Seek and let seek

indianflagWhile wishing everyone a Happy 70th Indian Independence Day, I request everyone to pause and think about what being Indian is to us.

India and Being Indian to me has always been all about accepting and understanding all the cultures this land has been home to.

We have been home to many saints and philosophers and have never stopped learning spiritual lessons all the time.

seekingApart from established religions, India has always honoured the mystic, the seeker, people who wants to have nothing but God in their lives.

In India, spirituality and religion are part of everyday life. In no other country, perhaps, will you see a sadhu (a renounced ascetic or a practitioner of yoga) walking on the street with just a blanket and his rosary as his possessions without attracting any attention. India is home to all the major religions of the world, thriving in harmony since centuries.

It is perhaps only here that one can see people making the symbol of a cross while going across a church, giving a chadar (blanket) to a mosque and then proceeding to a temple to pay obeisance at a temple while singing the gurbani (hymn) of the Sikhs and/or a Buddhist chant to complete the process of reaching out to the Divine.

Why just organised religion? Even minstrels of all kinds are always honoured in this land. In fact, even became insane for the love of God is considered a valid path like those shown for instance by the Bauls.  The word Baul comes from the Sanskrit “Batul,” which means mad, or “afflicted by the wind disease.”  The Bauls are India’s wandering minstrels of West Bengal, whose song and dance reflect the joy, love and longing for mystical union with the Divine.

This is true Indian freedom. Freedom to pursue the path you wish to while respecting all who follow their path. For in India, it is the act of worship is the thing that matters not the names and symbols.

This is indeed the true strength of India. It is not just ‘live and let live’ but ‘seek and let seek’.



Do we really need jingoism?

My grandfather never really liked the popular song “Sare Jahan Se Accha’. His view of nations and even individuals was that we should not put anyone down to make ourselves sound better. “Sare Jahan Se Achcha” in a sense, that conveys we are better than other nations was a negative viewpoint. This viewpoint, according to him, was unhealthy competition and was just a jingoistic song. india This used to lead to a lot of discussion of patriotism, what it means and why we should always promote one’s own nation and so on. Looking back, I do realize what he said makes a lot of sense, Why should we compete putting others down ? Should we not just compete with ourselves, our values, our vision, our view of the world? This is not to say that the song itself is not worth remembering. In 1905, instead of delivering a speech, Iqbal sang Saare Jahan Se Achcha. The 27-year old Iqbal viewed the future society of the subcontinent as both a pluralistic and composite Hindu-Muslim culture… Initially, Iqbal had written… Religion does not teach us to bear ill-will among ourselves We are of  Hind, our homeland is Hindustan. .. That changed due to changes in the scenario. Ironically, the nation started fighting internally and the enemy was all within. Though we had stalwarts of non-violence, we turned to violence among each other. Hence, due to differences that arose between communities, Iqpal did not remain of the same views but the song and what it stood for remained as one of the most popular songs of India. This comes from the fact that we in Hindustan, appreciate and believe in differences. Differences indeed are the way of the world and we cannot force everyone to be the same. This is the reason why people of all faiths   felt safe in our country. This is the greatest treasure we have and should never compromise on. India is probably the only country in the world where people belonging to different religions, castes and creeds, speaking different languages, having different cultures, different modes of living, different clothing, different feeding habits, worshiping different gods and deities do live together in harmony This was and still is an amazing achievement. No matter what the travails we have faced, this is the history of our land. Let us never compromise on this and preserve the pristine beauty of our nation and what it stands for. Even if Iqbal’s views changed, let us not change our viewpoint of all the faiths living together harmoniously in our nation. Right now, there seems to be one more era of “us” vs “them” that can be overcome only by understanding the true nature of our country, the strength of which has always been togetherness. As far as my grandfather’s viewpoint is concerned, I realize now that he was right. Jingoism of any kind is not at at healthy. The only way we can truly become great is by letting our values speak for themselves and not just by singing jingoistic songs. This independence day, let us all commit to the values of a pluralistic and composite culture

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