Saturday, April 27, 2013

Adi Shankaracharaya: A Matchless Propounder and Propagator of Universal Unity –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

       Universal unity or universalism is an undeniable reality. The universe is thoroughly governed by one order –one rule. That very order –rule is the universal rule, the universal order. Nothing is beyond the ambit of this order or the rule. Universalism is, undoubtedly, the basis of the entire unity.
       The Vedic philosophy or the view of life, generally known as the Hindu philosophy or the view of life now, is fully dedicated to the universal unity in theory and practice, both. For the proper conduction and continuity of an order, and to maintain unity on the basis of it, there is always inevitability and necessity of a conductor or the director. Therefore, to conduct, maintain and accord continuity to the universal order, a manager or the director always exists and that is Brahman –God. He is called by so many names such as Prabhu, Parameshwara, Paramatman, Parabrahman, Ishwara, Bhagawan, the Supreme Being and the Highest Authority –Sarvashaktiman. He is unborn, self-sovereign and self-illuminated, manifested as well as un-manifested Brahman. He is changeless and the Absolute
       The whole of the Vedic-Hindu philosophy, its chief treatises like Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita in particular are committed to this reality. In the centre of teachings of all of these scriptures is Brahman –God. For, they focus on a matchless and great idea and call for acquiring knowledge pertaining to it, which is also known as the Brahmavidya, so that life could be made worthy and meaningful while passing through the inevitable process of karmas –actions.
       Adi Shankaracharaya, who rightly earned fame as the Shankara Bhagavadpada and the Jagadguru all over the world, presented the above reality wisely, in a beautiful and adaptable manner before the world on the basis of his intensive analysis and realization. For this, sound arguments and minute observation remained the part and parcel of his critical analysis in particular. Especially, through his commentaries on Brahmsutra, Upanishads, the IshopanishadIshavasya-Upanishad and the Kathopanishad in particular, and Shrimad Bhagavad-Gita, he categorically established the supremacy of Brahman, His rule over all –movable or immovable, and truly declared Him to be the basis of universal unity. For, he called for overcoming of all superfluous suspicions or doubts.
       In his commentary on the Brahmasutra, he emphatically stated Brahman to be the only and ultimate truth and the source of the Vedas. He proclaimed that the soul in the body, which is made of the Maya –illusion, is, in fact, the revelation of Brahman Himself, and there is no separate authority of soul at all, “Brahma satyam jagan-mithya jivo brahmaiva na aparah.”
    Moreover, he asserted that the whole Jagat –universe is created by Him –Brahman, He is an Indivisible Whole, and along with Vedas He is the nucleus of the Vedanta –the Upanishads, which straightforwardly call for acquiring knowledge by wisdom. In this very perspective, the second foremost and long memorable contribution of Adi Shankaracharaya, in my opinion, should be observed in his manifestation of monotheism –belief in the existence of One God or in the Oneness of God, to repeat again as an Indivisible Whole. His commentaries of the Ishopanishad and the Kathopanishad in particular well prove this fact. The Vedic-Hindu Triumvirate consisting of Brahma –the Creator, Vishnu –the Protector or the Up-bringer and Shiva –the Destroyer is, in fact, the three great attributes of Brahman –the Supreme Himself. All the three are the symbolic of His active state, and even Brahmin-Kshatriya etc. are the part and parcel of His own dynamic process as is revealed in the Kathopanishad [1/2/25]. 
       Hence, Adi Shankaracharaya through this truth-based unique, lucid, comprehensive and unprecedented ideas pertaining to monotheism left an exemplary impression directly-indirectly, more or less, or in one way or the other upon almost all spiritual-religious philosophies of the world. Along with this, through his ideas pertaining to the supremacy of Brahman and affirming the reality of monotheism by taking the course of critical analysis and arguments, the Jagadguru accorded an unprecedented strength to the Vedic-Hindu philosophy and the view of life. He accorded the best and a unique dimension to it. 
     On the basis of his high wisdom Adi Shankaracharaya emerged as such an influential spiritual-religious philosopher of the Indian tradition, who left great impression of his ideas on crores of people all over the world in general and the Sub-continent of India in particular. The influence of his exemplary ideas still remains intact. Especially, his exclusive analysis and review of the Vedic philosophy and view of life on the strength of wisdom [which essentially includes the judgment], knowledge and arguments, propagation of reality of universal unity while having the Brahman –God as the nuclei, and its acceptance by crores of people itself proves the significance of the extraordinary viewpoint of Adi Shankaracharaya and the great contribution made by him in this regard.
      Shankaracharaya’s views, particularly pertaining to the Brahmavidya and monotheism have for centuries been nuclei of studies and research of thousands of people around the world. Many of them may not agree to his ideas or the analysis, which he made about the supremacy of Brahman or monotheism, but no one of them can deny the fact that he was a matchless propounder and propagator of universal unity, and he is perhaps the only great philosopher of India who still impresses the most by his viewpoint the life of people of the Sub-continent directly, and so many others in the world indirectly by his spiritual-religious thoughts pertaining to the AdvaitismFor his matchless contribution towards illuminating the reality of universal unity on the basis of the supremacy of Brahman, and for this calling people to act accordingly, Adi Shankaracharaya remains unparalleled, and it will be so in times to come. His glory will remain intact for a long.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ahimsa and Unity: The Two Fundamentals of Harmony in Religions –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Religion –the Dharma, in context of adopting goodness, as it is the real meaning and purpose of it, or in perspective of discharging one’s duty by her or his righteous acts, or in the form of an injunction, the Shasana, is eventually committed to harmony. It is, in fact, the essence of religion –the Dharma
All religions established or developed on this planet, from time-to-time, by making harmony as the nuclei of their foremost fundamentals, in one way or the other call their followers to carry out day-to-day practices accordingly. Along with giving a clarion call to followers to make harmony the basis of their activities, at all levels and in all walks of life, religions indicate practical and adaptable pathway to be followed in this regard. In this very process, important, relevant and the most valuable reality is that all religions make human unity, unity of all living beings in a broad perspective, the basis of harmony. It is because in harmony, the consonance is necessary for conduction of practices and their continuity in diversities prevailed in the world as truly and beautifully revealed and explained in the concept of Anekaantavaada, [अनेकान्तवाद] in Jainism in particular, and also due to the realty of ever existing law of change. Along with this, for the construction, development and continuity of harmony, religions make laudable efforts on the strength of the supreme human value of Ahimsa –non-violence, which is, in its finest form, the revelation of pure love and goodwill towards all living beings. Hence, Ahimsa and unity, with Ahimsa remaining as the supreme, natural and eternal value and the basis of unity simultaneously, emerge as the two foremost fundamentals in religions for the development and continuity of harmony.
Further, religion –the Dharma has, through the ages, been directing and impressing the most the life of one and all –general and particular. After passing through numerous stages of changes and development, the role and contribution of religion in life remain important in present. In current perspective when the fields of science, communication and information technology are touching heights, one after the other in particular, and resultantly development at all levels and in all walks of life naturally multiplies every day and for prolonging the progress, harmony emerges as the foremost and sound basis to succeed in real sense. In other words, taking one and all within the ambit of development, a fair analysis and true development of harmony prevailed in religions, which, to repeat influences the life of everyone, on the basis of Ahimsa and unity is necessary and inevitable. From this, not only the importance of harmony in life will become apparent, but its necessity in continuously increasing process of advancement, from local to global levels, when this planet especially seems now converting rapidly into a global village, will also become visible further to pave the way to proceed accordingly.   


Education and Rehabilitation of Disabled Children -Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Child disability is, in fact, a serious and challenging problem of the world. In India approximately one of every ten children is disabled. Among two crores twenty lakhs declared disabled in the whole population of the country, 35. 29 percent are children. The same situation stands at the global level. In the whole world more than sixty five crores people are disabled and among them approximately 40 percent are children. This state categorically reveals the seriousness of the problem.
We are perhaps well aware of the chief reasons of disability –child-disability in particular. In the main reasons for that even though we can count for improper diet to women during their pregnancies or in other words their malnutrition; improper looking after of children in their early age, which includes malnutrition again and sudden accidents, or strikes of natural calamities. However, all of these reasons are connected in one way or the other with negligence, recklessness, unconsciousness and lack of knowledge –illiteracy. There can be a few exceptions to this. Particularly, as mentioned already, those related to sudden accidents or strikes of natural calamities. Therefore, we can resolve these challenging problems to a large extent by imparting proper education –awakening, consciousness and knowledge. In this regard the utmost need is to realize responsibility by all of us and to work at social plane in particular that too getting free of prejudices in toto.
In this regard, however, the most important task relates to the availability of means for nutritive diet in particular. This is, in fact, the most challenging task. In India more than thirty three percent of the total population [37, 87, 87, 878 people in number] live under the poverty line. The daily income of each one of them is below rupees sixty five. The total number of such ones in the whole world is approximately 5, 60, 00, 00, 000. In such a situation crores of people are unable to meet two ends meals. Approximately, 22, 000 children die every day due to lack of food –hunger and malnutrition. This is really unfortunate –painful, terrible and a matter of serious concern. Child disability is to a large extent connected to this. Not only this, the problem of rehabilitation of handicapped children is also connected to it. It is a compulsion for those wish for proper cares for their children, but they cannot due to poverty. They are means-less and unprivileged. It is really a spot on the forehead of the whole of humanity.
In this regard it is the responsibility of the community of teachers-professors, who are, undoubtedly, more or less, prosperous in these days, multiplies many fold. For, they should step forward for the awakening through education on the one hand and discharge their duty to what extent it may be possible towards the abolishing poverty on the other. All of us must bear this in our minds that until and unless immeasurable inequality prevails in the world, poverty, hunger, discrimination and lack of means exist, people are deprived of opportunities, serious and challenging problem like this will also subsist. For this we can make efforts and we must do so for sure. Whatever is gained through efforts made individually and collectively, that will be the achievement.
Note: This piece is based on extracts of the speech of Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar at a two days national seminar organized on education and rehabilitation of disabled children by the faculty of education, MJP Rohilkhand University, Bareilly [India] on March 22, 2013.