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By Gaurav Sharma
Smritis–“that which is remembered”– are a vast corpus of diverse Vedic literature authored by an individual and having no conception of divine origination per se.
The Smritis include a genre of Sanskrit texts referred to as Dharma-Sahastras. These texts form an integral part of the Indic branch of learning and pertain to right conduct, religion and legal duty.
In the modern age, a lot of criticism is levied on the Dharma-Shastras, mainly due to the flawed way in which they are interpreted.
Most of the scholarly analysis of the Dharma-Shastras undertaken by the western researchers today, focuses on the literal interpretation of words, rather than their stated intent.
It is no surprise, then, that under such a narrow purview, the Dharma-shastras are castigated as ‘backward, illiberal and oppressive’ texts.
For understanding any system propounded by an ancient text, it is essential that one focuses on the spirit rather than the letter of the law.
The Shastras are not a set of rigid blanket injunctions meant to be applied and followed at all times and in all places.
They talk about Sat or truth while defining rules that are applicable for a particular time period and a defined region.
In contrast, the constitution which is an amalgamation of Euro-centric views, espouses the idea that the state or religious authority should define rules for all times to come.
One can argue for the flexibility of the constitution by pointing towards the provision for amendments.
However, such provisions carry with them a written down presumption, that changing or for that matter, tweaking the legal sections will be anything but a walk in the park.
On the other hand, Dharma or right conduct, as laid by the Shastras implicitly entails the application of one’s own mind according to the situation at a particular point of time.
For example, the activities of Ram which were considered as right action in Tretayuga(the second of the four ages of mankind), might be viewed as anything but sacrosanct in the post-modern world.
The doctrine that the application of laws should be based on the character (right conduct) of an individual, as put forth by the Shastras, is a very liberal concept.
Fast forward to the present age and the world is still struggling hard to define the notions of liberalism and pluralism.
In fact, the ideas of freedom have become so abstract so as to say that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. In other words, what may be morally right for one person may be wrong for someone else.
Such a concept of liberty inherently advocates moral relativism as the only practical way to live. Values are denounced and their existential basis becomes philosophically questionable.
The Dharma-Shastras, on the other hand, are clear in the declaration that no liberalism can amount to unfettered behavior.
Even while being bound to the law, there is freedom to formulate a new legislation.
Another factor that makes the ancient ideology of life superior to the present society, is the emphasis on non-consumerism and non-individualism.
The classical vision, as expounded by the epic of Mahabharata is: Tasyeta ekam kulasyarthe, which basically means giving up narrow self-interest for a higher interest.
This maxim forms a ladder with a series of progressive rungs; Giving up interest of the self for the interest of the family, ceding the interest of the family for the welfare of the village, rejecting the interest of the village for the betterment of the nation and ultimately sacrificing the attachment to the nation for the benefit of the atma or soul.
Such a hierarchical system of working ensures that every unit of society, from the microcosm of the individual soul to the macrocosm of the nation, is happy and peaceful.
In the here and now, such a method of functioning will be completely against the fundamental right to freedom.
Most of the educated people in India have been ingrained with such a heavy dosage of romantic individualism by the Western education system, that such a practical way of living is visualized as untenable and highly illogical.
But a deeper scrutiny of the Westernized-individualism will reveal to us that such an indoctrination is a shrewd strategy to run the wheels of the global capitalist economy.
In the consumerist model, a mechanism called ‘branding’ is put to efficient use for enslaving people. The brands are utilized as tools to create a virtual relationship with consumers, a purely fictional association.
This ides engenders a trust relationship between the consumers and the brand that necessarily bypasses the company.
Such a master-plan is premised upon inventing and selling the myth that the consumer makes his economic decisions purely out of his own self-interest, a fallacy that engagement in such a selfish behavior would lead to the betterment of the society.
A direct consequence of the popularization of such a world-view is the crass consumerism under whose lashing waves we are deluging not just ourselves, but also the environment which sustains us.
The Shastric sacrifice of self-interest for the sake of something higher is an ideal that makes much more practical sense, than the warped logic of individual freedom as extolled by the west.
Another reason why the Shastras are looked down upon and derided as relics of a bygone era, is due to the fundamental proposition of the Varna-ashram dharma.
Such criticism again arises out of fuzzy and faulty understanding of the both orders of social organization.
While the Varna system segregates the social population into four castes: Brahmana,Kshtariya, Vaishya and Shudra, the Ashram apparatus divides life into four stages:Brahmacharya, Grhastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa.
The Ashrama dharma is a very practical way of defining living.
The initial years are spent in accumulating knowledge and education. After reaching adulthood, marriage and generation of wealth assume importance. After some time one hands over all his wealth and retreats into the forest in search of spiritual knowledge. Finally, one embraces the renounced order of life in order to establish his/her relationship with higher self.
In the modern age, the youth is only subjected to knowledge which is beneficial in churning out wealth. Consequently, there is hardly any impetus on discovering the spiritual aspect of life.
Retirement life, as it is viewed by the Vedic civilization, has also undergone a sea change.
As one progresses towards retirement age, one becomes more consumerist than ever before, courtesy the accumulation of retirement benefits, fund stockings etc.
This is primarily a Euro-centric idea, which India has happily adopted even as it isolates itself from the values enshrined in its own spiritual books.
Life, whose goal previously was self-realization, has morphed into an incessant money-generating machine.
While, such a system does create a kind of material evolution, it inevitably transmutes into a spiritual devolution.
Another means of social organization, the Varna or caste system has also been abolished now.
The reason cited for quashing such a successful model of social harmony is the oppression of Shudras or men engaged in menial jobs by the higher class or the Brahmanas.
Again, such arguments against the Vedic mode of functioning are based on a narrow understanding of the system.
First of all, the caste system was never entirely based on birth. Factors such qualities and the profession of a person assumed paramount importance in defining ones caste.
Birth was never the final judgment in defining the life of an individual.
Secondly, such a hierarchical social order was not a special feature of only the Indic civilization.
Greek philosopher Plato, for example, prescribes a system which is completely oppressive in its nature. In Europe, the entire population was divided into masters and slaves. In China and in Japan, the situation was no better.
It was only in India, that a flourishing and prosperous middle class existed. Prima-facie, this was due to the strength and the flexibility of the Varna system.
Thirdly, the perception that all Shudras were untouchables and lived outside the town is wrong.
Most of them were involved in the daily economic activities. Some of them even became kings when they acquired power. For example, the Shudras enjoyed their own kingdom, a fact mentioned in the Mahabharata.
In hindsight, the guilt that is endowed upon the Varna-ashram system is a needless and thoughtless guilt.
It was a system which worked(and works) much better than other models of social organization, both in the pre-technological as well as the post-modern age.
It would be pertinent and at same time, ironical to know that the sophistication and practicality of the Shastras was a quality much appreciated by the European scholars themselves.
Freidrich Neitzsche, a philosopher who stood against organized religion of any kind, while reading Louis Jaclliot’s translation of Laws of Manu, is known to have said:
“Close the Bible and open the Manu Smriti. It has an affirmation of life, a triumphing agreeable sensation in life and that to draw up a lawbook such as Manu means to permit oneself to get the upper hand, to become perfection, to be ambitious of the highest art of living.”
Perhaps it is time that our misdirected civilization takes note and acts on the prescription of their philosophical idol.
Eve Yvonne Maday de Maros, the woman who designed the Param Vir Chakra, was born in 1913 in Neuchatel, Switzerland. It was believed that she came to India to understand the country's culture and tradition.
She got to know about India's spiritual and cultural wealth at a very early age through holistic education which she received. Soon, Eve Yvonne fell in love with a Maharashtrian named Vikram Khanolkar, who was a young army officer, and was undergoing training at the Royal Military Academy in the United Kingdom.
Soon, both the persons married, and Eve Yvonne acquired the name Savitribai Khanolkar and shifted to Maharashtra with her husband who by the time became Major General.
Savitribai Khanolkar with husband Major General Vikram Khanolkar.Photo found on Google Images
As Savitribai Khanolkar was already amazed by the rich culture of India, she immersed herself in the study of mythology, traditions, and religious scriptures. Along with this, Savitribai also started indulging herself in the art, music, dance, and linguistics of India.
Parallel to this, India was celebrating its independence from the British rule, and was on its way to remove British legacies and re-establish the country's identity.
This was the time when When Adjutant General Hira Lal Atal was assigned with the task of creating the Indian equivalent of the British Victoria Cross. For this, he took Savitribai in confidence as she had an in-depth knowledge of the nation. Thus, from here began the journey of making the Param Vir Chakra.
The design of Param Vir Chakra was to denote power and sacrifice demonstrated by the soldiers that protected people at the cost of their lives. So, according to Savitribai, nothing could represent in a better way than the great warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji himself. According to the history, the ruler was known for his courage and strategic defence. Hence, his sword 'Bhavani' found a place on the disc, enclosed within the Indian mythical weapon 'Vajra', from both sides. This mythical weapon is believed to be made of a sage's bone in order to kill evil enemies in the name of goodness.
Moreover, the first Param Vir Chakra was awarded on India's first Republic Day celebrated, which was celebrated in 1950, and its recipient was Savitribai's son-in-law's brother, Major Somnath Sharma.
In this world full of technological advancement where everything is now home-delivered, even the most essential beauty services are now available at your doorstep? Let the pampering sessions begin. The whole salon environment at home believes that services at home are undoubtedly the best option during the unusual crisis.
IANSlife brings you the co-founder of YES MADAM, Mayank Arya who speaks of the benefits of at-home salon services.
We all prefer comfort over anything and everything. Nothing is more comfortable than getting everything under your own roof. One of the most amazing perks of subscribing to an at-home salon service provider is that you can watch your favourite TV show or OTT series while having your hair treated or nails done. Amidst, Covid-19 and working from home some of the beauty services can be taken simultaneously. Getting beauty services at your home keeps you relaxed and calm. During festivals when you are already busy the on-demand salon services can do wonders for your mind, body and soul.
Nothing is more comfortable than getting everything under your own roof. | Photo by Inside Weather on Unsplash
Usually many customers have problems related to hygienic surroundings. Of course, they do not know if the place is properly sanitized or not. For such kinds of customers "At home Beauty services" is nothing but the most appropriate option. There is something about being in a familiar environment that makes you feel at total comfort instantly and allows you to enjoy the treatment in a much better way. Create your own bubble with the most appropriate hygienic conditions according to your requirements and take the at-home salon services.
Create your own bubble with the most appropriate hygienic conditions according to your requirements and take the at-home salon services. | Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
The biggest and the major concern during the times of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the duration of time where the whole world is fighting a virus, we all need to be extra careful about exposure to any kind of infection. With at-home salon services, you do not have to expose yourself to dozens of people on your way but you can allow yourself to enjoy excellent services within the safety of your home. With vaccinated beauticians, it becomes much safer to get the treatments done. In at-home salon services, the beauticians wear a PPE kit that includes a mask, gloves, bodysuit, and a face shield. They utilize only monodose (single-use) products. Moreover, they also sanitize the area where the set-up is done to deliver the services.
With at-home salon services, you can allow yourself to enjoy excellent services within the safety of your home. | Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash
Sometimes, even if you book an appointment, you have to travel a lot far and still the beautician keeps you waiting. The in-house beauty treatment services are much more flexible. It's all up to you, one can book the date and time whenever they need the service, and the beautician will be there at your doorstep. If it is a busy week or an impromptu decision, one can always rely on the on-demand salon services.
. The in-house beauty treatment services are much more flexible. | Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash
The session with family and friends
Who doesn't love to gossip around and chill with friends and family while getting their manicure and pedicure done? There are so many nosy customers while you visit the salon that just kills your buzz. But a salon at home with your friends and family especially during the times of festivals provide you with the most relaxing and happy vibes.
A salon at home with your friends and family especially during the times of festivals provide you with the most relaxing and happy vibes. | Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash
With the up-gradation in technology, the on-demand salon services do not let you pile up the house chores. While you are working from home and want to get your house festive ready with services like pest control, sanitization, sofa cleaning, carpet cleaning, kitchen cleaning, bathroom cleaning at-home services like Yes Madam always keep you sorted.
(Article originally written by: N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: salon, pandemic, safety, hygiene, family, friends, comfort
By Aishwarya Jain
According to the World Happiness Report 2021 which was released by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Finland was once again crowned as the world's happiest country. India has been ranked 139 out of 149 countries in the list of UN World Happiness Report 2021. To make society happy, firstly it is really important to spread awareness on how it is okay to relax, chill and take a break. People tend to normalise overworking, which is so wrong. Of Course, we need a job to live and sustain ourselves but you shouldn't be working yourself to death, and the fact that this is seen as normal is really worrying. You spend more hours at work than you do awake at home, so if those hours are drenched in misery then sadness basically becomes the norm. A study from Gallup (2017) found that happier employees were more engaged, which resulted in improved customer relationships, and a 20 percent increase in sales.
Also, lowering down the crime level would act as a major factor towards a happy society. People who witness crimes, or come across evidence of a crime in their local area, can suffer anxiety and may feel demoralised or powerless. We should also teach them to stop judging people by materialistic things and accept everyone with all their flaws. Media plays an important role in making society happy because they have the power of reaching out to billions of people and helping them out through a solution-based approach.
Media plays an important role in making society happy because they have the power of reaching out to billions of people and helping them out through a solution-based approach. | Photo by Dave Goudreau on Unsplash
As per Aishwarya Jain, the Founder of IM Happiness, a social community that works to increase awareness of mental well-being, "Every great leader always talks about building a happier society from Chanakya to J.R.D. Tata. As J.R.D Tata said, "I do not want India to be an economic superpower. I want India to be a happy country". Happiness makes good things happen. It actually promotes positive outcomes. It's high time corporates start taking importance of mental well-being like it's happening around the world. Last week, Nike became the latest company to close its offices for a week to give employees a mental health break. That's after LinkedIn, Bumble, and Hootsuite have all shut down their offices for a week this year to address mental health. I think the global revolution of happiness has started."
Our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive. Yet in today's world, we ironically sacrifice happiness for success only to lower our brain's success rate . When we are happy -- when our mindset and mood are positive -- we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the centre, and success revolves around it. IM Happiness is a community that believes happiness is a skill to be enhanced by training and practice. The team works day and night to help the sufferers get rid of their mental chaos and teach them the skill of being optimistic and happy in every situation, either favourable or adverse. They work on the aim of the United Nations Goals of promoting good health and well-being and have worked closely with the organisation. The team is utilizing the power of Science and Spirituality in achieving this aim.
IM Happiness is initiating a new campaign, 'Hello Happiness'. | Photo by Dylan Sauerwein on Unsplash
IM Happiness is initiating a new campaign, 'Hello Happiness'. The campaign unites 30+ celebrities from across the country to have a surprise conversation with selected people in India. Ranveer Brar, Daniel Weber, Masoom Minawala Mehta and Ash King are some of the celebrities who will be a part of this campaign. With this campaign, the community wants to help people deal with their emotions and to motivate them. The campaign is free of cost and the nominee just has to register, wherein the unique algorithm will connect the nominee with a celebrity or other mentors on a call according to their keywords.
The community is trying to bring a change but it is the society's accumulative effort to spread awareness and to make oneself happy. We should try to start small and it will eventually make a great difference because a better society allows us to lead a better life.
(Article originally published on IANS by N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keyowrds: Happiness, society, IM happiness, campaign, India, community