Thursday, January 28, 2010

Swami Vivekananda - The world is a gymnasium

This world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.

All healthy social changes are the manifestations of the spiritual forces working within, and if these are strong and well adjusted. Society will arrange itself accordingly. Each individual has to work out his own salvation; there is no other way, and so also with nations. It is very easy to point out the defects of institutions, all being more or less imperfect, but he is the real benefactor of humanity who helps the individual to overcome his imperfections under whatever institutions he may live. The individuals being raised, the nation and its institutions are bound to rise.

Men in general lay all the blame of life on their fellowmen, or, failing that, on God, or they conjure up a ghost, and say it is fate. Where is fate, and who is fate? We reap what we sow. We are the makers of our own fate. None else has the blame, none has the praise. The wind is blowing; and those vessels whose sails are unfurled catch it, and go forward on their way, but those which have their sails furled do not catch the wind. Is the fault of the wind?

I was once traveling in the Himalayas and the long road stretched before us. We poor monks cannot get anybody to carry us, so we had to make all the way on foot. There was an old man with us. He said, Oh, Sir, how to cross it; I cannot walk any more; my chest will break. I said to him, Look down at your feet. He did so, and I said, "The road that is under your feet is that you have passed and is the same road that you see before you; it will be soon under your feet. The highest things are under your feet, because you are Divine Stars"

The history of world is of six men of faith, six men of deep pure character. We need to have three things: the heart to feel, the brain to conceive, the hand to work. Make yourself a dynamo. Feel, first for the world. Ask yourself, does your mind react in hatred or jealousy? Good works are continually are being undone by the tons of hatred and anger which are being poured out on the world. If you are pure, if you are strong, you, one man, are equal to the whole world.

-Swami Vivekananda

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Review: The Imaginary Institution of India

One of the fine books on this topic and especially interesting in the analysis of Indian history. There is the very abstract and delicate reasoning throughout the book. The author has followed various historical strands of the composition of India as political idea with an emphasis on the period of colonialism and later. The development of modern Indian nation is looked from a intellectual position with as far objectivity possible when viewed back in time from the present.

The subject is discussed in implicit and sometimes explicit reference to stronger, well-established and well-defined nations. Notably, the conceptual boundary of nation is itself under dynamic change in these times of the global village.

A unique description of the events leading to 1857 uprising and the importance of Gandhi as a political phenomenon in the development of idea of India. The discussion on Gandhi and his original way to bridge the gap between literate and illiterate parts of the population is especially illuminating. The managing of contradictions to forge the Indian national concept by Gandhi is discussed in some detail.

The important feature of the this book is an extensive discussion of the effect of multiple languages and its effects on the India politics and nation-state throughout history. The author also discusses how the successive emergence of Sanskrit to Persian/Urdu and English through history has accompanied the change of stable governments over the Indian sub-continent.

Summarizing the review, this book comes across as a thought provoking and enlightening discussion to broaden our understanding of India. This is also relevant in these times of globalisation with the emergence of India on the world horizon following China as the other similar Asian nation in most dimensions but excluding the immense polyglot nature of Indian nation.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Freeing bad habits

Habits of thought are mental magnets that draw to you certain things, people, and conditions. Weaken a
bad habit by avoiding everything that occasioned it or stimulated it, without concentrating upon it in your
zeal to avoid it. Then divert your mind to some good habit and steadily cultivate it until it becomes a
dependable part of you.
(Paramahansa Yogananda, "The Law of Success")