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Desperately Searching For Love...

From: "Gagan" To: AM-GLOBAL Subject: Desperately Searching For Love... Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2010 12:06:05 -0000 Baba
Namaskar, Here below are a few articles depicting the scene of pet care and, in particular dog care, in the US nowadays. The rich and wealthy are spending $43 billion annually catering to their pets accessing services like pet resorts, spas, & personal trainers etc. Yet side by side, in the US there remain 2 million homeless people, 15 million jobless and unable to get the minimum requirements needed for life, and millions of children go to bed every night hungry. In addition people have become totally emotionally linked with their pets such that they kiss their dogs and have their dogs sleep with them in the same bed at night. Tragically in this materialistic, techno-age society, people have become alienated from one another and from spirituality and instead invest all their emotional attachments and love unto their pet, i.e. dog. In a nutshell, that is the situation these days in the US. So on the one side dogs are treated lavishly and given top-grade care, and on the other side there are millions of homeless people in the US who have nowhere to live and no food to eat. Such is the growing dichotomy. Our first and foremost duty is to take care of humans and then animals; indeed when our fellow brothers and sisters are hungry and dogs are treated like kings then what kind of society is that. Certainly we are to love all beings, including dogs, but not at the expense of or instead of human care. Such are the parameters of our AM ideology. Baba says, "In many countries the cost of the monthly meat ration for the dog of a rich person exceeds the salary of a teacher." (HS-1) Here the point is that we are to care for our fellow human beings first - humans should not be second-class citizens in favour of dogs etc. We should first ensure all humans are properly housed, fed, cared for, clothed, and educated. Unfortunately, nowadays, billions and billions of dollars are spent on luxury items for dogs while around the globe there are at minimum 2 billion people living in ghettos, slums (jhuggi-jhopari), and shanty towns etc. Such people live without clean running water while innumerable dogs in the US drink filtered water out of silver bowls. The situation has really become over the top. This is how capitalism works: The rich become richer and the poor become poorer. Those with excess money become degraded. Baba says, "Where there is over-accumulation people tend to misutilize wealth by indulging in their baser propensities rather than their finer ones." ("Three Causes of Sin) The wealthy in the US spend more on indulgences for themselves and extravagances for their pets than helping the suffering humanity. Such people are involved in sin, according to Baba. Indeed, the amount of money ($43 billion) spent on pets in the US is more than the gross domestic product of 110 nations around the globe, including countries like Sri Lanka ($41 billion), Guatemala ($37 billion), Kenya (32 billion), El Salvador (21 billion), Iceland (12 billion), and Nepal ($12 billion). Or how about this: what the entire country of Mongolia spends in ten years is equal to what rich pet owners spend in a single year. Please read below to learn how pampered dogs have become in the US, whereas people shun other humans who are in need. Namaskar, Gagan
Michael Schaffer: America's Going To The Dogs
"Pet fashion shows, Chihuahua social networking, veterinary antidepressants [and] ambulance-chasing animal lawyers" are just the tip of what Philadelphia-based journalist Michael Schaffer says is a kind of pet-obsession iceberg in the lives of the American middle class. When Philadelphia-based journalist Michael Schaffer's dog started messing the house and barking non-stop while he and his wife were at work, he went to his veterinarian for help. "It's called separation anxiety," his vet said. "There's a drug for that." And while Schaffer and his wife had promised themselves they wouldn't be like those pet owners who spend a fortune on their pets, they sprung for the antidepressants anyway — and then he wrote a book about it. In //One Nation Under Dog,// Schaffer explores the $43 billion industry that's grown around our obsession with our pets and how that booming market reflects our evolving ideas of consumerism, family, politics and domesticity. But One Nation Under Dog is no dry industry analysis: It's a book, as Schaffer explains on his Web site, that's meant "to say as much about how contemporary humans live as it does about the modern lives of dogs and cats." Schaffer has worked as a writer and an editor at the Washington City Paper, U.S. News and World Report and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
By the time we finally saw Murphy, we'd driven the two hours of highway from our house in Philadelphia to what felt like the last rural place in all of New Jersey. We'd nosed through the town— over a pair of railroad tracks, past a warehouse, down a short road. And we'd gingerly tiptoed past the chain-link fence that held Boss, the massive Saint Bernard at the shotgun-style home opposite the town's small-scale animal shelter. My wife spotted him first, an oddly undersized example of the same breed running around the muddy melting snow in the kennel's yard: "It's Murphy!" she exclaimed. We'd spotted the pup a few days earlier on Petfinder, the Web site that lets prospective adopters eye hundreds of thousands of potential adoptees from shelters all over the United States. For a long time, we'd visited the site as a diversion, a way to kill time at work staring at snapshots of wet noses and wagging tails and drooling jowls. We'd e-mail links back and forth, each of them attached to a heartbreaking story of how this particular dog was a sweetheart who really needed a place in some family's happy home. Eventually, we got to thinking that it was about time we became that happy family. And then we stumbled across the page that featured Murphy, his tongue drooping, his watery eyes staring cluelessly from inside a cage that turned out to be only two hours away. When we arrived that morning, we'd been talking about him long enough to feel like he was already part of our household. The woman who ran the shelter mashed a 100-length cigarette into an old tin of dog food as she led him over. As they got close enough for us to see the matted dreadlocks on Murphy's back, Boss began growling. "Don't mind him," the woman said, as the guard dog's growls turned to angry barks. "Boss don't like other dogs." Murphy, though, was another story. He was sweet and cuddly and goofy, exactly as we'd wanted. Of course, we tried to stay skeptical. Knowing little about dogs when we started thinking about getting one, we'd searched for wisdom in a book on how to adopt an animal. Don't let those heartbreaking shelter stories trick you into getting an animal you can't handle, it warned. Put them through the paces now, or suffer later. So in the ensuing half hour, we tried the book's suggested tests as best we could. We put food in front of him and then snatched it away. No growling. A good sign. We put more food in front of him and then pushed his face away as he ate. No nipping. An even better sign. The shelter manager gazed with dismay at this spectacle of anxious yuppiehood: one of us reading reverently from the book, the other vaguely executing its tests on the befuddled dog, neither of us quite sure what to do next. Following the book's instructions as if they were holy writ, we asked how Murphy had wound up in the shelter— and then steeled ourselves against what we'd been warned would be a maudlin spiel designed to undercut doubts about a potentially troublesome pooch. The dog, we were told, had been brought to her kennel twice. First he was turned in by someone who the manager suspected hadn't been able to unload this especially runty runt of his litter: Murphy was eighteen months old and 63 pounds at the time; ordinary male Saint Bernards can weigh in at 180. Next he was returned by a woman who couldn't housebreak him. "But she was some kind of backcountry hick," said the shelter manager. "She didn't even know what she was doing." Ever since, Murphy had been waiting in a cage next to Boss's yard, staring up at people like us. "Look," she said. "I don't much care about you, but I do care about him. And if he goes and bites someone, someone like you will put him down, right? Since I don't want that to happen, I'm telling you: He don't bite." The logic was pretty good. The dog was pretty sweet. The time was pretty right. And so we said yes, signing some not quite official-looking paperwork the adoption document identified the dog as "Murfy"— before forking over one hundred dollars and agreeing to take into our lives a Saint Bernard with fleas and dreadlocks and a stench somewhere between warm bunion and rotten tripe. The shelter manager whipped out a syringe, planted what was purported to be a kennel cough shot into Murfy/Murphy's snout, and wished us well. We coaxed the dog into the backseat of our Honda, where he promptly fell fast asleep. As we began the drive home, we felt a bit proud of ourselves. Not for us the fancy breeders sought out by so many in our sweetly gentrified corner of upscale America. Not for us the genetically perfect beagles and bassets and Bernese mountain dogs whose poop is sanctimoniously plucked from city sidewalks in recycled blue New York Times home-delivery bags. We'd gotten a dog, yeah, but we weren't going to become, like, those people— the ones who shell out for the spa days and agility training and homeopathic medicine for their animals, the ones who laugh it off when their puppies frighten children away from the neighborhood playground, the ones who give up vacations and promotions and transfers in order to save pooches with names like Sonoma and Hamilton and Mordecai from having their lives disrupted. No, not us. That's what we were telling ourselves, anyway, when the PetSmart came into view along the edge of the highway. "We should go in— get some food and stuff," said my wife. "It'll just take a sec." Thus began our unwitting journey into the $41-billion-a-year world of the modern American pet. It didn't take long to realize that the line between sober pet owner and spendthrift overindulger wasn't as clear as I'd imagined. I started thinking about that very subject an hour or so after Murphy nosed his way into the PetSmart— at around the time the exhausted-looking staff at the in-store grooming salon told us there was no way they could attend to our filthy new pet today; we ought to have made reservations a couple of weeks in advance. My wife, who'd grown up with a dog and had roughed out a budget when we started thinking about adopting one of our own, hadn't been aware that salon grooming was such a standard piece of contemporary pet owning that chain stores had weeks-long waiting lists. Still, without having to shell out for a wash, we made it out of the store that day for under $200. Murphy had a new bed, a pair of collars, an extend-o-leash that expands up to twenty-five feet, a variety of chew toys— that he's never used— and other goodies. The spending seemed like basic, ordinary stuff. But as anyone who's read one of the dog-owner memoirs that seem to occupy about half of the weekly New York Times best-seller list could confirm, it was no onetime expense. It's a basic law of pet storytelling: Just as the romantic comedy vixen must wind up with the guy she'd vowed not to marry if he were the last man on earth, so too must the beloved dog stomp and scratch and poop on your very last nerve— and chow down on your shrinking wallet— before weaseling his way into your newly receptive heart. No surprise, then, that four years later Murphy has gone through a variety of ever newer beds (he seemed not to like the old ones) and redesigned collars and leashes (we wanted to try the special ones that are said to keep dogs from pulling too hard) and still more chew toys (we have a PetSmart discount card now and live in the eternal hope of finding one he likes). He also owns Halloween costumes (too adorable to resist), reindeer antlers (ditto), and a picture of himself with Santa (alas, ditto once more). He has been implanted with a LoJack-style microchip that will help us find him if he gets lost. His food— or should I say "foods"— comes from that burgeoning market sector known as "superpremium." He's stayed at an array of upscale local kennels— sorry, pet hotels— when we've gone out of town. On other trips, when we took him along, he got to stay in our hotel room. One place left a doggie biscuit on his doggie bed and sent up a babysitter when we went out. Did I mention he's on antidepressants? The vet diagnosed his anxious howling when left alone as "separation anxiety," and it turned out there was a pill for it. Or that he has a professional dog walker? In fact, the current one is his second; the first dropped him because she had too many clients. Or that when we tote up the numbers, he's proven responsible for an eerily large portion of our social life? Dragging us into the neighborhood park on a daily basis, he's introduced a wealth of new neighborhood characters into our life. One of them was a cat whom Murphy— to his lasting regret— found shivering in a hollow tree. We brought her home and named her Amelia. And then there were two. Then we decided to add a human baby to our flock. We'd known this would mean prenatal treatments for my wife. It was a bit of a surprise, though, when other prenatal attention focused on treating Murphy. Worries about how the dog would react to that new child sent us scurrying into the pricey orbit of one of our city's best-known dog trainers for six weeks of private lessons. Unfortunately, her take on canine behavior was so different from that of the guy whose classes we'd first taken upon adopting Murphy that we went scrambling to the massive pet-care section of our local book superstore, where we have purchased a veritable library of books about how better to raise pets. In fact, both pets hover around all sorts of other spending decisions, poking their snouts into our deliberations on things like furniture ("I like it, but Amelia would rip it to shreds") and— most painful of all— our purchase of an SUV (between a new baby, a Saint Bernard, and a Honda Civic, something had to give). Despite all those early vows of pet frugality, I've not felt especially strange about any of the choices we have made. At the time, each of them seemed mundane and obvious: A dog needs walking when his owners stay late at work; furniture and cars ought to match a household's needs; and, particularly with a baby in the mix, it makes eminent sense to work on a large animal's behavior. I would say that the story of Murphy and us isn't the story of a couple whose priorities were upended by a heart-meltingly adorable animal but, rather, the tale of a household engaged in what has become the normal way to raise a four-legged member of the family. And yet when I tote it all up, the truth stares at me with its own big, wet eyes: I've seen those people, and I'm one of 'em. If you have pets in contemporary America, you probably are, too. Pleased to meet you. There are an awful lot of stories about pets in the media these days, but nearly all of them fit into two basic categories. Category number one is that old standard: the tearjerker, the tale of the abused and the abandoned, the victims of indifferent owners or dire shelters or youthful sociopaths or simply the cruel hand of fate. The years I spent researching this book were a big period for such stories. In Pennsylvania, a high-profile political campaign focused national attention on puppy mills, the high-volume, low-standards facilities where dogs are often kept in gruesome conditions as they churn out litter after litter of merchandise for the nation's pet stores. In Virginia, the indictment and imprisonment of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick on federal dogfighting charges turned into a full-blown media circus as reports detailed the dozens of pit bulls brutalized at Vick's Bad Newz Kennels. And all across the country, the deaths of hundreds of cats and dogs who ate tainted pet food pulled back the curtain on an ill-regulated multibillion-dollar industry that happened to feature some of the world's biggest corporate names. The sob stories stand in dramatic contrast to the second, and possibly even bigger, category of pet reportage: the pampered pet tale, the gape-jawed peek at the animal kingdom's most coddled critters— and the masseuses, chauffeurs, and pet-set fashionistas who cater to them. Whether they take the form of a local newspaper detailing the opening of, say, Duluth's first luxury doggie spa, or of a sober national magazine like BusinessWeek dedicating its cover story to the booming U.S. pet industry, the pampered pet tales feature amazement— and hints of disdain— at what many pet owners now see as ho-hum basics of life with an animal. Yet while there's a small army of activist groups, and no shortage of scholars and reporters, who have dedicated themselves to uncovering the root causes behind the sad and often criminal stories in category one, there's far less material examining the dramatic cultural and economic changes that underlie the zany stories in category two. This is a book about those changes. It's a story about how America's housepets have worked their way into a new place in the hearts, homes, and wallets of their owners. In a relatively short period of time, the United States has become a land of doggie yoga and kitty acupuncture and frequent-flier miles for traveling pets, a society where your inability to find a pet sitter has become an acceptable excuse to beg off a dinner invitation, a country where political candidates pander to pet owners and dog show champions are feted like Oscar winners. Sure, some tales of pampered pets still have the occasional ability to amaze us. Take hotelier Leona Helmsley's will, for instance, in which the "Queen of Mean" left $12 million to a lapdog named Trouble while giving nothing to several of her own grandchildren. Such far-fetched stories are part of what scholar James Serpell calls the roi s'amuse tradition of pet tales: The king amuses himself. But for the country's 70 million non-Helmsley pet-owning households, other examples of everyday luxury, once unimaginable, seem de rigueur. Yesteryear's table scraps have been replaced by this year's home-delivered doggie dinners. What happened? It's not like the animals have changed much. As any nostalgic pet-owning memoir will illustrate, the party in the relationship that changes is inevitably the human. Historians tell us that we've always been suckers for that doggie in the window. But exactly how that love manifests itself, and just who gets to go to the barnyard dance, has evolved dramatically. Compared to our subsistence-farming ancestors, we're all kings now. So compared to their ancestors, our pets live like princes. Tales of pet keeping can be traced back to ancient societies. Tales of animal pampering are nearly as old. In China, the Han emperor Ling was so enamored of his pets that he elevated them to the rank of senior officials in his court. Ling's dogs got the best foods, slept on ornate carpets, and were given personal bodyguards. For most of history, though, ordinary people had to be spectators for such amusements. They always had animals around, of course, like cows or chickens. But for the most part, even the animals who weren't there to be eaten had work to do, herding sheep or pulling carts. Until recently, few people could afford the variety of animal classified as a petthe one with no productive job whatsoever. And so it was up to the blue bloods. Members of the Athenian aristocracy were said to pay twenty times the price of a human slave to buy especially esteemed dogs. In Japan, the seventeenth-century shogun Tsunayoshi so loved dogs that he made it illegal to speak of them in impolite terms; he instituted unpopular new taxes to pay for his own collection of one hundred thousand canine friends. In Uganda, the despotic nineteenth-century king M'Tesa's love for dogs prompted courtiers to curry favor by keeping their own pets. In Britain, the lapdogs in the entourage of Mary, Queen of Scots were clad in blue velvet suits; she snuck one of her beloved brood to her own execution, where it was discovered after Mary was beheaded. King Charles II, whose passion for dogs was such that he once placed a newspaper ad after one of his pets went missing, became the namesake of his own line of Cavalier spaniels. After the Glorious Revolution placed William and Mary on the throne, the couple sparked a new fancy for pugs from William's native Holland. The British Empire has waxed and waned over the centuries, but Queen Elizabeth II still travels with her pack of corgis. The connection between pet keeping and power remained true even as royals gave way to tycoons atop society's pecking order, and as pets began to prowl the fault lines of class conflict. Nineteenth-century Parisian pet-keeping fashions, with a proliferation of books, coats, collars, bathing outfits, and the like, might have put even contemporary Manhattan's pet scene to shame: Could fancy doggie day cares compete with wealthy flaneurs walking pet turtles through public arcades? But even as Europe's newly rich were embracing an ever-changing set of pet-keeping fashions, there were great concerns over the supposedly dangerous animals that belonged to the urban under-class. Moneyed types worried that the blue-collar dogs had picked up what they saw as the violent, unclean customs of their human companions. The solution to this alleged problem: exorbitant animal taxes intended to put the squeeze on proletarian pets. Only rich pet owners would do. Well-tended animals also became standard upper-crust accoutrements in the new nation across the Atlantic, where all people were supposed to be able to reach the top, and to bring their animals with them. As early as 1899, Thorstein Veblen, the great student of American pageantry and pomposity, sussed the secret meaning of pet ownership for the Gilded Age's elite: Pets were living emblems of conspicuous consumption. "As he is also an item of expense, and commonly serves no industrial purpose, he holds a well-assured place in men's regard as a thing of good repute," Veblen wrote in his celebrated Theory of the Leisure Class, the book that brought us the term conspicuous consumption. I'm so rich, the industrial dandy's logic went, that I can afford to feed— and house, and bathe, and clean the tumbleweeds of shedding fur from— this totally unproductive creature. In an age when many people still forced their children to sing for their supper, or at least work in a factory for it, this was quite a concept. This is not to say that pet keeping was limited to such consumers, or that it could always be ascribed to such cynical motivations. American pet keeping existed, often in fairly elaborate forms and at spots up and down the social ladder, well before Veblen took on the pet-owning leisure class. The inhabitants of pre-Columbian America hunted or domesticated a variety of animals, but what we now understand as pets came across the Atlantic with the Spaniards. Diaries that predate the Constitution tell of beloved family cats. In the mid-nineteenth century, there was a craze for imported caged birds. By the twentieth century, pets were a way for powerful politicians to make themselves look more down-to-earth— the exact opposite of Veblen's notion. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Scottie, Fala, was a national celebrity, traveling with him to war conferences and visiting defense plants; the dog's breeder published his own book in 1942. Presidents ever since have deployed pets the same way— although FDR was probably the only one threatened with congressional investigation over pet pampering, the result of false rumors that he had dispatched a destroyer to retrieve the dog after Fala was accidentally left behind in the Aleutian Islands. Pet keeping continued to evolve with the country, following each era's ideas about kindness, domesticity, and comfort. The lapdog in the millionaire's mansion became the golden retriever in the suburban backyard; the kitten from the litter of your neighbor's tabby became the kitten you took straight from the SPCA adoption center to the veterinarian's spaying practice. Everyone knows dogs are supposed to teach you about love and loyalty and fun. But I found something I had never expected when I first glimpsed my dog's sweet, dopey face: the story of modern America. In the chapters that follow, I travel to diverse corners of our pet kingdom to experience the often surprising ways that pets like Murphy serve as a fun-house-mirror reflection of our changing notions about such universal subjects as family, health, and friendship— and more historically specific topics like bureaucracy, justice, consumerism, and the culture wars. Maybe the most telling change involved a very small piece of architecture, once ubiquitous, which I saw very little of as I journeyed around the new world of America's pets, pet owners, and pet businesses: the doghouse. Yes, one firm makes a $5,390 structure modeled after a Swiss chalet. But for the most part, though we still talk of people being sent to the doghouse, the physical structures have disappeared from our landscape. Their occupants have moved indoors, to be with their families, in far bigger doghouses: ours. From ONE NATION UNDER DOG by Michael Schaffer. Copyright (c) 2009 by Michael Schaffer. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
==== NEW YORK, Jan. 24, 2007 The High Cost Of Pet Care
Pets may be wonderful companions, but owning one is a big responsibility that includes a financial commitment. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), Americans spent $38.4 billion on pets. The association says that 63 percent of American households own at least one pet and there are almost 74 million dogs and 90 million cats living in the country. Food is one of the greatest expenses for dog owners, costing an average of about $241 per year. The Early Show veterinary correspondent Dr. Debbye Turner said people can also cut costs on food. Although premium brands are usually more digestible for pets, if you can't afford them, no-name brands are fine. Visits to the veterinarian are also pricey. A regular visit for a dog costs about $211 and for a cat, it costs $179. Dr. Turner said you don't have to be rich to afford owning a pet. The most efficient way to avoid extra costs is prevention. Having your pet vaccinated, spayed, neutered and getting their teeth cleaned will prevent a host of health-related problems down the road that will cost a lot more than the cost of the preventative care. "The first year is most expensive," she said. "You have all those full-time costs. You buy the food bowl. The litter pan, the leash, plus initial vet visit for de-worming vaccinations. They are more extensive the first year, they get better after that." According to the American Animal Hospital Association, the average cost of neutering a cat in 2002 was $62 and $106 for a dog. The average cost of spaying a cat was $99 and $142 for a dog. Some veterinary clinics offer wellness or preventive care programs for a monthly or yearly flat rate that covers the cost of a yearly exam, vaccination boosters, maybe even test for intestinal parasites. For example, The Banfield Hospitals at PetsMart offers a plan that ranges from $15.95 to 34.95 a month and covers routine exams, vaccinations, and heartworm test. A premium plan covers X-rays, blood work and teeth cleaning. Comparing the cost of preventive care to the cost of treating a preventable disease, it is clear that the upfront cost worth preventing the pain and suffering to your pet, and your wallet. Here Are Some Estimates: # Cost of a kidney transplant: $7,000 or more # Cost of canine cataract surgery: $2,000 - $3,000 # Cost of cancer treatment: $5,000 or more # Cost of chemotherapy: $2,000 # Cost of surgery after animal is hit by a car: $3,000 # Cost of diabetes maintenance: $600 - $1,000 a year Some companies provide pet insurance. Most policies cover accidents, like being hit by a car, other injuries, diagnostics like MRI's, CT Scans, Ultrasound, plus radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and surgery. Policies can cost anywhere from $9 to $200 a month, depending on the coverage you'd like, the breed, age and health condition of the pet. Most policies carry a deductible — usually $50 — and have maximum amounts that the company will pay for particular procedures. Some companies even require that you take your pet to one of the approved veterinarians on their list. Many policies will not cover an old pet, certain breeds, or a pet with a previous condition. Only 2 percent of pet owners currently utilize pet insurance, but Dr. Turner said it is worth exploring, especially if you have a new pet. The APPMA says that boarding a dog usually costs about $202 and boarding a cat costs $119. At least for dogs, miscellaneous costs for things like toys, training, grooming and vitamins and nutritional supplements, are the most costly, averages about $380. Miscellaneous costs for cats average about $149. "It's going to be $1,000 a year for a dog, $700 a year for a cat," Dr. Turner said.

We Are Not At All...

Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2010 23:44:18 -0000 To: From: Jawaharlal (Jawaharlal_T@banknet...> Subject: We Are Not At All... BABA "Malay va'ta'se madhu nishva'se ke go ele mor phulavane..." P.S. 1801 Purport: O the Divine Entity who are You who has come in my flower garden in this spring season with a sweet and charming smile. When I saw You for the first time I was surprised, and it was difficult to think that such an attractive Entity would be here. I wanted to look towards You more intimately but I could not, that time I was sitting in the flower garden unmindfully. I couldn't even hear the footsteps of Your arrival, & You did not give any hint or clue before coming to this garden. So I could not receive You properly nor could I offer You a garland. You have graced me by coming here but You have not cared about receiving an invitation. Please tell me, O' Divine Entity, who are You? Understanding Your liila is impossible. Within a flash You become tough and then in the next moment You are as tender as a flower-- like a garland of love --so sweet and charming. O divine Entity You cannot be understood. You are Infinite--no beginning, & no end. Through the practice of sadhana and dhyana I am surrendering myself at Your alter. Baba You have graced me by coming to my mental flower garden...
Namaskar. Sometimes I go along with different Dadas to do pracar work in and around my district, region, and to other places also. And it is surprising that when talking to non-margiis then they say that AM is like the Hindu religion. And the people ask, "Swamiji, are you Hindu?' And our Dada (i.e. Swamiji) replied 'yes'. Hearing all this while moving around India with Dadas was surprising for me. And then I wondered if Dadas in overseas areas identify themselves as Christians or Jewish etc. What happens overseas I cannot say, but here in India I see all this going on; but I did not say anything or oppose. Because then Dadas may not like to have me around. But this is the common experience that I saw when moving about with various Dadas. And if we are moving about on the train and then common people sometimes approach our Dadas and ask if they are Hindu or not. Because not always on the train do they wear their turbins etc. And again Dadas reply in the affirmative about being Hindu. And then sometimes they further justify that the practices are same as Hinduism: fasting, puja, kiirtan etc. By this way our Dadas get more respect. And some overseas Dadas also come and move around the dogmatic holy places here in India and when I ask them about why they do like this, then they reply that 'Indian soil, Hinduism etc are just like Ananda Marga'. So due to certain lack of understanding Baba's teachings then this dogma about AM being a form of Hinduism is still prevailing. Because not in one place but I am two trips outside-- one to Balii, Indonesia and one to Africa. And both the places some of our Dada link themselves up with Hinduism, especially in Africa where they even registered as Hindus. Of course, solid Ananda Margiis are not blind in this way but some who are less strong get involved in these types of interactions. So because some Dadas are regularly giving such replies I thought that we should get rid from the confusion and have written these following things.
In beginning period, before 1960, Ananda Marga was facing serious opposition from the dogmatic Hindu priests. By seeing the way and different teachings of Ananda Marga, it superficially looks like Ananda Margiis are Hindu. Because fasting, puja, and sentient food, meditation, so many similarities. And in Hindu religion also, some or other form, some or more degree, all these things are present. And then, no doubt in Hinduism these things were mixed with various sorts of dogma and that made them unpalatable for rational persons.
Because in India, in this 19th and 20th Centuries, many off-shoots came from this Hindu religion. Just like "Yogada' Matha" started from Swami Yogananda. And Ramakrsna Mission with Ramakrsna Paramahansa, and Vivekananda. Then Arvind Ghos in Pandicheri. And Hare Krsna started by Prabhupada. Also Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, who started Transcendental Meditation. And so many swamis like Swami Rama, Acarya Rajanish, then Divine Life, Swami Shivananda etc. All these above founders and religions are just a little modification of Hindu religion. So many dogmas are there. In other words we can say, these all are reformist type. They don't like for major change. Because these yogis they were ordinary human beings so they did not have courage to fight against dogma. So age-old dogma of caste system, and different disparities and domination of priests etc, and so many more dogmas they did not even touch those points. And that was not enough for all-round progress for everyone. So, Ananda Marga was the need.
In the beginning, when Ananda Marg started in 1955, many people started thinking that this too was one off-shoot of the Hindu religion. But later on they found that domination of priests was not there, that's why exploiter priests they became agitated by seeing AM. In India the Brahmins were treated as superior by the dogmatic Hindu culture. To distinguish their personality, all dogmatic Brahmins they keep one sacred hair (antenna) on their head. In local language, sacred hair is called as tiiki or teek (pig tail). Or some areas, churki. So-called brahmins they can cut all the hair from their head, up to just half-inch long. But on the top of their head, around the sahasrara cakra, minimum one square centimeter up to one square inch sometimes area, and those who are strong fundamentalists, pandits, they keep around four square inches reserved for growing the hair. So in the top of the head, those hair which is left to grow, they grow up to four, five, seven, ten inches. Whatever it may be. So from distance it is looking like one antenna of hair on the head. It is just like one television antenna on the house looking completely different from the rest of the house, clearly seen from the distance.
The question is that, why Hindu priests are keeping such an antenna on their head. What is the reason? What is the benefit? Priests they like to identify some difference from the common society, so they get more respect. Because Christians and Muslims, they don't keep. General aboriginal public of India cannot keep it whereas the Aryans community in India public of can keep, and priest can keep longer and biggest one. Longest sacred hair. In short we can say that this sacred hair - this antenna - is one sign of Hindu believers. Still in the villages this dogma is going on.
Another dogma is also very prevalent. That is, keeping sacred thread. On their body directly Brahmins are keeping one thread, which starts from the left shoulder and goes down diagonally to the right waist. And then back up the back, tied up to make one ring around the body. When babies are born, then they do not have right to put this sacred thread. But when they are grown up, one ceremony happens when priests get alot of donation. And they use certain chanting. And bless with that sacred thread (yajina-upaviit). And this special yajina-upaviit only brahmins can keep. Only certain caste. Not vaeshya, ksattriya, shuddra, such persons cannot keep. Even those who belong to Hindu religion. On this point of yagyopavit, brahmins supremacy is established. Only brahmins are allowed to do. Earlier if anybody who belongs to so-called lower caste, even of Hindu religion, is trying to wear, then they will be punished. As I described above, there are two serious external symbols of their supremacy. One is sacred hair (antenna), and another is yajina-upaviit that is sacred thread. All these yogiis those who were just reformist type, and as I described their name and religion above, they did not try to touch this dogma. For them it was impossible to oppose this. So although these dogmas were creating huge disparity even within Hindu religion itself; but the sentiment was so strong that if these yogis would have opposed this then they themselves would have been crushed to zero. So all these above yogis, reformists, their followers are keeping all those things if they like.
Here is the real history of how the sacred thread came into being. Baba says, "Most of the people in the Vedic age drank excessive amounts of fermented juice, called somarasa, and ate meat, including beef. After the advent of Shiva, in the time of the Yajurveda, people were encouraged to rear cows to produce milk and to discontinue eating meat. Nevertheless, many people in the Vaedic age were alcoholics, and even those who performed religious rituals had great difficulty carrying out their duties properly. Consequently, a custom was introduced which made it compulsory for priests to wear a deer skin across their shoulders, called upavita. This clearly identified the priest so that he would not be served alcohol while conducting religious ceremonies. Gradually, over the course of time, the deer skin was transformed into a thread. Today this thread is the symbol of the Brahmin caste in Hindu society." (PNS-16)
Since beginning when AM started in 1955, Baba started a system of 'One Human Society' and gave the slogan "Ma'nava Ma'nava Eka Hai". It was very clear by Baba's approach itself that Baba started initiating everybody, without any caste differentiation. But before coming of AM in 1955, only brahmins were allowed to do sadhana. Not only that, Baba has hammered on the head of the dogma with sledge hammer. And He has made the rule that before taking initiation, they have to remove their sacred thread and sacred hair. So on the point of removing these two so-called sacred things, brahmins became strong deadly enemy against AM. Because Baba has hit on their life source. Livelihood. In other words, the existence of these so-called Brahmins was threatened. So, these so-called brahmins opposed AM with their full strength, tooth and nail. So AM is not at all dogmatic Hinduism rather it is something much, much higher. So we should all think and review on this so as to avoid making a wrong picture in the future. Because after all the world is changing fast and the dogmatic religions are falling our of favour. So we should present our Marga as the dharma that it is and not sink into the depths of the dogmatic religions like Hinduism. And of course most margiis and field workers are indeed following directly in Baba's dharmic footsteps-- and by keeping the saffron flag high we are reaching our Goal.
Baba says, "Parama Purus'a has blessed you with the hands to work and legs to move; has infused you with the stamina to act; has endowed you with practical intelligence, so make the best use of them in the fight against the demons. You must not sit idle relying on fate. Be vigorously active." (Ananda Vanii #46) Namaskar Jawaharlal Note: Those days were not just peaceful, sweet days of Jamalpur. Those who are thinking that it was just era of "Vraj", they do not know the real history. Baba was inviting direct confrontation against all sorts of dogma. Many Margiis suffered alot when they cut their sacred thread and hair. They were opposed by their relatives, their friends, their other village neighbors. And threatened, and so many places they got beating also. All these things happened, mostly in rural area of India. And several thousand Margiis suffered and faced the problem. And they did not bow down. Remained as bona fide member of AM and fought against dogma. All negative people they created huge opposition. Like thunder or hail storm. But they remained standing undauntedly. Only surrendering at Baba's feet, this was possible. So much struggle those Margiis faced.
****************************************** Proper Plan of Life
Baba is revealing how ignorant, short-sighted people think and plan in their dogmatic way. Baba says, "Some people consider that one should start intuitional practice in old age when a person has more leisure, after one has spent the prime of one's life earning money. People are afraid that they may face insecurity and difficulties in their old age if they do not accumulate enough wealth before their bodies weaken with age, rendering them incapable of hard work. They regard the prime of life as the period intended for earning money, and old age with its decreased capacity for hard work as the time to remember God. They are labouring under the misconception that hard work is not necessary for intuitional practice and that old age is therefore the proper time for it." (AMEP, '98, p.131-32) Now here following Baba is giving the answer. Baba says, "Whoever is born is bound to die and one is constantly approaching death, not knowing when it will come. It is never certain if one will live to grow old. Yet people reserve the most important work of practising sa'dhana' for the time when the body has become completely enfeebled and the fatuous mind of old age has become entangled in the reactions of this life to such an extent that it is afraid of starting anything new. Ordinarily it is fear of one's approaching death that makes one think of God in old age. One's evil deeds begin to haunt one, and one starts praying and imploring God to save him or her from the consequences of one's deeds. There is no value in remembering God in old age, when it is not possible to concentrate the mind due to the weakness and disease of the body and its preoccupation with the reactions (sam'ska'ras) of the deeds of this life. The mind then is caught up in the infirmities of the body, in the diseases of old age, impending death, and most of all, in memories of past incidents, and it is impossible to concentrate it. For these reasons one is incapable of intuitional practice." (AMEP, '98, p.132) Note: This problem is such a common ailment that 99.9% of the people in the present society are caught up in this whirlpool. And by this way their whole life gets wasted. It is our duty to think again and again and reach the conclusion about what is the best approach to utilise this priceless human life.

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