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Remembering Deendayal Upadhyaya: Visionary who advocated ‘Integral Humanism’

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Photo: medhajnews.in

By Nithin Sridhar

On this day, 99-years ago, Deendayal Upadhyaya, one of the most important thinkers of modern India who advocated “Integral Humanism” as a national philosophy and doctrine, was born.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

His political philosophy, which is rooted in the firm foundation of the Hindu purusharthas (four fold goals of life), aims to integrate the individual with the collective, and the material with the spiritual. He propounded it as an Indian answer to socio-politico-economic problems. He recognized the shortcomings in both the capitalistic and the socialistic models and realized that they both are alien to Indian society and culture.

Therefore, to address these shortcomings and provide an Indian alternative, he conceptualized the philosophy of “Integral Humanism”, which was later adopted by the Jana Sangha and the BJP as their political doctrine and philosophy.

On his 99th birth anniversary, let us look into some important aspects of Integral Humanism that have become very relevant in current times. Deendayal Upadhyaya gave four lectures on April 22-25, 1965 in Bombay (now Mumbai) elaborating on his vision of “Integral Humanism.”

Neglect of national identity is the root cause of India’s problems

Deendayal Upadhyaya stresses that most of India’s problems are due to a lack of national identity. As without a national identity, there is no direction and only chaos exists. He says: “If we stop to analyze the reasons for the problems facing the country we will find that the confusion about our goal and the direction is mainly responsible for the chaos.”

He adds: “It is essential that we think about our national identity. Without this identity there is no meaning of independence, nor can independence become the instrument of progress and happiness. As long as we are unaware of our national identity, we cannot recognize and develop all our potentialities. Under alien rule this identity is suppressed.

He points out that without national identity, a nation, just like any individual, will become “a prey to numerous ills when its natural instincts are disregarded.”

He further adds that the national identity is essential for national Unity. He says: “Yet there is generally, what is called a more or less common desire of the people of any nation. If this popular longing is made the basis of our aims, the common man feels that the nation is moving in a proper direction, and that his own aspiration is reflected in the efforts of the nation. This also generates the greatest possible feeling of unity.”

He concludes: “The basic cause of the problems facing Bharat is the neglect of its national identity.”

Indian problems require Indian solutions

Deendayal Upadhyaya argues that the problems faced by each nation are unique and hence, no solution can be taken as universal. While nations may adopt certain principles from outside, they must essentially seek their own indigenous solutions.

He says: “Every country has its own peculiar historical, social, and economic situations and its leaders decide the remedies to the ills that beset the country from time to time, taking into consideration its background. It is illogical to believe that remedies which the leaders of one country decided to try for their problems are likely to be applicable as such to all other peoples….. Therefore, it is neither possible nor wise to adopt foreign Isms in our country in the original form in toto. It will not be helpful in achieving happiness and prosperity.”

But, finding a unique solution does not mean turning a blind eye to the society’s that are outside one’s country. Instead, a nation must absorb the best from other nations and discard what is not suitable. Further, the absorbed elements must be adapted according to our own circumstances.

He says: “Therefore to ignore altogether the developments in other societies, past or present is certainly unwise. Whatever truths these developments contain must be taken and accepted. The rest must be scrupulously avoided. While absorbing the wisdom of other societies, it is only proper that we avoid their mistakes or perversities. Even their wisdom should be adapted to our particular circumstances. In brief, we must absorb the knowledge and gains of the entire humanity so far as eternal principles and truths are concerned. Of these the ones that originated in our midst have to be clarified and adapted to changed times and those that we take from other societies have to be adapted to our conditions.”

Regarding the tendency of some people to imitate everything western and discard everything Indian, at another place he says: “However, western science and the western way of life are two different things. Whereas western science is universal and must be absorbed by us if we wish to go forward, the same is not true about the western way of life and values. In fact thoughtless imitation of the West must be scrupulously discarded.”

Therefore, the solution to Indian problems does not lie in simple imitation of the west or in mindless borrowing of western concepts of socialism, capitalism, etc. The solution lies in developing an Indian solution which is also able to absorb, adapt, and assimilate those tenets from outside that are useful to our national life and culture and discard the rest.

Independence is meaningful only if it becomes an instrument of expression for a nation’s culture

In the context of finding solutions to India’s problems and taking India forward, Deendayal Upadhyaya points out that, if India is to be truly independent, then its independence should be based on the foundation of its culture.

He says: “If the culture does not form the basis of independence, then the political movement for independence would reduce simply to a scramble by selfish and power seeking persons. Independence can be meaningful only if it becomes an instrument for the expression of our culture. Such expression will not only contribute to our progress, but the effort required will also give us the experience of joy. Therefore, both from the national as well as human standpoint, it has become essential that we think of the principles of the Bharatiya culture.

The Bharatiya culture is integrated

Deendayal Upadhyaya says that the first characteristic of Bharatiya (India) culture is its integrated worldview. Unlike the west that concentrates on the parts and tries to patch it up to form a whole, the Indian worldview looks upon life as an integrated wholeness. It is this integrated vision that has shaped the unity in diversity that is so unique to Indian society.

He says: “The diversity in life is merely an expression of the internal unity. There is complementary underlying the diversity. The unit of seed finds expression in various forms – the roots, the trunk, the branches the leaves, the flowers, and the fruits of the tree. All these have different forms and colors and even to some extent different properties. Still, we recognize their relation of unity with each other through seed.”

He places this vision of integral wholeness against the western concept of “survival of fittest” which he calls as “the law of the jungles.” He further adds:Unity in diversity and the expression of unity in various forms has remained the central thought of Bharatiya culture. If this truth is wholeheartedly accepted then, there will not exist any cause for conflict among various powers.”

Integration of body, mind, intelligence, and the soul

According to Deendayal Upadhyaya, the integration is present not only with respect to social life, but also with respect to individual life. He says: “Body, mind, intelligence, and the soul- these four make up an individual. But these are integrated. We cannot think of each part separately. The confusion that has arisen in the West is due to the fact that they have treated each of the above aspects of human being separately and without any relation to the rest.”

He continues: Here in Bharat, we have placed before ourselves the ideal of the four fold responsibilities, of catering for the needs of body, mind, intellect, and soul with a view of achieving the integrated progress of man. Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha are the four kinds of human effort. Purushartha means efforts which befit a man. The longings for Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha, are inborn in man, and satisfaction. Of these four efforts too, we have thought in an integrated way.”

Dharma is the basis of national life

Deendayal Upadhyaya defines dharma as laws of life that bring about harmony, peace, and progress in the life of mankind. In another place, he adds that the fundamental principles of Dharma are eternal and universal. Yet their implementation may differ according to time, place, and circumstances.

In the context of a nation and its relationship to the Dharma, he says: “The ideals of the nation constitute ‘Chiti’ (soul of the nation), which is analogous to the soul of an individual. It requires some effort to comprehend Chiti. The laws that help manifest and maintain Chiti of a Nation are termed Dharma of that nation. Hence it is this “Dharma” that is supreme. Dharma is the repository of the nation’s soul. If Dharma is destroyed, the Nation perishes. Anyone who abandons Dharma betrays the nation.”

Hence, Dharma is the very foundation of national life. Hence, no progress of a country is possible without first aligning those activities with Dharma. If a nation indulges in Adharma, then it destroys not only dharma but also itself. Thus, Deendayal says: “We have written constitution, but even this written constitution cannot go contrary to the traditions of this country. In as much as it does go contrary to our traditions, it is not fulfilling Dharma. That constitution, which sustains the nation is in tune with Dharma. Dharma sustains the nation. Hence we have always given primary importance to Dharma, which is considered sovereign. All other entities, institutions or authorities derive their power from Dharma and are subordinate to it.”

He finally stresses that it is not enough that our country practices democracy. It should also align this democracy with the principles of Dharma.

He says: “Let us understand very clearly that Dharma is not necessarily with the majority or with the people. Dharma is eternal. Therefore, in the definition of democracy to say that it is a government of the people is not enough. It has to be for the good of the people. What constitutes the good of the people? Dharma alone can decide. Therefore, a democratic Government “Jana Rajya” must also be rooted in Dharma, i.e. a “Dharma Rajya”. In the definition of ‘Democracy’ viz. “Government of the people, by the people and for the people”, of stands for independence, ‘by’ stands for democracy and ‘for’ Indicates Dharma. Therefore, the true democracy is only where there is freedom as well as Dharma encompasses all these concepts.”

Therefore, Deendayal Upadhyaya through his integral humanism, stressed that Indian identity must be strongly rooted in the Dharma and this Dharma should be the basis for Indian democracy, economy, education, and all other aspects of Indian life.

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Uttarayana and Dakshinayana: How is the Theory of Time ‘Kala’ defined in Hinduism?

Time, despite being a purely scientific concept, has a spiritual aspect as well. Hinduism's definition of time is completely distinct from the Lunar definition.

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sundial. Wikimedia

New Delhi, December 5, 2016: Time has many measures in this world. We have a global division of time where each country or continent has its own time schemes. One such time concept is the Hinduism’s concept of time which can be defined in numerous ways and in different perspectives.

In the world, time is somewhere related to the existence of certain species and the number of species existing. However, the Padma Puran states that there are 8.4 billion species under which further bifurcations show, 900,000 aquatic life forms, 2,000,000 trees and plants life forms, 1,100,000 small insect life forms, 3,000,000 beasts and reptiles life forms and 400,000 mammalian life forms.

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For every particular species, duration of time or life stands on a different scale. The concept of time is relative. According to Hindu Mythology, the world of devas or celestials will be governed by different durations of time. Time does not just refer to what happens to the world which helps in the transition from morning to night. It refers to the journey till death. In a world of material existence, time or life span can be exceedingly short, merest fraction of a minute or a few years.

In this context, Hinduism posits time in a variety of ways. One familiar measurement of time is ‘varsh’ or year. Unlike the Georgian year which commences on January 1 and ends on December 31, the Hindu year commences in the month of Chaitra—usually around March. The lunar year is different from the solar year in this respect.

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It is usually a few days shorter than the solar year. As a result, there is an extra month, roughly every three and a half years, and this is known as the Adhik Mas. Hinduism classifies time into two categories, Uttarayana and Dakshinayana.

Uttarayana refers to the northern solstice. This period is propitious for most religious and auspicious events, activities and undertakings. When the sun is in Dakshinayan or the southern solstice, several auspicious actions such as murti installations, upanayana ceremonies are suspended.

Hinduism also uses other concepts to measure time, such as tithi, karana, yoga and nakshatra. For example, the Hindu lunar month is divided into two pakshas (fortnights). The bright fortnight is described as Shukla Paksha and the dark fortnight as Krishna Paksha. Each of these two pakshas or fortnights contains fifteen lunar days. However, the Hindu calendar is very different from the Lunar calendar. While all the days in the solar month routinely has twenty-four hours, the day or tithi in Hinduism has varying durations.

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A ‘tithi’ or lunar day can be for small durations of time or well over twenty-four hours in several instances. The tithi is not fixed for twenty-four hours. The tithi is of great consideration in identifying the various religious observances.

The tithis or dates play a very important role on religious fronts. Many of the religious observances are aligned to the tithi —Chaturthi (fourth lunar day) for the worship of Lord Ganesh, Ekadashi (eleventh lunar day) for the worship of Lord Vishnu, Ashtmi (eighth lunar day) for the worship of Devi (Divine Mother), Chaturdashi (fourteenth lunar day) for the worship of Shiva.

In all instances, the measurement of the time as well as the duration of the ‘tithi’ resolves around the start and end time of each tithi to determine the most appropriate day to observe each religious event.

Calculations of the start and end time of each tithi is very important. The tithis also give a partial knowledge of what activities can be undertaken on a particular tithi. Similarly, nakshatras also play a very important role as it holds a significant role. Each nakshatra is subdivided into four equal parts called ‘charanas’.

Each charan is linked to the astrological conclusions that can be made for a person when the birth chart is drawn. Apart from tithis and nakshatras as units of time, yoga and karma are also important for different reasons in determining what can be done and what should be postponed. Thus, the concept of time remains an important and distinguished part of Hinduism.

– by Shambhavi Sinha of NewsGram. Twitter:  @shambhavispeaks

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Eunuchs perform ‘shraddha karma’ at Varanasi for the departed souls after several hundred years

After 100 years eunuchs pay mass reverence to their ancestors at Kashi

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Ghats in Varanasi. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

VARANASI, Sept 24 2016: It’s a rare event that is said to be happening after more than several hundred years. Eunuchs from across the country have converged in this holy town to do the ‘shraddha karma’ for their departed brethren during ‘pitrapaksh’, the period during which Hindus pay respects to their ancestors.

The eunuchs, led by their religious head, Mahamandaleshwar Swami Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, visited the fabled Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Maa Annapurna temple to propitiate the gods. She, along with the other eunuchs, did ‘dugdhabhishek’ (offering of milk) and ‘shodashopchar’ puja at the temple.

Acharya Srikant Mishra of the Vishwanath temple told IANS that 11 litres of milk was offered to Baba Vishwanath after which the eunuchs were gifted ‘manga vastra’ and ‘prasad’. The eunuchs then prayed at the Maa Annapurna Darbaar, where they offered ‘kumkum’ (vermillion) to the deity and prayed for the prosperity of all.

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The eunuchs, after doing the puja at the banks of Ganga river, also prayed for safety of the jawans along the border. Hundreds of eunuchs then performed the ‘shraddha karma’ puja for their ancestors and prayed for peace to the departed souls.

The eunuchs offering the puja said they were doing so as they wanted their forefathers to be at peace like other departed souls.

“We were not able to do the puja for many years as at most places we are ostracised by the pundits, and it was only after we planned a group discussion that we came together here,” said one of the eunuchs.

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A septugenarian eunuch informed IANS that the shraddha was being done only for the second time. The first was done during the Mughal era.

“Through generations, we have been informed that the last shraddha karma was done doing the Mughaliya Sultanat,” she added.

“Hum to bas itni prarthna ke saath aye hain ki is janam mein jo bhi bura sahi hua ho hammare sath, agle janam mein na ho, hammer saathiyon ko mukti mile aur voh janta mein sadharan jeevan vyateet karin (We are here to simply pray for our gurus and friends who are no more so that they take a proper, normal birth in the next life),” said another ageing eunuch, who rued how being one was a torment.

Pitra Paksha is a 16-day lunar period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or tarpan. Eunuchs pointed out that they have faced problems ever since they were born.

“We all have a troubled life and we just wish that the after life is better and we take rebirth under normal conditions, as normal human beings…This is all what we seek from Baba Vishwanath and Ganga Maiyya,” Shalini, a eunuch who was performing shraddha for her late partner, told IANS. She added that since Kashi was considered a city where everyone attained ‘moksha’ (salvation) she was confident that the voice of the hundreds of her community would be heard. (IANS)

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Celebrating Teachers Day: Cheers to Teachers who add meaning to our Lives!

In Hinduism, Guru Purnima marks the significance of the contribution of a teacher in one's life

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A child holds a poster of Teacher's Day. Image source: Flickr
“Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.”
                                                                  – Aristotle 

Sept 05, 2016: Best friend, companion, mentor, philosopher and guide- all these terms are synonymous for a ‘Teacher’. For every student, Teachers Day, that is celebrated on September 5, every year- is more like an occasion to pay tribute and gratitude to their teachers for their continuous selfless effort towards the children and students- in teaching them the art of living, the significance of life.

September 5 also marks the birthday of late former President of India Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, who was a great scholar and marvelous teacher. Students all across the country observe this day, to pay respect to their teachers. They are only one who build up the personality of students and shape them to become ideal beings.

Each and every student is in need of inspiration and motivation to succeed in their life and a teacher nurtures them with knowledge and teaches them to develop a perspective of every situation they deal with. They play a key role towards the education of a student’s life. They become a person with proper vision, knowledge, and experience. The profession of teaching brings with it a mammoth responsibility in comparison to other jobs. Young minds are impressionable minds and therefore it is extremely important to take care of every child in a special manner. Development and growth of a child’s intellect indirectly affect the future of a nation.

It is essential for teachers to challenge the stereotype methods of teaching of their age and develop new techniques so that learning becomes fun rather than a burden. Receiving quality education is essential and therefore one should shift focus from the quantitative education. An ideal teacher becomes courteous most of the time without being impartial and not being affected by insult. Teachers are like second parents to children or students in schools, colleges, and universities.

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Since the ancient age, teaching has had a great impact on the humans, whether it is Gautama Buddha, Mahavira or the Brahmins. This is the reason, a Teacher has always been given the highest place of all. In Hinduism, Guru Purnima marks the significance of the contribution of a teacher in one’s life. The Buddha did not teach that a God created the universe but rather he pointed to a great law or ‘dharma’ running through everything that exists. It is by living in accordance with the law, that true wisdom, compassion, and freedom from suffering can be achieved.

Buddha can be seen as great teacher and motivator by his Noble Eight-fold Path which are-
 Right View | Right Thought |  Right Speech |  Right Action | Right Livelihood | Right Effort |  Right Mindfulness | Right Concentration

It is true that we owe more to our teachers than to our parents. Love can never be measured on a scale but this cannot be denied that a teacher shapes the backbone of the society and they helps one to stride forward, build our character as well as prepare us to face life.

– by Shayari Dutta of NewsGram