Monday, January 28, 2013

Anti-Hindu Blog?..:)

Recently I found out that some yahoo group called 'hinduinfo' listed my blogs in their section of 'anti-Hindu blogs, websites, books, etc.' please see the link below to check the posting,

Honestly speaking I was not shocked to read this as I never expected that any so called religious groups or organizations to like or even appreciate my blog but I am glad they after reading it and are feeling uncomfortable. I know that they don't like even a tiny bit of criticism or uncomfortable questions thrown towards them. This particular comment has mentioned couple of my posts related with Ram and Krishna as an attempt by me to demonize (??) these characters,

The first post is not at all related with Krishna, I don't know why some people think that this post is about Krishna, this is about one particular incident where two people who got totally different perception or understanding about same person and amazingly both of them think that they are right, they both have their own reasons for their beliefs and it's their choice the way they want to look at particular situation or person. Many times there is not a single right or wrong answer to some questions but many people don't like to believe this. Many of us have totally different opinions about many things and that is why we discuss and argue over many points, that's is why life is fun, that's is why we read, learn and educate our self so that we can get more information and form our opinions based on that. We can have different opinions and still can live peacefully and love each other, we can agree to disagree without having any effect on our relationships, that was the main intention behind sharing that incident, but as usual some people only read what they want to read, they consider that post as attack on Krishna and Hinduism and they are free to derive their own meaning from this. This is also a perfect example of two people deriving totally different meaning from same article.

Second post is about some incidents in Ram's life where I feel that he failed to perform his duties as a husband. In those times one of the duties of husband was to protect his wife and stand by her whenever she needed his support and I feel he didn't do that on some important occasions where his wife needed his support, may be he excelled as a King on all levels, was very good and obedient son but according to me he failed as husband and father, that's what I wrote in my post. There was no mention of any religion or no attack on any faith, but as I said some people read whatever they want to read.

I choose the topics which I feel are socially or personally relevant to me, they cover vast range from movies to spirituality and politics.... The blog is not about any specific religion or any specific subject, it's about my thoughts and views. I share same posts from my blog on Speakingtree forum on Times of India website and there also many people from different religions like Christianity or Islam comment on many of these posts and try to defend their religion or their customs based on subject of my post, I feel surprised that most of these religions feel offended by some of these posts, they try to defend each and everything mentioned or practiced (past and present) in their religion. Core belief system and basic foundation of all religions is same, all  present day organized religions work on similar principals and that's why they all feel threatened by any doubts or uncomfortable questions. 

I am actually thankful to all these people for their help and encouragement, this means that I am hitting the right targets...:) The aim of these posts was to attack or criticize some of these customs and rituals which target particular gender or section of society and discriminate them. Believe it or not there are some people who want to preserve these customs and rituals in the name of religion, culture or traditions, we need to deal with these people, question then wherever we see an attempt to justify any of these ridiculous rituals, they are part of our society and we need to talk with them. This particular group warns its members to protect their children from such blogs and books, but I encourage readers of my blog to go and visit such groups and read their posts, opinions and check how scared these conservative groups are about anything which doesn't match their line of thinking. I don't moderate any comments on my blog, whether they agree with my views or not doesn't matter, all of them are published and welcomed. Till date, I deleted only one comment because it was totally unrelated with the post and was an attempt to advertise some drug, except this one comment all of them are on the blog to read. I don't believe in filtering the knowledge or information and show only one side of any issue to my readers, this not purpose of my blog.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

(Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

Friday, January 25, 2013

धर्म और विद्न्यान

धर्म और विदन्यान में आखिर क्या फर्क है? इन दोनों क्षेत्रोंको एक दुसरे का दुश्मन क्यों माना जाता है? क्या वाकेही यह दोनो एकदम अलग है?

YouTube Link:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Marriage with HIV+ve groom/bride - Knot of Sorrow

Marriage is definitely a very special occasion in everyone's life, it's a beginning of new and exciting chapter in life full of excitement and new challenges. Two people tie a knot of marriage (a Hindu ritual) or make a promise to spend rest of life together with lot of hopes and dreams but all these hopes and dreams vanish when one realizes that one of them is HIV+ve and now for no fault of her or his the other person is also HIV+ve, this ruins all excitement and happiness of married life for both of them. AIDS is still one of most stigmatized and dreaded disease in many parts of the world, many people still don't know full details about it, they don't know all modes of infection, even don't know how infectious it is and don't know much about various treatment options available to control this disease, there are many misconceptions about this disease. Still there is no cure for this disease but due to tremendous development in antiretroviral therapy HIV infection is very manageable if proper treatment, sanitation and diet is provided to these people. Many developed countries managed very well to control the problem of HIV infection and its spread, apart from availability of medicines, education and awareness campaigns played major role in handling this problem, but same is not true with many developing nations or undeveloped countries. HIV is still a very major social and medical problem in most of these countries specially in low income group people.

Even today arranged marriage is the most popular system to get marry in India, situation is changing slowly but still arranged marriage is dominant, while selecting proper match people check everything starting from horoscopes, financial situation of family, educational qualification, physical appearance, etc. but normally no one bothers to check medical records of bride or groom. I am sure many families will find it offensive if opposite party (bride or groom's side) asks for blood test report of their child along with HIV test, this demand might put and entire process in jeopardy or even can abruptly end marriage talks in many cases. Even if this demand makes perfect sense as one family is dealing with totally new family with very little personal information about the prospective bride or groom, they know most of the things about family but very little about medical history of prospective son or daughter-in-law. Most important people in this whole process bride and groom also know very little about each other in most of cases of arranged marriage and conservative nature of society also limits their interaction and normally they don't share their past life experiences with each other, so this whole process looks like shooting in the dark (or very dim light) and expect to hit the right target. The process worked very when there were not so many grey areas and uncertainties, now because of presence of so many risk factors, it makes perfect sense to ask for blood test just to make sure that things are OK from both sides and either bride or groom won't get this or any other unwanted infection from their partner. But this thing is not as simple as it sounds, marriage discussions and negotiations are very complex in India, people are very sensitive about their family's image and their social status and because of social stigma attached with HIV and AIDS almost no family feels comfortable when asked about this question, they are very reluctant to produce the test results of their family member, they take it very personally and take it as a direct attack on honor and reputation of their family esteem and honor.

Many things like this prevent use of this simple method like blood test to remove risk of HIV infection in case of arranged marriages, this results in many marriages, specially in rural or low income neighborhoods where mostly wife gets HIV infection from her husband and then it is passed on their children. Failure to make use of this simple technique results in so much suffering and pain for so many people, such a beautiful thing like marriage turns into curse for some people and the damage done to health is not reversible, one can break the marriage, leave that person but right now there is no cure for HIV infection and many of these people have to depend on government assistance for their treatment. It puts lot of financial burden on government health care system, the system it self is not perfect and this additional burden makes it more messy, but this system is all these people have and they depend on it heavily so this is very necessary for them and it should keep running otherwise many people will die just because of lack of any treatment.

Some simple steps, like making HIV testing free and easily available to all adults, proper sex education in high schools and colleges, availability and distribution of condoms, awareness programs to remove stigma attached with AIDS, etc. should help to control spread of this infection. People need to know more about this disease, they need to get correct information, we need to attack this problem from all directions just making available medicines alone won't solve this problem. Counseling should be provided to HIV infected people so that they don't loose all hope and interest in their life, counselling would help them to live their life normally, they should feel accepted in society so that they are not forced to hide their disease, they are not marginalized or stigmatized. They don't need our sympathy but need our support, we need to treat them with respect like we treat people with other diseases, they should not be expelled from schools or their work places or communities just because of this infection. They should get equal opportunity and fair treatment like all of us. I feel we have enough information about HIV and AIDS this should help us to remove social stigma attached with it, if necessary government can even make suitable laws to prevent discrimination of people because of this disease. Even taking this simple step of blood test during arranged marriages can protect many innocent bride or grooms from this infection and disease, this can save thousands of lives and will prevent from turning beautiful think like marriage marriage into most unfortunate incident of their life.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

(Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

1. HIV infection data
2. UN-AIDS: data and analysis

Friday, January 18, 2013

Let's redefine concept of Manhood and Womanhood..

Recently I heard very interesting talk on TED which was shared by one of my Facebook friend, the talk was by Colin Stokes and it was titled, how movies teach manhood ? I loved the talk for so many reasons one of them was the way he explained in very simple terms how opinions and thinking of kids (both boys and girls) are shaped by watching these movies. Most of these movies (including many classics like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc.) project women as some helpless characters who can't even fight even simple injustice done to them and are always waiting for prince charming to rescue them. In all these stories finally prince charming comes, performs all heroic acts and rescues poor princess of story and gets his reward...then both live together happily ever after. Nice and simple story line, few things change here and there, names of characters may change but the central story line is same (even today) in most of children movies or even love stories, women is projected as a 'trophy'..something man has to win by rescuing her from trouble...most of female characters can not come out of difficulties on their own, they always need to rescue.

The beauty of all these movies is that they are so well made that we don't see anything wrong in them, they are classics...I agree that they are just for the purpose of entertainment and one should look for anything else in them, but is it as simple as this? Directly or indirectly don't these movies shape our thinking also? Do these movies teach wrong concept of manhood and womanhood to us and our kids? I think they do, and this is the message Colin Stokes want to give us from his talk. Honestly I never thought about this issue (impact of these type of movies on our thinking) but after listening to the talk I thought about this and found how correct he is about his assessment. I love many of these movies, watched them again and again, read most of these stories in my childhood. My kids also love many of them and when I look back I clearly see that many of these movies consciously or unconsciously shape our thinking.  They have capacity to stereotype particular gender or class in our society, boys start looking at girls as their 'victory trophies', something which they have to win, claim..and girls start dreaming about some prince charming who can rescue them. I know that all this sounds little too exaggerated and over the top but there is an element of truth in this TED talk, I highly recommend it. 

Another example of this which I see today is many taunts and poor jokes purposely targeted towards gay people in many Hindi movies, these jokes are many times totally unnecessary and are in bad taste but it seems no one is bothered about these things, it seems people don't find anything wrong in poking fun at gays for no reason, targeting that community and making them object of ridicule. Superficially it looks very harmless and just for entertainment which should not be taken too seriously but any comment on any other serious or sensitive issue is not taken in same spirit. Couple of jokes here and there are fine but when only particular gender or group is targeted continuously and consistently then definitely there is some problem and we need to address it. Movies are very strong medium they affect many people and also in some way they also reflect our society's mindset. 

Movie making is a business after all and they sell what people want to buy, lot of money is at stake and they need to make profit, lot of profit, we can not expect that industry to reform the society but at least we can play our part and try to nullify any negative effect produced by some of these movies, after all we all know that some things are not that harmless as they look. Already we can see the effect of these type of stories and movies on our own mind and our society. I am not telling to discard all these movies or to dump these stories, we need to tell them with clear 'disclaimer' that these are product of pure fiction and they don't have any relationship with real life, we also need to tell some stories with powerful female characters so that our kids won't get some stereotyped one sided impression about their gender, it's not only our responsibility but need of our society also. Let's try to redefine manhood and womanhood, let's give these terms some balanced meaning. 

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing) 


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hate politics..let's not encourage it anymore..

MIM (Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) leader Akbaruddin Owaisi is in news now a days for the hate speech he delivered in one town near Hyderabad and his arrest because of it. His arrest can be called as very brave and much needed step to counter the evil of hate politics. The case is already in court and we have to wait and see what will be outcome of this case but at least some action has been taken so let's wait and watch.

This is not the first incident where a political leader has delivered such speech, we have long history of speeches like this, many names can be mentioned, we can argue about who started it, how many people got away and why should Mr. Akbaruddin should be punished and things like that. One can take many names apart from Owaisi like Late Balasaheb Thackeray, Praveen Togadia, Uma Bharati, Sadhvi Ritambara, Varun Gandhi, Digvijay Singh, Narendra Modi and many more, the list is huge, they all delivered some type of speech against some community or group for some reason which created controversy. There can be many arguments and counterarguments, one can justify some speeches as need of time or as a reaction to certain incident or just as fire brand speech rather than hate speech. We all know that they created some disturbance in society, they were used to get some political mileage and our system failed miserable to punish these people or even sometimes protected them for some reason or other but we have to start somewhere and why not now? 

Owaisi's speech has all characteristics of hate speech and it demands to be punished, it spreads venom against Hindus, calls for civil war and includes many things which are regularly used in these type of speeches like talking about some tragic incidents from past to challenge people's emotions. Normally these speeches try to spread assumptions like majority is trying to suppress or exploit minority (if it's delivered by some minority leader) or minority is getting unfair advantage and crossing their line (if delivered by some majority leader) and things like this. Political parties and leaders use some of these theories, some incidents to create some issues and challenge people's emotions, they bring caste, religion, region, state or whatever criteria they feel is required to divide and rule, their intention is to create a loyal vote bank, which can vote for them no matter what and many times they are successful to create their own brand in state or national politics and this success encourages more people to try this formula, that's why we need to stop this somewhere.

People like Akbaruddin Owaisi are not present only in particular religion or belong only to certain political party, they are present in every party, almost every party needs people like him to appease their vote bank, they deliver some controversial statements time tot time to keep fire burning, they keep media busy, try to be in news. We need to put an end to this type of politics, they need to know that we are not going to get fooled by these statements any more. I know that many of these issues or incidents they mention in their speeches really require careful attention, serious investigation and culprits need to be punished. Various governments at state or national level failed to address many of these these problems in timely manure which allowed or rather created need for such leaders. These type of leaders were required to express feelings of people who were feeling marginalized in their own country or state for some reason or other, and in some cases establishment allowed these type of leaders or parties to grow purposely for some political gains. 

There is not only one particular political party who is responsible for this type of politics, they are all in this game together and we are also playing this game with them, we are also responsible for this mess. They are not going to stop on their own, we need to put an end to it, we need to tell them that they are not going to get our votes based on these issues which divide us, we are not going to listen to this crap any more, we need to be loud and we need to be very clear, lets put and end to this hate politics, lets not encourage this any more, after all choice is ours because this country is our and these leaders are also our own leaders, we have power to make them as well as fix them if they are not functioning properly.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

1. Owaisi sent to 14 day judicial custody
2. YouTube link for Owaisi's speech

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Please stop this nonsense...

Last few days is seems there is a competition between leaders from various political parties, religious organization or cult movements to give statements in relation with Delhi gang rape or status and role of women in changing socioeconomic environment of India. The statements cover a very wide range, I will just mention a few here, some are telling women to cover up themselves from head to toe to avoid sexual assault, some say they should remain indoors after dark for their safety, some are little kind towards them and say if they can't cover up totally then at least avoid those so called provocative clothing like skirt etc. some self proclaimed Gurus advise that they should beg for their safety to assaulter by calling him brother so that rapist will change his mind, some of them are blaming immigrants for the problem of rape or sexual assault incidents. I don't want to list all of them here but one can get idea what these people want to say. One thing is very clear that all of them don't make any sense, they all project very super conservative and outdated mindset, they all show real disconnect with reality and at the same time display pathetic attempt to blame women victims for every crime involving sexual assault.

In all these statements there is nothing new, they are not saying anything which was not being said before. These statements were used at some time in our history, may be 100 years or even 1000s of years ago to justify crime against women, to put blame on them in male dominated society, they were used to suppress them, to make them realize that they need protection which can be provided by men because they are the weaker sex. Surprisingly this false propaganda is still going on, there are people who still believe in these things and after reading all these statements and interviews I am wondering whether we are moving forward or backwards towards medieval times? I believe men of this world need to get rid of some of these false beliefs, like women require their protection and it's their duty to protect them, they are weaker sex, etc. etc. they should get over their superiority complex.

Whenever any such unsolicited comment is directed towards women instead of them feeling bad men should feel offended and ashamed, because all these suggestions assume that most of men are not able to control their sexual desires, it also brands them very uncivilized species which needs to take extraordinary effort as well as strict dress code to help them control themselves so that they may not rape anyone, this assumption is utter shameful and disgusting. People who offer these suggestions and advises (including many religions and so called holy books) don't even realize that they are assuming entire male population to be a natural rapists, and instead of saying this clearly they try to blame women, use terms like 'men will be men' or 'boys are always boys', etc.

Women are capable of making their own decisions, they can protect themselves very well if men just learn to behave properly and treat them as equals, they are capable of doing everything which any man can do, so they should stop offering these unsolicited advises to them, if at all they want to advise it's the men who need it and need it very badly. I hope they have courage and requited wisdom to offer these advises to people who really need it otherwise they should just stop this nonsense, its getting too much, women already listened too much and for too long, please don't check their patience anymore.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

1. Defendant's lawyer blames victim
2. Reactions to Asaram Bapu's comments
3. Raj Thackeray's comment
4. Abu Azmi's comment- Mid Day
5. Excellent article about stigma related with rape and related issues, a must read

Monday, January 7, 2013

India and Bharat...are they different?

Recent remarks by RSS chief Mr. Mohanrao Bhagwat that rapes are prevalent in India (by this he means more liberal and modern population), not in Bharat (rural, more conservative or traditional part of India) created lot of controversy in media and many people were found it very controversial. Even Asaram Bapu said something very stupid in this regard. Personally I was not very surprised after reading this comment as this type of mindset is still prevalent in even educated people in India and Mr. Bhagvat is representative of that conservative mindset. I have seen lot of good work done by RSS, they try to instill feeling of patriotism among people at the same time they are heavily biased towards Hinduism. They don't hide their close association with Hinduism but this is one of their major handicap like many other organizations who associate themselves exclusively with any particular religion and feel compulsion to defend each and every thing mentioned in their scriptures, try to reinforce their traditions, culture (good as well as bad one). This particular comment comes from that mindset, where they believe traditional, conservative society is better for women, women should stay indoors, they are supposed to take care of home and family, cover themselves, supporting their family by earning or doing job is not their area and many things like that. 

This statement by Mr. Bhagwat clearly doesn't make any sense, actually this shows that he is totally out of touch from reality. Every society has rich (more affluent) and poor sections, in India the difference is more contrast. Very often rich people follow more liberal lifestyle, and this is  somehow blamed on so called western influence. There is no logic behind this, it's a pathetic attempt to blame some outsider for things which one can not avoid or control. In today's world with modern and sophisticated modes of communication interaction between different cultures and societies are more common, people adopt whatever they feel suits them. Exchange of ideas, traditions, customs are very easy and common and no one can stop this. Whatever is good and relevant for people'e needs today will survive and other things will go away, some bad elements will also creep in and will stay, but this was the case all the time. Every point of time in every society in our history we had good customs and traditions and also bad ones, so today's society is not very different in that way. We are much more well equipped as far as technology and resources are concerned and it can do wonders if we can use it to our advantage.

This logic of India and Bharat is indirect attempt to criticize more affluent section of Indian society for their more liberal lifestyle, women are generally more independent in these societies and also more out going. This criticism is mainly directed towards these women who are influenced by this so called western culture and life (according to this statement they live in India but not in Bharat), it may sound very illogical and weird but it seems this is how Mr. Bhagwat thinks. While making this comment I wonder how come Mr. Bhagwat conveniently forgot situation of women in his so called Bharat, where they are raped, molested, burned and killed every day, their situation is not very different than other parts of the country, law and order situation is even worse in these places than most of cities. Just because women stay mostly indoors, they don't to conventional job, they don't wear western clothes doesn't mean they are safe and well protected or well cultured than women who do these things. I really wonder how come people still believe and live with these type of illusions.

What type of world they want to live? Why are they so against against independent and strong women? Why they feel that women are supposed to do only certain type of work? Why are they not willing to give them equal treatment and the respect they deserve? There are many questions like this and I know what answers these people will give to most of these questions, but even then we need to ask these questions and argue with them because these people who think like this are part of our society, they live among us and we can not neglect or ignore them. We need to question them, we need to argue with them and try to convince them, we should share our views about equality and women empowerment with them. We all need to pay our part in bringing this change, unless whole society is transformed this change will not come and our job is not done, if we brand them conservatives, backward and ignore or neglect them, then we will be doing the same mistake which organized religion did with non believers  we need to talk with them, understand their views and show them other side of coin, sounds very tough rather impossible but there is no other way.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

1. Rapes prevalent in India not in Bharat- The Hindu
2. Rapes occur in India not Bharat-Bhagwat-TOI
3. Marriage is like contract between husband wife-Mohan Bhagwat (TOI)
4. Delhi gang rape victim as guilty as her rapists-Asaram Bapu (TOI)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Spirituality- real or hoax?

Few days ago Chnadu uncle shared a video with me on Facebook. This video was from THiNK 2012, on it's website it says that, "THiNK is designed to be India’s most eclectic, thought-provoking and egalitarian platform for ideas from across the globe". I didn't know about this initiative, but I am very glad to know that something like this has already started in India and people are willing to discuss these issues on open forum. This particular session was about Faith, Reason and Inner Engineering which featured Jaggi Vasudev and Javed Akhtar, session was moderated by Shoma choudhary, here is the you tube link for that session

I enjoyed watching the video, both speakers are very passionate about what they believe and put their argument very assertively. I found Mr. Akhtar very aggressive and passionate about his beliefs, it clearly shows the way he answers questions in this video, I think he should tone down his aggression a little bit, this much aggressive tone might switch off many people, he is trying to convey some very good ideas and raising some very valid questions. These are the questions which most people don't like to answer or try to ignore conveniently and his tone might make their job easy. Religion and spirituality are very complex subjects and both of them are commercialized heavily, it's a big business and in both the fields there are big institutes like big corporate houses. These people try to protect their interests, get new customers and market their product very aggressively and Mr. Akhtar throws very heavy criticism on all these things. He also raises very important point that it's all (religion, spirituality and things related with them) products our mind, our mind is the thing which differentiate us from other animals and is the main reason for our progress as well as problems. He also acknowledges that religion can encourage people to do some extremely good things (charity, social service, etc.) and also shows the other side that at the same time it can incite people to to extremely bad things (communal riots, terrorism). His argument sounds very valid when he says that use of common sense and rational thinking can produce better results than extremist views propagated by organized religions.

Jaggi Vasudev is also at his best in his video, he maintains his calm and gets most of the time in this video. He used his time nicely to tell about his approach towards religion and spirituality but for some reason he doesn't try to confront Mr. Akhtar directly and doesn't even bother to answers many of his questions. He is very diplomatic in his approach and delivers what his devotees expect from him. But as I said he conveniently dodges all the difficult questions for example when he and many others claim that mind and body are different then how come any one who experiences divine always gets message in the language he/she knows (which is in their mind) not in some totally different language? Why they always blame our 'imperfect senses' and then use the same senses for their divine experience? Do we have other tools other than these imperfect senses to experience and understand the world around us?

I found another link where again Javed Akhtar expresses similar views about spirituality at India Today conclave session, 

In this video also he is raising same questions and questioning attitude of whole spirituality industry.  Sri Sri Ravishankar (who was also part of this discussion) posted his reply to Mr. Akhtar's questions on his blog, I like Sri Sri, he never gets into arguments, never looses his patience, he avoids confrontation and is very polite in his approach. He always goes back to his own place and then replies to allegations or questions asked to him, he did that when Dr. Zakir Naik tried to put him in difficult position and he did the same thing with Mr. Akhtar. Sri Sri's politeness is something which everyone should learn from him but at the same time he also never tries to answer any of the questions directly and whenever he answers them uses same words which are used millions of times, like there is no point in arguing with ignorant, spirituality is matter of heart not head, how something can be a hoax if millions of people are practicing it? and things like that. Unfortunately this is same regular response given by many people before him, I expected much more from him and we need much more from these spiritual leaders, they need come up with something better than this to prove their point that they are selling something which is genuine.

There is nothing wrong in marketing and selling your product, nothing wrong in earning money, creating big organizations, spreading your message but then accept that this is what I do for living, this is my occupation, whats wrong in it? why to give label of divinity to it? Why to say that it's not a business? Doing business is not a crime that too a non-profit one which does lot of social work along with earning money, what's wrong in making money legally using your talent and knowledge  Why are they so hesitant in accepting it? Why all these gurus and their followers are so hesitant in accepting that their movements are cult movements?  Do they fear that accepting some of these things will make some dent in their image or hurt feelings of their devotees, or will make it somewhat less divine and godly? Are they scared of loosing their devotees (or customers)? There are many questions like this and I hope that they show some courage in accepting some of these things or offer some reasonable an logical explanations, answer some of these questions. Many people need religion, God or spirituality, for them there is absolutely no alternative to these things and many these Gurus and cult movements fulfill this need. These things are very important for many people and Mr. Akhtar's comments might sound totally insensitive towards their need but the questions he is asking are very important, just dismissing his questions and objections or ignoring them is not a very good option.

These questions and objections need serious consideration, at the same time one should not trash all these Gurus or movements, most of them do this thing for their living or it's their passion. I am sure there are few who genuinely interested in spreading message of peace and love and don't care at all about money. Hopefully people from both sides (who criticize and who support these movements) learn to find  some balance in their approach because we need balance in every section of our life otherwise things get very complicated. There are many people who need such gurus for their survival and mental peace, at the same time people who question them are very necessary to keep check on these Guru's activities, I feel that both these groups are required in current scenario and right balance between both these groups will allow us to run the system efficiently with minimum side effects. 

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright (only for text, videos are from YouTube): Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What and how should we teach to our kids?

Recently I wrote a post about one incident in my home where my son called Krishna a thief and murderer, he had his own justifications for his statement and we both discussed in detail how this can be true or false, how a same incident or a person can be looked with different angles and each angle or view can yield totally different conclusion, my discussion with him was very interesting. This post generated some passionate comments on my Facebook page as well as on blog where some people expressed concern on how we (rather I) should train our (my) kids so that they should be able to think in proper way and understand the real meaning of mythological texts rather than commenting something stupid like this. Actually I expected these type of comments, so these reactions were not surprising for me. I think as per theory of evolution today's children are more evolved than their previous generations, they are more informed, intelligent and better equipped to find out answers for their questions than we were, this is true at least in my case, I never had all the tools and resources which my kids have to educate themselves.

Every parent or guardian feels that it's their moral responsibility to educate and train their kids properly and there is nothing wrong in it. They all believe that we should teach good things to our kids, it's very noble thought but only slight problem is that definition of 'Good' changes from person to person, religion to religion and culture to culture, there is no universal guidebook for these things. Based on our upbringing, culture, and many other factors we decide what is good and what is bad, we form our opinions based on our own experience and then try to pass same things to our kids, we want them to follow our religion, our beliefs and also expect them to follow our culture, our advice.

If we look at this entire process most of parents emphasis is not on teaching their kids how to think but they focus more on teaching what to think. We like to teach them everything what we believe in. I was fortunate that I was born and raised in one of the most progressive states in India, Maharashtra and that too in most progressive city of that state, Pune. Maharashtra has long history and tradition of producing very progressive thinkers and philosophers who introduced revolutionary ideas and challenged very well established customs and traditions which they thought are out dated or harmful to certain sections of society. People like Mahatma Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule, Maharshi Dhodo Keshave Karve, Nyayamurti Ranade, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Lokamanya Tilak, Lady Ramabai and many others were someway or other related with this state who played very important part in initiating many social movements and introducing social reforms. There is vast amount of literature available in Marathi which documents very detailed history of all these events and also tells story about all hardships and opposition these and many other leaders faced to fight against well established rituals and customs. I was lucky to read many books related with these people and incidents in their life and they all inspired me on many levels, all those Marathi books (some of them were translation of books from other languages) which I read during my school and college days shaped my thinking. English language came very late in my life, I started speaking and reading English only when I came to USA in 2003, prior to that most of my reading was in Marathi. My parents never really forced me to follow any particular regimental lifestyle where they dictated each and every thing, they were strict but only in case of my studies, because they know that only education can save me to come out of poverty and as long as I was doing OK in my studies I was allowed to read whatever I want and these books became my teachers and guide, I consider myself very lucky in this regard. Many these books are responsible for the way I think today and I am grateful to all those authors.

I want my kids to develop their own thinking, to have their own vision and this is only possible when I don't force my own vision or thinking on them. As a parent I guide them whenever necessary, I make sure that they get all the help whenever needed and get exposed to all cultures and customs, I make sure that knowingly or unknowingly I don't force my prejudices and assumptions on them. This is the way I deal with my kids, may be it's not the perfect way, may be some people will think that kids don't need to be given so much freedom as they are too young and immature to decide what is good or bad for them. May be, but as per my personal experience today's kids are very well informed and have capacity to deal with many complex issues. And when I say that I won't dictate or force them that doesn't mean that they have total freedom to do whatever they want and desire to do, but when I say 'no' to them I explain why my answers is no, and also listen to their opinion, if they convince me or prove to me that I was wrong then I change my decision and it does happen in certain cases, and I feel happy most of the time when this happens, for me it's a great feeling when I learn certain things from my own kids or for that matter any kid, this taught me not to underestimate their intelligence just because they are younger than me.

In my home everything can be discussed, everything can be argued, nothing is sacred which is non questionable, kids are allowed to bring any topic on table for discussion and I assure them that every question will be given full consideration, if I don't know the answer we try to find out the answers together and we all enjoy this whole process. Many of my friends also play very important part in this process and my kids have total freedom to ask them their questions and take their suggestions on issues they think that my friends can help. So far it's working great and I am sure there will be many parents or adults (who are not parents) may not agree with this method of parenting, but as I say this is my way, it works for me, I found this method myself and I am sure every parent can find their own way to train their kids. Every kid is different and there is no universal parenting way or method which can be used to train all kids, but one thing is sure that we need to train them so that they become responsible and capable citizens of this world.

Thanks for reading and please share your views about this topic.


(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)