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Ashtottaram 53) OM PARAMATASAHANABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
Ashtottaram 53: OṀ (AUM) –PA-RA-MA-TA-SA-HA-NA-BHOO- MYAI—NA-MA-HA
ॐ परमतसहनभूम्यै नमः
(Paramata: Other religions; Sahana: Tolerance, Patience)
The great virtue of India is, truly displaying an accommodating and generous disposition toward other religions and continuous onslaughts of major religions like Christianity and Islam.
India has a long history of the culture of tolerance. India is a multi–religious society. Almost all the major religions live in India in total harmony.
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To tolerate is ‘to bear with patience the existence of others’. It is to put up with the views and actions of other people. It consists of permitting other persons to express their views freely and implement them into activity. Tolerance is essentially a state of mind. For these is the positive action of non-interference inactivity of other persons. Toleration is not in that sense possible among birds and animals. Tolerance can be between one person and another person, as between husband and wife, mother and child, among friends.
It may be between one individual and group, group and another group, community and community, race and race, class and class. There can be toleration in religion-oriented culture; at the same time, it is possible for toleration to prevail in an entirely secular culture. This shows that religion and culture are quite distinct. Spirituality is the hall-mark of Indian culture. Since the beginning of the Vedas, the seers and rishis have innovated experiential and reflective methods of gaining knowledge and establishment of the way of life. Nature bestowed upon them the qualities of inward development requisite for free-thinking and righteous life. Samhita of which Rigveda is the foremost abounds is propounding the concept of infinity, self, and vastness of the universe.
At the same time, the method and cultivation of inner states of being were exercised and explored by them, which open the potentialities of intrinsic nature. It is the inward exploration and aspiration to materialize to the human power and ability reflecting the endeavor of seers which has been largely responsible for the foundation and unbroken continuity of Indian culture. Spirituality has played a vital role in directing and diffusing the goals of Indian culture. There have been often testing and crucial periods of Indian culture and there were times when her vital force was almost exhausted and the foreign rule had almost threatened the survival. It was at such a critical period that her spirituality has bridged the gap and saved the perennial values cherished in Indian culture (adopted from the Ph.D. thesis of R. Ambhazaghan, Tamil university, 2007)
One of the niyamās in Vedic scriptures is kṣhama (tolerance, forbearance) towards any person, religion, or situation. Since childhood, we are taught to show tolerance. It’s not wise and safe to get into fights for every little thing or difference of opinions, especially when it comes to religion, are our teachings. Religion is faith and there is no proof for everything they claim in. Therefore it comes naturally to us to have an open mind to different faiths. If every religion teaches sahanam (tolerance) towards other faiths no matter how many disagreements they have, there would not be any wars or killings, barbaric invasions and forceful conversions by the religious zealots.
Our Vedas and Upanishads teach us to be tolerant and proclaim verses like ‘ahimsa paramo dharmah’ meaning- ‘the utmost duty is non-violence’. Our Vedas taught us that there is ‘Only God’ and you can worship Him in whatever way or form you desire. All kinds of worship ultimately lead to mokṣha (liberation). If we did not show tolerance to other religious aggression, there would have been much more blood spilled on our Bhārat land. There is nothing surprising about showing tolerance to other religions when we were taught to see God in every being.
The land which shows tolerance to other religions is our motherland ‘Paramaṫa sahana Bhūmi’.
We live in an age where ‘innocence is bliss’ no more and the call for being discreet but decisive guides every step of the way. Discretion is a positive trait as it is meant to safeguard one’s interest without hurting someone else’s. It can be usefully exercised only by a person who was well informed, who had the ability to see things in a larger perspective, who could judge the relative importance of a thing or happening in a context, who understood the significance of a lawful silence and who tilted in favor of a humane course.
Let us examine these five traits. First, we are in the age of information whose mandate is that one had to be a well-informed person to make progress in any field. Being well-informed means having the right information in time, having the information that made a difference between a ‘decision’ and a ‘guess’, and having complete-looking information of relevance since ‘knowledge comes in integral packages’. A teacher of children, for instance, has to have knowledge of child psychology and parental stress, besides the content of the curriculum, to do well. He or she will then be able to discreetly handle a child — discretion here will be a vital part of the judgemental call made by the teacher. Again, a person, more so a woman, who was aware of the law and order situation in an area would be able to exercise discretion about the mode and timing of movement. Discretion is the better part of valor in this setting.
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Secondly, it is not uncommon to see people not being able to ‘rise above the details and look at a situation objectively ‘from above’ to appreciate what the given facts were leading to. Life is so much about whatever is happening in the immediate and the proximal that thoughts on its repercussions for the future were pushed back. Living life easy takes precedence over living it meaningfully and that puts discretion on a discount because the latter required nursing relationships with some sensitivity as a presage to discreet conduct. Further, working for material advancement has to be a major endeavor of human beings but tempering it with a spiritual understanding of life yielded an inner satisfaction that could only be felt not expressed in words so much — the classical Hindu thought describing an honest effort to raise wealth as a ‘dharma’ of man says it all. Discretion gets built into the conduct and responses of a person of material success when the ‘big picture’ orientation of thought stays with him. The Bible’s ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’ as opposed to Mary Antoniette famously saying, ‘Let them eat cake if they have no bread’ suggests, more than anything else, a complete spiritual disconnect of the French queen. Discretion is wisdom and wisdom comes from the awareness of the broader perspective of life.
Third, discretion is basically an outcome of the capacity of a person to judge the contextual importance of a happening or a piece of information — and that too in an ongoing fashion because life does not stop at one event or a one-time revelation. The point is about grasping the relative significance of what was there in front of you. In my younger days in Intelligence Bureau, my senior who taught me what the profession was all about, would often counsel me ‘to distinguish essentials from non-essentials’ — he was defining the basic meaning of Intelligence assessment and perhaps unknowingly rediscovering what Vilfredo Pareto, the Nineteenth-century Italian social scientist had laid down by way of Pareto’s law. That law simply states that ‘there are a significant few amongst the insignificant many’ — the ability to pick up the former from a mass of information is what was being emphasized by that senior. This, in turn, comes from the ‘effectiveness of differentiation’ that is achieved on the strength of work experience, knowledge of the world, and familiarity with human psyche and behavior — all of this, in fact, becoming the hallmark of how discretion was built into a sound judgment. It is common to find people who can’t distinguish a macro from the micro, long-range from the short term, and at a finer level between the ‘journey’ and the ‘destination’.
Fourthly, ‘discreet silence’ has generally been regarded a virtue so long as it was not meant to give somebody an advantage over the other, was used as a legitimate course to keep you out of the trouble spot of others, and was not in violation of a legal obligation. Being discreet does not mean one would not be frank — there is no compromise insofar as the expression of an honest opinion was concerned for that was an aspect of personal integrity. Maintaining confidentiality is good and it is a binding factor in many circumstances where non-disclosure is not a discretion but a compulsion. Any cognizable offense committed in the presence of a police officer, for instance, casts a legal duty on the latter to report it to the authorities. A citizen, on the other hand, may sometimes maintain a discreet silence out of anxiety not to get caught in the harassment of a legal process — and not for the reason of not helping the law.
Here it may be mentioned that the set of fundamental duties laid down in the Indian Constitution also rest on the citizen’s patriotic sense and are not legally enforceable. Of course, one has to be an honest witness if approached by law to testify in any matter. Sometimes a person avoids intervening in a social situation out of discretion that tells him or her that silence was in the best interest of all concerned. Discreet silence here becomes a socio-cultural option and even a positive course of action if it is prompted by a pearl of innate wisdom about nature’s larger scheme of things. Discretion has to be exercised always in favor of morality and not for a lesser objective. At the workplace, a delegation of discretionary power is a sign of enlightened management that trusted employees with decision-making at their level for better efficiency and quicker delivery. In government functioning, there is a lot of buck-passing, both up and down the hierarchy because of a lack of willingness to exercise discretion and make a decision. Decision-making entails responsibility and many in the coziness of government employment would like to shun it.
The final paradigm of being discreet concerns the handling of human relationships — it can be said that an option used in the interest of a humane cause will never go wrong. Even in business, and all business is human activity ultimately, discretion guides how a leader treats the colleagues and the subordinates. A successful leader has to have an idea of what an employee is as a person and an awareness of the role of emotions in shaping a response. Emotional intelligence has emerged as a key to the successful handling of the human resource and good leadership makes use of it to make that handling discreet and productive. The right use of discretion is a leadership trait and this comes in handy for the head of the family as well — because a family can be considered as the smallest organizational unit requiring good management. Discretion is a positive ingredient of informed decision-making that combines the personal integrity of the individual with his or her understanding of the immediate context as well as its long-term impact and humane implications. It is ultimately an index of wisdom and hence a forerunner of success. (IANS/KB)
Ashtottaram 50) OṀ HINDUBHŨMYAI NAMAH:
Ashtottaram 50: OṀ (AUM)-HIN-ḊU-BHOO-MYAI—NA-MA-HA
ॐ हिन्दुभूम्यै नमः
(Hindu: One who rejects untruth)
Hinduism is a major religious and cultural tradition of South Asia, which developed from the Vedic religion. Hinduism was originally called Sanatana Dharma, which means righteousness forever. The Persians, who invaded India in the sixth century BCE, gave Hinduism its name from the root word Indus.
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Hinduism is sometimes dubbed as a way of life and not a religion. It is better to have a life that helps one to elevate oneself and be useful to society than have a religion that makes an individual dogmatic and turns the society against other societies. At present, that is what is happening with other religions in the world. Hinduism is a comprehensive system that incorporates in itself all aspects of human life: philosophy, religion, ethics, and all facets of culture including the various arts, sciences, and literature.
In spite of constant invasions from outside or battles among the various rulers inside, Hindu society has successfully maintained remarkable stability, both at the family level and at the social level. Hinduism permits the acquisition of wealth and the enjoyment of the legitimate pleasures of life, but always within the perimeters of dharma, the true values of life, and the greatest good of the greatest number.
Sanātana Dharma has been the way of life for thousands of years for the inhabitants of Bhārata Varṣha. 'Hinduism' is not its original name! In fact, its adherents never gave it any particular name except dharma, which simply means- the eternal law that supports and sustains those who practice it. Nor was there any need to do so since, being ancient and in a way prehistoric and there was no other religion from which it had to distinguish itself. The origin of the words Hindu and Hinduism is geographical.
The land of the river Sindhu (Indus) and the people inhabiting it came to be known as Hindu among ancient Persians, in whose language the 'S' of Sanskrit became 'H'. And this name somehow stuck. From this angle, all religions of Indian origin became different facets of Hinduism (Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, or tribal cults). However, in practice, the term is applied specifically to the religion dependent on the Vedas. In Sanskrit, Hṃ means ASAT (untruth) and ḋ means reject. In other words, the Hindu is the one who is after Sat (Absolute Reality). Sanātana Dharma (the Ancient and Eternal Religion) is sometimes applied to Hinduism by its more orthodox followers.
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Hinduism does not have a single founder, a single book, a single church, or even a single way of life. Its strength has been able to withstand all the onslaughts of time and the barbarous invasions and external aggression. Nor has internal upheavals destroyed it. Hinduism is not idolatry, nor fatalism -though it preaches through the theory of karma that one reaps what one sows, it is not the caste system and its hierarchies. Hinduism does not preach or uphold untouchability. Hinduism is not responsible for the occasional stagnation of Hindu society.
Hinduism is both ancient and modern and has survived the vicissitudes of history and onslaughts of time and is still standing as 'Hindu Bhūmi'.
By Devakinandan Pasupuleti
Ashtottaram 37) OṀ KRUṪAJNATĀNUGRAHABHŨMYAI NAMAH
Ashtottaram 37: OṀ (AUM) –KRU-ṪA-JNA-TAA-NU-GRA-HA-BHOO-MYAI—NA-MA- HA
ॐ कृतज्ञतानुग्रहभूम्यै नमः
Krutajnata is defined as having a feeling of gratitude and appreciation toward other living beings and things (plants and animals) that have been helpful to us.
(Krutajnaṫa: Expression of gratitude; Anugraham: Help, acceptance, kindness)
‘If someone helps you, how small it may be, you should remember that for the rest of your life’– is the teaching of our parents, teachers, elders, and well-wishers. Maharṣhi Vālmīki, the celebrated author of the Rāmāyaṇam, was told by Brahmarṣhi Nārada muni about sho’daśa kaḷalu (sixteen great and noble qualities) that go to make a perfect man, that is Lord Shri Rama. Born as a human being and ruler, Lord Shri Rama stood as the symbol of Dharma (righteousness). We are very fortunate to be born on the land which was purified by the touch of Lord Shri Rama’s lotus feet.
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If somebody does a good deed to a Hindu, he looks forward anxiously to reciprocating something bigger good deed to that person. I cannot definitely say that this is happening nowadays in India but at least it used to be a norm in the olden days. Nowadays, it has become a fashion to say Thank you for everything, which is very mechanical and just lip service; there is no emotion or sincerity in that expression. Sometimes, pet animals like dogs are far superior to humans in showing their gratitude and affection towards their master and they protect the one who feeds and cares for them.
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Our parents, teachers, and elders teach us from childhood onward how to be grateful and thankful to people who are kind to us in times of need to show gratitude toward those who are helpful to us, and to reciprocate with similar gestures and actions. Those who listen to good advice will always follow that path. Even today in India, we still come across those kinds of people in our life.
The land which teaches us to show gratitude and to be thankful throughout our life is ‘Kruṫajnatānugraha Bhūmi’.