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Know the life of Abdullah through the insight of Maria Wirth

Abdullah also was nurtured by India’s wisdom and realised that his own self was the self in everyone

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By Maria Wirth

Some time ago, when APJ Abdul Kalam had passed away and his life was highlighted as an inspiration to all, I could not help thinking of another Abdul(lah), whom I had the good fortune to meet many years ago.He also did not restrict the feeling of brotherhood to members of the faith he was born into, but expanded it to all humanity. He also was nurtured by India’s wisdom and realised that his own self was the self in everyone.

Probably he, too, would have been criticised by some with a narrow mind-set for not truly being Muslim. And in all likelihood, he would have tried his best to explain to them that ultimately it is not important whether one is Muslim, Hindu or Christian, but whether one sees the one Divinity in all, including of course in oneself. He ‘knew’ that the pure feeling of “I” without any adjuncts of “this” or “that” is the same in all.

He died in July 1982 at the age of only 30. Those who knew him till today remember his loving nature.

It was August 1981. The monsoon clouds were heavy between the mountains. I had travelled for the first time to Nainital, 2000 meter high in the Himalayas. Together with a porter I walked towards Ban Niwas, a branch of Aurobindo Ashram, on top of a hill.

Abdullah had reached from Delhi some hours before me. I saw him sitting by the window trimming his beard, when I put my laundry on the washing line and liked him at first sight.

Abdullah was from Jordan. He was the eldest of ten siblings and had worked in Saudi Arabia to contribute more effectively to the family budget. One day he came across a small book by Sri Aurobindo “The Basis of Yoga”. Aurobindo’s thoughts touched him deeply – so deeply that he started saving for a journey to India. He was 27 when he flew to India in October 1979 and straight away headed for the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. There he integrated himself into the community and worked on the ashram farm. Soon, however, he felt certain stagnation.

“People liked me. I was popular. But I was disappointed, in fact really depressed. Even in Saudi Arabia I had been popular. But if this is all in life, I didn’t want to live”, he later confided to me.

He changed the place and went to the Delhi Branch of the ashram. There, too, he was made welcome. Among other tasks, he was to guide the visitors around the ashram. Sri Surendranath Jauhar, the patriarch, who had built up the Delhi ashram on his private property and regularly spent the summers in Nainital, told me over lunch, “Since Abdullah shows the guests around the ashram, everyone is very impressed. In fact they are extremely impressed.” And after a dramatic pause he added, “Not by the ashram, by Abdullah!”

It did not take me long to realise that Abdullah was not average. We spent a lot of time together and soon almost the whole day.

Every morning Abdullah asked the cook whether he needed anything from the bazaar. Something or other was always needed and Abdullah offered to get it. Then he asked me, whether I come with him and I always said yes.

Maria Wirth. Source: Twitter handle @mariawirth1
Image Source: @mariawirth1

We also wandered into the surrounding villages. The peasants invited us into their houses and urged us to have tea and snacks. Abdullah accepted their hospitality without any hesitation, whereas I, with my German mind-set, started to calculate that those small farmers were poor and I did not want to deprive them of their hard earned biscuits. Yet I also could feel that they genuinely enjoyed our presence and happily offered whatever they had.

Abdullah sometimes sang spontaneously one of the songs of Kabir, a saint who lived 600 years ago, when India suffered under Muslim rule. When Abdullah sang, everyone was quiet. He touched the village folk with his sincerity.

Abdullah was intuitive, calm and loving and I could learn a lot from him. For example, when he took the soiled hand of a beggar child into his own, looked into his eyes and asked what his name was. Then that little face lit up with joy.

The monsoon was over. Abdullah suggested visiting the temples in Badrinath and Kedernath at a height of over 3000 metres. When we silently walked down to the bus stand at five o’clock in the morning, I briefly glanced over to him. In the same moment he looked at me, earnestly – and I could feel that I had fallen in love with him.

Only a few months ago I had intensely thought about love (see the link to “love in India” below) and realised that falling in love with one particular person is not the ultimate and yet I could not help it.

Probably it was my luck that I fell in love with Abdullah. Because he had not fallen in love with me. Maybe he did not even know that state. He simply loved. Only years later I got a notion what the difference is. And only after I could feel that difference in myself and not see it merely intellectually, being in love automatically lost its great attraction. I am in love when I need the other person, when life seems grey and dull without him. I love, however, when out of my own fullness I flow out to the other in love. When I love, I am free, when I am in love with somebody, then I am bound to that person. Yet when our glances met on that morning, I did not make these distinctions.

It was a dream to climb together almost 4000 meter high. Everywhere we got in contact with locals and pilgrims who had come from all corners of India. The atmosphere on the treks and in the busses was full of joy and excitement.

Abdullah had a humorous remark for each situation and often made everyone laugh, when we could have cried as well, for example when we got stuck at landslides. Our co-travellers enjoyed his company and during tea breaks some passengers inevitably called us to join them. They wrote down mantras for us, taught us the Arati song “Om Jaya Jagadisha Hare” and kept singing the tune till we had internalised it, gave us addresses of temples and saints whom we should not miss, told us stories about Ram and Krishna and discussed highest philosophy. It was interesting. Nevertheless I would have sometimes preferred to be alone with Abdullah. He, however, did not have such preferences.

“When I came to India, I had consciously given myself to the One – to Him as the Absolute as well as immanent in His manifestation,” he later wrote in a letter to me. “I try to be open for everyone whom I meet. It is not for me to judge or be selective, because He is looking out from all eyes.”

Abdullah talked about God as if he was the only true beloved, ever close, intimate, and present, who directs everything for one’s best and whom one meets in each human being. Therefore there were only brothers and sisters for him. The path that he so consequently followed was the same that I also wanted to follow, but kept forgetting in daily life. He reminded me of it. I had the impression that he had an inexhaustible store of love. It made it easy for him to give his time so freely to others. And it made him so likeable.

“What is your work”, somebody asked him once in the Aurobindo Ashram in Delhi. An ashramite who heard it answered for him, “His work is to love”. And when once an acquaintance asked when we are going to marry, Abdullah said calmly and with a serious mien, “Don’t you know that I am married already?” “Really? With whom?” the questioner reacted in surprise. “With everyone”, Abdullah replied and it was typical for him.

Once we attended a talk of Jiddu Krishnamurti in Delhi. After the talk a friend took us back on his motorbike. He asked Abdullah to get down at a crossing, in case a policeman was posted there. “It is not allowed to be three on a bike”, he explained. “No problem”, Abdullah replied. “I will convince the policeman that we are not three, but one.”

Abdullah felt closely connected with everyone. He was convinced that there is only one Brahman, Allah, God or Self (names don’t matter). So his Self was also the Self in all others. For him it was clear that in every human being the one God wants to give full expression to his beauty, love and fullness. The differences among human beings are only in the degree in which the potential is manifested. The potential itself is in everyone the same.

“On this physical plane you are closest to me. But my love is for everyone the same”, he told me once. It was not really what I wanted to hear. I would have rather had him say that I was special. But Abdullah could not do me this favour, if he remained true to himself.

He tried his best to make me understand how he perceived the world. “Do you feel the beauty here?” he asked pointing to his heart, when we admired the breath-taking sunset from the top of a mountain. My attention had been directed outwards and I had not felt my heart. But when he pointed to it, I sensed what he meant.

“There is an amazing potential of bliss in us, far more bliss than what sensual enjoyment can give.” he once said when we were on our 14 km trek to Kedarnath. I believed him, because I had once experienced amazing bliss. I was 22 at that time, and meditated with a mantra that a TM teacher had given. Fully unexpected, something suddenly opened up within me and almost unbearable bliss spread out for a long time.

So I knew there was indeed great bliss in me, though I had no idea how to access it. It was helpful to be with Abdullah. Again and again he directed my attention back to the one Self.

Something had happened to Abdullah a few months after he had arrived in India. He had felt very depressed and seriously thought of suicide. “In addition to my depression I had a bad flue with high fever and truly felt miserable. I don’t quite know what happened. Something shifted and I felt absolutely wonderful. I still had a bad flue, still had fever. Yet now I enjoyed it,” he shared with me. “This shift stayed. It is not important whether I am healthy or sick.”

Related ArticleReligious burden on society in name of political correctness

Once, on Diwali, we visited a family in Delhi who were friends with Abdullah. They had two sons, 20 und 21 years old. It was a joy to be with them. Three days later Abdullah got a message from the mother. “Come! My son has died in a road accident.” It was heart-breaking. The body of Karu was lying on the floor in their flat, covered with a white sheet. His father sobbed uncontrollably. His mother tried hard to compose herself. I admired Abdullah. He did not fight back tears like me, though he had been close to Karu. He knew not only intellectually that everything is for the best and nothing really is lost by dying. Karu’s father put his head on Abdullah’s shoulder and wept. Abdullah sang with a low voice a soothing song into his ear. He had calm shining eyes.

We also spent time together in Pondicherry and Auroville. There, too, Abdullah would give his time freely to whoever asked for it. Yet in that westernised atmosphere, his attitude was a challenge for me. I could sense that two foreign women were in love with him. I could not blame them, but it brought out jealousy in me. Abdullah had shining eyes when he held my head in his hands and asked, “Did you ever think of being humble?”

A guru could not have aimed a better blow at my ego. Maybe his remark hurt so much, because I used to think that I was rather humble. Abdullah’s remark showed me that being humble did not mean to stay in the background for whatever reason. It meant: not wanting to be special. It seemed impossible. Maybe, those tears at that time were some sort of cleansing and the wish to be special has to fall off by itself. It cannot be ‘done’.

We also attended an international conference on “Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science” in Bombay. It was my first assignment for a German magazine and I felt intimidated by all those confident and competent looking delegates. The oneness of all was a topic at the conference, yet it seemed theoretical in the atmosphere of this 5-star hotel. Abdullah, however, was the same. He saw through the masks and loved what was behind them.

Abdullah was greatly devoted to Sri Aurobindo and wanted to go to Pondicherry in the heat of summer. It was a difficult decision for me, but I cancelled the train ticket that he had got for me in the last moment. He would come back to the north, we would meet again…

Abdullah wrote long letters from Pondicherry. He shared his thoughts and daily life in great detail. He also mentioned that he and a friend from Syria took swimming lessons from an Australian. Once, however, there was a gap of almost two weeks when no news came. Finally a letter reached, strangely from one of his friends in the Ashram. I was confused, hastily opened it and read: “Dear Maria, I don’t know whether you know already. On July 20th, he (the’ he’ was crossed out and Abdullah written over it) drowned in the sea in Pondicherry.”

“NO!” was all I could think and feel.

Epilogue:

It was very painful, yet already on the first day a voice got through to me and kept repeating: “Be bold, Maria! You know that I am not dead.” There were also many amazing incidents. For example a few weeks later in Haridwar, I had brought a friend to the night train to Delhi. It was late, when I came back to the Tourist Bungalow and sat for meditation. It was more a kind of dozing, yet suddenly I jerked awake: “Happy birthday, Maria! Happy birthday, Maria!” I clearly heard. “This is Abdullah”, I knew, but I didn’t know why he wished me ‘happy birthday’. Then I remembered that ‘tomorrow’ was my birthday. “Maybe it is tomorrow already?” I switched on the light. It was midnight sharp.

Maria Wirth is originally from Germany, has made India as her home for last 35 years. She is a saadhak and loves India. As she says: “My politically not so correct articles are on my blog.” Twitter: @mariawirth1

 

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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Paintings Which Beautifully Depict Scenes From Ramayana

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Ramayana
Ram lifting the bow during Sita Swayambar. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic which describes the narrative of Ayodhya Prince lord Rama’s struggles. The struggles include- exile of 14 years, abduction of his wife Sita, reaching Lanka, destruction of the evil. It is strongly ingrained in the Indian culture, especially, the Hindu culture since a long time. Hindus celebrate Diwali based on the narratives of Ramayana.

The story of Ramayana gives out the beautiful message that humanity and service to the mankind is way more important than kingdom and wealth. Below are five paintings describing the scenes from Ramayana:

1. Agni Pariksha in Ramayana

Ramayana
Agni Pariksha. Wikimedia.

When Lord Rama questions Sita’s chastity, she undergoes Agni Pariksha, wherein, she enters a burning pyre, declaring that if she has been faithful to her husband then the fire would harm her. She gets through the test without any injuries or pain. The fire God, Agni, was the proof of her purity. Lord Rama accepts Sita and they return to Ayodhya. 

2. Scene From The Panchavati Forest

Ramayana
scene from the panchavati forest. wikimedia.

The picture describes a scene from the Panchavati forest. It is believed that Lord Rama built his forest by residing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the river Godavari, a few miles from the modern city of Mumbai. He lived in peace with his wife and brother in the forest.

3. Hanuman Visits Sita

Ramayana
Hanuman meets Sita. Wikimedia.

Hanuman reaches Lanka in search of Sita. At first, he was unable to find Sita. He later saw a woman sitting in Ashok Vatika, drowned in her sorrows, looked extremely pale. He recognized her. After seeing the evil king, Ravana making her regular visit to Sita, he hid somewhere in the Vatika. After Ravana left, Hanuman proved Sita that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her his ring. He assured her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. Before leaving Lanka, he heckled Ravana. Agitated by Hanuman’s actions, Ravana ordered to set Hanuman’s tail on fire. With the burning tail, Hanuman set the entire city on fire.

 

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Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Hinduism- the oldest religion in the world is based on certain established beliefs. Read more to find out what these beliefs are.

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justice and Injustice factor of Hinduism
Hinduism of Hindus when compared between justice and injustice

Hinduism being the world’s oldest religion does not have any proper beginning story like the other monotheistic religions like Christianity and Islam do. It has no human founder. Therefore it leads us to the question that if there was no human who started Hinduism then how did its teaching come to being. Well, there is no definitive way to answer this question. What we can answer though are the nine beliefs of Hinduism. Hinduism is a religion which believes that if a person realizes the Truth within himself then only he can reach a point where the consciousness of man and god are one.

Our beliefs determine our thought process and attitude toward life which lead us to our actions. It is said that we create our destiny from our actions. Beliefs regarding matters such as God, soul, and cosmos often shape our perceptions towards life. Hindus believe in a variety of concepts but there are few critical ones which shape the basic belief of Hinduism. The following are the nine beliefs which not exactly very comprehensive but they form the base of the spirituality of Hinduism.

Are you familiar with the various gods and goddesses of Hinduism? Pixabay

All Pervasive Divine Power

  • Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.

Rig Veda – Wikipedia Commons

Divinity of the Sacred Scriptures

  • Hindus believe in the divinity of the four Vedas, the world’s most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God’s word and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion.

Hinduism – Pixabay

Creation Cycle

  • Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation, and dissolution.

Hindu Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi, Wikimedia

Belief in Karma

  • Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words, and deeds.

Reincarnation and Liberation

  • Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved, and moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is attained. Not a single soul will be deprived of this destiny.

penance
Belur, Chennakeshava Temple, Gajasurasamhara, Shiva slaying the demon Gajasura. Wikimedia

Worship in Temples

  • Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments and personal devotionals create a communion with these devas and Gods.

Hindu dharma
Hindu Sadhguru –  Pixabay

Belief in a Enlightened Satguru

  • Hindus believe that an enlightened master, or satguru, is essential to know the Transcendent Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation, and surrender in God.

Hinduism, Hindu temple, Krishna idol
Krishna idol. Pixabay

Propagation of Non-Violence and Compassion towards living things

  • Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered and therefore practice ahimsa, non-injury, in thought, word and deed.

The symbol has been adopted by various religions and cultures across the world.
The swastika is a Hindu symbol of spiritual principles and values. Wikimedia Commons.

Respect and Tolerance for other faiths

  • Hindus believe that no religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine paths are facets of God’s Light, deserving tolerance, and understanding.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha (@siatipton)

One response to “Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know”

  1. Please use proper words for our culture. There are no ‘beliefs’ in Hinduism. There are only ‘hypotheses’ of Hinduism. Belief is something a person is required to adhere to, even in the face of disproving evidence. It demands a suspension of rational thought which goes against the basic nature of Hinduism. Please do not explain Hinduism using the same terminology used by Abrahamic religions. Or more appropriately, call Hinduism and other non-Abrahamic religions as ‘dharma’ to distinguish their inherent nature. Even religious Shinto-Buddhist Japanese say they have no religion when asked. Also, I do not know how you came up with these nine basic so-called ‘beliefs’. I am a Hindu and have never heard of some of them. Please call them ‘some’ of the hypotheses of Hinduism that ‘some’ Hindus agree with. Disagree with ‘tolerance for other faiths’, respect for other dharma – yes, tolerance – not applicable. This word ‘tolerance’ is required by Abrahamic religions which are intrinsically supremacist. Hence they need tolerance to be able to live in a diverse civil society without the tendency to occasionally commit violence for their religion. A dharma like Hinduism has nothing to ‘tolerate’. A Hindu/Jain/Buddhist/Shinto/Taoist/etc. does not care about the religious ‘labels’ and will easily exchange gods/practices/hypotheses with each other if they make sense or are harmless but satisfy some need. Of course, things that are bad deserve criticism and no tolerance (except for basic human respect). How can anyone attempt to define a culture that has always been and will always be in flux as human knowledge increases? It’s time we restored our so-called ‘religion’ to what it always has been i.e. ancient science.

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