The message of India

What exactly is India? Is it a country? An idea? A geographical area? A feeling? Or is it a message?
For me, the concept and the creation of India is a message- but what exactly is this message? The ‘Message of India’ can be summed up in an axiom which is quite often used in school textbooks and by school kids in their Independence day speeches- ‘Unity in Diversity’.

The ‘Message of India’ speaks about tolerance, mutual respect and understanding, peace, compassion, love and most of all celebrating our uniqueness, yet remaining united as a strong nation. It was this ‘Message’ which was reflected in our freedom struggle, The great Mahatma Gandhi inherently knew that the only way to achieve Independence was to celebrate our diversity and embrace our differences. Post-independence too, our foreign policy beginning with the Non-Alignment Movement during the peak of the Cold War was shaped by this ‘Message’.
A while ago I met a wonderful Jewish Grandmother in the vintage and colorful Jew town in Kochi. I spoke to her and her caretaker, while we chatted away, the ‘azan’ was called from the local mosque and her caretaker wore his skull cap and bid me farewell.
It was at this time that I really understood the ‘Message of India’. Across the world, conflicts between these two communities may have raged on like a wildfire, but in India, our love and acceptance has doused this wildfire of hatred and anger.

I have traveled to only about a dozen or so states in India, I haven’t seen a major part of this mosaic-  like country, but each time I leave home and go to a new state, I am in awe of its unique culture and atmosphere, each of the twenty-nine states( and union territories!) in India can boast of its own diverse, beautiful and lively culture, even the smaller states in the North-East of India each have their own languages, dances, foods and clothing styles. In fact within Indian states too there can be vast lingual and cultural differences. Religion in India has been more of a unifying concept rather than a divider, it is not uncommon to see Hindu families put up Christmas trees or to see Muslim families light up their houses for Diwali! Festivals and celebrations in India can last several days and everyone participates, regardless of the Holy-Book they follow.
Any statement which one can make about one part of our country can be paradoxically true in another part! I have now made it my life’s purpose to travel to each and every state of this country and spread this ‘Message’ across the world. In this troubled, conflicted  and chaotic world, the ‘Message of India’ can be an instrument of peace and tolerance.

Various travellers, rulers, refugees, tribes and cultures have left their undeniable mark on this country, each and every one of them have contributed to our rich and varied heritage, it may sound romantic but the ‘Message of India’ is precisely this, it’s a message of acceptance.When we closely study Indian history, it is interesting to note that apart from a few failed rulers who never understood the idea of India, almost every single Indian ruler has had members from other communities apart from his or her own community  hold high positions in the administration or in the army.
Members from other communities were always present in their courts and palaces and many Indian rulers guaranteed protection and support to all communities within their empire.
An example of this tolerance can be seen in Vatapi or Badami, the erstwhile capital of the Badami Chalukyas, it is now a quaint town in the southern state of Karnataka, the Chalukyan Kings built four marvelous rock- cut temples in the surrounding hills back in the sixth century,the rulers were Hindus and therefore the first three temples were in honour of the Hindu Gods- Shiva and Vishnu, but what is interesting is that the fourth temple is a Jain Temple!
Jainism was another religion which emerged in Ancient India and Vatapi had a small yet vibrant Jain community, our ecstatic tour guide pointed out that the ruler built this temple in honour of ‘universal brotherhood’ and ‘tolerance’, this for me is the ‘Message of India’.
Even today, Indian politics is full of colour and noise, various groups and associations have their own parties and pressure groups, it is through this that the aspirations of a billion people gets fulfilled, the ‘Message of India’ thus is deeply democratic, it is democracy that has allowed for so many different voices to be heard, valued and accepted.Our Constitution is like a mother, she has more than a billion  children and she feeds and nurtures every single one of them.

Many foreign travellers wrote about India- Indica written by Megasthenes, the works of ancient Chinese scholars Hiuen Tsang and Fa Hien, Kitab-ul-hind written by Al-Biruni are famous examples,these books talk about varied subjects about India and her people, they were all written with different viewpoints and at different times but the singular theme which they all seem in awe of is India’s all-embracing and all-loving character, the uniqueness of this land which didn’t have one set of unique people, but several sets of diverse people.Travelers, scholars and traders came from all over the world in curiosity of this land, some of them never returned to their homelands,others went back and preached the ‘Message of India’.

There is no doubt that the ‘Message of India’ has changed and evolved with time, but it’s central and core values has always remained rigid over the years. Great Indian men and women continue to preach this message of India, recently when the apex court in India proclaimed that same-sex relationships were no longer illegal, it was this all-inclusive and all-loving character of India that was on full display. I’m proud to recognize the fact that several people across the globe have used this message to unify people and to fight injustice, notable examples are Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, both of these great men used the ‘Message of India’ in their respective struggles.

I  am often reminded of a powerful pledge we were made to recite in school, as young kids who grumbled at any type of work, this pledge and the whole ceremonial ‘hand on the heart’  pose always felt like a burden, but the more I explore and learn about my people and their lives, the more this pledge becomes relevant, let me end this with a part of this pledge we recited in school-

India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters.
I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.
I shall always strive to be worthy of it.
I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders respect and treat everyone with courtesy.
To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion.
In their well-being and prosperity alone, lies my happiness
(This pledge was written in 1962 by Pydimarri Venkata Subba Rao)

Let us all be proud of this nation and the values it has stood up for over the years, let us pledge to respect, protect and spread the ‘Message of India’.
If you haven’t yet visited India, come over, you have a family of a billion waiting for you, come explore this land and its diversity and get touched with the ‘Message of India’. Mahatma Gandhi once said “My life is my message” in a similar sense India’s existence is her ‘Message’

 

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I’m a human

IN MY OPINION.

I’m a Hindu, I celebrate Holi, Diwali and I visit almost every temple I get a chance to go to, I’m always curious to learn more of the Vedas and one of my favorite quotes is from the Rigveda-” May all be happy, May all be free of Illness, May all see what is auspicious, May no one suffer”
I’m a Muslim, I’ve gone to Sufi shrines and given a “Chadar”, I’ve visited both Sunni and Shia mosques where I’ve been welcomed with open arms, I’ve eaten lovely food during Eid and I’ve always admired the quality of Charity which all Muslims have inbuilt in their culture.
I’m a Christian, I go to church and I’ve read the Bible, I believe Jesus Christ was an ideal man and we all should be a little more like him. I celebrate Easter and Christmas and I’ve studied at Christan Institutions where people…

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I am Gandhi

Celebrating 150 years of the man who won many wars but killed nobody.

 

I am the barefoot boy, I wear rugged clothes and I’m dirty, I am Gandhi
I am a Harijan, I am an untouchable, I am Gandhi
I am the half-naked fakir, I am Gandhi
I am the mighty Ganges, I am the Himalayas, I am the Brahmaputra, I am Gandhi
I am the victim of patriarchy, I am the sick, I am Gandhi
I am the thousand languages spoken on this land, I’m the native tongue, I am Gandhi
I am the smell of flowers and the sound of  prayer bells, I am Gandhi
I am the girl who refused to pay dowry, I am Gandhi
I am the farmer, I till the soil, I sow the seeds, I am Gandhi
I am the gentle old woman, I am Gandhi
I am the colours of this country, I am Gandhi
I am the tribal man, I’m called a savage man, I am Gandhi
I am the oppressed, I am the suffocated, I am Gandhi
I am the widowed woman, I am a social outcast, I am Gandhi
I am the sacred forests, I am the fertile land, I am Gandhi
I am the truth, I am non-violence, I am the soul of this land, I am Gandhi
I am purity, I am peace, I am serenity, I am only way forward, I am Gandhi
I am the man they shot, my ideas they try to kill, they say all I did was nothing, yet I am the truth
I am India, I am Gandhi

#IamGandhi
#Gandhi150

Screenshot_20180728-160139~2

 

Glossary-

1.Harijan- lower class or caste

2.Fakir- Muslim (or, loosely, a Hindu) religious ascetic who lives solely on alms.

3. Dowry- A payment made by a bride to marry a man

I’m nice to everyone

Why I’m nice to everyone?

I’m nice to the man at the grocery store, he woke up at 4am and opened up his shop

I’m nice to the security guard, he misses his family, they stay a million miles away

I’m nice to the post man, his bike stopped working and he walked through the neighbourhood, packages on his shoulders.

I’m nice to the beggar, he really doesn’t have a choice but to knock at car windows

I’m nice to garbage collector, he gets fined for being a minute late, you’d never imagine the kind of things people throw away.

I’m nice to the server, he studies late into the night but can’t focus, he’s broken three plates and the cook forgot the food, yet it’s his fault.

I’m nice to the cab driver, he isn’t able to pay his son’s school fee, Uber doesn’t treat him fairly.

I’m nice to the mechanic, he hasn’t had a meal in two days, grease and oil aren’t pretty

I’m nice to the labourer, he hasn’t taken a break since dawn, clean water and a good roof seem like dreams in another world

I’m nice to man who’s singing a song and walking by, the song reminds him of simpler times, his addiction wasn’t an issue and his sons still spoke to him

I’m nice to the schoolboy, he forgot his lunch and he can’t seem to find his favorite pen and he’s late to class too!

I’m nice to the teacher, she’s been grading papers through the night, she’s sick and tired but full of passion

I’m nice to the doctor, his surgeries haven’t gone fine today, it isn’t his fault.

I’m nice to the immigrant from Nepal, it’s Nepali New Year and he’s far away from his only son.

I’m nice to the Gardner, he takes perfect care of his flowers but he can’t afford to do the same for his family

I’m nice to the policeman, he’s seen things which he wishes he never had, he’s disturbed and angry but he can’t help

I’m nice to the artist, his best piece of art was slammed by an art critic

I’m nice to the musician, hours of practice still won’t get him a decent job

I’m nice to the dancer, her feet are sore, but the show must go on

I’m nice to the man at the gym, his clothes no longer fit, but he’s determined to prove them all wrong

I’m nice to people, everyone has their own struggles, aspirations and goals they are trying to overcome, it’s a cruel world out there, we can all do with some more love.💛

I’m a human

I’m a Hindu, I celebrate Holi, Diwali and I visit almost every temple I get a chance to go to, I’m always curious to learn more of the Vedas and one of my favorite quotes is from the Rigveda-” May all be happy, May all be free of Illness, May all see what is auspicious, May no one suffer”
I’m a Muslim, I’ve gone to Sufi shrines and given a “Chadar”, I’ve visited both Sunni and Shia mosques where I’ve been welcomed with open arms, I’ve eaten lovely food during Eid and I’ve always admired the quality of Charity which all Muslims have inbuilt in their culture.
I’m a Christian, I go to church and I’ve read the Bible, I believe Jesus Christ was an ideal man and we all should be a little more like him. I celebrate Easter and Christmas and I’ve studied at Christan Institutions where people from all faiths came.
I’m a Sikh, I believe there is no bounds to the compassion and love the Sikh community shows and I know I’m always welcome to have Langar at any Gurdwara. My best friends have been Sikhs and I’m ever grateful to the lessons they have taught me.
I’m a Buddhist, I have prayer flags put up in my room and I’ve visited numerous Monasteries and Stupas and have offered prayers. His Holiness The Dalai Lama has always been my Hero and I am a firm believer in the Buddhist principals of love and compassion.
I’m a Jain, I don’t think there is any other force stronger in the world than the force of AHIMSA or nonviolence. I’ve learned to treat all creatures with respect due to Jain teachings.
I’m a Jew, I have gone to Synagogues and have always spoken out against Anti-Semitism. I’ve feasted on Kosher meals and I have a hand-stitched cloth made by a Jewish Grandmother always hanging in my room to remind of the love and warmth of the Jewish Faith
But above all? I’m simply a human, a human like all of you, I have dreams, I have aspirations and I believe all men and women belong to one great big family. No religion is better or worse than any other religion . I’ve been taught to love by all religions and I’m sure you too have been touched by the warmth of religion. Religion brings us together, it doesn’t separate us, don’t let extremists shape your view of a religion, they don’t represent everyone.
Most of all, let’s no look at ANY religion with hate. Hate is a strong force, but love is always stronger.

Feel free to share this, let’s beat hatred with love!