" , notwithstanding a possible criticism of "Oh why would he need it ?" , and difference of view from folks like nizhal-yodha, whom I otherwise tend to agree with on many issues

5) I do not fully agree with the methodology adopted by the latest NSSO survey .. but would also assume that the Mandal commissions 52% OBC figure is exaggerated

But still
--------

1) lets play the number game.... assuming the NSSO survey is right


And so whats the point ?
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Apparently for every 100 Indian

SC - 20
ST - 8
Hindu OBC - 30
Hindu "FC" - 25
Muslim etc OBC - 11
Muslim non OBC - 3
Christian/Others - 3

Do I see the so called "FC" at a 25% , second highest in the list ?! Am I missing something ?!