By Anup Behera, IACO Council Member
Born into a family where we already have a religion decided in the family. Came to the world where the parents have decided your name. On a lighter note, came to a neighborhood where the neighbors are already decided and joining the job where the boss is already decided.
When we think of all of these things as few examples, we realize that there is very little that we decide for ourselves, but all of these things have a huge role to play when it comes to our day-to-day affairs.
We may not decide many of these things but what we can always decide as to how we conduct ourselves given the circumstances. We can choose to be open minded, equanimous, level headed, friendly, mutually respectful, nature loving and more importantly demonstrate strong values.
Every human being has a combination of virtues and vices but we can choose to decide what qualities to imbibe so that all of this defines ourselves as a person and all of this becomes a way of life for us.
And that brings us to Hinduism which is not just a religion but a way of life. Sanatana Dharma (aka Hinduism) is about following the eternal spiritual path. In todays context , this path is more about having the clarity of thought and accomplishing your goals in life while still being faithful to the core values that define you as a respected individual, community and a nation.
We see the symbol of peace everywhere now a days. There is a lot going around in the world while I write this article which needs attention of international leaders. While we try to stabilize the world peace, it is important to recognize that peace within is equally important.
While we chase the worldly pleasures and surround ourselves with things that make us more comfortable and continue to make our future planning, it is extremely important to connect the individual spirit with the inner self. This connection is called ‘yoga’.
The four Yogas that help us to achieve inner peace are:
Karma Yoga or the discipline of right actions is for those of active temperament, striving to eliminate selfishness, and to cultivate universal sympathy by seeing the divine reality in all.
Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion to God whose presence can be felt in all things. God can be worshipped as present in an image in a Temple. God can be worshipped also as present in offering humanity by service.
Jnana Yoga, preferred by those of analytical bent of mind, is the discipline of trying to see the divine reality within all things directly, by mentally brushing aside all the obstructing physical and mental coverings that hide it.
Raja Yoga is the process of mental control, purity, and meditation to make the mind very calm and quiet. In that profound quiet, the inner divine light reveals itself.
Yoga helps us conduct in a framework of Dharma and Karma. While Dharma helps us to define our thinking and behavior, Karma is translating Dharma into actions.
Not only have our people moved from East to West, but our Hindu truths have found welcome homes in many corners of Western life. The civil rights movement, the health/vegetarian movement, the ecumenical movement, the "New Age" movement and the concern for the environment are all deeply affected by Hindu thinking. Subtle Hindu ideas find their way into mainstream world thought.
While to try to understand Hinduism more deeply which people have been practicing for thousands of years, we wouldn’t be doing justice if we didn’t talk about what all of this means to the youth today.
Freedom is what matters to them most. Freedom gives wings to imagination; freedom gives confidence and self-belief. The youth today believe in God and practice Hinduism in their own ways. They are more Karma oriented where their work is the way they contribute to the community. The ability to think beyond obvious and think differently, is what gives the world a window for future growth that the past generations may not have been able to visualize. It is to be respected in the same way that we respected our older traditions. The youth condone the political use of religion but uphold the values of the religion that makes world a better place. The youth want their actions to be guided by the morality that Hinduism has to offer rather than doing something as an outcome of fear of God. The youth believe in the constant process of learning and unlearning in a fast-changing world. It is about being able to adapt and being in the driving seat to bring about changes that will make all the difference. It is their belief that every religion is unique and to be respected without being compared to each other.
Hinduism remains vitally relevant in this era of space travel and global communications, and of worldliness and conflict on every continent. This vitality derives from its yoga, its teaching of all-pervasive Divinity, its health system of Ayurveda, its mystical architectural system of Vastu, its immense cultural gifts and so much more. It is relevant in providing the human race a profound self-understanding-illumined insights into life and consciousness, into human nature and our highest purposes.