Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
Maria Wirth believes that yoga and pranayama are helpful in bringing happiness into daily life. Facebook

The questions for this interview were lying with me for years. I was discouraged to answer because there were too many (17 in all) and I wondered who will read through a long interview. Yet when I got again a reminder during Corona lockdown, I answered them. You can scroll through them and pick what interests you.

Personal

  1. How you got attracted towards Hinduism? What was the turning point in your life?

It happened when I came to India on a stopover on my way to Australia and went to see the Swami Vivekananda Memorial in Kanya Kumari in March 1980. There I bought the book ‘Jnana Yoga’, and it impressed me a lot. It felt as if Swami Vivekananda put my vague intuition about what is true into words. Till then, I had read only on Buddhism and about some Indian gurus like Swami Yogananda and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Strangely, I did not associate them with Hinduism. I had heard in school that the main features of Hinduism were caste system and idol worship, and naturally, I was not interested in it. Only when I read Swami Vivekananda and came to know about Vedanta philosophy, which makes so much sense and which is based on the Upanishads, which in turn are part of the ancient Vedas, I realized that there is a big treasure in Hinduism and wanted to discover more about it.


Follow NewsGram on LinkedIn to know what’s happening around the world.

Soon after, I landed up at the Ardh Kumbh Mela in Hardwar and met two outstanding personalities – Devaraha Baba and Sri Anandamayi Ma. Thanks to them I realized that this ancient wisdom of the Oneness of all is meant to be experienced. They inspired me to do sadhana. Sadhana is about removing the veils that hide one’s true Being. This pure, blissful awareness is always there within us, and so close that closer is not possible, but it is clouded by thoughts and emotions. For me Jnana Yoga, the path of knowledge, felt very natural, but Anandamayi Ma stressed the path of Bhakti Yoga, of devotion and love for the Divine. From then on, I had a purpose in life and was clear about it: if I am not what I think I am (a separate person in a big world), then I want to know what I really am. And I kept asking that true Consciousness in me “Please let me know you. Please let me love you”. I was sure that it is present and real.


“I consider Vedic knowledge or Sanatana Dharma as the original, most ancient and complete knowledge about what is true regarding us and the universe”, says Maria. Pixabay

  • What is unique about Hinduism? Why is it different from other religions, particularly Christianity and Islam?

Oh there is so much uniqueness that it is hard to put it briefly. I consider Vedic knowledge or Sanatana Dharma as the original, most ancient and complete knowledge about what is true regarding us and the universe. It is called today inadequately ‘Hinduism’. An ‘ism’ usually means a fixed doctrine that must be believed, and Hinduism is the opposite of that. It allows the greatest freedom to connect with one’s essential Self, gives hints and methods, and does not go against one’s conscience. In contrast, Christianity and Islam put their doctrine above one’s individual conscience. This is wrong and has led to great suffering for humanity.

The religious belief systems, which came later in time, are either limitations or distortions. Offshoots of Hindu dharma, like Buddhism, are limitations of the vast ocean of knowledge, because they demand from the follower to identify with only one of the sages or one set of texts. The Abrahamic religions are distortions because they demand not only belief in a Supreme Intelligence (in English called God), but also blind belief in wild claims about this God, which have no foundation in truth and actually are harmful for a harmonious living together.

One more important difference: Hinduism encourages asking intelligent questions and using one’s intelligence to its fullest in the search for truth. Yet Christianity and Islam don’t want their followers to ask any questions or use their intelligence but want them to meekly accept what they are taught as ‘the one and only truth’. This truth was allegedly revealed to only one human being and it divides humanity into those who follow this particular person and those who don’t. Those who don’t are dehumanized as unbelievers or heathen. This blind belief is of course not good for a healthy mindset, and the consequence of such fabricated division can be seen in history and also in the present.

In Hinduism, it matters WHAT is said and whether it makes sense and not so much who said it. Yet in Christianity and Islam it only matters WHO said it. What the religious founder said must not be scrutinized but believed.


Maria Wirth believes that Hinduism encourages asking intelligent questions and using one’s intelligence to its fullest in the search for truth. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Hinduism has incredible knowledge, even now, though a huge amount of it has been destroyed. Millions of texts were burned in Nalanda and Vikramshila by people who believed that only ONE book matters. Millions of Hindus were killed, many Brahmins among them, who were seen as the biggest enemy, as they had the knowledge in their heads. The former Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram, Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati, said that at the start of Kali Yuga, Veda Vyasa divided the four Vedas into over thousand Shakas, to make it easier for the Brahmins in Kali Yuga to memorize them. Only eight are still preserved in full. Only eight of over one thousand…. What painful loss.

The insights of the Rishis were not ordinary. They shared what they had “seen” in cosmic awareness or in other words, the Vedas were revealed to them. This knowledge is said to be there right at the start of the universe. In contrast, Western historians claim that humans were primitive thousands of years ago. The great sages who handed down the Vedas were definitely more advanced, and i wished Indian historians had the courage to stand by their inherited knowledge.

Just one example that completely stuns me: how could the ancient Indians map the sky so absolutely detailed and correctly? How could they know the distance to the sun and the moon, or discern the planets of our solar system from stars? How could they know that the twin stars of Vashisht and Arundhati, hardly visible, move around each other? And even more astonishing, how could they develop astrology, know the qualities of the planets, their influence? It truly needed an intimate connection with the cosmic awareness. They must have experienced that the whole cosmos with its planets and stars is alive, is a manifestation of Purusha himself, and they could reach out to it or rather see it within the vast space in themselves.

  1. What were the reasons for you to decide to settle in India and seeking a spiritual path?

I didn’t really decide to settle in India. Rather, I just wanted to stay longer, but didn’t know how long. As I said, I was actually on my way to Australia, when I stopped over in India. But then it so happened that I went on an inner journey and the best place for this is clearly India. If you live in India, you may not realize how different the atmosphere here is compared to the west. I prefer it any time. It is spiritually uplifting. The quality of life is definitely higher in India. The West feels empty.


“Leaving Christianity and adopting a Hindu way of life was not connected as I distanced myself already as a teenager from Christianity”, tells Maria. Pixabay

  1. What were the reasons for leaving Christianity and becoming a Hindu?

Leaving Christianity and adopting a Hindu way of life was not connected as I distanced myself already as a teenager from Christianity. I could not believe any longer in its vengeful God who would throw me into eternal hellfire if I go against his commands, like not going to Sunday mass, and who, in the same breath, is called very loving. Maybe I got a bit too much of Christianity in a Convent boarding school. It did not bind me closer to it, but made me skeptical.

Also Read: Consuming Chocolate Keeps Your Heart Healthy

Becoming a Hindu was gradual after coming to India. I realized that the Hindu way of life was the most natural and ideal way of life. It means acknowledging a Supreme Intelligence (Brahman/ Ishwar) as the cause and base of everything, including our persons. This made immediately sense to me. Yet on the relative level, there is infinite variety and each person is entitled to his own approach. Hinduism also acknowledges that there are many powers, which are absolutely essential for our existence as humans. Honouring these powers, like the sun, of course also makes sense, because they are alive. And strangely, it made also sense to me that there are different invisible planes of existence, which are as real as this visible manifestation is. Or should I say which are as ‘unreal’ as this visible manifestation? Ultimately, only our essence, Brahman, is true. True in the sense that it is always, in past, present and future, and that it self-evident and self-luminous. Only our consciousness fulfills these conditions. The only thing that we can know for sure is “I am”.


Popular

The New Indian Express/wikipedia

Named SEE-1, the module is intended to host films, etc in the low orbit, micro-gravity environment.

S.E.E. has unveiled plans to build a space station module that contains a sports and entertainment arena as well as a content studio by December 2024, reports variety.com.

Named SEE-1, the module is intended to host films, television, music and sports events as well as artists, producers and creatives who want to make content in the low orbit, micro-gravity environment. The facilities will enable development, production, recording, broadcasting and livestreaming of content.

Also read: Kings Of Leon Become First Band To Have NFT

S.E.E. intend to produce its own content and events in the module as well as making it available to third-parties. Axiom Space, who in January 2022 won NASA's approval to build a commercial component of the International Space Station (ISS), will undertake the construction of SEE-1. The module will dock on Axiom's commercial arm, named Axiom Station, which will also host other commercial ventures, including space tourism.

Keep Reading Show less
IANS

As the economy continues to recover from the prolonged pandemic.

By Rohit Vaid
The Centre might bestow infrastructure as well as industry status to new sectors to boost several pandemic hit industries in the upcoming Union Budget. Industry insiders said that several sectors and sub-industries such as hospitality, automobile retail, specific diganotics facilities and companies engaged in installation of EV charging stations amongst others might get the status.
The infra tag will enable these sectors to avail tax breaks, incentives and credit on lower interest rates. "Sectors which are in greenfield or which would need capex augmentation to help them overcome the pandemic can be looked from the lens of an infrastructure sector," said Jagannarayan Padmanabhan, Director and Practice Leader, Transport & Logistics, Crisil Infrastructure Advisory. "Also many of the already identified sectors need a sustained policy push which will help them get visibility both in terms of quantum and the time period of applicability."

Till now, activities associated with laying of power and telecom transmission and distribution lines, roads, highways, railways and construction of facilities such as hospitals, affordable housing, power generation units, water treatment plants, SEZs and certain type of hotels amongst others were given such status.

Besides, these sectors are a part of harmonised master list for infrastructure sub-sectors. However, in April 2021, exhibition-cum-convention centre was included in the list. "Given the focus around electric vehicle, and need for significant investment in charging stations, if the government adds the sector in infrastructure list, the benefits arising out of it will be significant," said Vishal Kotecha, Director, India Ratings and Research. "Infra tag on sectors increases ability to raise funds, access to dedicated funds and lenders, foreign capital, lower interest rates among others."

Electric car Given the focus on electric vehicles, the advantages of including the industry in the infrastructure list will be enormous. Free SVG

Keep Reading Show less
Wikipedia

A team is working to produce safest medicine for covid treatment.

A team led by chief scientist Ravi Shankar, is working on two combinations to provide the safest medication to coronavirus patients. "Experts say that a combination of antivirals with different mechanisms can be more effective to counter the viral pandemic. We are working on two combinations - Umifenovir with Molnupiravir (an antiviral) and Umifenovir with Niclosamide (anti-parasitic)," he said.

Also read: Antiviral Remdesivir Receives FDA

Molnupiravur drug has received only Emergency Use Authorisation in India and abroad. Though its usage showed reduced hospitalisation during clinical trials, its biggest drawback are the side-effects, he added.

"Now, we are trying to keep a low dosage of Molnupiravir in its combination with Umifenovir which may weed out the side-effects such as the risk of cartilage and muscle damage. If successful, it will make Umifenovir more effective in Covid-19 treatment," said the chief scientist. The other combination is Umifenovir with Niclosamide.

Keep reading... Show less