Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rabindranath Tagore's views on being a "Christian Hindu"!!

Source: http://www.freedomfirst.in/discussion-board/discussion-board-details.aspx?ID=%2033

On being a “Christian Hindu”


Rabindranath Tagore
Goa’s Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza was not prepared to say sorry for describing himself as a "Christian Hindu". According to a report in the Free Press Journal of July 29, 2014 he is reported to have said:  "India is a Hindu country. India is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus including me...I am a Christian Hindu...Hindu is my culture. Christianity is my religion. When I say Hindu, it means culture and not religion...”

Francis D’souza will be glad to know he is in good company, in fact distinguished company! When I read this, I was reminded of an article reprinted in Freedom First which was first published in its sister publication Quest in 1961 on the occasion of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.  In his article  Atma Parichaya - (Introducing Oneself) – (written in Bengali and translated by Buddhadeva Basu) Tagore said  something similar to what the  Goa’s deputy CM is quoted as  having said and for which he refused to say ’Sorry’ and thereby has incurred the wrath of a padre.

Gurudev Tagore said inter alia "...I was born into the Hindu society and have accepted the Brahmo sect; if I wish I can go over to another sect, but to another society I cannot belong... With the history of no other society would I have this sense of   identification?  We can transfer a fruit from one basket to another, but on a different branch we cannot grow.

"Do I than claim that I remain a Hindu even if I become a Christian? Certainly I do, and to me this is quite beyond dispute. No matter what the orthodox Hindus may say about it, Kali Charan Banerjee was a Hindu Christian, and so was Jnanendra Mohan Tagore before him and Krishna Mohan Banerjee as well. These men were Hindu by nation and Christian in faith. Christianity was their complexion, but in substance they were nothing but Hindus. There are thousands of Bengali Muslims whom Hindus perpetually label as non-Hindus, and yet the truth about them is that they are Hindu Muslims. It isn’t difficult to conceive of a Hindu family where, lovingly cherished by the same parents, live three brothers, of whom one is a Christian, another, a Muslim and the third a Vaishnava. Rather is this family which would represent what is true and beautiful in the Hindu idea....

"The words "Hindu” and "Muslim” do not have a similar connotation. Islam is a particular religious creed. But Hinduism is not. "Hindu” is a term for the consummation of the Indian nation... From long ago has it come down to us , passing  through centuries and the same sunlit horizons, carrying along with it the same rivers and forests and mountains, and saturated with that sequence of attacks and responses which constitute the history of our mundane and spiritual lives. In that word is contained all that we are in our bodies and our souls. From this deep flowing stream no one is cast aside simply by virtue of his having become a Christian – neither a Kali Charan Banerjee nor a Jnanendra Mohan Tagore.

"The nation is larger than the creed and goes much deeper too; changing one’s beliefs involves no change in one’s nationality. The nation to which I belonged when I believed in the mythological story of creation is still mine, although I believe in the modern and scientific version of that story. And this is true despite the fact that my great-grandfather would no doubt have boxed my ears if he had learned  that I no longer conceived the universe as an egg (Brahmanda, the Sanskrit word for ‘universe’ literally means "the egg of Brahma”) as an extraordinary kind.

 "It will be argued that a Muslim is a Muslim for all that, whether in China or Persia. Not that I know much about the Chinese Muslim, but I dare say that he is in many ways quite different from his Indian counterpart, although there is a certain agreement in religion. I will add that even in the matter of faith the Chinese and Indian will agree on but broad principles; on details they will be at variance. Yet this same Chinese Muslim will have numerous points in common with the Confucians and Buddhists of his nation...”

And so goes on Tagore with his Atma Parichaya, which I found an absolute learning experience. Having read Tagore I could understand what the Goa CM was trying to convey. If you wish to read the full article reprinted in two parts, please visit www.freedomfirst.in, select archives and click Nos. 530 and 531  to read " Introducing Oneself (Arma-Parichaya)” by Rabindranath Tagore. The text excerpted above is from FF No. 531.


Friday, August 08, 2014

The 5:2 way of eating

This article was posted in http://blogs.mentor.com/ by Colin Walls.
Link to original post: http://blogs.mentor.com/colinwalls/blog/2014/08/07/the-52-way-of-eating/?rssid=The%20Colin%20Walls%20Blog

The 5:2 way of eating

I do not do diets in the sense of weight loss programs. We all have a “diet” – the combination of foods that we eat – and I have always advocated as much variation as possible. Although I do eat things that are less good for me, I am conscious of what constitutes a healthy diet. I like to avoid food with additives, which can be challenging, as I wrote about a while back. When I was younger, I might have been described as “skinny”, but time has taken its toll and, although I am far from being fat, I could do with rearranging my weight a little.
I recently encountered the 5:2 diet …
The 5:2 diet – or Way of Eating [WOE is the amusing acronym] as its advocates prefer – is not simply a way to lose weight. It is a change in the approach and attitude to food and eating, which has a variety of benefits, where weight loss is just one possibility.
The approach to food – in the Western world at least – has changed drastically in recent years. We moved from a 3 meals a day regime to one where, although that structure might still be considered “normal”, the meals are supplemented by continuous snacking in the course of the day. Many people get as much as half their daily intake of calories from food intake that would not be considered a meal. The result is that the average calorie intake across the population is rising, with the obvious results. Although the idea of 3 square meals and nothing in between may seem traditional, it is really a new idea; humans have only been eating this way for a few hundred – perhaps a couple of thousand – years, since agriculture first started to be practiced.
Our bodies have not had time to evolve to accommodate this change. Evolution is a very slow process. Our species spent millions of years evolving to accommodate a very different approach to food. Early man was a hunter/gatherer. The result was food alternated between being plentiful [when a woolly mammoth had just been hunted] for short periods, interspersed with longer periods of being in short supply. This is commonly called “feast and famine”. It is not surprising that much research shows that our bodies are good at accommodating periods of very low food intake [fasts]. In fact, instead of just being tolerated, such fasting can even be shown to be directly beneficial. It is almost like exercising your digestive system [and all the other systems that lead on from it] is like exercising your muscles; the more you do it, the stronger you get.
Many people, and even religious groups, regard fasting as a good idea or a requirement. Unfortunately, such practices are often extreme. Most of us are not keen on the idea of eating nothing for a day/week/month. Even the idea of consuming nothing in the hours of daylight is very hard to follow. So, how can one get the benefits of fasting without such suffering? The answer is intermittent fasting, which where 5:2 comes in.
I am experimenting with the 5:2 WOE because it makes a lot of sense to me and the science behind it sounds reasonable. As I said before, I do not really want/need to lose much weight. However, I would like to reduce my waist size a little, as this is the parameter which seems to be related to a number of health conditions [type 2 diabetes being a good example]. The idea is that, for 5 days a week, you eat whatever you want. For the other days, you can still have any kind of food that you want, but your total calorie intake should not exceed 600/500 calories [for men/women respectively]. Also it is recommended that you go for a 16 hour period without any significant calorie intake; this is not so hard, as a lot of that time you will be asleep.
Most people who adopt 5:2 report weight loss after a few weeks. They also report feeling better overall. It is common to have a target weight and, when one has reached that, it can normally be sustained by only fasting on one day each week.
So, how does this really work? As far as I can tell, the weight loss that many people experience cannot be fully explained by the reduced calories for two days. I have already observed in myself a greater awareness of what I eat on the other days. I do not feel restricted on those days, but I can imagine that the enhanced awareness might cause me to avoid certain things. Although I have not yet experienced it, many followers of 5:2 report that their appetite for large portions is cut back, while their enjoyment of food is undiminished. I think that this must be the real factor in weight control.
I do find the fast days challenging, but not that hard – there is always the knowledge that the next day is “normal”. And I enjoy the normality of the other days. Yes, this cookie is 300 calories. And?
I am doing 5:2 for a month [August] to see how I feel. I already know that I can manage the low calorie intake without fainting or anything. I do not even find myself exceptionally hungry the following day. At the end of the month, I will review and tentatively plan to go on for the rest of the year. If I do lose weight, I may move to one fast day per week, but that will require at least 3Kg to go. I will also take breaks for vacation etc., but give it my best shot overall.
There! I wrote it down, so now I am committed. I will report back.