Reveries

A mishmash of spirituality, human relationship, adult and children's literature, news analyses and anti-road-rage tirades

Hashtag Spirituality with Ranjit

Spirituality_with_Ranjit_Completes_120_DaysStarting 22 February 2020, I have been posting a message a day on Twitter, under the hashtag #SpiritualitywithRanjit. Never imagined that on 19-Jun-2020, #SpiritualitywithRanjit would complete 120 days of continual daily posting. Never imagined that it would grow into India’s first #interfaith community that considers science an ally of spirituality. Thank you everyone. Thank you Almighty!

What is #SpiritualitywithRanjit?

Self-evident from the hashtag title, these tweets are based on my own views and experiences on God, spirituality, immateriality, piety and secular beliefs in the supernatural being that formed a part of the solutions towards ensuring a lasting world peace and a greener planet. I have come across these thoughts over a period of four decades.

#SpiritualitywithRanjit (SWR) is India’s first interfaith community and considers science an ally to advancing humanity’s spiritual understanding. SWR strives for world peace and an abundant green planet by helping people see beyond the narrow confines of nationality and religions to realize the power of religion-neutral, gender-neutral, geography-neutral spirituality in making their lives better and the world a better place to live in.

An itsy-bitsy history

Born to a Hindu Brahman family, I had a religious upbringing that was more spiritual and secular. The concept followed was—I may be a born Hindu, but I should love Muslims, Christians, Jains, Shankaria Vaishnavites, Sikhs and animists—the followers of faiths common in his place of birth.

The first visual representation of God for me was the Hindu God Lord Shiva, followed by the Hindu Goddess of Learning Saraswati. Around the same time, I was also introduced to the hymns to Jesus Christ and the prayers to Allah through various sources, which included a Christian cemetery nearby as well as a missionary school and some family friends.

My experiments with religion and spirituality continued throughout my school days in Guwahati, and then in my college and professional days in and around New Delhi. In my new city of residence, I met people from some other faiths—Parsees (Zoroastrians), Jews, Baháʼís, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. I also got to know about communities like ISKCON, Brahma Kumaris, Osho and Ananda Foundation. All these added to my experiences.

My thoughts on spirituality have been on an ever-evolving trajectory. Each day has been a learning experience towards a better understanding of the supernatural being and towards a finer attempt to find a meaning behind our existence on this planet as well as in this universe, more precisely, in these multiverses! All these experiments have in some strange way gestured to me to reach out to people and tell them about the greatness of God, the formless, all-pervading, omniscient, omnipotent, omnific, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, omniactive, supreme being, who is above all religions and countries.

I think people from all walks of life will surely be benefitted from my unique experiences and experiments. My unique understanding will certainly add to the efforts of those who endeavour to make this world a better place to live in. With this premise in mind, I started the a-message-a-day service on Twitter, sharing my thoughts under the hashtag #SpiritualitywithRanjit from my personal Twitter handle @ranjitksharma.

#SpiritualitywithRanjit (SWR), the daily message service on Twitter, is gradually developing into a strong global interfaith community that aims at helping people see beyond the narrow confines of nationality to make the world a better place to live in through the pursuit of religion-neutral, gender-neutral, geography-neutral spirituality and world peace. It has now its own Twitter handle @SpiritualityWR, its own Facebook page fb.me/SpiritualitywithRanjit, a Medium Publication, a YouTube channel, a WordPress blog spiritualitywithranjit.wordpress.com and own email ID spiritualitywithranjit@gmail.com.

You can see some of the old Tweets in the following screenshot.

Screenshot of #SpiritualitywithRanjit Tweets

Initially I chose Twitter over other platforms, because it gave me the independence and the required scaffolding to be precise and clear in identifying each thought uniquely. The added benefit includes the ability to post even when I have pressing deadlines to meet in my editorial projects, through which I earn my bread and butter. Even today, I post my first post on Twitter, followed by others.

Of course, I also have the advantage of expanding my tweets in the form of blog posts or YouTube videos in due course of time.

An ultimate vision

Let us share here our audacious dream and vision. All the continents were once together in the form of a land mass called Pangaea. With time we separated out. All the humans together belong to one species. Yet, we created the borders, separating one nation from the other and spending millions of dollars in securing these man-made frontiers.

We think that it is now time to #BreaktheBorders and recreate a practical Pangaea land. No borders, no military, no countries, no disparities; just one Earth, one nation, one currency. Cities that are currenty the national capitals of various countries take five-yearly turns to become the mega-capital of the proposed Pangaea land. This rotational system of capitals, in the ascending order of the current national wealth of the countries, will ensure development in the poorest lands on Earth.

Since there will be no millitary expenditure (a minmal police force can exist), the huge wealth saved can be utilized to judiciously use and store all of the energy available on our planet, thus leading us to become a Type 1 civilization in the Kardashev scale.

The humble hits

I would like to share some achievements here:

  • In the month of MayJun 2020, we had over 55,000 Twitter impressions through the two Twitter handles (@spirtualitywr and @ranjitksharma) combined.
  • We are humbled by the fact that the followers of our daily Tweets include not just Indians but also Muslim clerics from Pakistan, UK, and Niger, Christian pastors and ministers from Kenya, Congo, Poland, UK and USA, Jew Rabbis from Israel as well as atheists, agnostics, astronomers, physicists, climate activists, interfaith scholars and associations from the USA, Norway, Finland, Bangladesh, Ghana and Australia. There are many other countries whose citizens have become our Twitter followers and have showered their love on us. The list is growing and I am sorry that I am unable to list them all here.
  • On 23-Apr-2020, we launched #FearNotThereIsGod campaign that helps people fight #COVID19 #lockdown stress and anxiety through #interfaith spiritual support.
  • MENAFN (The Middle East North Africa Financial Network), a Delaware (USA)-based newspaper portal published #SpiritualitywithRanjit’s press release as a news item. Here is the link to the published news item. Here’s the link to the original press release on Online PR Media.

Happy reading!

If my spirituality Tweets have affected your lives in a positive way, do share your experiences with others. Retweet, re-blog, comment, like and share.

If you have the time to retweet any posts you like, you are taking a step in changing the world with me, and I appreciate it. Let others be benefited.

Also, I would like to invite interested individuals and organizations from across the world to collaborate, volunteer and join hands with us in whatever way they can.

#SpiritualitywithRanjit #spiritualawakening #SpiritualQuotes #spiritualgrowth #HumanityFirst #Spirituality #Share #ShareTheLove

Links

Following are the various ways to communicate online with SWR:

Filed under: Heresy, Philosophy, Relationships, Spirituality, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Three life lessons from Lord Krishna’s life

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Illustration by Devangshi Sharma

Janmashtami is celebrated across the world with great fanfare. It marks the birth of Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Nobody in the living world today has seen Lord Krishna. We all have come to know about him from the writings of ancient sages or from our elders. Krishna’s life has inspired many to do good to the society, while it might have also misled a few of us to do otherwise.

What are the takeaways from Lord Krishna’s life in today’s world? Can we inculcate them in today’s so-called practical world? Most importantly, do these teachings have any real-life applications?

First of all, Krishna’s Bal Leela teaches us three parenting lessons.

1. Do not differentiate between the dark and the fair. Treat all children as equal.

This might have implications on those among us who have an unnatural fascination for fair skin and go to any extent to demean dark-skinned children. This might also lead some of us to re-think whether we should give preference to fair-skinned brides or grooms.

2. Allow children to play. Place equal importance to studies and play. Do not force children to stick to academics only.

Perhaps this might have a bearing on those who employ children in their factories, shops, and homes. Children should ideally be left to play and study and not work to earn a living. 

3. Treat each child as a representative of God.

This has implications on those who go to the extent of inflicting crime on children. This has lessons for those teachers, fathers, guardians, or paedophiles who see children as objects of desire.

Secondly, Krishna’s Raas Leela during his youth has lessons on women empowerment and equality.

Krishna treated his women friends at par with his male friends. He would share his problems and moments of joy with his friends, whether they were Sudhamas or Radhas! He had sixteen hundred Gopis or female friends. He never saw women as objects of desire. His relationship with women was Platonic and non-carnal. He was completely devoted to his only wife Rukmini.

This has perhaps a bearing on those of us who desire to have multiple sexual partners. Those of us see women as objects only, and not co-humans capable of being good friends. Perhaps this will also have a bearing on those who have accounts on flirting apps like Tinder. We need to be faithful to our spouses.

Thirdly, Krishna’s lessons during the war of Kurukshetra are well known, as they have been recorded in the hymns of Bhagavad Geeta. 

An important lesson from Geeta is that we all should do our duties and give cent per cent to them. It should not bother us whether on completion of our duties we will be awarded or not.

This has a bearing on everyone. Every person on this planet has a duty. In fact, the Constitution of India also incorporates a few Fundamental Duties for its citizens. If a soldier performs his duty well, if a housewife performs her duty well, a student performs her duty well, a cleaner performs his duty well, and so on and so forth, I think the world will automatically become a better place to live in.

This Janmashtami, if we are able to reflect on these life lessons from Lord Krishna’s life and restructure our lives, I think we would have celebrated his birthday in the best way.

Filed under: Heresy, parenting, Philosophy, Relationships, Spirituality, , , , , , , , , , ,

Three antidotes against messages that burn

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Image courtesy: Pixabay

How often have you been tempted to give a fitting retort to an acrid message posted in a group? How many times did you decide to back out at the end?

These things occur to me thrice as often as most of you would think they happen to you! For as many times, I pull out of such situations and decide to store my energies for something worthier. But at times, I do oblige to their whims!

Recently, I got caught into the quagmire of the riposte game by a disturbing WhatsApp message that went viral. It comprised a text message in Hindi and a 05:45-minute-long video.

The text message in the form of a paragraph hails the man in the video as a hero, who supposedly took a bold step by catching hold of the propagators of another religion and by ‘teaching them a lesson’.

The video presents a man announcing himself to be making this video from Dera Bassi toll plaza at 11 o’clock at night. Dera Bassi is a satellite town of Chandigarh.

The camera zooms in on three faces. The man claims that he caught the trio in the act of distributing pamphlets in the toll plaza. The pamphlets are supposedly aimed at promoting a minority religion. What happens beyond this is too contentious and too graphic to be elaborated here, considering my own safety and sanity.

I am anyway not of the opinion to give such videos a chance for more traction. This is the same reason why I am not sharing the video here.

But I wanted to leave a message for the person posting such a message as well for those who might have been encouraged to share it in other groups. I wrote the following sweet-coated yet tart lines in reply to the post. Kindly put up with me a few more moments to go through them and let me know how you think about them.

Religion is about love not hatred or force. Religion is love for God, love for self, and love for others. Religion is about being capable to treat the people belonging to your faith in same way as you would treat people belonging from other religions.

If anybody is forcing someone to do something or not do something in the name of faith, it is not religion. In fact, this act can bring the greatest disgrace to the religion. Hindu religion is based on the principles of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. It advocates the simple truth that ‘the whole world is one family’.

In a secular democracy, everyone has the right to follow and propagate their religion.

If Christian missionaries are spreading their religion through pamphlets, Hindu missionaries like Ramakrishna Mission, ISKCON, and Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship are also propagating the principles of Hindu religion across hundreds of countries around the world. Had those countries barred us from spreading Hindu religion, we would have shrunk to the confines of a handful of countries only.

Therefore, I request everyone not to spread such messages that divide people on religious lines.

Having said that, I would like to draw your attention to an important aspect of unfiltered forwards. I request everyone to inculcate a habit of contemplating on every message before forwarding it to others.

You may be hell-bent to share nationalistic messages. You may feel duty-bound to share a message informing about a lost child or about how a chivalrous group of people just saved your religion from extinction. Here is another such example. This video falsely shows Kerala Muslims burning Hindu god images in protest against CAA. The clip has been widely circulating on Twitter and Facebook.

But do give it a thought whether it is serving the purpose of national building or public in reality or not. The message may be based on fake news, may be politically motivated, may be aimed at inciting communal violence, or may be simply a prank.

You may use the following checklist to self-assess your message before forwarding.

  1. Checked the factual correctness
    • Did the sender verify the facts? ☐
    • If the message includes a phone number or weblink, did you try calling the number or visiting the website? ☐
    • Did you verify from authentic news sites? ☐
    • Did you check with fake-news-buster websites like Alt News and Hoax Slayer? ☐
  2. Understood the motive
    • Does the message put any political party in unusually bad light? ☐
    • Does the message portray any particular person, community, or nation negatively? ☐
    • Does the message sound too beneficial or too helpful to be true? ☐
  3. Checked if it incites violence
    • Does the message incite violence? ☐
    • Does the message contain too much of graphic detail? ☐
    • Is the message safe for children to view? ☐

If you think I have left out any, you may add your own to the list in the comments section below. Thanks.

Filed under: Current News, General Awareness, Heresy, , , , , , , ,

I’m a girl

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Image courtesy: cocoparisienne/Pixabay.com

I’m neither greater nor equal.

I’m unique.

I’m a girl.

 

I’m neither stronger nor feeble.

I’m just me.

I’m a girl.

 

I need neither pity nor overprotection.

I only need understanding.

I’m a girl.

 

I deserve neither infanticide nor pampering.

I need only care.

I’m a girl.

 

Do not treat me as a boy.

Do not identify me with a boy.

I’m a girl.

 

© Ranjit K Sharma | 18-Apr-2018

Filed under: Children's Literature, Philosophy, Poetry, , , , , , ,

A regulatory authority for school textbook publishing in India?

book-958108_1280

Image source: Pixabay

Recently, there has been a lot of hue and cry among private publishing houses in the business of making textbooks for school children. This is because of a news that supposedly says that the Indian government is banning textbooks from private publishers and making it mandatory for schools to use textbooks from the government-funded publisher (NCERT) only.

I think the issue stems from a clash between two divergent schools of thought revolving around textbooks published by private players:

  1. PARENTS ARE VICTIMS. Textbooks from private publishers, although not required by law, are being prescribed by schools because of the schools’ business interests. So all schools should adopt only NCERT books, which are cheaper. Most newspapers in India subscribe to this view.
  2. PRIVATE PUBLISHERS ARE VICTIMS. By bringing in a ban to use textbooks from private publishers, the government is supposedly trying to shut down an entire industry comprising highly-paid authors, content developers, editors, illustrators, graphic designers and allied professionals. Most newspapers in India do not even discuss this as an issue, although an utter fear psychosis prevails within the industry.

But somehow the debates seem to ignore the most important stakeholders—the students using the books. In fact they are the victims.

Regardless of the fact whether the books are published by NCERT or private publishers, textbooks require to maintain certain standards in quality. Here is a non-exhaustive list of quality parameters for textbooks.

  • content
    • pedagogical requirements
    • level-appropriateness
    • treatment
    • extent of coverage
    • accuracy
    • sensitivity to genders, races, faiths, disabilities, common stereotypes and misconceptions
    • adherence to syllabus
  • visual appeal
  • utility in classroom situations
  • supplementary audio/video/multimedia material
  • production quality
  • support system and hand-holding to teachers
  • efficient and timely deliver to meet demands

In most cases, barring a few, textbooks from most private publishers score far better on almost all counts. But quality comes with a price. Hence, these textbooks come with much higher price tags. In the absence of any regulation, at times the prices can be just whimsical.

The NCERT books on the other hand may score considerably lower in terms of quality and definitely lower in terms of meeting the demand. These books are available at throw-away prices.

Seemingly, the children seem to be exposed either to the best or the worst depending upon how much their parents are affording. And parents, without the expertise to evaluate books on the required parameters, think that they have every right to choose affordability over quality.

My question is—do we have such a right to decide the children’s future in monetary terms only?

In the interest of the learners, who are the future of the nation, I would rather propose a new idea. In my opinion, both government and private agencies should come together to formulate an unbiased, not-for-profit regulatory authority in the line of IRDA, TRAI, etc. This authority can keep an eye on all the parameters discussed above.

The sooner this happens, the better for the nation.

Filed under: Children's Educational Books, Current News, , , , ,

Pleasure

I thought of trying my hand at writing a short story today. Took me two hours to devise the plot, write the story and upload it on my blog. I will be grateful if you can spend a few while reading it and giving your valuable feedback in the comments section below.

Mrs X noticed her chirpy neighbour after a long time; quite surprised to see her standing stoically beside Mrs X‘s entrance.

“Long time no see!” gleaned Mrs X with an ear-to-ear smile, “Where have you been all these days?”

“Come along,” she motioned towards her living room, “Let’s catch up over a cup of tea”.

“No. Not now” replied Mrs Y with a smirk, “Thank you”.

“I’m in a hurry. Will catch up with you later,” she spoke the words as she dashed unexpectedly towards her residence and vanished.

***

A woman aged forty-twoish barged into her bedroom, heaving deeply all the way. Her face was both red with fear and bright with snobbish pride.

The twelve-year old budding painter, seated on the bed, glanced her mother without raising her head. She immediately recognised her mother’s familiar body language during moments of triumph and adventurous escape.

“What’s the trophy this time, mom?” she raised the much-awaited poser.

“Sabotaged her plumerias,” she replied with a genuine chuckle.

Pleasure - A short story on nosy neighbours

Plumerias (Image courtesy: Wikipedia)

“Sabotaged whose plumerias?”

“That rustic simpleton’s,” she responded motioning towards the house next door.

“You mean, Aunt X’s?”

“Who else?” explained Mrs Y, adding, “And she thought I was waiting beside her entrance only for her tea!”

“But mom, what do you gain by devastating blooming flowers? Poor little plants and their hard-working owners!”

“Pleasure, my daughter, pleasure!”

***

Next morning, while watering her little front garden, Mrs X was at her wit’s end figuring out how the top part of her young plumeria plant could have separated completely from the stem below. It had been just a few days that the plant started bearing flowers.

“Didn’t I warn you the last time when my dahlias were destroyed? Never ever dare to harm my plants, got it?” she charged her little daughter.

Mrs Y, standing in her high-walled veranda, thought herself to be doubly lucky to be an audience to the high drama going on in the house next door.

“Pleasure, my child, pleasure!” she thought.

Filed under: Flash Fiction, Relationships, Short Story, , , , , , , ,

Road Word of the Day: foofaraw

Zero Tolerance to Road Rage

Here’s the road word for today:

foofaraw meaning, foofaraw pronunciation, foofaraw usage, foofaraws

If you are a word-lover, who wants to suggest us an alternative road usage sentence or even a new Road Word of the Day, you are welcome to speak your heart. We will try to incorporate your ideas in future posts. Also, you may send us constructive suggestions on our fight against road rage. Happy road-wording…

How to subscribe?
You can subscribe to the Road Word of the Day service by any of the following ways:

If you are one of those users who are not wired to any of the above social media, you can still get your favourite Road Word delivered at your mail box. You simply need to either…

View original post 98 more words

Filed under: Road Rage

1000 Likes Campaign Launched

Zero Tolerance to Road Rage

Facebook campaign, 1000 likes, community pages, causes, volunteering, social media

The political, the corporate or the non-profit biggies, nowadays, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for campaigning in the social media. The general purpose behind such campaigns usually ranges from sales, promotions and product awareness to after-sales service, thought leadership and personal touch.

It is now almost true that any social cause, however noble, can never expect to help its ultimate beneficiaries without the direct or indirect help of social media. This is evident from the rise of websites like Causes.com, Change.org or Thepetitionsite.com.

For ZTTRR, especially, this is more relevant, given the fact that we aim to sensitize the public in general and the road-users in particular about the evils of road rage and how to avoid it using the Gandhian principles of non-violence and non-compromise. Unfortunately, we do not have a fat budget, unlike most others.

At the same time, we are more than sure that there is no…

View original post 154 more words

Filed under: Road Rage

Road Word of the Day: irascible

Zero Tolerance to Road Rage

Here’s the road word for today:

irascible meaning, irascible pronunciation, irascible usage, irascibility, irascibleness, irascibly, unirascibility, unirascible

If you are a word-lover, who wants to suggest us an alternative road usage sentence or even a new Road Word of the Day, you are welcome to speak your heart. We will try to incorporate your ideas in future posts. Also, you may send us constructive suggestions on our fight against road rage. Happy road-wording…

How to subscribe?
You can subscribe to the Road Word of the Day service by any of the following ways:

If you are one of those users who are not wired to any of the above social media, you can still get your favourite Road Word delivered at your mail box. You simply need to either…

View original post 98 more words

Filed under: Road Rage

Road Word of the Day: gadabout

Zero Tolerance to Road Rage

Here’s the road word for today:

gadabout meaning, gadabout pronunciation, gadabout usage, gadabouts

If you are a word-lover, who wants to suggest us an alternative road usage sentence or even a new Road Word of the Day, you are welcome to speak your heart. We will try to incorporate your ideas in future posts. Also, you may send us constructive suggestions on our fight against road rage. Happy road-wording…

How to subscribe?
You can subscribe to the Road Word of the Day service by any of the following ways:

If you are one of those users who are not wired to any of the above social media, you can still get your favourite Road Word delivered at your mail box. You simply need to either…

View original post 98 more words

Filed under: Road Rage

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