Sunday, 22 January 2012
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
The ‘Occupy wall street movement began as a protest against corporate greed. The venue of the protest was ‘Wall street’ – the financial center of corporate America. The first protest was on September 17, 2011.The protests ‘occupied’ Wall Street and claimed to represent the 99 % of the population who were being exploited by the rich, greedy 1%. The movement caught the imagination of millions across the globe and there were similar protest movements against corporate greed in many other nations including European and Asian countries.
We have seen American popular culture dominating lifestyles and fads all across the world. Right from the hippism of the 60’s to the low waist jeans of today, America has defined attitude and style. The same can be said about many ‘movements’ of today.
Americans generally have been worshippers of wealth. Concentration of wealth is seen as a necessary evil which fuels American growth and industry. Even then, the show of opulence and the greed of the corporate CEOs who give themselves larger salaries and perks even while the nation totters at the brink of recession has caused great heartburn among the ordinary people of America. Ordinary Americans are losing their jobs and healthcare benefits even while the Government is handing over large sums of money to bail out banks and financial institutions which have performed poorly.
The money angle and the politics behind OWS
As a movement of protest, the OWS street movement got more media attention than any other supposedly non political demonstration.
The protest against corporate greed is nothing new. Not even in America. What sets this particular movement apart if the speed at which it has caught on and the money that has gone in to finance this protest. This is no ordinary NGO affair.
Even while the protests were being organized observers had pointed out at massive amount of money which was being used by the movement. Fingers were pointed at John Soros, the Greek multi Billionaire as one of the sources of the protest movement. It was the Soros financed ‘Tides Center’ which paid the Adbusters to help spark the Occupy Wall Street movement with a wonderful poster showing a ballerina atop the Wall Street bull.
Money started to flow into different chapters of the OWS movement as if by magic. About two weeks ago Occupy Wall Street’s finance working group asked a ‘progressive group’ called the Alliance For Global Justice to be its fiscal sponsor and receive donations for the group. The AFGJ expected to receive some between one and five thousand dollars. Instead, it was flooded with donations for up to $140,000.
Then there is the target of the protesters. The protests are directed at those who are opposed to the Ruling democratic party of Barak Obama. In return, leaders of the ruling Democratic party have been vocal in their support to the protest movement.
The demonstrators who say they are against corporate greed of wall street support the democrats even when that party has been the recipient of 80 % of the political donations from the wall street !
The OWS has nothing bad to say about Bill Clinton, Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelick, Jim Johnson, Rahm Emanuel, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank. Democrats all of them members of the democratic party closely associated with Wall street.
The protestors were seen to walk right past George Soros' apartment building in order to protest at the homes of Rupert Murdoch and David Koch, both of whome oppose the Democratic party.
In the 1990s, the Democratic President Bill Clinton repeatedly bailed out his friends at Goldman Sachs and Citibank under the tutelage of his Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin -- former chairman of Goldman Sachs. U.S. taxpayers were fleeced to prop up nations that were about to default on risky bonds purchased by Goldman and Citibank. But for today’s OWS protestors Clinton is an ‘ally’.
The people who have come up with support to the OWS movement include Democratic multimillionaires like John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Alec Baldwin, and Micheal Moore, "God bless them for their spontaneity. It's independent, it's young, it's focused. And it's going to be effective," parroted the wealthiest former Speaker in the history of the U.S. House, Nancy Pelosi, who continues to ask lobbyists to write the bills she passes to find out what's in them.
"I think it expresses the frustrations the American people feel...” added President Obama.
"I think it expresses the frustrations the American people feel...” added President Obama.
In India, this movement has been endorsed by the CPM as a people’s movement against Capitalism. Well and Good. In the absence of Communism Capitalism is the bane to be opposed tooth and nail. But the spirit behind the OWS movement doesn’t seem to be about opposing capitalism. It seems more and more like a movement for crony Capitalism at the behest of John Soros and his allies in the democratic establishment.
The CPM which has been pointed in its opposition to the anti corruption movement of Anna Hazare in India has identified itself with a semi political movement in the US.
Perhaps it was the nature of the protests has appealed to the CPM. Instead of Anna Hazare and his compatriots peacefully offering Satyagraha to force the government to curb black money and crony capitalism, the OWS activists have attacked the Police, blocked roads and defecated on the streets. This mob mentality synonymous with communist’s movements around the country and especially in Kerala seems to have done the trick for the CPM.
Topless protest : Artistic Director of Dance Theater Group Kandake, Olga El, went topless as an artistic expression to relay frustration over Christopher Columbus Day during the Occupy Wall Street protests on Monday October 10th.
Zuni Tikka, on the metaphore of protesting bare-breasted: "I can't afford a shirt. Wall Street has stolen the shirts from our backs". She has been protesting next to a poster "I didn't say look, I said listen."
Another historical blunder
If the CPM believes that it can reverse its historical irrelevance by identifying itself with the OWS movement, it is clutching at straws. It reminds me of an incident during the Gorbachev revolution is the USSR when pro communist troops attempted a military takeover from civilian rule. It was in 19–21 of August 1991.A bunch of Army officers had commandeered some tanks and moved towards Yelsins’ office. Our CPM leaders suddenly saw this as a turning point in the otherwise slide towards destruction of their fatherland and were ecstatic. An overly excited Harkishen Surjeeth announced on primetime TV – “ The great fight back by the people’s army had begun. The counter revolutionary rebellion of the criminals led by Gorbachev will now be crushed”. By nightfall, the soldiers went over to Gorbachev and Yelsin. I have to say that Surjeeth was never the same person after that setback.
History keeps repeating itself. Yet, the orphans of history refuse to learn its lessons.
Anarchy is something that people tire off quickly and the response to the OWS movement has not been any different. Governments across states in America , even those which has expressed support to the OWS protesters are firmly moving against the mob action and clearing the street of these protesting vandals.
Police guarded newly-cleared plazas early Wednesday in Atlanta and Oakland after clearing Occupy Wall Street protests. Dozens of demonstrators were arrested in swift crackdowns by riot squads after local authorities lost patience with the rallies. In Times Square, 5th Ave and 42nd St were cleared. The protests in Denver too fizzled out with police arresting 24 people who refused to clear out. .
Meanwhile Protesters associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement took an impromptu march up Broadway, clashing with police officers, and getting arrested in the process. At least 80 protestors involved with the movement were detained near Union Square in Manhattan.
In New York the Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park is continuing.
Democracy and change
America, where democracy has granted a more orderly mechanism to resolve social and economic issues has to a large extent rejected anarchy as an instrument of change. Americans have never been fans of the kind of revolution that the French had and rule of the frenzied mob that accompanied it. The American Revolution that led to greater freedom since 1688 - was not the act of a mob. For the same reason, Americans have been always opposed to mob rule and the kind of anarchy which the OWS movement represents.
It should not be forgotten that in America, George Washington disapproved of the destruction of the tea during the ‘Boston tea Party’ movement against British rule. Benjamin Franklin demanded that the India Tea Co. be reimbursed for it. Considered an embarrassment by many of America’s founding fathers, the Boston Tea Party was not celebrated for another 50 years. It would be three long years after the Boston Tea Party when its founding fathers engaged in their truly revolutionary act: The signing of the Declaration of Independence.
As the largest democracy founded on the Hindu cultural principles of tolerance and peaceful evolution, India is no different.
Monday, 7 November 2011
The Kurukshetra- Where for the first time in history, a battle was to be fought on the basis of ideals alone. Forces of good and evil, dharma and adharma, stood face to face.
Young Arjuna, skillful warrior of the Pandavas, stood trembling before his friend and charioteer Lord Krishna and declared “I cannot fight. I will not fight.” His mighty bow slipped from his fingers. “Fighting my own people is a sin-whatever the idea may be.”
Lord Krishna looked at his friend and disciple and said “yield not to unmanliness, O Arjuna, shake off your faintheartedness, O destroyer of foes….”Thus began the Gita, the divine song calling for action.
This song, through the centuries has inspired countless revolutionaries, social reformers world leaders and statesmen-from Mahatma Gandhi ,Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Sree Narayana Guru, Swami Vivekanantha and Maharshi Aurobindo to APJ Abdul Kalam and Albert Einstein. The Gita is the most translated scripture in the world and its relevance is not restricted by time or space.
The Bagavat Gita has carried people from the darkest gloom to the highest levels of motivation and action. In my opinion it is the ultimate gift to mankind. Karma yoga is the central theme of the Gita philosophy. In this, Lord Krishna explains the path of devoted action , a path which gets the doer what he wants materially. Spiritually it gets him Moksha –the freedom from the vicious cycle of birth and death.
The Gita has numerous interpretations. This one is designed to provide a clear understanding of the Path of action and the knowledge required for this path. This book is specially meant for the new generation. A generation more troubled than any other by the virtual reality of this material world.
He who controls the sense organs i.e. organs of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch, with his the mind, and performs his Duty with the organs of action without being affected by success or failure- he excels.
Winner: It does not matter (unaffected) whether we are down by two goals, I will fight/play on till the final whistle. This is my offering to the Lord .I will strive for perfection.
No one ever remains inactive even for a moment; for all are forcibly made to act by the qualities born of his nature (prakriti).
That fool, who outwardly controls his body and then thinks about his objects of desire with the mind, is called a hypocrite.
Sense objects: The goodies we crave, and then get bored with
He who performs action as an offering to me and gives up attachment is not touched by sin, as a lotus leaf by water.
The harmonized person giving up the fruits of action attains the highest peace. The non harmonized one working under the sway of desire is attached to fruit and gets immersed in the illusion of the material world.
Those who are motivated by results are miserable. Attach yourself to me and to noting else, because everything else is unreal. Attachment to the unreal will bring you misery.
Always perform action that has to be done- unattached to the result of action and to the action itself. Man attains the highest by performing action unattached.
As the ignorant perform action being attached to the result, the wise perform action unattached desiring the welfare of the world.
Winner: My Karma is to study. This is my offering to the Lord. I will do my best. Win or loses- it does not matter.
Looser: Will I Miss?
What if I miss?
What will people say?
YOGA -WINNING MATERIALLY AND SPIRITUALLY.
To work alone you have the right, but never to claim its results. Let not the results of action be your motive. Nor should you be attached to inaction.
Perform actions, giving up attachments. Be unconcerned about success and failure. This attitude is called Yoga.
He who in the midst of intense activity finds himself in the greatest calmness, and in the greatest peace finds intense activity, he is the greatest yogi.
Knowledge is superior to mere practice, meditation is superior to knowledge, and superior to meditation is the renunciation of the fruits of action. For renunciation results in peace immediately.
MY OWN THING
Better is one’s own duty, though defective than another’s duty well performed.
ACTION WITH DEVOTION
Fight and you shall attain me.
Remember me at all times and fight with your mind and intellect devoted to me. You shall attain me – there is no doubt about it.
Treating victory and defeat, gain and loss, pleasure and pain alike, get ready to fight. Fighting thus you will not incur sin.
Let sacrifice, ie. Working for the good of all, you the objects of desire.
By sacrificing, you entertain the world. The world in turn entertains you. Both get what they want.
The wise man who accepts what remains of sacrifice is freed from all sins. He who enjoys what is given to him without offering anything to the world is a thief.
NOW, YOU MAY FIND THIS DIFFICULT
All actions are done by the senses of the doer’s nature (prakriti). He whose mind is led astray by the influence of pakriti (nature) gets attached to the senses and their functions.
Aha. This is all I want (Until I am fed up)
Enjoyment born out of sense objects is the source of misery. They are temporary- all of them. They have a beginning and an end. The wise man does not rejoice in them.
Wow, what a great speech.
Doer: Gee. People love my speech and me ! I hope I can repeat it…or else my fans will leave me.
Boo..what a bore. This guy is so full of himself.
Doer : Oh . No what a disaster…and I thought these were my fans.
ATMAN-THE REAL YOU
The senses are superior to the objects of desire; superior to the senses is the mind, superior to the mind is the intellect, while that which is superior to the intellect is the Atman.
WHY GRIEVE FOR THE BODY CLOTH?
The Atman is not born and does not die at any time. Just as a person gives up worn out clothes and puts on new ones, even so does the Atman give up old bodies and enter new ones.
The Atman in every body is eternally indestructible.
Therefore, O Arjuna do not grieve for any creature.
Even if you consider that Atman is subject to birth and death, even then you should not grieve. For in that case death is certain for the born and rebirth is inevitable for the dead. So why grieve for the inevitable?
They describe the world as being without a truth, without a basis, without a God and brought about by mutual union-as nothing but origination in lust. Holding this view, these ruined souls of small intellects and of fierce deeds, are born for the destruction of the world.
Sounds like someone we know……?..
GATES OF HELL
There are three gates of hell – lust, anger and greed. Avoid them at all costs. They confuse your mind and lead you to destruction.
THE ATMAN IS THE SAME.
He who sees a part of me as part of all beings, the imperishable Atman in the perishable body-truly sees.
The Atman is located in every body. He who sees that action is performed only by the Prakriti (nature), and understands that the Atman as the non- doer, sees the truth.
THE YOGA OF KNOLEDGE
The man thinking of sense-objects develops attachment for them. From attachment springs up desire, and from unfulfilled desire ensures anger.
From anger arises obsession, confusion of memory, loss of reason. From loss of reason one goes to complete ruin. The self controlled Sadhaka enjoys the various sense-objects through his senses. Yet his senses are disciplined and free from likes and dislikes. Such a person attains peace of mind.
With the attainment of such tranquility of mind, all his sorrows come to an end. The intellect of such a person of tranquil mind soon withdrawing from all senses becomes fully established in God.
He who has not controlled his mind and the senses can have no reason. Nor can such an undisciplined person think of god. The unthinking person has no peace. For, how can there be happiness for one lacking peace of mind?
THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR
He who controlling the organs of the sense and action by the power of his will, and remaining unattached, undertakes the Yoga of action through those organs, Arjuna, he excels.
O, Arjuna, sense contacts (with objects) result in heat and cold, pleasure and pain. They are subject to coming and going are short-lived; therefore O Arjuna, endure them.
Ordinary men are miserable this moment, happy the next. As such they cannot experience the nature of the Atman.
The wise person who considers pleasure and pain as equal is immortal.
WHAT ME WORRY?
Many times in life problems crop up. Apprehensions and fears clutch at our heart. Teenage especially is a period of great energy, expectations and uncertainty. Youngsters at times feel that they are being left behind in the rat race to get better grades, Job opportunities, material comforts and attention. Jealousy, anger and depression result. They feel that life is one big pain and that the light at the end of the tunnel can only be the headlight of an oncoming train. Even suicide is considered.
The Bhagavat Gita puts these problems and worries in perspective It urges us to view the material world as a divine illusion, a cosmic stage where we are but temporary performers. Temporary, because when our roles are over we too will have to shed our body like an old cloth.
So why worry in this temporary role?
Have you noticed how our great fears and frustrations appear almost comical while looking back at them after a period of time? This is how it feels when we unconsciously put our experiences in perspective.
The Gita urges you to play your role well, knowing that it is just a role. Do your duty as an offering to the Lord –it says. Do your best. Do not worry about the results. Leave that part to the Lord. What has to happen will happen?
This Nishkama karma- if I have no attachment to my action and its results, will I not be careless? Will I not be demotivated?
Listen to what our Lord has to say about unattached action. He says, “Devote all action – do it as an offering to the Lord. Surely you not wish your offering to the Lord to be imperfect? Surely you would not be careless when you do something in this frame of mind? On the other hand, wouldn’t you strive for perfection?
Also- while performing actions without any concern about failure or success, you will be supremely confident. That will make your performance better.
And even if you fail to attain your goal, there is no frustration, no anger- for are you not unconcerned about the results of action?
What practical steps should I take to imbibe this Gita philosophy?
First. I would urge you to read the Bhagavat Gita for at least for ten minutes every day. This will keep you in touch with the truth and help you view daily events in the right frame of mind.
Second. Meditation will relax you. It will sharpen your intellect and increase memory. Spiritually it takes you gradually to the real YOU-the Atman which resides in the silent space between your thoughts. Any meditative technique will do.
Third. Whenever you feel that you are getting sucked into the whirlpool of this Maya, this illusion of the material world, whenever you feel desire overwhelming you, use your intellect to control your mind and through the mind the sense organs. The Gita will help you do this. In fact the image of Lord Krishna advising Arjuna at the battlefield of Kuruksetra is a symbolic one. The chariot is the body, the five horses are the five sense organs raring to go to the object of desire, the reigns holding the horses is the mind which controls the senses, Arjuna represents the intellect, and the Lord-the supreme self advises the intellect to control the mind in order to cross the obstacles of the Maya.
Is it a sin not to follow the Gita philosophy? After all does Lord Krishna not ordain it?
There is no pressure on you to obey. This is another great advantage of our philosophy. After revealing the Gita to Arjuna, lord
Krishna says, thus has knowledge more secret than all secrets been declared to you. Reflect on it fully and act as you like.
So you see, the choice is yours. Use your own intelligence before making your choice.
This intellectual freedom is a reflection of the scientific temperament of our culture. A temperament, which has made the Gita relevant for all time.
Why are lusts, greed and anger referred to in the Gita as “Gates of hell?”
Take Anger. A man says harsh words to you. You feel anger welling up inside you. In a few seconds, anger and you are one. Then comes misery.
The same is true for greed and lust. They destroy your judgment. Lack of judgment means you cannot differentiate between right and wrong, between what is good for you and what is not. They suck you quickly into the whirlpool of delusions.
Do I have the right to pursuit of pleasure as per the Gita? Or is it all work and no play?
You definitely have the right of pursuit of happiness. After all you too are an expression of the personified Atman i.e. Atman in the form of a person. But your pleasure should not be at the cost of another personified Atman. Got it?
Can I be unattached to everything- even love and conflict?
Yes. Even in love. Unattached love will not hurt you. Marry, have children, do anything you like- nothing will hurt you.
And yes. Even in conflict. Remember that
Krishna had preached the Gita in the midst of a battlefield. A perfect Yogi, he could deliberate on he highest philosophies admit the greatest chaos.
What is my duty?
Each person is a multifaceted personality. Another way of saying this is that he/she plays different roles simultaneously. You may be student. But you are also a son/daughter to you parents. You will be a friend, a husband/wife. Each of these roles calls for specific responsibilities, specific duties.
Above all you have a duty to your culture and the nation. A culture of which the Bhagavat Gita is the essence. A culture, which is threatened by ignorance and malice. And the nation, which is the fountainhead of this glorious culture. It is said “Dharmo Rakshathi Rakhithsha”- those who protect their culture/religion are protected by it.
Do your duty fearlessly.
Krishna. Every moment of his was alive with activity either as a gentleman, a warrior, a philosopher or something else. Yet un-attached all the time. Desiring nothing. Always balanced. Always balanced. Cool.
Some Hindus practice rituals fasting, piercing oneself with spears etc. What does the Gita say about such actions?
People all over the world have practiced fasting and torturing themselves in the name of God.
Krishna’s idea is that this all this is nonsense. He says that the sences will for the moment recede from the man who tortures himself, but will emerge again with far more power. The idea should be to become natural- not ascetic.
Why insist on Nishkama karma (unattached action)? Why not just well intentioned karma ? Is not good, selfless karma easier and better?
Selfless Karma ensures good results (heaven) to the doer. The Gita admits this. Yet even well intentioned karma, if performed in an attached manner, binds the doer to his action and results of action. Hence his action though good will be subject to lack of confidence, fear of failure and apprehensions. This in turn will affect his performance.
And when the doer is bound to the result of action and has a longing for success, he feels dejected and angry at not obtaining the desired outcome.
Spiritually too this attached action ties us further to the vicious circle of birth and rebirth. There is then no mukti from the virtual reality of this material world. Attachment to the unreal will bring only misery.
Only unattached action performed with devotion to the Lord frees us from this divine illusion.
What if other people do not see this world as I do? What if they continue to pursue their materialistic objectives at my expense? Does not this make me materially poor and socially isolated?
The Gita does not ask you to shut yourself out from the material world and its realities. On the contrary, it urges you to confront the world, fight for your jut cause, and fight to win.
Remember that at the Kurukshetra Lord Krishna had asked Arjuna to fight for his rightful Kingdom –not to leave the battlefield and go to the forest for Sanyas .
Yet the Gita urges you to do your duty keeping the interest of the world around you in mind. It says that you are entitled only to the remnants of your sacrificial actions to the society. By your action the society as a whole should benefit. As the society benefits, you benefit. Such is the healthy relationship between the individual and the society. One person or a small group of person cannot benefit in isolation. Such an exclusive system is unstable and exploitative. Excessive consumption or luxury is possible by exploiting someone.
Of course, you have the right of selfish action. No doubt, it may get you some material benefits. But material goodies alone won’t keep you happy. In fact trying to hold on to them and running after new ones will be a full time job.It will keep you miserable. In the rat race for material pleasures you will be sucked more and more in to this Maya and will miss the pleasure of the real YOU.
The Gita shows you a path by which you can have the best of both worlds. The choice is yours to make.
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
"War is holy, its institution is divine
And one of the sacred laws of the world.
It maintains in men all the great emotions
Such as honor, magnanimity, virtue and valor,
And in a word it keeps them from falling,
Into the most repugnant materialism."
- HERMUT VON MOLTKE, quoted in the Senderista pamphlet “ On war: Proverbs and citations”