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BOOK CORNER: DEVLOK with Devdutt Pattnaik–3

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

DEVLOK

With Devdutt Pattnaik—3

Based on the third season of the popular television show on EPIC Channel

    This book is based on the third session of the popular television show on EPIC channel. It is actually a question and answer session in which India’s favourite mythologist Devdutt Pattnaik answers questions. This book is the third episode published in 2018 by Penguin Ramdom House India.

    Generally we all feel we know a lot about our own religion. But after reading this book you’ll come to know how little you know about your own religion. For example did you know the answers to the following questions?

  • Names of Vishnu and Shiva’s father?
  • How many types of Ramayana are you aware of?
  • Where did the name of Radha come from?
  • Was Radha older than Krishna?
  • When did Christianity come to India?
  • What are Abrahamic traditions?
  • Did Jesus come to Kashmir?
  • Meaning of ‘Buddham Sharanam Gachhami?’

    The author not only covers Hinduism in this book. He also talks about, or rather takes questions on Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Jainism. There is no storyline in this book. But yes it does have many short stories and tales explaining various aspects of each religion.

    It is a collection of easy going conversations about Indian mythology based on eponymous television show. There is however the caveat that what is discussed here is not meant to be factually correct—you may therefore refer to your Guru for clarity or even the author.

    It is not an academic work and does not claim to be authoritative. Contained here are simplified versions of mythological tales, taken from various versions found in different scriptures and in folklore. The attempt is to retain the essence embedded in the tales, and to provoke readers to dig deeper into the philosophy.

    The book takes you through a great mix of Hindu rituals, relationship, parent and child relationship. It describes Lord Krishna and Radha in great detail. It tells us how Christianity came to India and about Buddhism and Jainism.

    A chapter explains about Dwarka, types of Ramayana, various types of marriages, Dravid civilization. It also describes Ravana , Khajuraho temples and yoga and also about Prophet, Jainism and Kingship.

    It also talks about rites of passage, defines Indian riti riwaz, talks about Indian tradition,  gives a good and scientific definition of certain old words of mythology. And in simple ways he has explained the customs of Hinduism … in a way connected the dots.

    The book also deals with Hindu customs, details various Ramayanas in various languages. One gets to feel, the book is a brief history of various religions. It has many lok-kathas. Connects North and South of India where it gives a wonderful comparision between Asurs and Rakshas.

    The book does make an impact on you by increasing your knowledge base. It is around a hundred and fifty pages, written in easy read format. The price is rupees two hundred and fifty.

    I would give the book seven out of ten.

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Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

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HELP DOESN’T HAVE A COLOUR OR A RELIGION.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

 

    Just as terrorism—Help, too, doesn’t have a religion. It can come from any corner. But unlike terrorism, that kills. Timely help sustains life. I had once gone to a hospital in Delhi. To meet parents of some poor young children who were suffering from cancer. The drill was to provide them with direct financial support, for treatment.

    In all we had met about ten children and their parents in the hospital. Our NGO decided to support three out of them. Based on, certain illness criticalities, doctor’s recommendation and the budget available with us. Out of the three. One child happened to be from Sopore in J&K. His name was Abdul. His father’s name was Fareed. Who, happened to be a small-time shopkeeper with a paltry livelihood. Abdul was suffering from cancer for the last one year. And, during that period Fareed had exhausted all his savings. Although, he had received timely aid from the government. But that too had been gradually spent. Slowly the resources were receding, while the treatment was still in full flow.

    When I met this bright child Abdul. I found him in an animated mood. As he was talking to his mother in Sopore over phone. He had come to Delhi for treatment without her. I spent some time understanding the challenges of Fareed. Then decided to give him the good news of our supporting his son’s treatment. Up to a certain level. But he didn’t sound enthused about it.

    First, I thought he hasn’t understood me. So, I repeated what I had told him earlier. This time I spoke in Hindi. But still his reaction was not at all cheerful. I then specifically enquired, if he had understood what I had said. To which he gave me this shocking reply. ‘Janab, I have understood what you’ve said. You want to pay for my son’s treatment. But yours is a Hindu NGO. So, how can I accept money from your Trust. That too for my son’s treatment? It might not cure him at all, and Allah won’t spare me.’

    For a moment I was shocked. I didn’t know how to react. Does religion lay down crude boundaries at such junctures? I thought dismally. But without being deterred. I opened my bag and wrote a cheque, and handed it over to him.

    He held the cheque and looked at it morosely. I patted his back a couple of times. When his eyes went moist. Perhaps, he was at a break point. Where, on one end, was the health of his son and the mounting expenses because of that, and on the other, were his own self created radical diktats. Which, he was trying to blame it upon his religion.

    I said, ‘Fareed Bhai this cheque is neither Hindu nor Muslim. It’s only a piece of paper from Upparwala, for your son. So utilize it.’ And then I moved out.

    After the episode. A couple of months had passed. But that cheque never came to our account for debit. It was only when the cheque was about to expire. I received a text message from the bank debiting it to our account.

    And upon reading the text message. I felt nice. Not because Hindu money had helped a Muslim. But, because Abdul had realized. That help has no religion or face. It is infinite and can come from any corner of the world. And it is absolutely divine to take help. But the source has to be right.

It is a true story. Names and location are fictitious.

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DHAKA AND NOW NICE DISPLAY A NEW PARADIGM IN TERROR STRIKES

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

 

Earlier Dhaka and now Nice where 84 French nationals were mowed down by a truck used as a weapon, driven by a lone wolf terrorist as they were celebrating the Bastille-day in Nice, calls for a deep introspection.

And off late one is really not sure of what one will get to see when you switch on the TV or get to read when you unfold the newspaper. Probably it will be about another terrorist attack.

After every terrorist attack we prominently see the head of the state issuing statements, denouncing the killings and cursing the terrorist organization responsible for the bloodshed and a reassurance of protecting the country from further attacks.

But this is not sufficient, because the paradigm is fast changing. In Dhaka attack most terrorists were from high families and in Nice it was a lone wolf. The trend shows terrorists are well educated and could be self radicalized. The Islamic State has been losing territory but gaining wider popular appeal, with its call for individuals around the world to carry out jihad. The barbaric interpretation of Islam used to justify such heinous acts thus needs to be quashed.

At times one wonders as to what is driving these terrorists to massacre. They call it a holy war, where they kill hapless and innocent people to please ‘Allah.’ Definitely this cruelty is no jihad. And there is need for the entire world community and especially the Muslim community to run a structured parallel digital campaign against what these Muslim terrorist groups a trying to preach the capable, young and fresh Muslim minds.

The problem cannot be handled by authorities of any country alone. The civil society needs to pitch in very strongly and much before it’s too late as a handful of terrorists are giving a bad name to the entire community.

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THE MUSLIM RANT OF DONALD TRUMP

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

 

    Donald Trump was being willfully scandalous. When he recently said that the U.S. should shut its doors on all Muslims, as his verbal assault. To the equally outrageous gunning down of civilians in California by a couple, owning allegiance to ISIS. Was it a campaign stunt to pacify the public mood, or just a stray ambient outburst one can’t say. But any which way Trump shot himself in the foot with this off the cuff remark. A person of Trump’s stature who happens to be a billionaire and an aspirant for the Republican nomination surely overlooked the demographic sketch of his own country. Whether by sheer ignorance or design he alone knows but by doing so he labeled Muslims in general as the derogatory stereotype.

    On the other hand ‘Uncle Sam’ poses itself as the big daddy of the world. Showing deep concern for everyone in the planet. Simultaneously, it even keeps track of the maze of weaponry better than anyone else in the world. It also preaches terrorism to be a curse, yet remains one of the largest suppliers of arms in the world.  With these analogies one can safely say. Donald Trump exactly knew what he wanted to say. It it was not just an, off the cuff remark. So, it may not be out of context to contend. He orated what the Republicans had in mind?

    If we for a moment run through the world’s demography. We will find, out of a total world population of 7.26 billion people; 2.40 billion (33.06%) are Christians; 1.70 billion (23.41%) are Muslims; 1.13 billion (15.56%) belong to the unaffiliated religions (The religiously unaffiliated include atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion); 1.08 billion (14.87%) are Hindus; 0.49 billion (6.75%) are Buddhists; 0.40 billion (5.50%) practice the Folk Religion (The precise definition of folk religion varies among scholars. Sometimes also termed popular belief, it consists of ethnic or regional religious customs under the umbrella of a religion, but outside of official doctrine and practices); 0.06 billion (0.83%) belong to the other religions and 0.01 billion (0.01%) are Jews.

    Islam therefore, is the second largest faith on earth with around 1.7 billion adherents, and not just a docile race that Trump’s U.S can think of doing without. But currently it is quite definitely under duress, going through some trying times because of Islamic fundamentalism, that is at its worst. As it perpetrates holocausts in the form of terrorism. Because of which, average Muslims are losing their sheen and are not apparently welcomed in some of the most developed and powerful countries and continents of the world such as the U.S., Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand to name a few, for no fault of theirs. But by ranting about Muslims Donald Trump has not only added salt to their wounds but has also hoodwinked the American public in general. For, you can shut your doors on Muslims only when its flooding, but not when its merely seeping.

    If we analyze most religions vis-à-vis countries and colonies. We will find there are: 161 countries where Christianity is in a majority; 49 where Muslims are in a majority; 7 countries where unaffiliated religions rule the roost; 3 countries where Hindus are in a majority; 7 where Buddhists are in a majority; 3 countries where folk religion is in a majority and 1 where the Jews are in a majority.

    The data above only tells us that the World Muslim Population by percentage (Pew Research Center, 2014), constitutes the world’s second largest religious group. And if we dig in a little more on the Muslim population across the world we will find.

Concentration of Muslim population

    66% of the world’s Muslims reside in Asia and the Middle East. They are 27% of the total population of Asia and Middle East with around 1.12 billion adherents, and thus the heart of Muslim civilization on earth. And it is notable they share space with over a billion Hindus in the same region. Balance 34% of the Muslim population is spread across other continents and countries such as Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Australia & New Zealand, Melanesia, Caribbean, Micronesia, Mexico & Central America and Polynesia.

    Africa is home to 26% of the world’s Muslim population and 43% of Africa’s population is Muslim. So not surprisingly, Asia, Middle East and Africa together notch up 92% of the world’s Muslim population. And only a paltry 8% is left for the powerful and affluent countries and continents to share. Out of that let us glance at Europe and America.

    Europe has a total of 2.56 % of the world’s Muslim population and 5.85% of Europe’s population is Muslim. If we take Australia and New Zealand, 0.03% of the world’s Muslim population lives there which is 2.2% of their population. South America is home to just around 6.7 lac Muslims which is around 0.04% of the world Muslim population and 0.17% of their own population.

But coming back specifically to Donald Trump; North America is home to only around 35.08 lac Muslims which is only 0.2% of the world’s Muslim population and only 1.02% of their total population. Coming to the U.S. in particular, it is home to only 0.16% of world’s Muslim population, which is only 0.9% of their own population. So the point is, whether Trump says it or not. The Muslim population unlike Asia, Middle East and Africa has traditionally been extremely low in the U.S. and whether it was restricted by design or was never a favourite habitat of the Muslims in particular is a different question altogether.

   A Breibart News review of the State Department and Homeland Security data reveals. United States, admits more than a quarter of a million Muslim migrants each year. To this President Obama intends to add another 10,000 Syrian migrants. In 2013 alone 1,17,423 migrants from Muslim majority countries were permanently  resettled, within the United States. Additionally in 2013 the US voluntarily admitted an extra 1,22,921 temporary migrants from Muslim countries, as foreign students and foreign workers as well as 39,932 refugees from other Muslim countries.

    Even though every year the U.S. admits a number of Muslim migrants. Larger in size than the entire population of Des Moines, Oowa, Lincoln, Nebraska or Dayton or Ohio. Yet it still remains a miniscule and therefore it is not flooding but seeping, where closing of doors doesn’t help.

    The lethal point therefore is that US cannot do without the best of brains whether they come from Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Unaffiliated, Buddhist, Folk Religion, Jews or any other religion; And Trump’s US will have to realize, that you can’t continue to be the big daddy of the world by closing doors on faiths just because of a few rotten apples.

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Article: A PEEP INTO UNAFFILIATED RELIGION

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

 

 

    Time has come for epiphany of ‘unaffiliated religion.’ A sizable population of the world today lives without aligning with any religion as you will read in this narration. The question is how? And how do they manage in this simmering world of religious intolerance. We all know religion is good for the essence of life. But what about religious intolerance and where does unaffiliated religion fit in. Well, no one has ready answers to these question, but one can definitely see the changing paradigms.

    Today, intolerance in every religion has increased manifold. There are fringe groups that have formed in almost every religion that shows intolerance towards other religions. But within all of this. There are still some spunky people. Who believe in the charisma of ‘unaffiliated religion.’ The population of ‘unaffiliated religion’ is around 16 % of the world population. The religiously unaffiliated number is 1.1 billion. Accounting for about one-in-six (16%) people worldwide. It includes atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion. However, many of the religiously unaffiliated. Do hold some religious or spiritual beliefs.

    Apart from unaffiliated religion. There is also irreligion. Which is the absence of religion or indifference towards religion or rejection of religion or even hostility towards religion. When termed as the rejection of religious belief. It engulfs explicit atheism, religious dissidence and secular humanism. And when characterized as hostility towards religion. It includes anti-clericalism, anti-religion and anti-theism.

    According to Pew Research Center’s 2012 global study of 230 countries. 16% of the world’s population is not affiliated to any particular religion, while 84% are affiliated. The interesting fact finding in Pew Research Center’s 2012 global study is: Out of the global non-religious population, 76% reside in Asia and the Pacific, while the remainder reside in Europe (12%), North America (5%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4%), Sub-Saharan Africa (2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (less than 1%).

    According to Pew Research Center projections. The population of the non-religious, though temporarily increasing, will ultimately decline significantly by 2050, because of lower reproductive rates and ageing.

    Being non-religious. Is not necessarily equivalent to being an atheist or agnostic. Pew Research Center’s global study from 2012 noted. That many of the non-religious actually have some religious beliefs. For example, they observed that “belief in God or a higher power is shared by 7% of Chinese unaffiliated adults, 30% of French unaffiliated adults and 68% of unaffiliated U.S. adults.”

    If we were to analyse it country and zone wise. The statistics (pertaining to unaffiliated religion) are even more interesting:

  • Out of a total unaffiliated religious population of around 1.1 billion. The ten most populous countries in respective order of population are China 700 million (52% of population), Japan 70 million (57%), USA 50 million (16%), Vietnam 26 million (30%), South Korea 22 million (46%), Germany 20 million (25%), France 18 million (28%), North Korea 17 million (71.3%), Brazil 15 million (7.9%), & U.K. 13 million (21%). This population totals up to 955 million which is 85% of the total population of unaffiliated religion.
  • If we were to take the first ten countries highest by respective order of percentage share of (Unaffiliated religion) population. They would be: Czech Republic 8 million (76%), North Korea 17 million (71%), Estonia (Baltic state) 0.8 million (60%), Japan 70 million (57%), Hongkong 0.4 million (56%), China 700 million (52%), South Korea 22 million (46%), Latvia (Baltic states) 1 million (44%), Netherlands 7 million (42%), Uruguay 1.4 million (41%). They comprise of 834 million which is 74% of their population.
  • There are six countries where the religiously unaffiliated make up a majority of their population: the Czech Republic (76%), North Korea (71%), Estonia (60%), Japan (57%), Hong Kong (56%) and China (52%).
  • The religiously unaffiliated are heavily concentrated in Asia and the Pacific. Where, more than three-quarters (76%) of the world’s unaffiliated population resides. The remainder is in Europe (12%), North America (5%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4%), sub-Saharan Africa (2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (less than 1%).
  • Although a majority of the religiously unaffiliated live in Asia and the Pacific. Only about one-in-five people (21%) in that region are unaffiliated. More than one-in-six people in Europe (18%) and North America (17%) are religiously unaffiliated. The unaffiliated make up smaller shares in the remaining regions. For instance, less than 1% of those who live in the Middle East-North Africa region are unaffiliated.
  • More than six-in-ten (62%) of all religiously unaffiliated people live in one country, China. The largest population of the religiously unaffiliated outside China are in Japan (6% of all unaffiliated), the United States (5%), Vietnam (2%) and Russia (2%).
  • The population of unaffiliated religion in India is only 0.87 million which is 0.07% of the entire population of the country.
  • There is a definite co-relation between the system of governance, ethos of live and religious fundamentalism and unaffiliated religion. For example take communist countries like China & North Korea where you will find the population of this community to be around 717 million which is about 64% of the entire population of unaffiliated religion. This is because of the regimentation of mindset that has forced people to stay non-aligned. If you take Islamic states, you will find the percentage of unaffiliated religion to be low because of religious fundamentalism.

    Median Age

    Globally, the religiously unaffiliated are older (median age of 34) than the overall global population (median age of 28). Among the five regions for which data are available, sub- Saharan Africa has the youngest population of religiously unaffiliated people (median age of 20), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (26), North America (31) and Asia and the Pacific (35). Europe has the oldest unaffiliated population, with a median age of 37.

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