Is life after Moksha pretty boring because you can’t have sex there? Doesn’t Moksha mean slave soul who can’t do anything?

At the age of one, a child loves and craves for breast milk. At four, it does not have that craving. At the age of 8, a girl loves and craves for ice cream. At her 40, she may no longer have any attraction for it.

At 18, a youth could withstand pain in order to maximize his enjoyments. At 50, he may perhaps not like those pains, nor be keen to maximize the enjoyments.

At 30, a promotion in office was the best thing one may strive for. At 58, he may perhaps long for just one thing —retirement!

At 70, one may have no longing for any enjoyment, because life taught him that “joy and woe are woven fine”. If you long for pleasure, pain too comes with it as a free attachment; if you want to get freed of pain, you have to discard pleasure seeking too. Peace may be the one thing he may seek at that age.

Of course it depends on person to person as to when one realizes this truth.

For many, sex appears to be the best of all enjoyments, but those who are very watchful know for sure the pains attached to it. There are indeed many saints who had no craving for sex at all right from young age.

So, a stage of realization comes to some people at some age at some birth (after going through several births and deaths to finally grasp the hopelessness of running behind pleasure seeking and ending up with inevitable pain) . That realizaion is this: a life of perfect bliss with total absence of both pleasure and pain is the most valuable thing.

That is state of longing for moksha.

At that state, doing anything (any karma either to seek pleasure or to ward off pain) becomes unnecessary and unattractive. It is not forced on you and hence it is not slavery! You sought for it, opted for it; once you get it, you are in perfect peace with it. That is moksha for you.

Will it be a bad karma on my side if I run for safety when I see a mob or somebody assaulting another?

Safeguarding oneself from any form of physical hurt is a natural human instinct. Most people have this tendency to run away for personal safety when seeing a mob or somebody assaulting another.

Particularly when we are not part of the mob fury or when the cause of someone assaulting another is unknown, I would say it is better to run away rather than trying to interfere. It may be considered selfish or cowardly. I would still personally believe that it is ‘karma neutral’. It means you would neither acquire bad karma or good karma.

But if you are a policeman and you try to run for your safety, then it is definitely adharma and you will acquire bad karma.

If the mob is trying to molest a girl and the girl is appealing for our help, then our running away selfishly will have an element of adharma in it and we will acquire bad karma, I think.

Suppose the person getting attacked is a known person and there is injustice in that attack, then too it would be adharma to run away without doing something to protect or support him.

Suppose we are forced to be part of the mob (because of our allegiance to a community, caste, political party or a group of vested interests) and the mob suddenly turns violent; in this case, if our personal ethos is against indulging in mob violence, then I would say running away is not adharma and it will not add bad karma to us.

What is Love? Where is love? How does love work? Does true love exist?

What is Love?

Love is an emotional feeling of attraction, closeness, intimacy, strong liking, and source of enjoyment to be together with someone or something.

Love can take different forms with different things and beings. Examples:

“I love coffee”; “I love my new dress” : “I love my native place” – these are to do with things.

“I love Ilayaraja songs; I love watching thriller movies”  – these are to do with abstract things.

“I love my dog”; “I love my cat”  — these are to do with living beings other than humans.

“I love my friend”; “I love the comedian Vadivelu” – these are to do with third persons

“I love my cousin brother; I love my brother in law” – These are to do with distant relatives.

“I love my mother/ sister/ son/ daughter/brother/ grandfather” – these are to do with blood relatives.

“I love that girl; I love that boy” – these are to do with a specific person of opposite sex with a marital or sexual intent in mind.

“I love my husband/ wife” – these are to do with existing intimate relations

“I love Lord Shiva; I love Lord Krishna” – this is bhakti – devotion to God.

It is quite obvious that the intensity of love, the reverberation of the joyful feeling that love generates is not same in the various categories of love that we saw above.

The love a boy develops on his girlfriend is not of the same frequency or intensity as the love the boy has on his sister. The love one has on his father is not same as the love one has on the pet dog. Strange it may seem, but the present day truth is that many people are able to love their pet dogs better than their fathers!

When it comes to love, all of us are both givers as well as receivers.  All of us, with varying degrees of intensity, are capable of giving love and receiving love. No one can constantly be giving love without getting back any love in return. No one can keep on receiving love without giving something back. Think of it: If pet dogs don’t reciprocate any love, no one will ever keep them at home!

What is the source of Love?

Where from does love spring? Why at all does a person express love to another? Why does a wife love her husband? Why do parents love their children?

According to Sanatana Dharma, God is the in-dweller in all beings. God permeates the entire creation. Even though each of us seem to have different personalities, our Self – Atman is one. It is like different beads of a necklace strung together in a single thread. It is like a single sun reflecting in hundred pots of water. Atman is that thread; Atman is the sun. Atman is Sat-chit-ananda – Existence-knowledge-bliss. It is the bliss of the atman that gets expressed in the form of love.

In the Hindu scripture Brihadarayanka Upanishad, The saint Yagnyavalkya says

 ‘A wife loves her husband not for his sake, but for the sake of her own Self.

‘A husband loves his wife not for her sake, but for the sake of his own Self.

‘You love the sons not for the son’s sake, but for the sake of your own self

‘You love wealth not for the the sake of the wealth, but for the sake of your own self

‘You love the cattles not for their sake, but for the sake of your own self……

Is love really pure?

It is really an uneasy question to answer.  At the highest ideal level, it is true, but at practical level it is not always so.

Behind every expression of love, there will always be some dose of selfishness lurking. Perhaps only in one human relationship – the relationship between a mother and her little child, the love may be closest to purity. It is so because, there is a divine dispensation behind it. This mother’s love on her little kid seems to be pre-programmed by the Higher Power for the continuation of progeny in the earth; it is the reality in animal kingdom too. Mother animals carry their intense love on their little ones through instinct. To a large extent, such an instinctive feeling of love exists in human mothers too which transcends any scientific analysis.

But, in the present times, it is a fact that even this motherly natural love is also is also getting a beating. Now a days, children are born out of mere sexual union without the sanctity or commitment of marriage; Children are born out of live-in relationships; Children are born out of deteriorating husband-wife relationships ending up in divorces; children are born out of serial monogamy (i.e. a woman bearing children of different males out of different wedlock done one divorce after another). As a consequence, the natural love that a mother has on her children has definitely deteriorated.

Even when there is a pure love existing between the mother and her young child, the purity gradually deteriorates as the child grows up to a man/ woman.  Parents start expecting several things from their children – obedience, respect, help in family chores, monetary help, heeding to their advice regarding finding a partner for marriage, the monetary expectations (in receiving or in avoiding to spend) behind conducting son’s/ daughter’s marriage, obedience, respect from daughter-in-law, the need to take care of them at their old age, the need to conduct the rituals post their death – the list goes on this is how the once-pure parental love gradually changes colors towards a personal, selfish agenda.

Selfishness and love

Mostly, the selfish motive behind love gets smartly camouflaged. The giver of love may hide and underplay the selfish motive. The receiver of love too, out of love towards the giver, may overlook the play of selfishness behind the giver out of gratitude. Example: A father wants to construct a house and he wants his son to apply loans and assist him financially.  He says to the son: “To possess my own house is my dream; unfortunately, I could not do it because I had to ensure getting your sister married off and to educate you decently. I have done my duty. But with my present financial status, I cannot buy my dream house with my savings alone. I want you to help”. The son, out of gratitude to his father, willingly gets into a debt trap so as to help his father realize his dream. Interestingly, the son too may hold a hidden selfish motive –‘In future, this property or a portion of it will anyway come to me’.

In the above case, the father’s selfish interest is obvious, but is hidden behind sentiments.  The father does not think ‘I would not like to put my son into a debt trap at this young age just because of my selfish motive to fulfil my dream”.

Likewise, if we analyze threadbare keeping sentiments aside, we can locate some selfish motive (small or big) lurking behind every act or expression of love in most of our relationships.

That’s why, Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) says: “We love others because they give us happiness or fulfil our desires; obeying, respecting, or having high opinion about us. Otherwise, we do not love them. When somebody hates us, revenge often takes the place of love. This is the case with even with those closest to you. If you disobey or disrespect them, you may not love them. Where there is real love, there is no selfishness.  We must be able to love without expecting anything from anyone”

Ego and love

“Whom do you love the most?”

If you pose this question to people, most of them will tell the name or a relation that they believe to love dearest. But it is a wrong answer. The unshakable truth of our existence in this world is that all of us love ourselves dearest first and then only any other person or thing.

This self-love as such is natural and fundamentally it is not wrong. It is natural because we are all self (Atman) in essence, but we have forgotten it.

When someone says ‘I love myself’, he does not refer to his atman which is the source of pure unadulterated love; what he means is he loves his own personality – his ego. All of us have different degrees of egoism in us, some very strong, some moderate, some subtle, but nevertheless the ego is very much there.  This ego wants us to be selfish, self-centered, receive appreciation and pampering, garner importance, ensure one-upmanship and so on.

Another face of ego is sensitivity. Some people may look meek, non-assertive, soft-spoken and so on, but they may be extremely sensitive to criticism, censure, sarcastic comments and so on. They will behave like touch-me-not if they are hurt even a little. Sensitivity is nothing but subtle, but strong, hidden ego.

Love and Hate

Ordinary love is just like one side of a coin. The other side of the coin is hate. When the coin is flipped and ‘love side’ goes under, the other side – hate gets exposed.

The greatest truth about love is that it will flourish well as long as ego or sensitivity is not hurt. The moment the ego is hurt, the coin flips! The other side – hate becomes visible. When our selfish interest is not met, love reverses. When we fail to receive appreciation, pampering etc or when our self-importance or one-upmanship is denied, the love reverses.

The swing from love to hate may be slow and graduated in some people and very fast in some people. Normally, women, being essentially very emotional, swing from love to hate very quickly without any intermediate stops.  It is also observed that a woman can hate a person as intensely as her erstwhile love.

Reversing the hate back to love is also possible when the hurt ego is pampered. A genuine apology, a corrective action of mistake done can pave the way for the reversal.

Amma Mata Amritanandamayi says “The difficulty is not in expressing love, but in letting go of the ego. Love is our true nature. It is already present within us, but we are held back by our individual boundaries. We have to outgrow our individuality (ego) in order to merge into universal love. The ego stands in the way of love. Once removed, it flows like a river.”

Time is also a great healer. This can be seen particularly in blood relationships. Any hurt caused in the past leading to a crack in love gets healed over time and people come back to revive relationships. That’s why it is said that the blood is thicker than water.

Love and possessiveness

Ahankaram (Ego) and mamakaram (possessiveness) are like twins.  Our love is mostly available for consumption within our own limited circle — covered within the boundary ‘mine’ (possessiveness).  If true love transcending limited boundaries can be called (with upper case L) “Love”, the ordinary love we see within limits is just ‘love’ with a lower case ‘l’.

Amma says: “There is ‘love’ and “Love”. You love your family: Your father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife etc., but you do not love your neighbor. You love your son or daughter but you do not love all children. You love your religion, but do not love all religions. Likewise, you love your country, but do not love all countries. Hence this is not “Love”. It is only ‘love’. Transformation of this ‘love’ to “Love” is the goal of spirituality.”

Love in Man-woman relationship – Love-Romance-Lust

The very sustenance of life in earth depends on the factor of love between man and woman. May be as a consequence, this love is the most basic, emotion laden, complicated, joyful, painful and stressful. It has the widest scope of expression — from the meanest to the divine.  

In Sanatana dharma, considerable priority and importance has been given to the man-woman relationship, clearly specifying the scope, purpose, boundaries and dharma associated with it. Man and woman leading a life of mutual love and togetherness in proper wedlock, with the aim of spiritual advancement together, begetting worthy and responsible children for continuation of progeny and contributing to the welfare of the society – that is the core purpose married life and such an ideal life is a dharma by itself – Grihasthasrama dharma – The righteous way of living a family life. Sexual energy, instead of getting uncontrollably dissipated in lustful, unbridled way of living, is channelized and streamlined. Proper control of passions, self-discipline and restraint with the twin goals of spiritual progress and social welfare – that is the hallmark of Grihastasrama dharma of Hinduism.

Triangular Theory of Love

Even from the point of view of modern Psychology, the love between man and woman is still set within the conventional scope of good marital life and bonding.

One of the most popular and widely acclaimed theory on love in man-woman relationship is Triangular Theory of Love, conceived and elaborated by Dr. Robert Sternberg (born December 8, 1949), American psychologist and a Professor of Human Development at Cornell University.

His theory is depicted in the form of a triangle in which the three faces are Romantic love, companionate love and Fatuous love. Its 3 corners are passion, intimacy and commitment. A love is consummated in full satisfaction only when all the 3 ingredients – passion, intimacy and commitment are present.  See picture below:

 

When a man/woman gets attracted to the other with passion only (without intimacy and commitment), it is just infatuation.

If in a man-woman relationship there is intimacy but no passion (sexual attraction) or commitment (for marriage or long term togetherness), it is just liking or friendship.

If there is only commitment in relationship without passion or intimacy, it is empty love. Such a thing is possible in arranged marriages, but intimacy and passion may develop subsequently.

Only when lines exist connecting these corners, the triangle of love is complete.

A romantic love (as one side of the triangle) exists when passion and intimacy are present.  In a romantic love, commitment is yet to come. For the romance to end in marriage, commitment is essential.

A companionate love (as the second side of the triangle) exists when intimacy and commitment are present.  In this love, romance is yet to come. Only when romance gets added to this relationship, there is color and spice in the married life.

In fatuous love (as the third side of the triangle) passion and commitment are present. Loving at first sight and getting married quickly fits into this form of love. Here there is no romance or a prolonged courtship. If romance is also added, then the love-life is wholesomely consummated.

Ideally when all the three faces of the triangle are present, it is a successfully consummated marriage.

Love equations that end in disappointment

  • Lust: When the attraction to the person of opposite sex is purely physical with the overt or covert intention of having just a sexual relationship for enjoyment, it is lust. It is fired by passion. If at all romanticism is added, it is more as a ploy to woo the opposite sex. Commitment to a long time relationship will be very elusive.

    If the motive of one of the partners is just to satiate the lust whereas the other partner mistakes it for genuine love hoping it to end in a marriage, then the relationship heads towards an ugly end as and when the moment of realization of truth dawns.
  • Romance: When the attraction to the person of opposite sex is based on passion (where lust is not too obvious or blatant but very much exists hidden) and one finds joy in the company of the other person even without a sexual relationship. Both attraction and intimacy are strongly present in a romantic relationship.

    In a romantic relationship, both the partners will behave their best to keep the mutual attraction and the joy of company alive and vibrant. It also means any dark, unpleasant or ugly side of their personalities or behaviors  will be very skillfully hidden. Even if such things get revealed now and then, the other partner may not notice it and register it but opt to ignore it or sideline it as long as the romanticism is burning.

    When romanticism is all alluring, at least one of the partners may tend to delay the commitment. It is because people have an inherent inkling in them that most of the charm of the romantic love will fade away once the relationship gets committed to a marital bond!

    In romantic love too, when the commitment part of the love becomes elusive, then the relationship starts drifting towards disappointment.

What is true love and where is true love in man-woman relationship?

Since love or attraction (be it infatuation, lust or romance)  between man and woman is extremely emotional and has the undercurrent of sexual intent behind it, human mind creates all sorts pretences to generate an image that the love indeed it “true love”. The coining of the phrase ‘true love’ itself is an indication about the common existence of ‘untrue love’!

Swayed by emotions and sentiments, if we are developing mere attachment to someone, it is not love.  Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) says: “ ‘Am I really in love or am I too attached?’ Contemplate on this question as deeply as you can. Most people are craving for attachment, not real love. In a way, we are betraying ourselves. We mistake attachment for love. Love is the centre and attachment is the periphery. Aim for the centre”.

Suggested additional reading: Reading and discussions on an additional document provided herewith  (see at the bottom: What is true love, where is true love?) may be helpful for youngsters to grasp very practically how our minds caught by emotions can hoodwink us into justifying our own failings in understanding what is love.

Lack of Love

The source of all love is divine. Amma says “Love is the foundation of life, but consciously or unconsciously we forget this truth. When we do not express love in our words and actions, it is like honey trapped in a rock — it is of no use to anyone. When families are able to express love with each other, peace and harmony will prevail in the home and society”.

Every being receives its essential doze of love right from birth from the mother first.  In a family where cordial love exists amidst its members, the child, as it grows, gets love from father, siblings, grandparents and other relatives.  The home is the birth place of love and the fertile soil of love for growth.

Conversely, when a child born in an atmosphere where love is lacking, and is brought up in a home where exchange of love is in short supply, the child grows with lots of psychological issues. Many of the emotional problems in the adulthood where this longing of love or absence of love gets expressed in myriad ways in man-woman relationship can be traced back to lack of love in childhood. That’s why Amma says: “Only those who have received love can give love. Hearts of such people who have never received love will always be closed.  They will neither be able to receive love or give love. It is very important for parents to give love to the young”.

That’s why Grihasthashrama (Family life) is a dharma in Hinduism

A child born and brought up with proper love and care in a family is a wealth for the future generation.  In Hinduism, continuation of progeny and having children of worthy qualities for the welfare of future generations was considered as an essential dharma of worldly life.  

If this dharma has to sustain, there are several things that need sustenance in the social fabric:

  1. Respect, belief and  commitment to the institution of marriage
  2. A marital relationship is not just for releasing animal passions
  3. A marital relationship is a lifelong commitment.  Man and woman have to essentially agree and live to a committed life of togetherness for life based on mutual love, trust, respect and companionship.
  4. There is nothing like live-in relationships. Divorce is an anathema.
  5. Women were expected to be housewifes predominantly because child rearing was considered as the prime responsibility, more than any financial or other considerations
  6. In order to ensure the purity of mother’s love, a woman getting remarried after an untimely death of husband was highly discouraged by the society.

Despite the onslaught of western culture in India, we are still able to see quite a lot of family bond amidst Indians. Divorces and remarriages are not still fully accepted in in Hindu culture.

Loving God – Bhakti

All said and done on love, the obvious ground reality is that love between human beings gets tainted in some way or other by egoism and selfishness. When a man longs for pure love — a love where the giver of love simply gives without any expectation in return — he understands that only the creator can give such a love.  The creator has given us sunlight to see, the air to breathe, the earth to live, the trees and plants to give us food, rain for our drinking water and so on. Man feels he is indebted to the creator for giving us everything without any expectations. This indebtedness makes him love the giver. He is also sure that God being omnipresent and omnipotent can give him all that he needs by sincerely praying to Him.

Such a trust and faith becomes the basis of love on God which is called devotion — Bhakti. Love on God at the initial levels may be based on expectations from God. We want money, wealth, comforts, position and power in life and believe we will be happy if we get all these in good measure. We pray to God lovingly for blessing us with all these. We face difficulties, suffering and worries in life. We want God to remove them all. We lovingly pray to him for support.

As our love and relationship with God gets deeper, our understanding about God also get refined.  Based on our experiences, we grasp that God in any case is always taking care of us irrespective of our praying him or otherwise. We also gradually understand that God is not freely giving us whatever we pray and ask for; sometimes he gives; sometimes he does not give; sometimes he gives something that we do not want. But over time, we analyse, experience  and understand that whatever he has given or not given have all been for our good only. We grasp that we are limited in our own understanding of what is good for us or what is bad for us, whereas God knows only what is good for us and he arranges everything accordingly — by giving or by denying.

The more we grasp this fact, then our ‘love with agenda’ on God comes to an end. We don’t find the need to pray to him. Our love on him too starts reflecting his love on us — unconditional. We start loving God for love sake. Such a deep love on God is called “Prema Bhakti”. A devotee gripped by prema bhakti forgets everything; he has no care for his own body, its needs or comforts. He wants love of God for love sake. He wants to become love. He wants to merge in God. He melts in God and becomes ultimately God himself.

This the the story of evolution of the unadulterated pure love of the divine.  We have several examples of such great personalities who demonstrated the path of pure Bhakti to attain Godhood. We have had great saints and Avatars  like Bhakta Meera, Sri Gouranga, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ma Anandamayi, Papa Ramdas and Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) in this great land of Bharat.

Amma says: “There are three expressions of love that awaken us from within: love for oneself; love for god and love for the entire creation. Love for oneself does not mean the self-centered love of the ego. it means to love life, to see both the successes and failures in our human birth as God’s blessing, while loving the divine power inherent within us. This grows to become love for God. If these two components are present, then the love for the entire creation will manifest naturally.”

Sharing Pure Love

it is no wonder that Avatara Purushas and Mahatmas carry this divine love with them for unconditional distribution to others. Their source of love is unlimited because it is divine.

It is this pure, divine love that attracts people who are emotionally suffering in their loveless lives, to mahatma’s like Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi).  Why a dark skinned, rustic woman from a remote and unknown fishermen’s hamlet in the faraway state of Kerala in India is so much sought after by white skinned, educated elite of the west?

Because they have lost love in their lives. A vast majority of them  have been born and brought up in an atmosphere where lust is essentially mistaken for love; brazen selfishness with very poor faith in the sanctity of marriage is the norm of life;  The mindset for give and take or for any sacrifice for the sake of the other person has been missing among the majority. Life in the west gradually has turned to become filled with ‘beggers of love expecting other beggars of love to feed them with love’.  When they encounter a person like Amma where every nerve of her is bent upon giving, giving and more giving, caring, sharing and absorbing others’ woes and worries, they get floored! Their long and unsatiated thirst for love atlast finds a spring of love rising and flowing for everyone to come and take.

And this love elevates the receiver from evolving from the clutches of selfishness. From a beggar of love the seeker evolves to a lover of God.

-=0O0=-

How to have more joy and less pain in life

Joy and woe are woven fine; a clothing for the soul divine’ says poet William Blake. Practically all spiritual masters from all religions say the same thing time and again. Joy and pain are always said to be like two sides of the same coin.

It is true that fate plays some extra-dirty games in some people’s life and however much they strive, their share of pain seems to be more than the pleasure they get out of life. Hinduism says it is all due to* prarabhdha* (effects of past bad *karma*s done in previous lives). There are also a lucky few people who seem to enjoy pleasure far in excess of pain in their lives and again, Hinduism attributes it to good karmas done in previous lives. As for the majority, it looks joys and woes in life tend to even out.

But man always wants to maximize his joy and minimize his pain in life. Is it then really possible? For many people, particularly in young age, there seems to be a mental resistance to accept any religious or spiritual advice/ explanation/ guidance on this subject. So, outside religion, are there any good tips available for them to enjoy more pleasure in life without proportionate pain?

Yes there are indeed some practical tips available. Let us see some of them.

Have your own standards of desirable joy and bearable pain

Everyone has different capacities and tastes for enjoyment. Everyone has different levels of tolerance and acceptance of pain for the sake of enjoying pleasure. Be clear about your standards. Your close friends’ standards need not be yours. What everyone seems to be enjoying NEED NOT be really joyful to you. The pains to which others seem to be impervious may be too unpleasant to you!

Have you ever thought in such an angle in life? The fact is – most people do not evoke enough self-awareness on these things. To be blunt, herd mentality is quite strong in most of us. Because of this mentality, many people bear with pain without being aware of it for the sake of enjoying some paltry pleasures that othersseem to enjoy!

An youngster, whom I know as one with a calm demeanor, once told me that he went with his friends to see a 20-20 cricket match live at a stadium.

“Ah! Must be quite an experience! Did you enjoy it?” I asked.

“Sort of; yeah, it was fun, okay, but…”

As I probed deeper, he said: “We had to wait in very long queue for hours to book our tickets first. In the stadium, they did not permit us to carry our own food or water—everything we had to buy at very hefty prices there! Oh! The amount of noise people made there with their shouts, whistles, drums, pipes and what not! At some critical action times in the game, someone will invariably jump up in front of me and block the view. The pitch was so far away that I could not even make out which players are playing. Whether a ball was really caught or dropped, I won’t know from such a distance! The side where we were sitting, for the ticket amount we paid, was constantly exposed to sun and I felt I was getting roasted! I had to spend through my nose to keep buying water and drinking it to quench my thirst. By the time the game was over, I got thoroughly tired – both physically and mentally. As I returned home, I was suffering from a splitting head-ache!”

“ Then you mean to say, it would have been heaven if you had watched the game in TV relaxing at the couch in your home?” I asked.

“Absolutely! I would have seen all the actions, all the replays, heard all the expert comments!”

“…and you would have saved quite some bucks, escaped from the burning sun, from the unwanted headache…” I completed the sentence and he nodded.

“How about your friends?”

“Ah! They all seemed to have a freaking time at the stadium! They enjoyed every moment – shouting, dancing, laughing, munching and drinking…”

Now you get some idea?

Be aware to weigh pain and pleasure in advance wherever possible and then decide which one is more for you

We continued with our conversation.

“Did all in your group of friends come to the stadium?” I probed further.

“No! You know Prakash? He is an ardent cricket fan, but flatly refused to join us right at the time we planned the program”

“Did you know why?”

“To be frank, he warned me in advance about all these!”

Now you know the difference? Prakash was not fitting into herd mentality. Perhaps he too had gone through this experience earlier and learnt a valuable lesson! Despite being an ardent cricket fan, Prakash could weigh the pleasure and pain behind witnessing the game live at stadium. Having learnt that the pain, according to his demeanor, is more than the pleasure, he judiciously opted out of it.

Learning from past experience and using it in future is the key.

Be moderate in your enjoyment – any consequent pain will be far less

During my childhood, chance to eat good feasts were rare. I had a sweet tooth and also loved oily savories too. Death day remembrance ceremonies conducted at home for ancestors were occasions when we get sumptuous feast to eat. And I mostly over ate on such occasions and suffered the consequences – a sense of dislike of the feast itself at the end of eating on account of over-stuffing of the stomach, indigestion and a possible loose motion the next day!

Since fortunately I had had the tendency to analyze myself and evoke self-awareness, I became gradually more conscious as I grew up. While I still enjoyed sweets and savories offered generously at feasts, I started reducing their quantities considerably but made sure to taste a little of everything. I made it a practice that I would never eat to my full stomach in any feast. Thus I could really enjoy every variety served in the feast and never suffered out of indigestion subsequently.

This concept of moderation can be extended to all our activities whereby we seek enjoyment – foods, drinks, movies, music, going out with friends, sex, socializing, keeping awake, sleeping, working in office, study, earning money, spending money, idling, philanthropy, playing games, doing exercise, watching internet, talking in cell phone, taking medicines and so on.

When you develop moderation on things you love to enjoy, you will surprisingly find that the keenness or taste of enjoyment also grows sharper. Your focus and awareness of enjoyment will grow and you will find it deeply satisfying. For example, if you cut down your coffee intake from say 4 cups a day to two cups a day and that too with a reduced volume per intake, you can observe that the coffee tastes so extra blissful, unlike what you used to feel with higher intake!

Keep strictly away from enjoyments that society abhors

I m not saying what Bible abhors or other religious scriptures condemn. There are several things that the society you live in does not generally appreciate or accept easily as right or normal. The society may be quite pluralistic in religious faiths and hence irrespective of whether they are religion-based or not, there are things that public does not approve of.

Example: Same sex relationships, prostitution, polygamy, polyandry, stealing, illegal trading of arms, drug trafficking, terrorist activity, love jihad, bullying, black-marketing, drug addiction etc

Unfortunately, there seems to exist an extra doze of thrill in enjoying what society forbids. There is a saying in Tamil that stolen mango has an extra tinge of taste! Perhaps that “extra tinge of taste” is so alluring that people get entrapped into pleasure-seeking on things that the society forbids. May be the consequent pain does not come imminently; but it comes for sure and it will land so severely that it can cause the greatest damage.

Keeping away from things that society forbids will bring you mental peace; that peace is more worthy than the joy of indulgence.

 Enjoy in tune with your age

There is an age up to which even ‘stones can be digested’; there is an age up to which the body can take lots of abuse without showing much of reaction; there is an age up to which youthful zeal can be maintained in intimate relationships; there is an age up to which mental resilience can be quite strong.

Time and age gradually wears away many things. Indulgence in excess chocolates may not lead excess fat up to certain age, but beyond that age if you continue that indulgence, you end up suffering in obesity and cholesterol related problems. Jogging brings you good health up to certain age and then joint pains beyond that! Post thirty five, excess make up brings in a false sense of youthful look up to certain age, and then suddenly everyone seems to laugh at your wrinkles despite your best efforts to hide them!

Whether eating, drinking, sex, dress, mingling, singing, dancing or any such thing, do what is right in tune with your age. If not, you will end up with more pain than pleasure.

Accept some pain for the sake of worthy pleasure or for avoiding a bigger pain

If waking up early is a pain for you, then that pain is worth accepting if you can avoid the pain of peak-hour traffic woes, by starting early to office. If the pain of compulsorily saving some money instead of spending it carefree is undergone, then you will enjoy a debt-free life at later stages of life. If doing regular physical exercises is found boring and painful to you, then by forcefully engaging yourself in it, you will be able to enjoy a good physical health in the long run.

Desire to maximize joy is the innate nature of every living being. The above 6 guidelines can help you to a fair extent in this effort. But always remember: Between enjoyment and peace, there is a huge difference. Matured is the one who looks for achieving peace in life rather than enjoyment out of life.

Why many secularists who are basically Hindus criticise Hindus & Hinduism?

I feel there could be many causes for such a state of affairs in India where most secularists are born from Hinduism and end up criticizing Hindus.

  • Avenue for self criticism being available only in Hinduism:  Only in Hinduism we have multiple ways and paths of worshiping different God forms, different schools of faith, philosophies etc. Contradictions between one school of faith to another always existed. People in Hinduism enjoy lot of freedom in engaging in arguments, criticisms and denials of practices and philosophies. Such a freedom does not exist in other religions.
  • Born and brought up in elite class:   Where parents are English educated, belong to socially upward class, having admiration for western culture, erstwhile beneficiaries of British Raj, having no deep-rooted faith or respect in Hinduism or its spiritual aspects, then their children may end up as pseudo-secularists. Having born and brought up like that, they do not get any exposure to Indian Hindu cultural traditions, values or scriptures. Money, position and status become the yardsticks for them for success. They don’t come across any situation needing a deeper understanding or appreciation about true Hinduism. They look at the superficial weaknesses of the religious practices and pseudo-sanyasins and start developing secularism as a better idea.
  • Suffering under the class and caste domination of Hinduism:  By experiencing the evil effects of untouchability, upper-caste vs lower caste discrimination in life, not getting any chance to come across proper spiritually evolved Hindu saints or sage in life, by getting cheated by dubious Godmen and so on, some people develop hatred on Hinduism and they start believing secularism to be of a better value.
  • Negative effect of too orthodox and strict parenting:   If by chance the Hindu parents are too orthodox, too strict and critical about their children, do not offer any logical replies to children asking questions about their faiths and practices but only demand obedience, then their may children grow up antagonistic towards parents. Their hatred extends to the parents’ religious beliefs and practices too. They develop a negative mindset about the religion itself. They won’t be inclined to study deeper into Hindu religion and spirituality. They find secularism as the right choice and criticize Hinduism openly based on their past bitter experiences.

To conclude, Hinduism does not feel threatened by criticism and denials. Hinduism is very broad minded. One can bitterly criticize Shiva or Vishnu or any other Avatars or saints and still live peacefully in India. It is not possible for a Muslim to criticize Allah or the Prophet or any archaic practices of Islam openly and hope to remain alive and safe for long.

If God has given us the power of choice (free will), why he has not given us any choice about our taking birth here or not?

According to Hindu beliefs, this earth is the karma bhoomi, where the fruits of actions of your past births (other than the effects of extreme evil deeds that have to be suffered in hell till a period and extreme good deeds that have to be enjoyed in heaven till a period) have to be exhausted through your experiences in the current birth. Till a person attains self-realization/ god realization/ sakshatkarNirvana, the repeated cycles of births and deaths shall continue.

It is like the process of alchemy to turn a rusted piece of Iron to pure gold. Till the process ends, the chemical treatments (the births, pains and pleasures and deaths) will continue.

Whether you are going to accelerate the process (by doing more of good) or decelerate it (by engaging in evil deeds) – the choice is given to you.

Whether to pass or fail in an examination is up to you. But you have to necessarily sit for the exam. No choice!

Is admiring Ravana a sin?

Admiring Ravana may not be a sin. But if that admiration ends up, over a period of time, in justifying sinful thoughts in you, then there is trouble. Thoughts lead to actions and actions bring punya or papa.

Imagine thoughts like these:

  • “I am a great scholar; most people around me are idiots. Idiots are meant to be banished”
  • “I am a great devotee if God. I always have had the blessings an protection of my God. I can do whatever I feel like and get away with it”
  • “I am the Managing Director of this massive corporation; none else is as powerful as I am. That Secretary in accounts dept. is so beautiful. I want to enjoy my night with her. She is married? Very devoted to husband? So what? I can even abduct her, woo her with my power and wealth! Who on earth will not fall for my personality and stature?”
  • “Well wishers around me say that it is wrong? Hell with them! Who are they to advise me so ignoring my greatness? If you can’t say yes to whatever I say or do, get out! I just don’t care.”

Get the point? Whatever be the goodness in a person, if evil qualities in him are more predominant, better to be watchful of the evil tendencies rather than just admiring the goodness, brushing aside the evil.

Is it necessary for me to visit temples and chant stotras, if I am living a life of an ethical and well mannered human being?

Up to certain age, probably till we realize we are no longer youth, for most of us the idea of God, going temples, chanting slokas or mantras don’t appeal much. During youth, we are driven by passion, we believe anything can be achieved through dedication and hard work, we trust that only science has all the answers, we accept that science has not proved the existence of God and hence faith in God could strongly be a superstition etc.

Of course there are exceptions; Many youths do have faith in God, go to temples, do prayers etc right from childhood and they do it openly too. Let us ignore this class.

Thus up to certain age, we get carried away by such convictions and somehow life also goes smooth to most of us (may be because our parents are taking care of our needs for most of the times in youth!).  Some of us strongly believe that being ethical and well mannered is good enough.

(By the way, have you ever questioned these beliefs?! Why should we be ethical? Why should we be well mannered? Who gave these ideas and importance to them? Why should I ‘blindly’ follow these ethical rules? What is the basis? Is it just the fear of punishment of social laws? Or something more?) . This is only for your introspection. Let us not go into this now!

Now, once we cross the youth (mostly) we start feeling and facing many things in life that are happening contrary to our convictions, hopes, beliefs, logical understanding and so on. We are struck by many things: Hard work does not necessarily bring success; doing good acts does not necessarily produce good results; not doing anything evil or wrong from our part does not necessarily save us from facing unexpected catastrophes and failures! Being a very nice, friendly and sincere person does not necessarily bring in a spouse who loves and understand us!

Now we face the unexpected googlies and don’t know how to bat. Whatever classic cover drives and glances that we practiced methodologically do not come to our help and we are at the constant threat of getting out!

It is at this age and juncture, we come to face to face with the reality that science cannot help us. We need something more. We need to understand something better and higher to understand and try to resolve our predicaments. What has been all along a pride gold medal hanging on our chest suddenly reveals it to be a cause of our chest burn — it is ahankar (Ego). We come to face it. Now we understand that we should become humble because we have no solutions from our ego to overcome our hurdles; to give answers to nagging questions.

The need to surrender to a higher force now comes inevitably. The thirst to understand what is religion, what is spirituality, what is the connection between them, who are Mahatmas and saints, why do they keep on advising us on many things like God, Karma, Avatar, Atman, Paramatman, Maya, ego, vasanas, samskaras, knowledge, ignorance and so on.

At that time you start searching. You start going to temples. you start grasping the importance of faith and surrender. You start acknowledging your limitations of body, mind, intellect and ego.

So, my point of view is this: At some time or other, one will have to take a round and come back to our Sanatana track. WHY NOT DO IT EARLY IN LIFE? The earlier you come, the smoother the ride becomes; because you know and accept beforehand that there will be potholes on the road, there will be traffic snarls, there will be rash drivers, there will be jay walkers on the road, and it’s all parts and parcel of life! You learn that for your own safety, you drive carefully, drive with more acceptance and less tension; drive with a trust that the Higher Power is taking care of you and protecting you!

Why Conversion from Hinduism to any other religion is highly discouraged – Part:1

This is an Article series consisting of 3 parts.

In this part 1, some solid and important facts about the relevance of Hinduism are discussed. 

In the part 2, some frequently asked questions from religion/ spiritual point of view have been answered.

In the Part 3 , some FAQs from sociological point of view (issues related to inter-religious love affairs and marriages) are being answered.

Part:1

At the outset, Hinduism is just not a religion; it is known as Sanatana Dharma — the eternal righteous way of living.  The base of Sanatana Dharma (or Hinduism) is so widespread that it has place for accommodating innumerable ways of establishing a relationship with God and attaining oneness with Him as the ultimate goal of life.  It is like a cone with a large circular base and as one rises up higher and higher in quest of spirituality, it ultimately leads one to a single point at the top.

Fact 1: Hinduism is so unique and so wide-based – there is really no need to look elsewhere for anything missing

With a clear acceptance of the universal fact that people have different tastes and temperaments as regards to any relationship, Hinduism offers so much of ‘variety of choice’  in the practice of religion, which is nothing but establishing are relationship with God. Be it with regard to choosing a specific God form for love and worship, method of worship, practice of austerities, school of philosophy to learn and follow,  type of rituals to practice and so on, Hinduism offers so much variety. The idea is: you start with what is traditional to you, what is comfortable to you, what is digestible to you and what is tasteful to you. Then go deeper; understand better; widen your outlook; don’t get trapped into sheer compartmentalization; grow up; turn inwards rather than outwards; out-grow from your earlier presumptions and self-made boundaries. Know the ultimate truth; know that you are no different from the very ultimate truth that you have been in quest of all along!

In other words, a variety of religious and spiritual avenues are available within Hinduism itself for one to seek God for spiritual progress  or worldly prosperity or for removal of hurdles, pains and sorrows in life by praying to God and seeking His divine grace. There is really no need to go in search of any other religion for that matter. If someone finds anything higher or better in any other religion, it is only because he has not really bothered to look deeper into his own religion with earnestness.

Vested interests from other religions , who believe God to be nameless and formless, may mock at Hindus for worshiping idols; for worshiping umpteen God forms — Gods in male, female and animal forms, Gods having thousands of names and so on. If misguided Hindus with very little inclination to know deeper about the significance of all these in Hinduism join the vested interests and start ridiculing our own religion, we can only feel sorry for them.

Fact 2: Hinduism does not woo people from other religions with an agenda to convert them to Hinduism

By virtue of being the Sanatana Dharma, Hinduism is not something meant for ‘sales promotion’ , ‘mass distribution’ or ‘mass consumption’. That’s why there are no religious movements in Hinduism to woo and convert people from other religions to Hinduism. No Hindu organization gets any funding to send missionaries to other countries for the sole purpose of converting people from other religions to Hinduism.  Hindus don’t build schools and hospitals to show how loving and caring their religion is, with a hidden agenda of converting people to Hinduism.

Whatever mode of conversion to Hinduism offered nowadays through Arya Samaj is also NOT meant for wooing other religious people to convert to Hinduism, but only to offer an avenue (which was not available in the past in Hinduism) for the benefit of misguided people of Hindu origin, who had converted to other religions (for whatever reason) and want to return to Hinduism.

Fact 3: It is Hinduism that keeps producing so many Mahatmas and great spiritual masters from time to time to guide people in religion and spirituality

Unlike any other religion, only Hinduism has the unique advantage and proven track record of gifting to the world innumerable spiritual masters, great Mahatmas, great devotees, God realized (and self-realized) Gurus and great Avatars as if in a never ending stream, in this great land of India.

Why is it happening only in Hinduism and not significantly in other religions?

It is because of the following reasons:

1)  As per Hinduism everything in creation is nothing but God — every one of us is potentially divine. Because of maya, this is not available for easy grasp for everyone. But it is the fact that those who earnestly seek to know this truth by experience get divine and guru’s guidance and they realize the truth and become one with God.  In other words, Hindu religious experience of practical divinity is not restricted to a ‘Father in heaven and his One and Only Son’! It is not restricted to one single Messiah who is the only ordained one to know and reveal the truth and no one else.  It is not restricted to a single holy book, a single or rigid school of philosophy or a single divine form or a God who cannot have name and form.

2) Because of the fact that Hinduism has such a wide base, there are umpteen streams available within the religion to travel through and reach the ocean.  Whether one worships a God in the form a male, a female, an animal or in a mix of human and animal, Hinduism asserts that spiritual progress is possible by all means.  If a Hindu believes in God without form, or he/she feels no emotional need for devotional worship too, there are streams available for such an earnest seeker to follow in Hinduism. Each of the paths has its own strong connection to the core of Hinduism and hence there are realized souls available from different streams of Hinduism. Thus such masters could declare to others by virtue of their personal experience that every path in Hinduism is valid.  

Fact 4: Great Hindu Masters cut across religious barriers too and inspire people from all religions

Why do we hail these spiritual masters of Hinduism as ‘great’? Is it out of our mad infatuation to our religion or a sense of natural pride (rightly or wrongly) towards our own religious greatness?

No. We hail them as great because such saints who realized truth by following a particular segment of Hinduism, have indeed  attained the peak and they could clearly see from that elevated state that every path in Hinduism does lead one to the single final goal only. Such a master then is able to impress, enthuse, inspire and guide earnest religious aspirants from several other schools of Hinduism as well! It does not stop there. Such great masters attract people and aspirants from other religions too!

Such a spiritual saints cease to be the ‘sole property’ of Hinduism. Their appeal and attraction becomes universal.

That’s how great spiritual masters like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, his consort  Sarada Devi, his disciple Swami Vivekananda, Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi, Papa Ramadas, Swami Sivananda (Divine Life Society), Shirdi Saibaba, Satya Saibaba, Shri Chandrasekara Saraswathi (‘Maha Swamigal’ of Kanchi Math), Anandamayi Ma, Mata Amritanandamayi and such other Mahatmas could attract innumerable Christian and other religious followers from nook and corners of the world and give the seekers guidance on spiritual progress.

Do these masters try to woo the eager beavers from other religions to get converted to Hinduism? Never. Do they ever preach that only through following Hinduism one can attain liberation? Never.  On the contrary, they encourage people to go deeper into their own religions, grasp the truth behind their own religious teachings and try to live true to them.

Very learned pundits and erudite scholars of Philosophies come and prostrate before these Mahatmas (some of these mahatmas may not even have passed primary school level!) and seek clarification on scriptures that they have been learning for decades but could not grasp the true purport and they get convinced and enlightened by a simple explanation from these great souls! It is because what these mahatmas explain comes from the root of their own personal experience and not just from bookish knowledge.

Many Christians used to seek clarification on teachings and quotes off Bible from Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi. He used to explain them from the point of view of the essence of Hinduism based on his own personal experience.  

If any of the followers from other religion who get greatly attracted to Hinduism, its teachings, its Gods and religious practices opt to change their names to typical Hindu names, start dressing like Hindus, start worshiping Hindu Gods, chant  sthotras on Hindu Gods and sing bhajans, these masters don’t discourage them either.  They know for sure that what matters for an individual is the peculiar taste that he finds appealing and attractive for following in his/her spiritual pursuit and that freedom is available, as it is available for any Hindu, to people from other religion too.

The point to note is that the great spiritual masters of Hinduism never say “Your religion is okay, but you will get liberation or salvation only if you get converted to Hinduism and worship Hindu Gods”. They would rather say, “The kingdom of God is within you, and it is up to look within yourself and attain it”.

Why Conversion from Hinduism to any other religion is highly discouraged – Part:2

This is Part: 2 of the article on Why conversion from Hinduism to other religions is highly discouraged.

In the part 1, some solid and important facts about the relevance of Hinduism has been discussed. Please read it first, before proceeding here.

In this part 2, some frequently asked questions from religion/ spiritual point of view are being answered.

Question 1: How about fake Gurus and God-men of dubious characters who seem to abound Hinduism?

Not every student studying in a class can get distinction. Not every religious aspirant has the qualities of mental purity, sacrifice, unselfishness, grittiness and adherence to austerities. It is always possible that there will be ‘drop-outs’ who, by virtue of their undigested spirituality may start their own spiritual show business and thrive by attracting seekers of dubious qualities.

Not just Hinduism, but every religion has dubious spiritual teachers who misguide people and thrive on a selfish agenda. In God’s scheme of things, it will always be there.

There will also be religious teachers at intermittent levels (Neither fake gurus not fully realized Gurus) who are earnest and sincere in their efforts, limited in their own grasp of religion but nevertheless contributing something for the religion meant for people at lower and middle levels of spiritual or religious progression. They are very much needed for any religion and their role is definitely as good as school and college teachers taking classes at various levels, with their own qualifications being enough to teach and guide pupils of appropriate grade.

Again the point to note is this: Amidst existence of fake Gurus and Gurus of various tiers, sects and subsects and schools of philosophies , it is in Hinduism that great realized saints have been evolving time and again to guide earnest seekers of spirituality with appropriate teachings suited best to the times they arrive at in the society. It is in Hinduism that one can see the constant evolution, adaptation and path correction so that true seekers are properly guided and the society at large is reshaped and guided in the right path for the wellbeing of the society and its cultural traditions.

Question 2:  If Great Hindu Masters accept all religions, then what is the problem in converting to any other religion?

If you go to your own town’s market to buy the things of your need and all essential items are very much available in your own market at affordable price, at good quality and without shortage, then what is really the need to go to next town’s market?

If someone thinks that something is amiss in his own market, it is not because it is true; it is because he has not looked around enough to see where it is available. Or it may be that he got hoodwinked by the false propaganda from a marketer from the next town who spreads lies and falsehood; it may be because the marketer from the next town offered him something out of selfish agenda to change his loyalty.

Now, coming to the stand of great spiritual masters of Hinduism accepting all religions, it is only due to their clear understanding of the all pervading nature of Godliness radiating from within themselves.  But virtually no spiritual master ever nodded in appreciation of any Hindu converting to any other religion.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is oft quoted for his statement “As many faiths; so many paths”.  He was a unique Hindu spiritual master who actually put into practice Christianity and Islam in his own life and within a short time realized the spiritual principle of these religions.  He in fact had a vision of Jesus Christ and saw Christ’s form merging into himself.

Michael Madhusudhan Datta was a famous Bengali poet who lived in Kolkotta during Sri Ramakrishna’s period. He was actually a Hindu, who had got converted to Christianity.  Once Sri Ramakrishna happened to meet Michael Madhusudhan along with some of his devotees. When someone questioned Michael as to why he had got converted to Christianity, Michael replied something like “It’s all for the sake of the stomach; what else?”

The moment Ramakrishna heard this, he left the spot, not willing to engage in any discussion with Michael, as desired by his devotees. Ramakrishna later said to his devotees: “I felt as though I was dumb folded;  Ah! What is there to talk with a person who simply forsakes his own religion and converts to another for the sake of filling his stomach! “

Once a Christian Congregational  Bishop by name Stanely Jones came from abroad to meet Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi. He, with lots of missionary zeal, was trying to impress Maharishi about the “Kingdom of Heaven” that could be attained only through the grace of Jesus Christ; he  started teasing and challenging Bhagwan about his philosophies and questioning Bhagwan’s credentials but showed least interest or earnestness in listening and absorbing Bhagwan’s responses. After trying to make him see reason for a while, Bhagwan understood that the person was only keen on giving a sermon on the Kingdom of Heaven and  how the only facilitator for it was Jesus Christ. Bhagwan kept quiet and the person went on blabbering.

At that time, Bhagwan’s western devotee Major A W Chadwik (Sadhu Arunachala) was in the hall and having got irritated by Stanley’s behavior, Chadvik, (a Christian well versed in Bible), confronted him with pointed arguments. Stanley got shocked by the opposition he faced from a fellow Christian westerner and he opted to pack off and leave. Once he left, Bhagwan laughed and said “You have certainly paid him in his own coin!”

In Swami Vivekananda’s life too there are several instances where he was quite critical of missionaries and their efforts to convert people to Christianity. He was always critical about Islamic rulers of the past who converted gullible common people to Islam at the point of the sword.

Question 3:  What about atonement of sin? Hindu religion is fatalistic; they say one has to experience Karma and there is no escape.  It looks sinners are doomed if they follow Hinduism, whereas Christianity welcomes sinners with open hands; they say, Jesus has shed blood for all our sins and hence our sins are atoned by God. That’s so much comforting.

If any Hindu says that in Hinduism you are cent percent bound by Karma and there is no escape from sins and if a Christian says Jesus has shed his blood for your sake so that you can enjoy life absolved of all sins and keep doing sins, both are misguided!

While as per karma theory of Hinduism it is true that there will be the effect for every karma — good or bad — that one has got to experience, it is never said that it a rigid law; Karmas are not self-propelling, to give you good and bad effects on their own power. Karma is just jata – inanimate. it is God’s will that decides what effect is to be given to the karma at what time to the doer of karma.

In Hinduism, attempting to understand and breaking one’s head as to what is dharma (righteous act  that can bring good effects) and what is adharma (unrighteous acts that can bring bad effects) might get too complicated for comprehension of a commoner.  But if one surrenders totally and unconditionally to God’s will without worrying about dharma, then God (Lord Krishna) promises that he will absolve all the sins of the person (Bhagavad Gita 18-66).

Putting it more practically for the consumption of people of this Kali Yuga where dharma will tend to be at the lowest ebb, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa always emphasized that for this Yuga, chanting God’s name with reverence will absolve one from all sins.  With a firm belief in the purifying power of God’s name and with a firm resolve not to repeat the sins that one committed, if one chants God’s name again and again with devotion, his sins are absolved — assures Sri Ramakrishna.

Going further, Ramakrishna once said: “Sambu Charan once read out Bible for me for a while; Oh! There is so much of obsession with sins in it! They keep talking about sins again and again. He who says day and night, ‘I am a sinner, I am a sinner’ verily becomes a sinner. Why fear about sins? Should you not have the conviction “I chant Lord’s name; what can sins do on me?”

From the point of total surrender to God, it is indeed true that if a Christian totally surrenders to Jesus Christ with absolute trust and faith, he need not worry about the effects of past sins. But any assertion that Jesus Christ who, by virtue of shedding his blood on the cross, became qualified to be “the sole authorized arbitrator for the wholesale absolution of all Christians’ sins” (including those of converted Christians coming in with a sin-washing agenda) turns out to be too blasphemous a claim!

Continued in —> Part:3 (Final part) . In this part, the problems with love affairs and marriages between religions are discussed.