Ganesh, by Stephen Knapp

The principal scriptures dedicated to Ganesha are the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Brahma Purana and Brahmanda Purana are other two Puranic texts that deal with Ganesha.

Lord Ganesh is known as the son of the Shiva and Parvati, and is the god of luck and of “opening the way.” That is why many people pray to Ganesh before starting a new project, in order to proceed with as few obstacles as possible.

Ganesha became the Lord (Isha) of all existing beings (Ganas) after winning a contest from his brother Kartikaya. When given the task to race around the universe, Ganesha did not start the race like Kartikeya did, but Ganesh simply walked around Shiva and Parvati, both his father and mother, as the source of all existence, and, thus, showed his intelligence.

The most prominent characteristic of Lord Ganesh is that he has the head of an elephant. How Lord Ganesh got an elephant’s head is related in several places in the Vedic texts. There may be a few different versions, but the general way in which it is accepted relates as follows: One day Goddess Parvati was at home on Mt. Kailash preparing for a bath. As she didn’t want to be disturbed, she told Nandi, her husband Shiva’s Bull carrier, to guard the door and let no one pass. Nandi faithfully took his post, intending to carry out Parvati’s wishes. But, when Shiva came home and naturally wanted to come inside, Nandi had to let him pass, being loyal first to Shiva. Parvati was angry at this slight, but even more than this, at the fact that she had no one as loyal to Herself as Nandi was to Shiva. So, taking the turmeric paste (for bathing) from her body(some say it was sandalwood paste) and mixing it and fashioning it into her son, she breathed life into it and she created Ganesha who manifested from this form, declaring him to be her own loyal son.

Then when Lord Shiva’s wife, Parvati, was going to bathe in the forest, she wanted someone to guard the area. Some references say she was going to bathe in her house. So she ordered Ganesh to let no one into the area while she was bathing. However, Lord Shiva came after a long absence and wanted in, but was blocked by Ganesh. Lord Shiva did not recognize the boy as his son, nor did Ganesh realize Shiva was his father, and enraged, Shiva and Ganesh began to fight. Ganesh lost the battle with his head being cut off. When Parvati entered the scene and saw what had happened, she was so upset that she was thrown into despair and threatened to destroy the entire universe. Shiva, after understanding the situation, devised the means to revive his son. Desperate to pacify her, Shiva promised to take the head of the first creature he came upon in order to give their son a new head and bring him back to life, and that first being was an elephant. So Ganesh got the head of an elephant and with Lord Shiva’s power, came back to life.

Part of the meaning behind this symbolism of the man with an elephant’s head is to represent the unity between the small entity, or man, and the large universe, the elephant. In the word “gaja”, which means elephant, “ga” means the goal, and “ja” means the origin. In the form of Ganesh, the elephant-headed man represents the culmination of the man, the origin, on the path toward universal consciousness, the goal. Ganesh, therefore, is the representation of man who understands the foundation of the reality upon which the universe rests, as is summarized in the Vedic term, “Thou art That,” tat tvam asi. (Taittiriya Aranyaka 8.1.1)

THE SYMBOLOGY OF GANESH

Ganesh is also called Ganapati. This means lord of the Ganas who are the attendants who control the function of the sense organs. According to Karapatri’s Sri Bhagavat-tattva (p. 638), the word gana means a collection of something that can be counted or comprehended. In this way, Ganapati is also the lord or ruler of categories.

He is also known as the Lord of thresholds or entrances into new dimensions. He is the remover of obstacles or obstructions. That is why students pray to Ganesh before taking a major test, to remove the obstacles. That is also why it is not unusual, especially in India, that as we enter a new space or house we may see an image of Ganesh above the door or nearby to give blessings to those who enter. Thus, he is also the guardian of the doorways. This is the case in many Vedic temples. As we enter the temple, we first see a deity of Ganesh to whom we pray for blessings and the removal of obstacles in our devotion or the rituals that we do inside the temple. That way the obstacles to our worship and further spiritual progress can be removed, in which case our spiritual development can be made more rapidly and easily.

Ganesh is also considered the Lord of astrology. He is said to know the language of the stars and the destinies of every living being. Thus, astrologers also petition Ganesh to pen such knowledge to them.

Ganesh is also said to be the writer of the scriptures. (Mahabharata 1.1.77) He accepted the position of being Vyasadeva’s scribe and wrote the Mahabharata and Srimad-Bhagavatam as it was dictated by Srila Vyasadeva, the compiler of the major portions of the Vedic texts. You can see the cave where this is said to have happened at Mana, near the holy place of Badrinatha (Badarikashrama). For this reason the ancient Brahmana texts also describe him as the god of learning.

His other names include Ganesh (related to the word gana), Vinayaka (a name familiar in South India, meaning great leader), Vighneshvara (the remover of obstacles), Gajanana (elephant-faced), Gajadhipa (lord of elephants), and Jyeshtha-raja (King of the elders).

Ganesh is said to have two wives, Siddhi (success) and Riddhi (prosperity). Thus, if anyone pleases Lord Ganesh with nice prayers or worship, the person also attains the company or blessings of the wives of Lord Ganesh. However, if used improperly, success and prosperity can be distractions on the path toward the goal of spiritual wisdom.

Ganesh is also shown in particular ways with certain symbols, which is described in the Ganapati Upanishad (11-14). He is seen with one tusk and four hands, two of which hold a noose and a hook. The noose that he holds is to catch delusion, to free one from its affects. The noose also represents attachment that can lead to anger, which hurts us like the goad. The noose or rope is also used to pull his devotees nearer to the Truth and to tie them to the Highest God. The hook or goad indicates his power and helps motivate one towards the goal. Sometimes he is also shown holding an axe, which he uses to cut off the worldly attachments of His devotees, which can thus end the cause of their sorrow.

Of the other two hands, one is positioned in the gestures for giving blessings and assuring fearlessness, and the other is often holding a rice ball. Ganesh’s hand that gives blessings shows that he can grant one’s desires and assures freedom from fear, and that he is beyond the influence of time and space wherein fear exists. In this way, he blesses all and offers protection from all obstacles on their spiritual path in seeking the Supreme. The rice ball he is often seen holding indicates the reward of the sadhana or spiritual practice for his devotees. Ganesh also has a big stomach and large ears. The fat belly of Ganesh indicates that the influence of the material manifestation is within him. His big ears represent that he accepts the truthful and positive vibrations, while throwing out the false and non-virtuous words that men may present to him. On his flag is a mouse, which is also his carrier.

Deities of Ganesh are often covered with red vermillion. The significance of the vermillion is that it represents the reddened complexion of one who is absorbed in work, which causes the intensified circulation of blood to all parts of the body. This also produces the skin’s red glow. Ganesh is also the lord of action, so he is often seen smeared with red vermillion. He is also worshiped with red flowers. Since Ganesh works wholeheartedly, he has a strong appetite and is thus offered and enjoys a steady supply of sweets and delicacies.

As Vighneshvara, Lord Ganesh also gives us the gifts that destroy obstacles, restrictions, or hindrances. All obstacles exist in the arena of time and space. Through the access of immortality, or the realization of such, we can overcome the fear that is intrinsic in the arena of temporary time and matter. Thus, Lord Ganesh gives and takes away. He gives us what can take away the hindrances and obstacles that keep us from realizing our true potential. Because of this, Lord Ganesh is often worshiped before starting any new project, or before entering a house or building. This is why he is often placed above doorways through which people enter, or is recognized and afforded respect and worship before accepting a new position, starting a new undertaking, or before beginning a new challenge, like taking a difficult test, so we can reach its completion without hindrance.

In worshiping Ganesh, there are several different mantras from which one can choose that help invoke the energy or mercy of Ganesh. There is also a specific graphic design called a yantra that is also a symbol for Ganesh. The swastika is another graphic design that can be used in representing Ganesh and the good fortune that he can provide. This is also why the swastika is a sign for good fortune.

Locally, you often see Ganesh deities as either individual images or as a bas relief carved from stone or boulders. His trunk is also curved to the right and sometimes to the left. This indicates the ways to get around obstacles to reach the goal. This is an indicator of Ganesh’s ability to master adversities, and is also a symbol for the Om mantra. His trunk also often holds a modaka, a type of sweet. The single tusk he has represents the one Truth, while the broken tusk indicates the imperfections of the ever-changing material world. He lost the broken tusk when Parashurama once arrived at Mount Kailash to see Lord Shiva. However, Shiva was sleeping, so Ganesh did not allow Parashurama to get in. When they started fighting, Ganesh lost one tusk. (Padma Purana)

The broken piece of the tusk was later used as a pen to write the Mahabharata when it had been dictated by Srila Vyasadeva to Ganesh. How Ganesh wrote the Mahabharata from the dictates of Srila Vyasadeva is described as follows: Vyasadeva entered into a state of meditation after the death of the Kaurava and Pandava clans, and after the disappearance of Lord Krishna. While the great story of events between the tribes, along with the episodes of the Kuruksetra war, was still in his mind, he wanted to write the epic in the form of a great poem. He went to Brahma for advice regarding a qualified person who could accept his dictation to write the story, and Brahma mentioned Ganesh. When Vyasa thought about Ganesh, he appeared before the sage. However, Ganesh was not so receptive to the idea, so he stipulated that Vyasa dictate it in such a way that Ganesh would never have to put down his pen before it was completed. Vyasadeva countered with the requirement that Ganesh not write down anything before he completely understood the meaning of it. Ganesh was not meant to write anything he did not understand in order that he realize the depths of the meaning, and how to write it in a way that would make the meaning accessible to all humanity. This was agreed, and the Mahabharata was completed within three years. (Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Chapter 1, verses 74-80)

Sometimes Ganesh is shown as Balaganapati in his child form, or Tarunaganapati as a young man. During the popular Ganesh Chaturthi festival, Ganesh is worshiped as Varasiddhi Vinayaka. At other times Ganesh is portrayed as Herambaganapati, with a third eye in between his eyebrows, along with five heads and ten arms. These show an extended view of his various powers, which are represented by what he holds in his hands, which include a lotus, pomegranate, water-pot, an axe, a lute, a sugarcane, ears of paddy, a bow and arrow, a thunderbolt, prayer beads, and a book.

The mouse that accompanies Ganesh is his carrier. The mouse is often seen in pictures eating or stealing the sweets that are piled near Ganesh. The mouse is the desire to enjoy material pleasures and the dangers of the ego. Though the mouse is small, this desire for material happiness, and the driver that motivates one into actions to acquire such pleasure, is like a thief that takes away all that people possess. It steals away one’s life that could be used to acquire the goal of spiritual perfection toward true happiness and liberation. The mouse also represents the mind, which is always active. It takes much weight to keep the mind from going astray. The weight of an elephant, Ganesh, on the mouse represents controlling the mind. Thus, Ganesh rides on this mouse as the controller of material desire and the effects of illusion.

GANESH MANTRAS

To Ganesh, for removing obstacles:

Aum Eikdantaya vidmahe

Vakratunaye Dhimahi

Tanno Buddhih Pracodayat

Translation: “Om. Let us meditate on Sri Ganesh, the lord with one tusk. May that great lord with curved elephant trunk inspire and illumine our mind and understanding.”

Invocation to Ganesh:

Gajananam Bhutganadisevitam

Kapittha Jamboo Phalcharu Bhakshanam

Umasutam Shokvinashkarakam

Namami Vighneshwar Padpankajam

Translation: “Oh Elephant-faced, worshiped by the existing beings, of all living beings, tasting the elephant apple (kaith) and jambolana (jamun), the Son of Uma, destroyer of grief, I bow to the lotus feet of Ganesh who is lord of all.”

Ganesh Gayatri Mantras for increasing intellect:

Om Lambhodaraya vidmahe

Mahodaraya deemahi

Tanno danthi prachodayath

Om. Let me meditate on that god with broad paunch. Oh, God with a big belly, give me higher intellect, And let the elephant faced one illuminate my mind.

Om Thatpurashaya vidhmahe

Vakrathundaya dheemahi

Tanno danthi prachodayath

“Om. Let me meditate on that great male, Oh, God with broken tusk, give me higher intellect, And let the elephant faced one illuminate my mind.”

To Ganesh for removing obstacles, a good way to start any projects, studies or rituals:

Ganapati Bappa Morya

Pudhachya Varshi Lovkar Yaa

Use this to Ganesh prayer before beginning any new project so impediments may be removed and your endeavor may be crowned with success: Om gam ganapataye namaha.

The Ganesh Mula Mantra:

Om srim hrim klim glaum gam ganapataye svaha

Om shanti shanti shantihi

Also:

Om gam-gau-ganapataye

Bighna-binashi ne-svaha

For one who wants wealth and prosperity, meditate on the golden color of Ganesh and say this prayer:

Om Lakshmi Ganapataye namaha

Another to Ganesh, Japa is 5,000 times a day for 25 days:

Om Gum Ganapataye Namaha, Om

Also to Ganesh:

Om gam ganeshaya namaha

Om klim gam gam gam mahaganapataye namaha

To Ganesh for blessings for spiritual success:

Om gananam tva ganapatigm havamahe kavim kavinamupamashravastamam

Jyeshtharajam brahmanam brahmanaspata snah shrinvanutibhissida sadanam

Mahaganapataye namaha

Translation: Om. Oh lord of speech, we worship you, the lord of the gods, the wisest among the wise, the one having incomparable fame, the best among the praiseworthy, and the lord of the Vedic hymns. While listening to our praises, come with your protecting powers and be rested in our yajnashala (temple). Obeisances to Mahaganapati.

Agajananapadmarkam gajananamaharnisham

Anekadantam bhaktanamekadantamupasmahe

Translation: We meditate, day and night, on the one-tusked one (Ganesh) who is the sun for the lotus in the form of the face of Parvati, the one with the elephant face and the one who is the giver of plenty to his devotees.

 

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Gotras: A Simple Explanation

Whenever you go to visit a temple in India, and participate in the doing pujas or rituals, the priest will often ask you to which gotra your family line belongs. Then you tell him your gotra, and usually the names of your father and mother, and he puts that into the recitation of prayers to offer to the deity you are worshiping, and to get blessings from that deity. In other cases, a person introduces himself to elders by stating one’s name and gotra. This is a form of acknowledging one’s ancestral ties and all that has been given by one’s ancestors.

How the system of gotra works can be explained like this. First of all, the original spiritual knowledge was given by the Supreme Being to Lord Brahma, the secondary creator of the universe. From Brahma came the powerful rishis who were capable of receiving this knowledge and preserving it, and then spreading it throughout the universe, and down through the generations of humanity.

So, after the universal creation under the guidance of Lord Brahma, it is recorded that he had 27 sons who were also progenitors for mankind, called Prajapatis, who were the seeds of humanity which spread throughout the world. The familial line from each of these Prajapatis is called a gotra. So the names of the gotra carries the name of each one of these sages. In this way, the 27 sons of Brahma were also the beginnings for the 27 gotras.

These sons of Brahma were also learned sages called rishis. These seers came to be known as the mantra-drishtaraha, seers of the Vedic mantras. The main seven sages, called the Saptarshis (Seven Rishis), are Kashyapa, Vashistha, Bharadwaj, Kapila, Atri, Vishvamitra, and Gautama. It is also these Saptarshis which help preserve and propagate spiritual knowledge to humanity for everyone’s benefit. Additional sons of Brahma include Svayambhuva Manu, Adharma, Praheti, Heti, Aristanemi, Bhrigu, Daksha, Pracetas, Sthanu, Samshraya, Sesha, Vikrita, Kardama, Kratu, Pulaha, Pulastya, and Agiras, along with Marichi, Bhrigu, and Agastya.

The gotra also helps establish your identity as part of the Vedic tradition, and that your family lineage can be traced back to one of the original great rishis or sages from whom the knowledge of Vedic culture has descended. We all belong to one of these gotras, whether we know them or not. But it is a great insight to know your gotra.

However, these gotras have since increased through time to include many others. There are now two hundred and forty-nine gotras, of which approximately forty are common today. Of these forty include: Vatula, Atreya, Garga, Kaundinnya, Kaushika, Gautama, Naidhruva-kashyapa, Harita, Bharadvaja, Shandilya, Maudgalya, and Shrivasta.

Gotras are further classified into five groups, depending upon the number of rishi descendants in a particular gotra. These groups are:

1. Ekarsheya-pravara-gotra, having one rishi descendant.

2. Dvayarsheya-pravara-gotra, having two rishi descendants.

3. Treyarsheya-pravara-gotra, having three rishi descendants.

4. Pancharisheya-pravara-gotra, having five rishi descendants.

5. Saptarisheya-pravara-gotra, having seven rishi descendants.

One example could be a Treyarsheya-pravara-gotra of Vatula, Atreya, and Kaushika gotras, or another line of three (treya) rishis.

Another point about this is that in India, one’s gotra is important because they help avoid what would be called inbreeding, or families marrying within their own gotra. In fact, sometimes they avoid four gotras, including your father’s gotra, your mother’s, your paternal grandmother’s, and your maternal grandmother’s. Marrying someone outside of these four mentioned gotras is said to help prevent birth defects or deformities in their children by keeping people from marrying within the same genetic roots.

In any case, this is a Vedic tradition that seems to be traced back to the beginning of time.

Preservation, Protection, Promotion and Perpetuation of Vedic Culture, by Stephen Knapp

On of the primary needs for Vedic culture right now, especially in places like India, is the following formula of preservation, protection, promotion and perpetuation of its existence. I call these “the four pers”.

I have traveled all over India and have seen many situations where this formula is most needed. I have already written some reports on this, but let me explain a little more clearly the basics of this formula.

 

        PRESERVATION: is the first step. You have to work in ways to preserve the culture to make sure it will also be around over the long term so others can learn about it, take advantage of its wisdom, and even follow it for their own spiritual progress. This may include, but not limited to, such things as:

1. Preserve the great and ancient Vedic texts,

2. Preserve the main yoga systems, the dharmas that lead to God,

3. Preserve the temples and let them be freely maintained by those Hindus and devotees who are most sincere and qualified,

4. Distribute this literature for colleges, schools, personal homes, so it can spread,

5. Educate people in this knowledge, especially the youth so they are aware of it and know it,

6. Practice the traditions, such as the holidays and spiritual paths in everyday life.

 

        PROTECTION: is the next step. Even if you do what you can to preserve the tradition, it may also come under attack in many ways. So you have to help protect it by:

1. Overcoming negative impressions that people may try to use to unnecessarily criticize or demean it,

2. Be on guard for negative press in newspapers or television, and work to correct it,

3. Watch for the use of devious ways and false statements that are said to convert people from the Vedic path to some other religion,

4. Be careful even of politicians who have a disdain for God, or for the Vedic culture and who try to work against it or promote some other ideology or religion at the cost of the Vedic institutions.

 

        PROMOTION: this is important whether we like it or not. Many times Hindus or devotees feel there is no proselytizing in Vedic culture, so you have to be born into it or something like that, but there should be no process to convert others. However, in this day and age this is but a prescription for a slow extinction. Everyone and everything promotes what they have. Just like an author, he may have written the best book ever, but if no one knows about it, no one will buy it. Promotion of some form is a must. And the Vedic tradition is one of the most profound and dynamic cultures the world has ever seen. Therefore, there is a great need to let others know about it. This does not mean that you have to be in a conversion campaign, but you can certainly share what you know of it. Many people are looking for deeper levels of spirituality, but they do not know where to look, or they do not know the depth of what the Vedic path or its knowledge has to offer. Someone has to be willing to tell them. In fact, we all should be willing. Therefore:

1. Everyone can be a Vedic Ambassador to simply share with other seekers the ways the Vedic culture has helped them and what they have gotten out of it, the difference it has made in their life,

2. Promote it as a spiritual path that can help solve many of the world’s problems,

3. Distribute the simpler portions of the Vedic texts, such as Bhagavad-gita, or various forms of introductory literature that can introduce and easily explain what the Vedic path is so others can benefit from it,

4. Open the temple doors to all who want to come and investigate it or be a part of it so others can see what it is and how to get started,

5. Offer classes on yoga and Vedic philosophy for the same reason,

6. And hold programs wherein the youth can also be a part of it and practice it,

7. Arrange for radio or even cable TV programs so everyone can learn from it or stay connected.

 

        PERPETUATION: is why we do all of the above. How can we keep Vedic culture a flourishing and dynamic path? By doing all of the above, and providing the means to show people how to practice it. Without the preservation, protection, and promotion of Vedic culture, it cannot be perpetuated. This is where such things as the following can be helpful:

1. Establish and maintain temples that help uphold and show how to practice the Vedic traditions (I have written a whole book on what can be done through temples),

2. Hold classes and study groups, either at temples or at homes, wherein people get together to comfortably converse on various topics of the Vedic texts to help everyone understand it and how deep or practical it is, and then invite friends to join,

3. As mentioned above, spread this knowledge through book distribution, radio, and various other programs, so people can learn about it and utilize it in their lives,

4. Set yourself as an example for those who know you, but at least for your family and children so they begin to understand it, recognize its potential and practice it as well. If you take it seriously, it will leave positive impressions on others.

There are many other points that can be listed. I have already written detailed action plans that can be used to carry these ideas much further. But the main issue is that we have to work to keep the Vedic culture very much alive and available for everyone. It is what I call the “last bastion of deep spiritual truth.” If this should ever disappear, the world will never know what it has lost.

Some people may say that it is an eternal religion, Sanatana-dharma, so it will never fade away. But have they really read the Bhagavad-gita, wherein Lord Krishna explains that one of the reasons why He appeared was to re-establish the Vedic Dharma, which had become lost?

Lord Krishna says, “I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Iksvaku. This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost. That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend; therefore you can understand the transcendental mystery of this science.” (Bg.4.1-3)

So, yes, it is eternal but can disappear from the face of the earth, and does at times. It is up to those of us who are serious and sincere to make sure that it can continue being a practical spiritual culture far into the future by applying the above mentioned “four pers.”

THE GREATNESS OF ANCIENT INDIA’S DEVELOPMENTS, by Stephen Knapp

THE GREATNESS OF ANCIENT INDIA’S DEVELOPMENTS

(Excerpt from Advancements of Ancient India’s Vedic Culture)

By Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa)

When we talk about the planet’s earliest civilization, we are talking about the world’s earliest sophisticated society after the last ice age. This means that according to the Vedic time tables, various forms of civilization have been existing for millions of years. But the first record of an organized and developed society was the Vedic culture that arose in ancient India with the Indus Sarasvati civilization, and then spread out from there in all directions around the world.

Often times we see that students, even in India’s academic system, have not studied or encountered the contributions that were made by early civilization in the area of ancient India. Not only are they not aware of such developments that had been given from India, but there is often a lack of such knowledge to be studied. Therefore, this book is to help fill that gap of information and to show how this area of the world, indeed, had a most advanced civilization, but was also where many of society’s advancements originated.

It can be found that what became the area of India and its Vedic culture was way ahead of its time. This can be noticed in such things as industry, metallurgy, science, textiles, medicine, surgery, mathematics, and, of course, philosophy and spirituality. In fact, we can see the roots of these sciences and metaphysics in many areas of the world that can be traced back to its Indian or Vedic origins.

Furthermore, we often do not know of all the progress that had been made during the ancient times of India, which used to be called Bharatvarsha or Aryavrata. Nor do most people know all that ancient India gave to the world. So let us take a serious look at this.

From the Preface of Indian Tradition of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, the authors relate most accurately: “Hindus are a race who have dwelled on the most fundamental questions about life (& death), about nature and its origins. The bold questioning by Hindus gave birth to theories, axioms, principles and a unique approach to and a way of life. The approach to life and the way of life led to the evolution of one of the most ancient and grand cultures on the face of the earth. The spiritual aspects of Hindu culture are more commonly known, the fact that science, technology and industry were a part of their culture is little known.

“For historical reasons, the achievements of ancient Hindus in various fields of science and technology are not popularly known to Indians. The recent research by Sri Dharmpal and others has shown that the colonial invaders and the rulers had a vested interest in distorting and destroying the information regarding all positive aspects of Hindu culture. The conventional understanding today is that Hindus were more concerned about rituals, about spirituality, and the world above or the world after death. That Hindus were an equally materialistic people, that India was the industrial workshop of the world till the end of 18th century, that Hindus had taken up basic questions of the principles of astronomy, fundamental particles, origins of the universe, applied psychiatry and so on, are not well documented and not popularly known. That ancient Hindus had highly evolved technologies in textile engineering, ceramics, printing, weaponry, climatology and meteorology, architecture, medicine and surgery, metallurgy, agriculture and agricultural engineering, civil engineering, town planning, and similar other fields is known only to a few scholars even today. There are about 44 known ancient and medieval Sanskrit texts on a technical subject such as chemistry alone. The information about the science and technological heritage of India is embedded in the scriptures, the epics and in several of the technical texts. The information needs to be taken out of these and presented.

“Facts like Hindus had the knowledge that the sun is the center of the solar system, about the geography of the earth, the way the plants produce food, the way blood circulates in the body, the science of abstract mathematics and numbers, the principles of health, medicine and surgery and so on at a time in history when the rest of the world did not know how to think, talk and write has to be exposed to people. This can draw the attention of these communities, especially the future generation towards ‘ideas’ that are essentially Indian.

“There are several published works on the history of India. Such works are written by Indian scholars as well as western researchers in oriental and Indological studies. Many of these works are highly scholastic and are not amenable to the common man. There is a need to make the knowledge of science heritage of India known to one and all. Further, there is need for studying scriptures, epics, and other ancient literature (in Sanskrit as well as other regional languages) to unearth the wealth of knowledge of our ancestors. Reports of such studies also need to be published continuously.” 1

This is the goal of the present volume, to easily and simply convey this knowledge for the benefit of everyone, for the correct view of history, and to give credit where credit is due.

THE ADVANCED NATURE OF ANCIENT INDIAN SCIENCES

Achievements in the sciences of ancient India were known all over the world, even in Arabia, China, Spain, and Greece, countries in which medieval scholars acknowledged their indebtedness to India. For example, the Arab scholar Sa’id ibn Ahmad al-Andalusi (1029–1070) wrote in his history on science, called Tabaqat-al’umam:

“The first nation to have cultivated science is India… India is known for the wisdom of its people. Over many centuries, all the kings of the past have recognized the ability of the Indians in all the branches of knowledge. The kings of China have stated that the kings of the world are five in number and all the people of the world are their subjects. They mentioned the king of China, the king of India, the king of the Turks, the king of the Persians, and the king of the Romans. …they referred to the king of India as the ‘king of wisdom’ because of the Indians’ careful treatment of ‘ulum [sciences] and all the branches of knowledge.

“The Indians, known to all nations for many centuries, are the metal [essence] of wisdom, the source of fairness and objectivity. They are people of sublime pensiveness, universal apologues, and useful and rare inventions. …To their credit the Indians have made great strides in the study of numbers and of geometry. They have acquired immense information and reached the zenith in their knowledge of the movements of the stars [astronomy]. …After all that they have surpassed all other people in their knowledge of medical sciences…”

Furthermore, “Whether it was astronomy, mathematics (specially geometry), medicine or metallurgy, each was a pragmatic contribution to the general Hindu ethos, viz., Man in Nature, Man in harmony with Nature, and not Man and Nature or Man Against Nature, that characterizes modern science. The Hindu approach to nature was holistic, often alluding to the terrestrial-celestial correspondence and human-divine relationship. Hindu and scientific and technological developments were an integral part of this attitude that was assiduously fostered in the ancient period.” 2

In his article, Indic Mathematics: India and the Scientific Revolution, Dr. David Grey lists some of the most important developments in the history of mathematics that took place in India, summarizing the contributions of luminaries such as Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Mahavira, Bhaskara, and Madhava. He concludes by asserting, “the role played by India in the development (of the scientific revolution in Europe) is no mere footnote, easily and inconsequentially swept under the rug of Eurocentric bias. To do so is to distort history, and to deny India one of its greatest contributions to world civilizations.”

Lin Yutang, Chinese scholar and author, also wrote that: “India was China’s teacher in trigonometry, quadratic equations, grammar, phonetics…” and so forth. Francois Voltaire also stated: “… everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges.”

Referring to the above quotes, David Osborn concludes thus: “From these statements we see that many renowned intellectuals believed that the Vedas provided the origin of scientific thought.”

The Syrian astronomer / monk Severus Sebokhy (writing CE 662), as expressed by A. L. Basham in his book The Wonder That Was India (p. 6), explained, “I shall now speak of the knowledge of the Hindus… Of their subtle discoveries in the science of astronomy – discoveries even more ingenious than those of the Greeks and Babylonians – of their rational system of mathematics, or of their method of calculation which no words can praise strongly enough – I mean the system using nine symbols. If these things were known by the people who think that they alone have mastered the sciences because they speak Greek, they would perhaps be convinced, though a little late in the day, that other folk, not only Greeks, but men of a different tongue, know something as well as they.”

There have been many scholars, both old and new, who readily agree and point out the progressive nature of the early advancements found in ancient India’s Vedic tradition. So let us take a quick overview of some of what was known and developed in earlier times in the Vedic culture of the East.

American professor Jabez T. Sunderland (1842-1936), President of the India Information Bureau of America, spent many years in India. He was the author of India in Bondage, wherein he wrote, “India created the beginnings of all sciences and she carried some of them to a remarkable degree of development, thereby leading the world. India has produced great literature, great arts, great philosophical systems, great religions, and great men in every department of life–rulers, statesmen, financiers, scholars, poets, generals, colonizers, skilled artisans and craftsmen of every kind, agriculturalists, industrial organizers, and leaders in far reaching trade and commerce by land and sea.”

Sunderland went on to say, “India was a far greater industrial and manufacturing nation than any in Europe or than any other in Asia. Her textile goods–the fine products of her loom, in cotton, wool, linen, and silk–were famous over the civilized world; so were her exquisite jewelry and her precious stones, cut in every lovely form; so were her pottery, porcelains, ceramics of every kind, quality, color and beautiful shape; so were her fine works in metal iron, steel, silver, and gold. She had great architecture–equal in beauty to any in the world. She had great engineering works… Not only was she the greatest ship-building nation, but she had great commerce and trade by land and sea which extended to all known civilized countries.” 3

In India in Bondage, Sunderland also quotes Lord Curzon, the British statesman who was viceroy in India from 1899 to 1905, as saying in his address delivered at the great Delhi Durbar in 1901: “Powerful empires existed and flourished here [in India] while Englishmen were still wandering, painted in the woods, while the English colonies were a wilderness and a jungle. India has left a deeper mark upon the history, the philosophy, and the religion of mankind, than any other terrestrial unit in the universe.”

Lord Curzon had also stated: “While we [the British] hold onto India, we are a first rate power. If we lose India, we will decline to a third rate power. This is the value of India.”

Similar to this, Beatrice Pitney Lamb, former editor of the United Nations News, first visited India in 1949 on an assignment for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes in her book, India: A World in Transition: “In addition to the still visible past glories of art and architecture, the wonderful ancient literature, and other cultural achievements of which educated Indians are justly proud, the Indian past includes another type of glory most tantalizing to the Indians of today–prolonged material prosperity. For well over a millennium and a half, the Indian subcontinent may have been the richest area in the world.” 4

Many other writers and scholars had commented on their high regard for what had been developed in India. For example, to recognize a few, General Joseph Davey Cunningham (1812-1851) author of A History of the Sikhs, writes: “Mathematical science was so perfect and astronomical observations so complete that the paths of the sun and moon were accurately measured.”

There was much admiration even of the language of India. William Cooke Taylor (1800-1849), author of A Popular History of British India, stated in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. II: “It was an astonishing discovery that Hindusthan possessed, in spite of the changes of the realms and changes of time, a language of unrivaled richness and variety; a language, the parent of all those dialects that Europe has fondly called classical–the source alike of Greek flexibility and Roman strength.” 5

French scholar Buffon presented a coherent theory that scholars of ancient India had preserved the old learning from the creators of its sciences, arts, and all useful institutions. Voltaire had also suggested that sciences were more ancient in India than in Egypt. Russian born philosopher Immanuel Kant placed the origin of mankind in the Himalayas and stated that our arts like agriculture, numbers, even the game of chess, came from India.

German scholar Friedrich Schlegel also had a high regard for India, stating that everything of high philosophy or science is of Indian origin. French scholar and judge Louis Jacolliot, in his Bible in India, writes: “Astonishing fact! The Hindu Revelation (Vedas) is of all revelations the only one whose ideas are in perfect harmony with modern science, as it proclaims the slow and gradual formation of the world.” Of course, we can see the videos in which the astrophysicist Carl Sagan says, “The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths, dedicated to the idea that the cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed, an infinite number of deaths and births. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond to those of modern cosmology.”

The point is that all science of the Vedic tradition was developed with or in continuation of the ancient Vedic or spiritual knowledge that was a central point in understanding life. It was part of the Absolute Truth, or Sanatana-dharma, by which we could understand how to function in this world, and what is the purpose of both this world and our life in it. From this point, so many other developments took place, not as a means to control the environment, but as a means to know how to work holistically with nature for our material and spiritual progress and growth.

People like the Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck wrote in The Great Secret: “…This tradition attributes the vast reservoir of wisdom that somewhere took shape simultaneously with the origin of man, or even if we are to credit it, before his advent upon this earth, to move spiritual entities, to beings less entangled in matter.”

The popular American author Mark Twain also had a high opinion of India, and wrote in Following the Equator: “This is India… cradle of the human race, birth place of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition, whose yesterdays bear date with the moldering antiquities of the rest of the nations… India had the start of the whole world at the beginning of things. She had the first civilization; she had the first accumulation of material wealth; she was populous with deep thinkers and the subtle intellects; she had mines, and woods, and a fruitful soil.” 6

Even in scientific discoveries, there are those who acknowledge the knowing that has taken the rest of the world ages with which to catch up. For example, Fredric Spielberg writes in Spiritual Practices of India, with an introduction by Alan Watts: “To the philosophers of India, however, relativity is no new discovery, just as the concept of light years is no matter for astonishment to people used to thinking of time in millions of kalpas [days of Brahma]. The fact that the wise men of India have not been concerned with technological applications of this knowledge arises from the circumstance that technology is but one of innumerable ways of applying it. It is, indeed, a remarkable circumstance that when Western civilization discovers relativity, it applies it to the manufacture of atom bombs, whereas, Oriental (Vedic) civilization applies it to the development of new states of consciousness.”

Another simpler example is when Dick Teresi, author of The God Particle and co-founder of Omni magazine, writes in Ancient Roots of Modern Science, “In India, we see the beginnings of theoretical speculations of the size and nature of the earth. Some 1,000 years before Aristotle, the Vedic Aryans asserted that the earth was round and circled the sun.”

Dick Teresi also acknowledges how much of the knowledge we understand today did not necessarily come from the Greek civilization, but actually existed much earlier in the Vedic traditions of India. He again writes in Ancient Roots of Modern Science: “Two thousand years before Pythagorus, philosophers in northern India had understood that gravitation held the solar system together, and that therefore the sun, the most massive object, had to be at its center. Our Western mathematical heritage and pride are critically dependent on the triumphs of ancient Greece. These accomplishments have been so greatly exaggerated that it often becomes difficult to sort out how much of modern math is derived from Greece and how much from …the Indians and so on. Our modern numerals 0 through 9 were developed in India. Mathematics existed long before the Greeks constructed their first right angle.” 7

THE ANTIQUITY OF VEDIC CULTURE

Many are those who have mentioned the antiquity of the Vedic tradition, but how far back does it go? Traditionally, it was there since the beginning of time. However, even archeologically we can ascertain its very early dates.

For example, archeologists have found 7000-year-old rock paintings in the Aravalli mountain range near Benari dam in the Kotputli area of Jaipur district in Rajasthan in 1991. These paintings are adjacent to the site of the famous Indus Valley Civilization. Such 7000-year-old (5000 BCE) paintings were also found in Braham Kund Ki Dungari and Budhi Jeengore in Rajasthan. This discovery makes the Vedic civilization more ancient than the Egyptian and Greek and Mesopotamian civilizations. This also negates the Aryan Invasion Theory, the hypothesis that the Vedic Aryans were not indigenous, but established themselves after invading the area, which is completely wrong as we will show later in the book. 8

Along these same lines, further verification was also supplied by the Times of India (May 30th, 1992, New Delhi edition) wherein it was reported that the department of Archeology and Museums in the city of Jaipur, Rajasthan discovered as many as 300 prehistoric paintings on Kanera rocks in an area of 400 square miles near the town of Nimbahera in Chittorgarh district. These paintings are dated between 50,000 to 60,000 years old. That pushes the earliest reaches of Vedic civilization to at least 50,000 years back.

Additional finds such as these are discovered on a regular basis. Another one is reported in the publication called Science (February 23, 2010). It was reported therein that newly discovered archaeological sites in southern and northern India have revealed how people lived before and after the colossal Toba volcanic eruption 74,000 years ago.

The international, multi-disciplinary research team, led by Oxford University in collaboration with Indian institutions, unveiled to a conference in Oxford what it calls “Pompeii-like excavations” beneath the Toba ash.

According to the team, a potentially ground-breaking implication of the new work is that the species responsible for making the stone tools in India was Homo sapiens. Stone tool analysis has revealed that the artefacts consist of cores and flakes, which are classified in India as Middle Palaeolithic and are similar to those made by modern humans in Africa. “Though we are still searching for human fossils to definitively prove the case, we are encouraged by the technological similarities. This suggests that human populations were present in India prior to 74,000 years ago, or about 15,000 years earlier than expected based on some genetic clocks,” said project director Dr Michael Petraglia, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford. This exciting new information questions the idea that the Toba super-eruption caused a worldwide environmental catastrophe.

An area of widespread speculation about the Toba super-eruption is that it nearly drove humanity to extinction. The fact that the Middle Palaeolithic tools of similar styles are found right before and after the Toba super-eruption, suggests that the people who survived the eruption were the same populations, using the same kinds of tools, says Dr Petraglia. The research agrees with evidence that other human ancestors, such as the Neanderthals in Europe and the small brained Hobbits in Southeastern Asia, continued to survive well after Toba.

The team has not discovered much bone in the Toba ash sites, but in the Billasurgam cave complex in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, the researchers have found deposits which they believe range from at least 100,000 years ago to the present. They contain a wealth of animal bones such as wild cattle, carnivores and monkeys. They have also identified plant materials in the Toba ash sites and caves, yielding important information about the impact of the Toba super-eruption on the ecological settings.

Dr Petraglia said: “This exciting new information questions the idea that the Toba super-eruption caused a worldwide environmental catastrophe. That is not to say that there were no ecological effects. We do have evidence that the ash temporarily disrupted vegetative communities and it certainly choked and polluted some fresh water sources, probably causing harm to wildlife and maybe even humans.” 9

In this way, recent discoveries show that the area of ancient India was one of the locations for the oldest civilizations the world has known.

 

CONCLUSION

THE GREATNESS OF INDIA AND VEDIC CULTURE

History certainly proves that India was also one of the wealthiest countries on the planet in its earlier days. Not only did she have vast treasures of knowledge and developments, but ancient India also had great wealth, such as sapphires, rubies, emeralds, pearls, and other gems, along with sunny climate, great fertility, and much more that was exported to various parts of the world, but the deep levels of knowledge and development was another of her greatest assets. For this reason, the ambition of all conquerors was to possess the area of India.

The pearl presented by Julius Caesar to Servilia, the mother of Brutus, as well as the famous pearl ear-ring of Cleopatra, were obtained from India. The Koh-i-noor diamond, weighing at 106.5 carats, one of the most fabled of diamonds, was taken to England from India. In fact, when Alexander left Persia, he told his troops that they were now going to “Golden India” where there was endless wealth, which made the beauty and riches of Persia look puny.

When the Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni destroyed the famous Somnath temple, he found astonishing wealth in diamonds and jewels. He also sacked Mathura and gathered numerous Deities in gold and silver. Thereafter he went to Kanauj which astonished the tyrant and his followers to such a degree in its wealth and beauty at the time that they declared that Kanauj was only rivaled in magnificence by heaven itself.

Ultimately, it was the wealth of India that drew the barbaric Arabs to the country, and then let the half-civilized Tartars to overrun it. It was the wealth of India that attracted Nadir Shah to ancient India, and from where he captured immense booty, which motivated the Abdali chiefs to renew their attacks on the country.

The people of India were actually not so barbaric as the invaders that forced their way into the country, but rather some of the most civilized in the world, primarily because of their sophisticated level of consciousness and gentleness towards one another caused by their training in the principles of the Vedic spiritual culture.

The character of the Hindus of the day had been described by some of those Europeans who had traveled there back in the 19th century, such as Max Muller, wherein he said: “Warren Hastings thus speaks of the Hindus in general: ‘They are gentle and benevolent, more susceptible of gratitude for kindness shown them, and less prompted to vengeance for wrongs inflicted than any people on the face of the earth; faithful, affectionate, submissive to legal authority.’

“Bishop Heber said: ‘The Hindus are brave, courteous, intelligent, most eager for knowledge and improvement; sober, industrious, dutiful parents, affectionate to their children, uniformly gentle and patient, and more easily affected by kindness and attention to their wants and feelings than any people I ever met with.’

“Sir Thomas Munro bears even stronger testimony. He writes: ‘If a good system of agriculture, unrivaled manufacturing skill, a capacity to produce whatever can contribute to either convenience or luxury, schools established in every village for teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, the general practice of hospitality and charity amongst each other, and above all, a treatment of the female sex full of confidence, respect, and delicacy, are among the signs which denote a civilized people–then the Hindus are not inferior to the nations of Europe, and if civilization is to become an article of trade between England and India, I am convinced that England will gain by the import cargo.'” 10

Besides all these considerations, Max Muller also once related: “I wished to point out that there was another sphere of intellectual activity in which the Hindu excelled–the meditative and transcendent–and that here we might learn from them some lessons of life which we ourselves are but too apt to ignore or to despise.” 11

Finally, in what could be a conclusive statement made by a European who had spent many years living and studying the Vedic culture and Sanskrit literature of early India, Max Muller said, “If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow–in some parts a very paradise on earth–I should point to India. If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant–I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we, here in Europe, we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life not for this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life–again I should point to India.” 12

 

CHAPTER NOTES

1. Prof. A. R. Vasudeva Murthy and Prasun Kumar Mishra, Indian Tradition of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Samskrita Bharati, Bangalore, India, August, 1999, pp. i-v.

2. Science and Technology in Ancient India, by Editorial Board of Vijnan Bharati, Mumbai, August, 2002, Foreword by B. V. Subbarayappa.

3. Niranjan Shah, Indian Tribune Newspaper, December 8, 2007.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Niranjan Shah, Indian Tribune Newspaper, December 1, 2007.

7. Niranjan Shah, Indian Tribune Newspaper, December 9, 2005.

8. India Tribune, June 1, 1991, Atlanta edition.

9. http://www.ox.ac.uk/images/maincolumn/9440

10. Max Muller, India: What can it teach us?, first published in 1883, published by Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 2002, pp. 46-47)

11. Max Muller, India: What can it teach us?, Longmans, Funk & Wagnalls, London, 1999, p. 22)

12. Max Muller, India: What can it teach us?, first published in 1883, published by Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 2002, p. 5)

Swastika: Its Real Meaning

           The Swastika is a holy sign and symbol from thousands of years ago. Practically, the only symbol that is more important in the Vedic tradition is the Sanskrit Om Symbol. It is an ancient symbol and has been found on sculptures from the early excavations of Mohenjo-Daro. As explained at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika_origin_theories#Origin_hypotheses: “Beyond its certain presence in the “proto-writing” symbol systems emerging in the Neolithic period (9500 BC), nothing certain is known about the symbol’s origin.” Some historians also believe that ancient forts were built in the shape that closely resembled the Swastika for reasons of defense because it would be difficult for an enemy to invade all parts of a fort in this shape.

        Unfortunately, in the West, it has a negative connotation because of its use by the Nazis from 1935. At that time it was seen as a black cross on a white circle, and now, amongst some sections of society, it is viewed as a symbol that represents a radical perspective. But the real meaning of the symbol, before it was used by the Nazis in Germany, was very different.

        The Swastika appears as a cross with branches bent at right angles, pointing in a clockwise direction. In essence, it represents well-being for all, and the circular nature of its points represents the repetitive nature of reincarnation, and also indicates the all-pervasiveness of the Absolute and the eternal nature of the Brahman, the spiritual dimension. If you draw a circle around it, it also symbolizes the Sun-god, Surya, as the ultimate source of light, heat and the energy of the universe that flows in all directions. The four arms of the Swastika stand for the four main directions, namely North, South, East, and West. The central point of the Swastika also represents the navel of Lord Vishnu from which Lord Brahma originated. This also indicates the expanding nature of the universe from a central point. The Swastika also represents the constantly changing world which evolves around an unchanging center, which is God.

        The four branches of the Swastika represent the fourfold principles of divinity, which include: 1) Brahma, as the four-faced secondary creator of the universe who spreads the sacred knowledge in four directions; 2) the four Vedas, namely the Rig, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva; 3) the four aims of life or Purusharthas, namely, Dharma (righteousness or sacred duty), Artha (acquiring wealth), Kama (fulfilling desires), and Moksha (liberation from any further cycles of birth and death); 4) the four ashramas of life which make the latter possible, namely Brahmacharya (student life of self-control), Grihastha (house-holder life), Vanaprastha (retired), and Sannyasa (life of renunciation); and 5) the four Varnas, or Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra.

        The word of Swastika in Sanskrit is composed of two words, “Su” (good) and “Asati” (to exists) which means “May good prevail.” Therefore, it also represents happiness, and is often displayed at celebrations, cultural and religious ceremonies, and at weddings or festivals of the Vedic tradition. The Swastika also is a symbol of auspiciousness, peace and prosperity. Thus, making the Swastika in the rangoli style with multicolored powder at such events as births, marriages, or any joyous holiday, indicates the wish for everyone’s welfare. It also represents happiness, safety, fertility, and prosperity. 

        Other cultures also have high regard for the Swastika. The Buddhists consider it as the symbol of the genesis of all flora. Jains also draw the Swastika in front of their deities when making offerings to them. In antiquity, the swastika was used extensively by Hittites, Celts and Greeks, among others. It occurs in other Asian, European, African and Native American cultures ­ sometimes as a geometrical motif, sometimes as a religious symbol.          

        From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika we also learn: “The swastika was a widely used Native American symbol. It was used by many southwestern tribes, most notably the Navajo. Among different tribes the swastika carried various meanings. To the Hopi it represented the wandering Hopi clans; to the Navajo it represented a whirling log ( tsil no’oli’ ), a sacred image representing a legend that was used in healing rituals.”

        The Navajo used the symbol to represent whirling logs.  From http://nativeamericanjewelrytips.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/native-american-symbol-whirling-log-swastika/  it is explained that “Whirling Logs are used in Navajo sand paintings during a healing or other type of ceremony. A sand painting is supposed to be a temporary piece of art which is destroyed after the ceremony is over. However sand painting designs are also used in prints and framed paintings, rugs and on jewelry. The Whirling Log symbol is associated with a narrative involving a man (sometimes called the Culture Hero) who takes a journey down the San Juan River in a hollowed out log canoe. During his adventure, he encounters whirlpools and a special event where the San Juan River meets the Colorado River. There he comes upon a whirling cross with Yei figures seated on the cross. From the yeis he learns much knowledge which he takes back to his people.”

 
        For these reasons you can often find the Swastika in many places around the world, and especially across the Indian subcontinent either carved, drawn, painted, or sculpted into the architecture of homes, shops, businesses, and places of worship. Many Vedic temples in India are decorated with Swastikas, or are also configured in the shape of it. It is probably the most respected and prevalent symbol one will see in India. It is indeed the symbol of prosperity and well-being. Therefore, we should all understand the real meaning of this ancient symbol.

The Power of a United Hindu Community, By Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa)

        [This is the strong keynote lecture that I gave at the Hindu Unity Day Festival (Hindu Sangathan Divas) onJuly 10th, 2011at the Hindu Temple Auditorium inFlushing,New York. This was very well received by everyone who wanted to meet me, shake hands, have photos taken, or talk to me about what I had to say. The event was shared with Dr. Subramanian Swamy as Chief Guest and Kamal Kumar Swami as the additional speaker, both of whom I had met before at an event in Tirupati for protecting Hindu temples from government control. However, this is the complete version, which is a few paragraphs longer than what I presented at the festival.] 

          Namaste. It gives me great pleasure to be here, and I especially thank the organizers of this important event for inviting me, namely Arish Sahani and Narain Kataria. I am honored to be here. And I thank all of you for attending.

          First of all, for those who may not know that much about me, I’m a Hindu, a follower of Sanatana-dharma, or what I prefer to call a Dharmist, and aKrishnabhakta. And I will be one until the day I die. No one can stop that.

          Vedic culture and its spiritual knowledge saved me, it saved my life and gave me the real purpose for being here and what to do while I am here in this world. And now this is all I do—my spiritual sadhana and practice, my speaking engagements, and writing over 20 books so far to help spread and explain the importance of this Vedic spiritual knowledge to as many people as possible. This is all I’m living for. This is my only motivation. I also help manage my localKrishnatemple inDetroitas the Chairman of the Board, which can involve all kinds of things. I’m also the president of the Vedic Friends Association. I’m also a direct disciple of His Divine Grace Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, which is how I got my name Sri Nandanandana dasa. So I’ve been doing meditation and chanting the Hare Krishna mantra for over 40 years. And all of this has only deepened my conviction of the profound nature of the Vedic system of spiritual realization.

          And I will tell you, I love what I do. I love being a Hindu, I love being aKrishnabhakta, a follower of Santana-dharma. I love following the Bhagavad-gita, and I love writing books about various aspects of Vedic culture and telling other people about it and what it has done for me, and what it can do for them.

So, I like to share with others the good things I have found in life, and now that I=ve found Vedic Dharma, I like letting others know more about it. But I=ll also fight to keep it, and to keep my freedom to follow it. Why should I let anyone else take it away from me when it took 20 years of my life to find it? I wasn’t just born into it, I had to look for it. It is a karmic privilege to be born into Vedic culture, so do not take it for granted. But by working to preserve and protect it is also my way of being a good Hindu. And this is what I call being a Vedic Ambassador.

          We need more Vedic Ambassadors, or those who can easily and willingly share the good points about Vedic culture and its philosophy, traditions, and its deep spiritual knowledge with others, especially those who are curious, and there are many who are looking for this spiritual knowledge, but they just don’t know where to look. So we need those who can also tell their story of how Vedic culture has improved their lives or had a positive affect on them. That is not so difficult, and many people like to hear the story of someone’s life and how they have grown or developed.

          So, in this way, let us all be Vedic Ambassadors, persons who are not afraid to say they are Hindu and then share it with others.

I’m also aKrishnabhakta becauseKrishnawanted action from Arjuna, not a passive and apathetic person that runs away from battle or does nothing. But he wanted Arjuna to stand up and take a stance for defending Dharma. This is the whole reason whyKrishnaspoke the Bhagavad-gita, to motivate Arjuna to become free from the illusion and stand up and fight for defending and preserving Sanatana-dharma so others can also take advantage of it. This is my motivation.

          Everyone can do something and we need to understand that if everyone does a little, then something great and miraculous can happen. Because let’s face it, being a follower of Sanatana-dharma is also a freedom. This is a freedom, and sometimes you have to work to protect your freedoms or you will lose them when someone else takes them away. History has shown this time and time again.

Some people, however, ask how I can feel so strongly about this when I was not born inIndia, not born a Hindu. But that is only because they do not see the big picture. And what is the big picture? That this is not our first or only life in this material world, and that I obviously had a previous birth inIndia. Anyone who knows me knows that I must have been a Hindu, aKrishnabhakta inIndiain a previous life. Now I’ve taken birth inAmericato continue my mission of helping preserve, protect and promote Vedic Dharma. I=m only taking up where I left off from my previous existence. That is why I=m so comfortable when I go to India, and so far I have traveled through all of India except for the three small states of Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram. That is also why I=m so comfortable around all of you. You are my Indian and Hindu family.

However, now it is time to increase our efforts to work together and make Hindus a concerted force that is recognized by everyone. Of course, we know this is not easy and is going to take time, but the sooner we all get started, the sooner we can accomplish it. But there are those of us, such as those I am sharing the stage with, who have already been working on this for years. We only ask that you all make a stand to join together, to make a powerful and strong Hindu community.

          Vedic culture has been changing the world throughout the ages. For example, many have offered their respects to the Vedic culture, such as Henry David Thoreau who said: “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavat Geeta, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.”

          Or Arthur Schopenhauer: “There is no religion or philosophy so sublime and elevating as Vedanta.”

          And, of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson who mentioned, “I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-Gita. It was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.”

Many other quotes could be included but you get the picture. Vedic culture will continue to change the lives of many people, but we can accelerate this positive change the more we unite and the more we work together. Let us all move forward in this direction and become the great force we were meant to be, and that this world needs.

This means that we must be good Hindus, good Dharmists, followers of Vedic Dharma. And that means that we must follow our principles, uphold the yamas and niyamas, and observe our traditions. Is that so difficult? I don=t think so. But that means we also need to be educated in them. Let us not relinquish or let go of our standards because of too much Western influence. We must know what they mean and their real purposes. Let us interact with Western society, as we already do, but let us not forget who we areBwhat is our real identity. The fact is that more Westerners than ever before are adopting the ways and philosophy of Vedic culture, whether it is through yoga and meditation, or adapting the philosophy of karma and reincarnation. Many are those who want to follow this path. I=m an example of that, and there are many more out there, and many more who want to but don=t know it yet. We need to be willing to share it with them. That itself is a great contribution to the world from the Vedic path. The more we uphold our principles and let others know why they are important, the more they will also adopt our ways.

For example, I have one Indian friend who is a strong vegetarian and would always hide his meal when he took it to work so no one would see it. But then someone started asking questions about it, so he had to explain why he was a vegetarian, and included information about the Ayurvedic reasons and benefits about the spices we use, like tumeric, cumin, and others. In a short while, most of his work crew, which consisted of 80 other workers, became wild about Indian vegetarian cooking. Then he also did the same thing with explaining the benefits of doing the Surya Namaskar, after which nearly half of his co-workers started practicing it. So what is the difficulty? All you have to do is share what you already know, and people will become interested. 

This is also why real Hindus need to be educated in their culture to realize how profound, deep and special it is, and what knowledge it contains. Then they will be proud of their culture and follow it. After all, we have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be afraid of. We are representations of and participants in the most profound and oldest of all spiritual traditions and cultures, and it has the deepest of all spiritual knowledge. The only thing is that many people don=t know that. I dare say that many Hindus also do not fully know how deep and profound it is because of lacking the education of their own path. This needs to change. And this lack of knowledge is the prime reason why Hindus inIndiamay convert to some other religion.

To help make this change, we also need to understand that it is a fact that without proper measures of defense and promotion of our culture, you cannot give proper protection to it. It is a tough world and things have changed. Most wars in this world are now 80% intellectual. We now have to use our intelligence to show what our culture is in order to really protect and preserve it from those who are always trying to demean and criticize it. We must understand that apathy is an enemy. Apathy, the tendency to do nothing, is our greatest enemy. We must conquer our own apathy where we find it. This, in fact is the teaching of Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita, as previously stated. Are you are follower of the Bhagavad-gita? Are you a follower of Sanatana-Dharma? Then we must conquer our apathy and take a stand for doing something to maintain Vedic Dharma.

We have to be fearless to protect and promote Vedic Dharma. I am honored and proud to be on the same stage as Dr. Subramanian Swamy and Kamal Kumar Swami, who are examples of the fearlessness of which I speak. I am honored and proud to be in front of all of you, and I am honored and proud to be called a Hindu, aKrishnabhakta, a follower of Sanatana-dharma. We should all be honored and proud in the same way and willing to work together. We don=t have to proselytize, but we can all share the benefits of what our culture has given to us and to the world.

For example, in Secunderabad nearHyderabad, a few years ago there was aKrishnatemple the government wanted to move in order to widen the road, but all the local Hindus came together with a big demonstration to protest, and the state government backed down. This shows what can be done and what has been done when Hindus unite, and shows what we must continue to do. Then people will take us more seriously and reconsider before they simply get up to offend Hindus and think there will be no reaction. People will hesitate before taking Hindus lightly or making us upset. But we have to have the determination to make a stand. And once we begin to work in this way, we cannot stop but must continue for the long-term, and never stop until the goal is reached.

          Sometimes just by doing a little endeavor we don’t know and may even be surprised at what doors of opportunity will open for us. Sometimes all it takes is that we just start, step one foot in front of the other, and suddenly we step into a force, a current of energy that lifts us along like nothing we have experienced. Like a reciprocation from something that is far greater than we are that assists us to do things in ways that far exceeds our own expectations.

          You have no idea how many times this has happened to me, and I’m sure many of you know exactly what I’m talking about. So can you imagine what would happen if all of us stepped forward in unity for the Dharma and open ourselves to that opportunity to make a difference? Plus, the more we all step forward to do something together, the easier it gets for everyone.

It is one thing to say we are united, and quite another to work and act united, engaged in concerted efforts as one community to protect, defend and properly promote our culture. It should not matter whether we are Vaishnavas, Shaivites, Brahmanandis, Shaktas, or Bengalis, Gujaratis, Tamils, Rajasthanis, or Americans, or any ethnicity, because when one aspect of the Vedic tradition is threatened, demeaned or unnecessarily criticized, then it is to the whole culture that is under attack. We must see it that way. We must step forward and be strong Dharmists, and make a stand for our tradition and its future.

          Sanatana-dharma is universal. It is actually beyond the universe, it is spiritual. We are essentially all Dharmists. It goes beyond all materialistic labels and definitions, and that is how we should act as united Hindus, followers of Santana-dharma.

          Such materialistic labels and identities are part of the illusion, maya, and Sanatana-dharma is meant to lift us out of the illusion and into reality, the ultimate and supreme reality. Working in this way and helping each other as well as all is real unity.

So, let us also support each other in friendship, in Dharmic brotherhood and sisterhood. Let us not become divided by minor or superficial differences or labels, but let us gather and see our unity, our similarities as spiritual beings, all parts of the Supreme Spirit. That is the ultimate teaching of Bhagavad-gita and the Vedic shastra. That perception of reality is becoming increasingly rare these days in society, but it is an inherent principle and basic reality of Vedic Dharma and Dharmic civilization. That is why I call it the Last Bastion of deep spiritual truth. It goes beyond basic moralistic ethics and gives you the higher principles of self-realization. It gives you direct access to the Absolute, the Supreme, not only by descriptions but by offering the methods by which we can perceive and directly experience it by spiritualizing our consciousness. It gives us one of the last hopes for world peace. Let us not forget that and also help each other raise our consciousness and maintain that spiritual vision of who and what we really are. That will also pave the way for a truly united Hindu society.

There is no greater need for Hindu unity than right now, since there are forces that are also gathering that are trying to work against us. The problem is that it is in our nature to respect everyone, but not everyone wants to return the same respect back toward us. In fact, there are those who would like to see our complete extinction, the complete demise of Hinduism or Vedic culture if they could, such as we have seen inPakistan,Bangladesh,Kashmir, and so on. How long does it take before it becomes obvious that we must stand together even if only to preserve and protect what remains of our culture, and preserve and protect the homeland of our culture, Mother India, Bharathvarsha.

We must also recognize those people or groups who mean to do us harm, or even wish for our extinction, and then defend ourselves and our culture from their attacks, whatever they may be. But we need to be pro-active and develop plans, not merely wait for something to happen and then show some knee-jerk reaction. There are many who know this and already working in this way, but can you imagine if the whole Vedic community acted in this way together and supported such plans? It would have profound effects. We must look to see what we need to do and where we need to be in our measures to preserve and protect Vedic Dharma in 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years, and make pro-active plans to accomplish those goals. Major industrial companies do this, other religions do this, so there is no reason why we should not do this. Many of the more detailed action plans I have developed can be found in my book, “Crimes Against India: And the Need to Protect its Ancient Vedic Tradition.”

We still have a sizable population of nearly one billion Hindus around the world, but have you ever wondered why we are still not as formidable a force as we should be? In places likeAmerica, Indians, most of which are Hindus, are one of the wealthiest ethnic groups in the country. We are certainly gathering influence here in many ways, and many are those who are entering politics and gaining influential positions, but we still have not become as formidable a force in the world as we could be. Why is that? It’s simple really. It’s because of a lack of organized effort, too much apathy, but primarily a lack of unity amongst us.

With a united force, we could more easily see to it that laws in government are passed that help defend Hindus rather than take our freedoms away. If we were a united and pro-active force, politicians would be scrambling to get our favor. We would get respect from politicians. We would create a greater recognition on the importance for them to acquire the Hindu vote, especially inIndia. We could also have more control over the media that today thinks that being secular means to be anti-Hindu. We would get non-Hindus or critics of Hinduism to feel that they cannot just say any damn thing against us because we won’t do anything about it. We need to be a force to be reckoned with, a force that is watching what others are doing for or against us, and listening to what they are saying about us, and be ready to stand up and do something about it when it is unjust.

          We must unite around a common set of values, concepts and traditions that can be the universal uniting factors for all Hindus. This does not mean we give up our distinctions, lineages or paramparas, but that we focus on uniting on the basis of what we can all easily agree on, such as the basis of the Bhagavad-gita. Everyone knows the Bhagavad-gita, and should know it. There are all kinds of knowledge within it. But the thing that many people seem to forget is that the Bhagavad-gita is a call to defend Dharma. It is a call to action. That was one of the motivating factors for Arjuna from Lord Krishna. That Arjuna must not run away to the forest simply to meditate, which is what he wanted to do, but he must stand up and fight to defend Santana-dharma. And we must do the same because as we can plainly see all around us, that without it the whole world is falling into hell and confusion. As exhibited by the Mahabharata, sometimes when all else fails, you have to stand up and fight to protect Dharma and its spiritual principles.

          We must also have the attitude that no Hindu is left behind, at least no sincere Hindu. A true Dharmic leader or Vedic Ambassador will feel this in the core of his heart. Everyone is a part of the whole, the complete. We merely have to awaken that completeness within ourselves. When everyone shares this vision amongst the whole community, then it becomes extremely powerful. When everyone is imbibed with spiritual unity, then the spiritual vibration is no longer something to seek or acquire, but it is something to witness, to experience, and we should bring together all like-minded people to work in that unity and to expand that spiritual vibration, that higher energy that exists within us all. 

          Everyone in the Vedic community must see all other Hindus as Dharmic brothers and sisters who are eligible to make the same spiritual progress as anyone else. Why? No Hindu left behind. That means everyone is eligible to enter the temples, everyone is eligible to practice its customs, everyone is eligible to participate in the core identity of being a Dharmist. Everyone should feel they have a place and are valued and have something to contribute. This is the basis of enthusiasm, which everyone should feel. This is the power a united Dharmic community. No Hindu is left behind. When this is established, it creates a most positive atmosphere in all who participate, it creates a very positive future, and it creates a winning team in which many others want to join. Everyone wants to be on a winning team, and then feel they can stand up and do their part. Then we all become very powerful in our ability to change this world, and bring in and manifest the spiritual vibration for one and all. Then we all become a part of that uplifting force, which is the ultimate destiny for all humanity, which is also described in the Vedic shastra, like Bhagavad-gita.

          This is also, if I may say so, one of the main principles of what Kamal Kumar Swamiji is doing on his padayatras inIndia. He goes everywhere, whether it is the villages, the streets, the dusty roads, even the houses of the Hindus, anywhere it takes to inspire everyone to remain a part of the Vedic family, and then work together to help preserve it. I have seen it. I have been with Kamal Kumar Swami in Tirupati for this very reason, and I applaud his work, and many others should be going out to reach the people in similar ways.

          This is the ideal of no Hindu left behind, and the Dharmic leader and Vedic Ambassadors know how to instill this unity for everyone to take a stand, become involved and to defend and preserve the culture and all who participate in it. Any apathy amongst Hindus is what must be given up and left behind as we all gather momentum to make sure we all have our freedom and facilities to follow the principles, the customs, and the traditions of the Vedic path. 

So to wrap this up, we have covered a number of points, such as:

We all need to be Vedic ambassadors.

We must be educated in the profound nature of our culture.

Practicing the Vedic tradition is a right and a freedom which must be protected.

Apathy is an enemy.

Everyone can and must do something.

The Bhagavad-gita is a call to action.

No sincere Hindu left behind.

We must become united and work in concerted efforts, and become a formidable force for Vedic Dharma.

          So how do we do this? We must become united under common principles, such as the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, united for stopping cow slaughter, united to stop the deceitful conversion practices that try to take people away from Vedic culture, united for such things as saving the sacredYamunaRiver from all the pollution that is killing it. We should also be united to stop the corruption in Indian politics, and united to keepIndia the homeland of a dynamic and thriving Vedic tradition, united for preserving all aspects of the Vedic spiritual knowledge, and for passing it to the next generations. We should be united for the protection and promotion of the glorious character of Vedic culture that everyone can appreciate. Who among us cannot join and be united for these points? And the more people who participate and work together, the easier it is for all of us. The more we work in such concerted efforts, the more we establish a unified, global Vedic community.

It is said that the war of Kurukshetra, the war to uphold Dharma, lasted 18 days, which changed the world. If all Hindus, Dharmists, gurus, sadhus, bhaktas, etc., etc., all over the world ever really and truly united and worked together as a single force, we could change the world in 18 days. Isn’t that a goal worth working for? Isn’t that a goal worth fighting for? That, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Dharma, is one of the primary purposes of my life. This is all I’m living for. This is my vision, but we all have to share the vision. And I will work with anyone who shares that vision. In this way, we can stand united, and in this way we stay united.

          So, if you help me and I help you, if you wish me well and I give you my best wishes, and we all work together like that, it creates an atmosphere of strength and positivity. It makes our future very bright and full of potential. And if everyone does a little something to help, fantastic things can happen. Many people will become attracted and want to be a part of it. So let us all work together, encouraging each other and become more united as Hindus, followers of Sanatana-dharma, and show the world the great contributions that the culture of Vedic Dharma has given and continues to give to all of humanity. If we take care of Dharma, Dharma will take care of us. But we have to take the first step. Together as united Hindus we can do this. That is the potency and power if we stay together, stand together and work together as a united, global Vedic community.

 

Thank you very much.

Dharma Rakshati Rakshita

Jai Sri Krishna

Jai Hind

A Cure for the Corruption in India, By Stephen Knapp

            Martin Luther King once said that he had a dream of when men would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. But I say it is up to the individual to put some content in his character. Otherwise a man will be judged by whatever traits are perceived by others. And corruption in the activities of a person is a sign of a lack of proper content. And if there are numerous individuals, especially in high places, involved in crime and corruption, so goes the character and reputation of the country.

            Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the state or government provides the means and education for its citizens to develop the right content in their character. This is the importance of character development with nation building.

            Throughout my travels in India, while lecturing at so many cities and venues, it is not unusual for businessmen, industrialists, or even professors to ask me what I think should be done about all the corruption in India, which exists on every level. We all hear about the corruption in politics, and what intrigue goes on amongst the politicians, but it goes on in so many small enterprises, too. Like paying the bribes to get a phone line in your house. Innocent people have to bribe bureaucrats, police and even judicial officials to get anything done. Or how, as one friend told me, he took a test for his driving license three times, and they never even looked at the test but denied him each time, until he realized he had to pay a bribe for it. After he paid the clerk an extra Rs. 2000, he then took the test a fourth time and they still never looked at it, but this time he got his license.

            Another example of corruption that a friend told me about was when he was riding on a train and met a government inspector who told him the story of how the military men were getting sick from all kinds of digestive problems. They narrowed down the cause to the cooking oil that was being used in preparing the food served to the men in the military. They identified a possible source for the oil, and the inspector went to the company that was producing the oil and discovered that the owner of the company was adding all kinds of polluted oil to the regular oil he was making, which is what was causing the men to get sick. The inspector told the owner of what had been found, and the owner asked how much the inspector wanted in order for him to write a positive report for the military. So the company owner paid a large bribe to the inspector who took the money and gave a good report about the company and the oil it was producing. So the military went on purchasing this contaminated oil that is probably still making the military men sick at several bases.

            One more example is that some years ago the Japanese had offered to help with cleaning the Yamuna River, which is so contaminated around the Delhi area that it cannot support any life. It is a dead river there. So, the Japanese offered $20,000,000 to build a cleaning plant to help clean the water before it continued on its way. By the time all the bribes had been taken out, all that was left was $1,000,000. So, you can still see the small cleaning plant that had been built in the Vrindavana area, but a far bigger plant should have and could have been built to actually help the country and the people that depend on the water of the Yamuna River.

No doubt, much of what is wrong with India in this sense can be found everywhere. It is not only India. And I have often said that if you could see the corruption that goes on behind closed doors amongst politicians in America, you would be shocked. Or maybe not, depending on how aware you have been of what really goes on. But things have to change.

            The British also helped jump start this corruption by two things: First the bureaucracy they established in their managerial system which they used against the Indians, most of which was adopted by the Indians in the form of a Parliamentary government and which allows for the loopholes and cracks in the system for the continuation of so much corruption. Secondly, while under the British, the citizens of India were forced to struggle so hard to exist that it forced them to think in terms of the survival of their own immediate family while giving up the consideration of the whole community. After so many years of that conditioning, this need for self-preservation and the desire to fulfill selfish concerns went from one generation to the next until it became a general trend to get whatever you need regardless of the consequences or how it affects others.

            The Indian constitution itself, under the guise of freedom and fairness for the minority religions, fuels corruption and inequality by favoring the few at the expense of the majority Vedic or Hindu population. How can this inspire a united vision?

Furthermore, dishonesty and fraud in India has reached even the Supreme Court Chief Justices and several High Court Justices, which have been involved in prominent levels of corruption. We also have seen the reports about those presently in power (March, 2011) who are looting millions of rupees from India, and depositing it into secret accounts abroad. And they only pave the way for more of their own kind to be elected in order to make things easier for themselves.

We all know that a politician or person of influence is not to amass wealth dishonestly, and then indulge in extravagance or ostentatious living. Nor is he or she meant to give favors to their relatives, or their supporters or business associates by conferring special privileges or kickbacks to them. This is nothing but the misuse of the power and position of the office, a misappropriation of public funds, and the abuse of power, as well as the root cause of the rampant corruption that has become so noticeable throughout India. 

We have also seen the wealthy spend millions of dollars on nothing more than a marriage ceremony for their children, just for the sake of mainly creating a spectacle to be noted in the press, or to outdo some other wealthy person’s wedding. This kind of thing is but a huge black spot of selfishness on the character of the persons who make such arrangements when certainly the ceremony could have been limited in its expense, and the money that was saved could have been used for something far more practical or beneficial. That would have been worth noting in the media. In fact, people should make an example of spending less on their momentary weddings and then giving more money to a worthy cause. 

            So, obviously, the kind of corruption we are pointing out goes on because of a lack of morals in the content of one’s character. This is what has to change. India is obviously progressing economically and technologically, but this corruption really slows down the amount and speed of the progress that, otherwise, could be made for the benefit of everyone in the country at a much faster pace. Therefore, it hinders the well-being of everyone, and many countries outside of India hesitate to put full confidence in their business dealings with India when this corruption is so obvious.

Today, as Shahroz Raza said in his article “Corruption Bigger Factor Than Secularism” (Pioneer, January 8, 2011), India’s economy is “growing” at over 9%, yet every second child in India is malnourished. Less than one-fourth of the rural population has access to proper toilets. Eighty percent of India’s population lives on $2 a day or less. And what is most shameful is that only four of every 10 girls who enroll for schooling complete eight years of formal education. So, as anyone should question, is that real progress? Is that real growth?    

Let’s put this into perspective. Corruption has secular implications. The money looted by the rulers of India becomes food that is snatched away from the mouth of the newborn and the hungry; or the death that is caused for want of care in a ramshackle hospital; or the unemployment for an adult. This should be avoided by proper adjustments by India’s leaders. But the problem is that politics has simply become a business, which means they use the position and perks that come with it to look out for themselves and family and friends, and collect large amounts of property and money in whatever way necessary at the expense of the masses.

            As long as this corruption is allowed to continue, which lends to the reason why certain sections of society remain poor and hungry, then India, and the world, actually is not truly civilized. Swami Vivekananda has also explained, “So long as millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold educated man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.”

A civilized society does not mean merely technological advancement or economic progress. It means that society has a unified civil code and unified vision of everyone having the right to the same basic facilities as everyone else, meaning food, shelter, clothing, and the means to an education so they can maintain themselves, however simple or sophisticated that may be. In other words, a starving sector of society means that society is uncivilized due to the wealthier section of society hoarding or profiting from the loss of others. 

            This goes back to the point that there is no real lack of anything in this world in regard to resources needed to survive. The only real lack is God-consciousness and the higher vision to see that spiritually we are all the same and that we are only barrowing things from the Supreme during the short duration of the life we are given. Thus, the world’s resources need to be distributed in a way so everyone benefits, and that it is not monopolized by greedy people in prominent positions.

            Even Mahatma Gandhi once said that the deadliest form of violence is poverty. It is poverty, whether it is planned, arranged, or merely allowed, that kills more people than all the wars that take place. In fact, all the money used for military spending could otherwise be used for solving many of the world’s problems. It is poverty which also causes much of the behavioral violence and criminality that affects us all. The problem is that as poverty expands, it becomes more difficult for the people who are affected by it to do anything about it.

            If corruption increases, the general well-being of everyone will decline, and the poor are the ones to feel it first, and feel it the most. But from there, it trickles up and affects everyone. As the people suffer, with poor people becoming poorer, farmers committing suicide, businessmen wasting or ruining the environment, we see the money launderers, smugglers, the land mafia, and others continue to plunder and loot money. Experts warn that if the existing state of severe corruption continues the way it is, then it will lead to greater national and international instability, economic failure, increased poverty, and environmental collapse. In other words, this is simply not sustainable. Things must change soon or all that will bring things back to some semblance of sanity is a people’s revolution to demand the removal of all corrupt politicians, judges, military personnel, bankers, etc.

However, the citizens of India cannot be apathetic and remain blind or tolerant to this, if they ever expect to put an end to it. And, fortunately, they are starting to realize that if anything is going to change, it is up to them to do something about it because the corrupt elitists will only do whatever it takes, and in whatever way they know, to perpetuate their kind and their ways, which has not been to the good of the people or the planet. Not all, but many of these politicians and wealthy elitists, criminals actually, are really but demons in human form, living a pampered life at the expense of the many, and driving the uplifting spiritual culture of India into extinction. They care little for anyone but themselves and have no feelings of compassion or the propensity to uphold justice towards the people they are cheating. In that way, they are like insensitive reptiles while portraying themselves to be good and qualified public leaders.

            Those in poverty in India often face a life and death struggle, where they have to make such decisions as whether to buy either medicine or food because there is not enough money for both. And even now those in poverty cannot afford certain foods, like dals, pulses, various fruits, and other foods that can provide necessary protein. The cost is too high for them. And, thus, malnutrition begins to affect an increasingly larger section of the population. So what does that say about the future potential of India? 

The latest government statistics on food inflation in India says it went up by 18.3% in the Christmas week of 2010. Even a common Indian knows the relationship between corruption and food inflation. And presently the Agriculture Minister and his cohorts are making plenty of money through their speculation in food prices, bidding on them while knowing prices are going up, or even working with those who manipulate the fundamentals to make sure the prices go up. Plus, they are allowing essential commodities to be hoarded and exported while the vast majority of India’s children are going hungry every night. This is nothing but a repeat of the same crimes that the British did to the Indian population in the late 1800s, when they exported so much food back to Britain, or used it for their own military while the people in India starved. Because of this profit-making tactic of the thoughtless British, it is estimated that between one-third and one-half of the entire population of India at the time—at least 10 to 15 million people—died from the famine. If there was ever a crime against India and its people, this was one. And now, to whatever degree, it is being repeated by the elitist Indians against their own people.

            At present, India has many multi-generational politicians who have become a caste unto themselves, making rules, or ignoring existing laws, in whatever way they choose in order to fill their own coffers at the expense of everyone else’s well-being. These politicians and similar people suffer from a value disorder, which is the addiction to the rush or thrill of acquiring more power, more money, more property. They are addicted to it and cannot control their mind or senses. If this disease cannot be cured, then they should be put out of office and forced to serve prison time for their crimes against humanity.

            Such a disease can only be cured or purged in society by having the proper training, especially while young and still growing up, in order to add the appropriate character building traits necessary to know what is a decent and balanced human being and how to be one.

THE CURE FOR THE PERVASIVE CORRUPTION

             Naturally one of the first things people would say is that we have to vote out of office those culprits that cheat the people, and are engaged in so much corruption, and vote in those who really care, if we know who they are. But where do we find those politicians who will truly help society and lead properly?

Plus, we need to work with all others who have the same realization and vision for India’s future, and want to clean up the mess we are presently in. For this to happen, people need to be aware of what is really happening and who is responsible. They need to be educated in how the corruption takes place. Therefore, ongoing meetings should provide this information.

Then there is a need of transparency and accountability in all government activities. For this to happen, we need a total constitutional reform. It is time for the majority to unite, to value the cultural tradition of India, or at least what is left of it, and take appropriate legal action to restructure the political and judicial system and eradicate the incompetence and treachery that seems to pervade so much of India. 

However, let us remember that, although necessary, these are all short term solutions. But there also has to be a long term plan to cure these previously mentioned criminal tendencies in people and create a positive effect throughout society that would make a change that would last for generations.

As I said earlier, I am often asked when I am in India what to do about all of this corruption. I always answered that the best thing that I know of is to continue to teach the ethical and moralistic standards as found in Vedic Dharma. Fortunately for me, this was reaffirmed while I was in Bangalore with my visit with the eminent M. Rama Jois, the retired Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He told me that this was indeed the best way to relieve the country of all the corruption that we see, but he explained the best means to do that.

            M. Rama Jois told me that before the independence of India in 1947, there used to be government pre-schools where the children would go to learn, not necessarily how to read and write, but about the basic rules of Dharma. Then the children would also hear of the examples of Dharma from the great epics, like the Mahabharata and Ramayana or Puranas, and about those great heroes who acted in various situations under the rules of Dharma. This way, before the children ever went to general school to learn reading and writing, etc., they were already educated in the proper content of character to know how to act as a proper human being, and know how to judge what is right or wrong in the various situations of life.

            Unfortunately, it was after 1947 when the new administration of independent India decided that learning the ethics of Dharma was religious study, and that the new secular government could no longer support such pre-schools. Thus, all such education of basic moralistic principles under Dharma were no longer to be taught in the schools of India. And since that time, the materialistic selfishness, greed, and the insensitivity to the situation of others for the benefit of oneself, have all increased to the point where now it is almost all-pervasive. 

            As M. Rama Jois explains in his book Dharma: The Global Ethic, “All our present day problems are a direct result of disregarding Dharma, under the influence of a materialistic philosophy, in the belief that it alone can usher in happiness and secure the welfare of the people. Now it is becoming clear that human problems increase as we go on multiplying our lust and desire for material wealth and pleasure, and that the solution to all the problems, whether they be social, economic or political, and in particular the crash of our moral edifice which the world and our nation are facing, is Dharma alone. There is no alternative to Dharma. This is the eternal truth. This can be realized if we understand the real meaning of Dharma.”

            So, what is Dharma? I have already written more extensively about this, but to put it simply, the Mahabharata (Shanti Parva, 109.9-11) says: “Dharma has been explained to be that which helps the upliftment of living beings. Therefore, that which ensures the welfare of living beings is surely Dharma. The learned rishis have declared that which sustains is Dharma.”

            A little more clarity can also be provided by Madhavacharya, a Minister to Hakka and Bukka, founders of the Vijayanagar Empire, in his commentary on the Parashara Smriti: “Dharma is that which sustains and ensures progress and welfare of all in this world and eternal bliss in the next world. Dharma is promulgated in the form of commands (rules both positive and negative, Vidhi and Nishedha).”

           The Mahabharata (Shanti Parva, 90.3) also says that “The proper function of the king [or any ruler or politician] is to rule according to Dharma and not to enjoy the luxuries of life.” Thus, a politician is not meant to take advantage of his position, but to execute his duties with the welfare of the people in mind, under the guidance of the rules of Dharma.

            This means that Dharma is not the teaching of a religion, but it is the global ethical standard that we all need to learn. It is the very content that forms good character, proper intentions, the means for making fair and just decisions, and good and effective plans for our future.

            The basic rules of Dharma, as explained in the Manu-samhita (10.63) are:  “Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (not acquiring illegitimate wealth), Shoucham (purity), and Indriyanigraha (control of the senses) are, in brief, the common rules of Dharma for all classes of men.”

            These are the Yamas and Niyamas, which also includes Santosha–satisfaction or contentment of mind with what one has without undue endeavor; Tapas–voluntary austerity and tolerance in body, mind, and speech for a higher cause; Swadhyaya–self-analysis, introspection, scriptural research, and reflection to understand and perceive who and what is our real identity and how we are progressing; Ishwara-pranidhana–acceptance, devotion, and surrender to God, or the offering of the fruits of one’s actions to God; and Brahmacharya–following the eternal principle of Brahma, or the control of sensual passions in thought, word, and deed, particularly in the student stage of life.

            Therefore, by learning these rules, how to apply them in all aspects of life, and by hearing the examples of the great souls in India’s history and great epics, a child would develop and build his character to be a truly strong, balanced and properly motivated individual who can continue to develop him or herself, and be a true contribution to the rest of society. When this kind of training is received at a young age, it can last for one’s whole life. This is what makes a difference in all aspects of society.

            Training in Dharma, which is certainly at the heart of India’s Vedic tradition, can help provide for an orderly society. And an orderly society is the result and an expansion or even incarnation of Dharma.

            This leads us to understand that the real happiness and prosperity of any nation is directly proportional to the number of men of character it has produced. This is why it is in the interest of the state or government to supply the means by which all children can understand these principles through appropriate education.

            Being trained in and understanding the principles of Dharma do not mean this is promoting a particular religion. It can still be considered secular training, and not going against the Indian constitution. The Yamas and Niyamas, or the codes of Dharma, are basic moralistic principles. Religion means a mode of worship of God by believers of a particular faith, and calling God by a certain name, or using a particular book and set of rituals. Religion actually divides or separates by its distinguishing characteristics between them, while Dharma unites by its unified code of conduct and seeing everyone equally. Dharma can be applied to all human beings. Thus, it sustains and harmonizes society, it does not create conflict. After all, regardless of whatever our theological beliefs may be, we can all agree on the need for kindness and honesty, self-control, compassion and respect for one another, and the need for fellowship in society to maintain harmony and cooperation, and the ways to establish these things. And the Yamas and Niyamas are merely codes of conduct to follow that will help everyone develop this content to their character.

            Even in places like America, it has been reported that over 60% of hapless Indian parents in metropolitan U.S. cities are aghast and powerless to the decadent metamorphosis of cultural changes in their children. This is especially noticeable in teenagers and the increase in behavior abnormalities, such as rudeness, rowdiness, disobedience, disparaging elders, and vulgarity and profanity in the language. There is also the deviance from traditional norms, a rise in selfishness, and little reciprocation for favors shown to them.

            However, such traits are also increasing in India. We are finding a rise in rebelliousness, lack of respect, an increase in the use of drugs and alcohol with both boys and girls, both of whom also show a higher tendency for premarital sex, which has given rise to abortions and later divorces. The traditional Dharmic culture of India is becoming lost, and the balance and harmony that once accompanied it is also becoming a thing of the past.

            Presently, humans are acting inhumanly, even using what should be blessings in the form of modern scientific knowledge and technological advancement against each other. Why? Because human beings have not been educated in the simple moralistic knowledge that provides the reasons and ways to exercise control over the mind, speech, and bodily activities, and not to inflict injury on others because of selfish motives. The point is that this is the most fundamental education that is meant to be imparted to all individuals right from their childhood. It is this education by which human beings develop the capacity and the reasons for controlling the mind, speech and actions. It is through this understanding that a person can realize that even though one might satisfy their greed or desire by indulging in illegal or immoral acts, and may secure a momentary enjoyment or thrill, but he will also cause deep trouble for himself and lose mental peace and real happiness.

            Therefore, it is this education that again needs to be offered and supplied to young students in India. This can be done by the government re-establishing the pre-schools, as previously mentioned, to teach the principles of Dharma. Or, as I have seen on my 2010 trip to India, through a grassroots effort of individuals, or husband and wife teams who give such classes on Dharma to the children of their neighbors or friends on weekends, such as Sunday mornings, they begin to influence each child who attends. This is very effective and will have long range results. Thus, everyone can do something. But people should team up and work together to make this possible and duplicate these methods that are successfully used in order to expand this process all across the country. They should also work with those honest and reputable politicians to help again establish such pre-schools throughout the nation so that gradually India can again return to being a country where corruption is not so pervasive. Then the character of the country will reflect the content of the character of the people who inhabit it.

Of course, there will be those cynics, those critics who will say that this is all too idealistic. But what other true options are there? It is either this, or let the country continue to become more hellish with each successive generation that has less and less knowledge or respect for Dharma and its universal code of ethics.  

            Therefore, the solution is through the education of the principles of Dharma that one adds to the content of one’s character, by which the person knows how to live a useful, purposeful and honest life which can give him real happiness and enable him to devote his time, energy and talents to the service of other human beings in a productive manner, and prevent him from exploiting others for selfish interests. Thus, the more such individuals populate the country, the more the whole nation will also uplift itself with a positive future.