Posts Tagged 'hinduism'

How to become a Hindu

Becoming a Hindu or Devotee is Easy

By Stephen Knapp

Since Sanatana-dharma is a universal process and applicable to everyone, then naturally anyone can practice its principles. Anyone can and should be accepted to participate in the process. Furthermore, anyone who is looking for the ultimate spiritual Truth is already one who is following the path of Sanatana-dharma. So you could say that anyone who is sincerely looking for such Truth with an open mind is already on the spiritual path, at least on some level, and is thus also a Dharmist, a follower of Sanatana-dharma.

The point is that there is one and only one God and one Absolute Truth. The very first of the Vedic books named the Rig-Veda proclaims, Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudha Vadanti (There is only one truth, only men describe it in different ways). So a Jew or a Christian or a Muslim who is in search of the Absolute Truth is automatically on the path of Sanatana-dharma. However, if they get stuck with accepting nothing more than their own local traditions, this may hamper their growth in understanding a broader range of the many aspects of the Supreme that are described in other scriptures, such as those of the Vedic literature. So a person’s progress depends on how far he or she really wants to go in this lifetime, and how they approach various levels of knowledge to understand the Absolute Truth.

So those who may be accepted as followers of the Vedic tradition generally accept the following: A) The Vedic literature presents knowledge of the Absolute Truth and are the authority on the Vedic tradition; B) There are various ways to realize different aspects of this spiritual Truth; C) God can appear in different forms; D) We are given more than one life on this road of Self-realization; and E) That ultimately we are responsible for accepting the path we take and the progress we make.

To clarify this last statement, even if you accept the path of Christianity and believe that Jesus will save you, Jesus also said that faith alone is not enough. You must show your faith by your works, and your works will show the true state of your desires and consciousness. Otherwise, if by faith alone you go to heaven yet remain full of material or mundane desires for earthly things, do you think Jesus would force you to stay in heaven? No, he would let you go back to earth, to where you heart is, to try and satisfy all those desires because that is your true state of consciousness. So your spiritual advancement is up to you and is revealed by your own level of consciousness, which will take you to the stage of existence in which you are meant to be.

SHARING THE DHARMA

Since we are all eternal spirit souls, part of the Supreme Truth, we are always a part of Sanatana-dharma, or the eternal path to finding the ultimate spiritual Truth. We may call ourselves by whatever religious affiliation we like, but in essence we have a spiritual identity, which the path of Sanatana-dharma assists us in finding.

This spiritual identity is the essence of everyone, making us all similar in our spiritual quality and nature. Your soul is the same as the soul of everyone else. This is our similarity which we all share with every being. Therefore, sincere Hindus will share their philosophy and tradition to provide that assistance and goodwill to others who search for Truth and their higher Selves. It is a way of sharing peace and recognizing that we are all a part of a universal family. For within these bodies of ours exist our real and eternal identity, which is the same within everyone. So everyone can participate and share in the path of Sanatana-dharma.

Sanatana-dharma contains a wealth of spiritual philosophies and practices by which one can enter and experience one’s own level of spiritual perception and Self-realization. Some of these may at first seem unusual to a beginner only because other religions do not always teach these systems. They are left out. But the Dharmic path includes many traditions that other religions have forgotten. So these can be helpful for anyone of any religious background. Generally, we find that those who understand the spiritual knowledge of the Vedic system begin to have a deeper understanding of the teachings of other religions as well. This is another aspect of the universality of the spiritual wisdom in the Vedic teachings. Thus, everyone should know this information that is provided within the Vedic path. The point is that the Vedic system provides knowledge for people at whatever level of understanding in which they may be situated.

In this way, the Vedic teachings include spiritual knowledge for the needs of people at all levels. Hinduism does not seek superiority over other religions, but only provides whatever level of knowledge people need. With its library of Vedic literature, it is thus one of the most comprehensive spiritual paths in the world. It only seeks and delivers the highest Truths known to man, and the methods by which a person can realize them for him or herself. Thus, the Vedic path encourages everyone to reawaken their connection with God and realization of the Absolute Truth for themselves, and not necessarily through an institution or organization. The highest Truth is for everyone. Anyone can understand the Vedic path with a little investigation.

However, there have been times when I have heard of individuals or even groups of people, after spending much time in research and discussion, who have decided to become Hindus or devotees. Thereafter, they have come to a Hindu temple and asked to be accepted into the Hindu fold. Then the priest, depending on what kind of temple it is, might say something like one does not need to become a Hindu, but simply go on as you are and become perfect in that way, whether it may be Christian, Muslim, or something else. Thus, the people are turned away with little else to do but continue on a path that they may find to be no longer suitable for them, or that does not fulfill their inner spiritual longings or quest for deeper spiritual knowledge and realizations. If a person finds that they are ready to move forward to a deeper spiritual path, then to deny them that right is not proper, especially by one who may be considered to be a Hindu priest. He should allow them full facility to scan the depths of Vedic spiritual knowledge and to participate to the fullest that they may want in order to increase their devotion and connection with God through this means of expression. So, this confusion must be rectified.

In fact, to consider foreigners to be outside the Vedic purview by virtue of their origin or upbringing is inaccurate and against basic Vedic Shastra. As is stated in our Hari‑bhakti‑vilaasa 10.91, “na me ‘bhaktash chaturvedee mad‑bhaktah shvapachah priyah, tasmai deyam tato graahyam sa cha pujyo yathaa hyaham”, which means “A brahmin who is expert in the study of all four Vedas is not dear to Me (Bhagavan), but My devotee, even if he comes from a family of outcastes, is dear to Me. Whatever he touches becomes pure. That devotee, although born in a family of outcastes, is as worshipable as I am.”

Therefore, the goal of the Vedic system is to provide the means that anyone can use to raise their consciousness and know God. This point has been advocated by such prominent teachers as Swami A. C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, Swami Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi, and many others. In this way, for many years the Vedic path has been assimilating those who are willing to adopt the basic principles of Sanatana-dharma, even if they are foreigners. The Vedic temples and the Hindu community must open their doors to those who are seekers of higher Truths, which are abundantly found in Sanatana-dharma. The doors cannot be kept closed for such people who may be looking for the benefits of such spiritual knowledge. Thus, sharing Vedic Dharma with all others who are interested for their benefit has been encouraged by spiritual authorities and should be considered a Dharmic principle.

BECOMING A DHARMIST OR DEVOTEE IS EASY

Does one have to convert to be a Hindu, or undergo a change of names or outward identity? No. If one likes the Vedic philosophy, then one can easily adopt any portion that they find helpful for them. However, if one prefers to use the Vedic culture as a strong basis of one’s life and feels devotion toward the path, then there is also nothing wrong with undergoing the formality of a Shuddhi or purification ritual to formally become a Hindu or Sanatana-Dharmist. However, once we adopt the Vedic tradition, this does not mean that we lose our freedom or whatever other roots we had, nor do we need to disrespect whatever other religious tradition we had previously followed. It does not work like that, but this is up to one’s own preference. In this way, Sanatana-dharma is inclusive. It allows anyone to find and follow Truth wherever one finds it. Thus, one needs to merely live in a Dharmic lifestyle as outlined by the Vedic principles, which is meant to accelerate one’s spiritual advancement and purity in consciousness.

I have often heard that there is a little confusion about what a person should do when they decide to partake of the Hindu religion or become a devotee. This is especially the case if one is a westerner or born as a non-Hindu. Even when the priests at Hindu temples are approached by someone who wants to become a Hindu who is not Indian born, they often do not know what to do. Sometimes it is thought that one must first undergo some kind of formality to make their dedication to their new spiritual path official, like partaking in a ritual or name change or something. A person can do that if one wishes but to merely accept the Vedic path does not require that. To be a Hindu does not require any formality. All it takes is to understand and begin following the Vedic principles to the degree to which one can do so. Of course, one may take initiation from a spiritual master later on, which then may require a formal ritual, depending on the decisions of the guru in this regard. But that is usually a later development.

Sometimes people say that to be a Hindu one has to be born a Hindu. But this is completely wrong. Nowhere in the Vedic shastra does it say such a thing. Also, merely being born in a Hindu family does not mean that such a person will have a natural proclivity toward spiritual truth. They may or may not be interested, depending on their level of awareness. Plus, a person may be born in a Hindu family and convert to some other religion. Besides, if Sanatana-Dharma is based on Universal Truth, and what is universal includes everyone, then how can anyone not be included within Sanatana-Dharma if they choose to do so? Thus, the only requirement for being a part of the Vedic path is to accept the basic principles and codes of conduct of Vedic Dharma, as has been outlined in this book. It does not depend on the circumstances of one’s birth, such as family, ethnic group, cultural heritage or geographical location. Birth is not more important than one’s conduct and character.

The point is that if we are all spirit souls, then the bodily consideration plays no part in the importance to regain the understanding and realization of our spiritual identity. In fact, the more spiritual we become, we find that the less emphasis there will be on the body. Thus, everyone should find and participate in that path which allows one to best rise above bodily identifications. Thus, it does not take a special ceremony or conversion rite to allow anyone to become a participant of the Vedic path. We are all spiritual beings. The human body is merely a machine and covering of the soul. That is the essence of the Vedic teachings. So how does the machine determine which spiritual path we can or cannot take? And as spiritual beings, we have a right and obligation to reach the highest spiritual knowledge and attain the clearest spiritual realizations that we can. If we find that the Vedic teachings can do this and assist us in living the path that allows us to enter such a lofty understanding, then it does not take any special ritual for us to begin the path. All we need to do is to start.

In this way, Sanatana-dharma, which essentially means the eternal nature of the spiritual being or soul, is the path for us to attain that realization of our true spiritual identity and the means to awaken to our real spiritual nature. As spiritual beings, everyone has the right to engage in that process. All one needs to do is add the various Vedic principles to one’s life.

Therefore, it should be clear that as we are all spiritual beings in a material body, what difference does the body make in allowing one to participate in the Vedic spiritual process? Anyone can become a member of the Vedic community, and if one temple does not recognize him or her due to their own limited conceptions of who can be a Hindu, then there are other temples wherein a person can be welcomed and participate to a fuller extent. So any interested person should find those temples. Otherwise, all that is required for one to be a Hindu or devotee is faith and practice. And as one progresses, he or she may take up particular forms of yoga, adopt a vegetarian diet, learn to chant certain uplifting prayers or mantras at home, and rise early to do meditation or worship. One may also make an altar at home so that his or her dwelling becomes a temple or has a shrine room. And, of course, one is always encouraged to read the various spiritual texts at home to increase his or her own understanding and awareness, and to focus one’s consciousness on the higher purpose of life.

If one wants to make a significant event in which one marks his or her new dedication to the Vedic path, there are different ways in which to do that. There are simple ways, and those that are more formal. For example, a person may simply go to the temple and stand in front of the deity and say, “My dear Lord, from this day on I am Yours. Now kindly accept and guide me.” One may even do that in front of a photo or picture of the deity. Then one’s progress or entrance into the Vedic process is between you and God, which is the real case anyway. The Vedic texts say that once you surrender yourself to the Lord in this way, you now become His ward. He will give you protection and guidance to the degree to which you depend on Him and wish to serve Him and rekindle your relationship.

If, however, a person wants to increase his or her participation and join an ashrama, then of course there may be particular rules or regulations that one must follow, or adopt certain forms of dress to enhance one’s spiritual consciousness, depending on the spiritual discipline involved. But this is not the case if one simply wants to live at home, practice the Vedic principles and be part of the temple congregation. At home, especially if one has a job or career, or a family, a person may accept those practices that best fit into one’s life. But then as you progress, you can adjust your life accordingly to make it increasingly spiritual and to accommodate more of the practices that are suggested for your advancement.

There are, however, certain ceremonies one may undergo as a formality, such as the Shuddhi purification rite or the namakarana samskara in which one gets a Vedic name, or the initiation by a guru into a particular sampradaya or lineage in spiritual practice. Yet, merely adopting the Vedic customs is enough to be considered a follower of the Vedic Dharma. It is the heartfelt faith that is the most important, which is purely an individual prerogative. If someone chooses to be a follower of Vedic Dharma and acknowledges the basic tenets of the Hindu faith, then he is one. He or she does not need to first undergo the formalities to receive the higher spiritual insights in the Vedic practices, such as yoga, meditation, or the study of the Vedic teachings.

In any case, whether living at home or in a temple ashrama, if a person does later find that they would like to continue one’s involvement in the Vedic path or join a particular sampradaya, or are attracted to take initiation from a particular spiritual master or guru, then they may undergo the initiatory process. Then, depending on the standards of the guru, there may be an initiation ceremony. This is often when a person will get a spiritual name to indicate their new life or spiritual beginning. If one lives in an ashrama at the time, such an initiation ceremony may or may not include that one shave his head, or adopt a certain standard of clothes, and begin chanting a certain mantra in accordance with the process of that level of initiation.

In fact, in taking to the Vedic spiritual life, finding a proper teacher is one of the few injunctions that are presented in the Vedic texts, such as the Bhagavad-gita. Therein it relates that in order to make further progress on the path of spiritual realization, one should take instruction from a proper spiritual master. Lord Krishna says: “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Bg.4.34)

You will notice that the verse does not say that the guru should only accept a person from a certain nationality, religion or culture. The person needs only to be sincere and respectful. The disciple also needs to make sure the guru is genuine and able to deliver the spiritual message of the Lord properly. Thus, it is a reciprocal relationship between the guru and the disciple. But anyone can approach a master for understanding the higher spiritual truths. Once the relationship between the guru and disciple is firmly established, then the guru may then give the initiation ceremony to the disciple for continued spiritual progress.

THE BASICS OF A DAILY ROUTINE

It is accepted that an ideal routine to practice while on the Vedic path is to rise early before sunrise. At that time one may first offer obeisances to your favorite deity. Then take a daily bath or shower and engage in personal worship and prayers to the deity of your choice. Perform meditation, prayers, recitation of sacred texts, sing devotional songs, and engage in japa, the chanting of the holy names of God in the form of mantra meditation. This is where a family shrine or temple room becomes most beneficial, unless of course one lives near a temple that can easily be visited at this time. One may also offer food as breakfast to the household deity and then take that food as your prasada breakfast, honoring or eating what had been offered to your deity as the remnants of the Lord. Then after one has performed their morning sadhana (spiritual practice) one may then engage in the normal activities of one’s profession, such as go off to one’s career or occupation. For a housewife or mother, she may spend her day engaged in household activities and the care of the children. A career should also be of the type wherein one does not act contrary to the principles of Dharma. Of course, if one is living in an ashrama or temple, then going off to work is generally not a consideration, but one stays in continued spiritual service within the environment of the ashrama or temple.

In the evening, after returning from one’s job, it is also beneficial to spend some time in reading sacred books, offering some prayers of appreciation to the deity, or doing some additional meditation to recover from the day’s activities and put them behind you, and to again focus on the spiritual goals of life.

Additionally, one should go to the local Vedic or Hindu temple on a regular basis, like once a week or more. It is also a nice idea to engage in service at the temple or to assist in its programs. At least one should also observe the important holidays and Dharmic festivals with reverence and faith at a nearby temple. Going on pilgrimage when it is possible to some of the holy places in India is also a plus for one’s spiritual development.

THE FUTURE

As a result of this increasing search for Truth, humanity is increasingly approaching and exploring the older traditions again to view the deeper levels of spiritual understanding that they contain. As people of the world gain interest in the mystical, the spiritual, yogic and deeper sides of all religions, the movements that recognize these various teachings will grow. This is already happening with the new interest in such topics as yoga, Eastern philosophy, Buddhism, Native American traditions, Pagan practices, and other indigenous cultures. The Sanskrit jargon such as yoga, karma, mantras, chakras, and gurus are now commonplace and are utilized as the basis of new insights. This is a sign that the universality that is inherent in the Vedic traditions are especially becoming more apparent, as its name, Sanatana-dharma, the eternal tradition of Truth, makes so clear.

Sanatana-dharma remains the oldest and most dynamic of all the world’s religions and living indigenous cultures. It also remains in the forefront of those paths that emphasize experiential spirituality and shows great freedom in its approach to personal spiritual life. Thus, Vedic culture is experiencing a revival and displays a growing influence all over the world. This is only one of the reasons why it has survived for many thousands of years, in spite of the pressure it and its followers have undergone in the attempt to end its existence by those religions that are more dogmatic and belief oriented.

The more people understand the openness of Sanatana-dharma, the more likely there could be an end to religious war and misunderstandings. In fact, the more likely religion as we know it will give way for the real and personal search for God and Truth, which are principles encapsulated by the Vedic tradition. Religion must be founded on eternal Truth and not merely on humanity’s ever-changing opinion and conventions. Otherwise, it is not wholesome or progressive but is artificial and dictatorial and will lead to more religious conflicts in the battle over who is right and who is wrong, and the ways to eliminate all who believe differently than the dominating system. This does little but to preserve the chaos that we see so much of in society today. And the cure from this is what Sanatana-dharma can provide if we investigate it seriously.

[This article is available at: http://www.stephen-knapp.com]

Hinduism and Video Games

Hinduism and Video Games
by Namdev Nirakar
http://www.hindukids.org/hinduism_and_video_games.shtml

“Hinduism is so complex. I do not understand it most of the time”, said Eesha, a young girl to Uncle Ashok. Ashok had come over half an hour ago and Eesha was so engrossed in her video game then that she mechanically said “Hi” to Ashok, and continued with her game.
Ashok watched Eesha play Super Mario Brothers (*). He watched her move Mario to the right, hit and get hidden mushrooms and get bigger, or get a fire flower or a cape, collect coins, punch his way thru obstacles, climb ladders and occasionally get chomped by turtles. After the end of a life Mario would start his next life, from where he left off. Now that Eesha had finished one level she noticed that uncle Ashok, whom she met every week when her parents took her to the temple, was still there.
“Eesha, you are really good at this video game !”, said Ashok. She nodded and added “Yep! and I can even beat my brother at it”.
“You know you can learn many ideas of Hinduism from the video games”, said Ashok.
“How ? uncle Ashok”, Eesha asked.
Let us say if you got a video game and it gave you only one chance to beat it, will that be fair ?”, Ashok asked.
“No, that is why they give you multiple lives. Actually, with a new game it is very difficult to advance much further. It takes practice. When we had just bought this game, I used to ‘die’ in just ten seconds, every time”, said Eesha.
“Hinduism is similar too. Most people do not lead a perfect life. So according to Hinduism, you get many chances to improve your self. You get many lives. This is called reincarnation”. He continued,” and just as in a video game, if one life ends, you start over in the next life where you left off”.
“Now what will happen if you do not go towards the right in your video game ?”, asked uncle Ashok.
“You will not move to the next level. You will not make any progress and time will run out”, Eesha said
“Exactly! if you do not move in the ‘right’ direction, you will not make progress. Thus YOU determine the right direction and how far progress you can make. ‘What you do, determines the result’ this is called the law of Karma. Your actions bear fruit accordingly. Now what happens in a video game if you keep making same mistakes ?”, Ashok asked.
“You go back to the start of that level” Eesha replied.
“Law of Karma similarly tells you that if you keep making same mistakes over and over again, you will move backwards. Now in a video game you get rewards and receive set backs. In this video game a mushroom will make you grow bigger or an attack of a turtle will make you smaller, in real life too you may become rich or poor, but that depends where you start at and what actions you take. Yet getting big or small in itself does not mean progress. Does it ?”, asked Uncle Ashok.
“You are right, being big or small does not necessarily mean you will move forward in the game or even to the next level”, Eesha replied.
“Now tell me what happens when you go to the next level ?” Ashok asked.
“It gets tougher at the next level” Eesha said.
“Same is true in spiritual practice as per Hinduism”, Ashok added. “Now tell me what happens if you get stuck at a level, what do you do ? and why ?”, he asked.
“I ask my cousin Ojas. He knows what I should do. He knows where to the keys are hidden, where secret passages are. He has beaten the game already, Some times he even takes the controller to help me”, Eesha said.
“In Hinduism, similarly a Guru helps you move to next level. A Guru or a master has already ‘beaten the game’. She or He knows where the key is hidden that will unock the door. She or He knows what where the secret passages are. She or He can even show you a ‘warp’ zone, to go to the next level. But unlike a video game, in real life a Guru cannot play for you. You have to play it yourself”, said Ashok.
“You keep referring to Guru as She or He, why? ” Eesha asked.
“Good question! Hinduism considers man and woman as having equal potential to become a master, a Guru. Just as you are better than your brother at video games, a woman can reach the highest state also. In fact there were many women who contributed to the Vedas, the Hindu holy books. There were many women Hindu saints in the past, and there are many women saints even now” said uncle Ashok. He continued, ” also
there are many ways you can go to next level, so some Guru wll show a easier way and some a harder way, all depending on your capability.

Buddhists have Buddha as a Guru, Jains have twenty four Tirthankars as Gurus while Sikhs have ten Gurus whose guidance they follow”.
“Now tell me what happens when you beat the last level ? ” Ashok asked.
“I have not beaten the game yet, but my cousin Ojas says that you see fire works, music plays for long time, and then you see the name of the programmer”, Eesha said.
“Interestingly, that is what Hinduism says also, when you go beyond the last hurdle you hear the music and you see THE PROGRAMMER – that is God and then you do not need to play the game again, except to help others” Ashok said.
“Let me ask you one more question. You get so absorbed playing a video game that you feel that you are being Mario or Luigi on the screen. But are you really Mario or Luigi ? Who are You?”, He asked
“I am Eesha, of course. But while playing the game I forget that I am Eesha and am only concerned about Mario or Luigi on the screen”, she replied.
“Exactly, Hinduism believes that we go thru different lives believing we are the body or the name in that life. But we are not that body nor its name. We are the Atman or soul which plays as a character of Mario or Luigi (or whatever). That is something we must never forget. We are not this body, but we are the Soul, or Atman”. Ashok continued.
“Eesha have you noticed, that from video games you just learnt Hindu concepts of reincarnation, Karma, Guru and Atman.” He asked, “Was that complex ? “.
“Not complex at all!” Eesha smiled, Her face was glowing by the realization of Hindu concepts, a knowledge she already had in the form of video games.
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Colbert: Try Hinduism for Lent, By Philip Goldberg

Colbert: Try Hinduism for Lent, By Philip Goldberg
Posted: 29 Mar 2011 04:05 AM PDT
Philip Goldberg is an Interfaith Minister, author of ‘American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West’
March, 2011.
Dear Stephen Colbert (famous TV star, who decided to adopt the rituals of Islam for 40 days to gain a deeper understanding of the faith),
On Ash Wednesday, you announced that you were giving up Catholicism for Lent and would try out other religions during the season. May I suggest Hinduism? I think it’s a perfect fit: only with Hinduism can you give up Christianity for Lent and still worship Jesus.
Seriously, you can. I know it sounds strange, but one of the unique merits of the Indian spiritual heritage that colonial powers labeled Hinduism is that it’s so multifaceted it makes Christianity, Judaism and Islam seem uniform by comparison. You know all those deities — the gods and goddesses that cause outsiders to think Hinduism is polytheistic? To Hindus, they’re just different forms of the one ultimate reality called Brahman. Same with avatars like Krishna and Rama. So there’s plenty of room for Jesus. Most Hindus are happy to include him — along with Buddha — in the pantheon of incarnations, saints, gurus and holy ones they regard as worthy of reverence.
In fact, if you visit any number of organizations created by Indian teachers in America, such as Swami Vivekananda’s Vedanta Society or Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship, you will see portraits of Jesus in places of honor. And in some of those institutions, Christians who want to be initiated with a sacred mantra are invited to choose one associated with Jesus — or with Mary, if they’re inclined toward the Divine Feminine. It’s part of a concept known as ishta devata, or cherished deity.
For thousands of years, India has understood that the divine can be imagined and experienced in all kinds of ways, as in the oft-quoted verse from the Rig Veda, Ekam sat vipraha bahudha vadanti — typically translated as, “Truth is one, the wise call it by many names.” Hence, individuals are free to use their preferred form in their spiritual practices.
The point is, Stephen, you’ll feel right at home in most Hindu-derived teaching lineages, or even in a more traditional Hindu temple. Some Christians have trouble getting past that one-and-only-savior-of-all-mankind thing, but you’ll be fine since that’s part of what you’ve given up for Lent.
You might know that there is a long and honorable history of Christians who draw from Eastern spiritual traditions, usually deepening their connection to their own religion as a result. (The same is true of a great number of Jews, by the way, so you can approach this as either the Catholic you’ve always been or the temporary Jew you became when you gave up Catholicism for Lent.) Hundreds of years ago some Jesuit missionaries in India had a change of heart when they delved into the religion of the people they were sent to convert. Seems it had something to teach the would-be converters.
Closer to our time, you may have heard of Bede Griffiths, the late British monk whose monastery in South India, Shantivanam (“forest of peace”), is still a revered destination for pilgrims. Father Bede’s Christian soul was deepened by Hindu ideas and practices, inspiring him to teach that each religion is “a face of the one Truth, which manifests itself under different signs and symbols.” And I’m sure you know about Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk whose 1948 memoir, The Seven Storey Mountain, made him a worldwide spiritual celebrity. “I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism … we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own traditions,” he wrote.
You’ll be in good company during your time as a Hindu. While researching my book, American Veda, I interviewed dozens of Christians and Jews — among them ministers and rabbis — who returned to their ancestral faith after a lengthy period of alienation or indifference, because the teachings that were birthed in India gave them a new perspective on what it means to be spiritual. And you don’t have to wear a dhoti, put a mark on your forehead (you’ve already done that for Ash Wednesday anyway) or declare your allegiance to anything. There is no Hindu equivalent of what we call conversion. You don’t even have to call yourself a Hindu for that matter. I know it seems weird, but the tradition is so adaptable and welcoming that tens of millions of Americans orient their spiritual lives around meditation, yoga and other practices from India but don’t think of themselves as Hindus. Even some Indians prefer the older, pre-colonial term, Sanatana Dharma, which means, essentially, “eternal path.”
So try it on for Lent, and let the Colbert nation know how it goes. If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to come on your show and help you out, in return for the Colbert Bump.

Courtesy : Huffpost Religion http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-goldberg/colbert-try-hinduism-for-_b_838194.html

Vedanta and yoga perfect match for certain American values

Vedanta and yoga perfect match for certain American values

By Mayank Chhaya, Special to Hi India
December 24, 2010

http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.indian/browse_thread/thread/20c99799aae46f04/54f3552eed86bde1?lnk=raot
There has always been a pervasive but undocumented feeling that Indian philosophy, as manifest in Vedanta on the intellectual plain and yoga on the physical plain, has very significantly influenced the West in general and America in particular. That feeling now finds a meticulously constructed scholastic endorsement in the form of an important new book.
Author Philip Goldberg’s ‘American Veda-From Emerson to the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West’
(Harmony Books, 398 pages, $26) offers a comprehensive account of the inroads made by Indian philosophy since the early 19th century. In an
interview with Hi India Goldberg dwells on how and why Indian philosophy has had such a profound impact in the West.
Hi India: To what do you attribute the fact that Indian philosophy has had as deep an impact on the West as your book so carefully establishes?
Philip Goldberg: The combination of Vedanta and Yoga was a perfect match for certain American values: freedom of choice and religion,
individuality, scientific rationality, and pragmatism. They appealed especially to well-educated Americans who were discontent with ordinary religion and unsatisfied by secularism, giving them a way to be authentically spiritual without compromising their sense of reason, their consciences or their personal inclinations.
HI: Is it as much a tribute to the openness of the West as it is to the appeal of Indian philosophy?
PG: Yes, indeed. I think the great teachers who came here from India were very much aware of that, and they adapted the teachings accordingly.
HI: Do you think the mainstreaming of Indian philosophy, as manifest in the widespread practice of yoga, has to do a great deal with the
fact that a lot of it comes across as secular and even agnostic?
PG: Yes, I think the remarkable growth of the “spiritual but not religious” cohort of Americans would have been unthinkable without access to the practices derived from Hinduism and Buddhism. In addition, the philosophy was presented so rationally that its premises could be regarded as hypotheses, and the practices were so uniform and so widely applicable that they lent themselves to scientific experimentation.
HI: Is there a sense among Americans drawn to Indian philosophy that it is dogma free and therefore non-threatening?
PG: Yes, and premises that might be taken as dogma were usually presented by teachers as ideas to be verified by one’s own experience, not as take-it-or-leave-it or believe-it-or-else doctrine.
HI: The Bhagvad Gita, for instance, is essentially a distilled, unemotional, remarkably modern code of conduct that is shorn of any denominational doctrines. Do you think that helps the cause of Indian philosophy?
PG: You bet. And not just a code of conduct, but also a manual for self-realization. People of all faiths and no faith have cherished it for that reason.
HI: Does the fact that Hinduism is not institutionalized, codified, congregational or instructional help in its spread?
PG: Certainly that’s true of the Hindu-based teachings that caught on with Americans, which were not even called Hinduism as such. The fact
that Hinduism, even in India, is decentralized, diverse, non- institutional, etc., made it convincing that anyone can adopt the teachings without converting to a foreign religion.
HI: One detects two distinct trends in your book in support of your primary contention about how Indian spirituality changed the West. One trend is at the operational level where words such as mantra, guru, karma and pundits have so seamlessly become part of the mainstream lexicon. The other trend is much deeper in terms of internalizing the core values of Indian philosophy. Do you think people in America are conscious of this?
PG: Some are conscious of it, and therefore grateful to the Indian legacy. Others are not: it’s seeped into the American consciousness in subtle but profound ways.
HI: You speak about Americans accepting everything, from falafel to philosophy, depending on the circumstances. What do you think made
the circumstances right for them to accept some of the core philosophical concepts from India?
PG: The rise of secularism, the success of science and especially the widespread alienation from both materialistic values and mainstream
religion, which was not providing reliable methods of personal transformation and transcendence.
HI: When you talk of “Vedization of America”, do you mean that it has been a conscious development? Could it, for instance, also not have
been a consequence of secularization/pluralization that the rise of agnostic information technologies?
PG: If you mean, could the trends I describe be attributed to the growth of pluralism and other social forces, independent of the Indian influence, it is very hard to say. Certainly, the combination of factors made for a perfect storm. I tend to think that the experiential practices of meditation and yoga, and the intellectual framework of Vedanta, accelerated, deepened and broadened what might have been an inevitable but morphous evolution.
HI: In your long experience studying this subject, are people surprised when you point out the widespread influence of Indian philosophy? What are their typical reactions?
PG: The most common response I’ve had is similar to my own once I dug into my formal research for the book: “I knew Indian spiritual teachings had influenced America, but I didn’t realize it was quite that widespread or that profound.” They’re surprised by the subtlety of it, and by the non-obvious streams and tributaries through which the teachings spread.
HI: Do you apprehend any organized backlash or, at the very least, pushback against once it is popularly recognized that Indian philosophy is more deeply entrenched here than they have understood?
PG: Not a big one, but some of it is inevitable. There has always been a backlash from both mainstream religion – conservative Christians in particular – and the anti-religious left. Vivekananda faced up to it in 1893, and all the important gurus were confronted by it. Right now, there’s an anti-yoga campaign by some Christian preachers. I’d be very pleased if my book becomes a lightning rod for such a controversy. Bring ’em on!
HI: How do you look at trends such as people saying that yoga is a Hindu tool and ought to be countered with a Christian yoga?
PG: That’s a more complicated issue than is often realized. The question, “Is yoga a form of Hinduism” depends entirely on how one defines both yoga and Hinduism. That there are people teaching Christian Yoga and Jewish Yoga strikes me as a backhanded compliment to one of the great glories of the Vedic tradition: it’s universality and adaptability. That having been said, the idea that yoga is “a Hindu tool,” i.e., a form of stealth conversion, strikes me as a projection by Christians of their own messianic drive to convert the “heathen.” That conversion is not in the Hindu repertoire – and that the gurus and swamis and yoga masters are content to have their students become better Christians – is hard for many to comprehend.
HI: Do you think that it is the intellectual underpinnings of Vedanta or the mind/body wellness aspects of yoga which have made people more
comfortable accepting them?
PG: It’s been the combination of the two, and it’s hard to separate them. Certainly, in recent years, the popularity of yoga as a wellness system has been dominant, but that has also exposed millions of people to at least the basic premises of Vedanta.
HI: Do you think that it is the intellectual underpinnings of Vedanta or the mind/body wellness aspects of yoga which have made people more
comfortable accepting them?
PG: It’s been the combination of the two, and it’s hard to separate them. Certainly, in recent years, the popularity of yoga as a wellness system has been dominant, but that has also exposed millions of people to at least the basic premises of Vedanta.
(Mayank Chhaya is a US-based writer and commentator. He can be contacted at m@mayankchhaya.net)

Hindu Group Stirs a Debate Over Yoga’s Soul

November 27, 2010
Hindu Group Stirs a Debate Over Yoga’s Soul
By PAUL VITELLO
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/nyregion/28yoga.html?_r=2&sq=yoga&st=cse&scp=2&pagewanted=print

Yoga is practiced by about 15 million people in the United States, for reasons almost as numerous — from the physical benefits mapped in brain scans to the less tangible rewards that New Age journals call spiritual centering. Religion, for the most part, has nothing to do with it.

But a group of Indian-Americans has ignited a surprisingly fierce debate in the gentle world of yoga by mounting a campaign to acquaint Westerners with the faith that it says underlies every single yoga style followed in gyms, ashrams and spas: Hinduism.

The campaign, labeled “Take Back Yoga,” does not ask yoga devotees to become Hindu, or instructors to teach more about Hinduism. The small but increasingly influential group behind it, the Hindu American Foundation, suggests only that people become more aware of yoga’s debt to the faith’s ancient traditions.

That suggestion, modest though it may seem, has drawn a flurry of strong reactions from figures far apart on the religious spectrum. Dr. Deepak Chopra, the New Age writer, has dismissed the campaign as a jumble of faulty history and Hindu nationalism. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has said he agrees that yoga is Hindu — and cited that as evidence that the practice imperiled the souls of Christians who engage in it.

The question at the core of the debate — who owns yoga? — has become an enduring topic of chatter in yoga Web forums, Hindu American newspapers and journals catering to the many consumers of what is now a multibillion-dollar yoga industry.

In June, it even prompted the Indian government to begin making digital copies of ancient drawings showing the provenance of more than 4,000 yoga poses, to discourage further claims by entrepreneurs like Bikram Choudhury, an Indian-born yoga instructor to the stars who is based in Los Angeles. Mr. Choudhury nettled Indian officials in 2007 when he copyrighted his personal style of 26 yoga poses as “Bikram Yoga.”

Organizers of the Take Back Yoga effort point out that the philosophy of yoga was first described in Hinduism’s seminal texts and remains at the core of Hindu teaching. Yet, because the religion has been stereotyped in the West as a polytheistic faith of “castes, cows and curry,” they say, most Americans prefer to see yoga as the legacy of a more timeless, spiritual “Indian wisdom.”

“In a way,” said Dr. Aseem Shukla, the foundation’s co-founder, “our issue is that yoga has thrived, but Hinduism has lost control of the brand.”

For many practitioners, including Debbie Desmond, 27, a yoga instructor in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the talk of branding and ownership is bewildering.

“Nobody owns yoga,” she said, sitting cross-legged in her studio, Namaste Yoga, and tilting her head as if the notion sketched an impossible yoga position she had never seen. “Yoga is not a religion. It is a way of life, a method of becoming. We were taught that the roots of yoga go back further than Hinduism itself.”

Like Dr. Chopra and some religious historians, Ms. Desmond believes that yoga originated in the Vedic culture of Indo-Europeans who settled in India in the third millennium B.C., long before the tradition now called Hinduism emerged. Other historians trace the first written description of yoga to the Bhagavad Gita, the sacred Hindu scripture believed to have been written between the fifth and second centuries B.C.

The effort to “take back” yoga began quietly enough, with a scholarly essay posted in January on the Web site of the Hindu American Foundation, a Minneapolis-based group that promotes human rights for Hindu minorities worldwide. The essay lamented a perceived snub in modern yoga culture, saying that yoga magazines and studios had assiduously decoupled the practice “from the Hinduism that gave forth this immense contribution to humanity.”

Dr. Shukla put a sharper point on his case a few months later in a column on the On Faith blog of The Washington Post. Hinduism, he wrote, had become a victim of “overt intellectual property theft,” made possible by generations of Hindu yoga teachers who had “offered up a religion’s spiritual wealth at the altar of crass commercialism.”

That drew the attention of Dr. Chopra, an Indian-American who has done much to popularize Indian traditions like alternative medicine and yoga. He posted a reply saying that Hinduism was too “tribal” and “self-enclosed” to claim ownership of yoga.

The fight went viral — or as viral as things can get in a narrow Web corridor frequented by yoga enthusiasts, Hindu Americans and religion scholars.

Loriliai Biernacki, a professor of Indian religions at the University of Colorado, said the debate had raised important issues about a spectrum of Hindu concepts permeating American culture, including meditation, belief in karma and reincarnation, and even cremation.

“All these ideas are Hindu in origin, and they are spreading,” she said. “But they are doing it in a way that leaves behind the proper name, the box that classifies them as ‘Hinduism.’ ”

The debate has also secured the standing of the Hindu American Foundation as the pre-eminent voice for the country’s two million Hindus, said Diana L. Eck, a professor of comparative religion and Indian studies at Harvard. Other groups represent Indian-Americans’ interests in business and politics, but the foundation has emerged as “the first major national advocacy group looking at Hindu identity,” she said.

Dr. Shukla said reaction to the yoga campaign had far exceeded his expectations.

“We started this, really, for our kids,” said Dr. Shukla, a urologist and a second-generation Indian-American. “When our kids go to school and say they are Hindu, nobody says, ‘Oh, yeah, Hindus gave the world yoga.’ They say, ‘What caste are you?’ Or ‘Do you pray to a monkey god?’ Because that’s all Americans know about Hinduism.”

With its tiny budget, the foundation has pressed its campaign largely by generating buzz through letters and Web postings to academic journals and yoga magazines. The September issue of Yoga Journal, which has the largest circulation in the field, alluded to the campaign, if fleetingly, in an article calling yoga’s “true history a mystery.”

The effort has been received most favorably by Indian-American community leaders like Dr. Uma V. Mysorekar, the president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, in Flushing, Queens, which helps groups across the country build temples.

A naturalized immigrant, she said Take Back Yoga represented a coming-of-age for Indians in the United States. “My generation was too busy establishing itself in business and the professions,” she said. “Now, the second and third generation is looking around and finding its voice, saying, ‘Our civilization has made contributions to the world, and these should be acknowledged.’ ”

In the basement of the society’s Ganesha Temple, an hourlong yoga class ended one recent Sunday morning with a long exhalation of the sacred syllable “om.” Via the lung power of 60 students, it sounded as deeply as a blast from the organ at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

After the session, which began and concluded with Hindu prayers, many students said they were practicing Hindus and in complete sympathy with the yoga campaign.

Not all were, though. Shweta Parmar, 35, a community organizer and project director for a health and meditation group, said she had grown up in a Hindu household. “Yoga is part of the tradition I come from,” she said.

But is yoga specifically Hindu? She paused to ponder. “My parents are Hindu,” she said. But in matters of yoga, “I don’t use that term.”

Will sick pseudo- secularists stop running down religion? – M.V. Kamath

Will sick pseudo- secularists stop running down religion? – M.V. Kamath
http://www.freepressjournal.in/Details.aspx?id=3074&boxid=232238437

If India has not often got what it deserved by way of recognition, it is because of our sick pseudo- secularists who revel in running down their own religion, not to speak of their own country. The more they run down their country and their ancient culture, the more they feel self- fulfilled.
What sort of people are Hindus? What sort of people have they been down the centuries as barbarians from Central Asia and elsewhere mounted assault after assault on their coveted land? Servile, according to some foreign observers.
In his book The Crimson Throne, Sudhir Kakar refers to a diary maintained by an Italian traveller who came to India in the 17th Century to Goa to find most of the Hindus “ utterly cowed down” by the Portuguese who looked down on them “ with disdain” and denied them the right even to wear shoes! The Italian Niccoleo Menucci, like another traveller, a Frenchman, Francois Bernier, journeyed to Delhi where they lived under the Mughal Court and watched how Hindus were treated. Abominably, it turned out. Bernier has given instance after instance of how Hindus were insulted by the Muslims under Mughal rule, and at one point he writes: “ There are five or six idolaters for every Mohammadan.
It is astonishing to see how this enormous multitude has allowed itself to be subjected by so small a number of Mohammadan princes”. According to Bernier, “ the mohammadans rightly despise the idolaters as a naive and primitive people”. There is more such stuff in the book. Then read Meenakshi Jain’s Parallel Pathways: Essays on Hindu- Muslim Relations ( 1707- 1857). In the course of his third attack in 1757 Ahmed Shah Abdali destroyed the holy city of Mathura.
The Jesuit Tieffenthaler described the event. “ They burnt the houses together with the inmates, slaughtering others with the sword and the lance, hauling off into captivity maiden and youths. In the temples they slaughtered cows and smeared the images and pavements with blood”. How many Hindu kings, one may ask, have invaded Afghanistan or Central Asia to destroy mosques and rape Muslims women? Forget the role of Aurangzeb.
A more despicable character has never ruled India. In South India, one had to reckon with Tipu Sultan and what he did to Hindus has to be read to be believed.
Just to celebrate the marriage of his son, according to a British historian James Bristow, in “ a piece of contemptible, fanatical and tyrannical despotism, he compelled 1,00,000 of his defenseless Hindu subjects to embrace Mahamotism on the same day”. Even Christians were not spared of his intolerance which led to the extermination of a total of 40,000 souls. Scores and scores of temples were destroyed or desecrated during Islamic rule in India.
Why should these events be recalled? Why can’t we let bygones be bygones? The answer is simple: One gets disgusted with the way our pseudosecularists has been running down Hindus and giving them a sense of guilt. A time has come to call there wretches to order.
Hindus and pardon the generalization – have invariably been at the other end of the stick. Our history books are bland. Our textbook writers conveniently omit Islamic misdeeds lest they are dammed as communalists. Our psedo- secularists won’t even accept the ` fact’ that the Babri Masjid was built on the very site where a huge structure dedicated to Sri Ram existed and which has destroyed.
Hindus may have a million faults, but no Hindu ruler has gone to Portugal or Spain, destroyed Churches and converted Christians into Hinduism on pain of death. We have a pretty clean record. Our pseudo- secularists want deliberately destroy the selfrespect of Hindus by constantly condemning them as communalists, when they would rather forget all the suffering they have undergone in the past under alien rulers. Believe it, they would rather forget the humiliation that they have suffered in the past and move on, but our pseudo secularists are making it difficult for them. Just for asking that one place the Ram Janmabhoomi be cleared of an illegally constructed Masjid, Hindus are damned to eternity.
Faith is questioned. Let them question the faith of Muslims and Christians and they will know what they will get back in return.
India, it is said, is on its way to be a Great Power. There is no such thing as India is ‘ on its way’. India, even under centuries of tyrannous rule has always been great because India is more than a state: It is a civilization, which has helped it to maintain its place under the most trying circumstances.
If India has not often got what it deserved by way of recognition, it is because of our sick pseudo- secularists who revel in running down their own religion, not to speak of their own country.
The more they run down their country and their ancient culture, the more they feel self- fulfilled. We can achieve wonders and in many ways we have.
True, so much needs to be done, but Rome, its is said, was not built in a day. But our Army engineers set right a broken bridge in Delhi associated with the Commonwealth Games in just four days.
es, there is poverty in the land and don’t our home- grown enemies make so much of it? but at the national level we are a thriving nation. es, in tribal areas, much injustice has been done but there is a growing awareness of it among the people at large and a desire to make amends. That is the first step towards achieving our goal of equality among all Indians.
We don’t have to aspire for greatness. Let us aspire for goodness and leave greatness to China which is proving itself to be a worse imperialist country than Britain was in its heyday. China is today’s imperial power and Pakistan is the running dog of Chinese imperialism.
We Indians aspire for nobody’s land and only want to be left alone.
es, there is corruption in the land but we admit to it and seek to rectify it. India lives under many layers of civilization and culture and that is as much its strength as it is its weakness.
But which country in the world can put up a show such as we did at the inauguration of Commonwealth Games? We don’t have to be apologetic to anyone for anything.
We will overcome our shortcomings as we have done so often in the past to become, not necessarily a Great Nation, but a Good people with an open heart, ready to forget a painful past, ready to work with all people irrespective of their religion, to build an India of our dreams.
That is Hindutwavad, if our pseudo- secularists want to know.
It is said, but if there are just tow idiots in Bollywood films there are two thousand of that variety in our pseudo- secular society. We can build an even greater India if only our pseudo- secularists do not constantly pull us down by our legs.
They need to be called to order and the sooner, the better.

Congress election slogan should be — Jai Ho: Pub Bharo–

Congress election slogan should be — Jai Ho: Pub Bharo–

Congress buys rights for ‘Jai Ho’
http://www.indianexpress.com/comments/Congress%20buys%20rights%20to%20Slumdog%20tune%20%E2%80%98Jai%20Ho%E2%80%99/430766

Is Congress for pub bharo?
http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=280&page=13

M.V. KAMATH
Organiser
March 6, 2009
The survey found that nearly 44.4 per cent of Class 12 students had consumed alcohol in the survey period. Instead of looking at these facts, Sonia Gandhi and Renuka Chowdhury are planning to use the so-called Mangalore pub incident as a political weapon. They don’t seem to realise what damage they are doing to India by their irresponsible behaviour.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is reported to have said that she will fight the upcoming national elections on two issues: One concerning the attack on a pub in Mangalore and the other concerning the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The best advice that one can give to her is: Don’t. On both issues, she will pay for her folly. The Muslim community in India will do the greatest good to itself and to its relations with the majority community if it graciously concedes the Ram Janmabhoomi to its Hindu claimants and not stand on prestige. All these years the Muslims have allowed themselves to be exploited by so-called ‘secularists’ and have needlessly alienated themselves from mainstream India, reaping no benefit whichever way. It has done neither the Muslims nor the Hindus any good. The time has come for the Muslims to change their mindset and concede graciously to the Hindus’
claim
and thereby win the hearts and souls of their fellow citizens. The Muslims will lose nothing thereby.

On the other hand, they will gain the eternal gratitude of Hindus to whom the Ram Janmabhoomi has tremendous emotional significance. One positive step and that will strengthen Hindu-Muslim unity as never before. To both Muslims and Hindus it will be a win-win situation. By attempting to widen the gulf between the two communities Sonia Gandhi will render immense harm to the country which she professes to serve.
A word to the wise should suffice. As for the Mangalore pub controversy, it has been plainly overplayed for political reasons and statements have been made by Congress leaders that call for strong condemnation.
According to Renuka Chowdhury, Women and Child Development Minister there has been “a complete breakdown of law and order in Karnataka”.
Nothing of that sort has happened and by making such highly provocative remarks, the Minister has only hurt her own party’s chances at the forthcoming polls. Complete breakdown of law and order?
Really? What happened in Mumbai during the jehadi siege? Was it an example of high maintenance of law and order with the blood of a couple of hundred innocent people staining the earth? Mangaloreans can do without the patronage of the likes of Renuka Chowdhury and her boss. Besides, in the matter of young people visiting pubs, is the Minister aware of what is happening right under her nose in the capital?

According to a survey conducted by an NGO, called Campaign Against Drunken Driving (CADD) “nearly 80 per cent of those visiting pubs and bars in the Indian capital are below the age of 25 and that of the under-age population at Delhi’s pubs 67 per cent are below 21 years of age”. It would seem that Delhi’s excise laws ban the sale of liquor to or by anyone below 25 years and if an underage person is caught consuming alcohol, or if the vendor is caught, it could mean a fine of Rs 10,000. The CADD study found the laws ineffective, as nearly 33.9 per cent of those below the age of 16 easily procure alcohol from government–authorised liquor shops, bars and pubs.
According to a press report, the law also prohibits any person below the age of 25 years to be employed at any bar or pub and the offence is punishable with a fine of Rs 50,000 or imprisonment of three months to be levied on the outlet. Says a report in the Free Press Journal:
(February 2) “Still nearly 55 per cent of those working as service attendants in bars and restaurants are young boys and girls below the age of 25. The research was conducted from December 2008 to January
2009 among 1,000 youth who go to the pubs and bars. Nearly 85 per cent of the youth surveyed were in the age group of 14-21, even though the legal drinking age is 25 years”.
Can one believe that youngsters between the ages of 14 and 21 visit pubs and that too, in Delhi, where the government is run by the Congres s party under the leadership of Sheila Dixit? How many of the youthful pub-patrons have ever been arrested and how many of the pubs have had to pay a fine? And what have Renuka Chowdhury and Sonia Gandhi to say about these revelations? According to the survey, in Delhi, annually about 2,000 youths under age 21 die from motor vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, homicides and suicides that involve underage drinking. Prince Singhal founder of CADD is quoted as saying:
“Underage drinking is a prelude to drunk driving and thus it is important to curb it in the initial stages, so that it does not end up as a habit among young individuals”.

Another startling fact revealed was that the drinking age in Delhi has gone down from 28 to 19 years since 1990. CADD estimates that in another five to seven years, this figure may come down to 15 years.
The survey found that it is not binding for liquor serving outlets or vends to verify the age of the consumer. But the survey found that nearly 44.4 per cent of Class 12 students had consumed alcohol in the survey period. Instead of looking at these facts, Sonia Gandhi and Renuka Chowdhury are planning to use the so-called Mangalore pub incident as a political weapon. They don’t seem to realise what damage they are doing to India by their irresponsible behaviour.
Should we say that there is no law and order in Delhi? Obviously there isn’t and the police look the other way when teenagers visit pubs. We do not ha ve any information on how long these visitors stay at the bar or how much liquor they drink. Parents obviously are either unaware of what is going on or couldn’t care less. One might damn the Shri Ram Sena to one’s heart’s content for using violence, but at least they seem to care enough. At this point in time we have no statistics as to how old the girls serving drinks are and how many teenagers have been attending the Mangalore pub.
According to the CADD survey it is not binding for liquor serving outlets or vends to verify the age of the consumer; that can only encourage the youngsters to take advantage of such a situation. That all this is happening in Delhi and under a Congress administration suggests not only a weak government that does not care for people but a leadership that is engaged more in talk than in action. Before taking up the Mangalore pub issue as a stone to hit at the BJP, Sonia Gandhi would do well to set right matters within her own political jurisdiction. Both Sonia Gandhi and Renuka Chowdhury surely know what the Bible says: Judge not, least ye be judged.