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Source:  The Hindu
Thursday, 26 April 2018 16:03

Invoking poet Bharati, the play Sakhiye Rowdhiram Pazhagu urges us to channelise the rage against sexual violence by being alert and quick on our feet

India to grow 7.2% this fiscal, rising oil prices challenge: Deloitte
Source:  The Financial Express
Thursday, 26 April 2018 16:03

India's economic growth will accelerate to 7.2 per cent in the current fiscal buoyed by manufacturing activity even as rising oil prices and high government debt remain a challenge, Deloitte said today.

The 29 Commandments That Define The Bishnois – India’s First Environmentalists
Source:  Youth Ki Awaaz
Thursday, 26 April 2018 16:01

What’s In A Surname?

In most cultures, surnames are affixed to a given first name, typically in a patrilineal manner, to reflect a person’s geographical, occupational, caste and/or religious identity. Generally, people hold their surnames in great pride and esteem, often coming up in arms with one another when the prestige of their surname is perceivably challenged.

My surname, too, has a story behind its inception – a story that dates back over five centuries and one that can be described in pages on end. ‘Bishnoi’ is derived from two Hindi words, ‘bees’ (or twenty) and ‘nau’ (or nine) to reflect the 29 commandments or precepts that form the nucleus of our philosophy.

The Purpose Of This Article

I chose to write this article for two reasons.

Firstly, this article traces my personal journey with my philosophical and spiritual origins. The world is becoming increasingly homogenised, which has its merits and demerits, but I believe that one should be deeply aware of one’s roots to truly progress both spiritually and materially.

Secondly, I believe that the world ought to know more about a community that has been practising peaceful coexistence with nature for more than 500 years. Many of these principles are more relevant today than ever before.

The views expressed in this article are personal, and reflect my interpretation of the Bishnoi philosophy. In no measure do these views bind other people who subscribe to this belief system. In fact, these views are not stagnant, but are likely to evolve over time as I learn more about the Bishnoi philosophy as well as the world around me. The debate on whether or not faith should be a private matter is an enduring and unresolved one. My personal view is that faith should neither be a force of public coercion nor an instrument of personal convenience. Rather, faith should be a means to peace, harmony, and growth – both internal and external.

Bishnoi – Origin And Context

The Bishnoi philosophy was founded by Guru Jambheshwar (a contemporary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak) in the modern-day Barmer district of Rajasthan in the early 16th century. It is believed that he was born into a Rajput (warrior class) family in Pipasar village (now in Jodhpur district) in 1451 CE. He spent most of his youth as a cow-herder. Otherwise an introvert, Guru Jambheshwar would easily find ways to communicate with plants and animals. In his late 20s, he left home in search for answers to profound questions that troubled him.

The 15th century marked the start of the ‘Age of Discovery’, during which Europeans explored previously uncharted territories. This included Christopher Columbus’ trans-Atlantic voyages and the discovery of the Americas, as well as the Portuguese discoveries of the archipelagos of Madeira and Azores, the coast of Africa, and the discovery of the sea route along the Cape of Good Hope to India in 1498. Although these explorations led to a new worldview, knowledge-transfer, and led to distant civilisations coming into contact, they were also marked by enslavement, exploitation, military conquest, missionary activity, and economic dominance by Europe and its colonies over the native populations.

While the Portuguese invaded India through Kannur, Kerala, the Lodi dynasty had already established its stronghold in northern India, having succeeded the Sayyid dynasty in 1451. This was followed by Babur’s invasion of India in the early 16th century, marking the onset of more than three centuries of the Mughal empire in India. Invariably, religious conversions took place in India during this time, largely from Hinduism to Islam or Christianity. Economically, India flourished during the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526 AD), with vast social and economic networks spanning large parts of Afro-Eurasia, leading to the circulation of goods, services, technologies, people, and ideas. Both in terms of agricultural production of food and cash crops, and the manufacturing of textiles, shipbuilding, and steel, India was one of the world’s largest economies back then. However, economic prosperity came at the cost of resource-exploitation and environmental degradation, as India’s vast biodiversity was threatened for personal gains. For instance, there was a 10-year drought in Rajasthan in the late 15th century that caused significant destruction of land, and animal and human life.

In light of these imperial conquests, religious conversions, and economic excesses, Guru Jambheshwar set out to seek answers. At the age of 34, as Guru Jambheshwar sat on the sand dunes of Samrathal in the Thar desert of Rajasthan, he attained enlightenment. He produced 120 verses or Shabad in a Shabadvani, and laid down 29 founding principles. For the next 50 years or so, Guru Jambheshwar is said to have travelled not only the vast expanse of modern-day India, but also to other countries such as Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. People who embraced Guru Jambheshwar’s wisdom took on the surname ‘Bishnoi’.

‘Bishnoi’ is neither a caste nor an organised religion; it is a philosophy that emphasises the protection of plant and animal life, and encourages its adherents to chart out their own spiritual journey. In fact, Guru Jambheshwar denounced the caste system as a means of social stratification as it proved to be a dividing rather than unifying force. People from various castes gave up their previous surnames and caste identities once they subscribed to the Bishnoi philosophy. ‘Bishnoi’ is not an organised religion either.

Today, there are approximately a million Bishnois, living mostly in the rural parts of northern India. There have been no missionaries to aggressively induct more people into the community; anyone who is inspired by the Bishnoi doctrine voluntarily takes on the surname through a simple initiation. Hundreds of years before ‘environmentalism’ and ‘climate change’ entered public discourse, a small community in Rajasthan had already begun eulogising our divine connect with nature.

The 29 Commandments

Guru Jambheshwar’s path for a desirable way of life has been preserved and passed on from one generation to the next for more than five hundred years. Often, however, as with most other philosophical or spiritual schools, people give precedence to the implementation or ritualisation of an idea or philosophy over the logic, principle or rationale behind it. In my opinion, it is more important to embrace the ideological bases of a belief system than to blindly follow ceremonial practices, because manifestations of spiritual or philosophical thought evolve over time whereas their rationale stands the test of time.

In this section, I have grouped the 29 commandments in the Bishnoi philosophy under four themes – personal health and hygiene, spirituality and faith, ethical conduct, and environmentalism. Although some principles overlap across themes, this grouping has been used for clarity and brevity. The two ideas that bind all 29 commandments are faith in God and peaceful coexistence with all living beings.

Personal Health And Hygiene

1. तीस दिन सूतक (ensure 30-day quarantine for a mother and her new-born)
2. पांच ऋतुवन्ती न्यारो (rest for 5 days during menstruation)
3. सेरो करो स्नान (shower in the morning daily)
8. जल व दूध छानकर पियो (consume filtered water and milk)
9. ईंधन का बीनकर उपयोग करो (use clean fuel)
21. करै रसोई हाथ सूं (partake of pure, clean food)

The Bishnoi philosophy places significant importance on maintaining external and internal purity. Externally, keeping our bodies clean helps prevent illnesses, infections, and bad odours. Internally, eliminating impurities of the mind allows us to be free from ignorance and see and seek the whole and unprejudiced truth. External and internal purity together empower us to perform our duties and responsibilities towards us and others in effective and meaningful ways.

Today, we have greater control over internal purity through meditation, introspection, perseverance, and self-discipline. However, external conditions such as environmental pollution, that contaminate the air we breathe, food we eat, and the water we drink inhibit our ability to preserve our physical health and hygiene. In this context, the Bishnoi philosophy calls upon its followers to take conscious measures to maintain personal health and hygiene, including bathing daily before offering morning prayers, and consuming clean food, water, and fuel. In the modern day, while it is encouraging to observe the growing value of organic farming and sustainable living, it is equally disturbing that millions of children are dying of preventable water- and air-borne diseases globally.

The health and well-being of the mother and her new-born child is also discussed in the Bishnoi philosophy – in that it is imperative to keep them away from potential diseases, especially during the initial vulnerable days of child birth. There is a scientific explanation for this. Not only are newborns and their immune systems especially susceptible to germs, the incidence of illness also takes a much higher toll on their bodies. Other factors such as exposure to sun, air quality, and temperature control need to also be considered for the baby. The mother, too, needs adequate rest time to rebalance her hormones and return to normal bodily functions. Whether or not quarantine is observed for 30 days (given differences in technology and maternal leave practices across cultures), sound health and hygiene for a mother and her child need to be safeguarded.

The Bishnoi philosophy also encourages rest for women during menstruation. Ayurveda also supports this idea in that as the body is cleansed during a woman’s period, the body is required to balance the three biological energies or doshas found in the body – Vata (Air), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Water). Exertion can lead to imbalances in these energies and adversely affect a woman’s reproductive health. Although it may not be practical for women to rest for five days every month, and some modern day health professionals may suggest certain physical exercises during menstruation (due to the release of endorphins in the body), both women and men must be conscious of the fact that women may need extra care and attention during her periods.

Spirituality And Faith

5. द्विकाल सन्ध्या करो (meditate at dawn and dusk)
6. सांझ आरती गुण गावो (thank God as night falls)
7. प्रातःकाल हवन करो (offer prayers to the Holy Fire)
16. अमावस्या व्रत राखणों (fast or abstain from eating food during Amavasya)
17. भजन विष्णु बतायो जोय (recite the name of Almighty Vishnu daily)

The Bishnoi philosophy puts faith in God at its core. It is believed that Guru Jambheshwar was influenced by Saint Kabir’s iconoclasm, that is, he rejected the centrality of rituals among both Hindus and Muslims. Although Bishnois identify as a Hindu sect, their teachings and practices incorporate elements of other religious traditions. For instance, Bishnois do not practice idol worship – in no Bishnoi temple will you find an idol of any incarnation of God. In fact, Bishnois pray to a Holy Fire, akin to the Zoroastrian concept of Atar. Furthermore, contrary to the conventional Hindu practice, Bishnois bury their dead, as do Abrahamic religious traditions, as an act of reverence toward the deceased.

Bishnois are monotheistic in their faith. Guru Jambheshwar professes that there is only one Divine Power, which is an abstract principle of truth and connects all living beings. Different religious traditions refer to the Divine with a myriad of names. Since the Bishnoi philosophy emerged in a largely Hindu society, Bishnois refer to God as Vishnu, and pray as a means to feel God’s presence, be grateful, and access the realm of limitless consciousness.

Today, several cultures continue to venerate Guru Jambheshwar. For instance, Muslims in the Malerkota town of Punjab continue to uphold the precepts of the Bishnoi philosophy. Kings who were influenced by Jambhoji included Sikandar Lodi of Delhi, Mohammed Khan Nagauri of Nagaur, Rao Santal of Jodhpur, Rao Bikaji of Bikaner, Rawal Jait Singh of Jaisalmer, Rao Doodaji of Merta, and Raṇa Sanga of Mewar.

In line with conventional Hindu wisdom, Bishnois fast or abstain from eating food during amavasya (or no moon) every month. It is believed that the absence of moon in the sky has a profound effect on the human body – and therefore, fasting during this time normalises the acid content in the blood, and offers other physiological and spiritual benefits.

Guru Jambheshwar asks his followers to not only thank God for the gift of life but also to meditate daily. He says that it is best to meditate during sandhya (in Sanskrit, ‘san’ means ‘good’, and ‘dhya’ means ‘to meditate’) or dawn and dusk, because these occur at the confluence of day and night, and at the height of human consciousness and nature. To my limited understanding, being a person of faith is also being someone who accepts and seeks to connect with a Divine Energy. Spirituality, for me, is a personal search for balance between the mind, body and soul. In the Bishnoi philosophy, both are equally important.

Ethical Conduct

4. शील, संतोष, शुचि प्यारो (practise modesty, contentment, and virtue)
10. क्षमा सहनशीलता रखो (be forgiving in nature)
11. दया-नम्र भाव से रहो (be empathetic in nature)
12. चोरी नहीं करो (do not steal)
13. निंदा नहीं करो (do not condemn)
14. सच बोलो (speak the truth)
15. व्यर्थ का वाद-विवाद नहीं करो (do not indulge in fruitless argument)
20. अजर को जरो (overcome the sins of ego, lust, rage, greed, & attachment)
24. अमल नहीं खाओ (do not use opium or its products)
25. तम्बाकू नहीं खाओ (do not consume tobacco or its products)
26. भांग नहीं पियो (do not partake of cannabis or its products)
27. मद्यपान नहीं करो (do not drink alcohol)

The Bishnoi doctrine lays down certain ethical codes that are largely universal across belief systems. These include being modest, content, virtuous, forgiving, empathetic, honest, and so on. It also asks its adherents to overcome the five sins of ego, lust, rage, greed, and attachment – all of which give illusory temporary satisfaction and deviate from the path of God.

Guru Jambheshwar was particularly troubled by the struggles over political power between Hindus and Muslims, and sought ways not only to reconcile them but also to put before them notions of a heightened moral sensibility. Jambhoji also urged his disciples to abstain from consuming substances that are physically harmful and hinder control over one’s senses.

Environmentalism

18. जीव दया पालणी (be compassionate toward all living beings)
19. हरे वृक्ष नहीं काटो (do not fell trees)
22. अमर रखावै थाट (provide shelter to goat and sheep)
23. बैल बधिया न करवौ (refrain from castrating bulls)
28. मांस नहीं खाना (do not eat meat)
29. नीले वस्त्र नहीं धारण करना (avoid wearing blue clothes)

Bishnois have a strong sense of kinship with animal and plant life. They protect flora and fauna with fervent zeal, and have often sacrificed their lives for the protection of biodiversity. The ‘Chipko movement’ of September 1730 is known to many, in which 363 women, children, and men – led by Amrita Devi – were hacked to death by the soldiers of Maharaja Abhay Singh of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, who ordered the Khejiri trees in the region to be felled to build his new palace. Amrita Devi embraced a tree and said “sir santhe rooke rahe to bhi sasto jaan”, which means, “if a tree is saved from felling at the cost of one’s head, it should be considered a good deed.” She was decapitated in front of her two daughters who stoically followed her example, clinging to the trees and meeting the same end. People flocked from the village and hundreds died before the king stopped his men and ordered a decree forever protecting Bishnoi land from the activities of hunting and deforestation.

Other examples of Bishnois who have laid down their lives against the felling of trees and the poaching of endangered gazelles, blackbucks, and chinkaras, include Karma, Gora, Khivani, Motaji, Netu, and Buchoji, who died in the 17th century (against the cutting of trees); Chunaram (1939) in Jodhpur district, Chimnaram, Pratapram, Dhonkalram (1947) in Barmer and Nagaur districts (who sacrificed their lives to protect gazelles from poachers); Nihalchand (1996) and Chhailluram Singh Rajput (2004) (who died trying to save blackbucks) – to name just a few.

Bishnois are vegetarians, because they believe that all living beings have an equal right to life. In fact, Bishnoi temples serve as rescue shelters for injured animals, and no wood is burnt for fuel or prayer unless it is free of all insects. The Bishnoi philosophy strongly condemns animal sacrifice; instead, the self is often sacrificed for the protection of animals and plants. The number of blackbucks and chinkaras in Bishnoi villages is more than those in all sanctuaries in India put together.

Most Bishnois live in rural areas, are illiterate, and unfamiliar with terms such as ‘global warming’, ‘climate change’, and ‘biodiversity’, but they have been protecting the environment for more than five centuries. The 29th commandment against wearing the colour blue was informed by the use of blue dye that was extracted from the indigo plant, which was already scarce at the time.

It is neither necessary nor sufficient to be a Bishnoi to be a good human being, but following the 29 commandments of the Bishnoi philosophy is likely to lead to a desirable life. Needless to say, I am proud to be a son of a Bishnoi.

The post The 29 Commandments That Define The Bishnois – India’s First Environmentalists appeared first and originally on Youth Ki Awaaz and is a copyright of the same. Please do not republish.


MCX-Lead is stuck in a sideways range
Source:  BusinessLine
Thursday, 26 April 2018 16:01

The Lead futures contract on the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) has failed to breach the 200-day moving average resistance in the past week as expect

Priyanka Chopra to attend Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding
Source:  State Times
Thursday, 26 April 2018 16:01

Los Angeles: Priyanka Chopra has confirmed that she will attend Prince Harry and good friend Meghan Markle’s wedding on May 19. Even though the royal ceremony is less than a month away, the 35-year-old Bollywood star is yet to decide which dress she will wear, reported Us Weekly. “I sort of may have an idea. […]

BJP’s Hiremath joins Congress ahead of K’taka polls
Source:  The Siasat Daily
Thursday, 26 April 2018 16:00

BJP’s Hiremath joins Congress ahead of K’taka polls

Gulbarga : Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Chandrashekhar Hiremath has joined Congress days ahead of the upcoming Karnataka assembly elections.

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge welcomed the leader on Wednesday.

Karnataka will go to polls on May 12 to elect its representatives for the 224-member assembly.

The results will be declared on May 15. (ANI)

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Congress has no moral authority to question judiciary: Ravi Shankar Prasad
Source:  The Siasat Daily
Thursday, 26 April 2018 16:00

Congress has no moral authority to question judiciary: Ravi Shankar Prasad

New Delhi: A day after Centre approved senior advocate Indu Malhotra’s elevation as a Supreme Court judge, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad lashed out at the Congress.

“Congress Party has no moral authority or stand to ask questions about dignity of the judiciary from us. The whole record of Congress party is littered with repeated instances as to how the judiciary of India was supposed to be compromised,” Prasad told ANI.

Malhotra will be the first woman Supreme Court judge to be appointed to the top post directly from the bar.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) said the government has meddled with the functioning of the judiciary by appointing senior advocate Indu Malhotra as a Supreme Court judge.

However, the lawyers’ body said Malhotra will prove to be a great judge.

“Indu Malhotra is a fine lawyer and she will prove to be a great judge. I have a huge reservation at the attitude of the government, there is no way by which they should not have cleared Justice KM Joseph’s name,” SCBA chief advocate Vikas Singh told ANI.

Singh also said the matter should be taken up with the government.

“By making one appointment and not making another, the government has interfered in the functioning of the judiciary. This is a very serious matter and should be taken up with the government very strongly,” he added.

The government has decided to put on hold the elevation of Justice KM Joseph, who heads the Uttarakhand High Court.

ANI

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Pradhan says govt keeping a watch on high auto fuel prices
Source:  BusinessLine
Thursday, 26 April 2018 16:00

Expects GST Council to bring auto fuel under GST regime

Bhaker, Mitharval finish 4th after shooting qualification world record
Source:  State Times
Thursday, 26 April 2018 16:00

Changwon (South Korea): The Indian duo of Manu Bhaker and Om Prakash Mitharwal missed out on a medal and finished fourth in the 10m mixed team air pistol event after shooting a qualification world record in the ongoing ISSF World Cup here today. This was India’s fourth fourth-place finish in the World Cup stage 2. […]

Before Avengers: Infinity War’s Thanos, a look at MCU movies’ best villains from Killmonger to Loki
Source:  Firstpost
Thursday, 26 April 2018 16:00

A look at Marvel Cinematic Universe's greatest villains — ones who have kept our superheroes busy over the last decade or so.

The post Before Avengers: Infinity War’s Thanos, a look at MCU movies’ best villains from Killmonger to Loki appeared first on Firstpost.


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