‘SALIGRAMA SHILA’ – THE PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION OF THE SUPREME LORD AS PERSONAL DEITY
THE TRADITION OF ‘SALIGRAMA SHILA’ WORSHIP :
The black stone known as ‘SALIGRAMA SHILA'(rocks bearing Ammonite fossils) obtained from the river bed of the Himalayan river ‘KALI-GANDAKI’ is believed to be the physical, personal manifestation of the Supreme Lord and His devotees lovingly worship His idol. This tradition is related to the story of a pious lady by the name of VRINDA and her reincarnation as a plant known as ‘TULASI’. The leaves and the flowers of ‘TULASI’ are used in the worship of the LORD and ‘TULASI’ plant is also worshiped with great devotion and hence ‘TULASI’ adorns several Indian homes.Tulasi,Ocimum tenuiflorum, Ocimum sanctum, Holy Basil is known to Indians for thousands of years and is very often used in the Indian traditional medicine of ‘AYURVEDA’.
In the Indian scripture of ‘BHAGAVAD GITA’, chapter 10, verse 10 which describes the Infinite Glories of the Ultimate Truth, Lord Krishna spoke to the Pandava prince Arjuna :
“tesam satata yuktanam bhajatam priti purvakam
dadami buddhi yogam tam yena mam upayanti te.”
tesam-priti-purvakam-bhajatam: to those devotees who worship Me with love
satata-yuktanam: and who are constantly aspiring for My association
dadami: I bestow
buddhi yogam: the intelligence, understanding, and insight
yena: by which
upayanti: can come
mam: unto Me.
To those devotees who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I bestow the spiritual intelligence, understanding, and insight by which they can come unto Me.
The Ultimate Reality, the Supreme Absolute Truth exists beyond man’s reasoning powers and it is not possible to understand the Supreme by speculating and by argumentation. However, through devotional service rendered with love the Lord could be pleased and as an act of special mercy He reveals Himself to His devotee.
WORSHIPING OTHER GODS :
Indian thinkers have stated that, “Truth is one, though the sages know it as many”. Indians tolerate other religious practices and do not prohibit the worship of other Gods. Ideas that originated outside the Land of India specifically prohibit the worship of other Gods and condemn other religious practices. For example, the Holy Book of Bible, the Old Testament, the Book of EXODUS(chapter 20, verses 3-5), and the Book of DEUTERONOMY(chapter 5, verses7-9) state the folowing :
“you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.”
This Commandment specifically prohibits the Indian tradition of the worship of ‘Saligrama Shila’, the fossil rocks and stones obtained from the bottom of the Kali-Gandaki river that courses through Nepal.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights :
This is a United Nations Treaty based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and India has ratified this treaty. Amongst other things the Article 18, para3 of the treaty states :”Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subjected only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”
PROPAGATION- IS THAT A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT OR FREEDOM ?
The word propagation means the spreading of ideas from one person or one place to another person or place. Propagation aims at converting people to another opinion. Propagation attempts to alter people to adopt another point of view. Countries like Greece and Malayasia specifically prohibit propagation of religious ideas. Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Association, and Freedom of Speech are not the same as Freedom of Propagation. Propagation involves destroying the ability of people to think for themselves and it aims at converting people to change their ideas and practices. Propagation creates tension, disrupts social harmony, contributes to a breakdown of public order, and is not conducive to maintaining public safety. Propagation is unwanted violation of the Fundamental Rights of others, and propagation is unnecessary interference of the Fundamental Freedom of Religion of others. Propagation results in the destruction of the Right to practice religion and to worship God according to one’s choice. Since, propagation is not a Fundamental Right or Freedom, and because propagation is counter productive, we need an amendment of PART III, Article 25 of the Constitution of India.
A PICTURE OF INDIA’S GRIEF OVER JIHADIST ATTACKS IN MUMBAI
TERROR ATTACKS ON INDIA :
Recent news reports are stating that the terror attacks on India have not seen its end and they are predicting the possibilities of more attacks similar to the Mumbai carnage on November 26, 2008. “India will continue to face a serious jihadist threat from Pakistan-based terrorist groups, and neither Indian nor U.S. policy is likely to reduce that threat in the near future”, said Angel Rabasa, lead author of the study and a senior Political Scientist with RAND, a non-profit think tank based in Santa Monica, California. According to RAND, the other extremist groups in Pakistan will find inspiration in the Mumbai attacks and there can be more attacks from groups with high body counts and symbolic targets.THE CONCEPT OF JIHAD : The term Jihad in Arabic means struggle and is often viewed as a religious duty. A person engaged in Jihad is called a ‘mujahid’, the plural is ‘mujahideen’. The Mumbai attackers identified themselves with the name of ‘Deccan Mujahideen’. The aim of Jihad includes the expansion and defense of the Islamic State and warfare against non-believers. Jihad ideology has historically inspired the conquest of non-Muslim population and the transformation of civil society which is viewed as corrupt, arrogant, and disobedient. The Holy Book of Quran, Surah 25, verse 52 states : “Therefore, do not obey the disbelievers, and strive against them with this, a great striving”. The objectives of armed warfare include uprooting unbelief and establishing supremacy of God, through Islam, in the world.”And fight them on until there is no tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere.”
THE HISTORY OF JIHAD IN INDIA :
Sir Jadunath Sarkar, a historian, and former Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University had contended that several Muslim invaders waged a systematic Jihad against Indians. Sultan Mahamud of Ghazna(present day Ghazni city,Afghanistan) conducted more than twenty Jihadist attacks on North India between 1001 and 1027. In particular the records kept by al-Utbi, Sultan Ghazni’s secretary in the ‘Tarikh-i-Yamini’ document several episodes of bloody campaigns. Persian historian Ferishta records that Sultan Ghazni wants to “root out the worship of idols from the face of all Hindustan(India)”. He looked upon the destruction of temples as an act of Jihad. Mahamud Ghazni specifically directed his campaigns to temple towns of Nagarkot, Thanesar(1011), Mathura(1018), Kannauj(1019), Kalinjar(1023), and Somnath(1024). He had also destroyed temples at Varanasi, Ujjain, Maheshwar, Jwalamukhi, and Dwaraka. Mahmud Ghazni was of Turkic origin but had patronized the use of New Persian language and gave employment to writers such as al-Biruni, and Ferdowsi who gave detailed descriptions of the enormous booty and idols brought back to Ghazni city. Asaru-L-Bilad, a 13 th century geographer also described in great detail the destruction of Somnath. Apart from his regular troops, Mahmud Ghazni had assistance from 30,000 volunteer horsemen who had participated in the Jihad. To resist the attack on Somnath, Ghogha Rana at the age of 90 sacrificed himself and his clan. There are no census documents but after an analysis of all historical documents, historian K.S.Lal had estimated that about 2 million people died during Sultan Ghazni’s attacks on Indian temple towns.Similarly, Sikandar Lodhi of Delhi earned the epithet of ‘But Shikan’- the destroyer of idols. Babur the founder of Mughal empire in India in 1527 ordered a JIHAD against Rajputs at the battle of KHANUA. He had encouraged his men to fight the infidels and asked them to become either a Ghazi(soldier of Islam) or a Shaheed(Martyr of Islam). The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb waged Jihad against Hindus as well as Shia Muslims whom he identified as heterodox. In South India, the Hindu kingdom of Vijaynagar came under repeated attacks of annual Jihad which had started in 1501 and each attack included destruction of temples. In the historical Third Battle of Panipat(January 1761), Ahmad Shah Abdali declared a Jihad against the Marathas. Estimates from historical documents indicate that about 60 to 80 million people in India died between 1000 and 1525 CE.INDIA’S RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE : Indian traditions have clearly established the rules of warfare. A ‘JUST WAR’ or ‘DHARMA YUDDHA’ is a duty and is an obligation of the Ruler. We believe in the principles of protecting all non-combatants. They should not be touched or harmed in any manner. We recognize the right of self-protection, self-defense, and self-preservation. When an enemy attacks you, it would be an act of cowardice if the enemy is not engaged in a battle. In the context of defending people against Jihadist attacks, we are not only defending our territory, our property, our personal lives but also we are defending our right to think for ourselves and cherish the ideas and values that are important to our existence. We have a fundamental right to worship as we please and safeguard the traditional way of life. Since Jihadist attack is actually a war against our fundamental right to practice religion, the propagation of ideas of Jihadist warfare should be prohibited and violators should be punished. The term Self-Defense means defense of one’s rights, beliefs, and existence. The Right to defend oneself with whatever force is reasonably necessary against actual or threatened violence is universally recognized by Law. Self-Defense is a natural, inborn instinct. A National Entity has a Right and also a Duty to defend itself from attacks sponsored by an enemy or an Enemy State. The act of Self-Defense could be expressed in several different forms; a retaliation involving the use of military force, economic and trade sanctions, diplomatic sanctions, imposing travel restrictions, and other punitive or defensive actions as needed.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S., Class of April, 1970.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S. Class of April, 1970.
YAGNA, A VEDIC RITUAL OF SACRIFICE-‘HOTREE’ OR ‘YAGNA PERFORMER’ OFFERS ‘HAVIS’ TO FIRE(LORD AGNI)
THE UNIVERSE AS GOD’S BODY
The word ‘omnipresent’ is defined as present everywhere at the same time. The property of being present everywhere is one of the Divine attributes. In western theism it has attracted less attention and the idea of ‘omnipresence’ is explained in a bit unclear way. In Judeo-Christian, and Islamic Cultures, God is not immersed in the substance of creation even though He is able to interact with it as He chooses. They tend to the view that God is in “HEAVEN”, and that God is above and outside of all creation. They explain ‘omnipresence’ in terms of His ‘ESSENCE’ as He is present to all as the cause of their being, His ‘POWER’ as all things are subject to His power, and His ‘KNOWLEDGE’ as He constantly watches all that goes on in the world and all things are bare and open to His eyes and hence He is naturally present in every aspect of the natural order. Whereas Indian thinkers tend to believe that a thing is said to be substantially or essentially in that place in which its substance is. Hence, people in the Land of India traditionally hold the view that God is related to the universe as though it is His body. The entire creation is seen as a manifestation of the Supreme Person. The theory of transcendent(exists apart from material universe) and immanent(actually present throughout the material universe)’omnipresence’ explains the meaning of the word ‘BRAHMAN’, the Ultimate Reality. Indian people reflect this belief in their worship of creation, and the idea that God is immersed in the substance of His creation could be recognized as a core value, the foundation upon which the Cultural traditions of India are established over thousands of years of their continued existence. The rituals of temple worship and the Vedic rituals of Yagna always include aspects of Worship of Creation and the Scriptures reveal that the Gods also Worship Creation to the same extent and the Indian way of life could be stated as a quest for unity with the Divine.
A HYMN TO SEEK PROTECTION FROM THE CREATOR
Yaa srushti srashtu raadyaa vahiti vidhihutam, yaa havi ryaacha hotree
Ye dvey kaalam vidhatta, sruti vishaya gunaa, Yaa sthithaa vyaapya viswavam
Yaa maa hu sarva bhuta prakriti riti, Ya Yaa praanina praanavanta
Pratyakshaabhi prasanna stanubhi ravatu Vastaabhi rashtaabhi reesa.
We seek the protection of God who physically manifests Himself with the eight bodies of
1. WATER- Lord VARUNA who was created prior to the creation of all other creation(of living entities).
2. FIRE- Lord Agni who receives ‘HAVIS’, the oblations or offerings given to God.
3. HOTREE- the person who is performing ‘YAGNA’, the Vedic ritual of sacrifice.
4. SUN- Lord Surya, the marker of day time.
5. MOON- Lord Chandra, the marker of night-time.
6. SKY- or ETHER which helps in the propagation of SOUND and is spread across the entire universe.
7.EARTH- Mother Earth, Goddess Bhu Devi, who bears the burden of harboring all living entities.
8. WIND- Lord VAYU who is the ‘Breath of life'(or PRANA) of all living entities that breathe.
THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO WORSHIP CREATION
The act of Creation Worship defines Indian Identity. All other Cultural Traditions that are existing in India proceed from this foundational principle. Indians seek their well-being, prosperity, happiness and eventually salvation through acts of worship. The foreign forces that occupied and ruled India tried hard to take away this Right to Worship as per our belief that God is immanent. We need to recognize the Right to Worship Creation as a Fundamental Right. Citizens while they are free to profess their religion , should not be free to ‘PROPAGATE’ a religion or idea which basically interferes with a Fundamental Right. No person could have a Fundamental Right to PROPAGATE at the expense of denying and devaluing other core values. To that extent, we should seek an amendment to PART III, Article 25 of the Constitution of India which deals with Freedom of Religion. The Constitution of India must recognize the Worship of Creation as a Foundational Principle of the Land of India and hence should be considered a Fundamental Right and should prohibit PROPAGATION of religion which infringes upon this Core Value. Such an amendment is vital to defend the Freedom of Religion as religious doctrines of Islam and Christianity are opposed to the idea of divinity of all created objects. These religious faiths divide humanity into two categories; the believers, and the non-believers. They also further express the claim that they possess a divine sanction to punish or modify the beliefs of the non-believers. In the global community, the adherents of Hindu religious faith are only a minority and they need special protection to defend the Right to Freedom of Religion.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
- Bhavana Jagat – 2010 in Review (bhavanajagat.wordpress.com)