Obama’s parting speech to India

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This topic contains 35 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  D. Harish Kumar 3 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #779

    Patricia Heidt
    Participant

    As Obama left India, his last speech referred to freedom of religion (see links below) Thea’s comments are below – she asked us to take up this speech and its ramifications as our first topic in Aeon Forum. This is an invitation to join the Forum and start the discussion.


    Obama seems to be catering to his Christian Right lobby. It was very unnecessary with India as host and Obama as guest, and impolite for him to make such a speech (27 Jan) and immediately run off. (He was scheduled for a Q&A after his speech, but shook hands with attendees instead)

    1. It was improper for an American President to preach about religious harmony in India
    2. America’s track record in this regard has been dismal
    3. Since the Christian Right lobby obviously has power over US gov’t agenda, can it be claimed that Church and State are separate in America?

    The fact has to be stated that they were able to block a visa to be given by the State Dept to a CM of an Indian state for 10 years. This reflects direct interference of religion into state affairs.


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  • #848

    Arinaya
    Keymaster

    These are the relevant portions of Obama’s speech:

    Our nations are strongest when we see that we are all God’s children – all equal in His eyes and worthy of His love. Across our two great countries we have Hindus and Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, and Jews and Buddhists and Jains and so many faiths. And we remember the wisdom of Gandhiji, who said, “for me, the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree.” (Applause.) Branches of the same majestic tree.

    Our freedom of religion is written into our founding documents. It’s part of America’s very first amendment. Your Article 25 says that all people are “equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.” In both our countries – in all countries – upholding this fundamental freedom is the responsibility of government, but it’s also the responsibility of every person.

    In our lives, Michelle and I have been strengthened by our Christian faith. But there have been times where my faith has been questioned – by people who don’t know me – or they’ve said that I adhere to a different religion, as if that were somehow a bad thing. Around the world, we’ve seen intolerance and violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to be standing up for their faith, but, in fact, are betraying it. No society is immune from the darkest impulses of man. And too often religion has been used to tap into those darker impulses as opposed to the light of God. Three years ago in our state of Wisconsin, back in the United States, a man went to a Sikh temple and, in a terrible act of violence, killed six innocent people – Americans and Indians. And in that moment of shared grief, our two countries reaffirmed a basic truth, as we must again today – that every person has the right to practice their faith how they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination. (Applause.)

    The peace we seek in the world begins in human hearts. And it finds its glorious expression when we look beyond any differences in religion or tribe, and rejoice in the beauty of every soul. And nowhere is that more important than India. Nowhere is it going to be more necessary for that foundational value to be upheld. India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith – so long as it’s not splintered along any lines – and is unified as one nation.

  • #849

    Barbara White
    Participant

    For me, one of the most important aspects of the discussion that Obama’s speech has engendered is that it is bringing out the question of government and religion. Here in India although the Constitution separates religion from government thus establishing a secular state, in fact the Indian government controls a large number of Hindu temples (not to mention Auroville). With Obama’s second speech at the National Prayer Day meeting in DC, more criticisms have emerged, mostly from the US Christian constituency who are dismayed by his reference to past episodes of Christian barbarism. History reveals something, but what about now? I will post more later. Barbara

  • #850

    Jeanette Caurant
    Participant

    Quote -’Your Article 25 says that all people are “equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.” This statement to “propagate religion” written into the Indian Constitution surprised me given the history of missionary work in India and the invasions.

    As far as I know Hindus and Jews are the only groups who do not actively proselytize; I don’t know about Eastern Orthodox religions. It seems strange that this would have been written into law since it is Christianity and Islam which actively do the proselytizing, not Hindus who were the majority at the time of Independence.

    This mindset of missionary activity being a good thing is part and parcel of these religious beliefs and it doesn’t seem as though this is ever questioned. In light of all the missionaries who are captured, tortured and used for ransom, does anyone question what might be behind this.

  • #851

    Patricia Heidt
    Participant

    We had lunch with Thea yesterday – she is in the midst of writing an article on the India-America connection and right now can’t post a reply… she wants to teach the nation about the cosmological connection between the two countries and their destiny together. It is very necessary that both countries understand this destiny connection and explaining this is part of Durga’s war strategy.

    She also made some interesting comments about the Rishis, the immortal ones, who she feels are very close to us now … the extraordinary insight they had, the imprinting their vision gave to the world, that through all these ages, the continuous upheavals of India, through it all, India remains deeply committed to the freedom of the Individual Divine, to the soul of the Earth.

  • #852

    Jan Shapiro
    Participant

    Am struck by Jeanette’s comment re: The Indian Constitution’ use of the phrase ‘freedom to . . . propagate’ (in reference to religion). Propagation of an ideology is inherently an imposition from WITHOUT, as opposed to an unveiling/recognition from within, from that which resides eternally in the Core/Soul.

    India IS that Core/Soul for the Earth. She is the Point. The United States, representing the Material side of the Axis, is the circumscribing Circle. It epitomizes glorification of the multitudinous forms thrown up by the One, recognizing neither the Truth behind them all, nor their distortion as they ‘descend’ in Matter. The US president cannot but see FROM that periphery. His ‘seeing and understanding’ are from THAT limited poise. How could we expect anything other from him? His Christian God tells him that LOVE is the answer.

    I do not think the Christian Right sets the US agenda in all matters. I do not deny its influence, and acknowledge their role in denying Modi is Visa 10 years ago. That was prior to Obama’s term. Obama’s stance on immigration and the Affordable Care Act garnered no accolades of praise from the Christian Right. Nor did his comments about Christianity’s ‘sins’ of the past (and present – though he doesn’t see those!) at the Prayer Breakfast. I say this not as a champion of Obama (I am not), just as a statement of what I understand.

    Religions tensions in the US, as far as they exist, are much more veiled than in India. Perhaps in keeping with the US’s Cancerian nature? Regardless, except for isolated instances of attacks on synagogues, or, post 9/11, on Mosques, the ‘riots on the streets’ HERE have been RACE related – not based on religion.

  • #853

    Lori Tompkins
    Moderator

    From The New York Times: ‘Obama, Trying to Add Context to Speech, Faces Backlash Over ‘Crusades’’ By MICHAEL D. SHEARFEB. 6, 2015

    In Mr. Obama’s remarks at the breakfast, he also managed to anger people in India, just days after being hosted by the country’s leaders during a three-day trip to New Delhi. In the speech, Mr. Obama called India “an incredible, beautiful country,” but he added that it is “a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji.”

    Indian news channels ran Mr. Obama’s remarks as top news for most of the day Friday, prompting senior ministers to issue public remarks in response. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley responded by saying that India “has a huge cultural history of tolerance. Any aberration doesn’t alter the history.”

    In light of the rampant fear mongering and defamation of Modi propagated by his opponents based largely on his Hindu orientation (including the Muslim and Christian contingency of the United States of America and the Christian-friendly Congress Party of India led by Sonia Gandhi – a Catholic Christian), more backlash against Obama’s comments in his 27 January 2015 Address to India and his 5 February 2015 Prayer Breakfast speech seems warranted. The book Modi, Muslims and Media presents the Congress Party’s and the media’s bent (Indian and Western alike) towards destroying Modi’s reputation to prevent him from being leader of his country due to his religious orientation, which happens to be shared by 81% of the Indian population.

    The ban of Modi’s visa may have been initially executed in 2005 by Clinton, but it seems Modi reapplied in 2013 and Obama upheld the ban (see narendramodifacts.com). His opposition seemed hell-bent of conveying the message that because Modi was devoutly Hindu, that he would destroy democracy in India. (See: The Nation).

    I don’t know if most people have found their way to acknowledging that Modi’s visa ban and forces at play to ensured it (well past Modi being cleared of any wrong doing) was motivated by religious fear and intolerance and the attempt to mitigate the force of the Hindu samaj in India. Perhaps in India this is better understood.

    The law that was enacted to ban Modi from the US was established in 1998 by the ‘International Religious Freedom Act of 1998′. This act created the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which is said to be ‘rooted in the U.S. Evangelical movement and its original intention was to protect Christians around the world’. [1] According to USCIRF: “this provision has been invoked only once: in March 2005, it was used to exclude the chief minister Narendra Modi of Gujarat state in India due to his complicity in riots in his state in 2002 that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,100 to 2,000 Muslims.” (See Deccan Herald). A sobering article for readers to also consider is ‘Religious Crusade of the CIA’ which gives some indication of how, historically the US Government has interfered in India’s affairs, especially concerning religious affairs.

    Such exposes should help people see through the rhetoric of ‘religious freedom’ that has been noticeably on the tip of Obama’s tongue during and after his visit to India. To some people this push towards religious freedom might seem perfectly harmless and actually necessary in our day and age. This would be true if the expression was genuine, and not twisted by ulterior motives to strike at and weaken the heart of the Sanatana Dharma of India. Thankfully, these strikes seemed doomed to backfire, according to Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Thea’s vision of India’s role in the new age and new order.

    How to help people understand the non-religious nature of the Sanatana Dharma? It seems impossible due to how intertwined it is with a religion (Hinduism). So much energy is wasted on defending and ‘propagating’ faiths. I’ve been marveling lately, even on a personal level … how much energy is wasted by the dualistic mental consciousness. Its actually exciting to imagine what will be our future when we really MOVE ON, MOVE FORWARD past all our fragmented perspectives that hold us back … moving on to that 3rd thing, that poise in the Centre/Soul.


    [1]Wiki, citation: Cozad, Laurie (2005). “The United States’ Imposition of Religious Freedom: The International Religious Freedom Act and India”. India Review 4 (1): 59–83 see Suhag A. Shukla’s commentary on this issue

  • #854

    Patricia Heidt
    Participant

    Lori, people here are outraged at Obama’s comments…the opinions expressed in Sunday’s New Indian Express all took offense – they see the USA as an adolescent trying to find its self/ its way… that is a quote… whereas India of the Ages knows exactly who she is and where she is going. As Thea says, it is show down time… and she is seizing the moment to lift the discussion/the polarity to a higher more insightful place. The USA and India are cosmologically connected from all time… Unless India can understand this, they are likely to turn from this deeper tie – turn to the past, instead of moving forward with their new partner… toward the new 3rd thing as you say.

  • #860

    Lori Tompkins
    Moderator

    Yes thanks for all the reading material sent over the past weeks on this topic/issue. I’m glad to have a fuller and fuller picture of this terrain. Patricia’s link Obama’s Religious Shot a Sinister Plan is quite an eye-opener regarding the lengths the oppositional forces will go in order to try to “defame the majority community and create social divide” in India.

  • #855

    Patricia Heidt
    Participant

    continued:

    The people I am referring to my earlier email are columnists we follow here in South India, in the NIE, – you can find their articulate and insightful response to Obama’s speeches in the 8 February edition under Columns – well worth the read:
    Ravi Shankar, Strike the Right Balance
    Rakesh Sinha, Obama’s Religious Shot a Sinister Plan
    TS George, As AAP and Obama and China and Pakistan pull at him, can Modi Seize the Opportunity of the Century?
    Prabu Chawla, Opinionated Obama Must Realise he’s dealing with PM who is as Responsive a Ruthless

  • #856

    Barbara White
    Participant

    Folks, The New York Times expresses its view on Obama’s remarks on religious intolerence in India. See: Modi’s Dangerous Silence, NYT or NYT Editorial Slams Modi, The Hindu. Obama’s remarks have engendered a heated discussion on both sides of the ocean. Perhaps he has done us a favor by raising the subject of religion. Thea has said that religion (spirituality) lies at the core of world problems today. Just consider the problem here in India where the sacred calendar conflicts with the natural calendar by 23 days! She has written extensively about this problem and the difficulty in getting the country into harmony with the Earth’s movements.

    Here is an article Why Narendra Modi was Banned from the U.S: blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2014/15′ . A salient quote: ‘But Mr. Modi had also become an intensely polarizing figure among Indian-Americans. Other Indian-American groups, including the Indian American Muslim Council, learned of Modi’s planned visit and began lobbying the State Department, Congress and the sponsors of his speaking engagements to prevent him from appearing.’

    And this on the scientists perplexity concerning ‘time’:http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb06/the singular-universe-and-reality-of-time. Here is a pertinent passage: Unger and Smolin want to overturn the picture of cosmology with which many of us are broadly familiar through a hundred different popular accounts. In that version, the universe – and therefore time as part of the space-time continuum – came into being following a big bang 13.8bn years ago. At first the universe was inconceivably tiny but then approximately 10 to the power of minus 37 seconds into the expansion, something called cosmic inflation led to exponential growth and the seeds of what we observe today. Oh and, the theory suggests, ours is just one of an infinite number of universes in the multiverse. Unger and Smolin say that parts of this model are essentially preposterous. There is, they argue, just one universe. Time is real and the laws of nature are not timeless but evolve. Mathematics is not a description of some separate timeless, Platonic reality, but is a description of the properties of one universe.

    Let’s hear from you all, Barbara

  • #857

    Jan Shapiro
    Participant
    india-capricorn-gunas

    From Lori: How to help people understand the non-religious nature of the Sanatana Dharma? It seems impossible due to how intertwined it is with a religion (Hinduism).

    Lori- such an important point. And my understanding is that in truth, Hinduism is NOT a religion. It IS the self-renewing, continually evolving way of BEING and SEEING we refer to as Sanatana Dharma. But you are correct that it has been labeled as a religion.

    Also, thanks for going more into the history of the Visa denial. I had researched the original denial and saw the earlier info but did not realize the Visa was again denied in 2013.

    I agree that links to articles is extremely helpful (and saves time).

  • #858

    Jeanette Caurant
    Participant

    This is a link to the Indian Express article that Patricia referenced. It is helpful to understand what an impact Obama’s remarks had –http://www.newindianexpress.com/prabhu_chawla/columns/Opinionated-Obama-Must-Realise-Hes-Dealing-with-a-PM-Whos-as-Responsive-as-Ruthless/2015/02/08/article2657540.ece

  • #859

    Jeanette Caurant
    Participant

    Thank you all for the references you have been giving in the Indian press, it is helpful for me on this side of the pond to get a better understanding of all that is going on and the political machinations.

  • #861

    Robert Wilkinson
    Participant

    As far back as 2009 Thea foresaw the possible shortcomings of an Obama presidency. She wrote that, ‘Obama “occupies a space”, the world turns to him to solve certain issues which his inner fibre does not allow him to solve.’ This has proven to be true over and over again on many levels including foreign policy and the global economy but his most recent comments accusing India of ‘religious intolerance’ shows beyond any doubt his easy willingness to capitulate to the Christian lobby and their global agenda. Following his critical comments at White House prayer breakfast Obama was warmly congratulated by the USCIRF, a quasi governmental agency pretending to be ecumenical and multicultural but with an obvious Christian bias, focusing on the persecution of Christians to the exclusion of other religions. It was the USCIRF who recommended that Narendra Modi be kept out of the United States for facilitating a 2002 pogrom as the head of the Indian state of Gujarat that killed thousands of people. Following the now infamous prayer breakfast, Katrina Lantos Swett, Chairwoman of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said that “President Obama’s timely comments underscore the importance of India getting religious freedom right.”

    It would be grossly unfair to single out President Obama as the only pawn of the Christian lobby. Their political influence goes back for decades when the Republican party began to urge conservative Christians to involve themselves in the political process. It was not long before the Christian Right overwhelmed both political parties becoming one of the most powerful forces in American politics ending any pretense of a separation between Church and State. We can only begin to appreciate the magnitude of these extra-constitutional events in the light of Thea’s comments in 2007.

    ‘There is an immensely important process playing itself out at this vital crossroads of history. What the world is experiencing has little to do with the obvious such as a struggle for energy control, military dominance to further a certain economic system and the lifestyle it encourages; or even neo-colonialism of sorts. It is true that what is transpiring is a clash of civilisations; but we must be more explicit and describe it as it is, and particularly as it is surfacing today with an ever greater clarity. The clash is between the two Orthodox Religions both of which arose in the Age of Pisces (234 BCE – 1926 CE)… ‘The plan of the Time-Spirit for this current Age of Aquarius is quite different than appears on the surface. In its initial stages the focus is on what might be called a “cleansing of the slate”. The dominance of either one of the religions of the Piscean Age is not the goal. What we are seeing today – and indeed what lies at the basis of the Iraqi conflict – is to hasten and aggravate the internal conflicts between the sects on both sides of the spectrum. But the time will soon come when the majority force of Islam will rear its head and turn on its “saviour” Iran. These two forces will destroy whatever pretence either of them has for world domination. This will happen not because one is good and the other bad, one the true faith and the other the false, but simply because the Time-Spirit has moved on. The new world it fosters, and whose moment has come, is a world based on a reality that is not structured on divisive perceptions. It is a world where true unity prevails. But for that to be perceived one has to have the courage, even if in just a small portion of humanity, to accept that the dominant forces of the Age of Pisces are fast fading to clear the slate, be this in the realm of orthodox religions, imperial post-colonial domination, or whatever would pose a threat to the survival of the new world order of unity and truth.’ Thea, SOME THOUGHTS, July, 2007.

    Students of The New Way, especially those involved in The Future Realisation exhibits in Pondicherry and the Mati Ghar gallery in New Delhi, will surely have noticed a quantum leap in the level of depravity, violence and conflict between these competing religions since the TFR exhibits began in early 2014. It looks like the parties are rushing headlong into a new and widening crusade with no clear heads to stem the tide of destruction. Perhaps this “cleansing of the slate” is exactly what is required before the leaders of the world will be open to the truth. Our efforts in this situation call to mind what the Sufi teacher Hamid wrote about the ‘second conflict’.

    ‘But it is those who have reached the knowledge of their essential unity with God who will forge the way and build a new world. Before this new world can be brought into being, however, it is said that there are to be two confrontations. The first confrontation will be between those who know and those who do not want to know, and the second between those who know and those who will have to know.’ Hamid, The Last Barrier, Reshad Field, Harper and Row, USA, 1976.

  • #862

    Barbara White
    Participant

    Robert, Thanks for helping to put our discussion into a larger perspective. It has long appeared to me that these two orthodox religions are expending their powers in a display of self-destruction one more obvious than the other; one warlike and the other via political pressure. A lot remains to fall by the wayside.

  • #863

    Robert Wilkinson
    Participant

    Thea’s ‘Conundrum of India’s Choice of Destiny’ is the clearest and most self-evident exposition of the knots that must be overcome in order for India to assume her role as Vishwa Guru. The question is who in India will have the nerve to publish it and who in the American political leadership would be receptive to its unvarnished message? Given the almost coercive domination of the Christian lobby and its contrived political agenda I could only think of one person who might actually welcome this kind of knowledge. Her name is Tulsi Gabbard, a 33 year old member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Hawaii’s 2nd district. Representative Gabbard has been warmly embraced by the Democratic party because she is a woman, a combat veteran of the Iraq war and a Hindu. What I found interesting was her close relationship with the Indian Prime Minister. Gabbard met with Modi when he visited New York in September and presented him with a ginger flower garland from Hawaii and the copy of the Bhagavad Gita she used to take the Oath of Office. While she is young, this woman is a true warrior as her horoscope will attest. Being a Hindu she is not likely to flinch from an honest critique of the Christian Right and the hypocrisy of their political agenda vis-à-vis Obama’s shameful and ignorant comments about India getting religious freedom right. As a rising star of the Democratic party she might be an ideal connection for ACC and its message. But what is the best way to get our message out? Should we contact Tulsi Gabbard? Should we write articles about Thea’s vision to the US and Indian media? If ACC is to become an influential think-tank of a manifestly higher order where do we plant the seeds of Thea’s message?

  • #864

    Patricia Heidt
    Participant

    After your Forum Entry Robert I checked out Tulsi (love that name) Gabbard:

    Tulsi Gabbard gave an address in India on 4/1/2015, titled: The Future of Indo-American Relations. This was sponsored by India Foundation (an RSS think tank according to the Web).

    Her appearance and address was covered by The Telegraph newspaper on that date, titled: Sangh Finds a Mascot in American Tulsi.

    Quote:

    USCommissioner for International Religious Freedom Katrina Contes, says a Modi win is detrimental to basic right of minorities… Tulsi was quick to disapprove…

  • #865

    Jeanette Caurant
    Participant

    This is The Telegraph article. Tulsi made a very astute observation about the timing of the 2014 US Commission for International Religious Freedom meeting which coincided with the national elections.

    Sangh finds a mascot in American Tulsi

    Our Special Correspondent

    Tulsi Gabbard

    New Delhi, Jan. 3: The RSS fraternity’s newest mascot is Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat elected to the US House of Representatives from Hawaii.

    Hours before she was to fly back to the US this evening, Tulsi sat through a discussion on “the future of Indo-US relations” hosted by India Foundation, a Sangh-aligned think-tank, spoke and took questions.

    The leitmotifs in the address, as in her numerous other speaking engagements, were ” aloha” (Hawaiian for “heartfelt respect and love for others”), the Bhagvad Gita, ” karma yoga” and ” bhakti yoga”.

    In the three weeks that Tulsi was in India on the invitation of the Narendra Modi government, she was feted like a top visiting leader. The reception went way beyond the ritual courtesies an Indian MP – her counterpart in India – would be extended abroad.

    Tulsi began her sojourn with calls on the Prime Minister, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, home minister Rajnath Singh and the army chief. She met finance minister Arun Jaitley towards the end of her visit.

    There were reasons for the exceptional treatment she received. Tulsi is the best advertisement the Sangh can hope to get for its ” ghar vapsi” (religious homecoming) agenda, tactically set aside to spare the government more embarrassment.

    “Each of the places I went to (in India), I would be asked, I want to know your name is Tulsi, but you are not from India,” she said in her address. Born in American Samoa to a Catholic father and a Caucasian Hindu mother, she embraced Hinduism in her teens. This was Tulsi’s first visit to India.

    “We have heard of Hindus converting to Islam and Christianity. Here’s someone who willingly adopted Hinduism. It proves our point that re-conversions are never forced,” a VHP official said, asking not to be named.

    Tulsi’s endorsement of the Gita was also music to RSS-BJP ears, especially after the controversy over foreign minister Sushma’s call to declare the book a “national scripture”.

    Tulsi took the oath of office on the Gita, the first elected representative in the US to do so. “Ideologically, she represents the global Hindu community,” gushed an India Foundation official, Alok Bansal.

    She said: “Why was that important? Krishna’s teachings constitute my life and soul and their foundations. The Gita is a perfect text.”

    Tulsi said in the months she served as a soldier in a Baghdad medical unit, the “toughness and daily stress enabled me to go back to the Bhagvad Gita, to hold the Lord close to my heart.”

    In 2013, after she was sworn in, the US Hindu American Foundation congratulated her and said in a statement: “We also look forward to her giving voice to the concerns of her fellow Hindu Americans and bringing her uniquely pluralistic world view to American policy-making and governance.” The statement was quoted in Organiser, the RSS weekly.

    However, BJP sources said Tulsi had endeared herself to Modi for reasons that transcended the parivar’s ideological obsessions.

    In April 2014, just before the Lok Sabha elections, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom’s vice-chairperson, Katrina Lantos, alleged that a Modi win would be “detrimental” to the “basic rights” of India’s religious minorities when she testified before the US Congress’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

    Tulsi was quick to disapprove. She was quoted by American papers as saying: “I do not believe the timing of this hearing is a coincidence. The national elections in India begin on Monday and continue until May 12. I am concerned that the goal of this hearing is to influence the outcome of India’s national elections, which is not an appropriate role for the US Congress.”

    At today’s India Foundation function, she was asked if she had voted in favour of a recent $1-billion aid sanctioned to Pakistan by the US Congress. Tulsi declared she voted against the aid, drawing thunderous applause.

    Tulsi’s official website, gabbard.house.gov, announced the Senate’s appointment of Vivek Murthy as America’s Surgeon General as the “first Indian and first Hindu American” to hold this position.

  • #866

    D. Harish Kumar
    Participant

    “Our nations are strongest when we see that we are all God’s children – all equal in His eyes and worthy of His love. Across our two great countries we have Hindus and Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, and Jews and Buddhists and Jains and so many faiths. And we remember the wisdom of Gandhiji, who said, “for me, the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree.” (Applause.) Branches of the same majestic tree.”

    This very concept, often bandied a lot by the Hindus themselves need to be questioned. Are all religions equal ? Does God see the followers of all religions in the same way? Since Hindus themselves often say such things, I think it is better to quote Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, who states:

    That understanding that knows what is true and what is not true and strives for the truth is sattwic understanding (Hinduism)

    That understanding that mistakes truth for untruth and untruth for truth is rajasic understanding (Christianity)

    That understanding that regards untruth and as truth and regards truths as untruths and always strives in the wrong direction is tamasic understanding (Islam)

    Clearly the Lord discriminates between people based on their understanding, and does not condone wrong understanding, he condemns it as tamasic.

    A society cannot give equal importance to all religions and certainly needs to encourage sattwic understanding and discourage rajasic understanding and condemn tamasic understanding.

    Lord Krishna also declares towards the end of the Bhagavad Gita that surrendering to him is the highest religion, and ask them to disregard all other forms of “faiths”.

    Where does Islam – a tamasic religion stand in this regard?

    – Harish

  • #867

    Patricia Heidt
    Participant

    Harish, for that matter, where does any religion stand during this Age of Aquarius, including Hinduism?

    I’ve been studying Sri Aurobindo’s The Renaissance in India, and came across the quote that Thea chose to put at the beginning of the Guidebook to the exhibition:

    The greatness of the ideals of the past is a promise of greater ideals for the future (IS India Civilised -3, p. 85)

    In this particular essay he lauds the achievements of India’s past, but in the same breath, moves his reader toward the future:

    A continual expansion of what stood behind past endeavour and capacity is the one abiding justification of a living culture… For this past and present are creating the greater steps of that future and much of it will survive in that which supplants it. There is behind our imperfect cultural figures a permanent spirit to which we must cling and which will remain permanent even hereafter; there are certain fundamental motives or essential idea-forces which cannot be thrown aside, because they are part of the vital principle of our being and the aim of Nature in us, our swadharma… (p.87).

    But then he follows up with this wonderful statement:

    … but there is too a less binding system of laws of successive formulation, – rhythms of the spirit, forms, turns, habits of nature, and these endure the mutations of the ages, yugadharma. The race must obey this double principle of persistence and mutation or bear the penalty of a decay and deterioration that may attaint even its living centre… For all that was great in the past cannot be preserved as it was or repeated for ever; there are new needs, there are other vistas before us… Survival itself has become impossible without expansion. If we are to live at all, we must resume India’s great interrupted endeavour (p.91).

    In Thea’s words, the becoming is equal to the being. Yesterday at lunch she spoke to us about this very thing: events are brought to Skambha, she becomes involved in resolving the issue, she must work out an ongoing solution, i.e, make application of the principles or laws of Being to the current situation. There is continuous expansion of energy…

    I’m not saying it as she would… i wish I could… but I began to get a deeper understanding of how this third principle works in nature. Harish, What do you think stands in the way of a full embrace of The New Way? Robert asks what is the best way to get the message out and I think we are all pondering that… how does ACC accomplish its goals?

  • #868

    Lori Tompkins
    Moderator

    Patricia, this question you pose to Harish, being a new line of inquiry, probably deserves its own thread, under The New Way section of this forum. Can you ask Thea if we can introduce new threads/topics or if she would like us to stay on a topic she has given until she introduces a new one?

  • #869

    Patricia Heidt
    Participant

    India’s Conundrum – choice of destiny: to glorify the past or to move to the future…I had no intention of introducing a new topic…so thanks, and do carry on…

  • #870

    Barbara White
    Participant

    PM Modi’s Speech at Conference Organised by Christian Groups: Full Text All India | NDTV | Updated: February 17, 2015 14:33 IST New Delhi: Here is the text of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address at the National Celebration of the Elevation to Sainthood of Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Mother Euphrasia “I am delighted to participate in this function to celebrate the elevation to sainthood of two great saints of Kerala – Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Saint Euphresia. The whole country is proud of their recognition. Their elevation was preceded by that of Saint Alphonsa, who also hailed from Kerala. The life and deeds of Saint Chavara and Saint Euphresia are an inspiration not only to the Christian community, but to humanity as a whole. They are shining examples of dedication to God through selfless service for the betterment of mankind. Saint Chavara was a man of prayer and also a social reformer. In an era when access to education was limited, he stressed that every church should have a school. He thus opened the doors of education to people from all sections of society. Few outside Kerala know that he started a Sanskrit school, and also a printing press. His contribution towards women’s empowerment was also noteworthy. Saint Euphrasia was a mystic who dedicated her life to prayer and devotion to God. Both these saints dedicated their life to God through service of fellow beings. The ancient Indian saying: welfare of the world is the way to moksha (salvation) – explains their life. Friends, Spiritualism is rooted in India’s heritage. Indian saints and Greek sages had intellectual and spiritual exchanges thousands of years back. India’s openness to new ideas is manifest in the Rig Veda: Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides. This philosophy has guided our intellectual discourse since time immemorial. Mother India gave birth to many religious and spiritual streams. Some of them have even travelled beyond Indian borders. The tradition of welcoming, respecting and honouring all faiths is as old as India itself. As Swami Vivekananda said: We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. What Swami Vivekananda had said a century ago holds good and will, for ever, not only for this nation but also for this government or for that matter any government in India, run by any political party. This principle of equal respect and treatment for all faiths has been a part of India’s ethos for thousands of years. And that is how it became integral to the Constitution of India. Our Constitution did not evolve in a vacuum. It has roots in the ancient cultural traditions of India. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore had inspired us to dream of a land where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. It is that heaven of freedom we are duty bound to create and preserve. We believe that there is truth in every religion. Friends, Let me now come to the issue which is central and critical for peace and harmony in the contemporary world. The world is increasingly witnessing division and hostility on religious lines. This has become a matter of global concern. In this context the ancient Indian plea of mutual respect for all faiths is now beginning to manifest in global discourse. This long felt need and urge for mutually respectful relations led to the interfaith conference on ‘Faith in Human Rights’ at the Hague on tenth December, 2008. This was coincidentally also the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. Religious leaders representing every major world religion – Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Bahai Faith, Buddhism, Islam, Taoism and indigenous religions met, discussed and pledged to uphold the Universal Declaration and of freedom of religion or belief. In their historic declaration, they defined what constitutes freedom of faith and how it is to be safeguarded. We consider the freedom to have, to retain, and to adopt, a religion or belief, is a personal choice of a citizen. The world is at cross roads which, if not crossed properly, can throw us back to the dark days of bigotry, fanaticism and bloodshed. This harmonious convergence among religions could not be achieved even when the world entered the third millennium. And now it has been. This shows that the rest of the world too is evolving along the lines of ancient India. Speaking for India, and for my government, I declare that my government stands by every word of the above declaration. My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence. My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly. Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions. India is the land of Buddha and Gandhi. Equal respect for all religions must be in the DNA of every Indian. We cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext and I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard. With this commitment, I appeal to all religious groups to act with restraint, mutual respect, and tolerance in the true spirit of this ancient nation which is manifest in our Constitution and is in line with the Hague Declaration. Friends, I have a vision of a Modern India. I have embarked on a huge mission to convert that vision into reality. My mantra is Development. In simple terms it means food on every table, every child in school, a job for everybody and a house with toilet and electricity for every family. This will make India proud. We can achieve this through unity. Unity strengthens us. Division weakens us. I sincerely request all Indians, and all of you present here to support me in this huge task. Let the elevation to sainthood of Saint Chavara and Saint Euphrasia, and their noble deeds inspire us: -to maximize our inner strength -to use that strength for transforming society through selfless service -to fulfil our collective vision of a developed and modern India. THANK YOU.All India | NDTV | Updated: February 17, 2015 14:33 IST

  • #871

    Patricia Heidt
    Participant

    http://swarajyamag.com/politics/this-is-neither-secular-nor-scientific-mr-pm/

    Interesting reaction to the PM’s speech – as Thea comments: of course this is a necessary political move – he has been so criticised for not speaking out for minorities…

  • #872

    Patricia Heidt
    Participant

    http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/TePejAVSsvKPSKGOter6RJ/You-are-an-outsider-Mr-Modi.html

    This article reminds me much of what Thea has said: There are so many forces in and outside of the country that do not want this new government to succeed. The author reminds the Prime Minister that being an outsider is his greatest asset. And cautions him to keep alert for the battle ahead: Be clear about the goals and strategy…

    But again as Thea has reminded me when I tend to get off, neither Left or RIGHT has The Big Goal in mind and that is what this yoga is about….

  • #873

    D. Harish Kumar
    Participant

    patriciaheidt wrote:

    Harish, for that matter, where does any religion stand during this Age of Aquarius, including Hinduism?

    I’ve been studying Sri Aurobindo’s The Renaissance in India, and came across the quote that Thea chose to put at the beginning of the Guidebook to the exhibition:

    The greatness of the ideals of the past is a promise of greater ideals for the future (IS India Civilised -3, p. 85)

    In this particular essay he lauds the achievements of India’s past, but in the same breath, moves his reader toward the future:

    A continual expansion of what stood behind past endeavour and capacity is the one abiding justification of a living culture… For this past and present are creating the greater steps of that future and much of it will survive in that which supplants it. There is behind our imperfect cultural figures a permanent spirit to which we must cling and which will remain permanent even hereafter; there are certain fundamental motives or essential idea-forces which cannot be thrown aside, because they are part of the vital principle of our being and the aim of Nature in us, our swadharma… (p.87).

    But then he follows up with this wonderful statement:

    … but there is too a less binding system of laws of successive formulation, – rhythms of the spirit, forms, turns, habits of nature, and these endure the mutations of the ages, yugadharma. The race must obey this double principle of persistence and mutation or bear the penalty of a decay and deterioration that may attaint even its living centre… For all that was great in the past cannot be preserved as it was or repeated for ever; there are new needs, there are other vistas before us… Survival itself has become impossible without expansion. If we are to live at all, we must resume India’s great interrupted endeavour (p.91).

    In Thea’s words, the becoming is equal to the being. Yesterday at lunch she spoke to us about this very thing: events are brought to Skambha, she becomes involved in resolving the issue, she must work out an ongoing solution, i.e, make application of the principles or laws of Being to the current situation. There is continuous expansion of energy…

    I’m not saying it as she would… i wish I could… but I began to get a deeper understanding of how this third principle works in nature. Harish, What do you think stands in the way of a full embrace of The New Way? Robert asks what is the best way to get the message out and I think we are all pondering that… how does ACC accomplish its goals?

    .

    Yes. I agree with you. We are moving away from religion. I posted that comment from the Gita to prove that specific point that there is nothing even in the Old Hinduism which asks us to accept Christianity and Islam. The secularists never tire of quoting Hindu scriptures to justify a soft line towards Islam and Christianity, and my comments were aimed at them.

  • #874

    Barbara White
    Participant

    With all the discussion going on in India about Hinduism and what it is, I thought it useful to quote Sri Aurobindo from The Renaissance in India, p.133: ‘Indian philosophy…is the organised intellectual theory of the intuitive ordering perception of all that is the soul, the thought, the dynamic truth, the heart of feeling and power of Indian religion. Indian religion is Indian spiritual philosophy put into action and experience.

  • #875

    Patricia Heidt
    Participant

    Mother Teresa’s aim was conversion, says Bhagwat – This is the headline over an article in yesterday’s HINDU newspaper, with a short piece on what the head of the RSS said to his group: her work was fine, but there is no doubt in his mind what her agenda was. Bhagwat obviously felt he needed to clarify his position, particularly after PM Modi praised the Church last week for canonising some Kerala saints… And from personal experience, I know this to be true as well – You have to admire Bhagwat, As Thea often remarks, the RSS goes about things in an old-fashioned way – they need The New Way…but she likes him and says he is true to his ideals..

  • #876

    Patricia Heidt
    Participant

    Aravindan Neelakandan

    Recall Bhopal Tragedy To Know Real Teresa

    When her reaction to the gas tragedy was sought, Mother Teresa projected it as a consequence of sin and said the affected must seek forgiveness. Then she deflected the issue to abortion, a pet subject of the Church.

    I just talked with Thea and she brought up the topic I put on yesterday’s forum: the RSSchief’s comment on Mother Teresa. She had watched it live on TV; and she praised the efforts of the RSS and their extraordinary service to their beloved country, Mother India. Then I went online and found Swaraja Online – see A Neelakanda’s full article for an interesting insight into how this organisation selflessly works..

    This is really the moment for India – she commented – but there are such huge gaps. And they will try to fill them with Western ideas, western technology… There is a reason why India never made the hydrogen bomb, there is a reason why there is no Nobel Laureate from India… the soul of India is at stake…Her true destiny is at stake – the New Way has the answers. She is trying to write now for this group of people – to give them something they can understand; some knowledge to support their love for the country – and to make a move toward the future.

  • #877

    Jeanette Caurant
    Participant

    A. Neelakanda’s article was interesting especially about Mother Theresa being so cautious about what she replied to questions after the Bhopal incident and her coming donation from the company who was responsible for the tragedy!!

  • #878

    Patricia Heidt
    Participant

    World Affairs: The Journal of International Issues
    Year : 2014, Volume : 18, Issue : 3
    First page : ( 94) Last page : ( 115)
    Print ISSN : 0971-8052. Online ISSN : 0974-0937.

    American Foreign Policy Towards India: Strategy of AID with Religion

    Gaan Narottam
    Online published on 1 November, 2014.

    Abstract

    This article contrasts the American/Western Judeo-Christian culture and its definition of the world with the traditional Asian/Eastern Indic perspective to explain major features of US policy towards developing countries in general and India in particular. American diplomacy so far has been dictated by the national belief in the superiority of biblical monotheism and US outreach is associated with the spread of Judeo-Christianity and the defeat of “paganism”. In the name of protecting religious freedom, the American government claims the right to monitor the status of religion in other countries and support Christian missionary organisations. This policy is also a tool to keep India and other countries in a subordinate role by expanding US influence in all fields.

    Apropo of our topic this article gives an indepth understanding of the sustained policy adopted by the USA toward foreign countries, India in particular. The IRFA enacted under President Clinton in 1998 had for its main purpose to make it imperative on Christian populations in developing countries to associate with Right Wing Christian organisations inthe US – the aim being globalisation of Christianity. The other purpose was to impose mandatory sanctions against countries that hamstring Christian proselytising by accusing them of religious persecution.

    I found some material in this article new to me, altho it does not surprise me to learn about the joint action of the Leftists and the Christian Right to support the Maoist insurrections in Orissa and all along the Red Corridor from Nepal through the Centre of India: ‘’Christ and Mao have come together in Orissa because people oppressed for thousands of years have decided to stand up against the Hindu socioeconomic system ‘’.

    Also it defines what American secularism really means in practice. The author concludes that for one to believe that India will get easy access to the status of a great power by striking a strategic partnership on equal footing with the US or by depending on the latter is ludicrous… the aim of the USA policy in India is to ‘’fragment India’’ – continue the divisive strategy of setting communities against one another and incite crises in the domestic scene, create internal turmoil… exactly what is happening now in Delhi, to which Thea alludes in her recent writing… .

  • #879

    Robert Wilkinson
    Participant

    In her comments on what took place in the Indian Parliament regarding Mother Teresa, Patricia wrote: … nothing has changed; in fact, it may be escalating…

    I completely agree Patricia. There seems to be an increasing polarization and aggressiveness within and between ideologies whether political or religious. It can also be seen in increasing tensions along racial and ethnic lines. But this heightened state of conflict, perhaps because of ISIS, seems to be gaining strength in the Muslim world.

    In 2007 Thea wrote:

    ‘The plan of the Time-Spirit for this current Age of Aquarius is quite different than appears on the surface. In its initial stages the focus is on what might be called a “cleansing of the slate”. The dominance of either one of the religions of the Piscean Age is not the goal. What we are seeing today – and indeed what lies at the basis of the Iraqi conflict – is to hasten and aggravate the internal conflicts between the sects on both sides of the spectrum. But the time will soon come when the majority force of Islam will rear its head and turn on its “saviour” Iran. These two forces will destroy whatever pretence either of them has for world domination. This will happen not because one is good and the other bad, one the true faith and the other the false, but simply because the Time-Spirit has moved on.’

    This seems to be happening right now with the Saudi’s, a predominantly Sunni nation, agreeing to help Israel attack Iran, the seat of the Shi’ite sect of Islam. ISIS also appears to be coming down on the Sunni side of the Sunni – Shia divide, killing Shi’tes and Christians with equal enthusiasm. Interestingly Obama seems to be leaning toward a rapprochement with Iran while Israel and the Republicans are following the well defined Judeao-Christian eschatology which foresees the return of Jesus Christ in the last days following the battle of Armageddon. (See article below on An Officially Christian America). Religion has become so inextricably linked with Politics and Foreign Policy that one can hardly tell the difference anymore. Leaders of the Republican majority have just invited both Israel’s Netanyahu and Pope Francis to speak before Congress. In the meantime, the US led coalition forces plan to attack ISIS in March/April about the time the Earth moves into ARIES – the sign of War.

    Report: Saudis Express Interest in Aiding Israel Attack On Iran Nuke Sites

    AP by Jordan Schachtel

    25 Feb 2015

    Washington, D.C.

    Saudi Arabia officials have expressed in private that they may be willing to help out in an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities in the near future, according to European sources who told Israel’s Channel 2 News.

    Saudi Arabia’s eastern border with the Persian/Arabian Gulf is located only about 100 miles from Iranian territory, including its Bushehr nuclear site. The Saudis may allow the Israel Air Force (IAF) to fly over their tactically-important airspace as part of its cooperative efforts, according to reports.

    The TV report added,“The Saudis have declared their readiness for the Israeli Air Force to overfly Saudi airspace en route to attack Iran if an attack is necessary.”

    “The Saudi authorities are completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran,” a European official in Brussels told Channel 2 on Tuesday, before adding that Israel and Saudi Arabia are actively sharing intelligence on the progress of the Iranian nuclear program.

    The report adds that in order for the Saudis to sign off on any deal, they would want to first see “some sign of progress” in the ongoing peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials.

    Regional governments have long been concerned that if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, the result would inevitably be that massive nuclear proliferation would occur throughout the Middle East. Several countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, have all spoken to the possibility that an uncertain future may necessitate the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

    The news comes as the P5+1 world powers have been seeking to seal a comprehensive agreement with Iran in hopes that a diplomatic approach would stop the Ayatollah’s regime from developing nuclear weapons. They face a March 31 deadline to agree to a basic framework for the agreement.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address a joint session of Congress on March 3rd, where he will reportedly warn about the grave threat posed by a nuclear-weaponized Iranian regime.

    An Officially Christian America Sounds Just Right To Most Republicans

    02/25/2015 5:47 pm EST Updated: 02/25/2015 5:59 pm EST

    Republican Party candidates like to say that America is a Christian nation. It turns out most Republicans are willing to make that official.

    Fifty-seven percent of Republicans support establishing Christianity as the national religion of the United States, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey. Thirty percent oppose the idea while 13 percent are not sure.

    One little problem: Establishing a national religion would violate the First Amendment to the Constitution. *”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,”* etc., etc. So three-fourths of the states would have to agree to amend the Constitution.

    And that might be a little difficult. A 2013 HuffPost/YouGov survey found that only 32 percent of all Americans were in favor of amending the Constitution to establish Christianity as the national religion. A Los Angeles Times poll taken in 1980 found similar results, according to the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.

    Forty-six percent of Republicans in the HuffPost/YouGov poll said they would favor such a proposal, a lower percentage than PPP’s recent result. Twenty-six percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents in the earlier poll said they would be in favor, too. A slightly higher number, 34 percent of Americans, were in favor of establishing Christianity as the official religion in their state. Because the First Amendment applies to the states, they would still need a constitutional amendment.

    According to a 2012 Gallup study, 77 percent of Americans identity with some denomination of Christianity.

    Public Policy Polling surveyed 316 Republicans nationally in an automated phone and Internet poll that ran from Feb. 20 to Feb. 22.

  • #880

    David Sadowski
    Participant

    Very perceptive Robert, well done!

  • #881

    Lori Tompkins
    Moderator

    Organiser magazine just published: Part One of Thea’s new series, ‘The Conundrum of India’s Choice of Destiny’, which addresses this forum topic.

  • #882

    D. Harish Kumar
    Participant

    If you look at USA, it is just the Roman Empire re-incarnated. They both had senates, the golden eagle was their symbol and they both believe in a manifest destiny to civilize the world. A river with a latin name (potomac – means river in latin) flows by the White House and the Roman Empire spread Christianity and now the USA is doing the same.

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