28 January 2009

Nationalism requires religion

A nation lives for its pride. We have pride in ourselves but sometimes pride in our nation needs to be taught. How many times do I recall being taught sense of nationalism? Perhaps it was supposed to be taught by our religion. But how many times have we been taught about religion?

Here is a video that shows Chanakya's speech at Kaikayraj sabha dealing with the same question: http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=z7V0w9u1CsI
Please find below the transcript of his speech given in marvellous hindi.

My fellomen, It gives a feeling of pride and happiness to receive public appreciation from own fellowmen. Vishnugupta (Chanakya) ornated by his respect, is a matter of pride for a teacher and administrator. A teacher and administrator would be proud only if the nation is ornated with pride. A nation can be proud only if its capable and can succeed through its common values and traditions. A nation is capable and successful only if a teacher is successful in fulfilling his duties. A teacher can be called successful only if he is able to inculcate a value of patriotism and national character in every citizen. If a citizen is devoid of or has lack of patriotism, and is not aware of his nationalism, then its the failure of the teacher. It is my experience, I have witness the nation being insulted due to lack of patriotism. It is my experience that we have been defeated by lack of scriptures before we have been defeated by our lack of weapons. We have not been able to make the people owning weapons and scriptures realise their patriotism, because of which our nationalism has been split into pieces before the person. The teacher has been unsuccessful in awakening the patriotism and capability of this country. If the teachers admit defeat, the feeling of loss will be devastating for the nation. It is necessary to resonate chants of praise for the nation in all directions at the same we chant mantras from our vedas. It is necessary to create awareness among people that if they do not have faith in worship of the nation, then all other paths to worship will not be free from struggle. Hence, it is necessary to integrate an individual to another individual, individual to society and society to nation. It is imperative to tie individuals, society and nation in a single string immediately and that string can be nothing else than nationalism. Teachers should accept this challenge soon enough and get ready to rebuild the nation. It is possible that you will face roadblocks, but the teacher must overcome them. And if required the teacher should not hesitate in taking up arms. I accept that the skill and capability of a teacher is scriptures, but if arms are the roadblocks in the path, and the people creating hurdles to nationalism only understand the language of weapons, then the teacher must demonstrate his power. Otherwise, a powerless teacher would not be able to protect even his scriptures. It is possible that the teacher has to fight against governments, but remember, nation is more important than goverment, national benefit is greater than benefits of political power. So if governments have to be sacrificed at the altar of the nation, the teachers should not hesitate. History is testimony to the fact that politics of power and selfishness have degraded the nation. Right now we have to think only about this nation. If the governments supports it is good, else the teachers should recall the good deeds and glory of his ancestors and fulfil their duties. Victory is certain. Victory is certain for this nation's life values and of the nation itself. Only a call is needed.

We see that he tells us how the thought of our religion and patriotism are closely bound. Our religion tells us to prefer ends over means for the sake of the country. How many religions say this? Is it fair that we stick to use of arms as the last resort, and by the time we realise we have to take up arms it is already too late? If that would happen we would be left with nothing to blame than our own selves. It seems India is like the confused Arjuna at the war of Kurukshetra, waiting for Lord Krishna to motivate him to fight for right.

As I end this post, here is a thought published in the Hindu (source: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/2001/07/19/stories/10190906.htm)
On one of her travels, Swamini Vimalananda recalled in her discourse, how she was asked to give the quintessence of Hinduism in two words, just as Ahimsa stood for Jainism, ``Love and service'' for Christianity, ``Faith'' for Muslims and ``Compassion'' for Buddhists. To this she replied ``Shreya'' or rising to a higher level as core of Hinduism.

24 January 2009

Why am I Hindu?

I got this article in my email. This clarifies much of our thoughts about Hinduism.



Four years ago, I was flying from JFK NY Airport to SFO to attend a meeting at Monterey, CA An American girl was sitting on the right side, near window seat. It indeed was a long journey - it would take nearly seven hours.


I was surprised to see the young girl reading a Bible unusual of young Americans. After some time she smiled and we had few acquaintances talk. I told her that I am from India. Then suddenly the girl asked: 'What's your faith?' 'What?' I didn't understand the question.

'I mean, what's your religion? Are you a Christian? Or a Muslim?'

'No!' I replied, 'I am neither Christian nor Muslim'.

Apparently she appeared shocked to listen to that. 'Then who are you?' 'I am a Hindu', I said.

She looked at me as if she was seeing a caged animal. She could not understand what I was talking about.

A common man in Europe or US knows about Christianity and Islam, as they are the leading religions of the world today. But a Hindu, what?

I explained to her - I am born to a Hindu father and Hindu mother. Therefore, I am a Hindu by birth.

'Who is your prophet?' she asked.

'We don't have a prophet,' I replied.

'What's your Holy Book?'

'We don't have a single Holy Book, but we have hundreds and thousands of philosophical and sacred scriptures,' I replied.

'Oh, come on at least tell me who is your God?'

'What do you mean by that?'

'Like we have Jesus and Muslims have Allah - don't you have a God?'

I thought for a moment. Muslims and Christians believe one God (Male God) who created the world and takes an interest in the humans who inhabit it. Her mind is conditioned with that kind of belief.

According to her (or anybody who doesn't know about Hinduism), a religion needs to have one Prophet, one Holy book and one God. The mind is so conditioned and rigidly narrowed down to such a notion that anything else is not acceptable. I understood her perception and concept about faith. You can't compare Hinduism with any of the present leading religions where you have to believe in one concept of god.

I tried to explain to her: 'You can believe in one god and he can be a Hindu. You may believe in multiple deities and still you can be a Hindu. What's more - you may not believe in god at all, still you can be a Hindu. An atheist can also be a Hindu.'

This sounded very crazy to her. She couldn't imagine a religion so unorganized, still surviving for thousands of years, even after onslaught from foreign forces.

'I don't understand but it seems very interesting. Are you religious?'
What can I tell to this American girl?

I said: 'I do not go to temple regularly. I do not make any regular rituals. I have learned some of the rituals in my younger days. I still enjoy doing it sometimes.'
'Enjoy? Are you not afraid of God?'

'God is a friend. No- I am not afraid of God. Nobody has made any compulsions on me to perform these rituals regularly.'

She thought for a while and then asked: 'Have you ever thought of converting to any other religion?'

'Why should I? Even if I challenge some of the rituals and faith in Hinduism, nobody can convert me from Hinduism. Because, being a Hindu allows me to think independently and objectively, without conditioning. I remain as a Hindu never by force, but choice.' I told her that Hinduism is not a religion, but a set of beliefs and practices. It is not a religion like Christianity or Islam because it is not founded by any one person or does not have an organized controlling body like the Church or the Order, I added. There is no institution or authority.

'So, you don't believe in God?' she wanted everything in black and white.

'I didn't say that. I do not discard the divine reality. Our scripture, or Sruthis or Smrithis - Vedas and Upanishads or the Gita - say God might be there or he might not be there. But we pray to that supreme abstract authority (Para Brahma) that is the creator of this universe.'

'Why can't you believe in one personal God?'

'We have a concept - abstract - not a personal god. The concept or notion of a personal God, hiding behind the clouds of secrecy, telling us irrational stories through few men whom he sends as messengers, demanding us to worship him or punish us, does not make sense. I don't think that God is as silly as an autocratic emperor who wants others to respect him or fear him.' I told her that such notions are just fancies of less educated human imagination and fallacies, adding that generally ethnic religious practitioners in Hinduism believe in personal gods. The entry level Hinduism has over-whelming superstitions too. The philosophical side of Hinduism negates all superstitions.
'Good that you agree God might exist. You told that you pray. What is your prayer then?'

'Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavantu. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,'

'Funny,' she laughed, 'What does it mean?'

'May all the beings in all the worlds be happy. Om Peace, Peace, Peace.'

'Hmm ..very interesting. I want to learn more about this religion. It is so democratic, broad-minded and free' she exclaimed.

'The fact is Hinduism is a religion of the individual, for the individual and by the individual with its roots in the Vedas and the Bhagavad-Gita. It is all about an individual approaching a personal God in an individual way according to his temperament and inner evolution - it is as simple as that.'

'How does anybody convert to Hinduism?'

'Nobody can convert you to Hinduism, because it is not a religion, but a set of beliefs and practices. Everything is acceptable in Hinduism because there is no single authority or organization either to accept it or to reject it or to oppose it on behalf of Hinduism.'

I told her - if you look for meaning in life, don't look for it in religions; don't go from one cult to another or from one guru to the next.

For a real seeker, I told her, the Bible itself gives guidelines when it says ' Kingdom of God is within you.' I reminded her of Christ's teaching about the love that we have for each other. That is where you can find the meaning of life.


Loving each and every creation of the God is absolute and real. 'Isavasyam idam sarvam'… Isam (the God) is present (inhabits) here everywhere - nothing exists separate from the God, because God is present everywhere. Respect every living being and non-living things as God. That's what Hinduism teaches you.

Hinduism is referred to as Sanathana Dharma, the eternal faith. It is based on the practice of Dharma, the code of life. The most important aspect of Hinduism is being truthful to oneself. Hinduism has no monopoly on ideas.- It is open to all. Hindus believe in one God (not a personal one) expressed in different forms. For them, God is timeless and formless entity.

Ancestors of today's Hindus believe in eternal truths and cosmic laws and these truths are opened to anyone who seeks them. But there is a section of Hindus who are either superstitious or turned fanatic to make this an organized religion like others. The British coin the word 'Hindu' and considered it as a religion.

I said: 'Religions have become an MLM (multi-level- marketing) industry that has been trying to expand the market share by conversion. The biggest business in today's world is Spirituality. Hinduism is no exception'

I am a Hindu primarily because it professes Non-violence-'Ahimsa Paramo Dharma' - Non violence is the highest duty. I am a Hindu because it doesn't conditions my mind with any faith system.



13 January 2009

Our country understood as a firm by our Freedom Leaders

While reading a very good book named "Business of Freedom" (http://swastiks.blogspot.com) by Mr. Sandeep Singh, a noted author and management leader, I started understanding the depth of thinking of our past leaders. Before I delve into it, let me just point out what in my view takes to run a firm.


a)      A firm will exist for a particular objective called a vision. This is followed by a more specific mission that quantifies the goals.

b)      The firm exists in a particular context we call market and industry conditions and pose threats. The firm can use its bargaining power derived from core values to take care of these threats and also supply and demand conditions.

c)      Driven by demand and supply, the firm uses its strengths to create value utilizing the resources at its disposal.

d)      This work is done by the employees and managers of the firm in accordance with execution plans built within a strategic framework.

e)      The heart of the strategy is the firm's core competence that strings all actions and leads to the attainment of the final objective.


There are a few tacit facts that are essential to drive the successful functioning of a firm:

  1. Proper self assessment is taking place along with understanding of the environment
  2. The cumulative effect of the past is given significant importance in the analysis framework
  3. The decisions taken for the future are rational, free from bias and simple to implement
  4. The leadership of the firm is cognizant about the above factors


Now lets first see how our Freedom Leaders talked about the existence of the essential factors. I request you to understand the statements quoted more in spirit than by content. Matching numbering has been used to aid the reader in correlating points given above with the quotes below.


1. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari wrote in "Conditions of our struggle", "We have achieved great things through non-cooperation but we must now follow other plans in order to consolidate our achievements." It is critical to understand that the real skill lies less in knowing the strategy than in analysing the situation to which it actually applies.


2. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi wrote in "Prataap weekly" in 1920, "O youth of the country, how many of you have taken a vow to study all the dimensions of religious, social and political issues of the country?... You have the responsibility of construction the Bharat nation... To become a true human being, you should make proper use of your education". He was asking us to create actionable knowledge through continuous feedback for driving our change management.


3. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar said in the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha held in 1937 that "To the Hindus independence of Hinduism can only be worth having if that ensures their Hindutva - their religious, racial and cultural identity". We need to realise that the battle is actually rooted in the mind. We have things to re-learn from followers of other religions.


Bhulabhai Desai said in a speech titled "Why is India what it is today?" in Nagpur University in 1934 that Indian Mind by its society, Indian spirit by its religion, People are the Strategy & structure, Visible Hand and Scale & Scope respectively to be utilised to break the shackles.


4. Manavendra Nath Roy (Lenin called him Indian Marx) said in Dehradun in 1940 that "Gandhiji has all along been the controller of the mass movement. He became the leader of the movement because he was the personification of the ignorance and prejudices of the masses." A lack of leader was also shown by Pandit Nehru in the 1962 china war.

Importance of a leader is aptly captured by the words of Sikh guru Shri Gobind Singh ji, "sava laakh sio ek ladaun" (my one man can fight 1.25 lakh of the enemies)


We can clearly see that our Bharat satisfies all the essential factors. So lets proceed and see how to our Freedom leaders guide us to take the country forward.


a) M.S. Gowalkar has written in his "Bunch of thoughts" about Core values and Purpose. Core values cannot be compromised for petty financial gains or short term expediency. The Permanent is national life. The Impermanent is the individual. The ideal management would be to transform the imparmanent individual into a means to attain the permanent social good.


b) Lala Lajpat Rai told in Mumbai on 20 feb 1920 that "We have been inferior in - capacity to unite, adopting to modern requirements, learning lesson of diplomacy, art of telling lies and art of violence". This is similar to what we have read in Michael Porter's Competitive Advantage of Nations about threat of new entrants, threat of a substitute, rivalry among existing competitors, bargaining power of buyers, bargaining power of suppliers


c) Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherji, Founder of Bharatiya Jan Sangh has told us that "Basic features of a Hindu or Hindustaani society are - Universal god of Satyam (truth), Shivam (bliss), Sundaram (beauty); philosophy of karma and rebirth; balance of rights of individual and society, equal rights and opportunities for all; live and let live; freedom of thought tolerance, respect for learned and elders". Like Japan or Germany, we can stick to our culture and bring paradigm changes in business and industry.


d) Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose said in a speech at the Industries Ministers Conference in 1938, "India is country with resources similar to those of USA... What is needed is their systematic and organized exploitation by us in the best interest of the nation" He was probably the first leader to articulate a policy of population control, provision of state credit for rural population and ambitious plan for industrial development.


Dr. Keshav Baliram Hegdewar, Founder of RSS has echoed his thoughts on the method of execution of such plans when he said "RSS will do nothing, the swayamsevak will do everything". We know that a manager is successful when he has made himself redundant.


e) is what is missing!!! A recall of our core competence is what we need.


We have India as the Fountainhead of knowledge. We need 3S of Strategy, Structure and Systems to work with 3P of Purpose, Process and People. We know our purpose is to earn the highest respect in the world community. What was lacking was about our core competence. The answer is obvious as is the method of finding it. Introspection tells us that we already have the strength of our religion and culture. A revisited version of them is the core competence we are looking for!


I take this opportunity to summarise by a quote.


Shri Aurobindo, "Bhawani Mandir - for the revolutionary preparation of the country", in 1905 said "We have all things else but we are empty of strength, void of energy. We have abandoned Shakti (name for Goddess Maa Durga, read our religion) and therefore abandoned by Shakti (read power and respect)... We need a nucleus of men in whom shakti is developed to its uttermost extent and overflows from their personality to fertilize the earth.” In 1948 he added, “We as a country should not forfeit Swadharma and loose our soul. It would be a tragic irony of fate if India were to throw away her spiritual heritage at the very moment when in the rest of the world there is more and more turning towards her for her spiritual help and saving light."


Jai Hind!

10 January 2009

Buddha is smiling

I am proud to be Indian. All of us writing this blog are. It is because we were brought up to love our country and its people. Thinking for yourself and still touch the feet of elders. That is what our religion teaches us,  the religion of this sacred land.

Be it Hinduism or Sikhism or Buddhism or Jainism, the religions of this land make us mighty and humble at the same time. But has it not happened that others have taken this humility as cowardice? I am like Shri Hanumaan, but I control my voice and volume before saying I believe in Lord Ram. That too in my own country. I need a law telling me with a stick that i should stand when the national anthem is being played! 

The reason why we are so meek is that we dont understand our own country, nor how religion is woven into the lives of hindustaanis nor trust our own beliefs. The only Hindu country of the world falls and jehadis attack us with pride. Still we need more reason to stop being meek. 

We are the most civilised people. Yet we look at the United States with desire. Why cant we have a United India here? Let us regain the faith in our civilization. Through this blog to understand our religion and how it makes us better and makes us show our pride for our maatribhoomi.