Freedom of choices

badshahkhanIn the context of all relationships, the best ones are the ones where we understand each other, despite having differences.

Unfortunately, being judgemental about others,  even in the food choices we make seems to be the name of the game today. This often results in more divisions and unity as it only creates more barriers between ourselves.

In this context, I remember reading somewhere about the time when Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Badshah Khan came to visit Mahatma Gandhi in his ashram along with a young child.  We know that Gandhi was a staunch naturopath.  Still, he did know the food in his ashram would not be suitable for his guests. He immediately ensured that a suitable non-vegetarian diet was served to them.

He could of course have enforced his own diet on them. Surely, they would have accepted it but this gesture of Gandhi in going beyond his own beliefs endeared him to them as nothing else could have.

This also does show us the true hospitality and humaneness of Gandhi who at other times, chose to live in a Dalit home, during times when they were considered sub-human, cooking and doing all the work that they did and bonding with all.  Mahatma Gandhi called them “Harijans” or people of God. People may criticise the term but to Gandhi, everyone was a child of God, be it Dalits, people of other faiths, or even other nations. Equality to Gandhi was equality in all domains, which is what he considered real freedom.

Freedom to be who are, freedom to fight your battles, freedom to pronounce all your choices is what true independence is to every individual and by extension, to societies and nations.  This to Gandhi and other stalwarts of that era was what true freedom and independence was all about.

 

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Spiritual growth through elimination of negatives

There seems to be a lot of discussion on what we believe in nowadays, much more than earlier. Is this a sign of people moving towards spirituality or is it a sign of confusion?

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The fact is, what one believes in is less important than the practice of humanity. Each faith itself has many variants.

In Hinduism, the Advaitata philosophy, elaborated by Shankaracharya, is a monoistic system of thought that expounds the unity of atma and paramatma. Here,the individual (atman) and the whole (brahman) are the same.

A slightly different view is that of the Visishtadvaita philosophy, propounded by Ramanujacharya. Here, the relationship of God to the Soul and the Universe is like the relationship of the soul to the body. Hence, although they are linked, there is a distinction, too. Final release of man (moksha) comes, by the Lord’s grace and annihilation of one’s karma by way of a communion with God.

The Dwaita philosophy of Sree Madhavacharya makes a clear distinction between God and his creation. Founded by Shri Madhavacharya, this system avers that souls are not created by God but depend on Him to evolve. In other words, God is the potter causing the clay to emerge, rather than being the source of the clay itself.

In Kashmir Shaivism and its branch, the Tantrik philosophy, Shiva is the “Universal Consciousness”, from which we all have descended. We pass through several tattvas or stages of spiritual evolution. As long as one resides in the lower tattvas , one is the victim of sadness and sorrow and is entangled in the wheel of repeated births and deaths, and it is through moving forward, that we closer to the a recognition of one’s oneness with ‘Parama Shiva’ , the absolute.

These schools may seem diverse at first, but all these different philosophies and indeed all faiths, are essentially in agreement, if only we look closer.

This is also true of all faiths.

This can, perhaps be best understood through a process of progressive negation that would also lead us towards a better understanding of the true nature of divinity, not all of which all be verbalized.

This process has its uses in almost all areas of research and understanding. All scientific research is driven by a progressive negation of possibilities and so is medical diagnosis.

A research into divinity too can best be served by such a process. At the very basic level, one can eliminate any action influenced or driven by ego, anger, greed, jealousy and all other human failings as separate from God.

Moving forward, we can see that rituals and even pilgrimages, while serving the purpose of bring us closer to divinity if practiced in the true spirit, are not God itself.

Immersed in this research, we would be able to gradually see divinity emerging.

Ultimately, whether we move closer to him as his creation or merge with him as a part of him is just a detail, it is the common goal of spiritual growth that is important.

Then of course, unity too will happen for unity, essentially is the sharing of a common goal, not the pursuit of it in an identical manner.

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