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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Your guest, your honour

Ashok Vohra

The Upanishads, Manusmriti, Ramayana and Mahabharta provide answer to the questions, `Who is a guest?' and `How should he be treated?' The term for `guest' in Sanskrit is `atithi' -one who visits your place without prior notice.

The Taittriya Upanishad, commands, “Do not turn away anyone who comes seeking your hospitality“. It enjoins that the atithi be treated as god at par with one's mother, ancestors and teacher. This command is explained in the Mahabharta by Lord Krishna: “Finding an old person, a child, a tired traveller or a vulnerable one at the door, a householder should offer him worshipful hospitality, with the same exuberance in his heart, as he would to his own teacher“.

According to the Mahabharta, “The one who appears at the door at the proper time, even if he were an outcaste or such a one as partakes of the flesh of dog, deserves to be worshipped with the offering of food“. However, Manusmriti goes a step further. It does not make a distinction between appropriate and inappropriate time of the guest's arrival. It commands that irrespective of the time of arrival, be it suppertime or otherwise, the needs of the guest must be attended to.

Without bearing any displeasure, the host should treat the guest with grace and courtesy. The guest, according to Manusmriti, should be “offered a seat and water, as well as food according to the host's ability“.
According to the Ramayana, “food should be offered with all the ceremony and honour.
In addition, the guest may be provided a “place for resting and greeted with kind words“. If the host is unable to offer food, he should at least provide him with “a stretch of earth to lie down, a bed of straw, a bowl of water, and pleasing speech“ says Manusmriti. This deep concern for the guest in the Indian tradition is there because at the transcendental level, the host and the guest are identical. The host sees his own self in the guest.
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The way to react

Neela Sood

We get disturbed once in a while. To what extent we are disturbed directly depends on how intolerant we are to the environment in which we are living. Behavior of people in such situations differs from man to man. For example, a few snap back instantly, few start shouting, a few seethe with un-controllable anger, which gets manifested in the form of some, abuses and even assault at times.

It is also too much to expect most of us to be like Socrates who even after having been treated with a bucket of ice cold water over his head by his ill-tempered wife in the presence of his friends and admirers had the capacity to project the incident as an act of timely first aid by his caring wife who “had come to know“ that his head had become very hot consequent to a long talk he had delivered. Nor we can be like Sant Tuka Ram who after having been hit with a sugar cane on the head by his wife replied wittingly to her that she saved him from taking the trouble of breaking it in to two pieces, one for each of them.

Then what to do? An incident from Buddha's life has the answer. Once, while moving with his disciples, the Buddha asked one of them to bring water from the nearby pond only to be told by his disciple that the water was muddy. He asked his disciple to wait and then get it. This time water was clear. Buddha told his disciple that last time when he went the horse cart had just passed, leaving the water in the pond turbulent and muddy. Similarly, when confronted with such provocations in day-today life withdraw your self for some time or engage yourself in some other activity.
Act when you feel that the tempers have already cooled.

It can save us from many unsavory situations; and above all from the bout of anger, which harms us, first and then others.
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Man of Gold

This is a law of nature - the thing that has a weight comes down towards earth. Steam, gas etc. that are weightless go up and vanish in the air. As the things become heavier, the faster they move down according to Newton 's law of gravitational force. Same law is applicable in cosmic system and systems of nature too. If a tree is full of fruit, its branches will bend down. A man whose soul is full of gravity and values will be very much down to earth, generally walks with his eyes down – he can be easily ‘bent’, changed.

One real incident I want to share with HT readers. Last month while going to my office, I saw an old Sardarjee, who parked his car on the side of the road, digging out some dust from kacha side of the road. I watched. He picked up a handful of dust, walked to the middle of the road and sprayed the dust over the mobil oil which was spread on the road. He covered the oil so that no one skids.In that traffic was moving but not a single person showed any concern or took note of the sagacious Sardarji.

Sardarji did all this for others – so that no vehicle should skid and no one should injured. He showed me the way of dharma, duty and how to value other lives.

According Rigveda, the universal truth propounded explains the universal order of life in 3 planes:

Internal (of the soul or self)

External (of the body in terms of dharma or worldly life)

Spritiual (of onbe being’s link with the cosmos)

This Sardarji taught me the 2nd universal order of life. Hitopadesa says – “Good men are like gold – difficult to break but easy to mend and bend.”

Kamal Wadhwani
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Legalizing Animal Instincts

India is a hot country. Our customs and our practices accordingly require people living in an ordered society to regulate sex. Our shastras, Vedas and other holy books guide us to restrain sexual indulgence up to the age of 25. But it is very strange that high court has legalized homosexuality. Unnatural sex and unrestrained indulgence in sex destroy civilizations.

Go back to the Bible. In the Old Testament, we are told that the cities of Sodom and Gomorhea – note the names – were destroyed by the wrath of God on account of immoral ways of the people. And the ancient Persians hated the Greeks because they practiced homosexuality and lesbianism – there was an island Lesbos – and through successive invasions were instrumental in ending the high Greek civilization.

Our society for the last 5000 years has survived because it is founded on values. Three cardinal values are – niyama, a preferred way of doing things, sanyama, individual and social restriant and shraddha, respect for things/people/values/society.

It is unfortunate that the country’s official policy since 1950 has promoted the opposite of these values – freedom to do what you want to do, indulgence and an absence of respect for age, knowledge and values. Our society will undergo a cataclysmic conflict between the India governed by English knowing westernized, urban elite and the mass of people – what form it takes and when, we don’t know but an ancient civilization that has faced so many challenges will not give up.

How can a judge say that moral values of a society are not the basis of law. Then what is the basis? A borrowed constitution? Animal instincts?

This philosophy has inbuilt destruction. Open display of vulgar sexuality on the roads, media and official support for all this – this is the road to ruin.

The best way is to let unnatural practices be just as we let gutters be. But we do not open up the gutters and glamorize them.

We are in trouble because all the rulers – politicians, officials, media persons – have been educated in an educational system that as a matter of policy excludes the intellectual texts of our civilization and feeds them on the diet of an alien culture with the result that those who come out of this system are at best ignorant and at worst have contempt for their own culture. They are driving this society.

Last week I was watching the debate on India TV on this issue. One of the debaters, a doctor said to Baba Ramdev that he does not know about science and human psychology. Is the doctor aware of what India has over thousands of years explicitly said about sexuality, normal and deviant? Or is he wiser than all the thinkers and texts that are till today object of deep study in major western universities?

Are we animals? Will we go on to legalize all animal instincts – violence, revenge?

But I think we are not in an age where thinking is popular or respected.

Kamal Wadhwani
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