His Story

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Religion : An Enemy of Progressive Human Culture?

Before the publication of his widely acclaimed book, "The Journey Home", Radhanath Swami talked with writer Joshua Greene at length about what prompted him to write the book and also the circumstances around which he took a daring trip to India in the 1960s. The interview also touched around the aspect of religion and renunciation - and reveal answers which are enlightening and broad. Some Excerpts from the interview.

Joshua Greene : Why do so many people seem to regard religion as the enemy of progressive human culture?
Radhanath Swami: There is a Sanskrit word saragrahi, which means one who seeks the essence in every situation. If we have an honest and sincere desire to grow in our character, in our devotion, our enlightenment, then we will always find the way to do so.
For those teachers who are honest and pure and true in what they teach and how they live, we can gain great inspiration and great knowledge and wisdom. But when we see there is hypocrisy or contradiction between what a person teaches and the real purpose of the message, there is also much to learn from that: to learn what we should be on guard against, to see how even religious leaders fall into pitfalls, the same essential as for all of us in different ways, and how we should be on guard and careful to protect ourselves from those pitfalls. We can learn and acquire great wisdom from properly applying spiritual truths to the mistakes of others, both today and throughout history. And those lessons are essential.
Q: You chose to become a renunciant. Do you recommend the path of renunciation?
 Radhanath Swami: Real spiritual life is not necessarily about changing our position in society. It is about transforming our hearts. One can be in business, in education, a mother or father, a farmer, a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a politician. One can even be a swami. But when we overcome selfishness and learn the beauty and art of selflessness—seva or selfless service—spirituality is meant to transform arrogance into humility, greed into generosity, vengeance into forgiveness, hate into love, criticism into appreciation, hopeless into hopefulness—it is meant to transform us into becoming instruments of the inner peace that is in our heart with God.
That is real journey home. The journey of transformation, of understanding that there is a power beyond our own, the power of God that can enthuse us, inspire us and empower us to be real instruments of change.

...To be continued....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Survival International's Amazing Cartoon on Tribal Development

Survival International is an international organization working for tribal people around the world, and help them protect their way of living,their lives, lands and help them determine their future for themselves and above all protect them from "modern" development, which in many ways divorces from their own culture and makes them unhappy.
Recently they released a cartoon book on tribal "development" which shows how multinationals and "civilized","modernized" businessmen, and so-called good samaritians, in the name of development and raising income levels of these "un-civilized","poor" tribals - ultimately only ruin their own sustainable ways of living and end up filling their own pockets.. Amazing Cartoon. In one of the pages, a economist(I guess he was economist!) remarks that "We tried income-generating activities...but some people seem satisfied with less than half a dollar a day!" - Talk of per capita income!
The cartoon book can be found here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chandragupta on Freedom - 340 B.C.

An extract from the T.V serial "Chanakya" - After freeing the republics of Artat and Malaya(now in Present day Pakistan) in 340 B.C - Chandragupta talks to the heads of the republics on the topic of freedom. Why do people want to be free? What actually is freedom? Is it merely the independence of the individual from societal controls and rules? Or is freedom more to do what with the ideas of living? The video is extremely insightful and  anyone who understands it will see how "Modern" India is still in bondage...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bhisma's Wisdom

Generations in India have adored the epic figure, Bhisma, of the Mahabharata for his mighty deeds as well as his glorious qualities.Though renouncing the fulfillment of earthly love, he is renowned for his steady adhering to all the noble principles of life.
Bhisma's terrible vow of celibacy won him the name, which striked terror in the hearts of the enemies of Hastinapur. True to his vow, and as a warrior and upholder of the Kshatriya Dharma - he is as hard as ice. But he is also a sage, much known for his wisdom and upheld in great esteem by the Pandavas. As the most glorious and longest living mortal of his time, Bhisma is respected by everyone. However, it was tragic that Bhisma's vow of defending the prevailing King of Hastinapur forced him to fight against his own grandsons, the Pandavas, whom he had held in his hands as babies and showered love and affection. The intensity and ferocity with which Bhisma fought was only blunted and stopped by another of his vow: not fighting against women. In the end, Arjuna had to use this vow to stop his beloved grand sire's ferocious fight.
This particular dialogue between Bhisma and Yudhisthira begins, at the end of 18 day long Mahabharata war, with Bhisma laying on a bed of arrows. Krishna asks Bhisma to share all his timeless wisdom with Yudhisthira, to which he readily agreed. In the epic, this section is one of the voluminous one, with Bhisma teachings convering every expanse of human life. Here, it is presented in condensed form. Credit to Graham Bond.

 Bowing to his beloved Grand Sire, Yudhisthira began
"Please tell me, O son of Ganga, all that which you wish me to know
Honor us with the rich wisdom of all your long years, before you depart.
Can I question you on matters close to my heart?"
Bhisma nodded.

On Attaining the Highest Good
Yudhisthira began " Oh Grand sire, how can one attain the highest good?"
Bhisma replied, "One who practices universal compassion, and
Who controls lust, anger, greed attains to the highest success,
And the highest good of the human life."

The one who regards all creatures as part of his own self,
And practicses the divine virtue of universal compassion,
Leaving aside the vindictive rod of chastisement,
And subjugates his anger, will succeed to attain happiness.

On the Best Friendship
"O Sire", Yudhisthira asked, "Please tell me who is truly one's friend"
Bhisma replied,"One is born alone, O King, and one dies alone
One crosses alone through the difficulties provided to us to learn by.
No-one can really share the joy or misery destiny brings forth to us.

After one dies, one's body is abandoned by relatives and friends.
Only righteousness remains to comfort the soul.
So it is Plain that only righteousness is the only friend.
And that righteousness should be sought by all.

Between the righteous, friendship springs up, even though they
only exchange seven words or walk seven steps.
But friendship with the unrighteous is like sleeping with a snake.
One is inflicted with the poison of unrighteousness goes to hell.

On the Transmigration of the Soul
King Yudhisthira asked, "Is the Soul destroyed by death?",
Bhisma replied,"The moon, on the fifteenth day of the dark fortnight,
cannot be seen, however can you say that it has been destroyed?
The conscious soul is eternal, experiencing time and space.

When liberated from the body, it cannot be seen.
But like waxing moon, it obtains a new body and manifests once again.
Governed by the consequences of the many actions it has performed,
it takes up a body suitable to reap the fruits of those actions.

On seeing the Self
Yudhisthira replied, "So how can one obtain the eye to see the soul"
Bhishma answered, "If the soul is freed from the anxieties of desire,worry and fear
Then the soul can be seen through the eyes of understanding awakened by grace.
Like an image in a reflecting in a still pond, the Self reveals to himself to oneself.

Only a snake can see the legs that carry another snake,
One with a inner vision can see the energy of the subtle worlds.
True happiness comes in the contemplation of the spiritual realm,
And the Self reveals himself to the unperturbed soul of unwavering intent.

Blessed are those who cultivate a still mind and restrain their senses,
Through grace and practice, one obtains the eye which can see the inner Self.
Bhisma then paused, and then turned within to savour the experience he had just described,
And Yudhisthira watched in amazement.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Indian Farmer's Tryst with Harvard

Indian Kisan in a Harvard Classroom, giving tidbits on the reasons behind this success.
The entire article can be found here.

One noteoworthy point that comes out in the article is - one of the farmer was asked why big industrial houses in India such as Tata, Birla, Reliance, etc, were not doing such schemes for farmers. He said He can't answer this... yeh tau sahi sawal aap galat admi se pooch rahey hei (It's the right question but asked of the wrong man)!