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The Ancient Regime : The State of the Aryan Society
This essay consists of II typed foolscap pages tagged into a file. From the last sentence it appears that the Chapter is incomplete. —Editors
Buddhism was a revolution. It was as great a Revolution as the French Revolution. Though it began as a Religious revolution, it became more than Religious revolution. It became a Social and Political Revolution. To be able to realise how profound was the character of this Revolution, it is necessary to know the state of the society before the revolution began its course. To use the language of the French Revolution, it is necessary to have a picture of the ancient regime in India.
To understand the great reform, which he brought about by his teaching, it is necessary to have some idea of the degraded condition of the Aryan civilisation at the time when Buddha started on the mission of his life.
The Aryan Community of his time was steeped in the worst kind of debauchery; social, religious and spiritual.
To mention only a few of the social evils, attention may be drawn to gambling. Gambling had become as widespread among the Aryans as drinking.
Every king had a hall of gambling attached to his palace. Every king had an expert gambler in his employment as a companion to play with. King Virat had in his employment Kank as an expert gambler. Gambling was not merely a pastime with kings. They played with heavy stakes. They staked kingdoms, dependants, relatives, slaves, servants.*[f1]
King Nala staked everything in gambling with Paskkar and lost everything. The only thing he did not stake was himself and his wife Damayanti. Nala had to go and live in the forest as a beggar. There were kings who went beyond Nala. The Mahabharat[f2] tells how Dharma the eldest of the Pandavas gambled and staked everything, his brothers and also his and their wife Draupadi. Gambling was a matter of honour with the Aryans and any invitation to gamble was regarded as an injury to one’s honour and dignity. Dharma gambled with such disastrous consequences although he was warned beforehand. His excuse was that he was invited to gamble and that as a man of honour, he could not decline such an invitation.
This vice of gambling was not confined to kings. It had infected even the common folk. Rig-Veda contains lamentations of a poor Aryan ruined by gambling. The habit of gambling had become so common in Kautilya’s time that there were gambling houses licensed by the king from which the king derived considerable revenue.
Drinking was another evil which was rampant among the Aryans. Liquors were of two sorts Soma and Sura. Soma was a sacrificial wine. The drinking of the Soma was in the beginning permitted only to Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. Subsequently it was permitted only to Brahmins and Kshatriyas. The Vaishyas were excluded from it and the Shudras were never permitted to taste it. Its manufacture was a secret known only to the Brahmins. Sura was open to all and was drunk by all. The Brahmins also drank Sura. Shukracharya the priest to the Asuras drank so heavily that in his drunken state he gave the life giving Mantra known to him only and with which he used to revive the Asuras killed by the Devas—to Katch the son of Brahaspati who was the priest of the Devas. The Mahabharat mentions an occasion when both Krishna and Arjuna were dead drunk. That shows that the best among the Aryan Society were not only not free from the drink habit but that they drank heavily. The most shameful part of it was that even the Aryan women were addicted to drink. For instance Sudeshna the wife of King Virat tells her maid Sairandhri to go to Kichaka’s palace and bring Sura as she was dying to have a drink. It is not to be supposed that only queens indulged in drinking. The habit of drinking was common among women of all classes and even Brahmin women were not free from it. That liquor and dancing was indulged in by the Aryan women is clear from the Kausitaki Grihya Sutra 1. 11-12, which says ; “Four or eight women who are not widowed, after having been regaled with wine and food are to dance for four times on the night previous to the wedding ceremony.“
That the drinking of intoxicating liquor was indulged in by Brahmin women, not to speak of women of the lower Varnas, as late as the seventh and eighth centuries A.D. in the Central region of Aryavarta, is clear from Kumarila Bhatta’s Tantra-Vartika I (iii). 4, which states, “Among the people of modern days we find the Brahmin women of the countries of Ahicchatra and Mathura to be addicted to drinking“. Kumarila condemned the practice in the case of Brahmins only, but not of Kshatriyas and Vaishyas men and women, if the liquor was distilled from fruits or flowers (Madhavi), and Molasses (Gaudi) and not from grains (Sura).
The sexual immorality of the Aryan Society must shock their present day descendants. The Aryans of pre-Buddhist days had no such rule of prohibited degrees as we have today to govern their sexual or matrimonial relationship.
According to the Aryan Mythology, Brahma is the creator. Brahma had three sons and a daughter. His one son Daksha married his sister. The daughters born of this marriage between brother and sister were married some to Kashyapa the son of Marichi the son of Brahma and some to Dharma the third son of Brahma. [f4]
In the Rig-Veda there is an episode related of Yama and Yami brother and sister. According to this episode Yami the sister invites her brother Yama to cohabit with her and becomes angry when he refuses to do so. [f5]
A father could marry his daughter. Vashishta married his own daughter Shatrupa when she came of age. [f6]Manu married his daughter IIa. [f7] Janhu married his daughter Janhavi. [f8] Surya married his daughter Usha. [f9]
There was polyandry not of the ordinary type. The polyandry prevalent among the Aryans was a polyandry when kinsmen cohabited with one woman. Dhahaprachetani and his son Soma cohabited with Marisha the daughter of Soma.
Instances of grandfather marrying his granddaughter are not wanting. Daksha gave his daughter in marriage to his father Brahma and from that marriage was born the famous Narada. Dauhitra gave his 27 daughters to his father Soma for cohabitation and procreation. [f12]The Aryans did not mind cohabiting with women in the open and within sight of people. The Rishis used to perform certain religious rites which were called Vamdevya vrata. These rites used to be performed on the Yadnya bhumi. If any woman came there and expressed a desire for sexual intercourse and asked the sage to satisfy her, the sage used to cohabit with her then and there in the open on the Yadnya bhumi. Instances of this may be mentioned. The case of the sage Parashara had sexual intercourse with Satyavati and also of Dirghatapa. That such a custom was common is shown by the existence of the word Ayoni. The word Ayoni is understood to mean of immaculate conception. That is not however the original meaning of the word. The original meaning of the word Yoni is house. Ayoni means conceived out of the house i.e. in the open. That there was nothing deemed to be wrong in this is clear from the fact that both Sita and Draupadi were Ayonija. That this was very common is clear from the fact that religious injunctions had to be issued against such a practice[f13]
There was prevalent among the Aryans the practice of renting out their women to others for a time. As an illustration may be mentioned the story of Madhavi. [f14] The king Yayati gave his daughter Madhavi as an offering to his Guru Galav. Galav rented out the girl Madhavi to three kings, each a period. Thereafter he gave her in marriage to Vishwamitra. She remained with him until a son was born to her. Thereafter Galav took away the girl and gave her back to her father Yayati.
Besides the practice of letting out women to others temporarily at a rent there was prevalent among the Aryans another practice namely allowing procreation by the best amongst them. Raising a family was treated by them as though it was a breeding or stock raising. Among the Aryas there was a class of persons called Devas who were Aryans but of a superior status and prowess. The Aryans allowed their women to have sexual intercourse with any one of the class of Devas in the interest of good breeding. This practice prevailed so extensively that the Devas came to regard pre libation in respect of the Aryan Women as their prescriptive right. No Aryan woman could be married unless this right of pre-libation had been redeemed and the woman released from the control of the Devas by offering what was technically called Avadan. The Laja Hoame which is performed in every Hindu marriage and the details of which are given in the Ashwalayan Grahya Sutra is a relic of this act of the redemption of the Aryan woman from the right of pre-libation of the Devas. The Avadan in the Laja Hoama is nothing but the price for the extinguishing of the right of the Devas over the bride. The Saptapadi performed in all Hindu marriages and which is regarded as the most essential ceremony without which there is no lawful marriage has an integral connection with this right of pre-libation of the Devas. Saptapadi means walking by the bridegroom seven steps with the bride. Why is this essential? The answer is that the Devas, if they were dissatisfied with the compensation, could claim the woman before the seventh step was taken. After the seventh step was taken, the right of the Devas was extinguished and the bridegroom could take away the bride and live as husband and wife without being obstructed or molested by the Devas.“`
There was no rule of chastity for maidens. A girl could have sexual intercourse with and also progeny from anybody without contracting marriage. This is evident from the root meaning of the word Kanya which means a girl. Kanya comes from the root Kam which means a girl free to offer herself to any man. That they did offer themselves to any man and had children without contracting regular marriage is illustrated by the case of Kunti and Matsyagandha. Kunti had children from different men before she was married to Pandu and Matsyagandha had sexual intercourse with the sage Parashara before she married to Shantanu the father of Bhishma.
Bestiality was also prevalent among the Aryans. The story of the sage Dam having sexual intercourse with a female dear, is well known. Another instance is that of Surya cohabiting with a mare. But the most hideous instance is that of the woman having sexual intercourse with the horse in the Ashvamedha Yadna.
The Propagation of Buddhism: Unity for Peace
Ven. Master Hsing Yun
Buddhist Himalaya: A Journal of Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods
Vol. II No. I & II (1989)
Copyright 1989 by Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods
Everyone has a desire for peace, everyone has the right to seek for security and happiness, to seek the kind of life that has no fear of ware. There are campaigns for the stopping of nuclear testing, and for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Nuclear power can be used for peaceful purposes, but this itself is not really the goal of an effective peace. Peace, does not only mean that there is absence of war; rather it seeks for permanent peace. A sutra says, “We have the seed of disharmony within ourselves and there are also external causes of disharmony. These external causes and conditions affect one another.” That is why there will never be peace in the world. If we only emphasize the external cause of peace, and if we don not bother to purify our minds, this is not true peace.
Peace is not due to the effort of a single person. We need to muster everyone’s strength and power in order to work for peace. So it is really meaningful indeed to have this as the theme for the 16th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists. Now I have a few points that I would like to share with you.
1.HOW DO WE ATTAIN PEACE?
a. Peace Con Be Attained Through Selflessness
It says in the Diamond Sutra, ‘There are no concepts of “a self”, there are no concepts of “others”, there are no concepts of “living beings”. The so-called “self” is the source of conflict. Because of this supposed “I”, we are selfish; and because of this “I”, we have clingings and craving. Because of this “I”, we have conflicts. The thought of this I ” gives us no peace. It says in the Lotus Sutra, “Those persons who have the weighty view of the self are likened to hungry ghosts. Therefore if we want peace of this world, we should not have any idea of a self. If we have no ideas of self, then wee can bring about equality, and when there is equality, then there is peace.
The Buddha taught the Bhiksus, saying, “When we are careless and torn our clothing, we feel sad. When the leaves fall beside us, we don’t really care, because the leaves are not considered as part of out possession, not a part of out self. But clothing is part of us, and so we feel sad when out possessions are torn.
In order to awaken worldly people to this w2rong view of clinging to “self”, the Buddha taught us the right view of dependent origination and selflessness, to correct the self-centered view of beings, for the benefit of all beings. Because of selflessness, there is no sense of self and others. Because of selflessness, there is no wrong views. So the peace attained through selflessness will be real peace.
b. Peace Can Be Achieved Through Compassionate Action
Compassion is the basis and essence of Buddhism, It says in the Dhammpada, “All beings are afraid of death. There is none who is not afraid of knives and sticks. Put yourself in the position of others; then we should not kill, we should not use the stick.” If we put ourselves in the position of others, and view others as our own self, the act of compassion will not be at all difficult. During the period of the Northern and southern Dynasties in Chinese history, Fo T’u-ch’eng in order to rescue a large number of innocent persons, used compassion to convert Shih Lo and Shih Hu, who killed persons as number as grass. His compassion has become a good example for us to follow. If there is no compassion, then all thing become demonic. And if there is compassion, then all things become the Buddhadharma.
When we se the sufferings of others, we should try and relieve them of their sufferings through out compassion; and when we see that they are unhappy, we should try to console them through our compassion. the Mahayana Parinirvana Sutra, says, “Compassion. puts an end to craving, and love puts and end to anger.” If all persons can treat one another with compassion, then all beings will attain good fortune. And if this can be accomplished, then the world will have peace.
c. Peace Can Be Searched With Respect
All person s like to be respected, but hey always neglect respecting others. There is a Chinese proverb, “Whatever you do not wish, do not do to others.” This is the basic principle regarding respect. It says in the sutra that Buddhism can be sought with humility. This is the essence of a person who is seeking the way. Every person has the right to develop his strong points. This is like out eyebrows; they seem to have no special function when compared to our eyes or out nose, but if we have no eyebrows, we don’t look human. The ancient Chinese e always stress one thing: Gentleman should always be forgiving, respect others, be kind to others, remember other’s strong points, forget about their shortcomings, praise other’s goodness, and do not attack their weakness. If the five fingers co-operate with each others, they can be united into a fist. When we have a fist, we have strength, and when we have strength, then we can seek peace, During the Warring States period there is a story of a minister and a general. Even though in traditional China the office of a prime minister was greater than that of a general, these two persons Lin Hsian-Ju and Lien P’O, worked together without any consideration of rank, and the country was, because of this, strong and lived in peace, This still serves as an example that modern persons can learn from.
The belief in Buddhisms based on mutual respect; if there is no respect, and if we all suspect one another and look down on one another, how can we live in peace? There will be peace in Buddhism if all Buddhist s respect the Triple Gem. Peace without respect cannot last. If we want permanent peace, then we should respect each other. If all Buddhists were to respect each other, and unite with one another, then the prospects for world peace will be good.
d. Peace Can Be Promoted Through A Sense Of Equality
When the Buddha was seated on the Vajrasana, under the Bodhi Tree, he proclaimed, soon after his enlightenment, “All beings in the world posses the mark of the Tathagata’s wisdom,” This proclamation of equality of Buddha and living beings is the light of salvation for all beings.
When the Buddha established the Sangha, he proclaimed the six harmonious rules, that is harmony of thoughts, acceptance of precepts, sharing of common wealth, sameness of speech, behavior and mind, as the principle of democracy an equality. Buddha always said that he was not above the Sangha, but that he was a member of the Sangha. The Buddha helped sick Bhikkhus, he threaded needles for his blind disciples, and he always dealt with the Sangha with a sense of equality. He never considered himself to be above anyone. He says in the Ksudrakagama, that there are four things that should not be lightly regarded: Buddha emphasized the fact that all beings have the Buddha nature, that men and women can both be members of the sangha, that persons of all of the four castes can become members of the Sangha, and that one should not look down on one’s juniors: this emphasis in many ways established the principles of harmony, equality and democracy.
If we wish to see world peace, wee should first proclaim to all people the establishment of a sense of equality, the equality of great nations and small nations, the equality of all races, Only if there is the sense of equality can we realize peace.
2.HOW DO WE ATTAIN UNITY?
If we want to have peace, we must have unity. The slogan of unity is repeated by all persons, but it is very difficult to put it into practice. Everyone wants others to unite with them, but they refuse to unite with others themselves. The lack of unity is like a plate of loose sand; it has no strength. If we want peace, we should be following the road to unity, as follows:
a. Unity Can Be Attained By accepting Persons Who Are Of Different Mentality
The week point of human nature intolerance, the attitude that “if you submit to me, you will live, and if you don’t submit to me, you will die,” Because people cannot aspect someone who is different from themselves, it is difficult for them to unite. A proverb says that if we can be tolerate, we can become great; the land accepts any kind of soil, and the ocean receives all types of rivers. If we cannot tolerate the thoughts and opinions of others, the customs of others, then how can we unite together?
In Chinese history, Duke Huan of Ch’i employed Kuan Chung, w3ho had been on the side of his enemy, and by this he become the hegemony of Central China. T’ang T’ai-Tsung has come to be called an enlightened ruler because not only could he unite with those who had been against him, but also he could use ministers who had political views different from his own. Thus the T’ang was a golden age in Chinese history. Eight years ago, when Mr. Bush was running against Mr. Reagan for the nomination, Mr. Bush lost the nomination, but remained friends with Mr. Reagan used Mr. Bush as his vice-president, and now Mr. Bush has become president, in spite of difference s with Mr. Reagan, The United Nations stands tall on the soil of the United States because Americans can tolerated persons different from themselves. And because America can accept different races of the world America is great.
Buddhism is one of world’s most tolerant religions, When the Buddha first established the Sangha, all of the four castes were permitted to become the Buddha’s followers, Even if one were a prince of the Ksatriya caste, or a poor person of the Sutra caste, Buddha treated them equally. Mahakasyspa who was fire worshipper, and the debater Mahakatyayana, were allowed by the Buddha to be members to the Sangha, and they both become important members of the Sangha. The Buddha could tolerate persons who were different from himself, that si why he had such a large Sangha. If the human race could learn to tolerate each other, then there is paradise. If we all have this attitude, then we can develop the spirit and power of unity.
b. Unity Can Be Attained Through Cooperation.
Each part of the human body-the eyes, the ears, the nose and tongue-each have their own sphere of activity. The eyes see and the ears hear, and through cooperation, the function of the human body can be developed to it maximum. Contemporary social and scientific development also stresses the harmonious cooperation of creative activity. In a construction project, jobs are divided into different sections in order to bring about the cooperation of many persons in order to finish the work. The cooperation is the spirit of unity.
Buddhism has been disseminated for the last two thousand years because its doctrine can fit into different capacities of many different persons. And this is the reason why we have the difference between Northern and Southern Buddhism and the difference between the Sutra and the Tantra. This is actually a very good phenomenon, but unfortunately in the last two thousand years, our predecessors only emphasized the divisions and neglected cooperation. There was mutual rejection an mutual criticism. This is all the teaching of the Buddha, but there is intolerance between the Ch’an Zen and the Pure land schools, there is clinging to the Northern and the Southern lineages, difference in views between the Sangha and the laity, and boundaries are established between the Revealed and the Secret Teachings. All this has led to disunity between the Buddhists. If we can all follow the division of work of the six sense organs and unite as one body, then this will be like the hundred rivers flowing into the sea, and there will be nothing that we cannot accomplish.
It says in the Sutra, “All things arise due to causes and conditions, and all things become extinguished in absence of causes and conditions.” The world is a world that arise through the conflux of different cause and conditions, like water and clay. But if we mix the two and mould it into a Buddha image, then it will become very valuable thing. This proves that cooperation is valuable.
Our modern world has a lot of channels to communicate. We have all kinds of technology, thoughts, doctrines, and religions, although they are different, they can all be integrated with each other to achieve unity and peace.
c. Unity Can Be Attained Through Realization Of A Strength
If there is no strength, th4e there is no unity. There was a time when the Vatican issued a call for world peace, and someone said mockingly, “How many troops does the Pope have?” Of course, the military is not the only source of power but f we really actualize this strength, it will become a resource for unity, of this there can be no doubt.
During the lifetime of the Buddha, the end of Magadha was a newly arisen power; they planned to invaded the state of Vesali, so they went to the Buddha to ask for suggestions on how to win. The Buddha taught them the seven ways to rule a country, the way to not endangering a country. So the seven ways of governing a country are the way to actualize power. When we have the strength of unity, where there is the power of unity, and then we can plan for peace.
The Chinese Confucians say, “People should help themselves, and only then will others help them.” Buddhism also stresses self-realization and self-reliance. So the practice of meditation and chanting of Mantras are ways o acquiring our strength in order to eradicate our defilements and suffering. The Sutra of the Eight Great Methods of Enlightenment says, “Bodhisattvas should always think of the practice of listening of promoting wisdom in order to attain eloquence, to teach all, an to bestow great happiness on them. “We as Buddhists have the ability to acquire our strength by wisdom; there are some who acquire their strength through faith, and some acquire their strength by compassion and there are some who acquire their strength by vows and aspiration. When there is strength, there is unity, and when there is unity, there is peace.
d. Unity Can Be Attained Through Sacrifice
In our present world people say that we should unite. One organization says to another organization that we should have unity. One country says to another country that we should unite, but in actual fact, each one of us tried to work for his own benefit. How many really honor the spirit of unity? The most important point about unity is that one should be prepared to sacrifice oneself for the sake of peace.
In his previous lives, the Buddha used his own flesh to feed an eagle, he gave his body to the hungry tiger, his sacrifice earned the respect of all beings. When we have this respect, then we can unite together in harmony.
Today we have persons who go to Court for their individual benefit, who disown their relatives for money, they argue with other over their own views. When we hear something that does not suit us, we become angry at this person for the rest of out lives. Our clinging to name, and fame brings about a lot of suffering. We have all kind of attachment, and are calculative. We are not prepared to sacrifice even a little bit. We want to pressure others to show our power. We want to attack other people to show our authority. When we have this kind of behavior, we will just bring about hatred and revenge. How can we then have unity? If we cannot unite together, then how can we have peace? If we want to have unity, we should have harmony, and harmony is necessary for unity. And if there is unity, there is peace, and if there is peace, there is true unity. In this world where we have a lot of unsettled violence, the 16th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhist democrats the meaning unity for would peace. I believe that the spirit of tolerance and equality of the Buddha will be recognized by all people in the world, and will create a world of harmony and peace.
Economics in Buddhism.
Ven. Dr. Galle Udita Maha Nayaka Thero
Saddhamma Joti Sihapura Sanghapati
Chief Monk of Singapore in The Theravada Tradition
BA (Hon) M.A.- Lokattha Cari-Tepitaka Cariya
Buddha Dhamma Diploma - International Buddhist Counsellor
The Cause of Needs and Difficult Life
Unlike olden days, money is an essential factor of human beings to survive today. People in the Stone Age era never thought of money. Neither hunters nor shepherds thought of money. All those people had a few needs and they were happy with what they could get. In the beginning food was prominent among other needs. People wore leaves to cover their naked bodies. They lived in the caves and on or under the trees. They found their own medicines for their ailments. There were no barriers for those people to travel from place to place or to find lodgings to stay temporary or permanently.
As time passed by, clothing and food of people changed to different varieties. Then they exchanged one variety to another with others according to their needs. Problem of permanent shelter arose when shepherd era was disappeared. As they began to stay one place they increased their attachment and selfishness. In Agganna Sutta Buddha says that first people who came to New Sphere from Brahma World had very easy life. The plants bore fruits in the same day after people plucked grains from them in the morning. Those grains also were very soft and sweet. They did not have husks and could be eaten instantly.
But those beings increased more craving and began to collect more and more. Hence, being unfair to others whom live with them. Eventually natural facilities disappeared. And their life became harder and harder. They had to cultivate and eat. The need of a ruler also arose, as properties were not shared evenly. The beings that mentioned in the Agganna Sutta also were one family with equality in the beginning but later as their desire improved sexual difference was visible. Then some males with curiosity looked at opposite sex for long that they began to hug and had sex openly. Others looked down this action questioning them how could commit such immoral actions towards the members of same group. Anyway this was the beginning of a family and they found shelter for the first time to enjoy their mundane pleasures. (Agganna Sutta – Deega Nikaya)
The Difference of Past and Presence
There is a great difference between the long past and the presence. Today people have a lot of needs. Many products have improved their needs. Science and technology have given them a lot of hopes. As population increased many problems, conflicts, debates and arguments also came into exist. The society is immensely complicated. It is not easy to control by rulers consoling people with different views with their various needs. Buddha has mentioned that when human knowledge is greatly improved many problems would arise in the society. Now most of the things are in organized forms unlike in the past. The various natures of human beings have become a complexity of everything. Evolution of knowledge has contributed more for the variety.
The Basic Needs of Human Beings
Although society has been changed with the time the basic needs of people are the same as Buddha mentioned. Clothes, food, shelter and medicine are the basic needs of human beings. In the Vinaya, Buddha has advised monks to depend on these requisites and to use them very mindfully for a goal of ending all sufferings. Those four also are common property of monks. They have to share with other monks without any discrimination. They have to satisfy themselves with what they receive from devotees and shouldn’t bother over not gaining those requisites as they could be contended with very few needs that could be found with a little effort of themselves.
Contentment with Few Needs and Adapting with The Time.
Once Greek Philosopher Socrates said that happiness could be achieved only by limiting the needs of man. Buddha being contemporary Master in six century BC emphasized on few needs especially for recluses. Therefore monks did not worry over requisites. Buddha also advised people to offer alms to virtuous monks as it could cause a lot of happiness for laymen. When laymen do not offer food to them they may go for collecting alms from house to house with their alms bowls.
This has been practised, which also help poor people to follow charity for their future benefit as miserliness is regarded as the cause of poverty. When robes are not received, monks may find out cloths thrown away by people and clean and dye them by themselves to use. If there is no temple to stay they may stay under trees as shelter. When they do not have medicinal drinks they may make medicines by themselves using gall nuts and cow urine.
As time has changed, monks also not may able to follow as same as before. Those who do not know the way of practice of monks, collecting of alms is regarded as very mean and also as begging but monks never ask people to give for them. It is a misconception. Therefore in certain countries, where monks are not allowed to collect alms and also look down for doing so . Even if they allowed it in modern day, it is not easy to collect alms. As people live in flats, closed doors with doubts and fear for security reasons. Unless monks live in undeveloped or Buddhist countries like Thailand, Burma or Sri Lanka.
People also are busy with their own activities. They do not find enough time to care monks all the time unlike before. Due to social and security reasons today monks are not allowed to stay under trees too in developed countries. Therefore monks life also has been changed today. They also have to find new ways to survive and follow the teaching. They have adapted certain ways without breaching precepts according to the environment that they live.
Safer Society and Happy Family
Monks and layman are not same. The laymen have more responsibilities and duties than the monks. Their whole life depends on economical factors today. They have to earn a living as they depend on themselves unlike monks. Therefore Buddha advises in a different way to layman. A layman must follow five principles for morality, which comprises with abandoning killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and drinking liquor (including taking intoxicants) that could cause disorder of mind and body. These moral deeds contribute not only for the well-being of oneself but also of the society. The society is very safe when no body is committing any of those immoral practices. Peace and harmony would prevail in the society. No one has fear in the mind as each and every person keeps the confidence among him or her. Laymen are not supposed to live like monks, as they have to lead a married life. But they should not go to extremes in enjoying life. Today many families have broken up due to the doubts between husband and wife or extra marital affairs by either one or both parties. Therefore mutual strong love and confidence between husband and wife is very essential for the stability of the family.
Ethics in Buddhist Economics and The Purpose of Wealth
Buddha has preached thirty-eight blessing factors for the laymen to follow in Mangala Sutta. Laymen must acquire knowledge and skills to work. He should associate with good friends and find out good place to live. He should look after old parents wife and children, and care of relatives, and friends, make offerings to those deserve of offerings; he should abstain from drinking liquor (taking intoxicants) and all evil deeds and depend on right means and follow charity, moral teaching and improve wisdom.
In Parabhava Sutta Buddha points out all the downfall factors for the layman to know so that he could avoid them for his own benefit. He should not be lazy, talking too much with crowd, and indulged in slumber. He should not be involved in gambling, debauchery and drinking in wasting money; he should not cheat religious people such as monks or any other mendicant. He should not speak lies for whatever gain. He should not marry a woman of vast difference in age. And he should not expect power in a country having a little of wealth. In his responsible movements, a person whose habit is to drink and enjoy should not be kept. He should be satisfied with his own wife without visiting prostitutes for sexual pleasures.
Being proud of birth, wealth, or clan if a person despises his own kinsmen, the downfall will occur to him. Being rich he should not neglect supporting parents and sharing his wealth with others. He should not dislike virtuous religious masters and their good teachings.
Material Gains do not make Human Dignity
In Vasala Sutta Buddha also points out the factors that disgrace human dignity. The layman who does regard his status has to stop committing of those disgracing factors. He should have compassion to unfortunate beings; He should not run away from moneylenders denying loan, he has borrowed. He should not condemn or beat wife, parents and relatives. Being proud of having money, due to race or caste he should not look down others. He should not rob or destroy the wealth of others and he must avoid killing wayfarers for a trifle gain.
He should not cover the truth replying in witness due to partiality or for any selfish gain. Trying to conceal evil deeds is not proper by one. As others welcome us when visiting them we also have to welcome them. We should be shame and afraid of committing evils as human beings. Buddha in this Vasala Sutta emphasizes on the wholesome activities and discourages the person to do mean deeds. Buddha refuses the idea that one becomes a higher or lower by birth, but He proclaims that the person is higher or lower according to the deeds performed by him.
Abuse of Knowledge
But today people respect not for the qualities but for money. To some, money is like God. A big house, a brand new car, decides the dignity of the person rather than good qualities. In a party drinking is a must because the status of the person has to be maintained. Some argue that they cannot abandon drinking because of their business gains. Betting for the winner in the bull fighting, wrestling or boxing is significant where money is concerned but good qualities are less significant as they haven’t any economical value. By mass media advertisements are made to attract the users for products without considering any abusive effects of them. Today information technology is very advanced that all can share knowledge in a short of time and the vast world has become very tiny under this atmosphere. But in spite of good that can achieve through them some abuse it for man’s destruction.
Science and technology have done a tremendous service in saving the life of people but they also are being abused for the calamity of human being that handle it wrongly. A wise man knows how to use a razor knife but it is very dangerous when a monkey handles it. Once a man who learned to use the bow an arrow practised his shooting on an Arahant . With his fooliness, he had abused his knowledge of shooting, by killing an Arahant, which led him to be born in the hell to suffer a long period of time in the circle of existence. (Dhammapada)
How to Achieve Happiness?
In Viyaggapajjha Sutta Buddha addressed the householder Koliyan Dhigajanu replying his question how to get happiness by a layman and showed him four factors for the happiness here and four factors for the happiness hereafter. Endowment of endeavor, endowment of watchfulness, endowment of good companionship and balanced livelihood lead to the happiness in this life. The wealth has to be protected from fire, flood, theft and government. The confidence in the Triple Gem, morality, charity and wisdom guide the person for happiness in the next world.
How to Save Money and Achieve Prosperity?
As in Viyaggapajjha Sutta, Buddha in Sigalovada Sutta, preached the young man Sigala, who obeyed father’s advice after his death, that householder should not be lazy and he should work hard. Six channels of wasting wealth are explained in the Sutta as drinking, loitering in unseasonable hours, frequenting in places of amusements, gambling, association with evil companions, and indolence.
Good company is very significant where one’s wellbeing is concerned. Evil friends bring misery in this life and next life of the person. Whole teaching does depend on the true friendship according to Buddha. Nothing can be achieved without the help of true friends who guide the person to the right track.
Human being always does not have good time because his life has been formed with the good and bad karmic force created in the numerous past births. Therefore Eight Worldly contingencies namely gain, loss, defame, fame, blame, praise, sorrow, and happiness follow after the man time to time. The man has to bear up these worldly conditions, as they are unavoidable in human world. Life is always confronted with problems; therefore assistance of true friends is essential. If not people may go astray with confusing and worried mentality. Here, religion also contributes very much for man to find a way to gain the peace of mind.
The money hardly earned must be utilized well and the householder must know how to keep money for future use and how to improve it for the benefit of him and others. With regard to it, Buddha advises to layman to divide his income into four quarters and invest two quarters for the growth of income while depositing one quarter for the future and utilizing the other quarter for daily expenditure. This advice of Buddha is very suitable even for modern society for their safety, happiness, protection and prosperity. They may not have to borrow money from moneylenders and pay high interests which may be a big burden and very stressful for life. Buddha also advised layman not to transgress the truth because of desire, ill-will, fear and ignorance. By transgressing the truth with those four evil tendencies the householder would decline like the descending moon. He would prosper like the waxing moon when is not partial to desire, ill-will, fear, and ignorance according to Buddha. (Sigalovada Sutta – Deega Nikaya)
The cause of crime and misery
The vice is rife when people have problems due to the poverty according to Cakkawatti Seehanada Sutta. The rulers must help unfortunate and poor people for their survival. Misleading perspectives could also cause increasing of crimes according to this Sutta. The wealth is not only for the enjoyments of senses of beings but also for the wellbeing of the society. Once the king Kosala reported to Buddha that a millionaire died leaving all his wealth behind.
Then Buddha commented that wealth should be utilized wisely for the benefit of wife and children, relatives and friends. The foolish make his own misery with the craving for wealth as it happened to another millionaire named Ananda whose attachment was so great to wealth that he advised his son Mulasiri to not give anything to anyone as wealth would decline. He himself too hid his wealth under ground without giving to anyone. And that who was born as a lame beggar who was abandoned by his family itself. (Dhammapada-Balavagga)
How does a Householder Enjoy the Wealth?
Merchant Anathapindika was advised by the Buddha that householder must enjoy four kinds of happiness. Ownership of wealth is the first category. The person is very happy having a land, a house. A vehicle, and whatever other properties due to his rightly earned wealth. Secondly the person must enjoy the wealth for his own needs.
Happiness is experienced when his mind reminds him that the things he used are not caused by evil earning but by rightly earning with his own effort. Third is the happiness enjoyed without being indebted to anyone as he survives with his own wealth. His mind is lighter as he does not have to borrow or pay interests to anyone. The fourth happiness is more important than others as it conditions through unblamable deeds. The people who commit evil cannot be happy, as their mind is restless and filled with defilements. Therefore who do good deeds, wholesome deeds are happy not only in this very life but also hereafter.
Economics is a Part of Life and the Contentment is the Greatest Wealth
On the view of Buddhism the man must have one eye to see the way of happiness in this life and one eye to see the way of happiness in the next life. Those who do not see both ways are like blinds. And the person who may see the happiness in this world only is awake in one eye and blind in one eye as mentioned in Anguttara Nikaya. Buddhism is for living people and for the happiness of mankind. It is a way of life and it can be applied in our daily life.
In Buddhism mental factors are more important than physical factors because it is mind that directs all matters relevant behaviour including economy. A person is not able to do anything if mind stands still. The behaviour of us decides by our mentality. The mind and material phenomenon combine to form a life and to activate visibly. Mind is a natural energy which has a link from the past birth .It has no substances but it flows in a state of flux. The man has taken this mental force wrongly as God-given soul or permanent entity but it is one of the cosmic orders, which function naturally. The man does foster it with his mental, verbal and physical deeds. Everything is conditioned and nothing arises without causes. Our actions are the reactions of mental deeds.
Therefore all plans come from mind and mental improvement acquiring knowledge through five senses. Therefore mind must be alert in doing things. Happiness and unhappiness depend on the mental qualities. According to Dhammapada, contentment is the greatest wealth because, if the man cannot be satisfied with what he can get, he has to suffer. All sufferings are caused with the attachment, ill-will, and illusion on the point of Buddhism. People commit all kinds of evils due to defilements in the mind. Referring to this, right view is essential to understand things correctly.
Modern Economics and The Buddha’s Advice.
In the first sermon, Buddha has explained Noble Eight paths, which is called Middle Way. In that contents Buddha recommends right livelihood to followers. This right livelihood comprises with abandoning evil trades called trade of living beings, trade of flesh of beings, trade of poison and trade of intoxicant drinks and drugs. Under the modern economics, productivity, consumption and distribution play an important roll. The repercussion of consumption is insignificant. But we can see the evil effects of certain kinds of products, consumption and distribution.
Arms trade has violated the peace and harmony in the countries. All those trades have caused a lot of damages for not only to individual but also to whole society. Mr.E.F.Schumacher has tried to integrate Buddhist teaching with modern economics for the first time using this concept of right livelihood in his book “Small is Beautiful”. If we are going to supply all demands, which unsatisfied human mind, is seeking for, the world will be in a mess. Therefore modern economics must follow certain ethics considering man’s well being rather than trying to make profits and amusements.
Correct Way of Using Wealth
Hundred millions are suffering in the world without food according to the reports of UN development Programme. But billions of dollars are spent on weapons and nuclear testing in the countries. Many suffer from malnutrition due to the lack of proper food while some rich are wasting a lot of food. Why not we help all those suffering mass with our contributions? The purpose of wealth is to help others according to Buddha. The wealth we accumulate cannot be taken to next world. All the properties, all belongings have to be left when a person leaves this world.
The wealth is no use if it is not utilized for the family, relatives, society, country, religion and nation. Householder must perform five sacrifices towards others with his wealth in the view of Buddhism. Giving to relatives, welcoming of guests, offering to ancestors, offering to monks and giving to government. These are the benefits of rightly earned wealth.
Purity Depends on Moral Deeds
The being is purified not with material things. But with wholesome actions, knowledge, practice of teaching and higher morals. As sensible people we know that Ganga or any other river water cannot wash away our sins. Our sins must be washed away by ourselves cultivating morality, concentration and wisdom. This is called ending of karmic force and it is the Ultimate Goal of Buddhists. On whatever reason it is not advisable to commit evils. (Dhammapada)
Animal Nature in the Human Mind
Happiness, which we achieve through material things, is not permanent and therefore it does not last long. When we are not able to get our material needs or our wises do not come through we are sad and worry. If it is so we have to find out a way for everlasting peace and happiness. Our life is also an evolution. This birth is evolved to another birth according to the type we lead this life. Although we are physically human beings here mentally can be spi
rit or animal or deity.
If we practise qualities of real human beings it is sure we can be human beings again or else we may become animals due to animal nature in the mind or ghosts due to such qualities we follow here. Some people are very stingy that they even do not eat well or dress well but just keep more and more money secretly. They do not share their wealth with families or fellow citizens So how can they become human beings again unless become spirits to guard their wealth again in the next life? Knowing this we should practise charity.
According to Buddha a householder must follow four qualities which constitute charity, pleasant speech, constructive activities, and equality in dealing with associates. (Sigalovada Sutta) A true friend is endowed with four qualities, which comprise of confidence in the true religious masters, practice of morality, charity and wisdom. (Wyaggapajja Sutta)
True happiness could be achieved only through practice of wholesome qualities, which are conducive to have a noble birth. As life is a circle of existence, the wholesome energy obtained through wholesome activities brings happiness for the doer for many births as human being or deity according to Buddhism. Not only that, this accumulation of merit helps the person to end up his all sufferings at the end when reducing unwholesome forces through mind. Eradication of desire, illwill and ignorance is called deliverance in Buddhism, which brings the everlasting happiness to the follower. This happiness is totally super-mundane and spiritual and also is focussed through wisdom only.
Wish or Desire?
To live in this world, wealth is very essential. So everyone has to work for money as society depends on economics but we should not respect wealth regarding like the God. Trying to get wealth through right means is not wrong. It is not craving but the determination or wish to achieve the goal. Competition can be bad if it is directed by ulterior motives. But it is very helpful and effective concerning success and progress where motive is good and correct. The man who has no selfish attachment to wealth is able to do a lot of things to the society with his wealth accumulated with his own effort or inherited through family.
Ven. Udita Maha Thero
Buddha Vihara Society
1 Jalan Senang
Tel / Fax : (+65) 6348-0185
Mobile : (+65) 9066-2009
Should Buddhist vote? Can they be involved in politics? The answer is “YES!” Buddhists have been far too passive and far too reclusive and have not uttered publicly any political stand while privately, there are thousands of SMSs and e-mails that go round the Buddhist community expressing political stand. Even in private meetings, political concerns are discussed. Yet publicly, we keep quietly.
Why? Is it because, we do not want to antagonize anyone or to avoid creating bad karma? Or it is because the (some) Buddhist have been subjected to political patronage. This patronage allowed land to be allocated and be given to build Buddhist temples? Hence, we have gotten into situations where “you scratch my back and I scratch yours” and to avoid confrontation? Or is it true that some leaders have even joined the ruling political parties. While this is a general statement, I do admit not all Buddhist organizations and temples are like this. Yet, the silence is deafening.
On one hand, we shout and scream at the injustice of the military again the people and the monks of Myanmar. On the other we quiet ourselves to the injustices done in our community. Rulers needs to be fair and just and not serve personal interest. In the Buddhist context, a leader ought to manifest the doctrine of non-self to serve other beyond himself and herself.
Well read and informed Buddhists are aware that injustices are being committed. Lies and falsehood are being spread and elected officials have known to amass wealth for themselves, change the rules and constitution of the nation for their own benefit and have total disregard to the people who voted them in. With wealth and power, these leaders have forgotten to speak for the people and rather shut up. The few (yes, there are a few brave ones) within the ruling coalition who dared to speak-up. Those few have been castrated almost like how the gangsters and mobsters are terminate dissidents (like in movies we see). These good people are left out of this coming general elections. We have been given Power corrupts and have corrupted the very people we empowered.
As Buddhists, we are are for the purification of the mind. The purification of the mind required the a healthy body and positive and wholesome community. Stand up, make a stand to change the way things are being done.
The MCCBCHST have have issued a prayer, I have blogged the entire statement here.
Stand up, speak up, be counted and vote to change things.
Let me share the thoughts of our late Chief, Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera on
Buddhism and Politics - Venerable here reproduced below:
The Buddha once said, ‘When the ruler of a country is just and good, the ministers become just and good; when the ministers are just and good, the higher officials become just and good; when the higher officials are just and good, the rank and file become just and good; when the rank and file become just and good, the people become just and good.’(Anguttara Nikaya)
In the Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta, the Buddha said that immorality and crime, such as theft, falsehood, violence, hatred, cruelty, could arise from poverty. Kings and governments may try to suppress crime through punishment, but it is futile to eradicate crimes through force.
In the Kutadanta Sutta, the Buddha suggested economic development instead of force to reduce crime. The government should use the country’s resources to improve the economic conditions of the country. It could embark on agricultural and rural development, provide financial support to entrepreneurs and business, provide adequate wages for workers to maintain a decent life with human dignity.
In the Jataka, the Buddha had given to rules for Good Government, known as ‘Dasa Raja Dharma’. These ten rules can be applied even today by any government which wishes to rule the country peacefully. The rules are as follows:
1) be liberal and avoid selfishness,
2) maintain a high moral character,
3) be prepared to sacrifice one’s own pleasure for the well-being of the subjects,
4) be honest and maintain absolute integrity,
5) be kind and gentle,
6) lead a simple life for the subjects to emulate,
7) be free from hatred of any kind,
8) exercise non-violence,
9) practise patience, and
10) respect public opinion to promote peace and harmony.
Regarding the behavior of rulers, He further advised:
- A good ruler should act impartially and should not be biased and discriminate between one particular group of subjects against another.
- A good ruler should not harbor any form of hatred against any of his subjects.
- A good ruler should show no fear whatsoever in the enforcement of the law, if it is justifiable.
- A good ruler must possess a clear understanding of the law to be enforced. It should not be enforced just because the ruler has the authority to enforce the law. It must be done in a reasonable manner and with common sense. — (Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta)
In the Milinda Panha,it is stated: ‘If a man, who is unfit, incompetent, immoral, improper, unable and unworthy of kingship, has enthroned himself a king or a ruler with great authority, he is subject to be tortured‚ to be subject to a variety of punishment by the people, because, being unfit and unworthy, he has placed himself unrighteously in the seat of sovereignty. The ruler, like others who violate and transgress moral codes and basic rules of all social laws of mankind, is equally subject to punishment; and moreover, to be censured is the ruler who conducts himself as a robber of the public.’ In a Jataka story, it is mentioned that a ruler who punishes innocent people and does not punish the culprit is not suitable to rule a country.
The king always improves himself and carefully examines his own conduct in deeds, words and thoughts, trying to discover and listen to public opinion as to whether or not he had been guilty of any faults and mistakes in ruling the kingdom. If it is found that he rules unrighteously, the public will complain that they are ruined by the wicked ruler with unjust treatment, punishment, taxation, or other oppressions including corruption of any kind, and they will react against him in one way or another. On the contrary, if he rules righteously they will bless him: ‘Long live His Majesty.’ (Majjhima Nikaya)
The Buddha’semphasis on the moral duty of a ruler to use public power to improve the welfare of the people had inspired Emperor Asoka in the Third Century B.C. to do likewise. Emperor Asoka, a sparkling example of this principle, resolved to live according to and preach the Dhamma and to serve his subjects and all humanity. He declared his non-aggressive intentions to his neighbors, assuring them of his goodwill and sending envoys to distant kings bearing his message of peace and non-aggression. He promoted the energetic practice of the socio-moral virtues of honesty, truthfulness, compassion, benevolence, non-violence, considerate behavior towards all, non-extravagance, non-acquisitiveness, and non-injury to animals. He encouraged religious freedom and mutual respect for each other’s creed. He went on periodic tours preaching the Dhamma to the rural people. He undertook works of public utility, such as founding of hospitals for men and animals, supplying of medicine, planting of roadside trees and groves, digging of wells, and construction of watering sheds and rest houses. He expressly forbade cruelty to animals.
Other interesting and important read:
Ken Jones on Buddhist Social Action, the work of Sulak Sivaraksa, and the many engaged Buddhists here, here and here (and much more) about who have taken Buddhism beyond the temple walls to effect change in communities.
International Early Birds Brotherhood Multipurpose Cooperative Society
The Welfare and Ultimate Bliss of Entire Mighty Great Minds
Aims & Objects
To enrol membership for IEBBMCS for the welfare and happiness of all the members in accordance with the Constitution of India through their empowerment by grabbing the master key for distributing the nations wealth to benefit all sections of the society.
Distribution of fertile land to all poor farmers with healthy seeds.
Loan to each and every person who is interested in starting his own business with proper training on latest and most modern successful Trade Practices
To train Government servants to serve the society in a most efficient manner without corruption.
To train members to become leaders for excellent governance.
To train all members on “The Art of Giving” for a happy longevity, beauty, prosperity and Authority.
To create a database of all members with their photos, address, age, and all other necessary information that will serve as Citizens Identity Cards.
To help all members to be in the voters list in order to acquire the Master KeyTo strive hard to convert the existing three member Chief Election Commission
as Chief Election Committee, just like any other Parliamentary Committee representing all sections of the society to ensure that all eligible voters in the Country are included in the Voters list with their photo identity for free and fair elections.
To help all members to get genuine Caste Certificates.
To train all members to become media to propagate peace within oneself and harmony with others.
To train all members on the latest trade practices to make them to earn more money for the wholesome desire of propagating the Practicing and the Noble Right path shown by the Blessed, Noble and the Awakened One.
To train and cultivate the habit of early birds
To practice and train on the essential movements of the body, including walking, cycling and swimming for fitness
To practice and train to buy essential qualitative and most economic household articles and commodities
To train to cultivate the best food habits
To train to cultivate the ten disciplines for happy and peaceful life
Through the practice of Noble Eightfold Path
To train to practice meditation such as Pabajja, Vipassana and Zen practice for peace and happiness within oneself and harmony with others to enable to become Great Minds in order to attain the Ultimate Bliss
To enroll minimum two members per street for cultivation of the practice by way of training
Membership Minimum Rs.200 ($100) up to 25% and above of one’s net profit.
Cash or money orders may be sent to
#668 5th A Main Road , 8th Cross
HAL 3rd Stage
http://sarvajan. ambedkar. org
B Media 4 UR Own Idea
4 Mighty Great Mind !
2 Enter the Wonder Land !
That’s the Pure Land !
Path Shown by the Blessed, Noble, Awakened Mighty Great Mind !
Truely Followed by Baba saheb and Dada Saheb who Entered the Pure Land !
And Strived to lead all Sentient beings to that Wonder Land !
Without becomimg Prime Minister or President of any Land !
Now is all that U have in Hand !
Ms Maya leading one and all to that Wonder Land !
That’s the Pure Land !
Strawberry and Rhubarb Compote
1 pint strawberries, washed and quartered
1 lb (between 4 - 6 stalks) finely-chopped rhubarb
3/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
Rhubarb displayed for sale at a grocery
Add the rhubarb to a saucepan along with the honey. Cook over medium heat until tender (about 20 minutes) then add the strawberries and cook for 7 minutes more.
Remove from the heat and stir-in the vanilla and lemon juice. This can be served either warm or cold and will keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for a few weeks.
You can add topping to cakes if you like, or have it for breakfast on toast~mmmmmmm~
Rheum is a genus of perennial plants that grow from thick short rhizomes. The genus is in the family Polygonaceae, and includes the vegetable rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum or Rheum x hybridum.) The plants have large leaves that are somewhat triangular shaped with long fleshy petioles. The flowers are small, greenish-white to rose-red, and grouped in large compound leafy inflorescences. A number of varieties of rhubarb have been domesticated both as medicinal plants and for human consumption. While the leaves are toxic, the stalks are used in pies and other foods for their tart flavor.
The plant is indigenous to Asia, and many suggest that it was often used by the Mongolians; particularly, the Tatars tribes of the Gobi Desert. The plant has grown wild along the banks of the River Volga for centuries; it may have been brought there by Eurasian tribes, such as the Scythians, Huns, Magyars or Mongols. The term rhubarb is a combination of the Greek rha and barbarum; rha being a term that referred both to the plant and to the River Volga. Varieties of rhubarb have a long history as medicinal plants in traditional Chinese medicine, but the use of rhubarb as food is a relatively recent innovation, first recorded in 17th century England, after affordable sugar became available to common people, and reaching a peak between the 20th century’s two world wars. Rhubarb first came to America in the 1820s, entering the country in Maine and Massachusetts and moving westwards with the settlers.
Rhubarb is now grown in many areas and thanks to greenhouse production is available throughout much of the year. Grown primarily for its fleshy petioles, commonly known as rhubarb sticks or stalks. In temperate climates rhubarb is one of the first food plants to be ready for harvest, usually in mid to late spring (April/May in the Northern Hemisphere, October/November in the Southern Hemisphere), and the season for field-grown plants lasts until September. In the northwestern states of Oregon and Washington, there are typically two harvests: one from late April to May and another from late June and into July. Rhubarb is ready to be consumed as soon as it is harvested, and freshly cut stalks will be firm and glossy.
The colour of the rhubarb stalks can vary from the commonly associated deep red, through speckled pink, to simply green. The colour results from the presence of anthocyanins, and varies according to both rhubarb variety and production technique. The colour is not related to its suitability for cooking: The green-stalked rhubarb is more robust and has a higher yield, and the red-coloured stalks are more popular with consumers.
The stalks, which are petioles, can be cooked in a variety of ways. Stewed, they yield a tart sauce that can be eaten with sugar and stewed fruit or used as filling for pies (see rhubarb pie), tarts, and crumbles. This common use has led to the slang term for rhubarb, “pie plant”. Cooked with strawberries or apples as a sweetener, or with stem or root ginger, rhubarb makes excellent jam. It can also be used to make wine and as an ingredient in baked goods.
In former days, a common and affordable sweet for children in parts of the United Kingdom and Sweden was a tender stick of rhubarb, dipped in sugar. In the UK the first rhubarb of the year is grown by candlelight in dark sheds dotted around the noted “Rhubarb Triangle” of Wakefield, Leeds and Morley, a practice that produces a sweeter, more tender stalk.
A homemade rhubarb pie
In warm climates, rhubarb will grow all year round, but in colder climates the parts of the plant above the ground disappear completely during winter, and begin to grow again from the root in early spring. It can be forced, that is, encouraged to grow early, by raising the local temperature. This is commonly done by placing an upturned bucket over the shoots as they come up.
Rhubarb can successfully be planted in containers, so long as the container is large enough to accommodate a season’s growth.
Rhubarb is used as a strong laxative and for its astringent effect on the mucous membranes of the mouth and the nasal cavity.
Rhubarb leaves contain poisonous substances. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, a corrosive and nephrotoxic acid that is present in many plants. The LD50 (median lethal dose) for pure oxalic acid is predicted to be about 375 mg/kg body weight, or about 25 g for a 65 kg (~140 lb) human. While the oxalic acid content of rhubarb leaves can vary, a typical value is about 0.5%, so a rather unlikely five kilograms of the extremely sour leaves would have to be consumed to reach an LD50 dose of oxalic acid. However, the leaves are believed to also contain an additional, unidentified toxin. In the petioles, the amount of oxalic acid is much lower, only about 2-2.5% of the total acidity, especially when harvested before mid-June (in the northern hemisphere), but it is still enough to cause slightly rough teeth.
The roots have been used as strong laxative for over 5,000 years. The roots and stems are rich in anthraquinones, such as emodin and rhein. These substances are cathartic and laxative, which explains the sporadic abuse of Rhubarb as a slimming agent. Anthraquinones are yellow or orange and may colour the urine.
Other uses of the word
It is or was common for a crowd of extras in acting to shout the word “rhubarb” repeatedly and out of step with each other, to cause the effect of general hubbub. As a result, the word “rhubarb” sometimes is used to mean “length of superfluous text in speaking or writing”, or a general term to refer to irrelevant chatter by chorus or extra actors. The American equivalent is walla.
Possibly from this usage, possibly from a variant on “rube“, or perhaps some of both, the word also denotes a loud argument. The term has been most commonly used in baseball.
The term “rhubarb” as it relates to baseball is an antiquated reference to a fight amongst many players. The iconic bench-clearing brawl is known as a “rhubarb”.
In the 1989 film Batman, The Joker (Jack Nicholson) tells Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) to “never rub another man’s rhubarb”. The term was used as a threat to Bruce Wayne warning him to leave both men’s love interest Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) alone.
In the 1951 film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire, Stanley (Marlon Brando) gets into a ruckus at the bowling alley. His wife Stella (Kim Hunter) points him out to her sister Blanch (Vivien Leigh) and says, “(he’s) the one that’s making all the rhubarb”, to describe him as the person at the center of, or instigator of, the disruption.
The phrase “out in the rhubarb patch” can be used to describe a place being in the far reaches of an area. Rhubarb is usually grown at the outer edges of the garden in the less desirable and unkept area. Wheras the leaves and roots are poisonous, the stem is not. The term also refers to a 1954 book by Red Barber and Barney Stein, The Rhubarb Patch: The Story of the Modern Brooklyn Dodgers in which “Rhubarb Patch” was used in both it’s baseball and more general connotations to describe Ebbets Field, the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In Canada, the phrase “putting it in the rhubarb” describes driving a vehicle off the road, possibly into roadside vegetation.
“Donkey Rhubarb” refers to Japanese knotweed and is also the name of an EP by Aphex Twin
Citing price rise,Maya pulls out of UPA coalition
Bahujan Samaj Party withdrew support to the government ,citing its failure to curb inflation.
Mayawati also mentioned the “step-brotherly treatment” to Uttar Pradesh by he centre.Her government has repeatedly sought a grant of Rs 800 billion for the development of Bundelkhand and Purvanchal regions of UP.
Mayawati serves her political cause by ditching UPA
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has served her purpose well by ending her Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) legislative support to the Manmohan Singh government.
Party insiders see this as a calculated move aimed at killing two birds with one stone.
The action is expected to touch upon the emotions of her core constituency, the socially and economically downtrodden Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath, the worst hit on account of rising food prices.
BSP ends support for government
REUTERS, NEW DELHI - The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), an ally of ruling alliance, withdrew support for the government on Saturday, saying it had failed to tame rising inflation.
The regional BSP, which holds 17 seats in parliament but is seen as powerful in India’s coalition politics, also accused the government of neglecting Uttar Pradesh, where the party is based.
“The UPA government has failed on all fronts and, instead of curbing prices, it was responsible for prices of essential commodities rising to an all-time high,” BSP leader Mayawati told a news conference.
With less than a year to go to elections, rising prices are a headache for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by Congress party.
India’s wholesale price index rose 11.05 percent in the 12 months to June 7 on Friday, the highest rate in 13 years as the effects of a hike in fuel prices hit inflation.
The government is also under pressure from other allies, particularly the communists, to bring prices down and over a civilian nuclear deal with the United States which the communists oppose.
The nuclear energy deal appears headed for an imminent showdown that threatens to trigger early elections. Congress and its non-communist allies may have only a week or so to make up their minds if the pact is to have any chance of final approval before U.S. President George W. Bush leaves office.
Analysts say the BSP has deliberately timed its decision to withdraw support.
“I think the timing is significant — we are possibly looking at the endgame of the government around the nuclear deal, it’s a time when they need every vote they’ve got in the house,” said Mahesh Rangarajan, a political commentator.
The BSP, a party of predominantly lower Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa,that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath, may play kingmaker to the next national administration.
Mayawati is perhaps India’s most keenly watched politician after she captured power in 2007 in Uttar Pradesh, home to 170 million people and a seventh of all national lawmakers.
She won by taking a pro-poor message beyond the core base of her fellow Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa,that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath, those on the lowest rung of the caste ladder.
“She seems to be signalling that she hopes her party will be a major opponent of the UPA in the general elections,” Rangarajan said.
Mayawati is also seen as a potential leader of a collection of regional and caste-based parties circling each other warily and talking of a “Third Front” alternative to Congress and the main Hindu-nationalist opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Such a grouping, however, lacks a common platform and is unlikely to gather enough support to form a government.
But some analysts believe she now has the momentum to win enough seats to hold the balance of power in a hung parliament.
Sonia Gandhi’s Congress party has suffered in state elections and has only managed to draw relatively small and unenthusiastic crowds at rallies.
“At the next general election, she (Mayawati) will make more difference than now because her numbers are going to be more than they are now. That’s why she matters more than other leaders,” said Bhaskara Rao, a political analyst at the Centre for Media Studies.
Barrack Hussein Obama’s vertical rise from nowhere to within striking distance of the White House has mesmerised the whole world and changed many unfavourable opinions about the US almost overnight across the globe.
It was a little more than three years back that Obama became only the third African American in a hundred years to get into the US Senate, and the only one at that time. Even then, this unknown man from nowhere was being spoken about as a possible candidate to run for President in 2012 or 2016. But here we are in 2008, awaiting his ascendancy to the most powerful office in the world already! His vision of an America not “pockmarked by racism and fear or led by politicians born into privilege and coached into automaton”, and his embodiment of the “authenticity” in politics that he believes people are “hungry for”, have most unexpectedly got him where, in the beginning of the campaign, no one gave him even an outside chance of getting. Not against Hillary Clinton.
Obama’s dream run has predictably got the imaginations of Indians going in all directions.
Rajdeep Sardesai, in an excellent post in his blog at ibnlive.com has correctly analysed as to why the Indian political system is not amenable to even the idea of an Obama suddenly emerging from some dark, even lit, corner of the country to claim the top job. The oldest and biggest political party, Congress, as he has rightly observed, has become the property of one family which alone is entitled to that slot. The other major national party, the BJP has thrown up only two big leaders in Vajpayee and Advani. That, I believe, has a lot to do with the almost ‘family-like’ stranglehold that the RSS has over the party.
Regional parties have been throwing up Obamas at the state level every once in a while. But, in most cases, all such political outfits have morphed into family owned enterprises like the Congress. I must hasten to add that the term ‘Obama’ is being used only in the context of the speed of rise of these individuals from obscurity. The beliefs and the level of integrity that Obama epitomises are not even in the frame.
Shashi Tharoor, who writes in the Sunday edition of the Times of India, has a totally different take on the rise of Obama. In his column of June 22, 2008, Tharoor takes great pains to emphasise the ‘continuity’ element in Obama’s rise by stressing the fact that out of 12 nominees for President of both the Republicans and Democrats in the last 20 years, 10 have graduated from either Harvard or Yale. Obama has graduated from Harvard Law School.
Tharoor skilfully cites these outstanding educational attainments of US Presidents to support his unstated belief that these have a direct co-relation with the equally outstanding leadership skills required for leading the nation. Then he laments that we in India are “saddled with politicians of, to put it mildly, considerably lower educational attainment”, and that products from India’s better colleges and universities do not go into politics. Of Indian colleges, he can recall only the one to which he went, St Stephen’s, and the two career diplomats and one lawyer from that college who are now politicians. He then goes on to say that India needs more politicians from such institutions “as India seeks to carve out a place for itself in the 21st century world.”
A Delhiite who was even earlier disconnected from real India, Tharoor is apparently mentally still living in the US where he spent long years. That is why he sounds like an American who wants to summarily transplant the American experience in India, arrogantly believing that he knows all there is to know about India.
Harvard, Yale, Stanford and the other Ivy League institutions of excellence do not disconnect Americans from America. They are American institutions built from a scratch by Americans for America. Their alumni talk in the language of ordinary Americans and can therefore connect with them seamlessly. But that still does not guarantee excellence of leadership and clarity of vision. President Bush has degrees from both Harvard and Yale. Look at the double barrelled mess he has made in eight years of Presidency!
India’s elite colleges and schools are exactly the opposite. They are meant for English speaking Indians living in their own almost-in-the-US islands in the metros, far removed from real ordinary Indians who make up more than 90 percent of the population. Most of those who graduate from these colleges cannot speak local languages properly and cannot relate to or understand the fears, motivations and complex societal dynamics of ordinary Indians.
The few who do join politics at some stage, hesitate to get their hands dirty in the heat and dust of real India, except as political gimmicks which even the dumb can see through. Since they can neither understand ordinary people properly, nor do they arrogantly care to, they do not like to enter politics except at a comfortable hierarchical level far removed from the grind of real grass root politics, the kind that real leaders revel in. And to get that magical entry, some will descend to the lowest depths of sycophancy and grovel more unashamedly than even an illiterate native ever will. They are not real leaders at all, nor can they ever be. This is something they understand pretty well even if they don’t admit it.
In any case, when far better overseas options are available from these Ivy League feeder institutions, where is the incentive to get into politics at the entry level and confront an almost alien countryside full of ‘natives’? These days even the English media is a better bet. Better even than the Left: heady power, no responsibility to the people, plenty of money; all permanently available, no matter who is in power!
Obama is what he is not because he is from Harvard. He is the Obama we know and admire because he and his wife Michelle have lived through the traumas and difficulties of being ordinary blacks in white America, and still risen through it all with positive energy, hope and an inclusive vision that has caught the imagination of the whole of America, indeed the world.
Notwithstanding Obama’s scorching rise, let us not forget that he is the first ever black nominee of a major political party for President. He is only the third black in the senate in 100 years. And he is where he is not because he is black but despite being one, mainly because of the charisma that his starkly honest people-connect generates, dissolving his colour and the Hussein in his name almost completely. Another Obama may well not happen to the US for another 100 years, Harvard/Yale notwithstanding.
India may not have yet produced any Obama at the Prime Minister’s level. But we can be justifiably proud that at state and even senior national levels, India has a far better record than the US in democratically picking up leaders from many disadvantaged sections of the society. Even women have risen to all top political posts, without facing the kind of discrimination that they possibly still do in the US, notwithstanding their Ivy League resumes.
A Prime Ministerial Obama cannot emerge in India out of established political parties, given their rigid power structures and hierarchies, as long as the present multi-party system of parliamentary democracy exists. Freak political scenarios may catapult political lightweights into the PM’s chair. Charismatic leaders elected primarily on their own steam will, however, have to move gradually up the ladder and then just hope that circumstances conspire at just the right time to give them that critical final push into the final chair. Otherwise they will have to remain content in the shadows.
Sardesai is somewhat right when he says that Mayawati is the one Indian politician who comes closest to embracing the Obama principle. But, like Tharoor, he betrays some ignorance of India’s politico-social dynamics when he says that had she been “fortunate enough” to go to Harvard, she could have created “a new counter culture that is truly Indian(unlike the Left) and truly revolutionary(unlike the Congress).” To create a truly Indian counter culture you need to go to Harvard? That is something that will surprise even that great institution!
How would Mayawati have gone to Harvard in the first place? Before anything else, she would have had to have a very good command over English. To do that she, a Original Inhabitant of Jambudvipa,that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath , would have had to go to a fine English medium school, where she would have been probably in a minority of one among upper castes. And then she would have to get into a very good English medium college too, again probably in a minority of one. In all these years of education, she would have got increasingly disconnected from the real dalits who live in the villages of India, and would in all likelihood, have lost all appetite to work for her Bahujan Samaj.
In any case after Harvard, she would hardly have wanted to come back to India to re-live her Original Inhabitant of Jambudvipa,that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath past among Original Inhabitant of Jambudvipa,that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath. Finally, even if she did want to become the Original Inhabitant of Jambudvipa,that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath leader of the unprecedented power and mass following that she already commands, the Bahujan Samaj, which would have felt completely disconnected from her acquired mannerisms and language, would not have accepted her unquestioningly as its leader, like it has done now. Net result? She would have joined the Congress, in keeping with the culture of that party, and gradually dissolved into oblivion.
No one knows yet who will be India’s Obama. It could be Mayawati.
Whoever it may be, one thing is certain: India’s Obama will not, should not, be found in the hallowed precincts of Harvard/Yale or the like. He/she will emerge from the soil of India, quite like the IITians who are erupting from small, unheard of places and even more unheard of schools and colleges. With the experience and understanding of all the disadvantages and struggles which many of us only hear or write about. And with the brains which many of us think are to be found only in a few places. And, hopefully, with the profound wisdom of this ancient land that many of us in the cities have totally forgotten about.
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@ 12:23 am
United Nations endorses Thai Buddhist Economic model
by Kalinga Seneviratne, Lanka Daily News, March 20, 2007
SUFFICIENCY ECONOMY: In the last two decades, Buddhism’s appeal has grown in the West, drawing people seeking a calm not found in the fast-paced world of Internet-driven commerce and communications.
Bangkok, Thailand — While Bhavana (Buddhist meditation), has become a form of modern psychotherapy and influenced Western lifestyles, is there anything in the religion’s 2500 year old teachings, which could influence modern economics?
According to Thailand’s much revered King and lately members of the (new military installed) government and a growing number of economists and grassroots development activists, the answer is, yes, there is. They call it ‘Sufficiency Economics’, a term coined by King Bhumibol Adulyadej in the midst of Thailand’s economic meltdown in 1997.
It embraces the three pillars of Buddhism - dana (giving), sila (morality) and bhavana (meditation) - and is based on the Buddhist principle of the ‘Middle Path’, that is avoidance of extremes (of greed).
The Thais have recently got a strong endorsement of this Buddhist development strategy from the United Nation’s main development agency. In a report released in January, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hailed Thailand’s new “Middle Path” development model as a key to fighting poverty, coping with economic risk and promoting corporate social responsibility.
The UNDP’s ‘Thailand Human Development Report 2007: Sufficiency Economy and Human Development’, a result of a year-long collaboration between Thai and international experts, is designed to bring Sufficiency Economic thinking to a wider international audience.
UNDP describes ‘Sufficiency Economics’ as a set of tools and principles that help communities, corporations and governments to manage globalisation - maximising its benefits and minimising its costs - by making wise decisions that promote sustainable development, equity, and resilience against shocks. Thus, the report says that the ‘Sufficiency Economy’ is a much needed “survival strategy” in a world of economic uncertainty and environmental threats.
“We believe that Sufficiency Economy principles are applicable around the world, especially for rapidly-developing countries that are experiencing some of the same pressures as Thailand” said Joana Merlin-Scholtes, UNDP’s Resident Representative in Thailand.
This model may perhaps offer some insights on how to tackle some of Sri Lanka’s own economic woes and development problems UNDP report goes on to explain what Sufficiency Economics means in practice.
For communities, Sufficiency Economics principles are fundamental to empowerment and building resilience, such as setting up savings groups, revolving credit lines, and local safety nets. For private business it means, “taking corporate responsibility to the next level” by using this approach as a guide to management and planning.
“This approach encourages them to focus on sustainable profit, to adhere to an ethical approach to business, to pay special attention to their employees, to respect nature, to have careful risk management, and to grow where possible from internal resources” the report explains.
And for the third pillar, the governments, the Sufficiency Economy is central to alleviating poverty, promoting good governance, and guiding macroeconomic policies to immunise against shocks.
UNDP believes that Sufficiency Economics is a naturally ally of human development, but it also offers two additional elements - placing greater emphasis on mental and spiritual development, and offers guidance on how to make decisions that will achieve sustainability, well-being and happiness.
Thailand plans to write into the preamble of the interim constitution that is being written right now the principles of Sufficiency Economics. The official Thai definition of the economic model drawn up in 1999 describes it as “an approach to life and conduct applicable at every level from the individual through the family and community to the management and development of the nation”.
Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul, former chief of Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) and currently the secretary-general of the Chaipattana Foundation under royal patronage, argues that it is not correct to suggest that Sufficiency Economics was suitable only for the poor and grassroots communities, while everyone else follows the Western capitalist and consumerist economic model.
Citing the unrelenting growth of the world’s population and global competition for natural and other resources, to match growth in consumption, which has already outgrown Mother Nature’s capacity to replenish by a ratio of 3:1, he argues the mainstream economic model could only lead us to disaster and conflict.
Dr. Sumet points out that only 4 percent of the benefits of Thailand’s decades long economic growth (until 1997) has trickled down to the country’s poor who constitute 60 per cent of the population, while Thailand’s middle class women are renowned for being world-class shoppers - second only to those from Hong Kong - for spending as much as US$ 1000 on designer-labelled handbag when they go shopping abroad.
Dr. Sumet argues that Sufficiency Economics is what Western economists call ‘risk management’ and the Thai model sees this path as one which develops an economic policy on moderation, rationale and immunity. He cites the revival of the Siam Cement Group, which is Thailand’s largest company, as a good example of how Sufficiency Economics could be applied to risk management.
When the 1997 economic crisis hit Thailand, Siam Cement had over 200 subsidiaries and was saddled with an unprecedented huge foreign exchange debt due to the currency depreciation, and was on the brink of collapse. “The crisis exposed the perils of its excessive growth.
It was monolith - way too big and too fat” noted Dr Sumet. “After several years of drastic restructuring and selling of its non-core assets, the group, now with only about 100 subsidiaries, has returned to health. It has just reported its highest profits in 35 years”.
NESDB’s secretary-general Ampon Kittiampon argues that Thailand does not need high economic growth for sustainable development, all it needs is about 4 percent growth rate that can absorb new entrants to the job market.
He criticises the deposed government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (one of Thailand’s wealthiest businessmen) for using public spending to increase consumption and hence growth, and also for using government investments for helping his business cronies.
Raising ethical standards for economic management and getting rid of conflicts of interest and introduce transparency are also part and parcel of Sufficiency Economics argues Ampon.
Thailand’s current push for a Sufficiency Economics development path really began in 1999 when many of Thailand’s top economists gathered to discus the King’s thinking on the economy to get the country back on its feet.
They concluded that the country had clearly ignored moderation by indulging in over-consumption, which reduced the volume and savings and increased the reliance on foreign debt. Thus, Thailand needed a degree of self-reliance because they could not predict the shocks of the globalised era. However, the then Prime Minister Thaksin did not agree with such economics, which created much friction between the Palace and the Prime Minister.
The UNDP report gives many examples of how the Sufficiency Economy model has been implemented in many parts of Thailand, encouraged by models set up under royal patronage across the country.
One such example is of Chumphon Cabana resort, which shows that, the benefits of the ‘Sufficiency’ approach is not just confined to the agriculture sector. In the crisis of 1997, this resort on the east coast of the peninsula suffered financial difficulties like so many other businesses. In the desperate attempt to stay afloat, the owner took inspiration from the Sufficiency approach.
As a start, she began to plant rice, vegetables, flowers and fruit trees on land within the resort project. To improve the sandy land without the cost of chemicals, she experimented with making organic fertilizer from hotel waste and other materials.
She planted a local variety of rice and installed a rice mill. The husk was used in making the fertilizer and for animal feed. As the resort’s land was not enough to supply all its needs, she got the cooperation of surrounding villages to supply the deficit, and also helped train them in making fertilizer and other practices of organic farming. The employees of the resort were especially encouraged to participate.
Next she invented a just-in-time system of supply by posting the following day’s requirements of various articles on the local school’s notice board. Local production expanded beyond food to include various cleaning materials made from local materials.
As production increased, these articles were also supplied to other resorts in the area. The resort benefited from low production costs and reliable supplies. Surrounding farmers had a secure market and good prices because there were no middlemen.
Soon the resort gained a reputation with the result that other resort owners, farmers, NGOs, and government officials came to learn - which gave the employees a sense of pride. As the owner concluded, “I think this is a kind of development which makes everybody happy.”
In a 1998 statement on the essence of the Sufficiency Economics model, King Bhumibol said: “Sufficiency is moderation. If one is moderate in one’s desires, one will have less craving. If one has less craving, one will take less advantage of others. If all nations hold to this concept, without being extreme or insatiable in one’s desires, the world will be a happier place”.
Buddhism and the nation: setting off two abreast
23:27′ 08/02/2008 (GMT+7)
VietNamNet Bridge - There are 23 million religious followers in Vietnam, who make up 30 percent of the population. Vietnam’s religious policies have become more consistent during the national Renewal process, which has created a legal foundation for religious activities.
These policies ensure citizens’ freedom of religions and beliefs, and the unity and harmony between religious and non-religious communities and between believers of different faiths.
Monks and nuns have more freedom to practise their religion
Superior Buddhist Bonze Thich Duc Nghiep, Deputy General Secretary of the Executive Council of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and Head of the Management Board of the Vinh Nghiem monastery in Ho Chi Minh City said so to VOVNews reporters.
Over the last five years, the Ho Chi Minh City Committee of Vietnam Buddhist Sangha has been aware that religions can only develop in an independent and free country. It has successively launched a patriotic emulation movement and contributed to economic development and social affairs in the city.
The national Buddhist Representative Congress held in Hanoi recently proved that Buddhism has had a strong attachment to the nation since the 3th century BC. This was correct as Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh said that Buddhism has always walked together hand in hand with the nation from the past to the present and the future.
Superior Bonze Thich Duc Nghiep affirmed, “The Vietnamese Party and State respect Buddhism and cause no difficulties for its followers. I think our citizens should live and work according to the Constitution and law.
However, some individuals and organisations recently took advantage of various incidents to distort State policies. It is not a decent practice because it distorts the truth. I think it is incorrect to say that there are no human rights in Vietnam.
The United Nations Day of Vesak 2008 to be held in Vietnam, involves 80 countries and will prove the State and Government’s religious policies on Buddhism. There is no difficulty in practicing religion in Vietnam”.
Vietnam’s policies build trust in the people
The Vietnamese Government has implemented socio-economic development programmes to improve people’s spiritual and material lives with particular attention paid to those in remote, mountainous and inaccessible areas and the best possible conditions have been created to ensure their religious activities.
Religious dignitaries and believers are free to hold and participate in their festivals, get ordained, change their workplace, leave the country, take part in training activities, print Buddhist books, build temples and take part in humanitarian activities.
Superior bonze Ly Hung from Pitukhosarangsay in Can Tho city said, “The implementation of Programmes 134 and 135 has created positive socio-economic changes in areas inhabited by the Khmer ethnic minorities. Rural roads have been upgraded to ensure smooth traffic and irrigation schemes and dykes have been built to help increase agricultural productivity. The Khmer cultural festival held in 2007 in Pothisomrom temple on the Ooc Om Bok festival has helped to maintain and promote the traditional cultural values of the Khmer people in southern Vietnam”.
According to Nguyen Thanh Tam, deputy head of the Religion and Ethnicity Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front in Can Tho city, over the last few years, the Front has united and gathered people together from all social classes and religions.
He said, “The Hoa people in Can Tho city are concentrated in the Ninh Kieu, Cai Rang and O Mon precincts and Thot Not district. The Party and Government’s renewal policies have enabled them to practise their religion and beliefs and has encouraged them to become further involved in economic activities.
Meanwhile, Superior bonze Ly Hung said that although Vietnam is inhabited by many different ethnic groups who followed a diverse amount of religions, the people remain very united despite any plots and distortions by bad elements against the Government’s religious and ethnic policies. This shows that the Government policies are correct and supported by the people”.
Respect and ensuring people’s freedom of religion and belief
The La Vang 2007 festival was held in Quang Tri province in August 13-14, 2007 by the Vatican and the Vietnam Episcopal Council. It was attended by about 80,000 Catholics.
Noteworthy was that a delegation from the US embassy led by second secretary, Michael A. Orona attended the festival and worked with the Quang Tri provincial authorities and local Catholic dignitaries. They commented that human rights and the religious situation in Vietnam in general and in Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Tri in particular was good, not as reported by some other people.
Besides these events, recently, religious organisations and individuals have extended their external relations with those in the region and the world. They have participated in international religious seminars and religious activities in foreign countries.
Foreign religious organisations and individuals have been invited to visit and hold religious activities in Vietnam to facilitate mutual understanding. In particular, a Buddhist delegation led by the Most Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh from Lang Mai Pagoda in France returned and visited the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha.
The delegation, which comprised of 160 members of different nationalities, held many religious activities in different localities. They were welcomed and supported by monks and nuns from both inside and outside of the country, who maintained that this showed a response to the Vietnamese Party and State’s policies on national unity and religious freedom.
Foreign religious followers living and working in Vietnam have also been assisted by many provincial and city authorities to practise their religious activities.
To show its respect for religious freedom and its integration policy, Vietnam will host the UN Day of Vesak 2008. This is a prestigious and influential religious festival in the world, which will be attended by hundreds of delegations from different countries, and tens of thousands of monks, nuns, Buddhist followers and researchers and scholars of Buddhism around the world.
This event will help to improve the image of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and lift it to a higher plane, affirm its political situation in the world in general and Buddhist countries in particular.
As of October 2007, there were 23 million religious followers in Vietnam (or nearly 30 percent of the total population). Since 2005, the number of religions which are recognised by the State has increased from 6 to 10 and the number of religious organisations have increased from 16 to 29. The number of priests, dignitaries and religious officials now totals 53,000.
Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient
India, that is Prabuddha Bharath, that is
Chapter 1: Ancient India on Exhumation
Chapter 2: The Ancient Regime
Chapter 3: A Sunken Priesthood
Chapter 4: Reformers and Their Fate
Chapter 5: The Decline and Fall of Buddhism
Chapter 6: The Literature of Brahminism
Chapter 7: The Triumph of Brahminism
Chapter 8: The Morals of the House
Chapter 9: Krishna and His Gita
Chapter 10: Analytical Notes of Virat Parva and Udyog Parva
Chapter 11: Brahmins Versus Kshatriyas
Chapter 12: Shudras and the Counter-Revolution
Chapter 13: The Woman and the Counter-Revolution
Editorial Note in the manuscript published in the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Vol. 3 by the Government of Maharashtra:
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar had proposed to write a treatise, i.e., `Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India‘. The table of contents has been printed in the chapter of schemes. He had originally planned to write seven books to be included under this broad title. The Committee was able to find some pages and few chapters in his collection. The chapters are also incomplete. After scrutiny, the Committee came to a decision that `Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India’ is to be presented in this volume with the available material though incomplete. Dr. Ambedkar considered the rise of Buddhism as revolution. The Counter-Revolution pioneered by Brahmins’ resulted into decline and fall of Buddhism.
As such the following chapters are included under this title.
1. Ancient India on Exhumation
2. The Ancient Regime—The State of the Aryan Society
3. A Sunken Priesthood
4. Reformers and Their Fate
5. The Decline and Fall of Buddhism
6. The Literature of Brahminism
7. Triumph of Brahminism
8. The Morals of the House—Manusmruti or the Gospel of Counter-Revolution
9. Philosophic Defence of Counter-Revolution (Krishna and his Gita)
10. Analysis of Virat Parva and Uddyog Parva
11. Brahmins V/s Kshatriyas
12. The Shudras and the Counter-Revolution
13. The Women and the Counter-Revolution
The readers may compare these chapters with the proposed plan given in the last chapters of Schemes.—Editors
Ancient India on Exhumation
There are two typed copies of this Chapter. Both of them contain additions and corrections in the handwriting of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. After consideration, we decided that the latter version should be included here. This essay, consisting of three pages only, seems to be an introduction to a larger subject Dr. Ambedkar probably had in his mind.—Editors.
Much of the ancient history of India is no history at all. Not that ancient India has no history. It has plenty of it. But it has lost its character. It has been made mythology to amuse women and children. This seems to have been done deliberately by the Brahminical writers. Take the word Deva. What does it mean? Is the word Jana Vishesh representing a member of the human family? It is made to appear superhuman agency. By this the pith of history contained in it is squeezed out.
Along with the word Deva occur the names of Yaksha, Gana, Gandharva, Kinnars. Who were they? The impression one gets on reading the Mahabharat and Ramayan is that they are imaginary beings who filled the horizon but did not exist.
But the Yaksha, Gana, Gandharva, Kinnaras were also members of the human family. They were in the service of the Devas. The Yakshas were guarding the palaces. Ganas were guarding the Devas. Gandharvas were amusing the Devas by music and dancing. The Kinnaras were also in the service of the Gods. The descendants of the Kinnaras are even now living in Himachal Pradesh.
Take the name Asura. The description of Asura given in the Mahabharat and Ramayana make out as though hey belonged to non-human world. An Asura is described to eat ten carts-load of food. They are monsters in size. They sleep for six months. They have ten mouths. Who is a Rakshas? He too is described as a non-human creature. In size, in his capacity for eating, in his habits of life he resembled the Asura.
There is a plenty of references to the Nagas. But who is a Naga ? A Naga is represented as a serpent or a snake. Can this be true ? Whether true or not, it is so and Hindus believe it. Ancient Indian history must be exhumed. Without its exhumation Ancient India will go without history. Fortunately with the help of the Buddhist literature, Ancient Indian History can be dug out of the debris which the Brahmin writers have heaped upon in a fit of madness.
The Buddhist literature helps a great deal to remove the debris and see the underlying substance quite clearly and distinctly.
The Buddhist literature shows that the Devas were a community of human beings. There are so many Devas who come to the Buddha to have their doubts and difficulties removed. How could this be unless the Devas were human beings
Again the Buddhist canonical literature throws a food of light on the puzzling question of the Nagas. It makes a distinction between womb-born Nagas and egg-born Nagas and thereby making it clear that the word Naga has two-fold meaning. In its original sense it stood for the name of a human community.
The Asuras again are not monsters. They too are a Jan-Vishesh human beings. According to Satpatha Bramhana, the Asuras are the descendants of Prajapati the Lord of the creation. How they became evil spirits is not known. But the fact is recorded that they fought against the Devas for the possession of the earth and that they were overcome by the Devas and that they finally succumbed. The point is clear that the Asuras were members of the human family and not monsters.
With this exhumation of debris, we can see Ancient Indian History in a new light.
Online edition of India’s National NewspaperSunday, June 22, 2008
BSP withdraws support to UPA
|Mayawati rules out poll alliance with BJP
NEW DELHI: The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Saturday withdrew support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. However, the 17 BSP members in the Lok Sabha are not critical to the survival of the UPA as of now.
Announcing the decision in the capital, BSP leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati ruled out a pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “The BSP has never had an electoral alliance with the BJP and we will never have one in the future. As far as we are concerned, the BJP and the Congress are two sides of the same coin.”
As for the reasons for withdrawing support to the UPA, she cited the continuance of the Taj Corridor case, besides the Centre’s failure to address the grievances of the common man and its “step-motherly treatment” of her State.
Ahead of announcing the withdrawal of support — something Ms. Mayawati has been threatening to do since January 15 this year — the BSP sent letters to the President, the UPA chairperson, the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman informing them of the party’s decision.
In the four-page letter to the President, the BSP detailed the circumstances which influenced the party to extend outside support to the UPA on May 22, 2004, and the compulsions that forced it to review its decision on Saturday. Pointing out that the BSP had offered support to the UPA to weaken communal forces, Ms. Mayawati said she had hoped that the Congress-led coalition would promote the interests of all sections.
Plight of the poor
“However, the UPA has failed to meet the aspirations of the poor. The plight of the poor has worsened because of the flawed economic policies of the government.”
On the “step-motherly” attitude of the Centre to Uttar Pradesh, she said that despite several petitions to the Prime Minister, the government had not conceded the demand for a Special Area Incentive Package for Poorvanchal and Bundelkhand.
How the numbers add up
The Bahujan Samaj Party’s decision to withdraw support to the United Progressive Alliance will not affect the survival of the Manmohan Singh government.
But if the Left parties also withdraw support, the UPA government will get reduced to a minority with only 227 seats. The UPA can recover some ground in the event of its winning the support of the Samajwadi Party.
However, the ruling alliance will still be a few seats short of the halfway mark — 272.
Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) withdrew support to the UPA government with immediate effect. BSP supremo and UP CM Mayawati has formally written to the President in this regard. The BSP has 17 MPs in the Parliament.
Mayawati has been criticising the UPA government for the past few months.
A ‘DRESS’Y AFFAIR’ - Noida Govt. College implements dress code
Noida: In an attempt to check the flow of anti-socials into the campus, the Government PG College, Noida has decided to implement a new dress code for all students at the institute.
Principal of the college, Ashwani Kumar Goyal said, “The idea behind implementing a dress code is to keep anti-social elements out of the college and ensure proper students’ behaviour. The code will be implemented for both boys and girls”.
“Boys will wear shirts and pants whereas girls will have to wear salwar-kurta. The color of the uniform will be decided after consultation with parents / guardians and students themselves”, Goyal added.
Teachers and professors from across the country have stressed the fact that ‘Indecent Attire’ invites adverse public reactions, while the frequent use of mobile phones disrupts academic activities.
Uttar Pradesh approaches apex court against Sahara order
New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) The Uttar Pradesh government Friday moved the Supreme Court challenging a state high court order restricting it from carrying out more demolitions in a housing complex owned by the Sahara Group in Lucknow.
A vacation bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat refused to give any interim relief to the state government and stated that the matter would be taken up only next week.
Farmers need a message of hope
Having travelled recently to several villages in Vidarbha in Maharashtra and Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh, (known as farmer suicide belts), one has come to realise that even in the midst of despair in these villages there are islands of hope created by the good work of some farmers, voluntary organisations and officials. We need to build further on these efforts and expand these islands of hope.
In the middle of the extreme drought, one came across several patches of green fields in Chitrakut district of Uttar Pradesh, thanks to the good water and soil conservation work done by a voluntary organisation, ABSSS.
As the result of another well-executed watershed project, implemented by Parmarth, another voluntary organisation, in Lachmanpura village of Jalaun district, Dalit farmers were reaping good harvests even in the midst of an extreme drought situation.
While farmers in nearby villages were migrating in large numbers, those of Lachmanpura had saved their crops by combining water conservation with irrigation.