Category Archives: Social

News related to non governmental social affairs

Unbroken Tradition of Sanatana Dharma Continues at Sringeri

“I have successfully handled and discharged the responsibilities passed on to me by Sri Abhinava Vidhya Tirth Swamiji(35th pontiff) in 1974 and the same responsibilities I am passing on today to the new seer.”  

Sri Bharathee Theertha Mahaswamiji during the occasion of anointing Sri. Vidhushekhara Bharathi as his successor designate.

“According to Shasttras, Taking birth as a human being is a great thing. But one has to strive to make use of the opportunity.  I am blessed to receive infinite blessings of Guru and keen to lead a life aligned with Shastras.  I am happy to receive Sansyasa and I would deliver my responsibilities with the blessings of my Guru”

Sri Vidhushekhara Bharathi Mahaswamiji in his anugraha Bhashana during Shishya Sweekaara Celebrations

 

 

 

 

Vidhu is a synonym for Chandra -Sri Vidhushekahra Bharathi has been selected to remember Sri. Chandrashekhara Bharathi Swamiji, 34th Pontiff of Sringeri by Sri Bharathi  Theertha Swamiji, 36th Pontiff of Sringeri  and at the same time to maintain distinction of names between his paramacharya and direct disciple.

Jagadguru Sri. Bharathi Theertha Mahaswamiji announced the decision to annoint Sri. Kuppa Venkateshwara Prasad as his successor designate in a public meeting held on 4th January 2015 at Sringeri. (See Press release )

The 36th Jagadguru Sri. Bharathi Theertha made the announcement as ordained by Goddess Sri. Sharada, continuing the unbroken tradition of Sanatana Dharma.  When establishing this Peetham about 1200 years ago in Sringeri, Sri Adi Shankaracharya consecrated the idol of Goddess Sharada (the Goddess of Learning and Knowledge) and invoked Her divine presence and blessings to ever preside over this Peetham. Since then, the Jagadguru Shankaracharyas of Sringeri have always announced their successor only after Goddess Sharada’s divinely ordained-will is revealed to them. (Invitation to the Shishya Sweekaara Celebrations)

The Sanyasa sweekaara celebrations were held on Magha Shuddha Bidige (22nd Jan) and Magha Shuddha Tadige (23rd January) of  Jayanama Samvatsara (AD 2015) at Sringeri.  (See Press release on Bidige, Tadige )

ALSO SEE  –  PHOTO ALBUM 

SHISHYA SWEEKAARA CELEBRATIONS

ABOUT SRI. VIDHUSHEKHARA BHARATHI MAHASWAMIJI

History and Future of Slavery

There were no slaves and slavery in ancient India. These English words have no direct, universally accepted equivalent in Sanskrit or other Indian languages.  Some people have attempted to equate the word ‘dasa’ as slaves.  However, the status and rights of ‘dasa’ in ancient India was no way comparable to the exploitative, barbaric treatment of slaves and inhuman status in which they lived.  The confusion of translating dasa as slave may be due to Shamasastry’s translation of dasa as slave.  However, Kangle corrects this by retaining the word ‘dasa’ or ‘karmakaara’ in his translations of Arthashastra. The Greek historian Arrian, who chronicled India about the time of Alexander the Great, wrote in his Indika, “The Indians do not even use aliens as slaves, much less a countryman of their own.” [Dasas of India are not slaves]

An undated newspaper advertisement offers a family of slaves for sale, highlighting their various skills. Slave families were not always sold together.
An undated newspaper advertisement offers a family of slaves for sale, highlighting their various skills. Slave families were not always sold together.

In ancient Rome, slaves performed many domestic services, and might be employed at highly skilled jobs and professions. Teachers, accountants, and physicians were often slaves.  Roman military expansion was a major source of slaves and slaves performed manual labor.  In Roman Empire, slaves were freed and this was referred to as manumission.  A freed slave was allowed to become Roman citizen. A freed slave enjoyed not only passive freedom from ownership, but active political freedom (libertas), including the right to vote, though he could not run for public office.  In Greek, Unskilled slaves, or those condemned to slavery as punishment, worked on farms, in mines, and at mills.  It was also possible that educated turning to be slaves.  Available documentation is primarily focused on Athens and Greek treatises on jurisprudence, arts, and plays relate slavery to artisans and as a source of revenue.

Jewish practices record the enslavement of men and women, mainly captured in war and alien people.  Women captured by Israelite armies could be adopted forcibly as wives, but first they had to have their heads shaved and undergo a period of mourning. (Deuteronomy 21:10-14) However, “If you are not pleased with her, then you must let her go where she pleases. You cannot in any case sell her; you must not take advantage of her, since you have already humiliated her.” non-Israelite slaves shall serve forever

There was a continuity of practice of slavery from pre-Christian times throughout next 1500 years among Christian populations.  Slavery was in a variety of forms and each of them was an expression of brutal exploitation of one human being by another. Muslim populations in Saudi region continued, approved and adopted practices and philosophy of slavery in their framework.   Europeans who colonized Americas enslaved native populations extensively.  They also moved large populations of Africans to the Americas as slaves.  All denominations of Christianity endorsed slavery actively and there was almost no debate on the treatment of the slaves for hundreds of years.  The slaves were killed, raped, plundered, and tortured.  They were made to work in inhuman conditions, and were killed and abused for flimsy reasons in large numbers. Their families of slaves were broken, and burnt.  Individuals and groups of people were arbitrarily accused of heresy and tortured through methods of inquisition. [Europeans Devastated Non-Christian populations]

In Australia, and New Zealand, the land was colonized by Europeans. Non-Christian populations were devastated and enslaved.  Before the arrival of European settlers, each Maori group of New Zealand was considered itself a separate entity equivalent to a nation. There were conflicts between the groups and enslavement is assumed by the Western historians.  After the invasion of European settlers, the Maori groups were conquered, converted, and subjugated to slavery.   In Australia, until 1904, lakhs of men and boys from the South Pacific islands, and an unknown number of women and girls, were kidnaped and brought to Australia to work as slaves on the sugar plantations that still dot the country’s northeast coast. They were shackled, flogged with kangaroo hide whips and raped at will. There were thousands of deaths among enslaved populations.  White historians ignored to record the facts of the enslavement and 150 years later, few Australians are aware of this brutal period of their history.

Judaism accommodates slavery.    Numerous laws governing the ownership and treatment of slaves may be found in the Tanaka, the Talmud, the 12th century Mishneh Torah by noted rabbi Maimonides, and the 16th century Shulchan Aruch by rabbi Yosef Karo . The slavery laws of Tanaka have similarities with the 18th century BCE slavery laws of Hammurabi. In the modern era, when the abolitionist movement sought to outlaw slavery, supporters of slavery used the laws to provide religious justification for the practice of slavery.

The Bible contains several references to slavery, which was a common practice from antiquity. The Bible stipulates the treatment of slaves both in Old Testament and in the New Testament. Male slaves were, theoretically were allowed to be free after seven years of service. However, in practice there were methods to prevent such a release.  Female slaves are not freed in any way.  Exodus (Exodus 21:7-11) explicitly says, “If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners.” Women were enslaved and sexual gratification from them is implied. Only when the woman slave is married by the master or son of the master, the slavery is ended. But, she continues to be in the same environment where she served as a slave [Slavery in Bible].

In Islam, the slavery is largely slavery of women that includes forced marriages, slavery for manual labor and more importantly sexual slavery.  Women and children are considered as war spoils. After the war victory, men of the enemy camp are killed and young children and women are shared among the Islamic army.  Islam permits sexual intercourse with virgin women immediately after the capture. If the captured woman is not a virgin, then Muslims have to wait till their womb is cleansed before they can have sexual intercourse.  There is no restriction to force sexual intercourse against the wishes of the woman as the captured woman is merely a property like cattle.  The woman can be sold, purchased, and gifted or freed. It is not correct, according to Islam, to interpret these actions as ‘not recommended’.  The wife cannot object a Muslim man to have sexual intercourse with his slave.  Such an objection is also considered as improper and against the scholarly opinion. [Slavery in Islam]

Thus, the slavery existed in populations associated with Europe, Colonized America, Australia, and New Zealand.  The slavery was approved by populations associated with Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  In the modern times, the dominant discussion in the Jewish and Christian world is supportive of banning slavery. However, a minority stream is still advocating continuing the slavery.  The dominant Islam advocated slavery of non-Muslim women and elimination of adult men without any hesitation.  Feeble voices among minority Muslims who are not politically not empowered are heard against slavery.  In the white worlds of Europe, America, Australia, and New Zealand, African populations, and Asian populations are discriminated systematically based on their skin color. Modern democratic institutions – executive, judiciary, and legislature as well as media systematically sustain the practices of discrimination rooted in slavery, often in subtler ways.

Officially, the slavery was abolished in a gradual manner.  In 1800s, European states abolished slavery and in 1900s, Muslim countries followed the suit.  UN abolished slavery globally in 1948 through Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It appears that those who committed the sins of slavery have just started atoning for the crimes.  However, suddenly they have become researchers of slavery, reformers against slavery and preachers to the world, which never practiced slavery.

The discussion of modern slavery is a distorted debate initiated by perpetrators of slavery.  They are trying to transfer the blame of their sins on to the gullible populations who are either victims or ignorant of the slavery problem.  The age-old sacred institution of traditional marriage of India is slowly being included in the categories of ‘modern slavery’.  Low wage employments are being interpreted as modern slavery. In addition, India is suddenly appearing on the top of the modern slavery list.  A nascent NGO with the blessings of prominent American politicians such as Hillary Clinton.  The head of the Catholic Church – The Pope – organizes a meet of representatives of religions and Dharmic traditions and cultures endorsing the modern day slavery report.

Hindus are set to receive the sins of the world once again and emancipate the world of slavery.

Objectives of a Samskrita University

The course of history was changed for India, when British government stopped government funding for Samskrita based traditional education and initiated European education introducing modern science, history and English language.   The decision intended to strengthen the eco-system and sustain the rule of British over India was well thought out and was systematically rolled out.  Today, even after 65 years of departure of British from India, support for English education is growing among Indians.

There is one more subtle effect of replacing the Indian system of education by the European education, often missed from analysis.  That is the way Samskrita is learnt by Indians.  Today, the teaching methodology adopted in universities to teach Samskrita is different approach compared to the traditional learning method.  Samskrita scholars coming out of these two institutions have differences.  The capabilities acquired by scholars from traditional, and official frameworks are same.  It is not uncommon to see their approach and behavior being incompatible with each other.  A systematic study between the differences in the two approaches and consequences thereof are to be taken up and corrective actions are to be taken as early as possible.  Because the study of Samskrita is aimed at preserving the treasure of our heritage and guide the world.

The Samskrita education was weakened by British by diverting funds to European education that taught modern science, history and English. The education system present today is continuation of the system introduced by British and sustained by us in the independent India.  The decision of British to change the education system was to strengthen an eco-system favorable to the British Empire and to sustain the rule of British over India.  Post-independence, we believe that the same system can be used to correct and consolidate an eco-system favorable to India.

Primarily, the university is responsible for creating a framework for imparting knowledge and training, certification, and human resource management in the domain of Samskrita.  Samskrita education should start at an early age in schools and continue throughout the schooling period.  For those who have missed formal opportunities, alternate routes of learning have to be provided by the university in collaboration with contributors in social sector.  These alternate routes could be in the form of evening classes, short-term courses, distance learning, and specialized full time and part time courses.

Today, Indians are accessing Samskrita through English.  This is because, the education system introduces English systematically and the newer generation is less familiar with Indian languages, especially the Samskrita.  The contents of Vedas, Smrithis, Puraanas are not accessed directly.  Without English, it is almost impossible to have a fair understanding of our heritage.  Universities have a significant role in creating an atmosphere where the contents of Samskrita would be accessed through Samskrita.

Samskrita University can also lead in providing content from Samskrita to other languages.  At any given point of time, there should be authoritative scholars who are well versed in Vedas, Smrithis, Puraanas, Itihaasa, Dracaenas, and Matas.  Universities should provide an institutional support, may be in the form of professors, to reorganize and present the contents to the general public in a systematic way.

A new class of Samskrita scholars rooted in the Samskrita tradition is needed to generate Samskrita content equivalent of modern science, technology and other advances.  Is it not possible to understand bible or Quran through Samskrita if Upanishads are understood through English?  Of course, care is to be taken while undertaking such a project. Probably, it would be prudent to wait little more time and take several other steps before planning these aspects.

India is facing language problem.  There is no national language for India.  There are confusions in rolling out a policy identifying the role of Indian languages, foreign languages, English and Samskrita.  The confusions around language of instruction, link languages, official languages of the states, minority languages, and international languages may be clarified if Samskrita comes to prominence.

Immediately after independence, centers of excellence related to Samskrita were shut and there was a severe disruption in the eco-system and affected lives of Samskrita scholars.  Alternate systems have been built but the rigor and the quality of rote learning is missing leading to logical consequences.  Traditional social institutions are striving to sustain traditional framework facing additional hurdles associated with unofficial status and difficulty of resource mobilization.  The need to integrate Samskrita learning systems is not felt and compartmentalized approach has set in even in ideation.

Veda was preserved from time immemorial – traditional Vedic schools have played a significant role in preserving the Vedas to the present generation.  Even an ardent opponent of Vedic tradition would agree to the antiquity of Vedas and need to preserve it.  There are Vedic teachers throughout India in nook and corners of the country facilitating rote learning of Vedas in a structured way. There is need to provide institutional support to them immediately. Samskrita University could take leadership in resolving the confusions preventing extension of government support to traditional Vedic schools without distorting them.

Legal provisions for protecting cows in Karnataka

The cows are protected in Karnataka state. The Karnataka prevention of Cow slaughter and cattle preservation act. 1964 provides legal provisions for preventing cow slaughter. With demand for cattle protection increasing, there is a renewed debate for stricter version of cow protection laws. While the discussion for better laws should continue, there is a need to review the existing legal provisions and make an attempt to comply with them.

History of the bill

There were two laws in the Karnataka state to protect cows.  In the Mysore region, the Mysore Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1948, was applicable.  In the areas which were part of the Bombay area, the Bombay Animal Preservation Act, 1954 was in force. In view of some case laws and administrative convenience a uniform law for the whole State was proposed  The . THE KARNATAKA PREVENTION OF COW SLAUGHTER AND CATTLE PRESERVATION ACT, 1964 was published in the Karnataka Gazette (Extraordinary), Part IV-2A dated 20th November 1963 as No. 144 at page. 9.)

 Amendments to the 1964 act

Two amendments have been made to the 1964 act, one in 1966 and another one in 1975.  Both the amendments provided exceptions to the act of 1964 under different circumstances.  The 1966 amendment exempts cow or animals that have been subjected to medical, research and experimental purposes.  The 1966 amendment also exempts cows or animals belonging to the Indian army.  The 1975 act exempts animals belonging to the Ministry of defense or to the state government under certain conditions.

 Which animals are protected by the law?

The term ‘animal’ means bull, bullock, buffalo-male or female, or calf of she-buffalo, whether male or female.  The term ‘cow’ includes cows, calf of a cow, whether male or female.

 Who are authorized to take action?

The term ‘competent authority’ means a person or a body of persons appointed by the state government to perform the functions required to enforce the law in specific areas under this act.  The term ‘notification’ means a notification published in the official Gazette.  The term ‘prescribed’ means prescribed by rules made under this act.

 What exactly is prohibited?

Slaughtering, offer for slaughter, intentionally kill, offer for killing of cow, or calf of she-buffalo is prohibited.  Similarly causing others to slaughter, cause to be offered for slaughter, cause to be offered for killing are also prohibited. It should be noted herein that any law, custom would not resist the ban on slaughtering of the animal.  Transportation or offer for transportation or causing to be transported of any animal or cow from any place within the State to any place outside the State, for the purpose of its slaughter is prohibited.

 Purchasing, selling or offering to purchase, sell or otherwise dispose of or causing to be purchased, sold or otherwise disposed of, cows or calves of she-buffaloes for slaughter is prohibited.

 Legal slaughtering – what is allowed in the law?

Slaughtering is possible with respect to a cow or an animal if a certificate in writing from the competent authority appointed for the area certifying that the animal is fit for slaughter is available.

 A certificate may be granted by competent authority for

  1. the animal is over the age of twelve years; or
  2. the animal has become permanently incapacitated for breeding, draught or giving milk due to injury, deformity or any other cause.

The certificate may be granted in such form and on payment of such fee as may be prescribed. No certificate can be granted if the animal is suffering from any disease, which makes its meat unwholesome for human consumption.

 The animal allowed for slaughtering through a certificate may be slaughtered in a place specified by an authority or officer designated by the State Government.

The following animals are exempted from the act

  1. Animals operated upon for vaccine lymph, serum or for any experimental or research purpose at an institution established, conducted or recognized by the State Government;
  2. Animals certified by a Veterinary Officer authorized by the State Government, to be necessary in the interest of the public health;
  3. Animal which is suffering from any disease which is certified by a Veterinary Officer authorized by the State Government as being contagious and dangerous to other animals;
  4. Animals certified for slaughter on the ground that it is suffering from an incurable disease or injury;
  5. Animals belonging to the Central Government in the Ministry of Defense, by a Veterinary Officer of the Indian Army; and
  6. Animals authorized by the State Government. and slaughtered by a Veterinary Officer.

 What is the punishment for illegal cow slaughter?

Conviction based on this act would be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

Conviction based on this act would be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

All offenses are cognizable under this act.  Abetment under this act or attempts would be punished in a similar way.

Powers of the Authorized person

The competent authority or any person authorized in this behalf by the competent authority (hereinafter referred to as the “authorized person”) shall have power to enter and inspect any premises where the competent authority or the authorized person has reason to believe that an offence of slaughter has been or is likely to be committed.  Each and every person in occupation of any such premises should allow the competent authority or the authorized person such access to the premises as may be necessary for the inspection and shall answer questions by the competent authority or by the authorized person.

 All persons exercising powers under this Act shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code. The authorized persons acting in good faith are protected under this act. No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall be instituted against the competent authority or any person exercising powers under this Act for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act or the rule made thereunder.

 Implementation of the law

The State Government may, by notification, delegate its powers to any local authority or to any officer of the State Government. The State Government may also establish, or direct any local authority or society registered under the 1[Karnataka]1 Societies Registration Act, 1960, or any association or body of persons to establish institutions at such places as may be deemed necessary for taking care of cows or other animals sent thereto.  Those who take care of animals legally may levy such fees as may be prescribed for the maintenance of such institutions. The State Government may provide by rules for the proper management of such institutions for the care of cows or other animals therein and also for the class or variety of cows or other animals.

 The State Government may by notification, after previous publication, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act. In particular, such rules may provide for

  1. the powers and duties of competent authority
  2. the form of the certificate to be issued to allow legal slaughter
  3. the amount of the fee to be paid
  4. the conditions subject to which this Act shall not apply to any animal
  5. the management of Institutions established and the fee to be levied for their maintenance; and
  6. any other matter which is to be or may be, prescribed.

 The rules formulated by the state government has to be passed by each House of the State Legislature while it is in session for a total period of thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if before the expiry of the session in which it is so laid or the session immediately following, and both houses should approve the rules.

 The State Government has the power of revision of the orders passed by the competent authority and can call for and examine the records of the case and may pass such order in reference thereto as it thinks fit.  Any order passed by the competent or by the State Government cannot be called in question in any court.

Also see Aseema November 2014 issue

Harmonizing Sharia Legal Systems

Uthman ibn Affan, third Caliph, ordered four of the best reciters among the Companions of the Prophet(Sahabah) to transcribe several copies of the manuscript of the Qur’an(Mus-haf), which was compiled into one manuscript by the command of Abu Bakr. When they finished Uthman sent a copy of the transcribed manuscript to every territory. He also ordered that any other versions of the Qur’an be burnt. This story about the present version of the Quaran is cited as a guideline for disposal of unusable copy of Quran in book form.

According to some, Quran may be disposed by wrapping it in cloth and burying on holy ground where it is unlikely to be trampled on or “safely” placed where it is unlikely to come into contact with impurity. According to an Arab source, Muslims are forbidden to recycle, pulp, or shred worn-out copies of the text; instead, burning or burying the worn-out copies is allowed. Some online discusssions suggest burning, wrapping in a clean piece of cloth and burying, or disposing in a flowing river as possible ways of disposing. Few others suggest using a shredder, where the papers of the copy are to be shredded so that the form of a letter cannot be seen. Some people suggest disposing in a trash but inside a black plastic trash cover so that it is not visible to others. The burying is not advised by some to avoid the text being walked on.

These contradictory views and actions aligned to them are intended to avoid descration. Desecration is defined in abstract terms as ‘dishonoring’ or ‘showing disrespect’. Since there are differing view points on the way of disposal, the desecration may not be easy to identify. The case of a desecration is determined based on intent behind the act rather than the act itself. So the same act of disposal may be a desecration is one situation and a non-objectionable disposal in anohter situation. Who decides this issue?

In a recent incident in Pakistan, a trash collector reported collecting pages of Quran from the trash disposed by the Christian couple. The trash was generated from the belongings of an elderly person of the house of the couple. The act of disposing Quran in trash was perceived as desecration either by trash collector who reported it to the Mullah of the mosque or by the Mullah of the mosque after receiving the report. While the act of disposing the Quran in trash is not a deciding factor, the reason that a case of desecration is suspected in this case needs analysis of intent. While, the trash collector and/or Mullah might have seen bad intent in the disposal, the Christian couple have denied such an intent from beginning to the end. So, there were contradictory view points. The views of the Mullah and/or the trash collector have been presumed to be conclusive and the views of the Christian couple have been neglected or rejected.  (Expecting couple were burnt by a mob incited by loudspeakers of a local mosque declaring them as “blasphemous” and saying they should be “killed”).

What were the other options for the Christian couple? Burn the Quran? Since, burning is not recommended by some, such an act could have been interpreted as desecration by another set of people, and the Christian couple would have landed in a similar situation. Burn inside the house? Burning secretly by a Christian couple is definitely would create more suspicion about the intent behind the disposal, if and when it is known to the outside world. What about the burial? Since there is a possibility of stepping on this or there could be some interpretations on the details of the burial that leads to a conclusion of bad intent. Even if the Christian couple handed over the unusable Quran or its pages to a Mullah for disposal, one may suspect desecration of Quran and an attempt to cover it up by submitting the torn pages to a cleric. A bad intent in the descreation of the Quran and a decenptive intent in reporting it to the cleric may be concluded.

The Pakistani law provides life imprisonment for the desecration of Quran. But, the mob punished the Christian couple by burning them after the local Mullah concluded about the desecration. The official courts did not hear this case and so according to the constitution of Pakistan the trial and burning is unofficial and illegal. So, there are two parallel legal systems in Pakistan. One managed by Muftis and Maulvis of local Mosques. The other one by the courts approved by the Constitution. Both follow Sharia law – but the working of the Sharia law is different in both cases.

The trial of desecration, thus remains problematic from the perspective of the non-Muslims. Non-Muslims are not able to get justice from the constitution of the country because before it operates, the Islamic law is applied on them. This is true in many other countries and in many situations, Muslims are also affected in a similar way. There are many way of resolving this difficulty. Firstly, as stated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the rule of law is to be established in Pakistan with Constitution approved Sharia law superceding the Mosque implemented Sharia law.

There is another option.  The Sharia courts managed by local mosques and Mullahs may be recognised by the formal court system of Pakistan. Punishments of the traditional Sharia to be included as a possible option in the national legal system. Appeal system should be systematized to have a meaningful relook at the higher courts. Implementation of judgements from such a legal proceedings would be more meaningful.

Evangelization by diluting Family system

In October 2014, Pope Francis will convene an Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.  The topic of the meeting would be “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization”.  The meeting would explore the ways and means the Churches should go about showing compassion in the context of modern views and practices on sexuality.  In simple words, the meeting would take decisions to relax Church laws related to marriages so that it would become easy for the Church to retain the existing Christians in their fold and convert others to Christianity.

The importance of the meeting can be understood by the fact that only three such meetings have been called since 1965, when Synod of Bishops was created.  Typically, such extraordinary meetings are called when crucial decisions are taken affecting the Church in a significant way.

Francis is continually emphasizing the importance of softness in the conversation about what the Church condones and condemns. There is less emphasis on condemning and more on condoning. The Pope is cleverly exploiting the tone of the message to enhance the impact of the content.  In the October meeting, the Church would take convenient positions on divorce, remarriage and cohabitation – in order to take the message of Christ to wider audience.  A document with details of proposed changes has already been circulated among Bishops. The Vatican’s official position is that remarriage can only happen if a previous marriage is annulled, meaning declared to never have truly existed. Cohabitation is frowned upon.

In mid-September 2014, Pope Francis attended a marriage ceremony where live-in partners were entering into the wedlock.  This is being interpreted as one of the outcome of the October meeting – relaxing rules of the Church to the marriage of co-habitating couples.  It should be seen whether the Church would provide official recognition to the marriage of the divorced.  Marriage itself, like communion, is a sacrament in Catholic theology, and both are a way that the faithful can experience life in community with fellow believers. Local churches currently make their own decisions about serving communion to divorced and remarried, or cohabitating Catholics.  The Catholic Church has a minimal role to play as of now as it is unable to enforce theological guidelines on the masses.  The Church, as an institution, is aimed at bringing the whole world under Christianity.  The discrepancy between the theological guidelines and the popular practices is reducing the Church influence in the public domain. The strategy of the Church remains the same – dominate the public affairs through educational, health and cultural activities. And use the influence accrued due to social activities for conversions.  The October meeting would calibrate the Catholic theology to reduce this conflict between two of its objectives.  The meeting is an attempt to review and consolidate domination in public affairs across regions of the world.

Non-Christian groups point to the focus of the Church towards conversions and its readiness to dilute principles affecting the stability of family life. Catholic Church for the time being may continue to stick a common sense definition of marriage between a man and one woman.  While doing so, Church leaders are providing a vague justification – “This is what marriage is all about: man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man, Here we see the reciprocity of differences.” But compulsions of conversions may change even that somewhere in the future.

According to some analysts, dilution of family set-up through divorce, live-in relationships are encouraged by various Christian denominations over a sustained period.  Many active Christian groups in the west are advocating same sex marriages.  Changing the pattern of how people marry and separate would affect the followers of other religions in a significant way.  By granting official recognition to the dilutions would be seen as a reformative act helping well-established propaganda machinery of the Church.  Those religions who continue to follow stricter marriage laws would be labelled as archaic and unreformable.  When the followers of other religions dwindle in numbers, the Church would be ready to provide a popular alternative.

Guidelines to counter OJBH

Al-Queda has announced a new organization OJBH (Organization of Jihadi Bases in Hindustan) to launch terrorist attacks in India.  In this context,  the following guidelines are provided  for Indians to counter OJBH.

Say no to intolerance:

  • Intolerance is the root cause of terrorism. Intolerance takes many forms.  Insisting that God has only one name, and only one form.  Considering other forms of worship, idol worship, worshipping multiple gods, worshipping trees, animals, rivers and mountains as wrong and objectionable are all manifestation of intolerance.  Insisting that converting others as religious duty or freedom is also a form of intolerance.  Acts of violence, abetting illegal actions based on community support are also included in intolerant acts.  For example, use of horn loudspeakers in Mosques and other religious places is an act of intolerance.  Similarly, using NGO network to provide inducements to achieve conversions also is an intolerant act.  
  • Adopt a good conceptual frame work to identify different forms of intolerance. An understanding of universal values is required

 

Express in your views:

  • Expressing views about intolerant acts.   If someone is engaged in an act of intolerance, let the person know that you are not approving his/her actions.  While opposing intolerance, ensure that your opposition is well within the legal limits.  Do not provide an opportunity to the intolerant people to misinterpret your views.  If the actions of the intolerant are illegal, bring them to the notice of the authorities. 
  • Indian Muslims should be proactive and start expressing their views on Jihad, Shariat, and other controversial aspects of Islam.  They could actively initiate discussion with their non-Mulsim friends and clarify their positions on various issues. 
  • Indians should enhance their communications with other fellow Indians and reaffirm their stance not to encourage intolerant actions, their resolve to promote social harmony and defeat the designs of terrorist outfits across the globe.  Organizations should release press statements, individuals should employ social media to express their view points on these issues.

 

Provide Guidelines to population:

  • Issue Fatwas: Imams  and Islamic scholars of India issue fatwa to all Indian Muslims directing them to fight Jihad perpetrated by ISIS, Al-Queda, and Pakistan based organizations. 
  • Hindu Gurus should educate their disciples to the dangers of intolerance.  The meaning of Dharma, importance of Dharma in everday life has to be taught to the people. And Gurus should tell how Jihad of ISIS, Al-Queda is against Dharma and the need for proactiveness of their disciples in this regard.
  • Christians communications should align against the intolerant actions and attitudes.
  • Political parties should express their opposition to the intolerant acts of any individual or the group as a policy and respond consistently and constructively to maintain social harmony.
  • The Government should publish guidelines to public to deal with various scenarios involving intolerant acts, and monitor the developments, attitudes, and actions disturbing the social harmony.

 

 Action items:

  • Individuals:  Express your opinions and Report any observed intolerant activities to authorities
  • Organizations:  Release statements and demand appropriate responses from government and others
  • Government:  Improve social institutions and processes.    In each case of observed case of intolerance, the active players who are creating problems are to be identified and suitable corrections have to be initiated.

Scotland – opportunity to become independent

A referendum is scheduled on 18th September 2014 in Scotland based on the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill  which was put forward on 21 March 2013.  The referendum question, as recommended by the Electoral Commission, will be “Should Scotland be an independent country?”.  A simple majority for “yes” would create a separate nation and a “no” would continue the present arrangement of continuing with United Kingdom.

Recent findings from opinion polls suggest that there is a surge in ‘Yes’ votes from 39% to 43% and a decline in ‘No’ vote from 61%  to 57% in less than four weeks.  If the trend continues, Scotland would become free.  It is quite unnatural in the present scenario if ‘No’ gets a simple majority. Those who vote for No are considered as suffereing from  system justification.  The term ‘system justification’  is defined as the “process by which existing social arrangements are legitimised, even at the expense of personal and group interest”. It consists of a desire to defend the status quo, regardless of its impacts. It has been demonstrated in a large body of experimental work, which has produced the following surprising results. System justification becomes stronger when social and economic inequality is more extreme. This is because people try to rationalise their disadvantage by seeking legitimate reasons for their position. In some cases disadvantaged people are more likely than the privileged to support the status quo. 

People of Scotland by opting to ‘Yes’ vote would seize the  opportunity to gain independence, ending the 305-year-old political union with England. With independence, Scottish people would benefit economically, socially and would get opportunities to express their creativity. Those who remember the “wars of independence” led by their ancestors 700 years ago and the sacrifices made by William Wallace would vote for fee Scotland.  As an independent state, Scottish independence would promote nuclear disarmament, and democracy.  Independent Scottish people should promote universal values and work towards world peace in the true sense

Notes: The method of execution adopted by England in the case of Scottish freedom fighter is appalling.  Reported violence of ISIS appear to be less intensive.  To dismiss this torture method as an incident of past may not be prudent, especially when we do not understand the roots and dynamics of violence.

William Wallace led a war of independence against Great Briton. He was defeated and captured. His sacrifice may be understood by details of his trial and punishment.  During the trial, on 23 August 1305, Wallace was taken from the hall to the Tower of London, then stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse to the Elms at Smithfield.  He was hanged (after drawn), drawn(fastened to a  wooden panel, and drawn by horse to the place of execution) and quartered (chopped into four pieces). After hanging, Wallace was released while he was still alive, emasculated ( removal of the penis and the testicles), eviscerated (removal of viscera i.e., internal organs, especially those in the abdominal cavity) and his bowels burnt before him, beheaded, then cut into four parts. His preserved head (dipped in tar) was placed on a pike atop London Bridge. His limbs were displayed, separately, in Newcastle upon Tyne, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Stirling, and Perth.

URA – a thoughtful obit

Last rites of U. R. Ananthamurthy were conducted as per Sampradaya of Jaati he belonged. It is reported that his children took the decision as per their understanding of the wishes of URA. U. R. Ananthamurthy had explicitly expressed his reluctance to use electric crematorium. That means he had preference towards cremation using wood. There was one more reason for the children to take the decision. U. R. Ananthamurthy had performed the Shraddha rituals of his parents in accordance with the tradition. He had gone to Gaya for this purpose. The last rites were performed by his son Sharath Ananthamurthy. The rituals were performed in accordance with the Madhwa Brahmin sect. A team of 15 priests led by Suryanarayana Shastri led the rituals as per Vedic tradition, which lasted for almost an hour. Rituals were also conducted as per Madhwa traditions earlier in the day at his residence at Dollars Colony. Two trucks of firewood, 50 kg of sandalwood pieces, 75 kg of ghee and five kg of camphor were used for the final rites.  Christian and Muslim prayers were also held as he was known for upholding secular values.  One media report recalled an incident at a simple function at Suchitra, an organization that he supported,  he was the only one the dais who took off his shoes to light the inaugural, ceremonial lamp. Commonly he was perceived as the Hindu-basher, the iconoclast, the blasphemer. In 2013, he was part of another controversy when he made a statement that there is a reference in the Mahabharata to Brahmins consuming beef. This drew flak from Hindu religious leaders.

So, what was he criticizing? Rituals or aachaara of Brahmanas.? Brahmins? Hinduism? RSS/BJP? Was he seen as a critic of rituals based on his novels, especially samskaara? Or was he practicing Brahminism at home and opposing it outside? Was Brahmin bashing a convenient tool for URA for gaining favors in an anti Brahmin political environment? Was he a reformer? It is true that some of his followers were unhappy that a mud pot was broken as part of rituals before his cremation conducted by traditional Brahmins. Were they fooled by a Brahmin in disguise?

Or was URA a creative genius with incoherent stance on philosophy and tradition? Or was he opposing traditional discipline because of his personal experiences during his love marriage with a Christian girl? Was he constantly making attempts trying to justify his actions? Or was he sympathetic to Christians? Was he afraid of violent backlash from Muslims, Christians or Hindus? He never criticized Jihadis, conversions and changed his stance on Modi when agitators were vocal.

Whom was he engaging through his controversies? Anonymous common people on ground who are accused of celebrating his death? Or the famous and well known political leaders like Narendra Modi?

So what should his followers do? follow rituals? or abandon them? Should they follow Hinduism? or Not follow Hinduism? Chief Minister Siddaramaiah called the reported celebration of death of URA as macabre. According to him and many others it amounted to showing disrespect to a titan as URA. Health minister U. T. Khader described the mindset of people who burst crackers as having vicious mindset. The FIR has been filed under Section 143 (unlawful assembly), Section 147 (rioting) and Section 290 (public nuisance).

On a philosophical plane, Hinduism teaches that ‘enmity ends with death’. Is it a universal principle? Is it a good principle? How can one say that it is a principle to be followed? Those who are criticize URA after his death, are they non-Hindus? Those who are criticizing those who fired crackers after URA’s death, are they following Hindu principles?

Very confusing!

URA, the modern thinker,  is not available to provide clarity!!!

Hindus have a burden to uplift Mlechhas

Dharma refers to the sustaining principle of the universe.  Sanatana Dharma, that is adopted by the Indian society, refers to an unbroken tradition of Dharma from time immemorial.  Sanatana Dharma manifests as a society adhering to  Varna Dharma.   The society adhering to the Varna Dharma includes four Varnas –  Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vysya, and Shudra.  There is no fifth Varna.

Varna dharma continues mainly through family traditions and jaati associations.  Inter Varna/jaati marriages generates newer jaatis.  The continuation of jaati traditions through endogamous marriages could be in alignment with the Sanatana Dharma.

The four fold of Varna society is a highly evolved system aimed at ensuring ideal environment and path for all round development of all individuals in the society.

Those who are incapable of adhering to the established Varna System are expelled from the respective adherents of Varnas and are referred as ‘Dasyus’.  It should noted that Dasyus have a jaati and possibly a Varna identity and are either aligned or well positioned to be aligned to the ancient tradition.   Those who are not familiar with the Varna Dharma or not in a position to follow the ancient tradition are referred to as Mlecchas. Those who are not able to understand or harbor antagonistic attitude and stay unfamiliar with the Varna Vyavastha are included in this  ‘Mlecchas’.

Hindu is a term primarily used to refer to the followers of ancient tradition based on Vedas by the outsiders.  Presently, the term is used loosely with slightly different meanings.  In general, these meanings have positive connotations, especially with an intent of social harmony.  Some others use the term to include Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains.  Some would like to use the term to refer to all Indian nationals.  Those who would like to establish a harmonious society by establishing a uniform society would prefer the community who identify themselves as the custodians of the ancient tradition as Hindus. Some use the term to refer to those who have non-antagonistic  attitude towards the ancient tradition.

Thus the adherents of ancient tradition is described either in terms of Varna, or in terms of jaati or by the term Hindu.  It is interesting to note that those who identify themselves primarily through Varna  and Jaati identity also would consider themselves as Hindus.  On the other hand, some of those who would like to identify themselves primarily by Hindu identity, would not like to be identified by their Varna / Jaati identity.

Thus, it is safe to conclude that the Hindu identity is a buffer identity shielding the Sanatana Dharma from the onslaught of barbarism.  Thus, the Dharmic tradition is sustained by four Varnas supported by Jaati traditions.  Dasyus uphold the jaati traditions.  Hindus facilitate Dasyus to get integrated with the jaati traditions and simultaneously try to uplift Mlechhas towards the ancient tradition.

To clarify, Chandala is a Shudra, a fallen Brahamana may be a Dasyu. Jihadi Muslims, Proselytizing Christians, extremist Naxals, and unfriendly Jews are all Mlechhas.  Hindus are those who are claimants of ancient tradition with or without jaati/varna association.  Those who have non-antagonist attitude towards the ancient tradition may also be referred to as Hindus.