Constructive or Destructive – The Power of Human Mind

Abdul Rehman, Abdul Rehman Chhota, Abu Ali, Fahad Ullah, Ismail Khan, Babar Imran, Abu Umar, Abu Sohrab, Shoaib and Ajmal Kasab; 10 young men in their early twenties who executed the Mumbai mayhem 26/11.

These attackers travelled by sea from Karachi, Pakistan and hijacked a Indian fishing trawler. They killed its crew of four and forced the captain to sail to Mumbai, who was killed on coming ashore at the Arabian Sea in Colaba at 20:00 IST on November 26, 2008.

Their target were Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Leopold Cafe, The Taj Mahal Hotel, Oberoi Trident and the Nariman House. Also, there were shootings near St. Xaviers’College, Metro Cinema, Mazagaon Docks, Vile Parle and Cama Hotel. An attack began at CST at 21:30 when two gunmen, including Ajmal Kasab, entered the passenger hall and opened fire using AK-47 rifles. The attackers killed 58 people, injured another 104 and ended the assault at about 22:45 followed by the arrival of security forces and emergency services. After CST, Kasab and Khan faced firing by a team of Mumbai Anti Terrorist Squad in which Khan and 5 Police officers were killed, and Kasab was caught alive.

Leopold Cafe, a popular bar on Colaba Causeway, was one of the first sites to be attacked with around 10 killings and many more injuries.

The Taj Hotel had 6 explosions, 1 in the lobby, 2 in the elevators and 3 in the restaurant. On the night of November 26, around 200 hostages were rescued from the windows using ladders by our fire-fighters.

Meanwhile, 2 other attackers took over the Nariman House where 9 hostages were rescued but 6 hostages and a National Security Guard Commando were gunned down. Both the gunmen were shot dead as well.

The operation finally ended at 8:00 am on November 29 after killing 9 terrorists. In total, the NSG rescued 250 people from the Oberoi, 300 from the Taj and 60 people from Nariman House.

These attacks were planned and directed by Lashkar-e-Taiba militants in Pakistan, carried out by 10 young armed men trained and sent to Mumbai and directed from Pakistan via mobile phones and VoIP. This massacre was planned several months ahead of time and the attackers knew some areas well enough to vanish and reappear after the security forces had left.

These 10 attackers were out of the group of around 24 students who were trained in marine warfare at a remote camp in mountainous Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir. A part of training was also taken at Mangla Dam reservoir. The stages of training, as reported by the US n Indian media reports were psychological (atrocities suffered by Muslims in India and other parts of the globe), basic combat, advanced weapons and explosives training supervised by retired personnel of the Pakistan Army, survival training and commando training that also included marine navigation. There were also lessons in swimming and sailing and before boarding a small boat for Mumbai, the attackers stayed and were trained by the LeT in a safehouse at Azizabad near Karachi.

Blood tests on the attackers indicate that they had taken cocaine and LSD to sustain their energy and stay awake for around 60 hours. Rowing with weight on their shoulders did not tire these young terrorists. Within 90 mins of reaching Mumbai, they had started with their shooting spree, that lasted for around 90 hours. The basic needs of a human being are water, food, sleep and release of urine and stool. Without breaks these 6 attackers injured and killed so many people. According to some witnesses, there was a smile on their faces while shooting innocent targets.

Our soldiers are trained for years and months, unfortunately they may or fortunately they may not face a war. Shooters who have done our nation proud by winning medals take their own time to shoot a dot. A little hectic day may want us to rest for the whole weekend. A little weight may wear out our muscles for 2-3 days. Its not the effort and strength of these 6 boys I admire or selflessness or determination of our soldiers and sportsmen I don’t value; but it’s the functioning of our minds and the intensity of it’s will that amazes me. Men have done great things due to their dedication. A man in a remote village constructed a whole mountain and made a road all by himself. It’s the power of human mind that’s so intimidating. It can invent things and demolish places of worship, it can start a revolution or plan a war, it can save life amidst danger or kill people in cold blood.

The mind in the end, is ours ! We train it, we exploit it. We argue with it, we convince it. The mind conceives an idea because we want it to. It can either be a saviour or a monster, who gets to decide?

One World

During the infancy of human existence, which was millions of years ago; there would not have been any boundaries. Areas would have diverged according to terrain and climate, but a lot of manmade classification would have been beyond one’s imagination.

Early men must have been more animalistic in a very positive sense of the term. Searching for food and shelter in the forest, exploring new areas like nomads, or protection against wild animals or climatic changes must have consumed most of their time. Relatively different activities must have consisted of inventing things like fire, making new weapons out of wood and stone, or having instinctive wars (for food, tribal issues or reproductive interests). Even more unusual would have been defining territories and categories, ‘dividing’ to be precise.

There was no formal education, career options, technology or modernization; as were there no discriminations on the basis of borders, castes, race, or religion. In Indian context, before the arrival of the Aryans in 1500 BC, existed communities of other origins like Negrito (resemblance in physical features with Africans), Mongoloids (Chinese features), Austroloid (features similar to the aboriginals of Australia) and the largest community in India, Dravidians (Mediterranean origin). Aryans started disregarding the local culture and started organising among themselves the division of castes as Brahmins, the priests; Rajayanas or Kshatriyas as warriors; Vaishyas, the farmers and craftsmen and the labor force as the Shudras. It’s noteworthy and also mentioned in the Rig Veda that the first ever classification of caste was neither on the basis of any community, skill nor region but ‘Varna’, meaning ‘skin colour’.

Today’s highly educated generation obviously knows the basic as well scientific reason behind the difference in skin colour of people, i.e., climate! People from hilly region tend to be fairer skinned and people from tropical regions are darker. Those living in plains would be on the moderate side, wheat-ish, and any regional contradictions could be because of genetic assortment. We need the day as much as we need the night. Heat has its own role to play as has cold in balancing the environmental dynamics. So why should we discriminate those unintentionally affected by the rationally diversified Mother Nature? We are constantly ignoring the message it is trying to convey, ‘that it is the co-existence of the dissimilar that strikes a balance and not the monopoly of the similar.’  Also, the way we need various skills for efficient functioning of an organization, we also need various calibre people for survival of a society, city, state, country or the whole wide world. The way a CEO cannot work without ground force, we as a society cannot do without labour, the ‘Shudras’, specially now when we are not at all self sufficient. Can we grow our own crop or make our own houses? How will even a king survive without farmers? Irrespective of the caste, skin colour, region or status, every living being needs food, the most basic element for survival. Should we suppress farmers merely because we coined a term ‘Vaishyas’ for them or should we look down upon people who clean our trash and label them as ‘untouchables’? Every group needs protection from outside dangers and that’s where the warriors, ‘Kshatriyas’ come into play. Education is an integral part of human evolution so the teachers, ‘Brahmins’ have a significant role too.

This is about ancient India, and caste division like Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian became much later a part of our history. Needless to mention, this was also an outcome of a particular community trying to be more powerful than others, and having smaller groups only makes the task easier. Different tribes always fight. If the tendency to ‘divide and rule’ is so much a part of our communal selves, then why do we Indians despise the British rule? In fact, they were intelligent and futuristic enough to bank upon our weakness and hence could enslave us for so long. Our ancestors harassed the sweepers for too many years, their generations will naturally try to get even with us now and they deserve our support.

There is too much hue and cry about social intolerance amongst Indians these days. We think what our irresponsible media wants us to think instead of it being the other way round. Negative is more attractive as well as popular, hence no Hindu wants to react when a cow that cannot provide milk is sold to a slaughter house but they want to kill Muslims who eat beef, irrespective of the fact that a lot of Hindus eat beef as well. Nobody bothered to stand by the bollywood actor Amir Khan when he had the courage to fight for those being rendered homeless as a result of Sardar Sarovar Dam construction during the Narmada Andolan or when he wanted to highlight the social evils of united India through his TV series Satyamev Jayate. We are always ready to start hating and banning, a sign that our negative self is more powerful than the positive one. If we hate Amir because his wife finds India unsafe, why don’t we also hate Indian women who find Delhi unsafe or Indian youth that feels India lacks career opportunities and settle abroad for the same reason?

Hatred and wars have never resolved issues. If we truly want to clean this mess, we have to understand divisions were merely disguised weapons for power and political interests. Religions were created by some humans for fellow humans and against a much larger number of other humans. It’s harmful for individual, social as well as national development. Rise beyond these barriers and think openly, construct a better society. The onus is on this generation to undo the injustice practised by our ancestors as well as imbibe a more acceptable and harmonious culture in our successors. Let the human within win over the hidden monster! Jai Hind !

 

The Last Journey

“It feels like a second life”. Thought me as I watched everyone around, wailing faces, sad faces, numb faces, faces that suggest a task has been completed and baby faces unable to understand what was happening around. But no face was looking back at me; instead, they were looking at my identical twin sleeping peacefully on the ground, facing the South direction.

It felt bizarre; I could witness everything without anyone else’s knowledge. Also a life, if it was so at all, that no one else could see, know or feel. The famous bollywood movie “Mr. India” had certainly made me very curious as a kid, but only then I realised how it feels to be “absently present”.

It took me sometime to realise what had actually happened. Thanks to my grandmother who I used to call “Amma”. I remember the night I saw her, heard her, following the morning she died. No, it was no illusion at the age of 14 years and I was not under any influence.

Whatever little knowledge or perceptions I have of our culture, traditions, beliefs and mythology, I owe it to her! It says that the spirit does not proceed to the heavenly abode immediately after death but stays on for 13 days. This belief has paved way to the tradition of bidding a final farewell to the deceased on the 13th day and is called ‘Tervi’.

My twin was made to wear new clothes and was placed on a frame by tying with a rope, the intersecting horizontal and vertical thin wooden logs.  A priest was chanting some shlokas for her peaceful departure while my immediate family was encircling her and offering flowers, followed by all the others gathered there. She was then carried to the banks of river Ganges on four shoulders and this procession mostly comprised of males, while the females stayed behind the boundary of my home.  When we reached the Ghat, my look alike body was placed on a much more elaborate pile of logs, which I thought was a waste of wood and I could not decide whether the people around were crying for her or for the trees. A man with a steel vessel full of Ganga-jal encircled me while sprinkling the holy water around the circumference of the pyre, while chanting still continued. Then the same man with a thick wooden stick hit her skull with one single blow, a ritual performed so that the deceased has no memory of the previous birth in his reincarnation. After the blow, the pile was set on fire and the men stood around, staring at the blaze. When flames receded and the body and woods mostly turned to ash, it was collected in a clay pot to be brought back home. On a tree nearby was hung some food in another clay pot and this was to be done twice everyday for thirteen days. This was a gesture of feeding the spirit which is believed to be around till the Tervi, i.e., me! The men then started marching back home, and on their way back 1 of them shaved off his skull. By the time they were back, the ladies had washed the entire place as well as taken shower themselves. One of them stood outside with a pot of water which was used by the men for washing their feet before entering the house and then all of them went for a bath. For thirteen days the food was not cooked at home, a tradition of not turning the ‘Chulha’ on. Also, the food sent by others or ordered from a caterer was void of onion and garlic, ingredients considered ‘Tamsic’ by North Indian Brahmins and had very less ghee and spices.

Throughout this period, the man who performed the last rights used to sleep on floor instead of the bed, have ‘sattvik’ food and have the last meal of the day, not much later than sunset. There was ‘akhand jyot’ where the body was initially kept at home and a diya lit twice everyday at the place of funeral. There were visitors almost every day and everybody sat on floor with my immediate family. Also, the worshipping ceremony, which used to happen twice everyday otherwise, had also taken a backseat for these thirteen days. Since the demised soul is perceived to be around and watchful till Tervi, it is advised by the elderly to not mourn the death as it may hurt the soul to see her near and dear ones cry because of her.

On the 10th day, known as ‘Nahaan’, there was a cleaning spree in the entire house and all the upholstery was changed. It was called, the ‘Shuddhi’ day.

And then came my last day. My family had bought an item of everything a normal person uses, from a pair of clothes, towel, socks, shoes, toiletries, umbrella, torch, stationary, some vessels, bedding etc to some food articles; to be given to a female priest who was considered my representative that day. A Pooja was performed and a caterer was hired to cook an authentic Uttar Pradesh meal consisting Poori, Kachori, Pumpkin vegetable, a gravy preparation, curd, milk based dessert etc in large quantity and everybody known was invited for it after 13 Brahmins exclusive of my representative were fed with it. This ritual is known as ‘Brahmin Bhoj’. After the Brahmin Bhoj, all the things of my use were decorated on a single bed with my representative sitting pretty on it and blessing my family after they took a round of the bed n touched her feet. All those things were offered to her and my family bid her a final goodbye. The ashes were submerged in the Ganges and we parted ways forever!

Badrinath

The Badrinath Temple
The Badrinath Temple

IMG_5560

IMG_5553IMG_5563IMG_5568IMG_5564

I have been visiting this place since childhood, yet every time I stare at those hills; it feels like a new beginning all together!
Badrinath is a hilly and holy town and a Nagar Panchayat in Chamoli District in the state of Uttarakhand, India. At an altitude of 10,170 feet, Badrinath is on the banks of river Alaknanda, between the Nar and Narayana mountain ranges, 9 km east of Nilkantha peak (6,596m). It is located 62 km northwest of Nanda Devi peak, 301 km north of Rishikesh and only 24 kms from the Indo-China (Tibet) border.
Badrinath was re-established as a major pilgrimage site by Adi Shankaracharya in the ninth century. ‘Badri’ refers to a berry that was said to grow abundantly in the area, and ‘nath’ means “Lord of”. Badri is also the Sanskrit name for the Indian Jujube tree, which has an edible berry. Some scriptural references refer to Jujube trees being abundant in Badrinath.
For the first time visitors, when they stand on a hillock, overlook the valley and listen to the sound of raging Alaknanda, Badrinath starts influencing by killing your Ego first. In front of nature so vast, so old, so beautiful and so eternal, you feel so small and irrelevant. That’s when the feel of this place starts sinking in.
Although the waterfalls and Kanchunjunga glacier that welcome you to Badrinath would give you a little sneak peek into what lies ahead, a view of sunlit snow capped peaks in still cold summer makes you want to imagine the snow clad moonlit mountains in winters. The random change in colour, cultivation and character of every mountain does justice to the randomness of nature. A green, grassy mountain with cattle grazing on it may be neighbouring a rocky, rugged mountain with some snow crowning its head. While some of them would be golden with the rays of sun, others would have clouds playing hide and seek with them.
Towards the north of Badrinath is Bheem Pul (a bridge across the holy Saraswati river that merges with Alaknanda), Mana (The last village before Tibet), Vasudhara Fall, Laxmi Van forest and Satopanth glacier. Vasudhara is 9 km from Badrinath town. The first 3 kilometres of Badrinath to Mana village is drivable road and next 6 km is walk able trek from Mana village to Vasudhara waterfall. The height of this waterfall is 400 ft (122 mt). Mana village has a Draupadi temple, where it is said that she collapsed during her final journey to heaven along with the Pandavas. There is also a Vyas Gufa where people say Shri Ved Vyas wrote the Mahabharata. Further up from Mana is the route towards Vasudhara Fall, the water of which is very refreshing and medicinal. It is also considered a sign of good luck if drops of Vasudhara fall on you. The trek is scenic with nearby mountains being Chaukhamba, Nilkantha and Balakun. Satopanth glacier rolls down towards the bottom of Vasudhara. The trek to Satopanth is difficult but the view from Satopanth, magnificent!
One legend has it that when the goddess Ganga was requested to descend to earth to help the suffering humanity, the earth was unable to withstand the force of her descent. Therefore the mighty Ganga was split into twelve holy channels, with Alaknanda being one of them.
On the other side of Alaknanda, there are various caves and boulders on the path which lead to Charanpaduka, situated at a height of 3,380 ft and at a distance of 3 km from the Badrinath temple. Charanpaduka are footprints of Lord Vishnu, imprinted on a boulder in a beautiful meadow on the trail to Nilkanth.
As I am writing this article, it is the second anniversary of “Uttarakhand flood” which devastated Kedarnath, Govindghat, Rudraprayag and many other places on June 16, 2013, also resulting in a lesser turnout of tourists in all the Char Dhams, including Badrinath. The rainfall which was above 375 percent above the benchmark created havoc in the state. A multi-day cloudburst centered on the state caused floods and landslides. Due to continuous rainfall, the Chorabari glacier melted and this triggered the flooding of Mandakini river in Kedarnath. The change in day and night temperature in the recent years also encourages cloud bursts and landslides. Reduction in forest cover loosens soil and leads to the same. Also, if the hills have more oak trees than pine or other trees, it will prevent soil erosion and landslides. Nature probably takes revenge for some of the many offences mankind makes it go through. Real estate development results in cutting down of several trees. The unplanned and illegal construction, in the name of development and commercialization has disturbed the ecology of the state. Rapid growth of hydroelectricity dams disrupts water balance and encourages such disasters. More than 220 power and mining projects are running in 14 river valleys in Uttarakhand. Several rivers are being diverted through tunnels for these projects. Absence of tourist management and lack of crowd control further worsens the situation. An added spoiler is a poor monitoring, forecasting and early warning systems by Met department in the state. Government bodies are inefficient and lack foresight and skill of optimum utilization of resources.
It was disheartening to see the mayhem broadcast by media in June 2013, but when I personally visited the place in June 2014 and 2015, it did not seem so bad after all. In fact, there was no damage caused in Badrinath at all. Fear can make people step back from doing a lot of things, but FAITH is more powerful! The ability to overcome fear and go further is a gift the faith in the unseen, the unknown blesses us with. Looking at the recent natural calamities, the similarity between all these places is that they are lands of Lord Shiva, the God of Destruction! Is it not the ultimate truth of life? Why fear it when there is nothing more inevitable than that! When on my last night there I was watching the fire leaving free its flames in all directions, the sight of ashes, which we as well will finally turn into, gave me a sense of complete freedom and salvation!

How is a revolution conceived ?

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” – Martin Luther King

Ever seen a child play? He goes by his whims and imaginations and never by the rules. That is how the human spirit ought to live; free to want, free to speak, free to dream, free to err, free to learn, free to believe. When this is denied, it attempts to gain the freedom to question and challenge. As we grow up, the spirit is chained by the shackles of family, society, governing authorities, nations and boundaries. The list of the appropriate and the inappropriate is something we can get for free, but freedom is never free!

Assuming that early men never had a schedule, a code of conduct, a fixed recipe, a to-do list, a deadline to meet, or a rule to follow, their evolution was a result of their experiences and the learning from the same. This was neither certified by an authority on a certain parameter nor compared with the performance of others. They must have hunted whatever they wanted to eat; using whichever tool they were confident about. And so it starts with survival. It always starts from the basics, and that is what it comes down to after taking the highest leap. End mirrors the beginning.

So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of conformity and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the spirit within a man than suffering. It harms the nature and existence of the spirit. Coz when we do something not because we want to do it, but because we are expected to do it, it kills a certain part of the absolute spirit, and once the absolute starts dissolving, it becomes more prone to further harm and loses strength. When this pattern becomes repetitive, we believe the spirit gets immune to it. That is where we go wrong. It’s not the regular pressure that makes the sky cloudy, it takes low pressure to make the clouds rain. A ball cannot bounce back until it hits the ground. That is the point, the basic, the ground, where the revolution is born.

The spirit seeks justice, absolute justice. It refuses anything it considers unfair. Freedom to be is its choice, and when that is denied, it revolts. “Coz justice is a judgement that is both fair and forgiving. It is not only the way we punish the wrong, but also the way we try to save them…. Sometimes it is necessary to do the wrong thing, for the right reasons. The important thing is to be sure that our reasons are right, and that we admit the wrong”- Shantaram

People who do not raise a voice are the people who always console themselves. Consoling is nothing but a form of acceptance and suffering. A soul that does not console itself is a soul that will fight back. “Tolerating injustice is encouraging injustice”- said my father on his last day, unaware of its influence on my cloudy mind. Some feelings sink so deep into our hearts that only freedom from them can help us find them again.

Also, those who console themselves do not love themselves. If you love your soul, you will not accept what you do not deserve. Suffering is a sign of weakness, bouncing back, a symbol of strength. What and who you love should become your strength, not your weakness; coz love is a passionate search for truth other than your own. “Let me say at the risk of seeming ridiculous that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”- Che Guevara

But this does not mean that freedom is absolute. Freedom should be mutual, a manifestation of all the individual freedoms thriving to attain justice. In your own quest to get freedom, you cannot harm others’ freedom. It has to be neither submissive nor autocratic, but progressive. Justice cannot bring ego, it should bring peace. And peace is what nurtures our soul.

“There is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”- Into the Wild

A Rendezvous with Bliss

One evening, while I was sitting alone, sipping coffee and reading about terror-stricken Muslim countries, my mind wished for a break and heart for some peace. I looked outside the adjacent window, facing the street and the park across it. It had turned cloudy and the sky was colorful with shades of blue, gray and pink. Towards the west were hues of orange scattering around the setting sun. Trees were dancing in tandem with the cool wind and in between were the vermillion rays flickering.

The park was bustling with people of all ages. Majority of them being children, playing and swinging around, all clad in colorful clothes and looking like flowers in between the greens from that distance. I was lured enough to walk out and cherish the beautiful evening instead of sitting inside and sinking in the emptiness. I walked out and let my awareness infuse with the freshness and delight of the moment.

Walking towards the park, I saw an aged couple, probably in their late 70s, sharing some joke and laughing. The female was blushing and looking on the other side while her husband was smiling and slowly removing the tresses falling on her face. I could not help but smile at the sweetness of that sight. And my belief in the grace of that grey-haired age grew only stronger. Since, by then, you have lived a major part of your life, experienced changes, seen ups and downs, fulfilled responsibilities, have no desires but love, there comes a content and innocence only children can have. No wonder people often compare childhood with old age.

On moving ahead, I was closer to the euphoric kids who looked curious and frolicsome. A little girl of about 5 was telling her friends about a month old new canine member in her family. The children skirting her were listening to her with a lot of wonder, mouths open in awe and eyebrows pointing like a mountain peak… sheer innocence !

Walking further, I saw a young lady sitting on a bench and watching the kids playing nearby. From her adoring blaze it was apparent that she was the mother of one of those kids on swing. That veritable intrinsic smile, which is specially gifted to mothers; mothers who can’t stop admiring their little bundles of pleasure.

As I took a few more steps to reach a bench and sit, I felt a drop on my arm. No sooner did I realize it, it started drizzling and the kids started yelling in joy. They were hopping on the green grass, looking at the sky, eyes gleaming and enjoying the showers from heaven. Mothers who were around came running to take their kids back, some seeking shelter under trees and others running towards their abodes across the street. Oldies also started retreating but at their own pace, holding hands and supporting each other.

I was still walking slowly, getting drenched, not just in the rain, but in the moment; a moment of harmony with nature and its beauty. The music of rain and thunder, feeling the wind and the raindrops on my skin. A moment in which everything seems right and you live in the present, love the present. A moment when you smile alone, to no one and to everyone. Eternal bliss !

Unity in Diversity- The Indian Paradox

  • A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. ~ Albert Einstein

Paradox, as the term generally applies, is an apparently true statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction or a situation that seems opposite. It simply means that the two premises cannot be held as true together.

We Indians used to feel extreme pride in portraying an example of ‘Unity in Diversity’. I used ‘past tense’ because we are not united any more. In the current scenario, ‘Diversity’ is the only word to describe India. It is a land of opposites, where rich and poor stand side-by-side; shanty towns built-in front of 5 star resorts; the beauty of The Taj Mahal juxtaposed to the slums of the Taj Gunj; Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and many other religions co-exist. This diversification itself has become a threat to humanity. Since past few decades, we are fighting in the name of ‘religion’; religion, that is considered to be our moral foundation. Such an irony!!

There are certain teachings common in every religion like love, compassion, sympathy and gratitude. So if we are actually religious, then why can’t we carry out these principles instead of proving other religions or their followers as wrong? The Holy Bible itself claims: “God has written a law on the hearts of all. Everyone has a conscience, and although the outer ring of our conscience may be influenced by religion, the inner core is universal and unchanging.”

For instance, there isn’t a human being alive who doesn’t know the good and right of love, and there isn’t a human being alive who doesn’t know the evil and wrong of murder. In the Biblical view, if we are confused about such things as sex, selfishness, abortion and euthanasia, the problem isn’t so much that we don’t know about right and wrong, but that we “suppress what we do know” about them.

We consider ourselves to be very open and adaptable when it comes to accepting someone from a different land. Then why can’t the Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, who was forced to leave her country, is given refugee in India by our politicians? Are they scared of being revolted against by the fundamentalists? Or they want to keep this minority in their favor for getting votes? Even in her worst nightmares she had not thought that she would be persecuted in Bangladesh by the majority and in India by the minority, but persecuted just the same. What good would it bring to kill her? No benefit to Islam at least!!

Why should a barbed wire keep families and friends apart even though they share a common language and culture? What hurts the most is that this wire has been secured by religion. “All religions are ancient monuments to superstition, ignorance and ferocity”, said a French philosopher Baron D’ Holback. Religion has been described as the root of human misery and conflict – that more people have been killed in the name of religion than in any other cause.

Is Politics, a worthy cause to pull out a partition and divide a nation? Is Race, a worthy cause to burn human beings alive? Some may say yes and be proud about it. There is absolutely no way to prove them wrong. But the fact remains, they have become violent and in being so they are violating the natural state of Peace. Gandhi’s non-violence approach may have definitely affected India’s freedom fight, but it has surely saved Humanity.

We talk too much about excellence and we forget to talk about being good. But the word “good” means everything; it means righteousness, morality and perfect alignment. Aren’t these the things we really want to have in our lives? This is an era of globalization and liberalization. So why can’t we liberalize our acceptance and openness to everyone? Why can’t we globalize one common religion, i.e., ‘Humanity’?

We can continue with this madness or we can simply start asking ourselves – is the fight really required? Can’t we let go of our want to fight? The purpose of religion should be love and peace and not hatred and revenge. It depends on us, how we use it and in which direction we take it. Don’t let Humanity become a Monster!

“Tu na hindu banega, na musalman banega, insaan ki aulaad hai insaan banega.”

The Uprising of ‘She’- A Truth or Myth

Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams reaching the space; Kiran Mazumdar Shaw becoming the richest Indian woman through her biotech enterprise, ‘Biocon’; Indira Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi Ltd. making her nation proud; Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi reaching heights in their political careers; Mother Teresa, a name everyone reveres; P.T.Usha or Sania Mirza taking Indian sports to a new dimension; Kiran Bedi or Kanchan Chaudhary, women to whom the whole nation salutes ! This is a brief and broad picture of todays modern and successful, but few fortunate women.

The phenomenon of women empowerment has attracted massive attention in recent years. So much has been said and so much has been heard to uplift women economically, politically and culturally. But, is the woman of today socially empowered? If not in it’s literal sense then at least in the eyes of men?

We, the women of today are entering into diversified fields with great determination and enthusiasm. We try our best not to leave any stone unturned. Whether it be taking care of our families, managing the workplace, or both, we are striking just the right balance everywhere. But what hurts here is to see that a large section of society is still not open enough to welcome this change in favor of women. Its attitude towards women has still not changed; in fact, things have indeed gone from bad to worse after Independence. Despite law, such reprehensible practices as female feticide, female infanticide and child marriage are still prevalent in many parts of the country. Dowry is a plague that stalks every family having marriageable daughters and like AIDS it has no cure. Incidents of sexual harassment, eve teasing, sexual abuse of female children and rapes are on the rise. Women form a sizeable percentage of the workforce in the unorganized sector, but most of the labor laws do not cover them. Those who have been to the pilgrim centers of Mathura, Vrindavan and Varanasi would have noticed the large number of widows living in hopeless destitution.

Emotional or physical abuse in relationships is not uncommon. And it’s not only the illiterate or the ignorant that are the reasons behind such violence; what surprises is that quite often such abusers are well-read, intelligent and educated men. Convicted IPS officer R.K. Sharma, in the journalist Shivani Bhatnagar murder case is one example. Another such shocking incident was of Bangalore-based software engineer Amit Budhiraja, asphyxiating his wife with a pillow on suspicion of an extra-marital affair; he later committed suicide on knowing his wife was innocent.

Kidnappings, black mailings, acid attacks have become a routine in our society. General rise of aggression in the society has resulted in increased cases of emotional disorders. These often go undetected. Why are men increasingly becoming abusive? The reasons could be suspicion, jealousy, ignorance, dissatisfaction or anything. Increased stress and fast-paced lifestyle has reduced the tolerance level. Increase in infidelity has given rise to insecurity, therefore one finds it difficult to handle rejection and hits back. Decreasing influence of the community and family in one’s life, at times of distress, is also responsible for the plight. There is no emotional outlet and thus, this gets translated into violence or aggressive behavior.

It also has to do a lot with the upbringing of men in our society. They have been taught not to cry or express their negative feelings in any positive manner leading to such outbursts. It is the urge for proving male supremacy that ends up over-riding all other sensibilities. Thanks to the patriarchal society we live in, man feels woman is his property. It is true even today, despite having more working women on the scene. Economic empowerment does not necessarily lead to social empowerment.

It’s saddening to see that even after proving herself in every sphere, a woman is not given the respect she deserves in our society. She seems more like a play-thing to the opposite gender, devoid of emotions and feelings. It’s for all to see in which direction is our society moving, and it’s only in our hands where we want to take it. A man’s thinking that women are weak will not actually make them so. We have always been fighters and will fight out this plight as well. Women have got to make the world safe for men since men have made it so dammed unsafe for women.

Health, Fitness, Food and Well-being

Did you know that just walking for 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a

week is enough to combat aging?

 

To reduce the strain on your heart, sleep on your right side, or on

your back. This simple technique will add years to your life.

 

If you smoke, you can greatly reduce the risk of contracting

cancer by drinking carrot juice.

 

A placebo study has shown that asthmatics who consume 1 gram

of vitamin C per day had 4 times fewer attacks.

 

Pakistani women have an amazing trick they use to stay slim: they

keep a string permanently tied around their forearms. According to

Dr. Drupas, a gentle but constant pressure on the nerves in the

forearm stimulates certain glands, particularly those involved in

weight control (thyroid, suprarenals).

 

 

To treat diarrhea, avoid all solid food on the first day. Drink

liquids like water, apple juice, meat or vegetable boullion and tea.

These will compensate for your loss of water – dehydration being one

of the main dangers of diarrhea – and will give your intestines a

period of rest.

 

Did you know that half a teaspoon of ground ginger is more

effective than chemical medication in suppressing motion or sea

sickness?

 

Heat relaxes the muscles and ligaments. When applied locally, for

example, with hot towels, it can ease muscle spasms. It can also

reduce arthritic pain. Heat dilates the blood vessels, which in turn

activates circulation.

 

Drinking 2 glasses of orange juice daily can help lower blood pressure and cut the risk of heart disease.

Toasts and croissants can speed up aging.

 

For over 45s, an aspirin a day can cut cancer risk.

 

Soy milk is naturally low in saturated fat, and because it’s plant-based, it’s cholesterol free. It also offers up some nutrients that cow’s milk does not, including heart-healthy omega-3 fats.

 

Mustard paste can be used for general muscular relief and to help “cure” toothaches. It also became known to stimulate appetite and digestion, help clear sinuses, and increase blood circulation.  Mustard flour can even be sprinkled in your socks to help prevent frostbite.

 

Olive oil has lots of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory activity to fight rheumatoid arthritis.It is the only vegetable oil that can be created simply by pressing the raw material.

 

Eating yoghurt on a regular basis can help you absorb the nutrients in other foods.

 

One cup of pineapple has about 135 calories and 33% of the RDA of Vitamin C.

 

Limit the consumption of white sugar, white bread and oil to avoid cardiac risks.

 

One of the special things about the way oats work unlike any other fiber is that it lowers only bad cholesterol while keeping the good cholesterol (HDL) remain unchanged.

 

Green tea contains significant amounts of folic acid and can reduce clotting of blood, providing protection against cardiovascular diseases.

 

Barley is a good source of ‘beta glucan’, a water soluble form of fibre that retards fat and cholesterol absorption by the intestine.

 

Cabbage juice has ulcer healing capabilities, however, patients with gas trouble should avoid it.

 

Cucumber juice cleanses your kidneys, lowers blood pressure and improves skin problems.

 

Beet juice cleanses the blood and strengthens the gall bladder and liver.

 

Carrot juice is an excellent source of beta carotene, potassium, trace minerals and anti-cancer nutrients.

 

Garlic acts as a natural antibiotic and blood thinner and can reduce cholesterol level.

 

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and will also protect the stomach from irritation. Migraines and motion sickness can also be relieved by ginger juice.

 

Wheat grass juice is used as an enema, It helps detoxify the walls of the piles. It can be mixed with spinach and lime.

 

Bitter gourd juice is used as an anti-diabetic medicine. It also helps in purifying the blood.

 

Bottle gourd juice is used in the treatment of stomach acidity, indigestion, ulcers, epilepsy and other nervous diseases.

 

Drinking water charged with solar energy everyday can curb the headaches.

 

Flax seeds aid in weight loss.

 

Wheat grass can counter the adverse effects of sunstroke.

 

Finger millet helps in strengthening bones.

 

Sunflower seeds help in the prevention and cure of arthritis. It provides a natural glow to the skin and hair and combats heart related ailments.

 

Drink chilled water/lemon, ginger and honey in cold water or chew roasted fennel seeds to be stress free.

 

Consumption of walnut and cow milk paste can enhance memory.

 

Seeing is Healing

Red hibiscus, yellow goldenrod, red gulmoher, white/pink bougainvillea, light blue/purple morning glory, white roses, lift your mood. Keep them in your vicinity.

 

What keeps you Cool

Keep rock slt at four corners of the house to ward off negativity. Change it everyday.

Paint walls in the colour of yellow sapphire.

A crystal multicolour tree works wonders.

Crystal kailash Yantra is beneficial.

Spend time with pets as it can relieve depression, reduce blood pressure and triglycerides.

 

Express your Emotion

Tai Chi, Yoga, Meditation, and massage are stress busters. Listen to your favorite music/ read your favorite author/ tend to your hobby/ catch up with friends.

A good chuckle works your stomach muscles and takes care of your tension.

Being positive and appreciative of little things in life are great mood uppers.

Laughter anytime will work wonders for you, It is an instant way to unleash the pressure and it makes you feel light.