Monday, July 21, 2014

The Gospel of Mrityu [Death] –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Mrityuna Grastamakhilam Namarupatmakam Jagat!
Brahmantattvam Parigyaya Muchyate Yogasanshayah!! 
“Mrityu [death] swallows the whole world [the universe] made of Maya [delusion]. This [world] is, in fact, the subject of desolation; it is fully within the ambit of fatality. Knowing reality of the Super Element through the Yoga is the remedy –to win the Mrityu.”
The above-mentioned Shloka, which I have quoted a number of times as one of the best commentaries on the Kathopnishad1 is, in fact, the reflection of the Gospel of Death.
Further, this Shloka categorically divulges the reality of death. In other words, reveals the truth
pertaining to death that is eternal on one hand and the manifestation of inevitable law of change on the other. It is a clarion call of realizing one’s own humanly duties and responsibilities in life. It is also an inspiration to each and every human being to discharge well her or his duties overcoming all states of darkness, falsity, fantasy and suspicion. Thus, it is a call of stepping forward on the basis of righteous acts to make the life meaningful and exemplary. That is why; it has always been said by learned ones that there is no reason of fearing the death as it has to come and it will come. Human beings2 are afraid of death and wish to delay it as long as possible. Rather, remembering it every moment is beneficial and welfaristic. The part of one of the Mantra [18:1] of the Rig-Veda in which it is desired from Mrityu to pursue a special pathway apart from that which gods are wont to travel3 is worth quoting here in this regard.  
Mrityu is in fact an inevitable state of cessation of physical or biological functions. In other words, when vital bodily organs reach the state of non-functioning completely, death is declared. Despite this, the deeds of life, or work accomplished before death are never declared dead. None of them can be undone either.
Any work accomplished in life, irrespective of its nature –bad or good, could not terminate immediately with the end of the body. Rather, if deeds are carried out righteously, a personal worth is procured through them and that worth is utilized in larger welfare of one and all, they also become iconic of one’s life. They also become the basis and source of one’s glory, regard and reputation even after the cessation of body –death. Hence, the worth and immortality of life remains alive. It becomes exemplary and ideal for hundreds and thousands of years for generations to come. Coming generations follow it as legacy left for them and keep their work alive as ideal for long. It is for this reason that in one of the Richa of the Rig-Veda [7.59.12], the oldest treatise of the world and the basic source of Vedic philosophy, Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism, it has been desired, "Deliver me from death, not from immortality."
“Tryambakam Yajaamahe Sugandhi Pushtivardhanam Urvaarukarumiva Bandhanaanmrityormukshiya Maamritaat”
Thus, Mrityu, death is inevitable, but immortality is possible. It could be achieved on the strength of righteous acts, on the basis of deeds accomplished to make one’s own life valuable and exemplary on one hand, and for the larger welfare of fellow beings as well as all living beings on the other.     
Hence, Mrityu is an unavoidable dimension. It compels us to realize that we have counted number of days, months and years to live in this world so we should make our life meaningful on the basis of virtuous deeds. It is for this reason that death is termed as a door where the assessment of one’s life starts from. Therefore, it is the duty of every individual to remember this ultimate reality of death, which is to embrace him sooner or later necessarily, so he must indulge in righteous acts to make his life meaningful. This is the only right and true way that has been recommended by all the learned men through the ages to tread upon. This is the essence of death, the Gospel of Mrityu.             

1. By Swamipad [Datiyapeeth, India].
2. Even all living beings. 
3. “Go hence, O Death, pursue thy special pathway apart from that which Gods are wont to travel.”

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Harmony and Peace through Education and Culture –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Peace is indispensable for existence. It is equally essential for growth and prosperity in all spheres in general, but social and economical in particular. In an atmosphere surcharged with harmony it is the occurrence of the state of peace to pave the way for development. Peace is, thus, an active state, free of conflicts or clashes, hostility and revenge. It is a call for equal progress by joint efforts, reconciliation with larger scale cooperation and coordination of fellow beings.
The Vedas1, the most sacred and ancient Hindu texts, [in reality] divulged thousands of years ago, necessity and significance of harmony at all levels and in all walks of life, having a universal approach towards thought and action for a peaceful life. The Vedas direct man to think right and work for harmony, some of the most important Vedic Mantras pertaining to importance, necessity and harmony in life are worth mentioning here. From the Rigveda it appears:    
“Live in harmony and concord
Be organized and cooperative
Speak with one voice, and
Make your resolution with one mind” [10:191:2]
“May your prayers be one and the same
May we belong to one fraternity
May our minds move together
May our hearts work in accord” [10:191:3]
In the Yajurveda:
“All men are equal in brotherhood
There is no one small and no one big” [16:15]
“Behave with others in such a manner as you would like for yourself
Look upon all the living beings as your close friends for in all of them resides same soul” [40:6]
In the Samveda:
“Be we [all] full of blissful command in welfaristic practices
Be we of holder of best virtues [for common welfare] [13: 5: 2]
And, in the Atharvaveda
“Love one-another as cow loves its newborn calf
Live in concord and harmony with all to free from malice” [3:30:1]
“Let your mind work in harmony
Let your thoughts lead to a common objective” [6:64:2]
Evidently, all the Vedas convey the message of importance and inevitability of harmony in life, and they, simultaneously, call man to accord the central place to it in his day-to-day practices. Similarly, other Vedic treatises2, on one hand, wish for creating atmosphere of peace on the basis of harmony to pave the way for progress, prosperity and welfare of one and all, and on the other they call each and everyone to contribute his bit  in this direction.
For this purpose, the Vedas wish man to be determined to peace and indulge himself in righteous acts3. Further, the Vedic philosophy expects man to embrace generosity [Udarta]4 and carry out his duties having forbearance and tolerance- the two foremost, practical and best features of Ahimsa as nuclei, so that unity and equality amongst all the fellow beings could be established. It is this approach that could bring the humanity within the ambit of harmony and through harmony to the state of peace, which is inevitable for the prosperity of all.
The significance of Vedic approach pertaining to harmony and peace holds true even in the modern predicament. It invokes especially those connected in any form and at any level with the process of education and prompts them to create a congenial atmosphere for such a sustainable culture. It could bring all, general and particular, together for common causes to do joint efforts which are necessary in these days of rapidly increasing process of globalization.
It is for this reality that an international seminar on the theme Harmony and Peace through Education and Culture is being organized by the World Peace Movement Trust in collaboration with Shridhar University at Pilani, Rajasthan, India on July 5-6, 2014. The participants –educators, professors and peace workers, through their respective presentations in this two days seminar, will focus on various aspects related to the theme and they will hopefully arrive at  some concrete conclusions to pave the way for harmony and peace through education and culture.                           
1.       Four in number –the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samveda and the Atharvaveda.
2.       The Upanishads in particular.
3.       Acts are natural and getting them righteous is in fact to make one’s life meaningful. 
4.       For, in one of the Matras of the Samaveda [15:1:4] it is desired: Pahi Vishvasmaadrakshaso Araavnah Prasma Vajushu Nova/ Tvaamiddhi Nedishtham Devataataya Aapim Nakshamahe Vridhe// [Be we saved from people of dreadful habits and especially those who are indifferent to charitable works/ Be we saved from conflicts.....//  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

 “Our mutual conflicts and internecine quarrels and jealousies have in the past been the cause of our downfall and our falling victims to foreign domination a number of times. We cannot afford to fall into those errors or traps again.” –Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the maker of political-geographical unity of India that it never had in its entire history. For this mammoth achievement, he is truly called the Maker of United India. In his persona Sardar Patel possessed so many characteristics of which commitment to discipline, firm determination, management and taking quick and appropriate decision were the foremost. These characteristics made him a unique leader, organizer and administrator. In his exceptional way of working Sardar Patel was matchless and he still is unparallel. If it was not so, the task of merger of more than 550 scattered princely states into the Indian Union in a short period of just a few weeks soon after its independence from the English in 1947 was rather difficult. In other words, the work of India’s unity was not so easy. It was also not easy to handle the situation, which emerged due to the partition of the country into two –India and Pakistan, particularly pertaining to exchange of population [lacs in number], communal upsurge and crackdown in administration. Anti-social and anti-national elements were active both, internally and externally to disintegrate the nation, and protecting India from them was a mammoth task. But, it was the firm determination of the Great Sardar for which he used to say himself that “we are not going to let the grass grow under our feet” and it was the charisma of his multifaceted personality that India could survive through the toughest phase in its socio-political history. India could be united and rebuilding work of the nation could be started and, thus, a new chapter in golden letters could be added in its glorious history. Undoubtedly, the role and contribution of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the process of integration and rebuilding of India immediately after the freedom and in the first three-four years of its independence remained outstanding and unprecedented. For this gigantic job, Sardar Patel will be remembered by Indians for hundreds and thousands of years. He will always remain alive in the pages of Indian history and his compatriots will definitely be proud of their Sardar –Vallabhbhai Patel.
Along with this, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel deserves appreciation and respect of international community, people around the world, besides India, for the legacy he left through his ideas and works for one and all on this planet. What legacy has he left for his successive generations, is a question that could naturally emerge in one’s mind.
In answer, first of all, his practical approach in the implementation of Ahimsa-centred Gandhian way to establish justice is worth a mention. It was Sardar Patel who accorded the best and the most practical dimension to the Gandhian method through a dozen Satyagrahs, from the Non-Cooperation [1920] to the Quit India Movement [1942]. In this regard Sardar’s organizational ability, planning and strategy remained unique; it is still matchless and exemplary for the whole world, for those in particular who wish to carry out activities through the Gandhian way or the method. 
   Secondly, value-based views and works of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel are no less important. Especially, his stress on value-based politics and society, and work accomplished by him accordingly are subject of analysis. Sardar Patel in his entire public life remained committed to values at all levels and in all walks of life. Particularly, in political sphere he never seemed lacking behind morality and ethics. Rather, the manner in which he came forward to protect autonomy of democratic values, for their honour/respect and maturity that is extraordinary and ideal. He was of the firm opinion that “democracy and democratic institutions can function efficiently only where the unit to which these are applied can subsist in a fairly autonomous existence.” These views of Sardar Patel are exemplary and significant for people of nations of the world where democracies are in function. Further, it is the legacy of the Sardar he left for all those who are concerned with democratic values and wish for matured and real democracy.            
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel wished for a prosperous and unified world. He particularly wished for a strong and prosperous India to defend the whole of humanity. He was of the opinion that Hindustan, taking it as its foremost responsibility should contribute towards the development of the whole world. It was in this very context that he played an important role for India’s association with international organizations like the Commonwealth and the United Nations Organization and desired them to work according to the spirit they possessed.
It is an irony that people are not much familiar of ideas and work of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Why? I do not want to go in details pertaining to this reality. However, I urge all –Indians and people around the world to analyze Sardar’s thoughts and brood over their timelessness. If it is done, I am sure they will find them worth consideration in current perspective, exemplary and significant.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Making Good of Human Life: The Spiritual Way –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Humans have always felt perplexed by life’s mystery, its origin, meaning and finality. Especially, origin, meaning and purpose of human life have always remained vital subjects of discussion and analysis from the beginning. Theists and atheists, both, have for thousands of years been discussing these subjects continuously and comprehensively. Scholars have differently presented their respective arguments and conclusions on them. Their arguments, interpretations and conclusions have further been reinterpreted and reanalyzed from time-to-time without failing to deliver new explanations each time. Along with socio-political and economic spheres, spiritual field has also got new dimensions, one after the other in constantly changing situations of space. Even though, i.e., despite constantly changing situations at all levels, from local to global, and in all walks of life the process of discussion and analysis pertaining to life, its origin, meaning and purpose in particular, still continues. It has not lost its significance even through the inevitable process of change.
The Vedic-Hindu philosophy, the most ancient and the best thought that has left impression in one way or the other on all existing philosophies of the world, declares the origin of life to be the divine. This notion could be well observed in the light of the Vedic concept of Hiranyagarbhaa, the golden embryo, as the source of creation of the universe, in which the creation arises out of the dismemberment of a cosmic being, The Purusha. [Rigveda: 10:121]
Karmas [deeds] are natural to all living beings. Despite this, it is only human beings who possess two extraordinary qualities namely intellect and creativity. These two traits render a human being a distinction and superiority over all living beings. With an appropriate co-ordination of intellect and creativity with Karmas, thus, transforming Karmas into Sukarmas [righteous acts] is generally expected from man’s life. In other words, making one’s actions virtuous through an amalgam of intellect and creativity is the highest accomplishment of human life. Life founded on the basis of righteous deeds achieves the highest kind of redemption, the Moksha. In this state soul is fully liberated and beyond the process of death and rebirth. It is considered to be the ultimate purpose of human life to make sense of his life through his actions and thoughts.
The highest stage of Moskha is possible only in the superior human life. A human being is entirely free to act. If he merges his intellect and creativity to make good of his actions, he achieves the highest state, the Moksha. The Vedic-Hindu view of life usually envisions this ultimate state of human life when soul is wholly liberated from the cycle of births and deaths. Thereafter, it remains eternally in the service of God in His abode. It is in other words the realization [of soul] of fundamental [its] nature or obtaining the state of oneness with God.
Almost all theistic philosophies, developed in India and rest of the world, are more or less and in one way or the other, seem near to the Vedic-Hindu concept pertaining to origin, meaning and purpose of human life. Other philosophies like Buddhism and Jainism are also in agreement in toto with Vedic-Hindu notion pertaining to make the life finally meaningful with the attainment of Moksha, Mukti or Vimukti through righteous [virtuous] acts. It is, however, the other matter if they [Buddhism and Jainism] do not agree to Vedic-Hindu view of existence of any Supreme authority, God, on one hand and existence of soul after the liberation on the other.
 In Buddhism and Jainism, attaining the highest, the Moksha, is a state. Buddhism, rejecting the theory of a transmigrating permanent soul, states that the state of Moksha it to be free from all passions and desires. One who achieves this is called liberated. It is a state having no origin, and no end. It should have, therefore,  no existence thereafter. In Jainism, on the other hand, it is the last step, a state of achieving Amaratva. The liberated [soul] gets abode in the Siddhaloka.
The essence that could be drawn in short from Buddhism and Jainism in context of the Moksha or the Nirvana is that both of them lay emphasis on bringing life within the ambit of virtuous acts [Sadachar]. Both stress on making life pure externally and internally, both. When there is a state of absolute purity, soul realizes extreme bliss and happiness, and then gets the state of permanent peace. It is the highest, the ultimate state, i.e., making life meaningful, ideal and exemplary for others, generations to come.           
Dayananda Saraswati, one of the great Vedic-scholars, thinkers, and exponents of the Vedas, despite being in concordance with the Hindu view of origin, purpose and goal of life seems differing in respect of the state of soul after the Moksha. He is of the opinion that after the Moksha soul enjoys extreme [beyond explanation] happiness for a certain period and reappears [in a body] thereafter. The opinion of Dayananda Saraswati is definitely amazing. This view of Dayananda  renders another dimension in this regard, to the perception related to the state of soul after liberation.
What I draw as conclusion from the whole discussion, while having the Vedic-Hindu viewpoint in the centre, is: 1-human life is the best and rare rarest one of all living beings; 2-leading it through righteous acts to make the best of it is the duty of man and achieving the state of liberation, the Moksha is the purpose of it. After Moksha, the liberation, the cycle of birth-death comes to an end. Soul reaches the state of Sachchidananda, obtains Paramatatva or merges with Brahamanatva. It is in fact the process to make life worthy and meaningful. It is, to repeat, the ultimate purpose of life.
    Man is full of wisdom. He is sharp. He imagines and tries continuously to learn and explore. This is the quality, which separates him from others and to make him superior over all living beings. He may differ partly or fully from all established concepts pertaining to origin, meaning or purpose and goal of life. He may particularly disagree with the theist ones believing in Supreme power, among which is the Vedic Hindu viewpoint, which is the ancient and the best one. It dissension existed in the past also. Man has the right to explore and experiment on the basis of his own wisdom and experiences; it does not matter even if explanations of treatises are great and seem based on reality.
Even though one thing has emerged in the above-mentioned concepts, that is the Vedic-Hindu philosophy in particular, is not only relevant to be conformed to, but also along with giving satisfaction to a great extent leads man to make his life worthy and meaningful. When the purpose and goal of man’s life is discussed, he is called to rise above his own self-interest. He is further urged to endeavour having the welfare of all in the centre. He is expected to step forward by seeing and regulating his own happiness and comfort in the wellbeing of all. If he does so, he performs what we term as the righteous acts. Giving up own self-interest, and working for progress and welfare of others is the process of indulging in righteous acts. It is Sadachar [ethics], necessary for proper conduction of the system, from individual to global, from global to universal. In this context the following message of Gautama Buddha is worthy of mention here:
“After observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reasons and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

Donning the true spirit of this view and acting in consonance with it is without a doubt a fair pathway to make life fulfilled or worthy. No one can deny this reality.   

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Importance of Harmony in Life –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Harmony, Sadbhavana in Indian terms, occupies the most important place in man’s life. It is complementary to the supreme human value of Ahimsa and symbolic of friendliness in toto, and, therefore, it remains as the nucleus in the Vedic-Hindu philosophy and way of life. The great Mahamrityunjaya Mantra of the Rigveda urges man for harmony to develop inclusive and wide-ranging friendliness among fellow beings and thereby create an atmosphere of peace leading to prosperity. 
Harmony is the ambrosia [Sanjivini] of life with co-operation, co-ordination and consent being its foremost features in the absence of which life cannot go on appropriately and smoothly and, therefore, there can be no success in life. It is for this reason that harmony, through the ages, has been considered vital to life, and continuous efforts have been made towards its realization and development in all walks of life.
Now, the earth is rapidly converting into a global village. Causes and concerns world over have become common and working together has become inevitable. In such a situation the significance of harmony multiplies many folds as peaceful and prosperous world mandates development of harmony. Therefore, it is the foremost duty of each and everyone that she or he works for the harmony at all levels and in all walks of life.