We often forget our roots in religion and how our roots were saved by our beloved Shankaracharya more than two thousand years ago.
I met the current Shankaracharya of Kashi and Dwarka, Shree Swarupananadji during Kumbh in Ujjain after having met him earlier during the Allahabad Kumbh. I have known him for more than a decade now and didn’t realise that he has turned 94. It was such a pleasure to find out that he still talks so well and his speech is not affected by his age. I had gone with another bunch of queries relating to the many commercial gods which have sprung up and why we are drifting away from the original Gods like Shiva and Vishnu and their family.
He answered very patiently to my research queries.
I also met his successor of Kashi Pith Shri Avimukteshwaranandji and had a long discussion about the current development of Hindu religion and its doctrines. The time has come when we should give due respect to our POP of Hindu religion and let the world know who they are.
I consider myself truly blessed to be in Ujjain during the Simhastha Kumbh Mahaparv. It is the world’s largest fair, a congregation of supreme faith and devotion. The Madhya Pradesh government has spent more than Rs 3,600 crore on making preparations for this gigantic religious event.
The festival went on for 30 days from 22-April-2016 to 21-May-2016.
The tentative area of the fair was a whopping 3000+ hectares. The entire area was divided into 6 Zones and 22 Sectors. The Zones were named as follows
Dutta Akhara Zone
Kal Bhairav Zone
Chamunda Mata Zone
Two Flag Railway Stations were specially established at Nai Khedi and Vikram Nagar exclusively for Simhasth Kumbh Mahaparv 2016. Trains coming to Ujjain were given a halt at these flag stations for the convenience of the pilgrims. At the same time Six Satellite towns were also created. 51 police chowkies stood guard during the Mahaparv 2016.
Now that was not all. Language experts of 22 local dialects served at the Simhastha call center to address the queries of the visitors. Language experts of Russian, French, German and English also provided their services at the centre. 10,000 foreigners visited Ujjain while a total of 7.5 crore people had taken part in the mela uptil the last day.
There were many cultural, religious and spiritual events on the sidelines of the event. There was a multi-religious meet where a Catholic bishop in Madhya Pradesh teamed up with leaders of other religions on May 3 to promote environmental awareness and better hygiene at the month-long festival. All the religious leaders stressed the need to conserve water.
It was truly an amazing gathering of people and the fact that it went off without any disturbance speaks of the wonderful arrangements provided by the government and various organizations.
I was just reading a report in the paper about how celebrities in India have started adopting animals in the zoo and contribute towards their upkeep and maintenance. Following this even others have started showing interest in such a scheme. This brings in revenue to the zoo no doubt, but also gives a sense of participation to others. The sponsors of the animals get free passes to visit the zoo, they can name the animals or its offspring. Such attractive schemes make people feel they can also participate in some good cause. Above all it inculcates a sense of bonding in areas where we may think we have no role to play.
Then there is also a scheme where people can adopt trees in reserves and forests. This is another novel idea and now people have started thinking of doing such good acts especially when there is a family function, a birthday or an anniversary. What a fine thought it is to extend our sense of belonging to include Mother Nature in our life. These out of the box acts send positive signals to all members of the family that it is time to take ownership of the world around us rather than expecting governments and NGOs to do these kinds of things. We too as individuals can contribute to many such causes, there is no dearth of schemes only we need to have a heart that beats for other living beings in this planet. In the schools I visit in Kenya for tree planting, children are encouraged to adopt the trees, give them names and treat them as a family member. Only this will help us raise a generation of kids who feel for other species. The kids are excited and feel they are doing an important contribution. This should be encouraged.
The United Nations has declared this decade from 2011 to 2020 as United Nations decade on Bio diversity. More specifically May 22nd is observed as International Day for Biological Diversity. We have to do our bit in preserving all life forms or in the least desist from harming or disturbing the life forms around us. We need diverse forms if we have to escape from climate changes and other such disturbances. So let us spare a thought to all the living forms on this day.
This session was about my favourite topic of Indian scriptures and the relevant importance of the same in today’s life. The HWPL came up with very relevant questions and expected us to share our thoughts on the same.
The meeting was attended by various leaders from Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism. Everyone presented interesting quotes and references of respective scriptures as even I got a chance to learn something more about other religions.
It was a tough day for me as the distance to the school was too much for me to cover.. but somehow I managed to reach there.. After seeing the enthusiasm of the girls, my hesitation just disappeared. It was worth the drive and time invested for this talk.
When I started talking about meat consumption and the effects of the same on our life, I wasn’t sure if my reasons will be convincing enough.. but when I ended up with many questions by the students, I realised that they do understand the meaning of healthy living, problems of environment, problems of natural calamities and its impact on our life.
The session was fulfilling to me as every time I talk to a different set of people, I learn something new and it strengthens my arguments and conviction in the cause I have taken up to help and make them realise the impact of our lifestyle on climate and on our own health.
It is my pleasure to share with you that we have launched our much awaited and well- designed courses on Hindu Culture and Lifestyle Studies on our website http://www.courses.indianscriptures.com.
The courses are designed keeping NRIs and other non-indian communities in mind. It is easy to understand and also very practical to follow Indian culture in today’s modern life. It is attempted to target those people who would not like to follow any hindu cult or guru and yet want to know more about Hindu culture and heritage.
It is also benefitted to those who are practising any particular sampraday within Hindu vedic umbrella but not able to understand why we do certain things in certain ways. These courses will help you to understand the basic tenants of Indian lifestyle and why to do certain things in certain ways.
Please join the courses as per your convenience of time and place as everything is online. If you need any assistance our panel of volunteers will be happy to help you.
I was so thrilled to do a session of tree planting in Kibigori as that is the place where we were blessed to build Shiv Temple. Our local coordinator Rashid was also delighted to arrange for the site, team and other requirements for the tree planting. We planted more than one fifty trees in the premises of Kibigori Dispensary.
In the morning, we organised for Shiv Abhishek to encourage devotees to attend tree planting which was followed by lunch.
Every time I visit a new place, I get more firmed about how I want to go ahead with my dream of planting atleast a billion tree. It is always a new learning and new findings about environment, trees, soil quality, mother nature etc.