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In Festive Mood: Ranchi University celebrates Festival of Nature “KARMA”

This festival is associated with harvest, which is represented by a Karam tree that symbolizes fertility, wealth and all that is propitious

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Representational Image. Pixabay

Ranchi, Sept 14, 2016: As the ethnic nature festival, Karma got under way on Monday, Ranchi rejoiced with the popular Karma dance on the beat of drums and melodious folk songs, dressed in the old and classical apparel and with a taste of the local delicacies.

Ranchi University, one of the prime educational institutions of Jharkhand also celebrated the festival in the grounds of its Regional and Tribal Languages Department, mentioned TOI report.

The students from different local language courses like Ho, Mundari, Kharia, Panch Pargania, Kurukh, Khortha, Santhali, Nagpuri, and Kurmali enjoyed together.

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Draupadi Murmu, Jharkhand’s Governor marked her significant presence in the celebration.
Talking about the Karma festival she said, “At a time when global warming has led to droughts, low rainfall, melting polar ice sheets and other problems, the Karma festival helps maintain a perfect balance between people and the environment.”

She also talked about the need of establishing an independent university focused only upon the tribal languages, as in to preserve them and spread a word about them.

The mood was so festive and the music so vivacious that towards the end of the celebration nobody could restrain themselves and got swayed by the rhythm.

Ranchi University Logo. Wikimedia
Ranchi University Logo. Wikimedia

HoD of the Regional & Tribal Languages, Mr. K C Tudu said, “It is believed that worshipping Karam Devta would lead to better crop production and soil fertility.”

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He also explained the significance of the festival and the various rituals followed during this.
The Karma Puja is a festival of agriculture and is very sacred to the tribal population of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Assam.

Tribal clans of Baiga, Oraon, Binjhwari, Munda, Majhwar, Ho, Khortha, Korba and many more tribal communities celebrate this festival.

This festival is associated with harvest, which is represented by a Karam tree. It symbolizes fertility, wealth and all that is propitious.

Karma Puja is a religious festival and it really calls for a celebration as the tribal community believes profusely that due to Karam Devta they have a good harvest.

– prepared by Arya Sharan of NewsGram. Twitter: @NoOffense9

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Karma Yoga: The concept of work and duty, as defined by Swami Vivekananda

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Karma Yoga

Swami Vivekananda, the patriot saint, the torch bearer of Hinduism, had passed away but his teachings to humanity still lives on. One such teaching which he repeatedly spoke through out his life is about “Karma Yoga” – the concept of work and duty- the Karma Yoga. Before understanding what constitutes duty, we must first understand what constitutes Karma.

What Is Karma Yoga?

Swami Vivekananda Says:The word Karma is derived from the Sanskrit Kri, to do; all action is Karma.

Technically, this word also means the effects of actions. In connection with metaphysics, it sometimes means the effects, of which our past actions were the causes. But in Karma-Yoga we simply have to do with the word Karma as meaning work.” Therefore, all actions are Karma, from the most trivial actions like brushing the teeth to the highest elevating actions like meditation.

KARMA YOGA refers to all human activities performed with concentration, skill and finesse. The way to liberation is to perform your duties without attachment. In Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna (all of mankind) to do their work most sincerely & with expertise and skill they have masterd, and without any attachment or expectation of rewards.

Types Of Karma Yoga:

  • Niskama Karma– work without attachment, which produces no bondage.
  • Sakama Karma-all work done for some end result, which leads to bondage for the doer.

More on “Karma Yoga” By Swami Vivekananda:

“Thus we are all doing Karma all the time. I am talking to you: that is Karma. You are listening: that is Karma. We breathe: that is Karma. We walk: Karma. Everything we do, physical or mental, is Karma, and it leaves its marks on us.”

What Is YOGA?

This is a much more confusing word. Yoga is generally understood as the activity of breath control or taking different body postures, or the activities mentioned by Pathanjali. But in Gita this word has a much wider and somewhat different meaning.

The word Yoga originated from the root ”YUJ” meaning Joining,tieing together etc. This word is used at innumerable places in the Gita with meanings like appropriateness, joining, expertise, attainment etc. The essential meaning of Yoga is explained by Sri Krishna himself as “Yogah Karmasu Kausalam” (Gita 2.50). Kausalam means a special talent, expertise or skill in doing something. So doing things with expertise is Yoga. A Yogi is one who does something with expert knowledge or skill. (according to speakingtree)

The goal of mankind is knowledge

Therefore, Karma is simple exertion of effort. Naturally the question arises, what is the ultimate goal of such efforts? Why should we perform actions?

Swami Vivekananda answers-

“The goal of mankind is knowledge. That is the one ideal placed before us by Eastern philosophy.Pleasure is not the goal of man, but knowledge. Pleasure and happiness come to an end. It is a mistake to suppose that pleasure is the goal. The cause of all the miseries we have in the world is that men foolishly think pleasure to be the ideal to strive for.”

Therefore, the ultimate goal is not pleasure, not temporary happiness but Knowledge (Atma-Jnana) that liberates one from the limited bondage of the universe.

In another place, he states- “I have already tried to point out that goal. It is freedom as I understand it. Everything that we perceive around us is struggling towards that freedom, from the atom to the man, from the insentient, lifeless particle of matter to the highest existence on earth, the human soul. The whole universe is in fact the result of this struggle for freedom.”

Means are as important as the goal

A question may arise- If the goal of all actions is Liberation, then does it mean there is no importance to the actions that are employed as means to attain the goal? Can any one indulge indiscriminately in any kind of actions?

As if to answer, Swami Vivekananda declared-“One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is to pay as much attention to the means of work as to its end” in one of his lectures delivered at Los Angeles, California in 1900.

Hence, while doing one’s actions, and while performing one’s duties, one should first and foremost concentrate on the immediate job that is in front of a person. It often happens that one tends to ignore the immediate task at hand, by indulging too much in the goal to be attained.

This will result in a person being shabby at his work. Further, over-indulgence with the idea of attaining the goal will make a person blind towards righteousness or unrighteousness of the means. Such, a person will often end up having results that are quite unfavorable and sometimes opposite of what was intended.

That is why Swami Vivekananda cautions-

“Our great defect in life is that we are so much drawn to the ideal, the goal is so much more enchanting, so much more alluring, so much bigger in our mental horizon, that we lose sight of the details altogether.”

Any action that makes us go Godward is duty

As means are very vital to reach the goal, it is necessary to understand, what actions can serve as a means to attain liberation. Swami Vivekananda calls these actions “Duty”.

He says-

“Any action that makes us go Godward is a good action, and is our duty; any action that makes us go downward is evil, and is not our duty. From the subjective standpoint we may see that certain acts have a tendency to exalt and ennoble us, while certain other acts have a tendency to degrade and to brutalize us.”

Therefore, only those actions that constitute duty and lead us to exaltation can be considered as the means to Liberation. These are the duties that Hindu scriptures call “svadharma”. What is right and good for one may not be so for another person. Every person should understand his own inherent nature, his position and stage in life and perform those duties that take him towards Liberation.

Swami Vivekananda himself clarifies this-

“The Bhagavad-Gita frequently alludes to duties dependent upon birth and position in life. Birth and position in life and in society largely determine the mental and moral attitude of individuals towards the various activities of life. It is therefore our duty to do that work which will exalt and ennoble us in accordance with the ideals and activities of the society in which we are born. But it must be particularly remembered that the same ideals and activities do not prevail in all societies and countries”

But this does not mean that people perform any actions according to their fancies and call it dharma. Though svadharma is different for every person, there are universal principles that are common to everyone.

Swami Vivekananda says-

“There is, however, only one idea of duty which has been universally accepted by all mankind, of all ages and sects and countries, and that has been summed up in a Sanskrit aphorism thus: “Do not injure any being; not injuring any being is virtue, injuring any being is sin.” Therefore, people must decide their own svadharma, not on the basis of their fancies but on the basis of these universal principles and how their application will take them towards liberation.”

Work performed without attachment leads to highest realization. The next question is, how should one perform one’s duty?

Swami Vivekananda says-

“When you are doing any work, do not think of anything beyond. Do it as worship, as the highest worship, and devote your whole life to it for the time being. Thus, in the story, the Vyadha (hunter) and the woman did their duty with cheerfulness and wholeheartedness; and the result was that they became illuminated, clearly showing that the right performance of the duties of any station in life, without attachment to results, leads us to the highest realization of the perfection of the soul.”

Therefore, if the performance of duties in an unselfish manner, as an act of worship wherein the actions and its fruits are surrendered to God that leads to liberation. Hence, detached action is the key to liberation.

Swami Vivekananda summarizes this path of Karma-Yoga as-

“Karma-Yoga is the attaining through unselfish work of that freedom which is the goal of all human nature. Every selfish action, therefore, retards our reaching the goal, and every unselfish action takes us towards the goal; that is why the only definition that can be given of morality is this: That which is selfish is immoral, and that which is unselfish is moral.”

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‘Tribes of India’ : An Online Database to Document the Lives of Indian Tribes

The database would contain rare and exclusive videos and photographs, above thousands, which have been collected from various Tribal Research Institutes around the country

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Indian Tribes, Tribal culture
Tribal culture. Wikimedia
  • The ‘Tribes of India’ will showcase the lifestyle, culinary culture, conditions of living of the tribes
  • It is going to be amazing to form a database collecting all the information regarding the characteristics of the tribes, as those will be accessible in the distance of a click
  • Experts from the ministry has also stated that the database would be frequently updated with new research inputs from sources and scientists

New Delhi, August 10, 2017: The very first attempt at producing a documentation of the lives of the tribal in India, is ongoing. The ‘Tribes of India’ will showcase the lifestyle, culinary culture, conditions of living, and historical and chronological facts regarding the evolution of their traditions and culture. The ‘repertoire’ is focusing on answering questions such as- the difference between the Gond tribe of Uttar Pradesh and the Gonds of Jharkhand, whether the tribes in Jharkhand possess a secret cure for anemia, and the status of living of the Santhals in the remote forest-zones.

ALSO READ: Lalung Tribe of Northeast India: What Makes them Stand Apart!

A database on the tribes of India is to be created by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The project aims to bring into light the art and culture, history of evolution and anthropological facts, lifestyle and eating practices, the rate of mortality, education system, architecture and the contribution of the tribals in India’s struggle for freedom, Economic Times has reported.

It has been planned that the database would contain rare and exclusive videos and photographs, above thousands, which have been collected from various Tribal Research Institutes around the country. It is true that the research institute has always showcased such collections, but this is the first time it is going to be saved in an exclusive database.

It is going to be amazing to form a database collecting all the information regarding the characteristics of the tribes, as those will be accessible in the distance of a click, from now on. Techniques to introduce a feature that would enable a viewer to take a virtual tour of the architecture of a tribal hut is also going to be implemented, a senior ministry official said to Economic Times.

According to the report, about 10 crore scheduled-tribe people form an 8.6% of the entire population of the country. But it has been observed that there has been no sincere attempt to showcase and explore the unique lifestyle of the tribes. The official further stated that the database would pose as an excellent guide for the research-scholars because it will contain the necessary statistics. Experts from the ministry have also stated that the database would be frequently updated with new research inputs from sources and scientists.

The database is to follow the effort of the government to explore and showcase the lifestyle of the Indian tribes and dedicate some museums as well to the tribes. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi addressed the nation and asked all to explore and research on the contributions made by the Scheduled Tribes in India’s freedom struggle, Economic Times has reported.

The database will also include links to the museums of various states post their construction.

-prepared by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Combining Religion and Science: Here’s How Hinduism comes up with a solution for Infertility!

According to studies, there has been a steady decline in sperm count by 48 percent since 1940

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pregnant woman, hinduism
Hinduism comes up with a solution for Infertility, Pixabay
  • According to studies, there has been a steady decline in sperm count by 48 percent since 1940
  • Temple worshipping and ‘Tapasya’ are well-known ancient methods to treat infertility
  • In a pre-feminist world, the burden of infertility fell solely upon the women folks

US, July 18, 2017: Clergy and representatives of various religious and spiritual traditions were invited to participate in a focus group in May, this year in Texas. On this particular occasion, Anjana Chatterjee and Dr. Deepak Kotecha shared their views about myths and misconception surrounding infertility.

According to studies, there has been a steady decline in sperm count by 48 percent since 1940. In ancient India, a woman’s worth was determined by her ability to bear and raise children. If found infertile, women were often burnt alive or outcasted and banished. Hinduism allows for a variety of responses when it comes to treating infertility.

Hinduism Practices and Beliefs 

Temple worshipping and ‘Tapasya’ are well-known ancient methods to treat infertility. Parvati or Uma is known as the Hindu goddess of fertility. Fertility symbols and fertility rituals are ingrained in the daily life of Hindus.

The worshiping of the girl child before she reached puberty is regarded as a celebration of female fertility. This is celebrated in its most virgin and purest state. Many other fertility symbols and rituals are deep seated in the daily life of Hindus, mentioned beliefnet.com.

In a pre-feminist world, the burden of infertility fell solely upon the women folks. It was seen as a consequence of karmic factors more than biological factors. In the middle ages, the issue of infertility got strongly inter-mingled by religious factors. To eradicate infertility Hinduism has often resorted to ‘tantrism’ or esoteric practices.

Hinduism is a pluralistic system of values and customs. Over the ages, Hinduism has come to accept scientific medical treatment and assistance to deal with the rise of infertility. Vitro fertilization is considered acceptable if the sperm and egg are preferably not donated and is coming from any male family member. Hinduism has also a profound belief in the ayurvedic treatment, a very traditional method of treating sterility.

– prepared by Puja Sinha of NewsGram. Twitter @pujas1994