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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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Sins in Hinduism: Facts, Meaning,Philosophy,Types & Atonement

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Sins in hinduism
The sins in Hinduism can be washed away with devotional means. Pixabay.
  • Sin is regarded as an impurity arising in one’s body as a consequence to his own evil deeds. It is an effect that can be neutralised through various practices to lead your life into Moksha or liberation.
  • A liberated being or Jivanmukta is purified of all his sins who does not have to go through any further sins and rebirth. In order to make your soul pure and sinless, practice every deed with God’s grace.
  • The Sins in Hinduism, sinful conduct and their remedies have been referred to in Hindu Scriptures such as in Upanishads, Bhagavadgita, Yoga Sutras, Manu Smriti and Garuda Purana. 

As stated about sins in Hinduism, sin may form up with disobedience to God’s divine laws of Dharma. It may however be difficult to follow, but is considered obligatory for humans. The sins in Hinduism can be forgiven if Dharma is upholded as a service to God through self-effort and pure devotion to God.

Sins in Hinduism
Meditation is considered as the easiest from of removing sins in Hinduism. Pixabay.

What is the meaning of Sins in Hinduism?

The word Pāpam (paap) is often used to describe sins in Hinduism as mentioned in the Vedas and Hindu scriptures. Punyam (punya) is the opposite (antonym) of sin. It does not acquire an equivalent word in English since the concept of sins in Hinduism is different in western culture and Christianity.

Separating the word, ‘Pa‘ means to drink, inhale or absorb. ‘Apa‘ means water, combinedly meaning consuming or drinking impure water or poison. Pāpam also denotes evil, wicked, mischievous, destructive, inferior, corrupt and guilt.

It is believed that the sins of Hinduism manifests in the body with the impurities of worldliness (vishaya-asakti). The human body becomes subject to various poisons (visham) such as egoism, greed, ignorance, selfishness, desires and so on, which emerge with our attachments with worldly things (vishayas). These poisons of sins make the humans to take rebirths and deaths until they are removed completely. In the Hindu culture, Lord Shiva is regarded as the destroyer and the healer who gets invoked by devotees prayers and can remove or destroy such poison or sins to grant them liberation.

Sins in Hinduism
The sins in hinduism have been depicted in the scriptures. Pixabay.

What is the Philosophy of Sins in Hinduism?

The sins appear from physical, mental or oral actions, due to the impurities or poisons pertaining to Dharma and Hinduism. The poison of sin is stimulated if one harms intentionally to others or oneself by way of pain and suffering continuing the cycle of rebirth and death.

The repurcussions of sinful acts or karma are fault or mistake (aparadha), worry or anxiety (cintha), impurities or imperfections (doshas), evil intentions (dudhi), evil qualities (dhurta lakshana), immorality (adharma), demonic nature (asura sampatti), chaos or disorderliness (anrta), mental afflictions (klesha), destruction (nirtti), karmic debt (rna), sorrow (shoka), darkness or grossness (tamas) and suffering (pida). Others include: inferior birth, birth through demonic wombs, downfall into hells, increased suffering to ancestors, adversity, loss of reputation.

Sins in Hinduism
Visit Pilgrimage shrines to erase your sins in Hindusim. Pixabay.

What are the types of Sins in Hinduism?

The Dharmashastras of the Hindu scriptures denote sin as Pātaka which represents the causes of one’s downfall or destruction (patanam).The following are the three types of sins in Hinduism: Mortal Sins (Mahapatakas), Secondary Sins (Upa Patakas) and Minor Sins (Prakirna or prasangika Patakas)

The Mahapatakas

These are the gravest and darkest sins in Hinduism leading to the worst downfall of the mortals into the darkest of hells. They can neither be neutralized or washed away without suffering. Some Puranas and Vedas indicate to devote oneself purely to God to remove such sins. The Dharmashastras have stated such five gravest sins termed as the Pancha Mahapatakas. In Hinduism,the company of sinners is also not advisable as associating with sinners will lead you to the same consequences.

The Upa Patakas

These secondary sins may emerge out of minor offenses that include incompetency to perform sacrifices regularly, displeasing the Guru, selling harmful and intoxicating drinks, disbelief in God, giving false witness, making false acclaims, and performing a sacrifice for an unworthy person or unworthy cause and engaging in illicit sex.

The Prakirna Patakas

These type of sins in Hinduism form the minor offenses committed intentionally or unintentionally out of ignorance or carelessness which can be removed or washed away by performing sacrifices (prayaschitta) or by punishments and requesting forgiveness. The law books regard more than fifty minor sins in Hinduism such as selling the wife, making salt, studying forbidden Shastras, killing a woman, marrying the younger son before marrying the elder one, killing insects and other creatures, ignorance to parents, accepting gifts without performing sacrifices,adultery etc.

What are the solutions to overcome Sins?

Fines and punishments

The Dharmashastras render both corporeal and monetary punishments for various offenses or sins in Hinduism, apart from the sufferings in hell or rebirth. According to Hindu scriptures, the ancient era saw immense difference in the application of punishments from caste to caste.

Confession

The best path to deal with sins of Hinduism is to surrender yourself infront of God and seek forgiveness with your own confession of the sin committed. The king was regarded as a similar figure to God who demanded a public confession (abhishasta) from the sinner.

Austerities and Atonement

By performing Vedic traditional rituals, the sins in Hinduism are removed by fasting, virtuous conduct, self-control, practice of nonviolence, truthfulness, austere living, practice of silence, concentration and meditation.

Sins in Hinduism
Your sins in Hinduism can be removed by Devoting yourself to the grace of God. Pixabay.

Rituals and sacrifices

The Vedas have recommended various rituals or sacrifices to wash away the the impurities (dhosas) arising from one’s birth, karma, relationships, place or direction related issues, vastu defects, dangerous diseases and evil conduct.

Prayers and Mantras

Vishnu Purana of the Hindu scriptures pronounce the effective importance of the continuous chanting of names of God (japam) in the Kaliyug. Some mantras and hymns are considered more significant than meditation and sacrifices to clean the impurities of the body.

Recitation of the Vedas and other Sacred Books

Knowledge (jnana) has the eternal power to remove the sins in Hinduism. It can be derived with regular reading up and learning from the scriptures of sacred importance.

Visiting pilgrimages

To grant your devotion and gratitude, Hinduism seeks to commit to Dharma by visiting holy pilgrimage place. It is a divine form of self-cleansing and experiencing peace and happiness.

Bathing in the sacred rivers

The sacred pilgrimages are mostly located near the banks of the rivers that are also treated as purifiers. Hence, bathing in those rivers lead your life into devotional worship as a purification rituals to overcome sins in Hinduism.

Yoga and Meditation

Pranayama and meditation are the suggested methods to practise peace and overcome past sins. They also form a major part of the austerities to cleanse the internal mind and body.

The blessings of saints and gurus

Saints, sadhus and mahatmas have been given a special status in Hinduism because of their respectful purity and virtue. They acquire divine knowledge and supreme powers, with which they cleanse those who approach them for blessings.

Sins in Hinduism
Worshipping the saints remove the sins in hinduism. Pixabay.

Virtuous conduct

Sinful karma can be countered with huge efforts into virtuous karma. The sins in Hinduism are washed away with kind and healthy conduct to everyone equally.

Charity

Dana (gift giving) or charity is very significant in Hindu Dharma. By conducting sacrifices and spiritual practices one must conduct charity as well. As a part of Vedas, the higher castes are under obligation to perform five daily sacrifices including offer food to gods, ancestors, sages, humans and creatures.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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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.