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Child beggar in the Contour of Knowledge

Girl beggarBirthdays are always exciting; all the more for students. College life cannot be full without birthday parties. Today I went to a birthday celebration in a popular hangout in BHU campus, Varanasi. All students gathered one after another and were eagerly waiting to have the cake cut. As we were waiting for one more student to join us we were alarmed to see a group of students who were walking towards us. I got afraid and thought to myself if they were coming to attack us telling that cake does not belong to our native culture and we are to be hanged! I was wondering if DJ night incident will repeat with IIT students. Certain friends were murmuring that these students look like the inmates of Birla hostel who according to them were responsible for all turmoil in BHU & IIT.

All of us gave a sigh of relief as we noted that they were not walking towards us nor were they to harm us. But we could see an unwelcomed visitor in our midst. She inquired when the cake would be cut and she needs some. As I closely gazed at her I found that she has not clothed well and seemed to be a minor. As she started begging to a passerby, I could understand that she was a beggar. My interaction with her revealed that she stays with her mother and 3 siblings in a nearby place. She replied in negative for my question if she goes to school. She continued that she would continue begging as long as she lives. It was time for us to cut the cake; and two more similar children came. Others much younger to her and were selling balloons.

This was not the first time I see kids begging in BHU and IIT. It is like being in deep water for BHU when it comes to restrict general public into BHU . People from nearby villages come to collect grass, BHU main roads are used to commute by the settlers who stay in and around BHU. Also BHU attracts pilgrims to its Vishwanath temple. Though restricting general public may be difficult in the present scenario I think strong measures has to be taken to counter begging inside BHU campus or any campus for that matter.

Begging inside a campus that promotes knowledge is an oxymoron. University is a place where ideas are supposed to be generated, issues in the mainstream universe gets solved and progress of the universe is visualized. Presence of such social evil in such institutions would tarnish the sanctity of the institution and the very purpose of education. We are kept in dark as to these children are encouraged to beg due to the predicament of the family or are remain as the victims of child trafficking racket. University has to take up a project wherein these children are properly studied and measures being taken to ensure their education and minimum support mechanism for the dependents if any. Leaving such children as they are is costly. We are encouraging a generation of beggars. On the other hand we may also be indirectly opening avenues for theft.

Why is it that a temple of knowledge is not affected by children begging in its own institution? Why universities to which the nation look for solutions harbor such evil in themselves? Are universities becoming hypocritical? Is our education system being reduced to skill development and employers producing machines which has nothing to do with the deeper questions of the society? Can some BHU students join together and voice to the administration and bring shine in the face of the ones who beg?

Birthday girl cut the cake; Friends enjoyed. Will this birthday and this encounter with child beggars open our eyes and  encourage us to do something so that these begging children can celebrate their birthday with dignity?

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102nd foundation day in BHU; Where whenceforth

On 22nd of January 2017, BHU witnessed its 102nd foundation celebrations with a lot of pomp and show. Each year BHU’s foundation day is commemorated on the Basant Panchami day. This year as usual it was also celebrated with full energy and enthusiasm. Devotion to the deity of knowledge was expressed through Poojas, Sanskrit recitation and other religious functions as organized in different departments and hostels. Each department displayed tableau in the procession that was held. Enthusiasm of faculty members, students and other workers were seen in the way they were shouting slogans, dancing to DJs and exhibiting social issues through tableau, fancy dressings and so on.

Any institution witnessing a centenary year is remarkable. Centenary is a good time where we can feel proud of the achievements of an institution and reflect to look forward. BHU can take pride for itself for its alumni who are renowned academicians, civil servants, artists, politicians, scientists and even have been conferred with civilian awards.

BHU as an institution has also been in the media for various negative reasons. I would like to draw your attention to the recent issue of violence that broke out in relation to the DJ night. I would like to take your  attention to the true purport of BHU as envisioned by Pandit Madhan Mohan Malaviya, the founder of BHU. In his biography, biographer Sitaram chaturvedi observes, “The word ‘Hindu’ in the name of Banaras Hindu University does not carry any communal and sectarian connotation. Malaviyaji was very clear on this point. In a speech delivered at the time when the Banaras Hindu University Bill was introduced in the Legislative Assembly, Malaviyaji took great pains to clarify this point and to explain the true purport of the Banaras Hindu University. He said: “It (the University) will not promote narrow sectarianism but a broad liberation of mind and a religious spirit which will promote brotherly feeling between man and man. Unfortunately we are all aware that the absence of sectarian religious Universities, the absence of any compulsory religious education in our State Universities, has not prevented the growth of sectarian feeling in the country. I believe that the instruction in the truth of religion, whether it be Hindu or Musalman, whether it be imparted to the students of the Banaras Hindu University or to the Aligarh Muslim University, will tend to produce men, who, if they are true to their religion, will be true to their God, their kind and their country. And, I look forward to the time when the students who will pass out of such Universities, will meet each other in a closer embrace as the sons of the same Motherland than they do at present.” However I am saddened that growingly I see narrow sectarianism and communal attitude been developed. DJ night incident is one such example in this regard. There have been previous incidents too which prove the same. It is high time we reflect on Malaviyaji’s founding vision and shun away from communalism and narrow sectarianism.

Malaviya envisioned an university which aimed at “‘Promotion of scientific, technical and artistic education combined with religious instruction and classical culture.” But I am saddened by the inter departmental and institutional hatred that exists in the university which is expressed through different clashes. Arts students are despised by IIT, Science and Medicine and same kind of hatred is also expressed vice versa. Malaviyaji envisioned a residential university system which would be a confluence of arts, science, medicine, etc interacting with each other. I think it is high time we celebrate mutual respect and get into much of inter departmental and inter institute friendship and cooperation, joint ventures and taking each others’ help in understanding ones own academics and the universe in a better way.

In its first foundation day of BHU Gandhiji was present and delivered a lecture which was not very much welcomed by the esteemed members in the dais but was something that attracted the students fraternity. I would like to bring to give a glimpse of his first speech, ” I myself have been fed up with speeches and lectures. I except the lectures that have been delivered here during the last two days from this category, because they are necessary. But I do venture to suggest to you that we have now reached almost the end of our resources in speech-making; it is not enough that our ears are feasted, that our eyes are feasted, but it is necessary that our hearts have got to be touched and that out hands and feet have got to be moved”. BHU witness a lot of lectures, symposium and so on. I recollect being a part of a lecture series where the speaker challenged all the members to be true to rules, involve in nation building and all good character one should have as ideal member living in the university. I could overhear a neighbor sitting next to me who happened to be a faculty member saying “it’s good to listen to all these lectures. how bad it is for us who propose to be the first to overrule all these.” I have been many times saddened by seeing child labour, indifference to women, caste feeling, lazy work culture, unhygenic pan spitting and so on in BHU. BHU would be a pioneer to have a lecture series and discuss all these but all in words. Aren’t the words of Gandhiji prophetical? When will we be doers and not just preachers?

I pray to the God almighty that as BHU enters into another remarkable year may God flourish this institution, let this institution involve in nation building, foster brotherhood, practice what it preaches and nurture and give birth to many shining stars!

Teaching: Trade or Calling

Teaching: Trade or Calling

Very happy teachers to all teachers.

Teachers deserve special honour. The role of teachers is a much respected one in Asian traditions. Guru (Teacher?) – Sishya (Disciple) relation is a key that we can see very much in Asian traditions. I am very happy to have studied in a university (BHU) where Dr. S. Radhakrishnan was the vice chancellors whose birthday is being celebrated all over India as Teacher’s Day.p

According to Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, a teacher “must be a committed man, committed to faith in the future of man, in the future of humanity, in the future of the country and the world.” The profession of a teacher “should not be reduced to a trade; it is a calling, a vocation, a mission.” Teachers, according to Dr. Radhakrishnan, must impart to the students “zest for new experience, love for adventure in knowledge.” Love of the pupils is therefore the first essential quality of a teacher. Teachers must try to understand their pupils – their needs, their interests, their abilities, their wishes, their attitudes and their problems (qtd. in Shivendra. K. Verma, “Radhakrisnan’s Philosophy of Education,” The University News, Vol. 28, No. 19, p.3) .

Today I had the opportunity to interact with two leading Professors in India. They were using few terms to denote teachers of today: “settlers” and “committed to national development”. One of the eminent professors was telling that even after 20 years from today india may not be able to achieve significant progress in education if the trends in education does not improve significantly. He was mentioning about a group of teachers who are settlers. According to him they are not committed to their teaching. They will be teaching for the sake of doing. He also talked about nepotism, favoritism, casteism, politics and corruption that spoil this very noble profession. They are the ones who are a real threat for Dr. Radhakrishnan’s vision of a teacher as “a committed man, committed to faith in the future of man, in the future of humanity, in the future of the country and the world”. But he has also mentioned that there are still teachers who surpass beyond the settlers category and are committed teachers.

Many nations look to India with great expectations. Only when Dr. Radhakrishnan’s vision of teacher comes true India would be able to shine and be able to grow leaps and bounds. Our nation is full of celebrations. But sadly many good themes celebrated in different festivals are thought about and put into action only for a day when it is celebrated. On August 15th we become patriotic but we forget to work for the nation after the very next day. My only wish is that the vision of teacher by Dr. Radhakrishnan will not be a good lecture to be listened on September 5th but the one which will be put into practice by all teachers all day long.

As I end this short not on teacher’s day I recollect a verse from the Bible which says “ And the LORD has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach their skills to others.” For me this verse is very encouraging as this verse talks about God’s unique help to teachers in imparting skills and knowledge.

May God bless all teachers with special skill to impart skill and knowledge!

Book review and report of “Surfing for God” by Michael John Cusick

Book review and report of “Surfing for God” by Michael John Cusick

                “Surfing for God” is really amazing book of it kind which tries to find out what it means to be addicted, what are the factors behind a person getting addicted and how to come out of it. One amazing thing I notice in this book is it addresses the issue why many people take decision and why they are not able to overcome it in reality. Also it addresses why porn is so attractive to people. The personal experience of the author adds credibility to the subject dealt with. Also the way he connects story and personal instances with the subject makes the book interesting.

The author starts the book with an exciting quote from Bonhoffer, “The pursuit of purity is not about the suppression of lust, but about the reorientation of one’s life to a larger goal”. In the introduction chapter “What’s better than porn?” he talks how porn is using the deception, the hiddenness, and the damage to our souls. He also says two important statements people talk about porn like “I am tired of how little porn delivers” and “I am tired of the never-ending battle over lust.” Having said this he offers as to how Gospel has the power to free a person from porn. He also promises that one will find knowledge and understanding to help you identify the real issues contributing to sexual struggles so you can offer grace, hope, and guidance. The author puts the book in the plot of a rabbi and his young disciple.

In the first chapter “Getting your feathers back”, He expresses how the efforts of many people which come from deep and meaningful commitments of genuine surrender—only to return to masturbation and porn. He calls this a bipolar struggle. He also says that “identifying this struggle and acknowledging our failure to manage it gives us the hopeful building blocks of a growing belief and true maturity”. Another point he makes vehemently is that porn allures us with the image or fantasy of being with a woman, while preventing us from being able to actually engage with a real woman. Porn keeps us from flying the jet, getting in the game, or sailing the high seas. He says God designed one to be a hero— to focus your strength and courage on behalf of something and someone bigger than yourself. He says we are created to do something bigger and not to live a life of shame.

In the second chapter “it’s not about sex” he brings out the point your struggles with lust and porn are not actually about sex. The way you are sexually aroused reflects what’s happening deep in your soul, beyond your sexual organs. The point that lures many is that the reality is that your heart needs something, and porn promises to meet that need. He says From my experiences, research, and observations, porn promises fulfilment of five key desires, all without responsibility like: validation of our manhood without requiring strength, sexual fulfilment without relationship, intimacy without requiring risk and suffering, pass ion and life without connection to your soul, promises comfort and care without depending on others and power over women without responsibility and humility.

In the third chapter “Insatiable Thirst” he deals with lust. Quoting scriptures he puts how Desire and thirst are central to Christianity. Every sinful behaviour is rooted in a legitimate God-given appetite. So he first asks the readers to identify and write out fifty deep thirsts or longings in their hearts. He also offers a list which offers a straightforward way for you to begin to put words to what lies below the surface of your life. All the core thirsts are God-given appetites and longings. Once one has identified ones deepest desires, he can begin understanding why pornography is so alluring. One can see beyond the easy rationale of your body’s libido to the underlying longings of your soul. But the problem is Lust Is the Outcome of Disordered Desire. Disordered desire results from desires that are disowned, demanded, or misplaced. Disowned desire usually results from shame or pain. Demanded desire is the opposite of disowned desire because we demand relief from the pain of unmet thirst. When we misplace our desires, we direct our hearts toward something that takes the place of God’s good gifts. He warns that sexual desires expressed outside of God’s boundaries and design  causes damage and destruction.

In the next chapter “Gathering the Broken Pieces” he shows how we are broken men who must live from our brokenness. Our behavior is just the tip of the iceberg. Connecting these deep passions and purposes below the waterline to the behaviors, struggles, and issues above the waterline helps us recognize the cause of our confusing behavior. Understanding ourselves at this level is not about the “what” of our sin (I can’t stop looking at porn), but the “why” (porn promises to meet some need in me). The whys that explain our addictions can be categorized into four interwoven, underlying dimensions: wickedness, weaknesses, woundedness, and warfare. Our brokenness begins with our wickedness, accentuates our weakness, encompasses our woundedness and attracts the enemy’s warfare. The greatest barrier to the life of freedom that God desires for us is not our brokenness. It is brokenness unsurrendered.

In the fifth chapter “Exposing the Counterfeits” he explains about the counterfeit. Quoting Jesus tempted by Satan he exposes three counterfeits: COUNTERFEIT GOOD, COUNTERFEIT TRUTH and COUNTERFEIT WORSHIP. Then he says how Compulsive sexual sin, porn, and lust operate like our own little Disneyland—our Magic Kingdom—where we can escape our momentary struggles, pains, or boredom. What we see is the progression of compulsion. It starts when we turn away from God as our source of life and turn other things into idols that we’re convinced will satisfy our desires. We worship and serve “created things rather than the Creator”— that’s counterfeit worship. What we see is the progression of compulsion. It starts when we turn away from God as our source of life and turn other things into idols that we’re convinced will satisfy our desires. We worship and serve “created things rather than the Creator”— that’s counterfeit worship. it is never too late to exchange the false intimacy of images and illicit encounters for authentic relationships and God’s gifts. A living encounter with God is the destination. But first, we need to explore the obstacles that stand in the way of such an encounter.

“Shame and Core Beliefs” is the sixth chapter where he explains to us the ways of shame and overcoming it. In this chapter he categorically draws a difference between shame and guilt. “Guilt is the conviction we feel when we have violated some standard, when we have done wrong”. “Shame is a feeling (which quickly becomes a belief) that we are defective, flawed, bad, or worthless”. He goes on to bring out how sin initially brought shame. Whereas erstwhile they could be naked and unashamed before each other. God doesn’t shame us but hiding the brokenness brings us shame. With that he goes on to take the reader examine his core believes which make him to be ashamed like: “I Am Basically a Bad/Unworthy Person, Nobody Would Love Me as I Am, I Can’t Get My Needs Met by Depending on Others, and Sex Is My Most Important Need”. He then gives tips on overcoming the shame by following tips: By Pulling Back the Curtain and seeing us as we really are, “we overcome our shame by identifying the core beliefs and convictions that contradict God’s truth about who we are”, by “learning to practice true humility” (At the core of humility is trust—trusting God, and trusting others with who you are.)

In the seventh chapter “The Soul Snare path” where he explains why we actually take up the things that we renounced at a point of time. Then he explains what he calls as soul snare cycle where he talks about four elements in the cycle naming: soul brokenness—wickedness, woundedness, weakness, and warfare. This will lead to soul preoccupation a stage where passion works toward the pursuit of sexual gratification. Next stage is what he calls as soul snare where desire is put into action. The soul snare cycle then leads us to the soul shame stage. Here he gives a clear explanation as to how our brokenness fuels fire for this soul snare. Then he helps the reader to understand what triggers porn. “Internal triggers include feelings and thoughts. Emotions such as disappointment, loneliness, rejection, anxiety, anger, and boredom are common triggers. Physical feelings, including fatigue, headaches, hunger, or chronic pain, can also serve as internal triggers”. Before ending this chapter he makes aimportant point as to how shame fuels brokenness.

In the next chapter “Your Good heart” he talks about the role of Gospel in making a new heart for a man. Here he explains how our hearts “are bent in a direction away from God”. With the he explains the need for a heart transplant which can be done by the Gospel. He explains how “God has worked in such a way that our hearts that were bent away from God (before Christ) are now bent toward God because of Christ”. This new heart gives us true identity and true core belief as against the older core belief that leads us to shame.

The chapter with the title “The invisible battle” explains the spiritual war. Here he explains as to how satan makes sexuality as one of the targets in this war. Then he explain how he uses idols (an Omega watch or images of naked women, etc) gives satan opportunity in to enter in war after which he uses two important strategies to further deepen our bondage: footholds and strongholds. Then he gives the tips to break footholds and strongholds like: “announce the lie you have befriended”, “renounce the lie” and finally “pronounce the truth”.

The next chapter “Your brain on porn” is crucial as it brings it to us how brain is one’s most important sex organ. Then he goes on to prove how porn over stimulates our brain which causes brain to change and rewires the brain. Then he gives tips on rebooting our brain. The first step of rebooting as he mentions is defining objective. The objective describes the person he really want to become. Then he talks about 90 days of abstinence. Next step is being careful about cravings and being ready for relapse. He also gives more tips to rewire brain like: “Practice Intentional Thinking”, “Pursue Alternate Passions”, “Employ the Power of Repetition”

In the 11th chapter “Less is more” he deals with inner struggle. Here he tries to help us understand how the porn addict should try to transform his emptiness to listening to God’s voice in solitude. The next chapter “The Soul Care Highway” he deals with dealing with soul snare cycle. Here gives a counter cycle: soul brokenness, soul attentiveness, soul care and soul transformation. Here he gives practical suggestion like “Making the Connection Between Brokenness and Porn”, “Stalk Your Triggers”, “Interrogate Your Cravings” and finding out genuine thirst, “Surf Your Urges” and directing the focus to on one specific area where you are experiencing the urge and carrying tension. Then he asks the reader to ponder on the following questions and help one understand ones’ genuine need: What does my soul really need right now? What Does the Physical “You” Need? What Does the Relational “You” Need? What Does the Emotional “You” Need? What Does the Spiritual “You” Need?. The 13th chapter “Freedom to Live” explains various aspects of being free and focusing on God to have true freedom. The next  “Going under the knife” he talks about circumcision of heart. In the concluding chapter “Becoming the Hero that you are” the author reiterates the need for a fresh vision for life encourages the readers to completely kill the porn that controls a person.

The book is an awesome book of its kind where it analyzes various aspects of addiction including circumstances, emotion, physical and spiritual aspects. The way the author brings the pint with a proper blend of Spiritual insights from Word of God and psycho analytic details. The way the author deals with the topic with lot of real life incident gives credibility the details presented. The way it is presented in the backdrop of lot of allegories and illustrations makes the work interesting to read. In short this book is an awesome book which will definitely help the porn addict to come out of it.

Few important links regarding the book:

Amazon books: http://www.amazon.com/Surfing-God-Discovering-Beneath-Struggle/dp/0849947235