Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Am I A Hindu In India

By Promod Puri
I am a proud Canadian citizen. In this land of multi-cultural and multi-religious freedoms I am also a proud Hindu.

But when I visit India I am not a Hindu. Because, I confess, many, many, many times I have eaten beef steaks. And that I am not “hiding” the fact that our refrigerator often has minced beef.

I am not a Hindu in India because I don’t adore Trump, and I did not share the pictures showing special Hindu prayers for his success in the US presidential race. Unlike Trump, I am not an anti-refugee, and I’m not an anti-Muslim either.

More seriously, I am not a Hindu in India because I don’t understand the “moral vigilant” squads apprehending and thrashing young couples, married or unmarried, indulging in the “obscene” act of holding each other’s hands in public.

I am not a Hindu in India because I denounce the violent and at times fatal acts of “gau-rakshak dals” projecting their bizarre vision of Hinduism under the pretext of saving the holy cow. The same cows don’t get their compassion when often seen gnawing plastic garbage bags.

I am not a Hindu in India because I reject Manu and his caste classification of the Hindu race. Rather I salute Ambedkar who fought to uproot the caste system in the country.

My non-Hindu status in India qualifies me in the expanding outcaste of “go-to-Pakistan”. I love to visit Pakistan, especially to my ancestral town of Sialkot. This is the place where poet-philosopher Allama Muhammad Iqbal was born. He wrote: Sare jahan se achcha Hindustan hamara….

Back in Canada, in the land of true freedom, I am a Hindu again.

(Promod Puri is the author of “Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions”. Websites: progressivehindudialogue.com, promodpuri.com and promodpuri.blogspot.ca)  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easter & Vaisakhi:Festivals Of New Beginning

By Promod Puri

Easter is a celebration of resurrection of Jesus.

It is on this day, Christians believe in the rise of Jesus Christ after his death and burial. And that means a new beginning.

Since Easter (April 16) comes in the beginning of spring season, a symbolic connection can be ascertained with the coming back to life of Jesus, and the life of plants and trees that have been dormant in winter. Easter is a celebration of new life and rebirth in the nature and the Christian faith.

The celebration of new life and rebirth finds a meaningful implication in the Hindu-Sikh-Buddhist festival of Vaisakhi (April 13) which also falls during the spring season.

Vaisakh is the name of first month (April-May) in the Hindu calendar. It is a time of festivity when the crops are ready for harvesting. On this day in 1875, Hindu reformist Swami Dayanand Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj sect in Hinduism. And Gautam Buddh attained enlightenment on the Vaisakhi day. Vaisakhi marks a new beginning with the formation of Khalsa Panth, the birth of Sikhism by Guru Gobind Singh on April 13, 1699.

Easter and Vaisakhi are the occasions of celebrations when mother nature also promises new beginning as the spring season comes back with new leaves, flowers, and blossoms.

Happy Easter, Happy Vaisakhi amidst Happy Spring.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Nostalgic Joy With Old Filmi Songs


(Please do use all the links in this article and enjoy)
Living in Canada for the past 45 years, my nostalgic window often opens to the blissful sounds of popular Hindi filmi songs and music. From this retreat, the flights to the past are the pleasures of the present.
In the voyage, tuning in on Aye mere pyaare vatan, aye mere bichhade chaman, tujh pe dil qurabaan, is an emotional joy in self-recreation. Manna Dey, in his masculine and classical voice, creates a melody of mellow submission towards motherland in the film Kabuliwala. Composed by music director Salil Chaudhary, the song literary takes me back to the melodious world of Indian filmi songs and music.
For me, it has been a fabulous and everlasting journey which began way back in early ’50s. During my teen years of life, I often spoiled myself listening to the filmi songs of that era from All India Radio and Radio Ceylon of Binaca Geetmala fame. The early indulgence ever since has become an absorbing and addictive pastime.
I still get stirred up by the grace and pride in the marching beats of Watan ki rah mein watan ke naujawan shaheed ho, pukarate hai ye zameen o aasamaa shahid ho, by singers Khan Mastana and Mohammad Rafi from the film Shaheed (1948). Raja Mehdi Ali Khan penned the revolutionary wordings with music composed by Ghulam Ali Haider who was credited with initiating the career of well-known playback singer Lata Mangeshkar, a legend who dominated the Hindi filmi music scene for decades. “Ghulam Haider is truly my godfather. He was the first music director who showed complete faith in my talent”, Lata once remarked about her mentor.
In my avocational abode, audibly residing forever are Noor Jehan’s renditions of Aawaz de kahan hai (a duet with Surendra); Mere bachman ke sathi muje bhool na jana, dekho dekho hase na zamana; and Jawan hai mohabbat hasin hai zamana, lutaya hai dil ne khoshi ka tarana (film Anmol Ghardi).
Malika-e-tarannum Noorjahan’s distinct and immaculate voice uplifts the spirit and clarity of the lyrics. Her sweet but eloquent and uninhibited style continues to echo eternally across nations’ borders.
It was Naushad Ali (assisted by Ghulam Mohammed) who scored the music for these alluring compositions. He was one of the most talented and creative melodists credited with popularizing the folk music especially from the Hindi speaking belt of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. However, his signature compositions were often based on classic Hindustani music.
The best example of Naushad’s compositions in both classical and folk music reverberates in the songs of Baiju Bawara. There is rhythm, folk and classical mix in them. Door koi gaye, Tu Ganga ki mouj main, Jhoole mein pawan, Bachpan ki mohabbat, O duniya ke rakhwale, and Mohe bhool gaye sanwariya, are ageless all raga-based symphonic creations by musical maestro Naushad for generations to enjoy.
In Naushad’s music, there has always been the subtle sweetness and zest, like enjoying a glass of merlot.  Gaye ja geet milan ke, Dharti ko aakash pukaare, Ye zindagi ke mele (Mela); Jhoom jhoom ke nacho aaj, Hum aaj kahin dil kho baithe, Tu kahe agar, Uthaye ja unke sitam, Tod diya dil mera ( Andaaz); Murliwale murli baja, Tu mera chand mein teri chandani (Dillagi); Dhadke mera dil, Chhod babul ka ghar, Kisi ke dil mein rahna tha, Lagan more man ki, Mera jeevan saathi bichhad gaya, Milte hi ankhen dil hua diwana (Babul) are some of his early feats reflecting his impeccable mastery to create a delightfully ecstatic mood.
In the treasure trove of Hindi filmi music Suhani raat dhal chuki, na jaane tum kab aoge stands out as one of most adored compositions by Naushad from film Dulari. Mohammad Rafi in his immaculate voice and with perfect breath control did a superb job which launched him as the most loved and one of the most sought after male singers in the industry.
Naushad was an ingenious and versatile composer creating new tunes, as well as rewriting the folk-based ones which were intrinsically popular among amateur and perpetually novice as well.
His celebrated list is adorned with such evergreen numbers: Maan mera ehsan, Dil mein chupake pyar ka, and one of my favourite holi songs Khelo raang hamare sang (Aan), Jaanewaale se mulaaqaat na hone paayi, Insaaf ka mandir hai yeh bhagwan ka ghar hai, Na milta gham to barbadi ke afsane kahan jaate (Amar); Lagan more man ki sajn nahin jane, and my most adorable lullaby Chandan ka palna resham ki dori (Shabaab).
Naushad was one of the most decorated music directors who composed music for about 100 Hindi films. Many of them were silver, golden and diamond jubilee hits simply because of the popularity of the songs in these movies. Na toofan se khelo, Ghar aya mehman koi jaan na pehchan, Mera salam leja, Mohabbat ki rahon mein, and Saiyan ji utrenge paar from the film Uran Khatola still take the listeners to exuberant heights even after 64 years when the movie was released in 1953.
Naushad was at his pinnacle of popularity with his superb compositions in the Oscar- nominated film Mother India (1957). Nagari nagari dware dware, Duniya mein hum aaye hain, O gaadiwale, dukh bhare din beete re, Pi ke ghar aaj pyari dulhaniya chali, and another of my most relished holi songs Holi aayi re kanhai, are among the most popular numbers out of 12 in the movie.
The movie Mughal-e-azam (1960) was perhaps the climax of his success story. The raga-based compositions in this epic drama won instant popularity. I remember the song Pyar kiya to darna kya burst in the number one spot the moment it entered the Binaca Geetmala’s 16-song grading list. Based on the story of love affairs between Mughal prince Salim and court dancer Anarkali, the music of Naushad in Mughal-e-Azam competed with that of the 1953 musical hit Anarkali.
Anarkali offers a bonanza of most melodious songs with superb poetic depths. C.Ramchandra composed tuneful and forever popular music of the film.  A maestro in musical compositions, he liberally delivered his art in Anarkali.  It was one of the very few films in which all the songs, without exception, were hit numbers for years and years. Even today listening to Anarkali songs offers delightful engagement both in its lyrical reflections and serene music.
Ye zindagi usiki hai, Aaja ab to aaja, Mujhse mat poochh, Dua kar gham-e-dil, Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag, Mohabbat aisi dhadkan hai, Zindagi pyar ki do char ghadi, O aasman wale shikva hai zindagi ka (I love the lyrics of ‘shikva’ meaning complaining to god), Ae baad e saba zara ahista chal and Mohabbat mein aise kadam dagamagae, are the songs which will always remain as crafted jewels with everlasting brilliance.
C.Ramchandra was an accomplished singer himself under the name of Chitalkar. With Lata Mangeshkar, his popular duets were Kitna haseen hai mausam in film Azad or Shola Jo bhadke in Albela.
Aana meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday (Shehnai), Mere piya gaye Rangoon (Patanga), Gore gore o banke chore (Samadhi) along with Ina meena dika (Asha), where he introduced the rock-n-roll rhythms in the Indian filmi music for the first time, were very popular songs because of their hilarious verbal and trendy musical combination. Even today these songs often pop up in the entertaining game of Antakshri.
Dheere se aa ja re akhiyan mein (Albela) is another of my favourite lullaby.  Mehfil mein jal uthi shama (Nirala), Tere phoolon se bhi pyar (Nastik), Dil ki duniya basa ke sawariyan, Dekh Hamen Aavaaz Na Denaa (Amardeep), Katatay hain dukh mein ye din (Parchhaain) and Aadha hai chandrama (Navrang) are the soundtracks where the nostalgic needle usually get struck.
C.Ramchandra enjoyed the distinction of being the composer of non-filmi but one of the most popular patriotic songs, Aye mere watan ke logo, zara ankh mein bhar lo pani. Literally moving the live audience to tears Lata, in her touching presentation, sang the patriotic composition penned by poet Pradeep after the India-China war in 1962 in honor of the fallen Indian soldiers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

When We Shake Off Rituals From Religions

When we shake off rituals and customs from religions the same vibration of meaningfulness and spirituality can be realized in all of them. Rituals and customs only provide architecture to a religion. In fact, all religions carry the same fundamentals of virtuous living. It is their respective devotional practices which differentiate them. The pathways to divinity are infused with words of morality and ethics, principles, and noble deeds. And these are the fundamental commonalities of all religious.
(Read more on this topic from Hinduism Beyond Rituals,Customs And Traditions, (paper edition) by Promod Puri
progressivehindudialogue.com
promodpuri.com
promodpuri.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hinduism Offers Management of Self & Society

Hinduism Offers Management of Self & Society

Seeking the divine spirit is a spiritual pursuit. And within that pursuit is the social aspects of the divinity which impact the Hindu mind to develop a personality of goodness.
Divine or divinity relates to all those aspects coming from God or god which are basically understood as heavenly and transcendental. But in social divinity it has attributes of humankind relating to ethical conduct of life toward an ultimate goal of perfection in every possible way.
The praxis of social divinity goes beyond the rituals, customs and beliefs. Also cardinal in Hindu theology is the induction of divinity in thoughts, words and deeds. Hinduism encourages spiritual believability based on knowledge and rationality. And that is where the divine spirit finds acceptable residency in every moment of life.
In creating the divine residency in an individual’s mind Hinduism offers liberal environment guided by disciplined and righteous karma.
Karma is biased by rituals, customs and beliefs. What matters most that karma is also influenced by Hindu epistemology seeking rationality in an action. And when the reasoning is established in all its sincerity Karma develops into prayer. For a practicing Hindu Karma is dharma.
Assembly of good karmas from earnest deeds over a long period can lead to moksha. It is a stage when material satisfactions are not attractions anymore. Rather in austere and ascetic life transcendental consciousness develops toward oneness with the Supreme-being.
Societal Reconstruction
The execution of karma in Hindu thought has an impact on the society as well. 
Societal reconstruction is part of karmas’ obligations to clean up the religion from discriminatory and inhumane practices. An all inclusive full empowerment of women and annihilation of castes as envisioned by Ambedkar are part of these needed corrections to institute human rights traditions in Hinduism.
Whereas religion started as management of the society, at the personal level religiosity of karma implies management of the self. This governance of the self is conducted by virtue of conscious and divine living.
Consequent to Hinduism’s democratic framework the management of self is what we call as a way of life.
From rituals to murti-puja, mantra and metaphysics, karma and moksha, to meditation and yoga, and all its recreational aspects like music, dance and drama, Hinduism in its management of individual is a disciplinary as well as a comprehensive experience of spiritual development in liberal and progressive regime.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Meditation In Sound Of Brewing Coffee


(The following excerpt is taken courtesy the New York Times)
“Approach making your coffee the same way you approach meditating. Be completely here and now in the present moment, centering your attention exclusively on what you are doing and feeling. Being mindful of how you make your coffee shows you how to be mindful in every part of your life.” — Gloria Chadwick, the author of “Zen Coffee: A Guide to Mindful Meditation.”
Smell the aroma from the coffee grounds as you put them into the coffee filter. Breathe in their deep, rich, intense fragrance.
As you pour the water into your coffee maker, notice the clearness of the water, hear the gurgling sound. Listen to the first drops of water as they sizzle into the carafe; notice the color of the coffee.
Watch the steam that rises, swirling in the carafe; be mindful of the ethereal nature of your inner self.
Smell the first delicious whiff of your coffee as it begins to brew.
Listen to the sounds the coffee maker makes as it brews your coffee.
When the coffee is done brewing, let it sit for a moment or two to attain its full flavor.
Let yourself sit for a moment or two, to obtain the full flavor of meditating.
Meditation In Hiduism
Meditation in all its varied contemplation is a much- practiced Hindu tradition from ancient to the present times.
Hindu meditation is both secular and spiritual in its practice.
Seeking enlightenment is one reverent aspect of meditation which has its Vedic roots in Hindu spiritual traditions. However, the most favored and helpful feature of meditation in our day to day lives is to procreate a tranquil temperament amidst ceaseless chaos of personal anxieties and worldly troubles.
Meditation basically is an exercise of steering the mind toward a focus during the entire meditative period. And the focus can be any chosen or guru-given mantra, thought, some auditory sensation like breath, a sacred sound like Om, or even an object. Theoretically, it is a simple discipline, and its practice leads to serenity.
Meditation is an experience in relaxed contemplation which is cultivated thru concentrative state of mind.
In this contemplative mode, tranquility can be realized which releases a kind of energy to energize both our physical and cognitive faculties while the meditator braces in calm and cool sentiments.
One goal of meditation is to have complete relaxation of mind which involves no act of worldly or temporal thinking while traffic of thoughts moves on.
This posture is called thoughtless awareness. In this disposition, the meditator’s only repetitive and cognitive activity is to effortlessly dwell in focused mind. That is where the “power of now” can be realized, and that comes with practice.
“Power of now” basically is an act of contemplation on the present moment, and its very realization energizes the action. Once the act of staying in the moment of “now” is achieved then that very experience qualifies to be meditative as well.
Excerpts from “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions”. Kindle Edition

Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions. Paper Edition
progressivehindudialogue.com
promodpuri.com
promodpuri.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Glimpse of Black History in U.S.A

A Glimpse of Black History in U.S.A

slavery
(Pic.Juvenile convicts at work in the fields, 1903. Library of Congress/John L. Spivak)
What happened after slavery in the United States was abolished in 1865
Here’s how it worked. Black men – and sometimes women and children – were arrested and convicted for crimes enumerated in the Black Codes, state laws criminalizing petty offenses and aimed at keeping freed people tied to their former owners’ plantations and farms.
The most sinister crime was vagrancy – the “crime” of being unemployed – which brought a large fine that few blacks could afford to pay.
Black convicts were leased to private companies, typically industries profiteering from the region’s untapped natural resources. As many as 200,000 black Americans were forced into back-breaking labor in coal mines, turpentine factories and lumber camps. They lived in squalid conditions, chained, starved, beaten, flogged and sexually violated. They died by the thousands from injury, disease and torture. Courtesy: The Conversation
promodpuri.com
promodpuri.blogspot.com