A woman walks across the road in Hyderabad.
Shoppers in Hyderabad.
Taking it easy!
Outside the Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence. I can tell you what I was briefly told about Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda was a liberal Hindu who revived Hinduism at the end of the 19th century in a way that appealed to the secular mind and to Hindus who felt oppressed by the caste system. He was also a strong advocate of interfaith relations, believing that one faith alone could not lead to the truth. However, his spirtual philosophy was intellectual and so it did not catch on in the mainstream. I bought a couple of his quote books for a few rupees at a store outside the Institute.
Religious leaders from different faiths talk about overcoming violence and making peace in the world at the Vivekananda Institute in Hyderabad.
The guy in the orange is Swami Srikanthananda. He expressed some wonderful ideas: "Religion is realisation, it is experience, it is not only theory." He also repeated a Vivekananda quote: "Religion is the manifestation of the Divinity already in man." And some other powerful stuff: "When we try to limit God, we become enemies."
Another one of Swami Srikanthananda's beliefs which resonated with me was this: "It is a sin to say we are all sinners. We are all divine souls." It made me think about Christianity, which has strong ideas about sin. I think one of the helpful things about Christians recognising "sin" (or "wrong doing", as I prefer to say) is that it allows injustice to be recognsied and acted upon. I believe passionately that social justice falls within the ambit of religion and many denominations of Christianity advocate this too (Methodism, for example). Something that can happen within Christianity is the glorification of suffering. I, along with others, had to bite my tongue as I listened to a sermon by a preacher doing just that to Christian Pano Dalits and Kandho tribals in Kandhamal, all of whom had lost their homes and many of whom had lost loved-ones following persecution by Hindu fundamentalists in August last year. Hearing that St Paul became a Saint after his head was chopped off just made me feel exasperated. However, many Christians will tell you that Christianity is not about the glorification of suffering.
I also listened to a stirring speech on peace by a Brahma Kumaris follower called Sister Kanti. She said: " All that I create carries some energy, so if I create a peaceful thought, then I create peaceful energy." The idea is that peace starts with a peaceful thought. So simple and so true. She recommended meditating on peace for 15 minutes every morning. The meditation would go like this: "I am a peaceful soul, happiness is within me, I do not search for anything outside myself."
Sister Kanti also said that long, long ago, there was a world that was 100 per cent peaceful and that we have "come down" from this time and now hope to return there. If this is "devolution", then I am prepared to consider it...
...I asked Swami Srikanthanandra when he believed the time would come to go back to this world of 100 per cent peace. He said that that place was within me, as it was within everyone.