What is the essence of Hinduism? The question has become topical
of late. Some treat Hinduism as a jumble of creeds and rituals,
ideas and beliefs, in which numerous streams flow. Such a perception,
writes Shri Jagmohan, Union minister for tourism and culture,
"arises primarily from the failure to perceive it in its historical
perspective, and in the inability to separate the pure from the
fake, the profound from the profane, and the lofty from the low."
The Times of India,(May 11)
Hinduism today is in a sorry state. The author grades Hindu thought
and practices at three levels:
The first level would cover the core of Hinduism, its fundamental
message of unity in diversity of man, nature and religion. The
second level would be of the beliefs and practices which came
into existence in response to the needs of the common folk who
could not grasp its intellectual core and had to depend on temples
and images of deities. At the third level would come the spurious
rituals, rites, cults and superstitions.
Reform of Hinduism would involve total elimination of the third
level, refurbishing of the second level and polishing of the
It is time we restored the long-lost dynamic equilibrium of
Hinduism…One of the strongest thrusts of reformed Hinduism would
be to arouse awareness about the need for a reasoned faith.
Most Hindu myths and rituals, parables and legends, have deep
meaning. Their inner rationality must be explored and laid bare;
otherwise they might be used as tools for exploiting the common
folk. It is, therefore, necessary that Hinduism retains no myth
or ritual underneath which reasoned faith cannot be discovered.
Irrational faith cannot bring out spiritual emancipation or
orderliness in society. Reasoned faith, on the other hand, takes
man to higher stages of spirituality. The Upanishads say: "The
rational man has to grow into a spiritual man. That is the task
set to each individual if he has to fulfil his destiny as a
In its highest and purest form, Hinduism means belief in the
cosmic spirit that pervades every part of life….This spirit,
this divinity, is within every man. He has only to awaken his
mind and search for it within. And one can do this without following
any rigid creed or fixed path. In the Bhagavad-Gita,
Lord Krishna tells Arjuna: "Though whatever path men come to
me, I accept them through that very path."
The Vedantic belief of one divinity pervading all living beings
is nothing but a spiritual call for equality, fraternity, liberty
and justice. As the Gita says: 'Seeing the same God equally
present in everything, one does not injure the Self by the self,
and so goes to the highest goal."….If I serve the poor or the
sick, I serve the divinity in the poor and the sick. Could a
more rational and spiritual basis be found for the creation
a humane, compassionate and just social order than this? Is
it anything but spiritual secularism?
As long as the Indian mind is not reformed and the Indians, 80
percent of whom are Hindus, remain what they are, there is little
chance of the country saving itself from recurring crises.
How can success be defined? Mike George, a Senior Management
Consultant and Editor of the magazine Heart and Soul, has
this to say:
Is success simply a completion of the next task, another job
well done, a promise kept, an exam passed, a medal won, a mountain
climbed? Whatever we believe success to be will have a profound
influence on our life. If we were to follow the trends of the
world, then success would be measured by acquisition. The more
you have, the more successful you are. More can be almost any
quantity-objects, money, properties, celebrit6y, fame, fans,
and in terms of position, it simply means higher….
Even our education systems are geared to producing people whose
character and skills are shaped and developed to produce More.
Economic growth is the yardstick for national success based
on the production and selling of More. And amidst all this we
continue to avoid the connection between the philosophy of More
and the unprecedented levels of unhappiness, abuse and breakdown
of human relationships worldwide….
So what does it mean to be successful? At what level, in what
context and by whose standards?….If we were to give ourselves
the time to explore this question we would likely arrive at
the fairly obvious insight that success is not a material thing,
it is not something that can be possessed, it is a state of
being. We might call it contentment, or happiness, or even peace.
These are the deepest and most meaningful symptoms of success,
but only when they are not dependent on anything outside ourselves.
(Purity, May 2002)
Other signs of success, writes Mike George, include: to be able
to act with total honesty and integrity; to be content with oneself
and have others be content with you; to be able to be peaceful
and stable when all around you are in crises or chaos; to value
what you are more than what you have; to accept full responsibility
for all thoughts, feelings, words and actions; to be able to see
past the weaknesses and mistakes of others and focus on their
inherent goodness; to be able to let go of the past; to give without
the desire for anything in return. All these are intangible measures,
which no one else can measure except oneself. --
Non-conventional medicines, also called alternative or com-plementary
medicines, comprise all alternatives to mainstream Western medicine
that is often referred to as conventional medicine. One question
that is often asked about these non-conventional methods is: Are
these alternatives scientific? Prof. Rolf Sattler, in a talk delivered
by him at the International Seminar on "New Perspectives on Holism
and Non-Conventional Medicine," said that endless discussions
on whether alternative medicine is scientific do not appear to
be very useful unless two conditions are met:
1. We have to recognize that alternative medicines are very
diverse and that "science" has many meanings ranging from a
very narrow to a very wide extreme. Exploring this richness
of meanings and consequent applications can be much more beneficial
to the health of the individual and society than insisting on
a particular demarcation of science and non-science….
2. Regardless of what our view of science may be, it is important
to go beyond it. With regard to medicine this means that the
healing arts and spirituality in a non-sectarian sense
should be emphasized. They may help us to further our personal
development, allowing us to become aware of the profound wholeness
that unites us with our environment and the universe. Such awareness
may evoke a feeling of awe and reverence so that we experience
wholeness and holiness.
It is significant that the words "whole" "holy" and "health"
are derived from the same etymological root indicating the profound
relatedness of wholeness, holiness and health. In so-called
primitive societies such as native peoples of America this relation
has been of great importance and has vastly contributed to the
health of these people, their environment and the planet. In
western mainstream culture we have largely ignored this vision
and therefore have suffered ill health individually, socially
and globally. The ecological crisis and many related health
problems at different levels are closely related to a lack of
an appreciation of the whole and holy. It is encouraging, however,
that there is a growing awareness of this lack. Spirituality
in a non-sectarian sense and alternative holistic medicines
may help us regain the balance that sustains health at the individual,
social and global levels. (Holistic Science and Human Values,
There is indeed more to health and healing than just the physical
body and conventional means of healing. Any system of healing
that ignores the whole man is bound to have its limitations.
That diseases do not have just a physical cause is being driven
home to us in many ways. Just a few years ago it was believed
that medicine could win the war against disease. But now old adversaries
are coming back and new infections are emerging, exposing us all
to serious, sometimes unexpected, threats. It is being realized
that human ingenuity cannot best the microbes.
Diseases that are emerging or reemerging around the globe include
ebola, dengue, yellow fever, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera-and
the list goes on. A feature in National Geographic (February
2002) paints a grim picture:
At least 20 major maladies have reemerged in novel, more deadly,
or drug-resistant forms in the past 25 years. Worldwide, scientists
have discovered at least 30 previously unknown human diseases
for which no cure exists, such as Marburg disease and AIDS….
"The world definitely favours the bugs; microbes have the
advantage," says Jim Hughes, Director of the National Centre
for Infectious Diseases at the Centres for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. "There are a lot more of them than
us. Their generation time is minutes instead of years. They
evolve rapidly. And, of course, we aid and abet them in many
ways-by travel, commerce in foodstuffs, transportation of animals,
and our abuse and overuse of antibiotics. We're playing right
into their hands."…
The recent emphasis on bioterrorism obscures a more pedestrian
but equally important truth about infectious diseases: Even
without the element of intentional terror, diseases are a huge
source of human suffering-and a tremendously destabilizing force.
Nearly half of the world's premature deaths are caused by infectious
diseases….It may not be obvious in the healthier nations, but
from a microbe's point of view the world today-even with modern
antibiotics and fancy vaccines-remains a virtual smorgasbord.
With the recent reemergence of some of these diseases in richer
nations, there is a growing recognition that no nation is an
The watchword is "surveillance," and it is the linchpin in
the battle against emerging diseases.
The lesson of infectious diseases is that the world is one.
Says David Heymann, executive director of communicable diseases
at the World Health Organization in Geneva, "Countries have to
realize that infectious diseases, regardless of their origins,
can travel widely and affect anyone." No nation, no matter how
rich or seemingly protected, can be assured of a healthy and peaceful
future as long as any nation is still an active breeding ground
for the world's many and varied scourges.
For the first time, say researchers, they have established a
direct link between the amount of cigarette smoking children see
in films and their decision to try smoking. A team of scientists
led by pediatrician James Sargent asked 4919 American schoolchildren
between the ages of 9 and 15 about the movies they had seen. The
team then calculated the number of smoking scenes each movie contained.
Children exposed to the largest number of smoking scenes were
two and a half times more likely to start than those exposed to
the fewest scenes. And the team accounted for factors such as
rebelliousness and whether the child's parents smoked.
In a previous study, Sargent found that star power may also
contribute: Adolescents whose favourite actors smoked were much
more likely to be smokers "Movies are a bigger influence than
anything other than whether the child's friends smoke," says Sargent.
(Reader's Digest, May 2002, Indian ed.)
The movie industry has to take responsibility for this.
NATURE never deceives us; it is always we who deceive
-JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU