What Is Pure Devotion?


 

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A story quite fresh in my mind (but the source where I got it from is quite vague in my mind, probably I heard it during school days and most probably a parable but has a deep impactful meaning). The Story goes like this:

Once Naarada asks Naarayana (Shri Vishnu Bhagwan) “Hey Lord, who is your most devoted devotee on the Earth?”

To this Lord Vishnu showed a poor farmer on the Earth and asked Naarada Muni to look at one day of his life and get back to him.

Naarada Muni, as ordered by Lord Vishnu went to him but a little bit confused. Lord Vishnu was with his blissful appearance and with a smile greeted Naarada Muni “so what did you find? Did you get to know why he is the most devoted devotee?”

To this Naarada Muni said “Dear Lord, I watched him an entire day, not even a fraction of second wasted but during the entire day he remembered you just four times. No extensive ritual, just took your name, that’s it. Then how is that you consider his devotion towards you to be the best? Please enlighten me Oh Lord!”

Lord Vishnu replied Naarada Muni “He remembered me when he woke up in the morning, expressed his gratitude for the life that has been awarded to him, for having woken up hale and hearty for yet another day and then he set out for his work. With all concentration he performed his duties, not even for a moment he squandered away time in thinking or talking ill of others. Never for a moment he cursed his fate for the hard work under unfavourable conditions he has to carry day in day and day out. He thanked me twice again when he set out to have his meal. His platter was not full with sumptuous dishes yet he didn’t go hungry and by offering his prayers he showed his gratitude yet again . And never did any hungry person went back empty handed from his door. He showed his compassion equally on both human beings and animals and shared whatever little he could afford. This is a mirror to his belief that God exists in every creature. And before ending his day he again with folded hands and utmost humility expressed his gratitude for ending yet another day on a happy note – no injuries, no illness, no hunger and to be alive.”

Lord Vishnu continued “Naarada the very soul of devotion is to be righteous, to walk the path shown by me and above all have compassion and benevolence. But what people tend to believe that following rituals blindly will please me. Rituals are for their benefit only.  But people without a fail follow rituals because they fear my wrath for non performance but the deeds that actually could earn my ire are still a part of their routines.  one puts forward a charade of worshipping me while his or her heart is full of malice for fellow human beings do you think I would be pleased? Chanting my name for name sake and then bad mouthing, back biting, gossiping about all the worldly matters – how shall I be delighted at this plight?  People offer me offerings and sacrifices as if there’s anything that I don’t own in this entire cosmos but the ego, false pride, greed, lust, hatred, materialistic attachment they should sacrifice are treasured in their hearts which should be my resting place.  It’s the kindness, humility, gratitude and righteousness that matters to me and define Devotion. And this farmer possessing all these traits is a true devotee of mine. He shall be blessed”.

**Note: If we demarcate the difference between God fearing & God loving, we will surely be devoted to the ways guided by the almighty**

Just Homo Sapiens Not Human Anymore


It was an Elephant then , now it’s a cow. Species changed not their fate. Two different states (Kerala and Himachal Pradesh), two expecting mothers (motherhood holds the same importance for any creature) met the same fate – fed with food (few saying “ate”) laced with fire crackers.

Injured severely, bleeding profusely, loitering around in agony, the elephant succumbed to its injury where as the cow received the treatment (hopefully doing better now). And their only mistake is that they crossed the boundaries in search of food, something we consider among the basic requirements, isn’t it? The Elephant inadvertently came to the habitat of people and the Cow disrespected the neighbour’s boundary. And what did they expect, they won’t be taught a lesson? How ignorant they were.

When I read the story of a pregnant cow severely injured because of firecrackers , an agonized me thought of penning down my anger and it brought in front of me few more (yes among the countless, I read only few and couldn’t stand the abdominal atrocities inflicted) cases of cruelty towards animals. From beating mercilessly to being burnt alive, from skinned to be sold in markets to unnatural painful sex, from being mulled down under the vehicles to starved to death, from religious sacrifices to being butchered on roads in broad daylight to mock belief of a certain section; man has attained supremacy in inflicting pain on other creatures (not to mention on his own race as well, but that’s not the matter of discussion here).

That raked a very important question in my mind – what sets a man apart from other creatures of the nature? His ability to speak, express and communicate; ability to think; ability to attain and assimilate knowledge? Yes these are certain criterion that earmarks the technical difference between the specie called “Homo Sapiens” and the rest. But a resonating difference is that all the creatures of this mother Earth including flora is that none of them derives from the nature for their greed, they only strive to maintain balance of the ecosystem by fulfilling just their needs. It’s only man who is tirelessly corroding the nature by scooping out more and more out of it. If need is the mother of invention then greed is the synonym for destruction. History has proved it. But man never took his lessons seriously. And the other fascinating thing is that every other form of life is useful to the nature and human beings in one or more ways but humans have never been in this multi dimensional equation ever. Man has never been useful to other members of the environment (not taking into account behaviour after external effort of moral and spiritual streamlining of thought process). He has only taken so far. To put it bluntly exploited – for food (which is still understandable by certain perspectives, though I am a vegetarian and vehemently disagree with killing of any animal for satisfying our taste buds and not to mention the carbon footprint a non vegetarian food habit leaves but then it’s my personal opinion and shouldn’t be a reason for anyone’s anger against me 😊), for entertainment, for boastful extravagant displays, for making quick money, for seeking sadistic pleasures and for everything which is very inhuman.

Coming back to the incidents that triggered me immensely, I was reading reactions of people on social media. Many were definitely moved and saddened by the unfortunate proceedings but there were also people who were abrasive enough to defend the culprits saying that the fireworks were meant for the wild animals which could possibly damage their crops and the victims in the case particular were not fed but they themselves ate the food laced with firecrackers. Not dancing between “ate” and “fed” confusion, I have a question – even if the food was meant to shoo away the wild animals was it the right way? Would the “another” animal’s jaw pain less with those explosives blowing off in mouth? All the intelligence acquired zeroed on to such solutions? I have only one word erupting like those explosives – PATHETIC!

Though both laws and organisations are present to handle and deter such lowly acts I believe more must be invested in fine tuning (read educating) the people about a pivotal rule of the nature – Equal Right To Live ! High time that we go back to our roots of “simple living” which was in tandem with the nature. It’s time to reiterate that earth belongs to other species as well which survived the test of time and traveled so far.

With all our knowledge and comprehension if we are killing a speechless creature devoid of any such attributes, then calling ourselves human beings is questionable or outright wrong. Give it a thought!!!

**(If animals had a language and they have to swear among themselves possibly would have called themselves MAN)

AND SHE MET HER ONCE AGAIN


PROMPT: Standing in front of the mirror she didn’t like what she saw… Standing in front of the mirror she didn’t like what she saw. It’s not her. The reflection was only a mirage of her presence but the zealous, free-spirited girl was lost. He just kept imposing boundaries caging her while she kept compromising […]

AND SHE MET HER ONCE AGAIN

Don’t Need To Belittle One To Praise The Other


Picture Credit: Pexels

**Something I wanted to write since a long time.

Originally Posted On Candles Online

Can the knowledge of a particular language be the sign of intelligence of a person? Can the fluency in a particular language be an indication of one’s educational background and character certificate? Sounds gibberish, right?

Well not completely. This is just a reflection of how the attitude of people in Indian subcontinent has shaped up over decades now. Fanatic love for “English” is an IT thing (rather a HIT thing).

People getting mocked for not being able to converse in English at native level. People finding themselves to be in a fix, out of place, losing confidence, nurturing low self esteem and inferiority complex are direct of shoot offs of our fetish for one particular “International Language” English. We (A majority) somehow have come up with the terms that mastering this particular language is a ticket to a better treatment in masses ; a person who can speak English impeccably is a genius and if some accent is sprinkled he/she is already a star – knowledge, character, education, skill doesn’t really matter. Look at the wannabe insta stars, you will know what I mean .

Let me share few examples/ incidents that I came across or heard:

*I heard people praising someone who got expert skills in English “Kya angrezi bolta hai, wah!” (He speaks so good in English) never mind the grasp on subject matter is ZERO.

*My friend once shared with me his experience at his daughter’s school. The poor child faced the ire of the teachers because she wasn’t able to converse in a free flow manner in English and was comfortable in her mother tongue. Such a shame!

*If a person belonging to a foreign land (read West) speaks in any of our regional language though broken we go gaga over the attempt. “So Cute” is the expression that follows our excitement (not referring to Donald Trump saying Swamy Vivekanand ). But when the tables turn and someone among us try to speak the broken English we brand him “Illiterate” literally. What double standards!

*Parents insisting kids to speak in English (leave aside the schools) even at home (I strongly believe there are other circles/ places/ avenues where English can be practiced), it’s a matter of fame while on the other hand more and more parents are coming out saying “our kids can’t speak/ read/ write our mother tongue” almost without any sense of attachment. I am at loss of words!

*People refraining from talking in the language they are comfortable with just not to be jeered by peers. How sad!

Well I can go on and on with such illustrations not so great to put forward for any country / society. In short we are focussing on the mode/ language of instruction and completely ignoring the importance of effective communication or the content intended to be delivered.

Talking about our overtly attachment with this particular language, light must be thrown at helm of affairs in other parts of the world, countries which we see as synonyms for “Development, technology, power, economy” and every possible positive superlative. I live in Belgium, have been to France, Germany, Netherlands; Have heard the social speeches of public figures from Japan, China and the counties aforementioned. No one carries a chip of shame up their sleeve while talking in their respective mother tongue. On contrary they are proud. And this sense of pride is seen at every level. A public representative is not mocked by the citizens for his or her lack of grip on English. Preference is given to learning rather than belittling their own language (I have a friend who is a professional English language trainer working with bureaucrats, diplomats, parliamentarians etc. SP this is for you ❤) A complete inverse picture of what we see in the sub continent. We have this mind boggling equation, English = Knowledgable/ Educated. On the other hand mother tongue is given the utmost importance right from the beginning in all those countries mentioned above. Schools that lay foundation and aid development of a child from the grassroot level emphasise specifically on the country’s mother tongue. If you are a foreigner in these lands you got only two choices either integrate with them via their language or be ready to pay exhobirant charges for translation be it education (international schools are pretty expensive) in schools or otherwise. I myself have paid extra charges for translator service for driving test because of my incapacity to understand French fast 😁 . In a way they are promoting their language by using simple economics, period! Priority to the mother tongue is something we must learn from these countries.

Why? Language is a part of what and who we are. It’s an integral part of our history, heritage and culture. Precisely ROOTS! Can a tree stand still and upfront if it is alienated from the ground, if roots are uprooted? How meaningful it would be to have mastered a foreign language and yet not knowing the homeland? If we distance ourselves from our history there’s no way our future generations will know the past and future is definitely not bright.

I may sound as a fanatic talking over the clouds but a study is available that proves that for kids who start learning their and in their native language cognitive developments are better. Expression and communication comes easy to them. Better understanding of curriculum and positive attitude towards school are few more points to count. They feel more at home. This is just a bird’s eye view.

But unfortunately learning in native language may not be possible for everyone owing to the small social village world has become and constant migration of people from one place to another. It all comes to availability, feasibility and choice.

I want to reiterate that my argument is not against any language but the meaningless romanticism we have inbred within ourselves about a particular language belittling our own identity. I myself went to a school that had English as its medium of instruction but my teachers never made their students feel bad about their shortcomings in a language and most importantly my school had my mother tongue (Telugu) as one of the subjects and my parents wanted me to learn it. At home too we had an environment where we spoke to each other in our native language. For us English was just a language which we needed for a better exposure outside the safe cocoon of our home/ town/ country ( we were not aware or exposed to the other world languages at that time). English was (is & will be) required to excel in any competitive exam or other podiums. And we simply took it that way. Rather the entire emphasis was on developing thoughts, transformation of a person to personality, ethical behaviour, earning dignity and respect. In short the purpose of imparting education was fulfilled to the core. It was not washed down by a meaningless glorification of a foreign language because it is spoken by “Fair Skinned” (another obsession of my land sadly).

A petty request: I am not out of “Parenting Mode” since last week’s article was published 😉, excuse me for that and kindly bear with me. Parents please make sure that you encourage kids talking (the least) in native language. If you could impart the knowledge ( reading & writing) of native language nothing beats that. Remember their thoughts have to be eloquent and it’s never about which language they chose to communicate.

Teachers: Please don’t shame any kid for their inability to converse in English. It’s just a language and can be worked upon. Debates, workshops, group activities, essay writings and lot more. Different tools and hard work can achieve everything including a grasp on the language but if the confidence gets shattered that might be something beyond repair.

* Schools / Authorities: Please focus on giving a buoyant support to the local language. Its a way to save our heritage and culture.

Everyone: Learn as many languages as you can but remember your mother tongue is your inner feelings you share with your mother (loved/ closed ones), that comfort is the ultimate. And if Englishmen are speaking in English, it’s their own so nothing so great about that!

And here I rest my case.

*** Writing this post in English because it does have a mass reach and I am not against English but our shallow thinking process of trying to compare languages.