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Importance of Wealth in our Indian Culture

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image: www.artsandecon.com

Introduction

One of the main reasons to look westward for answers of financial questions is the fallacious assumption that ‘because Indian culture is centered around spirituality and Dharma, thus it is indifferent towards the problems of the material life’. This misconception is the result of a vitiated propaganda and a misunderstanding of spirituality. This needs to be put in perspective.

History: Philosophical Speculations vs Facts

It’s a fact that much of our perceptions about ourselves today comes from the western thinkers and historians. From Max Muller and Karl Marx to the likes of Michael Witzel and Wendy Doniger, we have let our identities to be defined by the western historians. If we trace back the roots of ‘Western Indology’ our own self-perception was largely created by scholars who actually never visited India, who never dealt with Indians and who never read any Indian literature. Take two scholars, for instance, Karl Marx and Max Weber.

In the year 1853, before he wrote the Das capital, Karl Marx wrote a couple of articles which showed his understanding about India. He said that economically if you look at the country, every village is an economic unit, a tariff unit, and it doesn’t import or export anything. It produces and consumes making the producer the consumer as well and there is no economic inequality because no one has any power over others. This was called the primitive socialism in the communist terminology.

But Marx said there was something very wrong with this society- they worshiped monkeys and cows. He considered man as ‘the sovereign of nature’, and accuses Hindus of degrading that man by ‘worship of nature’. Thus, such a backward society can never progress and carry out a revolution which is necessary for the advancement of human race.

It is necessary to destroy the social base and even though it is a painful destruction, it is a pleasurable destruction as well. This is what Karl Marx said. He never came to India, never read any Indian literature, never met any Indian but he wrote about India. And Marx became one of the most powerful thinkers influencing the Indian intellectual establishment. And our academics are still under the grip of these powerful thoughts.

Another person, Max Weber, a German philosopher is less known but he was a more powerful social thinker. In 1925, Max Weber wrote a book on Hinduism and Buddhism. He said that two societies can never come up- China and India because they believe in Karma and rebirth, which is anti-enterprise, anti-entrepreneurial development, and so these two nations can never develop.

We defined ourselves through Karl Marx, through Max Weber, and then came Professor Raj Krishna. He was asked, “why India is growing so slowly?” He said it is the ‘Hindu rate of growth’. That was 1978.

But a remarkable u-turn took place in the 1970s, when Japan began rising as an economic power. The west was surprised, because economic development, economic progress is supposed to be the preserve of the west. How could Japan, a Buddhist country from Asia, develop?

And so, one Paul Bairoch, a Belgian economist, made a thorough study of the economic development of different nations from 1750 to 1980. He came out with a surprising finding that, in 1750 if you draw a statistical chart of the world, it would look like this: China was the top country in 1750 with nearly 33 percent of world’s GDP and India was second with 24.5 percent of world’s GDP. UK had 1.8 percent of world’s GDP and USA had 0.1 percent of world’s GDP.

He said that these were the structures of the world economy in the 1750s. And India went down from 24.5 percent of the world’s GDP in 1750 to 20 in 1800, 17 in 1830, 8 in 1880, and finally 1.7 in 1900.

In just 150 years, the Indian economy, the Indian polity, the Indian society, Indian civilization crashed. And the same thing happened to China. From 33 percent in 1750, China became 6 percent in 1900. And in the same period, the UK and the USA, which had just about 2 percent between them in 1750, their share went up to 41 percent in 1900.

This information completely transformed our understanding. Paradigm was shifted. Colonialism of 150 years transferred the power, economic , political and cultural power from Asia to the west.

When Paul Bairoch came up with this theory, the west was stunned. To be fully assured the OECD assigned Angus Maddison, the great economic historian to test and verify whether Paul Bairoch’s research was correct or not. OECD is a group of the 26 richest countries in the world and their statistics are very much relied upon.All the 26 countries funded Angus Maddison and he was given a fleet of research scholars to work with. Angus Maddison started his work like this –

If Bairoch is right, then much of the backwardness of the third world, that is Asia, presumably has to be explained by colonial exploitation and much less of Europe’s advantage can be due to scientific precocity, continued slow accumulation of wealth and organizational, financial superiority. You cannot say it happened, our growth happened because of this, it has to be with colonial exploitation.


This is how Angus Maddison started the work and said that Paul Bairoch cannot be correct. Angus Maddison came out with the final conclusion in the year 2001 , and until June 2010, Angus Maddison kept on publishing his researches. He drew a 2000 year economic history of the world starting from the first year of the common era. He said if you look at the economic statistics in the year one of the Common Era, India tops the world with 34 percent of world’s GDP, China next.

In the year 1000, if you draw the economic statistics, India leads with 28 percent. In the year 1400, India again leads, in the year 1500, India again leads, in the year 1600, China overtakes India, in the year 1700, India overtakes China.

Angus Maddison came to the conclusion that Indian economic crash occurred essentially and wholly because of colonial exploitation. The OECD, forum of 26 wealthiest nations, has declared this as the most authentic economic history of the world.

From the factual evidence, we will move on to what the Hindu scriptures actually say, in the next part.

 

Source: http://swarajyamag.com/

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Buddhism Speaks: Evils and Morals

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Buddhism is attributed to the teachings of the Buddha. Pixabay
  • Desire(meaning greed, lust, clinging), Anger and hatred, Ignorance & Fear and anxiety are the things which lead to evil in Buddhism.
  • killing, or harming any living thing, stealing – taking what is not yours to take, sexual irresponsibility, lying or any hurtful speech, alcohol and drugs which diminish clarity of consciousness are the morals in Buddhism.

Teachings of Buddhism: Practices & Ethics

Buddhism is a religion that follows a certain set of beliefs and values attributed by the teachings of The Buddha. Like every religion, Buddhism has also its own notions of what is evil and good. When we say the word evil, we derive many meanings from it. If someone or something is evil to one person, it might not be for another. According to Buddhism, people aren’t good/bad or morally correct/incorrect, they simply create certain traits in themselves which only they can undo. Buddha preached a concept known as “Dependent Origination” implying that everything and everyone is interconnected. If everything is interconnected, how can someone be above the other and how can one person be wrong and the other right? Such teachings of Buddha opened up many minds and raised the right kind of questions.

Their teachings were eye-openers. Pixabay

5 Morals Of Buddhism:

  • Avoid killing, or harming any living thing.
  •  Avoid stealing – taking what is not yours to take.
  •  Avoid sexual irresponsibility, which for monks and nuns means celibacy.
  • Avoid lying, or any hurtful speech.
  •  Avoid alcohol and drugs which diminish clarity of consciousness.

3 Evils of Buddhism:

  •  Greed

According to Buddhism, the greatest sin is Greed as it is encompassing sin which includes all sins that are related to desiring anything in excess is money, yearning, lust, food and inability to let go of things easily. Buddha suggests all sins that relate to wanting more like the capital sins of Christianity namely greed, gluttony and lust come under one single sin i.e. Greed.

Buddhism relates sins to the characteristics one adopts. Pixabay

  • Hatred

    Hatred is a powerful emotion which is said to be more powerful than love as it drives one to destructive acts of anger, fury and destruction, both physical and mental. Hatred is also self- destructive as if you give in to hatred you are practically bending the knee to your own enemy.  Among the capital sins of Christianity, hatred is linked to the sins of wrath and envy.

  • Ignorance

    Ignorance is a sin which can drive one to delude their surroundings and take them to states of pride, sloth and envy ( the Christian sins) . It is also one of the primary evils as it includes delusion.

    Ignorance is the ultimate sin. Pixabay

3 Ways to Remove Evils in Buddhism:

  • Practicing Self-Control

    Buddha suggests practicing self -control as it helps free yourself from the clutches of your vulnerability to the state of loss by your own choice. A person must practice self –control to attain a level of satisfaction which would prevent Greed.

  • Love, Acceptance & Forgiveness

    Practicing the act of love, acceptance and forgiveness are important in order to move past the sin of hatred. One cannot achieve inner peace until when is comfortable with their own emotions.

    Love and kindness are major virtues of Buddhism. Pixabay
  • Dependent Origination

    As mentioned earlier, the concept of dependent origination is a way to attain salvation where one must not jump to conclusions and judge others when everyone is the same and interconnected. One should analyze the cause and effect of every situation to rid themselves of any preconceived notions.

Prepared by Tanya Kathuria of Newsgram; Twitter: @TanyaKathuria97

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Diwali 2017: Significance of the Diwali, Celebrations & Rituals, Date & Diwali Recipes

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Diwali
Deepawali 2017: 19th october'2017
  • Deepawali or Diwali is the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals.
  • Diwali or Deepawali is the festival of lights: “Deep+awali”: deep means “light” and awali “a row,” so, deepawali means “a row of lights”.
  • Diwali is marked by four days of celebration, which literally illuminates the country with its brilliance and dazzles all with its joy.
  • The Diwali festival occurs in late October or early November. It falls on the 15th day of the Hindu month, Kartik, so it varies every year.

About Diwali:

Diwali (Deepawali) is considered to be the most significant festival in India. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil and the power of  light over darkness. The preparations of Diwali starts days before in which people clean their houses and offices and decorate them with lights and Diyas ( oil lamps) .

When is Diwali? – Diwali 2017 falls on 19th October 2017

Significance of Diwali

Diwali marks the homecoming of Lord Rama with his wife Sita after killing the evil king Ravana. He was sent to 14 – year – exile by his father, King Dushrath during which he was wandering in forests and villages of India. On this special occasion of his return to ayodhaya, the capital of Lord Rama, people decorated the whole kingdom with oil lamps and busted crackers with joy.

Diwali Celebrations and Rituals

On this auspicious occasion of diwali people welcome goddess Laxmi in their houses by lighting traditional earthen Diyas ( oil lamps) , making colorful rangoli , decorating house with flowers  and placing paduka (footsteps of goddess Laxmi)  at the entrance. Also there is a tradition of exchanging gifts and sweets with friends and family and donating food and goods to the needy. People wear new clothes and prepare tasty sweets and food delicacies at their home. At night Laxmi Puja takes place for the wealth and prosperity in the house after which people go outside to fire crackers and enjoy the festival.

Special Recipe to Serve on Diwali

With the joy of festival and stress free work schedules we often forget to keep check on our weight and calorie intake. And thanks to the goodies we receive and sweets which we make at home containing loads of sugar. To avoid the unnecessary weight gain and calories , here is a mouthwatering yet low calorie recipe of Oats Laddu which you can easily prepare at home this Diwali.

Ingredients:

  • Dates – ½ Cup
  • Oats – ¼ Cup
  • Cashew nuts – ¼ Cup
  • Almonds – ¼ Cup
  • Dry Coconut – ¼ Cup (shredded)
  • Powdered Sugar as per taste
  • Green Cardamom Powder – ½ tsp
  • Ghee as required

Preparation:

  1. Remove seeds from dates and chop them.
  2. Dry roast oats, cashew nuts and almonds, shredded coconut separately.
  3. Coarsely grind dates, oats, cashew nuts and almonds separately.
  4. Heat pan and add 1 tbsp ghee.
  5. Now add ground oats, cashew nuts, almonds, shredded coconut, green cardamom powder. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes on slow flame. Stir continuously.
  6. When the mixture starts to come together switch off the flame.
  7. Transfer the mixture into the large mouth bowl and add powdered sugar and some ghee (if required for binding). Mix well and allow this mixture to cool down.
  8. Shape the mixture into small balls like laddu and serve.

 

Gift Ideas for Diwali

There is an old tradition of exchanging gifts on Diwali with our family and friends as it adds to the happiness of our loved ones. Here are some of the unique gift items which you can gift to your close ones:

Personalized gift items: Colorful earthen pots, diyas, mugs and cushions designed with your choice of painting and colors can be a cool gift for your friends and family.

 Diwali cupcakes: Sweet with a message can be a unique gift for your loved ones. You can gift a box of cupcakes with Diwali theme running through them to your friends.

Online gift vouchers: You can gift your friends online shopping gift vouchers of leading online shopping portals like Amazon , Flipkart , Snapdeal , Jabong and many others to treat them with gift products of their own choice.

Prepared by Pragya Mittal | Twitter @PragyaMittal05

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10 Customs of the Hindu Dharma Explained by Science

Have you ever wondered the rationale behind the customs and traditions of the Hindu dharma?

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Hindu dharma
A deeper look into the practices of Hindu dharma reveal that they are based on scientific knowledge. We tell you how! Pixabay

New Delhi, October 4, 2017 : You might have been moved by the way followers of the Hindu dharma bow down and welcome you inside their homes. Or by the way Hindu women dress, with jewellery adorning their hands and legs. Who doesn’t like the crinkling of their bangles, after all? But have you ever wondered the rationale behind their customs and traditions?

According to popular notions, the traditions and practices of the Hindu dharma have been equated with superstitions. However, a deeper look into the practices reveal that they are based on scientific knowledge and have been observed over generations , keeping in mind a more holistic approach.

Hinduism can hence, be called a dharmic scientific religion rather than just scientific religion. We prove you how!

 1. Worshiping the Peepal tree

Hindu dharma entails a myriad gods and goddesses and there exist a variety of reasons that propagate worship of Peepal tree. According to Brahma Purana, demons Ashvattha and Peepala hid inside and lured people to touch the Peepal tree and consecutively killed them. They were killed by lord Shani and hence the tree has been worshiped ever since. Another legend believed Goddess Lakshmi resides under the Peepal tree every Saturday which lends it a divinely touch. Another school of thought believes lord Hanuman sat on top of the Peepal tree in Lanka to witness the hardships faced by Sita.

Hindu dharma
Leaves of the ‘holy’ Peepal tree. Pixabay

The Peepal tree does not have a succulent fruit, lacks strong wood and does no good other than provide shade. However, it continues to enjoy increasing devotion from people practicing the Hindu dharma. Science confirms that Peepal is the only tree which produces oxygen even during the night. Hence, in order to preserve this unique property, ancestors of the Hindu dharma related it to God. Additionally, the tree is of utmost significance in Ayurveda and its bark and leaves are used to treat diseases and illnesses.

 2. Do not chew leaves of Tulsi plant

The Tulsi plant is revered in the Hindu dharma. Apart from its medicinal qualities, the plant is also known for its symbolic presence in Hindu mythology.

According to popular belief, Tulsi is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Hence, biting and chewing it is considered disrespectful.

Hindu dharma
According to popular belief, Tulsi is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Pixabay

However, according to botanists, Tulsi has high quantities of mercury. If raw mercury comes in contact with teeth (calcium), it can possibly result in inundation, making the teeth fall. Hence, leaves of the Tulsi plant are suggested to be swallowed and not chewed.

 3. Applying tilak on your forehead

Application of tilak is a religious ac. According to the Hindu dharma, the forehead signifies spirituality. Hence, application of a tilak on the forehead denotes an individual’s thoughts and conviction towards spirituality.  Various Vedic scriptures and Upanishads maintain that energy, potency and divinity comes to those who apply a tilak.

Hindu dharma
A flute player from India with a tilak on his forehead. Wikimedia Commons.

However, science asserts that during the application of a tilak, the central point in the forehead and the Adnya-chakra automatically pressed which encourages blood supply to the facial muscles.  According to body anatomy, a major nerve point is located in the middle of the eye brows on the forehead. Application of the red tilak is believed to maintain vitality in the body and prevent the loss of energy. The Tilak is also believed to control and enhance concentration.

 4. Obsessive cleaning during Diwali

Diwali, the festival of lights honors the goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth. The festival also commemorates the return of lord Ram after an exile of 14 years to his kingdom in Ayodhya. According to Hindu mythology, the night of his return was a new moon night. To illuminate his path in the pitch dark night, the villagers of Ayodhya cleaned the entire village and lit it with lamps.

Hence, Diwali is preceded by extensive cleaning of the entire house in honor of both the deities of Hindu mythology. Legend also believed goddess Lakshmi comes home on Diwali and thereby, the entire place should be cleaned and decorated to welcome the goddess.

However, science backs the concept and explains that Diwali essentially falls in October and November, and mark beginning of winters and end of monsoon season.

Hindu dharma
People indulge in cleaning, repari and beautification of their homes ahead of Diwali to welcome goddess Lakshmi. Pixabay

In older times, the monsoons were not a good period as they were characteristic of excessive rains that often resulted in floods and damaged homes, which then needed repair. This is why people indulged in repair, cleaning and beautification of their homes.

 5. Folding your hands for ‘Namaskar’

You will often find people practicing Hindu dharma greeting people by joining their palms together. The ‘Namaskar’ is believed to signify respect for people.

Hindu dharma
People practicing Hindu dharma greeting people by joining their palms together. Pixabay

This pose requires an individual to join all finger tips together that carry the pressure points of ears, eyes and mind. Science says pressing them together activates these pressure points, making our mind attentive.  This aids us to remember people for a longer duration.

The Namaskar can also be backed up by an act to maintain hygiene and cleanliness since it does not involve any physical contact.

 6. Wearing toe rings

Traditionally, toe rings are worn by married woman on the second toe and are treated as a sign of holy matrimony. However, they are believed to be a part of the Indian culture since the times of Ramayana when Sita threw her toe ring for her husband lord Ram, upon being abducted by Ravana.

Science says that a nerve on this toe connect the uterus to the heart.  Wearing a ring on this finger helps regulate blood flow, thereby, strengthening the uterus and regulating menstrual cycle. It is also believed to have an erotic effect.

 7. Applying henna on hands and feet

Mehendi or henna is usually applied during weddings and festivals to enhance the beauty of the women-folk. According to popular beliefs, the color of the henna denotes the affection a girl will enjoy from her husband and mother-in-law.

Hindu dharma
Mehendi or henna is usually applied during weddings and festivals to enhance the beauty of the women-folk. Pixabay

However, science provides rationale of applying henna during the stressful times of festivals and weddings. Festivity stress can bring fevers and migraines, which when mixed with excitement and nervous anticipation can prove to be harmful for an individual.

Thus, besides lending color, henna also possesses medicinal qualities that relieve stress and keeps the hands and feet cool thereby shielding the nerves from getting tense.

 8. Fasting during Navratri

There are four major Navratris throughout the year, however only two are celebrated on a grand scale. Throughout the nine day festival, devotees observe ritualistic fasts, perform several pujas and offer bhog (holy food) to Goddess Durga in an attempt to gratify her.

Hindu dharma
Durga, the Goddess of strength. Wikimedia

But according to science, these navratris are celebrated when the seasons are transitioning. As the seasons and the temperatures change, our eating habits also do.

Fasting during Navratri allows our bodies to adjust to the changing temperature. Individuals get a chance to detox their bodies by quitting excessive salt, sugar and oil. Additionally, Navratris allow them to meditate and gain positive energy. This helps them prepare for the upcoming change in seasons.

 9. Applying sindoor

In traditional Hindu societies, the Sindoor denotes a woman’s desire for their spouse’s longetivity. The red powder is believed to be the color of power, symbolizing the female energy of Parvati and Sati. The Hindu dharma holds a woman is ‘complete’ or ideal only when she wears Sindoor.

Hindu dharma
Sindoor a cultural identity of every Hindu women. Wikimedia

Science explains that sindoor is made out of Vermilion, which is the decontaminated and powdered type of cinnabar (mercury sulfide). Because of its characteristic properties, mercury is known to reduce anxiety, control blood pressure and also initiate sexual desire, the primary reason why married women are advised to wear the ‘holy’ red powder. This is also the reason why widows are prohibited from wearing sindoor.

10. Wearing bangles on wrists

Bangles have been worn in the Hindu dharma since times immemorial- goddesses are also pictured to adorn these beautiful rings in their wrists. Bangles are believed to enhance feminine grace and beauty. The Hindu dharma almost makes it mandatory for newly-wed brides and to-be brides to wear bangles as they are believed to symbolize the well-being of the husbands and the sons.

Hindu dharma
Bangles are believed to accentuate the beauty of the Indian woman. Pixabay

Science suggests the constant friction caused by wearing bangles in the wrists expands the blood flow level. Besides this, the energy passing through the external skin is once again returned to one’s own body due to the round-molded bangles which has no ends to pass the energy out.