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By Nithin Sridhar
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 7
In the last six parts, we dealt with various tenets of dharma (duty/righteousness) that a person must practice in his life for his own development, as well as for the welfare of his society.
For any performance of dharma, it is vital to have a control over one’s senses and the mind. Only such a control over the mind and actions can enable one to decide what is right and what is wrong and act accordingly. Therefore, Self-control or the control over the mind and the senses called as “Indriya Nigraha” forms the very foundation of dharmic practices.
What are Indriyas?
Indriyas, as mentioned above, are the faculties with which a person interacts with the outside universe. Manu Smriti (2.89-92) lists 11 Indriyas: The five faculties of hearing, smelling, sight, touch and taste; the five faculties of arms, legs, phallus, anus and speech; and the mind.
It must be noted that Indriyas does not refer to the physical organs mentioned above, but to the corresponding subtle organs in the subtle body (sukshma sharira) from which the physical organs derive their ability to function. And the mind controls the entire function of various faculties. It is the mind that empowers the physical brains to act.
Hence, our knowledge of our surroundings, of this entire objective universe is rooted in the interactions of our mind and the senses with the objects of the universe.
Why should the Indriyas be controlled?
It is the nature of the Indriyas to project outside and grasp the universe. Hence, we always feel attracted towards various objects and get attached to various people. For example, many people have a craze for clothing items, be it shoes, shirts or skirts. Some have a deep drive in collecting antique items. Some other may have more liking towards purchasing sarees.
In all these examples, it can be seen that through the interactions of the Indriyas with the external objects, the mind develops attraction and then attachment to those objects. A desire arises in the mind to possess and derive pleasure from those objects. This desire will slowly lead to addiction and madness towards various objects, which will turn a person completely materialistic. He would be always running from one object to another in order to derive pleasure from possessing them. Ultimately, his madness would become so extreme that he would not even care about his family and friends. His desire will make him blind and he will opt for unrighteousness means to obtain his objects. He may cheat, steal, maim or kill as well.
Therefore, the desire, which arose out of an unrestrained interaction of Indriyas with objects, will eventually lead a person towards adharma and result in sorrow and suffering in a long run. It is for this reason, Lord Krishna in Gita (2.62-63) says:
dhyāyato viṣayān puḿsaḥ sańgas teṣūpajāyate
sańgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ kāmāt krodho ‘bhijāyate ||
krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ sammohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ
smṛti-bhraḿśād buddhi-nāśo buddhi-nāśāt praṇaśyati ||
In the case of a person who dwells on objects, there arises attachment for them. From attachment grows desire, from desire springs anger. From anger follows delusion; from delusion, failure of memory; from failure of memory, the loss of intellect; from the loss of intellect, he perishes.
How should the Indriyas be controlled?
Regarding the controlling and restraining of the Indriyas, Manu Smriti (2.88) says that just as a horseman restrains his horses, a person must restrain his Indriyas. A good horseman is one who understands the horse and shares a harmonious relationship with the horse. He neither indulges the horse by allowing it to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, nor does it place severe and violent restrictions such that it becomes harmful to the horse itself.
Similarly, Indriyas cannot be restrained by giving them a free run. If Indriyas are allowed to do whatever they like, they will keep running behind one object after another. There will be no end to the desires. Such a man will ultimately end in frustration and sorrow as explained in the previous section. For this reason, Manu (2.94) compares this uncontrolled indulges of Indriyas with pouring of ghee to the fire that will only increase the intensity of the fire and does not result in its extinction.
At the same time, forceful control of desires, for example through forceful abstinence from sex that is associated with guilt, anger etc. are of no value as well. These forceful methods will only suppress the desires and not transcend them. Therefore, neither gratification nor suppression of the desires are helpful in Indriya Nigraha.
Manu (2.96) says that a restraint of Indriyas is only possible through a firm understanding about the adverse effects of the Indriyas. That is, only when a person develops vivekam (discrimination) between what is useful and what is harmful, between what is eternal and what is temporary, will he be able to realize that worldly objects cannot give permanent happiness and bliss. This understanding must be then used to develop detachment and dispassion towards worldly objects and pleasures. And through this process alone a person will be able to completely control his Indriyas.
Therefore, a person must develop strong discrimination and dispassion and use them to practice Self-control. Only such a path will lead a person to material welfare, as well as spiritual upliftment.
More in this segment:
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 1
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 2
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 3
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 4
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 5
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 6
Japan has successfully launched a new navigation satellite into orbit that will replace its decade-old navigation satellite.
The satellite, QZS-1R, was launched onboard an H-2A rocket that lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center at 10.19 p.m. on Monday night, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said in a statement.
The company builds and operates H-2A rockets the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
QZS-1R is a replacement for Quasi-Zenith Satellite System 1 satellite first launched in 2010. “It was a really beautiful launch," the company said in a tweet after a successful lift-off.
"H-IIA F44 flight proceeded nominally. Approximately 28 minutes 6 seconds after launch, as planned, the payload separated from the launch vehicle," the statement said.
The official QZSS website lists four satellites in the constellation: QZS-1, QZS-2, QZS-3 and QZS-4, Space.com reported.
The QZSS constellation will eventually consist of a total of seven satellites that fly in an orbit passing through a near-zenith (or directly overhead) above Japan, and QZS-R1 is meant to share nearly the same transmission signals as recent GPS satellites, according to JAXA.
It is specially optimised for mountainous and urban regions in Japan, JAXA said.
Mitsubishi's H-2A 202 rocket launch system has been operational since 2003 and has sent satellites to locations such as Venus (Akatsuki) and Mars (Emirates Mars Mission).
The latest H2-A rocket launch is the first since November 29, 2020, when Japan launched an advanced relay satellite with laser communications tech into orbit, the report said. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Science, Space Satellite, Communications, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, satellite QZS-1R
Everyone loves firecrackers, even the most environment-friendly advocates cannot hide their joy when they see these delightful lights colour the skies. India celebrates Diwali in the true spirit of her culture and heritage by spraying the navy-blue skies with sparkling hues of gold, silver, red, and green. Firecrackers are not just a tradition in this country, they are a legacy.
The original connotation one makes with fireworks in China. The elaborate Chinese celebrations with dragons and zapping firecrackers have left their mark in human memory, but the use of fireworks is not limited to heralding the Chinese New Year. All over the world, fireworks have come to symbolise the ultimate celebration. During Diwali in India, this spirit is re-ignited every year.
Indians have known the use of gunpowder for many centuries now. Sanskrit texts name a substance called 'agnichura' which is described as a 'powder that creates fire'. This is believed to be saltpetre.
A single firecracker ablaze Photo by Unsplash
Sometime during the rule of the Vijayanagar Empire, and the Adil Shah Dynasty in South India, the use of the Chinese pyrotechnic formulae became extensively common in entertaining the royals. Weddings, Festivals, and other special celebrations in the palace were marked with a spectacular display of fireworks.
Between the 1920s and 1940s, the dynamics of fireworks changed in India. Ayya Nadar and Shanmuga Nadar, from Tamil Nadu's Sivakasi who migrated to Kolkata, set up a fireworks factory there. It began as a match factory, but after receiving the required permission, it was converted into a fireworks unit. Within a few years, another factory was set up in Sivakasi. Before long, multiple units were set up there, and today, it is India's fireworks hub. Most of the crackers that are used during Diwali come from Sivakasi.
Recently, environmental concerns have caused the ban of fireworks as it causes air pollution. The sale of crackers has reduced drastically after this new law. During the lockdown, the factory labourers underwent great losses, especially in Sivakasi. But keeping the spirit of Diwali in mind. crackers cannot be entirely done away with, and continue to light up the skies at least for a few hours every year.
Keywords: Diwali festival, Fireworks, Sivakasi, the Vijayanagar Empire, culture and heritage in India.
PARIS — In a decision with potential ramifications across European museums, France is displaying 26 looted colonial-era artifacts for one last time before returning them home to Benin.
The wooden anthropomorphic statues, royal thrones and sacred altars were pilfered by the French army in the 19th century from Western Africa.
President Emmanuel Macron suggested that France now needed to right the wrongs of the past, making a landmark speech in 2017 in which he said he can no longer accept "that a large part of many African countries' cultural heritage lies in France." It laid down a roadmap for the controversial return of the royal treasures taken during the era of empire and colony. The French will have a final glimpse of the objects in the Musée du Quai Branly–Jacques Chirac from 26-31 October.
French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot tried to assuage jitters among European museums, emphasizing that this initiative "will not create a legal precedent."
A royal seat of the 'Royal treasures of Abomey kingdom' (Œuvres des tresors royaux d'Abomey) on display at the Musee du quai Branly in Paris, Sept. 10, 2021. Photo Credit: VOA
A French law was passed last year to allow the restitution of the statues to the Republic of Benin, as well as a storied sword to the Army Museum in Senegal.
But she said that the French government's law was intentionally specific in applying solely to the 27 artifacts. "[It] does not establish any general right to restitution" and "in no way calls into question" the right of French museums to hold on to their heritage.
Yet critics of such moves — including London's British Museum that is in a decades-long tug-of-war with the Greek government over a restitution of the Elgin Marbles — argue that it will open the floodgates to emptying Western museums of their collections. Many are made up of objects acquired, or stolen, during colonial times. French museums alone hold at least 90,000 artifacts from sub-Saharan Africa.
A woman looks at the Parthenon Marbles, a collection of stone objects, inscriptions and sculptures. Photo Credit: VOA
The story of the "Abomey Treasures" is as dramatic as their sculpted forms. In November 1892, Colonel Alfred Dodds led a pilfering French expeditionary force into the Kingdom of Danhomè located in the south of present-day Benin. The colonizing troops broke into the Abomey Palace, home of King Behanzin, seizing as they did many royal objects including the 26 artifacts that Dodds donated to the Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro in Paris in the 1890s. Since 2003, the objects have been housed at the Musée du quai Branly–Jacques Chirac.
One hundred and twenty-nine years later, their far-flung journey abroad will finally end.
Benin's Culture Minister Jean-Michel Abimbola called the return of the works, a "historic milestone," and the beginning of further cooperation between the two countries, during a news conference last week. The country is founding a museum in Abomey to house the treasures that will be partly funded by the French government. The French Development Agency will give some 35 million euros toward the "Museum of the Saga of the Amazonians and the Dan home Kings" under a pledge signed this year.
The official transfer of the 26 pieces is expected to be signed in Paris on Nov. 9 in the presence of Macron and the art is expected to be in Benin a few days later, Abimbola said.
While locals say the decision is overdue, what's important is that the art will be returned.
"It was a vacuum created among Benin's historical treasures, which is gradually being reconstituted," said Fortune Sossa, President of the African Cultural Journalists Network. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Benin art, Emmanuel Macron, European museums, Abomey Treasures, anthropomorphic statues