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A 'Vedanta Mission' Page

Letter's of Guruji-2

(Poojya Guruji Sri Swami Atmananda Saraswati )


INDEX

(Click on 'Subject' to jump to that particular Letter)

No.

Subject of Letter

1. Brahmacharya & being physical wrecks
2. Treading the grand Highway
3. Subjective & the Objective Mind
4. Enjoying the journey
5. Specific & General Greetings
6. Objective of Discussions
7. Joyous Janmashtami
8. Limits of Discussions
9. Freedom to differ
10. The Bandwagon Effect & the Greetings

- 1 -

Brahmacharya & being physical wrecks

Hari Om !

Thanks for the URL giving details of the Tommy Hilfiger incident. These incidents only become instrumental for me to bring to forefront some more fundamental things and therefore the exact situations become secondary. The facts that I was talking about are relevant to any person at any point of time. Personalities are secondary only principles matter.

I would like Swamiji's comments on the following query that I received. It was addressed to Swami Chidanandaji of the Divine Life Society but Swamiji is travelling a lot and will be unable to respond due to time contraints. On the subject of Brahmacharya I would like to have Swamiji's feedback on the following.

Well ! I am not a spokesman of Swami Chidanandaji or DLS, nor do I see any justifications of time constraints for clarifying doubts about such fundamental things in ones own devotees or followers. I can however certainly give my views on the subject of Brahmacharya.

Our sages say that we will be physical wrecks if we do not observe Brahmacharya. However many of the top professional athletes in the USA (and probably the world) have no regards to this practise at all. Last year Sports Illustrated ran a cover story about athletes who have fathered children by different women all over the country during their trip to different cities for their games. How do we explain the physical prowess of these athletes when Brahmacharya is not observed.

I have personally not read this in any of our basic scriptures that a 'person will be a physical wreck' if he or she does not practice Brahmacharya. If at all this was a fact then certainly what you write would have been relevant. The issue is completely different.

The very word Brahmacharya when grammatically dissected means 'Brahmani charati iti Brahmachari', which means that he who revels in Brahman is a Brahmachari. Thats all. Now, why does the fellow revel in this ? Because of his 'understanding' that the subjective essence in all of us, the timeless truth alone can 'quench' my thirst. That alone is the source of all joy. That it was delusion that I thought that some object, situation or person can really fill my heart with lasting joy. It is not that the sensual pleasures do not have any joy. They do have the capacity to help us bring about the joyful state of mind. But it is a fact that all sensual experiences bring momentary joy. All so called sensual experiences only become instrumental to manifest a subjective essence, even though momentarily. In moments of joy the person closes his or her eyes and is with himself alone. He experiences some thing which has been revealed inside. At that moment he forgets even the instrument which facilitated such inner unveiling. Now, if someone has come to know this then the natural repercussion of this 'understanding' is that the fellow will not look at the objects outside with thirsty Bhogi eyes. He has come to know of the existence of a permanent & infinite source of joy. He can afford now to look at the objects without bringing in selfish considerations of 'I want to enjoy this' etc. The prevelant meaning of Brahmacharya does not associate the above 'understanding' in its definition and gives stress only on abstainment of sensual pleasures or experiences. This is not the right approach, even the word meaning of the word is ample proof of this. In ones anxiety to somehow make people to follow such qualities sometimes the teachers are seen to give reasons which do not hold any water. What you write is just a classic example of this.

What I wrote above was from the point of view of the 'real objective' of Brahmacharya, but even if we see from the worldly of view, still I think some other reasons should be highlighted.

I would prefer to give stress on :

- One's ability to be a master of ones senses. Using them is no problem, but use your faculties like a master, not a slave.
- Make one understand that the real joy even in a sensual experience will only be when the two partners really love each other, from the core of their heart. Take your own time to let this love come about, then physical relationship will be something pure & satisfying act. Even Dhrama shastras affirm that. A person who just goes around having physical relationship with all possible women certainly has not found that which he is still desperately seeking. Such a person will always remain dissatisfied.
- Understand that it is 'love' which really matters. As a grahasthi we never advise anyone to stop physical relationships but let it not be 'the' important thing. Let it just come when you feel that proximity towards someone on the basis of mutual values, love, & perceptions of life. The proximity may lead you even to create someone like your beloved. Having physical relationships without any love is more like prostitution, and if someone likes that we are not bothered. We only pity how much they are missing in life.

So the issue is entirely different. I can understand the questions in a person who has been given this line of thought that 'if you dont do this you will be a physical wreck'. Hope I could answer your question. In case of any doubt please do write back. I will however be back on 29th Jan after conducting a Sadhana Camp at Khandala.

Love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 2 -

Treading the grand highway

Hari om !

I am not very expressive about my feelings and I cannot put into words what I have been feeling since the shibir - in fact since we've had the good fortune of meeting you - all we can say is that we must have done some good deeds to deserve your love and Blessings and hope we can live upto all is expected of us!

I am indeed happy that some communication could take in Khandala. I can understand the joy which one experiences when this does take place. All I can say is that you indeed are a blessed person to have 'seen' the meaning of the words of scriptures directly. When the student is properly poised & ready the knowledge from the teacher is always direct - aparoksha. This kind of knowledge alone redeems. This speaks of your sincerity, purity and tuning up with me.

As you must be aware there are three steps to awakening & abiding in your real Self. They are Sravana, Manana & Nididhyasana. In Sravana we directly 'see' the meaning of the words of the scriptures 'through the expositions of our teacher'. This has to be repeated many times till we are convinced that all our scriptures are communicating this same very message. In Manana we handle all our doubts, misapprehensions etc 'by ourself' and awake to the same state within, of which a glimpse is got during the exposition by teacher. The tips & direction even for this have to be got by our teacher. In Niddidhyasana, the mind has been resolved to such an extent that we do not have any necessity of removing any subjective veils, the 'same' experience is always there, we just remain intensely aware of this newly discovered identity in & through all our worldly activities too. Some time we meditate intensely on that and at other times the awareness just lingers on. Thats the grand highway. Welcome to this grand highway. You have made a beginning and I am sure with your sincerity & dedication you will shortly 'own up' this knowledge effortlessly.

I had a chat with A… this morning - he is also doing a course on world cultures and this includes a study of The Gita. B… wants me to send him a concise book - should i buy the book by Jayadayal Goyandka or would recommend something else? It seems our boys had to go to America to learn about our heritage!

I am very happy to hear about A… doing a course on World Culture, and is studying Gita too. Yes, as our yougsters are going over to US to study their own religion & culture, so I better hurry up with my plans to go over there. Otherwise I dont know what interpretation is given out to them. Instead of Goenkas book, a book by Gurudev should prove more helpful to him. That will be easily available in US too.

With lots of love & om,

Guruji

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- 3 -

Subjective & the Objective Mind

Hari om !

It was really nice to know that you have taken up regular study of Gita. Keep at it consistently, it will be a worthwhile effort & experience.

I am not clear in my mind as to when the Subjective Mind (Buddhi) is considered to be in conflict with the Objective Mind (Manas) and if it is in conflict, is recognition of the eternal truth going to help us overcome this conflict? I would appreciate if you could explain this to me with some examples.

These two terms indicate the two aspects of the process of all our experiences. One, we receive a stimuli in the form of some situation, two, we respond to it. That aspect of our mind which deals with receiving the stimuli is called in the book you are reading (the 'Holy Gita' by Sw.Chinmayanandaji) as the objective mind, while that aspect which has the 'freedom of response' has been termed as the subjective mind. Many a times we see that either the responding faculty has become so dull or conditioned that there are no new or creative responses. It is just the same mechanical responses year after year. These conditionings have been termed as Vasanas. So as long as these conditionings remain the person is not really free. He is going round & round a circle whose circumference was drawn years back. It is like a wheel which has got stuck somewhere. Swamiji provides various graphics etc to communicate that it is only when these conditionings are not there that you really live & act freely. A 'shuddha mind' is a one which is sensitive to what comes, can weigh the pros & cons and then respond as per his or her understanding & convictions. Such an integrated & awakened state of mind is an ideal state for making the best of each & every moment of life, increase one's efficiency manifold, and manifest the latent intuitive faculty. It is with such a mind alone that we can know the truth of anything including our Self.

The recognition of the ultimate is not really a means to end this possible conflict, but is the final fruit of the subjective sojourns of this integrated mind & intellect complex. That which is a means for the cleansing of conditionings is an attitude of truly 'selfless attitude' or better known as 'love', in all our actions & thinking. This is because all conditionings are basically self-centered. To the extent we stop being bothered about our security, image, status etc., to that extent we are available in all situations, and can thus respond without any conditionings & as per our convictions.

Regarding examples you can take any situation and see how you were responding to it earlier and how these responses change with your changed perceptions & understanding. I think the point should be now easy to understand. If you have any problems write back and I will try explaining it with illustrations.

Love,

SwAtma

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- 4 -

Enjoying the journey

Hari om !

The journey is long & the road is rough. The only possible joy can be in the walking. How to come to the realisation of this & start enjoying the journey in what seems to be of great import ?

The very question reveals that the realisation is already there, even though intellectual. Just take it easy and learn to enjoy your work. The joy of journey gets sidelined if you have something else on your agenda. Resolve that problem, then you will be able to give out all what you have to the work at hand.

Love,

Guruji

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- 5 -

The Specific & General Greetings

Hari om !

It is indeed nice to greet anyone with good wishes. Exuding good thoughts not only makes the world a much lovelier place but this has its own effect on our own minds too. But I think everything has its own place. I dont think wishing members of Arjunas list with Merry Christmas makes much sense. Greetings have relevance when they are directed to those who have value of that thing. The habit of just following something mechanically doesn't seem to be a worthwhile quality. Lets direct greetings of Christmas specifically to our Christian friends. This is a different forum, cherishing the values of bringing about greater awareness, understanding & self-respect vis-a-vis our own heritage, philosophy, culture & even those views & values which are thought provoking and are of universal relevance - things regarding which there is profound ignorance. It would be great if this forum is used to remember things of our own culture & religion which we have almost forgotten.

If by the way the people who greet one & all with Merry Christmas, claim to have a universal outlook, and want to make any worthwhile incident instrumental to express their magnanimous feelings towards others, then I would like to know whether they are also greeting their friends here & even abroad on occasions like Ram Navami, Janmashtami, Mahashivratri, Guru Poornima or Gita Jayanti (just to name a few). These occasions which were highly respected by our ancestors & do come in the category which can become instrumental to strike a chord within the hearts of lakhs of people here. I have my doubts ! A person who sincerely wishes to cheer up one & all is expected to be slightly more intelligent & sensitive than those who just blindly follow the crowd. Lets sincerely mean what we say rather than do something just because others are doing.

Jesus Christ was indeed a great soul - he is considered by our Christian friends as the son of God. We in this country respect all those who were & are an embodiment of love, service & knowledge. But the Christian religious leaders as of today exhibit more intolerance rather than magnanimity. The ultimate on their agenda is conversion of people to their religion & faith. This intolerance to people of other faith goes against our basic ethos. There are good Christians too, but the basic thrust of religious leaders smacks of intolerance to people of other faith. If there is someone of other faith who because of ignorance or any other social or economic reasons is suffering, then using this as an excuse to convert others faith is the greatest dis-service which is ever possible. I have personally come across various incidents in my tours of various interior places in Andaman-Nicobar Islands, Orissa, & North-east where the poor, ignorant or suffering people were coerced to convert. Even character-assassination of our Gods & Goddesses is resorted too, yet we do not reject the the entire community, or their basic religious outlook. It is just one more sect professing Bhakti or devotion. They are as good or bad as any other such sect is. All such sects have their own plus & minus points, but various Hindu sects do exhibit an intrinsically greater respect to people of other faith, and also to the component of faith as such. If you really want to help others then help eliminate their problems, strengthen their existing faith and make them feel stronger & positive. But what we see is completely different. Far from working to strengthen the existing faith - which takes years to build up, some people in the name of 'helping others', come and shake the foundations of the very personality and create divisions. The surprising thing is that they have the guts to come into our own very homes and start corrupting our very outlook, values & ethos. The tradedy is compounded when we have our own people following them mechanically & foolishly.

Personally I will certainly give my heartfelt greetings of Chritmas to a Christian friend, because I respect him, love him, accept him as he is, and would like to do anything which will make him more happy, strong & successful, and also make his existing faith towards goodness stronger, but will not 'Merry Christmas' the whole world, till Christianity becomes really synonymous with magnanimity, tolerance, true selfless service and the most important - the enlightenment. Today I find that these positive qualities are found in the precepts of Krishna and Rama. I salute their magnanimity and will rather greet the whole world with 'Jai Sri Krishna', 'Jai Sri Ram' or 'Hari om', rather than become a party to a movement of intolerance & arrogance.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 6 -

The Objective of Discussions

Hari om !

Yes P… ! Your suggestion (regarding initiating philosophical & religious knowledge in this List too) is certainly on my agenda. But we have our own way of going about it. First, I would be happy that in our discussion forums everyone starts opening up, develop a mutual rapport, start bringing out the in-depth understanding which we have regarding our self, world & lives - fearlessly. Whatever be our background, whatever be our convictions, but first let us open up. The sources are secondary, what matters are the tenets. Let us have the daring to not only put forward whatever we believe & understand in front of everyone, but also humbly believe that learning is a continuous process, and we like to know more. When we find there is sincerity of purpose & inquisitiveness, then real discussions will start. My idea of dialogue & communication is not 'information-feeding' but 'touching, tickling & if required transforming' the basic convictions, not directly but indirectly by revealing certain facts. I dont believe in indoctrination but learning & teaching by open, truthful discussions.

Let me use this opportunity to congratulate you in sharing with our list members so many beautiful thoughts & facts. It doesn't matter if we all agree with something or not, but that someone is slowly opening up their hearts. When the hearts open then the discussions too not only come out from deep within but touch our deepest cores too. May this continue and involve others too. May others too open up in the same way, then we will know each other better and our discussions will take place at a level where putting up a front is neither required nor possible. That is truthfulness.

Love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 7 -

Joyous Janmashtami

Hari om !

I was very much moved by P…'s letter. P…writes and expresses himself well. And he has a point - how do we greet people on Janmashtami day for instance.

Yes ! I am very happy we have someone like P… who is keeping the list alive & kicking. He has raised a good point, as to how to specifically greet our people on the occasions like Janmashtami etc. Traditionally we were greeting people with 'Jai Sri Krishna' or 'Hari om' even on these occasions, but this point has got me thinking that we should have something which expresses our feeling with reference to our specific festivals too. As this is a matter relating to expressing our feelings, so we need not have a precedent or scriptural injunction here. It is some thing about which we all can give our ideas. With reference to Janmashtami, what immediately comes to my mind is 'Joyous Janmashtami', because Lord Krishna was nothing but an embodiment of joy. I will however like our list members to give their ideas too, specially regarding Ram Navami, Mahashivratri, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratras & Guru Poornima.

Love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 8 -

Limits of Discussions

Hari om !

P… wrote : This book by Leonard Shlain suggests that the subjugation of women came to being around the same time that man learned to write and there may be some connection between that… Swamiji tell me if i'm goin out of the limits for the list.

Any discussions, ideas which are thought provoking, which help a person open his / her feelings & convictions, which are not just mechanically put forward, which have a fragrance of learning & sharing our perceptions & convictions about anything & every thing pertaining to our self, world & life, which are respectfully & truthfully put forward are all things in the right direction.

You are doing a good work, P…! Keep it up. May others too respond to all what you write by accepting or rejecting what you or others say by giving their own opinion & reasons, and may a meaningful dialogue follow in the right spirit of mutual respect & learning. That alone is the objective of the list. I on my part will keep on sharing my perceptions too, whenever possible & necessary.

Love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 9 -

The Freedom to differ

Hari om !

Thanks for sending your mail to me first. I know you are a sensitive & considerate person. You have my approval to forward your letter to the Arjunas List. I would certainly be happy if any discussion is initiated with an open mind. We should all have the spirit to learn from each other. It doesnt matter if we differ on some point. We all have freedom to differ. Convictions should take place slowly and steadily, without any pressures. That's my way. But I would be happy if I am not misquoted or misunderstood. Nothing should be put in my mouth which I have not said. There are few things in your letter which I have neither said or even implied. Please check your letter for this. Rest is fine.

Personally I do not agree with the line of action being taken by Bajrang Dal etc. My way is education. I am interested to bring about awareness of our religion & philosophy. Just because a particular person specialises in something and therefore talks about that, shares that, then it should not be implied that I am against those things which I do not teach. I do not say that Christianity is bad or anything like that. That's not in my agenda at all & it is not my view too. As said earlier in my letter it is just like any other sect subscribing to devotion & service. As per me all such sects have their own limitation, including ours various sects. I am not for the fanatisicm because of which poor are forcibly converted. If someone gets converted because of convictions based on facts, then it is no problem. As compared to Christians, we have different perceptions to help a person evolve spiritually rather than converting his or her religion. You should go through my letter properly before drawing any conclusions.

Everything has a place, and I just want that this forum be used to know about our culture, religion & traditions. I myself greet those who share such values, but not mechanically to any one. If you want to, then I dont mind. why should I mind ? It's your life & you should live exactly how you deem to be fit. I can simply share my views. Even if you dont accept or agree with me, you will still be dear to me.

So please go ahead, and initiate a good discussion, but based on facts. Lets see what others have to say.

With lots of love & om,

Guruji

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- 10 -

The Bandwagon Effect & the Greetings

Hari om !

U…wrote : Here's wishing everybody a very happy & prosperous new year.

We too wish you a very happy, prosperous & also an 'enlightening' New Year.

Some time back a discussion was initiated that "merry christmas" should not be wished as all of us list members are non- christians. to this there were two letters supporting the view. i beg to differ from this opinion. i don't believe in christianity or in christmas, hence i hope i am not labeled as a pro-christian. the point is that in a very subtle manner we are trying to say that christians as well as their religion & their festivals are not good. basically, we are saying we are better. so, what's new in this. Everybody praises ones ownself, one's own family, house, religion , etc. & you ought to feel proud of whoever or whatever you are. so far, so good.

No, I do not agree that in any way whatsoever we are saying that other religions are not good. This will amount to missing the whole point. How come you say or even imagine something is good or not without even knowing the locus of comparison, i.e. what your own religion & philosophy is. We just want to bring about awareness of our heritage, and I am sure this
endeavor should in no way be construed as communal.

Even though any person who is happy about his parents, family, country & religion is certainly much better psychologically placed to go around with his head held high, but really speaking it is not in my agenda to convince you about the goodness of anything which you just happen to inherit. This outlook in my opinion will lead to a closed & fragmented society. We should also see with an open mind as to what others say, believe & cherish. Anything which we inherit should also be understood with an open mind. In the process lets cull out & inculcate the best from all. However when we are studying some subject lets say for example, commerce, then we should not bring in questions pertaining to science faculty. Moreover just because we
are studying commerce doesnt mean that we imply 'in a very subtle way' that science is bad. If you come to such a conclusion & put words in my mouth which I neither said or implied, then really speaking you have a problem not me.

There is nothing wrong to try to understand anything which is 'mine'. My family, My religion, My country etc. In fact that is the best place to start, because a natural affinity is already there, which facilitates in-depth probe & understanding. This in my opinion is important. To awaken the potential of in-depth understanding about anything. Once you have this use it everywhere. Even to question your own religion you need faculty of in-depth probe.

but when we take a step ahead to condemn someone's else's religion we are doing what has been happening for time immemorial. division. grouping. well, i know this grouping already exists but when it is propogated thru a strong channel it will definetley add fuel to the fire. make a person think. Make him dislike christians, become prejudiced. there we go again. how else do you think we have managed to break up the world into so many pieces. We eliminate christians from being good, then someone else from being good , & it goes on until there is only one person left who could be good. You!

The basic premise being wrong, the whole thought development becomes baseless.

this thought striked my mind when i heard on news, how the churches & missioniary schools were targeted by bajrang & r.s.s activists. these activists are also trying to say that christians are not good, so they should be attacked. our issue & this cannot be compared as they use the sword & we the pen.but don't forget that "pen is mightier than the sword" i don't know what their motives or objectives were, but seeing the state of
those schools, i can never be convinced of the reason behind the attack. if you personally feel, that what these people did was justified, then you need not read further as if this doesn't convince you that there is an equal possibility of a hindu being "as bad" as a christian then nothing will. getting back to our issue, what is the harm in wishing a non-christian "merry christmas". its just an occasion which is very popular in the west
thus is having a band-wagon effect out here. fine, we need not literally go into the depths of the function. isn't it enough that everybody is in a bouyant mood. a message that somebody is remembering you. Makes you feel good.

Whatever be your justifications, bandwagon mentality is never worthwhile and should be discarded.

when we are talking about not celebrating our festivals as much as we celebrate christmas, i wish to give an analogy. imagine this situation. your friend comes over with her 5 year old child after a long time. you give that child choclates & lots of hugs & kisses. seeing this your 5 year old child complains that you love your freinds child
more than you love him as you don't give him choclates everyday. sounds familiar. your reaction would probably be to convince your kid that its not true. that you love him more than anything in the world, right. would that stop you from behaving the way you just did the next time. I think not. because you know that you love your child more than your friends child & nothing will change that, it again does not mean that you are loving
your friends child just for formality or as a social nicety. it just happens to you naturally. but your 20 year old child won't behave in this manner. He knows that you love him more than anybody else. he is no more possessive about your love. hinduism is like our own child. we love it more than anything else in the world. any other religion is like a friends child. even if you want, you can't love him as much as you love your own child.
then there was the issue of not celebrating janmashtmi or ram navmi as well as we celebrate this. isn't that our shortcoming. go ahead & celebrate those festivals with as much fervour. but, just because we are unable to do so, not enjoying on another festival on purpose does not sound to be a very bright idea. its like saying that i won't enjoy on my friends birthday because i did not enjoy on my own birthday.

This is what this forum is all about, to help bring about knowledge & awareness of our religion, festivals etc. But I seem to be in a strange situation. When I try to turn your attention to your own heritage, then I face the allegation that 'in a very subtle way' I am denigrating others. No, I dont have any such ideas.

i don't deny that there might be some miscreant christians who must have turned hindus toward their own religion but how can we blame them for feeling that their religion is the best. its their pergorative. its more the fault of the hindu who did not have enough faith in his own religion. Then we also should not forget the no. of people from other religion who have turned to our religion. we feel damn thrilled on knowing that. i read in one
of the mails how americans & other asians come & celebrate diwali. it felt good, didn't it! what was your reaction. was it that those americans are good or was it that our religion is good. i am sure it was the latter. On the contarary if a hindu celebrates a non-hindu festival, then that festival as well as the person is not good. (i have used the terms good & bad in a very generic fashion to point out two extremes & hence should not be taken
literally).

'Some miscreant ! You do appear to be living in a closed world, or as they say 'in a fool's paradise', very far from the facts. Please do take out some time & see the facts first hand and then come to any conclusions. For your kind information it is the official policy of Christians to convert as many people 'in whatever way they possibly can'. They are given out targets just
as a salesman is given.

going one step further, if that particular hindu feels that he will find the ultimate truth of life by following "x" religion, let him go ahead & do it. if he finds peace & solace & reaches god thru a particular practice, tell me one good reason why he should not or why he should be condemned in doing so. but even after changing , if he does not achieve is goals then he will one day or the other realise what was good for him or where he went wrong, & when he does he shall regret his decision & will value his religion with more respect. & if he does find peace & happiness( lets say whatever goals he wants to achieve) by following that religion then what could be better. isn't that what we are trying to achieve.

All conversions should be voluntary and never under any pressure, coersion or taking advantage of the adversities of person. There is no other country in the world practicing & living in this freedom as it is here in our country. We have Hindus becoming Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists etc or even vice versa. None looks down on them, but see it as thier basic freedom. What
Christians are doing is entirely different.

When a person is really getting converted out of his or her own free will, then the test of that is that the person should be intelligent enough to know at least basic details of both choices. I doubt if any Chriatian missionaries have the guts or magnanimity to reveal the beauty of the
other person's existing faith. Secondly, if we are really bothered about the betterment of the person concerned then what is important is not changing his existing faith (which is just on the basis of associating God with a particular form), but removing the misunderstandings of it and somehow strenghten his or her existing faith (Ref. Chapter 7 of Gita). The process of spiritual unfoldment calls for a very strong faith in the very existence of God, and not merely hanging on to some particular form or personality-which is just a symbol. You can associate God with any symbol, that should not really make any difference. If a person standing in darkness has been from years associating God with a particular form, is now somehow convinced to change the symbol, then do we really help the person, or create a conflict ? The joke is that this so called 'conviction' is brought about on the basis of lollipops of better jobs, better health care & freedom to dance & drink etc. It is extremely necessary to go into the dynamics of faith before undertaking the mission of manifesting Godliness in different people of the world. If anyone either weakens or takes away the basic faith of any person then we do not help him but make him fragmented & thus weak. If there is only one God, then why convert to worship just another form ? Why not simply strengthen the faith of the people in whatever they believe ? Why this intolerance to others forms ? Do forms of God matter or the God himself, who transcends all forms, for the simple reason that all forms are transient ?

i am not trying to say that our religion should not be preached extensively. our religion is the best, but it does not need people to follow it to make it the best. its supreme in its own way, if you don't believe in it, its your loss, not the religon's. but the best part of our this best religion is that its non-fanatic. Its modest, it shows mutual respect. here, if an argument is put forward that what if the other religion hits you, doesn't show respect, tries to humiliate you. i'm again trying to put forth an imperfect analogy. its like two kids fighting. when asked the reason, one says that the other one hit him. so he retaliated & the fight began. in comparison to this, the same child hits an adult, will that adult hit him back. i think not. he will ignore or at the most control the misbehaving child. why? not probably because the adult was not "as hurt" as the child who fought back but because
he is more mature, more knowledgable to understand the childishness of the kid.
Hindu religion is like that adult who is too strong to be affected by these pebbles. if some other religion could have shaken it, it would have been perished by now. now that it has lasted so long & is so strong that means it is the truth. truth like love has to come on its own. let it touch peoples heart & souls & not the mind. you are convinced that your mother is the best in the world, eventhough you know that she is also imperfect. but try
convincing this to someone else. though we know that our religion also has its shortcomings (nothing is perfect, not even god's own creations, then how can any religion which is a man's creation be perfect), but we still love it. but we won't be able to convince it to someone else who has his own mother. religion is not like a competion where the best religion will win. its like your mother where each one has the best that's for him. changing is not an option, & if somebody who tries to do it & is making others change will pay the price.

The question here is not that our religion is good or their's is bad, but simply trying to know what is religion as such ? Is it really something manmade ? or Is it trying to know the facts of life and living as per them ? Who is God ? Where is he ? How & Why does he create ? To know about religion we have to go through into all this. This does not come by its own. There is a system of education. Truth has to be realised with proper understanding, meditation and all that, and, the whole journey begins with inculcation of proper faith in the existence of an inherent & all-pervasive divinity called God. Faith is exactly where some intolerant people strike, by converting the poor & ignorant, by giving them some worldly attractions. This is what we reject & condemn, because this creates baseless conflicts, it fragments the mind, and also takes his self-respect & respect for his roots.

Religion by itself is certainly not affected by all this, I agree, but my dear man, religious education and following of our systems has certainly got effected in a big way. It was this religion alone because of which our country was partitioned. You say you are 23 now and therefore obviously you have not faced the brunt of religious intolerance of others, but please
ask your elders, and they will tell you how we get effected just because of being of a particular faith. To be uprooted from your own place and go around like a refugee to other place just because of being a follower of a particular faith. What greater pain than this ? Your mother is best for you, but just beacuse of the intolerance of the religious faith of someone when she is cut into parts, then how are you going to react. I wonder what your reaction is when just because of being a Hindu you are up-rooted from your motherland & killed by terrorists in Kashmir & Punjab, or in North-East. Let me remind you, we Hindus are yet to get up and give them a fight in their own language. All politicians shudder even to imagine as to what will happen if Hindus also start resorting to the same ways & means which others are resorting to. Inspite of the partition of the country on the basis of religion, we are not yet free to teach our own children
about our heritage or even say Vande Mataram. Why ? Because it is not convenient to the intolerant, yet better organised people of other faith. The very government media which could have become a great asset to increase the awareness of facts of our heritage has brought us to such a passe that we are foriegners in our own country and discussing why we should not rather 'merry christmas' the whole world. This only speaks about our state of affairs.

i hope i have not hurt any person in particular, as these are my personal thoughts & i have imperfect knowledge about life at 23 years of age, hence am bound to make mistakes & seek apology for the same. i would like to request the fence sitters to kindly participate in this discussion , as i read in a quote " the only person to be afraid of in a
battle are the fence sitters".

What ever a person says only reveals his or her understanding or rather the absence of it, so there is no question of hurting anyone. As long as there is openness to learn so long all discussions are fine. Let us not have the intolerance to any ideas but an openness to see them. Lets be free to choose and give this freedom to others too. That in my opinion will be the
true Hindu quality. Lets never have the intolerance of Christians or Muslims. After going thru your letter all I repeat is 'May the New year bring not only happiness & prosperity but enlightenment too'. You do need it badly.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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OM TAT SAT