What is the essence of Hinduism? The question has become topical of late. Some treat Hinduism as a jumble of creeds and rituals, ideas and beliefs, in which numerous streams flow. Such a perception, writes Shri Jagmohan, Union minister for tourism and culture, "arises primarily from the failure to perceive it in its historical perspective, and in the inability to separate the pure from the fake, the profound from the profane, and the lofty from the low." (The Times of India, May 11)
Hinduism today is in a sorry state. The author grades Hindu thought and practices at three levels:
The first level would cover the core of Hinduism, its fundamental message of unity in diversity of man, nature and religion. The second level would be of the beliefs and practices which came into existence in response to the needs of the common folk who could not grasp its intellectual core and had to depend on temples and images of deities. At the third level would come the spurious rituals, rites, cults and superstitions.
As long as the Indian mind is not reformed and the Indians, 80 percent of whom are Hindus, remain what they are, there is little chance of the country saving itself from recurring crises.
How can success be defined? Mike George, a Senior Management Consultant and Editor of the magazine Heart and Soul, has this to say:
Is success simply a completion of the next task, another job well done, a promise kept, an exam passed, a medal won, a mountain climbed? Whatever we believe success to be will have a profound influence on our life. If we were to follow the trends of the world, then success would be measured by acquisition. The more you have, the more successful you are. More can be almost any quantity—objects, money, properties, celebrity, fame, fans, and in terms of position, it simply means higher....
Other signs of success, writes Mike George, include: to be able to act with total honesty and integrity; to be content with oneself and have others be content with you; to be able to be peaceful and stable when all around you are in crises or chaos; to value what you are more than what you have; to accept full responsibility for all thoughts, feelings, words and actions; to be able to see past the weaknesses and mistakes of others and focus on their inherent goodness; to be able to let go of the past; to give without the desire for anything in return. All these are intangible measures, which no one else can measure except oneself.
Non-conventional medicines, also called alternative or com-plementary medicines, comprise all alternatives to mainstream Western medicine that is often referred to as conventional medicine. One question that is often asked about these non-conventional methods is: Are these alternatives scientific? Prof. Rolf Sattler, in a talk delivered by him at the International Seminar on "New Perspectives on Holism and Non-Conventional Medicine," said that endless discussions on whether alternative medicine is scientific do not appear to be very useful unless two conditions are met:
1. We have to recognize that alternative medicines are very diverse and that "science" has many meanings ranging from a very narrow to a very wide extreme. Exploring this richness of meanings and consequent applications can be much more beneficial to the health of the individual and society than insisting on a particular demarcation of science and non-science....
There is indeed more to health and healing than just the physical body and conventional means of healing. Any system of healing that ignores the whole man is bound to have its limitations.
That diseases do not have just a physical cause is being driven home to us in many ways. Just a few years ago it was believed that medicine could win the war against disease. But now old adversaries are coming back and new infections are emerging, exposing us all to serious, sometimes unexpected, threats. It is being realized that human ingenuity cannot best the microbes.
Diseases that are emerging or reemerging around the globe include ebola, dengue, yellow fever, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera—and the list goes on. A feature in National Geographic (February 2002) paints a grim picture:
At least 20 major maladies have reemerged in novel, more deadly, or drug-resistant forms in the past 25 years. Worldwide, scientists have discovered at least 30 previously unknown human diseases for which no cure exists, such as Marburg disease and AIDS....
The lesson of infectious diseases is that the world is one. Says David Heymann, executive director of communicable diseases at the World Health Organization in Geneva, "Countries have to realize that infectious diseases, regardless of their origins, can travel widely and affect anyone." No nation, no matter how rich or seemingly protected, can be assured of a healthy and peaceful future as long as any nation is still an active breeding ground for the world's many and varied scourges.
For the first time, say researchers, they have established a direct link between the amount of cigarette smoking children see in films and their decision to try smoking. A team of scientists led by pediatrician James Sargent asked 4919 American schoolchildren between the ages of 9 and 15 about the movies they had seen. The team then calculated the number of smoking scenes each movie contained. Children exposed to the largest number of smoking scenes were two and a half times more likely to start than those exposed to the fewest scenes. And the team accounted for factors such as rebelliousness and whether the child's parents smoked.
In a previous study, Sargent found that star power may also contribute: Adolescents whose favourite actors smoked were much more likely to be smokers "Movies are a bigger influence than anything other than whether the child's friends smoke," says Sargent. (Reader's Digest, May 2002, Indian ed.)
The movie industry has to take responsibility for this.
NATURE never deceives us; it is always we who deceive ourselves.