Tuesday, November 21, 2017

INDIAN MAID: BUT SHE WAS NOT “SUPPOSED” TO ENTER KITCHEN




November 21, 2017


By Promod Puri
I don’t know if she belongs to the class of housemaid, aka “bai”. If so, then her status could be upgraded in India’s class and caste society.
She had a regular assignment at our home around 11 every morning and finishing her limited but reserved task in 15 to 20 minutes. It was the most needed part of daily cleaning.
She was a Christian Punjabi-speaking girl in her teen years. Most kids in her age group were in schools at that time studying and playing. But here she was punctual in her daily routine seven days a week.
Besides our house, she was duty-bound attending few other households in the neighborhood.
I remember when coming to our place she was often provided “breakfast”, which most of the times was some leftover food. She had a designated cup and a plate set aside for her exclusive use.
Her monthly income if I remember correctly, was about 50 rupees back in early ‘60s. And she often asked for raise. Her requests were quite legitimate when comparing the nature of her work with maids doing household chores including washing dirty dishes.
As her work was considered “contaminated” she was not supposed to enter kitchen or other rooms as a maid helper.
By nature, she usually was a quiet person with innocent lively expressions. But there occasionally were some disquiet and afflicted rebellious moods as well.
She was from the class of people from the lowest ring of the Indian caste system who converted themselves as Christians from the Hindu faith. Their “Basti” or settlement constituted a segregated community which was a few miles away from our neighborhood.
The place was called Bhangi Colony. And she belonged to the Bhangi caste. Her professional title was “Bhangan” doing the dirty occupation of “manual scavenging”. According to the Wikipedia “manual scavenging is a caste-based occupation involving the removal of human excreta from bucket toilets or pit latrines.
A few years back the profession by law was declared illegal.
However, the rebellion she felt in her teen years is still there among the people of her clan or community against the dehumanizing practices rooted in the social customs of India.
I don’t know if our “Bhangan” is still around. But the profession she was involved continues. And her upgrading for equality is still pending in India’s degrading social behavior which often defies the laws.
(The article above carries some fiction)
Promod Puri is a writer and author of “Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions”. Read more of his articles in https://progressivehindudialogue.com/ and promodpuri.com

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Seeking Evolution In Religions

Rituals, customs, and traditions provide bulk and mostly false identity to a religion. If these are detached from all the religions, then we can see fundamentals of moral and righteous teachings are the same in each of them.
Pathways to divinity are infused with words of morality and ethics, principles, and noble deeds. Many meaningless and vague rituals and customs, while being overly dominating in the institution of religion, create potholes in these pathways. And followers of religions are often get holed up in the potholes.
From the mass availability of knowledge and independent learning thru Internet, Google, and other media, critical thinking can be gathered to review each of these ritualistic values in our individual religious orders. In this debut exercise, one can see the oneness of our religions in their philosophies and messages.
This could be a spiritually enlightened movement at the personal level which may catch up and impact the institutional practices. What we are seeking is a  logical objective which can get us to the sameness of all the world religions, but still with linguistically and culturally diverse names, like those of God.


Friday, November 3, 2017

PUMPKIN'S KARMA

Now that Halloween is over, I would say that the most abused and wasted vegetable of the season is the most gigantic and nutritive pumpkin. Left out in the chill of autumn nights, most pumpkins rot, and finally dumped. Is that his or her karma carved by custom and tradition.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

DOES RELIGION HAS ITS ROLE IN POLITICS


Whereas rituals, customs and traditions furnish symbolic and distinctive identity to a religion, the pathways to divinity which are paved with morals and ethics, are often debased by its despicable ceremonial rites and practices.
It is in this context that the contemporary and progressive political ideologies disdain religion. Its nature is customarily interpreted thru inherent ritualistic practices rather than its doctrines of ethics and noble thoughts. Read more in my essay on this issue.
-Promod Puri

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

NIQAB, BURQA AND MYANMAR MUSLIM REFUGGES

Whereas, Rohingya Muslims refugees from Myanmar, over half a million in number, are battling terror, exhaustion, and hunger in Bangladesh, here in Canada Muslim-right women, with the support of so-called anti-racist progressive activists, and vote-hungry opportunist politicians, are battling to save their right to wear burqa and niqab as against the upcoming ban in Quebec.
20Burqaban1-master768 05USBriefing-Rohingya-articleLargeHumanism demands that women combating to retain their burqas and niqabs to protect their social or religious traditions and cultural identities, should move their curtains and look at the crisis and sufferings faced by fellow Muslims who are being kicked out from their homeland by Buddhist-dominated Myanmar government as part of its ethnic cleansing drive.
Promod Puri

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hinduism Thrives In Its Open Structure


BY PROMOD PURI

Hinduism is a wide-open structure. It is an abode where believers in God, atheists, and ethicists can comfortably reside together and share their knowledge, beliefs, and experiences for the betterment of humanity and its environments.
Hinduism evolves by itself in its conflicting, contradicting, and controversial framework. In its spacious design and architecture, Hinduism is open for questioning, debate, and discussion
Hinduism has never been run by any centralized religious authority. As such it has evolved its own flexible, resilient, and even firm dynamics along with rationales, metaphysical and mystical beliefs which are not binding.
From rituals to idol worship, mantra and metaphysics, karma, and moksha, to meditation and yoga, and all its recreational aspects like music, dance, and drama, Hinduism is disciplinary as well as a comprehensive experience of spiritual development in liberal and progressive regime.
Hinduism is not merely “a way of life”, but much more than that.
(Read more about Hinduism in “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions”).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

DIWALI MUBARAK MESSAGE TO CANADA’S PM


Dear Hon. Prime Minister Trudeau:
In celebration of the popular Indian festival of lights, I also wish you, Diwali Mubarak.
Your selection of Diwali Mubarak expression in your tweet is my choice as well.
I noticed that some people tweeted and objected to your use of the word ‘Mubarak’, asserting that it is not a Hindu expression, but a Muslim one as being Arabic in its origin. Please ignore these scant individuals.
Diwali is not only the festival of Hindus but Sikhs also. And ‘Mubarak’, meaning congratulations, is the most common word by the people, including Punjabis, from the northern part of India. Other expressions of Diwali greetings are in pure Hindi language, whereas Mubarak is the word of choice in Hindusthani which is the language of the common folks.
‘Mubarak’ is a secular word which fits very well with the liberal philosophies of Hinduism and Sikhism.
In that spirit of being secular and progressive, your participation in Diwali celebrations is indeed an honor for all us in the Indo-Canadian communities. You represent the true nature of Canada’s multicultural society.
By the way, Mr. Trudeau I like your ‘sherwani’ dress which you put on at the Diwali celebration event in Ottawa early this week.
DMTjnFBUIAAe6eT
Best wishes, and once again Diwali Mubarak.
Sincerely
Promod Puri

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

DIWALI MUBARAK

DIWALI MUBARAK is my choice of greetings on the happy occasion of Diwali, the universal festival of lights. In the picture Canada’s  prime minister Justin Trudeau lighting the traditional Diwali lamp along with India’s High Commissioner Vikas Swarup and members of the Indo-Canadian community in Ottawa October 16, 2017.  The prime minister in his tweet greeted Canadians “Diwali Mubarak”.
“In the secular and progressive spirit of Hinduism, Diwali is the voluminous festival of celebrations. Inspired by the epic drama Ramayan, Diwali is a celebration of good over evil, and forces of light over darkness. It is a celebration of relationship, support and sacrifice of family members and friends. It is a celebration of facing obstacles with vigour and strength. It is a celebration of rule of law, peace and prosperity”. excerpt from Hinduism beyond rituals, customs and traditions

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

THE SPIRIT OF JAMMU IN REVOLUTIONARY MARTYR UDHAM SINGH


One of my Facebook friends’ last name is Jammu. It intrigues me little as that is the name of the city in the state of Jammu and Kashmir known for its beauty as well as the still unresolved Kashmir Problem”.
My FB friend, in fact, belongs to Patiala in Punjab, and now he seems to be settled in Canada. In his introduction, he told me he had never been to Jammu, the city to which I belong. In our brief communication, he said the family name Jammu is very rare among the numerous last names in the Sikh community.
An interesting fact he disclosed me that one of Punjab’s great martyrs Sardar Udham Singh’s family name was also Jammu, but he d220px-Udhamid not carry it as part of the dictum by Guru Gobind Singh to use only Singh as last name.
My quest is how the few Sikh families acquired their last name Jammu!
Perhaps their ancestors had roots in Jammu. Or someone in the ancestral lineage was inspired by the valor of the Dogra community dominating the Jammu region, that Jammu was acquired as part of their last name to identify with the Punjabi spirit of courage to fight against slavery and injustice.
Udham Singh was among those India’s independence movement revolutionary heroes who sacrificed their lives to seek justice and freedom. He avenged the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy by assassinating Lt. governor of Punjab Michael O’Dwyer who supported the massacre in 1919 under the command of General Reginald Dyer. He shot dead O’Dwyer in 1940 in a London hall where the governor was about to address two Indian associations.
The great martyr Udham Singh was charged with “murder”, and sentenced to death. These are his final words at the trial:
“I did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I have crushed him. For full 21 years, I have been trying to wreak vengeance. I am happy that I have done the job. I am not scared of death. I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under the British rule. I have protested, against this, it was my duty. What a greater honor could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland”. Source: Wikipedia
Well, while having some nostalgic feelings about the city of my childhood, I salute the revolutionary spirit of Shaheed Udham Singh “Jammu”.
(Read Promod Puri’s articles and essays on a range of subjects in his websites: promodpuri.com and progressivehindudialogue.com

Monday, October 9, 2017

JAGMEET SINGH: NEW NATIONAL HERO ON CANADIAN POLITICAL FRONT


He is dynamic. He is bold. He is the inspiration and hope.  He is man of conviction based on his Sikh beliefs.
His appearance and dressing are guided by his self-confidence rather than from a fashion consultant, which is quite a norm for most political leaders.
He is Jagmeet Singh, the new national hero on Canadian political front.
He is challenging to both racists and the so-called progressives Leftists, as well as to the dirt-digging media.
The Canadian media and most political commentators are only narrowing him down as a political challenge to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s youthful and progressive leadership. But we need to go beyond that.
Although both are fighting against each other on political fronts, but the dynamics both are creating is a landscape which syncs well with the multiracial, multicultural nature and spirit of Canada.
Together both are channeling the Canadian politics in a direction which can generate some fatal blows to the Conservatives and their Alt Right ideologies.
With the election of Jagmeet Singh as the national leader of the New Democratic Party, Canada seems to be much more progressive and politically mature than most democratic countries including the USA. promodpuri.com

Thursday, October 5, 2017

LAS VEGAS SHOOTING: I’M ANGRY & PUZZLED


By Promod Puri
Let me first position myself as if I were present at the Las Vegas country music show on the night of October 1st. Although, I am not a concert-going enthusiast, but I could join with the joyous music lovers attending the Route 91 musical festival. It was like a celebration, and when the crowd heard some “fireworks”, they thought it was part of the event. No, it was not. Perched up at the adjacent Mandalay Bay Hotel, a “lone-wolf”, Stephen Paddock, from his room window started shooting indiscriminately down the concert crowd of over 22,000 people. Within few minutes an enjoyable and peaceful music festival turned into a chaotic scene of bloody carnage. They say it was the deadliest domestic massacre in the on-going mass shooting incidents in the U.S.A. The maniac before fatally shooting himself, pumped hundreds of bullets killing at least 59 fans, and hurting over 500 of them. I am hurt too.
In visualising the pathetic scene, I am hurt with empathetic feelings along with people all over the world. The vintage position of the insane gunman from the 32nd floor of the hotel entirely covered his widespread target. The musical retreat rolled into the gunman’s trap. The concertgoers could neither run for safety nor lie down. It was a stampede with hardly any escape. Only luck could save the attendees from being either shot dead or injured.
My hurt feelings have turned into anger and puzzles. What is going on in the United States of America? That too happening more frequently. Within a span of a year or so mass killings thru random shootings happened in Charleston, San Bernardino, Orlando, and now in Las Vegas. And who knows the next gunning could be in any city across the border where hundreds of Canadians, including myself, my family, and friends, frequently do their day trips.
The question most Canadians ask: “is it safe to go to the USA”. Mass shooting can happen anytime, in any incoherent places or neighbourhoods in the country. The authorities in Washington do not issue travel advisory for their own country. The US does show its concern and safety for all the humanity from possible nuclear charge by “rogue regimes” of North Korea or Iran. But does it care about the safety and lives of its own citizens and thousands of visitors from the foray of made-in-America terrorism?
I am mad at the madness of the psychotic killers. And my madness is supplemented by the inaction of all those Congressmen and women, and rest of the US lawmakers. They are quick in sending condolence messages and offering prayers for the victims. But enact no effective laws and restrictions to tackle gun violence. The US police forces are ineffective to police their rogue citizens, while its armed forces are engaged worldwide in policing the world.
“Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, but not anymore.
The world saw another tragedy in the USA, this time on the Strip. It will remain top “breaking” news with extensive coverage for some time. The newscasting is laced with same old debates and arguments which are squeezed and distilled with comprehensive analyses, expertise, and data. But no action. Things cool down after a while. The issue subsides in few days or weeks.
But a bloody rampage can develop again under the shadow of “gun culture”, proudly protected by the Second Amendment. While a leading gun lobbyist advocates “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”.
God save America, and those visiting America.
Promodpuri.com

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

REVOKING NOBEL FOR MYANMAR LEADER

September 6, 2017

05USBriefing-Rohingya-articleLargeThousands of Rohingya Muslims are fleeing their own country and crossing over to neighbouring Bangladesh as refugees because of the atrocities committed by the military junta on them resulting in massacres, hunger and hardships. While this has been going on for a while the Nobel recipient de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi for no reason is completely apathetic towards the sufferings of her fellow citizens who are not Buddhists like her and the rest of the population. She should surrender her Nobel prize or it must be revoked.

Thursday, August 24, 2017





TRUMP WALL CAN BE NO.1 TOURIST ATTRACTION


img_3324The Trump Wall between the USA and Mexico is not a dead issue as far as Trump’s most promised election agenda is concerned.
In some lighter but brighter thinking, the Trump Wall has some merits in his ambitious project, a legacy which will be lot more wider and taller than any other presidents in the history of America.
Here is a fictional dialogue between Trump and one of his close businessman friend:
Businessman: Can you shed some light on this controversial wall proposal, as many people on both sides of the border ridiculed your fancy.
Trump: It was a political stunt to please my innocent and committed worshippers. It was not meant to secure the border with Mexico either. The reason for putting forward this game plan was purely business.
Businessman: But how it can be a business venture.
Trump: You see, millions of people visit the Great Wall of China every year. And that is from where I picked up the idea. My wall will be much more grandeur in size and architecture. It will be number one tourist attraction in the world. I have built replica of Taj Mahal. But this one will be the real thing.
Businessman: It involves billions or perhaps trillions of dollars. From where the money will come from.
Trump: Come on, you know I am a great salesman, and with my charismatic personality investors worldwide will line up in front of the White House to avail this great opportunity. Moreover, I will be looking for sponsors and advertisers who can buy space to promote their products and services. The space, you can call it Trump’s Wall Street, is unlimited, running into thousands of miles from Pacific to the Atlantic.
Businessman: You are genius. Can I buy spaces on your Wall Street?
-30-
promodpuri.com

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

LIFE IS A GAME OF SOCCER



soccer imageBy Promod Puri
All our thoughts and actions are influenced and regulated by the consciousness of the landscape of reality around us. In this landscape one makes a selection of his or her own space in life’s play field.
And the game starts. It is a collective game, a team game. There is no absolute independence. Our individual likes and dislikes, thoughts and behaviors, actions and reactions, morals and rules, all are parts of the game. Social and environmental structures around us are the team’s norms shaping and steering the game.
Stamina, discipline and coordination in these environments help in scoring our goals. Individual performance determines the scale of awards. Based on our skills, hard work and a bit of luck some collect millions while others make less in this life’s game of soccer.
Environments seldom offer a level play. Speeding race toward the goal is unexpectedly blocked.  We are tripped by those who get yellow and red cards. We fall and are bruised. We get up and join the bout again. New strategies kick in. Still challenges are a constant. We keep on running toward the goal while being pushed back and forth. And the participation goes on.
The Referee blows the final whistle. And the game is over.
promodpuri.com

RE-EVALUATING OUR RELIGIONS & OTHER INSTITUTIONS

In our civilised and progressive world, the call of humanity seeks re-evaluating each of our religions, rituals, customs, traditions, social and political institutions, including Left and Right isms, which impart values and behaviours impacting our environments.
This resolution is part of the evolution and management of civil society we live in. Evolution of civilisation is natural as well as essential for rational and intelligent creation of environments which influence our thoughts. Read more: Thoughts On Thought

Sunday, August 20, 2017

MULTI ASPECTS OF BALRAJ PURI’S PATRIOTISM


by Ramchandra Guha
(The Telegraph, August 19,2017)19edittop4
Balraj Puri (1928-2014)
I have been thinking a great deal recently about the difference between patriotism and jingoism. The provocation – or inspiration rather – was a visit to Jammu to speak in memory of Balraj Puri – writer, social reformer and political activist – who embodied Indian democracy at its best.
There are a great many hyper-patriots active in India today who spend their days and nights abusing either Pakistan or China, and, sometimes, both. Balraj Puri expressed his love for his country in an altogether different manner. Over the course of a long life, he fought for independence from the British, for freedom from the autocratic rule of the Kashmir maharaja, for the human rights of Kashmiris and for regional autonomy for Jammu and Ladakh as well.
Balraj Puri’s life as an Indian patriot started early, at the age of fourteen, when he started an Urdu weekly inspired by the Quit India movement. He was an active journalist for many decades thereafter, and also wrote many books in English, among them an important study of Indian Muslims, an analysis of the complicated relations between Jammu province and the Kashmir Valley, and an authoritative analysis of the origins of the insurgency in Kashmir.
Balraj Puri was admired for his writings, and for his probity and personal courage. In the 1980s and 1990s, Jammu was prone to bouts of communal violence, provoked on the one side by Hindu militants of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and on the other by the persecution of the Pandits by Islamists in the Valley. Contemporaries carry vivid memories of Puri, then well into his sixties, moving around his home town on a battered old scooter, seeking to calm tempers and prevent anger being converted into violence.
In a state riven by suspicion and discord, Balraj Puri was trusted in all regions and by all communities. When he died in August 2014, one obituarist wrote that “Jammu has lost the champion of its regional identity, Kashmir has lost a crusader for democracy and human rights, the State as a whole has lost a peace activist, and the nation has lost a liberal and progressive voice.” Another compared Puri to India’s second prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri; both men whose small and slight frame “concealed a human dynamo with boundless energy for all constructive causes…”
A large crowd of mourners accompanied Balraj Puri’s body to the crematorium in Jammu. Among them was an elderly man crying loudly while muttering, ‘This person was not up for sale,’ ‘This person was not up for sale.’ Puri’s family and friends had never before seen this grieving Jammu-ite, whose spontaneous tribute was as moving, and as just, as any offered later in print.
Within Jammu and Kashmir, Balraj Puri remains a greatly respected figure. However, outside his home state, his work remains less known than it should be. That is a pity. For now, more than ever, India needs patriots like Balraj Puri. It needs men and women whose patriotism is expressed not in the continuous vilification of some other country, but in words and actions aimed at making our own country more tolerant, more prosperous, less unhappy, and less conflict-ridden. For perhaps the most important form of patriotism is that which seeks to give dignity to oppressed groups such as Dalits and women while simultaneously seeking to promote tolerance and mutual respect among citizens otherwise divided by language, caste or religion.
Unlike the hyper-ventilating hyper-patriots of the present time, Balraj Puri was not consumed by the desire to make India more powerful than its neighbours. Rather, he wanted to make India itself a better and safer place for its citizens. That was the first lesson of Puri’s life. A second lesson is that there is no one singular patriotism; rather, there are multiple and overlapping forms of patriotism.
There is a famous saying, ‘Charity begins at home.’ Patriotism also begins at home. Balraj Puri loved his town and his district, but he loved his state and his country too. He was a Jammu city patriot, a Jammu province patriot, a Jammu and Kashmir patriot and an Indian patriot – all at the same time. He demonstrated by example that love for your locality and for your province could be perfectly consistent with love for your country.
Notably, Balraj Puri devoted a great deal of energy to promoting peace and self-respect in the neighbouring state of Punjab. Among the half-a-dozen languages he himself spoke fluently was Punjabi. He urged the Hindus of Punjab to honour the mother tongue they shared with the Sikhs, rather than succumb to sangh parivar chauvinists who wanted them to promote Hindi instead. At the same time, he unequivocally opposed Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his band of gun-toting Sikh extremists. He was one of the first from outside the state to visit Punjab after Operation Bluestar, speaking out against violence and in favour of reconciliation.
Some would like to reduce patriotism to the worshipping of symbols. However, offering puja to the tiranga jhanda ten times a day may or may not make you a better patriot. A more lasting, more constructive, form of patriotism is to endeavour to make your locality, your town, your district, your province and country a more tolerant, inclusive and democratic place.
Balraj Puri’s own patriotism was substantive rather than symbolic. He did not exhibit his love for the motherland by shouting ‘ Mera Bharat Mahan‘ every now and then, interspersing this with shouts of ‘Pakistan murdabad’. Rather, in how he behaved, what he wrote, and what he struggled about, he tried to make our country more worthy of the ideals of the Indian Constitution by promoting respect, honour, dignity, equality and justice in everyday life.
Balraj Puri was admirable and exemplary, but not, of course, unique. There are many such patriots active in our land, who promote the values of the Constitution while working in village, town, district, state or country. Some of these patriots are written about occasionally in the press. Others remain unknown. Not that they mind. For publicity, or at least an excess of it, can be antithetical to true patriotism and nation-building. The more you crave publicity, the less time you can actually devote to social reform or constructive work.
Balraj Puri was a patriot, not a jingoist. Making his own country a better place was far more important to him than demonizing other countries. He recognized that patriotism begins at home, with the place one is in, yet also understood that one must have a wider view of how one’s locality related to one’s state and one’s nation. In presenting his views, he never resorted to violence, not even to violence in language. And he worked out of passion and conviction, not for honour or reward.
There is one last aspect of Balraj Puri’s life that I would like to recall. Seventy years after Independence, India remains a deeply divided society, this divisiveness stoked and encouraged by power-obsessed politicians and by a TRP-obsessed media. In this atmosphere, one of the hardest jobs in India is reconciliation. But also perhaps one of the most necessary. For India can stay united and democratic only when respect and recognition replace suspicion and animosity in relations among castes, regions, languages and religions. This reconciliation is what Balraj Puri strove for all his life, admirably following in the footsteps of that other great patriot and reconciler, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.