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Saturday, 9 September 2017

HOPE: AN ANCHOR FOR LIFE

Romans 15:13 is a wonderful prayer that Paul wants every believer to experience: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

So far I haven’t come across anyone saying, “I’m not concerned about having joy and peace and I don’t want to abound in hope.” In fact, we all want and need these qualities, and yet among us very few can reasonably claim to be filled with joy, peace and hope.

Here I would like to limit this article only to the vitality and need of hope leaving joy and peace for a separate thought.

While many see faith and hope as synonyms but it is not. Faith is something that is built upon what one has seen or heard (faith comes by hearing) in the past but hope is an expectation of future realities. Without faith, there is no hope, and without hope there is no true faith.


A Poem on Hope

Amidst unceasing prayer hope unveiling answer
Amidst vagrancy, hope eternal nest
Amidst earthly glory, hope unending wonder
Amidst earthly misery, hope heavenly rest
Amidst poverty, hope unfading asset
Amidst earthly achievements, hope upcoming Best
Amidst widened arms of darkness, hope divine breast
Amidst fiery darts, hope Lord’s final behest
Amidst failing endeavours, hope Christ abreast
Amidst fellow charlatans, hope eternal test


Only then our “hope” in Return of Christ has any value for its quest



You can notice hope is used in verb form in every place. So hope not only for the return for Christ in the future but also for every facet of your life now, here, on the earth. Hope for everything else, basically, emerges from the hope in Christ's Return. And due to the absence of this hope many seems to live a lukewarm dispirited Christians life (nominals). This hope gives us purpose to strive for the purity and assurance of future life. A Christian can still profess him/herself and be called Christian while having no hope for anything similar to non-believers. Our eternal life will not start in the future but has already began with new birth in Christ.

Every mankind has hope of some sort. However, hope in human agency is the product of human mind but the hope in divine is product of divine enablement (through Holy Spirit). That’s why people who lack Holy Spirit also lack this hope. While they may have the ultimate hope of Christ’s coming (everyone has that) but may lose hoping for everything else, significantly, things pertinent for present life.

“…so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Such hope doesn’t come from nowhere but is given by the power of the Holy Spirit. So yielding to Holy Spirit is the key for receiving/growing in the hope.

THUS HOPE IS AN ANCHOR FOR OUR LIFE IN CHRIST AS WE LIVE ON THIS EARTH WITH HUMAN WEAKNESSES
◄ 1 John 3:3 ►And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.◄ Romans 8:24 ►For in this hope we were saved; but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he can already see? 

Outcomes of Hope

(1) It gives us joy and peace.

Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 5:2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

(2) It gives us protection.

Psalm 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness.

(3) It gives us strength, courage, boldness.

Psalm 31:24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD.

(4) It gives us endurance, comfort, confidence in the face of death.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.

(5) It gives us confidence in ministry.


1 Timothy 4:10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.


Image Source: http://circleofdocs.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/hope-hero.jpg


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Happy Teachers Day


In India Teacher’s Day is celebrated on 5th of September as an acknowledgment to the impact made by the teachers towards the community. Since 1962 the day commemorates the birthday of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakhrishnan, a great teacher and a staunch believer of education, known for his influence towards the education system of India.

According to Dr Radhakhrishnan, “teachers should be the best minds in the country”. The birthday of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakhrishnan came to be celebrated as Teachers Day when some of his students requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday ‘5th September’. Dr. Radhakrishnan said, “instead of celebrating my birthday distinctly, it would be my proud pleasure if September 5 is observed as Teachers’ day”. Since then 5th September is observed as Teachers Day all over India.

Teachers convey knowledge and persuade the students in the right direction, educate them and create accountable citizens and good human beings. They are the cornerstone of our future. Celebrating Teachers Day is recognized by UNESCO and equally popular is several countries across the globe.

Let's talk about a teacher who is greatest among all. His followers includes largest chunk of world population. He is Lord Jesus Christ. Many limit him in the office of teacher-ship but He is more than that; He is Lord. 

Christ’s teaching was enlightening, reasonable, supported by Old Testament evidence, well-illustrated, recognized by divine power, unique, and exceptionally authoritative (Matthew 7:28).

Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, accepted that Jesus of Nazareth was “a teacher” from God, as documented by the “signs” which he did (John 3:2). A wealthy young leader approached the Lord asking, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). Even Jesus’ rivals addressed him as “Teacher” (Matthew 22:16, 24), though their use of the expression was not always candid. Matthew tells us the crowds were so amazed at his teaching because “he taught as one having authority, not as the teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:29). The rabbis quoted each other, but Jesus spoke the true and authoritative words of God. The noun (teacher) and verb (teach) combined are used of Jesus some ninety times. The Jesus is addressed as “Teacher” twenty-nine times in the Gospels.

Great men of India like M.K. Gandhi, Ram Mohan Roy, Ramakrishna and many other placed Jesus among great teachers. We know that He is the greatest teacher ever. We know that His teachings are the greatest teachings that have ever been given to mankind.

Even the skeptical philosopher Ernest Renan (1823-92), who opposed Christian belief on almost all points, stated: “Jesus will ever be the creator of the pure spirit of religion; the Sermon on the Mount will never be surpassed”

Scottish theologian James Stuart said, “The teaching of Jesus has had a power and an effect with which the influence of no other teacher can even for a moment be compared.”

Jesus' words throb with wisdom. For an instance, His concept about government and tax: "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21). The concept of God and worship: "Those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). The Sermon on the Mount: "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you" (Matthew 5:44). The greatest commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind ... Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40).

LUKE 6:40 AMP40 A student is not superior to his teacher; but everyone, after he has been completely trained, will be like his teacher.

Adam Clarke Commentary on this verse;

Every one that is perfect - Or, thoroughly instructed, κατηρτισμενος : - from καταρτιζω, to adjust, adapt, knit together, restore, or put in joint. The noun is used by the Greek medical writers to signify the reducing a luxated or disjointed limb. It sometimes signifies to repair or mend, and in this sense it is applied to broken nets, Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19; but in this place, and in Hebrews 13:21; 2 Timothy 3:17, it means complete instruction and information. Every one who is thoroughly instructed in Divine things, who has his heart united to God, whose disordered tempers and passions are purified and restored to harmony and order; every one who has in him the mind that was in Christ, though he cannot be above, yet will be as, his teacher - holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.

This is a fact: men do develop up into the likeness of what they appreciate. Great philosophers, men of science, divines, soldiers, statesmen; these are taken as role models, and each one has fashioned the lives of many others. It is not always a conscious imitation. Mere relationship shapes us. A man can be known by his acquaintances. If he is not like them he soon will be. They are his teachers in some degree, and he will be like them. We should take care, then, whom we emulate.

Dr. Matthew K. Thomas gave a speech for all who want to become or are in the ministry of teaching. Below in the image is the message for all the teachers;


Yes !!! We are to become exhibition of His power, Extension of His life and Expression of His love.

It’s important to understand that Jesus taught his disciples, unlike many modern teachers, impartially. His unique teachings were with authority and kindness, reproof and love, of life and death, ethics and spirituality, religion and society, law and grace, to rich and beggar, to old and child, to man and woman, to priest and gentile combined, And He said that we, his students, can be like Him if we get properly trained (perfected). So as students we must understand that we are in the process of learning; unending learning. And one day we shall be like Him.

In order to become a good and influential teacher or a student let's follow the nuggets mentioned in the image at the top. 


UNIQUE TEACHINGS OF JESUS CHRIST


The World Says
Jesus Christ Says
Bible Verse
If someone does something to make you angry, it is okay to respond by telling him off.
Being angry and calling someone names can land you in hell.
It is okay to look at a good looking woman when you are married as long as you don't act upon your desires.
Looking with lust at a woman makes you guilty of adultery.
Divorce is okay if you are not compatible with your spouse.
Divorce (except in the case of adultery) makes you and your spouse guilty of adultery.
If circumstances beyond your control prevent you from carrying out your vows, it is okay.
Do not make vows at all, but do as you say.
You shouldn't let people take advantage of you.
Do not resist evil, but return good for evil.
It is okay to hate people who are enemies to you.
You are to love all people and pray for those who hate you.
It is okay to get your name on a hospital wing or other worthy cause when you donate money.
Give in secret, so that nobody knows what you have done.
Praying in public is a good way to witness.
Pray in secret to God with sincerity.
If people do evil things to you, it is okay to get even.
Forgive all who sin against you.
Eat, drink and be merry! "He who dies with the most things wins."
Do not accumulate things just because you have extra money. Use your resources for eternal purposes.
Always try to get rich. Money will make you happy.
A person cannot serve God and money at the same time. Make choices that have eternal impact.
Shop 'till you drop. She who has the most clothes wins.
Do not worry about your clothing or your food, but trust in God for your needs.
If you are worried, take a little pill and relax.
Don't worry about tomorrow. There is enough to do today.
Did you read about the latest gossip about that movie star?
Do not judge others. Examine your own behavior.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

GANESHA CHATURTHI AND ECO-CRISIS

As the day of Ganesh visarjan nears my memory goes back to my teenage days. I remember sleepless night, during the festival just before the morning Visarjan of the idol, engulfed with the extreme fun and the moment of fellowshipping, singing, dancing and worshipping.  Back then idols would amount from 50 rs to 50,000- 1 lac in Raipur city. I must say that most of the youngsters involved in the activity are there not because of any religiosity or piety towards any god or goddess but for entertaining factors of festival (lasts for 9-10 days).  

Ganesh Visarjan is a widely celebrated Hindu festival in India in the honour of god Ganesha. Festival wasn’t the part of traditional Hinduism but introduced to people by Mr. Bhausaheb Laxman Javale in 1892 in Pune It is celebrated in Bhadrapada as per Hindu calendar and anywhere between months of August to September as per Gregorian calendar.  

We can witness Ganesha idols in most streets during Ganesh Chaturthi almost in every corner of India. At the end of the festival, as part of the ritual, Ganesh idol will be taken to march and submerged in water by the devotees.
Hindu mythology presents many stories, which explain how Ganesha obtained his elephant or gaja head. One popular belief is through the dirt and turmeric of Parvati Ganesh was formed. Devotees sometimes interpret his elephant head as indicating intelligence, discriminative power, fidelity, or other attributes thought to be had by elephants. The large elephant ears are said to denote wisdom and the ability to listen to people who seek help.

But wait… Have you ever thought what happens after Ganesh Visarjan?

Well I’m not focused here to talk about theological aspects of this festival but environmental.

While celebrating Ganesh Festival people generally ignore environmental impact of pollution they cause in Air, Water, land, humanity.    

In ancient days, paints were made from natural colors that are found in vegetables, fruits etc. But these days the paints are manufactured by industries with toxic chemical process and this leads to extreme water pollution. It takes a lot of time to fashion clay idols. One can make about four Plaster of Paris idols in a single day but at least three days to make one clay idol. While a two-foot Plaster of Paris idol will cost you about Rs 3,000, the same sized clay idol will cost you about Rs 5,000.

We see advertisement of various products (to be used in festivals) in television generating piety in our hearts. So you think they have any concern for god or your piety???  They are their to make money out of your spiritually and give no regard to your well being. That’s all about media and seller. It is a clear demand generating activity benefiting the artisans and churning the money in the system.

Air Pollution
During this festival, fireworks and crackers are castoff in plenty by the followers for showing their cheerfulness. This leads to Air pollution, as harmful gases and toxic substances like Barium, Cadmium, Sodium, Mercury, Nitrate and Nitrite are released into air. Also, respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) level goes high in this season as small particles are released into the atmosphere by these firecrackers.

Noise pollution
Loudspeakers, fire crackers and loud musical instruments, appear to be one of the biggest culprits of noise pollution during festivals in our country. Devotees celebrate the prestigious festival with all possible means of loud music like listening to bhajjans, kirtans and songs using massive speakers.
All the above points add up and increase Noise pollution way beyond the permissible level of 55 bB (day) and 45 dB (night) stated by the pollution control board. Senior citizens and children are directly affected by these as in certain cases the noise level can even reach 110 dB.

Water Pollution
In recent years, we have realised augmented consciousness about water pollution triggered by visarjan i.e. immersion of Ganesh Idols in lakes, rivers and Sea which are made out of Plaster of Paris (PoP) i.e. calcium sulphate hemi –hydrate. It takes several months to totally dissolve Ganesh Idols made up of PoP into water.
Also, colors used in adornment of idols comprise harmful chemicals containing mercury, lead which leaks into water as idol dissolves. It increases acid content, Total Dissolved solids (TDS) and Heavy metals in water. It kills aquatic plants and marine life, damaging ecosystem under water. Along with Idols several other accessories are used in worship of Ganapati such as, flowers, fruits, coconuts, incents, camphor, cloth, plastic, thermocol. Etc. It is collectively called as Nirmalya.
Every year government spends crores of rupees to clean and dig out tons of garbage from natural water sources such as rivers, lakes etc.Google “religion” and “water pollution,” and you’ll see what I mean.

Death during Visarjan  
It may sound strange to some but indeed there are noticeable number of demise during the visarjan. Many don’t care them being to supera-spiritual. But if you read some specific news feeds (because many other news agencies hide those incidents) following the day of visarjan you can see how many people have died either by vehicle carried the idol or drowning in the same water body where they drown the idols. A few could be traced through simple google search.


http://www.hindustantimes.com/kolkata/electrocuted-three-died-while-taking-ganesha-idol-for-immersion-in-kolkata/story-mxMWM6ZqmNbwmAg9CwZNGI.html

http://www.mid-day.com/articles/ganesh-ganesh-chaturthi-mumbai-news/17609165

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/tungabhadra-river-ganesh-immersion-ganpati-shivamogga-ganesha-visarjan/1/759360.html

http://odishasuntimes.com/2016/09/07/student-drowns-death-ganesh-idol-immersion-odisha/


Traffic jam
Massive rise in consumerism and idol procession during the festival causes traffic jam which in turn escalates air and noise pollution.

These are all ill effects of Ganapati festival and is essential for to know everyone, so that it becomes easier to take initiatives to reduce bad effects of Ganesh Chaturthi on environment.

Many measure have been taken by government to bring awareness amongst people to minimize impacts of festivals. Beside EPCO several NGO, Organizations are working hard to make people realize harmful effects of Ganapati festival.

The convenience of this material have made us habitual and we can’t resist them. But the time has come to realise the bad effects of these material thus saving our health and environment. 

Thus two possible solutions are;

Option 1: Banning out all the festivals which harms our ecosystem.

Option 2: Celebrating them in eco-friendly ways.

While first option may hurt many devotees (esp. the ones who don’t see the enormous harm cause to nature), the second seems more feasible. I, through this article, don’t blame the Hindu festivals in itself but I blame people trying to make easy money and the people who don't care about the environment for short-term enjoyment at the expense of long term harm to nature. And I appreciate a few people who are eco-friendly in their approach to festivals.
Spreading the message of civic sense this Diwali might help to curb or at least limit the pollution levels. We must get our social act together before blaming it on local administrators and civic amenities. 


Share this truth with your dear ones because it’s important to know that we cannot make any god happy if we destroy the gift of god; the nature.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

FORGIVEN TO FORGIVE



Forgiveness is central in Christian ethics and is a frequent topic in sermons and theological works. It is considered a duty of Christians to forgive unconditionally.

Despite the rejection by scholars like, Charles L. Griswold, Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration, traditional belief is being strongly endorsed by thinkers like Hannah Arendt that forgiveness is exclusively a Judeo-Christian as opposed to the pagan idea. In her book, The human condition, the German Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt remarked that Jesus of Nazareth 'was the discoverer of the role of forgiveness in human affairs'. According to Arendt, we need forgiveness in human affairs for it is the remedy for the irreversibility of human action; it frees us from not being haunted and consequently paralysed by our past actions and it liberates us for future positive action. 

She comments:

Without being forgiven, released from the consequences of what we have done, our capacity to act would, as it were, be confined to one single deed from which we can never recover; we would remain the victims of its consequences forever (Arendt 1998:237)

Christopher R. Allers, Marieke Smit (eds.) Forgiveness in Perspective, xiii
Forgiveness is a concept, a practice, and a claim made upon us that springs from the heritage of Abraham. While it may be true that sungnome  in Plato and Aristotle may amount some type of proto-forgiveness or at least judicial pardon, it neither played significant role in their thought no did it as fecund as the forgiveness of the Judaeo-christian tradition.  

Two types of forgiveness appear in the Bible: God's forgiveness of our sins, and our obligation to forgive others. This topic is so vital that our eternal destiny hangs on it. The Bible is one long story of how God reaches out to show His love and forgiveness to mankind. In Genesis 3:15 God gives His first promise of a Redeemer who would forgive the world of their sin. Bible encapsulates various stories demonstrating forgiveness.

Find out some time to read these:
  • Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25, 27, 32, 33) Forgiveness Bible Story
  • Joseph (Genesis 37-50) Forgiveness Among Brothers
  • David and Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9) Another Great Bible Story About Forgiveness
  • Prodigal Son (Luke 15) Forgiving Bible Story Between A Father and a Son
  • Woman Taken in Adultery (John 8) A Bible Story Where Jesus Examples Forgiveness
  • Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35).

In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of the importance of Christians forgiving. Jesus used the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35) to say that we should forgive without parameters. The Story of the Prodigal Son is possibly the best known parable about forgiveness. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus frequently delivered talks on forgiveness, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:7 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember…First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23-24 "And when you stand praying…forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:25 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies…turn to him the other also." Luke 6:27-29 "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:36 "Do not judge…forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37. "Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21-22. "And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'" Jesus forgave His murderers Luke 23: 34.

Considering Mark 11:25 above, and Matthew 6:14–15, that follows the Lord's Prayer, "For if you don’t forgive men…your Father will not forgive your sins…" Forgiveness is not an option to a Christian, rather one must Forgive to be a Christian.

What forgiveness is not?

Forgiveness as such is (as with many other such value concepts) difficult to define, and McCullough and Witvliet (2005:447) go about the problem by firstly distinguishing it from other concepts, in other words, what forgiveness is not:

It is not pardoning, which is a legal notion.
It is not condoning, which validates the wrong done.
It is not excusing, which holds that extenuating circumstances led to certain act.
It is not forgetting, which infers the slipping out of memory.
It is not denial, which relentlessly does not identify the wrongfulness of an act.
It is not reconciliation, which denotes to the refurbishment of a wrecked rapport.

Forgiveness and Physical Health 

Un-forgiveness is categorized in medical books as a disease. According to Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way. With that in mind, forgiveness therapy is now being used to help treat diseases, such as cancer. 

Robert Wuthnow, (2000-01-01). "How Religious Groups Promote Forgiving: A National Study", Survey data from 2000 revealed that 61% of contestants that were part of a small religious group informed that the group helped them be more forgiving. Individuals reported that their religion groups which encourage forgiveness was connected to self-reports of success in overcoming addictions, guilt, and perceiving encouragement when feeling dispirited.

According to a recent study in the Journal of Health Psychology, conducted by researchers from Luther College, the University of California, Davis and the University of California, Los Angeles, having the trait of forgiveness, unconventionally, foretells positive mental and physical health, In addition, researchers found that forgivingness seemed to protect against stress's negative effects on mental health.

A positive argument for the prospect for forgiveness in a broader political context is that its uttered and practised by Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, who in his own lifetime reached almost iconic eminence. The absence of bitterness and forgiving behaviour in his life after being released after 27 years in prison impressed especially whites in South Africa and backed much to the fact that they accepted and even flourished in the new political dispensation. When asked about his secret for forgiving, Mandela answered, 

 “If I had not forgiven I would still be in prison, and this life is too short to be bitter.”

Why People Can’t Forgive?

Once I said when demanded to forgive the one hurt me, "You don't know what he did to me! I just can't let it go, even though I know of forgiving!" I literally said this. But now I’m trying to change myself gradually. If this is your story as well, Dear, then you need to scan yourself closely as to why you would keep this lethal spiritual poison running through your veins. Here are five reasons why some people don’t:
  • They don't value the relationship they are in. 
  • They are afraid to forgive because of the fear of called weak and powerless by others. This is the most common reason among those who have been hurt before. 
  • They won't forgive because arrogance keeps them away from finding place in God. 
  • They won't forgive because they don't recognize the harm it does to their spirit and body.
  • They don’t forgive because power of sin stops them. 

I have come across the situation where it becomes extremely difficult to forgive others especially when you are angry. Therefore, prime reason might be holding on to the anger that may be related with an occurrence or experience that causes us hurt, can lead to hate, and possibly a lingering want for revenge.  This is vicious and causes an emotional drain on us even if we don’t apprehend it.

Dr. Michael Obsatz, in his book, Healing Our Anger: Seven Ways to Make Peace in a Hostile World indicates that there are eight types of anger (page 12).  These include:
  • Chronic anger is an ongoing feeling of resentment toward others.
  • Volatile anger is explosive but comes and goes.
  • Judgmental anger comes across in hypercritical statements.
  • Passive anger is suppressed anger that is expressed indirectly.
  • Overwhelmed anger arises when people believe they cannot handle                                       the complexity of their circumstances.
  • Retaliatory anger is specifically directed at another person or persons.
  • Self-inflicted anger is directed at ourselves.
  • Constructive anger is anger we put to positive uses.

With exception of this last type, most of these angers are destructive.

Forgiveness and Spiritual Health 

Same as physical, un-forgiveness has fatal negative results for your spiritual health. Any believer in Christ who houses an unforgiving attitude is on unsafe ground. You may wonder how it can harm you. Bible tells us its fatal consequences. 

  • It calls the wrath of God and makes Him to hand you over to tormentors. Pro.11:21.
  • It brings the fruit of evil deeds done to your offender upon you. Matt.18:30-34; Eccl.12:14.
  • It averts you from being benefited from the cleansing power of Jesus. 1 Jn.1:7-9.
  • It obstructs answers to prayer. Matt.6:15.
  • It may restrict one to receive Christ's forgiveness. 
These days a lot of people tend be much concerned about their physical health but very little care about spiritual health. Here is the warning for if you are that person. Spiritual ill-health will eventually result in temporary/eternal damnation. 


Benefits of Forgiveness

Forgiving behavior can be extremely beneficial, only if one realizes. While it has many benefits, here, I would enlist a few:
  • Keeps your heart healthy

Forgiveness is good for the heart, literally. One study proposes that people who hold on to grudges tend to have faster heart rates than those who are empathetic and able to forgive.

  • Lowers stress levels

According to a study done by Hope College reseachers, one of the benefits of forgiveness is that it lesser the amount of cortisol. Researchers examined 71 partakers and their physical responses when they spoke about grudges as opposed to when they spoke about forgiveness and empathy. Those who displayed more forgiving outlooks had lower physiological stress responses.
  • Lowers pain

Having a forgiving heart may lower both emotional and physical pain, according to a study done by Duke University Medical Center researchers. Out of 61 participants who suffered from chronic back pain, those who were more likely to forgive reported lower levels of pain. Thus there is a relationship that appears to exist between forgiveness and persistent pain.”
  • Lowers blood pressure

Letting go of that anger you’ve been sheltering might lower your blood pressure. Studies show that forgiveness is linked to lower blood pressure.
  • Restores a Healthy Relationship with Creator
Whether anyone realizes it or not, we daily need God's forgiveness. We are in sinful body and time and time again we wrong against God. If we don'forgive our offenders we don't possess any right to be forgiven by the ONE we have offended.  

Saints, we must understand this: the only person unforgiveness hurts is the unforgiver!!!

Forgiveness is an attribute of God that we are consistently taught in the Bible that we too can demonstrate to others. True forgiveness is easier said than done. It can be difficult, especially if someone really dismayed you in a way that opposed your values and morals. However, it’s quite essential to remember that holding that grudge is not going to fix anything. That hot coal you’re holding onto is just burning yourself and will eventually result in separation from Creator. Let's not forget we are forgiven to forgive. 


In The Sunflower, Simon Wiesenthal writes of an incident that occurred during the time he was a concentration camp inmate. One day, he and his work detail were sent to clean medical waste at a converted army hospital for wounded German soldiers. As they worked, a nurse came up to Simon and asked, "Are you a Jew?" When he answered "Yes," she took him into the hospital building, to the bedside of Karl, a 21-year old dying Nazi soldier. This soldier tells the story of his part in killing millions of Jews is Nazi camps. And wanted forgiveness from a Jew before his spirit leaves his body. After narrating whole story, soldier begs for Simon’s forgiveness with tears so that he can die peacefully guiltless. However, Simon left the room without a word. When his group returned to the hospital the next day, the same nurse came to Simon and told him that Karl had died...more


Interesting stories of forgiveness: 





Image Credits: 

https://sandivand.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/forgiveness_wordle.jpg 
http://images.christianpost.com/ipost/full/7417/unforgiveness.jpg 

Monday, 7 August 2017

THE FESTIVAL OF RAKHI: A REFLECTION


As I opened my eyes with the finishing of our morning family prayer today, I found a girl waiting for me from our vicinity with a plate holding rakhi and some sweets. 

Raksha Bandhan is a widespread Hindu festival which celebrates the bond of affection between brothers and sisters. This date on which Raksha Bandhan falls this year is 7th of August, which is today. Raksha Bandhan is the celebration where the sisters tie (raakhi) a special cord known around the wrist of Brothers. On this auspicious day brothers make a promise to their sisters to protect them from all harms and troubles. In Sanskrit language the meaning of Raksha Bandhan is a bond of protection. This festival falls on the full moon day. Raksha Bandhan is refered to as Vish Tarak, Punya Pradayak and Pap Nashak. Rakhis are ideally made of silk with gold and silver threads and decorated with sequins and studded with semi precious stones. On this day people make tasty dishes and sweets at home and exchange gifts.

Beside many other myths and legends the story from Bhavishya Purana is largely accepted as a basis for this festival. According to Bhavishya Purana, in the war between Gods and demons, Indra (the deity of sky, rains and thunderbolts) was humiliated by the dominant demon King Bali. Indra’s wife Sachi consulted Vishnu, who gave her a bracelet made of cotton thread, calling it holy. Sachi tied the holy thread around Indra wrist, blessed with her prayers for his wellbeing and triumph. Indra successfully overpowered the Bali and recovered Amaravati. This story stirred the protective power of holy thread. The story also suggests that the Raksha Bandhan thread in ancient India were amulets, used by women as prayers and to guard men going to war, and that these threads were not limited to sister-brother like relationships.

Indian history also have instances where some queens have sent rakhis to kings belonging to other kingdoms and the kings in turn offered their help and protection to their rakhi sisters. History has it that the Hindu King Porus refrained from striking Alexander the great because the Alexanders wife had tied a Rakhi on his hand and made him her Rakhi Brother. In great epic Mahabharata Krishna advises Yudhishtir to tie the Rakhi to guard himself against evil forces. In this epic Kunti ties rakhi to her grandson Abhimanyu and Draupadi ties to lord Krishna.

However, looking at all these said traditions, though this festival’s initial practice started with wives or mother tying the holy thread with time how the festival came to get limited between the bond of brother and sister is still a critical question left unanswered by followers. 
So the first reason for the obvious conclusion would be that the practice of rakhi (between brother and sister) has no religious significance.

And the second reason for such conclusion is that the rakhi bounded by Indra’s wife was not to protect the one who is binding it (Wife of Indra) but to protect the one is being bounded with (Indra). Whereas today the one who is being bound (brother) has to protect the one who binds it (sister). This is another paradox within Hindu mythology, again, left with no explanation, thus, another reason for aforementioned conclusion.

Thus, raakhi, more than a religious significance holds a cultural significance in itself. And of course conveys some good meanings and nurtures the bond of affection between brothers and sisters.

And media holds its own monetary reasons behind publicizing spirit of such festivals along side business community. They have nothing to do with the meaning of any festival but work only for their sells to increase.   

However, most importantly, its highly ironical in India to see it as a country where such festival are celebrated with much piety and joy in every rural and urban corners of its religions has ever increasing number of crimes and violence against women as compared to other countries that don’t have such charlatan festivals. Past years had made India in the hit list among rape countries and in future it can again find it’s place even higher. It simply means males honour own sisters and dishonours others’ simultaneously. This is plain portrayal of the extreme form of hypocrisy in the matrix of Indian chauvinistic patriarchal nexus towards women. On the one hand Indians are known for externally signifying every human relation with religious identity (myth) and divinizing womanhood in every possible design human mind can conceive and on the other hand perpetrating gravest crime towards the same with very little or no preventive measures by the state or society.  

Before it’s too late we better concentrate our mind, money and time more on some efficacious measures to guard womanhood as whole (not only immediate siblings) than money and time draining unproductive festivals born out of unproven irrational myths.

Matthew 5:47-4847 And if you love only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?












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