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In the holy month of Ramadan, Buddhist monks serve Iftar for Muslims in Bangladesh

The initiator of the project, Suddhananda Mahathero and the high priest of the temple believes in humanity being the ultimate goal of humans

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Representational Image, Monastery. Image source: www.aljazeera.com
  • Buddhist monks prepare iftar meals at the main shrine of Dharmarajika monastery for all Ramadan observers
  • This project began 6 years ago and witnesses a herd of underprivileged people coming to the monastery to receive free iftar meals
  • Social welfare activities are conducted in the monastery, which was established in 1951 in Basabo area of Dhaka

DHAKA, BANGLADESH: “Live your life like everyday is Ramadan and the Akhirah (afterlife) will become your Eid.” The Buddhist monks in Dhaka seem to follow the above quote with their heart and soul. Their actions during the days of Ramadan- holiest season in the life of a devout Muslim all round the world wherein they engage in praying, fasting and believe in giving to charity – is an example of the monasteries attempt to work towards attaining harmony in the society.

Everyday during this month the Buddhist monks prepare iftar meals at the main shrine of Dharmarajika monastery for all Ramadan observers. In the light of the fatal attacks against minorities, which are a common sight in Bangladesh, the Buddhist monasteries initiative rebuilds the faith in the hearts of Muslim devotees to look at a peaceful future ahead.

Photo by: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera. Image Source: www.aljazeera.com
Photo by: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera. Image Source: www.aljazeera.com

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This project began six years ago and witnesses a herd of underprivileged people coming to the monastery to receive free iftar meals. The initiator of the project, Suddhananda Mahathero and the high priest of the temple believes in humanity being the ultimate goal of humans. Despite the constant unrest amongst the people and the recent violent attacks in South Asia, the monks of Dharmarajika say they are not worried about their safety and have a very good relation with the Muslim community.

With the aim of attaining Inter-religious harmony, social welfare activities are conducted in the monastery, which was established in 1951 in Basabo area of Dhaka. Their typical iftar box contains potato chops, peyaju (onion tempura), beguni (eggplant tempura), chhola-boot (lentils), khejur (dates), muri (puffed rice), and jilapi (a sweet made of sugar syrup).

Sujan and Krishnapad Das helped Buddhist monks to prepare Iftar meals. Image source: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera
Sujan and Krishnapad Das helped Buddhist monks to prepare Iftar meals. Image source: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera

Sakhina, an underprivileged member of the Muslim community says that the free food at the monastery is a godsend gift. “Here, we are granted respect that we were supposed to get from our co-religists,” she told Al Jazeera. Like her there are 300 poor people served daily in a nation of 160 million, a nation in which Buddhists are less than one percent of Bangladeshi population whereas 90 percent of the population comprises of Muslims. In a nation with the given demographic Ramadan is the best opportunity to help poor Muslims.

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The monastery itself is home to more than 700 orphans. These orphans are imparted free education at the school located in the monastery premises. The iftar distribution programme starts at 5:30pm local time everyday but the people start making queues from 3pm onwards. With women and men standing in different queues to receive the packets there are long lines outside the temple everyday.

-This report is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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Don’t Lecture India; Look at Your Own Record

Many countries worldwide have a horrifying record regarding human rights

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Europeans have a horrifying record regarding human rights violations. Pixabay

By Maria Wirth

Europeans have a horrifying record regarding human rights violations. Germany is well known for an unprecedented, systematic holocaust of Jews and gypsies right in the middle of Europe only 80 years ago. Yet Britain, France, Portugal and others were as brutal with equal or even higher number of humans killed in their colonies. Their victims count many millions and many of them were Indians.

The Arabs, Turks and Mongols, too, have a horrifying record regarding human rights. The number of victims killed also goes into many millions, and many of them were Indians.

The Muslims invaded India already over thousand years ago and were as brutal as ISIS in our times. Unspeakable torture and beheadings were done on massive scale. Even the supposedly benign “Akbar the Great” slaughtered Hindus in huge numbers. The collective sacred threads of the Brahmins massacred by him is said to have weighed 200 kilogram. Can one even imagine such incredible injustice and brutality to civilians and priests? Thousands of temples were destroyed. Hindu women were sold into sex slavery. Hindus even had to open their mouth and receive gratefully the spittle by Muslims sitting on horses, and slaughtering cows was seen as “noblest deed” because it was so painful for Hindus, is recounted in “Legacy of Jihad” by Andrew Bostom.

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Hindu women were sold into sex slavery. Pixabay

The brutality experienced by Hindus was so horrendous that, even in independent India, they hardly dare to complain when they are subjected to cruel discrimination. It is painful to read comments whenever Hindus are killed or raped by Muslims: “This won’t make news, as the victim is only a Hindu”. It is so sad, but understandable after what they have gone through for over thousand years. They had no way to get justice; had to bear their suffering silently.

Guru Nanak cried out to the Supreme, and it is part of the Grant Sahib, “Having lifted Islam to its head, You have engulfed Hindustan in dread… Such cruelties they have inflicted and yet Your mercy remains unmoved….Oh Lord, these dogs have destroyed the diamond-like Hindustan.”

The British colonial masters were not less brutal. Their disdain for the natives was incredible. Winston Churchill is on record saying that he “hated Indians” and considered them a “beastly people with a beastly religion”. Celebrities like Charles Dickens wanted the Indian race ‘exterminated’ and considered them vile savages and Max Mueller wanted them all converted to Christianity.

Britain looted and reduced the formerly wealthiest country of the world to painful poverty, where during their rule over 25 million people starved to death, 3 million as late as in 1943 in Bengal.

The crimes of the British colonialists are, like those of the Muslim invaders, too numerous to list. They tied Indians to the mouth of canons and blew them up, hanged scores of them on trees, and even just after over one million Indian soldiers had helped Britain to be victorious in the First World War with many thousands sacrificing their lives, General Dyer gave orders to shoot at a peaceful gathering in Amritsar in 1919 where thousands died. An old coffee planter in Kodagu told me that even in the early 1950s there was a board in front of the club house in Madikeri. It read: “Dogs and Indians not allowed”.

Can anyone imagine the pain those Indian generations went through, having arrogant, often uncouth ruffians looting their land and despising them as dogs?

How could Europeans and Arabs be so cruel to other human beings? The reason is that they saw themselves as superior and others not quite as human.

Religion played a big role in making them feel superior. Both Christianity and Islam teach their members that only their religion is true and that the Creator will reward them with eternal heaven, but will severely punish all those who do not follow their ‘true’ religion. If God himself will torture them eternally in hellfire, why should his followers be good to them? Wouldn’t it mean siding with God’s enemies and betraying Him?

But on what basis do they consider only their religion as true and themselves as superior? The reason is that the respective founder of their religion allegedly said so. No other reason exists and no proof. On this flimsy basis, Christians and Muslims treated other human beings most inhumanly, believing they are destined for hell while they themselves are God’s favorites and will go to heaven. This brainwashing in the name of religion happens even in our times and its effect is still not questioned and analysed.

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Christians and Muslims treated other human beings most inhumanly. Pixabay

Yet today, neither white Christians, nor Arab or Turkish Muslims are constantly reminded of those terrible crimes of their forefathers. “The present generation must not be held accountable for the sins of their fathers”, is however not applied to Hindus and especially not to Brahmins. Media keeps hitting out at them as if they had been the worst violators of human rights in the past. Hinduism is portrayed as the villain due to the “horrific and oppressive” caste system.

Anyone, who knows a little about history, knows that this is false and malicious. The structure of Hindu society into four varnas or categories is mentioned in the Vedas and depends on one’s aptitude and profession – Brahmins, who memorise and teach the Vedas, Kshatriyas, who administer and defend society, Vaishyas who supply the society with goods and Shudras, who are the service sector. The varnas are not fixed by birth in texts like Bhagavad Gita or Manusmriti. But the British themselves cemented ‘castes’ (a Portuguese word) in their census and then turned around and accused Hindus of their birth-based, fixed caste system.

There was however one more category which the whole world has been told about and which is used to the hilt to despise Hinduism. They were the untouchables who do unclean work, like handling dead animals, cleaning sewers, etc. The fact that other varnas avoided touching them is still made a huge issue of in the West. In fact it is portrayed, as if this practice made Hindus the greatest violators of human rights and makes the millions tortured and killed by Christians and Muslims pale in comparison.

Yet there is no proof that even one of those untouchables has been killed for doing unclean work. Higher castes may indeed have looked down or still look down on those whose job involves dirt, which is unfortunately a human trait in all societies. It has nothing to do with Hinduism. Most people are aware that such work also needs to be done.

There is in all likelihood another angle regarding “untouchability”, which the British did not realize: Ayurveda knew already 3000 years ago that invisible germs can cause serious illness and those dealing with cadavers and dirt are more likely to carry and spread those. However, the British didn’t know about this fact till only some 150 years ago, when Louis Pasteur claimed that germs cause sickness. (By the way, Google describes this discovery as “crowning achievement of the French scientist”, and avoids mentioning India’s ancient Ayurveda).

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Higher castes may indeed have looked down or still look down on those whose job involves dirt, which is unfortunately a human trait in all societies. Pixabay

Now in today’s time of “social distancing” due to the Corona Virus, we know that not touching others is a precaution to prevent potential infection and has nothing to do with discrimination. The British could have given Hindus the benefit of doubt that they avoided physical contact with certain people due to caution. But since the British didn’t have the advanced knowledge about harmful germs they could not see the possible reason behind it.

Since Independence, the caste system is officially abolished and discrimination against lower castes is a non-bailable offense. Yet the West still makes a huge issue of the caste system and untouchables. Why? Was this the greatest crime the British could find against the “natives” and therefore exaggerated it tremendously?

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This is not to say that people of higher castes didn’t or don’t look down on lower castes, but the demonization of Brahmins is most unwarranted, as Brahmins are least likely to harbour hatred for others due to their strict rules for sadhana which requires them to keep a very high standard of mental and physical purity.  Yet evangelicals, NGOs, international media, Muslim organisations, they all are after them and Hindus in general. They attack them for “atrocities” which never even happened, while the unspeakable atrocities, which were perpetrated upon them, are ignored. It’s a classic case of noticing the speck in the brother’s eye, but not the beam of wood in one’s own eye.

They got away with it for too long, because Hindus didn’t react. The meekness of Hindus was legendary. They were even called cowards. Yet in recent time, Hindus are becoming more assertive. They realize that the constant attacks on them are malicious, and that they are being fooled in the name of secularism because neither Christians nor Muslims can be secular. They are by nature communal because they need to make their community spread all over the world.

It is time to call out this blatant insincerity. When a head of state, like Imran Khan, accuses the Modi government in a tweet of “moving towards Hindu Rashtra with its Hindutva Supremacist, fascist ideology”, he better looks at his own country and his own ideology. A Hindu Rashtra with its inclusiveness and freedom are any time better than the exclusive, supremacist ideologies of Islam and Christianity, which force human beings into a strait-jacket of blind belief and several Muslim states threaten even today those who want to get out with death sentence.

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Why don’t Hindus promote their Dharma and suggest Gharwapsi?

Know the religions

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Over the last thousand years it was very dangerous to stand up for Hindu Dharma. Pixaabay

By Maria Wirth

Anchors at Indian TV channels are generally intelligent and capable. However, when the topic involves religion, they often lack common sense or courage.

Recently Rishab Gulati said on NewsX that he wants to explore how to bring the Indian Muslims, who had been brainwashed into hard Wahhabi Islam, back to a softer Sufi version. Rishab surely would know that all versions of Islam are based on Quran and he would also know that the stark division between believers, who are considered good, and unbelievers, who are considered bad, is fixed in this foundational text itself.

So why would he not rather explore how Muslims could be brought back to their ancient, benevolent Hindu Dharma? It would make far more sense. Why would he want a big part of Indians continue to believe blindly, albeit in a softer version, what the invaders violently enforced several centuries ago? Why is he so diffident about his own tradition which has contributed maximum knowledge to science and human civilisation in general?

The reason may be that over the last thousand years it was very dangerous to stand up for Hindu Dharma. So people tried to be diplomatic, made compromises, and did not mention and certainly not praise their Dharma, even if they greatly valued it. This attitude seems to have got deeply ingrained and is even in today’s generation present. The English education system also did its bit to cement this attitude and even made it worse, as it portrayed the indigenous tradition contrary to facts as inferior. Not wanting to be “controversial” is uppermost in the mind of many Hindus, when they deal with converts. They rather indulge them, than ask probing questions.

This attitude is however in our times not helpful but dangerous. We have a window now, where we can be truthful and talk about the great advantage that Hindu Dharma has over Christianity and Islam. If we don’t use it, it may close again and then probably for a long time.

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Both Christianity and Islam consider it as their divine duty to make their religion dominate the whole globe. Pixabay

Most Hindus know, and if some still don’t know, it is urgent that they come to know, that both Christianity and Islam consider it as their divine duty to make their religion dominate the whole globe. Only then their God/Allah will be happy and start the Judgement Day proceedings, when the good believers are allowed to enter heaven. It has however not yet been clarified whether the Christian or Muslim believers have this privilege, as naturally only one “true religion” can be true. For Hindus of course it will be hell, both agree on this.

Can any sane person believe that the Creator of this unimaginably vast universe will punish the majority of human beings ETERNALLY in hellfire because they did not accept that the truth about how we should live, was revealed only recently and only to one particular person on this earth which is already some billion years old?

There are other points which are not flattering for those two religions: Christianity and Islam are not based on reason, intuition or experience, but only on blind belief. One can never know if Jesus is really the son of God who was sent to earth to save us from the original sin and who declared that the way to the father goes only through him.

Or we can never know if Allah really communicated via Gabriel with Prophet Mohamed and declared that he is the last prophet and all must follow what Mohammed said.

These two religions make blind, unverifiable belief, which is not a healthy attitude, look like a virtue: ‘if you believe blindly what the padres or the mullahs tell you, you will be rewarded with eternal heaven after Judgment Day’, is promised. It is an effective method to keep people subdued on earth, waiting for heaven. And common people suspected this already in the dark ages. In Germany we have an old saying that the Pope makes people stupid (and the King makes them poor).

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Only members of Christianity and Islam go all out to spread their religion with full zest and especially in the case of Christianity, with lots of money and a detailed strategy. Pixabay

Unfortunately, only members of Christianity and Islam go all out to spread their religion with full zest and especially in the case of Christianity, with lots of money and a detailed strategy. Pious members of both religions do not hesitate to claim that their religion alone is true and all others are wrong and will not be accepted by the ‘true God’. They have nothing to support their claim, except that the founder of their religion allegedly said so. This claim of eternal damnation is meant to frighten people to fall in line. On the other hand, it makes them arrogant, believing “We are the chosen ones. We believe the right thing. Earth and heaven belong to us. All others are damned for eternity.”

Believing their clergy, they are on a mission to eradicate all other faiths. And how successful they have been! All ancient cultures were eradicated, except for the Indian culture.

In India those two religions have encountered the greatest resistance. Indian culture still stands but greatly diminished. Yet neither Christianity nor Islam has conceded defeat, on the contrary. They push harder than ever now by demonising Hindus to an unbelievable degree. Do they want the world to believe a false narrative that an “uprising of the oppressed Muslims against the demonic Hindus” is justified and must be supported?

There is however one great power on the side of Hindus. It is Truth, both on the relative level (Truth is that Muslims are not oppressed in India, on the contrary) and on the absolute, spiritual level (Truth is one).

Hindu Dharma is the best option for humanity. Nobody is forced to believe anything that does not make sense or cannot be experienced. Hindu Dharma is not a fixed, unverifiable ‘belief-system’. It is based on reason, intuition and experience. Its claims make sense and can be verified, like the most basic claim that the essence in all is one and the same – ‘sat-chit-ananda’ – blissful awareness behind the names and forms.

But for people to know this, they need to be told, including those, whose forefathers have converted and who have been brainwashed into blind belief. If they knew and reflect on those insights, they might see that indeed Hindu Dharma is the best option. Therefore it would be so much better if Hindus went all out and informed others of the value of Hindu Dharma.

Compare the Indian reluctance to project its wisdom with China. China has only few sages, but makes full use of them. It established already 15 years ago hundreds of Confucius institutes all over the world which are affiliated to colleges and universities. They teach Chinese language and promote Chinese culture to the Western world.

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Indian Civilization has Sanskrit, the language which helps develop the brain. Pixabay

India is the cradle of civilization. It has so much knowledge, and millions of texts are not even translated into English. It has Sanskrit, the language which helps develop the brain, apart from being a perfect language; it has documentation of a number of great sages reaching back thousands of years, it has the deepest philosophy still expressed in a vibrant religion; a huge body of literature, amazing art, dance, music, sculpture, architecture, yoga, Ayurveda, delicious cuisine, incredible temples and yet Indians do little to propagate those treasures. “We are not like them”, many Hindus say, “we don’t advertise our religion and push them into accepting it, like the others”.

The insights of the Vedic Rishis need not be pushed; they only need to be known. They result in a very beneficial mind-set, definitely far more beneficial than the divisive, narrow mind-set of the new-comer religions. Knowing that God is within gives inner strength, and knowing that God is also in others, including in animals and nature, makes people kind. This broad mind-set needs to dominate in the world, and it is Hindus who can lead the way.

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Bad people would still exist; they are there in every age, but normal, good people would not be indoctrinated en masse by their clergy into despising and even killing ‘unbelievers’ because they worship the Supreme Intelligence by other names. Looking at Muslims and Christian countries, such attitude also does not seem to make for a happy society.

Meanwhile, especially in the West, many Christians and Muslims lost faith and say it openly. I am one of them and sometimes Hindus tell me: “It’s good that you write. You are an insider, you can do it. We can’t.” My reply is: “YOU need to speak up. Don’t wait for ex-Christians or ex-Muslims. Most of us, who lost faith, don’t bother about religion any longer. But YOU have been suffering for centuries, with millions killed, and the danger is real that it happens again. If someone is fully authorised to talk about those doctrines, and the harmful mind-set they produce, it is YOU, Indian Hindus. In fact you owe it to those millions who were massacred for being Hindus.”

Fortunately, in recent years more Hindus do speak up. Maybe soon a mainstream channel will have the courage to debate frankly what Muslims and Christians are taught about Hindu Kafirs and Heathen, and maybe more Christians and Muslims in India, who have lost faith in their religion, have the courage to say it openly. It surely would be a relief for them. Living a lie by pretending to be believers is painful. Hindus can help by being truthful, even if it means being “controversial”.

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Muslims in UP Fear Lynching Incidents Post Lockdown Due to Tablighi Impact

Tablighi Impact: UP Muslims fear lynching post lockdown

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There might be a communal divide due to Tablighi impact and Muslims might be lynched post lockdown. Pixabay

Muslims in Uttar Pradesh are now worried that the intense communal profiling of the Corona patients by the official agencies could lead to lynching incidents once the lockdown is lifted.

Muslim scholar and former SP spokesman, Abdul Hafiz Gandhi, on Monday said, “The manner in which the government agencies are identifying persons belonging to Tablighi Jamaat in the list of Covid-19 patients is now translating into intense communal profiling which has been prohibited by the World Health Organization and the central government. A very small percentage of Muslims subscribe to the Tablighi Jamaat ideology but the impression going around is that the Muslim community, in general, is spreading coronavirus.”

He said that there was a strong possibility of Muslims, in general, being attacked after the lockdown is lifted.

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Muslims in Uttar Pradesh are now worried that the intense communal profiling of the Corona patients by the official agencies could lead to lynching incidents once the lockdown is lifted. Wikimedia Commons

“This is exactly what happened on the cow slaughter issue. Even a small rumour led to people being lynched by mobs across the country. Corona is a pandemic and should be treated like one. We should fight against the virus together instead of creating a communal divide. Every day, the government spokesman lays down the number of Corona positive cases and then goes on to say how many of them are from Tablighi Jamaat,” he explained.

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Amir Haider, a social activist and also a veteran Congress leader, echoed similar sentiments when he said, “We strongly condemn the Tablighi Jamaat for ignoring the protocols and holding the congregation but why is the state government repeatedly harping on the religious angle. Shia and Sunni clerics are repeatedly asking the people to adhere to government guidelines and follow safety protocols.”

He said that efforts to create a communal divide on the corona issue could have dangerous ramification after the lockdown is lifted.”

Also Read- COVID-19 Pandemic: An Infodemic and Ecodemic

A retired IAS officer, who did not wish to be named, said, that people have already started objecting to taking home deliveries from Muslim employees.

“My neighbours refused to take delivery of groceries from a Muslim boy. This is just the beginning of the narrative that is being drilled into the minds. We must check this before it explodes into something very dangerous,” he said. (IANS)