Short Story: What is the true meaning of worshiping God?

By: Keyur Seta

People worship various Gods in various ways. There are innumerable theories and beliefs as to how to worship God and what pleases him/her the most. Some go through various austerities while others believe in saying a silent prayer for few seconds. But what exactly is the meaning of true worship? What pleases God the most?

Have a look at the following two scenarios and decide for yourself:-

1)

Mr X is a super-rich industrialist, living in the plush Cuffe Parade locality of south Mumbai. His family, which consists of his wife, two kids and mother, has access to all the luxuries one could imagine. His kids go to the most expensive school in the city. Buying new clothes, gadgets, accessories and what not is a continuous process for them. His family just needs a reason to throw parties that cost lakhs of rupees.

Mr X’s family is also very religious. They have a chamber in their apartment where they perform religious activities twice daily, without fail. His family religiously follows and celebrates all holy days and festivals as per the religious calendar. They are also seen embarking to holy places at least 4-5 times each year. Needless to say, they spend a bomb in religious activities too.

2)

Swami-VivekanandaLiving in the Girgaum area of south Mumbai, Mr Y hails from a simple middle-class family. He is a bank executive in a bank while his wife works with an insurance company. Naturally, their income falls in the average category. Their only child goes to a normal private school. Although Mr and Mrs Y believe in God, they aren’t ritualistic. They hardly visit places of worship and never go for holy trips.

Despite the fact that they don’t earn handsomely, the couple has been saving money since a year to contribute to the needy farmers of the Marathwada district, who are committing suicide due to drought and debt. They also involve themselves in various social issues selflessly whenever they get a chance.

So, the question arises as to who exactly is worshiping God here? Family X or family Y?

You decide.

Actors Nana Patekar and Makarand Anaspure have been selflessly working towards the cause of farmers of Maharashtra. They have been contributing from their own pocketss despite not being rich. They have started an NGO called NAM Foundation.

You can contribute any amount that suits you by following the following method:-

Send in your amount to “NAM Foundation”

SBI Current account no. 35226127148

IFSC Code no. SBIN0006319

SWIFT Code no. SBININBB238

 

“If a stray dog of my country remains without food, my religion will be to feed and take care of him. All else is either non-religion of false religion.”

“He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva. And if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary.”

– Swami Vivekananda

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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:-

They were busy celebrating Holi. What happened next will melt your heart… (Short story)

By: Keyur Seta

“Will it be Happy Holi for us this year?” The six-year-old girl with two ponytails asked her mom in a sad tone. The mother was dying to answer in the affirmative but she couldn’t lie. All she could do was caress the little one’s head. She tried hiding their helplessness through a fake smile, not sure whether it would work… It didn’t. Her husband didn’t know what to say.

Few hundred kilometers away in Mumbai, a group of college kids were having the time of their lives at a Holi party in a resort in the Juhu area. Water was flowing almost as freely as air. Although their bodies were drenched, they were asking for more, with the ear-splitting DJ music taking them further into a trance.

Each one of them had planned the day long ago. They were lucky enough to be there since one was required to book in advance, despite being ready to shell out a huge amount. This was inclusive of Bhaang or liquor. There were some in the crowd who were crazily high despite not having taken any of these substances.

Marathwada-drought
Picture: Saddahaq.com

Just then, something out of the blue, took all of them aback. The water stopped flowing. Loud sighs and abuses were being heard. After making some enquiries with the staff, they realized that it was due to some issue between the resort and the municipal corporation of the city.

But the youngsters were not ready to take any of this. The abuses continued. “Such a flop Holi this turned out to be,” said one. “It’s terrible,” said another. A loud voice was heard, “It’s not a Happy Holi anymore. It’s unhappy Holi.”

Few hundred kilometers away in Marathwada district, a woman was seated under a banyan tree. Its leaves had dried off due to the terrible drought. But it had enough to protect her from the scorching heat. It was yet another day her family would be forced to live without water; rather survive.

With wells drying off, they were solely dependent on water tankers provided by the government, which arrived once a week. It was scheduled to come that day. But unfortunately, the villagers were been given a shattering news that the state transporters had gone onto a strike. There would be no water.

The woman knew that the rest of the country would be busy wasting water in the name of Holi while wishing each other, “Happy Holi.” Before the bad news was broken, she had told her husband, “If we get a decent amount of water for our basic use, that itself would mean a Happy Holi to us.” But that was not to be.

When the three of them were sitting helpless, her six-year-old daughter with ponytails asked, “Will it be Happy Holi for us this year?” The mother was dying to answer in the affirmative but she couldn’t lie. All she could do was caress her little one’s head. She tried hiding their helplessness through a fake smile, not sure whether it would work… It didn’t.

She looked away from her child as she couldn’t bear the sight of her dejected face. Just as she turned away, her eyes fell on the faraway road. The scene instantly brought a smile of relief on her face. She turned to her daughter and said, “It is a Happy Holi for us.”

As she lifted her up and walked towards the road, the tanker came nearer. The strike was called off just few moments ago.

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

 

Book Review: The Rozabal Line


Rating:
* * * ½

Review By: Keyur Seta

Even before the halfway stage in The Rozabal Line, you realize that Ashwin Sanghi’s knowledge about various religions, conspiracy theories related to some religions and other global issues is simply outstanding. This coupled with his amazing writing and storytelling skills make The Rozabal Line a roller-coaster theological saga, despite some glaring issues.

The story takes place across continents and time zones. In 2006, Father Vincent Sinclair, an American Priest, starts seeing weird visions after a tragic incident. His aunt Martha helps him decode them through her knowledge of Indian spiritualism and mysticism. Swakilki, a young and beautiful Japanese woman, has been serially killing people across the world. She is following the orders of Alberto Cardinal Valerio, head of Crux Decussata Permuta in Vatican City.

Picture: Flipkart
Picture: Flipkart

The Lashkar-e-Talatashar, an arm of Lashkar-e-Taiba, has vowed to create havoc in the world. Ghalib, their leader, and his 12 subordinates have planned something dangerously sinister in the year 2012. Their fate has striking resemblance with Jesus Christ and his 12 Apostles. How these unrelated characters cross paths forms the rest of the story. The book also explores the theory of Jesus’ connection with India.

Like all good thrillers, The Rozabal Line keeps you hooked from the very first page. As the story moves back and forth, from the period of B.C to 2012, it not only increases your excitement but it also gets you in awe of Sanghi’s vision, imagination and knowledge. To narrate your tale in 100 different time zones and various places is a mammoth task for anyone. Plus, Sanghi’s smart mixture of rich and simple language further helps the cause.

Reincarnation is a major ingredient in the story. But it should be noted how the author has presented that aspect in a practical and mature manner. In fact, after going through the reincarnation process mentioned here, you might laugh at how Bollywood has presented this subject.

But The Rozabal Line is far from being truly superlative. Although the climax provides a spiritually enlightening feeling, you realize that various subplots, characters and incidents were unnecessary. Even the basic aim of the tale appears unclear. There is an overdose of information, which is confusing and difficult to keep track, especially since the focus keeps moving through these many time zones. It makes us feel as if the author wanted to flaunt his terrific knowledge.

Having said this, there are enough reasons to grab The Rozabal Line if you are a lover of thriller novels.

Author: Ashwin Sanghi

Publishers: Westland Ltd.

Pages: 346

Genre: Theological Thriller

Original Price: Rs. 295 (Reduced rates on Flipkart & Amazon.)

This beautiful video will force you to question everything around you!

It is said that a picture speaks a thousand words. Going by this logic, a moving picture should speak many more than thousand words. This holds true at least for the video below. It is a fusion footage from movies Samsara (2011) and Baraka (1992). It will force you to question everything that the world and we ourselves are doing in our lives.

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See it for yourself:-

Ecosystem calling, answer now or regret forever!

By: Keyur Seta

Picture: FB page 'Wake Up World'
Picture: FB page ‘Wake Up World’

Ever since our childhood we have been told that we should respect, protect and conserve nature. Many of us have started believing in it more ever since terms like Global Warming and Climate Change have come into being.

But after attending a five-hour session titled ‘Philosophy of Ecology’ at New Acropolis (Mumbai), I have now literally started worshiping nature. It was pretty much the same with others who participated in the session.

The seminar dug into the deeper aspect of ‘Ecology’ and what we humans have reduced it to due to various reasons, including greed. But unlike most seminars or lectures, this one was more practical and interactive. Hence, the participants took back with them a lot of things rather than just attending and forgetting about it after it’s over.

Highlights of the session:-

Baraka Movie:- The video below shook us. It is a footage from the non-verbal movie Baraka. It shows the true, raw beauty of nature in various forms and later focuses on how we have destroyed it through our greed, materialism and consumerism. The mesmerizing visuals transforming into something so brutal is heartbreaking even for those who aren’t nature lovers. Then what to say of the people gathered there? A lady vowed to give up non-vegetarian food after witnessing the process through which chicken is produced.

Here is the video:-

Composting:- An entire process of Composting was practically presented. For those who don’t know, Composting is a process through which fertile manure is produced from sheer garbage. The fertile compost can be used to grow your own food. To learn Composting, visit an organization called ‘Dirt’ by clicking HERE.

Process of Composting (Picture: Acrd.bc.ca)
Process of Composting (Picture: Acrd.bc.ca) Click to Enlarge

Solution to Global Warming:- We should plant as many plants as possible on our terrace. There are innumerable buildings in a city like Mumbai. Just imagine the positive effect on the environment of high number of plants on lakhs of terraces in Mumbai. This will help fight Global Warming, although at a minor level.

Native Americans:- One of the themes of the seminar was that to solve the problems of today by looking back to the past. To explain this, information and insight on Native Americans was presented.

Here is its summary:-

  • They worship nature diligently.
  • From their teachings, it is evident that they learnt about destruction way back 300 years ago, before the industrial revolution.
  • They believe that nature holds all the aces.
  • Pregnant women were sent to forests where she would give birth to her baby all by herself. It is believed that a baby born through such a process will be strong.
  • They give names to children after nature.
  • They firmly believe in giving away what they have. In case if a person becomes possessive about something, he is said to be weak.
  • As and when they need to hunt an animal for food, they plead in front of it to let them consume it. The remains of the animal are respectfully buried.
Native American (Picture: Imageblogs.org)
Native American (Picture: Imageblogs.org)

Chief Seattle’s Letter:- Chief Seattle, who was the Chief of Squamish Indians, wrote to the America in 1800 explaining why nature or land should never be bought and how they see God in everything. This letter will undoubtedly move anyone. Read it HERE.

Here is a gist of other important points presented:-

  • Animals eat only as much as they require. Hence, they don’t have problems like obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, etc.
  • Sun consistently arrives each morning, come what may. He is an ideal example of consistency.
  • “Know yourself, only then you will know the Cosmos and Gods.” – Temple of Apollo in Delphi, Greece.
  • Symptoms of any issue can be treated. But to heal, one needs to go to the root of the problem.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – M K Gandhi.