Tag Archives: dharma

SHIVAJI, A HERO FOR MODERN INDIA

Not for myself I fought and ruled, but for God and the dharma, the religion of Hindu nationality which Ramdas enunciated (Conversations of the Dead, Shivaji & Jaysingh, by Sri Aurobindo)

I had heard about Shivaji for a long time without really knowing him well. There are cities in India where I feel ‘at home’, as if I already knew these places The first time I visited Pune, quite a few years back, I felt good, connected, spiritually alive. Was it my imagination? Nevertheless, I attributed this to Shivaji’s presence in His realm. When I finished the Art of Living course which I had come to conduct outside the city, I had a few hours before catching my plane and I set upon finding a museum about Shivaji, which I was sure was bound to exist in the city where he was born. I asked the driver and he took me to the main museum of Pune, the Raja Kelkar museum. It did look nice from the outside and it had indeed a marvelous collection of Mughal antiques which included paintings, instruments, lamps & different types of nut crackers. But I was astonished to see that there was not a single artifact on Shivaji. It did not make sense, because I had already noticed that Shivaji is a hero to most Maharashtrians whatever their political affiliation. I then explored other Pune museums: there is a Tilak museum, a tribal one, a war museum, but nothing on the great son of the soil who was born 60 kms from Pune.
As I finished my disappointing visit of the KeIkar museum, I felt right here and there that I should do something about honouring Shivaji in His city. But first I had to know him. I then set upon buying all the books that had been published about Shivaji. There came my second surprise: I quickly realized that all the biographies of Shivaji were terribly out dated: the most famous and quoted of all “Shivaji and his Times”, by (Sir) Jadunath Sarkar, was written in 1938! My favourite one, Chhatrapati Shivaji, by Setumadhavrao Pagadi, was published in 1973. It is the most recent of mainstream biographies of Shivaji. Now as Frenchman, I grew up hearing about the greatness of Napoleon who lived 300 years ago. And I do know that there is not a year that passes by, without two or three books on his life, his military victories, his mistresses, or his administration, being published.
How does Shivaji compare with Napoleon? Well, admirably. More than that even, as Shivaji surpasses him in many ways. Napoleon was a unique war strategist; and so was Shivaji. In fact, Chaatrapati fought in even more difficult conditions than Napoleon, as he did not have the might of a national army behind him and had to face the powerful and ruthless Mughal Empire of Aurangzeb. Napoleon was a remarkable administrator who made laws, some of them still in use in France; and so was Shivaji: once he conquered a territory, he made sure that it was well and fairly administered, as we will see later. What Shivaji did better than Napoleon then? Shivaji was secular, he believed in the oneness of all religions, though Hinduism was supreme to him. But furthermore, Shivaji was a Vibhuti, a direct incarnation from God who came to succour and help India at a time of great need, when the cruel and a-dharmic hand of Aurangzeb was poised to devastate the whole of the land and eventually make of the Indian subcontinent Dar al-Islam, the house of Islam.
It is necessary to dispel the impressions created by Indian and western historians who have made of the struggle of Shivaji a fight between Hindus & Muslims and an inter-religious struggle. It was not so: Moghuls in the times of Shivaji were still considered as ‘foreigners’. Thus it was a battle between Indians and invaders. Shivaji used his own integrity during this epic fight and mastered all the arts of wars of his time, so as to be that perfect leader. His courage to challenge the Mughals was unparalleled. He was truly a bhakti: SHIVAJI WORKED FOR THE DIVINE, AS GUIDED BY THE DIVINE
Great men and women who walk this earth and are instruments of God, do most of their work while in their physical body. But when they die, I believe they leave something behind, a presence, a will. This day, when I could not find a house in honor of Shivaji, the idea of a Museum of true Indian History, dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj started taking shape in my mind, as our Foundation FACT (Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism) had already made many exhibitions (see fact-india.com). Pune is the ideal place for this Museum: it’s Shivaji Maharaj’s realm, it is central to India and more than anything, Marathas have a stronger national fiber than in other states and I felt the Museum will be better protected here.
This is a difficult project. Whoever has never attempted to raise money for a Museum should give it a try… I have met hundreds of potential donors, but when I say that I want to build a Museum of true Indian History, it wipes off the smile of their faces and they say they have to consult their board, ha, ha… This is why we are most grateful to those who believed in this project and gave the bulk of the funds and also to the dozens of NRI’s who know me through my writings and trusted me with their donations.
Trying to portray Indian History as it happened, not as it has been written, is also a very sensitive task and at nearly every step, we have encountered obstacles sometimes even from our own people. Yet, Shivaji was an instrument of God and whoever binds him to a particular caste, or even a particular guru, demeans him and hampers his work, for he was a supra-national figure and his qualities of dedication to Mother India, of respect of human rights and honest administration, are needed today. His extraordinary courage in front of adversity, should also be an example to many Hindus, who today, at the slightest threat, go underground.
Please see the photos of what has already been done in the Museum on this link. This is just a humble beginning: we are planning to start the foundations of the main Museum which will house exhibitions from the Vedas to the India of tomorrow. If God, in spite of my shortcomings, gives me the strength, the enthusiasm and the health to do this work, it will be a wonderful and noble project, that will be talked about for generations. But for that we need funds a lot of funds and. I hope all of you will pass along the message to your friends.
The Museum, whose address is: Ahead of Marathwada Institute. Vadgaon Shinde road. Wadgaon. Pune 4, is OPEN every day from 9am to 6pm and entrance is FREE. Please tell your friends about it. we have daily aarti in the temple in the morning at 9.30am
FACT is a registered Trust with Indian & UK, US tax exemption. If you would like to help, you could make a donation to: FACT, Account No: 04071450000237, IFCS code: HDFC0000407. We will mail you back your tax exemption certificate and we will honor all our donors.
Namaste
Namrita & François Gautier/ Trustees FACT

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ARISE AGAIN O ANCIENT INDIA

Once again, a country, Italy, shows how little respect it has for India, this time by refusing to honor its word to send back the accused marines. Is it not then time to say: “Arise O India, be proud once more of Thyself”.

 This should be India’s motto for the Third Millennium, after five centuries of self-denial. For, in spite of its poverty, in spite of the false Aryan invasion, in spite of the Muslim holocaust, in spite of European colonialism, in spite of Macaulay’s children, in spite of the Partition, in spite of the Chinese threat, in spite of the westernised framework, India still has got tremendous potential. Everything is there, ready to be manifested again, ready to mould India in a new modern nation, a super power of the 21st century. Of course, India has to succeed its industrialisation, it has to liberalise, because unless you can compete economically with the West, no nation can become a super power. India has also to solve its political problems, settle its separatist troubles, get rid of corruption and bureaucracy. And lastly, it has to apply quickly its mind and genius to its ecological problems, because the environment in India is in a very bad way, near the point of no-return. Thus, if India can succeed into its industrialisation and liberalisation, become a force to be reckoned militarily, economically and socially, then the wonder that IS India could again manifest itself.

 And what is this Wonder ? Beyond the image of poverty, of backwardness, beyond even the wonder that is Hinduism, there is a Knowledge – spiritual, occult, esoteric, medical even – still alive today in India. This Knowledge was once roaming upon the shores of this world – in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece… – but it has now vanished to be replaced by religions, with their dogmas and rituals, do’s and don’t, hells and heavens. For we have lost the truth. we have lost the Great Sense, the meaning of our evolution, the meaning of why so much suffering, why dying, why getting born, why this earth, who are we, what is the soul, what is reincarnation, where is the ultimate truth about the world, the universe… But India has kept this truth, India has managed to preserve it through seven millenniums of pitfalls, of genocides and attempts at killing her santanam dharma.

 And this will be India’s gift to this planet during the next century: to restore to the world its true sense. to recharge humanity with the real meaning and spirit of life, to gift to this dolorous Planet That which is beyond mind : the Supra-Mental. India will become the spiritual leader of the world :

“It is this religion that I am raising-up before the world, it is this that I have perfected and developed through the Rishis, Saints, and Avatars, and now it is going forth to do my work among the nations. I am raising forth this nation to send forth my word…When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the Santana Dharma that shall rise, it is the Santana Dharma that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Santana Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists”. (IUttarpara speech)

 This knowledge does not necessarily reside in mystical realms, but in authentic Indian traditional forms of genius which can be very practical. Take for example ancient medical systems, like Ayurveda, or Siddha. Today, allopathic medecines are found even in India’s remotest villages, making people dependant on harmful drugs which are expensive and only serve to enrich the big foreign multinationals. It takes a Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, to remind the world that Ayurveda is one of the greatest medical systems ever devised; that 3000 years ago, when the rest of the planet lived in total medical ignorance, Indian doctors were already performing plastic surgery, knew that the origin of many diseases were psychosomatic, had found in Mother nature the cure for most of man’s ailments and realised that the five natural elements have to be made balanced in the human body for a perfect harmonious life. Not only that, but Indian doctors were also yogis. They perceived that beyond the human body was another divine reality, of which the soul was the vehicle on earth. Today, Western doctors (and many Indian ones) are totally ignorant of the different planes of consciousness which superimpose our terrestrial life. Hence these doctors and the psychiatrists of the West are, as Sri Aurobindo pointed out, « searching with a torch light in the dark caverns of man’s Unconscious ». This ancient knowledge is unfortunately now being neglected. As a result, American companies are attempting to patent medicines using the properties of neem or haldi, for instance, which were known 3000 years ago by India’s forefathers. As in the case of Sanskrit, the Indian Government should thus put its energies and resources towards the reviving of Ayurveda.

 Or take pranayama, the science of breathing. The effects of pranayama have been studied for thousands of years and Indian teachers know exactly what results will this type of exercise have on you and what kind of routine you should do to improve that particular problem, or develop this certain faculty in you. Pranayama, in Sanskrit, means breath  – and in India, it is known that prana circulates in the whole body and that one breathes not only trough the nose and mouth, of course, but through ANY part of the body, making thus prana flow everywhere. Thus, according to yogis, prana can revitalise all these parts of our body which do not receive enough energy – and which, as a consequence, become weak and lose their vitality, like the eyes for instance. Pranayama is in fact everywhere : in the air which surrounds us, of course, but also in animals, in Nature, in the mineral world even. It is also found in food : today, one speaks of vitamins, proteins, calories – but one does not understand that it is actually the prana in the food which gives us energy; and the quality of this prana depends on the sort of food we are partaking.

 Pranayama is probably the best suited Indian yogic discipline for the West, as His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living Movement has shown. It is so down to earth, so scientific : there are no miracles, no levitation, no smoky mysticism, as everything can be explained in a rational way. And again, the U.S.A., always prompt to experience new techniques, is using this knowledge : quite a few American companies have included exercises of pranayama in the peps sessions of their executives; sportsmen too are experimenting with it to improve their performances, as the film « the Great Blue », has shown when the hero does a series of breathing exercises known in India as « Viloma », to store as much air as possible in his lungs, before breaking a world record in underwater diving without oxygen.

 And what about Kalaripayat, a very ancient multi-faceted martial art, which is still practised in the villages of Kerala ? In 522 A.D., an Indian Buddhist monk named Boddidharma, who had become a master of  Kalaripayat (Buddhist monks, who travelled a lot in Asia to propagate their religion, used bare-handed fighting and the bamboo stick they used for walking to defend themselves against attacks) and was the son of the king of Kancheepuram in the state of Tamil Nadu, arrived at the court of the Chinese Emperor Liang Nuti of the 6th dynasty. The Emperor granted him a, audience and gave him travel documents to walk to the Kingdom of Wei (now Junan province) at the foot of the Han Shan mountains, to a Buddhist monastery called the temple of Shaolin.

 Father and founder of Zen Buddhism (called C’han in China and Dhyana in India), Boddidharma taught the Chinese monks the barehanded fighting techniques of Kalaripayat, a very ancient Indian martial art, so that they could defend themselves against the frequent attacks of bandits. In time the monks became know all over China as skilled exponents of barehanded fighting, which came to be known as the Shaolin boxing art.

The Shaolin temple which was handed back a few years ago to the C ’han Buddhist monks by the Chinese Government, inheritors of Boddhidharma’s spiritual and martial teachings, is now open to visitors. On one of its walls, one can see a fresco depicting dark-skinned Indians teaching their lighter-skinned brothers the art of barehanded fighting. On the painting is inscribed : « Tenjiku Naranokaku », which means : « the fighting techniques to train the body (which come) from India.

 Kalaripayat, or Shaolin boxing as it is came to be known, passed from China to Japan, through the Ryukyu islands, landing in Okinawa to blossom in the art of the Empty Hand, or later, Karate. Later it manifested in the Japanese mainland as jiu-jiu-tso, judo, Shorinji Kempo, etc. Karate, the art of the Empty Hand, father of all Japanese martial arts, is a blend of Boddhidharma’s martial teachings and the local fighting techniques, which existed there before the advent of Zen Buddhism. All Asian martial arts, particularly those of China and Japan,  recognize their origin in the Shaolin Temple and honour Boddhidarma, (whom the Japanese call Dharuma). His portrait is often displayed in their dojos, where martial arts are practised.

 And what of meditation, queen of all the yogic sciences  ? That which is above everything, that without which any yogic discipline is impossible. That which interiorizes us, carries us within ourselves, to the discovery of our true soul and nature. There are hundreds of different mediation techniques, simple, cartesian, easy to experience, which have been devised by Indian sages since the dawn of Bharat. Each one has its own characteristics, each one gives particular results, which has been experienced by the billions of aspirants who have practised them since the dawn of Vedic times. Meditation is being practised more and more in the West and there have been numerous scientific studies, which have shown the positive effect of meditation on heart problems, psychological stress or blood circulation.

 The irony of it all is that not only most of the Indian upper class and intellectual elite does not practise meditation and pranayama, ignores what is Kalaripayat and does not gets treated for its problems with Ayurveda, but that none of these wonders are included in the schools and universities curriculum. So you have this wonderful knowledge, which has disappeared from the rest of the world, but if you go to cities like Delhi, or Bombay, you realise that most of the youth there have no idea about meditation, or have never heard of pranayama. They are totally cut off from their ancient culture, from the greatness of their tradition, and even look down on it.  So unless Indians start taking pride in their own culture, India will never be able to gift it to the world.

 Famous French writer Andre  Malraux had said that unless the 21 century is spiritual, then it will not be. What he meant was that the world has now come to such a stage of unhappiness, of material dryness, of conflicts within itself, that it seems doomed and there appears no way that it can redeem Itself : it is just going towards self-destruction, – ecologically, socially, spiritually. So unless the 21st century allows a new spiritual order to take over – not a religious order, because religion has been a failure, all over the world – then the world is going towards pralaya. And India holds the key to the world’s future, for India is the only nation which still preserves in the darkness of Her Himalayan caves, on the luminous ghats of Benares, in the hearts of her countless yogis, or even in the minds of her ordinary folk, the key to the planetary evolution, its future and its hope.

 The 21st century then, will be the era of the East; this is where the sun is going to rise again, after centuries of decadence and submission to Western colonialism; this is where the focus of the world is going to shift. And as when India used to shine and send forth Her Dharma all over the Orient: to Japan, Thailand, China, Burma, or Cambodia and influence their civilisations and religions for centuries to come, once more She will emit Her light and radiate, Queen among nations: “India of the ages is not dead nor has She spoken Her last creative word; She lives and has still something to do for Herself and the human peoples. And that which She must seek now to awake, is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident’s success and failure, but still the ancient immemorial Shakti recovering Her deepest self, lifting Her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and vaster form of Her Dharma”.

 #FRANCOISGAUTIER

 

 

KARMA AND THE 09 INDIANS ELECTIONS

Each nation, like the human soul, packs karma in each of its lives or cycles. Good karma or bad karma have one unique characteristics: they are like a tiny seed, bearing their fruits ages or cycles later, often giving the impression to the ignorant mind of total injustice done to innocent souls. Thus the individual who seems to suffer unfair circumstances in this life, may be paying for a bad karma done dozens of lives ago. In the same manner, a nation which appears to suffer inexplicable hardships: persecution, earthquakes, great natural catastrophes, dictatorships, may be amending for a karma accomplished centuries ago. The Tibetan people’s plight seems to be a good example of this phenomenon. Here is one of the most harmless, peaceful, adorable culture on earth, spiritualised on top of that, who suffered and is still suffering the worst ignominies at the hands of the Chinese communists, who have eradicated their culture, razed to the ground hundreds of ancient and marvelous temples, killed either directly or indirectly – concentration camps, torture, famine – more than one million of this adorable people! Why? The Dalai-Lama, himself, one of the last great spiritual figures of this era, admits that it was because of an ancient “black karma”, bad deeds. Was it feudalism? Was it not opening itself to the world for so long? Or misuse of Tantrism? Who knows and who can judge? But it’s a good bet to say that there is probably no total injustice in this world. Everything springs from a mathematical, ultra-logical system, where one gets the exact reward one deserves, which bears no moral connotation like in Christianity. That, is called Karma.

There is also another wonderful concept in India, that of Dharma, which is the path of righteousness and living one’s life according to the codes of conduct as described by all ancient scriptures. It means “that which holds” the people of this world and the whole creation. On the other side, a-dharma is what makes people stray from the path of compassion, love, togetherness and that which creates hate, corruption and selfishness. As in a human being, a nation can choose a dharmic path or an a-dharmic one. The dharmic path, whatever the pitfalls, ensures the survival of the soul of a nation – which has been India’s story so far; and the a-dharmic one, the fall of even the greatest of civilisations, whether Rome, Greece or Egypt. Today for Indians, dharma is choosing between forces that are attacking India’s spiritual legacy and forces which will help preserve it.

Then we have the notion of the Avatar and the Asura in ancient India. As the avatar or the Vibhuti is direct incarnation of the Divine forces, the asura works against Dharma and ushers an era of a-dharma. It should also be emphasized that there is no such thing as the utter evil and absolute good of Christianity or American films in human beings: often the asuric beings seem to embody some good, whether it is charity or even secularism.

At this very moment, Indians have been asked to decide their future by electing a new Government. Sometimes, it is said that people act out of ignorance. But this time it is not so: Indians have been warned repeatedly in the forms of monstrous terrorist attacks, one after the other, that something is terribly wrong. They have also seen how the whole system is deteriorating, that cynicism in politics is the rule of the day, that their own Media is terribly biased and can be bought, that ancient values are being lost quickly by the way of Christian conversions, wildcat westernization and the sprout of Islamic fundamentalism. So, ultimately Indians are being given the choice to vote decisively for their future. If they do opt for the repeat of the same government which has ushered all these forces, out of regional, caste or religious pettiness, selfishness, or plain indifference, it can be said safely that somewhere they will do it consciously. They will have then to bear the consequences of their choice. That is called Karma

Then Sir Aurobindo’s words will echo down the ages:
“There are moments when the Spirit moves among men and the breath of the Lord is abroad upon the waters of our being; there are others when it retires and men are left to act in the strength or the weakness of their own egoism. The first are the periods when even a little effort produces great results and changes destiny; the second are spaces of time when much labour goes to the making of a little result. It is true that the latter may prepare the former, may be the little smoke of sacrifice going up to heaven which calls down the rain of God’s bounty.

Unhappy is the man or the nation which, when the divine moment arrives, is found sleeping or unprepared to use it, because the lamp has not been kept trimmed for the welcome and the ears are sealed to the call. But thrice woe to them who are strong and ready, yet waste the force or misuse the moment; for them is irreparable loss or a great destruction.”

fgautier@rediffmail.com