“Religion unites, never divides”, this proverb creates varied connotations in the minds of human beings and is often neglected and took other ways. Since centuries, today and even ahead the eternal truth will remain the same i.e. the presence of Supreme power Almighty; even though referred through varied names. In this era a live epitome of unity in diversity was provided by a 12 year old girl, Mariyam Siddiqui, who won the Gita Champions League‘ contest among 45,00 students.
A Muslim young girl from Cosmopolitan High School, Mira Road, Mumbai inspires us to hold the same level of respect and inquisitiveness for all other cultures and religions. Not only the girl but her entire family supported her to win this contest and prepared her well for it. “I have always been inquisitive about religions and I often read up on them during my free time. So when my teacher told me about this contest I thought it would be a good chance to understand what the book is about. My parents too supported my idea of participating in the contest,” said Maryam. She even added that ‘Humanity is the biggest religion in the world’.
This is an event of achievement for our global humanity, where kids of today teach us the art of Universal Brotherhood. It’s all about gathering love from all religions and remember Humanity is much above religion and culture.
Have you ever imagined that a symbol can rage the anger of a specific community or individuals from a particular territory? Can a symbol be associated with the pride of one and the disgust of the other?
It’s a mystery in itself that how a simple symbol can be connoted differently by various individuals and divide the entire humanity into pieces. ‘Swatika’ is one such symbol that holds various beliefs for varied individuals.
True meaning of Swastika:
Literally, Swastika means ‘of good fortune’ – ‘Su‘ means ‘well’ and ‘asti‘ means ‘being’. It marks the beginning of peace, fortune and happiness in one’s life.
- Spreading its arms in four directions, the solar symbol defines the power of Sun or Lord Vishnu.
- The four armed wheel defines the altering nature of the Universe with a fixed and stable centre as God.
- It explains the four eras i.e. Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dwapara-yuga and Kali-yuga.
- It represents the four varnas i.e. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras.
- It defines the four basic aims of human pursuit – dharma (righteousness), artha (prosperity), kama (passion) and moksha (salvation).
- It describes the four Vedas – Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda, and Atharva-Veda and the four faces and four hands of Lord Brahma.
- It is also the emblem of Ganesha, the god of good luck.
- It represents the celestial change of the Sun to the tropic of Capricorn according to Hindu astronomy.
- It carries the spirit of enlightenment that defines the flow from humankind to a higher level of consciousness.
Negative connotation related with Swastika:
The above points highlight the positive side of the coin but we can never ignore the negative connotations and beliefs attached to this symbol. Till date the sentiments of the Jews are hurt and they associate the ‘Swastik’ with evil energies. As swastika was associated with ‘Aryan identity’, Adolf Hitler adopted the swastika as the emblem of ‘racial purity’ displayed on a red background. Even before that, during the post-World War I period, a number of far-right nationalist movements adopted the swastika.
In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote: “I myself, meanwhile, after innumerable attempts, had laid down a final form; a flag with a red background, a white disk, and a black swastika in the middle.” The devastating holocaust in Germany and the negative association with the Nazi party invokes the strong emotions of the Jews and has acquired a negative connotation in the West.
Significance for other cultures:
Not only for Hindus, but the symbol of swastika is also evident on the chest, palms, soles of Buddha and it symbolised the footsteps of Lord Buddha. For Jainism, it represents the four possible places of rebirth i.e. the animal or plant world, hell, earth, or the spirit world. In China and Japan, the swastika has been used to represent abundance, prosperity and long life. The Greek goddess Athena was sometimes portrayed as wearing robes covered with swastikas. For the early Christians, the symbol represented Christ, calling it a disguised cross.
Though the culture and experiences may vary the definition of Swastika, yet it is hoped that the true significance of this auspicious symbol is realized by the world, ignoring the historical past.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
Relationships are a precious gift that makes you feel special and loved in this world. The feeling of ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ is realized when the bonds of selfless love are nurtured and provides a reason to survive in this world. To cherish the connecting bond with our soul and the supreme Universe, become a part of the Indian traditional festivals. Here are few highlighting facts about Bhai-dooj.
- Bhai Dooj is referred by various names depending upon the states. Like Bhai Phota in Bengal, Bhai Tika in Nepal, Ningol Chakuba in Manipur, Yama Dwiteya in Orissa and Bhau beej in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa.
- Bhai means ‘brother’ and Dooj means ‘second day after new moon’; so it is celebrated two days after Deepawali during the Shukla Paksh of Kartik month.
- The pious festival involves the applying of vermillion on brother’s forehead by revering the beautiful bond between brothers and sisters.
- To cherish the eternal knot between siblings, they exchange gifts and feasts are organized among family members.
- On this day, Lord Yama visited Yami and she greeted her by applying a vermillion mark on his forehead and praying for his longevity and well-being.
- Subhadra welcomed Lord Krishna by applying tilak on his forehead, when he reached home after defeating devil Naraksura.
- King Nandivardhan (brother of Lord Mahavira) was soothed by his sister Sudarshana, when Lord Mahavira attained nirvana.
- This day is the cultural representation of Indian culture where men and women clad in the best ethnic and elegant attires.
- Fasts is observed by the sisters till they apply tilak on their brother’s forehead and later they enjoy the lavish treat together.
- The post Diwali celebration of the five day festival is completed on a happy note and glorifies the eternal love of siblings and families.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja