Category Archives: Sri Sri Ravishankar

THE POWER OF THE RAIN

Berlin, 2. 6. 11. It was to be the biggest yoga camp ever. The place: Berlin, Germany, in the majestic Olympic stadium that can sit 70.000 people and which saw the fabulous Jesse Owens break 4 world records in a few hours, under the furious eyes of Adolf Hitler. The occasion: the 3O years celebrations of the Art of Living Foundation, led by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, one of India’s 5 most influential people, according to Forbes magazine.

For months, volunteers of the Art of Living Foundation worked hard day and night, to produce a flawless show, involving hundreds of performers. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny all this while. On D Day, 2d July 2011, everything was ready.

But this was counting without the vagaries of Nature: that morning, the temperature dropped by 15° and it started to rain, hard and steady.

25.000 disciples of the Art of Living prayed silently to their Master so that the rain stopped before the performance. But a totally different miracle happened.

First 50 Indian singers smiled though the rain while reciting ancient Sanskrit Slokas. Then, 500 Polish dancers hopped, skipped and bowed in the water puddles. Next, 2000 Bulgarians had the stadium enthralled with a perfect display of folk dancing, which was like a challenge to the weather, a triumphant cry of joy. Later, the ancient Indian science of yoga came indeed alive with hundreds of adepts going harmoniously through asanas.

Mysteriously, all the Art of Living performers seemed oblivious of the weather: standing for a long time in flimsy clothing, by 13° centigrade, under sheets of rains, while quietly waiting for their turn.

The sheer joy, energy, enthusiasm, of not only the performers, but also of the nearly 40.000 spectators who had braved the rain, was something to behold. Nobody, even amongst the ministers, presidents and MP’s who sat with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the dais, could remain indifferent.

There is a also beauty in the rain: the water spraying-up from the drums under the beating of the sticks; drops of rains, like tears of joys, dripping from the face of ecstatic performers; sheets of water, in the glare of spotlights, descending in a slanted manner on dancers in formations…

There were moments of extreme grace: the tango dancers, who slipped with their high heels on the wet podium and spontaneously hopped on the grass, giving probably one of their most acrobatic and inspired performances; the solo prima donna of the Swan Lake, who pirouetted, jumped, bended and tiptoed, transcending the rain and the cold; the Argentinian singers, who electrified the stadium with their modern rendering of ancient Indian devotional hymns…

And finally, that was what the miracle was about: not a cheap stunt of the rain stopping, by some power, or just a freak chance, which would have had many in religious ecstasy. But thousands of performers transcending adversity -which that day took the shape of unexpected cold and rain – through their devotion, faith and love of their Master, and in the process, attaining heights of perfection, which they might not have achieved in ideal conditions.

And in this union of their minds and bodies, not only were they sublime, but different people from different countries, religions, cultures, some of them even hostile to each other, sang, danced and blended naturally. And the message which this gathering was to give, went through effortlessly: that the whole world can come together, while celebrating harmony in diversity.

This is the miracle of love, this is the miracle of the rain. And even the skeptics rose as one man, as the laser show and tens of thousands of cheering spectators ended the celebrations of the Art of Living Foundation, which for 30 years has been selflessly serving humanity and will do so in the future.

francoisgautier26@gmail.com

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WHY I AM A HINDU

I was a born and brought-up as a catholic and knew absolutely nothing about India, Hinduism and Hindus. When I was a young Frenchman of 19, I had the privilege to hear about the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, through a friend, whose father was the last Governor of Pondichery. My friend told me that a caravan of 5 cars was about to drive from Paris to Pondichery. On a hunch, I joined this caravan.
Upon arriving in Delhi after driving trough nine countries, I felt I had come home and that this country was a very special place.

I lived in the Pondichery Sri Aurobindo ashram for seven years. These were wonderful times: the Mother was still alive and everything looked new, everything seemed possible. One read Sri Aurobindo, of course, as he was the Master and the inspiration of the place, but one either did not understand or felt disconnected to his political writings.

Then, having done some journalism and photography in France, I started freelancing in South India and I discovered the Hindus. What I chanced upon was that their religion was not in their heads, as it is for us Christians – “I must pray, I must be good, I must not sin” – but that it was rather something they lived: they seemed, for instance, to accept me, a Westerner, a non Hindu, as they seemed to accept all other religions. This discovery would never leave me, even when I became a political journalist in Delhi for major French newspapers.

Thus slowly, I became acquainted with the eternal principles of Hinduism:
• A Hindu is one who searches for the Ultimate Truth.
• Unlike other religions, Hinduism refuses to sanction the monopoly of one God, or one Scripture as the only way to salvation.
• Hinduism is the eternal faith, Sanataana Dharma, or the universal law by which all humans are governed.
• Hindus believe that the soul takes birth in a physical body, dies, gets reborn, until it has attained Perfect Divinity.
• Hindus believe that one can cleanse oneself from karmas through yoga practices, such as pranayama, meditation or asanas.
• One can be a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, or from any other religion and still practice Hinduism. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has shown the way: breath has no religion and pranayama can be practiced by anybody, whatever their creed.

In that sense, I consider myself a Hindu

THE "PERSECUTION" OF CHRISTIANS IN INDIA

Source: http://www.francoisgautier.com

When Prime Minister Vajpayee was in the US in September, the National Association of Asian Christians in the US (whom nobody had heard about before), paid 50.000 $ to the New York Times to publish “an Open Letter to the Hon’ Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister of India”. While “warmly welcoming the PM”, the NAAIC expressed deep concern about the “persecution” of Christians in India by “extremist” (meaning Hindu) groups, mentioning as examples “the priest, missionaries and church workers who have been murdered”, the nuns “raped”, and the potential enacting of conversion laws, which would “make “genuine” conversions illegal. The letter concluded by saying “that Christians in India today live in fear”. The whole affair was an embarrassment (as it was intended to be) to Mr Vajpayee and the accompanying Indian delegation, which had come to prod American businessmen to invest in India, a peaceful, pro-Western and democratic country.

I am born a Christian and I have had a strong Catholic education. I do believe that Christ was an incarnation of Pure Love and that His Presence still radiates in the world. I also believe that there are human beings who sincerely try to incarnate the ideals of Jesus and that you can find today in India a few missionaries (such as Father Ceyrac, a French Jesuit, who works mostly with lepers in Tamil Nadu), who are incarnations of that Love, tending tirelessly to people, without trying to convert them. But I have also lived for more than 30 years in India, I am married to an Indian, I have traveled the length and breath of this country and I have evolved a love and an understanding of India, which few other foreign correspondents have, because they are never posted long enough to start getting a real feeling of this vast and often baffling country (nobody can claim to fully understand India). And this is what I have to say about the “persecution” of Christians in India.

Firstly, it is necessary to bring about a little bit of a historical flashback, which very few foreign correspondents (and unfortunately also Indian journalists) care to do, which would make for a more balanced view of the problem…

…If ever there was persecution, it was of the Hindus at the hands of Christians, who were actually welcomed in this country, as they have been welcomed in no other place in this Planet. Indeed, the first Christian community of the world, that of the Syrian Christians, was established in Kerala in the first century; they were able to live in peace and practice their religion freely, even imbibing some of the local Hindu customs, until the Jesuits came in the 16th century and told them it was “heathen” to have anything to do with the Hindus, thereby breaking the Syrian Church in two.

When, Vasco de Gama, landed in Kerala in 1498, he was generously received by Zamorin, the Hindu king of Calicut, who granted him the right to establish warehouses for commerce. But once again, Hindu tolerance was exploited and the Portuguese wanted more and more: in 1510, Alfonso de Albuquerque seized Goa, where he started a reign of terror, burning “heretics”, crucifying Brahmins, using false theories to forcibly convert the lower castes, razing temples to build churches upon them and encouraging his soldiers to take Indian mistresses. Indeed, the Portuguese perpetrated here some of the worst atrocities ever committed in Asia by Christianity upon another religion. Ultimately, the Portuguese had to be kicked out of India, when all other colonisers had already left.

British missionaries in India were always supporters of colonialism; they encouraged it and their whole structure was based on “the good Western civilised world being brought to the Pagans”. Because, in the words of Claudius Buccchanan, a chaplain attached to the East India Company, “neither truth, nor honesty, honour, gratitude, nor charity, is to be found in the breast of a Hindoo”! What a comment about a nation that gave the world the Vedas, at a time when Europeans were still grappling in their caves! And it is in this way that the British allowed entire chunks of territories in the East, where lived tribals, whose poverty and simplicity, made them easy preys to be converted to Christianity. By doing so, the Christian missionaries cut a people from their roots and tradition, made them look westwards towards a culture and a way of life which was not theirs. And the result is there today for everyone to see: it is in these eastern States, some of which are 90% Christians, that one finds the biggest drug problems (and crime) in India. It should also be said that many of the eastern separatist movements have been covertly encouraged by Christian missionaries on the ground that “tribals were there before the ‘Aryan Hindus’ invaded India and imposed Hinduism upon on them”. The trouble is that the latest archeological and linguistic discoveries point out to the fact that there NEVER was an Aryan invasion of India – it just was an invention of the British and the missionaries to serve their purpose…

Secondly, Christianity has always striven on the myth of persecution, which in turn bred “martyrs” and saints, indispensable to the propagation of Christianity. But it is little known, for instance, that the first “saints” of Christianity, “martyred” in Rome, a highly refined civilization, which had evolved a remarkable system of Gods and Goddesses, some of whom were derived from Hindu mythology via the Greeks, were actually killed (a normal practice in those days), while bullying peaceful Romans to embrace the “true” religion, in the same way that later Christian missionaries will browbeat “heathen” Hindus, adoring many Gods, into believing that Jesus was the only “true” God.

Now to come to the recent cases of persecution of Christians in India at the hands of Hindu groups, I have personally investigated quite a few, amongst them the rape of the four nuns in Jhabua (MP), nearly two years ago. This rape is still quoted as an example of the “atrocities” committed by Hindus on Christians. Yet, when I interviewed the four innocent nuns, they themselves admitted, along with George Anatil, Bishop of Indore, that it had nothing to do with religion: it was the doing of a gang of Bhil tribals, known to perpetrate this kind of hateful acts on their own women. Today, the Indian Press, the Christian hierarchy and the politicians, continue to include the Jhabua rape in the list of the atrocities against the Christians. Or take the burning of churches in Andhra Pradesh a few months ago, which was supposed to have been committed by the “fanatic” RSS. It was proved later that it was actually the handiwork of Indian Muslims, at the behest of the ISI to foment hatred between Christians and Hindus. Yet the Indian Press which went beserk at the time of the burnings, mostly kept quiet when the true nature of the perpetrators was revealed. Finally, even if Dara Singh does belong to the Bajrang Dal, it is doubtful if the 100 others accused do. What is more probable, is that like in many other “backward” places, it is a case of converted tribals versus non-converted tribals, of pent-up jealousies, of old village feuds and land disputes. It is also an outcome of what – it should be said – are the aggressive methods of the Pentecost and seventh Adventists missionaries, known for their muscular ways of converting.

Now to come to the recent cases of persecution of Christians in India at the hands of Hindu groups, I have personally investigated quite a few, amongst them the rape of the four nuns in Jhabua (MP), nearly two years ago. This rape is still quoted as an example of the “atrocities” committed by Hindus on Christians. Yet, when I interviewed the four innocent nuns, they themselves admitted, along with George Anatil, Bishop of Indore, that it had nothing to do with religion: it was the doing of a gang of Bhil tribals, known to perpetrate this kind of hateful acts on their own women. Today, the Indian Press, the Christian hierarchy and the politicians, continue to include the Jhabua rape in the list of the atrocities against the Christians. Or take the burning of churches in Andhra Pradesh a few months ago, which was supposed to have been committed by the “fanatic” RSS. It was proved later that it was actually the handiwork of Indian Muslims, at the behest of the ISI to foment hatred between Christians and Hindus. Yet the Indian Press which went beserk at the time of the burnings, mostly kept quiet when the true nature of the perpetrators was revealed. Finally, even if Dara Singh does belong to the Bajrang Dal, it is doubtful if the 100 others accused do. What is more probable, is that like in many other “backward” places, it is a case of converted tribals versus non-converted tribals, of pent-up jealousies, of old village feuds and land disputes. It is also an outcome of what – it should be said – are the aggressive methods of the Pentecost and seventh Adventists missionaries, known for their muscular ways of converting.

Thirdly, conversions in India by Christian missionaries of low caste Hindus and tribals are sometimes nothing short of fraudulent and shameful. American missionnaries are investing huge amounts of money in India, which come from donation drives in the United States where gullible Americans think the dollars they are giving goe towards uplifting “poor and unducated Indians”. It is common in Kerala, for instance, particularly in the poor coastal districts, to have “miracle boxes” put in local churches: the gullible villager writes out a paper mentionning his wish: a fising boat, a loan for a pukka house, fees for the son’s schooling… And lo, a few weeks later, the miracle happens ! And of course the whole family converts, making others in the village follow suit…

American missionnaries (and their Government) would like us to believe that democacry includes the freedom to convert by any means. But France for example, a traditionally Christian country, has a Minister who is in charge of hunting down “sects”. And by sects, it is meant anything that does not fall within the recognised family of Christianity – even the Church of Scientology, favored by some Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise or John Travolta, is ruthlessly hounded. And look at what the Americans did to the Osho movement in Arizona, or how innocent children and women were burnt down by the FBI (with the assistance of the US army) in Waco Texas, because they belonged to a dangerous sect…

Did you know that the Christianity is dying in the West ? Not only church attendance is falling dramatically because spirituality has deserted it, but less and less youth find the vocation to become priests or nuns. And as a result, say in the rural parts of France, you will find only one priest for six or seven villages, whereas till the late seventies the smallest hamlet had its own parish priest. And where is Christianity finding new priests today ? In the Third World, of course ! And India, because of the innate impulsion of its people towards God, is a very fertile recruiting ground for the Chrurch, particularly in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Hence the huge attention that India is getting from the United States, Australia, or England and the massive conversion drive going on today.

It is sad that Indians, once converted, specially the priests and nuns, tend to turn against their own country and help in the conversion drive. There are very few “White” missionnaries left in India and most of the conversions are done today by Indian priests. Last month, during the Bishop’s conference in Bangalore, it was restated by bishops and priests from all over India, that conversion is the FIRST priority of the Church here. But are the priests and Bishops aware that they would never find in any western country the same freedom to convert that they take for granted in India ? Do they know that in China they would be expelled, if not put into jail ? Do they realize that they have been honored guests in this country for nearly two thousand years and that they are betraying those that gave them peace and freedom ?

Hinduism, the religion of tolerance, the coming spirituality of this new millenium, has survived the unspeakable barbarism of wave after wave of Muslim invasions, the insidious onslaught of Western colonialism which has killed the spirit of so may Third World countries and the soul-stifling assault of Nehruvianism. But will it survive the present Christian offensive ? Many Hindu religious leaders feel that Christianity is a real threat today, as in numerous ways it is similar to Hinduism, from which Christ borrowed so many concepts (see Sri Siri Ravi Shankar’s book: ” Hinduism and Christianity”).. It is thus necessary that Indian themselves become more aware of the danger their culture and unique civilisation is facing at the hands of missionnaries sponsored by foreign money. It is also necessary that they stop listening to the Marxist- influenced English newspapers’ defense of the right of Christian missionaries to convert innocent Hindus. Conversion belongs to the times of colonialism. We have entered in the era of Unity, of coming together, of tolerance and accepting each other as we are – not of converting in the name of one elusive “true” God. When Christianity will accept the right of other people to follow their own beliefs and creeds, the only will Jesus Christ’s Spirit truly radiate in the world.

FRANCOIS GAUTIER

THE FERENGI’S COLUMN : THE HINDU ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY

Source: http://www.francoisgautier.com

The Pope is arriving in India on the 5th of November. Does he know that he may be stepping on a land from which Christianity originated ? Indeed, over the centuries, numerous historians and Sages have pointed out that not only Hinduism has had a predominant influence on Christianity, but that many of the Christian rites could be directly borrowed from Buddhist and Hindu India !

French historian Alain Danielou had noticed as early as 1950 “that a great number of events which surround the birth of Christ – as it is related in the Gospels – strangely remind us of buddhists and krishnaites legends”. Danielou quotes as examples the structure of the Christian Church, which resembles that of the buddhist Chaitya; the rigorous asceticism of certain early Christian sects, which reminds one of the asceticism of Jain and Buddhist saints; the veneration of relics, the usage of holy water, which is an Indian practice, or the word “Amen”, which comes from Hindu OM. Another historian, Belgium Konraad Elst, also remarks “that many early Christian saints, such as Hippolytus of Rome, possessed an intimate knowledge of Brahmanism”. Elst even quotes the famous Saint Augustin who wrote: ” that we never cease to look towards India, where many things are proposed to our admiration”. Unfortunately, remarks American Indianist David Frawley, “from the 2d century onwards, Christians leaders decided to break away from the Hindu influence and show that Christianity ONLY started with the birth of Christ”. Hence, many later saints began branding Brahmins as “heretics” and Saint Gregory set a future trend by publicly destroying the “pagan” idols of the Hindus.

Great Indian Sages, such as Sri Aurobindo, or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living, which is practised in more than 80 countries, have often remarked that the stories recounting how Jesus came to India to be initiated, are probably true. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar notes, for instance, that Jesus sometimes wore an orange robe, the Hindu symbol of renunciation in the world, which was not a usual practice in Judaism. “In the same way, he continues, the worshipping of the Virgin Mary in Catholicism is probably borrowed from the Hindu cult of Devi”. Bells too, which cannot be found today in synagogues, the surviving form of Judaism, are used in Church – and we all know their importance in Buddhism and Hinduism for thousands of years. There are many other similarities between Hinduism and Christianity : incense, sacred bread (Prasadam), the different altars around churches (which recall the manifold deities in their niches inside Hindu temples); reciting the rosary (japamala), the Christian Trinity (the ancient Santana Dharma: Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh), Christian processions, the sign of the cross (Anganyasa) etc…

In fact, Hinduism’s pervading influence seems to go much earlier than Christianity. American mathematician, A. Seindenberg, has for example shown that the Sulbasutras, the ancient Vedic science of mathematics, constitute the source of mathematics in the Antic world, from Babylon to Greece : ” the arithmetic equations of the Sulbasutras he writes, were used in the observation of the triangle by the Babylonians, as well as in the edification of Egyptian pyramids, in particular the funeral altar in form of pyramid known in the vedic world as smasana-cit (Seindenberg 1978: 329). In astronomy too, the “Indus” (from the valley of the Indus) have left a universal legacy, determining for instance the dates of solstices, as noted by 18th century French astronomer Jean-Sylvain Bailly : ” the movement of stars which was calculated by Hindus 4500 years ago, does not differ even by a minute from the tables which we are using today”. And he concludes: “the Hindu systems of astronomy are much more ancient than those of the Egyptians – even the Jews derived from the Hindus their knowledge “. There is also no doubt that the Greeks heavily borrowed from the “Indus”. Danielou notes that the Greek cult of Dionysos, which later became Bacchus with the Romans, is a branch of Shivaism : ” Greeks spoke of India as the sacred territory of Dionysos and even historians of Alexander the Great identified the Indian Shiva with Dionysos and mention the dates and legends of the Puranas “. French philosopher and Le Monde journalist Jean-Paul Droit, recently wrote in his book “The Forgetfulness of India” that ” the Greeks loved so much Indian philosophy, that Demetrios Galianos had even translated the Bhagavad Gita “.

Many western and Christian historians have tried to nullify this Indian influence on Christian and ancient Greece, by saying that it is the West, through the Aryan invasion, and later the onslaught of Alexander the Great on India, which influenced Indian astronomy, mathematics, architecture, philosophy – and not vice versa. But new archaeological and linguistic discoveries such as the mapping of the ancient Saraswati river by satellites, or the decipherment of the Indus script, have proved not only that there never was an Aryan invasion and that there is a continuity from ancient Vedic civilisation to the Saraswati culture, but also that Indian History has been considerably post-dated by British, or Birtish-related historians. The Vedas, for instance, which constitute the soul of present day Hinduism, have not been composed in 1500 BC, as dear Max Mueller arbitrarily decided, but may go back to 7000 years Before Christ… giving Hinduism plenty of time to influence Christianity and older civilisations which preceded it. Thus, instead of protesting the Pope’s visit, the VHP and other Hindu organisations should rather point out to him the close links which exist between Christianity and ancient India, which bind them into a secret brotherhood.

FRANCOIS GAUTIER

* This article gives the gist of a book, “The Indian Origin of Things”, by the same author.