Today is Gandhi Jayanti - the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi has inspired the lives of many and has certainly inspired millions to live by his principles of Ahimsa i.e living a life by following non-violence. Mahatma Gandhi has many wise sayings and quotes, but for some this one stands out: "BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD."
Please enjoy the caption below written in the Times of India today.
Gandhi Jayanti - A tribute to 'Father of the Nation'
Gandhi Jayanti or Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti is observed every year as a national holiday to commemorate the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869 - January 30, 1948). His non-violence or satyagraha continues to influence political leaders and movements till date. The celebration and essence of Gandhi Jayanti is not restricted within India and also observed by the United Nations as the International Day of non-violence that aims to disseminate his philosophy, principle and believe in non-violence through proper education and public awareness.
Celebration of Gandhi Jayanti is also a moment to relive Mohandas Gandhi's life and contribution in India's Independence. Born in a small coastal town Porbandar in Gujarat, Gandhi married Kasturbai Makhanji at the age of 13. His childhood memories and experiences are vividly depicted by him in his autobiography My experiments with truth. Gandhi at the age of 18 went to England to study law and returned to India in 1915. After his homecoming, he led nationwide stir for achieving Sawaraj, abolition of social evils, empowering women rights and improving economic conditions of peasants and farmers. He further strengthened his movement against the British Raj and led Indians in protesting Dandi March Salt in 1930 that was later followed by the popular Quit India in 1942 calling British to leave India.
At Raj Ghat, New Delhi, and across India, people gather to observe Gandhi Jayanti in innovative ways that includes offering flowers on Gandhi's pictures, statues and singing his favourite devotional song Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram.
The government offices, banks, schools and post offices remain closed on Gandhi Jayanti to pay homage to 'Father of the Nation'. Additionally, as a tribute to this great soul, the Indian government mint rupee notes and also issue postage stamp depicting Mahatma Gandhi's photo. In May 19, 2011 at Geneva, a 1948 10 Rupee Mahatma Gandhi stamp was auctioned for a whopping price of US $205,000 making it a world record as the most pricey modern postal stamp from any country.
Many ardent followers make effort to preserve Gandhi's belongings, works and writings through various means with the support of governments and non-profit organizations. Online portals are also acting as major contributors in preserving and providing information on Mahatma Gandhi and about Gandhi Jayanti celebration.
The significance of Gandhi Jayanti celebration transcends beyond commemorating Mahatma Gandhi's birth and his life as followers renounce violence and entirely devote themselves to Gandhi's philosophy and principles of Ahimsa i.e living a life by following non-violence.
The celebration of Gandhi Jayanti conventionally kicks off by singing prayers, offering flowers, lighting candles and garlanding Gandhiji's photo or statue. Mahatma Gandhi's life and principles has inspired lives of all ages. And if you are enthusiastic to explore more about him and Gandhi Jayanti, then Gandhi Jayanti 2012 is the right time to become familiar with his perpetual and valuable philosophy, and also his role as an architect of Indian Independence.
'Father of Hindi' in South Africa to be honoured with bronze statue
JOHANNESBURG: Pandit Nardevji Vedalankar, widely regarded as the "Father of Hindi" in South Africa, will be honoured by India at the World Hindi Conference here next month by unveiling his bronze statue.
The proposal by the Hindi Shiksha Sangh of South Africa, which is the local partner in the conference being organised by the Government of India, has already been accepted in principle by Indian high commissioner Virendra Gupta.
The proposal seeks to have high-ranking Indian and South African dignitaries unveil the plaque during the 9th World Hindi Conference to be held from September 22 to 24 at the Sandton Convention Centre, after which it will find a permanent home at the headquarters of the Sangh in Durban.
Although of Gujarati origin, Pandit Vedalankar pioneered the promotion of Hindi from the time he came to South Africa from India in 1947.
"On 25 April 1948, with the help of two national organisations serving the religious needs of the Hindi community - the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha and the Sanathan Dharma Sabha, Panditji called a meeting of the Hindi speaking people to discuss the plight of their mother-tongue and to find possible solutions to promote the language," Heeralall Sewnath, Joint Regional Director of the Gauteng Branch of the Sangh said.
"The Hindi Shiksha Sangh was launched at this meeting and he became its first President, nurturing the organisation in this position for twenty-seven years," he said.
Vedalankar spearheaded the initial efforts involved in preparing students who wrote examinations set by Rashtrabhasha Prachar Samiti of Wardha in India, preparing syllabi and holding workshops and orientation courses periodically to assist teachers.
He was also instrumental in introducing an annual Hindi Eisteddfod for both adults and children in 1951 which continues to this day.
The Sangh has also proposed to honour Swami Bhawani Dayal Sanyasi, born in South Africa to indentured labourer parents, for his involvement in the Indian community in India, South Africa, East Africa and Fiji. This will be done by launching an English translation of his autobiography.
The Vedas, Upanishads, Brahmsutras and the Bhagavad Gita form the basis of Hindu dharma and philosophy. These are jointly considered the authoritative scriptures for Hindus and are written in the ancient language of Sanskrit. Many religious works, including literature and
hymns or bhajans have been written over the centuries in many other commonly spoken Indian languages which include Hindustani or Hindi, Gujarathi, Tamil and Telugu. There are 18 books called Puranas which contain examples and stories to illustrate the concepts
found in Vedas in much simpler language. There are also two major epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata, the historical narrations of [Lord] Rama and [Lord] Krishna, which serve as a guide for the common man to live a moral life. The Ramayana and Mahabharata are also written in various Indian languages, and elements from each continue to be popular bedtime stories. HINDU SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT Since Hinduism is a very tolerant religion, and regards all paths to truth as valid, many diverse schools of thought exist within its domain. Among these, Advaita, (Non-dualism), a school popularized by the 8th century AD monk Shankara, proclaims the absolute oneness of God, Soul and the Universe; and that the universe as we see it is transitory and therefore illusive. Other schools, Dvaita and Vishishtadvaita, do not agree with this doctrine. Advaita also teaches that when final liberation comes, man becomes free from the cycle of birth and death (Jivan Mukti). This is considered possible within the present life itself, and is compared to a little drop of rainwater joining the vast ocean.
THE KARMA THEORY
The Karma Theory states that every action performed by man will have a consequence (Karamphala). It is the moral foundation of the universe. Desire, discretion and action are interconnected. There are no eternal rewards/punishments as believed by other religions, or intrinsic evil at birth. Every man is born or reborn fashioned by his own Karma. To achieve salvation, and no rebirth (Jivan Mukti), Hinduism advises a life of selfless-service and totally giving up expectation of the fruit of action, and by following one or more of the Yogas mentioned below.
REALIZATION OF DIVINITY IN MAN
The ultimate goal of life is to achieve salvation, that is, to unite the individual soul with the Supreme Being. Human life is very precious. Out of His love, God grants human birth for the sole purpose of realizing one’s true nature or uniting with God.There are four primary Yogas taught in Hinduism, (Yoga = to join or unite) to achieve this goal of self realization. Depending upon the natural tendency of the person, one selects one or more or a combination of these Yogas:
• Yoga of Action: Karma Yoga
• Yoga of Knowledge: Jnana Yoga
• Yoga of Devotion: Bhakti Yoga
• Yoga of Self Control: Dhyana Yoga
These Yogas are described in detail in the
SIGNIFICANCE OF AUM OR OM:
AUM is described in the Vedas as the primordial Sacred sound of creation. Aum is recited in the beginning of all Hindu prayers and rituals. It consists of three primary notes, A, U and M, representing many three-fold entities such as: Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution Many spiritual seekers meditate on AUM as the universal symbol or as an icon pointing to the Supreme Being of the universe.
Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest wisdom or faith traditions. The date of origin of Hinduism is unknown; it is considered as eternal. It is difficult to define Hinduism since it is not a particular creed but a way of life. No one person created this religion; it is the sum total of thoughts developed by sages and seers over many centuries.
ESSSENCE OF HINDUISM
Sanatana Dharma, more commonly known as Hinduism, is in essence an eternal order, a set of rules for the governance and smooth functioning of the universe. It is the inherent nature of things, like the sun giving out light. Sanatana means that which is eternal and not subject to change. Dharma means fundamental truths or spiritual laws which exist at all times, in all places and in all conditions. Dharma is which holds and sustains (“when one follows Dharma, it protects”). According to Sanatana Dharma there are three spiritual truths which all human beings have to deal with: God (Brahman) Individual Soul (Atman) Creation (Jagat) God (Brahman) is defined as the entity that pervades everywhere, present in every atom of this universe i.e., He is the existence or the “Isness” of things. He provides support to everything which exists in Nature but does not need support from anyone or anything. God is neither male nor female. However, Hindus believe that God manifests Himself in personal forms too. Therefore God is worshipped both in the male form (as Ganesha, Vishnu and Shiva) or the female form (Durga, Lakshmi and Sarasvati). Hindus believe that whenever there is a decline in righteousness, God manifests himself on earth as a mortal being (e.g., Rama and Krishna). [The Lord] Krishna declares in Bhagavad Gita: “Whenever there is a decline of Dharma (righteousness) and rise in Adharma (unrighteousness), I embody Myself from time to time, O Arjuna; for the protection of the good, destruction of the wicked and to re-establish Dharma.” The Individual Soul (Atma) is like a ray of consciousness of the Supreme Being. Just as an image in a mirror has no existence without the original, the Atman has no existence without God. Atman has the same attributes as the Supreme. Atman is the “God” residing in every creature. Its true nature is not realized due to a false relationship with the ever changing body and the world. Creation (Jagat) is infinite. Hindus believe that this universe we live in has always existed and will always continue to exist. Unlike God, who is not subject to modification, Nature (Prakriti) is in a state of eternal and constant change. God is the cause for the existence of Prakriti just as He is the source for the Atma’s existence. Due to power of God alone, Prakriti is undergoing a never-ending cycle of creation, sustenance and dissolution. Creation, when properly understood, should be thought of as a projection of God Himself and not just His creation. Thus, there is one all pervading, all knowing God. Brahmasutras reject the possibility that God is distinct from nature. If God were distinct from nature, then God would be limited; a God who is not infinite is no God at all. It follows that, humans, animals and every living being and nonliving beings are part of God. Living creatures such as humans, animals and birds have a indestructible, distinct beingness, known as Atman, that is eternal, unchanging and is basically indistinguishable from the Supreme Being. The many gods worshipped by Hindus are the higher forms of life and are essentially representations of the Supreme Being known in Vedanta as Brahman. Prayers to any of these gods will be directed to Brahman. Therefore man has the freedom to imagine God in any orm or as formless if she or he chooses.
For Hindus, all secular and spiritual knowledge is contained in the Vedas. The root of the word “Veda” is “Vid” which is to know, therefore allknowledge is in the Vedas. The date that the Vedas were written has never been conclusively fixed. According to Hindus, the Vedas are
eternal. The Vedas do not owe their authority to anyone, as they are considered an authority unto themselves. Since the Vedas are eternal, Hindus believe that they were never created, but rather that they have existed throughout time. Just as Creation is infinite and eternal, ithout a beginning or an end, so is the knowledge of God, without a beginning and without an end. Hindus believe that Rishis – the seers – received this knowledge from God, just as an antenna receives radio signals from the original source. To facilitate an easy assimilation of this knowledge, a seer called Ved Vyas compiled the content of the Vedas into four major books: Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. Each Veda consists of four parts: Samhitas, consisting of beautiful poems that glorify God; Brahmanas that enumerate procedures for carrying out rituals; Aranyakas (Forest Books), developed primarily for the forest dweller who devotes his time in pursuit of the Supreme Identity; and the Upanishads. The Upanishads, or Vedanta (the definite end of or climax of knowledge in Vedas), is considered to contain the essence of the Vedas. Upanishadic thoughts have influenced Western philosophers significantly in both ancient and modern times. There are more than 250 Upanishads. An integrated synopsis of the Upanishads is provided in the Brahmasutaras. Another much revered text which contains the main thoughts of the Upanishads is the Bhagavad Gita. Also referred to as simply the Gita, and translated as “Song of God” or “The Divine Message,” it contains what was delivered to Arjuna (a human who was considered fit to receive this spiritual knowledge) by [Lord] Krishna, who is God personified.