Shani Shingnapur Row: Why April 7 was a landmark day for Gender Equality in India?

By: Keyur Seta

The scene of Trupti Desai and other women activists entering the inner sanctum of Shani Shingnapur temple was pure delight for those who care about gender equality in India.

Weeks of relentless protests despite police and administration brutality have finally paid off. After 400 long years, women were finally allowed inside the inner sanctum of Shani Shingnapur temple. The so-called trustees had to finally bow down to the dedication of protestors.

Shani-ShingnapurDespite the law being equal for both and the recent Bombay High Court order assuring the same, women weren’t allowed in the inner sanctum due to some atrocious and chauvinistic beliefs (not tradition). But the theories of sexist bigots are finally kicked out! Seriously, throwing away a practice as old as 400 years is a terrific achievement.

April 7, 2016 was a landmark day for gender equality in India. A big salute to all those women who kept on fighting. For the uninitiated, Desai and many others like her have been protesting near the temple against such discrimination. Despite brutalities from police, administration and chauvinistic villagers, they didn’t give up. Seriously, many of us would have.

But the road ahead is still very long. There are countless self-proclaimed dharam ke thekedaars aka sexist bigots and their so-called theories that still are against women visiting certain religious places, despite no law or religious text stopping them. The Trambakeshwar Temple in Nashik and Mumbai’s Haji Ali dargah are few such examples.

However, there has at least been a start. May this be a stepping stone towards complete gender equality in India.
Watch women devotees entering the inner sanctum after 400 years:-

PHOTOS: Ramakrishna Mission Universal Temple Golden Jubilee

By: Keyur Seta

The Universal Temple at the Mumbai branch of Ramakrishna Mission has always held a special place among its devotees or followers. As per the name, the Universal temple is home to all major religions.

The temple has just completed its Golden Jubilee (50 years). The occasion is been celebrated with enthusiasm as well as simplicity from January 24 to 26, 2016.

Have a look at the pictures from the event:-

Ramakrishna-Mission Mumbai

Ramakrishna Mission Mumbai

IMG_20160125_204130039_HDR

Ramakrishna-Mission-Mumbai

Ramakrishna Mission-Khar

Ramakrishna Mission Khar

IMG_20160125_204836408

 

IMG_20160125_204459979
Devotional songs by Pandit Dhruba Ghosh

5 inspiring incidents from Swami Vivekananda’s life

Swami Vivekananda’s birthday, which falls on January 12, is celebrated as National Youth Day in India. When Narendra Nath Datta was born on this day in 1863, who would have imagined him to become one of the brightest enlightening lights the world has seen?

Even 153 years after his birth and 114 years after his death, Swami Vivekananda’s messages and teachings continue to inspire people not just in India but world over, especially the youth. Swami Vivekananda’s life is full of amazing incidents. Therefore, these incidents are not mere incidents but an ocean of positive enlightenment.

On the pious occasion of the 153rd Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, let’s have a look at the 5 most enlightening and inspiring incidents from his life.

1) At Mount Abu Swami Vivekananda stayed with a Muslim lawyer who invited him saying, “If you would condescend to live with me, I shall feel myself greatly blessed. But I am a Mussalman. I shall, of course, make separate arrangements for your food.” Swamiji didn’t hear a word of that. When being asked by a visitor, “Well, Swamiji, you are a Hindu monk. How is it that you are living with a Muslim? Your food might, now and then, be touched by him.”

(READ: How Swami Vivekananda attacked communalism, casteism, class division in one go)

Swamiji, who couldn’t stand any differentiation on the basis of religion and caste, sternly replied, “Sir, what do you mean? I am a Sanyasin. I am above all your social conventions. I can dine even with a Bhangi. I am not afraid of God because He sanctions it. I am not afraid of the scriptures for they allow it. But I am afraid of you people and your society. You know nothing of God and scriptures. I see Brahman everywhere, manifested even through the meanest of creature. For me, there is nothing high or low. Shiva Shiva!”

Swami Vivekananda 2

2) Once Swamiji was given a rousing reception at a railway station in America as he got down from the train. A Negro porter went forward to shake hands with him saying: “Congratualations! I am extremely delighted that a man of my race has attained such great honor! The entire Negro community in this country feels proud of you!’ Swamiji eagerly shook hands with the porter and said warmly, “Thank you, brother!” He refused to deny he was a Negro.

When asked why he didn’t reveal that he wasn’t a Negro, he angrily replied, “What? Should I rise at the expense of other? I was not born for that!”

Swami Vivekananda Statue

3) Once, Swamiji was having a lengthy trek in the Himalayas. He found an old man extremely exhausted and standing despairingly at the foot of an upward incline. The old man said to Swamiji in frustration, “Oh, sir I don’t know how I am going to cross it; I cannot walk any longer; my chest will halt.”

Swamiji said, “Look down at your feet. The road which is under your feet is the road that you have crossed over and is the same road that you see beforehand you; it will quickly be under your feet.” These words inspired the old man to continue his onward trek.

Swami Vivekananda - Youth_2

4) When Swamiji was traveling across India, he came across a cobbler, who was looked down upon due to his profession. Therefore, the cobbler too felt the same about his profession. Swamiji tried igniting self-respect in him saying, “Your profession is very noble. It is only because of you that people are able to roam around without feeling the heat of the earth.” These words had a magical impact on the cobbler and he instantly developed self-respect for his work. No work is lowly!

Swami Vivekananda Message

5) During his voyage across India, Swamiji once halted at a railway station in Rajasthan, where he used to preach his message to eager listeners. However, three days passed by and nobody offered him any food. A cobbler noticed this and expressed his desire to offer him food. But he was scared since he belonged to a lower caste. However, Swamiji, who was against the notion of caste, happily accepted food from him.

Some people, having noticed this, condemned Swamiji for accepting food cooked by a cobbler. To this, Swamiji angrily replied, “You people claim to be gentleman and boast of your high caste; what is more shameful that you condemn this man for being from a low caste. Can you overlook the humanity he has just shown and despise him without feeling ashamed?”

Vivekananda- Parliament of religons

When Ramakrishna monks recited Bible on Christmas eve…

By: Keyur Seta

Christmas Eve is an important occasion at all Ramakrishna Mission centers across the world. It was on December 24 in the year 1886 when Swami Vivekananda, then known as Narendra Nath Datta, and his brother disciples acquired monasticism (Brahmacharya).

Ramakrishna-Mission-ChristmasThey later established the the first Ramakrishna Mission center at Belur in Kolkata, named after their Guru Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. The place is known as the Belur Math. In other words, Swami Vivekananda’s mission towards inspiring and serving humanity began on Christmas Eve.

Therefore, every Christmas Eve is celebrated in a unique way at every Ramakrishna Mission centers. Catholic Priests are specially invited for the occasion.

The scenes were the same this year too at the Mumbai math. As per the scheduled rituals, the event started off with Jesus Aarti. This was followed by the recitation of The Holy Bible by Swami Mukteshanandaji. After a speech by Swami Sarvalokanandaji, Father Philip D’Souza gave a discourse on Christmas and the need for harmony.

Lastly, Swami Kamalakantandaji and party sang Christmas Carols and the closing song.

Merry Christmas to one and all 🙂

christmas-ramakrishna
Jesus Aarti during last year’s celebrations

 

World Yoga Day: 8 enormous benefits from simple Yoga techniques

By: Keyur Seta

A monk from the Ramakrishna Order, who shares a good rapport with me, has been telling me since last few years that it would be impossible for people living in metros or urban areas to survive without spirituality. After looking at the lives of working professionals around us, including ourselves, we can’t disagree with him.

The keen interest in Yoga these days is a big indication that people are becoming more and more concerned about themselves and their state of mind, thanks to the stressful lives they have been leading. This is exactly why the initiative of World Yoga Day has received such a positive response from almost every section of the society.

Picture: Wikipedia
Picture: Wikipedia

The United Nations (UN) declared June 21 as the World Yoga Day or International Yoga Day after India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed the same during his address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014. This decision received a resounding response world over with more than 177 countries readily agreeing to be a part of it. So, the stage is set for the first World or International Yoga Day on June 21, 2015.

The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’, which means ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’. So, it basically means to connect your mind, body and spirit to lead a better or balanced life. Hence, it is senseless to say that Yoga is limited to a particular religion (Hinduism) because people from all religion and creed have a right to live a stress-free or peaceful life.

But practicing Yoga doesn’t necessarily mean one needs to master those difficult and masterly postures. Although there are a wide range of techniques and teachings related to Yoga, it is absolutely fine even if you practice some simple ones on a daily basis.

Even resorting to simple practices like Shavasana, Sarvangasana, Matsyasana, Paschimotasana, Bhujangasana, Shalabhasana, Dhanurasana, Pada Hastasana and Trikonasana can trigger some tremendous positive changes in your body and mind. I can guarantee this from my personal experience. Learn more about these basic Asanas by clicking HERE.

Here are the 8 enormous benefits I experienced after doing some simple Yoga:-

Stamina: Just after a week of practicing Yoga, I noticed a considerable increase in my energy level and stamina. Even after roaming around Mumbai in the terrible heat, I didn’t feel tired or fatigued like I used to do earlier.

Sleep: I not only experienced sound sleep, I also didn’t have any problem whatsoever to wake up daily as early as 5:30 am, without the feeling of dragging myself out of bed. A good night’s sleep solves almost half of your health issues.

Stress: Some stress is required to perform tasks efficiently. But stress becomes a problem if it exceeds the initial levels. While studying or doing any other task, I realized that my stress level reduced drastically. I could perform tasks by being more relaxed.

Picture: moonladyyoga.wordpress.com
Picture: moonladyyoga.wordpress.com (Click to enlarge)

Concentration: My concentration power increased while reading or trying to understand something. The same can be said about my attention span.

Digestion: I was facing digestion issues. But they almost vanished just days after I started practicing Yoga. Various Asanas greatly help in regulating your bowel movements.

Physique: Proper Asanas when coupled with Kapalbharati helps you get into shape and maintain your physique. This is important because having a healthy body invariably affects your mind positively. The same happened with me. My excess body fat got reduced.

Immunity: Yoga also greatly helped me in keeping illnesses at bay. Having a strong immune system was a great relief indeed! Who wishes to pay those unnecessary doctor fees?

Mood: There was a stark increase in my overall outlook towards like after treading the path of Yoga, especially while indulging in Meditation. It made me more cheerful than before and made me accept certain truths and situations about life.

Our ancient teachings and scriptures contain all the answers to the issues faced today. Let us grab it and say a big YES to the balanced union of mind, body and spirit!

Display of Oneness: Sant Nirankari Exhibition

By: Keyur Seta

Nature hasn’t created any difference among humans. We all have the same flesh and bones. But since time immemorial, humans are being divided in various ways through various evil forces. This division is the root cause of all human suffering in the history of mankind.

The scenario is the same even in 2015. Despite the clout of education and urbanization, evil forces are dividing us and are also being successful in it. The reason for this is the lack of awareness of the basic truth that we all have the same flesh and bones. So, it becomes necessary for someone to lead us to this truth.

Sant Nirankari Mission, under the guidance of Dhan Nirankar ji, has taken up the task of highlighting the oneness or equality among human beings from all race, religion, caste, creed, class or whatever. Its sole aim is to spread the message of unity in various ways through the message of world peace.

The organization had recently held an exhibition of oneness, unity or humanity in Mumbai. With the help of a lot of volunteers, they pointed out the fact that all humans are the same and all divisions, created among them, is man-made.

Have a look at the pictures/ photos from the exhibition:-

sant-nirankari-jiunity-symbol100_9437hindi-shayari100_9433100_9432symbol-of-unitydhan-nirankari-jidhan-nirankaridhan-nirankari-social-work